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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Sister Bedlam (Villain)

 

sisterbedlamCode-name: Sister Bedlam

Full Name: Bethany Bates

Faction: none

The world first learned of Bethany Bates when the Pulp City Planet printed a front page story ‘Miss Frankenstein’ accompanied by a gruesome picture of a basement full of bodies and graphically-told revelations from the authorities who tried to stop a notorious serial killer.

But the story did not start there. Dr. Bethany Bates was a successful woman who managed to combine an academic career with a mission of helping others. Not many of her friends were aware that her twin sister had died aged eleven of an undiagnosed sickness that struck her neural system. Bethany’s pursuit of knowledge lead her to the best medical universities in America and Europe, but she was never satisfied with only academic routine and so kept working in St. Mary’s Hospital in Pulp City’s New Port district.

sisterbedlam-page-001On her 31st birthday, while Dr. Bates was working the night shift, a girl named Dolores was checked in. The girl was in unimaginable pain and her whole body was shaking with erratic jolts. Bethany noticed the similarity with her sister’s suffering in their childhood, and knew that the pain would not pass and the torment would continue for many months, leading to agonizing decline, and eventually death.

Trembling with anxiety, she knew this was the moment to redeem all her years of hard study, all those years of nightmares following her sister’s demise while she had stood by helpless. For all those years, she had been working on a new auto-therapy method that could treat this rare condition with the patient’s own amplified brain waves.

The therapy would have been long and painful, as the patient’s brain needed to be forced to direct its power against the disease plaguing the neural system. Bethany Bates had built her brain wave amplifier prototype (named the ‘Caduceus’) a few years earlier, but had never tested it on a living person. With emotions fogging her usually rigid academic mind, she called her superior to ask for permission to proceed with the therapy. Sensing that it might be more of a personal obsession than Dr. Bates would admit, her superior denied the request and passed the case to Bethany’s arch-rival, Dr. Strapping.

sisterbedlam-page-002Furious, Bates drowned her frustration in a sea of alcohol that night, and when a bar patron asked her about her plans for the night, sobriety returned as a devilish thought crossed her mind. Instead of an easy date, the poor soul found a painful death strapped to the Caduceus. The settings were not right, but it was just a matter of time when she would be ready to help Dolores. Bethany frequented Pulp City bars every night after that, and within a month, the settings were still not correct but much better.

The last ‘date’ she found was almost the last required stage of adjustment. The patient survived the treatment but was consumed with rage. Bethany had to use her scalpel to finish the frothing maniac and let him join the previous victims in her basement.

sister-bedlamAbsolutely convinced that she finally had the right calibrations, Beth invited Dr. Strapping to her house under the pretense of preparing for an upcoming conference. She was desperate to prove to him that the Caduceus was an absolute breakthrough in auto-therapy research. Since Strapping was very reluctant to try it out, sedating drugs came in handy. But Strapping was not alone, and he was the bait in a trap that the Police, after long weeks of investigation, had set up. The moment he fell to the floor, the door burst open and Police officers filled the room. Bethany grabbed the Caduceus, hastily hooked it up to her body and let her brain waves fly against the storming cops.

The massive ripple fried proteins in the brains of the assault team, but it also seriously damaged the brain of Bethany Bates, changing her mind forever.

From that night on, Bethany was transformed. She became better known in the time to come as Sister Bedlam. She wanted to heal and kill at the same time, to bring mercy and inflict pain, to crush and revive. Some say that under the metal helmet of the Caduceus, she still keeps talking to somebody named Dolores.

 

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