Doctor Who Vs Scratchman: Part 5

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                                     Based on a story by Tom Baker and Ian Marter

 

“What, what’s going on” The Doctor said as he was jolted awake.

“Its okay, it’s okay Doctor, well it isn’t, but at least we’re not dead.” Elena said as she helped the Time Lord up.

“I remember there was a giant dragon and it ate me, and you and Yarox too. Well obviously that can’t be right, so I must have dreamed it. Tell me then where are we?”

“We’re in the beasts stomach Doctor.” Elena replied.

The Doctor looked up and saw that the roof appeared to be made of flesh and was even pulsating. The walls and the floor meanwhile were all cold and hard metal. Clearly the Dragon that had devoured them was a cyborg that had been turned in a vessel of some kind, or more likely a war ship.

All around the Doctor could see the villagers huddled together in fear, whilst Yarox stayed closer to Elena. Yarox clearly felt safer with Elena than anyone else there, even the Doctor. The Doctor wasn’t surprised. On his first adventure I did get him eaten after all, though perhaps there was more to it than that, the Doctor thought to himself.

Before the Doctor could even attempt to figure out what was going on, the two doors behind him opened and a hideous, robed creature emerged.

The monster’s robes bright red, whilst its head was squat and green. It had no nose, just a snout, whilst its mouth was filled with small, pointy teeth. Its eyes meanwhile were bright red and set deep into its skull, whilst two tiny bat like ears protuded from either side of its head. Its cape was long and red, and though the Doctor couldn’t see it yet, there was a strange black symbol on the back of the monsters cloak. The alien appeared to be part creature, part machine, just like the Dragon they were trapped in. Its arms were competely mechanical, and its entire squat chest was also covered in gold metal, whilst large wires emerged from the top of its head, right down the back of its neck, much like hair would on a person. The entire creature was short. It stood no higher than 5 feet tall.

“We have your TARDIS, Doctor. You will accompany me now.”

Elena and Yarox both stood by the Doctor.

“What do you want with him.” Elena said defiantly.

“That is of no interest to you. You are all simply pawns for the Master. Try to get in his way and.” The creature shot an energy beam at Elena, bringing her to her knees in pain.

“Stop it, please” The Doctor begged the creature, who quickly released Elena.

“I’ll do much worse if you don’t help the Master.”

“Okay, okay.” The Doctor said begrudgingly. “Just so you know though, I don’t have the best track record with people called the Master.” The Doctor said as he left the room with his strange captor.

“The Time Lord’s vessel is in our custody sir.”

“Brilliant.” The Inquistore interrupted. “Now we can finally begin the sacrifice.”

“The sacrifice is not essential.” The section leader snapped back. “The Master simply thinks that it will help speed things along.”

“All the excuse I need.” The Inquistore said with glee.

“You never need any excuse.” The leader said with disgust.

The section leader was the oldest of all the strange creatures there. He remembered when their world was actually a beautiful planet, and their race a proud one. Long before he came, the abomination that the others now so willingly call Master. The section leader could hardly judge his underlings however, as much as they may have disgusted him. They had been born under the Masters rule. They had all been conditioned to be his warriors, creatures of hate who would kill for him without a seconds hesitation. It was the only reason his species had been allowed to exist. In all his own hundreds of thousands of years of existence however the Leader had never dared even lift a finger against the Master. He was happy to condemn thousands, millions if need be to the Demons pit if it meant he didn’t end up there. It wasn’t fair, he knew that and hated himself for it, but ultimately he didn’t have the strength to make the sacrifice that others had against Scratchman.

The Doctor was brought to the control room, which was also a weird combination of flesh on the roof with steel floors and walls. At the end of the room, several of the strange creatures gathered around a monitor, which contained images of the island from above. The Doctor could see several of the Scarecrow’s now wandering aimlessly in the woods below.

The commander of the Goblins, who was somewhat larger and had a long, gold cape to represent his rank approached the Doctor.

“I don’t understand why the Master cares so much about you? You look like one of those animals we have caged below?”

“Well.” The Doctor said modestly. “Appearances can be deceiving my good sir. For instance you look like an eldritch abomination, but I’m sure you’re actually a lovely person.”

The alien commander walked towards the monitor where it brought up an image of the Doctors Tardis, contained in what looked a large stomach. It was obvious to the Doctor where they were.

“Ah yes I’ve heard you’ve wanted my vessel. To bring someone who claims to be the Devil or something into our world.”

“You mean the Master? Yes the primitives of this world believe him to be a figure from their mythology, but the truth is far worse.”

“What is he?” The Doctor asked out of as much interest as fear.

“Even we don’t know exactly, but he is a creature from another universe. He devours each universe he visits. He feeds on negative emotions such as fear, hatred, and suffering. Whenever he visits a universe he tends to work in the shadows at first, playing us against each other, starting wars, until he is strong enough to not only take over, but reshape it in his own image.”

“Our reality is what these primitives would call hell.” The alien said with contempt. “The natural laws no longer apply. He can bend them anyway he wants, condemn any torture he wishes on us. Once he had finished with us he intended to move on as always, but this time he was imprisoned.”

“By who?”

“Creatures from many universes. After the great powers of our reality fell and our universe began to bend itself to his will, the final resistance travelled to other universes, and met with their great powers, the empires, the federation of planets, and managed to gather them together against the threat of Scratchman. Unfortunately the great powers weren’t able to destroy Scratchman either. Rather than lose billions of people fighting against the Demon, the great powers decided to place a barrier around our universe. They sealed us in with the beast. As far as they were concerned our universe was past saving and maybe it was. For an incalculable time Scratchman took his frustrations out on us to a greater extent than he had any of the universes he had conquered before. Our reality became the worst of all the hells he had created. Then a few centuries ago he discovered a tiny tear in the barrier. It led to one, seemingly insignificant planet.”

“This world.”

“Exactly. Scratchman wasn’t able to enter this world, but he was able to project his thoughts into it. Enter the minds of men, influence them throughout the planets history. He was also able to draw the minds of several earth people into his universe after they had died.”

“How many.” The Doctor asked in horror.

“Only a very few at a time, though over the centuries possibly millions have come to us, which in turn led to myths about hell or similar places appearing around in every culture in this world. The Master was even able to send some of us into your world, through the tears in reality. As time went on the tears became bigger, but not big enough for Scratchman himself to escape. Worse the more he tore at our reality, the less he was able to use it as a food source. Even Scratchman was beginning to give up hope until he saw your machine.”

“I don’t think I like where this is going.”

“Yes the master has been observing your visits to this world for quite a while Doctor. Your vessel, run down and obsolete as it may be, is still a relic of arguably the most advanced race in your universe. The power it contains will be able to widen the gaps just enough for Scratchman to enter this world. Then your universe will become like ours. Just think of what the Master will do with your race, Time Lord.”

“It will never happen.” The Doctor said proudly.  “Why do you serve that monster? There must be some part of you that still remembers what it was like think for yourself.” The Doctor said in desperation.

“Before Scratchman came to our universe we were conquerors. We had an empire spanning hundreds of galaxies. Now thanks to Scratchman we shall conquer universes. Scratchman chose us to be his most loyal foot soldiers. He believed that out of all the life forms in the universe we were the strongest.”

“Or maybe he knew you were the weakest and would be most likely to bend the knee.” The Doctor hit back.

The Goblin grabbed the Doctor by the scruff of his frock coat and held him up for a few moments before dropping him.

“Take him to the vessel. He can help us divert its power to the tears. I don’t have to tell you what will happen to those animals below who you seem so desperate to protect if you disobey us.”

“I take it back.” The Doctor said. “You’re clearly not a very nice person.”

Little did the Doctor know the Goblin was lying to him. All of the villagers and Elena and Yarox had been brought to the lower section of the Goblins stomach, just below where the Tardis was kept.

The Inquistore couldn’t wait to have his fun with the prisoners. Even though the section leader had strictly forbidden him from sacrificing any of the prisoners before the time was right, the Inquistore went ahead anyway as he often did.

“Why have you brought us here?” Elena said a she stood in front of the others.

“What a strange creature.” The Inquistore said at the sight of Elena.

“I like its large eye. I’ll keep the eye after I’m done with it.”

Elena went to attack the the Inquistore, but it blasted her with its gauntlets. Elena however fought through the pain and actually managed to grab the Inquistore, who was more impressed than anything else. Ultimately however the pain was too overwhelming and the Goblin quickly overpowered her.

“Perhaps the Master will have use for you after all. The rest of you meanwhile, you are here to help his ascension.”

A large ball of fire began to appear in the middle of the room.

“What is that.” One of the villagers cried out in fear.

“A little piece of home.”

The Goblins led the Doctor across a large walkway. 50 or so feet below, the Time Lord could see the TARDIS.

“It must be hard for you two Demons from hell not to have to kill me.” The Doctor said.

“It is.” One of the Demons answered back. “We’ve helped to break so many who looked like you when their minds come to our domain.”

“Yes but you need me. You need me to help rewire my own ship to bring your vile Master into this world, so there’s only one thing I can do” The Doctor said as he quickly jumped over the railing of the walkway. One of the Goblins reached out to grab him, but the Doctor who held onto the railings with grabbed onto the Goblin as it reached for him, and pulled it over the railing. The Doctor then hurled himself over the railing into the other Goblin as it came nearer.

“I’m a lot more spry than I look.” The Doctor said as he tried to subdue the Goblin with a bit of Venusian karate. The creature however proved to be immune and pushed the Doctor back before firing its energy beam back. The Doctor however quickly ducked and rammed into the Goblin to try and push it over the edge. The monster however quickly overpowered the Time Lord, and in desperation the Doctor ripped the wires from the back of the Goblins head. The creature staggered back in pain before collapsing dead.

The Doctor stared at its lifeless corpse as well as that of the Goblin below for a few seconds. He hated having to do this, but the monsters had left him no choice.

The Doctor quickly ran to the end of the walkway and down the stairs to where the TARDIS was.

“Oh old girl I honestly though I wasn’t going to see you again.” The Doctor said with affection as he reached for the key.

“Don’t worry. I won’t let them.” Suddenly the Goblin the Doctor had pulled over the edge of the walkway reached up and grabbed him. It was still alive and strong enough to crush the life out of the Doctor.

To Be Continued

The Circus Master: Journey To The Centre of Evil: Part 3: The Survivors

 

The Ishica had formed a circle around the Circus Folk. Carlene quickly handed Ashlei a weapon from her beehive. It was a golden knife, which had been “enchanted” by the darkest magics and was capable of harming even the most powerful Demons.

“Time to see if that training has done any good love.” Carlene said somewhat nervously to Ashlei as the Demons hovered over their prey.

The Ishica all had blue bodies, with sagging, rotting, putrid skin. Their fingers ended in large sucker cups, whilst the beasts all only had one, large, red eye each. Each monster had a mane of scraggly hair at the back of their heads.

The largest of the Demons was the first to attack, but a quick energy blast from Denika sent it flying backwards. The Circus Master and Carlene meanwhile searched through their hat and beehive and started hurling as many weapons as they could at the Demons to try and find their weaknesses. They soon discovered that a weapon made of silver could harm the Ishica, when Carlene landed a silver knife straight into one of the beasts hearts.

Keptis and Ashlei meanwhile used their weapons to try and hold more of the Demons off, with Ashlei managing to slice the throat of a particularly large Ishica. Ashlei’s wound didn’t kill the beast, but it still incapacitated the monster so much it collapsed to the sea floor in pain, allowing Keptis to slice its head clean off, whilst Ashlei held off another one of the beasts with her weapon. Carlene looked on with pride at how far Ashlei had come in such a small time.

Florence meanwhile also asked Carlene for a weapon from her beehive. The Sirens hypnotic singing voice would not work on the Demons (as it often didn’t on surpernatural creatures.)

Carlene rummaged through her beehive. Most of the time even she wasn’t sure what weapons were in there. “Ah here you go darling” Carlene said as she pulled out an electrical whip (really magical). “Anything you strike the whip at will be vaporised. From what I can remember love, its unstable though. Try not to use it to many times too quickly or else the power will heat up.” Carlene cautioned Florence, though it would be difficult for Florence not to use it. More and more of the monsters kept emerging from the ruins around them. There were hundreds of the Demons now, gathered round the Circus Folk like a swarm of locusts.

Florence managed to take down five of the monsters at once with one swing of her whip, whilst she carried the Strange Boy in her other arm. (Having taken the Vampire child from the ship) The Siren was able to take down a further 10 with another swing, which also caused the rest of the Ishica to scatter.

“Well who wants to be the first.” Florence boasted to the cowed monsters.

One of the Ishica however had managed to grab the silver knife that Carlene had thrown into the chest of one of the monsters, and hurled into Keptis stomach. Florence instantly ran to Keptis, letting her guard down and allowing the Ishica to swarm the Circus Folk again. Though Denika managed to blast several of the monsters back, The Circus Master and Carlene were soon quickly overpowered, whilst 4 of the monsters also managed to corner both Florence and the dying Keptis. In the struggle one of the Ishica whose strength dwarfed that of the Siren’s, managed to knock the whip from Florence’s hand, knocking it across the sea floor.

In desperation Ashlei quickly grabbed the whip and started to lash at the beasts several times more. She slaughtered dozens more of the monsters, and scattered the rest away from her friends, but the whip’s power soon started to fluctuate. Its handle became so hot that Ashlei was forced to let it go. Several more magical blasts then began to fire from the whip, which vaporised a few more Ishica. One of them very nearly hit Ashlei herself, but Florence managed to push her out of the way.

Denika meanwhile used her magic to quickly heal Keptis’ wound, whilst Ashlei tried to grab the whip again. Carlene quickly stopped her however. “We can’t use that again. It’ll blow up soon and take us with it if we don’t get out of ere.” The Circus Folk tried to flee, but the Ishica formed a wall around them and started to attack again.

“You idiots you’ll die with us.” The Circus Master said as he tried to fight off the monsters with his claws. The monsters weren’t listening however.

In desperation Florence pulled the enchantment off of the Strange Boy’s head. The Circus Folk had kept the enchantment on because if it was taken off he’d be far more violent, as all Jiang Shi are after a period under the enchantment.

Still Florence in desperation ripped the paper off the boy. The Circus Master saw what she was doing and shouted at her to stop, but it was too late. The Vampire child instantly went crazy and threw Florence aside, before jumping head first into the monsters. The Strange Boy tore his way through 5 Ishica, ripping thier arms and legs and even heads off. Eventually however the Ishica began to swarm the Strange Boy. Ashlei and Florence quickly swam to try and help him, but one of the monsters quickly jumped Florence and threw her back into Ashlei. Three more Ishica then swam around Ashlei, and whilst she was able to stab one of the monsters in the chest, the other two easily overpowered Ashlei and dragged her away along with the Strange Boy.

Carlene tried to swim up and help Ashlei, but again several Ishica got in the way. Carlene was able to dispatch the monsters quickly with a silver blade, but by the time she was done, the monsters were gone. In the very distance Carlene could see one of the monsters carrying Ashlei, whilst 5 carried the Strange Boy. Carlene quickly swam after the monsters, with Florence who felt tremendous guilt following her.

The rest of the Circus Folk were too busy dealing with the Ishica. Keptis called out after Florence, but he couldn’t hope to match either Vampires inhuman speed.

“I told her not remove the enchantment.” The Circus Master said as he fought off one of the Demons. “The Strange Boy is unpredictable at the best of times. With that Kardon above and the pent up bloodlust from the spell., Florence and Carlene should probably run away from him more than these brutes.”

“We need to get them back ” Keptis said frantically as he slashed at the attacking monsters with his flaming saw, but that was easier said than done. More and more of the Ishica were emerging from the what was left of the city and they were emerging from the direction Carlene and Florence had followed the Demons.

The Circus Master quickly grabbed the whip by the handle. Even though it burnt his hands, the Vandal fought through pain and hurled the whip into the mass of Ishica above just as it exploded, killing hundreds of the Demons, though many still remained.

“We need to take cover.” Denika shouted as she fired multiple energy blasts to hold the Demons off. The Circus Master and Keptis reluctantly ran after Denika in the opposite direction from where the Demons had taken Ashlei and the Strange Boy.

The three time travellers quickly ran behind a few crumbling buildings, but several more Demons started to emerge from what was left of the buildings around them. Denika and Keptis held them off, whilst The Circus Master desperately searched around for somewhere to flee. He soon found what looked like a small hatch behind one of the buildings that led underground. The Circus Master had no idea where it led to. For all he knew there could be hundreds of thousands of the Ishica underground, but they were too exposed in the open, and so the Vandal quickly jumped down the hatch after shouting on his two comrades to join him.

Denika was the last to go in, and afterwards she placed a magical barrier around the gate. It wouldn’t take the Demons long to tear through it, but it might buy them a few more minutes. The caverns were long and dark and filled with bodies.

“Lets just hope none of them wake up”. Keptis said as he struggled not to trip over the corpses.

Florence and Carlene had followed the Demons across the dead city. What was left of the swarm after the explosion were more interested in the rest of the Circus folk, though the two Vampires had been forced to dodge several Ishica along the way. Despite starting after Carlene, Florence had quickly overtaken her due to the Siren’s greater experience in the oceans. They were both still a good distance away from the Ishica and their prisoners however.

“I’m so sorry.” Florence said to Carlene. “If only I.”

Carlene interrupted her. “No use in that now. We have to rescue the children. Besides love I’m the one that put that enchantment on the boys head. I’m responsible too.”

In the distance the Strange Boy started to fight with the Ishica. He managed to push one of them away before quickly fleeing down into the ruins of some buildings, with the Ishica quickly followed him.

“I’ll go after him, you get Ashlei” Florence said as she swam towards the ruins.

The Ishica had broken through Denika’s barriers and into the tunnels, but Denika had created several more barriers along the way to slow the Demons down. Each time she created a new barrier however it weakened her greatly.

Finally after 15 or so minutes of wandering through the dark, dank tunnels, the time travellers came upon what they had originally come here for. Even in the dark tunnels the Circus Master continued to trace the signal from the sub. He knew it was underground, but even then he had only fled there out of necessity.

The trio came upon a large reinforced steel door. The Circus Master tried to shift it with his Vandal strength, but it was no use.

“If only the Strange Boy were here.” He muttered to himself.

“Let me have a try” Keptis said as he pushed the Circus Master aside. Keptis thrust his flaming saw into the door, and in a few seconds he managed to slice it in half down the middle.

The trio could hear the sound of the ravenous Demons in the distance. “I won’t be able to keep holding them off with forcefields.” Denika said. Keptis was the first to enter the room, brandishing his weapon.

As soon as he entered however the Martian was shot at. Only the Circus Masters lightening fast reflexes saved Keptis from certain death. The Circus Master would be shot at a further two times, but it didn’t phase him. The Circus Master quickly overpowered the perpetrator, a young woman with green skin, and blue hair.

“Who are you.” The Circus Master said as he restrained the woman. As he looked around he saw an Ishica’s corpse with a silver knife in its chest. The rest of the room looked like it had been hit by an explosion, the Vandal thought to himself.

“Who am I? Are you kidding? You freaks don’t look like anything I’ve ever seen.” Kile said.

The Circus Master recognised the voice. It was Kile the woman who had summoned them.

“Ah of course.” The Circus Master said. “You’re the person we’re here to rescue, although I’m starting to wonder if that was a mistake now considering you just shot me.”

“I’m sorry.” Kile said, now also recognising the Circus Master’s voice. “I thought you were Demons of some kind, You don’t look like us, but you’re clearly not like them either.”

“No in fact we don’t know who either of you are. We just got here.” The Circus Master said in his usual flippant tone.

“You lie. No one has entered or left these dark oceans for thousands of years..”

“You’ve been trapped here by the Kardons all that time? How did you survive this long.” Denika asked.

“They kept us alive just so they could torture us for their own amusement, turn some of us into those things.” Kile said as she looked down at the corpse of her former team mate, who she had been forced to slay.

“They didn’t trap us here. We were trapped with them.” Kile said.

Suddenly the sounds of the Ishica came closer. They had broken through Denika’s forcefield and were coming their way.

“You idiots! You led those things here and you broke the door down? There’s no way out, we’re doomed.”

“Not necessarily.” Denika said as she tried to summon up a magical blast against the wall behind. It was difficult as the wall was strong and she was already weak from the forcefields, but Denika managed to fire a blast so strong in not only shattered the back wall completely, but knocked herself, The Circus Master, Keptis and Kile off their feet.

The Circus Master was forced to help Denika up she was so weak after the spell.

“Come if we can get outside I have a ship that can get us out of here.” Kile said.

Carlene had been following the Ishica for close to half an hour now and she was still nowhere near the monster. It had too big a head start on her. It was agony for Carlene. She could see Ashlei constantly kick and struggle to get free from the monster to no avail.

Carlene thought about throwing a silver knife from her beehive at the monster, but as it was moving so fast she wasn’t sure she wouldn’t hit Ashlei. The Ishica had only taken Ashlei because much like Kile it was curious as to what she was. It felt that its masters may be interested to see seemingly new creatures in the oceans.

Suddenly a massive black shadow cast itself over the ruins. Carlene looked up to see the massive, horrifying image of one of the Kardon’s descending over the city.

To Be Continued

 

Professor Fang: The Hopping Dead: Part 3: The Demon King

 

(Apologies for the delays in Doctor Who, The Circus Master and Professor Fang over the last few weeks due to my illness. Everything will be back to normal with all 3 series resuming over the course of this week.)

“Please, please Cheun if you can hear me” the Empress said in desperation as her husband stood, seemingly motionless by the door. Was there still something of him in there after all she thought? Why hadn’t it attacked yet?

Whilst the Empress tried to keep her husband distracted, one of the guards jumped the former Emperor from behind, but the Jiang Shi quickly spun round, grabbed the guard and sunk its fangs deep into his neck. The Empress in response grabbed a chair and smashed it over her former husbands back, but he didn’t even flinch. The Empress then reached for the guards sword that he had dropped and thrust it into her husbands back, but the sword broke in half. The Empress then reached for a large pot, but the Emperor dropped the guard’s lifeless corpse to the ground before turning round to face his former wife.

Up close the Empress could see for sure now that this monster was not her husband. His mouth, which was dripping with the blood and flesh of his own loyal men, started to distort into a hideous fanged grin. There did perhaps appear to be more under the surface to this beast, but it wasn’t in any way shape or form the man she had once loved.

The Emperor with one hit sent his wife flying across the room, before turning his attention to his son, who was so overcome with terror he didn’t even attempt to flee.

The Empress quickly jumped up and delivered an air kick to the Vampire Emperor’s back, causing the Vampire to spin round and face her. The Empress tried to punch her husband, but the Vampire grabbed her arm and brought the Empress to her knees, before sinking his fangs into her shoulder. The Empress had never felt pain like it before in her life. The Vampires fangs cut clean through her skin, muscle and bone!

The Empress desperately grabbed a nearby candle stick and started to hit her husband repeatedly which did nothing to deter the Vampire. Almost blacking out from the pain, the Empress with her last ounce of strength rammed the Vampire into a wall which caused the beast to loosen its bite slightly, allowing her to wiggle free. The Empress had lost all use in her arm however as a result of the Vampires bite. Most people would have fainted by now, but the Empress’ iron will drove her on.

When the Vampiric Emperor tried to move in for another bite, the Empress rammed the candle stick down her former husbands throat and pushed him back. The Empress then quickly picked up her son with her remaining arm. Her son had been to terrified to even move during the Empress fight with her former husband. Not that there was anything he could have done, but it was traumatic for the boy that he couldn’t even look at what was going on. “This can’t be happening.” He said to himself over and over again. “My father could never be taken over by any curse.” Whilst the Emperor bit through the candle stick and tore it apart with his claws, the Empress jumped over the bed with her son and out of the room.

Outside however the Empress could see to her horror, her entire special guard lay slain. Some of them had bite marks on their throats, others faces were mangled beyond recognition, some had even had their heads torn off!

“What have I done”. The Empress said to herself. “If only I had listened. Those poor men. All of them deserved so much better.” Suddenly one of the slain guards rose, followed by another and another. They all had the same expression of rage and hunger that the Emperor had, and all bore the same yellow fangs and red eyes that he did.

The Empress quickly jumped over the monsters and ran down the hall screaming for help as the horde of bloodthirsty Jiang Shi, including her husband hopped after her, but there was no one around to help. She could hear her servants and guards screaming for help from the lower levels.

The Empress reached the end of the main hall and prepared to descend down the stairs, but she could see a whole horde of Jiang Shi ascending from the bottom of the stair case. Caught between two hordes of monsters, the Empress simply sat hugging her boy.

“Its okay, it’ll be okay.” She said to her boy knowing that it wouldn’t be. As she prepared for her last breath, the Empress quickly noticed that the guards and her husband were fighting among themselves. They were all nothing but animals now, clawing and biting at each other for the last bit of food.

The Emperor still appeared to be the strongest of the Jiang Shi. He tossed the other guards aside effortlessly, but it didn’t take long for the other Jiang Shi to dogpile on the Emperor and start clawing at him. The Empress seized her chance and ran past the ravenous Vampires, and down the other side of the hall.

There was somewhere she could run on the top level. A safe passage for her and the Emperor during emergencies which led to a backdoor exit from the castle. She just hoped that monster that bore a twisted caricature of her husbands face didn’t remember the safe passage either.

The safe room was hidden through a secret passage in a wall, just beside the Empress and the Emperors room. She hadn’t ran to it before as her Vampiric husband had blocked the way, but now that he was distracted, the Empress who kept a key for the room at all times was able to quickly enter it with her son. The room was relatively small, narrow and dark, but still they were both able to fit reasonably well. The Empress told her boy to wait whilst she checked the exit which lay below at the bottom of a spiral staircase.

At the bottom of the stair case the Empress opened the door which led to a small garden path outside the castle. In the garden however lay two guards corpses, whilst another of the former Empress’ guards wandered dazed and aimless, clutching at his neck which dripped with blood. The Empress could see one of the Jiang Shi, a young female hopping towards the guard from behind. The guard was in too much pain to notice the monster creeping up on him. The Empress was torn. She couldn’t leave one of the guards who had sworn to protect her above all else just be torn to pieces, but at the same time there was nothing she could do to help him. She was struggling just to stay awake herself. Furthermore if she tried to fight the Jiang Shi she would be exposing her son upstairs, to this and possibly other monsters that were around.

With regret the Empress shut the door quietly and headed back upstairs, though she could hear the guard screams of agony, as well as the Jiang Shi’s ravenous roars as the Demon tore her loyal servant to pieces.

The Empress barely made it up the stair case she was so weak. The adrenaline that had helped her fight through the pain and blood loss was beginning to wear off. Back at the top she almost fainted and her boy quickly ran to help her up. The Empress son sobbed almost uncontrollably as his mother almost collapsed, but she quickly regained her composure.

“Please, please son you have to stop crying. You can’t make a sound. If those Demons hear us.” The Empress said faintly as she struggled to stay awake.

Every second was torment as the Empress and her son heard the Jiang Shi’s roars and hisses from outside, terrified that at any second the monsters could tear the wall down and find them. The screams and cries of her guards, maidens and servants rang through the entire castle.

Worse still the Empress knew she was infected. For all she knew she could turn at any minute. It had taken her husband several months, but the guards and servants had risen in a matter of minutes.

She would have happily gone outside and allowed the monsters to tear her to pieces to save her boy, but doing so would alert them to him. “Who will come to save us?” She thought. Those monsters tore their way through the elite guard effortlessly. How would the villagers be able to cope? What would become of the kingdom?

“What have I done.” She said to herself over and over again.

The Professor, Lindsey, Kirsteen, and Lee had reached the palace doors. The Guard who had come from the palace had decided to stay behind in the village in case any of the creatures had come down from the palace. There was no one in sight, and an eerie silence to the place.

“I fear we are already too late.” Lee said, before the giant doors burst open. Two guards came running out, both covered in blood, and bites and scratches.

“Run those monsters, they” The two men shouted before the Professor and Lee stopped them in their tracks, though the Professor was more gentle in stopping his guard.

“Relax we’re not going to hurt you” The Professor said as he held his in guard in place, whilst Lee hoisted his up in the air using his magic.

“Please lets us go its the Emperor, he’s, he’s become a monster.” The guard who was held in the air said.

“He started to attack the guards, some of them, they, they’ve become monsters too.”

“Wait a minute I thought you said the Emperor was bitten months ago?” Kirsteen asked? “How are the guards changing so fast?”

“If the Jiang Shi kills its victim then the change happens faster. If you’re alive it can take months.” Lindsey said. “Its worse if you live however.” Lindsey continued. “The Demon is allowed to grow over a longer period of time and become stronger. The Emperor will be extremely powerful from the sounds of things. The undisuted leader of the new pack of Jiang Shi.”

“There’s nothing we can do.” Lee said as he lowered the guard to the ground.”My magics aren’t powerful enough to deal with what the Emperor has become.”

“Well you’re in luck.” The Professor said boastfully. “I know a thing or too about the Jiang Shi. Even before I became a Vampire I had more than a few encounters with them. Granted it will take time to get together some of the spells, but.”

“We don’t have time. Bloodsucker.” Lee spat back. “They got us in the end. They got us.”

“Who?” Lindsey asked.

“The Hissians. A rival kingdom of ours. We fought for centuries, and just when they we were on the cusp of victory they destroyed the ancient magics that had protected our kingdom for years.”

“What do you mean?” The Professor asked?

“The reason nobody here knows about the Jiang Shi is because many, many centuries ago, a great sorceress, with a far greater knowledge of magic than you or I banished all Demons from this land. As I told you before the unholy monsters used to dominate what would one day become our and the Hissians kingdoms to a greater extent than in any of the other kingdoms.

The Sorceress named Asia Moon would go on to be celebrated as our greatest hero. Whilst the Jiang Shi spread all over the rest of our land like the plague they are, our tiny little patch of land enjoyed a freedom from their evil.

Unfortunately however as time went on and we had no need for the black arts, very few in our kingdom came to knew about magic. Even the Demons passed into legend. The Hissians were the same, but when we were on the brink of victory, the Hissians made a discovery that would allow them to doom us even as their kingdom fell.”

Lee continued. “They discovered the ruins of the first kingdom beneath theirs, the one the Jiang Shi and other Demons had destroyed. I was part of a slave force to dig the ruins out. In their desperation they hoped they could find some powerful form of magic to use against us. They found the amulet that Moon had used to constantly repel the Demons from kingdom and they destroyed it.”

“That doesn’t make any sense? They’d die too?” Kirsteen asked.

“They knew they were beat. Their leader tried to blackmail The Emperor Cheun. He told him that they would unleash the dark forces if Cheun didn’t surrender, but Cheun didn’t believe them. The Hissians would rather die than live under us. As soon as they broke the amulet one of the Jiang Shi returned to our kingdom, though they may have brought it here I don’t know. I was liberated just after the Emperor had been infected. I had been able to transcribe the old ruins left by Moon where I learned the truth of the ancient beasts that once roamed the land. I just managed to seal the original Jiang Shi in the old ruins, but when I tried to warn the Emperor that he too would become one of those monsters, his wife refused to listen to me. She is a remarkable woman in many ways. She fought at his side, she helped to save the kingdom from the Hissians, but now she has helped to doom it.”

“Well I can’t say that we can permanently purge this kingdom of evil like this Moon woman did, but we can help deal with the Jiang Shi” The Professor said. “Please help us. From the sound of things you’ve been through a lot for this kingdom already. Do you really want to give up now?”

“Well I suppose I don’t have anything to loose?” Lee said begrudgingly.

“First however we must stop the spread of evil.” Lee said before he quickly snapped the necks of both prisoners.

“You murdering scum.” Kirsteen said in rage.

“They were infected by the beasts. If you are serious about protecting this kingdom then you will do the same too.”

“They might not have turned.” Lindsey snapped. “Not all those the Jiang Shi bite become members of their kind. We could have had time to see.”

“Its that type of thinking from the Empress that doomed the kingdom.”  Lee said as he hurried into the castle not wanting to discuss it anymore.

“I’m still not sure if he’s the real monster.” Kirsteen said.

The inside of the castle was filled with corpses, all mangled and in some cases torn to pieces. There were no signs of the Jiang Shi however.

As the foursome wandered through the blood stained palace, Lee was suddenly struck by the sight of one of the corpses. It was of a young woman who he had known many years aho, one of the palace guards. Though their relationship had ended a long time ago, and she too had come to despise Lee for his crimes against the Emperor. Still Lee had always maintained his feelings for her, and broke down at the sight of what those monsters had done.

Unfortunately whilst Lee was distracted, neither Lee, nor Lindsey, nor the Professor noticed the Emperor himself slowly creeping towards them from the upper balcony. Covered in cuts and bite marks, the Emperor had nevertheless managed to fight off the other JIang Shi and establish his dominance.

The Vampire jumped from the balcony behind Lindsey, and Kirsteen who he quickly tossed aside. The Professor tried to fight the monster off, but it quickly hurled him through the air too and went straight for Lee. It seemed to target him above the others.

Lee tried to repel the beast with his magics but it was no use. The Emperor grabbed him by the throat and started to slowly crush the life out of its old friend.

To Be Continued

My Favourite Heroes: Batman: Part 2: The History of Batman

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Batman has a long and varied history spread out across multiple different mediums and universes. There has never been just one Batman per se, even within the continuity of DC. He’s been rebooted, (both in and out of universe) killed off, replaced with alternate counterparts, as well as his children and even in one instance his deceased father.

Across his many iterations, the Batman has been everything from a gritty crime fighter, to a gothic anti hero, to a sci fi superhero, to a loving father.

Both in universe and from a real world perspective the history of the Caped Crusader is a fascinating and somewhat tragic story. Whilst the modern image of Batman may be one of the most beloved fictional characters, that image was the work of many great artists and writers over the course of several decades, many of whom’s contributions have sadly been overlooked.

Creation and Controversy

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Bob Kane with Bill Fingers Batman.

For decades the official story about Batman’s origins was that he was created by cartoonist Bob Kane in 1939 for National Comics (later known as DC.) Kane was the only person ever to be credited on any form of Batman media for the first 70 or so years of the characters history. In the majority of interviews throughout his life, Kane would only ever credit himself with creating Batman and his supporting characters and enemies like the Joker and Catwoman.

In recent decades however it has been revealed that writer Bill Finger contributed far more to the Batman character and mythos than Kane ever did.

Kane came up with the name Batman, but his initial sketch bore little resemblance to the Batman we know today. Kane’s Batman had no cape, a dominos mask and dressed in red.

See here.

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It was Bill Finger who not only came up with the Caped Crusaders look, but much of his character too. Finger suggested that Kane give Batman a cowl with bat ears, that he change the wings to a cape, and that he make Batman’s eyes white to suggest an air of mystery. He also suggested giving the Batman a grey and black colour scheme too.

Finger also came up with Gotham city, Commisioner Gordon, Alfred Pennyworth and the Batman’s civilian identity of the billionaire playboy Bruce Wayne. (He apparently named Bruce Wayne after the famous Scottish king Robert the Bruce.) Finger also came up with Batman’s tragic origins of being motivated to fight crime by the death of his parents.

Finger also created, or co-created most of Batman’s famous enemies including the Joker, Catwoman, the Riddler, the Scarecrow and the Penguin. Other artists and writers also contributed to the creation of many of Batman’s iconic rogues and supporting characters too, such as Jerry Robinson, Dick Sprang and Gardner Fox.

In all fairness to Kane back in the 40s the standard policy was for one person’s name to be stamped on the cover. The likes of Finger and Robinson were also hired as ghost artists and writers too. It wouldn’t be until the 60s when Marvel pioneered crediting all involved in the comic, with the famous Marvel bull pen.

Disputes over who created an iconic character are also common in the comic book and television mediums, where unlike a novel several people are always involved in a characters creation.

Stan Lee though pioneering the bull pen method, still always argued that he was the sole creator of the likes of Spider-Man, the X-Men and the Fantastic Four, as he came up with the initial concepts for all characters.

The difference between Lee and Kane however, was that Lee always credited the likes of Jack Kirby and Steve Ditko with designing the characters, and always said that the characters would not have been successful without the artists contributions. Lee was also always happy for his artists to refer to themselves as co-creators too.

Kane however not only took credit for things we now know he didn’t do, like Batman’s final design, but he also tried to silence Bill Fingers claims to helping create the Batman.

In the 1960s when Bill Finger mentioned his contributions to the Batman character at one of the first comic conventions, Bob Kane was quick to discredit him in a Batman fan magazine.

See here.

Now, Biljo, I’d like to emphatically set the record straight, once and for all, about the many “myths” and “conjectures” that I read about myself and my creation, “Batman,” in your “Fanzine” and other publications. I can only call all the stories I read about myself “conjectures,” because most of them are written without my advice or consent, and, therefore, cannot be entirely the truth, because how can an article about me or the Batman be the true story, when I am not consulted or interviewed?

Here, for the first time, straight from the “horse’s mouth” is the real inside story about myself and “Batman,” with no holds barred, and I intend to explode the myths about myself and get down to the real truth about the legend that is “Batman,” so, fasten your seat belts, Batmanians, as the fireworks begin.

We can call this story, “Inside Bob Kane,” or will the real creator of “Batman” sign in, please!

The Myth: Bob Kane is not the sole creator of “Batman.” (I’ve heard this a thousand times in my lifetime), that “Batman” was really created by Bill Finger, Jerry Robinson, Carmine Infantino, Jack Schiff, Julie Schwartz, my publisher, etc., etc., and my housekeeper!

The Truth: All hogwash! I, Bob Kane, am the sole creator of “Batman.” I created “Batman” in 1939, and it appeared, if memory serves me correctly, in Detective Comics as a six or eight page story, and I signed the first strip, “Robert Kane.”

I read your article that you sent to me, “If the Truth be Known,” ”A Finger in Every Plot,” and it seemed to me that Bill Finger has given out the impression that he and not myself created the ”Batman”,  as well as Robin and all the other leading villains and characters. This statement is fraudulent and entirely untrue. That is ”myth” and I quote an excerpt from the article written by Jerry G. Bails, “The Cowl and Cape, the utility belt and gauntlets were all Bill’s contribution.”

Also, further down in the article and again I quote , “Bill also created Robin, of course, but also Commissioner Gordon, (who appeared in the first Batman story), Alfred the Penguin, The Catwoman, etc., etc.

I challenge Bill to repeat those statements in front of me. I am sorry that I was absent from the comicdom’s convention so that I could have answered him. The truth is that Bill Finger is taking credit for much more than he deserves, and I refute much of his statements here in print The fact is that I conceived the ”Batman`’ figure and costume entirely by myself’ even before I called Bill in to help me write the “Batman.” I created the title, masthead, the format and concept, as well as the Batman figure and costume. Robin, the boy wonder, was also my idea, . . . not Bill’s.

The only proof I need to back my statement is that if Bill co-authored and conceived the idea, either with me or before me, then he would most certainly have a by-line on the strip along with my name, the same as Siegel and Schuster had as creators of Superman. However, it remains obvious that my name appears on the strip alone, proving that I created the idea first and then called Bill in later, after my publisher okayed my original creation.

Now, Biljo, in all fairness to Bill, I will admit he was influential in aiding me in shaping up the strip, and there are certain characters Bill created, aside from my main characters’ and many other characters that I created, including the Batmobile. It’s been 25 years now, and truthfully, time sometimes blurs the memory and it is difficult to separate, at times, the myth from the truth, so that I cannot blame Bill too much if at times his memory “clouds.”

Aside to Jerry G. Bails: I ought to sue you for misrepresentation and distortion of the truth about your “Finger Article” that blatantly intimates that Bill Finger was the true creator behind Batman, and not Bob Kane. Your article is completely misleading, loaded with untruths fed to you by Finger’s hallucinations of grandeur.

May I say to you, Mr . Bails, that before you wrote so smugly and assuredly about Bill Finger being the real creator and ”tour de force” behind the Batman for publication, don’t you think that you should have double-checked your information back to me, so that I could verify and clarify Bill Finger’s comments? After all, I was involved with the Batman, don’t you think? But, of course, you minimized my part in the creation and maximized Bill Finger’s part, only because you listened to one side of the story – Finger’ s side. I am sure that you have heard that there are “two sides to every story”? At any rate, now you’ve heard my side. Are you still convinced about Finger’s immortality?

I am sick and tired of opinionated people, like yourself, who throughout the years have written distorted and untrue stories about how Batman was created and by whom, receiving their information from unreliable sources, when it would have been much easier to get the true story simply by contacting me, the one and only creator of Batman, that could be proven so easily by merely asking my publisher or simply by looking at the lone by-line of “Bob Kane” on the strip.

I’d also like to state here, Mr. Bails, that although Bill Finger literally typed the scripts in the early days, that he wrote the scripts from ideas that we mutually collaborated on and that many of the unique concepts and story twists also came from my own fertile imagination and that I was not just a puppet cartoonist alone, following a writer’s script and contributing nothing more than the art work.

Finger never received the credit he was due during his lifetime as a result, and died in both obscurity and poverty in the 1970s. Contrary to popular belief he was not buried in an unmarked potters grave. He was cremated, with his only son Fred Finger scattering his ashes in the shape of a Bat on a beach in Oregon, as per his wishes.

Bob Kane would later express regret for the way he had treated Bill Finger. In 1989 after the release of the first Batman film starring Michael Keaton, Kane said.

In those days it was one artist and he had his name over it [the comic strip] — the policy of DC in the comic books was, if you can’t write it, obtain other writers, but their names would never appear on the comic book in the finished version. So Bill never asked me for it [the byline] and I never volunteered — I guess my ego at that time. And I felt badly, really, when he [Finger] died

Now that my long-time friend and collaborator is gone, I must admit that Bill never received the fame and recognition he deserved. He was an unsung hero … I often tell my wife, if I could go back fifteen years, before he died, I would like to say. ‘I’ll put your name on it now. You deserve it.

However many saw this as too little, too late, and argued that Kane was only recounting now that Finger had passed away and could not recieve any royalties. It would not be until 2015, following a campaign by author Marc Tyler Nobleman and Fingers grand daughter Athena, that Finger would be officially credited as the co-creator of Batman, beginning with the film Batman vs Superman and the television series Gotham.

Kane’s reputation has naturally dropped considerably as a result. Many others in the industry have come forward with less than favourable stories about Bob Kane in recent years, with arguably the most infamous being comic book author Jim Steranko’s near physical confrontation with Kane, who Steranko derided as both a coward, and back stabber who took advantage of Finger.

Its ironic in a way, as now I feel that people perhaps don’t give Kane the credit he deserves.

Kane did play a vital role in the creation of Batman and various other important characters in the Batman canon. One thing people often overlook about Kane’s initial drawing of Batman is that even there, the character lacks superpowers. Kane’s Batman couldn’t fly like Superman. He had artificial wings instead which he had designed to help him fly.

This would ultimately prove to be a vital component in Batman’s character, that he has to rely on gadgets rather than super powers and it was there in Kane’s initial concept.

Bob Kane also did play a role in the creation of the Joker, Catwoman, the Scarecrow and the Penguin too. Jerry Robinson, who spoke very unfavourably of Kane’s treatment of Bill Finger, (going as far as to say he never forgave him for it) nevertheless said that Kane can be considered a co-creator of the Joker. It is also known that Kane played a key role in fleshing out the Catwoman’s character. He apparently based much of Catwoman’s personality on his cousin Ruth Steel.

The real Catwoman.

Kane also created the final design for the Penguin and was the sole creator of Two Face, one of Batman’s most iconic foes. Finally it was also Kane who personally assembled the original team of artists and writers on the Batman comics, Bill Finger and Jerry Robinson.

Had Kane not been so desperate to hoover up all the credit, he would be revered as the man who helped kick off, and flesh out the Batman mythos. The lesson here is to never try and take too much credit or else when the truth comes out, people will be loathe to give you any credit at all, as seen with Kane.

Whilst its tragic that Finger was never given the credit he was due, at the very least his reputation among fans and critics is considerably stronger today than Kane’s.

The Early Years

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Batman first appeared in Detective Comics 27. In his first few appearances Batman was depicted as being willing to murder his enemies and use guns. It was also a policy of earlier comics to make sure that none of Batman’s enemies would recur, so as not to undermine his status as a hero. Despite this however there were two recurring enemies in Batman’s earliest days with Detective Comics, The Mad Monk, a hypnotic Vampire, and Doctor Death, a mad scientist. Death’s origins of having his face scarred in an accident and developing a grudge against Batman as a result, would later be reused for the Joker.

Whilst Bruce Wayne was best friends with Commissioner James Gordon in the earlier stories, the police still viewed Batman as a dangerous psychopath who needed to be put down. Bruce Wayne also had a fiance too in the early years, Julie Madison, who has been seldom seen in most adaptations.

Whilst featuring many larger than life concepts from death rays, to robot Dinosaurs to Vampires, the earliest Batman comics still took the stories and character very seriously, and were very dark in tone.

During Batman’s first year with Detective Comics, several key elements of the Batman mythos would be established, such as the characters tragic origins in Detective Comics 33, his utility belt in issue 29, and his famous Batarang as well as the first ever Bat themed vehicle, the Bat plane in issue 31.

Finally in Detective Comics 38, Batman’s sidekick Robin was introduced. Created by Jerry Robinson, Robin, whose real name was Dick Grayson, was a young boy whose parents had been murdered just like Batman. Robin’s popularity would lead to a surge in similar kid sidekicks. Robin has remained a somewhat controversial figure in the decades since, with many feeling that he made Batman too light a character. Robin has nevertheless remained one of the most enduring icons of the Batman mythos.

Batman proved to be such a big hit that he would soon get his own series, whilst continuing to star in Detective Comics. The first ever solo issue of Batman saw the character face both the Joker and the Catwoman (then just referred to as simply the Cat.)

The Joker in his first appearance was depicted as a true monster clown, murdering his victims in gruesome ways simply because he thought it was funny. His origins were shrouded in complete mystery. Whilst more details have been revealed about the Jokers past in the ensuing decades, to this day the villains identity and real name have never been revealed.

From the start the Joker was depicted as Batman’s most dangerous and evil adversary, being ten steps ahead of the Batman and the police, and in a stark contrast to his later appearances; he was even depicted as being able to best the Caped Crusader in a fight.

Catwoman, whose real name was Selina Kyle, meanwhile was depicted initially as more of a manipulative villain who was no match for the Batman physically, and was far more unsympathetic than later depictions. From the start however the two were shown to have a romantic interest in one another, though this would become more prominent after Julie Madison was written out.

The Penguin meanwhile would be introduced in 1942. Though initially a more comical villain than the Joke, The Penguin would go on to be one of Batman’s most recognisable and recurring foes. Over the decades the Penguin’s character would be fleshed out more, and he would go from a campy supervillain obsessed with birds, to a gritty and brutal crime lord.

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The King and Queen of crime?!

The first appearances of the Penguin and the Catwoman, two of Batman’s main enemies. The papa spank line isn’t one of the Caped Crusaders finest moments.

Another major enemy of Batman introduced during the early years was Doctor Hugo Strange. Originally intended to be Batman’s archenemy, Strange was more of a match for Batman in terms of intellect than his other enemies, being a genius scientist in his own right. Ultimately however the more colourful Joker, Penguin and Catwoman would soon eclipse Strange, though Strange would continue to recur over the decades, and has even appeared in many adaptations such as the recent tv series Gotham.

The Joker was originally to have been killed off in his second appearance, but a last minute decision by editor Whitney Ellisworth ultimately spared the character, and the Joker would quickly cement himself as Batman’s arch foe, appearing in 6 out of the first 9 Batman issues.

The first appearance of what would quickly become Batman’s greatest enemy, the Joker.

Ellsworth would also make another major contribution to Batman’s character, deciding after an issue of Detective Comics which featured the caped crusader murdering mutated giants with a machine gun, that Batman would never use a gun or kill his enemies again.

This has gone on to be a vital aspect of Batman’s character ever since, not just in the comics, but in most other adaptations too. In universe the reason Batman hates guns it would be established is obviously because they were used in the brutal murder of his parents. Some versions of Batman however, such as Michael Keaton’s in the first two Burton Batman movies have returned to using weapons and lethal force, but generally speaking, most versions of Batman have stuck to Ellsworth’s policy.

In addition to starring in his own series and Detective Comics, Batman would go on to appear regularly in World’s Finest in 1940, a series which featured stories starring both Batman and Superman, DC’s other most popular character. It would not be until 1952 however that World’s Finest would bring both characters together in the same story. Batman and Superman would quickly be established as being best friends, and would remain so until the modern age, when the darker Batman’s methods often clashed with Superman.

Batman would also be established as an honorary member of the first ever superhero team, The Justice Society of America early into his career. First appearing in All Star Comics 3 in 1941, Batman and Superman however unlike with the later Justice League were not allowed to appear in with the Justice Society in a regular basis, as they already had their own titles, unlike most of the other members. Still one of the Justice Society’s base of operations was in Gotham City.

Batman would remain one of DC’s best selling characters throughout the 40s, though as the decade waned on, Batman would be made into a much lighter character, and more of a traditional father figure to Robin.

The End of the Original Batman

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From an in universe perspective the original Batman’s adventures would come to an end in the 50s. DC would later establish in the early 60s, that all of their stories from the 1930s to the mid 50s took place in another universe to those from the mid 50s to the then present.

The original 30s-50s stories took place on Earth 2, whilst the then modern stories from the mid 50s-present took place on Earth 1.

DC did this to explain away the major continuity issues that had emerged over the decades, chiefly concerning the Justice League and the Justice Society, which had each featured their own version of the Flash, Jay Garrick and Barry Allen, whilst Batman, Superman and Wonder Woman had been members of both teams. (Barry and Jay had been established as the only versions of the Flash in their own titles leading to some confusion.)

The multiverse idea was introduced in the story Flash of Two Earth’s which saw Barry Allen, the modern Flash travel to Earth Two where he met Jay Garrick the original Flash (who had visibly aged since we last saw him.)

The meant however that the then current Batman of the 60s was not the same character as the original from the 30s-mid 50s. It was never made clear when the adventures of the original Batman had come to an end, and the adventures of the new Batman began, as the multiverse was a retcon, but it would later be established in universe that the Earth Two Batman had retired at some point in the 50s.

The original Earth Two Batman’s final fate would be revealed in the late 70s. At some point in the mid 50s, Batman married a reformed Catwoman, and the two soon had a daughter, Helena Wayne. Years later however Catwoman would be blackmailed into carrying out another crime, and Batman would inadvertantly cause her death.

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The marriage of Batman and Catwoman.

Vowing to never don the cape and cowl again, Bruce was left a broken man by his wife’s death, but his daughter Helena Wayne would later become a masked crime fighter, The Huntress who would bring the criminal who had blackmailed her mother to justice.

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Helena Wayne vows to avenge her mothers death.

The Huntress would go on to become a popular character throughout the 70s, continuing her father’s legacy on Earth 2, joining the Justice Society, and later crossing over to Earth One where she’d work with its version of her father.

The Earth Two Bruce Wayne meanwhile despite his vow would later become Batman one last time to battle the Wizard, Frederick Faust which resulted in his death.

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Following Batman’s death ironically the Joker would take it hardest of all. Furious that he had beaten his long time enemy, simply by outliving him, the Joker refused to believe Batman was gone and would go on a massive rampage to try and draw The Batman out. An older Dick Grayson would be forced to pretend to be Batman in order to convince the Joker that his foe was still alive. Happy that Batman was not dead, the Joker willingly surrendered, and continued to plot his final duel with the Batman that would ultimately never come.

This classic scene from Batman the animated series where the Joker (voiced by Mark Hamill) believes Batman has been killed and grieves, not over Batman, but simply of being deprived of his revenge; was inspired by the original Earth Two Joker’s reaction to his Batman’s death.

Whilst some critics felt the multiverse format was needlessly complicated, personally I think that it was a brilliant formula that ultimately allowed DC to finish their characters stories, whilst not having to stop producing Batman stories altogether. In contrast Marvel, whose characters all live in one floating timeline’s stories can never end, or even develop in any meaningful way that upsets the status quo. Take a look at Peter Parker and Mary Jane’s wedding for instance that had to be retconned in the most ridiculous way, to restore Spidey to being single. The original Batman and Catwoman’s marriage meanwhile remained final and even produced another superhero, the Huntress.

Personally I enjoy reading the earliest Batman comics knowing that he and Catwoman one day end up getting married, and that their legacy continues on through the Huntress, who is one of my favourite heroes.

Ultimately whatever your opinion on the multiverse, its important to remember that your Batman is NOT your grandfathers Batman. The Batman we read about in any story from his introduction to the mid 50s died decades ago, and has been replaced since by three alternate universe counterparts.

50s: Sci Fi Hijinks

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From a real world perspective the 50s would mark a radical change in Batman’s character. Batman had been completely watered down by this stage from his darker past into being a totally family friendly hero, but as the decade rolled on the character would be turned into more of a sci fi hero. The 50s would see Batman regularly travel to other worlds, travel through time, battle aliens, giant robots, and other atomic age monsters and strange creatures.

Sci Fi had been a vital component in Batman’s character from the very beginning. His gadgets and Batcave were often presented as being far in advance of contemporary technology. (One of the most famous and longstanding trophies in the Batcave is a gigantic robot Tyrannosaurus Rex.)

Added to that many of Batman’s most iconic enemies such as Doctor Hugo Strange were firmly rooted in sci fi too. The 50s however ultimately took it too far and had Batman spend more time in outerspace, or the future or on other worlds, than in Gotham.

As a result the 50s is often seen as a low point in the characters history. Nevertheless there would be a few important developments during this decade. The Jokers origins would be finally be revealed in the story The Man Behind The Red Hood.

Originally the Joker had been a criminal known as the Red Hood who planned to steal a million pounds and then retire, but during his final robbery of the Monarch Card company, Batman accidentally knocked the Red Hood into a vat of chemicals, which bleached his skin chalk white, dyed his hair green and distorted his mouth into a permanent hideous grin, driving him insane in the process

Whilst presented as a light hearted story at the time, this development ended up having major repurcussions on the Batman/Joker dynamic. Now Batman was made responsible for creating the Joker, and was therefore accountable for all of his crimes. By this stage however the Joker had been turned into more of a harmless prankster, carrying out wild, over the top schemes, but rarely ever killing anyone. It would not be until the 70s, when the Joker was restored to his old murderous persona that writers would explore the ramifications of Batman’s role in the Joker’s origin, as well as his role in the creation of his other major villains too.

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The 1950s also saw the introduction fo Mr Freeze, then referred to as Mr Zero. Freeze would go on to be one of Batman’s most famous foes in popular culture, thanks to his appearances in the 60s Adam West series and the 90s Batman the Animated series.

Justice League of America

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In 1960 Batman, along with Superman, Wonder Woman, The Flash (Barry Allen), Green Lantern (Hal Jordan) and Aquaman would form one of the first superhero teams, The Justice League in The Brave and the Bold issue 28.

Initially however Batman and Superman would be relegated to more minor roles in the strip with DC not wanting to overexpose their two most famous characters, though the two heroes did still go on several adventures with the league, and even played key roles in saving the day in some of the earlier strips. Eventually Batman and Superman would be allowed to play more major roles in the Justice League.

Batman despite having no superpowers of his own, would still be able to keep up with his allies in the league through his gadgets and fighting skills. (Batman had already been shown to tackle super powered and paranormal threats on his own, such as Manbat, and Mr Freeze.)

Batman would often end up being the key to many of the Justice League’s success’ as his scientific genius would enable him to disarm the villains weapons, or rewire their technology in a way that the other heroes couldn’t, whilst his deduction skills would often allow him to figure out the villains weaknesses, hideouts, or their plans when the other members of the League could not.

An example of Batman’s usefulness to the rest of the League despite his lack of powers.

In spite of this Batman’s history with the league has not always been smooth. In the 2000 miniseries, Towel of Bable, Batman’s archenemy, Ra’s Al Ghul steals files Batman as gathered on the rest of the League in case they ever went rogue and uses them to very nearly kill the League.

Though Ra’s plan is stopped, Batman is forced to leave the League afterwards, with Wonder Woman, Plastique Man and Aquaman being unable to trust Batman afterwards.

Batman has often clashed with other members of the League due to his secretive and somewhat paranoid personality. Still he has nevertheless always remained a prominent member of the team, and in many versions has even helped found the League.

The Bat-Family

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Towards the end of the 50s and the early 60s, two more sidekicks would be introduced for the Caped Crusader. Kathy Kane aka Batwoman, and her niece Bette Kane who became the first ever Batgirl. Both were introduced as love interests of Batman and Robin respectively. In addition to this Batman would also inherit a trusty hound known as Ace during this period, and another sidekick in the form of Batmite.

Batmite was an imp from the 5th dimension, similar to Superman foe Mr Mxylptzlik, though Batmite in contrast was shown to idolise Batman and would frequently help him out.

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By the mid 60s the Bat family would be phased out, with editors feeling that there were too many characters detracting from Batman. Kathy Kane would nevertheless be revived many decades later as Kate Kane, whilst the concept of Batgirl would similarly be revived towards the end of the 60s.

Many critics and comic historians have argued that Batwoman and Batgirl were introduced simply to offset complaints that Batman and Robin were gay lovers. Ironically the later version of Kate Kane would be depicted as one of the first openly lesbian heroes in comics.

The Silly Years

Batman’s sales declined rapidly throughout the 60s to the point were there was talk of cancellation. Ultimately however the character would reach new heights of popularity during the later half of the decade thanks to the live action Batman television series starring Adam West.

Premiering in 1966, Batman was a comedy series that spoofed the characters. Though undoubtedly one of the greatest comedy series of all time, the show did change the pubic perception of Batman to being a campy, silly character which made it difficult for later more serious film pitch’s for the Dark Knight to be taken seriously.

Still overall the 60s show had a positive impact on the franchise. Bob Kane himself credited the show with saving the comic, with the 66 Batman helping to kick off a craze that would become known as Batmania. The 60s show would also elevate the characters of the Riddler and Mr Freeze into being among Batman’s most iconic enemies. Prior to the 60s serise Mr Freeze had appeared just once, whilst The Riddler had made only a handful of appearances.

The 60s series would also be responsible for the creation of the second Batgirl. This version of the character named Barbara Gordon was the daughter of Commissioner Gordon, and generally worked on her own. The new Batgirl proved to be very popular with readers and would go on to become one of the most successful female heroes for DC comics.

In order to emulate the success of the 60s show, the Batman comics would start to adopt a campier, more light hearted tone, but after the show came to an end attempts would be made by writer Dennis O’Neil and artist Neal Adams to take Batman back to his darker roots.

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Classic examples of campier Batman stories of the 60s.

The Night of the Stalker

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Throughout the 70s Batman would be depicted as a much darker character. Now operating alone, with Robin having since grown up and established himself as a hero in his own right. The Batman of the 70s still retained many of the lighter elements that had been developed in the decades since his introduction. The 70s Batman still had a sense of humour, was friendly to those closest to him, and genuinely enjoyed his life.

Still the stories took themselves more seriously than ever before, and explored much darker content.

A classic example of the more mature and sophisticated stories of the 70s, can be seen in the strip “The Night of the Stalker.” Here Batman witnesses the murder a couple in front of their child by common criminals who he then pursues through the woods of Gotham. Batman is absolutely vicious in dispatching the criminals, as he is forced to relive the horror of his parents death yet again. Night of the Stalker was widely praised by fans and critics alike for its depiction of Batman as a dark, ruthless anti hero, whilst at the same time touching on the tragic elements of his character in a moving way.

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Image result for night of the stalker batman

Batman’s enemies would similarly be given a makeover during this era. The Joker having been portrayed as a silly prankster throughout the last two decades, would be returned to being a vicious, sadistic, mass murderer in O’Neil’s “Joker’s 5 Way Revenge”. This story saw the villain murder his former henchmen in gruesome ways, with Batman only managing to rescue the last, who the Joker attempts to feed to a shark!

This version of the Joker however was different to the original in that he was still comical, and his plans still more outlandish, but the humour was instead very dark. Unlike later depictions of the Clown Prince of Crime, the 70s, early 80s Joker also still despised the Batman and genuinely wished to kill him. Later versions of the Joker would instead enjoy fighting with Batman, viewing him as the straight man in their double act. The 70s Joker however had a more traditional hero/villain relationship with Batman.

 

Classic examples of the Jokers sick sense of humour from the 70s-early 80s.

The 70s would also see the introduction of the only villain to ever challenge the Jokers claim as Batman’s archfoe. Ra’s Al Ghul. Ghul was a warlord who had been kept young for several hundred years, through the Lazarus pits.

Leader of the league of assassins, Ghul had countless resources all over the world to use against the Batman. He was also Batman’s equal in terms of intellect and physical prowess, and was able to deduce Batman’s secret identity when he first met him. Ghul initially saw Batman as his heir to the position of the Demon’s head, but the two would soon come into conflict which would be made all the more personal by Batman’s feelings for Ghul’s daughter, Talia.

The 70s would also see Batman work with many other DC heroes to a far greater extent than ever before through The Brave and the Bold which saw Batman work with a different DC hero every issue.

The Brave and the Bold was originally conceived as an anthology series, before becoming a team up series.

From issue 50 however The Brave and the Bold came to revolve entirely around Batman working with a different hero each week. This decision was made to cash in on the popularity of the Batman series, but the strip would remain a Batman team up series, even after the show had been cancelled. Throughout the 70s The Brave and the Bold would become the most popular Batman title.

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Image result for brave and the bold covers

The series helped to put Batman into more fantastical and outlandish settings, but unlike in the 50’s comics it didn’t stop the Batman from going on more traditional crime stories in the main title. The Brave and the Bold also helped to examine Batman’s greater role in the DC universe and flesh out his relationships with other DC characters to a far greater extent than ever before. We got to see Batman’s strange friendship with Deadman, his partnership with Wild Cat (which unlike with Robin was on a more equal footing) and his rivalry with Green Arrow. One strip even saw the Caped Crusader trapped in a love triangle with Wonder Woman and Batgirl!

Wonder Woman Love Batman

Batgirl Loves Batman

One of the most ridiculous stories ever written.

For me the late 60s to the early 80s represents the best period of Batman’s history. There is a much wider variety of stories during that decade than any other. The silly, light hearted approach is not entirely jettisoned as seen above, but at the same time there are darker, more serious stories such as Night of the Stalker. The 70s still saw Batman battle ordinary criminals in his own series, yet through the Brave and the Bold it saw the character go on sci fi and fantasy adventures too. The 70s also featured more Batman team ups than any other decade. Brave and the Bold would come to an end in 1982, and when it was revived in 2007 it would be restored to a team up series, rather than a Batman comic.

Batman in my opinion is a better fit for team ups than any other hero. His lack of powers means that he can be vulnerable to any other heroes enemies, whilst his gadgets and deduction skills enables him to be of use to even the most powerful super heroes too. In contrast Superman or Wonder Woman or even The Flash are all too powerful to help out a hero like say Wild Cat, as they’d deal with his problem in a matter of minutes. Its a shame that no other decade would make use of Batman’s adaptability in working with other heroes as well as the 70s did.

For me the 70s best shows off all of the different sides to Batman’s character and it has gone on to be widely praised as a golden age by many critics and comics historians. The 70s would go on to have a large influence on Batman the Animated Series in particular. Sadly however despite its popularity with fans, Batman sales would actually decline greatly throughout the 70s.

End of the Earth One Batman’s adventures

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In 1985 DC would produce a multi crossover story called Crisis on Infinite Earth’s which saw a vastly powerful and evil cosmic entity known as the Anti Monitor destroy every universe, with only one universe, New Earth, created from the ruins of the last 5 universes surviving.

As a result of this the Earth One Batman’s adventures came to an end, and all main DC stories from 1985-2011 would take place on New Earth.

The Huntress, daughter of the Earth 2 Batman’s life would come to a tragic end too. Though she survived the erasure of her own world, she would later be murdered by minions of the Anti Monitor during a final stand against the Anti Monitor’s minions. The Huntress would die a heroesdeath saving some children from falling rubble. The Huntress was one of many heroes to die during the Crisis, alongside Barry Allen (who would be succeeded by Wally West) and Supergirl.

Crisis on Infinite Earth’s had been designed solely to wipe the Multiverse from canon. DC felt that the Multiverse, which had since expanded to include hundreds of earths aside from earth’s 1 and 2 was too overly complicated and in danger of putting new readers off. Therefore New Earth was designed to serve as a single timeline that readers could easily follow.

Ultimately the multiverse would be brought back gradually over the next few decades. The 2005 crossover Infinite Crisis saw one of the final survivors of the multiverse, a heroic alternate version of Lex Luthor, create 52 new universes, whilst a 2015 crossover event called Convergence erased the events of Crisis on Infinite Earth’s restoring the multiverse.

Still from 1985 to 2011, it would be the adventures of the Batman of New Earth that readers would follow.

The Dark Knight Returns

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Batman sales declined in the early 80s, but the character would be given a major boost through a number of much darker, more violent works which fully helped to restore Batman’s reputation as an anti hero.

The first of these was Frank Millers mini series The Dark Knight Returns which depicted an aging and bitter Bruce Wayne come out of retirement. Set outside of the New Earth continuity, The Dark Knight Returns was most notable for featuring Batman and Superman clashing with one another, and its final brutal showdown between Batman and the Joker.

The Dark Knight Returns proved to be a massive success and finally helped Batman shake off the campy image from the Adam West series. The levels of violence in the story far exceeded those of previous Batman adventures. According to Frank Miller, Bob Kane himself hated the miniseries, feeling that it was too nasty. Still The Dark Knight Returns made an immeasurably huge impact on the industry, and similar darker Batman stories followed.

The 1988 graphic novel, The Killing Joke written by Alan Moore and with art by Brian Bolland, expanded on the Jokers origins, whilst taking the feud between the Clown Prince of Crime and the Dark Knight to a whole new level.

The Killing Joke reveals that the Joker was original a failed comedian, who attempted to rob the Ace chemicals plant to support his pregnant wife. On the night of the robbery however, the Jokers wife is killed in a freak accident. The criminals then force him into helping to carry out the robbery, during which the Joker falls into a vat of chemicals, finally pushing him over the edge.

In the present the Joker attempts to prove that one bad day can drive anyone to lunacy. He targets Commisoner Gordon and shoots his daughter Barbara through the spine and then tortures the Commisoner by showing him pictures of Barbara’s bleeding, naked body!

The Jokers origins and his heinous crimes against Jim and Barbara Gordon from the 2016 adaptation of The Killing Joke, starring Mark Hamil as the Joker.

Barbara Gordon who had earlier retired as Batgirl would be permanently crippled as a result. Originally Alan Moore had intended the Killing Joke to be a one off, outside of DC canon, but DC would incorporate it into the New Earth timeline nonetheless. Barbara Gordon would still continue to appear regularly however, as the character of Oracle, a computer expert and skilled hacker. Ironically as Oracle Barbara would go on to have greater significance than she ever did as Batgirl.

Later that same year the Joker would be responsible for another tragedy in Batman’s life in the mini series Death in the Family. Here the Joker murdered the second Robin, Jason Todd in cold blood. Todd had replaced Dick Grayson in 1983. Though popular at first, the character’s more aggressive personality quickly caused readers to turn on him, so much so that in the final panels of Death in the Family, readers were given a choice to vote on Robin’s death or survival, with readers ultimately choosing to kill him.

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The Joker’s murder of Jason Todd, the Second Robin, as voted for by contemporary readers.

These stories, combined with the 1989 Batman movie, directed by Tim Burton and starring Michael Keaton as Batman, and Jack Nicholson as the Joker; helped to cement the darker portrayal of Batman in popular culture.

From this point on Batman would always be depicted as a darker, more violent, tortured anti hero, paranoid, untrustworthy and in some ways as disturbed as many of the villains he faces.

The Modern Age

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Throughout the 90s Batman would continue to enjoy new levels of popularity. Burton’s Batman film had been a record breaking success and a bigger cultural phenomenon than even the 66 series. The character would go on to enjoy greater success in animation with the classic Batman the Animated Series which would kick off the entire DC Animated Universe. Much like the Burton movie, the DCAU would treated the source material seriously. The DCAU would also influence the comics themselves, just like the 66 Batman series.

The character of Harley Quinn, Jokers sidekick and lover who first appeared in Batman the Animated series would later be incorporated into the comic books, becoming one of Batman’s most recognisable enemies in popular culture. Another character from the DCAU who would later be incorporated into the comics would be Terry McGinness, the second Batman.

McGinness was introduced in the series Batman Beyond, which was set 50 years into the future. McGinness was originally a street hoodlum who would stumble upon the Batcave after Bruce Wayne helped save him from the Jokerz Gang. Terry would later steal the Bat suit to avenge his fathers murder, and though Bruce disapproved of his actions at first, Bruce would later take Terry on as his protege, training him to be the new Batman proper.

It would later be revealed that Terry McGiness was in fact Bruce Wayne’s biological son.

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The second Batman, Terry McGiness. Despite his popularity, Terry would not be incorporated into the mainstream comics until 2014 with the new 52 crossover series.

In 1993 one of Batman’s most iconic enemies, Bane would be introduced in the Nightfall arc. Bane would be responsible for breaking the Dark Knights back. For the first time someone other than Bruce Wayne, Jean Paul Valley would be forced to don the suit until Bruce Wayne was able to recover.

Batman would continue to enjoy further acclaim with the No Man’s Land and Hush story arcs, both of which would go on to influence further stories and adaptations.

21st century

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Throughout the first decade of the 21st century Batman would continue to enjoy mainstream success due to the Christopher Nolan trilogy, which reached its peak with The Dark Knight, the second entry in the series. The Nolan trilogy presented audiences with a more realistic, gritty interpretation of the Caped Crusader than any before.

Despite Batman’s popularity however, DC would seemingly kill the New Earth version of Batman in 2008 in the major crossover story Infinite Crisis. Batman seemingly died in action against Superman’s enemy Darkseid, with Dick Grayson taking his place as the new Batman, and Damian Wayne, Bruce’s son taking over as the new Robin.

It would later be revealed however that Batman had simply been sent backwards in time by Darkseid’s Omega beams, and Bruce Wayne would make his return in 2010. Just over a year later however the New Earth Batman’s adventures would come to an end in 2011 when DC rebooted its titles with the New 52 crossover series.

Since 2011 DC has followed the Batman of Prime Earth’s adventures, though as the full multiverse has been restored then the Batmen of Earth One, and New Earth now both still exist, as does the Huntress of Earth 2.

As of the writing of this article Batman still maintains a large presence in popular culture, and with no signs of slowing down its doubtless that we will continue to see more adventures from the Batman of Earth Prime and dozens of other universes for decades to come.

In the next entry of the series we will examine the influences on Batman and the influence the character has had on popular culture.

 

 

Doctor Who Vs Scratchman: Part 4

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                            Based on a story by Tom Baker and Ian Marter

(Sorry for the delays. Its been a hectic couple of weeks and I have been very ill. Hopefully things will return to normal soon.)

The earth began to shake violently as the leader of the Scarecrow’s dragged the boy back to the open grave. The more the boy kicked and screamed the more the earth began to shake.

The Doctors Scarecrow meanwhile was able to use the earthquake to its advantage. The shaking earth caused all of the monsters to become unsteady on their feet, and the Doctors Scarecrow, seizing its chance, pushed itself backwards into the other Demons who were restraining him, knocking them all down. The Doctors Scarecrow then quickly jumped up and attacked the Demon that was restraining Yarox. Whilst the two undead creatures fought Yarox tried to rouse the Doctor.

“Please why are you dong this.” The boy whimpered, as the Scarecrow brought him to very edge of the grave.

“Misery loves company son. You will all suffer as we have .”

The boy in desperation tried to fight the Scarcrow, delivering a series of punches to the monsters face, and the Scarecrow responded by biting the boys hand with its flaming teeth.

The boy had never felt pain like it in his life. His screams echoed throughout almost the entire island. He almost fainted from the pain several times, but each time he almost blacked out the Scarecrow would bite just a bit harder to waken him up.

The boy was soon freed from his torment by the Doctor who, having been awoken by Yarox, struck the Scarecrow from behind with the very shovel one of the monsters had used to dig the grave for the boy.

The Doctor’s blow knocked the leader head first into the grave. Yarox then tended to the boy, whilst the Doctor used the shovel to fight off more of the Scarecrow’s that began to swarm them. With a quick strike to the face the Doctor managed to knock one of the Scarecrow’s backwards into another, but when he tried to strick another of the Demons in the chest however, it grabbed the shovel. Before the Scarecrow could pull it out of the Time Lord’s hands, the Doctor triped the Scarecrow up and then whacked the two monsters behind in the legs with the shovel knocking them down.

The boy meanwhile could barely stand he was so weak. His wound had been instantly cauterised by the Scarecrow’s flaming teeth and the pain and shock were beginning to knock him out. Yarox hoisted the boy over his shoulder and ran back through the church to where he assumed the TARDIS was still waiting for them, with the Doctor and his Scarecrow behind. The Doctor was mindful not to slip on the blood stained floors, whilst the boy was almost sick at the gruesome sights around him.

Once they reached the outside of the Church however, the Doctor and Yarox saw to their horror that the TARDIS was gone.

“It can’t be”. The Doctor said in shock. “Elena wouldn’t… That thing whatever it is, must have control of the TARDIS. I’m sorry my boy, but it looks like.”

The doors to the church suddenly burst open, with dozens of Scarecrows emerging, screaming in rage.

“BRING ME THE BOY, HIS BLOOD MUST FLOW!” The leader shouted.

The Doctor, Yarox and his Scarecrow quickly fled to outside the large gates to the church. The Doctor then placed his shovel in betwe-en the handles, temporarily locking the Scarecrow’s in.

The Doctor, his Scarecrow, and Yarox quickly fled to behind a nearby building. The horde of Scarecrow’s ran right past the two time travellers and their companions. The Demons were so consumed with blood lust that they ran almost blindly with rage through the ruins of the once happy town.

“Well looks like we’re not going anywhere soon” The Doctor said as he tended to the boy. The boy had passed out by this stage, but fortunately his wound wasn’t bleeding as the flesh had been burnt to a crisp. For all the Doctor knew however it could have been infected with an alien virus. There was nothing the Doctor could do for the boy unless he got back to the TARDIS.

“While we wait you can tell us just what is going here.” The Doctor said to his Scarecrow.

“Who is this Scratchman? Where is he from?”

“You know who he is. He is the fallen Angel, the father of lies, the Devil.”

“There is no such thing.” The Doctor said, though he sounded somewhat more unsure of himself than before. The Time Lord still didn’t believe that whatever they were dealing with was really the Devil, but it terrified him nonetheless now that his TARDIS was gone.

“You want to believe that, the same way others want to believe that they can escape him by worshipping a false god. The truth is it doesn’t matter if we kill you now. You’ll end up in his domain one way or another.”

“What do you mean.”

“Scratchman is the true creator. There is no God.” The Scarecrow said.

“Oh dear you mean all this time, I’ve just been dealing with another alien with a god complex.” The Doctor joked.

“Stupid little man. You have no idea of the agonies that await you in the pit”. The Scarecrow sneered. “Scratchman gave you all life, and with it false hope. The universe is a horrible, unforgiving place. Across the galaxies it is the norm for life forms to war with each other. From the most advanced species to simple beasts. They all slaughter each other for the most trivial reasons. Many creatures must kill others simply to survive, whilst those who dominate do so through violence and intimidation. Would a benovelent god create a universe like that?” It continued.

“Love, compassion, and the illusion of free will delude us into thinking we have a chance to escape the darkness we’re trapped in, but we don’t. They are all just part of his sick game.”

“Do you know who I was in life?” The Scarecrow continued as it pulled its mask off, revealing its hideous burnt face, charred beyond all recognition.

“I was a flower girl named Clarrisa. I was killed in an accident when I fell off a roof I was working on. I was only 19. I never put a foot wrong in my short time on this earth. I attended church every Sunday, I looked after my mother when she was ill, I worked hard to help support the rest of my family after my fathers passing. So you can imagine my surprise when I died and found myself surrounded by Demons and fire! I What was I being punished for, I asked myself every day through the endless torture.  It was only after I’d lost all hope that Scratchman, or the Devil, or Lucifer whatever you may wish to call him told me the truth.

He’d not only created us, but spread the lie that there was a god who triumphed over him, who cared about us, and who was watching out for us. It allowed him to torture us in life, and even in death all the while deluding us into thinking we could escape.”

“Almost all of the monsters out there you cower from, were once ordinary, decent people. The leader of the Scarecrow’s so intent on murdering the boy? That was his father in life. He did love his son once, but now Scratchman has taken that illusion from him, as he will one day for you.”

The Doctor tried not to show any fear to the Scarecrow, whilst Yarox barely understood a word of what the creature was saying. Thankfully the boy was still unconscious and hadn’t heard the awful truth about his father. Clearly whatever this Scratchman creature was it had the power to drain minds into its domain from the earth, and possibly all of human history.

“How many people have I known, or saved on this planet have ended up in the monsters clutches” The Doctor thought to himself.

“Why does this Scratchman creature want my TARDIS? What are these blood rituals for?”

The Scarecrow smiled with its flaming teeth.

“He knows who you are. You’ve helped send more than a few souls to him Doctor. He’s been watching your visits to this world throughout its history. He needs your ship to shatter the barriers between realities. He’s been breaking them down slowly for a while, but the power from your ship’s core will be enough to break the final barriers. The blood sacrifices are designed to create mini portals to allow Scratchman’s more powerful minions through. None of them are big enough to allow the master to enter this world, but some of his vilest minions will already be here, though you disrupted the latest ritual. Had the Scarecrow’s slaughtered him you would have released the Kraken, ruler of the lake of fire. For now however he must wait on the other side.”

“How do these rituals bring these creatures into the world? I don’t believe in black magic I’m afraid so you’ll have to give me a proper explanation.”

“The master feeds on fear and misery. Through the tiny holes there are in reality, we feed the pain and suffering of the victims to our lord, which allows him to send more of us through. This is all a test for us Doctor. The Master has grown bored of this reality and wants to tear it down. We are only here to pass a test. If we bring him through then he will allow us to help build his new reality. If not then we shall return to the pit and he shall destroy this world anyway.”

“Yes well,” the Doctor said as he clutched his lapels. “I’m sorry for what that monster did to you young lady. To all of you, but whatever this creature is, it is not the creator. I’ve encountered a few psychic parasites that feed off of emotions in my time. It explains how the creature is able to manipulate human consciousness, but we can’t let its cheap tricks scare us my boy.” The Doctor said to Yarox.

“That’s what it wants. The more scared we are, the stronger it gets. We have to be strong, though I admit that’s easier said than done right now without the TARDIS.”

“I still don’t understand what’s going on Doctor.” Yarox said.

“The idea of life after death is something that we never even considered where I came from. We always viewed our own lives as expendible. How can it be possible for all those who have died throughout history to still be alive somewhere?”

“Well my boy no one really knows what awaits us on the other side,  or if there even is one. I’ve cheated death 9 times and I’m still no closer to finding out about the after life than a new born baby, but I do know that the greatest mysteries of life are not going to be answered by an overgrown parasite, and the poor souls its entrapped…. Now, we need to find the other sacrifical sites. We can’t let any more of these monsters enter our world.”

Suddenly the Doctor was interrupted by a loud screeching noise. As the Time Lord looked up he saw a gigantic, snake like head emerging from the middle of the road. It was so massive that it destroyed several buildings nearby, before sinking back under the earth.

“What was that creature.” The Doctor said.

“It was the Hydra. One of the most powerful beasts of the Underworld. You can’t hope to stand against it. It will devour you all.”

“What happened?” Stanley asked.

“Just as those tentacles were about to engulf us they vanished? The ground itself sealed back up?”

“I don’t know. I wouldn’t assume its over just yet though. It may just be playing with us?”  Elena said as she treaded slowly through the ruins of the village, with the survivors slowly following her.

“Stop.” Stanley shouted.

“There’s something up ahead.” They could all hear the faint sound of screaming in the distance which quickly grew louder and louder.

“Its the Scarecrow’s.” Elena said. “We have to run now.” All of the villagers knew that there was no hope of fighting the monsters off themselves. The TARDIS was the only even remotely safe place.

The Scarecrow’s quickly spotted the fleeing villagers and pursued them relentlessly. The villagers had a good head start on the monsters, but in the frantic attempt to escape, one of the villagers, a young woman tripped and fell. None of the others noticed she was gone until it was too later. It was her brother who suddenly noticed she wasn’t with them. He turned, only to see several Scarecrow’s descend on her. The brother screamed and tried to run back to her, and Elena who noticed his screams ran back to try and help the boy.

Unfortunately the Scarecrows, were able to quickly pounce on him., before Elena could do anything, but as she tried to run back, one of the Scarecrow’s jumped towards Elena and grabbed the mutant in it’s metal claws.

Elena struggled to pull free and managed to land a kick straight in the Scarecrow’s chest, but several more of the monsters soon swarmed her. As she still tried in vain to fight them off, suddenly the earth began to shake again, and in the distance Elena could see the mighty head of the Hydra emerge from under the ruins of several buildings. The snake creature rose to its full size out of the ground, hundreds of feet into the sky, screeching and hissing. All of the villagers, who the beast had emerged right in front of stopped in terror. The Scarecrows meanwhile got on their knees and bowed to the monster. Elena herself also stood completely in shock at the sight of the beast. Even in the 31st century, she had never seen such a fearsome creature.

The Hydra’s head started to split into multiple heads until there were at least 30. Despite its tremendous size the monster moved at a lightening speed and started to pick the villagers off. They were so small to the beast that Elena wondered how it could even see them, and with just one bite the monster was able to consume several villagers at once. In less than a minute the Hydra had devoured all of the villagers. Elena quickly ran past the bowing Scarecrow’s, but as she ran she saw that the monsters had slashed the brother and sister she had tried to save to death.

“I hope there is a hell for you all.” Elena thought to herself.

As Elena looked back she saw one of the Hydra heads swallow the TARDIS whole. It was enough to briefly stop Elena in her tracks, but that was soon to be the least of her troubles. The Hydra somehow was able to spot her from the distance. She could tell its tiny cruel little eyes, set deep into its many heads were fixated on her and the monster soon started to crawl over the ruins of the village after her.

The Doctor, Yarox (who was still holding the boy over his shoulder) and the Scarecrow had spotted the Hydra from a distance. The Doctor had also witnessed his beloved TARDIS being devoured, along with the villagers.

“Horrible, horrible” He said to Yarox. “We can only hope Elena wasn’t in the ship. That abomination it looks like chasing someone my boy” The Doctor continued. “Its definitely focused on something.”

“What can we do against that thing.”

“I don’t know, but we can’t just leave whoever its pursuing. Come on.”

“You cannot escape the Hydra” The Doctors Scarecrow said as it was forced to follow thim on this suicide mission.

The monster quickly cornered Elena against the ruins of an old house. She had run as fast as she could, but the monsters giant size meant that it had caught up to her in a matter of seconds.

Its centre head moved slowly towards Elena, wanting to savour every moment of her terror. The Doctor, Yarox and the Scarecrow arrived just in time to see the Hyrda consume Elena in one bite.

The Doctor shouted out her name in despair. He normally even under the direst circumstances would keep his cool, but the horror of what he had just seen was too great even for the Time Lord.

The Hyrda’s heads instantly turned to the Doctor and his companion. There was no way either of them could escape now as the heads surrounded them from all sides. The heads didn’t move for a few minutes. They just stared at their prey intently.

“Doctor, Doctor, please say something.” Yarox said whilst trembling.

“Don’t give it the satisfaction Yarox, don’t give it the satisfaction.” The Doctor said whilst trying to keep his cool.

With a mighty roar the centre head of the Hyrda open its jaws and consumed the Doctor, Yarox and the boy. The Scarecrow’s apart from the Doctors all let out a cheer.

“The Master shall walk the earth again.” They cheered.

To Be Continued

Professor Fang: The Hopping Dead: Part 2: A Fathers Love

 

“What, what’s going on.”

The Emperor said as he stood up with a little help from his wife and son. The Emperor’s son had come to see him per his request one last time. In his final few moments he hoped to impart some last words of advice to his son, but unfortunately their planned final moment together had been interrupted by the palace guard.

“Its Lee Sian Ye your majesty. He’s escaped. He is threatening the town folk unless you show yourself.” The leader of the palace guards, named Hu Chan said. Hu Chan had known the Emperor for years. In fact he had been a friend of both Ye and the Emperor. However even he could see that the Emperor’s days were numbered. Though Chan would never say it, he hoped more than anything that the Empress would just let her husband sacrifice himself and finally end this conflict.

“Take me too him now.” The Emperor said in a faint, breathless tone.

“No you can’t sacrifice yourself.” The Emperors son pleaded. The Emperor’s son was no older than 6. He couldn’t possibly take in the threat of Lee Sian Ye to the people, or the greater evil that was growing inside his own father.

“You don’t understand son. One day you will learn that you have to make sacrifices for the kingdom.”

“You’re a dying man why does that monster not let you die in peace.” The Empress said.

“I told you. Its growing within me. I need to see him. He might be the only one who can” The Emperor suddenly clutched his sides in pain.

He screamed, so loudly that it echoed throughout the entire palace. His flesh turned completely white, his eyes started to go red and his teeth began to enlarge. Hu Chan even pulled out his sword instinctively at the sight of the Emperor. “Its too late” The Emperor said. “My love you must.” The Emperor collapsed before he could finish. His wife tried to rouse him, but it was no use. He was gone.

The Emperors son broke down in tears.

“I’m sorry we tried, we really did.” The Empress said as she cradled her distraught child. The guards meanwhile breathed a sigh of relief. Now there would be no more threats to the kingdom. They had all said goodbye to the Emperor long ago. They knew there had no hope for him as his condition had deteroriated.

The Guards took the Emperors body away, whilst Hu Chan comforted the boy. “He was a great man.” He said. “We will always remember the good he has done for this kingdom above all else.”

The Wizard had choked Kirsteen into unconsciousness, whilst Lindsey crawled along the floor. She could feel herself fading, and was so weak she could barely move. Still Lindsey didn’t give up and literally spat back at the Wizard.

“I’m impressed.” The Wizard said. “If only you had used that determination for good.” He continued as he used his magics to press harder on Lindsey’s throat.

Fortunately however all Lindsey had been aiming for was to distract the Wizard long enough for the Professor to get the drop on him. With one magical blast, the Professor sent the Wizard flying through a nearby house.

“Sorry” The Professor said as he helped Lindsey up. “He caught me by surprise”.

Lindsey ran to Kirsteen and tried to rouse her, whilst the Professor held off the Wizard. The two hurled magical blasts at one another for a few minutes, with both’s energy beams simply deflecting off of one another.

The Professor’s magic was undoubtedly more sophisticated, but he didn’t have time to chant them in the middle of the fight.

“You know, we could always just sit down and talk this over.” The Professor said somewhat jokingly in the middle of deflecting an Eshar beam (which would have been enough to vaporise an ordinary human in the most agonizing way possible.)

“I know your kind, bloodsucker. I know why you and those traitors fight to protect the Emperor.”

“I don’t even know who the Emperor is.” The Professor said as he deflected the Wizards blast enough to knock him back several feet.

“Why would a Vampire want to protect him?” The Professor thought to himself.

“Suddenly one of the guards came running into the square.

“Please, please stop your fighting. The Emperor is dead. We did not want to have to announce it like this, but he passed away just a few moments ago. There is nothing for you here.” The guard said with regret to Lee Sein, the Wizard.

Sein sank to his knees at the news, much to everyone there’s surprise. “I may already be too late. When did he die? What did you do with his body?”

“Why do you care?”

“You fool none of you realise. He has been infected with the curse of the Jiang Shi.”

The guard had no idea what he was talking about nor did any of  the villagers, but Professor Fang knew that name only too well as did Lindsey.

“I’m sorry we couldn’t find a way to save you.” Hu Chan said as he laid his body down on the altar.

There had always been the worry that the Wizards were right and that they would have to put the Emperor down, but now those worries it seems had been squashed.

“The Hissians were filthy cowards. Using black magic against him because they were afraid of a fair fight.” One of the guards said.

“Despite their dirty tricks, they still lost. Their kingdom lies in ruins, whilst ours has never been stronger.” Chan replied. “We have to make sure his suffering wasn’t for nothing. We have to.” As Chan spoke, the Emperor suddenly rose to his feet. His face now completely white, and his eyes bright red.

The guards all stood there in shock. Was it a miracle or a curse? The Emperor looked at his guards, his friends for a few seconds, almost like a confused animal. Hu Chan and indeed none of the other guards saw nothing of the Emperor in his face.

Hu Chan slowly pulled his sword out, as did the other guards as they backed away from the Emperor.

The Emperor’s confused, lost expression quickly turned to one of anger, and malice the likes of which they had never seen before. Even when facing his enemies the Emperor had never shown such sheer unforgiving rage. The Emperor jumped off of the altar towards one of the guards. He sunk his teeth into the guards neck. The others tried to pull their Vampiric former Emperor off of their comrade, but the monsters strength was far too great.

Within a few minutes the Vampire had drained its former servant dry. The Vampire then, with a lightening speed rammed its its claws into the chests of two more guards who it  lifted above its head before throwing halfway across the room, whilst still holding their hearts.

Hu Chan and the other single remaining guard held their swords out to the Vampire. They couldn’t believe it. Even with the various Wizards warnings, none of them had believed that a man of the Emperor’s strength could be turned into a monster. There truly was nothing left of the man they had all looked up to in the Demons face. It had all been replaced by a savage, unnatural bloodlust.

The Vampire moved quickly towards the two surviving guards. The way it walked was so peculiar. It hopped on both feet, with its arms outstretched. It looked almost comical in a way.

The two guards both rammed their swords into their former Emperor, but they both broke as soon as they touched the Vampires flesh. The Emperor roared like an animal and sunk its claws into Chan’s back as he and the other guard attempted to flee.

The other guard delived an air kick to the Emperor’s head, but he only nudged the beast back slightly. Chan managed to pulled free from the Demon’s iron grip meanwhile, but in doing so his flesh was torn off. He lost so much blood that he momentarily fainted.

The other guard still tried to help Chan, but the Vampire slashed him across the face with it’s claws, tearing out one of his eyes!

The gaurd stumbled backwards in pain and lifted out his dagger in a futile effort to fend off his former emperor. He slashed it in the Vampires face, but blade broke just like his sword, and the Vampire then simply grabbed the guards arm and sunk its fangs into his wrist.

The guard tried to pull free, but the Vampire bit harder and harder until it bit his hand clean off.

The guard collapsed to the floor, barely conscious. He made a last ditch effort to crawl to safety, but the Emperor jumped on top of him and started to rip strips of skin off of his back. It then dug one of its talons into his other eye, whilst snapping his other arm with its inhuman strength, before sinking its fangs into his neck and ending his misery.

Chan was quickly awoken by his fellow guards screams. Dizzy and weak from the bloodloss. Chan saw it was already too late for his friend and tried to slip out of the room quietly while the Vampire was feeding. Just as Chan had almost reached the door, the Emperor quickly hopped towards him at a tremendous speed and grabbed Chan, throwing him all the way across the room to the altar.

The Vampire then jumped over 20 feet to Chan, who in turn jumped back over the altar and lifted it off the ground to try and fight the Vampire off. The Emperor however simply smacked the altar away. Chan then grabbed a shield from a statue behind the altar and tried to use it as a weapon. He managed to get a few hits on the Vampire, but it quickly grabbed the shield and snapped it in half.

In desperation Chan took the statue itself and smashed it over the Vampires head knocking him to the ground, but the Vampire instantly jumped up again. Knowing he’d never make it to the door, Chan jumped out of the nearest window. He fell two floors outside into the lake beside the castle, where he swam blindly in sheer terror to escape the Emperor. He wasn’t even sure if the Demon was following him anymore. Chan’s terror of the beast was so great that he thought nothing of fleeing from the Demon despite his vow to protect the Emperor’s family above all else. He wasn’t used to feeling vulnerable. Even when facing multiple enemies at once, he always knew there was a chance he could overcome them. With the Vampire Emperor however as far as he was concerned, no one could stand against such a monster.

“I hate to say it, but the Wizard’s right.” Professor Fang said.

“Even though he tried to choke both of us.” Kirsteen said, still gasping for air.

“Well obviously not at that, but if the Emperor is infected we have to get to him. The Jiang Shi are among the strongest, most vicious and dangerous breed of Vampire. Just one of them loose in this kingdom could bring it down. I’m just surprised that no one else here knows what a Jiang Shi is?” The Professor continued.

“We know nothing of these beasts you speak of?” The Guard said?

“The Jiang Shi are the apex Demons on the mainland of China. They’ve destroyed countless towns, villages, communities, they’ve even brought down some of the mightiest kingdoms. Yet for some reason this tiny little kingdom seems to have escaped their reach? None of you apart from the Wizard even know what  Jiang Shi is.” The Professor said to the scared villagers who had gathered round.

“It was once dominated by those inhuman monsters” Lee said.

“What do you mean” the guard, who genuinely had never even heard the name Jiang Shi before asked.

“This place was once a have for Jiang Shi, Demons and other horrors, but this is irrelevant. We have to stop that bloodsucker now, at any cost.”  He said as he hurled the guard into the air.

Whilst Lee was distracted the Professor fired an energy blast at the Wizard causing him to drop the guard.

“Look” Lindsey said firmly. “We’ve both encountered the Jiang Shi before. We’ve seen them take down entire civilisations, even worlds in the far future. We can help you, but only if you do things our way.

“Your way? You’re monsters.” Lee said.

“Yet who is it here that has just tried to murder innocent people. ” Lindsey fired back which actually made the Wizard stop for a moment and begin to realise how far his fear of the Jiang Shi had driven him.

“It can’t be”. The Empress said as she held her son back.

“Father, father.” The boy shouted in glee.”He’s come back to us.

“No son” The Empress said. “He hasn’t.”

The Emperor stood in the door way to their room,. Though he was concealed in the shadows, The Empress could see it wasn’t the man she loved.

“They were right, they were right.” She said to herself with regret as her husband hopped out of the shadows to confront his former loved ones.

To Be Continued

 

 

 

The Circus Master: Journey to the Centre of Evil: Part 2: The Green Oceans

 

“Come in, come in” do you read me. “Its no use, that thing must have.” Kile didn’t even want to finish that sentence.

Her mother, Hiliseia had been aboard the last civilian facility for her people left in the ocean. All that was left of their entire civilisation now was the research centre, where their few remaining scientists were deseperately attempting to find a way to escape from the Demons.

“What was the point”. She thought. “The Demon’s will no doubt find them too.” As Kile sank to he knees in despair, she was quickly jolted up by a screaming sound coming from the end of the long, dark corridor. Kile raised her weapon in fear and walked slowly to the end of the corridor.

“They’ve found us.” They’ve found us” She said to herself whilst trembling. As she reached the end of the corridor, she saw her old friend, Mozek lying on the floor, covered in blood.

“Mozek, Mozek please.” She said as she tried to rouse her friend.

“They’re here, the Ishika, they.” He fainted before he could finish. Kile tried to rouse him again when suddenly a huge beast came bursting through the floor. It was one of the hideous Ishika, members of Kile’s race who had been infected by the gigantic Demons that stalked the green oceans outside. The creatures were in some ways even more vicious and sadistic than the giants who had created them.

Kile fired at the monsters feet. None of her puny weapons could kill the monster, but she hoped she might be able to slow it down for a short while otherwise.

Kile quickly ran down a nearby corridor whilst carrying her friend. She headed for the emergency room which was just a few corridors down. Her team had stumbled upon the room when they first arrived, and they always made sure at least some of the team stayed near it in case of an emergency. Not that the room had done the civilians from the city any good.

When Kile reached the emergency room and opened the door, she was soon confronted by another one of the Ishika, covered in the blood of her team mates.

“I thought we’d killed the last one!” The monster said with sadistic delight.

Kile fired at the monster repeatedly, but it simply laughed as her lasers only produced minor burns which quickly healed. The original Ishika that had pursued Kile meanwhile slowly crept up on the former soldier. She knew it was behind her, but she didn’t care. She had to focus all of her power on the Demon blocking the path.

As Kile fired and fired more desperately, one of the many beams skidded off of the monsters hide and struck one of the explosives in the safe room behind. (The safe room was filled with various weapons. )

The explosion rocked the room, and knocked Kile, and the two Demons off of their feet, but Kile quickly jumped up, and pulled Mozek who was still unconscious with her. As they almost reached the room however, one of the Demons grabbed hold of Mozek’s arm. Kile tried to pull him, but it was no use. Rather than engage in a pointless tug of war, Kile instead struck the Demon in the face with the butt of her gun. It didn’t harm the monster, but it managed to catch it off guard for a few seconds for Kile to pull her friend into the safe room and shut the door behind her.

One of the Demons pounded on the door, whilst the Ishika who had come from the safe room started to punch in the code to the door. (Which it had earlier tortured from one of the Kile’s team, so it could wait in the safe room for anyone who tried to flee there. It had managed to slaughter 6 of Kile’s team that way.)

Kile quickly shot the door panel from her side, sealing the door shut on the outside. Both Demons started to claw furiously on the door.

“You can’t escape us you’ll die screaming just like we did!”

Kile however ignored the beasts and focused on helping her friend. Mozek had drifted in and out of consciousness during the ordeal.

“Stay with me” Kile said. “We might be the last two left.” Kile searched around for any medical supplies. Sadly most of the suplies had been destroyed in the explosion. Parts of the room were still on fire. The remains of many of her team mates were scattered all of the place. “Disgusting freaks”. Kile said to herself as she looked around for anything that could help Mozek.

“Kile, Kile” Mozek said pitifully.

“Please, Mozek just hang on” Kile said.

Suddenly however Mozek grabbed Kile by the throat and threw her across the room. As Kile looked up she could see to her horror, Mozek morphing into one of the hideous Ishika.

“I can’t believe you fell for that.” Mozek taunted and laughed.

The gargantuan Demon had began to crush the sub. It had only spared the Circus Folk for a few seconds longer as it felt a strange presence from some of these tiny creatures. There was an almost creeping sense of familiarity to them. Still the Demon quickly overcame the strange feelings and started to slowly crush the sub.

“We need to get out now.” The Circus Master said as he started to pull the hatch open.

“If you think I’m going to swim in that green slime.” Florence said with indignation.

“Oh how unreasonable to ask a Siren to swim!” The Circus Master snapped back.

“Don’t worry though it’s an escape pod.” He continued as he pulled the hatch up.

The Strange Boy meanwhile had completely lost his mind. He was clawing at the walls as they came closer, and attacking anyone who came near him. None of the rest of the team could overpower him directly. Both Florence and the Circus Master were thrown across the room when they tried to restrain the child Vampire. Even Denika couldn’t land a hit on the Vampire with her blasts before the Strange Boy knocked her down with one strike.

Carlene quickly fished through her beehive. (Denika and the Circus Master had also rebuilt her beehive after the Hylexans spell, and therefore everything in it.) After a few seconds, that felt like an eternity under the circumstances, Carlene finally found what she was looking for.

It was a piece of yellow paper with a spell on it (written in Chinese), which if placed on the head of a Jiang Shi would freeze it in it’s tracks. Taoist priests had used them on the main land of China for centuries to tame the beasts.

Carlene was able to jump the Strange Boy from behind whilst he was wrestling with the Circus Master and placed the paper on his forehead.

The Circus Master look disapprovingly. “I’m not happy on one of those being used on the boy.” He said to Carlene.

“Sorry I’ll just let him go crazy and get crushed to death” Carlene said as she hoisted the boy over her shoulders and headed to the pod with the rest of the Circus Folk.

The pod was tiny. It could barely hold all of the folk. They all had to press back against the wall to give the Circus Master space to work the controls.

“Oh no, oh no” The Circus Master said as he pounded furiously on the controls.

“Its the demon, its crush the hatch to release the pod. Its too small for the pod to get through. We’re trapped.”

Walls of the pod started to squeeze together along with the rest of the Sub. In desperation, Denika blasted the pod out of the hatch using her magic.

The pod fired out into the demon and bounced off its scales before plummeting through the depths.

“The Circus Folk were shaken by the blast, with Ashlei and Keptis even being knocked out.”

“What would we do without you” Carlene said to Denika after making sure Ashlei was okay.

“Well there was a 50/50 chance we could have been blown up too, but what choice did we have.” Denika said whilst clutching to the back wall.

“Don’t get too cocky yet. I can’t control this thing. We’re headed for a crash.” The Circus Master interrupted as he frantically worked the controls.

Fortunately the giant Demon hadn’t noticed the pod. It was too small, though it could still sense the Circus Folk, or at least some of them. The Demon looked around, but it couldn’t find anything. The pod had long since fallen into the murky depths. The Demon had more important things to worry about anyway and started to flee.

The Circus Master was able to steer the pod into a large sandy area of the ocean floor. It still hit the ground with tremendous force, and had the Circus Master been human he would have been killed by the impact. The rest of the Circus Folk meanwhile were safe at the back.

“Sometimes being a Demon can be handy” The Circus Master said as his smashed skull began to heal itself.

Carlene looked at the two giant Demons above on the scanner. Both were swimming away from the ruins of the city.

“There’s something about those monsters” Carlene said. “Every time I look at them I want. I want.”

“What.” Ashlei asked.

“I want to hurt you. I want to hurt everyone here.” Carlene said with self loathing.

“Of course you do.” The Circus Master interrupted. “I feel the same, as I’d reckon do you Florence.”

Florence didn’t answer, but she didn’t have to.

“Those monsters up there are Kardons.”

The others except for Ashlei all froze in terror at the mention of that name.

“It can’t be.” Carlene said.

“What the hell is a Kardon?” Ashlei asked?

“Our forebears. The Kardons were believed to be the original Demon race, created by the Creator of all things. They were the most evil, fearsome and powerful of all Demon races. Their leader, Khastran, many eons ago conquered the earth to try and gain access to the mystic realm.”

“Yes I remember.” Ashlei said. “The book he left behind killed my brother. You don’t tend to forget little things like that.”

“I’m sorry Ashlei.” The Circus Master said sincerely.

“According to legends.” He continued. “During the battle to banish the Kardons, the Angels and the Gods working together were able to seal Khastran’s most vicious, evil warriors deep beneath the earth’s core. I always thought it was a legend, but well.”

“I’d always hoped we wouldn’t have to run into one of them” Florence said.

“Yes so did I. Being near those creatures awakens the Demon within us. The poor Strange Boy it seems was the most affected because the Demon in him is the strongest, but we have to be careful. All of us.”

Suddenly a transmission came in through the speaker. It was very faint.

“Hello, please, someone come in.”

The Circus Master grabbed the speaker.

“Hello we read you, can you hear me this is.” He paused for a few seconds. “I’m not sure you’d believe me if I told you who we are, but we’re here to help.”

“I don’t have time for jokes. My name is Kile and I’m trapped in the safe room in one of the ruins. You have to help me. My entire team is dead.”

“Hang on we’re tracing the signal.” The Circus Master said.

“Got you, it should take about twenty minutes or so to reach you.”

“I can wait that long. Be careful though. There are hundreds of Ishika’s crawling through the ruins.”

“Ishika?” The Circus Master said.

“Please I am in no mood for your jokes. Get here now!” The signal cut off.

“We need to get there now. I’m afraid Florence, we’re going to have leave the pod.”

“No, no you have got to be.”

“This pod won’t move. There are too many people in it. Besides its been damaged in the crash.”

“Oh okay fine, but I just want you to know I spent close to 50 years under the sea, yet I can’t bare the thought of letting that green gloop touch me. What does that tell you?”

Denika blew a hole in the pod. It had been so badly damaged that the hatch wouldn’t open by itself.

The magic protected the Circus folk from the green slime, but it was so thick and foul smelling that it was hard to walk just a few feet within it.

“I take it back. These oceans are more polluted.” The Circus Master said. “Its the Kardons. Their evil has corrupted it. If weren’t for the magic, one touch would probably be enough to turn us into monsters.”

“We’re already monsters darling.” Carlene said.

“Well bigger monsters.”

Denika used her magics to light up ahead through the green slime. Just up ahead was a large building that had begun to crumble.

Ashlei stared at the building transfixed for a few seconds, not really sure why.

“Ashlei” Carlene nudged her.

“Sorry Carlene I don’t know why but.”

Suddenly a horde of Ishica emerged from the building. They moved through the waters with a lightening speed and in a matter of seconds they had swarmed the Circus Folk.

To Be Continued