Skullomania - A Superstitious and Cowardly Lot

Description: Plunging into the filthy heart of Southtown's criminal epidemic, Skullomania rides into battle for the first time. Is it folly to try to make your world better, with your fists alone? Or is it destiny? Late at night, Skullomania becomes his true self for the first time, dueling Southtown's thugs as he interrupts a deal with a sinister Shadaloo merchant.

Southtown, Japan, one of the busiest cities in the world that acts as a hub for both Japanese and American interests in its unual mixture of Eastern and Western sensibilities. The volume of money that flows through Southtown on any given day is enough to fund some smaller countries for a year.

And with all of that money comes an incredible amount of crime.

While Southtown Syndicate may control the majority of illegal activity inside the metropolis, there are limits to its reaches, and so out here on the edges there is room for smaller interests to operate. Or at least those who are craft enough to appear small despite being a being a piece of the greater whole.

A small, non-descript van sits here in an abandoned parking lot, with small tufts of grass and weeds peeking out from beneath cracked asphault. Flickering light poles bathe the scene in a dim, yellow shade, and a small group of what the news media would refer to as "urban youth" surround the back door of the van, looking quite clearly impatient.

Finally a set of headlights bathes the scene in a brief moment of blinding light as a curiously expensive luxury car pulls into the parking lot, pulling in and coming to a stop with its trunk facing the back of the van. A man in a very plain, if well-tailored, suit steps out of the car, his eyes hidden behind a pair of black sunglasses.

"Yo, you're late!" shouts one of the young men by the van, the fact that he steps toward the front clearly suggesting some level of seniority over the rest.

"Proper precautions take time," replies the non-descript man as he casually approaches the group. "If you aren't satisfied with our current relationship, feel free to go back to struggling for scraps that the Syndicate leaves behind, but so long as I am supplying you, I'm in charge."

To some people, Southtown is just a city, a source of immense money, or a source of the kind of power that the cruel can take from the innocent. But to Skullomania, it is a living, breathing entity, a dying whore moaning to him through the walls of his apartment at night, crying out for justice. Crying out for an end to her torment. Crying out for him. Can he save her?

Skullomania has spent all his life in Southtown, among the elites of his childhood or the overentitled youth of his college years or the middle class families of his car dealing years. This is the world his society wants him to see. The world of comfort, the world of God's chosen favorites, a world where the Devil is only on the news, and you are very safe in your nice apartment or your suburban home or your tidy office. But his entire life, he's seen something in the eyes of those not living his life. Weariness. Pain. Anguish. And much like Siddartha Gautama, Skullomania has chosen to walk among these cast outs. Is he Christ, walking among the lepers? Or is he Satan, punishing evil for God? He is no longer a mere merchant. No. Not anymore. That night, Skullomania put on his costume slowly, methodically, ritualistically, feeling his every muscle and tendon and fiber pull taut beneath the tight black spandex. He clicked his belt into place, pulled his red scarf on, and stared at himself in the mirror. Crow's feet. Graying sideburns. Heavy eyes, from years of disappointment. Then, he pulled on the mask, watching that disappear.

In the distance of the parking lot meeting, cruises a small Honda Civic, Skullomania's prize for boosting sales at his dealership to record highs wearing the costume. His boss told him the costume was good luck. Skullomania booted the pedal, accelerating towards the meet. There was no luck, there were no mistakes, only a battle between good and evil. He was a different man with the costume on.

As he sees the van and the car and the meeting happening, he flicks the high beams on, and speeds forward, aiming for the space between the car and the van where the gang meets the businessman. His breathing spikes with adrenaline, as he feels the seat conform to his flexing buttocks. It was time to prey on the maggots in the steak of Japan.

COMBATSYS: Skullomania has started a fight here.

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Skullomania      0/-------/-------|

"Just because you got the product doesn't mean you get to treat us like shit," comes a heated reply from the apparent leader of the thugs. While he seems to be quite confident, it's also clear that not everyone in his group agrees with his position. After all, the man supplying them asks for a remarkably reasonable cut for product that matches high-level cartel standards instead of just standard level street drugs.

The man in the suit remains remarkably calm through all of thist, nudging the sunglasses further up his nose. "There are plenty of people in this city who would kill for a chance to work with me. Gedo High is constantly putting out new trash that dreams of working their way up the chain, so I'll give you one last-"

The conversation is cut short as a new pair of headlights barrels down on them. The group by the van responds by instinctively leaping out of the way, but the man in the suit isn't quite as lucky, apparently lacking in proper fighting reflexes or toughness, the Civic clips him, sending him reeling to the ground in a battered heap by his car.

At the same time, the group by the van has already begun to grab for whatever weapons are at hand: a tire iron, some rebar, pipes, even chunks of concrete.

COMBATSYS: Southtown Thugs has joined the fight here.

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Skullomania      0/-------/-------|-------\-------\0  Southtown Thugs

Skullomania sucks in air through his grimacing mouth and clenched teeth in a low hiss as he clips the dealer, his gloved hands squeezing the wheel white knuckle tight. He swerves on the wheel and yanks on the e-brake, pulling a J-turn into a stop. The rear of the Civic slides about behind it, kicking up a huge cloud of dust around the car. As the dust settles, Skullomania stands there, the slow wind of the night causing his red scarf to flap in the wind.

Skullomania stands there, resolute, watching the thugs with a burning hatred. Each one of these kids made a choice to get involved in violent crime, instead of doing something else with their lives. These are not petty criminals. At least, not to Skullomania. In Skullomania's warped mind, each of these youths is a potential murderer. A potential mugger. A potential drug dealer. A potential acolyte of Mr. Big or whoever else commands the respect of degenerates like these. And behind every one of them, is a family full of shame, a family praying for them to find the right way, and a family to wail in horror at their funeral or trial or to find them carved up in a gangland hit. It's selfish.

Skullomania slowly begins stalking forward towards the van, his hands balling into fists. He takes his time, letting them make the first moves. He analyzes them, slowly, his eyes slipping from figure to figure, not saying anything or showing any fear, not even hesitation. He is going to personally pummel each of them, then interrogate that scumbag on the ground. He wants this. He needs this. His pace quickens.

He deserves this.

The entire gang is ready for a fight at this point. It's probably some asshole trying to take over their territory, maybe even some piece of shit enforcer working with the Southtown Syndicate trying to muscle them back out of the city. Sure he's driving some piece of shit Civic, but everyone knows that the big guys like to hire people nobody would even look at twice when they want to do some dirt on the down-low.

...And then some nutjob steps out wearing a Power Rangers suit.

"What the fuck?" is the first thing said by one of the guys in the back before the leader, wielding a sizable length of pipe, steps forward. "Yo, did you get lost on your way to get a refill on your meds? This isn't a fucking theme park, maybe you should have checked your GPS before you rolled right into an asskicking!"

That seems to be enough said for the rest of the gang as they suddenly move forward as one, moving to intercept the costumed crazy in a straightforward beatdown. Each swings whatever weapon they managed to get their hands on with no special precision as they use pure numbers to try put down the skull-masked man.

COMBATSYS: Skullomania blocks Southtown Thugs' Medium Strike.

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Skullomania      0/-------/------=|-------\-------\0  Southtown Thugs

As the thugs move forward, taunt him, brandish weapons, Skullomania continues his advance. Then, they move to use the force of their numbers against him, surrounding him with a flurry of pipes, bats, hunks of concrete, and whatever else they have at their disposal. Skullomania closes his eyes, flashing back to his childhood.

A small child dressed in a black karate gi performs slow, sensual kung fu in front of a crowd of rich socialites, with his mother glaring at him and his father drunk, not paying attention. Inside, the child dies, wishing he could explode. Just use his fists to grab his father and strangle him, then slap his mother across the face. And then, leap out the window, flying away, like a bird in the night.

Skullomania flashes back to reality. He bends his knees and blocks one pipe swing with his hand, slapping it away. He turns about with a high knee intercepting a block of concrete, before his hand chops down on it, splitting it in two. He pirouettes with his arms extended and his hands flat with his thumbs along his forefingers, knocking two more blows aside as he balances on the toe of his boot. His eyes snap back open, staring at the one the leader.

He steps forward, directly at him, as orange chi surges around his right fist. His arm surges upwards, with an uppercut aimed directly at the thug's jaw. "HYAWH!" he screams, the roar ripping out of his lungs as the shame of a childhood in a glass bottle explodes out of him, the metaphysical glass shattering as he finally bursts loose. And, in the distance, Skullomania swears he can see a seagull, taking off from a dumpster and flapping towards the sea.

Skullomania is happy he's wearing a mask, as tears flood from his eyes.

COMBATSYS: Southtown Thugs blocks Skullomania's Stepping Upper.

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Skullomania      0/-------/------=|=------\-------\0  Southtown Thugs

The instant beatings don't immediately work, there's some kernel of doubt in the back of the gang's mind. Everyone knows that there are some weird ass vigilantes out there going around causing trouble. People who aren't smart enough to realize they should probably just stay out of the dark underbelly and have some need to go hunting for trouble.

The sudden flare of glowing power around the skull-man's fist is enough to confirm that this isn't just some lost sideshow freak who got too drunk and stumbled his way into a drug deal. No, this is an actual psycho.

The presumed leader of the group just barely manages to react in time, pulling the pipe in front of himself on pure instinct just in time to see the costumed freak's fist put a kink in the pipe. "Oh, shit, this fucker's one of those for real hero types. Yo! Grab him and we'll kick the whack-job out of him!"

With the leader's command, two of the other punks move in from behind as they surround the masked man, aiming to grab him by the arms an immobilize him as the rest move in to start beating on him with their improvised weaponry.

COMBATSYS: Skullomania fails to interrupt Hold and Punch from Southtown Thugs with Skullo Dive EX.

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Skullomania      0/-------/--=====|=------\-------\0  Southtown Thugs

Skullomania hears the leader's cruel words as if from a long distance in a hallway, over the animal sounds of his friends. They grab his arms and pin him backwards, Skullomania going limp initially as he momentarily loses his courage. He shrinks to his knees under the hail of blows, his head thrashing about as he fights. For a moment, he feels naked, as if in the shower the day he went to divorce court, empty and alone, losing his daughter and his family and everything that society wanted him to care about. Everything he couldn't bring himself to truly care about, just like his parents did not truly care about him.

With a primal scream, he surges forward, off his feet, back to his feet. He hurls himself forward at the leader of the thugs, but they hold him back. His boots scrape the pavement of the parking lot quite loudly, as he thrusts and kicks and charges, but it's just not enough. "I am not a whack job!" he screams with a low roar, feeling his body course with pain and bruises and cuts through his suit, created by a nasty shot from the rebar. He collapses to his knees as he struggles to free himself, looking up at the leader.

"I. Am. SKULLOMANIA!" he roars, defiant to the last, staring forward with his eyes burning with hatred beneath the skull mask.

"Skullomania?" repeats the leader as he seems blown away by the stupidity of this man in the costume. "What the fuck sort of name is that? Are we supposed to be scared of you because you dress up like some shithead on a kids' show?" He lets out a laugh as he tries to deal with just how stupid this guy is. "There are six of us and one of you, you retard! Who the fuck do you think you are, the World Warrior or some shit?"

Without an hesitation, he spits right in Skullomania's face, plastering the mask with a slow flowing loogie just below the idiot's eye. "What are you, some dumbass crying because his kid got his ass kicked on the streets for being a pussy? Where'd you even buy that shitty costume? Way past Halloween, you freak."

Then he nods to the two guys holding the psycho to back off. Both sets of arms suddenly pull back as another of the boys steps up from the side, vigorously shaking an aerosol cannister. "Yo, dumbass, nyolon's fucking flammable!" With that taunting, the punk pulls up the aersol along with a lighter, setting off a stream of hairspray and then setting it ablaze as he uses the makeshift flamethrower on Skullomania.

COMBATSYS: Southtown Thugs successfully hits Skullomania with Molotov Spray.

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Skullomania      0/-------/=======|===----\-------\0  Southtown Thugs

Skullomania narrows his eyes at the leader of this group of malcontents, hearing his taunts. Skullomania seethes visibly, his body shaking with rage. And then, as the leader spits in his face, he loosens. Maybe they're right. Maybe he's a nothing. A has been. This entire thing is a bad idea. He's not a superhero. He's just a loser, like his drunk father always said he was. And his father, also a loser, like his mother said. Born to be broken.

Then, he's lit on fire. He emits a pained, low scream as he's set on fire, falling backwards and onto his side as his suit catches fire. He can feel nothing but a world of pain, shaking and clinging to him as heat and screaming nerves and shaking sweat roll over him, his eyes about to burst from pain. And then, his hand clutches the weeds and dirt, in a claw.

Skullomania charges upwards from the ground at a group of the thugs, diving forward. He spins headfirst at them, like a salmon jumping out of the water with corkscrew torque, attempting to slam through them. At the end of the manuever, he hits the ground again and rolls to his feet, breathing heavily as his costume burns over his blackened, wirey flesh.

COMBATSYS: Skullomania successfully hits Southtown Thugs with Skullo Crusher.
- CRAZY Hit! -

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Skullomania      1/------=/=======|=====--\-------\0  Southtown Thugs

At this point, the fight is over. They beat they crap out of some dumbass in a costume and even set him on fire. It doesn't even matter what this crazy dumbass was thinking, because there's no way he's going to get back up from this shit. If he lives, he'll have learned an important lesson about not messing around with his betters, if he doesn't get up, who gives a shit?

One less idiot in the world.

None of them are prepared for him to keep on fighting back, not when he's on fire. Not after the beating he's gotten. So as Skullomania surges back into action, they're taken completely offguard. Most of the group is knocked to the ground, one of them takes a nasty hit on a curb and barely seems able to get back up to his feet.

"Shit, this motherfucker is legit psycho!" shouts one of the punks, with a clear hint of fear mixed in.

"Man, kick his ass or he's gonna try to kill us," comes the leader's response as he leads the charge. The entire groups moves to surround, taking vicious swipes from all directions as they hope to put Skullomania down.

COMBATSYS: Skullomania blocks Southtown Thugs' Fierce Strike.

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Skullomania      1/----===/=======|======-\-------\0  Southtown Thugs

Skullomania rises to his feet and falls into a Wu Shu pose as the thugs charge forward, his movements gliding and becoming graceful as orange chi flows over his body, a subtle change in his demeanor as his pain is eased and he feels his chakra align up and down his body. As the leader moves in first, Skullomania twists his left hand up and gestures for him to come forward, glowing in the dim parking lot and the night, as the moon peaks overhead.

Skullomania moves through practiced kung fu defenses, his limbs working in rapid, methodical clockwork as blows slam into his arms and legs, using elbows and knees to riposte the particularly hard blows. It hurts, but not as much as it should, the orange chi rippling off his body as his eyes glow. And then, as the leader raises his weapon behind Skullomania, the masked hero suddenly turns around to face him.

Skullomania explodes forward, with a flurry of rapid punches and palm thrusts, followed by a front kick to the jaw as he leaps into the air. He flies forward as if flying, but it is merely illusory, as he attempts to grab the leader of the thugs and swing him around, throwing him into the crowd of his thugs with a strong shoulder throw.

There's a distant dog howling, that sounds almost like a wolf, as if responding to Skullomania's midnight soliloquy. Perhaps he is.

COMBATSYS: Skullomania successfully hits Southtown Thugs with Skullo Dream.

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Skullomania      0/-------/-------|=======\=------\1  Southtown Thugs

This is not what these guys were prepared for when they came out to meet with their supplier on the outskirts of Southtown. Maybe one of Mr. Big's groups showing up to try to scare them off or some dumb cop stumbling onto things, but now they're fighting some sort of crazy ninja guy with glowing hands. They don't even know how to react as he suddenly goes flying forward.

Punks are knocked aside, sent reeling to the ground, and the leader takes a nasty blow to the jaw that sends some of his teeth flying out with a mixture of blood and spit that leaves a puddle on the asphault before he's hurled recklessly into the rest of his group like a bowling ball.

"Oh shit, he's like the fucking Matrix or something!" shouts one of the punks as he tries to scramble to his feet only to get smacked alongside his head for his trouble. "Jesht cuzsh he'sh crazshy don't mean he invinschible!" bellows the leader as he gets back up to his feet, his words now slurred from his swollen jaw and missing teeth. "We gon wreck hish schit!"

As the punks get back to their feet, it's immediately apparent that two of them have been knocked cold, left behind as the remaining ones lunge forward. One of the quiet one swings for Skullomania's shins with a tire iron while another moves in from behind, aiming to crack a chunk of concrete on the back of his skull. From there the other two still standing move to start working Skullomania's midsection, hitting his ribs, stomach, and back from every which direction in a hope that the last ditch effort will leave him unable to move.

COMBATSYS: Southtown Thugs successfully hits Skullomania with Gangbang.

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Skullomania      0/-------/-<<<<<<|=------\-------\0  Southtown Thugs

Skullomania continues to glow, even as fire flickers around his shoulders from the aerosol spray. His costume is tattered, dark red flesh visible where he's been burned, part of his jaw visible along the lower edge of his mask. That felt good. Too good. This isn't over. The tire iron slams into his shin, knocking his leg out from under him as he screams and falls onto his hands and knees, his leg shooting agony up and down as his foot tremors.

Skullomania, weeping not from happiness now but pain, pushes himself upwards on his good leg, before the concrete block slams over the back of his head, breaking. He shoots down forward to the ground, his orange chi glowing less brightly as the kicks work him over. He feels horrible, absolutely horrible. But then, in his mind's eye, he sees his daughter, holding her in his arms at the hospital when he was just a junior in college. Despite having to drop out of higher education to pay the bills for his new family, she gave him an ounce of hope for the future. He smiles, as they continue to kick and beat him.

And then, he sees her now, covered in Yakuza tattoos and whoring herself out to some Southtown Syndicate enforcer, singing half naked for a punk rock band in front of drunken punks, like these. Maybe one of these thugs saw his daughter on stage, staggering about like some metalhead fantasy. He burns with rage, as he surges to his feet, swinging his arms out to push the thugs away. His chin tips upwards, as he lets out a slow, smooth exhale, as if he just walked waist deep into freezing water.

He turns around, towards the thug that hit him with the chunk of concrete, and swings one, single punch at him.

COMBATSYS: Skullomania successfully hits Southtown Thugs with Skullo Punch.

[                        \\\\\\  < >  ////////////                  ]
Skullomania      0/-------/-----<<|====---\-------\0  Southtown Thugs

That should have been the end of it. This dude's been beat on by their whole group, set on fire, left to weep or die in some shitty parking lot just outside of Southtown in front of some condemned strip mall. He's outnumbered and unarmed while running around in some fucking pajamas.


"Man, can you believe this psycho shithead tried to run us down with his fucking dad car?" says one of the punks who still has his teeth. Those are the last words before Skullomania gets back up and coldcocks him, sending him flying back so hard that when he hits the ground, he skids along his cheek, quickly leaving a bloody smear behind him.

The rest of gang doesn't even seem to know how to react at this point. Is there any way to actually keep Skullomania from getting back up? "What is this motherfucker made of?!" shouts one of the three remaining thugs.

Out of pure desperation at this point, the group swings with pure reckless abandon and very little coordination. Giving everything they've got in a relentless barrage of makeshift violence. If they can't figure out how to put him down, this psycho is going to murder them.

COMBATSYS: Southtown Thugs successfully hits Skullomania with Reckless Attacks.
- Power hit! -

[                                < >  ///////////                   ]
Skullomania      0/-------/=======|======-\-------\0  Southtown Thugs

Skullomania pulls his arms backwards after the blow, his shoulderblades briefly knitting together. He breathes a heavy, haggard breath, dropping down to a hunch as he puts his hand on his knee, growling at the complaint of pain for his shin, courtesy of that tire iron. Then, the three thugs surround him, and start beating him. He's knocked about between them, pushed this way and that, stumbling between blows as he's knocked around.

Skullomania feels the world begin to grow dim, the amount of punishment he's taken being simply beyond him. His hand flashes out to grab one of the gangbanger's faces, before his leg whips around behind him, launching a roundhouse at another one. He spins to the ground instead of landing the roundhouse, having put his weight on his damaged leg. He turns onto his stomach, blood oozing out of his mouth as he lays stretched out on his stomach, lit up by his Civic's high power beams.

COMBATSYS: Skullomania can no longer fight.

[                   \\\\\\\\\\\  <
Southtown Thugs  0/-------/-======|

COMBATSYS: Skullomania successfully hits Southtown Thugs with Dangerous Heel EX.

[                        \\\\\\  <
Southtown Thugs  1/------=/=======|

That last ditch attack sends the punks reeling in all directions, sent down to the cracked asphault with new gashes and bruises covering their bodies. Clothes are torn, makeshift weapons bent, broken, or even shattered from the force of the repeated assaults on the man who refuses to give up regardless of how much he's been demolished.

And then they stumble back to their feet, eyes on the man now laying practically still on the ground. All of them still able to stand stay back, looking on the broken man with a sense of fear. Has the snake been slain or is it ready to spring back up and bite?

"Fuck it, let's get the hell out of here," manages one of the boys' still able to talk straight with what little remains of his confidence attempting to back it up. "Let this crazy motherfucker bleed out of whatever."

Broken bodies are moved into the van, with the least injured among them taking the driver's seat. With the screech of tires, it pulls out of the parking lot, out onto the empty midnight streets. The luxury car follows soon after, it's own driver having managed to recover enough at least to escape this amateurish ambush.

All that's left behind is a broken man and his sensible car.

COMBATSYS: Southtown Thugs has ended the fight here.

Skullomania fades in and out of consciousness as the thugs and the drug dealer flee, hearing the sounds echo through his head, tin-like and cartoonish through his injured perceptions. Left alone, listening to the steady hum of his Civic's engine, he rolls onto his back and stares up at the stars. He wheezes through his lungs, feeling his ribs shriek in pain at every full inhale. He failed. He learned nothing. His head lolls to the side, looking at the distance lights of Southtown and the highway of cars passing through the night. What was the point?

Skullomania squeezes his eyes shut. No. NO. He sits up with a thrust and a powerful grunt. His head hangs forward, as his legs bend and he moves into a sitting position. He then moves to stand, swaying as he drags his wounded leg towards his car. He's not finished here. Not by a long shot.

He would need time. Time to train. Time to heal. His burns complain as he flexes and stretches, the pain now familiar to him. He's never felt pain like this before. But it feels good. He slides into his car, and slams the door shut. He sits in his car, feeling the safety of an enclosed vehicle, for quite a while, staring forward. He pulls his mask off, dropping it in the seat beside him. He turns on the radio, 'Carry On My Wayward Son' by Kansas just playing. American music. He loves American music. At least, the way it used to be. Back when America still had hope. Back when he still had hope. He pauses, pondering. He slowly reaches to the radio, shifting to a contemporary rock station. And he hears a new punk band playing. So full of youth, spirit, fight. It surges through his veins, as he thinks of his daughter. He smiles a bloody smile, shifts into drive, and begins to head home.

Not a bad night. Not at all.

Log created on 21:48:21 01/16/2016 by Skullomania, and last modified on 17:59:12 01/17/2016.