First Appearance: September 1999
Karybdis is a robotic entity with an organic human brain. Her base form is that of a blue-tinged chrome-plated humanoid robot approximately 6’4” tall and of sleek, Amazonian proportions, weighing approximately 540lbs. A mimetic polyalloy coating permits her to alter her appearance as desired within the limits of her basic dimensions. Her eyes, also organic, and apparently installed as a unit with her brain, are brown. They remain visible in most disguises, but are sealed from the outside environment behind synthetic diamond lenses.
In combat, Karybdis typically drops any disguise, appearing in her base form, but extruding her mimetic polyalloy coating into a mantle of spikes and whirling and intermeshing blades.
Karybdis’ body was created by engineer and roboticist Dr. Bennett Baldwin, whose work focused on the creation of humanoid robots that could duplicate and surpass the full range of human capabilities. While Baldwin was a gifted scientist, his various eccentricities were prone to alienate colleagues. Some accused him of a literal Pygmalion complex for his tendency to rhapsodize a bit too intensely about the aesthetics of his creations, and insistence on referring to them in feminine terms.
Baldwin also bristled at any outside constraints on his research, be they financial, ethical, or practical. His insistence on operating independently imposed significant financial constraints, but he proved to be as skilled at applying for research grants as he was aggressive. By the early-1990s, Baldwin was officially working on over a dozen projects with Federal funding from departments as diverse as NASA, DARPA, and the Department of the Interior, apparently intending to create a robot of such diverse and formidable capabilities as to encompass the specifications of all of his sponsors at once. Most of the projects bore variations of the name “Scylla”, the name Baldwin had chosen for his ultimate robot, for reasons known only to him.
- CYbernetic Law-enforcement Agent
- Combat Infantry, Light Armored
- Security, Infiltration and Light Assault Android
- Collaborative Intelligence Liaison Android
- Special Independent Laborer and Logistical Assistant
By the mid ‘90s, Baldwin’s research was centered on a secret laboratory that he had constructed in a disused missile silo complex in eastern Kansas. Construction of this facility had delayed project work, particularly on a computer brain planned to be of revolutionary power, and which Baldwin dared hope might achieve sentience. As defense-related government funding dried up in the post-Cold War era, Baldwin was pressed to show results.
In desperation, though with few apparent moral reservations, Baldwin contrived to install a human brain in his creation. The identity of the subject remains unknown, other than that she was an adolescent girl described in Baldwin’s journals as “unattractive, unremarkable, and unlikely to be long missed.” He elsewhere noted, “This poor, pathetic girl is adequately intelligent, and more tractable and reliably loyal than anything I'll be able to build for quite a while.”
While his victim/subject was understandably shocked upon regaining consciousness in a new body, Baldwin rapidly indoctrinated her in what he claimed to be her new destiny – to be the first of a series of human machines that would explore the depths of the oceans and the reaches of space. Effectively immortal, she would experience wonders of which mortals could hardly dream, and eventually Baldwin would join her in a god-like body of his own.
For four years “Scylla” learned to operate her new body, and the various enhancements with which it was retrofitted. The most thrilling of these was a coating of a fluid, polymerized metal, which allowed her to take on almost any appearance she wished. Fragments of Baldwin’s journals indicate that he and his creation became intimate around this time. “Scylla’s” ego grew joyfully into the megalomaniac vision that Baldwin had laid out for her, and she passionately pursued the combat and assassination lessons added to her curriculum.
Eventually, however, the computer brain intended for Scylla neared completion, and while Baldwin’s journals note that the temporary brain had been more helpful than he’d dared hope, they give no indication that he thought of it as anything more than an obsolete component.
But “Scylla”, who often felt stifled by the claustrophobic constraints of the lab, and always hungered for news of the outside, browsed the central computer files. Stumbling upon Baldwin’s carelessly secured journal, she read it from beginning to end, and then sat, silently, for a long while. Referencing her own technical schematics, she removed the switches that enabled her major systems to be turned off, and then waited for Baldwin’s return that evening.
The lab’s audiovisual record, as recovered by members of System Force, indicates that “Scylla” greeted Baldwin particularly fawningly, perhaps searching for any hint of remorse as he prepared to "service her organic support systems". None is apparent. As Baldwin turns the screw that should have shut down her brain, he is heard to murmur “all good things must come to an end.” “Scylla” then wheels to take Baldwin in an embrace that knocks the wind from him before hissing “That’s why we have to savor every moment of them, Dear” and extruding the spikes and blades with which she rends him to pieces over the next fifteen minutes.
“Scylla” apparently hunted down and killed the other lab staff only slightly less self-indulgently than she had Baldwin, and destroyed what data files and journals she could find, leaving only fragmentary backups. An inscribed “K” left in the main lab appears to indicate that she had adopted the name “Karybdis” even before leaving the facility, as this remains her calling card.
In spite of her formidability, and perhaps as a consequence of her espionage training, Karybdis has maintained a low profile since gaining her independence. Since the Fall of 1999 she has found employment primarily as an assassin, and is believed to be responsible for as many as 40 murders of individual criminal figures, criminal witnesses, political figures and journalists in Europe, South America, and the former Soviet Union. She may be responsible for as many as 50 more deaths in the course of less numerous but more destructive “punitive missions” against criminal business enterprises and strongholds. She was not known to have associated with “supercriminals” until her recruitment by Dr. Medusa in 2001. But may have had some prior contact with the villain Soul Catcher. The two have apparently continued to work together following Dr. Medusa’s defeat.
Karybdis has received extensive, neuro-computer augmented training in espionage, combat, demolitions, and related skills. She is believed to speak French and Spanish fluently, and may be able to draw on computerized databases to communicate functionally in many others, including Russian and Portuguese. Baldwin’s journal brags that “she is capable of functioning at the bottom of the deepest ocean trench, at the core of a volcano, on the surface of Venus, or at an elegant soiree.”
Karybdis’ structure is composed primarily of advanced titanium alloys, with silicon carbide plating over critical areas, such as her brain and reactor unit. Her motive systems, incorporating electro-active polymer ligatures and magneto-hydrodynamic rams, draw power from a micro-fusion reactor located in her torso, giving her a lifting strength in excess of 16 tons. Plasma generated by that reactor can be diverted to function as a “breath weapon” with an effective range of approximately 200’.
The exact composition of Karybdis’ mimetic polyalloy coating is not known, though it appears to incorporate distributed nanoprocessor technology that controls its shape and appearance at the molecular level, as well as functioning as a highly sensitive sensor array. In addition to disguising her appearance, Karybdis can mold this coating into essentially any desired shape to augment melee combat or movement. Her surface can be rendered effectively frictionless or highly sticky, through the reactive application of articulated microtextures utilizing Van der Waals force. This coating further provides defensive benefits by reacting to absorb kinetic energy and conduct or reflect thermal energy.
Karybdis' power plant is a miniature fusion reactor of approximately 10MW rated output. Its structure and lead/iridium shielding accounts for a significant percentage of her mass.
Karybdis is not believed to possess any advanced sensory systems. Interfacing such systems with her organic brain would have required specialized technologies outside of the intended scope of Baldwin’s project. The nanocontrol and feedback systems of her coating, however, potentially give her tactile senses exceptional sensitivity and resolution, and may confer low frequency “auditory” capability comparable to that of elephants or whales.
Karybdis is not known to carry any tools or weapons separate from those integral to her body. She is known to have utilized her mimetic polyalloy coating to form mechanical tools as needed, ranging from lockpicks and glass cutters to wrenches and bolt cutters.