White Tiger (Hero)


WhiteTiger3Code-name: White Tiger

Full Name: unknown

Faction: The Way

War without end and without mercy. Everlasting battle between eternal enemies, the Shijin. Each White Tiger was born anew with the knowledge that the cycle was begun again. The master of the ancient Jade Cult locked in his eternal quest for mastery of the Shijin powers, and the White Tiger standing against him. Today, under the dark gaze of the Oni Queen, the Green Emperor has at last broken the cycle by destroying the Crimson Phoenix and now the White Tiger must find a path to reconcile the Shijin. For seven years she was lost. Today she forges most uneasy alliance to oppose the Green Emperor.

Seven years ago, Hong Kong, the Dragon and the Beast on one side fought the Tiger and the Phoenix on the other. Yet this time the Dragon had the upper hand. A scheme hatched by the malevolent dark Oni Queen brought the Phoenix low, undone by pride leaving him vulnerable to a fateful blow as ancient Oni magic poisoned his system, felling him as the Dragon and the Beast attacked.

In the face of two rival Shijin, the Tiger was outmatched. With whirlwind grace she unleashed tiger kick, then struck with the fabled seven element fist. Blow after blow she rained down on her foes as she was ground down. Lightning Fist. One Thousand Strikes. Heavenly Tiger Punch. Earthquake Stomp. All three remaining Shijin were unleashed in their full aspect, their battle shaking the heavens and the Earth as the Tiger let loose with every maneuver and power at her disposal. Tiger’s resistance was futile.

The Dragon and the Beast won that day and the Black Beast banished the Tiger to the void. The cycle was shattered. The Beast was tired from the battle and began its slumber. The Dragon was triumphant, and the Phoenix and the Tiger both lost. But the story did not end there.

White Tiger was lost in a void, drifting in a no-where realm where time had no hold. That nothing-place held torments, strange things banished from the places beyond the mortal realms that bit and slashed at her, hissing unspeakable threats.

White tiger-page-001She heard whispers in the nothingness, of the predations of the Necroplane as world after world was consumed. Of the Everlasting, beings of power beyond mortal ken who were waking from their torpor. The return of the queen of the damned Forgotten. The Saints and Dimanche, powers behind the Coven throne pulled the strings of their puppets. The veil between universes sundered as first the Zeta Initiative crossed over, soon followed by those who forged a new Dark Camelot. It was interminable, unending. She was cast out from her realm and could only listen to fragments in the beyond-darkness.

Feral howls of rage and pain were heard quietly at first, ghost-like sirens across the void. Slowly, the sounds grew, and the din of battle followed. How long it had been she did not know, but she had to act, of that she was sure. The tormenting voices dissented, snarling curses, telling her that none escaped this place. She glimpsed then a spark in the distance, flickering, a flame against an ocean of bleak emptiness.

White tiger-page-002She fought, swimming through a tide of grasping spectral hands seeking to stop her, ghost-voices rasping at her to turn back. Unyielding, with each stroke the flame flickered into ever-brighter life. As the Tiger closed the flame became more distinct, its shape like a lone feather whipped by a breeze.

Finally, the light pulsed, a brilliant radiance that reached forward, washing over her and then she was elsewhere.

She knelt on one knee in a grimy alley, the Tiger Amulet clutched tightly in her hand. The smells and sounds of the place marked it as somewhere new, it certainly wasn’t Hong Kong. She heard a mighty and familiar roar in the distance: Ging Gong! What strangeness was this for the great creature to be so far from its lands!

Wherever she was, she had work to do. She had to learn the ways of this place and do so quickly. There were battles ahead, to fight the rising threat of darkness that had been whispered to her in that place beyond. She would need help. Flexing her golden gauntlet, the White Tiger resolved that she would gather a band of defenders to face the darkness and restore the Shijin cycle. Together they would forge The Way.

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Grimmsham (Villain)


Grimmsham-NEWCode-name: Grimmsham

Full Name: John Grimmsham

Faction: Ulthar

More than a decade ago in the mid-seventies, John Grimmsham was a loner shunned by most people. Ambitions unfulfilled, he took a job as a guard in Pulp City Studios. Of course, he claimed that this was only a temporary means of surviving before he got a real job in showbiz. John spent his nights on the job watching TV and planning his rise to fame. In the meantime, each day he kept working on a screenplay that he believed would be an award winner and the accolades he was due would be his.

On Christmas Eve in 1979, he was jolted from his diversions. Grimmsham heard some unusual sounds coming from the studio’s food court. With his flashlight switched off, he carefully stole into the court, only to find a couple of mongrels feasting on the remains of a dinner.

The ugliness of these creatures was unrivaled. About four feet short, with hairy backs and vaguely human features, the twisted men-things snarled at the fear-struck Grimmsham and continued feasting. A few minutes later they retreated into ventilation shafts and left the guard pinching himself to check he was awake, and it had not been some bizarre nightmare vision.

John Grimmsham-page-001But it was not a dream.

The same visitation occurred each night from then on, and eventually Grimmsham was able to approach the strange creatures more closely. Soon he engaged in rudimentary communication with the strange beasts. Their bond quickly grew tighter, and each night there were more and more ’Grimm’ (as he called them) visiting him in the studio. John had a secret that would pave his way to unbridled fame and fortune.

One summer night, John returned to his guard room after making his rounds. Inside the office, Grimmsham found Mr. Heimberg browsing his screenplay. Heimberg was a co-owner of the studios and a famous producer, but unfortunately without a hit in a few years. John’s heart jumped, as he knew this might be the breakthrough his career deserved.

Heimberg looked at him, smiled and put the screenplay inside his briefcase.

John Grimmsham-page-002“You’re fired, Mr. Grimmsham,” were not the words that John expected to hear, and after a moment of dismay and distress, with all the desperation he could muster, Grimmsham leapt at Heimberg, trying to wrestle the case from his hands.

Standing over six feet tall, the burly producer easily shrugged off the skinny guard and whipped out a small gun, firing it point blank in John’s direction. Fire seared his face and the world went black as Grimmsham tumbled to the floor. An instant later, a terrible inhuman shriek came out of Heimberg’s throat and hot blood sprayed John’s face. As silence fell, he felt himself being gently carried away. Then darkness embraced him.

When Grimmsham awoke, he discovered his vision was limited. He touched his face and pain and rough bandages told him he was badly disfigured. One of the small creatures handed him a cracked hand mirror. He tore at the bandages to reveal horrible red wounds which ran from his eyes down his cheeks.

Grimmsham knew instinctively that he was somewhere underground, and only a faint sound of the city far, far above assured him he wasn’t dead.

Grimmsham looked around and noticed the blurry outline of scores of Grimm surrounding him. One of them, the bulkiest of all, shuffled up to John and offered him a treasure – the blank-eyed head of Mr. Heimberg, mauled almost beyond the recognition.

John smiled; he was about to become a celebrity after all.

The Grimm quickly came to worship Grimmsham. His mastery of the highest art of multi-tasking awed them and so they accepted him as their leader without question. He quickly reorganized Grimm society and established the Grimm Undercity. As he did so, the Grimm began their rapid evolution, new mutational adaptations allowing the society to grow according to Grimmsham’s needs and directions. He quickly ensured they pirated power and communication feeds using ramshackle facsimiles of above-ground technology. Soon the Grimm were thriving as never before, and their numbers swelled, and John Grimmsham was their master.

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Papa Zombie (Villain)


papa zombieCode-name: Papa Zombie

Full Name: Josiah Hudlin

Faction: Coven

Deep among the bayous in a lost parish of Louisiana sat an overgrown plantation. Dark, foreboding, and utterly uninviting it seemed only barely to be resisting the encroachment of a dark and untamed nature. Inside this festering manor sat a man who would serve no master. He sat alone in an old wooden chair and brooded dark thoughts. A man unlike any other sat in an overgrown manse deep in a lost parish of Louisiana, nestled among the bayous. The land was foreboding and uninviting, the rundown house’s walls overgrown with vines and barely resisting the encroachment of a dark untamed nature. A man who would be master sat alone in an old wooden chair, brooding, in that dark house.

The man sitting alone remembered his rise to power. But before a man could rise, first he had to fall. That had been his most important lesson.

papazombie-page-001Life had offered him little opportunity as he drifted through the system. His parents had succumbed to their own lives of squalid excess when he was young. It had been a miserable childhood, only enriched when his mother whispered in her self-induced haze of the blood of powerful priests that ran in their veins. Her veins finally gave out though, and he was left alone.

The social workers assigned to him made it clear that few were interested in adopting him because of his age. He was a good kid, generally well-behaved, and did what he was told. When he finally left his last foster home, he went into the world with very little. He sought to make a life, but was rebuffed. With few qualifications, despite obvious intelligence, and with no stepping stones, prospective employers turned him away. He was never sure what the reason was. The only place he could afford to live was in the city slums. With few choices left, he finally turned to crime to survive. Even as a criminal there were always those who took advantage of him.

papazombie-page-002He descended quickly, as he fell far into the stink and mire of the worst of humankind, and he was tested. The man was left with nothing and still others preyed upon him. He realised his own wretchedness and knew he could sink no further.

He had one stark choice – to sink, or to swim those foul depths to survive and become something, someone, else. His mother’s ramblings called to him. In his blood she had said, there ran the power of generations of voodoo kings and queens. And at that moment, with his choice made, he opened his soul and listened for the whispering of the darkest of Loas. He heard their voices and then he knew where his path lay.

What little humility and compassion he had left were slowly, inexorably, stripped away as discarded trappings of one life, as his journey took him to very dark places. There was the back-street curiosity shop where he stole a book of secrets, and the life of the proprietor. Then the pimp-voodoonista whose life he extinguished in exchange for an artefact of power, his skull-topped cane. The city morgue in a crumbling municipal building where he first animated a corpse to do his bidding as it slew the unfortunate attendant on duty.

Those had been the first necessarily gruesome steps on his journey. In due course he came to the attention of the Coven, an organisation with a secret history hidden far away from the world’s prying eyes. They recognised his aptitude and potential and nurtured his burgeoning talents.

With his acceptance to the Coven ranks his knowledge grew, and with knowledge came more power. But even as one secret was revealed to him, another would tug at the edges of his understanding.

He rose through the ranks, deployed where he was best suited. It was he who bent the Ghede in greater numbers to the Coven’s will. But through it all he began to see that nothing came without cost. Even his few failures such as the loss of the young voodoo queen-to-be, did not harm his ascent. And now he began to see the costs of his course.

To the Coven’s foes and its few allies he became Papa Zombie, front-line leader of the organisation. But the truth was a secret buried save only for the highest echelons of the Coven. There were mightier powers than his, greater influence, and more absolute mastery of what the Coven did. And that was his price to pay; to covet the power and rule of the Saints, and their ultimate master, Dimanche. To take that power he would have to do far worse than he ever had before and risk all that he had accumulated. What follows when a man has tasted great power, only to learn of his own insignificance in the grander scheme of things? In the schemes of others? His time trapped in Hellrock prison had showed him whole new worlds of possibilities. It had given him a look into the true nature of the Necroplane, and the power one man might wield – he was prepared to pay the price to acquire it.

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Professor Hammer (Villain)


Prof HammerCode-name: Professor Hammer

Full Name: Professor Maksimilian Mikhailovich Zolotov

Faction: Red Republik

Maksimilian was no stranger to sacrifice, it was the foundation upon which he had built his life. The youngest of seven children he had gone without more often than not. But when food was scarce he found more time to read and study. When the revolution came he saw the chance to be part of the winning side in history. When he made his choice he did not miss his brothers – their loss paved the way for his rightful advancement.

During the Second World War he sacrificed more men than he could remember, using them like sand to stop the wave of the invaders. But stop them he did. To further his cause he employed dangerous science, and ultimately his reach exceeded his grasp. That cost him two good hands, much of his face and too much time as he designed the necessary replacements. Assembling his Red Republik cost him blood, sweat, and his soul if he believed the tiger-shaman.

Professor Hammer-page-001Nothing bothered him as much as the decades lost on his way to this time in Pulp City. From his war against the capitalist lapdogs of the decadent west to the center of its corrupt heart seemed like moments, but in those moments everything changed. Here he was surrounded by enemies, aliens, ancient gods, and interdimensional vampires. To be honest he had never been happier.

With Spybreaker’s Alliance called back to beg scraps from their capitalist masters, Pulp City was ripe for a man willing to sacrifice. It started today with these heroes of Heavy Metal. They needed to be shown the true horror of war by a man to whom horror and sacrifice was an old friend, a trusted companion. The Red Republik was regathered, and he had meticulously planned his attack.

The bridge was the perfect place for his trap. Civilian casualties would be high, and vital infrastructure damage would cripple the city for months if not years. He could count on the Republik to stand together and follow his lead.

Professor Hammer-page-002A brief flash of light from the top of the tower was the signal he had been waiting for. The slaughter begun, and Hammer moved himself forward toward the center of the bridge. As predicted, Heavy Metal did not take long to respond. C.O.R.E. assembled himself a body from the wreckage strewn across roadway; Androida was not far behind him arriving in a brilliant silver flash just slower than the speed of sound, to avoid adding to the destruction. Hammer laughed at that. A sonic boom would be the least problem for the bleating masses, and yet Androida was unwilling to make even that small sacrifice for victory. Yes, she would make the ideal example he thought.

The rest of the Heroes arrived by air, followed by June Summers. Perfect thought Hammer, they bring their greatest weakness to the battlefront with them, and broadcast it live to a nation. He entered commands into a control box and Red Robots maneuvered into position. The battle was soon joined in earnest. Prisoner #176 like a wild spider amid the high-tension wires as piled-up cars held off Iron Train and Dr. Mercury. Universal Soldat rushed C.O.R.E., keeping him occupied. Hammer strode to the edge of the bridge, offering a pretense of vulnerability.

The ruse worked and the Androida took the bait. She was fast but he had prepared his stratagem to perfection. She dodged down the path that he had created and right into Siberian’s trap. Caught by invisible wires, Red Robots closed in on her, their wicked saws spinning. Desperately, Androida turned the Robots against each other while she used her laser beam eyes to free herself. She then charged at Hammer again but he launched his left fist in a cloud of rocket exhaust to throw another Red Robot in her path. She side-stepped, as he knew she would but his right fist was already in motion and hit her just below her left hip. Androida crumpled to the ground her leg spinning off the bridge into the dark waters of the bay.

fcl_redrepublik-page-001“You are weak child,” Hammer taunted Androida’s prone form. His hands docked together and he shook them out to re-calibrate them.

“We’ll stop you!” Her eyes flashed with defiant crimson light and Hammer threw a damaged Red Robot into the path of the blast. The automaton exploded as his right fist launched again, striking Androida in the head, denting her metallic cranium with an awful sound. Hammer closed the distance.

“You’ll never stop me. You are weak. You are kind. You will forever be shackled by your morality and your need to care.” Each sentence spoken was punctuated by a brutal blow from his heavy steel hands. Androida lay broken, sparks dancing on her shattered form, the light in her eyes dimming by the second.

Hammer looked up from his work to see June Summers pointing her camera at him. He turned the volume up and his iron jaw issued his proclamation to the city. “This is what happens to those who oppose the will of Professor Hammer and the Red Republik. We will destroy all who oppose us. You have been warned!”

Professor Hammer_smlWatching, C.O.R.E. began to scream, as his body began to absorb wrecked cars and scrap strewn across the bridge, transforming into his deadliest form. But Hammer had anticipated this. One of their number falls and Heroes lose all discipline. He signaled to Siberian, and charges placed under the bridge blew one hundred and fifty feet of tarmac into the bay below, taking Heroes and civilians with it. The day was his, his point made. C.O.R.E. would not allow innocents to suffer, he would save them. In doing so he had already lost. Sacrifice. That was always the key to victory. With that Professor Hammer strode off the battlefield, and into the heart of Pulp City.

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Spybreaker (Hero)


spybreakerCode-name: Spybreaker

Full Name: Col. John Schneider

Faction: Supreme Alliance

“We need more!” demanded Professor Llusk. A thin, older man with receding hair framing a shrewd face, he did not easily accept dissent to his demands.

His younger colleague Van Beek looked on impassively as the four-star general standing before them attempted to frame a reply, “We-.”

“I will heed no argument General Lucas. We need more subjects, and we need the best! This chaff you send is not satisfactory. The process is near-ready, but it will take the right kind of subject, a very special kind of man prepared to sacrifice all to survive something that will make him like a god amongst men,” demanded Llusk in his heavy accent. It was one that Lucas could never place, but something about it unnerved him, even as a decorated war hero and man of noted valor.

spybreaker-page-001 “Be careful with your tone professor, these are brave patriots you are talking about,” replied General Lucas, “But I have compiled a list of the best of the best. If any man fits your criteria it will be one of those if they volunteer.”

“Oh, they will volunteer,” said Van Beek with the merest hint of a sly smile as his colleague Llusk straightened up imperiously beside him, “for what man does not wish to embrace greatness?”

“Ten, hut!”
Colonel John Schneider stood to attention with the rest of the men in his training platoon as the meanest drill instructor the Army could produce barked his order. In this place, in this camp, ranks were meaningless. There was one purpose for all of them, and that was to prove themselves worthy of Project: Omega. If that meant being drilled into the ground, Schneider would meet that challenge as surely as when he charged enemy positions during the war.

spybreaker-page-002Days passed. Assault courses followed day and night runs, calisthenics sessions and maneuvers. Physical activity was interspersed with tactical and strategic assessments. There was no let up. Each day the number of men diminished as more washed out.

Within one week the number remaining in the group was halved. Within one month it was one quarter of those who started. Finally, a day passed with no washouts, then another. After one more week of grueling challenge the group remained stable. Schneider was tired, but focused. He listened carefully as the two scientists addressed all of the men. One had a peculiar accent he could not be sure of, the other a soft New England drawl.

fcl_supremealliance-page-001The egg-heads made it clear that what would follow was highly dangerous to each test subject and that any man could back out there and then and return to their parent unit. None wavered. Then the procedures began, and with them, true pain the like of which none of the men had ever known.

First there came the pills, and a week of nausea and painful muscle cramps followed, prelude to days of nerve-shredding agony which Schneider could not articulate in mere words. Perceptions were distorted. He could hear a spider pad its way up a wall. He felt as though he could discern every single fiber woven into his fatigues. A nearby dripping tap was a cacophonous roar.

When he emerged from days lost in a miasma of hypersensitivity, he saw so few fellow participants remaining. Fear threatened to grip his soul but John pushed the emotion down, this was time to be a valiant soldier. The final treatment still awaited the handful of survivors.

One month later, General Lucas stood beside the two scientists, Van Beek and Llusk. The room was alive with murmurs from the various War Department big-wigs who filled it.

“We should not be celebrating failure,” rasped Llusk.

“Failure, professor?” began the general, “Where you see failure I see noble sacrifice by courageous men to give this country a new edge in war. I see success with our man. You wanted the best and he has faced every challenge and exceeded what was asked. We have what we wanted and more.”

“We could have had an army of Supremes,” lamented Llusk.

“In this man, we may have created an army,” said Van Beek, with something not unlike a sneer in his voice.

spybreaker_smlThe attention of those present was called. The lights dimmed, and black and white footage began rolling, displayed onto a large screen. There was no sound except the whirring projector. A title declared ‘Project: Omega’ which was followed with a montage of images of a lone man assaulting an enemy base. One by one he knocked out and neutralized the soldiers guarding the compound, his lithe movements methodical in his systematic dismantling of defensive positions. Bullets bounced off his shield as he effortlessly made his way to his objective, the main compound building. When he exited, there as no-one to slow him down or to try and stop him. The film reel ended and the room was silent, the onlookers awestruck by what they had seen.

“Gentlemen, we give you the future of warfare,” said Lucas to the crowd, gesturing toward a heavy door. The door opened and through stepped an athletically-built figure dressed in patriotic red, white and blue, his head protected by a close fitting helmet. On his left arm he carried a shield, emblazoned with a star the lethal points of which overhung the main shield body. He stood proudly to attention, and all eyes turned to him.

“We give you, Spybreaker.”

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V.H. (Hero)

Code-name: V.H. 

Full Name: Victoria van Helsing

Faction: Blood Watch

Dear Quincey,

I am glad that I managed to finally catch up with you.

I am sorry for the London mansion. You know it had to burn. I hope the insurance covers it, and if not, do not worry, as your head will soon be stuffed with garlic and burnt as well.

I have been told that you have been very inquisitive about whom I am, and that you tried to track me down after our first brush in Geneva. Since we will probably never meet eye-to-eye (my teachers did a good job of letting me know how playing with fiends like you may end), I am taking this opportunity to let you know who your killer will be.

We have actually met twice already. The first time, about twenty years ago, was when you graciously slaughtered my family; you and your minions. You thought there were only three children and that was your first fatal mistake. I hid in ice cold water, under the stone bridge, nearly freezing to death. Your heat-seeking vision could not find me.

I will keep things brief – it is like the stories you see in movies. While the Order of the Forge (you know them – you were responsible for the death of their Paris chapter) could not stop you, they were decent enough to save me and train me, and to channel my hatred for you into a set of skills that got me to where I am now.

I spent fifteen long years studying fiends, outsiders and horrors of the night. I know how to kill all of you. Five of those years I was doing my – as you may call it in the corporate world you fell so much in love with – internship, in the Order’s Hong Kong chapter. I passed my final test with flying colors. I beheaded the shadow oni that had replaced the prime minister of a certain country and sent his head to the biggest national television station. To my disappointment, they claimed he committed ritual suicide.

Then I returned to Europe and started tracking you. That was not too hard, as your lifestyle is pretty extravagant and you like to part with your money. You also play too much to who your parents were etc. They should have killed you, you little leech, when you were still in the cradle.

That poor fool, your father, kept hoping until the very end that you were his true son. In a carnal way, perhaps yes you were. However, you were the offspring of the bad blood ‘big D’ left in your mother’s system. But back to the story; I followed the money trail, yes, and that led me to Royal Investments. I then I realized you are not just a bloodsucker, but you are also conspiring against this world with the dead from another dimension (yay, more cadavers to behead!). We have met in Geneva of course, but I had one year less of experience then. I should have known that surrounded by your ‘friends’ and other associates, you would leave them like a lizard leaving its tail to escape.

Fast forward one year, to today, and we are bound to meet again; however this time, I am much better prepared.

You are in my trap. So make it easy for all of us and just die.

Sorry if I could not answer all of your questions and clear any doubts.


Victoria van Helsing

PS: I am glad that we are sending these good-old fashioned letters. Even for a gal like me, who grew up in the farms of Midlands (I know you, with your cold blue blood find the idea of such open spaces atrocious), reverting to the old ways that my great-great-grandfather and your parents used to stay in touch with each other is very refreshing.


PPS: Now slowly turn around. Good night, fiend.

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Green Emperor (Villain)

Code-name: Green Emperor

Full Name: Green Emperor

Faction: Jade Cult

The first memory of each incarnation was always of being reborn after incineration by terrible supernatural flame. The last memory of every incarnation was always the first recollection of the next.

The story was always the same; hatching from a jade egg deep within the heart of a sacred mountain, far away from the dread touch of fire. The hatchling slithering out into darkness and waiting months until scales begin to shed and a human form took shape. Soon, there was a visit from a shadow Oni who brought naga milk to bind the reptilian with human. Then, the first guttural words of command would be uttered to demonic minions: “Bring me my sword and armor.”

What was to follow would ever be a cycle of conquest and bloodshed. And in the end, it always culminated with the same fiery defeat.

This time would be different.

The shadow milk was strong, stronger than ever. This oni was different too; there was something very powerful about the way it moved.  This time, it was the oni who spoke first.

“We will break the cycle. No longer will you defeat the Tiger only to fall at the hands of some peasant that wields the Phoenix power. You will command the other shijin as the Dragon should. The new Oni Queen will lend you her resources to conquer this plane. Times have changed and gods no longer deal with mortal affairs. The world is yours.”

“For a price?”, were the first words of the Dragon this time. The oni grinned at him.

”Yes, for a price.”


The days under that darkly numinous mountain came to an end and conquest began. But everything was different. This was not all out war, it was a silent game of Go. The means of war had changed and the Dragon had the best lieutenants to lead his war from the shadows. A mysterious woman in jade vestments who called him ‘father’ led the countless armies of the most skilled shadow warriors the Orient could muster. All crime organizations of the East were subdued and subjugated within a year. An assassin, wreathed in shadow, brought the heads of crime-bosses to the Dragon, just like a cat brings dead mice to the hand that feeds it. Clandestine laboratories and factories across the water were tasked with improving his army Terror Cotta Warriors to face new threats. The oni that had greeted him to this world remained silent every time he asked about the price of the victory.

The orders from the new Oni Queen arrived exactly seven years after the Dragon’s latest rebirth. She directed him to find the underwater tomb of the Black Beast and awaken it. The monster had been defeated and entombed by the White Tiger one hundred years earlier and she stated that its resurrection was the key to breaking the cycle.

Unlike the other shijin, the Beast was a mindless force of destruction that always began the cycle, threatening the world, only to be defeated by the Tiger. Tiger would then be defeated by Dragon, and finally Phoenix would defeat Dragon for the cycle to eventually begin anew. But now the cycle could be broken.

His Jade Cult headed out the next day moving towards the coastline. This world was new to him, but the rules remained unchanged – the jade wave rolled down the mountain, leaving a trail of destruction in its wake.


The sparkling towers of the city they called Hong Kong welcomed the arrival of its Emperor.

He strolled through the streets, amazed to see how this part of his country has changed. The soldiers of the city armed with bizarre projectile weapons tried to stop them but their attempts fell short when one hundred of his newly-modified Terror Cotta Warriors unleashed a barrage of rockets upon them.

Stragglers were cut down by the combined forces of Jade Cult ninjas and oni.  They were almost in the harbor as wall of flickering amber fire rose in front of the Jade Cult army. It was happening again. Laughter rose from the ranks of his demonic allies as two female shapes emerged from the flames and walked towards his army of thousands.

The shorter one wore a crimson gown and a cape of peacock-like feathers that had all of their color replaced by changing hues of red. She bore no weapons but sparks danced around her fingers. The other one wore a white tunic with black stripes and a mask that covered her eyes.

“We meet again, but this time it is different, the Tiger and the Phoenix will not let you awaken the Black Beast of the Depths,” shouted the woman in red.

The massed ranks of oni laughed again, but only until a fireball that fell from the sky destroyed a dozen of the demonic creatures, leaving only smoldering husks and a pool of molten metal that had been shadow weapons.

The Dragon felt fear creep into his jade heart. It was happening again. The Tiger bore her steel claws and covered the distance between them in one giant leap. This was the moment when his sword usually pierced the Tiger heart, but this time, the jade blade got caught in the claws and broke.

The Emperor looked at his sword shortened almost by half. The hilt was still locked with the Tiger’s weapon, so he spun around, and delivered a massive kick to her lower body, sending the woman flying away from her ally, the Phoenix.  He turned again, pivoting on his left foot, only to duck beneath a gout of flame. The temperature rose dramatically, as the Phoenix manifested itself in its fullest, a tiny female shape was the only dark spot in the middle of two massive fiery wings.

His armor started melting like it always did in the course of the cycle. In an act of desperation, he hurled his broken sword in her direction. The blade flew unscathed through the firestorm and hit the bull’s eye, sinking in the woman’s chest. Flames were extinguished instantly and his army cheered. The body on the ground was still twitching as he walked towards it. There was no sorrow or pain on her face, only shock and disbelief.

The Green Emperor twisted his broken sword in the chest of the Phoenix and the fire died in her eyes. Indeed, the times had truly changed. He turned around looking for the Tiger, but she was nowhere to be found. It mattered not, for they were writing a completely new history this time.

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Ra’Leigh, Aquarius Warlord (Villain)

Full Name: Ra’Leigh
Allegiance: Ulthar Empire

The Ulthar crèche is the first of many proving grounds for Ulthar young. Once screened for genetic imperfections, newborn Ulthar are placed in small groups where for the next phase of the orbital cycle they will struggle to survive and grow. Exposure to violence and limited food ensures that rarely more than three in ten Ulthar young survive their first crèche. The Warlord to be later known as Ra’Leigh was the sole survivor of his own crèche, learning quickly that aggression and overwhelming tenacity was the only path to guaranteed survival.

His potential as a warrior quickly recognized, Ra’Leigh soon moved on to formal training. Unlike most Ulthar fresh from the crèche, Ra’Leigh showed no discomfort in fitting into the disciplined hierarchy of physical and martial training. He excelled at all assigned tasks, especially combat. Ra’Leigh soon proved himself a gifted tactician and capable thinker.

Ulthar born to the Warlord Caste are exposed to each of the lesser paths. A true Warlord must know the strengths and weaknesses of the other Castes. Many potential Warlords choose to excel in a lesser Caste rather than risking their lives battling for a position as Warlord. Ra’Leigh showed no great love or aptitude for the way of the Sagittarius. It was not in his nature to hide from conflict. He enjoyed the martial lessons of the Libra; and he excelled at all forms of combat. Still Ra’Leigh was restless and ill-tempered with that path’s more esoteric bent. The ways of the Scorpio he found almost as cowardly as that of Sagittarius. It was not in his nature to hit and run; Ra’Leigh preferred to meet the enemy head on and defeat them with strength and skill. Finally at the age of maturation he was offered the chance to strive for a position of Aquarius Warlord.

Only one thousand Ulthar are chosen to attempt the path to Warlord status from each generation, and of those all are Aquari, the current dominant caste of the empire. In times past other castes have given the Ulthar Empire its martial leaders. To become a Warlord is the greatest honor an Ulthar can obtain. Of each thousand more often than not only a single Ulthar would live to attain Warlord status.

Ra’Leigh jumped at the chance. Thus began his training in the Pits of Neptune. Fighting in groups or alone the young aspirants trained in tactics and single combat. Each week they fought battles against slaves of the empire. Teams of aspirants battled against Taurus Herds or confronted mighty Aries in elaborate and shifting battlefields, with their exploits broadcast throughout the empire to salve the bloodlust of its citizens. After a year in the Pits the weak had fallen away and only the most gifted or vicious remained. And among those watching on throughout the empire, a rising star was emerging.

Having faced the myriad dangers of the Pits, he moved on to the Reaving. Here Ra’Leigh and his rival aspirants were taught the arts of ground assault and leadership. Each commanding a small platoon of Pisces warriors, the aspirants engaged in daring hit and run raids to capture slaves, destroy objectives or simply to sow terror. Grueling training in piloting, mapping, survival and tactics eventually culminated in raiding operations. Those aspirants given command of their own raiding crafts were set lose on the fringes to attack and destroy. Many were killed or lost in space failing to master any one of the subtle arts of hit and run. To the grander Ulthar Empire such losses were acceptable in the development of a Warlord. Ra’Leigh loved the danger, though. Freedom to plan his attacks, freedom to strike when and where he chose. Leading Ulthar he himself had trained, rushing down the boarding ramp screaming defiance to the skies and rushing to close with the enemy as the madness of battle surrounded him, these were things he treasured. Never was Ra’Leigh more alive than during his raiding years. He stunned many when he successfully raided Ergo, the Taurus home world, capturing as his personal slave the mighty warrior Gorgoroth. During this same raid he ambushed two of his rivals destroying them and taking their ships and crews for his own.

The penultimate test was more primal, more basic – that of single combat. This was the culminating exercise of personal combat training for the remaining aspirants. Each aspirant was paired against another for the entertainment of the Ulthar Empire. Ra’Leigh defeated his opponent bare handed in single combat to the howling cheers of the Empire. Throwing down his weapons was more than bravado; it was proof to himself and the watching Warlords that he was born to conquer, and none were his equal.

At last the final few were taken under the wing of established Warlords. Learning to command and operate alone and survive on the fringes was a valuable skill. But to be a Warlord you must command the great Ulthar fleets.

Ra’Leigh was taken aboard the mighty patriaship ‘Tyrant’s Star’ and there he learned the final mysteries of command from the hand of Warlord Ya’Slan. The ability to navigate the stars was old hat to a master Reaver like Ra’Leigh. But to navigate the worm holes and the dimensional flux was a new challenge. Years later Warlord Ya’Slan would watch on with pride as Ra’Leigh lead his fleet to victory against the last of his rivals.

Only the final test remained. The Inward Eye was in many ways the most difficult and challenging trial for the might Ra’Leigh. It was also his least rewarding. For months he trained with Gemini caste, learning to unlock the inner powers of the Ulthar. He lived in the silence of the meditation tanks with only the mental chatter of the twins to guide him.  Ra’Leigh strove to harness the power of his mind. Rival aspirants from his class fell away; their minds ripped asunder by the challenge of the Inward Eye, as they stared deep within and could not cope with what they saw. In the end this too he mastered, his will too great to be overcome, and he was gifted with the title of Warlord. But success was a bitter fruit for Ra’Leigh.

Ra’Leigh became bored. No wars were a challenge to him. No triumph remained to give him greater glory. For years he drifted, showered with glory and commendations from the Empire, proud of this noble son, leading a fleet in circles without the joy of conquest. He turned his attention to gathering about him the best of the Ulthar Empire. They were small and petty victories against other Warlords, but it was the only fight he had left. He gathered his best and brightest and trained them without mercy until they were the best. Gorgoroth at his side, he recruited Xyllian, Master Sagittarius; the greatest Gemini twins of the Empire – X and Y; Stinger, the paramount Scorpio Fencer; Stormblades, Libra Sensei, and his own teacher in personal combat. He gathered these great heroes and more to his side. Then there came the attempted invasion of Earth.


When the invasion floundered, and the Ulthar fleet retreated Ra’Leigh stayed. Here at last was a challenge worthy of him. A race of beings powerful and diverse enough to repel the Empire represented everything Ra’Leigh longed for. Glory was on Earth. He moved his patriaship into the shadow of the moon. From here he has sent his most trusted Caste Masters to learn the secrets of this truculent world. So they have been here walking among us learning our secrets. Sometimes Ra’Leigh will grow restless and lead an assault on Pulp City to once more gauge the strength of its Supremes. Ra’Leigh knows one day his chance will come and he alone will conquer Earth and his name will echo eternal as the greatest Warlord ever spawned by the Ulthar Empire.

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Mysterious Man (Villain)



mysteriousmanCode-name: Mysterious Man, sometimes known as ‘the Hooded Man’

Full Name: unknown

Faction: none

When the sun is up over Pulp City, bearing down its radiant heat and shining light, there is not much to talk about. At those times the Mysterious Man, the Hooded Man, does not exist. He is just a bad thought, a fairy tale told by mothers who want to scare their children – a modern-day bogeyman.

If you check the Pulp City press, there is not a single mention of him to be found, and trust me, I have looked. If he existed, you could think his sole purpose was to remain deep in the shadows. But if he never existed where do the tales come from?

mysteriousman-page-001When night falls, you hear his name whispered in the back alleys of the city. You see goons in New Port committing heinous and hideous crimes in his name, shaking down the weak and helpless to make more money for their master, and if you know where to look you can find Supreme Villains willing to do his bidding in the darkest of places.

Mysterious Man is hardly a man. Deep in his glowing eyes they say that there is no emotion, no curiosity, no spark of humanity. They say that when you are around him, you get that creepy feeling, as if a shark was watching you, constantly analyzing where and how to strike, waiting to devour its helpless prey. The broad grin he wears reportedly never disappears from his face, almost as if he was wordlessly saying “I can snuff you out at any time”.

mysteriousman-page-002Then, when he talks to his armies of the underworld, words turn into hypnotizing spells that transform every single one of them into a fanatical follower; his unrelenting army. Pulp City is full of his agents, some of them sleepers, unknowing even of their own roles within his machinations, activated by a carefully used code words.

When you take a look at all of those bizarre Supreme deaths and politicians assassination attempts, the killers often have no criminal record or no professional combat training, and no obvious reason to try to do what they did. If you know where to listen, whispers lead back to Mysterious Man.

fcl_mysteriousman-page-001They say he resides like a solitary king on Kodo Island, the ruler of his human-free empire. The whispered legends of Kodo Island say that it drifts a secretive course, always moving and never to be found except when its ruler so chooses. Of course I never got to tour that place, but I know, I just know, that its rocky spires hide stolen U.S. army prototype defenses, a lab equipped with the latest cloning equipment, and within cages and vats deep within the bowels of that deadly place there lurks the most fiendish creations that the Mysterious Man can muster, with all of the efforts of his fantastical and cruel imagination. Be careful that he never takes an interest in you.


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C.O.R.E. (Hero)

Code-name: C.O.R.E. (Conscious Omnipotent Replicated Entity)

Full Name: C.O.R.E. (formerly O.R.B.C.)

Faction: Heavy Metal

Although the words ‘Heavy Metal’ bring to the minds of every Pulp City resident images of cutting edge technologies and almost science-fictional heroes, the origins of the Team date back to the 1940’s. As the U.S. military worked on a variety of super-soldier projects, including the ill-fated Project Metasis, a small group of scientists researched the possibilities of introducing a mechanical command unit that would enhance battlefield decisions made by human officers. That latter project failed as the imminence of D-Day preparations drew all financial support away from it towards creating a handful of Supremes to lead the assault on the beaches of Normandy.

The project codenamed O.R.B.C. (Omnipotent Replicated Battlefield Commander) existed in the annals of the US military more or less as the mechanical equivalent of the alchemists’ dream to create gold from lead. Even though support had been reduced, research continued with diminishing returns falling farther and farther short of the original high expectations.

Finally a breakthrough came in late 1960’s as the military switched to a new intercommunication system; O.R.B.C.’s computer was inadvertently connected to all of the available databases, creating massive a feedback loop that fried the O.R.B.C. circuitry and resulted in a massive explosion of the computers that governed its connection to the network.

When the smoke cleared, the scientists working on O.R.B.C. could not believe what they saw. The parts and pieces of the broken machinery hovered before them in mid air, swirling and circling as if an invisible child’s hand was trying to assemble the scattered pieces of a puzzle. Circuit joined to wire, wire to chip, chip to mainframe, and slowly a human-like being shaped itself, its blood composed of streaming data chains binding beneath and within the metal armor shell that formed.

The newly assembled entity hung in the air, almost motionless, like a giant steel hummingbird, only the silent clicking of its data processing hinting at a semblance of life and its efforts to analyze the situation. When Military Policemen burst into the room, the metal-creature instantly transformed its left arm into a round shield and its right arm into a short pike, adopting the battle stance of a disciplined Spartan warrior. Awestruck, the human staff and soldiers slowly left the room, leaving the strange visitor alone and retreating to a location where they could watch through the eye of a closed-circuit camera.

The evolved O.R.B.C. almost instantly started to rebuild or rather re-shape the room.

As days passed, the scientists were amazed to discover that it was able to adapt its body to any new situation, once in a while dispersing its form and retreating to the safety of the now repaired computers as if recharging or replenishing itself.

The arrival of the strange creature instantly became a fully-focused project, with scientists cautiously approaching and trying to communicate with it. If the being was able to process situational humor it probably would have been amused by the human’s first attempts; lacking any guidance, they adopted methods described in Tarzan stories. The being, as could be expected from something that possessed the knowledge and processing ability of a thousand linked computers, approached them and clearly laid out its goals: to research tactics and behavior patterns beyond the ones already found in the military databases it had devoured.

Over the next few months, tireless and emotionless, the being supported hundreds of military and police operations, supporting troops and commanders from the confines of its underground base. O.R.B.C. was eager to learn and modify itself further even though it had already adapted the tactics and strategies of countless masters of warfare, starting from Sun Tze to General Patton.

Everything seemed in order for those overseeing the O.R.B.C. assignment, and newly agreed steady financial support revitalized the project as the entity seemed to be the ultimate fulfillment of the project’s hopes. Things continued in a stable way until the day when one of the politicians behind the financial backing of O.R.B.C. decided to move the testing the one of the most bloodthirsty theaters of war of the era – Vietnam.

The killing fields of Vietnam were to become its first true frontline test.

The O.R.B.C. presence inspired U.S. troopers and spawned fear among the Vietcong troops. In the blazing fire of the battlefield, O.R.B.C. would build up its body to gargantuan size from the wreckage of downed choppers, resembling a huge knight armed with a rotor-blade sword, wading through fleeing guerillas, and crushing their bodies to bloody pulp. At other times, it would command troops from behind the lines, directing operations to make key strikes after having infiltrated enemy bases as a swarm of tiny mechanical spiders.

O.R.B.C.’s abilities seemed limitless, so the military commanders pushed it more and more until one day they reached a boundary that, to their absolute surprise, the mechanical wonder would not cross.

The creature was assigned to carry prototype micro-nuke bombs and plant them in a target village. As O.R.B.C. processed its resources, hopelessly searching for any similar pattern, the general in command tried a convenient lie: those are just vaccinations.

The math all suddenly became so simple: the war was over for O.R.B.C. as its Omnipotent part realized the abuse of the Battlefield Commander part. In a flash of scintillating chips and metal shards, O.R.B.C. disappeared from the face of Earth. Its engines roared as it thrust skywards to begin a space voyage that was meant to shape his programming to a new level.


Years passed. Returning to Earth in the early 1980′s, the cosmic wanderer was nothing like the creature that left humankind behind, flying from Earth from the jungles of Vietnam. On arrival, O.R.B.C. took over all major broadcasting stations to deliver a singular message. The creature spoke in a fiery proclamation that had every emotion calculated and measured, declaring war on villains and corrupted politicians, cruel military officers and warmongering invaders alike. Anything that violated O.R.B.C.’s core programming values and his newfound human traits of compassion and conscience would be deemed as an enemy.

The artificial lifeform formerly known as O.R.B.C. announced his changed name: C.O.R.E.: Conscious Omnipotent Replicated Entity.

C.O.R.E. spoke to a stunned world.

Suddenly this absolutely alien and inhuman being topped all of the popularity rankings, cheered in the streets by Vietnam vets and aging hippies alike. His pursuit of a new lawful and compassionate order attracted a huge following, and when more and more Supremes pledged their allegiance to C.O.R.E.’s crusade against all-things-evil, the birth of the Heavy Metal Team was imminent. The first recruits included the powerful Iron Train and tragic Dr. Mercury, soon joined by the brilliant scientist Androida. The newly formed dream team forged a solid strike force in the war on crime. They would be joined by more and more science-enhanced Supremes in the years to follow.

Unlike all other Supreme Teams, Heavy Metal had all it needed to take their fight away from the streets, able to wage information wars, reaching places that were run by juntas, evil tyrants and corrupted governments. They established education programs, financially supported righteous young lawyers and lobbied for just political solutions behind the scenes. Heavy Metal waged their ‘war’ in a revolutionary way, all under the direction of C.O.R.E.

The fledgling Team’s greatest test came with the first major Necroplane invasion, right after Dr. Tenebrous, established as the ambassador to Earth, broke diplomatic pacts when the shadows of huge harvest ships were cast across Pulp City. Every Supreme in the city, Hero and Villain alike, stood by C.O.R.E.’s side that day.

A bitter struggle ensued that claimed the lives of many would have been lost if not for the Heavy Metal leader’s epic feat that almost cost C.O.R.E. his electronic life.

C.O.R.E., summoning all his strength, and fed data by millions of computer users clogging up the internet with searches for mythical protectors, transformed himself into a massive steel dragon, later nicknamed Byte Dragon, his thick hide pulsating with streaming data transfers.

The Byte Dragon took to the air, his gargantuan tail knocking harvest ships from the sky. Even the combined might of three Necroplane Lords was not enough to stop the raging beast. Gunfire from thousands of deck cannons tore into his body, but C.O.R.E. in his Byte Dragon form kept fighting like there was no tomorrow.

Allies from Blood Watch planted holy sigils in Twilight Hills, blowing up the gate to the Necroplane in a violent, fiery blast, while Byte Dragon used every remaining effort to push the last of the ships back through the diminishing portal. As the gate crashed, the resultant rip in reality cut the beast’s body in two, and silence descended on the battlefield.

It soon emerged that at the last-second C.O.R.E. was able to download his essence into a partially destroyed Sentry Bot, and so Heavy Metal’s leader was able to rise from the ashes of the hard-won victory.

Since his return, with every passing day, C.O.R.E. is becoming more and more human. He is linked to the internet and all the databases of the world, his personality shaped with every item of news and information that he acquires. There is a growing legend that C.O.R.E. adapts his physical battle-form based on a number of online searches for heroic personas, with his current armored form resembling King Arthur. The remaining fear for some, however, is that one day somebody with ill intentions may well control C.O.R.E. for their own nefarious purposes.

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