Stormblades, Libra Sensei (Villain)

Full Name: Stormblades
Allegiance: Ulthar Empire

It was a duel years in the making. Two peerless warriors from across the galaxy had chased each other across the globe, and ended their journey here. Pulp City was as perfect a stage for their confrontation, at once with the veneer of the pristine and yet so very corrupt. Filled with the greatest beings on planet Earth and its most vile and corrupt trash.

Stormblades could smell the salt air and hear gulls crying across the bay. His native planet was nothing like this place, yet he had always felt at home on Earth. Even here, beneath the great bridge with ocean bellow, sky above and surrounded by a web work of steel and concrete, he felt at peace.

His opponent waited calmly, his breathing regular and calm; like the Ulthar’s own. They shared a martial discipline few could match. There was respect here. There was honor. The Aquarius caste ruled the empire with an iron fist and ranted often about honor. They did not know its meaning. They mistook honor for glory and vanity. There was honor in a good fight, win or lose; though they could not see it. He knew the Gemini were behind this circumstance, the dominance of the Aquari, as much as any caste. They had blinded and bound the Ulthar to the will of the Aquarius. But it was not always so. The Libra caste remembered, and they believed.

To be Libra was to know discipline and stringent mental control. They were the first things they were taught; to control mind and body, so that they served you. A Libra learned to peer inward, instead of seeking for things in the material world. Few outside their caste had such talent or desire, especially in the ever corrupted Ulthar Empire. But Stormblades had felt immediately at home in the teaching of the Libra. He strove then as now for perfection. He had found his way here, using the vanity of Ra’Leigh to his advantage and was set loose upon the Earth, as free as any Ulthar could dream.

His true quest brought him into the lands of the Orient. He had searched ancient temples for clues. He had dueled with monks and warriors across those lands. Many fine fights had he fought, but he found no true challenges to his prowess. He had walked the Earth and had spoken with ancients and mystics seeking ever for the hint that would lead him to the Lost. Until at last his questing brought him to the attention of the Jade Cult. They held the secret he quested for. They knew, or thought they knew why he had come. He had made the deals, had killed for them. He had suffered the little dishonors asked of him to satisfy the whims of the Jade Cult’s overlord. It was nothing new. Men like the master of the Jade Cult had no honor he reflected, only greed and ambition.

In the end he was betrayed. Stormblades had expected no less. But it was his duty as a Libra that compelled him to try despite his expectations. That was when he first heard of Crimson Oni; perhaps the one man in the world who might be able to get him what he needed. That quest had taken longer. The Jade Cult had buckled from external pressure and Oni was at the center of it. Stormblades’ betrayal by the Cult came swiftly but lacked focus, allowing him to avoid ultimate sanction. A maelstrom of events within the Jade Cult was ignited by Crimson Oni’s sustained assault. Stormblades seized his opportunity to escape. His own freedom ensured he began the hunt for Crimson Oni; for only the Oni had knowledge of the Cult’s innermost workings. Finally he tracked the mysterious Crimson Oni down.

Pulp City was the epicenter of so much. He should have known to start there. Still the journey was worthy, but not without dangers. The Jade Cult had recovered quickly and hunted down the Ulthar with ruthless shadowy determination. In Pulp City he had been forced to make deals with Xyllian, that arrogant Sagittarius. From Xyllian’s connections with Mysterious Man, he learned of the shadow war between the Crimson Oni and Jade Cult. It took months to get close to Oni, but finally Stormblades found him.  So it was that this challenge was offered, and accepted. Under the Bridge of Heroes at dawn, the two warriors would meet to decide the fate of worlds.

As the first rays of the rising sun broke the horizon Stormblades spoke, “Do you have the scroll honored human?”
“I do. And are you willing to do as I ask? Should I win of course?” the human smiled his crooked smile at him.
“I am Libra. We know the path of honor, and sacrifice. Should you best me, I am yours to call upon.” Replied Stormblades with a bow; drawing his blades.

“Then we begin!” Crimson Oni shouted. Flame burst into life from his clenched hand.  Oni’s fists struck out again and again to be turned aside by the Libra’s blades. Stormblades launched his own assault; his rebounding blades whirled at Oni. With each strike Stormblades spun through the air dancing amid the support beams of the bridge. Oni countered and dodged but the Libra’s blades caught him again and again.  Stormblades came to rest several yards away and saluted his opponent, with a snap of his blade.

The two faced each other across a distance. Stormblades summoned his will and unleashed a mental assault against the human.  Stormblades’ mental challenge to the human assailed his lizard brain and provoked animal rage. Oni responded with fury, leaping from girder to girder, while Stormblades leapt forward to meet him. Oni’s fist flew at the Ulthar, wreathed in energy, but the Ulthar knew this trick, so he ducked low as his blade scored another deep cut.

But the human was quick; quicker than Stormblades expected. The Earth-man ignored his cuts, and struck with such speed that the air cracked. Stormblades was stunned and rocked back. ’Crack‘, again Oni’s fist struck.  Again Stormblades was rocked backwards and still the human came on. Again and again his fists flashed as bones broke and skin tore. A final kick sent the Ulthar flying backwards; slammed into an upright he was stunned and bleeding. Oni stood panting, as his wounds dripped crimson onto the bridge.  Stormblades gained his feet.

Silence stretched. The warriors stood staring at each other. They knew they must continue.  Stormblades spun his blades, weaving them into the fearsome Kraken’s Guard. Oni poised himself, knowing he must strike, but knowing also that the aliens stance was too solid to provide opportunity. Oni circled left looking for firmer footing. The Ulthar paced him, seeking a weakness to exploit, finding little. Stormblades channeled his mental energy again, hoping to dominate the human’s spirit as he had before. His attack was rebuffed; Oni’s fighting spirit burning like a pyre in his mind.

Seeing the alien start as his mental assault was turned aside, Oni charged. He summoned the power of the elements and let them sheath his fists. He struck true and one of the alien’s blades went spinning away into empty air.  His fist was poised at the Ulthar’s neck, energy burning the exposed flesh.

“I have won alien.”
“Have you?” asked Stormblades nodding his head downwards to where the point of his blade rested just bellow Oni’s sternum.
“So, what do we do?” asked Oni, that crooked smile appearing again.
“Human… the Ulthar do not submit. But a Libra knows honor. If we both have lost, neither of us can gain. If we have both won however…” the Ulthar did his best to mimic the shrug of a human.

“So you will come when I call?”

“I’ll need the scroll.”

“I too am I man of my word,”  said Oni as he produced an elaborate jade scroll case from an inner pocket of his gi. It was covered in mystic runes so similar to the written language of the Ulthar that it could be no coincidence.

“This is the scroll of Atlantis. Proof of the ancient aquatic kingdom, and its dealings with ancient China. I must confess my curiosity. Why would an alien want to find Atlantis?”

“I have heard you humans say blood is thicker than water. Let us say that it is a family matter.” replied Stormblades, taking the scroll case reverently from Oni’s hand.

“So my friend how do I call upon you?”

Stormblades handed the human a small transmitter shaped like a shell.

“We are not friends. Ulthar do not have these things. You are an enemy. But you are an enemy of honor; that is a rare and special thing. I will treasure that…until my blades find your throat at last,” with that Stormblades stepped off the bridge, dropping into the cold waters below.

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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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Xyllian, Master Sagittarius (Villain)

 

xyllianCode-name: Master Sagittarius

Full Name: Xyllian

Faction: Ulthar

The fog was thick and heavy along the docks. What little light from lamp or moon was muted and distorted by the heavy mist. Somewhere in the harbor a bell was ringing from a buoy bobbing in time with the rising tide. Xyllian crouched upon the flat tarpaper roof of a rundown warehouse and felt alive. His senses were keen and tight as he hunted as only a Sagittarius could hunt.

Xyllian thought back to the words of his Aquarius Warlord; “Learn about these humans. Join them; fight for them. Fight against them, it matters not. The goal is to learn of these Supremes. One amongst them must be their true leader. When I defeat him, this planet will be forced to bow to my might. One Warlord will do what the Armada could not; to destroy this pathetic Earth, and enslave these humans!” These were the Warlord’s orders. If any Ulthar living could do this thing it was Ra’Leigh. Xyllian believed in his power to conquer. So it was that he found himself stalking the streets of Pulp City.

Xyllian-page-001He began his Earth-side infiltration at the bottom. He watched the lowest of the parasites, those thugs and street predators. They were so like the Pisces back home; squabbling brutal things clawing over each other to gain a bit more food, or living space. Up this food chain he climbed, serving an under-boss, then bosses, before finally he saw Mysterious Man and knew he was in the right place. Like any good Warlord this Mysterious Man collected the best tools, human or Supreme. He controlled things and manipulated others. He was a subtle and alien kind of Warlord, but surely he was a Warlord.

Knowing his target he knew he must gain access to this man’s inner circle. Mysterious Man respected power and ability above all. That much Xyllian knew. So he must demonstrate this. As he had at the beginning, he once again started at the lowest level. Thugs were no match for a trained and equipped Ulthar Sagittarius. Striking from ambush and luring unsuspecting humans into his traps it took less than a week to eliminate all of Mysterious Man’s lackeys from the docks. Then he had waited for the next challenge.

Xyllian-page-002It did not take long to get Mysterious Man’s attention. The crime-lord sent some of his pet Supremes to meet him. The strange feline woman had been an amusing hunt. This Kitty Cheshire had disappeared and reappeared before he could draw a clean bead on her. But the true surprise was the human known as Gentleman. He was a Sagittarius born. But his skill was limited by the feeble technology of his race. Meanwhile Xyllian wielded the most advanced sensor assists and cloaking fields of the mighty Ulthar Empire. It was an extremely satisfying encounter and it had the desired effect. His interview with Mysterious Man happened not long after.

Clearly though, the Mysterious Man was far more cunning than even Xyllian had anticipated. Mysterious Man knew what he really wanted was not money, or human power. So he offered Xyllian the one thing he most desired, vengeance for his Empire. That night he had first learned of the renegade Virgo. The damnable upstart that claimed a Sagittarius’s most honored weapon. The Virgo were chattel, menial servants and worst of all, female. That a Virgo should have slain her betters and jumped her station was the greatest of sins. That smiling man had showed him this Virgo, told him of her deeds against the Ulthar, and struck a bargain with Xyllian.

Ulthar 5 SagittariusIt was almost a cycle later before he at last met Virgo in battle. It was on a night much like this mist-shrouded one. She came for him that first night, cloaked and armed as he was. For hours they stalked each other across moonlit roof tops, ambush and counter ambush. A deadly game, and with each second that dragged on Xyllian’s rage grew. Even now thinking about it caused his pulse to quicken and his blood to boil.

His contemplation ended, he took a few calming breathes and resumed his watch over the foggy warehouses and grimy docks. Listening to the soft ring of the distant bell, he scanned through his optics looking for the telltale shimmer of an optic field cloak. Then he saw it. The hunt was on again. Virgo was here. Thrice she had evaded him, but not tonight. Somewhere in his mind he knew he was being played a fool. Virgo must also be working for Mysterious Man. The things he had to do to ensure he got another chance had surely helped Mysterious Man far more than it had aided the Ulthar Empire. But that did not matter now. This killer of his caste, the one who broke with the Empire, was again in his sights. He moved slowly and deliberately, his laser crossbow powering up silently in his hands. The hunt was on once more!

 

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