Tanuki (Hero/Villain)

Code-name: Tanuki

Full Name: Tanuki

Allegiance: Jade Cult

Outside of the closed ranks of the Jade Cult, Tanuki’s origin is veiled in secrecy, and even within that terrible society few know the truth. One of the Jade Cult’s mysterious spirit-onis, Tanuki is probably the least loyal of that kind, even if ultimately he is the only one that recognizes that fact.

As the Green Emperor has extended his reach beyond Japanese shores and turned his attention to the West in general, and Pulp City in particular, Tanuki has been an instrumental agent of the Jade Cult. Tanuki has found great pleasure in all that the modern world has to offer, and especially the liberty he has seen first-hand in Pulp City, once described as a decadent cesspit by his master. Cesspit or not, Tanuki loves what Pulp City has to offer – he just enjoys being unleashed in the world!

The earthly plane that Tanuki finds himself in is like Las Vegas for a newly confirmed gambler, and diametrically opposed to the feudal Japan that the Green Emperor seeks to re-create after his own design. There is not a single sensation or experience that he does not revel in, and he has learnt the ways of his new world in short order. Tanuki already owns a significant business portfolio, having generated massive profits from speculative investment in the burgeoning Japanese real-estate market of the late 1980’s, withdrawing his investments as he foresaw an imminent crash. He also loves manipulating gullible people and the media, and on many occasions he has planted fake stories for unwitting journalists to pick up on, all part of grander plots; the famed June Summers has yet to fall for one of these elaborate hoaxes and so he views duping her as the prize target in his wild little intrigues. Tanuki often has to pretend that he cares deeply for the goals Emperor and his Jade Cult, but the small raccoon-dog spirit is expert at putting on his ‘engaged’ face, and thus sparing himself the wrath of the only entity he fears – the Green Emperor.

Tanuki has been afforded certain freedoms not given to other Jade Cult agents; the Green Emperor has allowed the mischievous spirit a long leash as he gathers intelligence and makes new contacts to further the Jade Cult’s strategies. This has allowed Tanuki to pursue his own agenda, something he relishes. Seeing a city whose culture was clearly dominated by the super-powered Supremes living and fighting there, Tanuki felt it obligatory that he join in with their customs; thus he fashioned himself a domino mask as he felt this would help him blend in! Of course he has had to kowtow to the wishes of the Green Emperor, and so has adopted traditional Japanese garb as part of his ‘costume’. And so the bizarre sight of a talking raccoon dog hurling magic spells and potions around with abandon is one of the stranger tales that grace the Supreme scene, and Tanuki for one loves his role. His cheerful demeanor is disarming to most of the other Supremes he encounters; few realize the full devious extent of his plotting and machinations.

There are many onis within Green Emperor’s employ, and Tanuki is unique among them. Of all the spirits within the Jade Cult’s ranks, Tanuki’s link to the material world is the strongest, and he is the most difficult creature to banish. Tanuki weaves magic and twists probabilities to service the goals of the Green Emperor, but just as often his own objectives. Tanuki hopes to one day liberate himself from the control of the Green Emperor. He knows that day is probably long off, but that does not stop the strange little spirit-creature from scheming his schemes, in the hope that one day he will be free. However he inwardly acknowledges that to do so is to run a grave risk.

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Riposte (Hero/Villain)

 

riposteCode-name: Riposte

Full Name: Naomi Kingsley

Faction: none

Naomi Kingsley is the daughter of ruthless Pulp City billionaire Miles Kingsley. Her mother, Miles’ second wife Justine, died a year after Naomi’s birth in a tragic boating accident. Following her mother’s tragic death, Naomi was raised by a small army of servants in the Kingsley’s palatial mansion just outside Pulp City. Her father demanded perfection from her and he was rarely disappointed. From an early age Naomi displayed an exceptional intelligence and incredible self-discipline.

Riposte-page-001By the age of ten she was considered one of the country’s foremost chess players. By the age of fourteen Naomi was considered one of the world’s top ten chess masters. Her talents extended to other areas as well. She was an Olympic class fencer by age fifteen, and an accomplished composer and violinist. By the age of twenty she had graduated at the top of her class at Harvard Law. Naomi Kingsley’s daughter seemed poised and prepared to take over the Kingsley empire.

Miles Kingsley himself was pleased with the course his daughter’s life had taken. Miles believed he had groomed his daughter to hold his empire together with an iron mind and unwavering loyalty. He failed to consider that Naomi had been using him.

Riposte-page-002Young Naomi had always felt the hole in her heart from a mother she had never known. Keenly intelligent it had taken a n inquisitive ten-year-old Naomi no time to realize that her mother’s boating accident was a flimsy cover for murder. In the subsequent two years Naomi had discovered her father’s dirty secret, that he had arranged the murder of his own wife. At twelve years old Naomi Kingsley had vowed that she would seek justice for her father’s crimes. By the time she graduated from Harvard she had seen that the law would never be able to bring her father to justice. His money and lawyer and layers and layers of deniability would isolate him from any criminal charges. In addition to these very real barriers she had uncovered her father’s connection to a group known only as The Coven.

Naomi had always known that to seek true justice would require sacrifice and personal involvement. Ironically enough it was her father who finally showed her the path. Naomi had been spying on her father for most of her life. When she spotted Miles leaving the house for the isolated woods late one night Naomi naturally followed him. Deep in the woods her father met with a strange group of figures. She recognized them instantly the large sad looking man in high-tech powered armor was known as Rook. The scaly reptilian form with the southern accent could only be Francis Gator.

Though she never saw the third figure, her keen intellect deduced that it could only be the assassin known as Twilight. These figures of media sensation and public nightmare inspired Naomi.

riposte_colorRiposte was born two nights later when a figure with long hair and dressed in fencing armor stopped a break-in at a downtown office. The three members of The Coven barely escaped. Riposte made several other appearances in the months that followed. Riposte showed an amazing ability to predict her opponents’ actions and counter them.

Her skill with a blade and tactical acumen made her more than a match for most opponents. But Naomi knew that she alone would not be able to topple her father’s criminal empire or his allies in the Coven. She needed more power another tool that she could shape and direct to her will.

Other Supremes were already too established in the media and the public mind to be of much use. Additionally a Supreme had powers and abilities that often made them too hard to predict. But when she heard the story of a young vigilante making a name for himself as Arquero, she thought she had found the instrument she was looking for…

 

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Nuclear Jones (Hero)

 

nuclearjonesCode-name: Nuclear Jones

Full Name: Mark Jones

Faction: Heavy Metal
There is one man that knows much more than almost anyone else about Mysterious Man and who is very high on the evil mastermind’s list of targets.

Once upon a time, in the darkest alleys of New Port, two brothers led a sinful life of crime and terror. Mark Jones and Samuel Jones, Pulp City street-raised twins, were working low profile dockside jobs before becoming enrolled into Mysterious Man’s black market empire. Nature granted Samuel an ox-like build and bird-sized brain which was great when you considered his job. Mark was different in every way. Before he became one of Heavy Metal’s Supremes, Mark Jones and his twin brother eventually rose through the ranks of the Mysterious Man’s organization to run various shady operations for the overlord in the docks area. Such were their feats that the watching eye of the Mysterious Man turned their way with intent interest and he nominated them the ambassadors of his evil empire in Pulp City.

nuclearjones-page-001Years passed, and both had attained positions of power and influence; but unlike his brother, Mark was smart. His bro was like an anchor, dragging him down, but Mark would never lose Samuel’s loyalty or attachment. Irritated with Mark’s inability to sever this umbilical cord, Mysterious Man seized an opportunity when he faced a Heavy Metal attack. He covered his retreat using Mark’s brother… and unleashed a very furious genetically-modified dinosaur of his own creation – the Occultosaurus 17.

The rampaging dinosaur, blinded with rage and bloodlust, could not discern between the Heroes and its allies and snapped at Samuel, cutting him almost in half. Mark tried valiantly to stop it from finishing his brother, but as he bravely intervened he suffered the same horrific treatment. The beast tore the goons to pieces before the might of C.O.R.E. stopped him. One of the brothers was beyond help, but the other still lived.

nuclearjones-page-002Left for dead by Mysterious Man, Mark’s body was recovered by Iron Train who was so impressed by the brave action of Jones that he ensured the Team took his badly maimed body to Heavy Metal headquarters in a bid to save his life. C.O.R.E. placed Mark’s bodily remains in a medical stasis field. In the subsequent experimental process that could have killed Jones or grant him new life, the leader of Heavy Metal managed to accomplish the latter but at a high price. Using all of his downloaded knowledge, C.O.R.E. managed to revive the mutilated man’s body with cybernetics powered by an experimental nuclear reactor. To sustain his life, his body was rebuilt around a small atomic reactor, his nuclear heart.

 

nuclear jones artThus Nuclear Jones was born, half-man, half-machine, with a debt of returned life to be paid off.

 
Nuclear Jones is a cyborg with unevenly spread bionics. Most importantly, his torso was partly replaced by a nuclear reactor, green and glowing with a visible ‘heart’. In fact, his nuclear midsection connects his more human upper and lower bodies. The damage to his body was so extensive that parts of it had to be wholly replaced with bionics. The abdominal area that suffered the most was replaced with a miniature nuclear reactor that in case of malfunction triggers a teleportation mechanism and sends Jones somewhere safe. That safe-mode is for the security of everybody else, but not necessarily for him.

 

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Dr. Red (Hero/Villain)

dr Red

Code-name: Dr. Red

Full Name: Dr. Red/Red Alpha

Faction: Ape Revolution Committee

Some beings are born to lead. The problem for the Ape Revolution Committee is that they have a few too many alpha-primates in their ranks.

When Channel 4 mentions the bravado of A.R.C., Guerilla is usually the one mentioned most. However, only a few outsiders to the A.R.C. are aware that most of the progress made by the primate Supremes in the last few years was sparked by the twisted mind of their alpha orang-utan; the self-proclaimed Dr. Red. Although his first attempt to take over the group while still in the space ended up with Guerilla beating him to a bloody pulp, Red has since plotted his ultimate rise to power, mastering the art of patience.

drred-page-001Well, at least temporary bouts of patience.

There are two things that the Red Alpha loves in life. Firstly, is when his actions affect the world indirectly; he considers the act of pulling the strings to orchestrate events to be far beyond the simple reasoning, understanding and appreciation of most of his comrades, especially including Guerilla.

The second thing that Dr. Red loves is watching things blow up; and to do so, again and again. Red still remembers the first time he admired Pulp City’s massive 4th of July celebrations, only to quickly decide that it was all a pointless display of misplaced power. He likes the pretty sight of fireworks, but even more he hates the aspect of pointless symbolism that he perceives in celebrations when there is war to be fought. When Dr. Red blows things up, it is always spectacular to behold and with purpose, at least to his own cause.

drred-page-002Red has learned a lot about explosives but rarely follows the safety instructions of the U.S. Army ordnance which A.R.C. steals and trades for with shadowy parts of Pulp City’s underworld. When he drags his giant body across the battlefield, explosive charges literally fall out of his pockets. When he throws his custom-made grenades, he never quite knows what result will be. Usually the outcome is at least as good as expected, even if his comrades are sometimes in his firing line, subject tor unexpected friendly fire.

Beneath a mask of a crazed and random primate, there is a very apt brain that constantly plans, constructing strategies to pay off in Red’s favor when the time is right.

Red artWhile not many of his comrades will directly agree with the statement, most of them would consider Red Alpha their foremost mentor and tactician. The simian brethren of A.R.C. calculate that with each passing year they will see more and more incursion into the human supremacy, based on the indirect approach to things championed by Dr. Red. And while Guerilla still triumphs in most of the missions he undertakes, when he crashes, he crashes hard. Over the last couple of months this has happened increasingly, usually when facing smarter rivals like C.O.R.E. or Dr. Tenebrous, and the various new Supremes that have been emerging since the Fall.

If it ever came to a day where the team would have to split because of different visions of the revolution, the A.R.C. will stand divided, and Dr. Red will aim to stand above all.

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Xenobi (Villain)

Code-name: Xenobi

Full Name: Xenobi

Faction: none

08:42 Zulu Time
The little mutant with the turquoise skin tugged gently at the hem of his master’s coat. Xenobi wanted his boss’ attention, but even himself as one of his master’s greatest creations, he knew well enough not to raise his master’s ire in doing so. He had seen fully what the Mysterious Man was capable of.

“Master, master, they are here. Supremes have come again,” said the freakish Xenobi. A malevolent grin played across his strange, vaguely fish-like features, revealing vicious teeth. He might now have time for sport if Kodo Island’s indigenous fauna and flora did not take care of this problem first.

Absentmindedly the Mysterious Man brushed away the insistent attentions of the peculiar little mutant. The Mysterious Man’s focus was elsewhere, on his latest grand creation – a gigantic monster designed to sow terror as an extension of his indomitable will to power. Whatever distractions the diminutive Xenobi had noticed could be taken care of by others, Xenobi included. He resolved that that would be sufficient.

“Xenobi – whom do we have as a guest today? Nuke? Take him and whatever creatures you want from the Cloning Vats, and deal with the problem.” He commanded, before belatedly adding “I am occupied.”

Xenobi dutifully trotted off and went to his own little armory to pick up his big ‘boom-gun’, muttering to himself in a sing-song manner as he went: “I’m gonna hurt the heroes, I’m gonna hurt the heroes!”

It was proving to be just another day in the strange life of the strange pint-sized mutant.

Xenobi’s journey took him to one of his favorite places – the Cloning Vats. In the vast silo there were all manner of misshapen creatures housed in glass and metal tanks, fashioned by one man’s will and scientific genius. Organisms with form and function that had nothing to do with nature waited to be used in the latest scheme of their creator. Occasionally the Mysterious Man would allow Xenobi to play with them or use them on his own recognizance, and Xenobi enjoyed that so very much.

Xenobi walked up and down aisle upon aisle of tanks, examining the contents of each carefully, his tongue poking out between his lips as he concentrated. Decision eventually made, he kicked the side of one tank to wake its occupants – strange things with myriad tentacles adorned with sharp hooks in place of arms or legs, and bulbous bodies that contained all other sensory and vital organs.
One of the tentacled- things – Mysterious Man called them Ravenopods – roused to grasp a hunk of raw, bloodied meat lying at the bottom of the tank, lifting it up within the hidden folds of its tentacles for noisy consumption.

Xenobi tapped on a keypad which in turn opened the tank, and as the hatch hissed aside the tentacled things stepped onto the deck plate of the silo. Rasping breaths were taken by the things as Xenobi barked his orders to them.
Xenobi liked to give orders. He barked an extra order just because he could.

 

10:01 Zulu
Satisfied with his selection of mutate muscle, Xenobi headed for the guest living quarters to find Nuke. The little mutant had to be careful. He enjoyed being in charge, but Nuke was powerful – he could probably incinerate Xenobi with little effort; even if Xenobi’s small brain did not understand the word incinerate, he understood the concept having seen Nuke in action.

Xenobi arrived and explained the situation briefly to Nuke – instructions were always necessarily brief with the atomic horror. He reported to Nuke that there were uninvited Supremes on Kodo Island and they were to take care of the problem. The radioactive Supreme seemed disinterested, barely acknowledging Xenobi’s explanation, yet finally offered agreement with a barely perceptible nod of its fiery head. Xenobi saved his favorite part to last as he carefully explained that he, Xenobi, was in charge, and that Nuke should do as he says. With no response from the radioactive horror, Xenobi added the caveat of ‘if that was okay with him’.

 

12:16 Zulu
The operation did not go quite as planned, essentially because Xenobi did not have a plan. Nonetheless he simply ordered Nuke and the Ravenopods to attack when they came upon the two interlopers.

They found the invaders to the island at the edge of the verdant jungle. Xenobi poked his tongue in concentration, thought for a moment and guessed that they came ashore from the sea in which the island drifted. Xenobi recognized these transgressors – Virgo and Tritonious – and knew they were occasional allies of his master. In his dim-witted brain he knew also then that they should be allowed to live lest he himself face the master’s terrible fury.

Xenobi’s orders to attack give, Nuke stomped and clanked in his radiation regulating suit towards the trespassers, as Xenobi hung back, commanding the Ravenopods to grasp hold of the intruders. All the while he threw insults at the invaders, questioning their prowess and the legitimacy of their parentage along the way. That last insult seemed to make the big one – Tritonious – particularly angry, who then proceeded to try and get close enough to squish little Xenobi. The battle that followed was fierce and brutal, the Ravenopods’ pitiful lives ended in its course. Yet thankfully for little Xenobi, Nuke was eventually able drive away Tritonious and his female companion, the alien woman known as Virgo, as Xenobi skulked as far back as possible firing his ‘boom-gun’ and triggering his own random mutations.

The battle was done when the intruders finally fled the island.

 

13:03 Zulu
The invading pair of Supremes was not killed that day as Xenobi knew somewhere in his small brain that Mysterious Man had dealings with them occasionally and might need or want them yet alive, but victory was his, even with a little help from Nuke. But Nuke was not in charge, Xenobi was, and that was all that mattered. The wretched and peculiar little mutant danced a victory dance even as the last Ravenopod expired from its injuries as nearby the nuclear powerhouse looked on, saying nothing. After his jig had ended, Xenobi wondered what the remainder of this day would bring.

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Red Riding Hoodoo (Hero)

Code-name: Red Riding Hoodoo
Full Name: Shondra Vey
Faction: Blood Watch

Blood Watch Supreme Red Riding Hoodoo, born Shondra Vey in the murky swamps of south Louisiana, did not have many years to enjoy as a child. Marie, her mother, moved them both to Pulp City when Shondra was five to escape from someone, or maybe it was from something. Marie never told Shondra the full story, but it was clear that a dark and sinister force was involved. Nor did Marie talk much about her family until the day she received a fateful letter from her own mother that would cut short Shondra’s childhood.

Without much of an explanation, Marie sent little Shondra on a plane to Louisiana to deliver a small basket of medicine to her grandma. With just a few bucks in her pocket and grandma’s address, Shondra started a trip that would change her life forever.

Upon Shondra’s arrival she soon found a secret letter from her grandma. The letter explained that old woman feared she would fall into the clutches of an evil coven of black magic practitioners. Sensing this to be the case, immediately Shondra thought desperately of what she could do. She then searched the basket her mother had packed and discovered what she instinctively knew to be powerful charms within it. Guided by the hoodoo call in her blood, Shondra set out into the dark world of long-forgotten rituals and sacrifice, and would emerge as Red Riding Hoodoo.

Time passed quickly as Shondra knew she could not delay action for long. Instinctively invoking ancient rites and calling on old spirits, her path led her to the captors. Arriving at an old dilapidated manse overgrown with vines, Shondra faced a Loup Garou, an evil man transformed into a wolf and controlled by a voodoo priest.

Shondra called on the secret powers of her blood-line, summoning the spirits of her tortured slave ancestors. The wolf-man attacked but failed to harm the girl. So powerful were the spirits surging within Shondra that she was able to trap the man in his wolf form forever, neither truly dead nor alive. With the Loup Garou dispatched Shondra was able to save her grandma and both managed to escape the clutches of the wicked cabal that snapped at their heels. Shondra returned to Pulp City at her grandma’s insistence, and the old woman retreated deep into the sanctuary of the darkest Louisiana swamp.

After several years of study, Shondra realized that she had crossed the path of the Coven, a shadowy organization that for centuries had used dark means to affect politics and the economy, building up a formidable base of power in the wider world while coveting ever darker magicks. After Shondra’s victory, the seemingly ageless leader of the Coven, Papa Zombie, instructed his Strike Team to hunt down Red Riding Hoodoo at all costs. The next few years were spent evading them, and Pulp City offered the perfect hiding place among its myriad Supremes.

Red Riding Hoodoo has mastered many of the secret arts of hoodoo. Shondra quickly became an adept at harnessing the malign powers of hate and pain, but she still seeks to learn the white arcana of healing. She is usually seen accompanied by an unnaturally big wolf with shabby fur and glowing pale eyes. Some say it is the vile Loup Garou Hoodoo had managed to defeat many years ago.

Conscious of her powers, and the responsibility that comes with them, Hoodoo has just recently joined Blood Watch, a team of haunted Supremes who have sworn to protect Pulp City from black magic and the bloodthirsty appetites of the Lords of Necroplane and the nefarious Coven.

 

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Apebot & Virus (Hero/Villains)

Apebot and VirusCode-names: Apebot & Virus

Full Names: Apebot & Subject 046

Faction: Ape Revolution Committee

If a person was able check the research logs detailing Professor Andryshnikov’s primate experiments, and if they looked for any entries about the A.R.C. Supreme today known as Virus, they would find quite a few records, starting with a sentence that would highlight the small monkey’s future capacities: ‘Subject 046 appears to be highly interested and proficient with hand-held electronic games.’

virus-page-001A long time before the ill-fated shuttle plummeted to Earth, Subject 046 had mastered all the primitive electronic games his era could muster. His technological capabilities were evident in a number of areas, but he seemed to above all focus on the electronic diversions made available to him.

In time, Subject 046 and the other young primates were launched into space, eventually crashing to Earth, and surviving only by some miracle.

While in South America, when the nascent A.R.C. was salvaging all of the precious items they could from the shuttle wreck, the skilled spider monkey discovered that the ship’s main computer had several games loaded in its memory. Pong, Space Invaders, and Asteroids immediately captured the imagination of the A.R.C.’s technological genius in-the-making. Not willing to part with these treasured delights, he quickly redesigned a training bicycle into a motorized three-wheeler that would help him to drag the computer and other necessary components to his destination.

virus-page-002A few years later, with the A.R.C. and its loot smuggled into Pulp City, Guerilla assigned the task of researching new means of combating enemy Supremes to Dr. Red and Virus. Since “da teknology” was more or less black magic to the fierce leader, they could do whatever they wanted. First on their agenda was the creation of advanced weaponry. In a frenzy of development they constructed plasma guns, new types of ammunition and grenades, all to aid the cause of the A.R.C., and possibly more likely Red’s own agenda within the Team. But the little spider monkey wanted something bigger, more fearsome, something to test his ingenuity and expertise, something that could be A.R.C.’s trademark.

Virus posed himself a question: if in a game of Pong a paddle would be used to chase the ball, why couldn’t a robotic body be programmed to chase real enemies?

apebot-page-001Thus, the first Apebot was born, or rather constructed. The simple gaming algorithms that Virus prized so highly were built into its computer brain, and shortly afterwards, the mighty beast of steel saw its first action. Everything was fine to begin with; Apebot (the paddle) chased down stray a Grimm (the ball) and repeatedly kept smashing its opponent against the asphalt. The faulty and simplistic programming saw its demise when many more Grimm arrived, and Apebot’s brain circuitry fried as it was not able to process so many ‘balls’ that needed to be ‘paddled’.

The second, driven by more advanced programming, crashed after a month of steady work, when Apebot was overcome by swarms of Heavy Metal Sentry Bots, failing to attack Androida who controlled them. Virus noted that Apebot performed well against many ‘balls’ but failed to recognize and eliminate ‘the opposing paddle’. More work was needed.

apebot-page-002The current Apebot programming still retains some faults as Virus has not been able to overcome every bug, but nonetheless he has created a primitive form of artificial intelligence. The robotic hulk freezes every time it fails to complete a series of complex patterns. However, as long as Virus is near to Apebot, able to override its programming directly, the steel gorilla performs wonderfully. It is able to process increasingly more advanced commands and make simple tactical decisions.

What has been even more important and absolutely unexplainable through the basics of its programming, is that the bond between Apebot and its creator Virus is much more than one would expect from more than three tons of steel and a little over fifteen pounds of spider monkey.

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Blood Rose (Hero)

Code-name: Blood Rose

Full Name: Blood Rose

Faction: Blood Watch

Just as the Necroplane is a parallel realm to Earth, so is the Astral Plane.

After the Big Bang, the Astral Plane took a wholly different path to the creation of life than on Earth. Every spark of life was given an equal chance. Inhabitants of that small reality were immortal unless they died of unnatural causes. Ageless, they were destined to be a part of the great Astral Hunt Circle. They were emotionless, for the Astral Plane was only about passionless survival.

The creator of Astral Plane was either very busy or had to abandon the project very early on. Only three species were native to the void: the asauri, the krakentueri, and the pihhiel. The asauri were the intelligent bipeds, living in tribes scattered on many tiny planets. They glided from one planet to the next, eternal nomads roaming Astral-space. Each tribe was led by a Keeper of Thorns, a spiritual being that from the moment of her birth, possessing the power to rip reality to travel in space and time.

The asauri spent most of their time hunting the colossal krakentauri, peaceful beasts with tentacled maws and wings that would propel them through the cold void. Generations of asauri mastered hunting krakentauri; the oldest and most skillful hunters found their prey by attuning their hearing to the beats of the krakenturi’s wings in space.

The krakentauri, far from smart or ferocious, would drift in Astral-space to find colonies of mite-like creatures named pihhiel, the best food they had ever tasted. The behemoths had the keenest senses in the whole universe: they could smell little pihhiel hives from light years away and tirelessly pursued them to the edges of the Astral Plane.

There was only one scent that could elude a krakentaur on the trail, that of an Astral Rose, the key link in the Great Hunt Cycle. Astral Roses were the equivalent of Earth’s human souls. They bloomed in sacred places protected by entire tribes of asauri hunters. The pihhiel launched berserker raids, their swarms slaughtering the guardians, snatching a Rose which protected them from the krakentauri, if only for a couple of days. The unlucky asauri, whose Rose has been plucked, would dissolve into nothingness over a matter of days, the process neither being painful nor tragic. This was just the way the Astral Plane was.

The force behind the Astral Plane either knew the definition of the word ‘irony’ or came up with it. For, if any being was hunted down and killed in the Astral Plane, it would re-incarnate in the form of its slayer’s species, bound to hunt down its former kin to survive. So a dissolved asauri would become a pihhiel after his former comrades’ Astral Rose, while a pihhiel would become a krakentaur, with all the memories of where his previous hive was. A hunted down krakentaur would become an asauri and so the eternal wheel kept turning.

While the symmetry of the circle appeared perfect, there was a flaw that would rip it apart. The woman now known as Blood Rose was the Keeper of Thorns for one of the tribes guarding the Astral Rose field. The pihhiel in that sector were low in numbers so she and her tribe often engaged in krakentaur hunts, gliding in space after the sleepy behemoths. On one of those hunts, the tribe set an ambush, with their hunters disguised by their star-glitter cloaks, and sharp spears ready for hurling into the big beast’s mouth. Blood Rose stroked reality, as she sought thin spots of the fabric, ready to pierce space-time at any moment and send the hunters through temporary doors to attack the beast.

Starlock, one of the most experienced hunters, gestured to signal the approach of a krakentaur. Spears flew and struck their target. The krakentaur bled and sprayed the hunters with a deep blue fluid. Then, something unexpected happened: the dying beast transformed into a weird hybrid of all species that, as surprised as the on looking asauri, attacked the nearest hunter’s throat.

This new creature not only had the strength of a krakentaur, the cunning of an asauri, and the speed of a pihhiel, but it also transformed any it touched into a crossbreed similar to itself. The void cracked and a wave of massive uncontrolled transformations swept through the realm. Crazed asauri-pihhiel-krakentaur hybrids fought each other in universe-wide chaos. Seeing impending doom, Blood Rose transported to her tribe’s Astral Rose Garden and saw it turned into a battlefield.

Since the natives to the void never knew emotion, she quickly analyzed the situation, seeing only one logical course; she teleported all of the surrounding hybrids into a black hole. Because the transformations were an incurable plague, she repeated this process in every corner of her universe.

Soon, Blood Rose was the last living being within the Astral Plane. Alone, she picked her own Astral Rose and her world ceased to exist. A massive implosion sent Blood Rose hurtling through time and space. Being an anomaly between worlds, realization dawned and she took the reins of space-time and sundered reality. Blood Rose entered our Earth in the 16th century. After hundreds of years of hiding her true identity under many guises, she joined forces with Blood Watch, who were the only ones able to understand her power without trying to abuse it. Haunted by the fact that it took only one day for her universe to die, Blood Rose is on a mission to keep the fabric of her new home-realm intact. Without her, all of the gates to other worlds would have opened a long time ago, and Earth likely ruled by the tyranny of Necroplane or worse.
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Trail (Hero)

Code-name: Trail

Full Name: John Mesmer

Allegiance: none

September, five years ago: Tank Red, one of the founders of Trinity Inc., was institutionalized with symptoms of acute paranoia. For two weeks he claimed he was frequently visited by a huge moth-man who drank his blood.

April, nineteen months later: bank robbers jumped into the harbor after being chased by a six-eyed fire-breathing insect.

Eight months later: John Mesmer was revealed to be a mysterious protector of Pulp City called Trail. Pulp City’s crime lords set a bounty on Trail’s head of three million dollars, as they could not take the offense of being publicly humiliated.

John Mesmer became an overnight celebrity and his home town’s prime target right after his second book came out. “Of Insects and Men”, a provocatively titled book, described the research of Dr. Mesmer, his life’s work.

The book sold out, but its hypotheses were so bold that most academic circles rejected them and exiled the text to the realm of science fiction. One of the most common criticisms was that the research methods were at least questionable and strictly unethical.

Mesmer claimed that hive mind theory, of which plenty of examples could be found in the insect, animal and alien kingdoms alike, was applicable to human race as well. He discovered that the hive mind in most cases was able to plant ‘trail marks’ in the brains of its subjects, effectively influencing behavior and perception even years after the actual programming. Dr. Mesmer named the entire process ‘trailblazing’, as the hive mind prowled through the subject’s thoughts and memories, leaving its marks only to come back to them when a need arose.

Some would have claimed this as the stuff of cheap pulp stories if not for the fact that the bulk of “Of Insects and Men” described Mesmer’s nightly outings when he tested his ‘trailblazing’ theory on human subjects. His guinea pigs were not the regular patients that frequented his little loft office in Pulp City’s Downtown – they were safe from the new vigilante. Mesmer claimed he had a good sense of what is good or wrong.

What some perceived as unethical and inhumane methods, appealed to most of Pulp City citizens, making Trail’s exploits the stuff of tabloid legends. John Mesmer chose his targets carefully, picking out criminals, usually in the process of committing a crime. He would carefully plan his every action, planting the so-called ‘trail marks’ and blazing ‘trails’. His victims, depending on the gravity of the crime, would either suffer a night of humiliation by ending up at the police station or be burdened with a lifetime of haunting hallucinations. Dressed in a long cape that would turn into nightmarish creatures and otherworldly shapes in the victims mind and a mask studded with hypnotizing gems, Mesmer was anything but merciful to villains while he pushed his research to the limits.

The limit of his punishments was the lives of his targets, but shattering the sanity of his test subjects was not. In many ways, the sight of his flowing cape and six glowing eyes would make petty criminals run faster than if they had seen a Necroplane Soul Golem – mind over muscle mass, as Mesmer would mention to Six Feet Under.

Today, quite voluntarily, John Mesmer polarizes people, they either love or hate him. Many wannabes exists who try to emulate his methods, but Trail is not stupid, and did not hand out his most powerful mind controlling methods to eager Villains. He is still the only and unequaled master of ‘trailblazing’, and he is really good at it.

Trail’s somewhat drastic methods have aligned him with Pulp City more shadowy Heroes, so he is often seen alongside Dead Eye or the Blood Watch. Some of them do not even realize that somewhere deep in their minds, trails are already blazed, as Mesmer has made sure that no enemy or friend would ever betray him before his great project is fully researched and handed over to a next generation of Pulp City Heroes.

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Father Oak & Acorn (Hero/Villain)

oakandacornCode-names: Father Oak & Acorn

Full Name: William Oakland & Acorn

Faction: Settler’s Green

William Oakland spent his childhood in and around Pulp City’s Settlers Park. It was the only place in the whole city he felt at home. His days were spent climbing trees and playing hide and seek in the bushes. He would often help the gardeners to plant flowers and tend to things around the park. Nothing upset young William more than watching people litter and defile his beloved park.

acorn-page-001His love of the trees and flowers never faded as he grew up. After high school he got a job working for Pulp City Parks and Recreation. For the next twenty five years William took care of his beloved park. It was widely rumored that he slept under the trees more than he did at home. He was often seen talking to the various trees and bushes as he tended them. No one seemed to mind though as his work was always done.

Things went bad for William when Royal Investments, backed by some sleazy city councilmen, bought out Settlers Park. William found himself without a job and with his park in danger of becoming another high-rise office complex. William became insane with grief and despair over the news.

acorn-page-002Late at night William screamed his rage and fear into the night clawing at his own skin in his madness. From the darkness a voice called to him from the tallest and most ancient oak tree in the park. William knew this tree, it was the Heartwood, the soul of the park and it spoke to him. William followed the soft green voice and disappeared into the ancient tree for three long weeks.

When at last William Oak emerged he had changed. His legs were long and bark covered, with toes like tree roots. His arms seemed a mass of leafy branches or vines that stretched to incredible length. He had super human strength and stamina. More than that, he could command plants and the very earth itself to do his bidding. Finally William Oak felt complete. He had a purpose and the power to do what needed to be done. Covering himself in a simple homespun robe, William Oak was no more. Father Oak was ready to take back the land and defend it against all interlopers.

fatheroak-page-001Royal Investments was poised to break ground on the new office site that same morning. They had in attendance members of local and state government and a large crowd. Father Oak burst from the park during the speeches, scattering the assembled crowd. In the process he destroyed several bulldozers and other construction equipment. After this he claimed that any person entering his park and threatening the welfare of his children would be punished. His claim that the trees were his children earned him the name Father Oak.

Since then Father Oak has continued to protect Settler’s Park and other natural sites throughout the city. Royal Investments realized that the risk of developing Settlers Park was simply not financially sound; Father Oak has cost them too much in equipment and manpower over the years. He has even managed to foil any Supremes that have threatened his land.

fatheroak-page-002Many people have flocked to join Father Oak in his back to nature approach. A gathering of hippies, both young and old, now resides in Settlers Park. These folk dubbed Tree Huggers by the populace are almost as much of a menace as Father Oak himself. The Tree Huggers spend their time tending the trees and planting simple gardens shepherded by Father Oak. They live off the land and in peace with the land. They welcome any who would join them. Supremes have also begun to answer a call, and a new Faction appears to be emerging which has been called by some ‘Settler’s Green’.

Eighteen months after Father Oak first appeared in Pulp City the Heartwood tree called to him once more. Following the trail of the voice again, the great tree yielded up to him a small child. This was Acorn, the daughter of Father Oak and the mysterious Mother, or so he claims. Father Oak takes great pride in his Acorn and will go to any lengths to protect the child. The child of Father Oak and Mother is a fey and innocent seeming girl of around seven years of age. Though she has been in Pulp City for several years she has not appeared to age. She wears simple colorful dresses and is often barefooted. She has deep green hair and flowers seem to be woven into, or perhaps growing from it at all times.

fatheroak-artAcorn is a curious, friendly and outgoing young child. She has a control over plants and the earth that rivals that of her father. Her cheers give Father Oak greater strength, and her temper has leveled buildings. Certain agencies have attempted to study Acorn but any such attempt raises Father Oak’s wrath. In one famous case the Department of Child Services attempted to take Acorn from the park sparking a major civic uprising. The Tree Huggers marched on city call en masse. When that failed to see her returned, Father Oak began tearing up downtown. This sparked a major encounter with members of Heavy Metal. Ultimately it was Acorn herself who decided it was time to return to the park. She destroyed the top floor of the Department of Child Services when a large pine grove suddenly grew up around her. She then skipped down the street and jumped into her father’s arms. The whole mob left the downtown area as quickly as they had come.

Father Oak will defend any park or natural resource. He has on several occasions gone on rampages in the downtown area. Seeking as he says to destroy the machinery that threatens the earth. Pulp City’s heroes have always managed to chase him back to his park with minimal loss of property. Other times Father Oak or Acorn have come to warn the people of Pulp City of impending danger. Father Oak is an unstable but powerful ally and will do anything to protect Acorn or the Green places of Pulp City.

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