Green Serpent (Villain)

greenserpentCode-name: Green Serpent

Full Name: Chiyoko

Faction: Jade Cult, The Way

Twenty Years Ago
“Again,” barked the Ninja Sensei. At his command a young Japanese girl of five years of age slapped her hand against water sitting in a large simple wooden bowl.

The two were the only figures in the main courtyard of a vast temple set high into a remote mountainside. The air was cold and bit at the girl’s tender skin, but she made no complaint as she diligently undertook her training.

Water was displaced with each slap as she struck, and when the bowl became empty she was instructed with the same single word ‘again’ to refill it and start over once more, this time slapping the water with her other hand.

The girl did what she was told because it was what her father wanted, and father’s will was all she had ever known.

greenserpent-page-001Thirteen Years Ago
The girl, now on the cusp of adolescence, but having lived a childhood hard like no other, knelt before a sack of cold, wet sand. She had carried it up the side of the bleak and forbidding mountain as her Sensei had ordered. She had been instructed to creep undetected into the village below, escaping with her worthless prize. Shadows embraced her as she did as she had been told. Without any words of protest she clambered up the mountain with her heavy burden, slowly ascending step after painful step, as icy winds lashed at her slender body.

Returned to the citadel, she knelt before her prize and at a single nod from her Sensei began to rhythmically and repetitively punch the sand, over and over, right then left, then right, then left, until she could no longer count the blows and her knuckles bled, and she continued despite her pain and beckoning exhaustion.

Her task was what her father wanted, so she carried on without question.

greenserpent-page-002Eight Years Ago
A large windowless chamber deep within the ancient stone fortress; burning torches along the walls cast flickering light, leaving dancing pools of shadow around the room.

She was poised, her lithe frame ready for what she faced. A dozen ninjas stood motionless before her, each waiting for the perfect moment to strike. Each had failed the Jade Cult in some way, so each had failed the Green Emperor. Redemption could be claimed by one of their number if he or she slew the Emperor’s daughter. Her task in turn was to slay them all. She was he father’s daughter, and without mercy or hesitation she completed her bloody task, stepping silently through shadows to effortlessly kill the doomed cadre, as her father demanded.

jadeninjagirljpegToday
Her father was different now, reborn but still the Green Emperor. His demeanour was changed, and the Oni Queen had gained his favour, sitting at his right hand. He had gathered new recruits with talents to compete with hers, and worse than that, there was the dog he had bequeathed the title Shadow Mask to.

She had dutifully followed his instructions, establishing a headquarters in Pulp City to suit his plans. But while she was her father’s daughter, he had changed. And so had she. Amid a brutal and brutalised childhood, she had slowly earned her father’s respect. This Green Emperor was different. She did not command the same respect from her new ‘father’. The cycle had been changed. Her position had changed. And with that she knew his power could become hers. She would one day become the Green Empress.

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Doom Train (Villain)

doomtrain1Code-name: Doom Train

Full Name: Warlock Faustibal

Faction: Necroplane

Under shroud of darkness, several cautious figures crept through a yard full of wreckage. Flanked by hand-picked body-guards and two Necro-Servitors, Sanguine picked carefully among the stacks of decommissioned trains and twisted metal that was the railway graveyard of Royal Investments. Something remarkable had occurred there a week earlier, and his Necroplane master wanted to know what lay behind it.

Doomtrain-page-001Sanguine sniffed the air, supernatural senses keenly attuned to his surroundings. The yard was clear; he could clearly discern that above the odors of rusting metal and oil. The facility guards had made themselves scarce tonight as instructed after the shooting incident several days earlier. Shots had been fired at a desperate man, yet no body was found. All that was told to the PCPD detectives who responded was that the guards had scared off an intruder, a thief deterred by flying lead. However it was clear that there was a much deeper mystery afoot.

The smell of dried blood carried on warm air to the vampire, its coppery taste like a beacon through the night. Caution abandoned, Sanguine strode forward. In the heart of the mass of derelict metal he found the broken hull of a train marked with the name-plate emblazoned with ‘Francesca’. This was it, he knew without doubt.

Doomtrain-page-002Sanguine ran his fingers across the place where the blood had dried on the hull. There was a rent here in the side of the engine, as if metal had been torn free by some inhuman force. Something magickal had happened here, something that could potentially be twisted to the will of Tenebrous. He set the Necro-Servitors to work while his body-guards kept watch.

A year later, deep in a Necroplane citadel. A storm of purple lightning raged outside.

Screams echoed all around a dark chamber lit only by sporadic green light emanating from equipment scattered around the room, casting an eerie glow on proceedings.

At the heart of the room was a gurney tilted to a forty-five degree angle, and strapped to it a bizarre amalgamation of man and machine. The man in question, what was left of him, screamed out in pain once more, before at last his spark of what passed for life in the Necroplane finally gave out.

Looking on, Dr. Tenebrous pondered for a moment then signaled to a Necro-Servitor to remove the equipment that had been fused to the dead man. A whirling blade did just as commanded with speed and surgical precision. Another Necro-Servitor carefully and thoroughly washed bodily fluids from the operating table.

“Next subject,” commanded the lord of the Necroplane, inpatient for this experiment to succeed.

“Subject seventeen, proceed. Warlock Faustibal. The warlock has undertaken all the required rites and undergone blood-cleansing. The subject is ready,” intoned an emotionless Necro-Servitor.

doomtrainconceptTenebrous locked his gaze with the warlock. Like the magician’s entire ilk, he was ambitious, yet in this one the fires of ambition raged brighter than any Tenebrous had encountered before. A sinister smile played across Tenebrous’ thin lips.

The warlock was carefully strapped onto the surgical table. He knew what was coming. There would be no analgesic for this procedure as the subject needed to be brought to what passed for death in the Necroplane for the experiment to succeed. He let out no scream as the first saw blade tore into his flesh.

Hours later, Tenebrous stood satisfied, as he glanced upon his latest creation. A towering mix of blackened-iron and once-living being was before him. The last energies of the warlock would be siphoned into the armor to sustain it, for how long was not yet certain. However, what mattered most was what now remained; a powerful fusion of near-lifeless husk and magick-imbued metal.

“I call you Doom Train, and in you there is great potential now as you serve me,” said Dr. Tenebrous as he let out a malevolent laugh. Those fools in Earth’s Heavy Metal had worked to foil his plans, but little did they suspect that the power one of their own would be turned against them.

 

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Loup Garou II (Villain)

Full Name: Loup Garou II
Allegiance: The Coven, ally to Moonchild

Years Ago

Shondra Vey ended the threat of Loup Garou, the most recent of the Coven’s wolf-men, but unlike his predecessors, this one was bound to a supernatural focus, a broken amulet. Drawing on the arcane powers of her bloodline Shondra was able to destroy Loup Garou. She summoned the spirits of her tortured slave ancestors, and so mighty were they that she was able to trap the man in his wolf form forever, neither dead nor truly alive. The amulet however was lost.

 

Years Later

A full moon night in the deeps of the Louisiana bayou, and dark things were afoot. A group of Coven voodoo priests were gathered and they were lost in their feverish rites. Sacrifices had been made and blood had been spilt. In the flickering of firelight a muscular man writhed on the ground, a dreadlocked Creole. With a past littered with violence committed at the behest of the Coven, he had entered into this ritual by choice, but even so he never anticipated the pain that would follow after he swallowed terrible juju powders.

The perimeter of the area was guarded by a motley mix. Rook assigned Coven Soldiers to watch at various stations. Dead Guard lurched around, the stench of decay heavy around their hulking misshapen bodies. Zero crouched upon a rotten tree stump, silently surveying his surroundings.

Papa Zombie stepped through the circling throng. He waved his cane aloft as he called on the darkest powers of Saint Edmund. In one hand he gripped one half of the shattered Moon Amulet. A powerful gris-gris, it was the catalyst to this ceremony. It was already dripping blood from a wolf, and blood from a man; both lay dead nearby.

The Creole was bound at his ankles and wrists to stakes in the ground, for this was a truly dangerous practice if it succeeded. Papa Zombie approached the supine man with sureness of step, while all around the Coven cultists’ exhortations to Saint Edmund lifted towards a zealous crescendo. Papa Zombie’s eyes glinted with malevolence as he was about to ensure the delivery of a powerful agent for the Coven. This could give him an edge against those others vying for prominence in the Coven. Eve and Kane, and most of all Comte Vendredi were all threats to his influence, and that just would not do.

Papa Zombie bent down beside the thrashing Creole. The young man was now foaming at the mouth. The juju powders had done their work. The bound man began speaking in tongues, dark portents heralding Saint Edmund’s grip upon his soul.

Papa Zombie began uttering the Unspeakable Oaths. He carved a pattern in the air with the broken relic. Energy from some other realm seemed to bleed through where he slashed with the Moon Amulet, becoming a smoke-like substance which was then breathed in by the young Creole. He then lent close in to the young man and whispered in his ear before first slashing at his body then carving a sigil on his chest – Saint Edmund’s Mark of Three. The mark represented a third state, neither man, nor wolf but a hybrid of the two. Then Papa Zombie thrust the sharp-edged talisman into the staked-out man’s abdomen. The gris-gris then seemed to be absorbed into the man’s body, as if pulled from the Coven leader’s grasp.

The injured man strained at his bindings. He snarled and howled. His wounds appeared to heal, scar tissue where the Mark of Three had been drawn into his flesh the only sign he had been injured. Suddenly he ripped from the ground the stakes holding his wrists. His finger-nails became like claws which he used to slash apart the bonds at his ankles. Fur grew rapidly across his body. His face contorted and started to transform, nose and mouth becoming snout-like. Vicious teeth snapped as spittle flew from a bestial maw.

The wolf-man flew into the crowd of cultists then, rending bodies with slashing claws. Coven Soldiers and Dead Guard fell before him, even the supernatural resilience of the undead troopers no match for his furious assault as he tore them limb from limb. As the last Dead Guard fell, Rook and Zero moved in to guard Papa Zombie. He waved them aside as the creature approached. He looked into the eye of the beast, deep into its soul. For now the Coven had a new Loup Garou and he would serve the whims of Papa Zombie, but the Coven master knew then that the loyalties of this wolf-man served Saint Edmund more than him. Already the man inside the beast was dying, as the wolf feasted on his corrupted soul.

 

Elsewhere, at the Blood Watch’s mansion headquarters, Moonchild felt her half-amulet tremble. The words of the Moon Coyote spoke in her mind. Something had wakened in the world, a kindred spirit, her opposite dark half. The wolf was unleashed once more and it wished to throw off the shackles of its masters in this world and from beyond, and it needed Moonchild’s help. She knew then she had work to do.

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Night Fright & Leech (Villain)

 

nightfrightCode-names: Night Fright & Leech

Full names: unknown

Faction: Necroplane

Fragments of fears frantically bolted across the desolate Plain of Nightmares, splintered echoes of tormented dreams from worlds beyond the Necroplane.

As they cascaded across dank lands, those wretched imaginings were corralled by nightmare herders, their task to catch all the dark dreams that coalesced into the Necroplane from other worlds, and then to feed them to the armies of the dead. Principal among the herders was Night Fright, an agent of the Necroplane whose murky origins are lost to himself, like a dream forgotten.

nightfright-page-001The herders are not simple plains farmers of dark dreams; no, they are skilled gatherers of the dark stuff of souls. This soul fuel is used to empower the armies of the Necroplane. Hulking Soul Golems are fed dozens of those shadowy eidolons, their outer shell of necro-mechanical armor and their peculiar necro-dermis shackling the tormented shards of unwitting psyches. Necro G.I.’s armed with weapons powered by the dark dreams. And worst of all, the Supremes of the Necroplane drink in the misery and pain.

It is the task and twisted honor of the nightmare herders to gather fuel for the armies of the Necroplane, and foremost among them is Night Fright. It was he that had already drawn out more of the slivers of abject imagination than any other, and it was he that Dr. Tenebrous frequently dispatched to worlds targeted by the Necroplane to sow greater terror and thus feed their world ever more.

 

nightfright-page-002Interlude 1: A distant memory, like watching faded impressions of someone else’s life. Images come unbidden to Night Fright’s mind, of a world other than the Necroplane. Earth? War rages across a city; an invasion by the Scourge and the legions of the Necroplane? In the heat of battle he is in a grassy park full of stone and bronze memorials, and there he faces an oncoming tide of dead soldiers…

 

The herders of the Necroplane ride the wastes aboard brutal Nightmare Engines, crafted when dark dreams become so powerful that they lead to the death of their hosts. Called paradigm nightmares by the Necroplane, those dreams take distinct form in the Necroplane, and seek to re-enter other planes of reality, to afflict the tortured dreams of yet more hosts.

The most powerful paradigm nightmares are transformed into Nightmare Engines when they are shackled in carapaces manufactured by necro-scientists. Powerful jets are mounted to their bodies and nightmares their fuel. Although bound by death-force technologies, Nightmare Engines are unruly creatures, needing a strong master to break them and keep them under control, and Leech required the most cunning and determined of riders to be kept in check.

The dark rider known as Night Fright had seemingly managed to contain the untamable; Leech was the most aggressive of Nightmare Engines, and before being claimed by Night Fright he had disposed of at least half a dozen herders, and had consumed the lives of countless dream-hosts. When the duo met, they knew instinctively that together they could bring greater pain to every world that the Lords of the Necroplane turned their gaze towards. Where other Nightmare Engines were mastered, Leech was Night Fright’s equal. Together they formed a whole greater than their individual parts, and in this Dr. Tenebrous in particular was pleased.

 

nightfright1Interlude 2: Betrayal. An ally, a trusted friend, has warned the invaders. Twisted machines fly forth from the advancing horde, maniacal, leering deathly riders precariously riding those contraptions like twisted demented surf-boards splitting the sky with lopping arcs. They fly towards him. His companions are terror-struck and transfixed. One of the flying metal machines strikes him with incredible force and then blackness follows…

 

In a vast citadel, the Scourge gathered. Mourn swooped above his team-mates, eager to sow screaming terror; a Soul Golem lumbered into position; Supreme Zed crashed heavily to ground. Portal devices were put into operation, and on the other side awaited Sanguine, the Necroplane’s Earth-spawned agent. Necro G.I.’s lurked in readiness, and canisters of zombie plague toxins were ready to convert some of the indigenous population into instant Necroplane agents of war.

Night Fright gently eased Leech into a turn towards the primary portal. They were both ready to feast on the horrors in the souls of any unfortunates whose paths crossed their own. Yet somewhere deep down, Night Fright could not escape the feeling he had experienced something very much like this once before.

 

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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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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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Terror Cotta Warriors (Villain)

 

terrorcotta1Code-name: Terror Cotta Warriors

Full Name: unknown

Faction: Jade Cult

In a labyrinthine lab complex hidden far from prying eyes far beneath the streets of Tokyo, Dr. Hideo Takahashi trembled inwardly. Trying hard to focus and compose himself as assistants busied themselves all around him, he resolved not to reveal his fear, for his master was nothing if not capricious; yet rewards for the Green Emperor’s most capable servants were truly great.

The doctor’s laboratories were state of the art, bedecked with bleeding edge computer work stations, engineering equipment, and related paraphernalia so advanced that it had not yet even reached market, all stolen from under the noses of its various developers. The Green Emperor always got what he desired, and in turn his underlings were given the best to work with. They did so with a simple understanding – failure was not an option. Dr. Takahashi understood that tenet as well as any servant of the Jade Cult.

TCW_tank-page-001Dr. Takahashi’s lab-complex was home to not just the acquired technologies that allowed it to undertake the research and development demanded by the Green Emperor, but it also served as a small-scale production facility for the creation of the Green Emperor’s fearsome Terror Cotta Warriors.

The best and brightest minds selected to serve the Jade Cult saw to their primary task: scientists and engineers designing and building new Terror Cotta Warriors through a melding of ancient relics and bleeding edge technology. An army of the robot-soldiers had been amassed under the aegis of the Green Emperor, to be dispatched in unobtrusive shipping containers to ports worldwide where the tendrils of the Green Emperor’s influence could be felt when the time was right. The Warriors were his foot soldiers, the armored fist of the Jade Cult. They represented his unrelenting, unflinching might; a networked phalanx to crush his enemies. The scope of the Green Emperor’s ambitions was vast – far beyond the understanding or realizations of a scientist such as Takahashi – but a general needed his soldiers, even a general as powerful as the Green Emperor, and that is what the Terror Cotta Warriors provided.

TCW_tank-page-002Half-completed torsos and leg drive trains hung from ceilings on chain-hoists; rocket and missile launcher mechanisms were laid out within dust-free assembly pods; spear weapon-arms on wall racks; CPU chips-sets were boxed awaiting installation; self-destruct mechanisms ready to be transplanted into the literal heart of these soldier-machines. All parts awaiting assembly. And for completion, a further enhancement would be necessary. Takahashi had once playfully mused to himself that it was like a robot autopsy in reverse.

Takahashi thought he felt a sudden slight chill in the lab. From the dark corners of the room stepped Shadow Mask, the master assassin and greatest of the Jade Cult Ninja Assassins. If Shadow Mask was here, then the master would arrive shortly. And if Shadow Mask had allowed Takahashi to see him, then that was significant. The assassin in the darkness could have killed the doctor without alerting him to his presence if that was what the Emperor intended. That he had not done so provided Takahashi with a boost as it offered a modicum of reassurance. He affirmed to himself that surely the Emperor would be pleased with his team’s latest achievements. ‘Yes, that would be it’, he thought to himself, ‘the Green Emperor is surely satisfied’.

The doors to the lab swished open, and a powerful and imposing figure strode through from the dark without. The Green Emperor, bearing the armor that he was never seen without. The force of his personality was so strong that Takahashi felt he almost filled the room. The Emperor was flanked by four Jade Cult Ninjas and the deadly and beautiful Green Serpent. The chill of terror touched Takahashi’s soul once more as Jade Serpent sinuously glided across the room to stand some way behind him. It took all of his remaining resolve to not look behind himself

“An update, Takahashi,” instructed the Green Emperor, his powerful voice devoid of emotion, revealing nothing to the scientist.

Bowing, Takahashi rattled off the latest accomplishments. In the last quarter more than one hundred Terror Cotta Warrior units had been produced, exceeding the set target by ten per cent. All were being packed into shipping containers to be dispatched to cities around the world to be deployed when required. Engineers had worked double time to get achieve the quota. Takahashi hoped that his master noted that they had surpassed expectations with the latest production run of Terror Cotta Warriors.

“And what of the failure rate, doctor?” asked the Green Emperor. Steel and threat were in his voice this time. As the question was posed, Takahashi tugged at his shirt collar, his fear palpably growing. Terror Cotta Warrior’s had seen the Green Emperor’s technologies advanced one step further. Human nervous systems had been grafted into the units from dead servants of the ruthless Emperor found lacking. However, the process was still in its infancy and success rates yielded high rate of failed implantation. The science and engineering team had worked doubly hard to strive to achieve their targets, but had ultimately faced many set-backs. Takahashi hoped his master would recognize the difficulties in marrying the myriad technologies within a single controllable unit.

“We have had some modest success, master,” began the scientist, his voice tremulous, “But overall reliability has been compromised due to difficulties in –“.

The Green Emperor cut him off with a brief sweep of his hand.

“Dr. Takahashi, I do not care for justifications of failure. I care only for achievement, for success. I reward those that meet my standards with boons they could otherwise only dream of. All of my servants know this. You know this, doctor. The price I place on such standards, on such generosity in success, is that failure is not an option.”

Takahashi paled. He was aware of such overwhelming forces around him: Shadow Mask; Green Serpent; the Jade Cult Ninjas. Any one of them could end his life within a single movement. But to be faced with the recognition of failure by the Green Emperor himself; that suggested a far worse fate was in store for him.

terrorcotta_colorsThe Green Emperor turned to Takahashi’s number two, and commanded:

“You are promoted Dr. Watanabe. Do not make the same mistakes as your predecessor. I suggest the rate of failure has been compromised by process. From now on, please ensure that nervous system grafting is from live and intact subjects. Start with Dr. Takahashi and see how things proceed.”

The room swam in Takahashi’s field of vision. His body felt chill through to his bones.

The master of the Jade Cult then swept from the room, imperious, followed silently by his deadly agents. Behind him the screams of Dr. Takahashi rang out as the poor scientist realized his wretched fate.

 

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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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Supreme Zed (Villain)

Code-name: Supreme Zed

Full Name: previously known as Mr. Supreme

Faction: Necroplane

From Dr. Tenebrous’ Research Log:

Day 3: Finally! The patient, Subject Z, is recovering from his death. After my agent Wonder Wight (disguised in the persona of War Woman) successfully implicated him in genocide, and revealed his true identity to an unsuspecting world, it was but a matter of time before events would spiral out of the subject’s control, which of course to the slaughter of his Earthly mother and father. Subject Z then met his end in his Antarctic base when he tried to reveal our conspiracy; an assault by Necro-tech weapons began to convert his tissues to an unliving state. When he understood what was happening, he took his own life.

As commanded, Harvesters recovered his lifeless body, immediately placing it in stasis, while the defenseless Earth was stripped of death-energy. Subject Z has provided an impeccable experimental focus. This revival has surpassed all previous attempts with other trials. His body is literally glowing with all of the necro-atomic fuel we filled him up with, as his dead tissues absorb the energy with seemingly unlimited capacity, thus powering his newly granted life.

The transition has evidently caused serious and significant lasting cerebral damage. The patient seems to be at significant cognitive loss, much more than projected, although that may have useful secondary benefits, and from time to time it behaves as if it was searching for something.
Day 5: Progress has been much faster than I expected. Subject Z may see its first field tests in less than one month. The first observations from combat room exercises show great promise. Upon facing a group of five hand-picked elite Necro G.I.s, the subject received a volley of necrorays, stood up, blasted two of them with its eyebeam and smashed the next two together with its powerful fists. I am noting down a faint trace of emotion, some hint malice in his actions. It grasped the last Necro G.I., flew up all the way to the ceiling and smashed the wretched unliving soldier through the floor, only to continue the slaughter in a room below the combat area. In that chamber were another half dozen Necro G.I.’s and a dozen servitors; they too were brutally torn apart by the subject.

Day 12: All damage from combat room exercises has been repaired. The success of the revivification process has informed how to proceed with other subjects. Subject D, N and R will undergo modified revival processes based on those of Subject Z. Since in life neither D, N nor R had the inherent durability of Z, the levels of necro-atomic energy that will be used has been reduced accordingly. If all three subjects undergo successful revival, the ranks of the Scourge will be swelled, and other options will become available. Optimism is heightened following the apparent early success with Subject Z.
Day 18: Each new investigation into Subject Z’s capabilities seems to serve to underline its vast potential. Its damage-threat level has produced ratings comparable to that of a Soul Golem. Even in a Supreme-class battle environment Subject Z will be almost peerless. If its limited intellect can be harnessed and Subject Z be given suitable direction and focus, it could prove almost unstoppable.
Day 22: Further testing has revealed potentially unparalleled Supreme-level strength; incredible resilience; flight capability remains intact; and even a limited capacity for regeneration.

Day 25: The first field test is over. The exercise was a partial success, involving the subject, now codenamed Supreme Zed, supported by Mourn, a Soul Golem and a cadre of Necro G.I.’s

During the mission Supreme Zed was beheaded by the Blood Watch’s leader, but that didn’t stop Supreme Zed from destroying two National Guard tanks, and battling the accursed Six Feet Under to a standstill. I ordered evacuation of the deployed Scourge Team after V.H.’s blade first maimed then decapitated Supreme Zed; probability did not favor a prolonged and protracted battle at this stage of investigations.

Personal note: I had not anticipated just how powerful the subject could be after less than one month; how powerful will it become in just a couple of weeks more? And it already has begun to hate the detestable Blood Watch?

Perfect.

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