The Second Hit

February 24, 2016:

The Section has placed bounties on those who infiltrated their military operation. Gotham's Joker is the second to take on the bounty, and tries to take out Spider-Woman and Shift in one play.

TriBeCa - New York City


NPCs: Rachel Cornwall, Joker's goons, three SHIELD agents and a handful of bystanders

Mentions: Jemma Simmons


Mood Music: The Skeezix Dilemna by Tourniquet

Fade In…

Julia Cornwall and her daughter Rachel have been put up in a suite in Tribeca. That suite is actually leased by the Xavier Institute, through a variety of shell-game aliases ? the idea being that it's a safehouse should one ever be needed, for whatever reason. The failsafes of the X-Men run deep.

A day has passed, maybe two. It's 7:30 in the morning when a rapping comes to the door, followed by a familiar, accented voice. "It's Kwabena."


Rachel adapts to new places more easily than Julia. After all, they did just move across the country, and at age 3, Rachel hasn't started school yet, so doesn't really have a ton of friends. The biggest issue is.. the babysitter that Julia usually used was never able to be given any explanation.

A babysitter Julia befriended and now feels bad having left in a lurch. But Julia's wounds are all healed, and she sits at a small kitchen table, feeding herself and Rachel. Rachel is one of those kids who tends to eat for a few minutes and then just stop. Then when you give up trying to get her to eat, she wants to eat again. So dinner is almost like a full shift of work every day. "It's just corn honey. You love corn." says Julia as she points at Rachel's plate.

Then a knock at the door and Rachel yells, "I'll get it!" as she jumps off of her chair, red flashing lightson her shoes as she goes running for the door. If it was any other voice, Julia might be concerned. Instead, she just gets to her feet and stands in the entry room with a tired smile on her face as Rachel jumps, grabs the door handle, and pulls the door open while on her tippy toes.


When the door opens, Kwabena is revealed to be dressed to blend. Dark tan slacks, a pair of nice black boots, and a deep burgundy turtleneck sweater. He could easily pass for some Y.P. working the arts district. Probably marketing. Probably a damned copywriter.

Kwabena looks down, and a goofy grin spreads across his face. "Oh. Hello, dere." He bends a bit at the waist, fixing the toddler with a whimsical grin and a flash of silver eyes. "My name is Kwabena. I am a friend of your moddah's. I'd like to come in, but you should probably ask her pahmission, first."


And Rachel looks up to you, then over to Julia who merely nods and steps forward, "It's okay honey. He's right though. Never allow anyone in without asking me first, okay?" she asks as she bends down and scoops Rachel up in her arms, spinning her about with a squeal of glee from the girl.

Then she ends up facing you once more. "Kwabena… this is Rachel. I know you kinda almost met the other day but.. it was chaotic. Thank you again for your help. We were just having dinner… are you hungry? Maybe you'dlike some coffee?"


Theres a lopsided grin on his face when Julia spins back around to face Kwabena. "Hello, Rachel." He smiles to the young one, then turns his attention back to her mother. "Yes, and yes. I'm famished, and if I evah turn down coffee, you should considah calling a Doctah."

He steps in then, closing the door behind him. It's worth noting, he makes sure to lock the door behind him. "Have you settled in well?" he asks Julia, while taking a moment to inspect the apartment. It's not simply to enjoy it's aesthetics; he's looking for easy ways in and out, blind spots, and the like.


You are doing a thing Julia has already done several times so far. "As well as we can." she states as Rachel stares your way. "Silver." she remarks as she points at your face. Eyes.. kids have no brain to mouth filter you know.

Julia chuckles and nods, "Yes, he has pretty eyes. If you eat your corn.. I'll let you ask him about them okay?" she asks as she sets Rachel into her chair and heads to the counter to pour up a cup of coffee. Dinner tonight is meat loaf with mashed potatos and corn. Simple.. easy…


A nod of understanding is given, before the Ghanaian approaches the table and takes a seat. "So, Rachel. Can you tell me how old you ah?" he asks. The dinner smells good; he's eaten three times his normal intake in an effort to rebuild what material was lost during their escape from the Army Base, but there's still more calorie rebuilding to do. "It smells good," he calls toward Julia.


"It's about as simple a meal as I can make. I wanted to have Rachel there growing up with real meals -not- always purchased over a counter." she states as she sets a coffee cup before you and a dish of cream and sugar nearby.

Rachel grins up at you with a mouthful of corn. She holds up a hand and shows 3 fingers! And Julia grins as she plates up a meal before setting it before you and sitting back down to her own.


"Dat is good of you," he tells Julia. "I always had a home cooked meal back home." Which is an embellishment, but, he's not interested in exposing a toddler to the truths of his less than pleasant childhood. "Thank you," he says, to the coffee and the meal.

"Three is a wondahful age!" he tells Rachel. "Finish dat corn. I'll tell you all about my beautiful eyes." At that, he casts a look Julia's way, with a wink.

"You don't need to thank me," he tells the woman. "Dough I do appreciate it. I'm sorry dat you were caught up in dat mess. Dere… will be ramifications." His pleasant expression breaks for a moment. He hopes not to discuss the details with her while Rachel is pleasant, and believes she'll understand what he means.


Rachel grins widely and scoops up more corn to take a bite even as Julia just grins, "Thank you too though." she states, "But let's… discuss the difficult things a bit later?" she asks, not really wanting to upset Rachel.


"Of course," Kwabena answers Julia.

Some time later, Kwabena and Julia are out on the streets. Kwabena is well-connected; a call to Agent Simmons and a trio of plainclothes SHIELD agents are at the apartment. One of them, a young woman with extensive combat training and a special talent looking after children, has been tasked with babysitting Rachel. The other two wait outside the apartment door.

"I know it must be uncomfortable leaving her, but dey're good agents. And, I'm afraid, dis convahsation just cannot wait." The Ghanaian has a falafel in one hand, a soda in the other. "Things may be worse dan we realized. SIGMA is involved, and dere ah mercenaries who have been 'augmented'. I'm familiar with de technology being used, but dis is… a ramped up version. It's very possahble dat we've all been tahgetted." A pause. "Don't worry. Agent Matthews has an open comm to me. I can hear everything." He taps his left ear indicatively.


Of course, Julia was looking back to the house with a bit of fretting in her body language, that's why Shift said that to her. Her eyes flicker to his and she smirks, "I know, I know. I just…" she shrugs. "I just don't like leaving her right now but you're right."

She looks his way and stuffs her hands in her bluejean pockets. "I knew on the spot that I was a target. I just hadn't considered Rachel until they brought her up. I'd much rather go after them before they can come for us, if only to put an end to this before it gets too deep."


"Dey ah training de mercs out of a facility in Greece," Kwabena tells Julia. "I intend to investigate it. Going aftah dem, dough… you're talking about taking on U.S. military assets." He casts a conspiratorial look toward his counterpart. "Impahsonating a Colonel is one thing. SHIELD would back me up. But without some sort of official mandate? Dat's treason."

Punishable by death.

The Ghanaian pauses for a moment, taking some time to devour more of that falafel. He sure can put it away. It gives him time to consider something.

"Dere ah some peopah I could bring dis to."


A large truck slowly rolls its way down the street, coming around the corner the garish griming face of a smiling clown, a pair of bright yellow headlights for eyes. Spinning red and yellow tires, the pupils of the truck looking one side to the other as it rolls along the street. Loud circus music follows it down the street, as it comes to a full stop right in the middle of the road, blocking it off completely. A second identical truck pulling up at the other end of the street to block it off.

There's a loud roar of honking horns and angry people as the two trucks jackknife themselves. A second smiling clown face painted across the side with the words Flying Graysons Circus in bold red lettering across a red background glaring them right down. Nothing has happened as of yet but the music does grow louder to cover over the endless honking.


"I get it. Sure… it's difficult and not cool. But sitting on the sidelines and just waiting for them to come to us is not something I am prepared to.." and the loud music from the trucks gets her attention. She turns her eyes that way and lifts both brows, "What in the heck" she asks as she narrows her eyes, trying to get a better look at things despite the glaringly bright headlights.


Whatever Kwabena may have been prepared to say, he as well is taken by surprise when those gaudy vehicles jackknife themselves.

If he had hair (currently, he's hairless; a side effect that comes with taking plasma phase), it would have begun to stand up on the back of his head. For a moment, he's speechless. "… shit." He doesn't look Julia's way, but he does take a step back. "Matthews, heads up. Think we've been had." That goes over the open comm, alerting the SHIELD agents to potential trouble.

"You wearing de spandex undah dose jeans?"


"Come one, come all to the greatest show on earth." A voice calls out into an old style megaphone in hand, as he's raised up from a platform in the center of the truck in front of them. He's dressed in a black and yellow vertical striped vaudeville jacket, tan pants and a straw boat hat.

Clutched in his free hand a simple wooden cane, a bizarre mask with a massive hooked nose covering his face, contorted into a broad and cheery grin. "With ferocious freaks and terrifying clowns it's a show sure to knock em dead!" That inhumanly deranged laugh echoes out loud and proud over the music.

"Send in the clowns!" He cries out a single loud slamming of his cane onto the side of the truck before it begins to lift. Multicolored over-sized shoes becoming visible first as it begins to raise, catching a view of the mismatched leggings of a good twenty clowns. Each of them seems to be armed with a different carnival themed implement of destruction, and wearing a similar mask.


"Usually, yep." mutters Julia as she drops back behind Shift. She peels her hoodie off to reveal that spandex top.. and she pulls her mask up and over her face. "It'll do. Bluejeans can handle it." she mutters as she comes back out from behind the guy and.. she pauses to stare..

"You have -got- to be shitting me." she mutters as she views… the clown army. "I thought they were all supposed to come out of one tiny little car." she mutters. "Seriously… what the eff?" she asks as she stands there beside Shift.


"Christ," Kwabena mutters. "It's dat sick fuck from Gotham."

His clothing falls to the sidewalk, leaving a cloud of black smoke that hovers there for a moment, before reforming. Shift is still pulling the mask down over his face when he reforms. "EVERYONE," he calls out loud and clear, "GET INDOORS AND FIND SHELTAH!"

He cracks his neck to the side, scowling beneath the mask. "You ready to kick some Barnum Broddahs ass?" He glances Spider-Woman's way, and nods his head to the left. It's the classic, you go left, I'll go right routine.

Shift curls back and vaults forward, transforming into black smoke once his feet leave the ground. The mass of black, swirling biomatter soars to the right, barreling down upon one of the Joker's masked freaks.


The torrent of masked clowns come running out from the truck the cavalcade of squeaking from their shoes and honking of the noses on their masks ringing out as they charge. In their hands are everything from chainsaws to spiked wifflebats, and balloons filled with some sort ofsickly green bubbling liquid. Juggling clowns, crying clowns all of the classics are there… along with a giant grizlybear riding around on a spiked ball that looks to have the jokers face on it.

"Give em a show to die for boys. The circus is coming to town!" He calls before hoisting up his own cane slightly the megaphone falling to one side so that he can fire a GRENADE from the end of it into the middle of the traffic sending home the message that Shift had already given out: It's not safe. People scream and flee from their cars in droves on the other side of the wall that is the front truck, people trapped in the center already panicking as the clowns swarm into their midsts.


And shaking her head, Julia just surges forward. She's charging forward with a sneer on her face. She whips a psi-web out and snags the grenade out of mid-air, whipping herself about and slinging it back towards the truck.

But then she lands in the midst of several of the goons, a foot snapping out as she comes down, a.nd a pair of psi-webs whipping out to pull two of the other goons together before her to form a human shield between her and other attackers…


Shift reforms inches from his first target, and all but barrels the clown into the pavement. With his hands pressed against the clown's chest, he swings both legs into the air and takes out another with enough force to crack ribs.

The clown on the ground is hefted to his feet, and bodily thrown into another one. He didn't intend for the man to find a chainsaw buried in his shoulder, but with the chainsaw wielding thug struggling to pull it out, Shift presses the advantage. He charges the clown and throws a shoulder into his chin. Both go toppling.


The grenade still explodes sending a car into the air and killing at least two people while rocking the vehicle one side to the other. The clown on top almost managing to fall over before catching himself back up to a stand with his own wooden caneaid launcher. "Now that's just rude, someone could get hurt if you keep that up." being called back into the megaphone as he tries to right himself back into place adjusting his hat, with a look of disappointment on his face.

The clowns have the numbers on their side but are already being whittled down, as the Joker calls out encouragement in the form of classical showmanship. "Come on, put your heads together boys!" Flaming knives hit the ground along with the chainsaws one clown had been juggling as the two are slammed into each-other knocking their masks off of their faces as they slump unconscious to the ground in a pile.

Then comes the crunch of bone filling the air as those ribs are smashed the Joker letting out a bit of a friendly laugh as he shakes his head. "Now that one's going to hurt in the morning." The madman laughing at his own joke, as that bear rolls its way overtop the already abandoned cars. The spikes dig into the top of a Taxi as its roof is caved in the alarm going crazy as it rolls closer, attempting to bowl the two over with the sheer weight of the massive metal jokerball.


"What do they -want- here?" calls Julia more towards Shift than any of the clowns. When the car explodes, shei realizes that the fuse on the grenade was shorter than she had hoped it was, and she winces. Two more lives to add onto her shoulders, and her mountain sized guilt backpack she already wore.

But she leapt upwards to evade more attacks from clowns and then with a web yoink.. pulled herself towards the large bear. Her plan here? Web the giant spiked ball it's riding to the ground and ruin its mobility. Then she'll see about wrasslin' it to the ground eventually. She's strong! She can handle a bear! Right? RIGHT?!


Shift is hell bent on thinning those numbers.

With a dash, he charges the next closest clown, who manages to get a knife into him. The thug's fist hits Shift's uniform and stops there. The Ghanaian looks down, grabs the thug's arm, and twists it with a snarl. There's a horrible cracking sound, and the blood spurts all over both's faces. A bone is now protruding from the clown's arm,and he releases the knife, falling down.

Shift grabs the knife and pulls. There's no blood, not even a sign of injury; a thin section of his chest had turned into smoke upon impact. He pivots on one leg and throws the knife clean through the air, where it finds a new home in the back of an unsuspecting attacker.

"Run!" he tells a pair of frightened onlookers, before grappling with another attacker.

"Wild guess," he calls to Spider-Woman, "dose bastahds placed a bounty." How else would the Crown Prince of Crime have gotten onto them so quickly? He calls this out while wrestling with the thug; this one seems particularly stronger than the others.

Eventually, Shift's body begins to super-harden. It gives him the advantage, and he throws the thug clean off his feet and right into one of Spider-Woman's webs.


Joker bends down at the knees grabbing hold of a small black dufflebag on the roof of the truck, looking into it for a few moments as he digs and digs for something. Squeaky toys, horns, and chattering teeth get thrown over the side of the vehicle as his clowns are thrown down to the ground slaughtered and general wiped up. "Now where did I put that." The cane and megaphone sat off to one side as he searches.

People on either side continue to evacuate doing their best to get out of here as fast as possible, running and hiding and screaming as they try to find anywhere safe. Some of them tripping over one another others simply calling out for help from the police. "You'd be surprised what a few kind words and several million will do for some people." The sirens already on the way, as the red and blue lights shine out in the distance.

The bear on its ball rolls ever closer kicking its way along before the ball is suddenly webbed to the ground. Still kicking its way along the bear in its massive pink too-too falls down off of the surface of the ball into a tucking roll that bowls over several thugs knocking them to the ground, and knocking off the little clown mask that the creature itself had been wearing. Joker takes a pause to lift his megaphone to the corner of his mouth calling "Steeeeeeeerike." A slight pause. "Wait… wrong sport…" Throwing a small baseball out of the dufflebag.

Thugs are caught in webs smashed into the ground thinned further and further even as a few more try to join in the frey the chaos of the moment truly setting in as clown noses and shoes go every which way that annoying music blaring over it all as from seemingly nowhere a halibut goes flying towards shift. One of the clowns having thrown it before being smacked into the ground.


"Keep these thugs busy." mutters Julia to Shift as she leaps upon the bear. She is a lot stronger than she looks. She and Spider-Man have that in common, and she precedes her attack with a flurry of psi-webs to keep the creature from regaining its balance. She hates attacking such a majestic animal, and so is going to try to avoid truly harming it…
Her eyes -do- flicker towards Joker over there, and she silently vows that he is next on her list… after this bear.


Amped up and adrenaline fueled, Shift snatches the halibut right out of the air. He spins about and crams it into an approaching thug, taking the fist that was coming to his face in stride. His leg comes up and pushes the attacker away, but he spied another coming from the corner of his eye. His hand goes out toward a face, but the entirety of his arm transforms to smoke and plunges deep into the clown's mouth and down into his lungs.

Wouldn't be a good fight without a Shift Choke.

Another comes upon him, swinging an oversized machete. The blade cuts right through his neck; a small tuft of black smoke flies off into the air, but his head remains attached and unharmed. "Dammit!" he yells, and catches the swinging arm, pushing it and dislocating the attacker's shoulder. He holds it there, getting right into the thug's face. "Dat itches!"

Boom! Headbutt. One thug goes down, the other falls, tendrils of smoke pulling out of his mouth to reform a gunmetal gray clad arm.

The machete is snatched up,and he faces a handful of those who are left. "Battah up!" he calls, and comes upon them, swinging with the large, dull end of the sword. Non-lethal seems to be his game. For now.


"ROAR" Goes the bear as it tries to come back to a stand only to be knocked off balance by the sudden addition of psy webs to its body. Growing more angry by the moment the bear attempts an earth shattering roar only to get a mouth full of the stuff. Say what one will for the thing is may be intimidating but it's not much of a skilled fighter. It tries to force its own mouth open while clawing away. The creature doesn't have much luck as of yet but it's trying its hardest.

"Oh cheese it's the fuzz." The Joker cries out in mach terror, as he finally lifts an over-sized gun from the bag. Yet from looking at the sheer size of it there's no way the weapon could have fit in the bag in the first place. "Suppose this is as guda time as any." Hoisting the massive shoulder mounted weapon onto his own shoulder, before trying to take aim at the two. A large bubbling vat of something yellow attached to the gun. "Brie ready for anything mom always said."


"Shit." mutters Julia. She turns her head to look towards Shift, and then looks back to the Joker. The bear… it's pretty wrapped up by now, and another absent gesture adds another layer to the webbing even as Julia begins rushing Joker. Her reflexes are top notch, and she is preparing to evade whatever is fired her way. But she needs to get there… before this guy has a chance to kill anyone else.


Once those clowns are dispatched, Shift turns in time with Spider-Woman to stare at the massive weapon. "Ahh, damn." He crouches down, breathing heavily, ready to leap once the gun is fired.


The gun revs up a loud noise echoing out even as the music swells behind him, the contents swirling and bubbling. The loud churning chugging noise of the weapon readying to fire sounding like a fleet of bomber planes flying overhead. Police step out from their cars readying for the worst still trying to evacuate as the gun begins to grow bigger extending the barrel out further and further as it revs to full potential. "Say cheese!" A massive BANG of five howitzers going off at once before.. a single block of cheese falls lazily out the end of the gun, accompanied by a small flag with the word BOOM on the side of it in classic cartoon print.


And for once, the normally decisive Spider Woman… is struck speechless and quite unable to do anything. She is stunned by this weapon. So stunned that she would not even stop The Joker from escaping should he do so. She's just staring at the cheese…. and a telepath would get lost in her head right now, it's quite a swirl of nothingness.


The cops. Shift isn't much for cops either. He tenses when the gun fires, but when the cheese lands on the ground, he just stares at it for a prolonged moment.

"… Everybody, move -" Jesus. Christ. He's about to say it, isn't he? Yeah, he is. "… move away from de cheese!" He turns to motion toward what few onlookers may be left. "Go, now!"


That roaring laughter rings out at high volume, bounding off one wall to the next as the joker falls backwards laughing off of the truck… and into a flatbed. One moment he's there the next he's being slammed through the wall of police cruisers, the cheese providing just the distraction he needed.

People look terrified, confused and awkward for a few moments as shift comments about the cheese. From the pile of unconscious clowns a solitary "Pfwwwwoahaha" Calls out still pained specifically coming from the man with his broken ribs. The cylinder of cheese setting there as the flag slowly begins to lower itself down the tiny toothpick mast. It's slow, and methodical like clockwork, as it travels closer and closer to the wheel itself. People slowly backing away from the cheese even as the police open fire on the fleeing joker.


Time to move. Shift runs forward, his body going super solid with a series of cracks and pops, the exposed skin on his lower face growing these rocky protrusions of matte obsidian. He skids, crouching down, and pries a manhole cover off, casting it aside.

Back on his feet, he snatches up the cheese and with a gasp, tosses it down into the hole.

Then, he forms a preemptive wince.


The ground rumbles and shakes a gout of fire causing the manhole cover to lift slightly into the air before falling back into place. The cover is left pure white hot, steam flowing up from beneath it, sound from the trucks going dead silent as one of the cops finally switches off the record player in the front seat. The world feeling oddly much more quiet.


Shift releases a long held breath he hasn't realized was being held. He turns from the manhole cover to Spider-Woman, no doubt sharing a knowing expression, before the two of them bolt.

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