Face front, true believers! It’s time for another installment of…
…in which I use the character creation rules in the Marvel Super Heroes RPG’s Ultimate Powers Book to roll up a random batch of powers and abilities, then sit back and watch as some incredibly talented folks work their creative magic upon the quantified chaos.
It dawned on me this morning that the game’s “FASERIP” system for delineating characteristics might be a little impenetrable for the layfolk out there, so here’s a quick and handy guide:
With that sorted, let’s get on to the main course, courtesy of the creative tag team of Joe Hunter (art) and Ken Lowery (writing).
When the USSR was formally dissolved Christmas Day of 1991, the 15 states that emerged were born into a raging fire of separatists, nationalist movements, and the wholesale theft and vandalism of the once-great state’s many assets. But for every military outpost or government office that was looted, two more were simply abandoned and forgotten.
Such was the case with the Kireyev facility, aka “K-12,” about 100 km southeast of Odessa, Ukraine. Ostensibly a R&D facility for new innovations in nuclear submarine propulsion technology, K-12 was in fact a test facility wherein hundreds of young, unattached members of the Red Army were subjected to invasive and often lethal radiation experiments to jumpstart the “next step in human evolution.” When the USSR collapsed, so did K-12’s funding and raison d’être, and the scientists and soldiers stationed to guard them deserted. Those that didn’t succumb to radiation poisoning learned to keep their mouths shut.
But K-12 did not rest easy.
Deep within the surgical labs several floors below the surface, the facility’s most radically and successfully transformed experiment slumbered. Private Vitaly Leonov, an orphaned soldier with a quiet demeanor and a laundry list of official reprimands stemming from his unwavering devotion to Orthodox Christianity, had shown a tremendous capacity to absorb radiation.
Over the course of several years, Leonov was subjected to genetic modification, biological enhancements and massive doses of gamma radiation until his body became a radioactive battery: he could absorb radiation until his body reached capacity, when he would then vent it – either through leakage or, more to K-12’s mission, explosively. To help control his near-constant gamma radiation bleed, Leonov was confined inside a full-body armored suit. He lay in this suit in suspended animation while the K-12 facility around him fell into disrepair.
But the containment was not perfect. Leonov’s suit was a prototype, designed to weaponize his radioactive bleed in a variety of ways – in nuclear discharges, fission-powered sonic booms, and even in the use of a physical force field as a last-ditch containment shield in case of a full-blown nuclear detonation.It was not built to hold Leonov’s nuclear payload indefinitely. Every few weeks, the suit would vent – and over the years, the land around K-12 would become a dead, irradiated place, poisoning water and killing greenery for a kilometer in every direction.
Sometime in early 2009 Leonov woke up – no one is exactly sure when. Nor is it clear when Leonov left K-12 to travel across the former Iron Curtain.But while it’s difficult to figure out where he’s going, it’s easy to tell where he’s been – the violet-white mushroom clouds and ear-shattering sonic booms that accompany his regular explosive discharges are heard and seen for several kilometers in every direction.
Leonov, who now calls himself the Adam Bomb, fashions himself a vigilante, righting historic Cold War wrongs – no matter who committed them – and avenging himself on former USSR officials and military officers who’ve turned to crime. Opponents and witnesses describe the Adam Bomb as silent, relentless, and terrifying. Once a score is settled, he disappears again to discharge his nuclear build-up away from populated areas.
Though a regional folk hero for a time, his latest manifestos – broadcast across radio waves as he moves through Eastern Europe, transmitted by the pitch controllers that power his sonic booms – have taken on a fragmented, schizophrenic tone, mixing religious symbolism with socialist rhetoric and apocalyptic fury. He speaks of the inevitability of a worldwide cleansing by “nuclear fire,” of starting the human race anew to appease God. And he speaks of himself as the First Man, a Promethean figure who both spawns and gifts the new human race with the powers of angels.
Leonov’s screeds are just that, for now – hot air and hotter rhetoric. But the world’s super powers are turning their eyes to Eastern Europe, wondering when the Adam Bomb will finally go off. For now, they watch and wait.