Tomcat (Hero)

Tomcat_IM_creditCode-name: Tomcat

Full Name: Lieutenant Aaron Marks USN (Retired)

Faction: Heavy Metal / Freelancer

The small robot rolled forward on its single wheel leading Aaron Marks further into the heart of Wilson’s Tower. Aaron was impressed with the clean simple lines of the place, but also the touch of human warmth throughout the building. He had expected Heavy Metal’s base to feel cold, and institutional, less human in some way. So far, he felt very much at ease.

“You must be Lieutenant Marks. It’s a pleasure to meet you,” came an oddly hollow voice from behind him. Turning quickly, Arron watched as a silver humanoid shape coalesced as if from out of nowhere. As Aaron looked on, the semblance of a mouth formed a wide smile in the otherwise blank face. It faded quickly. “Sorry if I startled you. Please forgive the lack of facial expressions, I find maintaining them to be quite exhausting.”

“Lieutenant Marks Sir, reporting for duty!” said Aaron, reflexively snapping a precise salute. Old habits hadn’t yet died away.

A hollow echoing laugh greeted him, “No need for that Mr. Marks. You’re not in the Navy anymore. Welcome to Heavy Metal!” said the silver-man, holding up a hand before Aaron could correct him, “Even a part time member is part of the team. I know you insisted on being free to do your own thing. I respect that.”

tomcat-page-001“Thank you, sir. Or should I call you Doctor?” Aaron asked, reaching out to shake the proffered hand. The grip was like a steel vice but there was no aggression behind it.

“Call me Mercury, if you like. Most around here do; we’ve got more than a few Doctors around this place. We should get going, M.O.D. is getting impatient.” Mercury said nodding ahead to where the little robot was spinning in place beeping softly and making anxious little beeping noises.

The small machine seemed like nothing so much as an excited child. Aaron was surprised when it asked a simple question in a voice not unlike a kid’s Spell and Say machine, “Ready?”

Mercury fell into lockstep with Aaron as they proceeded. The Supreme’s gait was unnaturally smooth and his metal body made no noise along the corridor. Aaron felt he should be uncomfortable walking into the heart of a computer’s fortress flanked by two robots, or androids or whatever they were, but there was something very human about them both he decided. He had agreed to be part of the team for the opportunity to help people. Secretly though, he had feared he’d be treated like another machine, another cog in an uncaring manipulative calculation. So far though, he felt more respected and welcomed than he had ever expected.

tomcat-page-002Finally, they came to a door labeled ‘flight lab’. M.O.D. began punching a code into the keypad. “You must be very excited?” said Mercury as the door slid open.

“Does it show?”

“Not really, you’ve got excellent self-control. But I’ll tell you, if I had a chance to fly this suit, I’d be thrilled,” chuckled Mercury.

The room was huge, easily the size of a large hanger bay, only taller, mostly empty except for a small workshop area just on the other side of the door. In the middle of the workshop was the suit, resting mid a high-tech framework of computer signals and power and fuel cables.

For months Aaron had talked about the design with C.O.R.E.’s disembodied voice. Long flights to and from Pulp City where C.O.R.E. had sought his advice in aeronautics, weapon load outs, and thousands of other minutiae. His first impression was awe, his second was that it looked like it belonged on a Saturday morning cartoon.

“We have kept the design purposely less aggressive to appeal to the citizenry. Public image is crucial to what we do. Rest assured the suit is more than capable of performing to your specifications,” C.O.R.E. said with his familiar synthesized monotone as he stepped around from behind the suit.

“Time to suit up,” said Mercury.

An hour later Aaron set down and walked over to the workshop area. The smell of jet fumes and cordite was rapidly sucked away by the room’s massive ventilation fans. M.O.D. rolled out and began to collect the scrapped drones strewn about the floor, occasionally having to extinguish small fires, all the while singing along to the pop tunes blasting from him Walkman.

Tomcat_low-resIt took Aaron a few moments to remove the suit. Mercury and C.O.R.E. waited with inhuman patience.

“Your assessment?” asked C.O.R.E. at last.

“She’s a sweet ride. That said there are a few adjustments that need to be made for me to sign off on it,” responded Aaron.

“The Lieutenant here is handed the most advanced flying exo-suit ever produced on earth and all he can say is it needs adjustments, ” chuckled Mercury.

“I’m not a Lieutenant anymore,” stated Aaron, matter-of-factly, “In fact, as of yesterday, I’m a civilian.”

“As of today, you are part of Heavy Metal,” countered Mercury.

“Then I would like to take the call-sign Tomcat. If I’m going to be a Supreme, I need a Supreme name.”

“I appraise a 79.67% approval rating of this nomenclature. Tomcat is acceptable,” replied C.O.R.E. as Mercury broke into his strange metallic chuckle.

“Come Tomcat, we have work to do. I calculate an 89.46% chance of a Necroplane Scourge assault in the next 32 hours. Your assistance will be required on the mission.”

“I’m in, C.O.R.E., you’ve got yourself a pilot,” replied Tomcat, as Dr. Mercury embraced him in a vice-like hug. He had a new squadron, new responsibility, and most of all, new purpose. He was ready.


Art and text © Copyright 2019 Pulp Monsters

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Slug Muldoon (Hero)


slug-muldoonCode-name: Slug Muldoon

Full Name: Sluhgg M’ldoon

Faction: Star Marshals

Slug loved Earth. With its Monsters, Supremes and sheer diversity of challenge, he was as happy as a Quarethian hog in mud. But best of all? Cigars. Earth’s cigars beat anything this side of the Ten Galaxies. Oh, he knew they were bad for him, but the aroma and taste just could not be matched on any world.

And that was partly why he was annoyed. His preferred cigar seller’s store in Downtown had been destroyed the day before in a knock-down, drag-out, nothing-barred fight between two Supremes. Fortuitously for Slug, one of the combatants was a wanted criminal. It was time for payback, a good fight, and maybe he could earn a little bounty for good measure.

slug-muldoon-page-001A squat, blue-skinned Gatchan, hairless like most of his people, Slug was also a deputized Star Marshal. The Marshals had assigned him to Earth after the Ulthar’s recent invasion attempts, to provide intelligence about their activities. With the way things worked on Earth, rolling news was taking care of much of that for him, plus whatever information Virgo passed on. Deputizing Virgo and Tritonious had been a stroke of luck bordering on genius thought Slug, and he now had his sights on adding a half-alien vigilante girl he was hearing about. The other deputies’ input allowed him to focus on his favored pass-time – hunting! Monsters and Supremes had become his game and they provided a true test of his skills and knowledge. He had found a new home, and it was Pulp City USA, Earth.

And now some punk Supremes had destroyed his regular cigar shop. He was sure Diego would get back on his feet, but that was not the point – it was Slug’s favorite, and no-one messed with his favorites.

slug-muldoon-page-002Slug pulled up files he had received from Virgo. While he was not actively watching the Ulthar, Virgo was, and at the same time she supplied good intelligence on various Supremes of interest – thanks to her he had some details on the guy he was looking for.

Cro Mag was a big bruiser, even by Supreme standards. By all accounts he was as dumb as a bucket of Atrathian Vompas, and he looked almost as ugly. Cro Mag would not go down easy, that was for sure. Big problems called for big solutions. This was a job for Betsy.

Betsy was no ordinary gun. She was a twenty-five millimeter phased plasma handheld cannon, one of the last ever made before the Fall of Sizzurnia. With custom over-charge rifling and Slug’s special stockpile of ammunition, she was one of the most feared weapons in any arsenal. Named for the Last Empress of Gatcha, her Exalted Majestrix Behtsinia the Fourteenth, Betsy was as formidable as her namesake. In Slug’s words she was simply a ‘beauty’. Slug and Betsy had together held back a Pisces platoon on Scarrus IV, had captured Modra’kk the Tyrant Nebula in the Lost Rim, and had taken down Omran the Decimator of the Vindal Empire. They were an unstoppable team. And Cro Mag was about to learn that first-hand.

Slug maintained a secret base in Pulp City as he did not want to use precious crystal fuel cells on frequent teleporter trips to and from his star-cruiser. Flying to and from orbit would have likewise attracted too much attention, so it had made sense to establish a base. It was secure and well-equipped, its walls adorned with all manner of Star Marshal ordnance, and a lot more besides, most of the remainder unsanctioned weaponry.

Slug grabbed tangle wire grenades, vector mines, and a bandolier of double-phasic plasma shells. He locked a clip of shells into place in Betsy. Wearing his usual battle fatigues, he was ready. He even had his lucky Mamruk skull ready attached to his belt. A life of hunting had taught him that every bit of planning and preparation was necessary for success, but sometimes the missing ingredient was simply good fortune. Slug liked to cover all bases, and the lucky head-bone was something he liked to have with him.

slugmuldoonfinishedWith gear chosen, Slug got into the van he had acquired and refitted with Marshals technology. He stowed extra ammunition and equipment for the job in case the situation changed. The vehicle’s remote link to the base computer activated at his voice command, causing the engine to growl to life.

He was almost ready.

One last part of the ritual remained. He reached into an inner pocket in his exocarnosaur-skin battle vest. Slug pulled out a cigar, carefully snipped the end with a cutter, and chomped down as he lit it up. It was hunting time.

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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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Perun (Hero)

Code-name: Perun

Full Name: Stanislaw Starzynski

Faction: Supreme Alliance

In every generation there is one brave Polish man chosen to wield the power of the storm in mankind’s darkest hour. He lifts up his runic axe, older than the people of his land, the lightning strikes, and the power of an ancient deity starts coursing through his veins.

Old gods still watch over their children and stand vigilant when tides of evil rise. Dark forces have begun to rise once more, and in Pulp City the agents of a coalescing evil power are at large.

The first photo-documented proof of Perun’s existence dates back to 1944, from a still taken in Warsaw. The picture was taken in the razed capital of Poland by a German army photographer evidencing the extent of the damage done.

The picture is over-contrasted and blurry, but it clearly depicts the clear silhouette of a man hovering ten feet above the ground. The figure wielded an archaic weapon that seemed to be the source of an all-present light, bathing the rubble in unearthly shades of white. In front of him a smoldering pile of corpses, all uniforms burned away, so it was hard to tell their allegiance. The photographer was recovered by his allies a week after the photo was captured and taken in for questioning, never speaking publicly about what he saw.

Another note was found in the documentation of one of the arcane-seeking Third Reich units. Apparently, the entity was mistaken for the Scandinavian/Germanic deity, Thor. No trace was ever found of the unit that tried to talk Perun into service for the Nazi empire.

The 1950′s and 1960′s proved that Perun was more than a local phenomenon, as he was seen siding with the greatest Supremes on Earth, including the Supreme Alliance, visiting distant Pulp City on occasion. Without word, he eventually vanished from the headlines, his fate unclear.

He is not a talker, say his allies, but they are glad he is on their side. He is not a diplomat, but a thunderstorm and barrage of lightning is usually enough to convince even the most steadfast opposition.

The current wielder of Perun’s power (though it is hard to tell, as the runic axe changes the appearance of the bearer) is a student from Warsaw whose grandfather and great-great grandfather also served as Lightning Lords years ago. Stanislaw Starzynski became marked with the lightning rune when he confronted Forgotten minions sent to recover Szczerbiec, the legendary coronation sword of Polish kings.

And now the power of Perun stands ready once more.

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Jade Hawk (Hero)

Code-name: Jade Hawk

Full Name: unknown

Faction: The Way

“Car 54, we have a code 1025 in progress at 827 east 32nd street at the U-Hock-It pawn shop.”

“Ten-four dispatch. This is car 54, we’re en route.”

A voice whispers in the darkness….. “Armed robbery sounds like my kind of scene.”

A dark figure leaps from the rooftop and into the shadows. The hunter has begun stalking its prey.

Only blocks away four thugs were piling TV’s, electronics, and handfuls of jewelry into the back of an old beat-up van. A pawn shop employee lay crumpled on the ground next to the loading dock. While the other three ran inside for more loot, one thug jumped into the driver’s door to start the getaway vehicle. He barely turned the key before a green claw burst through the side window and tore the man from the cab. The next thing he noticed was the unpleasant taste of asphalt and a piercing pain in his back. He barely let out a gurgle before passing out.

Two of the other thugs walked up to the van carrying a large box with a 50 inch flat screen TV. “Benny, what the heck is that?” called Freddie.

It was too late. Benny felt a sharp pain across the back of his knees before his legs gave out from underneath him. The shadowy figure leapt up from behind Benny and pounced off the box – pushing it directly onto the chest of the collapsing thug. This pulled Freddie forward and off balance just in time to receive a kick to the face.

Both thugs landed hard. The dark-clad figure was immediately on top of Freddie. Only then did Freddie get a good look at the vigilante that was ruining his night. The figure had an emerald green hawk-like mask, a dark hood and cape, and a protective bodysuit. This had to be the Jade Hawk!

Freddie started to rise when the Jade Hawk planted a glove with brutal gem-like talons onto his chest. “You’re not going anywhere,” whispered the Hawk in the criminal’s ear.

The sound of running footsteps down the alley caused the Jade Hawk to turn her head. The fourth thief was making a run for it. The vigilante was not going to let this man get away, only for the others to make some sort of plea deal to turn their buddy in for less jail time. No. She would get all of these losers…

“Dispatch, this is car 54 requesting backup. We have a brown Chevy van license plate PLJ-459 with its engine running at the loading dock of the pawn shop. We’re going in.”

“Car 54, this is Dispatch, backup is on the way.”

Officers McCrery and Franklin began to move cautiously down the alley with weapons drawn when the fourth criminal landed on the hood of their cruiser with a dull thump.

Less than an hour later…

“Franklin, what happened here?” asked Detective Walsh.

“Well detective, as best we can tell, the Jade Hawk beat us to the scene again. The Hawk took out these four lowlifes robbing the pawn shop. Their prints are all over everything in the van. It seems pretty cut and dry. At least the store employee will be okay.”

“Cut and dry? We can’t have another costumed hooligan running wild in the streets meting out justice on a whim. There are laws in this town. Heroes are supposed to fight villains and leave the regular crime to the police. We have four criminals that need hospitalization here. You don’t see Iron Train pulling this kind of bull! The chief wants the Jade Hawk in handcuffs and off the streets!!!”


The Jade Hawk is a dark figure that stalks the criminal element of Pulp City. Heroes are not generally fond of her methods but cannot deny the results. When Heavy Metal or Blood Watch find themselves hunting the same prey, Heroes like Iron Train and Red Riding Hoodoo try to mitigate the Jade Hawk’s sheer brutality. None knows exactly why she is on this crusade, but whispers from the dark vigilante seem to imply that lady justice failed her some time ago.

Evildoers owe her an unpaid debt. The Jade Hawk plans to collect on this debt – in pain and blood.


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Kitty Cheshire (Hero/Villain)


kittychesireCode-name: Kitty Cheshire

Full Name: unknown

Faction: Otherside

Mad, mad Kitty; the demonic-looking woman with the twisted ever-present smile.

The first reported sighting of the woman who would become known as Kitty Cheshire was amid the ruins of Ashville Asylum. Within those ruins there had been a small group of teens dressed in black, sporting dark eyeliner and bedecked with silver pentacles and ankhs, imbibing wine while listening to strains of Bauhaus and Siouxsie and the Banshees from their tape machine. They came to this place a lot, to drink in the cachet of danger and mystery associated with it.

kittychesire_logoclock-page-001They partied and talked and sang and drank as they always did on these nights. Even the perceptible chill in the evening air gave no cause for concern. They were here in the ruins of Ashville, near to the legendary Silver Mirror that seemed to hang in the air, just another curio of Pulp City’s troubled history. Inert, peculiar and long-since over-looked by the grand metropolis and most of its people, the Silver Mirror was a mere tourist sight for the most part these days, any threat long since gone according to the finest academics and scientists.

At first they did not notice as strange distorted and contorted visages seemed to dance across the surface of the Silver Mirror. The kids were soon startled and fascinated when they saw the legendary Silver Mirror unexpectedly glow from within. Possibly emboldened by alcohol, one slender, pallid young man approached the shimmering mirror. He claimed to his friends he could faintly see a woman’s reflection in there. They laughed and jeered in reply. The surface of the mirror then rippled outwards from the center, and a shape was extruded. The shape took greater definition and a silvery hand was seen pressing forwards, reaching out from the mirror towards the teen. Slowly an arm emerged followed by the other, and then a face and finally the rest of a woman’s body. The silver peeled away from her form, recoiling back to the mirror, and a bizarre sight was revealed – a strange looking woman with a tail and wild hair, who was there but was not, and whose body twisted as if it danced through reality. Terrified, those teen-agers fled into the night to tell their wild story; while behind them mad, mad Kitty Cheshire grinned and then laughed, peels of her laughter echoing around the ruins into the late hours.

kittychesire_logoclock-page-002In the days that followed more sightings were reported to a baffled Police Department and the city authorities.

Finally, they had confirmation of the existence of this strange figure, when after arriving at the scene of a prestigious gala reception held to honor the great and good of Pulp City, the woman who is here and there caused pandemonium, and announced her name. She somersaulted about the place, trashing decorations and tearing down banners. Attendees ran from the building in panic. When challenged by Pulp City’s Chief of Police as to what she wanted, Kitty simply replied “Why, to make mischief of course!” – grinning all the while – before she blinked away, just her smile remaining, until it too winked out of sight.

In the days, weeks and months thereafter more sightings took place as the peculiar Supreme battled against and alongside all manner of other Supremes, though none could quite say why she was there.

kitty_cheshire_conceptIn fragmentary pronouncements and non sequitur statements, Kitty claims she has pierced the veil of realities between Earth and the Otherside, that she crossed the edge of the Silver Mirror at her own behest. Who is to refute this claim, save to say that none have done so before? She described her arrival as a return, her comeback, and in her wake has been a trail of madness and chaos. Of course from whence Kitty came, will others follow?

In the time since she arrived or returned, Kitty has gained a sometime partner in the form of the addled Vector, and the two have done little to suggest what their ultimate purpose is, as they have both saved and terrorized the city in their seemingly random appearances. Amid the wild, weird and wonderful Supremes of Pulp City, the woman known as Kitty Cheshire is an enigma even amongst their kind. Some commentators suggest she is a demon, others that she is a poor, tortured woman lost when Ashville Asylum burned to the ground. Whatever the truth, Kitty is not saying.


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Ace of Wraiths (Hero)


aceofwraithsCode-name: Ace of Wraiths

Full Name: unknown

Faction: Blood Watch, Four Aces

Even over one hundred years later, they still talk in Pulp City about that night of poker. That was the night a dazzling card-sharp became the Ace of Wraiths. His name is long-since forgotten, but the legend says that he was the greatest gambler of his day. He could bluff his way to a win with just a pair of deuces, and today Ace of Wraiths is the oldest resident of Pulp City’s Crossroad Hills district.

Over one century ago, that was his night; nobody could best him at cards, until a stranger joined his game. The stranger’s native blood did not match his white man’s clothing, nor did his Old World accent. The two played for hours until the momentum swung back to Ace in the gray hours just before the breaking of dawn. It came down to one last hand.

The stranger had no money, but he laid his gun and card box on the table. At first glance, the gun appeared to be nothing special, but as Ace stared at it he saw its exquisite workmanship along with ornate etching on the barrel. The same pattern was impressed on the solid silver box.

The final game was five card stud. The stranger took one card, Ace took three and drew aces over eights. He laid his cards down. The stranger sighed and looked Ace in the eyes. A smile came to his lips that grew into a laugh that chilled Ace’s soul. Then the stranger’s body collapsed into a pile of ashes. Ace flipped over the stranger’s cards: six, seven, eight, nine, and the one-eyed jack of spades.

That gambler Ace did not realize what had happened that night until a wandering preacher on a pale horse, upon seeing the winnings, told him a story about a cursed gun and deck of cards which damn their owner with immortality and eternal torment. He told the tale that they cannot be given away, but the owner can try to outwit another into winning the trophies in a game of cards, thus condemning the winner’s soul to an afterlife in hell. Ace had met his match that night, and his winning streak had come to a damned end.

Ace soon found he could not die. A bullet, or a knife, or a hangman’s noose may take his breath and stop his heart, but he was always reborn on the following night at the nearest crossroads. A few arcanists that know of his curse whisper that his life on earth will one day come to an end, when every man and woman tricked by the cursed Deck of Souls is redeemed with a claimed life of an evil being. And these days there seems no end of evil souls to harvest.

The powers of Ace of Wraiths rely on his artifacts. A skilled gunslinger and a cartomancer, Ace has had more than a century to master the art of paying his toll with the blood of evil men and women.


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