Chapter One - Capture
Songbird's thoughts turned desperately to her friend and mentor Liberty, a senior member of the Femme Fighters, the premiere superhero group in Beacon City. Wanting to impress her mentor, she'd gone out looking for Cyberdominus, a new villain rumored to be operating by the waterfront. He'd already robbed at least two banks using squads of robot drones.
She was well aware that it wasn't the smartest decision to go after him alone, but she was tired of being thought of as the helpless sidekick. It was time to make a name for herself, and she was confident that she could handle some science nerd tinkering away with robots. She had superpowers, after all, and her sonic scream was formidable enough. Once she'd bagged herself a real villain, she'd finally have the respect that she felt was lacking.
Unfortunately, it hadn't taken long for Songbird to realize she was in over her head. The whole thing was a trap orchestrated by Cyberdominus specifically to draw her in. She didn't want to call Liberty into this situation, but she no longer had a choice in the matter.
"Liberty, this is Songbird. I'm in Cyberdominus's lair and I need your help..."
"Dammit, she should have known better," Liberty muttered to herself as she punched the front door of the warehouse building. It exploded inward under the assault of her frustration and super strength.
She'd watched the exterior of the building looking for signs of Songbird, hoping she hadn't actually entered the building yet. But she was not in evidence outside, and she wasn't responding to her communicator.
Coming to a place like this on her own, trying to take on a villain by herself. She had nothing to prove to me. But Liberty knew that Songbird had been a sidekick longer than any other member of the Femme Fighters. She knew that at 22, Songbird was feeling inadequate in her position on the team. Even Slink had graduated from sidekick under Shadow Maiden to a full-fledged hero by 19. But the fact was, though Songbird's power was a formidable disruptive force, she'd never excelled at hand-to-hand combat, which, like it or not, was a crucial component to fighting crime in Beacon City. Liberty only hoped that this new villain "Cyberdominus" couldn't pose much of a physical threat. These brainiac science types usually weren't dangerous on their own, but their inventions and the devious traps they could concoct, on the other hand...well, that could be another story altogether.
She'd read the scant files the Fighters had on this new villain. Apparently he'd robbed some banks using flimsy mechanical soldiers that only posed a threat because of their numbers and their armaments—certainly enough to give a security guard pause, but no match for a bulletproof powerhouse like Liberty, who could easily tear these robot soldiers apart with her bare hands.
Liberty marched fearlessly through the open darkness of the large warehouse building, eyes scanning across crates and cargo containers, looking for something to punch. And soon enough, she found it. A glint of silver flashed in the darkness between two stacks of shipping containers, and Liberty crouched into a defensive stance, fists in the air. A thin, metallic clinking sound echoed through the emptiness of the room, followed by the sudden appearance of a robot in the corridor between two stacks of containers.
The mechanical minion paused and tilted its head to the side, taking in the threat before it. It was a flimsy-looking construct, held aloft by thin legs. Long, spindly arms dangled at its side. Its lengthy fingers twitched as if with anticipation, but it carried no weapon Liberty could see. Suddenly three more robots poured forth from the tunnel of darkness. They curled their thin plated fingers into fists and crouched slightly as if they were about to charge.
"Alright, then." Liberty's lips curled into a devilish grin as she surged forth.
Her first punch caught the lead bot square in the face, creating a fist-sized dent in its face plate. One of its glowing blue eyes faded to darkness, and it flailed madly, arms whirling to find a target. One arm clanged into another robot behind it, while Liberty caught the limb that wheeled past her. Spinning the robot around, she released her grip to send it flying into its companions, who scattered like bowling pins.
"This won't even be challenging enough to be fun!" she scoffed as a dozen more robots poured through the open pathway between crates. She stood watching as she allowed them to circle around her. When she was good and surrounded, she gave a curt nod of satisfaction and jumped toward the nearest robot, bringing her elbow down on the top of its neck, creating another fist-sized dent and twirling to punch the next robot.
She soon found herself in an all-out melee with over a dozen robots. They clawed and swung at her, and many of their swings found their target, but Liberty didn't even seem to feel the punches. She easily tossed robots aside as if they were made of aluminum foil, scattering them, ripping off limbs and beating others back swinging their thin amputated appendages. Liberty laughed with exhilaration as wave after wave of robot rushed at her and she easily pummeled them into pieces. Finally, after seemingly endless flurries of punches, Liberty stood triumphant in a pile of scrap, metal bodies bent, broken and scattered in pieces around her.
"Is that all you got?" Liberty called out into the expanse of warehouse around her. "I barely broke a sweat."
She bent down and picked up a wedge-shaped robot head, easily plucking it from the collapsed body attached to it. Colored wires trailed from the bottom of its neck. She turned it around in her hands, examining it thoughtfully. So flimsy and cheap. Maybe good to scare civilians, but no match for a superhero. Shouldn't have been any match for Songbird either. Perhaps she's already apprehended Cyberdominus.
She stared at the dark lifeless eyes of the robot before casually tossing its head back onto the scrap pile. Having no concern for stealth, she confidently marched further into the building, her head scanning left and right for any signs of this Cyberdominus or her sidekick. No more robotic minions confronted her as she delved deeper into his lair.
Finally she reached the far end of the warehouse and found nothing more than a lone elevator door waiting for her. She lifted her wrist communicator to her mouth.
"Songbird? Songbird, can you hear me?"
Nothing but static greeted her. She looked at the elevator call button—a single arrow pointing down. Maybe there's interference blocking the signal down there.
She pressed the button. Immediately the door opened to an empty and normal looking elevator.
With a slight shrug, Liberty walked in, turned around and hit the only button, another arrow pointing down. There was no indication of how many floors there were below, so Liberty assumed there must only be one, however far down it may be.
As the doors closed and the elevator started its descent, Liberty admired her reflection in the mirrored doors. A fit blonde in her early thirties, Liberty wore a tight blue leotard sprinkled with white stars. Her thick, bare thighs were wrapped in a thick layer of tight muscle. Red, heeled boots came up to her knees, and a small cape of white and red stripes hung halfway down her back. A thick white domino mask covered just enough of her face to preserve her secret identity. The long wig of flowing blonde locks that covered her short brown hair did the rest to help her avoid recognition while in her superhero guise.
Liberty tightened her fists and watched the way her forearm and bicep muscles rippled in the mirror. Though she'd be considered feminine by many, she'd found her strength to be a considerable intimidation to the men of Beacon City. But she loved her muscles and the way they made her feel powerful. She gazed upon her chiseled physique and felt strong and beautiful. There were few villains in Beacon City she couldn't handle on her own.
Suddenly there was a loud crackle and a voice boomed in the elevator. "So, I see you made short work of my robot drones." The voice sounded unimpressed.
"I'm about to come down and make even shorter work of you," she growled, looking up at what she identified as a possible camera in the corner by the ceiling.
"Oh, I don't think you will," the voice chuckled. His voice dripped with a cocky arrogance that made Liberty eager to reach him and provide him a generous helping of knuckle sandwich. She glared up at the camera as he continued.
"Liberty, the all-American darling of the Femme Fighters. No one would doubt your strength, your bravery, your undying resolve. But I don't think I would accuse you of being cunning, careful, or clever. You barge right in the front door and punch your way through everything you see. All by yourself. Did it ever occur to you that you might be walking into a trap?"
Liberty laughed out loud. "You? A trap? Try it. If those tin can soldiers are any indication, I'll be able to punch my way through anything you can throw at me."
"Oh, but my dear Liberty. You can't. You've already fallen into it."
Liberty scowled and raised an eyebrow slightly. Don't take the bait. He's scared and he's flailing.
"While you've been riding in my elevator, it has been filling with an odorless, colorless gas, which you have been breathing in, for, oh, just about long enough now..." The voice over the speaker began to cackle.
Liberty's eyes darted around the elevator, looking for some kind of proof of his claims. Venting or holes that gas could be pumped through—she didn't see anything out of the ordinary, but elevators certainly weren't airtight. How long had she been going down now? It seemed like she'd been in the elevator a lot longer than she'd expected to be.
Liberty suddenly felt dizzy and began to panic. Shit, he wasn't bluffing! She reeled, stopping herself from falling forward with an outstretched hand. I'll punch my way out. Liberty reared back to blow the door right off its track when the dizziness overwhelmed her. She staggered back and dropped to a knee.
"You bastard...I'm gonna beat the shit outta y—" she slurred her words as she collapsed on the floor. The elevator was spinning around her and she felt like she was going to be sick as the cacophony of wild laughter echoed through the small metal box. The elevator walls were spinning so rapidly now that Liberty couldn't even tell if she was up or down. The only thing she was certain of was that she was about to be sick. And just as she realized that, everything went black.