Russia took horrible losses during the first world war, the Soviet Union took even worse during the second. After that, they were desperate to not see these events repeat. This went so far as to letting people starve so the money could be spent on nuclear bombs. Poorly tested aircraft were rushed into production - early MiG-19s lacked sufficient heat shielding between the engines and fuel tanks, leading to a few mid-air explosions.
Perhaps the brightest jewel in this crown of fear was Biopreparat. (Биопрепарат, "Biological substance preparation") Tens of thousands of scientists and workers preparing biological weapons.
What if they had gone father than just plague and pox? What if they really had been researching for a way to make super-soldiers or a method of putting those historic high casualty figures to good use?
That is where unit 2552 comes into play. Officially, it just another unit of border guards in Azerbaijan and Kazakhstan. Their mission is to assist KGB militsya (police) in controlling the flow of shipments and contraband into and out of the area - at least the traffic they aren't bribed to ignore. Members of the unit are also present to protect the military facilities, watch transfers of weapons grade material, and occasionally assist in readying the weapons.
The real purpose, is somehow more sinister yet. They are there to monitor the progress of even more secretive programs, and to eliminate any specimen or witnesses left at the conclusion of the test.
Of course, filling the warheads is still part of the mandate. After all, which is more likely - world war three, or a zombie outbreak in Tajikistan? Turkmenistan maybe...
There are two modes for the 2552 setting.
The first is in the late 1970s and early 80s when the USSR is still a superpower. Experiments are in full swing, as is the units funding, and recruitment. Dealing with defectors and spies is part of the job, as well as this month's abomination. Ideally, this means working in contained underground complexes, but as the sverdllovsk anthrax outbreak proved sometimes, things got out of hand.
A second version appears after the fall of the Soviet Union. With little paper trail to prove the unit exited, and Biopreparat largely dismantled, the former soldiers find themselves with little support. Many of the left over creatures are forgotten as well. Some are just the ones too dumb and hardy to die, others smart enough to avoid termination after multiple attempts. Beyond just hand picked soldiers, the possible players are government agents, news reporters, foreign intelligence, or simple citizens whose loved ones disappeared in the hills of Azerbaijan - all trying to cover up or investigate the last great secret of the Soviets.
Part two will deal with the equipment, operations, and adventures of Unit 2552.