"All that is necessary for the triumph of evil is that good men do nothing" ~ Edmund Burke
The scene began at a lonely grave at night as a young woman knelt down and looked over a recent gravestone which read: Freedom-Striker, beloved friend and hero - lost but never forgotten.
"..so long, Strike.. I guess now you'll finally be happy.." Phoenix whispered, placing her hand on the surface of the gravestone.
Closing her eyes briefly Phoenix suddenly became aware of a second presence, opening her eyes yet still staring at the gravestone she frowned slightly: "..what do you want?".
"..he's not dead, Phoenix.. this whole thing is a lie.. you have to believe me.." the second figure said, resembling a skinny man dressed entirely in a black and red stealth suit: his face covered by a mask.
"..then explain how I dragged his body out from the burning wreckage of what was to be our wedding altar.. explain how I saw him engulfed in the flames as he fought to ensure everyone escape.." Phoenix replied.
"..don't you get it, Phoenix? none of that ever happened.. you and Strike were never at that church.. you were never getting married.. the attack never happened.." the masked man said.
"LIAR!" Phoenix roared, suddenly standing up and hurling herself at the masked man, who turned to one side to avoid her attempts at punching him.
"..damnit Phoenix! wake up already! phoenix! wake up! PHOENIX!".
Suddenly Phoenix awoke in bed with a start, cold sweat dripping from her brow as she turned towards the empty half of the bed - her eyes wide for a few moments as her heart pounded in her chest, then her eyes grew sad as she slowly laid back on the bed, rolling over to stare at the empty half of the bed:
"..Striker.. wherever you are.. come back.. please..".
The scene shifted to a seedy bar frequented by superhumans of all shapes and sizes, sitting in a corner of said bar was a man dressed in a black shirt and jeans with a small red paw-mark symbol on his shirt: looking over the crowds he seemed to be thinking over something as several empty glasses showed he had been drinking heavily for some time.
"you looking for something special, sugar?" a sickly sweet voice enquired, a shapely woman with small horns and devil-like wings asked: grinning as she levitated a few of the glasses over onto her tray: the waitress obviously superhuman.
"..no thanks.. I'm waiting on someone.." the man replied, staring off into the crowds.
"..suit yourself.." the woman replied as she wandered off, flicking her tail behind her as she disappeared into the crowds.
"..selfish bastard.. Phoenix is worried sick.. Agent Red is going to kick your ass.. heck, even Blight thinks you're a jerk.. some fiance you turned out to be, Strike.." the man thought to himself as he digged out a small piece of paper from his pocket and looked it over.
The paper displayed a picture of a young girl with elfin ears and cat-like eyes, large letters reading "MISSING".
"..Kirsty Bass.. eight-years old.. daughter of Martin and Karen Bass.. both known mutants.. neither able to understand how or why their daughter was taken from them.. authorities have already offered a sizeable reward for any information leading to her safe return.. yet reports suggest the involvement of a radical new terrorist group known as the Children.. damnit.. the world can be so fucked up at times.." Striker thought to himself.
"pardon my intrusion, young Striker - but shouldn't you be at home with Miss Phoenix about now? she has been awfully worried.. I fear her mind is breaking.." a voice suddenly speaks as a clown-like figure appeared in a puff of smoke next to Striker, floating in midair.
"I can't.. not until I find out what's going on.." Striker said, holding out the paper to the new figure.
"..that poor girl.. however my statement still stands true.. as much as I hate to say this.. you need to pass on this.. for the sake of Phoenix.." Mr. Z began.
"..and let an innocent girl suffer in the process? is that what we've become?" Striker retorted.
"..you know fine well I don't mean that.. why don't you talk to Phoenix? at least let her know you are alive.. she could help.." Mr. Z said.
"..that's exactly why I'm not contacting her - she's an ex-peacekeeper, Z.. moment I contact her she'll track me down and we'll have Liberator involved.." Striker replied.
"..Phoenix loves you Striker, you and her fought many battles in the past.. what makes you so determined to separate from her now?" Mr. Z said.
"..because I don't want her to get hurt.." Striker replied.
"..I see.. well then.. can't you see that you are the one hurting her most?" Mr. Z said.
"..leave me alone.." Striker growled, standing up and walking out of the bar.
"Striker! how long are you going to keep running? how long are you going to deny that you have friends and loved ones? you aren't alone anymore! let us help you!" Mr. Z called out.
"..help yourself.." Striker said as he slammed the door behind him and walked into the cold city streets.
Meanwhile a few blocks away Phoenix got out of bed and strapped on a full-body suit of armor - having finally given up on trying to sleep: "..that's it.. I don't care if I have to search every alley in the world.. I'm going to find him.. and when I do.. I'm going to.. grr.. I'm going to.. well.. I don't know what I'll do.. but it won't be pleasant..".
A few minutes later the fully armored figure stood by an open window and stared out at the city as Liberator - the scourge of the underworld, flipping a few switches Phoenix's vision soon changed to thermal-imaging as she powered up her rocket-boots before taking flight:
"..ready or not Striker.. here I come..".
Several hours later Striker made his way into a dark alley and flopped down beside a pile of cardboard boxes and old bags of rubbish - closing his eyes momentarily as he began to drift into a light sleep, having exhausted himself from several nights without sleep or rest.
(ooc: this story is now open for editting by any interested)