One Big Fat Band Man

January 27, 2018:

Rusalka Stojespal, after fighting off the Joker's minions at Stark Industries, finds herself the target of the Clown Prince's … affections. Naturally, a violent car chase ensues.

Manhattan, New York City

The snow-filled midnight streets of a sleeping, huddled New York city caught between a blackout and a blizzard.


NPCs: A whole pile of Joker henchmen, especially Little Timmy and Sawed Off



Mood Music: [*\# None.]

Fade In…

o/` Hey, that shark has pretty teeth, dear. o/`

The power is out in New York City. And certain groups of enterprising individuals have chosen to take full advantage. In a place like Gotham, it wouldn't take long for the city to eat itself alive. Fortunately, New York is filled with a much more self-respecting class of people, not so given to the kind of moral panic that results in the unique complex of rioting, thievery and mass mayhem that made Gotham such an interesting place.

Oh well. That's nothing four or five buses of temps won't cure.

Unbeknownst to the people up north who some bit ago were dealing with the snowplow and the party buses he sent as a love letter to everyone's favorite black brooder trying to get in on the house that Stark built, the Joker — rather, the real Joker — is nowhere near Stark Tower. That's where lasers and anti-personnel autocannons were originally invented, he bets. Nothing he cares to involve himself in. Yet. That's what goons were made for.

No, instead, there is a scene going down just out of the way of the whole fracas at Stark Tower. It's strange that, in the dark, it's really one of the few places in the city with any power right now. In fact, the whole crossroad square is lit up. Spotlights shine all across the block, and the piercing sound of big band music echoes through the streets for at least a couple blocks around. Woe betide anybody who comes to see what's going on.

No less than thirty men in thick coats and clown masks are hard at work unburying the road. They're wielding an array of snow shovels, plows, a few guys got ahold of some flame throwing torches which have been modified to burn more than weeds. Really hard workers. Mostly because they are being coerced with threats of death. But it's not all bad. There's even singing from a live band! (No there's not. It's really the Joker.)

He appears on a giant projector screen, hung from the side of a multi-level parking garage. His face really re-defines the meaning of the words 'bad skin' when he zooms in, his garish visage howling and hawling as he cajoles his workers. "Come on, come on!!" He projects, from a loudspeaker taped with caution tape to a nearby pole. "I want my yellow brick road ready by the time Dorothy shows up. And don't stop singing!"

The response is almost a universal groan, followed by a mixed-company rendition of Mack the Knife.
o/‘ Someone’s sneaking… around that corner… o/`
"They all sang it, with so much feeling..—Sing, you louts!! No overtime for you!" the Joker crows.

Gotham. From the newspapers, it seems a hive of scum and villainy to put Mos Eisley to shame. Certainly for all of New York's problems it never seems to have quite the seedy undercurrents - or often overcurrents - that its southern competition does. Rusalka Stojespal, junior SHIELD agent, would-be engineer, Sokovian blue-blood, and above all simple college student has never been there. Past it, once, on a trip to Washington D.C. But she's never actually visited the legendary New Jersey city.

Maybe it's the state that's the problem.

Certainly something is in the water, or whatever the American term is. She'd spent the night fighting off an attack of…clowns, but not just any clowns. Terrorists deserving of the name, not because of their terrifying makeup and expressions but the poison gas they'd tried to introduce…not to mention raiding the crippled Stark Tower for its technological dreamland.

She needs a break. Way too worked up to sleep, Sally managed to get away from the post-attack investigation by declaring she was needed in Stark Industries…and promptly sneaking off to strap the white and black Lotus to her back and get some alone time. It's cold, it's late, it's dark and it's snowy and icy. But compared to a Sokovian winter? This is a fair comparison; it just means Sally's back driving her precious Kometa on the same kind of roads she'd grown up around.

The little sportscar's mid-mounted engine snarls happily, tires crunching through the thin white coating on the ground and finding the asphalt underneath. Sturdy boots sit in the passenger footwell; since she's not going outside and has the luxurious heater - and heated seats - of the Lotus she's already changed into her favorite driving shoes and left her coat in what passes for the backseat.

And then…there's light? A shaft of surprisingly bright light pierces the darkness of the city, drawing a surprised look and curiosity from the lonely agent. A flick of the wheel and a touch on the pedal, she's on her way down to investigate. Cobalt-blue eyes squint a little in the brightness; is it an electrical team trying to restore power? At this time of night?

Not with loudspeakers and a giant video banner and what in the hell is going on?!

If you look at it carefully, it's easy to tell where the power is coming from as you approach the scene.

A lot of the spotlights are munted on poles that are situated at the foot of loud gas generators, banging away a cacophonous peal into the night. Of course, it looks like they were dug out of the trash yard, and many seem to be held together with nthing more advanced than spit and baling wire. One literally is held together with baling wire, another has a god's honest band-aid holding together the spewing engine block and if someone found out a way to use spit to fix the one that's belching smoke, you probably don't want to find out. At any rate, members of the crew are laboring at the generators, siphoning gas from several overturned automobiles and generally keeping the party going.

And really, if it weren't for the obvious signs that the men weren't exactly enjoying legs of Who Roast Beast, it would be quite the little party. The big fat band that's playing over the loudspeaker is quite the classy affair (they have one clown playing in the back with a triangle. He is not enthused) and there are strings of pale gold bargain bin Christmas lights wrapped around the lampposts. All in all, quite the little spectacle. At least, until the tiny Lotus gets made.

"Wait," the Joker declares, esconced deep somewhere in the middle of very cramped environments. "Looks like our guest of honor just showed up," he says, without any real way of determining who's in the classy ride down the road. No matter how close he gets, one bloodshot eye drowning out everything else, peering out over the street. You can count the faintly sick-lloking striations in his eye.

It doesn't actually help the nerves to think that to produce the effect, the Joker is looking that closely into a camera lens, and really can't see anything at all as a result.

"Well! What are you waiting for lads!? There's gold in them thar fenders! Put down the street sweepers and pick up the Street Sweepers! I'll keep the party going, so bring daddy J home the gold! Heh heh hehehehEhehEheheh. AHH HA HA HAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAH!!"

The thugs swap out snow shovels for SMGS.
And that's how a Sokovian college student began to be shot at by clowns in a fast car in the middle of a blackout snowstorm. With the catch and swell of a big band, Frank Sinatra and a homicidal maniac all singing along in the background.

The engineer's gaze takes in the beaten-up, abused, and decidedly OLD generators. One of them looks like one of the old Civil Defense diesel powerplants, almost an heirloom at its age…if it were in any decent shape. Very clearly they are not being maintained, and the problems with the machines are obvious in an instant to the young petrolhead. The black-gang crew keeping them running with errant buckets and hoses is also obvious, and kind of terrifying for the sheer fire danger alone.

The musicians meanwhile gets her attention most of all; it's simply…it's as unexpected as possible, there really isn't any way to be prepared for any of the Joker's impressive stunts. This one is just a bit weirder than usual, in all fairness, but she just stares as they strike up the band, vigorous triangle solo and all.

And then there he is. The Clown Prince of Gotham's darkness, the…the Jester. White face, Glasgow smile, and downright psychotic stare into the camera doing a fairly horrifying impression of the old CBS logo. Staring fiercely apparently motivates the work crew - as does his orders. The shovels drop, and the submachineguns come out, and SHIELD training kicks in over the top of a natural race driver's reflexes.

One hand slams the shifter into reverse, even as she hammers her foot to the floor. The Lotus darts backwards, the personally-tuned-and-improved engine dumping its horsepower to the winter tires. If the windows weren't completely up, the entire crowd would be treated to a burst of shrieked Ukrainian swearing strong enough to blister paint from a tank. Unfortunately for Sally's dignity, even as the little sportscar starts pulling away, a lucky bullet sprayed from one of the henchman manages to find her general direction.

Glass splinters, but manages to hold, outside of the now-whistling hole in the window. The bullet manages to miss her, but strikes the radio mounted atop the sportscar's dash. Whoever that henchman was, he deserves a raise; she's just been cut off from the rest of SHIELD and the potential rescuers not even all that far away.

"Not the tires, not the tires, shoot ME but not them!" The accent's not terribly thick, certainly not hard at all to understand, if there was anyone there to hear her. Her feet do their dance on the pedals, and a snap-flick of the wheel spins the Lotus around to face a side exit - that 'yellow brick road' that the Joker's goons were preparing.

It's the only option she's got, and there's no hesitation at all. With a loud growl, the Lotus's engine launches the little car to its escape…looking for all the world like a white rabbit in the snow, spooked by a predator and fleeing.

At least she has the fuel to escape - still over half a tank, more than enough to get back to SHIELD; even the Triskelion. And all those defenses…

A pulse-pounding escape, to be sure.

Not many guys seem to expect the excellent cornering on the British sport. Of course, it stands to reason, as most of the clown-faced thugs have never seen a Lotus outside of car magazines. Bullets whiz by, the crack of automatic arms fire filling the air even over the luxury cabin isolation, but other than the one that aces the radio, and maybe a few pinking off of the paint job, not too many henchmen are known for their marksmanship at a moving target.

Well, at least until one of them lumbers up and starts blowing fire after the retreating sportcar.

You see, Little Timmy was always cold. No matter how many layers he bundled up in, he was always complaining. Finally, after a few weeks of that, the Joker finally made him wear at least two snowsuits and a truly ridiculous-looking beanie before having the good humor of also making him carry the flamethrower. This was after setting him on fire with it. "Ahw, Mister Joker, it's kind of warm now," he said. And the Joker laughed.

Now, Timmy's welder's goggles are thick with perspiration as he waddles through the snow, half-scarred and half-painted face set in grim determination as he melts his way through a snowdrift, and waves curtains of flames in the driver's direction as the Lotus whirls. His waddling gait is slow, and ears plugged with wax has left him tragically unable to carry the tune in the air.
"IS FOR DA WEIGHT, DEER!" he shouts as he spurts flames after Rusalka, just before the white rabbit churns through the snowpack, plumes of slush knocking him to the ground, leaving him to pinwheel his hands and arms slowly, an upended baby.

"Hey, no fair outrunning the help!!" the Joker hisses, breaking song long enough to slam a hand into an unseen control panel so hard that the video projection skips frames. "How can I throw this big party without the guest of honor!? I brought the cake and everything…" He grips the edges of the camera, ripping it from its moorings, suddenly carrying it across the control area. Oil drums painted to look like giant cakes and detonators can be seen for a flash, as well as…guns, bombs, people(!), missiles…. and windows. "Well, I guess there's no crying over spilt milk, kids…" he says, his tone turning easily to levity. The camera pans across the windshield driver's view of the nightmarish interior of a van. For a second you can see the cloth ahead, the backside of the very projection feed playing across it.

"—It's always up to daddy to bring home the baking. Heh. heh. Ha. Ha. ha…"

The feed shows the camera's point of view, as it is chucked out the side of a very, very bright van. The camera is abandoned as a van peels out towards the edge of the parking garage. And slams into the barrier. And through the barrier.

From three stories up, a Freightliner sprinter rips clear through the sheet displaying a 'TECHNICAL DIFFICULTIES' image, dropping down and slamming into the road. Wrapped in garish colors, and limned from headlight to fender in equal parts twinkling white Christmas lights and barbed-wire wrapped guardbars, the van slams into the street on a custom suspension and widened wheelbase, already at max RPM as it less races and more careens after the tiny Lotus.

In Sally's rearview, the thing looks like a party on wheels, with a giant Joker Cupcake on top and what appears to be an entirely separate engine lashed to the front of the thing, in what must be a huge sight block for the driver. How do they see around thata snowblocked Hyundai along the side of the road goes flying as the Freightliner plows through itnevermind.

The Joker's at the wheel.
Tersely, the clown prince picks up a radio, humming a grim tune, and calls back to the party. "Don't think you guys are off the hook. Triangle Joe.. give us some chase music." 'my name isn't—' "CHASE MUSIC!" The newly renamed Joe wails on his triangle like nobody's business. And the boys get back to singing. For no other reason than because it's classy.

It's a bit sneaky. Kometa isn't a typical 'supercar' - it doesn't have the deep nose, agressive styling, intakes everywhere, and other accoutrements of typical track-monster racing machines. It's her baby, the everyday driver and companion for Sally. Able to give its all on the track, living up as best it can to the Lotus reputation, while at the same time being an around-town car. That town just isn't Gotham.

The few extra bullets that hit the car manage to only put a crease or a hole in the sheet metal, nothing critical hit - she doesn't even need to check the gauges. The feel of the car, the sound of it, all of it tells her everything is fine even as the thunk of the bullet hitting still gets a jump out of her. And just a little rage, as well; it's her car they're hitting. The one thing she has that truly lets her be HER.

Fortunately the hairband keeps her hair back when she plows through the snowbank as Timmy goes down. The madman's words still echo from the speakers, audible even over the shriek of the supercharged engine. "Guest of honor? Absolutely ty bozhevil'nyy, Jester-man!"

Forgive her; she's not entirely up to date on her out of town supervillains.

It isn't as if she's capable of fighting anyways. The HOPPS suit is collapsed, tucked into a covered-over locked container…in the trunk. The SHIELD-issued ICER as well; not that she's accurate enough with it to make a difference against a crowd like that. A long-sleeve Stark Industries shirt, black jeans, and canvas t-strap flats do not make much in the way of combat fatigues. But they're perfect for where she is, right now, as Sally downshifts for a little better control.

She's used to riding the machine at the limits of traction, feeling the grip just about to break at high speed in tight turns, blistering past other drivers on the track. In these conditions? Just going forward has her on that same edge, and she's paying attention to what the tires tell her more than anything else. Until, that is, the pursuit begins.

The big van, cupcake and all, gets a full second of staring in the rear-view as the Lotus starts to slew sideways a moment. A quick adjustment saves it, gentle brakes followed by getting back on the gas once she's stable. Ending up in a snowbank would be disastrous…but maybe she can do something about that for her pursuer.

A few blocks ahead there's a sizeable dump of snow from the plows. Something she'd driven past, amused for a moment at the daytime attempts to carve faces into it. Now, of course, everyone's asleep and the roads are empty… "Follow me, then, if you can!"

Step one: Get his attention. A middle finger proudly displayed where the Joker can't miss it with all his garish lighting.
Step two: Feint the turn. Her hair bobs as she looks left once, twice, and then hits the brakes sending the Lotus into a momentary skid before it finds traction and slows for the obvious left turn.
Step three: Downshift, flick the wheel, and hold the gas pedal down to send the Lotus into an ice-skidding drift…to the right, and hopefully away from this lunatic.

In all truth she's as angry about the damage to her car as she is the song they're singing now. The Lady Is A Tramp indeed!

The machine the Joker is driving is a sprinter van. Nominally, these things aren't meant to be sport vehicles, and the amount of weight that is being transmitted directly through the frigid streets is enough to render most vans helpless before something like even the relatively less-than-F1 Lotus. But the Clown Prince of Crime is used to dealing with the likes of the Batmobile, and the dangerously swaying Big Band Bruiser in Sally's rearview has a suspicious amount of acceleration for a freight vehicle. Though the machine's engine(s??) labor like some kind of rolling catastrophe as the Joker drives it like he stole it (he did), on the straightaway he is obnoxiously gaining on the little car.

As slush sprays across his windshield, the Joker still hums it with so much feeling, purple gloves tapping on the steering wheel as he passively observes the Lotus leap across the road. "Don't flinch now," he chides over the loudspeaker. "It'd be a shame to have to peel you out of that thing with an ice cream scoop. And I do so love a woman who isn't afraid of a little gas. Hah!!"

Spying the road up ahead, and watching the car downshift, he frowns as the driver of the diminutive little funbug flips him off over his wheel. "That minx.. Now, this won't hurt a bit," he assures his comrade, as he takes the grenade launcher from him. "Hold the wheel," he demands, opening the driver's side door, and leaning out of it.

"Oh, that's right, you can't. Hunh." He lifts the rocket launcher against the window of the driver's side, holding onto the inside of the cab with one hand, and taking aim at the Lotus with the other, balancing on one wing-tipped shoe. It's all about sticking out your tongue in just the right way…

As Sally flips him off, she might notice him leaning out of the van door, pointing the rocket launcher at him, with no one steering the now dangerously out-of-control wagon. She might also notice he's obviously having a hard time aiming. Mostly because the freightliner is swaying all over the road. Secondarily because there is a dwarf clown tied to his launcher. So it's really something of a credit that he even really gets close to Sally's car at all when he shoots the rocket after her, an explosion ripping through the street. It's also something of a credit that he manages to get back inside the cab just before the whole thing slams into the snowdrift, a second explosion rendered in snow barrelling into the street. You see, the basic laws of physics means a van cannot out-maneuver a sportscar, no matter how souped up it is. The weight alone…

Unfortunately, the moment Sally checks her rearview to see the van disappear, she will find that she doesn't really have time to celebrate her superior driving. There is a small dwarf clown climbing across her car. He's actually still on fire from the rocket explosion, too. It really makes him mad. In the distance, the music hasn't stopped, and is getting further away. In a tinny, far off voice, someone shouts after the car. "TAKE HER AND YOU CAN HAVE HER SHOES, SAWED-OFF!!"

The dwarf is salty. And he has a very small shotgun. Which he points in Sally's direction.

If she doesn't do some fancy driving really fast, the dwarf is going to shoot out most of her windows. And then potentially her. Lord help her if he gets in the car.

Somewhere in the back of her head she's impressed. There's a couple points to whoever upgraded that van, because whatever it's running is hauling some serious weight - and it's gaining. There could be more than a few reasons for it, but one of them is the simple fact that the Lotus is playing trailblazer. Despite her skill, there's simply the fact that the soft rubber tires Sally's car has only sweep snow aside and can't quite break through the thin sheen of ice to reach asphalt below.

The Freightliner? No sweat. And with its cargo-happy engine and all that added torque, it's literally plowing through the ice and getting all that wonderful, delicious traction. Traction that, for a second or so, vanishes leaving Sally gasping in fright before it recovers. A particularly thick patch of ice, nothing more…but he'd definitely gained on her.

And then her face screws up into an expression best described as rejection, anger, shock, and confusion. Love a woman? Is that was this is … bozhe moy what in the hell did she do?! For a moment she can't help but wonder if karma's real as well; so far everything else has turned out to be so. The pouch around her neck dangles, loose - for a moment she gives it a soft squeeze and a slight prayer before those hands go right back to the gearshift.

But, that 'celebration' and his clear fixation… "Absolutely this is not the kind of boyfriend…!" Mad, now, she shouts - quite likely loud enough for him to hear her native language, even if he can't understand those liquid syllables. "Smoktaty yaytsya v pekli, bozhevil'nyy mudak!" If he didn't know better, she might just be professing her love for him. Or telling the 'insane asshole' to suck eggs in hell. Either or!

She doesn't see the rocket launcher, or the Joker's extremely daring way of delivering someone to the car. A little fixated on hitting her turn just right, riding the apex over the snow and gambling the curb is further away than it might look, Sally swings the turn wide and almost ends up skidding sideways after the snap maneuver. Her feet do their dance again, clutch and brakes and gas and manages to bring the car under control just as there's an explosion of fire and snow behind her. "Takozh diznaytesya, yak yizdyty!" Yup, she's in love. Or taunting his terrible driving.


It's not over yet. The Joker's last punchline, the dwarf and his cut-down twelve gauge, cling to the spoiler and bumper on the back of the car. For a moment there's a glint in the darkness, an infinity symbol of shiny steel as light bounces off the front of that double-barrel when it aims for her. But a promise is kept unexpectedly…and Sally is reminded she is never alone.

There's a scent of home, a feeling of hot air against her neck. <TRUNK RELEASE.> It's a thought so loud it might have been shouted into her mind, and she reacts instantly - flicking the button that unlocks the long, sleek hatch that covers the trunk and the engine bay. And then both feet slam onto the brake, flipping the hatch, the dwarf, and his shotgun airborne over in front of her. His aim is gone, she hopes, and maybe so is he, as the Lotus skids to a halt.

These are the last thoughts of the dwarf joker, Sawed Off.

Anger, rage, burning, but not the kind of burning you get when you don't wash for awhile. This was righteous justice. Or maybe it was just fire. The boss said something about shooting someone in the face. And he was pretty much all on board with that. It was a long time, and now he'll finally get his chance, this is what he thought as he climbed up on the back of the little Lotus with his bare hands, scrabbing at the gunfire pockmarked surface with grubby, filthy hands. He climbed like Moses did with the scriptures, finally taking a hostile stance and slipping the shotgun off of his back and holding it against his shoulder, training it on the loud little nymphet in the car. Now, all that—

And then, with one tire screeching top, the dwarf is shot into the sky, the sound of buckshot belting loose at the car shooting him even further into the distance. And that was the brief two-minute story of Sawed-Off.

"Oh well," the Joker would later reason. "Maybe he'll show up again in the sequel."

The dwarf being dealt with in record time, the only other problem is dealing with the multitude of perforations from the shotgun blast, which might have cracked another window or two on the way. Well, it would be simple, if not for the fact that Sally had to stop to deal with it. This wouldn't normally be a problem. Except for that whole traction thing. And the steadily encroaching sound of a motor engine, set to the backdrop of 'Come Fly With Me.'

The big horn section kicks in just about when the Joker Cupcake Truck comes blasting through the storefront of a ritzy clothing store, the Joker still behind the wheel, casually eating a banana as he puts gridmarks across a Toyota blasting through the intersection, gaining speed at an alarming rate as he makes his way over to Sally, hellbent on smashing her and her car into an IHOP-worthy breakfast across the road.

"What are you," he wonders aloud. "Russian?" Beat.
"There's no need, pumpkin! We can just take it slow."
The Joker cackles, loud and long.

'Where Polyuchyn is, I am.'

Words she's glad for. As the shotgun goes off, the pellets scattering in the sudden physics lesson on inertia, some of them sprinkle dents and splinters into the Lotus' body. The form of Sawed Off himself goes flying, disappearing somewhere into the snowbound distance of New York City. "Good thinking," she says to the wind. And then jumps in fright for a moment when the long trunk lid slams back down, window cracking as it hits. Okay. Long breath.

Now to get moving again. She's not sure about the van; she couldn't see past that big snow pile and isn't convinced the Joker isn't wrecked just beyond it. There had been a fireball, but…no, best be safe. Feeling the car again, she's sure the tires are alright, and takes a look around trying to spot the street signs. A desperate flight from a place she hadn't expected to be at, and with a bullet through her radio system, she's got no way to easily get back to SHIELD.

Alright, this street… Blue eyes squint into the gloom for a moment before there's an explosion of debris, clothes, scattering body parts of mannequins, glass, and sound. She'd been sat down by Sloane Albright at one of their usual movie nights, and shown the legendary Blues Brothers film. For an instant it looks like that, the van driving through the store and charging her with the blast of music as well. It's downright surreal, is what it is.

And she's stopped on the ice.

Sally's hand practically slaps the gearshift into first gear, her foot on the clutch just in time to keep the transmission from grinding in pain as her other foot works the gas. And instead of spinning out, the car slowly picks up acceleration, the driver feeling the limits of traction as she goes - and aims right for the oncoming van.

Small fangs. A point that had been made not so long ago, but one that's still true - though even small fangs can draw blood, as long as they're used creatively. As the Lotus accelerates forward, Sally shifts into second quickly…and stabs the high-beams button. The ultrabright lights cut through the darkened intersection like a lightsaber, aimed right at the Joker.

For a moment her breath catches as she sees the lunatic in the actinic glare, behind the wheel of his own machine and with nothing but madness and desire in his eyes. Hopefully blindness will add to that, as the Sokovian girl times her maneuver for the dry spot in the intersection - darting to the side, and then planning to floor it to get behind the Joker's van and disappear in the other direction, lights flicked off to vanish into the darkness.

Hopefully. Whether she's able to keep the van from tearing alongside the Lotus, or if there's some other insane plan the Joker has, because so far he's definitely shown creativity and a willingness to think so far outside the box he's on another ship entirely. "Absolutely I am not 'pumpkin' you grinning…" Her voice tails off as the two vehicles charge toward each other.

It's one of those moments where one can see their life flash before their eyes.

The Joker bears down on Sally with all the gravity of a falling planet, his eyes focused on her tightly, with the hungry expectation of a grinning Doberman. He floors it, the engine churning beneath his feet as the Freightliner gets up to full murder speed, tons of metal, explosives, equipment, and cupcakes wobbling crazily as he carries half of the Women's Casual section out on his fender guard to have a door to door chat with the Sokovian's face.

One dagger thin eyebrow raises as she twists the wheel to face him and takes off in his direction, his foot never lets up from the gas. People like him do not have much in the way of fear or suspicion, and the most he does in response to her rather ballsy scheme is quietly finish eating his banana, fully intending on splitting her and her car into so much fender sludge while eating. That is, at least until his cab is flooded with flare-bright halogens.

With no other recourse, the Joker shrieks, somewhere at the center of anger and delight as the little car shrieks past him. His peel flies out, slapping wetly against the Lotus' windshield as she streaks by. But the driver of the Big Band Bruiser That Sinatra Built isn't really done with her yet. While he has no ability to determine what direction she ran off in, the exposed engine block which does double duty of impeding his sightlines AND protecting him from just this kind of situation, letting him crank the wheel hard.

The van lurches dangerously to one side as it fishtails, threatening to sideswipe the Lotus brutally. In most circumstances, this would cause most vans to topple, but the extended wheelbase of the van from hell and being loaded across the bottom (those drums!) has done wonders in keeping the Freightliner from going on two wheels or flipping. The rattlesnake motion of the van threatens Sally as she darts past him on the road, leaving the Joker to lean out of the cab again with the centripetal force of the van's turn, training a launcher on her.

"Women drivers," the Joker snarls, unctuously. "I hate people who can't figure out their brights!!"

There isn't a great indicator of where he found time to reload or if it's a different launcher than before, but when he shakes the black lacy bra (!) off of the gun and fires, it's a double load this time, two great big balls which wobble crazily ahead of the Freightliner as it turns like a pair of sand-loaded kickballs. They are both party balls, made to explode into reams of confetti and glitter. The only difference between them is, one is painted with a giant happy face. One is painted with an angry face.

The happy face is a fragmentation grenade, whose glitter and confetti are all steel, and will probably land somewhere aside the car.

The sad face actually is a party ball, and aside from ruining Sally's upholstery, will not do much other than fill her car with paper and glitter if it lands as aimed and smashes through her window. Well. Paper, glitter, and literally the worst odor a person could ever experience in the history of New York. It's acrid, foul, woodsy, and more than a little…

Imagine if a buffalo carried a piano upstairs, worked out on the free weights for an hour, then promptly had sex with an unwashed hobo. It smells like that.

There's a smile on her face that almost matches hers, downright feral as she charges the van - and the driver of the Lotus can't help a howl of joy as the Joker's reaction to her high-beams sends him atizzy. It doesn't last too long, and there's a moment where the van fishtails that her path is open. It's a gap, and the words of one of the best behind the wheel come to mind. "If you no longer go for a gap that exists, you are no longer a racing driver."

She goes for it.

So does the Joker. The Freightliner continues it's fishtail and starts swinging back the other direction, as Sally surges the Lotus past it. As he keeps turning, those wide tires will meet bullet-riddled white panels in a loud crunch that echoes in the cockpit of the Lotus. It's a damn good thing she'd installed the racing harness; normally it's not something she'll fully hook up but this time it keeps her from ending up in the passenger seat when the two cars grind alongside.

The van hits hard enough to send the british sportscar skidding dangerously close to a snowbank, but the lightweight machine manages to bounce off of it rather than plow hard. Sally, rattled, shakes her head hard to clear it from the hit, and glances back - cheering again as she sees the van continue its spin in the other direction. "Povernutysya do Gotham, zhartivnyk suka!" Aw, she's saying goodbye! And in that cute voice, no less.

And then her stomach hits her throat when she spots the second launcher in his hands, especially when this one isn't attached to anyone…just two warheads. Instinct flattens her foot against the floor, and the Lotus's engine goes into a 400 horsepower chord made from the high whine of the supercharger and the harsh growl of the engine. For a moment, it resonates with her soul, and everything is well with the world…and then a moment later there's a hard and loud explosion as the grenade goes off.

Followed immediately by the shattering of her rear window, the confetti bomb spreading its unholy payload through the interior. Once more her stomach does flipflops, this time everything IN it going for her throat as the smell hits her. The burst of glitter is momentarily blinding but she holds the gas pedal down; the street she'd aimed for is long, straight, and empty. Nothing to worry about hitting…and with a bridge to cross over to get back to SHIELD.

Trying to keep her dinner down, she manages to lower one window…the other shatters as it tries to move. Either way, she's got airflow, at least…some kind of fresh air, and a glance in the rear-view shows that the amorous Clown Prince Of Crimes Against Music And Parades And His Big Fucking Van has disappeared, finally. There's a tremor in her fingers, and a long shuddering breath.

"Thank God…thank you. Dyakuyu, Khoro." She'll give them both credit for the escape. "What else could go wrong," she adds with a gripe, looking down at her outfit and trying to find some way to purge that smell. Brushing away the paper and glitter doesn't help much…

And that's the way the story ends. For the moment, anyway.

His one last Parthian shot expended, the Joker's van fishtail continues. The van-become-truck goes around and around, the tires skidding across the slush, carving great furrows through the snow as the rubber cleaves straight to road, only a thin layer of water hydroplaning the tires and keeping the whole thing from squealing garishly across the street. It settles to an ominous stop in the middle of the square, engine finally popping, idling with a cacophony of bangs, produced somewhere between the hood and second engine block. A thick curl of acrid smoke slithers from around the hood. The music warps and flanges ominously, the audio crumpling.

The Joker opens one eye, shades of green scattered across his vision as his hair falls over his face. He stops gripping the steering wheel, leaving the impression in the leather clear as his gloves lift. His fun launcher sits in the seat next to him where he slapped it down, the little spring-loaded Joker bobblehead mounted on the sights wobbling from all the commotion.

The door of the Freightliner falls off as the Joker opens it one last time, a long, satisfied, ragged sigh sliding from his chest as his wingtips hit the slush. Adjusting the hang of his purple dinner jacket with dignified aplomb, he hums a light tune as he walks over to where the Lotus was last seen, the slack in his gait apparent as he walks along the long impression of the Britmachine, left in the side of the snowdrift. Ragged, yet satisfied, he looks it up and down, and the scattered glitter in the car's wake.

As he pauses thoughtfully, the cupcake falls off the top of his van. It happens at just about the same time the rest of the storefront he just slammed through collapses, leaving the store logo in several pieces on the ground.

Coincidentally, this occurs just about a second or two after Sally what else could go wrong. Similarly coincidentally, the brassiere the Joker whipped off of his grenade launcher drifts down from the sky, having hitched a ride somewhere along the way, and falls across the Lotus' hood. The undergarment is still flaming. And it is several sizes much too large.

You can almost hear the Joker laughing from here.
"Unforgettable… o/`"

Unforgettable…certainly. This Joker of Gotham; she's got no idea what he's really doing in New York. But the Sokovian noble-born girl isn't worried about that right now. Right now, all she wants to do is keep finding her way to the bridge, and - there.

She doesn't see the…admittedly funny collapse of both the giant cupcake and the storefront that it had plowed through. Certainly, after the night she'd had and absolutely so after the last twenty minutes, she'd probably crack up at it from sheer raw nerves and stress. Maybe she just needs a laugh, she thinks, finally reaching the bridge that will lead her home.

That laugh finally comes. "What the hell…" Fluttering down from above, suitable only for the kind of statues one finds in bad movies about Rome, a black brassiere manages to not only be on fire but illuminating the street in that flickering orange - right as it falls with a loud crackle on the front end of the Lotus. The sheer strangeness of the scene, the silently surreal end to such a violent night, leaves her staring for a moment before

Kometa is on fire

Sally slams on the brakes, partially dislodging the blazing brazier of a brassiere. Jumping from the Lotus, the door left open mindlessly, she starts dragging the partly flaming fabric free of the abused sportscar. Fortunately there's not much to it, and as it hits the snow the lacy fabric gets put out completely. And then…for a moment, there's the most surreal thing of all.

New York, silent. Dark. And frozen, with a half-moon shining down between the skyscrapers to give the snow a silver sheen. It's downright beautiful, in its way, and it's something she'll never get to see again….she hopes. Sure, Sokovian winters can be worse than this, and she's grown up with those…but Polyuchyn is no great city, and this empty calm is almost intoxicating. Bare fingers shiver as she scoops a little of the snow up to make a snowball, then hurl it against the side of a building, watching it explode and giggling like a child. Unforgettable…maybe for a different reason.

It's then that she realizes she's standing in the snow in canvas flats, a shirt, and no coat. That, at least, is easily solved - practically diving back into the car, cueing up the heater, and grinning as she starts it back up. Time to go home…and take a very long and very hot shower.

Wrn wrn wrn wrn wrn wrn.
Ka clik clik.
Wrn wrn wrn wrn wrn. POP. SSSST.

There's two problems here. The first is, somewhere between the fire, being sideswiped by a bakery truck from hell, and being shot at with multiple forms of munitions have punctured the fuel lines somewhere along the way to the engine block, and the fire was clearly the last straw for the poor beset upon British car. It's not starting right now.

However, being stuck out with a busted fuel line in the rapidly encroaching cold with nothing but a flaming bra to keep you warm is not the major problem here. Well. You just put out the bra, so that's out too. But still not the salient point to consider.

The point to consider is that the popping sound did not come from the engine. It was an unbroken cluster in the party ball. POP. That smell fills the interior cabin again.
This time the buffalo seems to be working on his bench press while eating onions.

At least you'll have an interesting story to tell when you get back.

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