(Note: If you haven't read up on the Clash stuff in my previous posts, please do.)
Joshua Henderson was born in Tulsa Oklahoma and raised a good cowboy with a heart of gold. Not the academic type, Josh eventually wound up training as a private security guard and self-defense specialist. After graduating a full course in self-defense, marksmanship, and basic security procedures, Josh left Oklahoma for Las Vegas where he was hired on by a private security firm that handled private security matters. Josh was good at his job and often rewarded for his skill and devotion. He even won three citizenship awards for his work at the volunteer fire department. His life was turning out to be everything he hoped it would be.
Enter Dr. Jason Osten: Dr. Osten was a thoroughly brilliant geneticist. After spending two years teaching college, he got tired of trying to pound basic science into the foolish heads of kids unwilling to actually use their brain. Eventually Dr. Osten left his position at the university to advance his monetary situation through some military funding so he began experiments on his own. After a lot of experimentation, he discovered methods to cross human and animal DNA. He approached the government about funding to help create a breed of super soldier that would be a cross between human and canine. After seeing what he had already done, the Government not only turned him down, they charged him with endangering human life and animal cruelty. He fled before they could bring him in. Angry and ready for revenge, Dr. Osten set out to create his own army of mutated people and destroy the very government that had scorned his intelligence.
Dr. Osten found his funding in a secret organization that worked for a Government that too wanted to hurt the USA. With money and time, Dr. Osten was able to create a mutated dog species that would be a ruthless warrior. Unfortunately, he could not train the beast and it was obvious that it could never be used for military purposes. So, he decided to continue his original research and bring human DNA into the mix. He needed the mind of a human to mix into the genetics so that it would follow commands and learn. But not just any human would do. No, he would need a specimen that was a top of the line human.
One night the company that Josh was working for got a call. A man wanted the absolute best guard to work for him at his laboratory for a single night. He offered enough money to hire out the whole regiment so the company didn’t ask too many questions. Of course their first choice was their star player, Joshua Henderson.
Josh arrived at the lab in the dark of night, curious as to what was so important that they would need to hire a guard just for one night. Surely if this was a government project they would simply call in the military. But a paycheck is a paycheck. Josh found a nice scientist who was thrilled to see him. He stationed Josh just outside the lab where this highly secretive experiment was going down.
About two hours into the night Josh heard a strange noise and the scientist called him to come in and help with something. Josh went in without question. What happened next was a blur. Josh heard a strange ‘phoot’ sound and something pinched his neck, the room spun and he fell down. The next thing he knew he was being placed onto a cold metal surface. The world went dark as he fell to the tranquilizer.
Dr. Osten brought in his dog and took samples from it for the process. He took perverse pleasure in listening to the creature yelp when he stuck the rather long needle into its neck. After mixing the sample with a special solution he injected Josh. While the serum started to infiltrate Josh’s body, the doctor turned on a device that bombarded the man with a unique radiation that was designed to cause the process to excel at a massive rate.
The sound of the machine and the writhing of the man on the table scared the dog beast and caused it to thrash about furiously in its containment unit. The cage was no match for the mutant dogs strength and fear. The dog broke free and tore through the lab with rage and ferocity. The first target was the doctor, who was killed when the dog-beast split his skull with its mouth. Then the beast wrecked the lab trying to find a way out. When the beast had finally broken through part of the wall it ran free, leaving a dormant lab behind.
Two hours later: Josh woke on the table. He was nauseated, had a splitting headache, couldn’t see much and had a strange feeling all over his skin. All the lights were off; in fact there was no power anywhere. Following the moonlight through the hole in the wall, he too left the lab for the outside world.
Disoriented and sick, Josh stumbled through the desert, searching for help from anyone he could find. At this time of night not too many people were out and about. To his relief he saw the flashing blue lights of a police car sitting on the side of the road. The officer had just finished giving a person a citation and was preparing to be on his way.
Josh approached with hope that the man would see his condition and help. The officer looked at Josh and yelled. With a shaking hand the cop pulled out his gun and pointed it at Josh. Even through his dazed, hazy condition, Josh knew a gun when he saw it, so he ran. The officer did not pursue.
The security agency reported their missing man and the local police searched the laboratory. Authorities found the wrecked lab and the dead doctor and assumed the worst.
All over the area, dogs, cats, and even a child were found dead after an apparent dog attack. Some kind of unidentified breed of dog was brutishly attacking anything and everything, then leaving so fast that no one could catch it.
Josh, having found a cave in the nearby canyon, was still sick and unable to process what was happening to him. His arms and legs were growing fur, his muscles were bigger than ever, and he was certain he felt a tail growing out his lower back. He almost passed out when he found where his ears had gone. This had to be a dream. What on earth was wrong with him? The only source of water he could find was a small river and it was too dirty to see his own reflection. His memory was so fuzzy that he couldn’t remember his own name, let alone how to get home. He was mutating, lost, and hungry.
One sunny afternoon, a small child was playing on her swing set. This was her daily activity while she waited for her daddy to come home from work. Today, though, she heard a new sound. There was a strange rumbling behind her. Dismounting the swing she looked back to see a large, beastly dog approaching. ‘’Oh, a doggy ’’ was her first response, then she noticed the teeth. He wasn’t looking for a playmate, he was looking for dinner. She shrieked just as it lunged at her. At the same time, another dog-like thing hit this dog in the side and sent it sprawling across the ground. A man, or a dog/man really, was standing in front of her, with barely enough clothing on to be decent. He growled at the dog that was returning to eat him. The second lunge came and the man punched the dog right in the skull, breaking its neck and killing it. Josh stood there for a moment, surprised at the super human strength he had just felt.
Once the danger had passed, Josh looked at the terrified little girl to say ‘’Are you okay?’’ but all that came out was a ‘bark!‘. The child shrieked again and ran for home. Just then her mother came out and screamed as well. Josh tried to say that he was just looking for some food when he saw the danger and decided to help, but again it was just a ’Bark’. The woman picked up an empty flower pot and threw it at Josh. He ran away, hiding behind another home.
The news reported two sightings of a dog beast that was roaming free and killing other dogs. Due to the panic and growing hysteria, people began to assume that the dog thing that had killed their dog or cat, was this monster that attacked the poor little girl. The police set out a net to find him, but Josh was fast and clever, evading them at all turns. He desperately tried to find home, but nothing looked familiar. He resorted to eating from trashcans and doing his best to not be seen by anyone.
With the mass hysteria out of control, people started to report all kinds of ridiculous things. The dog man wrecked their car, the dog man dug a hole in their yard and buried a bone, the dog man is an alien who abducted a woman and is the father of her baby. All these reports were false of course, but it only made his infamy grow. Josh was tired from evading authorities. He ran back to the cave where he first took refuge. If he were to die, he wanted to die alone.
By now the police were swamped with scared people and the Governor was calling daily. As a last resort the United League of Heroes was contacted and they sent a team of student Heroes to assist the police. They were briefed on all the reports and information available and told that if found, most likely they would have to kill on sight.
The search continued and the ULH spread far beyond the little suburb to search the surrounding areas.
It was Frost who found Josh. She was following the little river, with the idea that this man would likely need water, and came upon a cave. She was ready to assume she had come across yet another vagrant taking refuge in the cave until she saw the tall ears and the furry body. This was the ‘thing’ they had been searching for. He was sitting on the floor with his back to the rock wall, his knees up and his arms resting across them.
Frost held up a hand and prepared to freeze the life out of him. But this was not a surprise attack as was her intention, the man turned his head and looked at her. She lowered her hand a bit when she looked into his eyes. This man was not threatening her, he was scared, sad, and maybe even crying.
‘’Who are you?’’ Frost asked, not letting her guard down.
‘Bark!’ was all that Josh could say.
She smiled, ‘’Bark…is that your name?’’
He shook his head, but again said, ‘bark’
Frost walked into the cave and came close to him. ‘’Hey, you’re kind of cute. I can’t believe that you are as dangerous as they say.’’
Josh looked down and let out a sorrowful sigh.
Frost lowered her hand and came down to one knee to look him in the eye. ‘’Who are you?’’
Josh realized that he could not communicate with her. He closed his eyes and shook his head. All he wanted to say was, ‘’Please, just kill me and get it over with.’’
Frost smiled and took his hand. Turning it over, she looked at his palm, seeing the rough furless skin. Looking into his eyes she said, “ I don’t see blood on your hands. Come on, why don’t we find out the whole story.’’
Josh didn’t argue. She was the first person in weeks who had not screamed at the sight of him, perhaps she could help him.
The ULH reported the capture, but did not tell the people that they had taken the man-dog-thing back to their headquarters. It was assumed that he was killed so everyone wrote him off as dead and that was fine by the ULH.
Josh was happy to have food and people who were not terrified of him. He was especially happy when they brought in Tobias Glyph to communicate telepathically with him. Tobias not only learned that this man was not the danger as was reported, but he was also able to help restore parts of Joshua’s memory.
The General put Josh through some exercises and found his physical condition to be better than humanly possible. Cerberus, or Dr. Tobias Glyph, did an intense study of his mind and found that it was mostly human, the primal dog side was buried and very minor. He cleared Josh of being a threat to anyone. After all of the tests, Josh was asked to stay and study at the ULH. With the advice and support of his newest friend, Frost, Josh accepted.
Frost gave him his hero name, calling him Bark. She was the one who brought him home, so it was her right. Of course they knew his name was Joshua Henderson, but he was fine with the nickname Bark.