Ravencroft Mental Hospital, New York
The lighting of the prison cell flicked as the power surged through the circuitry, the rapid change of light causing the patient tied to a gurney to grunt slightly, before twitching his arm, only to be restrained by the sensors and drip strapped either to his skin, or embedded into his flesh. Wheezing slightly he pressed the call button strapped to the palm of his other hand, only for a man in a jumpsuit to enter cell rather than the nurse he was expecting.
"It's time." The newcomer stated as he drew a large dagger from his belt, before heading to the bound inmate where he towered over the prisoner. With a sinister smile he cut the cords binding the man on the gurney, before unplugging the sensors and drip. "Time for the world to laugh again."
"Oh don't worry, mirth and merriment are very much my specialities." The bound man groaned as he struggled to get off the bed, his muscles so atrophied that he could barely stand let alone walk. "This on the other hand is lacking a decent punch-line." He moaned as the man in the jumpsuit reached outside and pushed a wheelchair into the room, complete with a corpse missing its legs and lower torso sitting in it.
"I had to cut the queue to get the chair," The jump suited man snorted as he threw the corpse out onto the floor.
"Leave the jokes to me Marko, and I'll let you rock the Man-Mountain parts of my plan." The prisoner stated as he was helped into the chair by Marko. "All the world's a stage, but this time the joke is on them." He cackled as Marko pushed him into the corridor leaving a set of custom playing cards behind, each one stabbed into the wall with a scalpel surrounding the 'Joker' card in a rough circle, blood trickling down the edges and pooling together to form a stagnant puddle on the floor.
The Fallen Angel Tavern, New York - Five Days Later
"A hundred says Pool Shark sinks the 12 Ball in the centre left pocket." The man dressed in yellow ballistic armour stated as he and a crowd of other costumed characters watched a humanoid shark line up the cue with the cue-ball and strike it, the projectile striking the 12 Ball but just failing to sink it into the pocket.
"That was a bad bet Chance." An older gentleman dressed in a cat suit wheezed as Pool Shark shot a foul look at his opponent, a red haired man dressed in a white shirt, leather jacket and jeans. "Why you'd bet against 8-Ball at pool is beyond me."
"Even the greats fall Black Fox." Chance replied as he handed his friend a crisp bundle of notes. "If you keep betting on that fall, one day you'll wake up rich." He added as 8-Ball rounded the table and looked at the final shot he had to make to pot the billiard ball of the same name. "He's nervous, I don't think he can do it." Chance whispered as 8-Ball pointed to a red haired woman wearing a gold coloured leotard and nothing else.
"I don't suppose you let Miss..." 8-Ball stopped as the woman stepped out of the crowd.
"Strobe." The woman answered.
"...if we let Strobe take my last shot." 8-Ball finished, his proposition causing a massive predatory grin to spread across his face.
"No problems here." Pool Shark sneered, as he rubbed his hands with glee at the thought of a well won victory. "But remember that you set this up when you lose Hagees!" He hissed in a nasty tone, as his opponent handed the cue to Strobe and pointed to three various points on the table, before moving her hands into the correct position to take the shot. Holding their collective breath, the crowd watched Strobe take the shot, the cue ball rolling down the table bouncing off one, two, three parts of the table edge before clipping the eight ball and sending it rolling into the nearest pocket.
"And there you have it." A tubby man sitting behind Black Fox and Chance stated. "Jeff Hagees AKA 8-Ball has held onto his title for the fourth year in the row. And as we expected here comes the brawling part of the tournament." He stated as Pool Shark swung his cue at the back of his opponents head, only for his target to drop under the blow and lash out with his own cue, the tip slamming into the Shark's stomach.
"You could stop this right Voice?'' Black Fox asked as the three villains darted for cover as Pool Shark grabbed Jeff by the shoulders and slammed him onto the pool table with enough force to break it, splinters of wood flying everywhere.
"And ruin the fun? I think not!" The Voice replied as Jeff picked up a chunk of wood and jammed it into Pool Shark's hydraulic jaws as his rival bent down to deliver a deadly bite to Hagees neck.
"Any last words?" Pool Shark asked as he snapped the piece of wood in his jaws easily.
"There's always a bigger fish!" Jeff told him as a scaled hand tapped Pool Shark on the shoulder. Spinning around the 'Shark' saw a humanoid fish dressed in a suit towering a full head and shoulders above him, an angry look on his face. "Bill he's all yours."
"You give us fish themed villains a bad name!" Bill hissed, his voice sounding dry and rattling as he breathed through the water store mounted on the metal ring round his neck. "Now walk it off and try again next year when your lucks better." He suggested as Jeff slipped away from the debris of the pool table and got to his feet using his cue.
"Yeah right." Pool Shark cackled, each word fighting against their speakers laughter. "Like you can talk Mister Fish!"
"Five words, five moves." Bill told him calmly as Pool Shark swung at him, only for his opponent to grab his limb and twist it until it broke with a sickening crunch. "Nobody..." he hissed as Pool Shark swung at him with his free hand, only for his opponent to block his blow with his forearm, "...laughs..." he continued as Pool Shark backed off a bit only to be grabbed by the dorsal fin and slammed into the floor, "...at..." he hissed as his opponent tried to bite him on the leg only to be stomped jaws open into the floor, "...Mister..." before bending down and slamming the lower hydraulic jaw shut so hard that it crushed the upper jaw and stabbed into the face of its owner, "...Fish!" Bill finished as he walked away from the prone bleeding form of Pool Shark.
"You know you have an anger management problem." Jeff stated as the pair of them walked back to their table and the third member of their crew, a bald man wearing a blue jumpsuit lined with tubes and valves. "Not that I don't appreciate it right now of course."
"Yeah my psychologist said the same." Bill muttered as he sat down at the table. "She's great, we have this whole transference thing going on or something like that. Apparently she always wanted to be a mermaid when she was younger or something."
"People are weird." The bald man sighed. "I can understand why Overrider prefers to hang out with his robo-buddies now." He added as a waitress approached the table carrying a tray of drinks. "Oh cool free drinks, guess we're the cool crowd, at least for the moment."
"We're always cool Frank." Jeff replied as the waitress but the drinks down. "So the spring water is yours Bill, the hot coco is for ole Freezer Burn and that leaves the alcohol free beer for me." He murmured as the waitress placed their individual drinks on the table. Say before you go, who do we have to thank for these drinks?" He asked as Frank picked up his mug of coco and took a long sip.
"That would be the gentleman in the yellow armour at the end of the bar." The waitress told him, her hand gesturing to the man in question, his hand clenched round a glass of dark red wine.
"Spymaster crap!!" Jeff swore as the waitress walked away whilst Spymaster walked towards them. "And he's coming over crap and more crap!" He grunted as the approaching villain took the remaining seat at their table.
"Such a dirty mouth on you Jeffrey." Spymaster sighed as the faceplate of his armour rose to reveal his actual face, worry lines and wrinkles furrowing his brow. "And honestly is that anyway to greet an old acquaintance?" He asked, seconds before Jeff landed a vicious blow to his face, cracking his targets nose enough for a little blood to spray out onto the table.
"Your right, after trying to kill me and my friends a couple of swears is not enough. Unfortunately here comes a few more!" Jeff snarled, "Piss off Spymaster, nobody wants you here! You’re a sick pathetic creep and I hate you!!”
“Such a low opinion of me Jeffery.” Spymaster replied in an even tone. “I was hoping that we could become partners, you see I believe we have a mutual problem.”
“Not interested!” Jeff hissed, his voice loaded with venom.
“Woah wait a minute, this is Spymaster!” Freezer Burn stated as he gestured towards the man in question. “As in the Spymaster with all that money and influence.”
“I’m flattered, but recently my money and influence have been a little lacking due to a mutual friend. I assume you remember your former employer Mr Putt, a figure known in the Underworld as the Jovial Jester.” Spymaster replied, as he whipped the blood off of his face and smiled an off-putting smile at Jeff. “He’s after me and likely after you and your wife as well.”
“Nice try, but I saw the Jester die.” Jeff replied coldly as he cracked his knuckles. “And even if he hadn’t died, you and Hill deserve every bit of trouble he gives you.” He stated before raising his voice. “Yeah I know that you are SHIELD’s puppet Spymaster!!” As he finished several of the patrons at the bar got to their feet, murderous looks upon their facing.
“Fair enough.” Spymaster sighed as he got to his feet and flipped his face-mask down. “My card should you change your mind.” He added, as he flicked it to Jeff, only for the pool themed volume to dunk it into Norris’s water. Shrugging his shoulders, Spymaster walked away towards the stairs up to the carpark.
“You were a right tool.” Norris stated. “Guy came for help and you turned him away.”
“He deserved it.” Jeff replied bluntly, only to see Freezer-Burn shake his head in disagreement. “You guys suck sometimes.” He sighed as he got to his feet and headed for the stairs. “A business card, and that’s it, we are not becoming bed fellows with Spymaster of all people.”
“If it helps we’ll go with you, tell Spymaster we made you do it.” Freezer Burn suggested, as he and Norris went to follow him up into the car-park. As they did, the saw Spymaster slip into a cab, the car driving away from where the three villains were standing. Seconds later another cab, this one driven by a small duck like humanoid pulled up, the window rolled down.
“Hey you guys seen a Spymaster, he called for a cab about fifteen minutes ago?” The cabbie asked, as Norris looked at him, shock evident on his face. Seconds later the cab with Spymaster came back round, the windows down to reveal the villain in question pinned to the back seat with long knives with red and white streamers attached to them. Coming to a stop the faint tune of ‘Pop goes the Weasel’ could be heard coming from the radio for a few seconds before the cab exploded, the expanding energy enough to set off the alarms of the parked cars, and send the watchers flying backwards into the dumpster outside the bar.
“Okay so perhaps Spymaster was right.” Jeff gasped. “As he spotted something gleaming on the front seat. Walking up to the burning car he looked inside and saw a ceramic tile depicting the King of Clubs but with Spymaster replacing the trade-mark character usually found in a deck. “About one thing at least.”