History is replete with calamities that were, in retrospect, inevitable. There have been many wars where the underlying causes were systemic in nature. Too many of Tribe A, who hates Tribe B too much to coexist. Customs that didn’t mesh. That sort of thing.
The destruction of the human dominated society which immediately proceeded our own was not of this nature. We live in the world we live in, Ultra augmented or not, Pantheon subject, Union citizen or Regime victim, because of Dr. Everett Chen and Peggy Martin.
No apportionment of blame would be complete without considering the college of Westen, where Dr. Chen first brought forth his thesis on Essence Theory. If they had simply fired him, perhaps we’d still be living in a world that abides by physics today. If they had embraced his discoveries, perhaps the first Ultras would have been carefully selected by the government of the day. Instead, they made sport of him.
He doubtless bears some of the fault for this. Dr. Chen was undoubtedly somewhere on some mental health spectrum or other, and didn’t understand that proving something to his own satisfaction didn’t automatically convince everyone that he spoke with. He brought his seemingly wild and outlandish conclusions, the ‘essence’ he spoke of would have sounded remarkably like the Christian or Jewish soul, to the school board’s attention without a shred of evidence. The theory seemed sound to him, after all. When the board gently suggested that he put his efforts back behind the brain studies that he was supposed to be doing he more or less disregarded them.
When he went on television and claimed that the board supported him, he wasn’t trying to make a power play. He honestly thought that, since he’d told them the reasons that he found convincing, they must have believed him. He didn’t see anything wrong with putting Westen College’s name firmly behind his cryptoreligious nonsense. It was a PR debacle.
Westen’s board responded by terminating the doctor, and by seeing to it that he would receive no employment from any others. It is likely that this blacklist would have failed had Dr. Chen been diligent in his search for outside assistance, but it seems that he was crushed by the rejection. He turned to private study. He built his lab at his apartment.
It is generally accepted as some malign equivalent of a miracle that Peggy Martin (small time shit head and career criminal) decided to rob the old man on the very night that the Process was to be tested. That she, in a chemical induced frenzy, consumed the very first dose of the Process is the stuff of a comic book’s origin story. Unfortunately, Dr. Chen read comic books.
Picture it. Prevailer-in-embryo, Peggy Martin, crashed out in a dingy lab in a drunken stupor. It would have taken some time for her form to harden to Ultra Tough two. She was UNCONSCIOUS, and initially still vulnerable to human means. One stick of dynamite, and the cities of the world would still be standing. One whiff of nerve gas and our population would be twice what is today.
Dr. Chen, when the intruder survived, was there to help her make sense of her newfound powers. He was with her when she discovered her Ultras Strength, her teleportation, and her endurance. He was patient and calm, sitting with her as the drugs she’d taken worked through her system, ready to help and guide her. He saw her as vindication, proof that his theories were true. He saw her as a daughter figure, which his own life had never provided. He saw her, if the truth be told, as a fledgling superhero, just like his comics described.