by Kadorienne (moggy-at-belladonna-dot-org)
The Union of Soviet Socialist Republics had invested a great deal in the rearing and training of Dmitri Sergeyevich Issayev. Dmitri understood this. If not for the Revolution, he would have been fated to spend his life struggling for survival, and likely never would have been given the support necessary to reach his true potential and be of service to his fellow man. A terrible thought, how many people throughout history with the potential to be scientists or athletes or artists for the greater glory of the state had instead been forced to fritter away their lives trying to earn a living.
Dmitri's sense of duty had been clear from his childhood, as had been his facility with numbers, and his teachers had accordingly recommended him for appropriate training. The state needed engineers, so Dmitri was instructed to become one. He had obeyed gladly, happy to repay his country for all it had done for him since his birth.
In 1960, he had been in the final year of his training. For months he had been hearing stories and rumors that the Americans had a genuine superman on their side at last. He had of course dismissed such stories as absurd remnants of feudal superstition, to be wiped away by another generation or two of modern rationality.
But one day the professors had informed his class that the stories were quite true. They had all intently studied every bit of data available about the blue superman, "Dr. Manhattan" as the capitalists called him. The capitalists were foolishly free with information about their most valuable weapon. In Russia, every theory, however wild, was evaluated, every scholarly paper by physicists of the imperialist nations was scrutinized. A man who had restored his own intrinsic field and attained godlike powers was a uniquely challenging puzzle.
There was a theory held by many respected scientists of both East and West that the only reason Dr. Manhattan's feat had been possible was that he had been a scientist himself. He had understood how the Intrinsic Field Subtractor which had initially destroyed him worked, and the theory, at least, of how he could put himself back together, albeit in radically changed form.
Which was why Dmitri stepped into an Intrinsic Field Subtractor on a day in 1965 of his own accord, fully understanding as Jon Osterman had not what would happen to him and what he was risking.
After disintegrating him, his fellow scientists waited hopefully for days, watching for disembodied nervous systems or partially muscled skeletons to stroll through the facility before the final apotheosis.
When after a month Dmitri had not reappeared, they made minute adjustments to the device, carefully catalogued all possible variables in the accident which had led to Dr. Manhattan, tried to bring their own circumstances into closer harmony with them, and chose their second experimental subject. He also failed to reconstitute himself.
Nearly a century after Dr. Manhattan left the Earth and fear of alien invasion led the USSR and the US to form a fragile and ever-fractious peace with each other, their five hundred and forty-second attempt succeeded.
Note: I couldn't use it because it would have given the whole thing away, but the working title was "Comrade Manhattan".