MachinstFreakshow… ugh.

Lately it seems everywhere I go, there are members of the Freakshow. It also seems they usually want to try and hurt me.

If you haven’t heard of the Freakshow, consider yourself lucky. They’re nuts. And dangerous. And destructive.

Freaks abuse themselves horribly to become strong and tough. They use some sort of super-serum, probably stolen from Crey Industries’ irresponsible development teams, to make themselves huge and strong. If that wasn’t enough, they then lose no time in bolting junkyard-best cybernetic attachments to themselves.

Some of them just have the super-serum on tap, so they’re constantly strong and tough, even to the point of getting back up to jump you from behind when you think they’re down. Some have hammers or claws instead of arms.

A few have become a fully armored “tank”, including grenade launchers and this bizarre thing that flings saw blades at you. (I’ll never look at a circular saw the same way again.) All you can see left of the man is a pair of eyes and the top of their head, peeking madly out of this huge metal frame. I presume there’s more than that in there, but haven’t had any interest in unbolting one to look. Ugh.

There are some that go a different route. Rather than heavy armor and giant hydraulic assisted weapons, these guys bolt electrodes in themselves, and harness the power for various electric weapons. Electric blasts, much like my own, a sort of static-electric shield that glows around them, and electric-shock gloves are all common. Some of them even fly, driving stolen antigravity equipment off of the same circuits. (Having an interest in things electric, I did try and look at one of them… most of the technology was not particularly unusual, but the willingness to drill in to your own head and bones to apply the collectors is. I’ll stick with batteries, thanks.)

They’re a horrifying combination of high-tech soldier and low-rent thugs.

Worse, they’ve got a strong leader who takes mercenary jobs to get them more money and things to try on themselves. He preaches a strong message of anarchy and of taking what you want when you want it. These poor drug-addled fools listen and swarm all over the city causing trouble for the highest bidder.

That’s where us heroes come in, of course.

I had just started working in Talos Island, and could not help but notice the Freakshow there. I was mostly avoiding them, myself, as I’m relatively fragile compared to one of these armored idiots. There were plenty of other heroes who seemed thrilled to try and deal with that threat, and I let them have their fun.

At least, I did this until a contact of mine asked me to break up an electroics theft before the Freaks could get at this huge store of equipment. They’d spread and make themselves even more fearsome, so it really needed to be stopped.

I headed over there. I was hoping to get there first, and get them to shy off of the deal. No such luck. They had overrun the warehouse and were there in force. In I went, to try and get rid of them.

Helpfully, they’re idiots.

Rather than breaking in, grabbing the loot and getting gone, these metal-clad morons had apparently decided to eat it there. They’d turned their raid in to a Freak-party. There was loud techno music playing… different tracks from several sources… and small groups of thugs breaking in to crates to snag the best booty before the split.

I had plenty of cover; crates, forklifts and such abounded in the warehouse, and the loud music, sounds of breaking crates and gleeful Freaks covered my advance. I took advantage of this and started at one end of the warehouse and worked my way slowly to the other, taking out one cluster of partying thieves at a time.

Not to say this wasn’t without risk. These guys hit hard! Naturally, I tried to make sure they didn’t get the chance.

I would creep around a corner, scope out a small group, and then move to where I could just target them with my blasts. I have more range than most of them, although the Juicer Freaks’ electricity can almost reach as far as I do. Getting in position was pretty easy; there’s cover and my new Cloaking Device was working fairly well to keep me unseen.

I’d start by settling in for a long-range sniper shot on the best armored one, to start wearing them down. That blast would go off, hurt one of them significantly, and off we would go.

They’d whip out their guns, and start taking potshots at me – sometimes hitting me, which is never fun – and charging down the aisle at me.

I’d stand my ground and target the most dangerous of them – the Juicer because of their range, or the Smasher because their hammers keep knocking me on my butt and screwing up my equipment – and nail them with Tesla Cage. I adore Tesla Cage. They can’t do anything but stand there and scream at me while it’s got them, and it gets them but good.

The next-most dangerous one would get a nice Web Grenade to play with. With a resounding splat, they’re covered in gobs of sticky goo, and have to spend a few moments untangling themselves from it. The smart ones ignore it and keep shooting. They aren’t all smart, though.

There’s usually one or two of them left. I’d target one, and hit him with Ball Lightning, getting them all a little, and then back around a corner.

About then, the one or two mobile ones would get to me, leaving their buddies behind. They’d probably each take a pop or two at me, and that could be quite painful.

My response was to try and knock them over before they could knock me over. Lightning Bolt, Charged Bolts, Lightning Bolt and one would be down. The other would get a snipe to the face – they hate that! – and that usually polished him off.

Then I’d peek around the corner, make sure the two I’d stopped before were still stopped, and stand and blast them down.

At least one of them would have some emergency system in place that would give them a big dose of their super-serum. They’d scream and stand up and charge me, and get glued to the floor or hit with Tesla before I zapped them until they really stayed down.

By this time, of course, my capacitors are nearly discharged, and I’ve been smacked around quite a bit. It takes me a moment to let the suit recharge, and to get my head clear from the mallets and claws and saw blades and things.

Wash. Rinse. Repeat.

Took me half the afternoon, but I got them.

My contact was pleased. Since I’d done so well, he had more Freaky goodness for me. It went about like this for days. As it turned out, our “informat” was an undercover cop who’d joined the Freaks and turned coat. He was trying to lure in heroes to kill them one at a time. Ambush was the word for the day. Eventually, after many long fights, I brought him in.

I still have his badge. It’s a sad reminder that sometimes the good fall.

I admit, I got tired of Freakshow. They never bathe. They smell of sweat, stale beer, strange chemicals and burning electroincs. I find it a particularly rancid combination. Even the sewers don’t bother me as much.

I decided I’d take a break and go patrol Independence Port for a while. Ocean breezes, some nice mafia goons and Chinese gangsters sounded like a nice change, and I bounded around the docs fairly cheerfully. The Family guys may be domineering gangsters, but they’re fastidious about their appearance and never smell like they don’t know the meaning of the word “shower”.

I ran in to a mess of heroes I’d worked with before, who waved me down and asked if I wanted to help Sister Psyche… or Aurora Borealis… I’m never sure… out. Who would I be to turn down such an illustrious hero (whichever one it is)? I joined their team, and off we went.

To fight more Freakshow!

Apparently, Sister P. had gotten a line on a high-level Freak leader by the name of Clamor. We followed the Freedom Phalanx member’s leads and tracked Clamor down – stopping a plot to destroy the city with sonic bombs, and irritating the hell out of the 5th Column at the same time – and tried to bring her in.

Yes, her. I had thought that women were more sensible than this. Apparently not. Eventually we did wear her down, and run her out of cyber-punks to throw at us. We drug her back to Psyche. Dunno what Psyche did with her, and I really don’t care.

I’ve had enough Freaks for a while, though. Time for something different.