On today's episode of "Wow! That's Pretty Fucked Up!" we take a look back at the formation of the Special AbIlities aNd Tactics Squad, from their early mercenary beginnings, to the creation of EVIL, Hell's own Special Forces, to their decisive roll with the Earth Defense Force in the War with the Empire, and to their current position as the SAINTS: Planet Earth's First, Last, Best, and Only hope against the forces of Chaos which threaten to tear it apart.
The first hints of the dark future of EVIL began in 1993. A young Alan Robertson, Official Elementary School Target of Public Mockery, found a safe and easy way to vent his rage at his fellow man by drawing a series of single panel cartoons for a series he called "House of Death," in which countless stick figures met an untimely end in several cunning, and sometimes very intricate death traps. This did much for the maintenance of young Alan's mental well being, and even created a minor fad amongst his circle of friends.
Fast-forward ahead two years. Alan has grown a bit and is now in the eighth grade, with the House of Death a quickly fading memory. He has grown apart from some friends, others have moved away, but he has made several other new friends as well. Of note here was a new friend in his morning Science class. Rather than try to cope with the life-threateningly dull teacher, Alan preferred to instead pass sarcastic (and often incomprehensible) notes back and forth with his new friend, Jeremy Allyn. Perhaps it was an inexplicable explosion of pent-up rage that caused it (though it was more likely just a fit of nostalgia), but Alan one day decided to fill a page of notebook paper with a new House of Death. Eager to show-off the fruits of his demented labor, he displayed it to Jeremy who took an instant liking to the dark humor of the cartoons. What happened next was a life-changing event, an occurrence that has had an undeniable influence on all of Alan's creative endeavors to this very day.
Jeremy, having been inspired by Alan's twisted but highly comical depictions of stick-figure genocide, showed up the next day with his own unique twist on the House of Death trademark. Rather than leave the important work of mass slaughter up to mindless and difficult-to-maintain machines, he created a character to take charge of the action, a character whose magical powers were impossible to overcome. A character to inspire a sense of fear in all who opposed or at least temporarily inconvenienced him. That character was to be known as Michael Daemon Ferier, or just simply, Warlock.
Intrigued by this new concept, Alan felt a rush of inspiration to revive the lagging House of Death. The concept of using mystical techniques instead of technological in the cartoons opened a treasure-trove of new ideas. Other innovations were soon to follow, such as multi-frame comics, and a single theme recurring across multiple individual comics. Alan and Jeremy continued to churn out Warlock cartoons, in a sort of friendly competition for laughs. Two other friends, Ben Roman and Owais Ahmed, soon joined them. The new Warlock series was propelled forward by a surge of creativity, the likes of which Alan had never known before (much to the dismay of a few thousand ex-stick figures).
Soon after this, another dynamic change happened. One night, Alan's nose spontaneously started bleeding in the middle of the night and he proceeded to absent-mindedly wipe it with his arm in his sleep. Needless to say, he awoke to find his hands and forearms veritably caked in streaks of dried blood. Then, out of nowhere, the spark of creation landed on a powder keg. Within little more than an hour, Alan had come up with the initial design for his own character to work alongside Warlock, the cybernetic ninja warrior who would one day be revealed to be Warlock's own elder brother, Scott Ferier. His name was Bloodstreak. To this day, Alan claims, "I did not create Bloodstreak. He showed up on his own when he was damn well good and ready."
Time went on, the school year began to near its close, and the cartoons started to dwindle to a stop for the time being. Ben and Owais had also been touched by the muse of creation as the year had progressed and had introduced their own ingredients to the mix, Owais with the shape-shifting Apparition, and Ben with the power-armored Plasman and the weather controlling menace, Elemental. Over the summer, Ben and Alan elected to spend a week living in the KU dorms for the annual Midwestern Music Camp. Alan had been compelled by his grandmother to bring along a notebook should he feel the need to write about his time at the camp, but he was incredibly uninterested in this idea. Fortunately for the rest of the world, he wasn't there long before he got the idea to use the notebook to further write material for the cartoon series. However, this was not to be just any old House of Death cartoon. This was to be a massive project, one that would eventually span ten separate chapters in the newly forming saga. Without even beginning to understand the importance of what he was doing, he opened the blank notebook, and scrawled across the inside cover two words, which would be forever etched into the minds of himself and many of his close friends: Project EVIL.
CHAPTER I: ADVENT OF THE DARK ONE
The series began very simplistically. A purely basic plotline was formulated, wherein all the dark emotions of the human race flowed together and called into being a demon of pure anger and hatred known only as the Dark One, a creature who would be certain to destroy all of humanity. The organization consisting of Warlock, Bloodstreak, Apparition, Plasman, and Elemental, now calling themselves by the name of EVIL, launched an immediate assault upon the Dark One, not out of any feeling of compassion for the rest of the planet, nor really even out of a sense of self-preservation. Destroying the innocent was their job, dammit, and they'd only let some piss-ant upstart like an indomitable force of pure hatred butt in on their action over their dead bodies. The Dark One was only too happy to oblige in this, and quickly proceeded to level them with an unholy blast of dark power.
Broken, but not beaten, the members of EVIL returned to their base of operations to discover that the left-over radiation of dark energy had fused with them and caused a number of temporary enhancements which would likely aid them in their next offensive. Worth noting here is the first appearance of Elemental's shield, which would later become a permanent addition to his character. It is also at this time that Elemental's sword, which until now had been represented as a katana like what Bloodstreak uses, was changed into a more European looking broadsword style blade. Also of note is Bloodstreak's own enhancement, two extra sets of arms which basically just popped into being, the first clear hint that Bloodstreak might be in some way connected to Warlock, whose dead brother had last been seen spontaneously sprouting new arms. Strangely enough, no one's origin had been written yet, including Warlock's, making this first reference an amusing, if slightly eerie, coincidence.
EVIL then confronted the Dark One and after receiving a less than vicious taunting, became enraged, which further enhanced the dark energy inside them, granting a few extra abilities, and making them an equal match for their foe. The only addition worth mentioning here however is that Bloodstreak now gained limited magic ability, another coincidental reference to his and Warlock's connection. Needless to say, the Dark One was defeated by EVIL. The ever-indecisive Alan provided something to the effect of eight separate endings, ranging from individual character victories, to a bad ending, to the mega-happy ending. After this first chapter in the Project: EVIL saga ended along with the summer before High School (Alan has always been a habitual procrastinator), the series returned to its predominantly random style, though it was only a matter of time before the call to write would again be heard.
CHAPTER II: RETURN OF THE DARK ONE
The next chapter in the saga is frankly rather forgettable. It spans only a few pages and took a single evening to write. The only thing worth noting is the addition of two more characters to the roster: Alan's latest creation, the Hell Knight who was in tune with all dark and powerful evil beasts, known as Beast Lord and his pet demon wolf, Daemiano. Beast Lord failed to take off and was eventually written out of the series partially due to a refusal to develop a unique personality but mostly because his special ability, while certainly different, was very frustrating to implement for someone with limited artistic ability. However, Daemiano remained for some time as a form of comic relief, though he eventually stopped appearing as well. Also joining the team was Owais' latest little warped brainstorm, an explosive being described as "a living stick of giddy dynamite," called Mr. Dyna. He was a stick of TNT with grenades for hands and missiles for feet. Given that his vocabulary was limited to his battle cry of "Wee-ha-ho!" Mr. Dyna was also eventually dropped from the series.
What followed was a ridiculous little chapter that was clearly inspired by bad anime and even a little influence from the Power Rangers. When asked to comment, Alan simply stated, "Frankly, I get embarrassed just being alone in a room with it. Dear God, I actually thought that drivel was entertaining?" In short, the EVIL team is dispatched by God knows who to investigate a supernatural disturbance in a nearby park. It's revealed to be the resurrected spirit of the Dark One, who is quickly beaten down by EVIL.
CHAPTER III: RETURN OF THE TWITTY TRIO
Following another short period of randomness, Alan finished his freshman year with the next chapter in the saga after spending just over an exhausting thirty seconds coming up with a title. Again, short and to the point, this chapter involves the first fight between EVIL and their counterpart, the somewhat less than competent VILE. The members of VILE consisted of the Dark One, and two other half-assed characters that had been created by other people who had attempted to join in on the EVIL bandwagon. One, a minimally sentient magic user in a fruity looking hat called Simkin, and the leader of the group, a rather weak member of Plasman's race known as Giro. Not exactly fearsome villains, but at this point Alan was beginning to flounder in his writing and it was becoming apparent that Project: EVIL would soon be fading away like the House of Death before it, long before Alan could attain his goal of making it into a ten part saga.
The only thing worth mentioning about this fairly dull chapter is the completion of the EVIL roster, with the first formal appearance in the continuity by new creations of both Ben Roman and Jeremy Allyn. First up was Jeremy's living psychotic buzz saw known as Buzzy. Unfortunately, like Mr. Dyna, Buzzy was a pain in the ass to draw, and as a living weapon had little or no personality and also quickly faded from the comic. It was too bad really because Buzzy was represented as a happy face covered in sharp razor blades, an image that broadcasts an definite feeling of "Have a Nice Disembowelment" which was fairly symbolic for the Project: EVIL series as a whole.
Fortunately, the other two characters were far more successful. Ben's addition of the alien from a demon resembling race, Thranade mo Nika'thraga or 'Demonik' to his friends, has yet to truly develop as a character, but Alan believes that he does have definite potential. Finally, the group was completed with the recruitment of Jeremy Allyn's latest spawn, Daniel 'Ballistic Boy' Shephard, who has since gone on to become the requisite group smartass. Both characters are excellent sharpshooters and gifted tacticians.
The plot for chapter three is virtually nonexistent and completely irrelevant. However, of great importance is the tail end of the story: VILE, having been thoroughly pounded by their enemies, return to their home base to find a shadowy figure awaiting them, and offering assistance in their next sortie with EVIL. This new enemy was destined to become the true nemesis of EVIL, an unspeakably awesome evil force of, and a deep and sinister darkness that made even the twisted members of EVIL pale by comparison. Created by Ben Roman, he is a cybernetic ninja of legendary ability, and he was soon to become a soul-crushing thorn in the side of Scott 'Bloodstreak' Ferier. His name was Stryker.
CHAPTER IV: SEPARATION ANXIETY
Sometime over the summer of ’96, before beginning his sophomore year, Alan proceeded to begin the next chapter with little in the way of the random cartoons from which the series had begun between this chapter and the last one. The story begins with EVIL preparing to use a transportation device created by Elemental (who is beginning to show hints of his future as the Earth’s leading scientist) to teleport Warlock and Bloodstreak into VILE’s home base. Unfortunately, an accident occurs and the two are sent to completely different locations. For some reason, the machine sends the two of them back to where it all started for each of them. Warlock materializes in the midst of a rather run-down military base called Area 51, the same place where he first discovered his powers. Similarly, Bloodstreak arrives inside a military base hidden somewhere in Minnesota, at the very lab where he received his implants. Specifically, the base was hidden deep inside the World’s Largest Ball of Twine, because Alan was still attempting to keep the series primarily humor-oriented.
Both Feriers rendered unconscious by the less than smooth transit and are captured by local personnel. Warlock eventually wakes up and escapes with minimal effort (destroying the base once and for all on his way out), but Bloodstreak meets with more difficulty. He is captured and given a swift reprogramming to attack EVIL when he wakes up. Fortunately, the rushed nature of this adjustment meant that Bloodstreak was able to overcome the attempted changes before harming his allies, and the reprogramming damaged the barriers that had been put in place to block off his memory, leaving him free to finally begin to slowly remember his past.
While all this is going on, the remaining members of EVIL have left to reluctantly answer a challenge by VILE to settle the score in an old abandoned warehouse. By this point Mr. Dyna and Buzzy are residing in Ballistic Boy’s backpack with the rest of the weapons, effectively removing them from most of the rest of the series. Upon arriving at the warehouse, EVIL is confronted by a large and powerful mecha which VILE had provided for their amusement. Unfortunately, without their leaders Warlock and Bloodstreak, the giant quickly subdues the rest of EVIL. Just as it’s about to finish them off however, Warlock comes crashing through the ceiling and unleashes a massive wave of energy that levels the robot. As the smoke clears, a short happy reunion commences, which is interrupted by the appearance of Giro and Simkin, being led by Stryker. EVIL is still weakened from the last fight, and even Warlock is feeling spent, as the three bad guys prepare to finish them off. They’re interrupted by the appearance of a pair of shuriken in the foreheads of Giro and Simkin, who are never seen again. As Bloodstreak reveals himself, a large fight breaks out which ends up on the rooftop, where Bloodstreak eventually manages to defeat Stryker, sending him plummeting over the edge of the roof and onto the hard ground about fifty feet down, immediately punctuated by one of Stryker’s own tantos landing directly between the evil ninja’s eyes.
As EVIL leaves to celebrate, the narrative accelerates to the next morning, showing Stryker’s impact point with the ground. The grass is deformed in the shape of a body that had lain there for some time, and there is a fairly large bloodstain near the head of the imprint, but no body is to be found.
CHAPTER V: NO HOPE
The new chapter opens with a shot of EVIL HQ, clearly located in the midst of Hell. This is the first real glimpse we get of their affiliation with the evil plane of existence. Warlock is just awakening from a disturbing dream sequence that ended with the orb of magical energy surrounding his right hand becoming unstable and exploding. When he wakes up, he notices that the light around his right hand is a slightly different shade then normal. Usually, it was a blue light, but as Elemental details the next morning, the energy is slowly destabilizing, as symbolized by the light’s slow progression from blue to dark red. He also points out that once it becomes completely blood red, it will violently explode, killing Warlock, and probably everything else within several hundred miles. In Warlock’s dream, the force had been enough to knock the Earth out of its orbit and hurtling into the sun. Elemental promises to try to find some way to fix the problem, but for now, Warlock’s days are surely numbered. But more on that later…
Later that day, Warlock has dimensional-shifted back to Earth, where he is honoring the birthday of his “dead” brother by visiting his grave. Whilst reminiscing he is chanced upon by Bloodstreak, who also “by coincidence” happened to come to the gravesite today to meditate. A little small talk is exchanged, and Bloodstreak departs, disappearing in a dimensional rift back to Hell, saying, “See you later, Mike.” Warlock says goodbye in turn, but as the rift closes, he is suddenly shocked to realize that he had never told any of the other members of EVIL what his real name was. On a side note, this was the first scene where Alan began using a half-comic, half-novel format by writing the character’s lines in a script format whenever a lot of dialogue was spoken, rather than have to keep redrawing the same frame.
Immediately following this scene, Mike has returned to EVIL HQ, and confronts Bloodstreak about his knowledge. It is here that Bloodstreak informs Mike of the cloning project that had been created from Scott, from which at least a few were made into cybernetic ninjas called ninjorgs. He tells Mike that while he had regained most, if not all, of his lost memory, it was still possible that he was still just a clone who had had the memories flash-burned into his brain as a part of another experiment.
In the middle of this scene, an alarm bell sounds, calling all of EVIL’s members to the war room to prepare for an impending invasion. A fleet of the D’Mon Empire’s warships (which bared a remarkably similarity to Imperial Star Destroyers in appearance) had found a way into the dimension where the planet Hell resided and were even then starting construction of a large spherical space station (which looked coincidentally like a Death Star). As the name of this saga implies, the next three chapters were meant to be a parody of the Star Wars movies, and while many elements were lifted straight out of Lucas’ trilogy, Alan says that the plot constantly insisted on taking off on its own, regardless of what he tried to tell it to do (a trend which he claims continues to this day).
The “Death Sphere,” as the space station was called, is also generating a magic inhibiting field, meaning that any assault on or within the station had far greater risk than EVIL was used to. No real explanation is given for this magic inhibitor in the storyline. When asked, Alan stated that the true nature of this field is that “it’s hard to write an intense battle for people who are practically demigods to begin with.”
Before any assault can begin however, EVIL is forced to deal with a ground assault force landing not far from their HQ. A large-scale battle ensues, climaxing with the confrontation between Scott and the black-caped and helmeted warrior, Dark Blader. In a short duel, Scott’s katana is easily overcome by Blader’s lightsaber (Well, of course he has a lightsaber. Scott later replaces his sword with a lightsaber for the rest of the saga. What else would be appropriate?). However, with a skillfully executed kick, Scott knocks Blader’s helmet off, revealing the face behind it, belonging to none other than Stryker, who was apparently picked up and revived by the Empire shortly after his last battle with EVIL. The Empire plans to conquer Hell and use its mighty army to reinforce its own strength before taking over the Earth. The chapter ends as the Imperial flagship, the Executioner, fires a beam of energy that levels EVIL’s base.
CHAPTER VI: EVIL STRIKES BACK
The random cartoons of old are now an ancient memory. This is possibly the longest chapter of the series. Grab a snack; this’ll take a while. The chapter opens with EVIL camped out in the ruins of their destroyed base. Seeing as how they lived in Hell, these ruins consisted of about a half-acre of beautiful old-growth forest. They are soon visited by the Four Horsemen of the Apocalypse, who have an ultimatum from the devil. Sensing the deep-rooted evil of the Emperor (a powerful magic user who was constantly drawn in a dark shroud. The anti-Warlock in essence), Satan decided to ally with the Empire rather than oppose it. If EVIL continued to oppose the Empire, they would be considered enemies of Hell. Taking the hint, EVIL departs en masse through a dimensional rift back to Earth.
Arriving in the ruins of the former Area 51, EVIL camps for the night. A short scene unravels with Scott and Mike standing outside the rubble of the former cloning facility, seeing that they would likely never know if Bloodstreak was the real Scott. The next evening, the members of EVIL decide to allow at least a few of themselves to be captured and taken on board the Death Sphere to learn how to best destroy it, so they stir up some trouble at a local roadside bar to attract attention. The Empire arrives, and Warlock, Bloodstreak, Elemental, and Demonik are captured. Plasman and Ballistic Boy return to Hell to try and persuade the devil not to trust the Emperor.
While unconscious traveling to the Sphere, Warlock has a dream where he remembers Scott being attacked by a large dog as a child. More importantly, he remembers the scar it left over his left eye. The dream quickly fades from recollection as he awakens however, and the four EVIL members try to decide how to escape their cell. Fortunately, the guard suddenly succumbs to the recent epidemic of Lazy Writer Syndrome, and spontaneously combusts.
With Demonik posing as a senior officer, the four are able to travel relatively uncontested to a point where they split up. Demonik and Elemental proceed to the main hangar to secure an escape route, while Bloodstreak and Warlock sneak to the computer room to download the plans. While there, the two brothers spot a nearby room on a conveniently placed security monitor that seems very well guarded. Unable to resist the temptation, the two head on over to find out what’s behind the door. Scott removes the focusing jewel from his lightsaber and chucks it around the corner at the guards, one of whom fires his laser at it. The jewel scatters the light like a flashbang, blinding the guards who are then easily dispatched by the expert ninja.
Behind the door is a trap. Stryker had relied on the Feriers’ natural curiosity to lure them to the room. A special force field confines Warlock while Stryker and Bloodstreak battle it out. Stryker, having had his implants improved by the superior Aioran technology, is clearly superior to Scott. In his arrogance, Stryker offers a free shot to his bruised and battered opponent. Scott prepares one of his special exploding shuriken, and flings it at Stryker, who easily dodges. His laughter is silenced when Scott points out that he had expected Stryker to dodge it, and in fact had been counting on it. Stryker turns around to see the window behind him, with a crack slowly spreading across the middle. Both ninjas grab whatever is handy to resist the powerful winds as the window shatters, opening the room to the vacuum of space. While holding for dear life, Scott’s mask is ripped off by the hurricane force winds, revealing a small scar on the left side of his forehead, just above his optical implant. Mike, watching from the safety of the containment field, suddenly remembers his dream, and realizes that his real brother is still alive, is right in front of him, and is in mortal danger. Meanwhile Stryker, determined to have the last laugh, is straining to reach a remote for the containment field, hoping to launch Mike into deep space in front of Scott’s eyes. Scott sees this, and lets go of his handhold, colliding with Stryker and knocking both of them out of the room. Being cyborgs, the two ninjas don’t require oxygen; so being in a vacuum was an inconvenience at best. Determined to defeat his nemesis, Scott grabs Stryker and uses his momentum to send them both floating towards the planet Hell, where they burn up on atmospheric re-entry. Given that Hell has little atmosphere to begin with, their bodies aren’t completely destroyed, but more on that later.
As a new containment field forms in the gaping hole of the ex-window and the room repressurizes, Demonik and Elemental charge in looking for their friends. While Elemental searches for a shut-off switch to Mike’s prison, ‘Nik asks Mike what happened to Bloodstreak, but is met with only silence. As Mike stands there, emotions at the breaking point, he explodes with a force of pure rage that over powers the dampening field temporarily and proceeds to go on a short berserker rampage, leveling most of the entire deck. Escaping on a shuttle, they are contacted by Ballistic Boy who tells them that Satan has learned of the Emperor’s plans to double-cross him, and is ready to retaliate in advance.
Utilizing power armor not unlike Plasman’s, EVIL launches an assault upon the Death Sphere in a direct rip-off of the Battle of Yavin, with Mike playing the part of Luke. As the rest of the team is forced to leave the battle one by one, Mike is left by himself, flying down the trench being tailed by the Empire’s ace pilot. Fortunately, he is saved in true Han Solo style by the reappearance of Scott, who had indeed died, but naturally went straight to Hell, and took off immediately to join the others. Being all clear, Mike once again overpowers the dampening field and explodes out of his armor. Gathering all of the now moments-from-destabilizing energy in his right hand (remember that?), he hurls it into the reactor shaft, which then detonates beautifully. Unfortunately, this leaves Mike at only half-power. On his way back to the planet surface, Scott spontaneously fades from existence.
When re-entering the atmosphere, Stryker had attempted to use Scott’s body as a heat shield. As such, Stryker’s body was almost completely destroyed, but Scott’s was still in relatively good condition, all things considered. The Empire had then found his body, and took it to attempt to revive him. Stryker’s own main memory chip had been badly damaged however, but Scott’s was still pretty intact. As a result, Stryker was revived and reactivated with Scott’s main memory chip. This action called both back into the living world, but in the same body, which they then began a war of control for. As it was Stryker’s body, he had the advantage, and so Scott was silenced.
Meanwhile, the Emperor confronted EVIL on Hell’s surface, and a fight broke out between him and Mike. The two battle for a while until the Emperor concentrates his energy into one blow, which knocks Mike into low orbit, smashing through the HubbELL Space Telescope on the way. While the Emperor continues his assault on the undermanned and outclassed EVIL, Mike floats unconscious in space, being protected from the vacuum only by what little power he has left. As he drifts through the Death Sphere wreckage, a one-in-a-million chance occurs. Hell’s sun, a radiant ball of pure evil energy radiates its light outwards, where it meets the main lens of the recently devastated telescope, which focuses the light onto the nearly indestructible focusing jewel taken out of Scott’s lightsaber, which then sends a beam of concentrated evil power directly towards Mike’s right hand. As the energy flows into him, Mike snaps back to consciousness, now at full power, and even charge beyond his normal capacity. He unloads this excess power in a clear homage to Final Fantasy VII’s Bahamut Zero by bombarding the Emperor with a high-intensity beam of pure destructive energy from geo-synchronous orbit, forcing him to retreat.
Mike returns to his friends, where an apologetic Satan meets them. He informs them that he can see that they are truly the greater of two evils, and requests that they return to their former position as his personal mercenaries. To be nice, they consider his offer for almost two full seconds before telling him to piss off. Mike sends the devil hurtling into a nearby cliff-face with a backhanded motion, and then he teleports himself and the others back to Earth before the devil can retaliate. The chapter concludes with the devil reflecting on what a bad move it was to become one of EVIL’s enemies.
CHAPTER VII: RETURN OF THE NINJA
This chapter is actually a good bit shorter than the previous one, but it is also one of the funniest in the series. About halfway through writing it, Alan became bored with the storyline and skipped ahead to Chapter 8, though he eventually came back to finish it. However, his attempt at an at least semi-serious storyline had been abandoned with the original attempt at writing the chapter. This is readily apparent to the reader as around the halfway point, Warlock, along with most all of EVIL, decides, “to hell with the script,” and begins ad-libbing, much to the chagrin of the rest of the “actors.”
The story begins with EVIL in an Earth Defense Force (EDF) base, planning their next assault. At this time, the base is hit by a surprise attack, burying most of the characters under large piles of rubble. The only real reason for this attack was because Alan had finally decided to kill off the failed character of Beast Lord and this was an expedient way to write him out of the series.
Having cut all of their ties with Hell, the members of EVIL have become mortal (though still hard to kill), so the Empire begins building another Death Sphere, because after all, the first one worked so well. Stryker is back in his position as Dark Blader, but now Bloodstreak’s soul resides in the same body. This is the impetus for Warlock to come along with Elemental and Ballistic Boy as they begin their assault on the Death Sphere’s shield generator on the planet Endorsement. Soon after arriving, Warlock flies off to be taken to the Sphere so he can attempt to bring his brother’s soul to the surface. B. Boy and Elemental take their squad into the jungle warning that any soldier seen trying to befriend an Ewok would be immediately shot in the head. Meanwhile, Plasman and Demonik lead a strike force in the massive climactic space battle.
Warlock arrives in the main throne room. Around here is where the story takes a turn to the lighter side as evidenced by the following exchange:
Warlock: Yo, Emp! Wazzap! I see you got my saber for the big duel later.
Emperor: Yes… <pats saber> you want this, don’t y…
Stryker: Can it. The scripts been shot to hell.
Warlock: <Walks over to window> Wow, check out the view!
Stryker: Just be glad you weren’t in the shuttle with him. <shudders>
Meanwhile, the fighting has broken out down on the planet surface. Elemental uses the full range of his abilities to handle some large groups and a walker or two. Ballistic Boy is also in rare form, taking down numerous D’Mon warriors and the odd Ewok or two. It ends with B. Boy taking out the generator using an ancient and time-honored running gag in the series, the Thermonuclear OnionTM. The generator goes up in a beautiful mushroom cloud as the Halleluah Chorus sings in the background (yet another running gag of which none know the origin). The space fleet gets the news of the ground team’s success and begins their strike at the core of the Death Sphere with a small attack squad consisting of Demonik, Plasman, and a few random extras known by the names of “Random Extras.”
The narrative cuts to the throne room, where Warlock and Stryker have begun their fateful duel, mostly out of a lack of anything better to do. Unfortunately, Stryker accidentally damages Warlock’s saber, shorting it out. Warlock decides to respond with an attack more appropriate for his character by launching several dozen fireballs at his foe, Vegeta style. Being the skilled Jedi (read: Ninja) that he is, Stryker deflects them all. No longer caring, Warlock leans back and says, “Fine, screw you,” and then proceeds to read the paper, despite Stryker’s protestations. The Emperor, also fed up, blasts a hole in the newspaper (“I was reading that, asshole!”), and tells Warlock to go hide in the darkness and orders Stryker to count to ten and go look for him so they can get this over with.
In the meantime, the scene cuts to Demonik and Plasman. The two of them, and an Aioran warrior who had been pursuing them, have apparently reached the core early, and so they are playing a game of cards to kill time. Quick fade back to the throne room. Stryker realizes that they don’t need to turn Warlock to their side (the whole point of capturing him) since Bloodstreak is his brother and should have the same abilities. Threatening to bend Bloodstreak to their will acts as the necessary catalyst to send Warlock into a psychotic fury. He extends his magical aura into a lightsaber-like form and charges Stryker in a rage. Naturally, he quickly overcomes the startled ninja, and chops his lightsaber in two. The Emperor tries to turn Warlock one last time here, although Warlock responds with a less-than-respectful decline.
The Emperor proceeds to electrocute the living shit out of Warlock, who writhes in agony until the sight of his brother in pain gives Bloodstreak enough strength to overtake Stryker’s body. He then uses his latent magical powers to lift the Emperor into the air, and drops him down the reactor shaft. Hearing the Emperor hit bottom, Demonik blasts the control tower or whatever on the side of the core and he and the random enemy extra proceed to escape from the core. Right behind them, Plasman launches the final torpedo that detonates the reactor and takes off at full speed for the exit.
Cut to the hangar bay where Warlock and Bloodstreak are making a discreet exit. As they approach a shuttle, Warlock makes note of a few hoverboards in the corner (which Bloodstreak commonly used as a form of transportation in the comic series, though the concept has been discontinued in the Last Testament). Bloodstreak announces that he is not returning, as he is unsure that he can keep Stryker contained. Warlock proceeds to persuade Scott to come back him, and he agrees, but cold cocks his brother as soon as he turns around. He wants to return, but can’t take the risk. The narrative cuts back outside for a second as Demonik and the extra reach the surface, and the fleet is moving away from the Death Sphere. Back inside, Warlock wakes up in the cockpit of the shuttle, strapped in a seat, but with no sign of his brother except the pair of swords and headband in the seat next to him. Astute readers will notice that one of the hoverboards mentioned earlier is missing. Finally, we see Plasman as he charges at full speed through the shaft, a wall of flame at his heels, escaping the Death Sphere just as it detonates in a rather well drawn explosion.
The celebration has begun, the evil Emperor and his right hand ninja have been defeated, and the D’Mon and Aioran empires are free of his oppressive rule. As the party begins however, there is one not present. Warlock, deep in the forest is seen setting alight a small funeral pyre, with his brother’s katanas embedded in a rock face, his bandana draped over them. He sighs, convinced that his brother is still alive somewhere. The credits roll, and at the tail end we are treated to the shot of a dark shape retrieving the swords from the burnt out pyre, and flying off into the night.
CHAPTER VIII: THE SEARCH FOR SCOTT
All things considered, there’s not much to this chapter. The beginning stretches out for a while. It’s been several long years, if not decades, since the War ended, and many former members of EVIL are now upstanding members of the community. Demonik has returned to rest on his homeworld, glad to finally be able to return ever since having to flee many years ago when he was a member of the resistance against the empire he had just helped defeat. Plasman, also once an exile, has also returned to his homeland a hero, and has taken a position in the military. Elemental (now more commonly known as James Rayne) and Ballistic Boy (now known as Daniel Shephard) have been elected President and Vice-President respectively of the Earth. At the time of this chapter, their biggest task is aiding Mike, who is actively searching for his brother. Fortunately, they can justify using government resources in their search as Stryker has again become the dominant force in their shared body and is becoming more than a vague nuisance to the general public.
After some random and obnoxious dialogue, Stryker’s location is discovered. James, Shephard and Plasman all follow Mike to the planet where Stryker is located, though they fulfill Mike’s wishes by not participating in the battle. Instead, they tape it for a Pay-Per-View broadcast. The fight is carried out fairly extravagantly in a clear homage to the Dragonball Z style of combat (more like blatant rip-off. Hell, Mike even lets loose with a Kamehameha blast at one point). Part way through, Mike is making no progress when Scott begins attacking Stryker from the inside. Holding Stryker in place, Scott demands that Mike kill them both.
Mike does not wish to kill Stryker if it means destroying his brother as well, so he makes a new plan. He employs a trick from the game Mortal Kombat to pull his brother’s soul out of Stryker’s body. Stryker laughs at this decision, noting how having two souls was a severe detriment to his own ability, as demonstrated by how Mike was an even match for him in a straight fight. However, rather than fight for dominance, Scott and Mike work together, and enter a semi-fusion state where they begin calling themselves by the name Warlord. Even with Stryker’s handicap gone, he is far out-classed by the new warrior, and Warlord defeats him without even breaking a sweat. As a finisher, Warlord employs the first ever usage of Mike’s most devastating attack, the Phoenix Bomb. As the smoke clears, Warlord looks over the small amount of debris that remains. From the flaming detritus, he lifts out Stryker’s main memory chip, and crushes it, insuring that Stryker cannot be revived again.
CHAPTER IX: ARMAGEDDON
This is one of the shortest chapters ever. It serves as a mere setup for the final episode. Basically, it starts with Mike, James, and Shephard all returning to the Earth immediately following the last chapter. As they come near the planet, one of James’ top scientists informs him that the Emperor of the old Aioran/D’Mon Empire had apparently been drawing his power from Satan, who had been considerably weakened as a result. Following the Emperor’s death, Stryker apparently took control of released energy, but was unable to properly use it. The instant Stryker was killed however, all the dark energy was freed, and it flowed straight back to its master, the devil. Eager to exact his revenge on EVIL for betraying him, Satan had invaded the Earth before the three of them could get back. The group lands on the planet, and James begins heading up the reconstruction effort and attempts to contact Demonik and Plasman for assistance. Not willing to wait, Warlord uses a magical staff that he had just created to open a rift and take the fight to Hell. Wanting to lend a hand, and several ammo rounds, of support, Shephard follow him. So goes the beginning of the end…
CHAPTER X: THE EVIL END
Marching through the barren wasteland, Mike and Shephard are soon attacked by a mob of demons and satanic cultists. The two fight them off for some time, but it quickly becomes apparent that there’s far too many of them, and they’re taking way too much time to fight through the mob. Shephard eventually orders Mike to go on ahead and let him handle the attacking mob, not giving him much choice in the matter. As Mike speeds off, Shephard rips into the crowd of demons with akimbo miniguns, mowing down hundreds of them. As his weapons run dry, he looks and sees that there’s still about a thousand or so left to go. In a fit of desperation, he sets all of the ammo in his pack to detonate at the same time, and with a proud battle cry, dives into the thick of the mob right as the timer hits zero.
In the distance, Mike lets out a sigh as the light of the explosion momentarily blinds him. He continues on for a while, until he comes across a pack of mercenary ninjorgs not far from Satan’s lair. The leader of the pack, Strife, comes forward to challenge the interloper. Mike steps down as the dominant personality for a moment and lets Scott take control. Satan and his forces in Hell had apparently tried to reconstruct Scott’s body after the war ended, and met with success, but were unable to revive him as his soul was already alive and kicking in a different body. As such, he had anticipated only having to truly be concerned about an attack by Warlock, and as such had created a magic negating field in the route to his lair, and had hired a group of ninja as a welcome party. Sadly, they had not expected Mike to be carrying an expert ninja within him. As Scott duels with Strife, quickly gaining an upper hand, he is nearly caught off guard by a blast of energy from Strife. He asks how Strife could have accomplished such a blast in a no-magic zone, to which Strife responds that he had used his ki energy, which was different. Upon hearing this, Scott unleashes his potential, charging up his ki to the point that he easily overcomes Strife merely by existing near him. A badly burned Strife is carried off to the side to be attended to, as the pack quickly makes a path for Scott to walk through, in awe of the display they had just witnessed. So began the rumors of the legendary ninjorgs, Bloodstreak.
The two (or is that one?) warriors continue on, the devil’s lair only a short ways ahead. They find a small altar nearby where Scott’s body is being kept, but decide to delay returning him to it just yet, as the Feriers decide that their combined strength may be necessary to defeat the Fallen One. This is a potentially dangerous decision, as having the two of them work together in one body for an extended period of time could cause them to fuse irrevocably. They confront Satan in his lair, who reviles in horror and disgust upon greeting them. While they had once been truly despicable mercenaries, their recent actions for the defense of others, plus their resolve to destroy Satan and prevent the Apocalypse had resulted in a dramatic change. Where the members of EVIL, Mike in particular, had once had souls nearly as black as the devil’s own, Mike was now a solid white, as pure as an archangel. Satan fires a blast of dark energy at Warlord, who deflects it without even blinking. Who begins to charge up a powerful spell in the staff he had created earlier. Satan, ever the crafty one, uses his own magic to rip the staff from Mike’s hands as soon as the spell is finished, planning to turn it on him. He realizes too late how predictable this technique had been. Mike’s spell had been one to overload the potent, and highly volatile, energy contained within, and the staff explodes in the devil’s face.
Here we learn that there is a Hell beyond Hell, where people killed in the afterlife are sent. As you die, you continue to descend into worse and worse versions of Hell, until you finally repent and can move on to Heaven. The staff explodes, but rather cause a devastating explosion as expected, it opens a rift directly to the next dimension, which pulls Satan through into it. A few dark shapes are seen escaping from the rift, fallen souls that had been passed on to the next world. Mike begins to explain to Scott that there’s no need to worry about the escapees. He tells him, “They can only exist in this for a short amount of time.” Scott asks how long, to which a new voice responds, “Long enough to claim revenge.”
Mike/Scott turns to face the voice, which I’m sure we’ve all guessed to be Stryker. Few words are spoken between the two (three?) before the fight begins. With a gesture, Mike raises a chunk of ground they’re standing on high into the sky for the final duel. Scott takes over as the dominant personality again, and the best-drawn fight in the series begins. Scott has no sword of his own here, but extends the orb of magic on his right hand to form a sort of ethereal blade. They clash for sometime, but Scott eventually manages to disarm Stryker during their final run, which ended up in midair. He flings Stryker towards the ground beneath him, throwing the sword as he falls, which connects with Stryker’s torso, and spears him to the dirt like a science project.
As it starts to rain, Mike/Scott lands on the ground and looks at his fallen foe for a moment. He turns at walks to the edge of the levitating platform, reflecting on how much has changed since EVIL was formed, and sighs contentedly knowing that his hardships should now finally be over. After a quick bit of dialogue, Mike gives Scott’s soul the boot, telling him to go down below and pick up his own body so they can get the hell home. Scott reaches the altar, but finds that his body is nowhere to be found. He suddenly realizes that Stryker must have entered Hell in spirit form, and to confront them physically, Stryker had stolen his body. Scott quickly ascends back up to the platform to warn his brother about the danger, as the nanites in his body could still regenerate.
Meanwhile, Stryker is slowly standing up, jerking the sword from his chest. He silently limps over to where Mike is waiting for his brother to return. Mike hears his brother’s warning called out to him, but turns around too late and is impaled by his own sword. As Stryker laughs in triumph, Mike writhes in agony. Mock agony, he reveals, as the sword transforms back into magical energy, and flows back Mike’s right hand, where it belongs. Hand-to-hand combat ensues between Mike and Stryker, and while Mike has picked up some pointers from his brother, he’s no match for the skilled ninja. Fortunately, at this point Scott re-enters his own body, and confronts Stryker on the mental plane. Stryker is still more skilled than the two of them separately, but is unable to concentrate on both fronts at once. Every time he lands a blow on one Ferier, the other gets in a solid hit. Eventually, Scott overpowers Stryker and holds him in place, creating an opening for Mike to finish him off. Mike is still unwilling to kill Stryker if it means killing his brother as well, so despite Scott’s protestations, Mike begins to use the soul-stealing technique again. We are shown the mental plane of existence where Scott has Stryker pinned. To Scott’s surprise, it is not his own soul, but Stryker’s that fades from view here as Mike executes the maneuver. Mike explains that while he cannot kill Scott, he can kill himself. With a wave of force, Mike knocks Scott off the platform. Scott calls his hoverboard, and takes off at full speed to the portal back to Earth.
Mike prepares his true ultimate power, which he calls Gravitonic Collapse. The orbs that represent all of his power lift off of his hands and begin to spin in a circle over his head. Just then, within Mike’s body, the spiritual manifestation of Stryker manifests behind Mike on the mental plane, and uses his tanto to stab him in the back. Caught off guard by the attack, Mike silently collapses the “ground” and dies. Stryker begins his triumphant laugh, realizing that he now has both his masterful fighting knowledge, and will in time be able to master the deadly magical power contained within his new body. He has now become more powerful than any individual member of EVIL, and proclaims victoriously how he will destroy them all. As he does this, he catches a glimpse of his hands, which do not have the signature aura that he anticipated. His gaze drifts upwards to the orbs above him, now spinning like a centrifuge. As his eyes make contact with the orbs, they split off and fly to either end of the floating rock, one in front of him, and one behind. The orbs hover there for a moment, and then begin speeding towards Stryker at high speed. Stryker barely has time to announce his undying hatred for all of EVIL as the orbs collide on both sides of his torso, the magical forces between them causing an intense disruption all around their target.
Stryker cries out in torment as a beam of light rockets to the sky, and bolts of energy cascade outward from the focal point, contacting with parts of the terrain and random points in the sky. This is the first hint of Chaos in the new saga, as Mike’s dark magic coincides with the chaotic forces sustaining Stryker. Wherever the energy crackling out from Stryker hit, a piece of existence seems to break up and tear away, being sucked back to the focus of the disruption.
In the meantime, Scott is nearing the portal back home, watching in horror as the dimension of Hell begins to collapse all around him. Nearing the cliff face leading up to the gateway portal, Scott eyes a severely burned, heavily wounded but still living person trying to crawl towards the gate. He leaps off his board, calling out for the person to grab a hold of it as it speeds on towards the exit. On the other side of the portal, Elemental, Plasman, and Demonik are seen preparing to enter the dimensional rift, but while looking through, can see that their presence is unnecessary. They’re startled to have Scott’s board come hurtling through the entry, a badly hurt person lying on top of it. The board slows and halts as it comes through the rift, stopping in the midst of the would-be heroes. A smart-ass greeting from the figure identifies him as Shephard. Back in the dying dimension, Scott relies on his ninja speed to practically fly up the cliff face towards salvation. He dives through the portal just as the dimensional fabric of Hell loses cohesion and collapses entirely upon Stryker, trapping him there.
As the remaining members of EVIL mourn the loss of their de facto leader, we see what has become of Mike. Having changed from a force of evil in to the savior of the human race, Mike has been admitted to Heaven, and is meeting with God Himself. God congratulates Mike on the great deeds he has committed and proceeds to tell him that He will likely have need of powerful warriors like him in the future. Mike doesn’t have to think long before agreeing to sign up the former mercenaries of what was once known as EVIL to be God’s own living archangels, defending the Earth against forces of darkness and evil. Mike is resurrected in the midst of his friends, with his magical powers restored; only now instead of being dark energy, he now employs holy power granted by the Hand of God.
As the ex-mercenaries rejoice in the light of peaceful times ahead, the scene shifts to a place out in the wilderness, elsewhere on the planet. We see Stryker, back in his ninja outfit, presumably having received a fresh injection of nanites to slowly restore his cybernetic components, testing out his new dark magic. He laughs to himself, knowing that with his new abilities, it won’t be long before his master Chaos may be revived.
So ends the Project: EVIL saga. The organization of EVIL has been disbanded, but the foundation of a new organization has been laid, one that will use its power for good. So begins the Last Testament: The Saga of Chaos. Only time will tell what new conflicts will arise.