The Scarab (III)
Despite certain claims to the contrary, New Yorker Herbert "Bert" Roland (b. 1988) didn't actually have any real interest in Egypt growing up. Sure, it was interesting, but there was a lot of stuff going on to distract him from the subject -- television, video games, his favorite bands. Truthfully, he was easily distracted from anything. His friends in high school remember him as a follower, not a leader, while his teachers were alternately impressed by his keen intelligence and frustrated by his lack of any real focus.
His parents bought him the trip to Egypt as a graduation gift and reward for getting into the college of their choice. His father had noticed that, if it was only a minor interest, it was the only one that had stuck with him for any length of time. Bert shrugged and said, "Thanks, Dad." It'd at least allow him to have some time before they started nagging him to get a summer job before college. Gazing up at the Great Pyramid, walking beside the Sphinx ... it all seemed vaguely familiar, and his nights in Egypt were filled with dreams of a time when it was all new, not weighted down beneath the burden of centuries. But Bert figured that he was just imagining things, and maybe engaging in a bit of self-dramatization.
On the last day of his trip, he walked out of the hotel lobby just in time to see the flying pyramid appear over Cairo. A giant hologram appeared of a man in an unusual suit of armor, announcing himself as the Pharaoh Amenhoten, reborn and returned to his beloved subjects. Bert recognized him as the notorious Dr. Scarab, an Egyptian master villain thought dead for nearly forty years, whom he had beaten in battle when challenged over the use of the word hey wait a minute what?
His ka sure knows how to pick its moments. The memories of his lives as Heru-Ra, Alexander Rhodes and countless others left him staggering, and his new life could have ended very suddenly at the hands of Dr. Scarab's mummy-bots -- ("Mummy-bots?" The blasphemy made him want to scream.) -- but he recovered quickly and blasted them with telekinesis. Improvising a costume, he flew up at the Flying Pyramid and announced himself to Dr. Scarab. "Do you not know me, you spawn of Sheol? I am the true Scarab!" ("Spawn of Sheol?" Where was he getting this stuff?)
They clashed both physically and psychically, and in that latter battlefield, the novice Scarab was triumphant, somehow controlling Amenhoten's mind so that it transferred control of the fortress and his forces to his enemy. Dr. Scarab broke free, but realizing that the tide had turned against him, took flight -- and was promptly blasted to pieces by the Pyramid's automated defense systems. Bert flew the Pyramid away, ultimately settling it down in an isolated valley in the southwest of Egypt, where it would (hopefully!) be hidden from anyone who might put its technology to evil purposes, until he could figure out what he ought to do with the thing. He then flew under his own power back to the United States, and managed to convince his parents that he'd caught an earlier flight home.
Bert traveled to Freedom City to attend college and to learn more about his 'heritage'. He met with Sophia Cruz and convinced her of his bona fides, receiving the keys to the Scarab's Lair from her. With that, he was finally able to assume the identity of the Scarab. It wasn't long before Freedom City's newest hero was teaming regularly with the new Beacon and with Seven in a triumvirate.
However, his most significant association was with the German heroine Rote Phönix (aka Sarah Gebhart), whose own perpetually reincarnating soul shared a romantic history with the Ka of Heru-Ra dating back into antiquity. They found each other once again, and became passionately involved despite knowing that every time that they had met had indicated the beginning of the end for one of them. They determined to defy destiny, and for a time it seemed that they were succeeding, for something happened that had never happened in any of their lives before this one -- in 2010, Sarah Gebhart discovered that she was pregnant.
The two heroes planned to fake their deaths and begin new lives as civilians, raising their miracle child until they knew the meaning of this portent. But something went wrong, and as their child (dubbed Benjamin Alexander Roland) was born prematurely in early 2011, and something went horribly wrong during delivery. Sarah only lived a few hours after the child was born, devastating Bert. In the aftermath, he found himself uncertain of the correct course of action. Should he put his newborn son up for adoption to protect him from his father's enemies, or follow the plan of resuming civilian life?
For a while, he followed the latter course, until a number of events persuaded him that he couldn't ignore the world in which his son was going to grow up, and became the Scarab once more. The fate of Seven and the departure of the Beacon a few years later only added to his sorrow, as did the distance that developed between him and Freedom City's other heroes after he backed a different candidate for the special mayoral election in 2014. (He believed that Callie Summer's past as a 'party girl', feigned though it had been, would be problematic in years to come.)
In the past few months, however, things have begun to change for the Scarab. Betty Berringer, the sixteen year-old daughter of the second Scarab (active in the 80s and early 90s) sought him out as her psychic powers developed. She has begun acting as his sidekick, the Ankh. While not exactly thrilled to be putting a minor at risk, Bert can't deny that she's been very helpful, and is notably a better pilot of their flying vehicle, the Trygaeus.
He has also started dating again, having met Robin Greyfaulk at the daycare Benjamin and her daughter Caroline both attend. He's fascinated by the way that she's been able to make a relatively normal life for her small family despite her superpowers. They are taking things slow, but the Ankh has commented that it's a good thing that the Scarab's mask covers his mouth, so no one can see how often he's smiling these days. It ruin his image.
The Scarab III - PL 11
Abilities: STR 0 | STA 1 | AGL 1 | DEX 2 | FGT 6 | INT 3 | AWE 9 | PRE 5
Powers: Ka Sense (Senses 1 (Mental Awareness)), Past-life Memories (Enhanced Advantages 2 [Beginner’s Luck, Jack-of-all-
Trades]), Telekinesis (Array: Perception Ranged Move Object 10, Dynamic, AP: Flight 5 AND Ranged Damage 10, Dynamic), Telekinetic Shield (Sustained Protection 10), Telepathy (Mental Communication 3; Array: Mind Reading 10, AP: Perception Range Damage 5, Resisted by Will, AP: Perception Range Affliction 10 [Resisted and Overcome by Will; Dazed, Stunned], Limited Degree), Trained Will (Impervious Will 12).
Equipment: Armored Costume (Protection 2), Headquarters (The Scarab's Lair, see Freedom City 3e, Trygaeus (see below)
Advantages: Beginner's Luck, Benefit 3 (Millionaire), Equipment 17, Jack-of-all-Trades, Move-By Action, Seize Initiative, Sidekick 19, Ultimate Effort (Will Save), Uncanny Dodge.
Skills: Expertise: Business 8 (+11), Expertise: History 6 (+9), Insight 6 (+15), Perception 6 (+15), Persuasion 8 (+13), Ranged Combat: Telekinesis 10 (+12).
Offense: Initiative +1, Unarmed +6 (Close Damage 0), Telekinetic Blast +12 (Ranged Damage 10), Mind Thrust -- (Perception Range Damage 5, Resisted by Will), Daze -- (Perception Range Will 10).
Defense: Dodge 9, Parry 8, Fortitude 6, Toughness 13/11/3/1, Will 16.
Totals: Abilities 54 + Powers 82 + Advantages 42 + Skills 22 + Defenses 22 = 223
Complications: Responsibility--Motivation. Enemy (Overshadow). Family (Benjamin).
The Ankh -- PL 7
Abilities: STR 0 | STA 1 | AGL 2 | DEX 2 | FGT 6 | INT 1 | AWE 4 | PRE 2
Powers: Psychic Defenses (Enhanced Advantages 4 [Defensive Roll, Evasion, Improved Initiative, Uncanny Dodge]; Enhanced Defenses 4 [Dodge 2, Parry 2], Telepathy (Mental Communication 1; Array: Mind Reading 6, AP: Perception Range Affliction 6 [Resisted and Overcome by Will; Dazed, Stunned], Limited Degree).
Equipment: Armored Costume (Protection 2), Brass Knuckles (Strength-based Damage 1), Pepper Spray (Affliction 4 [Resisted by Fortitude; Impaired, Disabled, Unaware], Limited to Visual).
Advantages: Defensive Roll, Equipment, Evasion, Improved Initiative, Move-By Action, Uncanny Dodge.
Skills: Acrobatics 6 (+8), Expertise: Streetwise 6 (+7), Insight 4 (+8), Intimidation 8 (+10), Perception 4 (+8), Vehicles 6 (+8).
Offense: Intiative +2, Unarmed +6 (Close Damage 1), Pepper Spray 6 (Close Fortitude 4), Daze -- (Perception Range Will 6).
Defense: Dodge 9/7, Parry 9/7, Fortitude 5, Toughness 5/3/3/1, Will 9.
Totals: Abilities 36 + Powers 25 + Advantages 2 + Skills 17 + Defenses 15 = 95.
Complications: Thrills--Motivation. Family (her parents) Minor
Size: Huge, Strength: 12, Flight Speed: 4, Defense: 6, Toughness: 12, Powers: Concealment 6 (visual, radio), Impervious Toughness 8, Ranged Damage 8, Features: Autopilot (+4), Communications, Navigation System.
Author's Notes: Credit where credit is due department -- the romantic tie between the Scarab and the Red Phoenix (from Silver Age Sentinels, was the notion of fellow Atomic Think Tank poster Rhialto, with whom I shared many ideas. I've no idea where they are or what they're doing these days, but I hope they are well.