Wildman (Hero)

 

wildmanCodename: Wildman

Full Name: unknown

Faction: none

 

PROJECT CHIMERA. Twelve months ago, a secret private laboratory housed beneath a decommissioned military base in the north-east of Scotland. A chill wind blew outside and above, while deep underground two scientists sat in a state of the art control room. Monitors provided telemetry on more than two dozen test subjects.

The Chimera research was predated by experimentation on subject alpha under Project Metasis, which had started during World War II and was ultimately abandoned only to be later picked up by a madman. Redacted files about a phase one test stream suggested subject ten was its strongest result, however the developers tried to continually improve him over the time and he eventually died, his prodigious recuperative abilities crashing and failing as his physiology was overwhelmed.

Phase two was commenced years later, under the title of Project Chimera, the repurposed military base its bleak home.

“How are we progressing on phase two?” asked the older of the two men. Both looked weary, clothes rumpled from continuous work with little time to rest.

“Phase two subjects two to twelve show signs of failure. Vital signs are failing and I do not think any will be viable.”

“No second strain assimilation and stabilization?”

“No,” replied the younger man, his response followed by a small sigh.

“Our new principal will be disappointed,” stated the older man softly, his face betraying his anxiety.

“We press on then?” asked the younger man.

“Yes. It will take weeks, but we have no choice. We are in deep, maybe much deeper than you realize.”

A month passed. The two scientists worked around the clock, aided by technicians dispatched by their patron to assist them. The new arrivals were efficient and eerily quiet, focused on the tasks allocated to them.

Both of the scientists looked on with grave concern at the latest telemetry read-outs. The younger man began a running commentary.

“Second strain accelerant activated. Vital signs are holding. Remain holding. Subject fourteen, failure. Subjects fifteen through to seventeen failing, all now crashed. Thirteen is failing. Eighteen failed. Nineteen, twenty both failed. Twenty one through to twenty four holding. Twenty and twenty two crashed. Twenty one and twenty three crashed. Twenty four holding.”

Silence followed for several long minutes.

“Twenty four holding steady, thirteen still failing,” said the younger one as he resumed his observations.

The young man gasped as the vital signs of subject twenty four flat-lined.

“Twenty four lost, I am sorry sir.”

“Wait,” said the older man urgently, “Look there. Thirteen is improving. His vital signs are growing stronger. Normalized range recovered. He looks stable. Press on.”

“Third strain sir?” asked the younger man.

“All of them. All of the strains, of all the beasts, bring every strain on line!” demanded the older man franticly.

“Are you sure?”

“Oh yes, I am quite sure. You see our patron is someone they call the Mysterious Man. I know many think he is nothing but an urban legend, a boogeyman, but he is all too real. It is his money that has funded us all along, and failing him is never a palatable option. We have run out of time, and this is our final chance.”

Subject thirteen’s thoughts swam. Was he a man once? Did he have a name? If he did he had now forgotten. He heard a woman’s voice calling to him, as if carried on a distant breeze. But he was not in the wild, he was here, wherever here was, and he knew the woman’s voice was in his own mind.

She spoke with a soothing, lilting tone. Yet beneath those gently spoken words he knew there lay terrible fury. She was vengeful. Not with him, but with what had been done to him, and the atrocities committed against those poor animals which he sensed lived on in his blood and sinews.

The voice became louder and more distinct. At last he could understand her phrase, repeated over and over again.

“Free yourself man of the wild. Free yourself for me.”

Rage rose within him. He responded to her exhortations. He knew instinctively she was Gaia, the mother-goddess, and her wrath flowed through his veins in the genetic material of countless creatures whose lives had been snuffed out in the name of some despicable science.

He flexed powerful muscles and sundered titanium shackles like paper. He aimed a punch forwards thrusting through the glass of the cylinder in which he had been housed. Amniotic fluid cascaded to the laboratory floor as he pulled sensors and nutrient feeds from his body. He sniffed the air and he saw that he must leave this place, and he knew whom he sought as responsible for it all. Preternaturally keen hearing had heard the name spoken aloud just once: Mysterious Man.

The underground facility was in ruins. Subject thirteen’s violent rampage had destroyed almost-irreplaceable stocks of genetic material. The two scientists lay injured in the wreckage. One of the silent technicians picked himself up from the floor, even as his body showed signs of massive trauma. He drew a firearm from within his coat, and dispatched the two scientists before turning the gun on himself.

Today. Wildman has arrived in Pulp City. He has that name now, acquired as his reputation has begun to grow, and he is no longer subject thirteen. He is the Wildman, and he is the willing agent of mother-goddess. She bids him find allies in this place – the father and daughter of the green, the avatar of the sun, the redeemed man of stone.

He will do this, and he will find the Mysterious Man, and he will make that monster pay. The beasts live on within him, their rage kept in check as they await their opportunity.

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Loup Garou II (Villain)

Full Name: Loup Garou II
Allegiance: The Coven, ally to Moonchild

Years Ago

Shondra Vey ended the threat of Loup Garou, the most recent of the Coven’s wolf-men, but unlike his predecessors, this one was bound to a supernatural focus, a broken amulet. Drawing on the arcane powers of her bloodline Shondra was able to destroy Loup Garou. She summoned the spirits of her tortured slave ancestors, and so mighty were they that she was able to trap the man in his wolf form forever, neither dead nor truly alive. The amulet however was lost.

 

Years Later

A full moon night in the deeps of the Louisiana bayou, and dark things were afoot. A group of Coven voodoo priests were gathered and they were lost in their feverish rites. Sacrifices had been made and blood had been spilt. In the flickering of firelight a muscular man writhed on the ground, a dreadlocked Creole. With a past littered with violence committed at the behest of the Coven, he had entered into this ritual by choice, but even so he never anticipated the pain that would follow after he swallowed terrible juju powders.

The perimeter of the area was guarded by a motley mix. Rook assigned Coven Soldiers to watch at various stations. Dead Guard lurched around, the stench of decay heavy around their hulking misshapen bodies. Zero crouched upon a rotten tree stump, silently surveying his surroundings.

Papa Zombie stepped through the circling throng. He waved his cane aloft as he called on the darkest powers of Saint Edmund. In one hand he gripped one half of the shattered Moon Amulet. A powerful gris-gris, it was the catalyst to this ceremony. It was already dripping blood from a wolf, and blood from a man; both lay dead nearby.

The Creole was bound at his ankles and wrists to stakes in the ground, for this was a truly dangerous practice if it succeeded. Papa Zombie approached the supine man with sureness of step, while all around the Coven cultists’ exhortations to Saint Edmund lifted towards a zealous crescendo. Papa Zombie’s eyes glinted with malevolence as he was about to ensure the delivery of a powerful agent for the Coven. This could give him an edge against those others vying for prominence in the Coven. Eve and Kane, and most of all Comte Vendredi were all threats to his influence, and that just would not do.

Papa Zombie bent down beside the thrashing Creole. The young man was now foaming at the mouth. The juju powders had done their work. The bound man began speaking in tongues, dark portents heralding Saint Edmund’s grip upon his soul.

Papa Zombie began uttering the Unspeakable Oaths. He carved a pattern in the air with the broken relic. Energy from some other realm seemed to bleed through where he slashed with the Moon Amulet, becoming a smoke-like substance which was then breathed in by the young Creole. He then lent close in to the young man and whispered in his ear before first slashing at his body then carving a sigil on his chest – Saint Edmund’s Mark of Three. The mark represented a third state, neither man, nor wolf but a hybrid of the two. Then Papa Zombie thrust the sharp-edged talisman into the staked-out man’s abdomen. The gris-gris then seemed to be absorbed into the man’s body, as if pulled from the Coven leader’s grasp.

The injured man strained at his bindings. He snarled and howled. His wounds appeared to heal, scar tissue where the Mark of Three had been drawn into his flesh the only sign he had been injured. Suddenly he ripped from the ground the stakes holding his wrists. His finger-nails became like claws which he used to slash apart the bonds at his ankles. Fur grew rapidly across his body. His face contorted and started to transform, nose and mouth becoming snout-like. Vicious teeth snapped as spittle flew from a bestial maw.

The wolf-man flew into the crowd of cultists then, rending bodies with slashing claws. Coven Soldiers and Dead Guard fell before him, even the supernatural resilience of the undead troopers no match for his furious assault as he tore them limb from limb. As the last Dead Guard fell, Rook and Zero moved in to guard Papa Zombie. He waved them aside as the creature approached. He looked into the eye of the beast, deep into its soul. For now the Coven had a new Loup Garou and he would serve the whims of Papa Zombie, but the Coven master knew then that the loyalties of this wolf-man served Saint Edmund more than him. Already the man inside the beast was dying, as the wolf feasted on his corrupted soul.

 

Elsewhere, at the Blood Watch’s mansion headquarters, Moonchild felt her half-amulet tremble. The words of the Moon Coyote spoke in her mind. Something had wakened in the world, a kindred spirit, her opposite dark half. The wolf was unleashed once more and it wished to throw off the shackles of its masters in this world and from beyond, and it needed Moonchild’s help. She knew then she had work to do.

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Stormblades, Libra Sensei (Villain)

Full Name: Stormblades
Allegiance: Ulthar Empire

It was a duel years in the making. Two peerless warriors from across the galaxy had chased each other across the globe, and ended their journey here. Pulp City was as perfect a stage for their confrontation, at once with the veneer of the pristine and yet so very corrupt. Filled with the greatest beings on planet Earth and its most vile and corrupt trash.

Stormblades could smell the salt air and hear gulls crying across the bay. His native planet was nothing like this place, yet he had always felt at home on Earth. Even here, beneath the great bridge with ocean bellow, sky above and surrounded by a web work of steel and concrete, he felt at peace.

His opponent waited calmly, his breathing regular and calm; like the Ulthar’s own. They shared a martial discipline few could match. There was respect here. There was honor. The Aquarius caste ruled the empire with an iron fist and ranted often about honor. They did not know its meaning. They mistook honor for glory and vanity. There was honor in a good fight, win or lose; though they could not see it. He knew the Gemini were behind this circumstance, the dominance of the Aquari, as much as any caste. They had blinded and bound the Ulthar to the will of the Aquarius. But it was not always so. The Libra caste remembered, and they believed.

To be Libra was to know discipline and stringent mental control. They were the first things they were taught; to control mind and body, so that they served you. A Libra learned to peer inward, instead of seeking for things in the material world. Few outside their caste had such talent or desire, especially in the ever corrupted Ulthar Empire. But Stormblades had felt immediately at home in the teaching of the Libra. He strove then as now for perfection. He had found his way here, using the vanity of Ra’Leigh to his advantage and was set loose upon the Earth, as free as any Ulthar could dream.

His true quest brought him into the lands of the Orient. He had searched ancient temples for clues. He had dueled with monks and warriors across those lands. Many fine fights had he fought, but he found no true challenges to his prowess. He had walked the Earth and had spoken with ancients and mystics seeking ever for the hint that would lead him to the Lost. Until at last his questing brought him to the attention of the Jade Cult. They held the secret he quested for. They knew, or thought they knew why he had come. He had made the deals, had killed for them. He had suffered the little dishonors asked of him to satisfy the whims of the Jade Cult’s overlord. It was nothing new. Men like the master of the Jade Cult had no honor he reflected, only greed and ambition.

In the end he was betrayed. Stormblades had expected no less. But it was his duty as a Libra that compelled him to try despite his expectations. That was when he first heard of Crimson Oni; perhaps the one man in the world who might be able to get him what he needed. That quest had taken longer. The Jade Cult had buckled from external pressure and Oni was at the center of it. Stormblades’ betrayal by the Cult came swiftly but lacked focus, allowing him to avoid ultimate sanction. A maelstrom of events within the Jade Cult was ignited by Crimson Oni’s sustained assault. Stormblades seized his opportunity to escape. His own freedom ensured he began the hunt for Crimson Oni; for only the Oni had knowledge of the Cult’s innermost workings. Finally he tracked the mysterious Crimson Oni down.

Pulp City was the epicenter of so much. He should have known to start there. Still the journey was worthy, but not without dangers. The Jade Cult had recovered quickly and hunted down the Ulthar with ruthless shadowy determination. In Pulp City he had been forced to make deals with Xyllian, that arrogant Sagittarius. From Xyllian’s connections with Mysterious Man, he learned of the shadow war between the Crimson Oni and Jade Cult. It took months to get close to Oni, but finally Stormblades found him.  So it was that this challenge was offered, and accepted. Under the Bridge of Heroes at dawn, the two warriors would meet to decide the fate of worlds.

As the first rays of the rising sun broke the horizon Stormblades spoke, “Do you have the scroll honored human?”
“I do. And are you willing to do as I ask? Should I win of course?” the human smiled his crooked smile at him.
“I am Libra. We know the path of honor, and sacrifice. Should you best me, I am yours to call upon.” Replied Stormblades with a bow; drawing his blades.

“Then we begin!” Crimson Oni shouted. Flame burst into life from his clenched hand.  Oni’s fists struck out again and again to be turned aside by the Libra’s blades. Stormblades launched his own assault; his rebounding blades whirled at Oni. With each strike Stormblades spun through the air dancing amid the support beams of the bridge. Oni countered and dodged but the Libra’s blades caught him again and again.  Stormblades came to rest several yards away and saluted his opponent, with a snap of his blade.

The two faced each other across a distance. Stormblades summoned his will and unleashed a mental assault against the human.  Stormblades’ mental challenge to the human assailed his lizard brain and provoked animal rage. Oni responded with fury, leaping from girder to girder, while Stormblades leapt forward to meet him. Oni’s fist flew at the Ulthar, wreathed in energy, but the Ulthar knew this trick, so he ducked low as his blade scored another deep cut.

But the human was quick; quicker than Stormblades expected. The Earth-man ignored his cuts, and struck with such speed that the air cracked. Stormblades was stunned and rocked back. ’Crack‘, again Oni’s fist struck.  Again Stormblades was rocked backwards and still the human came on. Again and again his fists flashed as bones broke and skin tore. A final kick sent the Ulthar flying backwards; slammed into an upright he was stunned and bleeding. Oni stood panting, as his wounds dripped crimson onto the bridge.  Stormblades gained his feet.

Silence stretched. The warriors stood staring at each other. They knew they must continue.  Stormblades spun his blades, weaving them into the fearsome Kraken’s Guard. Oni poised himself, knowing he must strike, but knowing also that the aliens stance was too solid to provide opportunity. Oni circled left looking for firmer footing. The Ulthar paced him, seeking a weakness to exploit, finding little. Stormblades channeled his mental energy again, hoping to dominate the human’s spirit as he had before. His attack was rebuffed; Oni’s fighting spirit burning like a pyre in his mind.

Seeing the alien start as his mental assault was turned aside, Oni charged. He summoned the power of the elements and let them sheath his fists. He struck true and one of the alien’s blades went spinning away into empty air.  His fist was poised at the Ulthar’s neck, energy burning the exposed flesh.

“I have won alien.”
“Have you?” asked Stormblades nodding his head downwards to where the point of his blade rested just bellow Oni’s sternum.
“So, what do we do?” asked Oni, that crooked smile appearing again.
“Human… the Ulthar do not submit. But a Libra knows honor. If we both have lost, neither of us can gain. If we have both won however…” the Ulthar did his best to mimic the shrug of a human.

“So you will come when I call?”

“I’ll need the scroll.”

“I too am I man of my word,”  said Oni as he produced an elaborate jade scroll case from an inner pocket of his gi. It was covered in mystic runes so similar to the written language of the Ulthar that it could be no coincidence.

“This is the scroll of Atlantis. Proof of the ancient aquatic kingdom, and its dealings with ancient China. I must confess my curiosity. Why would an alien want to find Atlantis?”

“I have heard you humans say blood is thicker than water. Let us say that it is a family matter.” replied Stormblades, taking the scroll case reverently from Oni’s hand.

“So my friend how do I call upon you?”

Stormblades handed the human a small transmitter shaped like a shell.

“We are not friends. Ulthar do not have these things. You are an enemy. But you are an enemy of honor; that is a rare and special thing. I will treasure that…until my blades find your throat at last,” with that Stormblades stepped off the bridge, dropping into the cold waters below.

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Foxxy Blade (Hero/Villain)

Code-name: Foxxy Blade

Full Name: Gloria “Foxxy” Blade

Faction: The Way

Gloria ‘Foxxy’ Blade strode with calm purpose into a rain-slicked alleyway in New Port. Her wedges splashed into small puddles. She was heading into trouble, and she wanted ‘trouble’ to know she was coming. Ahead were half a dozen rent-a-thugs working for the Mysterious Man, and they were not going to get in her way. She had a rendezvous with an old friend to keep, and she was already late. She drew her katana and sai and walked forwards. The six hoodlums truly did not know what hit them.

Ten minutes later and Foxxy was on a nearby roof-top standing side by side with maybe the only person she trusted – Crimson Oni. She had known him by another name, but that was a lifetime ago and he was simply Crimson Oni now. But as much as her friend had left his old life behind, Foxxy was haunted by the past, and that is what had bought her here tonight.

“Get waylaid?” asked Crimson Oni with that mischievous smile of his.

“Nothing I couldn’t handle, sugar, but I have what we need,” she responded, pausing briefly before continuing “Just Mysterious Man after some payback. I think it was a token effort; he had to send some goons after me to save face after I sent his last job south. I’m sure we’re even now and if he ever has the info I need, well honey, then I will work for him again.”

Crimson Oni flinched at that. Foxxy knew that he did not approve of the connections she had made as she continued to follow her own objective, a goal that intertwined so closely with his own as they sought to bring down an organization Oni saw as the biggest threat to the very future of Pulp City, and that Foxxy wanted bloody revenge against.

Briefly, Foxxy’s thoughts flashed back to memories of the time when she met the kid who would become the man known as Crimson Oni; the times when they sparred and trained together at the same dojo; him suggesting her nickname as a joke after she said had seen a kitsune one very weird night.

Her mind rapidly skipped to other recollections, remembrances of her fallen master. He had been a hard man, Master Kitano, disdainful of women, westerners and the young. But through her tenacity and having nowhere else to go, she had become one of his greatest students. She trained every day, each lesson intended to break her spirit or make her stronger. In time Gloria’s will to impress the hard master won him over and he shared some of his most guarded secrets. That ended when he was brutally murdered. She arrived for her lessons to find his lifeless body at his unassuming little dojo. A single sliver of jade shaped like a lizard scale was clutched in his hand. He had left her a sign to follow even as he died.

Foxxy shook off her reverie. The two Supremes looked down on a Jade Lantern Imports warehouse. Used to move counterfeit goods that added to Jade Cult’s income stream, it also served as a staging post for bringing in Terror Cotta Warriors, deadly machines serving the Green Emperor.

Oni asked Foxxy if she wanted to sneak in. They both laughed at this old joke between friends before they dropped into the alleyway and marched up to the front doors. The massive doors were shattered into thousands of shards by the unbridled force of Crimson Oni’s Six Element Fist.

Stepping into the dimly-lit building they saw a five Jade Cult Ninjas drop from the ceiling to the warehouse floor. Seconds later two Terror Cotta Warriors crashed out of wooden packing crates, splinters flying across the room.

“Go, I got this,” said Crimson Oni to Foxxy, a wry smile creasing his face.

Foxxy ran with unerring elegance up an iron staircase toward the warehouse office. As she hit the halfway point, two Ninjas dropped from the shadows of the roof to block her way; and two more dropped onto the stairs behind her. Without breaking stride Foxxy continued upwards, graceful cuts dispatching the Ninjas before and behind her. She reached the office to find another Ninja waiting. She dodged two shuriken flung her way. Assessing the Ninja in an instant, she recognized the medallion he wore marking him as a Sensei; his uncovered head mixed human and oni features.

A formidable foe, but not formidable enough, she thought. Foxxy stepped inside his expert sword-strike, taking a grazing hit to avoid being impaled. She twisted and in her pirouette swung her own sword around, neatly decapitating the Sensei in one fluid movement. Before his body hit the ground she had covered the distance to the office safe.

Foxxy could hear the din of combat below as Crimson Oni battled against numerous foes. She needed to move with celerity. As much as her partner enjoyed a fight, even he was not indestructible. She began turning the single dial lock on the wall safe. Before encountering Mysterious Man’s thugs she had met with a contact who had supplied the combination for this safe. She unlocked the sturdy metal box and reached in to grab its only content; a slim manila folder with a single sheet of paper. She grabbed the sheet of paper and slipped it into a pocket before leaving the office. Foxxy looked over the iron railing. Crimson Oni was still outnumbered as he was holding off a damaged Terror Cotta Warrior and one remaining Ninja. The other Terror Cotta Warrior lay in pieces across the concrete floor, and the other Ninjas in broken heaps. Oni dispatched the last Ninja to leave him facing the remaining Terror Cotta Warrior. Suddenly more Ninjas rushed the warehouse, seemingly coming in from every doorway and shadow.

Foxxy dropped the twenty feet to the warehouse floor and stood back to back with her partner.

“You take out the robot-thing, sugar,” she began, “I’ll hold off the Ninja horde!”

They unleashed precise sword-strikes and devastating martial power attacks in tandem. They resisted the blows of their enemies with guile and honed reflexes. Still they were hit time after time but would not fall. Foxxy rampaged through the ranks of Ninjas, felling them to the left and right as she moved with liquid grace, the strength of the Ninjas numbers a disadvantage to them in such confining quarters, while Oni crashed a punch through the torso of the Terror Cotta Warrior.

The two Supremes fought for minutes that seemed like an eternity, until the last of their foes was finally cut down. They left a scene of bloody devastation behind them, both knowing there were more agents of the Jade Cult ahead of them as they walked their paths of justice and vengeance. Oni asked if she had what she needed. Foxxy affirmed that she did, her thoughts razor-sharp focused on revenge for her fallen master. The Jade Cult had been responsible for his death; with each agent dispatched she felt closer to her goal of vengeance. Only when the Cult fell, its leader vanquished and the identity of her master’s killer at last revealed would she rest. Until then there would be more nights like this one.

Separating from Oni, Foxxy walked into the embrace of night. She was alone, but that held no fear for her. She had wounds to salve and bandage, and plans to make. As she walked she thought she caught a glimpse of something out of the corner of her eye. She looked around, seeing nothing. But even so, she was sure she had seen something, maybe an old, hard master giving the slightest nod of approval.

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Supreme Zed (Villain)

Code-name: Supreme Zed

Full Name: previously known as Mr. Supreme

Faction: Necroplane

From Dr. Tenebrous’ Research Log:

Day 3: Finally! The patient, Subject Z, is recovering from his death. After my agent Wonder Wight (disguised in the persona of War Woman) successfully implicated him in genocide, and revealed his true identity to an unsuspecting world, it was but a matter of time before events would spiral out of the subject’s control, which of course to the slaughter of his Earthly mother and father. Subject Z then met his end in his Antarctic base when he tried to reveal our conspiracy; an assault by Necro-tech weapons began to convert his tissues to an unliving state. When he understood what was happening, he took his own life.

As commanded, Harvesters recovered his lifeless body, immediately placing it in stasis, while the defenseless Earth was stripped of death-energy. Subject Z has provided an impeccable experimental focus. This revival has surpassed all previous attempts with other trials. His body is literally glowing with all of the necro-atomic fuel we filled him up with, as his dead tissues absorb the energy with seemingly unlimited capacity, thus powering his newly granted life.

The transition has evidently caused serious and significant lasting cerebral damage. The patient seems to be at significant cognitive loss, much more than projected, although that may have useful secondary benefits, and from time to time it behaves as if it was searching for something.
Day 5: Progress has been much faster than I expected. Subject Z may see its first field tests in less than one month. The first observations from combat room exercises show great promise. Upon facing a group of five hand-picked elite Necro G.I.s, the subject received a volley of necrorays, stood up, blasted two of them with its eyebeam and smashed the next two together with its powerful fists. I am noting down a faint trace of emotion, some hint malice in his actions. It grasped the last Necro G.I., flew up all the way to the ceiling and smashed the wretched unliving soldier through the floor, only to continue the slaughter in a room below the combat area. In that chamber were another half dozen Necro G.I.’s and a dozen servitors; they too were brutally torn apart by the subject.

Day 12: All damage from combat room exercises has been repaired. The success of the revivification process has informed how to proceed with other subjects. Subject D, N and R will undergo modified revival processes based on those of Subject Z. Since in life neither D, N nor R had the inherent durability of Z, the levels of necro-atomic energy that will be used has been reduced accordingly. If all three subjects undergo successful revival, the ranks of the Scourge will be swelled, and other options will become available. Optimism is heightened following the apparent early success with Subject Z.
Day 18: Each new investigation into Subject Z’s capabilities seems to serve to underline its vast potential. Its damage-threat level has produced ratings comparable to that of a Soul Golem. Even in a Supreme-class battle environment Subject Z will be almost peerless. If its limited intellect can be harnessed and Subject Z be given suitable direction and focus, it could prove almost unstoppable.
Day 22: Further testing has revealed potentially unparalleled Supreme-level strength; incredible resilience; flight capability remains intact; and even a limited capacity for regeneration.

Day 25: The first field test is over. The exercise was a partial success, involving the subject, now codenamed Supreme Zed, supported by Mourn, a Soul Golem and a cadre of Necro G.I.’s

During the mission Supreme Zed was beheaded by the Blood Watch’s leader, but that didn’t stop Supreme Zed from destroying two National Guard tanks, and battling the accursed Six Feet Under to a standstill. I ordered evacuation of the deployed Scourge Team after V.H.’s blade first maimed then decapitated Supreme Zed; probability did not favor a prolonged and protracted battle at this stage of investigations.

Personal note: I had not anticipated just how powerful the subject could be after less than one month; how powerful will it become in just a couple of weeks more? And it already has begun to hate the detestable Blood Watch?

Perfect.

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Avatar Of The Jaguar (Villain)

Code-name: Avatar of the Jaguar

Full Name: Johann Sonnenbrandt

Faction: none

In the early hours after a glorious victory over the Dark Round Table, Johann Sonnenbrandt woke up in a dark, grimy alley behind the Metro Cinema. Just hours earlier camera flashes had click-clacked when he dragged Sir Lancelot’s still-unconscious body to Pulp City’s Supreme-criminal detention facility. Now, he was bare-naked, standing in a squalid alley in darkness, and covered in blood from head to toe. The only item that connected his sorry self with the epic feats of the day before was the Ahau-Kin Tiara.

The diadem felt different, more constraining. It was almost restless on his brow, as if trying to wriggle itself free. He took the fine crown from his head and the jewel seemed to sigh. The ember glow of the sun fire was gone, replaced by mottled shapes which swirled in the milky gem. It faded as the clouds above the alley lit up with the pink glow of the coming dawn.

The heroic events of the days to come soon washed away the memory of coming to in that alleyway covered in blood, repelling the dark remembrance. He was the new celebrity Supreme, however the manner and cause of his new-found fame was not something Johann was used to. It was not his money this time, but his actions that spoke loudly and drew attention.

A month on from that unexplained night, and Johann once again found himself waking from an overwhelming darkness in an unfamiliar place. He was perched on the giant gorilla statue in what was once Pulp City Zoo, now a park abandoned by the city and overgrown with lush and deadly vegetation. Hundreds of glowing feline eyes pierced through the cover of trees and bushes, their gaze locked on Johann.

He looked down to see a corpse lying at his feet; the body was mangled beyond recognition. The victim’s chest was ripped asunder, with ribs forming the shape of a morbid eagle. All of the internal organs were missing – that was the last thing Johann noticed before his stomach gave up.

The felines surrounding him from the screen of vegetation began their song and with that left the shadows to feast on the starlit body of Johann’s prey. Johann had to face the dawning truth – when night feel, there were times that Solar was absent from the city skies, something else prowled the city, leaving a bloody trail. Guilt and anxiety of the unknown was a rising tide within him at this realization.

He carried those wretched feelings with him constantly until one night weeks later, when he found himself in the alley where it all began. His eyes now saw much more in the darkness than they normally would have done. He looked at the dirty brick wall only to see writing in still warm blood: I KNOW WHO YOU ARE.

Johann screamed in frustration, but the sound that came out of his mouth was more like the howl of a wounded predator.

“Show yourself,” he demanded of the night, and the shadows parted to reveal a woman.

Johann’s unnatural ability to pierce the darkness and see heat patterns fell short – the female shape was as cold as a tombstone.

“You asked for me?” she hissed.

“Who are you?” Johann could barely articulate the words as a shiver ran through his body and blood started pumping at quadruple speed.

“I am the mother. The mother of all things that prey in the darkness. Your mother, when your father has abandoned you.”

The mysterious woman must have smiled then, as a pearly pointed grin appeared in the darkness along with two sickly yellow reptile eyes.

“I don’t need therapy, mother, now be so good and die fast and bloodily’; the thought crossed Johann’s mind before it was drowned in blood lust He covered the twenty feet that divided them in one-giant leap and sank his feline claws and fangs into her body.

He kind of liked it.

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Silverager (Hero/Villain)

 

silveragerCode-name: Silverager

Full Name: Silverager

Faction: Ape Revolution Committee

Dr. Red and Guerilla were angry once more, engaged in one of their frequent battles of will. Spittle flew as both alpha males leaned towards one another, voices raised, each ignoring the proclamations of the other as they made their own demands. Their latest conflict was yet another example of them jockeying for position. Each favored their own brand of militant action, and neither would fully endorse the request of the other. Along with other ARC members, Silverager watched on warily, wondering where this most-recent explosive dispute would next take the team.

After several minutes, and with the threat of imminent violence looming, Silverager coolly stepped in. With calm demeanor and a few brief words of rational interjection from the mighty cybernetically-enhanced silverback, order once more prevailed. With both ARC leaders placated, the team dispersed allowing heads to cool.

silverager-page-001Silverager returned to his workshop-lab, accompanied by the diminutive Virus. As they walked, Silverager’s bionic foot rang out a familiar clanking rhythm. Of all the ARC members who survived earth-fall, he had been the most seriously injured. His own expertise combined with that of Virus had made him something more, an amalgam of ape and machine and something quite different to his comrades in the revolution.

As they walked, the little monkey explained that he had some ideas he wanted to use to upgrade Apebot, and he valued Silverager’s technical expertise and input in implementing them.

silverager-page-002Silverager was glad for the company, and quietly pleased that his technical capabilities were recognized. Reaching his lab Virus and Silverager began to study the schematics for Apebot, mapping out Virus’s proposed changes. This quiet moment of technical contemplation was broken with the stormy arrival of Guerilla. Silverager had thought the ARC leader becalmed, but obviously some of the gun-toting primate’s legendary fury remained. Guerilla had decided that they needed to make another supply run, which could be a euphemism for many types of mission in Silverager’s experience. In this instance it meant ripping off an illegal Coven weapons shipment under the cover of darkness. They had a tip-off of what was headed where, and so Guerilla quickly set to gathering a handful of troops. He had arrived to insist on the presence of Silverager.

“I don’t think Red Bella would approve, nor Dr. Red” said Silverager flatly, as he carried on his work, hoisting up a piece of armor plate using his cyber-arm grapples. He was not seeking to inflame the notoriously volatile Guerilla; not from any feelings of fear, but simply deeming it unnecessary and wasteful of time and energy. He had to be careful; he knew that despite their respect for him, Guerilla and Dr. Red were suspicious of his motivations and his clear allegiance to Red Bella; that they regarded him as her strong right-arm. He suspected their cautiousness stemmed from the fact that he had been first mate on the second Andryshnikov satellite, aboard with Bella and the others, separate from Guerilla, Dr. Red and their crew. Selected as the calmest example of his silverback troop, at the hands of Dr. Andryshnikov, Silverager had undergone an experimental pharmacological treatment to enhance his combat capabilities. This was before joining with Bella and the rest of the simian crew of the second satellite. What followed – the crash of the satellite to Earth-side and their subsequent journey to the West from the mountains in the East – was what brought him into the ARC fold.

“She is not here, and Dr. Red knows we need more munitions to wage our war for equality!” was Guerilla’s firm retort. At this Silverager knew there was no denying the choice of mission: he was in, like it or not.

In due course Silverager found himself alongside Guerilla, Howler and Chimp Chi at a dockside loading bay washed by a cold sea breeze. They waited patiently for the delivery to arrive – two trucks brought in at speed to be stripped down and their contents scattered to where the Coven wanted them to go. Guerilla had other ideas. He launched the strike, lightning fast, with Chimp Chi dropping from shadows to surprise a couple of Coven soldiers as Howler rushed forwards to spray gunfire at a third.

silveragerSilverager waded in, brushing aside the Coven paramilitaries. A Dead Guard struck suddenly from the shadows and thrashed at the mighty ape, wounding his arm. With a roar Silverager wrenched the Dead Guard up and slammed him across his knee, snapping his spine, before discarding the seemingly broken body to the ground. However, the ruined Dead Guard quickly stirred and struck at Silverager once more, glancing the ape’s shoulder, before the primate struck a final telling blow, letting out an enraged roar as he did so. Neurons in Silverager’s brain flared, forever altered by exposure to those experimental combat drugs so many years ago at the hands of Dr. Andryshnikov. Those neurons triggered a massive hormonal release, further fuelling his fiery battle-rage. Tunnel vision followed, and absolute focus on fight or flight – and fight was the only option for an enraged Silverager.

Silverager turned then, and subsequently barreled into the remaining Coven operatives, muscles straining with red-rage-fuelled power coursing through his every fiber. He barely recognized the reptilian Francis Gator before the two were locked in combat. Gator hurled a rusty dumpster at Silverback who caught and threw it back with interest, knocking the alligator-man into the cold waters of the bay with the force of his blow.

The battle was soon done as the big cyborg silverback rampaged through the Coven ranks. Guerilla eventually signaled that they had what he wanted and Silverager began to reassert his self-control, primal rage dissipating from his mind and body. He understood then that as much as the ARC leaders valued Silverager as a genius technician and rocket scientist, they valued the raging beast within him more. That duality gave him worth. Grunting to himself, he headed towards their vehicle, to return home to their base with the team. He had a place with them, with the ARC, and that gave him some comfort. The old ape smiled inwardly at that, wondering how things would play out when Red Bella truly returned to make her mark.

 

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Sgt. Bale (Hero)

Code-name: Sgt. Bale

Full Name: Richard ‘Rich’ Bale

Faction: Blood Watch, The Way

Sergeant Richard Bale died on an unrecorded mission, earing a burial place in Arlington as well as the star-spangled flag draping his coffin, his interment marked gun shots that rang in the sky and the tears of his beautiful wife.

A recognizable tale, if not for the fact that he already died once in the minds of the rest of his world.

Joining the secret Omega Occult team of the US Army equaled ‘death’. Families received notification that their serving died in an accident. Recruits then spent the rest of their lives on covert missions or deep in the force’s underground base with four teammates all similarly burnt out from living that zombie life as they were. Recruits died a silent death and nobody would shed a tear over the life they lost in the service of their country.

Today, Bale never talks about why he joined Omega Occult. It may be deduced that many of the events of his early childhood pushed him that way. He rarely speaks about his missions while serving unless the information is relevant to the latest supernatural threat that Blood Watch is combating.

But he will repeat the story of how he died the second time just to make the curious stop asking questions.

Neither Rich nor any of his Omega Occult team knew why they were sent to the lush jungles of Cambodia. It was pretty common for them to receive briefings right after they parachuted from their stealth transport. This time was different, and the shift in the pattern sent chills down Bale’s spine.

Their local guide handed them the envelope containing their orders: follow the guide; shoot the guide once at the destination; and recover the target from the lower levels of an abandoned temple. The executed each stage of their orders to the letter, quickly arriving at the temple.

Call-sign Tank Red, the unit’s weapons specialist, exchanged the muzzle on the gun after unloading a wall of firepower, while Bale deciphered the glyphs on the ruined walls of Beng Mealea temple, using his specialist training.

Ichiro died first as a huge chunk of the naga statue crushed his body, his blood draining into the cracks of the floor. This was the first true Omega Occult death in five years. The second and third happened almost simultaneously as the floor broke and two more fell down into the dark water below. A hiss echoed in the darkness and the water exploded with seven lashing reptilian heads of doom. Bale dodged at the last second, while Tank Red fired up his battle-suit rocket boots and flew for the surface through the cracked hole in the ceiling.

Rich was left alone facing the massive beast, a creature clearly far more intelligent than its form suggested. The behemoth whispered into his mind: Fight me? Rich knew then that this was an assignment beyond the usual good and evil, he knew that more than his life is at stake.

The reptilian heads struck at him again. Bale waited calmly and in the last moment grabbed one to ride it like a cowboy on a bucking bull. The beast tried to shake him off, trying to crush him against the wall but to no avail. Bale just waited as the six remaining heads hunted for the burdened seventh. He leapt from head to head, and watched them kill the next in turn until there was only one left.

Out of options, the last man standing of Omega Occult fired his entire clip into the gaping mouth of the dragon as the beasts flaming breath engulfed him. The fire felt good, cleansing, forging a bond between the ancient creature and its slayer. Rich fell into the water, his right arm burnt as the shrinking dragon snaked around it, leaving a mysterious tattoo and thus sealing the Dragon’s Pact.

It would all have seemed a bizarre and horrific nightmare if not for the fact that a small flame danced on Bale’s hand, guiding his way. The union with the dragon made him strong and powerful.

Six months later Richard Bale infiltrated the HQ of Omega Occult, a place he had called home. He was not here to pick up his stuff, as he headed straight for the commander’s office. No robot, no beast and no soldier could stand in the way of his dragon’s fury. Sgt. Bale burned his way through all resistance, the dragon on his arm seeming almost alive as it spewed flame on all his enemies and ignited their bullets.

The journey ended fast and Bale had only one question: Why?

They do not have to divulge details, but villains at gunpoint always talk and talk and talk. So Sgt. Richard Bale learned all he wanted and even more. Omega Occult’s top brass had decided that better a one man army with the ancient power of dragons than a team of five replaceable covert operatives. The dragon had to choose only one as its champion. A new occult contact, a woman of great power, promised that more soldiers would be able to fuse their bodies with ancient beasts, to promote US military interests. Bale could be the leader of a new hybrid Omega Occult.

A flaming bullet to the head of his ex-commander was a clear answer to this promotion opportunity.

The US military acted swiftly to cover up a very unfortunate chain of events, and so Sgt. Richard Bale had a second funeral, amid a newly concocted story about his death while defending American security.

Sgt. Bale and his dragon powers went on the run, and sought a refuge, as he knew he was too powerful and too dangerous to return to his twice-widowed wife. He was approached by many: government agents; power-hungry tyrants; the woman that claims she knows the spirit that slumbers in him. He rejected them all, accepting an offer from the mysterious V.H. and her Blood Watch Team, finding a home at last. They all accepted his grim presence because none of them doubted his loyalty and total dedication to a greater good. His journey later took him into alliance with The Way, the Dragon charting that path. Yet if Bale’s allies in both Factions only knew about Bale’s nightmares of a seven-headed dragon setting the world ablaze and bowing in front of a snake goddess…

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Hellsmith (Villain)

Code-name: Hellsmith

Full Name: Unknown

Faction: The Forgotten

Stygian, the leader of the awakened ancient dark gods known as the Forgotten, describes Hellsmith with one word: inhuman. From the mouth of a being who plots with and against the Lords of Necroplane and has killed and vanquished thousands, ‘inhuman’ is almost a compliment.

Hellsmith was a minor deity of forges in the Greek pantheon, his true name long lost in the sands of time. Asleep for aeons, gods sometimes wake up when their name once again evokes strong emotions, leaps of faith, fear, anger or lust. Hellsmith’s tale is that of the forge guardian who lived in the shadow of Hephaestus, the master weapon-smith.

The brilliant weapons crafted by Hellsmith were always credited to the Hephaestus, and so Hellsmith’s frustration grew. At the time when mortals fought for Troy, messengers of Hades offered Hellsmith a chance to betray his master and become the chief armorer of Hell. The plot was uncovered by Zeus when Hellsmith betrayed himself with his drunken boasting, and punishment was enacted immediately.

Struck down by a bolt of lightning and cast into the oily depths of the river Styx, the lifeless body of Hellsmith floated for many, many centuries until one of his most magnificent creations, the Hell Hammer, ended up as a center piece in a Pulp City Museum exhibition. The crowds were enchanted by the dark beauty and the surge of emotions it stirred up within those gazing upon it woke up the would-be armorer of Hell. The smith clawed his way from darkness to the very streets of the city. Now, recovering his power in Pulp City, Hellsmith is a vital tool in the hands of Stygian, who has gathered an army of no longer remembered gods.

There is not much wit or intelligence within Hellsmith. He makes up for such deficiencies with commitment and persistence. He doesn’t have many sworn enemies since being ‘an enemy of Hellsmith’ is often a temporary state, lasting only until he hunts them down. Cold eyes stare from the depths of the horned Spartan helmet, often transfixing victims until the moment when reality comes crashing down with a crushing blow of the Hell Hammer.

 

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Guerilla (Hero/Villain)

GuerillaCode-name: Guerilla

Full Name: Guerilla

Faction: Ape Revolution Committee

The year is 1973.

The place is the Soviet Union.

The man is Prof. Yuri Andryshnikov.

The first meeting had not gone well, he must succeed in this one. It was the only way to redeem his family’s position after his father’s betrayal so many years ago. That act, before he was even two years old, had hung over his life and his career. That he had come this far was only down to his iron will and his fervent belief in the ultimate triumph of the workers’ revolution. He had the key to insure its success, now he just needed to convince this vision-challenged party hack to approve his experiment.

guerilla-page-001“I tell you it WILL work. Our glorious ideals are inborn; they are imprinted in our DNA. We can have our perfect community of equals, free from the pollution of the West’s capitalism and morality. We need to send a group of apes and monkeys into space, away from the corruption, with nothing but Lenin’s writings, and of course enough food and water to survive. When the world sees the triumph of our technology and the perfect communist society that they create, people will abandon capitalism like rats leaving a sinking ship.”

Apes in space, what nonsense, thought the party representative, who was also the Chairman of the party. He had granted this interview for his own amusement, to see what time had brought to pass. He had arrested Andryshnikov’s father so many years ago, and that act had set his career on an upward trajectory. He knew this foolish plan would never work, but its failure would bring him a final victory over the Andryshnikovs. So he approved it.

guerilla-page-002The first tiny colony was in orbit eighteen months later, and within in a week, it was clear that a community of equals was not encoded within the apes’ genes. To Andryshnikov’s horror and dismay, a male gorilla quickly fought his way to dominance and imposed his will on the others. The ground crew saw the bloodshed that followed, declared the experiment a failure, and pushed the ‘destroy’ button. The explosion lit up the sky, and the station plummeted to earth like a blazing comet, prompting the Americans to go to DefCon 4. Frantic calls on the hotline between the two great powers prevented any further escalation, even as the station crashed in the southern United States. The party leader sent Andryshnikov to Siberia to research the social structure of arctic rabbits.

Years later, a group of mercenaries reported being ambushed and nearly destroyed by a group of well-armed, ape like commandos. Nobody believed them until a news crew from Pulp City’s Channel 4 was captured by a group of intelligent, talking apes, and forced to record its leader proclaiming his manifesto:

guerilla-art“Guerilla is FURY unchained! The Ape Revolutionary Committee will see that Pulp City becomes a community of equals! Even if that means razing the city to the ground, all will be equal in the ruins!”

While Guerilla’s position as head of the A.R.C. has more recently been challenged, first by Red Alpha, and later the presence of Red Bella and the avatars of the Ape Spirit, for many who look on he is the figurehead of the primate revolution.

Guerilla quickly became one of the most dangerous mercenaries in town, and his plan to make his manifesto manifest was to play both sides off against the other. Combining human intelligence with a powerful frame (and a deadly minigun!), Guerilla is not a typical hit man: when he hits, it is hard and loud and bloody. Hitting only where it hurts the most, Guerilla will pound and pound his target, until the only thing left is a red smear on Pulp City’s sidewalks.

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