Heroes of Freedom City
Background: In the year 2000, Omega and his Terminus forces invade our dimension. During the invasion, Centurion sacrificed his life to shatter Omega’s support armor and force his retreat through his dimensional portals.
Prior to the invasion, the billionaire genius, Maximillian Mars detected a spike of dimensional energies, and against his better interest he approached the Freedom League to warn them of the impending danger. Mars was known to the League as a super villain, the Commander. Under careful observation he worked with the force to protect both Freedom City and the world from Omega’s forces.
The Commander witnessed Centurion’s sacrifice first hand, as well as the power of Omega. Ever pragmatic, Mars decided with the loss of Centurion, there needed to be someone, some-thing, that could deal with the amount of power. He collected small samples of Mark Leeds DNA and dedicated himself to cloning the Centurion, so that there would be someone who would be able to stand against Omega’s forces when he inevitably returns.
Naming the project Invictus, Latin for unconquerable, Mars worked steadily towards producing a viable clone. He discovered that Centurion’s DNA was largely human, but had been infused with energies very similar to the energy signature he discovered prior to the Terminus event. He used his wealth, influence and new found legitimacy to acquire salvage from the Terminus forces, studying the energies themselves and the effect they had on genetic material. Mars worked alone in the genome laboratory, though he recruited specialists from a variety of fields to assist in his research, each specialist working on their specific portion of the process, unaware of the other components, and thereby unable to deduce the larger project itself.
The first cloning attempt performed by Mars utilized series of holographic flashes, the subconscious stimulation and memory implant procedure unfortunately created a psychological and emotional imbalance in the ‘Alpha Centurion’. He therefore scrubbed the process, and kept the failed creation at a separate, but secure location, incapacitated by a weakness that had been bred into its genetic code, argonite gas.
With the new data, Mars realized the process of implanting memories and experiences into the clones psyche resulted in psychological imbalances. With the assistant of Dr. Ankita Suresh, Mars was able to perfect the memory implant procedure. Though this required that Dr. Suresh have direct access to the subject, he was able to do so while preserving his anonymity from both the subject, and the Doctor herself. Mars combined his work with Dr. Suresh’s work on cortical stimulation to develop a subconscious education system that would allow a more gradual formation of the subject’s psychological and emotional states.
Markus was born May 7th, 2003, and Dr. Suresh was able to begin the program that would allow him to gain full consciousness, and intellectual maturity. By this point in the project Mars had become so convinced of his eventual success that he revealed himself, both to Dr. Suresh, and to the subject, Markus. Mars became the clones mentor, and father figure, while Dr. Suresh, in many ways, became the young man’s mother. Through the memory implant procedure, as well as his on going holographic education Markus learned of the outside world, and yearned to be a part of it. Mars himself was absolutely final in his decision that Markus not yet reveal himself to the world.
It was then that the dreams began, Markus dreamed of a woman, in his dreams she appeared as his wife, yet he knew the only woman he had ever met was Dr. Suresh. After speaking with Suresh, she was able to realize that the cloning procedure had resulted in a level of genetic memory, and the young man was experiencing memories directly from Centurion’s cellular consciousness. She encouraged the young man to learn what he could from these memories, as she felt that the memories of the hero would be nurturing as compared to the pragmatic mentoring he was receiving from Mars himself.
Weeks later Markus awoke in his rejuvenation chamber in Mars’ secure lab, desperate to discover more about Marcus Leeds’ life he flew at supersonic speeds to Centurions arctic Sanctum. On approaching the hidden entrance scanners decades old recognized their creators DNA and allowed the young Markus access. As the Freedom League was aware of the Sanctum, and was using the facility as a storage facility and secondary base, his entrance set off alarms at Freedom Hall. Thus it was that Captain Thunder and the rest of the League arrived at the arctic to discover the young man perusing Leeds’ personal library. After a brief skirmish, in which the young man was eventually subdued, he revealed his origins to the League, though he left out any indication of either Mars’ or Suresh’s involvement in his creation.
Captain Thunder, Johnny Rocket and the Raven thought it best for the clone to be incarcerated until they could determine the origins and circumstance of his creation, while other members of the League, specifically Daedalus, Dr. Metropolis and Lady Liberty thought it may be better to entrust the young man to Duncan Summers. As the Mr. Summers, the original Raven, had recently opened his Claremont Academy, a school where he sought to train the next generation of super powered heroes. Over the course of the next week the League, together with Mr. Summers, had a series of meetings where they determined what was to be done with the clone.
Daedalus and Summers worked together to provide a suitable identity for the young man that would stand up to the most intense scrutiny, as he had expressed a desire to be able to lead a normal life. So in with the League as his sponsors, Markus Anthony enrolled at the Academy during its opening year, and was among it’s first students. When Mars discovered the consequences of his creations actions was the increased scrutiny of the League he withdrew from the young man’s life for a time. However, Suresh contacted Markus through encrypted email, and was a help in the early days of his academy life. Her continued communication, allowed the young man to excel in his studies. He did not socialize much with his fellow students, as he maintained a certain distance, he had only had contact with Mars and Suresh during his formative education and so the chaotic crowds of the academy were both intimidating and embarrassing to him. Due to Captain Thunder’s opinion of him, Markus had several run ins with the Captain’s son, Bolt. He did manage to bond with Nereid, her understanding of the weight of the crown of Atlantis mirrored, in many ways, Markus’ own doubts about his ability to carry the legacy of Centurion.
In 2006, ‘Centurion’ returned to earth after revealing that he had been trapped in the Terminus dimension for almost ten years. It was discovered by Chase Atom, of the Atom Family, and the Freedom League that this was an imposter created by Omega to infiltrate earth’s heroes and prepare for a new invasion. Jack Wolf, aided by the computer intellect of Dr. Chase Atom reveals the deception to the public at large. In truth some of Mars’ old allies from his time as the Commander had learned of the facility being used to hold his original attempt at cloning Centurion, and during their venture to acquire the clone ended up releasing him from his argonite induced coma. Mars’ was able to alert Markus of the re-appearance of the ‘Centurion’ through use of a frequency only Markus could hear, and encouraged the youth to assist in the apprehension of this imposter.
The Freedom League, aided by Jack Wolf and the Atom children, and the newly dubbed hero Invictus were able to incapacitate this ‘Alpha Centurion’ and trap him in the Zero Zone. Mars had supplied Markus with a neural scrambler that would help him incapacitate the clone, but in truth the apparatus scrambled the delicate neurological synapses of the clone, thereby concealing his involvement in the creation. As Atom is at least the intellectual rival of Mars’ he had his own suspicions, but as there was no evidence, neither Jack Wolf nor the Atom Family choose to pursue them.
Two years later, in 2008, as the Freedom League and the Sentinels worked a stalling action against the armies of Atlantis, Markus, at Nereid’s request, travelled with the Next-Gen to the Atlantean Royal Palace. There Invictus and the Next Gen confronted the Deep Ones who held the royal family captive. A desperate battle surged around them, and with the aid of his fellow Claremont allies Markus and Nereid were able to rescue her father. When the incident was over, and the Atlantean reconstruction began, Markus found himself and the other Next-Gen members invited to a royal banquet to thank them for their part in freeing the royal family. Suffice to saw it was the most awkward dinner the young man had to struggle through, balancing the intricacies of Atlantean royalty, his growing affections for Nereid, all while attempting to earn the respect and favor of Nereid’s father, King Thesius. Shortly after that banquet, Markus was greeted in the halls of the royal palace by Queen Mother Sidon, the original Siren, she spoke of her days on the surface with the Liberty League, and how Markus reminded her of a younger Centurion. She presented Markus with his now trademark costume, with cape and pauldron, and with a poignant look at her grand-daughter Nereid, she indicated it was the traditional design worn by the palace guards chosen to protect the royal family. Shortly thereafter the Next Gen returned to the surface and the academy to continue their studies.
Due to his unique physiology and the fact that he does not need sleep as we know it, Markus was able to simultaneously take night courses that would allow him to graduate the Academy with his teachers degree, and a bachelor degree in Civics and History. On graduation, Nereid presented Markus with a gift, a costume made by Atlantean tailors, regal and noble, she encouraged him to continue on in heroics and become the hero that she knew him to be.
And so as Markus Anthony accepted a position with the Freedom City School Board as a part time secondary school teacher, that evening the hero known as Invictus was first seen in the night sky over Freedom City.