The tale of Tamose the Transcendent – more popularly known as Thomas – begins in Ancient Egypt. A thousand years before Heron of Alexandria amazed crowds with his aeolipile – which some call the world’s first steam engine – the 21st Dynasty nobleman Tamose of Tanis married Ishtantaya, a Sidonite princess. Though most of her contemporaries would have been pleased to leave their homeland, Ishtantaya found the Egyptians a frustratingly complacent people who cared too much about the past and not enough about the future. Out of anger or ennui, she introduced Tamose to Moloch – the Sidonite god of fire and blood – telling him this deity would reward his faith by making him the Pharaoh of a great Egyptian Empire.
Tamose was initially shocked, as Moloch’s rather eccentric demands included child sacrifice; but out of love for Ishtantaya, or lust for greater glory, he took up his partner’s faith. They recruited followers and built a secret shrine to Moloch beneath an abandoned temple of Ptah. In the days and weeks to come, many local children vanished but their parents blamed bandits and crocodiles. But when Tamose made the mistake of kidnapping a high priest’s daughter more serious investigations began. The Pharaoh’s soldiers found the shrine, and in a fit of sectarian violence rare for ancient polytheists, killed everyone they found within except those marked for sacrifice. Ishtantaya was among the slain; but Tamose managed to escape and fled south to Nubia. He devoted the rest of his life to Moloch with an even greater fervour; having lost his one true love he lusted only for revenge.
When Tamose died his acolytes buried him in a traditional tomb, which being so far from Egypt escaped being robbed in antiquity. For millennia it lay forgotten; then the famous archaeologist Sir Vernon Tokentaker found it and sold its contents to a London museum. Tamose’s mummy was put in a glass case and shown to obnoxious gawkers who likened it to Paris Hilton. Though the mummy seemed a withered husk, it still housed Tamose’s vengeful soul, and this last humiliation gave his corpse a spark of life. That night, when everyone had left, Tamose broke out of his case and shuffled off to find a shrine where he could call upon his god.
This was a frustrating task, as London’s famed inclusiveness did not extend itself to Moloch, but Tamose’s efforts were rewarded when he found some sort of shrine in a vintage railway yard. He pushed its attendant into the furnace, and having no children to add to the blaze, cried out to his god and climbed in himself. Though Moloch had slept for thousands of years this last act from his last worshipper stirred him back into action. He infused Tamose and his tomb – which was actually a steam engine – with an infernal energy that twisted steel, fire and bone into a demonic warrior armed with a massive flaming sword. Tamose, at last, would have his revenge.
Tamose began his rampage at once and the next day London lay in ruins. The armed forces were powerless as none of their mundane weapons could harm their superhuman enemy; and those few who survived his wrath knew nothing of his origins. When Sir Vernon voiced his suspicions – which drew on eyewitness accounts of a mummy leaving the museum – his superiors dismissed them as rubbish, though tabloid writers seized on them. Sir Vernon had translated one phrase on Tamose’s sarcophagus as Tamose the Transcendent, though to ancient ears it would have sounded more like “Tamose Takinjin.” The mainstream press thought these names were too hard for the average reader so one paper dubbed the monster Thomas. To Tamose’s annoyance this name stuck, and within days a Chinese company that valued profit over taste was selling Transformable Tomas toys.
None of these things stopped Tamose from attacking other cities. It seemed no mortal could oppose him, and the mere scent of the smoke that poured from his funnel made the bravest children cry. As Tamose travelled further north, Sean Parker of Manchester awoke with a massive hangover. When he stumbled to his bedroom door he found it was no longer there. As his bleary vision cleared he saw Manchester was gone as well. All that remained was a ruined expanse of melted steel and shattered stone.
“Bloody hell!” swore Sean. “I’m all for a bit of venting when our team loses the Grand Final but last night we went too far!” He turned and shuffled back to his bed – which had somehow stayed intact – when a gigantic beetle crawled from the shadows under it. Sean grabbed his old cricket bat and raised it to swat the creature when to his surprise it spoke.
“Don’t hit me!” it cried. “Without my help your world is doomed!”
Sean’s eyes flitted between the beetle and the ruins. “I’m sorry,” he said, “but I was scared. Now who are you and what can you do?”
“I am Khepri,” said the beetle. “Your country is currently under attack from an old enemy of mine. But Tamose the Transcendent has a twisted code of honour, and we can use it to defeat him.”
“We?” gaped Sean. “What am I meant to do?”
“You must challenge Tamose to a duel in the ruins of Manchester Stadium. He won’t be able to resist, as duels were very popular among the ancient Sidonites whose culture he appropriated. Don’t be too afraid of him; I’ve made plans with the local insects and we’ll take care of the rest.”
“I’m sure you will,” said Sean, “but why have you chosen me?”
“It might come as a surprise,” said Khepri, “but you’re no ordinary chap. Prophets foretold these events long ago. An ancient greatness runs through your veins. Now rise to meet your destiny.”
“Save that crap for Eragon,” groaned Sean. “Now let’s put the brakes on this runaway train.”
The next day Sean found himself facing an advancing Tamose while the regular armed forces fled. His monstrous opponent dwarfed him and his bat felt feeble in his grasp. Yet something – be it ancient greatness or a humbler native stubbornness – made him bravely hold his ground. “Get off my land, you overgrown toaster!” he yelled in his most obnoxious brogue.
Tamose stopped. “Is that a challenge?”
“It is,” said Sean, “and if you have the smallest shred of honour, you’ll meet me in the ruins of Manchester Stadium tomorrow.”
Tamose unleashed a roar imbued with the pain of slaughtered innocents. “I accept your challenge,” he said, “and you’ll regret your foolishness when your body has been torn apart and your naked soul is cast into my master’s fiery maw!”
“Whatever you say, old chap,” said Sean. Then, before his courage failed, he turned around and walked away.
The next day Sean waited for Tamose in the ruined stadium while Khepri, who had somehow acquired a not-so-ancient detonator, hid behind a broken wall. When Tamose appeared Sean taunted him, then backed away from his advance, drawing the colossus to the centre of the ruins. Then Khepri slammed his plunger down and a thump resounded through the earth. Seeing Sean was cornered, Tamose raised his flaming sword – and the ground gave way beneath him. With the scream of a vanquished god he fell into a black abyss whose walls were lined with ancient bones. Sean heard a tremendous splash, and when he dared to look over the rim of the pit, he saw a shattered Tamose immersed in a lake that had lain undisturbed for centuries. Steam hissed from the demonic being as its inner fires were quenched; then the earth shook again and buried it.
The locals who had seen Sean’s triumph gave their story to the tabloids and Sean became a national hero. Some wanted him to be made king; but Sean had had enough of real or symbolic greatness and contented himself with a carton of beer. Khepri chose to stay in England to promote the rights of insects who were not considered sacred there; and while the tale of Tamose the Transcendent holds a prominent place in the national psyche it has been greatly sanitised for fear of upsetting children or offending recent immigrants.
Tamose’s mummy was put in a glass case and shown to obnoxious gawkers who likened it to Paris Hilton. Though the mummy seemed a withered husk, it still housed Tamose’s vengeful soul, and this last humiliation gave his corpse a spark of life.
I see what you did there...
that was an amazingly clever detail, because khepri is the god of sunrise, and his master is ra, god of sun(sun of the noon, but also of the general sun domain), and protector of mankind.
very good details, and endless clever remarks in the story.
(with a great drawing to match)
so, to start with the drawing, i love how huge and towering thomas the transcendent looks, with his huge robotic-train body, towering over the brave hero sean parker of manchester.
the contrast between the two characters is glorious, and nicely drawn.
also, thomas's face looks absolutely evil.
perhaps, its one of the scariest/most evil depictions of thomas that i've seen EVER in the internet, and i've seen many creepy artworks online over the years...
that face is pure evil, nicely expressed and manifested on the robotic train.
red, soulless, narrowed eyes, having a perfectly dark emotion behind them, and nothing else;
a wide nose, which is nicely squeezed, in order to fully portray thomas's glee, for he is confident that he will kill sean easily.
and the mouth... his mouth is truly a demonic smile, a smile that would make everyone nervous; and its not just because of his vampiric fangs, oh no. its the way you drew his smile, its so wide, and extremelly pulled to the edges of his face, while it also creates (deep) wrinkles in thomas's cheeks+chin, thus giving us a greater effect of his dark joy.
so, if we take that elated, demonic smile, and combine it with his dark, soulless eyes, then we have the face of a true nightmare.
great job, as always, man.
also, his ''sword'' is nicely drawn as well, in a twisted way, with a good bronze-like colour and with some nice pointy angles in its edge/sides.
thomas's pose is superb, and apart from his horrifying face expression, his face looks like its... stitched on his head, in a ''leather-face'' kind-of-way, which adds a new layer of horror to this (already) creepy drawing.
the ruins are laconic, but nicely drawn, and there is truly a sense of abandonment+decay in the atmosphere, while the drawings of sean parker and of khepri are really nice, and despite their smaller design(in size), they are VERY detailed, and nicely drawn as well!
(i particularly like that khepri is shown in the background, ready to press the not-so-ancient detonator, this is a great detail!)
NOW! lets talk about the story:
oh man, i LOVED the story!
once again, you've created a perfectly dark tale, which makes fun of modern transforming vehicles+pop-culture, but it also has many more features, horrors, laughs and action in it, or... many aces in its sleeve, so to speak...
first of all, i liked that you've placed thomas's storyline/origins in ancient egypt, and the milestone age of heron of alexandria marks tamoses age nicely, since he existed 1000 years before heron, thus giving us a nice vibe+a mystical feel to his awesome fictional tale.
i also liked the description of ishtantaya, the sidonite princess+wife of tamose.
was the name ''ishtantaya'', a pun/a parallelism between ''instantaneous''? (or in this case, ''instantanea'', which could mean, ''the one who wants (things) in an instant'', but the word is in a female form). if thats the case, then you've created a perfect pun with ishtantaya's name, which creates an awesome verbal pun in english...
i also found interesting that you've connected ishtantaya's sidonite beliefs with the dark god moloch(who was indeed the god of children sacrifices, rituals, which later resulted in ishtantaya's absolutely fair death and the torment/anger of tamose, which later resulted in his unholy pact with moloch, in order to become the ''transforming'' train engine )
i like how you've combined tamose's death/sacrifice of falling inside a train's engine with the ''transforming bots'' theme, and the train engine abomination that emerged afterwards.
a clever social satire about the very known transforming robotic toys and the thomas train character, both cleverly combined in a horrifying dark story that originates in ancient egypt, and it culminates in england, resulting in a final battle that will judge the fate of england(and to a greater extend, the world).
i also liked your pun of the british archaeologist's name, sir vernon tokentaker. ha! token-taker...
its true, many british archaeologists have stolen+sold many ancient artifacts back to their country's museums.
ask any egyptian, greek, syrian or chinese person about it, and they will confirm it.
it was great how you've combined the (benevolent) egyptian god khepri with the (more recent) danger of tamoses, and the great role of insects in ancient egypt's pantheon.
i found it funny that khepri, despite his deity-status and his sunrise-god powers, eventually decided to use more ''conventional'', modern means in order to slay tamoses+to save england/the world.
sean's dialogue with khepri was accurate(in terms of british lingo/slangs), funny, and really nice to observe.
also sean's mannerisms both in the start+in the end of his quest were perfect, spot-on(for his assumed character/mood), and very very funny.
furthermore, the part about khepri's decision to stay in england in order to ''promote the rights of insects who were not considered sacred there'' was hilarious, and it reminds us that, we might dislike scarabs in most sides of the ''modern'' world, yet, back in ancient egypt/in other ancient cultures, they were respected, and in other cases adored, as creatures of extreme importance.
indeed, times+opinions do change with the ages...
(i personally find scarabs to be awesome, if you ask me... i hate spiders/mosquitoes/(large)centipedes and other disgusting insects, but i really like butterflies, ladybugs, scarabs, praying mantises, and some other cool, non-malicious(to humans) bugs. )
lastly, the part where you mention that ''sean's victory over tamoses has been greatly sanitised for the fear of upsetting children or offending recent immigrants.'', was a really strong remark about modern society's ''politically-correct'' stupidity, a threat that will vanquish free thought/opinions/humour completely, if we dont take care of it quickly.
certainly, evil/racist views should never be allowed, but (good-natured)humour, and honest advice/opinions about life should never be considered as ''triggering'' or as ''heretic''.
what can i say?
with your great drawing+your epic story, you've (once again) described modern society perfectly... and you've made great jokes about pop-culture, the tabloids, and about false idols(paris hilton), to name a few.
great work, keep it up, and remain awesome!
you rock, my friend!
PS: sorry for the huge wall of text. read it in cases of insomnia.)
There's a bit of controversy about whether Moloch was a god or term for human sacrifice, but some ancient Mediterranean people definitely practised the latter. I took the god route in my story because it made things simpler. Tanis was an important city in 21st Dynasty Egypt, and it's close enough to Asia Minor - whose nations were growing more powerful while Egypt was losing influence - for cross-cultural marriages to be possible. You probably already know Heron came from Greek stock, and if others had grasped his invention's potential and taken it further, it might have led to a much earlier industrial revolution! The rest of my story's only meant to be entertainment though.
Pop culture provides more fuel for this stuff than I could burn through in one lifetime. I hope you keep enjoying it!