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The Blister Boyz
Chapter 32: The Viper Bites

by Redspkscott

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Copyright on this story text belongs at all times to the original author only, whether stated explicitly in the text or not. The original date of posting to the MMSA was: 22 Aug 2008


The Blister Boyz
Ch. 32: The Viper Bites

The heroes:
Troy Manning – Heat Blister
Jason Klein – Ice Hazer
David Mercer – Smaqdown
Dennis Lowder – The Humiliator
Walt Hemingway – Major Fry
Brian Tannon – Murky Menace
Jorge Vasquez – Poison Punisher
Keith Grady – The Sticking Point
 

Most of the Blister Boyz were a bit confused and introspective about what they had learned, but not Jason. He was positively enthusiastic – almost giddy. This was validation of his studies, his argument that there were people who had developed a dependency on corporal punishment for personal development. Even though he got an A on his research paper, his human sexuality professor did question him that perhaps he was overanalyzing a fairly common sexual fetish to make it more than it was. She knew Omega Upsilon Chi's reputation and that Jason was a member and wondered if there wasn't just a little bit of self-justification going on.

After the team broke up for the previous night, Jason wandered around cornering any monk he could find, questioning them about what prompted them to join the Adepts of Discipline. He became a bit of a chatterbox, which happened sometimes when Jason got to talking about corporal punishment. David loved to talk about it, too, and that created a good bond between them when Troy, David's best buddy early on in college, hooked up with Jason. Troy didn't talk about it as much – he preferred to just do it – and eventually he had to give Jason an evening paddling just to calm him down a bit, find focus, and relax so he could sleep.

But the next morning, Jason was up before Troy wandering around the caves and learning, learning, learning. He let some of the monks give him his morning paddling to activate his powers and activated his bun warmers in the seat of his costume to keep his ass good and sore and his powers focused. Then he simply joined the monks analyzing various punishment occurrences taking place in Paragon City, adding his own insights. It was like he had already agreed to join.

After a while, the Augurer stopped by, following his discussion with Dennis, to see how Jason was doing.

"Why am I not surprised to see you fitting right in?" he asked. The big linebacker blushed a bit and grinned.

"Has everybody read my report?"

"Yes. It's actually now mandatory reading for new adepts. While it's a bit simplistic, given that you're only an undergraduate and was unfamiliar with the secret of Oranbega, it serves as a great starting off point for new monks trying to understand what they're observing."

The Augurer wandered around a bit looking at various reports the monks were putting together. It was clear to Jason that the mage was in charge of this element of discipline research.

"Sir, now that you're here," one of the monks piped up, "It looks like there was a bit of a spike in pain energy last night. The Freakshow may have been running their arena. If you would lead us in the chant, we can pull up visions of the event."

"Oh, that's good timing. Jason, since you're so interested. I want you to see this. Remember when I mentioned last night that there were two villain groups who actually produce a lot of discipline energy instead of abuse energy? Take a look at these guys."

Augurer and the monks began a deep chant and the big red crystal began to glow. Soon the images visible in the facets appeared to run in reverse. Eventually it settled on a view of a huge rooftop in some hazy industrial community.

"This is in Crey's Folly," the Augurer explained. Crey's Folly was one of the more ruined and dangerous areas of Paragon City. It was once the major research and industrial hub of the city. In the Rikti invasion a major Crey Industries research facility was targeted and destroyed, filling the area with nasty pollution and toxic fog. No industry took place there any longer. Instead, it was full of remaining Rikti aliens raiding these abandoned buildings for their technology, as well as strange animated plant and rock creatures known as the Devouring Earth, who apparently harbor some ill will toward humanity over these incidents. It was also the main gathering place for the Freakshow, cybernetic punk anarchists who live to cause trouble for authorities and the Paragon City establishment.

The walled-off area was far too dangerous for heroes as untrained and inexperienced as the Blister Boyz, and they lacked the proper security clearance to enter. However, more established heroes were sent on missions in there to try to facilitate cleaning up the area. As Jason watched, three of these heroes were dragged up to the center of the rooftop in the middle of a huge crowd of Freakshow.

"The Blood Brothers," one of the monks explained, looking through a computer database nearby. "These three guys are Army vets who developed powers from blood exposure to strange Rikti energies when they were injured together during the war. After so many heroes got killed, they decided to step up and help refill the ranks once they recovered. The one Jason's size with the flak jacket over the gray and brown unitard is Blockade – he's got super strength." Indeed, it took six guys to keep the muscleman from tearing free, and Jason doubted they'd be able to manage it without the additional strength accorded by their cybernetic arms.

"The guy in blue with the flight jacket and high-tech goggles is Kickback. He can fly and shoot energy blasts. It's a little like Smaqdown's energy fists but as a beam blast. He can knock a guy clear across the room with them, which is how he got his codename." The man struggled, but the Freakshow had his hands fairly well bound, making targeting impossible. It also turned out some Freakshow could fly, which Jason didn't know. They hovered overhead in case Kickback tried to escape.

"The last guy in the yellow and white spandex is Fuse. He has fire generation abilities, but without Heat Blister's range. He can actually set himself on fire and fight that way, burning people with his fists, without hurting himself. He can also explode with fiery heat that burns anybody close to him." As if on cue, Fuse pulled that trick, setting the three Freakshow dragging him to the center of the roof on fire. Unfortunately, his freedom was short lived as another group assaulted him. The burned Freakshow rolled around on the rooftop in pain. Nobody bothered to help them.

"What's about to happen?" Jason asked.

"It's the arena," the Augurer said. "You'll have to see it to believe it."

The Freakshow all hooted and hollered as the Blood Brothers were forced to the center of the roof. Peering closely, Jason could make out hundreds upon hundreds of Freakshow gathered around the edge of the roof or hovering in the air overhead. There was no way these three would escape on their own.

The cheering increased in volume as the rooftop fire exit door burst open and a humongous, hulking Freakshow man stomped out. His arms and legs were replaced with cybernetics and he was covered in an exoskeleton. One hand was a hammer; the other was a claw. He had a red mohawk and a vicious sneer.

"That's Spanktank," one of the monks explained.

"Spanktank?" Jason asked. "I think I see where this is going."

"It's actually spelled Sp4nkt4nk for some reason," the Augurer said. "They tell me it has something to do with the Internet and hackers."

Spanktank gave out a tremendous roar and cheering grew even louder. Eventually it tapered off as the giant stared at the Blood Blothers with an evil grin. The brothers glared right back, not showing any fear.

"Welcome to the arena, heroes! I haven't seen the three of you up here before, so I guess it's your lucky night. Since you're new, I'll go over the rules."

"We won't play your stupid games!" Kickback shouted. The Freakshow hooted as Spanktank rolled his eyes.

"Rule number one: Please spare us all the stupid fucking hero speeches, okay? You will play our games and let me show you why." Two Freakshow came over to Spanktank and with a couple of power tools, quickly unfastened and removed Spanktank's hammer hand. One of them held up a fairly large, flat metal attachment with holes drilled in it.

"It's a paddle!" Jason practically laughed as the paddle was attached to Spanktank's arm. "Oh, Jesus, this town's insane."

"If you want to forfeit, I'm betting you know what you're in for," Spanktank said as he gave the paddle a good hard swing. The wind whistled. "But you see, this is a legitimate game. You can win, you know. It's happened."

"Jacob has won this little fight a couple of times," the Augurer explained. "He actually likes to lose though, as you can probably guess. But Spanktank is telling the truth."

"There are five fights through groups of my Freakshow pals. You will be freed to fight each wave. Use your powers all you like – my boys can take it. If they couldn't they wouldn't be my boys any more. O' course your goal is to kick their asses until they can't fight no more."

"Then what happens?" Blockade asked. Spanktank pointed to a nearby metal trellis, which Jason thought was a crane arm. Looking more closely though, Jason could see a chain running through it leading to and through a large window broken open in the next building. Attached to the chain were large hooks, and as Jason watched, the chain began moving, pulling the hooks into the building.

"Over there is what we call the Fun House," Spanktank said. "Any of my boys you beat get hooked up to that chain and go on a fun little journey where they learn a valuable life lessons. Particularly why it's bad to lose. The lessons are applied to their failure punk asses. It takes a while because my boys try hard, you know, but they're kinda slow learners."

"What's in that building?" Jason asked.

"We'll show you in a minute. It's exactly what you probably think it is."

"A giant spanking machine?"

"Exactly."

"Your last match will be against me. And I swear to you, if you win, my boys are instructed to hook me right up to this machine same as them. You can even help if it makes you feel righteous."

"This is true. Jacob has done it. Sent Spanktank right into the Fun House himself."

"Wow."

"And I'm gonna be kind since this is your first trip up here," Spanktank continued. "I never send heroes to the Fun House after their first loss. I'll take care of your punishment for trying to take us on myself, and even gently drop you guys off at the entrance to Brickstown so you can limp your way to the hospital. But if you ever set foot in Crey's Folly again I figure you must be masochists and then maybe I'm doing you a favor if I send you into the Fun House. We clear?"

The Blood Brothers all looked at each other. Fuse shrugged. It wasn't like they had a choice.

"We accept your terms," Fuse said. "Bring it on, you little punks!"

"Now we're talking!" Spanktank hollered. The Freakshow hooted their approval. Spanktank pointed to various men in the crowd. Ten men made their way out of the crowd to circle the Blood Brothers. These were essentially the lesser ranks of Freakshow. They had minor cybernetics compared to the others. They were well-muscled young street thugs with crazy hair, torn mesh, leather and denim clothes, strange facial tattoos and the occasional safety pin piercing.

"GET 'EM!" Spanktank shouted. The ten charged the Blood Brothers. Jason watched as the heroes cleaned the roof with the ten men. They were indeed serious heroes. It took less than three minutes to put the ten punks out of commission. Spanktank was as good as his word. The other Freakshow grabbed the losers as they were recovering from the fight and tied their hands behind their backs with tough wire. They dragged the men over to the chain and began hooking them up through their metal belt loops. This left them hanging as though they were standing bent over, their hands tied behind their backs and their asses extremely vulnerable. The men were slowly fed into the Fun House.

"Switch to a Fun House view so Jason can see what happens," the Augurer ordered. The monks chanted briefly and the point of view changed. Jason watched from inside as the first Freakshow was fed through the window, struggling in his bondage without getting anywhere.

Then Jason could make out the inside of the building. It was a six-story building that had been hollowed out in the inside. Instead it had been replaced with a massive automated machine. A giant spanking machine. Robotic claw arms ripped out the seat of the Freakshow's black jeans, leaving his round naked bottom exposed. After a few more feet, metal arms wielding paddles moved into position. A loud air horn blew and suddenly the paddles began smacking the young punk's ass, the sound of the swats and his cries of pain echoing through the facility. It took two minutes of travel before he passed out of the range of the paddle arms. The arms moved back to their start position as the next Freakshow was drawn down the line to start his punishment. It was like an assembly line for pain. The giant machine had dozens of sections like this with all kinds of implements. There was a section where the Freakshow was drawn through a series of straps attached to fast, powerful spinners. They slapped ruthlessly against the man's ass as he passed them, like a sadistic carwash device.

"I used to ... I used to fantasize about a machine like this," Jason said in awe.

"Here's the interesting thing about the Freakshow and the Fun House. What are the readings, guys?"

"The Freakshow are all burning blue, boss," one monk said.

"They're producing discipline energy?" Jason asked.

"Yes. Whenever they lose, they think they deserve punishment. The Freakshow are a huge source of discipline energy in Paragon City, which is a problem because they're also a threat to society. It's a strange contradiction we can't wrap our heads around. These guys will burn blue until about three-quarters of the circuit. Then it gets too intense for them and it becomes abuse. A full circuit takes about 90 minutes."

Jason's mind started spinning as he watched the Freakshow suffer in the Fun House. Jason noticed that the Blood Brothers must have won the second round, too, as more Freakshow were fed through the window.

"They're rebels, obviously. Or predominantly rebels," he mused. "But ... they lack a good enforcer. Spanktank looks like he's their enforcer, but he's not, is he?"

"We think he has some enforcer in him," the Augurer said. "But encouraging rebels to break the law is obviously not a pure manifestation of that role."

"Can a person be mixed between discipline and abuse influences?" Jason asked. "I mean, you say Keith's role is to help teach abuser types that there's a better way with discipline. People aren't just going to switch, right? There's gotta be a transition."

The monks all looked at each other and then to the Augurer. He nodded.

"An interesting theory," he said. "And there's some evidence to support it. The Freakshow are also active in the Rogue Islands. You'll be interested to note that they cause just as much trouble for the establishment there. But because the Rogue Islands are a repressive, violent place, the Freakshow are actually treated like heroes by many of the downtrodden citizens."

"Most of the Freakshow are rebels looking for a strong enforcer to rein them in," Jason mused. "The leadership wants to be enforcers, but I'm guessing there's nobody holding them accountable?"

"You're right. They're anarchists, of course, so very little leadership or direction. They have Dreck, the big Freakshow in charge, but he's not some mastermind like Nemesis or Countess Crey."

"So, they don't have any equalizers, like you or Dennis, to hold leaders accountable." He tilted his head to the side while looking at the crystal. "That's what they want the heroes to do. Subconsciously they want the heroes to rein them in. But the heroes have to prove they're powerful enough to do it. Could it be that the Freakshow were rebels drawn here by Oranbega when they were all human, but then because abuse was dominant over discipline here they got led astray? After all, punks tended to avoid us jocks in school, so they probably never drew Omega Upsilon Chi's attention."

The men had all stopped their work to stare at Jason.

"These guys were probably meant to be the punk version of us, I bet," he mused. "I know there's a lot of punk types into the S&M