Toxic Grimmvenger (Hero/Villain)

 

toxic-grimmvengerCode-name: Toxic Grimmvenger

Full name: Toxic Grimmvenger

Faction: Grimm

Dusk was giving way to night in the outskirts of the Industrial Zone. Nestled on the outer edges of the area, Zenith Chemicals was a plant that had seen far better days. Rust crept along the seams of painted metal chimneys that reached like fingers for a darkling sky, while manufacturing detritus lay discarded in unused parts of the lot. At the outer perimeter, a squat, lumpy-skinned creature stuck his tongue out between crooked teeth as he roughly hewed a hole in the plant’s fence. Low-pitched snaggletoothed chuckles erupted among his companions as the barrier was breached.

The Grimm raiding party scurried through the haphazard hole in the oxidized chain-link fence. Twelve figures passed through the opening, for the most part each different and distinct from the next, yet all recognizable as part of the same species. Among them were several Grimm with bodies not unlike sacks made flesh, with limbs attached.

Their guttural speech followed patterns unintelligible to human ears. “<Way this, is way this>,” said the principal Grimm, a half-blind creature with pale skin, clad in ragged robes and walking with the aid of a stick. The others followed his lead.

“<Hur, hur>,” laughed a punk-looking brute with a mohawk, his frame bigger than the rest. Whether he was laughing at the lead Grimm or something in his own addled brain was not clear.

toxicgrimmvenger-page-001The band approached the largest of the Zenith buildings. In the distance, the rhythmic movement of flashlights indicated a pair of security guards doing their rounds. When the lights were clearly moving away, the robed Grimmancer signaled to the large Hooligrimm, who shoulder charged a side door open. The Grimm trooped in, oblivious to the sound of the clattering door they stomped over.

Under the guidance of the Grimmancer the Grimm set to work, grabbing samples of various chemicals to take back to the Grimm tunnels. Flesh-sack Grimm were filled with an assortment of industrial fluids. Four of the SackGrimm were dispatched to fill themselves up with shampoos. Another SackGrimm was dispatched high to a walkway above a vat marked with danger signs, and emblazoned ‘Danger – Waste Chemicals’. The Hooligrimm accompanied him, dangling the SackGrimm into the bright green viscous fluid, scooping it up and filling up the suspended bag-like Grimm.

toxicgrimmvenger-page-002Just then a voice shouted out, its exhortation lost on the Grimm. Human ears would have detected the word “Halt!”

Two security guards opened fire on the intruders, bullets plunging into one of the SackGrimm, causing an instant violent liquid explosion. The force of the creature’s body bursting ruptured a huge nearby vat, its spilled contents forcefully washing away the Grimmancer and another Grimm. Another SackGrimm looked on at the scene, startled, and lacking direction without the party leader. An involuntary gag reflex caused the SackGrimm to spray its storage-stomach full of chemicals onto an electrical panel immediately in front of it. The creature was instantly felled by an electrical arc which danced up the metal gantry. The Hooligrimm fell into the vat, stunned by the electrical shock, his skin blistering as he sank down, unable to swim to the surface as he had never needed to evolve such a skill. The remaining SackGrimm juddered as the electrical current swept through his body, and he too fell into the vat.

Fire broke out on the electrical panel, quickly spreading round the plant, fueled by igniting flammable liquids. The owners of Zenith had cut corners, finding it cheaper to bribe safety inspectors rather than bring the place up to code. They would come to regret those decisions. The guards looked on momentarily before they fled in panic.

The next day, and Zenith Chemicals was a smoking ruin. Captain Hadron and Dr. Mercury assisted with the clean-up once it had been identified that Grimm were involved. Grainy CCTV footage from a neighboring plant showed twelve Grimm make their way through the Zenith fence. Later recordings showed four of the creatures wandering back through the hole they had made in the fence, their bodies stretched like balloons filled with water. When the Heavy Metal Supremes had recovered the remains of the rest of the Grimm, they counted only seven more. A thorough search followed, but no other Grimm was found.

toxicgrimmvengerbsmlDays later, a Grimm truly unlike any other wandered into the furthest tunnels of the Underempire. Its misshapen body looked like it was formed of oozing green liquid. Grimm working the outer reaches looked on with curiosity for the barest moment, sniffing the air for the noxious fumes emanating from the newcomer before returning to their tasks. The oozing Grimm wandered on towards the heart of the Underempire, leaving wet, emerald footprints in his wake. A new Grimm had evolved.

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Grimm Lee Chan (Hero/Villain)

 

grimmleechanCode-name: Grimm Lee Chan

Full Name: Grimm Lee Chan

Faction: Grimm, The Way

June panned her camera around taking in the spectacle – it looked like everyone in Little Asia was kung fu fighting! And in the heart of it all, was a peculiar little humanoid in a yellow jumpsuit, near-hairless with violet hued skin, its odd face split by crooked pointed teeth. The strange-looking thing twirled two nunchakus with lightning speed, a whirling vision of martial arts motion. He knocked down Ankle Biters with every crunching strike, punctuating his attacks with a shouted ‘Ki-ya!’

As Pulp City’s leading reporter on all Supreme matters, Channel 4’s June Summers had covered many strange stories, but she suspected that whatever lay behind this one would make it a doozy.

grimm lee chan-page-001June filmed the fray before her, trying to capture the action without getting caught in it. A hot tip had brought her looking into one of the stranger denizens of Little Asia, but she had not expected to suddenly become embroiled in an all-out street battle. She continued filming as it became clear that the district’s shadowy, unofficial protectors – The Way of the Fist and Blade – were vanquishing their last foes, although June was sure she glimpsed a villain in a long coat with a toothpaste-commercial smile escape into a sewer.

June watched as the curious little thing she was interested in executed a spinning aerial kick to a badly-damaged re-purposed Terror Cotta Warrior, sending it crashing to the ground. With that, stillness came over the scene, broken only by sirens as the Supremes of The Way broke for the shadows, melting from view. It was time to start the real digging for her story.

***

grimm lee chan-page-002June began investigating at a nearby restaurant, the House of Jade Lanterns. It quickly became clear she was not welcome from the twitchy manager’s frosty reception. Her next stop was a newspaper seller, his wooden stall scorched, no doubt by some recent Supreme conflict. The wizened old man smiled when he understood June’s inquiry. He nodded enthusiastically while decrying the repair bill he faced. Fifty bucks unlocked the snippet of a tale he had to tell. The vendor explained that the creature, Lee Chan to his friends across the community, arrived a few years earlier. Ever since then he had looked out for the people of Little Asia, protecting it with all he had. When June asked about where Lee Chan lived, the vendor shook his head and closed up his stand.

June continued asking around; people knew the Supreme she described, but few were talking. The scraps of information she gathered were at times contradictory, occasionally outlandish, even when benchmarked against the Supreme stories she had covered. One guy said that Lee Chan could never bathe or mirror-copies would spawn. Another explained he should not eat after midnight or he would turn into an evil twisted version of himself. June dismissed that one as she had seen the little creature with her own eyes, and he looked pretty twisted as it was, in a strangely cute way.

The next few days saw June continue trying to put the pieces together. She felt she had a lead connecting Lee Chan to the Grimm, but the whole story felt just out of reach. She had met resistance before, but this was different. The people she talked with smiled proudly when she mentioned Lee Chan’s name, becoming reticent when they realized she was seeking more information.

GrimmFuLRAfter another fruitless day, June decided to finish up as dusk encroached. Realizing she was a few blocks from her car, she spotted a narrow alleyway to use as a short-cut. It was dimly lit by hanging decorative lanterns, but June could handle herself so was content to press on. Halfway down the passage hairs on the back of her neck rose. She was being followed. June turned to see two shadowy figures. Ninjas! The city was crawling with rent-a-Ninjas in the past few years, so she had no idea who had sent them. Suddenly, she heard a familiar ‘Ki-ya’ shout as a short figure in a yellow jumpsuit blurred past her. June watched fascinated as Lee Chan swiftly knocked out the Ninjas with well-placed strikes and kicks. When the little creature was sure the would-be assailants were subdued, he turned to June and gave a toothy grin, accompanied by two thumbs up. He then barreled his way from the alley and was lost in the twilight.

June did not file her story. Little Asia had its protector, who did what he could for anyone in the area, even those just passing through. The community wanted to keep their shared secret about their unique guardian. June realized that she would not be the one to expose the tale. She thought about her little savior and how strongly his neighborhood protected him, and smiled as she wiped her tapes.

 

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Taurus Shock Trooper (Villain)

 

taurusCode-Name: Taurus Shock Trooper

Full Name: Varies

Faction: Ulthar

It was a two or three day run to the arena, maybe longer if there was trouble on his path. There would always be those who thought they could gain an edge by eliminating the competition as they travelled. The Ulthar did not mind that – if you were weak enough or stupid enough to be killed along the road they had no use for you anyway. If the thought of being attacked while making the journey to the Great Contest made you nervous, then you would not last the first few minutes of the trials.

Cheraam was lucky to attend the last Great Contest. Ten cycles ago, his eldest bull brother had competed and lost. His brother was strong but slow, and besides, he had never really been in many scraps, too gentle by far to last in the crucible of the Contest. But Cheraam had learned from his brother’s mistakes. He worked tirelessly to train his body. He fought everyone he could in the surrounding plantations. He was faster, tougher and far meaner than his bull brothers. He would win his place or die in the dirt – that was better than slaving on the estates.

taurus_brawler-page-001The elders spoke of days long ago when the people of Taurus V had lived peaceful lives wandering the great yellow grass plains. Those ancients had strived for artistic perfection and oneness with their community. In the old days a male that showed selfless concern for the tribe had his choice of females. Then the Ulthar Empire came from above with fire and machines, laying waste to the peaceful ways of the tribes. Cheraam didn’t believe it, concluding they were tales the weak and timid would tell to reassure themselves.

The Ulthar ruled Taurus V unquestioned, and demanded great tribute each cycle. The immense plantations were all that existed there now. Each farm employed thousands to work vast fields, raising crops for their masters. The best females were hoarded by the land owners or given to warriors who prevailed in the Contest. Every few cycles a plantation would fail to meet the quota, and then the Ulthar would rain fire from the sky and obliterate that land. That was the price paid for weakness. With each such Ulthar strike, neighboring landowners would claim the lost lands, working ever harder to appease the Empire.

taurus_brawler-page-002For the majority of the natives of Taurus, the Great Contest was the only escape. Prove yourself a superior fighter and the Ulthar would free you from servitude and a cycle of misery. Higher in status above even that of plantation owners, warriors serving the Empire were given access to the best breeding females, taught the secrets of the Ulthar, and allowed to fight amongst the stars. If a Taurus trooper survived long enough, they retired home and were given a plantation of their own. Life in military service to the Ulthar was not easy, that was true, but to Cheraam it was better than toiling ceaseless under the yoke of others.

He had waited, and trained, for the ten cycles since the last contest. Six bulls from the plantation also planned to compete. They were swiftly dispatched, their bodies scattered around the back pasture where they had agreed to meet. Those others were weak and would never have succeeded. Only the strongest and most vicious fighters would meet the Ulthar’s exacting standards. Cheraam finished scrubbing the blood from his axe and set off down the road. His first task was done, and done well. Two or three days running, a few more weaklings trampled on the way, and he would be at the Contest. He would become one of the elite Shock Troops of the Ulthar Empire.

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Stinger, Scorpio Fencer (Villain)

 

stingerCode-Name: Stinger

Full Name: Known only to Scorpio Caste

Faction: Ulthar

Stinger leaned casually against the burnt and crumbling walls of a primitive human structure, confident that the deep shadows and limited lighting would conceal him from casual observation. Somewhere ahead, Kitty Cheshire and the living hologram Vector would be opening the door to their goal. Stinger did not care for what it was, or why Mysterious Man wanted it; all that mattered for him was the fight ahead. That there would be a battle he had no doubt. Those human Supremes always showed up. That was fine with him – he was here only for the rapture of conflict.

Stinger-page-001Waiting in readiness, Stinger reflected how most of his life was a struggle to find combat. His Scorpio Caste had fallen from favor with the Ulthar Warlords, seen as little more than living decoration – fancy guards with flimsy weapons used to dress the Grand Halls, performing ceremonial salutes. Stinger was never content with such a fate. He knew in his hearts that the ancient Scorpio Caste could still serve the Empire, and that it could yet be a lethal force on the battlefield. All he had needed was a chance to prove it.

It was Ra’Leigh himself that saw Stinger’s worth and gave him the chance he wanted, but only after Stinger had tried to kill him. Stinger still did not know how Warlord Draznee had uncovered his primal desire for battle. Perhaps it was Stinger’s constant requests to be allowed to prove himself in the Great Arena. Perhaps it was the work of those twisted freaks from the Gemini Caste, sifting through his thoughts. However he did it, Draznee found Stinger and offered the Scorpio a chance to test his skill for real. All he had to do was eliminate an upstart young Aquarius to ensure that he never rose to the rank of Warlord. Stinger relished his challenge.

Stinger-page-002Opportunity came while Stinger was on guard in the Grand Hall. Seizing his moment he struck at Ra’Leigh from behind. The strike had been true but the Aquarius was fast and combat-honed reflexes turned fatal blow into a mere flesh wound. Skirmish commenced. Stinger’s sword was swift, but the young Aquarius was stronger and his spear had the greater range. Blades flashed and clashed in the Grand Hall. Passing Ulthar soon gathered to watch the spectacle, though none dared intervene. Stinger used every trick he knew, thrusting, feinting, dodging, and soon the young Ra’Leigh was off balance and gave ground. Ultimately though, Ra’Leigh was still Aquarius and he summoned his mastery of the prime element to end the encounter. A blast of water sent Stinger into a wall, dazed, his weapon lost.

It was Stinger’s first true fight, and although he lost, also his greatest victory. Ra’Leigh pulled Stinger from the floor, placed the Scorpio’s fallen sword in his hand and held it to his own bared neck.

“Kill me now and you can return to your master and stand guard in his hall; or take this blade and follow me onto every bloody field of battle across the universe.”

pcmscorpfin2flatWWarlord Ra’leigh stood by his word. Stinger became one of his greatest warriors and they traversed the universe, a relentless tide of conquest in the name of Ulthar. Every resistance was overcome, until Earth, the great failure, the ultimate challenge, the unconquered jewel.

Ra’Leigh’s loyal followers were now stranded on Earth, far from the heart of the Ulthar Empire. Here Stinger found a world full of cunning warriors, mighty beasts, and endless tests. Here he discovered, his skills were highly prized. He had also uncovered insight into what drove the Aquarius, pride in victory, and had through that gained his own sense of personal worth. Stinger would never go back to being an ornamental guard. His blade would carve out his own kingdom. Soon he too would be a master.

Stinger’s reverie was cut short by the approach of several figures. He smiled. Earth offered wonderful challenges. With that he drew his blade and dashed into the street. The fight was on again, and he reveled in every moment of it.

 

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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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