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This issue follows on from the events from Thunderbolts #12 and continues into Issue #14. When both links are up they will be displayed below.
Issue #12 - Thunderbolts #12
Jester's 11 #5 - Sleepless in Seattle
Jester - Playing the Fool
Vapour - Misting Over
Diamondback - Diamond in the Ruff
Snake Marston - Slithering Around
Overrider - At the Wheel Again
8-Ball - Taking Potshots
Urm weren't there more I thought this was the Jesters 11?
"How come you never take me anywhere nice." Diamondback moaned from her position on the back of 8-Ball's flying barge, her expression hidden behind the reinforced life support helmet she wore. Looking down from the helm 8-Ball understood why she felt like she did. The usually picturesque city of Seattle had become an urban war zone with the sound of explosions and gunfire filling the air.
"Don't blame me I'm just the pilot." 8-Ball stated. "Any problems with the destination should be taken up with your travel advisor." He added pointing a finger at the Jester, the clown like villain hanging upside from one of the loading racks, his hastily decorated helmet at an askew angle.
"I still can't believe that those snakes abandoned the boss." Overrider announced as he checked a hand held sensor. "Well I can but for that ruffian Klaw...it just seems unprofessional."
"Hey that snake crack is offensive." Snake Marston hissed.
"Double offensive." Diamondback added, "But I know what you're getting at, I thought Vapour and Speeds at least would stay."
"Well it's not our problem anymore." 8-Ball told her, "All that matters is swiping the fuel cell from Songbird's sonic harness and getting out before she comes home."
"Unlikely considering that ULTIMATUM is holding half the city." Overrider informed them. "Okay the GPS signal states we are within five metres of the objective. Whoa..." He gasped as Blizzard jetted past on a slide of ice so cold it caused a thin layer of ice to form on the barge. "That was close, maybe we should land and continue the search on foot."
"Sounds good." 8-Ball agreed, "Adaptive Camouflage is running at 12%, another pass like that and it will fail and we're sitting ducks for the air force, Thunderbolts, ULTIMATUM and anyone else out there." He told the others as he parked the barge just outside the frosted chain link fence that stretched around the Thunderbolts warehouse. Jumping out 8-Ball removed his cue and pulled on a bandolier of trick balls as the others removed their helmets, and in Snake's case replaced it with his trade mark cowboy hat to go with his Western style assemble. As he reached out to touch the chain link fence he heard a collective gasp from the others and turned to see green smoke emerge from their mouths leaving the others wheezing as it coalesced into a feminine form.
"Ah my Ether Angel." The Jester croaked, "How do you feel?"
"Not bad although my powers are working less efficiently then usual." Vapour answered, "Still everyone got here okay and that is all that matters."
"Are you telling me we had her in our lungs for the entire flight." Diamondback spat, "That is disgusting."
"No more so then what you all did in Denver when we stopped for fuel." Vapour purred as she ran a hand over Diamondback's face and down towards her chest. "You in particular were a bad girl."
"Okay enough both of you." 8-Ball snapped, "I like a good cat fight as much as the next guy but not when we're in the middle of an active combat zone. Besides we have bigger problems." He added as he sprayed acid from a squeezable container disguised as an 11 ball. "Like the fact that the warehouse has been levelled."
"What?" the Jester screeched as he barrelled through the fence and skidded down into the icy crater. "No it can't be." He shrieked as he desperately tried to dig through the frozen ground. "No, no, no I can't lose I am in the title I can't lose."
"He's lost it." Overrider whispered, "Finally."
"More to the point he never had it." Snake replied as the others joined him to watch the manic villain lie spread eagled on the ice.
"Perhaps you should do something to help." Vapour spat, "After all if he doesn't get what he wants we don't get the other half of our fee."
"Yeah man do something to help." Diamondback added quickly, "This job is paying a lot and I for one have some student loans to pay off."
"Hey boss." Overrider yelled just as part of the ice cracked to reveal a dark skinned hand. "Look out." Turning the Jester saw the hand dissipate into a strand of sand before reforming into a man shaped figure with massive holes missing from his body.
"You bugger off." The Jester announced. "This is my place to find salvage go get your own."
"Tough talk clown." The man hissed, "Especially after I, Sandstorm levelled the place and reduced everything to dust."
"You." The Jester said calmly, the voice causing shivers to run down his allies spines. "You are the reason why I am having to play second fiddle to that Flemish walking noise restriction who nobody invites to parties because he has a face like a bass and an attitude that makes me seem like a happy well rounded person."
"Get over it clown." Sandstorm hissed as his adversary pulled out a water pistol and fired a burst of freezing water that climbed up the villains arm and froze the limb completely. "Hey wait you can't do that."
"News flash." The Jester snarled as he flicked his cane out, the parrot tip flying through the iced over arm causing it to shatter, "I'm the bad guy." Stunned Sandstorm could only watch as he was sprayed with follow up blasts before being shattered. By the time his shell shocked face cracked into ice shards the Jester's formally morose features had morphed into his usual manic grin. "Better then six months of therapy with that Doctor What's her Name. My fellow goons I have a plan, actually Overrider had a plan and I just modified it. We're not out of the race yet, not when a fully charged vibranium fuel cell is flying over the city."
"Er I was going to suggest that we steal from Klaw." Overrider stated.
"Yes we're going to rip the sonic harness off Songbird's neck." The Jester announced, oblivious to his comrades suggestion, "Now to the pool cue mobile away."
Ten minutes after 8-Ball's skiff had taken off, as well as ten minutes of manic chattering from the Jester, a flash of pink darted across the sky towards the city centre chasing after an orange smear. With a look of grim determination 8-Ball supercharged the thrusters and dived in behind the pursuit. Checking the rangefinder he leaned back and gave a thumbs up to the passengers.
"Ten cents and an apple pie for the person who shoots her down." The Jester called as he pulled out a sniper rifle from one of the weapons racks in the centre.
"Oh he can't be serious." Snake snorted as he opened a case labeled 'Ballzoka' and loaded one of the black ball tipped warheads into the launcher.
"What afraid I'm going to beat you." Diamondback purred as she swung the tail gun around and locked onto Songbird. As she was about to fire the whole barge shuddered and 8-Ball pulled the transport into a hard left to avoid the descending tornado forming where they had been.
"This is nuts." Overrider stated as more tornados formed around them and the flashes of orange light and pink sound up ahead. ''There must be nearly two dozen twisters forming at once, something like that should be impossible."
"It's fun." The Jester cackled as he lined up a shot on the avian Thunderbolt and fired, a blue projectile streaking towards her and detonating on contact before releasing a fine blue dust over his target. "8-Ball this weapon is useless."
"That's because it's stun chalk when inhaled it locks down the muscular system." 8-Ball informed him, "For non lethal take downs only."
"The wind is picking up." Vapour stated looking worried, "I'm trying to increase my mass but it is only a temporary measure.
"Nonsense." Jester snorted as Songbird and her quarry darted around opposite sides of a rapidly forming twister. "Nothing but a summer breeze if you ask me." He stated as a US army F-22 flew past before being caught by a medium sized tornado and being ripped apart.
"Maybe we should turn back." Snake suggested as debris from the jet ricocheted off the barge.
"Nonsense." The Jester snorted, "Those helicopters seem to be fine." He added as four Lynx Helicopters painted in ULTIMATUM white deftly flew towards them. Throwing the barge into a hard right and fishtailing around a tornado 8-Ball watched as a hail of canon shells ripped towards them, the Lynxs splitting as Diamondback fired back, the slower ball projectiles missing the choppers save for a few lucky shots that hit home but not doing enough damage to make the ULTIMATUM gunships turn back.
"Okay that tanked." Diamondback announced as one of the Lynx helicopters banked round to block the barge's progress. Grabbing the 'Ballzoka' Snake fired at the chopper, the rocket veering off to one side and exploding before showering the gunship with shrapnel causing the aircraft to pull off the attack as the second Lynx got into position. Locking on again Snake fired only to see the wind pick up and throw the rocket off course.
"Wind speed is throwing our attacks off." Overrider snarled, "Wait give me that, compensate for the centrifugal force and open fire." He finished as he fired the weapon, the round arching past the Lynx before being caught by the nearest twister as the gunship fired a salvo of canon shots, the projectiles missing by inches, the pilot preoccupied as the tornado spat the rocket out right into the tail of the helicopter, the resulting explosion sending it spiralling down to the floor.
"Way to go Overrider." Snake cheered as he searched for a replacement warhead. "Didn't think you had it in you to do something like that."
"I...I knew I had to do something." Overrider whispered, "Brass would want me to protect our friends."
"Touchy feely crap later." Vapour yelled as one of the closest tornados dissipated revealing the remaining Lynx helicopters heading there way. "Right now we have some more company."
"I've got it." Diamondback purred, "Now the winds dropped I can sink two birds with a single shot." Locking on she suddenly felt the barge rock as first a steel blur dashed past followed by a wave of pink sonic energy as Songbird dashed through the gap between the neatest Lynx and the floating skiff, the effects causing both vehicles to stall and spiral downwards.
"Thrusters out." 8-Ball yelled, "And until the wind stops or we hit Terra firma it will stay like that." He added as Vapour dissipated and flowed around the barge in an attempt to stall the ships free fall. With a grunt 8-Ball slammed the emergency thruster lever to full and held his breath as the engine spluttered before reengaging at only a few hundred feet above the buildings poking out of the gloom, the twin explosions suggesting that the ULTIMATUM pilots had been less successful.
"Okay judging by what happened I say we stop chasing Songbird." Snake suggested, "We have enough to deal with in a one on one fight without tornadoes, gunships and the fact this hulk is barley holding together."
"And I say keep going." The Jester cackled as he threw an override disc that he fished out of his pants onto the control hub.
"Okay you want to back seat drive us into the heart of a super tornado." 8-Ball spat as the dueling ariel aces swooped into a massive funnel cloud that had formed around the Capitol Building.
"That's the plan." The Jester cackled as the barge ploughed it's way towards the central cloud only for a massive sonic buzz-saw to come rolling out and slice through the tail of the vehicle, the rear third falling away with Diamondback just jumping free of the tattered remains, her hands barley grasping the remaining airborne sections.
"Debbie!" 8-Ball gasped as he scrabbled to the rear of the barge followed by Overrider and Snake. ''Debbie hold on." He yelled as he made a grab for her only to see the Jester stand up and shoot Diamondback through the arm with a golden pistol, the shot causing her hand to glow gold before spreading along her body before she disintegrated into ash particles that were quickly blown away by the wind. For a moment there was silence save for the wind and then over the moan of the storm came a blood curdling cackle. With a roar 8-Ball strode over to the manic Jester, knocking his weapon away and hanging him over the edge. "Why so serious?" The clown like villain hissed.
"You killed her, you killed my fiancé." 8-Ball snarled.
"I know it was part of the plan." The Jester cackled as Overrider took the helm of the barge and steered it out of the storm.
"The plan?" Snake asked as Vapour slid back on board clutching the weapon that killed Diamondback. "What plan?"
"The one to make Klaw think we were going after Vibranium when really he is the one doing all the hard work." The Jester cackled as he activated the grappling spikes in his boots. "And the one where you go to sleep." He added as tendrils of chloroform wrapped around 8-Ball causing him to stagger backwards onto the deck of the barge. His eyes watering he saw Overrider and Snake Marston spasming on the floor as the Jester climbed back onboard, before reclaiming his pistol and levelling at 8-Ball, a look of pure malice on his face. "And the one where you die as well."