Rumors and Boogeymen
The being called Primordo is something of a boogeyman, a rumor, a scientific legend. Since the late '70s there have been sightings of a strange bald man with the skills of a surgeon who seems to come and go, appearing in small backwoods communities without warning and vanishing just as quickly--sometimes said to be wracked by anxiety as if the devil were at his heels, other times as cold and expressionless as the walking dead. Perhaps by coincidence this mysterious doctor's arrival usually preceded other, more monstrous sightings... of a giant, pale, hairless abomination said to change shape at will, described by some as a thing of living rock, by others as fire or water, by the least-credible a combination of all these and more.
Few have ever produced solid proof of the existence of this entity, even fewer actually met it face to face or learned its secrets. No record yet exists that documents its origins or properties. That said, Primordo itself has on rare occasions spoken of its history to a select few, providing the following sketchy account.
"Sentient Primordial Soup"
Deposited on Earth during the age before life began, when volcanoes belched fire and oceans seethed, the organism called Primordo claims to be the work of a vast alien intelligence bent on terraforming other worlds to their own unknown ends. Primordo knows or remembers little of these beings or its own purpose, acknowledging only that it is the 'seed' planted by those life forms in the boiling seas of that epoch. Calling itself the 'building blocks' of all matter in the universe and the 'foundation upon which all living things grow', it remains highly speculative whether the alien being is speaking literally (that all life and matter sprang from its forebears) or in some figurative sense (it is only one of many possible sources of creation in the vast cosmos). Further studies would be necessary to determine the scientific validity or veracity of these claims, but it seems probable in any case that Primordo is a sort of synthetic biological construct designed with one purpose in mind: to change worlds.
To date the most accurate description of Primordo is a phrase spoken by the reptilian metahuman Rezz upon first encountering this alien lifeform: "sentient primordial soup." Indeed, in its natural state Primordo would bear more in common with a jello mold than a man, and only takes on humanoid form---by its own admission--as a means to ease communication with Earth's now-dominant lifeforms.
Discovery of "Green Oil"
After the advent of life on Earth Primordo lay dormant under the planet's crust, a massive and only vaguely self-aware organism composed of highly malleable proto-matter. Unaware of the passing of time in the way we understand it, it simply existed for countless eons until a chain of devastating tectonic quakes off the coast of Monster Island pushed up a thumb of land from the oceans in the early 1970s. A narrow spit of an island, it soon began to bubble up a luminous greenish substance never before discovered by mankind, and soon to be cursed by the few unfortunate enough to encounter it.
In its natural state Primordo was--and remains--highly toxic to most lifeforms; exposure usually resulted in a chain reaction of molecular transformations and eventual DNA breakdown, leaving the victim a liquified mass. Though highly unethical research was secretly conducted on this 'green oil' by Transmolecule Inc. at the time, no one ever suspected that it was in fact a form of intelligent life. Over three dozen workers and subjects died during the course of the mining, harvesting and testing of the green oil, including a team of skilled doctors brought in to stabilize the afflicted long enough to yield viable test results.
In the end all personnel on-site were exposed, and the entire facility and staff were aerially fire-bombed into nothing but ash and cinders. None were presumed to have survived, and though Transmolecule stored some of the substance for future research their claims of having discovered the "Philosopher's Stone" were swiftly forgotten.
Leland Manheim, MD
But something had survived. Among the many physicians waylaid by false promises of humanitarian aid by Transmolecule was Leland Manheim, a brilliant but haunted surgeon who had recently lost his wife to cancer. While on hiatus from his life's work, he decided to seek relief in altruistic toil by aiding the "survivors" of the "island disaster" that Transmolecule had floated about in an effort to lure medical personnel to their private island and preserve their hapless test subjects and workers. Though appalled at the conditions he found and barred from reporting them, Leland refused to abandon the horribly disfigured men and women given over to his care. Despite all his efforts, there was little he or the other doctors could do; for what use were scalpels, IVs, conventional drugs on patients who had literally sprouted plant growth from their bodies, had limbs turned to stone, or were quite literally reduced to gelatinous pools?
In time even Leland's precautions proved fruitless; he had been exposed, and would soon join all of the others in their unmarked cannisters hidden away by Transmolecule or burnt to ash when the helicopter gunships came.
Why Leland survived the bombardment remains a mystery not only to Primordo but to the many governments and less-legal scientists who've claimed to study him over the years. Perhaps some rare genetic quality allowed him to retain some measure of identity and control, or some unknown factor in his exposure differed from all of the others. In any case, what survived of Primordo upon that island now retained Leland's memories, his persona, his altruism, his very self. Though other minds had been absorbed into the life form--miners, doctors, scientists, workers, test subjects--only Leland's retained any cohesion or control.
The Wandering Monster
For three decades the fusion of Manheim and Primordo wandered the world, sometimes passing for human and living an almost normal life for years at a time before the primal rage and confusion of the alien organism overrode the doctor's control and triggered monstrous transformations, terrible rampages. Leland fought to keep enough control over Primordo to 'steer' them away from civilization, spending much of his time in Alaska, the deserts and mountains of Utah, the wilds of Colorado or Yellowstone. Though Primordo was intelligent and self aware, this new world above the Earth's crust, its unfamiliar and prodigious bipeds, and Leland's rampant emotions caused it blinding confusion and fear. Leland knew this, and did his utmost to avoid all contact with other people lest he endanger those he once labored to save.
Rumors of Primordo's appearances during these years are conflicting. Some accounts describe the monster's appearances as unmitigated rampages, causing loss of life and unfathomable destruction. Others say that the mindless creature seemed guided by almost child-like instinct---devastating a city block to protect an injured cat or killing an ancient subterranean monster in Yellowstone park when it threatened a group of campers. To some it was a horror, the stuff of nightmares; to others a frightened animal, quite endearing and almost sad when calmed.
After it's most recent emergence--this time in the heart of Millennium City--Primordo was subdued by the combined efforts of the heroes Azunai, Nightwave, Raggedy Ann and Blue Hour who eventually calmed the monster long enough for it to revert to its Manheim form. Taken by Gabe Bishop to his laboratory and deemed a dangerous threat, Manheim was implanted with an obedience chip designed to allow Bishop to exert limited control over the Primordo entity should it re-emerge. Despite countless prior episodes of being held in captivity and subjected to cruel scientific torment by a variety of unknown agencies, in time Leland agreed to and encouraged Azunai's own efforts. If Primordo could be controlled and kept from harming others, he would rest easier.
Whether out of Leland's growing contentment or as an unknown side effect of the obedience chip's implantation, Primordo once again did what it was designed to do: adapt. Weeks passed, and when next Primordo appeared it was not some primal elemental monster caged inside of Leland Manheim--instead, Leland had been caged by Primordo. Now fully aware and capable of using the chip as a 'bridge' to communicate with mankind, Primordo began to study human life, metahuman heroes, and its own obscure origins. It claimed Leland and all of the other minds it absorbed still remained inside its ever-shifting form, not prisoners so much as voices in a chorus. But no longer could Doctor Manheim reassert his identity to fully gain control.
Observing that the costumed heroes of Millennium City seemed to be its "superior life form", Primordo assumed a shape somewhere between Manheim's human appearance and the colorful costumes of the city's protectors. It remains now a mysterious entity sighted on high rooftops during emergencies, rarely intervening, always studying with dispassionate eyes and a dead expression. Some claim it could be a dangerous threat should it decide that mankind is not adequately using the earth's resources, while others insist that Manheim's humanity remains deep inside, driving it to occasional action in the service of good.
After a protracted confrontation with The Emissary, Primordo was warned to change its perspective, to understand that there is more to the world than evolution, the rule of nature, the strong replacing the weak. This is a concept it struggles with, and whether it--with Manheim's silent urging--will evolve into a true hero or a different kind of monster remains very much an unanswered question.
Over a period of several months, the amalgam of Dr. Manheim and Primordo seemed to appear amid the ranks of a new super group called the Vanquishers. Confirmation of his membership was strongly implied following a brief altercation with Millennium City authorities, during which other members of the Vanquishers vouched on his behalf to prevent police units from opening fire on the creature. Though this newly founded team went on to some acclaim in preventing an international incident and incarcerating most of the metahuman assassin cadre known as the Invisibles, Primordo was rarely seen in public even during emergencies, leading some to speculate that his role might have been largely restricted to that of medical specialist.
An Amorphous Hell
During the end of Primordo's tenure with the Vanquishers, Leland had been growing more and more aware that his consciousness within the creature was slipping away. Like all the others who had been absorbed into the proto-mass before him, soon Leland would be nothing more than a distant, screaming voice in a chorus of hundreds floating in that purgatory of living slime---unable to act, to communicate, robbed of any awareness of Primordo's actions or the world around it. Though he resigned himself to this fate, he found some comfort in knowing that the creature had finally learned enough about humanity to respect its right to compete for life like any other organism; it wanted nothing more now than to rest and retire from a world it did not understand.
For years Primordo vanished. No more rumors of the elemental titan came, for it had returned beneath the blanket of the Earth's crust to wait for an epoch better suited to its duties. Leland, too, had vanished... despite how the creature had described it, the surgeon was very much a prisoner inside it. A mote of horror in a vast, amorphous hell.
Inside The Storm
In time Primordo was once again disturbed by the meddling of humanity. Discovered by a conglomerate of multinational companies during a drilling operation, they once more stored some of his mass in lead drums to be shipped to various facilities around the world. When the creature finally woke from its hibernation and found it was not whole, it wiped the rig from the map. But it was not alone. Approached by a mysterious and powerful figure it did not recognize, the creature was enlisted in a plan to end the threat of humanity once and for all. Leland, lost in a liquid void, could do nothing to intervene.
Though Primordo did not hate humans, it had finally learned to fear them---it felt certain it would never be left alone, and now began to see mankind as a kind of plague that had overtaken its Earth. Would they ever stop? Would they crack open the planet it called home and core it out until only a dead shell remained, with Primordo left stranded upon it for all time? The creature's doubts multiplied and its new ally carefully nurtured them. At first wishing only to recover its loss mass and hide once again, the creature's new ally---the megalomaniacal mutant villain called Furious Storm---began to offer Primordo a steady bribe of recovered containers to convince it of his charity. In time Primordo became whole again, and without Leland's voice to counter Furious Storm's arguments and the creature's own fears, it agreed to assist the mutant in his plans.
What became of Furious Storm's scheme was never known to the elemental. It made headlines for several weeks, attacking many notable superheroes like Thundrax and even its former ally Azunai in attempts to capture pawns for Furious Storm's grand designs. In the end it was badly injured during one such attack by exposure to massive quantities of powdered lead, enough to permanently corrode some of its mass. Though this exposure would, in time, allow the creature to finally overcome its weakness to the metal and even allow it to adopt its properties like any other element, at the time the damage was so severe that Primordo was forced deep into the earth to nurse its wounds.
A New Frontier
Thanks to the tireless efforts of his old friend Gabe (the hero known as Azunai), Primordo was rediscovered several years later and the captive consciousness of Doctor Leland Manheim was restored to control. Though Doctor Manheim's abject terror of another relapse gave him firm reins over the ancient elemental monster, his years submerged in a shapeless hell of the mind had eroded his sanity. His stammering worsened, he frequently spoke to the creature aloud, and his deep anxieties had magnified tenfold.
Gabe's best efforts to integrate the old surgeon back into the world mostly met with failure. Leland had taken to skulking alone in the sub-basements of Azunai's labs, muttering to himself and ignoring all attempts at human contact. What finally returned him to the world was the same thing that led to his curse---his unshakable need to heal others. Azunai, ever a hub for other costumed heroes, called upon Leland's surgical skills when the shrinking super hero Particle Man was badly injured---and the doctor answered.
Forced back into the public eye but terrified of the creature's lurking menace, Leland requested a post among Particle Man's allies, the fledgling hero team called the Frontiersmen. Equipped with an orbiting space vessel where Leland would pose no threat to the Earth or its people, he secluded himself in the ship's infirmary and does his best to serve the Frontiersmen as a medic and a hero.
Despite taking a humanoid shape when in the presence of mankind, Primordo's lifeless expression and dead eyes are often called deeply offputting by the few to share its company. Though Leland's altruism and emotions lie buried in the protoplasmic organism along with countless other absorbed 'voices', Primordo seems capable of ignoring them for long periods of time. In most interactions the being appears cold, dispassionate, clinical, aloof and detached--as if the humanoid form were merely a garment it dons for ease of communication, with no functional understanding of body language, facial expression or tone of voice. Primordo refers to itself as 'We' in respect to the others that occupy its malleable body.
At times this cacophany of voices inside of Primordo bubbles to the surface, and it can be seen to regard people, places, scenes with a strange longing or abiding sentiment without quite being able to explain why. Nevertheless, it remains very much out of place in any social situation, usually deigning only to observe and learn and to speak in it's distorted monotone only when absolutely necessary.
In the rare cases when Doctor Manheim siezes control of the lifeform, he appears to be an older man of great wisdom, gentle compassion, and paralyzing anxiety. Long bereft of the confidence and ambition of youth, he now only fears for his own redemption and for those who might be harmed by his curse. He hopes desperately to reform Primordo, so that in the end he might be remembered as something more than a monster.
Powers and Abilities
The exact boundaries of Primordo's vast strength have yet to be determined, but from all observations it has proven capable of holding its own with some of Millennium City's hardest-hitting powerhouses. While in its default state it possesses colossal strength well beyond a human (seen to move or lift objects weighing hundreds of tons with some effort), its ability to increase its density, mass and size at will makes its theoretical limits impossible to calculate.
Owing to the unpredictable and highly adaptable nature of its powers, Primordo has shown incredible resistance to injury and has proven very difficult to harm. While a powerful foe might dent its body or even smash it to pieces, its malleable and decentralized body structure means actual injury to limbs, organs or other critical areas present in a humanoid is simply not possible. Though the shock of such impacts often leaves it stunned, it usually adapts and reforms in a new shape more suitable to thwart its attacker. Given that Primordo has been witnessed transforming into vapor, water and other largely incorporeal forms like sand, one can conclude that if Primordo wishes to avoid injury via conventional means it can do so.
Still, certain massive outbursts of energy (ie those generated by The Emissary) have proven effective at causing severe pain and even dissipating Primordo's noncorporeal vapor state temporarily.
Primordo's greatest power lies in its adaptability. It possesses the inate capacity to reshape its proto-matter form into any elemental composition it deems useful, seemingly like tensing a muscle. As it is composed of highly unstable synthetic molecules, it can rapidly combine, detach or reshape these simple molecules into more complex elements. Though it is unknown how limited this power is, Primordo has simply stated that it can form any element 'programmed' into its biological matrix when it was first designed eons ago. Whether this is restricted to elements found on Earth or anywhere in the cosmos is unknown at this time, as well as whether it can 'learn' to simulate new ones.
In addition, Primordo's unstable molecular structure allows it to increase its mass, size and density at will, growing over twenty feet in height and weighing enough to crack the earth under it. However, it seems unable to maintain the stress of such drastic changes for long, and will generally revert to a more ordinary size as soon as possible. Similarly, it can reduce the cohesion between its molecules in order to adopt a gaseous or liquid state and greatly reduce its mass and weight in this way.
The speed of Primordo's transformations varies, but it seems to favor remaining in one elemental form until it has been overcome by the present threat, and then adapting to something new (ie: Primordo might assume a heavy metallic shape at the outset of a fight until a foe proves strong enough to dent or crumple it, at which point it might reshape to something less tangible). However, Primordo has on occasion been seen to 'anticipate' an attack before it strikes and transform swiftly enough to waylay an attacker with an unexpected form.
To date, Primordo has been seen to assume a wide variety of shapes and elemental compositions including but not limited to: bedrock, concrete, water, diamond, incredibly dense metal, sand, molten volcanic matter, air vapors, radioactive minerals and many more. However, Primordo cannot simulate the appearance of human beings or other lifeforms that have not been previously 'absorbed' into it (ie, it can assume the appearance of Leland Manheim but not a random person it passes on the street). Similarly, Primordo seems incapable of transforming itself to resemble inanimate objects like cars, phones, books, etc due to their complex shapes and lack of internal reference.
Given the rare and singular nature of Primordo's lifeform, methods to effectively combat it have not yet been developed. Limited research has been conducted on ways to harm, contain or kill Primordo, but to date only three methods have shown any promise in curtailing or inhibiting its abilities or causing lasting harm. These are suspected by only a very select group of individuals, and have yet to be tested. They are not considered public knowledge even to other heroes.
- When Transmolecule harvested and stored Primordo in its raw state, they discovered quite by accident that one element seemed much slower in reacting to the rampant destabilizing effect of exposure: simple lead. Though eventually even these storage drums succumbed to Primordo's transformative properties, it took many decades to do so. Some scientists have speculated therefore that considerable quantities of lead could be used to contain Primordo or inhibit its transformations. UPDATE: After Primordo's exposure to heavy quantities of powdered lead that integrated into his mass with catastrophic physical results, the creature eventually acclimated itself to the once-harmful metal. It no longer shows any allergy to ordinary lead, and can even adopt the metal's properties--however, certain lead alloys are still assumed to be an effective deterrent/containment method.
- To date the only substance that has proven capable of destroying Primordo's mass in a laboratory environment was a lethally potent molecular acid not commercially available. Highly corrosive acids of this kind seem to be able to destroy Primordo's simple molecular structure outright, resulting in a loss of mass that cannot be regrown.
- Potent electrical discharge has shown some effect on Primordo's mass, much as electricity is used to conduct nerve impulses. Its malleable form was seen to reshape seemingly at random when provoked with controlled electrical shocks in a laboratory, suggesting that its transformations could be 'scrambled', randomized or inhibited via this method.
- Does your character hang about on the rooftops of Millennium City often? You might just bump into Primordo as it studies the humans below.
- Is your character an advanced expert in cellular biology, mutagens or a related field? You might have theories on Primordo or some knowledge of the research done by Transmolecule Inc.
- In need of a conventional surgeon? Primordo sometimes makes peculiar housecalls in the form of Doctor Manheim, no doubt driven by Leland's desire to save lives.
- Do you collect or study alien lifeforms? Are you a paleontologist? You may have seen signs of Primordo's life form before on Earth or other worlds. Primordo might even have sought you out individually.