By Ian Jenkins, creator of That Sprite Comic!
Special thanks go to Jen Irwin, mastermind of the Ashes of the Fourth Wall!
In the world of Niscom, a fierce war raged between the forces of the Organics, an alliance between the Freedom Fighters, the Light ‘bots, the Cossack ‘bots, and the Maverick Hunters, and the Mechs, a tyrannical group bent on world domination headed by Dr. Albert Wily, Dr. Ivo Robotnik, and Sigma, the leader of the Mavericks. The war continues to this very day, and fighting has reached a stalemate, just as the one called the Author had predicted.
This story deviates from the current storyline of That Sprite Comic and focuses, rather, on the Author himself. This begins the saga of how the Author, Ian Jenkins, nearly lost control of his creation, the deadliness of the shadow, and how the entire real world was nearly lost to us all.
“In literary terms, the Fourth Wall is the ‘barrier’ that separates the characters from the real world. Breaching this barrier is known as ‘breaking’ the Fourth Wall. In webcomics, the most popular way of doing this, of course, is bringing the Author into the comic. Since my ENTIRE COMIC is about me, the Author [of Ashes of the Fourth Wall], interacting with my favorite character(s), the Fourth Wall is absolutely demolished in this case.” ~Jen Irwin, Author of Ashes of the Fourth Wall
Residence of the Author
Somewhere in New York
Weariness and fatigue assaulted Ian’s eyes as he put the finishing touches on his latest comic. The lighting and various other nuances of Adobe Photoshop 7 was a beautiful touch for his comics. No more crappy random effects that didn’t even look bloody real. No more boring, monotone comics… at least, in his own mind. <So far, so good…> he thought, <Got it ready for tomorrow so everyone can gaze upon its beauty… …yeah. > He yawned again and glanced at the clock. 11:20 PM. “I really should get to bed,” he uttered lowly to himself, “…if I’m tired enough, it might be a good idea.” Glancing back to his computer monitor, Ian stared at the sprites in his own little world. There they stood… the bluish Bass called John and the Commie-bot called Ran. Frozen. Lifeless for now.
“I can finish it early tomorrow…” he said with another yawn. He had a bad habit of talking to himself that often resulted in many strange looks from his friends, family, and co-workers. He did it when he thought no one was around to listen or care. As he saved the comic, he opened up his Netscape browser and headed over to Fireball20xl.com, also known as PsyGuy.com. The owner, Psy, had recently selected him to become a part of Fireball, with his own comic, That Sprite Comic. However, he still enjoyed reading the other comics on the site as well. “Oooh, new ROTFW…” he raised his eyebrows. Ashes of the Fourth Wall, by Jen Irwin, was pretty much one of the main reasons he went to Fireball20xl.com, as well as the rest of the comics, That’s My Sonic 2, Chaos Diamonds 3, The Rogue’s Gallery, Scorched Productions, and Bob Land as well as the newest additions, Red & Black, Purpleanime, and several others. Ian chuckled as he read the latest AOTFW comic.
“Those two…” he shook his head, closing his browser after finishing it up. That was it. He had had enough of the computer for one day. Standing up from his chair, he stretched with yet another yawn. He attempted to rub the fatigue from his eyes, and failed. He was still as tired as ever. He shrugged with a tired smile and sat down upon his bed, just a few short feet from his computer. Convenient.
As he laid back and clicked off his light, Ian began thinking… mainly about the storyline ahead of him and how he was going to be able to pull it off. “So many inconsistencies…” he sighed lightly, closing his eyes halfway, “…so many things I’m not going to worry about until tomorrow.” With that, he pulled the sheet over his person and closed his eyes fully, drifting back into his pillow and falling into slumber.
Ian’s eyes popped open immediately and were met with two unholy, red orbs that seemed to pierce his mind and peer into his soul. Two black dots within the orbs gave him the impression that he was staring into someone’s eyes. His own hazel green eyes widened in fear and surprise as he sat up, startled.
“What…!?” was all he could utter as he felt his arms being grabbed and then, a sharp blow connecting with his skull. He gave a low cry out of pain and dropped his head back with a groan. The fiery red orbs seemed to turn to slits, and a low, guttural laugh escaped the assaulter’s throat. Soon, the red turned to haze and Ian slipped into slumber… a forced, unconscious slumber.
Silhouette City Fortress
Heart of Silhouette City
The first thing that Ian saw when he awoke was the green. The green stretched all around him, like an ameba. More than that, it fluctuated around him, engulfing him entirely. He gave a light groan and opened his eyes fully. The green light was blurry, as was everything else he could see.
“What…?” he uttered, his throat dry and hoarse, “Where… where am I??”
Within moments, there came another sound… a familiar low laugh. Ian’s tired, blurry eyes looked around and came upon the speaker, now illuminated by the light of the green orb. The red eyes were gone, but he did not need those to see just who was speaking. He could tell that the speaker was a large man. His body was roundish, but his legs were as if poles holding up the massive body. An arm was curled upon his hip, and the other hung down at his side. There was another defining trait. Up around his head, in the middle, sprouted a crazy-styled mustache. It was shaped in a very familiar way as well… but it was entirely black. Everything about him that Ian could see was black. Dark. His speaker was practically a walking shadow.
“Hahahaha…!” he laughed aloud, showing off bright, white teeth, “Glad to see you have awakened, my dear Author!”
At this, Ian startled. Author? Yes, he was. He was the Author of That Sprite Comic, but how could this man know about it…? Ian rose, teeth clenched, but still absorbed in the great green orb.
“What!? What is this!?” he exclaimed, angrily, “Who are you!? What do you want!?”
The dark man stopped laughing, but kept a smirk upon his lips, allowing himself a small chuckle, “Haha…it is simple, Author. I have great plans… and I need YOU to help me complete them…”
The man turned away from him with a slight snarl in his voice, “And you WILL do as I command – or else.”
Ian frowned. Oh, no, no way in HELL was he gonna do THIS guy’s work. “”Or else”? I don’t take too kindly to being threatened.” The dark man grinned at him once more, showing his brilliant teeth. The author’s eyes closed tightly, his own teeth gnashed as he called upon what Author Power he had to blast this joker into next week. His concentration remained steady as he continued to push his body even harder. However, as he pushed, he realized that something was wrong. Finally, his eyes snapped open.
“My Author Powers!?” he exclaimed, “What’s happened to them!?”
“Welcome to my field, Author.” The man sneered at him, “That orb your in has given me the power of a god. In essence, it sucks the Author power right out of you!”
The man threw his head back and laughed, “They’re mine now, Author! I have the power now!”
Ian clenched his fists and tried ramming into the side of the orb, to break it. All he got was a sharp, electrical shock for his trouble and he fell back with a grunt. Standing, sizzling slightly, he growled at him, “What the hell do you WANT!?”
“What I want is simple. However, you won’t need to hear about it just yet.” The man replied, ominously. Suddenly, the orb enclosed quickly, zapping and shocking Ian on all sides. The young man screamed, howling in pain before the sides retracted and the orb disappeared, causing him to fall back to the floor, unconscious.
~*~|AN HOUR LATER|~*~
The Allied Union, the Special Forces team of the Organic Alliance consisting of Ian (the character, not the author), Seth, Robert, Jeremey, John, and Erik, were just returning from destroying a Mech factory when the call came in. Someone calling himself “The Shadow Ivo” had taken a fairly popular author hostage, and was awaiting them in his fortress in Silhouette City.
Within an hour of the call, the elevator sounded the floor, the top floor, of the Silhouette Fortress. Weapons ready, they exited the shaft, peering down a long, carpeted corridor, pillars on every side, seemingly holding up the high ceiling above.
“This is it.” Ian glanced to his teammates as he set his Jenkins Buster, “We negotiate, then we get this author back.”
“Right behind you.” Seth replied, arms folded.
“Robert, Erik, and I’ll watch the elevator.” John said, “Just in case this guy somehow gets past Jeremey.” He added with a grin.
“‘Ey, shut up!” the big man glared down at John.
“Quiet!” Ian hissed as he headed down, toward the doors at the end of the hall. There was plenty of security in the rest of the building… but they had just let them go right on up! Odd… As Ian reached the double doors, he tensed slightly. He couldn’t hear anything on the other side. Glancing back to Seth and Jeremey, he nodded, then quickly moved out of the way as Jeremey rammed the door, and Seth rammed into him.
The doors removed, Ian slipped into the room, gun drawn, “Whoever you are, come out quietly!”
The dark man grinned from the shadows, again showing his white teeth, “Glad to see you boys could make it.”
“Are you the Shadow Ivo?” Seth glared, aiming toward the shadow man.
“Quite so.” He replied, “Now, then… you came for the author? There he is.”
He pointed toward a large computer monitor on the wall, which showed a young man in a gray sweatshirt and bluejeans, held by a thin rope, quite unconscious. Their hearts leapt into his throat as he recognized who it was – Ian Jenkins! Him! THEIR author! Their creator!!
“What have you done to him!?” Jeremey exclaimed.
“Just robbed him of his power.” The man said casually. Suddenly, his red eyes glowed brightly again, “Now listen to me very carefully.”
Ian growled and aimed at the red-eyed man, pulling the trigger several times. However, no plasma energy came out from the weapon, only a hilariously small flag that flew out, reading, “BANG.”
Shadow Ivo laughed, “Fool! I told you! I’ve robbed him of his power! I have the powers of an Author! Do you really believe I would let you even try to harm me?”
“What do you want!?” Seth tensed, enraged.
“I want you to follow my instructions to the letter.” Shadow Ivo replied with a sneer, “If you don’t, your Author will die, and all of you along with him.”
The lights to the room suddenly got brighter… but the shadow man remained just that, a shadow. “I am called the “Shadow Ivo.”” He explained, “You might have heard of me.”
The group shook their heads.
“Then it’s probably a good thing.” He grinned, “In recent years, I’ve done a great many things, but have accomplished very little. It has been quite discouraging. I’ve toiled away, while some of my brothers have been living in luxury!”
“What are you babbling about?” Ian frowned.
“They dwell… THERE.” Shadow Ivo frowned, “The former ruins of what used to be the entranceway between this fictional world, and the real world… the Ashes of the Fourth Wall.”
Ashes of the Fourth Wall. That was a familiar name. The group had been there only once or twice, while the Author and his fiancée Tara had been there several times, mainly to push Ivo into marrying Arashi. They had attended the wedding as well, just staying out of the limelight.
Shadow Ivo continued, “All of our hopes and dreams lie in this nexus. I, too, have often desired to live in such splendor… such luxury… such FREEDOM. Lorded over by Jen Irwin, Jen-Ivo, and his wife, Arashi Codiv, the Ashes have continued to pique my interest. And now, I fear, I cannot hold back anymore.”
“What are you going to do?” Jeremey blinked.
“I fear that only dastardly acts by an Ivo will get her true attention.”
“And what do you hope to do?” Ian folded his arms, “Steal her Dr. Pepper? That’s been so overdone, it’s not even funny anymore.”
“Oh, no.” the dark Ivo grinned, shaking his head, “Nothing like that… I will be taking something… or, rather, you will do it for me.”
“In order to get her attention, I want you to kidnap Arashi Codiv and bring her back here.”
“Out of the question!” Ian snapped, “We’ve maintained a solid, healthy relationship with the Ashes crew and we’re not about to-”
“Your Author’s life is at stake, boy!” Shadow Ivo glared at him, “If you do not bring Arashi Codiv to me within ten hours, he will die, do you understand!?”
A thick, heavy silence covered over the room. Ian’s teeth ground together in anger. They were stuck between a rock and a hard place. If they did, Jen and Ivo would maul them, for sure. If they didn’t, they were positive Shadow Ivo would not hold back and actually kill their Author. If he could seize the Author’s powers… who knows what else he might have been capable of?
“Fine…” Seth spoke up before Ian could, “We’ll get this Hara-Kiri or whatever her name is.”
“Good…” Shadow Ivo’s expression softened with a smile, “I will bring you there, immediately. Good luck.”
As he lifted his hands, his eyes glowed red again, “Remember… ten hours. Not a second later.” A bright flash engulfed each of the members of the Allied Union and they faded from sight. In the fortress, it was just Shadow Ivo and Ian Jenkins, the former Author, alone.
The dark man grinned at the unconscious young man, “I have yours… I will soon have Jen’s… and then your home… will become the start of my empire.”