“Wake up. It’s time.”
Killer J. opened his eyes. For the first time in a long time he could see light. That evil clown, his captor, stood in silhouette.
Killer J. felt his body moving in response to the orders of the monster in front of him. He tried to resist, to stay seated, but it was useless. The chains that bound it fell away, turning into shadows. Killer J. lumbered his way towards the light, not by choice once again.
“I have outdone myself. You are as terrifying as any creature of the Metallophobia. The Dark Gods have favored me, their chosen Herald, once again. With you,” the evil clown Herald spoke as though Killer J. was not there. He didn’t realize that Killer J. could think. “We’ll be able to spread terror to the people of this ‘Metal City’. Their fear and horror will be like a light to the Dark Gods and draw them to this world. With that power, I will finally take my place among them!”
This mad fool? A god? What was he ranting about? But Killer J. could see a bit of likeness of the Herald as he stared at the face of this man he wanted to punch but couldn’t. What a stage hog. Clowns are supposed to distract and entertain between the acts, you know? Standing around him were not Killer J.’s original band but other pilots, dressed like they belonged in the circus. That was his style. I know I’m a fashionable guy, but they put a whole new meaning to “Clown Thief”.
“Now go! Spread terror to all the ‘wicked’ of Metal City. Make them fear the Krampus J.!”
Killer J. had no choice but to obey. He grabbed a sack of presents, full of terrible surprises and monsters for the kids, no doubt. As he lurched out from the place that had been his prison for so long, he caught sight of himself in one of the mirrors. Inside, the clown grimaced, though the beast showed no reaction. He strode upon goat legs, with hooves that clicked against the ground. White fur covered his massive body, and a tail ran behind him, whipping back and forth. It was his face, however, that was truly terrifying. His pointed teeth kept a long tongue back, fangs that could rend bones apart. A pair of horns crowned his brow. This Herald had ripped the clown away from him.
Well, if a Herald was the cause of this…then perhaps a Herald would have the solution. But first, Krampus J. had people to terrify.
He had done his job well. There seemed to be no end to the number of ghoulies and tricks he could pull from the sack he had been given. Krampus J. had made himself a menace to the people of Metal City, causing them to flee in panic wherever he went. He could see their fear, like a dark aura rising. The power of Metallophobia had created him; it was a part of him now.
And along the way, Killer J. had learned something. When his knowledge was useful to assist in fulfilling the Twisted Herald’s wishes, he could exert some control over his Krampus body. Little things, but enough to guide events.
It had been easy to get the Sect’s attention. He had never had a problem when being Killer J. and he had less of a problem now. They chased him in their machines while he leaped from building to building. Every so often, he would throw bombs from his sack to keep them back, or to spur them to chase him more. Finally, he saw the machine he was looking for…the royal limousine of the Metal Herald himself.
Krampus J. turned to flee, heading out from the city limits to the Metal God Arena. It was where he had been ‘born’, but Killer J. knew that it had been profaned. Swinging through the air like a beast, Killer J. knew he had the Sect’s full attention. They’re bringing out the magic guns to catch me, he thought, as he noticed a motorcycle flying over the skies, a bright red light giving the bike the look of a nose.
After the long chase, he jumped down in the center of the arena, staring at the broken clown head that led to his prison. The snow was already starting to settle on top of it, a white soft blanket. The roar of an engine followed him as he was caught in the purple headlights. With a wicked grin, he turned over his shoulder.
“Took ya long enough,” Krampus J. said. “You’ve been very naughty, Herald…or at least one of you has been.”
Metal Herald stepped out of his car. “What have you done? You have desecrated this holy ground!”
“The Metallophobia will reign here soon, not even the Metal Gods will be safe. Then, the clown Herald will rule!” He growled and snorted, the words hard to understand through his rough bestial tongue, but it was enough.
Metal Herald stepped forward, studying Krampus J. closely. Inside, Killer J. cackled with glee. He was, after all, trying to spread terror to the Ayatollah of Rock and Roll, so he was obeying his ‘master’s’ orders, but now Herald knew. And if he knew…
Metal Herald’s painted face split into a cruel grin. He reached into his machine and pulled out a long metal chain. “Such heresy. But you’ve been giving gifts from that sack of yours. Gifts for the wicked, you’ve called them.”
The Krampus readied itself to flee, but found itself held in place, once more chained, these sanctified by the power of the Metal Gods themselves. Metal Herald pulled the Krampus closer. Though he had the strength to break free, Killer J. used all his will to hold back his own power. He could feel the Twisted Herald’s control being stripped from him by the Metal Herald’s power, the power of metal stripping away the foreign influence.
“I have a gift for the one most deserving that you need to deliver, ‘Krampus J’.”
Krampus J. lurched his way back towards the Unamusement Park. Flickering neon lit his path, and the sound of children screaming from the roller coasters and clowns sang his praises. His sack was empty save for one present. He had delivered the rest as he had been ordered.
He had but one present left to give.
“Good work out there, big guy!” Mr. Brainfreeze said, holding out an ice cream cone for the Krampus to take. A clawed hand gripped the waffle as his long tongue reached out for a lick. The creature growled and moaned as the cold treat gave him a headache. Mr. Brainfreeze laughed. “Ah, forgot to mention, it’s colder than normal. Not so fast now!”
“Hey, Krampus, you’re looking a little shaggy there!” Mr. Sawtooth spun the sawblades around in his hands. Krampus J. kept walking forward. “How about a trim, buddy? Eh, another time then.”
The Twisted Herald had been busy. The clownified pilots had filled the Unamusement Park with people, likely to be given to the Metallophobia as hosts for the nightmares. Krampus J. continued to his creator. The Herald stood before a statue, hobbled together from pieces found throughout the park, of one of his Dark Gods. At Krampus J.’s return, the evil clown turned, his ever present smile growing wider.
“The Power of Metallophobia surges in this world! You have done it. And they say jesters cannot be made useful.”
The Krampus growled, but reached into the sack, pulling out a carefully wrapped box. Metal Herald had been the one to prepare it and it thrummed, rocking to a fast drumline. A purplish glow surrounded the gift.
“Perhaps I spoke too soon,” the Twisted Herald said with a sigh as he stepped towards the Krampus J. “Do you really think you could stop me with whatever trick you have planned? The Dark Gods would not permit it!”
With supreme arrogance, the Twisted Herald took the present from the Krampus’s hands. His ever present smiled curled into a smirk as he held it up. “I’ll call your bluff. And then when I do, I will make sure you never try something so foolish as this again!”
The Twisted Herald pulled the metal coiled into ribbons as though he were truly opening a gift. The ticking grew louder as he shook it. It did not explode, and for the first time since he had taken his form as an evil clown, the Twisted Herald frowned.
“I grow tired of this game,” he growled, ripping off the top of the box. “Let’s be done with it and– By the Dark Gods, no!”
A mirror awaited the Herald inside the box, among other things. For a moment, the Twisted Herald saw his own reflection, the clownish face staring back, before it began to morph. The Metal Herald stared back out from the glass. His voice came out. “You should have stayed within your own world. For I know your secrets, I know what you fear. I know that which you hide in your heart, trespasser, for it is mine as well. Allow me to remind you what true fear is!”
Killer J. couldn’t see what it was the Twisted Herald saw, but he watched as the clown’s eyes went wide, his face even paler. The Twisted Herald dropped the book, recoling in horror. There was a shattering sound as the glass splintered to the sound of the Metal Herald’s laughter.
Infinity waited inside the box when the mirror cracked. A breach, created and contained by the powers of the Metal Gods, drew those twisted by the Herald’s power towards it like a black hole. Twisted Herald found himself being pulled into the box, clawing at the ground as the power of the Metallophobia was ripped from him.
His generals and circus-ified pilots rushed in their machines to save him, saw blades spinning and laughs chuckling, but it only drew them towards the breach faster. The Riddle Rider led the pack, racing forward. They were the first caught in the pull as the evil clown essence was pulled out from its host. Where the Riddle Rider had been…now only Black Lotus remained. They rubbed the side of their helmet.
The others soon followed, for none could escape. What looked like smoke rose from their machines, all the different colors of the rainbow, as it spiraled around the box. The pilots were disoriented and confused as they slowed their machines, wondering how exactly they had arrived at the Unamusement Park.
Krampus J. lurched forward, the clown inside taking more control back with every second that passed as his transformation was pulled away. He stumbled, as his satyr legs gave way to human feet. His fur fell out in clumps, leaving a trail of white hair behind him. By the time he reached the present, Killer J. was back.
Killer J. squatted down, a wide smirk on his face as he stared at the evil clown, still struggling to hold onto his power. The Twisted Herald looked up, shaking, almost fearful…It had been so long he had forgotten what it was to be afraid.
“Hey, buddy, you weren’t very good with the wisecracks and physical comedy. Let me give you some pointers.”
Reaching into his pocket, Killer J. pulled out a pistol. The Twisted Herald’s eyes went wide, reaching up to shield his face while Killer J.’s finger pulled the trigger. As soon as his hands rose and his concentration was broken, the power of the Metallophobia was stripped from him at last, pulled through the breach.
From the pistol emerged a flag with the word ‘Bang’ written on it.
“Hehe, a classic,” Killer J. said, pushing the flag back down. “Never fails to get a gasp from the audience.”
“H-hey! The boss is back!” Killer J. looked over his shoulder, seeing his gang peeking their heads out.
“‘Bout time! The new boss was crazy!”
“Look! There he is! Let’s give him a piece of our minds!”
“Yeah! This is our park!”
The clowns started to charge to where the Twisted Herald sat, his teeth still chattering from the gold and fear, arms wrapped around himself tightly as he knelt in the snow. Seeing the gang of clowns charging towards him, and without his dark powers, the Herald started to run, but soon enough the clowns jumped and tackled him, dogpiling him. Killer J. just laughed.
“Get ‘im, boys! There’s only room for one Evil Clown in this park!”
“Urgh, Killer J.?” Stingray asked, staggering forward from his vehicle. “What happened?”
“Well, you all decided to steal my bit. I know I’m a charming man, but too many clowns spoils the circus. ‘Sides, you lot wouldn’t know a seltzer bottle from a bottle of napalm.”
The rickety sound of the rollercoaster running passed over head as it went around the cart again. A voice in the cart drew eyes to it as it plunged into a dip.
“Helmethead! Hey! You’re alright! Come ride this with me! Hahahaha! I am invincible! Not even gravity can stop Little Monster! This park is great!”
Killer J. just watched the cart go around the track, the little pilot shouting with a manic glee. With a shrug, he turned aside to nobody in particular. “What can I say? Kids love clowns.”
The breach shimmered with a radiant energy as it opened in the Wastelands, outside of Metal City. From the other side came the roar of a dragon that shook the nearby villages. A gold and silver machine flew through like a bullet, a long splendid scarf fluttering behind it. It seemed to glow with a faint light, bringing brightness with it.
The Morning Paladin had come far indeed in pursuit of justice. His pursuit of the Herald had become a quest in itself. He would bring the Dark Lord back to the Kingdom of Rockalot to face trial and punishment for his crimes.
He would let nothing stop him from seeing his quest to its end.