Morely broke the silence, as if this could undo the damage, his North Yorkshire accent making Owens jump. "Start digging," he murmurs, taking a step forward to dig through the rubble. The large blocks bit into his fingers as he strained to overturn them roughly in the area they'd last seen their CO's shadow tangling with the huge armoured German.
"What the fuck was that thing?" Owens near whimpered. "It was almost as big as the Captain, and looked stronger! Fuck, does anyone even know if Captain Bishop has next of kin?"
"Shut up and di-," Morley's admonition died on his tongue as a olive-clad hand pushed from a nearby break in the rubble. It gripped a piece of the building's broken framework and, with a mighty pull, leveraged Captain Bishop's titanic frame from the debris. "Is it dead?" He growled, not even bothering to dust himself off as he rose to his feet.
"No, Captain. It took off into the woods at an insane speed!" Owens exclaimed. "Was it ... a walking panzer? New contraption from Berlin?"
"I think it had a Thule symbol on it, but I can't be sure," said Waterman, pushing up his glasses for the 30th time that day.
"It seemed ... familiar," Bishop said, looking in the general direction his men had indicated. "Whatever it was, it has our position. So we should not remain in said position." With that, Bishop started walking toward their base, showing no more stiffness than if he'd just had a smoke break. "Let's head back. I need a cup of tea."
Duncan is a giant of a man, standing at about 2.1 metres (~7 feet) tall and having a well-toned body. Despite his robust frame, his face looks a little gaunt and haggard, albeit attractive enough. His eyes are a slate grey, and his short, military-cut hair is a golden blond. His jaw is well defined, contributed by his somewhat sunken cheeks. His body is a mess of surgical scars, but there is no visible scarring from injury.
"Oh he hears you. He just doesn't respect you. Now I know what you're going to say: Your position demands respect. Let's get one thing straight, though, he looks down on you, me, all of us, and not just because he's so bloody big. The thing about Major Bishop is he is loyal to an idea, not to people. So he'll do what you say, and he'll do it right and do it sharpish. Just try not to look at his eyes when he snaps that salute because then you'll see just what he thinks of you."
Duncan has been a military man all his life, so he's used to taking orders, but there's something about the way he takes orders that leaves his superiors unsettled. He meets all demands with a cold stare and a salute, and then goes and gets it done, but he gives off a vibe of superiority. There's no one thing any CO could complain about, no real example they could put their finger on, but they know full well that Bishop disdains them. No doubt, were he a much smaller and less powerful man, someone would have tried to take it upon themselves to beat some respect into him.
Those Duncan commands do not share this problem. He's the epitome of the cliche "tough but fair," not putting up with too much bullshit, but giving his troops freedom to be themselves. He'll drink with them, talk with them, and even listen if they have something to address, but he doesn't allow any insubordination and anyone not following his orders gets discharged from his unit immediately.
Duncan does not really talk unless he has something important to say, and he is particularly hard to get a rise out of. He has the look of a man who knows this too shall pass, not matter what "this" is, and will often stare silently instead of respond to a stupid comment. This has been an effective information-gathering technique for him in the past as nervous subjects will often speak simply to fill the silence Duncan is most comfortable with.
Duncan remembers very little about his early life, mostly flashes of images in the moments between sleep and wakefulness. Also certain scents can send him into a reverie, as long as there is no immediate danger around him. What's known is that he has been around for a very long time, and has been loyal to the British empire for a good portion of it. He is tough to an almost supernatural degree, even walking away from literally having buildings dropped on him. He has suggested he was "purpose built" for surviving hostile environments. Since Duncan is a man of few words, getting even this much out of him is a bit of an undertaking.
Although he can recall specific, earlier incidents at seemingly random times, Duncan's clearest memories begin at the turn of the 20th Century, during one of the strongest points in the British Empire. He stood at the front lines of every battle to which he was called, without question, though his superiors often remarked that any respect or deference shown by Duncan was simply paying lip service.
His origins are not very auspicious by Atlantean standards. He was born comparatively sickly and was expected to die in infancy. Somehow, he held on long enough to be considered a burden by his biological parents -- two veterans of the Atlantean military forces -- and they gave him up to be harvested for raw genetic material and as a control for genetic improvements. However, the scientist who was assigned his little body, for whatever reason, decided to try to prove even a sickly Atlantean could be made to benefit the society.
His experiments in genetics were raw and experimental, but they exceeded all expectations. Instead of being sickly, Duncan became the ultimate survivalist, becoming 300% less susceptible to environmental extremes and physical and mental trauma. Duncan does not recall the great cataclysm, but he assumes these abilities are the reason he did.
Duncan has sought out combat all his life, constantly feeling the need to prove his worth, and the emerging British Empire of the 1500s gave him ample opportunity. He was a popular, if no-nonsense, leader who inspired the men to get their second wind even when all hope seemed lost. Almost any battle Duncan was dropped into was quickly turned to the favour of British forces, a notable exception being an encounter with an armoured German ubermensch during World War II.
Since then, Duncan has spent less time on the front lines and more time fulfilling the requests of his Templar superiors.
Despite its age, and though they've always been aware of him, the Templar order has only recently been able to acquire Duncan as an asset. His worth to the Empire was such that joining the secret society was something his superiors fought tooth an nail to avoid, but after the decolonization and decline of the Empire, the strength of their position deteriorated almost overnight. Duncan was quickly pulled into the order and briefed on the situation to the same degree as the average Bee. Duncan was said to have simply nodded and left to get to work.
Duncan has largely impressed his new employers, the exception being his attitude to Filth. He seems utterly unconcerned by the infection and doesn't take it seriously as a threat. His strange underestimation of the powerful entity has yet to be explained. Duncan himself doesn't seem to know why.
Duncan was one of the early subjects of the genetic grafting that became the norm for future Atlanteans. He stands a fearsome 2.1 metres (7 feet) tall, and his body is packed with toned muscle. Other advantages from his Atlantean heritage include:
- Heightened Intelligence: Though he is mentally inferior to many of those who were his peers during Atlantis' heyday, he is a genius by human standards. He has a photographic memory (however, see disadvantages) and his perceptiveness allows him to size up many people in an instant. Unless they are a practiced liar, Duncan can usually tell if someone is happy, sad, scared, hurt, lying, etc.
- Resilient Skin: Duncan's skin is nearly impenetrable, withstanding bullets, blades and blunt objects with relative ease.
- Adaptable Body: No matter the environment, Duncan's body seems to adapt to it. Extreme heat or cold feel like a spring day to him, and a biological filtration system in his lungs means that toxic gasses cause little more than a tickle in his throat. He is also immune to all known diseases.
- Enhanced Strength:: Duncan's super-tough skin means his muscle density was able to be increased without him ripping out of his own flesh. He can lift roughly 2.3 metric tonnes (~5,000 lb) and carry about 1.1 metric tonnes (~2,500 lb). His enhanced musculature also allows him to keep up with even the faster Bees.
- Enhanced Senses: His slate-grey eyes enable Duncan to see about two miles with perfect clarity. He can recognise familiar people within 30.5 metres (~100 ft) by scent alone, and track by scent (assuming his quarry cannot teleport). His ears can hear the ultrasonic and subsonic ranges within 30.5 metres.
- Enhanced Healing: Though it is slow by Bee standards, Duncan can heal about 10 times faster than a normal human. His bones heal as if they've never been broken. Duncan cannot regenerate lost limbs, however.
- Circadian Rhythm Enhancement: Duncan only requires 3 hours of sleep per night, regardless of how active his day was. He can also go up to 4 days with no sleep before he starts suffering from the effects of deprivation.
- Third-Age Technology: Duncan was created before nanotech was allowed to be used on Atlantean subjects, so has missed out on the advantages provided by those cybernetic enhancements. He does, however, still have access to a few leftover Third-Age trinkets.
- A more advanced conduit device that allows a broader range of travel.
- A sword forged from an Atlantean super-alloy that behaves as anathema to supernatural creatures, even harming those that are incorporeal.
- He has a few hundred rounds of bullets that he has tipped with a coppery Atlantean alloy, which allows him to use his gun to harm supernatural creatures, but he tries to use these sparingly and rely on his blade.
- Goggles that allow him to see into magical darkness and adjacent dimensions, such as the plane often referred to as the "spirit world," or the like.
Duncan has a number of (relative) disadvantages, too:
- Memory Loss: Despite his photographic memory, Duncan has huge gaps in his memory, especially concerning his life in Atlantis and even some of his life after the cataclysm. The working theory is the survivalist gene splicing that protects him from physical harm also excises memories that might be too traumatic to allow Duncan to function.
- Reduced Sensitivity: Duncan's ultra-tough flesh provides almost no sensation. While the fact he rarely knows when he's injured has little consequence given his healing ability, it means physical connection is incredibly difficult. This is probably why Duncan comes off as distant and aloof to most.
- Old Parts: Though the science of his genetic improvements was clunky and unrefined, they have lasted a very long time. Even such advanced science has its limits across the ages. There is a rumour that Duncan has back-alley dealings with an unknown source to obtain parts that keep his "guts" in working order, but the imposing giant denies it vehemently.
- Magic: His sickly state from birth meant that Duncan had no affinity for magic, and he never gained it after his genetic enhancements were in place. In fact, he is truly vulnerable to magic, with even his tough skin and steadfast mind being no more challenge than any human before a magic attack.