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Last issue Klaw's heist ran into difficulty when the Jester and his forces returned and stole a choice selection of Vibranium crystals from right under his nose. Things got worse as Satana killed Drill and Voortrekker before being temporarily defeated by the Hooded Haunt. Just to show bad things come in threes Volcana and X-Ray triggered a chain reaction that thretned to destroy the Wakandan consulate with the thieves inside.
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Jester's 11 #8 - Survivors Guilt
Who survived? Who knows?
"And Donut here is an eight month old daschund puppy left homeless by the alien attack on...If you have meta human problems call Mattock...the explosion is not being linked to a robbery earlier this month that was orchestrated by the Hypno...a crime organisation known as ULTIMATUM...four bodies linked to the Maggia gunned down by Office Dallas." The TV suddenly smashed open as an exploding pool ball went the the screen. Looking up the Jester saw 8-Ball and Snake Marston glaring at him.
"Our deal." Snake hissed, "Give us our money and then we will get out of here."
"Once Sanders returns with the chips." The Jester snarled, "The job will be finished and you can leave."
"It's been two days he's not coming back." 8-Ball yelled, "He sold you out just to get a head of the game."
"But...but that means neither I or that Belgian squiggle of White Noise won? We're deadlocked, it's terrible." The Jester cried with fake sobs puncturing his words. "Until I get what I want nobody leaves you get me." He added viciously before throwing his Martini glass on the floor, the chemical inside burning through the wooden boards. Transfixed all three of them watched it's progress until a foot wide hole had been cored, their observation only ended by Oriole walking in through the buckled door to the Jester's office. "Oh what do you want?" The comic themed villain sighed as the new arrival pushed his way to the front.
"I found Sanders, well sort of." Oriole told him. "It wasn't pleasant."
"Well where is he?" The Jester spat.
"Hospitalised, his legs were disintegrated." Oriole answered, "The attache case was gone, there was a news report where the mayor returned some Vibranium back to the Black Panther, I guess it was the same crystals we stole."
"Those were mine not his." The Jester hissed, "Now I'm going to have to steal them again." He spat before punching Oriole in the throat, sending him wheezing to the floor.
"Well you will have to do it without us." 8-Ball announced as Snake picked Oriole up off the ground. "Remember our deal." He added coldly before sliding four cheques across the desk. "And no signing them in invisible ink."
"I only use that to draw on your faces while you sleep. If you could see in UV then you'd always have a chuckle when you looked at Diamondback." The Jester cackled, "Now if you leave I have six operatives, take away Klaw because I don't trust him, wait that leaves only five! Where did all the others go?"
"Not my problem." 8-Ball answered taking his cheque." I now no longer work for you."
"It is now." The Jester purred, "I wrote a new contract on the back, by writing your names on them to get paid you accepted. Welcome to my crew all of you."
"I'm going to bloody well kill you." 8-Ball snarled before he and Snake left the room. As they did the Jester turned to Oriole and shrugged his shoulders. "Who hasn't said that before. Now you find me a new biochemist and do it quickly."
"I know a guy." Oriole answered, "And he just so happens to be looking for work."
Volcana sat in the lab in her new Vibranium form as Klaw ran his remaining hand over her body. It was unconformable but the man was an expert in the material and he was her best bet to discover why she was trapped in this form. Despite his title as the Master of Sound, Klaw was being very quiet, even going as far to build an amplifying base for the device the Jester wanted for his plan. Stopping his examination Klaw sat down on his lab chair and looked at the notes that Overrider had taken down for him.
"Fascinating." Klaw murmured, "It appears that the transformation can be reversed by releasing the stored energy inside."
"And you can do that?" Volcana asked as Overrider took a sip from his coffee on the adjacent desk.
"You did. You and X-Ray back in the consulate building." Klaw answered, "The reaction however would destroy the ground floor of this building and the basement. Subsequent structure damage would cause the upper floors to collapse as well resulting in our deaths."
"Well can it be done without that happening?"
"In a few weeks I could build a machine to fix you." Overrider explained, "But we need your weight in Vibranium to transfer the energy to which we don't have."
"So I'm stuck like this," Volcana growled.
"There is a way." Klaw stated quietly as Vapour drifted into the room. "The Wakandan heretics have spells that can safely transfer the energy. Luckily I hired a witch with information about the magics to do just that. The Hooded Haunt has the power to do just that. Now will you give me a few minutes while I finalise the fine tuning of the amplifier."
"Sure okay." Volcana replied as she headed for the door, "Come on Overrider I want to say goodbye before you and the others leave." As soon as the door closed Klaw turned to watch as Vapour washed over the amplifier.
"So it's almost finished, this master plan that will hand us the payment of a lifetime." She hissed, "Yet I feel unassured about the outcome, something doesn't seem right about all this and I know that you had the same suspicions from the day you arrived."
"How perceptive." Klaw stated, "But surely you as the fool's harlot know what his plan involves. "The tunnel plans, the sonic emitter, Vibranium fuel cells and this amplifier." He grunted as he picked up the device and tweaked the wires with a pair of pliers. "The clown plans to ransom the city or level it using the same phenomena he triggered in the consulate. That was a warning to the world of the kind of power he is about to claim as his own. My own plan was similar if a little more ambitious."
"You have his motives all wrong." Vapour whispered as Diamondback and X-Ray walked past the lab. "He's a comedian, he wouldn't make it that serious."
"Then find out what." Klaw replied, "And make a choice of where you stand. In a few days this house of cards will collapse. You can either be crushed by the debris or be the one who knocks them down, either way it's' your choice."
The Jester sat in the dark room, a few glowing crystals and the eyes of the Hooded Haunt as she silently shuffled the ancient deck of the Marseille Tarot cards and placed a trio of cards face down on the flood in the middle of an indigo pentagram.
"Is this really necessary?" the Jester complained as the markings on the ground lit up with an unearthly light.
"Because the success of this mission is in flux." The Haunt answered grimly, "As is you future. Behold the Juggler."
"Handsome looking fellow." The Jester commented. "That is good right?"
"It represents the corruption of power." The Haunt announced, "And it doesn't represent you, it is the card of another,one who you have allowed to grow unchecked." She added before turning over the next card. "The Tower. A plan come to ruination, but which plan yours or the rival hidden within the deck."
"Klaw it must be." The Jester stated as the last card was revealed.
"The Empress, the face of your rival, she is once with power, one who is sensual, provides pleasure." The Haunt announced, "Your plan is in danger but it can be saved if you act now."
"Well who is this..." A knock on the door caused both of them to get to their feet as green gas leaked under the door before forming into Vapour's.
feminine form. "We were doing nothing I swear."
"Like I'd worry about you and Miss Skeletor." Vapour said with a hint of cattiness. "Klaw has finished the amplifier and has also found a way to charge the crystal from the sonic harness. He wants everyone down in the lab to witness how great he is."
"I detest that man." The Jester sighed.
"As do I." Vapour added before smirking at the Hooded Haunt, "But at the moment he is a necessary evil." She added as the Jester and the Haunt left the room leaving her standing alone. "As are all of you."
Sitting in the lab observation chamber 8-Ball watched as Klaw sealed the door inside, locking himself in with Volcana and the Hooded Haunt. The remaining members of the crew were spread out watching. As usual there seemed to be two camps, with X-Ray and Vapour sticking close to the Jester whilst everyone else was crowded around him.
"I'm going to kill him." Diamondback growled, "Duped back into service for half pay."
"Get in line." Snake hissed before watching as the Haunt carved sigils into Volcana using a dagger. "Must be Christmas for Klaw locked in with two girls."
"Focus." Overrider told him, "What would it take for us to wrestle control away from him?"
"A majority in numbers." 8-Ball stated only half heatedly watching as Volcana's hands were bound together by a snakeskin ribbon. "If we can figure out who would stand with us then we can figure out our chances."
"We can count the U-Foes out." Diamondback stated, "Vapour is loyal to the Jester and X-Ray is loyal to her. Oriole and Volcana might join us and Klaw would but I think it would only be so he can take charge."
"And the Hooded Haunt?" Overrider asked as the Haunt removed her hood and embraced Volcana before gesturing at Klaw to bring the Vibranium crystal to her.
"An unknown, I have a feeling she serves herself first and others only when her agenda matches theirs.'' 8-Ball answered him. "So it's four yes votes and another three in the maybe category." He added as purple lightning arched out of Volcana into the crystal, the sheer force of the sound released cracking the glass and shaking the chairs until it died away leaving Volcana free of her prison and the crystal sparking.
"Whatever the case we need to be careful." Diamondback told the others, "This may be a fight we can't win."
Overrider sat in the now deserted lab going over the diagnostics of the robot arm he had constructed. Soon very soon Brass would be back in action, hopefully before the coup just to add another body into the mix. He was surprised at 8-Ball and Diamondback's decision to fully rebel and, if given the chance a few months ago would have turned away but now for the first time he felt enthused and valuable, it was like he was a different person. He shuddered, it suddenly had become cold in the room, to cold yet he knew that the thermostat had not been altered, this was a different cold, one of incoming dread, one that was magnified as the power died plunging the lab into darkness.
"Is anyone there?" He called as he unholstered his Desert Eagle and headed for the silent alarm button mounted on the control surface next to the main door controls. Checking the edges of the lab he got half way when the attack came from the one direction he hadn't checked as arms reached from the floor with hands biting into the flesh on his legs, the pain causing him to drop his pistol. After the initial shock came another sensation, a cold creeping feeling poking icy fingers into his brains. It was a familiar sensation akin to some of the resistance he had felt from some of the more powerful machines he'd controlled, a sensation he could fight.
"You...have...just been...overridden." He gasped as he fumbled for a trigger on his belt, his palms aching before pressing the button that activated the nano relays in his blood, the tiny machines creating a massive feedback of energy that flung the mystery attacker away but also caused Overrider to collapse, his mind and body locked down into a cybernetic comma. As such he never saw his assailant rise from the floor and inspect his palms, tiny mouths and proto teeth visible under Overrider's gloves.
"As much as I hunger for your essence I am sorry to say that I'm on a schedule and like this you are useless to me. Still your powers are most appreciated and will serve me well." The dark figure hissed before teleporting away leaving the comatose Overrider in the dark Aline.