Saturday, July 12, 2014

Monsters of Note: the Scarab Guardian

Another African super is our Monster of Note today. He has a bunch of Egyptian names that translate to "scary mofo", but the most common English alias he has is "the Scarab Guardian".

The Scarab Guardian

The stories say that a European grave-robber was trapped in one of the pyramids he was looting - buried thousands of feet under unforgiving stone, pinioned in the lightless void of the realm of the dead, the curse of the Pharaohs gave him a choice. Serve them, or face the judgement of the ancient spirits he had offended. He was transformed into an eternally undead guardian and sentenced to guard the very tombs he had pilfered.

Of course this is all bullshit. The Scarab Guardian is a former villain who operated in Egypt. He was given a better offer by the Egyptian government after his capture, pardoned, and assigned to an Egyptian super-team: the National Historical Preservation Society. He's one of the uncommon "hero monsters", and an example of why personal feelings trump the "hero" and "villain" divide.

Like Beast-Boss in America, his powers include control over animals. Unlike Beast-Boss, he can't empower his animals, but he can physically merge with them and acquire their physical characteristics (in whole or in part). Physically, of course, he's ugly as sin - stark gray skin, glowing red eyes, unnatural bulges in his skin, and a weird scuttling gait due to the way his muscles and bones are structured.

Past

The Guardian started life as "the Scarab", an Egyptian villain. His M.O. was industrial theft around the port of Suez. The Egyptian government has sealed any records of the members of the NHPS's supers, but those in the know tell me he was an Egyptian native, probably born in Cairo from his accent and familiarity with the area, and apparently poor to lower class in his upbringing.

The authorities managed to trap him in a reinforced container along with a member of the NHPS. They had a conversation, and the outcome was that the Scarab came out peacefully, surrendered himself, and spent about a week in the slam before joining his new team.

Position

The Scarab Guardian usually operates solo, but his powers make him an excellent infiltrator, spy, and perimeter alarm system. He can see anywhere his animals can be, and he can shapeshift into anything you might commonly find in the region.

Personality

A big part of the Guardian's motivation is pride in the relics of Egypt and the history of the country. His own comments mark him as an Egyptian nationalist and patriot.

He's actually better adjusted than a lot of Children of Lilith. He avoids endangering people, mundane and super alike, and shows genuine compassion for lost tourists he's located with his powers. He's believed to be a Sunni Muslim, though how devout he is remains unclear.

He harbors a big grudge against Israel for the Six-Day War of 1967, and it's been suggested that his father might have been an Egyptian soldier who was killed during that conflict.

Powers

Like Beast-Boss, he can control animals through some sort of radio link to their nervous system. He has to physically contact one animal to bind to it, but those animals can apparently spread the control system like a contagion. This lets him take over whole swarms of animals at a time.

Aside from this, he can physically take on the traits of any animal he touches, partially or totally. He uses this power mostly to emulate the gods and monsters of myth - jackal-headed creatures, for example - for psychological purposes.

Aside from the reconnaissance value of his swarms, and the combat potential of certain animal types, the Scarab Guardian mostly uses his control for terror tactics. There was a story of a gang of tomb-robbers who descended into one particular pyramid. Only one made it out, covered in beetle bites, and he was committed to an insane asylum. No, the rest didn't die - the Scarab Guardian had managed to capture them and hand them over to the authorities. But you didn't read about that part in the papers, which is unofficially how parts of the Egyptian government like it. The more people who decide not to mess with the tombs, the happier everyone is.

Problems

Aside from being one ugly son of a bitch, the Scarab Guardian is somewhat averse to direct sunlight. Like most vampires, the Scarab Guardian's body is photosynthetic and he slips into a hibernation state if he receives enough bright sunlight.

Unlike Beast-Boss, the Guardian doesn't seem to be hurt or distracted if you injure his animals. He does care, though - don't just go around offing every bat you see and not expect him to pay you a visit.