Earlier this month, a Cold War era chemical weapon developed by the Soviet Union was used in an attempted assassination in the UK of a former Russian Military Intelligence officer turned double agent for MI6. Sergei Skripal, the spy who was granted asylum to the UK in 2010, and his daughter Yulia, were found unconscious on a park bench in the quiet town of Salisbury, England. Within days, hundreds of military personnel, law enforcement officials, and emergency responders would descend upon the scene in protective HAZMAT gear, working tirelessly to decontaminate the area.

With such a dramatic and rapid response, one could be excused for assuming the UK government was being overly careful in the face of an unknown nerve agent – but when analysis of the agent at the scene came back, it was clear: an abundance of caution was not only wise, it was necessary. The culprit, it would seem, was “Novichok,” a nerve agent specially designed by the Soviet Union to defeat both physical, and even diplomatic, anti-chemical weapon defenses.

In fact, Novichok, which is translated from Russian to “Newcomer,” is so bad, even the men responsible for inventing it talk about it with a sense of fearful revelry; like Frankenstein, lamenting the monster he created.

“It’s real torture, it’s impossible to imagine. Even in low doses the pain can go on for weeks. You cannot imagine the horror, it’s so bad.” Vil Mirzayanov told UK media outlets earlier this week.