The second instalment of the Freedom-Striker/Liberator series, following which the events of New Kids On The Block would establish them as regulars of the Villains RPG Universe..
There is trouble in paradise as the dynamic duo of Freedom-Striker and Liberator come to blows during a mission to rid the city of Omega-Skull and his gang once and for all - this lover's quarrel is made worse with the arrival of another vigilante and familiar foe of the couple: Corporal Punishment.. and he has an axe to grind.
FREEDOM-STRIKER / LIBERATOR: TOUGH LOVE
The scene opens to Freedom-Striker punching a Skull to the ground while Liberator wards off several others, the two are arguing while battling
Freedom-Striker: this your fault you know!
Liberator (punching a Skull): my fault?! your the one who blew our cover!
Freedom-Striker (kicking a Skull away): I did not!
Liberator (tossing a Skull into a wall): you jumped right into the alley without looking.. rookie mistake!
Freedom-Striker (finishing the last Skull): for your information I slipt!
Liberator (crossing her arms, the alley now littered with knocked out Skulls): great clumsy as well as stupid..
Freedom-Striker (angry): you know I've had about enough of -
Suddenly the sound of sirens and flashing lights distracts the two and they run away from the scene - Liberator however utilises her jet-pack
Freedom-Striker (yelling): Hey! you could at least give me a ride!
Liberator (yelling back): get your own ride!
The scene ends with the two making their escape as several officers arrive, the officers looking surprised at the knocked out Skulls awaiting them.
The next scene starts in Liberator's apartment, it is now morning and both she and Striker are now in civilian attire.
Freedom-Striker: ..I can't believe you left me last night, I had to wade through the sewers and everything
Liberator: please, you fell into a garbage-truck.. twice..
Freedom-Striker: for your information I only did it once..
Liberator: real smooth..
Freedom-Striker (frowning): nice, real nice Phoenix..
Liberator: whatever Strike, you messed up.. just admit it
Freedom-Striker: no, why should I? your the one who messed up..
Liberator: me? how do you-?
A knock on the door distracts the couple and Liberator goes to answer it, when opens it reveals the figure of a small balding man with large glasses and a face that looks like it could turn milk sour just by looking at it
Landlord: Your bill is late.. again.. if you ain't gonna pay up I'm gonna have you kicked out, you hear me?
Liberator (sighing): Mr Waterson please, just give me a few more days..
Landlord: *grumble* ..you got two days.. and I expect it in full: $500
Liberator: $500?! you said it was $200!
Landlord: that was before your boyfriend decided to use the stairs as a personal skating-rink.. so I'm fining you for damages.. don't like it see a lawyer..
Liberator (frowning): whatever -she slams the door shut-
Freedom-Striker: geesh.. that guys a jerk..
Liberator: personal skating-rink?
Freedom-Striker: he's exaggerating, I was just teaching some kids how to skateboard and..
Liberator: don't.. don't even talk: let's just get this over with..
Freedom-Striker: get what over with?
Liberator: well we need to get $500 in two days - so we're going to do it the only way we can..
Freedom-Striker: hard-work and honest pay?
Liberator: ..something like that
Freedom-Striker: I'll get my pistol then..
Liberator: it's in the sock-drawer - next to the sticky-bombs..
Freedom-Striker: ..and they say we vigilantes are unstable lunatics..
Liberator: just get the guns, stupid.
The scene opens to Freedom-Striker and Liberator, now in costume, moving across the cityscape - the time now approaching dusk
Freedom-Striker: you know we could just borrow $500.. isn't bounty-hunting kind of extreme?
Liberator: way I see it is this: you screwed up and I have to fix it - this way we're at least helping the world..
Freedom-Striker: helping the world.. hmm.. how?
Liberator: bounty-hunting means capturing scum for money.. I admit I prefer doing it for free but hey.. a job's a job..
Freedom-Striker: funny, last I heard you killed scum - not captured them..
Liberator (replies darkly): we're being paid to capture the scum, not to keep them alive
Freedom-Striker: oh yeah, I forgot - loopholes: how very noble of you
Liberator: shut up Striker: now according to my map this should be the place we're looking for..
Freedom-Striker (looking around): what, this? it's just an old warehouse..
Liberator: well according to my sources this is were our target is located - so stay behind me and keep quiet
Freedom-Striker (frowning): ..of course, your majesty
Freedom-Striker and Liberator enter the warehouse, it is dark and eerily quiet with no sign of activity - the place has clearly been abandoned for some time and is filled with wooden crates
Freedom-Striker: well Phoenix, to quote Shakespeare: "me thinketh you stinketh.."
Liberator: shut up, my sources said something was here..
Freedom-Striker: maybe it was picking up these crates of dog-food, that's pretty evil - I mean dog-food.. you know they use horse-meat in this stuff? gross or what..
Liberator: your completely insane, you know that?
Freedom-Striker (smiling): you love me really..
Liberator (smiling slightly): of course I do.. I just..
The couple are suddenly ambushed by a robed figure wearing an executioner's mask and carrying a large axe - he swings it at the two and they leap back to avoid being cut
Corporal Punishment: you two are trespassing on private property - care to share why?
Liberator (aiming her pistol): you first Corporal..
Corporal Punishment: ah, Liberator - my favorite psychopath.. doubtlessly coming to kill the Skulls no? well your too late - they moved out.. I should know, I've been tracking them down myself for the last few nights..
Liberator: really? well I guess that makes you competition now doesn't it?
Corporal Punishment: -not really.. (he leaps up and uses his axe to cut through several crates, which crash down around Liberator and Freedom-Striker, forcing them to dive for cover as Corporal Punishment makes a run in the opposite direction)
Liberator (getting up shakily): son of a -
Freedom-Striker runs after Corporal Punishment without waiting for Liberator
Liberator (yelling): Striker! come back!
Freedom-Striker runs through the warehouse after Corporal Punishment but the vigilante is nowhere in sight, Striker slows down for a moment and looks around - suddenly he's hit from behind with the blunt end of Corporal Punishment's axe and he collapses to the ground, Corporal Punishment standing over him
Corporal Punishment (preparing to strike with his axe): end of the line, mutie..
Suddenly Corporal Punishment's axe is shot out of his grip and he clutches his hand, turning round in time to get kicked in the face by Liberator as she hurls herself at him
Corporal Punishment (leaping at Liberator): how touching, two psychopaths in love - pity such a thing is doomed to failure..
Liberator grows enraged and knocks Corporal Punishment down before they start fighting wildly
Liberator: **** you! you don't know anything!
Corporal Punishment: I know enough - look at you.. you don't love.. you can't love.. your sick.. both of you..
Liberator (tearing up): SHUT UP!
Corporal Punishment makes for another taunt when he is shocked from behind, as is Liberator - both fall to the ground as several Skulls grin over them, slinking in from the shadows and armed with shocker-poles: they form a semi-circle as their leader reveals himself.
Omega-Skull (arms crossed and grinning): I swear, you leave home for a few days and people think they can move on in.. well you super-losers just made a big mistake.. cause daddy's home.."
The scene opens to Freedom-Striker chained to a wall while several Skulls hold Liberator and Corporal Punishment, Omega-Skull stands over the slowly awakening Freedom-Striker
Omega-Skull (grinning): rise and shine, Striker.. I don't want you to miss the party..
Liberator (struggling): I swear if you touch him I'll kill you..
Omega-Skull (laughing): relax girlie, me and Strike go back - we're old buddies.. aren't we?
Freedom-Striker (narrowing his eyes): your a dirty no good piece of -
Omega-Skull (interupting): hey now! you've gone and hurt my feelings.. and here I was going to let you in on my little secret..
Freedom-Striker (frowning): what secret? Skulls don't have secrets - common street trash.. that's all you are..
Omega-Skull (smirking): they said you'd say that..
Freedom-Striker: who? who are you talking about?
Omega-Skull (shrugging him off): doesn't matter.. just some guys.. anyway: on with the show - we're gonna settle this like Skulls..
The other Skulls drag Liberator and Corporal Punishment towards a steel-cage in the centre of the room as Freedom-Striker has no choice but to watch
Freedom-Striker: get away from her damnit..
Omega-Skull (chuckling): you know the rules Striker, you trespass on Skull territory there's only one way out-" (he forms a cruel smile as he proudly declares) "- Beatdown!"
Liberator struggles as the Skulls toss her and Corporal Punishment into the cage - slamming it shut behind them and Omega-Skull grins, Freedom-Striker still chained to the wall
Freedom-Striker: your a sick ****, you know that?
Omega-Skull (grinning): survival of the fittest - baby.. (turns to the cage) alright you losers, the rules of Beatdown are simple: you two are gonna fight until one of you is either dead or knocked out.. the winner gets to go free.. see? you come to Skull territory you play by Skull rules..
Liberator (shaking the cage): let me out of here you-! (she cries out as she's electrocuted by one of the Skulls, holding a stun-pole)
Omega-Skull: you deaf or something girlie? you want out you gotta fight..
Freedom-Striker (to Omega-Skull): let her go, take me instead.. it's me you want..
Omega-Skull (looking to cage but lowering his voice, addressing Striker without looking): can't do that buddy, they won't let me..
Freedom-Striker (narrowing his eyes): they? who are-?
Omega-Skull (interrupting): No more talking - bust some skulls damnit!
Corporal Punishment and Liberator look each other over, Liberator has been stripped off most her equipment as has Corporal Punishment but both are still in costume
Liberator: we don't have to fight Corporal, if we work together we can..
Corporal Punishment: sorry, can't do that - way I see it your as much a psychopath as these Skulls..
Liberator: you idiot, can't you see we're both prisoners here? we need to work together!
Corporal Punishment: on the contrary, the Skulls said one of us would be free when the other was dead or unconcious..
Liberator: you trust Skulls now?
Corporal Punishment: of course not - but way I see it is if I'm going to die I'm taking you down with me..
Liberator: and you call me a psychopath..
Corporal Punishment leaps at Liberator and the two begin to fight - neither have weapons so they rely purely on hand and fist, Liberator clearly has the advantage and knocks Corporal Punishment down with a kick to the chest
Liberator: stand down, I don't want to kill you.. not like this..
Corporal Punishment (clutching his chest): ..sorry, can't do that..
Corporal Punishment flies at Liberator again, this time catching her by surprise and she falls down as the two begin to fight once more..
Liberator and Corporal Punishment continue fighting in the cage, the gang of Skulls surrounding them cheer and gloat like wild animals - save for Omega-Skull, who stands next to a chained Freedom-Striker and grins as he watches the battle
Freedom-Striker: who are you working for Omega? tell me damnit!
Omega-Skull: ..what? and ruin the surprise? relax Striker.. you'll learn soon enough..
Freedom-Striker (growling slightly): ..grrr..
Omega-Skull (grinning): careful Striker, don't wanna freak out and do something you'll regret..
Suddenly the scene is interrupted as a costumed figure drops down from nowhere, slashing several Skulls down with twin knives as he reveals himself to be none other than the vigilante Blight-
Blight: ..mind if I cut in?
Omega-Skull (pointing): *****! KILL HIM DAMNIT!
The scene goes mad as the Skulls charge at Blight but the vigilante easily disposes of them one by one, running over to the cage
Blight: I never was one for Beatdown..
Omega-Skull (stepping forward): no! STOP HIM!
Blight (cutting the lock): blah, blah.. don't you ever stop shouting..
Liberator turns round as the lock is cut and makes to head out
Liberator: come on, time to -! (she is silenced mid-sentence as Corporal Punishment hits her from behind)
Corporal Punishment: I told you, I don't ally with scum..
Blight (tossing a knife at Corporal Punishment): back off Corporal, we got bigger fish to fry..
Corporal Punishment clutches his shoulder as the knife cuts it and is soon knocked back as Liberator revives and delivers a kick to his chest
Liberator: **** you! (she heads out of the cage)
Blight: nice kick, you must work out..
Liberator: shut up..
Blight: that's a fine thank you for the guy who just saved your life..
Liberator: what are you even -?
Freedom-Striker: look out!
The warning comes too late however and Blight lets out a cry as Omega-Skull hits him from behind, sending him crashing into Liberator as Omega-Skull stands ready for a fight, clutching a fist that starts to become enveloped in dark energy
Omega-Skull: bad move, punks - now I'm gonna have to teach you a lesson you'll never forget!
Blight recovers and delivers a leg-sweep to Omega Skull, knocking the villain off his feet as Liberator sits up
Liberator: ..ugh, what the-?
Blight: no time to talk! remember - whatever happens don't let him touch you!
Omega Skull gets to his feet, igniting both his hand in dark-energy as he swings at the two vigilantes - gritting his teeth in anger
Omega Skull: you come to my home and mess with my stuff and you think you can just walk away?! no! you can't do that! I won't let you!
Liberator (delivering a kick to Omega Skull's chest): your a criminal, a monster-!
Omega Skull (clutching his chest): ..funny.. I thought that's what the normies called you guys..
Liberator pauses for a moment, her face showing signs of mild distress - however Blight certainly doesn't and lunges at Omega Skull
Blight (preparing to stab with his knives): yeah, whatever - time to die, *****!
Suddenly something unexpected happens and Omega Skull is enveloped in dark energy which knocks Blight aside
Blight: ..what the-?!
Omega Skull (melting away into the energy): ..wait! I can take them! I can-!
Both Blight and Liberator watch in confusion as Omega Skull vanishes into the energy before it disperses completely
Blight: magic? but Omega isn't a wizard.. this makes no sense..
Liberator: we need to get out of here..
Corporal Punishment: nobody is going anywhere..
Liberator and Blight turn to see Corporal Punishment standing by Freedom-Striker, holding the knife Blight had tossed at him to Striker's throat - Freedom-Striker still chained up and thus unable to fight back
Liberator: let him go damn it!
Corporal Punishment: ah ah.. one more step and your boyfriend will be gutted like a fish
Blight: your a filthy piece of crap, you know that Corporal?
Corporal Punishment: you'd know all about that, murderous filth like you are what makes this world the way it is..
Liberator: the only murderer I see here is you!
Corporal Punishment: look around fool, all these people - dead by your doing.. you are as guilty of crime as me, at least I fight for justice
Blight: justice? what kind of justice is this?
Corporal Punishment (readying the blade): the only kind your kind will ever understand..
Suddenly the sound of sirens outside distracts Corporal Punishment and Blight tosses a knife at his hand, forcing him to drop the knife as he runs away
Corporal Punishment (while fleeing): this isn't over, you'll see!
Blight (to Liberator): I'm going after him, you coming?
Liberator: ..I can't.. Striker.. he needs me..
Blight (nodding): take care of him then.. and hurry - cops aren't known to be generous to our kind (runs after Corporal Punishment and into the darkness)
Liberator (walking over to Striker and removing his chains): come on baby, let's go home..
The scene changes to Liberator's apartment, Freedom-Striker is sitting on a sofa in civilian attire - a bandage wrapped round his chest - he looks to Liberator, also in civilian attire and having a few wraps around her hands and legs
Freedom-Striker: that was some night we had..
Freedom-Striker: ..you okay?
Liberator (sitting down): I..don't know..
Freedom-Striker: I know how you feel: none of this makes any sense.. magic, Skulls.. I'm going to find out what's going on..
Liberator (looking down at the floor): ..Strike.. it's not that..
Freedom-Striker: well, what is it?
Liberator: ..I..I think we need some time apart..
Freedom-Striker: what?! Pheonix-!
Liberator: it's not you Strike, it's me - look.. I just need some time alone, to think on things.. on us.. please..
Freedom-Striker (reaching over to Liberator): Phoenix, we can work this out.. together..
Liberator: don't touch me..
Freedom-Striker (surprised): ..why?
Liberator: ..just.. don't..
Freedom-Striker (frowning): Phoenix, tell me what's wrong..
Liberator: get out Strike.. just.. get out..
Freedom-Striker (getting up): ..okay.. fine.. I'll go.. but you know what Phoenix, this isn't over - when you feel ready.. call me.. (he tosses a com-link on the sofa) ..I know you Phoenix, whatever is happening you'll pull through - I only hope you'll let me help..
Liberator says nothing and continues looking at the floor as Freedom-Striker leaves the apartment - as he closes the door a single tear drops to the ground.
The scene shifts to a large underground bunker with a round black table, eight figures sit in darkness - each one resting on what appear to be executive-style chairs: next to each figure is a v-net feed showing a particular superhuman battle - some on display show Avian fighting Warmonger and SIM fighting a HAG robot while another screen shows Liberator sitting alone in her apartment following the conversation with Freedom-Striker.
The figures, all concealed by shadow, then speak with each member beginning as the other finishes, as if finishing each others sentences:
Figure #1: was this truly necessary?
Figure #2: no - but it was inevitable..
Figure #3: indeed, all who oppose us must pay the price -
Figure #4: and the price is not yet paid..
Figure #5: ..indeed, this is but the beginning..
Figure #6: do you think the Skulls will be useful?
Figure #7: it matters not..
Figure #8: indeed, they have already fulfiled their purpose..
The focus shifts to another figure hidden in darkness, larger than the others - eyes glowing red
Figure #9: ..and soon we shall fulfil ours.