|What’re you lookin’ at?|
|Age:||Late teens/early 20s|
|Place of Birth:||?|
|Base of Operations:||?|
|Nuclear (Radiation Armor / Radiation Melee)|
|Flight; superhuman strength and toughness; close proximity radiation emission|
|Often has a pack of Viceroy cigarettes wrapped in her sleeve, Brando-style|
|No additional information available.|
The practice of measuring nuclear reactivity in dollars and cents (of all things) dates back to the very dawn of the Atomic Age. Below $1 and you’ve got a reaction that can be controlled, harnessed like in, say, in a nuclear power plant. A dollar itself, though? That right there marks 'prompt' criticality, and it's where things melt down – or go boom.
Which would make $2, well... pretty darn reactive, capisce?
Now what does this all have to do with a certain baby-faced rogue? Maybe nothing. Or maybe US $2 bills fall under the broad (if perhaps antiquated) slang purview of the word 'deuce,' and it's kind of like why rattlesnakes have rattles.
As far as most anyone can tell, Billie Deuce didn’t exist before 2020 – there are no previous instances of the name in news reports or available databases, likewise no record of her particular costume or anything close enough to it on someone even remotely matching Deuce’s physical description. This relative anonymity isn’t particularly noteworthy in and of itself, of course, not when you consider that new metahumans emerge all the time for any number of reasons; what’s unusual (or, perhaps, troubling) about Billie, though, is how the few accounts there are of her in action testify to someone who is, shall we say, comfortable in their power.
Fledglings just now discovering what they can and can’t (or shouldn’t) do tend towards extremes of either the reckless or the tentative, if not both at once. Accidents will happen. Sometimes those mishaps or missteps are comical, sometimes cautionary, and yes, sometimes they’re tragic, but the hallmark of all such outcomes tends to be inexperience. The carnage typically left in Deuce’s wake, however, is all so… intentional might be going too far, might be unfair, but let’s call it expected. She may not, say, chuck an opponent through a building for the sake of trashing the structure itself, but if such is the most immediate way to soften somebody up? Well that’s just too bad for the building – and anyone in it. Is turning half a city block into an uninhabitably irradiated hot zone the price for subduing something that would otherwise have flattened the rest of the neighborhood, too? Look, this is why there’s insurance.
So neither superpowered combat nor the collateral damage that often ensues seem to phase her in the slightest, nor does the possibility that her mere presence might imperil; it’s not that Billie’s unaware of the dangers she can pose (quite the contrary, in fact), it’s that Deuce is alarmingly blasé about them. Perhaps the only charitable thing that can be said is she’s almost glibly up front when it comes to warning people of the risks being around her entails.
Documented incidents are relatively few, and just as relatively far between – an infrequency and irregularity which might suggest Billie Deuce isn’t particularly invested in the destruction that often accompanies her, not per se, that she doesn’t get her kicks from it.
She has, at times, turned up in the company of this or that crew to provide her particular brand of unsettling muscle for jobs in the Isles, but these arrangements seem invariably short-lived (if not entirely one-off). That might just be the radiation talking, of course, making everyone a little too queasy for comfort, though Billie seems fine going it on her own regardless. She’s been seen confronting Rikti and Longbow interlopers solo on St. Martial, and a handful of reports out of Astoria place someone generally matching her costumed description there on occasion as well; work for Vanguard is the only other circumstance under which Deuce has been reliably spotted near Paragon City.
Fresh-faced and clear-skinned, her coppery hair the cherry topping a vanilla malt just out of the mixer, Billie looks like nothing less than the genie-conjured fulfillment of cheerleader-next-door fantasies that preoccupied so much of white, male Baby Boom America – from a distance, anyway. As with all granted wishes, there’s devils in those details, and Billie’s damn. Though somehow unstained by chimney-chasing cigarette consumption, her pearly whites never seem to really smile, really beam, nor are you likely to find any sort of twinkle in her rainy-day gaze; no, it’s all smirks and sidelong judgement here.
That contemptuous, know-it-all jadedness appears to have infected her fashion sense as well; with fishnets, black lace-up boots and other leather touches, it’s not hard to imagine Deuce’s costume as a deliberate, Russ Meyer-esque dig at ‘classic’ superheroine looks from the latter half of the 20th century.
Despite looking no more than maybe 20 at the outside, Billie acts like she’s seen it all. Virtually nothing seems to shake (let alone impress) her, the most presumably extreme circumstances occasioning little more than a shrugging sort of bemusement – if not Deuce then irradiating the living Hell out of the curiosity in question. She does appear to possess some vestigial sort of morality, a shriveled husk of something like a conscience, but even this very much has its limits. Deuce won’t generally take jobs whose purpose is expressly destructive or murderous for its own sake (though she obviously has no problem with secondhand mayhem in service of something else), and she’s been known to show those in especially unfair straits a degree of sympathy, but this apparent sentimentality is capricious at best; Billie’s as likely to leave folks to their unkind fates as she is to offer a hand, and only her own extremely fickle internal compass knows why.
Deuce also blithely cops to her radioactive toxicity, seeming to take sardonic amusement in the discomfort such revelations can occasion in those hearing them for the first time.
Party at Ground Zero
Perhaps because she’s inherently a health hazard as it is, Billie isn’t inclined to pull punches. It’s not that she’s sadistic – indeed, sardonically frank condolences such as, “Sorry pal, it’s nothin’ personal,” have been heard to pressage casually devastating strikes. The simple fact of the matter appears to be that using her powers in pretty much any fashion invariably endangers those on the receiving end, so kid gloves are sort of, well, performative, aren’t they? And pretense doesn’t suit Deuce really at all, so she just lays into fights with basically no regard for the safety of any and all involved, to say nothing of those unfortunate enough to be caught nearby. It’s not calculated, or spiteful, let alone deliberate, but rather more like a matter of omelets and the eggs you’ve got to break to make them.
Known Superhuman Powers
Fantastically strong, durable to the point of functional invulnerability and capable of taking to the air without any obvious means of propulsion? That’s a template so basic it goes back to Statesman himself. At first glance, then, Billie’s profile might be most immediately summed up as ‘bog standard brick’ – except for the whole, you know, walking nuclear disaster business.
Get in the Ring
Reports have described Billie as a “radioactive wrecking ball,” but such sensational language obfuscates important details. For starters, Deuce is plainly a well-practiced brawler, and anyone familiar with boxing may glimpse flashes of prizefighter-worthy hand and foot work paving the way for brutal double-handed clobberings and earth-shattering strikes that would be more than illegal in any sanctioned bout. Indeed, though capable of improvisation when necessary, she strikes almost entirely from the hips up, rarely (if ever) employing kicks or knees; the training behind these moves seems so ingrained that, while it would almost certainly be simpler for Billie to use a simple, forceful stomp to shake the ground beneath her, she instead drives a fist downward if she seeks to knock those nearby off their own feet.
Truly serious students of the Sweet Science might even pick up on how this hook-heavy style often echoes steps, weaves and shoulder whirls once popularized by legendary early 20th-century champion Jack Dempsey (aka the ‘Dempsey Roll’); though antiquated nowadays and long out of favor in the modern sport, this aggressive, power-focused form served The Manassa Mauler well in his prime (and, apocryphally, after – it's been said he clobbered a pair of unlucky muggers while in his 70s).
Nuke ’em ’til They Glow
Those on the receiving end of Billie’s atomic assaults are often in for far more than just a beating, with cutaneous radiation syndrome (CRS, or “radiation burns”) being pretty much a given – and quite possibly the least of their worries. The sample size is presently small and primarily anecdotal, but a hauntingly non-zero percentage of those who’ve managed to walk (or limp) away from a tangle with Deuce in the first place are rumored to develop symptoms of acute radiation syndrome (ARS, or “radiation poisoning”) within a couple weeks of the encounter; given how briefly she’s been active, there’s no real data on long term effects for those who are able to recover from this, but the odds of further issues awaiting even these ‘lucky’ few on down the road probably aren’t reassuring.
Then Shoot ’em in the Dark
While readings are always heaviest right around Billie herself, she does possess a limited capacity to project radiation across some distance. Most immediately, this allows her to outright roast targets with destructive streams of rads, but inducing effects similar to radiation sickness to enervate tougher foes is also on the menu.
Tall Tales and Other Abilities
Besides what’s been observably verified by third party reports, Billie has, at various times, asserted that other powers are in her repertoire as well. Most notably, she’s claimed to have x-ray vision and to be able to teleport at least as far as from the Rogue Isles to Paragon City. Of course, Deuce has also spoken of surviving being stepped on by giant robots and getting, “punched damn near into orbit,” so whether this is all just her blowing more smoke than usual is anybody’s guess.
Weaknesses, Peculiarities and Limitations
Billie isn’t in the habit of talking about what might actually be able to harm her – and why would she be? – but she has alluded to being depowered at some point in the past, possibly even for an extended period of time. As this doesn’t appear to be an experience Deuce recalls with anything even remotely resembling fondness, the circumstances involved may have been beyond her control, which seems to suggest there could be something (or things?) to which she’s indeed quite susceptible. Unsurprisingly, Billie is tight-lipped when it comes to the details of this matter.
Not Great, Not Terrible
Beyond a nebulous (but potentially dramatic) vulnerability to… whatever it was, the primary drawback of Deuce’s powers is that the better they are for her, the worse things get for everyone else, friend and foe alike. Whether source or side effect of her abilities, Billie trips Geiger counters with her mere presence and sends them into frantic, redline clicking if she exerts herself much at all. When not actively employing her powers, Deuce hovers around the sort of rad levels a suitably pliant federal inspector might be ‘persuaded’ to deem safe for a couple hours of exposure. You know, the kind of readings that won’t be a problem ‘til ten or thirty years down the line, and even then only if you’ve been foolish enough to pay your workers a wage that might let their bereaved families hire competent lawyers. Once she really gets going, though, Billie’s immediate vicinity will be soaking up well beyond any recommended dose of ionizing goodness.
The most dramatic examples of this phenomenon result from deliberate effort – Deuce can tap into vast radioactive reserves to make herself stronger still or add extra, energetic oomf to attacks. This may result from either conscious effort or instinct and reflex, but even when directed intentionally against a specific target, the ensuing atomic ‘splash’ is anything but precise and those in the immediate vicinity of Billie or her target(s) are likely to be at some risk of potentially dangerous exposure. Moreover, there’s a purely biological component at work, too, in that an elevated heart rate results in elevated ambient rads around Deuce regardless of whether or not she’s intentionally calling up more power; despite being by all accounts functionally tireless, Billie’s pulse quickens with exertion just like other humans, and so any suitably vigorous physical activity renders her more radioactive than usual (though nowhere near so much, by itself, as if she were using her superhuman abilities as well).
Friends, Allies & Enemies
Acerbic as she typically is, Billie can be an acquired taste, but she’s personable enough in her own, gruff way and even seems to feel vaguely protective of those with whom she truly clicks. Conversely, Deuce also appears to nurse grudges like she does her drinks: in perpetuity. Just how far out of her way she’ll go (if at all) to act on such opinions after they’re formed is unclear, but they do generally end up set in stone once formed.
How Billie fell in with a band of misfit ex-wrestlers and their hangers on is as mysterious as anything else about her, but Babe the Big Blue Ox’s crew is, nonetheless, the one with which she works the most – or worked, anyway. The group hasn’t been seen around for a while, but Deuce was one of their more reliably present hitters when they were.
Billie’s tangled with Longbow a few times around the Isles, either because they insist on spending so much time there and had the misfortune to be in her way en route to something else, or because one of their innumerable extrajudicial operations blundered into her path. Given the well-documented tendency of more than a few in the agency towards naked vigilantism, it’s likely that Deuce is on somebody’s list, somewhere – and just as likely she thinks that’s their problem, not hers.
Perhaps it’s because they have their own history of tension with Longbow, or perhaps it’s because Billie pretty clearly hates the Rikti in ways she can’t be bothered to care about hardly anything else – perhaps it’s both. Either way, Vanguard occasionally reaches out to Deuce when they have a target where collateral damage and site reusability aren’t an issue. For her part, Billie typically responds to such requests with an unusual degree of eagerness, much to the lamentation of the Rikti in question.
If there’s a reliable way to reach her in the Isles, nobody seems to know it; statistically speaking, Deuce is most often seen in, around or above St. Martial, but she doesn’t exactly hold court anywhere while in costume. Billie’s something of a regular in Pocket D, though – quite possibly on the assumption that the place’s nebulously potent safety protocols render her less dangerous to be around. She can often be found sporting sunglasses and retro-adjacent threads at Isaac’s ‘blue side’ bar.
Quirks and Ephemera
Tends to speak in a dated, mish-mash vernacular shot through with long-dead slang seemingly compiled from two mid-20th century sources that otherwise couldn’t be farther apart: teenage ‘beach party’ films and gangster/noir potboilers.
Whether genuinely immune to alcohol or simply possessing the tolerance of your average Russian sailor, she has a truly impressive capacity to knock back booze.
Vocal proponent of Isaac the bartender’s skill at making a Savoy-style Zazarac, and appears to have a rather extensive knowledge of mixology herself.
Doesn’t seem to be chemically addicted to cigarettes, as she hardly ever steps away to light up in environments where such displays are forbidden, but will smoke just about anywhere that doesn’t explicitly prohibit it (and many places that do, if she thinks somebody needs to be annoyed); she and her entire wardrobe have long since become utterly and inextricably infused with the smell of nicotine.
Habitually wears Estée Lauder Youth Dew in civilian settings; how much this counteracts, complements or clashes with the cloud of stale cigarette essence through which she constantly moves is a matter of opinion.
Further supporting hypotheses that she’s got some kind of inherent resistance to the compounds involved, prodigious alcohol and cigarette consumption do not appear to have had any effect on her voice; though unremarkable in conversation (beyond being somehow undamaged, of course), she sings mezzo-soprano with nearly perfect pitch.
Claims to play guitar and organ well enough to have done so professionally, though declines to name any groups with whom or recordings on which she might actually have performed.
Do You Remember Rock ’n’ Roll Radio?
These folks do, and some of their tunes might make a pretty alright soundtrack for Billie.
"American Pie" – Killdozer (covering Don McLean)
"Ball and Chain" – Joan Jett (covering Social Distortion)
"Dead Flowers” – The Rolling Stones
"Death of a Clown" – Dave Davies
"Desolation Row" – PetTommy (covering Bob Dylan)
"Summer of ’69" – Bryan Adams