#34
THE MS. MARVEL GATEFOLD
Previously ...Ms. Marvel went out for a night on the town with AURORA and TIGRA and ended up being attacked by SABRETOOTH and two new mysterious female assassins, Paramour and Velvet! They escaped with Tigra and Ms. Marvel found herself looking for clues at the End of the Road Bar where she ran into ... BULLSEYE!
CAST OF CHARACTERS
MS. MARVEL - CAROL DANVERS was accidentally irradiated by the Kree built Psyche-Magnitron, giving her powers and turning her into the heroine, MS. MARVEL! Now, after a lifetime that has seen her as a NASA security chief, writer, magazine editor, intelligence operative, Avenger and transformed into the cosmically powered heroine BINARY, Carol has regained her Ms. Marvel identity and powers and is the living embodiment of merged Kree/Human genetic potential.
TIGRA - Greer Nelson is Catwoman. Literally. A human transformed by the Cat People (you can't make this stuff up) into a were-woman, complete with full body fur and tail.
AURORA - classic paranoid - half the time she's the outgoing Aurora, the other half she's the reserved Jeanne-Marie; She is her own arch-nemesis. Beat that.
SABRETOOTH - Victor Creed; a psychotic killer mercenary with ties to Wolverine and the X-Men; once had his rear end handed to him by the Black Cat. Yeah, the Black Cat. But since then he's gotten much, much better at what he does - which is ripping people to shreds.
PARAMOUR and VELVET - Little is known about the two femle assassins except that they wear the same costume, which includes a belt of tricks around their waist.
NORTHERN BEAR PRODUCTIONS

Pads, Paws and Claws!

Part Three: Catwoman for Sale!

written by Mark Bousquet


With a motion that Carol barely even saw, a playing card was slicing through the air towards her. It hit her and bounced harmlessly aside. She smiled and concentrated and a small sparkle of light later she was standing in her Ms. Marvel costume. She couldn't help but grin as she heard chairs hurriedly pushed back and guns clicked into readiment.

"I didn't come here to dance, Bullseye, but I will. I want to know who hired Sabretooth to get Tigra and where they took her. And I want to know it now."

"Big posturing don’t scare me none, lady," Bullseye waved her aside with her hand. "Look around, there's about fifty guys in here that would love to take out a super-goody like yourself. Whoever kills you gets to raise their fee." He grinned. "Not that mine could be much higher."

"Who wanted her taken care of?" Ms. Marvel didn't bite at Bullseye's challenge.

"I don't remember," Bullseye grinned.

"Take a look in that mirror over there, Bullseye," Ms. Marvel threatened as she took a step forward, "because that smile is about to get wiped off your face. I don't have time for games. Tigra's been kidnapped and Aurora is in the hospital. This doesn't leave me all too happy, get it? Now, we can talk or I can-"

"Don't threaten me, lady," Bullseye warned. "You threaten me again and I'll take you out on principle. Aw, hell, I'll do it anyway." Bullseye reached behind him quickly and pulled out two throwing knives.

CLICK.

The room was seriously intense enough for the single clicking of a gun to be heard. They turned to see Maverick standing behind Bullseye, who froze as the cold, hard butt of a large gun was placed into his skull. "This is a pulse gun, Bullseye, capable of peeling off every layer of skin on your face and leaving your skull intact. I'd imagine it wouldn't be a pleasant way to die. Drop your knives and tell the lady what she wants to know or you'll feel like that Nazi scumbag at the end of INDIANA JONES."

Bullseye grumbled, but went to put his knives away. The gun pressed into his head harder. "I said drop them."

"Maverick, you've gone soft," Bullseye shot as he dropped quickly and spun to kick back at Maverick's legs. He connected, knocking the ex-CIA, ex-German government operative on his rear end. Bullseye jumped on top of him, leading with a set of small daggers sticking through the fingers of his right hand. Maverick saw it and dodged his head to the side, causing the daggers to be imbedded in the floor.

He aimed his gun at Bullseye and went to pull the trigger, but found the gun knocked out of his hand. Maverick and Bullseye looked up to see who had done it and saw Ms. Marvel standing there.

"You kill him, I don't get my info," she said to Maverick. Turning to Bullseye, she said, "You tell me where they took her and I'll leave Sabretooth in one piece for you."

Bullseye grinned. "I like how you think, lady. They were going to take her to St. Chateau down in the Caribbean. Don’t know what for. The offer was only to bring her in." He got off of Maverick and shook his head as he stood up. "Can you believe that? Hiring Sabretooth to just bring someone in? I don't get it and I guarantee you the broad who was with him was an assassin, too. Lotta firepower for one little kitty-cat."

Ms. Marvel turned to leave. "Thanks, Bullseye."

"Think nothing of it, Ms. Marvel," Bullseye grinned. "Just remember to save Sabretooth for me."


OUTSIDE

Ms. Marvel walked down the alley way that led to and away from the END OF THE ROAD BAR slowly. She rounded the corner, took three steps and waited. Ten seconds later, Maverick came around the corner.

"Knew you'd be waiting for me," Maverick announced. "Since there's no reason to walk when you can fly."

"What do you want?" Ms. Marvel asked, clearly in no mood for games.

"I want to help," Maverick answered. "I've got no jobs lined up, but I can probably use whatever I see down there as information that will come in handy later on down the road. Besides, you're going to need the help with Sabretooth and the female assassin."

"I'm not going to pay you."

"Wasn't asking you to."

"Merc with a heart of gold?" Ms. Marvel asked, a small smile creeping onto her face.

"We do exist," Maverick smiled in return.

"Works for me," Ms. Marvel announced as she went to grab the back of Maverick's light armor.

"Wait!" Maverick said as he jerked away from her touch. "Just so you know, Ms. Marvel, I've got the Legacy Virus."

Carol looked at him hard, "Then what the hell are you still doing merc work for?"

"Dying slowly puts things in perspective," he answered slowly. "I do merc work still, yeah, but only assignments that, in some way, make the world a better place."

"Why not go totally legitimate?"

"Hey, Legacy treatments, what few there are, do not come cheap." Maverick smiled, "And they're not handled by the Merc Health Plan."

"No doubt," Carol smiled warmly, lifting him into the sky as she flew to Avengers Mansion. "The female assassins name is Paramour, by the way. She's got an assistant or partner named Velvet. Their outfits were almost exactly the same, suggesting their part of some new group."

"They weren't the Hand?" Maverick asked, enjoying his ride across the city's skyline.

"Not any segment of the Hand that I'm aware of," Carol answered, trying not to fly so fast as to cause harm to her passenger. "But they were totally professionals. Took out Aurora and Tigra in about two seconds. Neither knew what hit them."*

* See MS. MARVEL 32

"But they didn't get you?"

"They hadn’t planned on me being there," Ms. Marvel answered honestly. "If they had, I don't know what would've happened."

Maverick said nothing, but after what little he had seen of Ms. Marvel tonight, he had no doubts that she wouldn't fall anywhere near as easily as Tigra and Aurora.


AVENGERS MANSION

"I'm sorry, but there's no one here but me," Jarvis, the Avengers long-time butler said to a frowning Ms. Marvel.

"How can there be no one here?" Ms. Marvel asked, looking to Maverick who could only shrug. "What could be that important."

"Kang," Jarvis answered drolly.*

* Check out the KANG'S QUEST storyline running through AVENGERS 415 - 418 by new AVENGERS writer Scott Harris! - There Can Be Only One Biscuit!

"Kang?" Carol asked incredulously. "And they didn't call me? What the hell?"

"Master Beast informed them that you were busy searching for Tigra," Jarvis answered. "They felt it important that you stay on your present course. Aurora is resting comfortably down in the med-lab, but she is in no condition to be of any help to you."

"Great, just great," Ms. Marvel fumed. "We've got, at the very least, Sabretooth and two female assassins to deal with and it's just two of us. Wonderful. Come on, Maverick, let's fire up a Quinjet and get to St. Chateau."

"Well," Maverick said slowly, "there is one person we could ask …"


AVENGERS QUINJET - LEAVING NEW YORK CITY

"Woo-hoo! Avengers Quinjet!" Deadpool yelled in his deep, scratchy voice.

"Does he ever shut up?" Ms. Marvel asked Maverick, who sat in the co-pilot seat next to her.

"Not from what I've heard, no. But he is competent."

"Can we buzz the X-Men's Mansion? Do you have one of those machines that will make you any kind of food you ask for? Is there a red phone around here somewhere for when the Commissioner needs to contact you for an emergency?" Deadpool bounced around the Quinjet like a kid in a toy store.

"This guy is a killer, too," Ms. Marvel pointed out disbelievingly. "I'm teaming up with two mercs who are trying to become better people. Up with People has nothing on me."

"Do you think Tigra would date me?" Deadpool asked, getting in close to Ms. Marvel. By the cup of coffee in his hand it was clear that he had found the instant coffee machine. "I could get into fur." Deadpool twirled away across the Quinjet's open floor, pretending to dance with a woman in his arms. "Stray Cat Strut, I'm a ladies cat! Feline Cassanova I'm a something or other or something … oh, #$%#$%!"

Maverick and Carol turned to look back at Deadpool who had spilled his hot coffee all over his red and black uniform. "Aw, this bites! I can't go into battle wearing a dirty uniform. What if there's some paparazzi there looking to take pictures of the man of Mira Sorvino's dreams?"

Ms. Marvel rolled her eyes.

"Hey, you're a hero," Maverick pointed out to Ms. Marvel, a wide grin on his face. "You're supposed to be supportive of folks like us. And besides, we don't like to be called 'mercs' anymore. We're 'independent operatives'."

Ms. Marvel couldn't help but laugh, "Sorry."

"That's okay," Maverick grinned.

"I got an idea," Carol grinned. "Try not to crash this thing." She rose from the pilot's chair and headed towards the back. "Come on, Deadpool, there's something back here I want to show you."

"You know what I really want to know?" Deadpool asked, following Ms. Marvel enthusiastically. "What big time nasty super villain are we going to face? Dr. Doom? Nah. But maybe … the Kingpin? Red Skull? Magneto? The Mandarin? I'd love if it was the Mandarin. Do you know how many Mandarin jokes I have? A million! I just hope it's someone with a really, really big name."


ST. CHATEAU

"I feel ridiculous," Deadpool whined as the stood on the edge of a small hill, overlooking an expansive estate. Men in business suits lined the small pavilion in front of a large stage. On the stage was a large, cloth covered object, roughly the size of a large dumpster. "Are you sure you didn't spill all that grease on me on purpose?"

"I swear I didn't," Ms. Marvel grinned as Maverick tried to hid his smile. "Besides, that old green and red Wonder Man costume looks pretty good on you."

"I feel like Timothy Leery's Christmas tree."

"Ladies and gentlemen, I am the … AUCTIONEER!"

"The Auctioneer?" Deadpool asked as they turned to look down to see a man dressed in elegant, 18th century attire stride onto the stage. "The freaking Auctioneer? You dragged me down to this hot, sticky island for the Auctioneer?"

"Shh!" Ms. Marvel snapped.

"I welcome you to St. Chateau!" the Auctioneer continued. He stood on the stage, Paramour not five feet behind him. To their left, stood the cloth covered object. Behind the object, almost out of sight stood Velvet, her eyes peeled to Paramour's back. Sabretooth was nowhere to be found. Ringing the stage and five in number were a group of Mandroids. "Today we have a very fine specimen up for auction. I present to you …" Paramour ripped the cloth off the object, "…Tigra! Yes, the world famous Avenger trapped here in a cage ready to be taken home by you! Imagine the envy others will exhibit as they see this prized possession. You can not find this exotic an item on any of those putrid online auction houses." Tigra growled from behind the bars of her gilded cage, pacing back and forth with rage in her eyes.

The crowd cheered loudly.

"I just can't believe it's the Auctioneer," Deadpool grumbled looking at the old Wonder Man costume. "I really hope no one who knows me sees me here now."

"Listen, 'Pool," Maverick snapped, "there's plenty of Mandroids down there for us to battle against."

"Mandroids?" Deadpool asked, exasperated. "We don't even get Dreadnoughts? Sheesh! Mandroids are to armored bad guys what Lite beer is to Guinness - watered down nonsense. Hey, Ms. M, promise me that after we waste these chumps down there you'll kick my rear end around for a bit, okay? I think I might like that."

Maverick looked at Ms. Marvel and shrugged an apology. They both turned to look down the hill, where they could see the Auctioneer continuing his sales pitch. Sabretooth was nowhere to be found.

In front of the stage in a beautiful outdoor pavilion stood about one-hundred businessmen. Some had women on their arms.

"I bet there's not a woman over twenty-one down there," Ms. Marvel grumbled. "Why is it the richer men get, the younger they want their women."

"Dunno," Maverick answered, fighting off the urge to hit Ms. Marvel with some line. It's not that he wouldn't love to charm the strong, beautiful woman next to him, just that having the Legacy Virus put a lock on that kind of activity. "What's our move?"

"Gah! We don't need a plan!" Deadpool said exasperatedly.

The Auctioneer continued with his spiel. "Could there be a creature more exotic in all the world? No! We shall start the bidding at … 5 million dollars! Do I have anyone willing to match this opening bid?"

Every hand in the crowd went up immediately.

"Since Tigra looks like she's fine," Ms. Marvel answered, ignoring Deadpool, "I think our first move should be getting her out of that cage. We can use every hand we can get."

"Sounds good."

"Sounds real good. Too bad you won't have a chance to do it!" The three heroes looked up behind them to see Sabretooth standing over them, ten feet up, ready to pounce. "Raaaaarrgghhhh!" he screamed jumping down at them.

"Go get Tigra!" Maverick shouted, pushing Ms. Marvel out of the way. Sabretooth pounded onto Maverick and they tumbled down the hill together.

Ms. Marvel wanted to yell at Maverick for foolishly taking the brunt of an attack that she could have better handled, but didn't. She soared across the sky down to the cage, figuring that Maverick was just giving them the best chance to get Tigra free. 'That better be the reason,' she thought to herself as she ripped the top of Tigra's cage open.

"Thanks!" Tigra yelled, easily leaping out of the cage to stand on top.

The crowd screamed as they saw Tigra free, Ms. Marvel hovering in the air and Sabretooth and Maverick rolling down the hill violently. The Auctioneer yelled in panic and leapt off the stage as the Mandroids took the situation into account.

"You get Velvet!" Ms. Marvel ordered, pointing to the younger assassin at the back of the stage. "I'll get Paramour!" Tigra leapt one way and Carol leapt the other. The feline Avenger leapt right at Velvet and the young assassin froze momentarily, allowing Tigra to pounce on her. They rolled off the back of the stage together.

Ms. Marvel landed on the ground in front of Paramour, who stood there grinning. "I've been waiting for this," she challenged Carol. "Your exploits are well known in some corners of the galaxy."

The last words caught Carol off guard. Were Paramour and Velvet aliens of some kind? They looked human enough, but, Carol knew, that didn't really mean a whole lot. She chose not to answer Paramour, but instead dove at her, catching her in the ribs. Paramour laughed and easily spun Ms. Marvel away from her, sending her crashing back into the cage.

On the other side of the rapidly emptying pavillion, Sabretooth and Maverick landed with a thud. "Surprised you still breathing, chump!" Sabretooth yelled.

Maverick smiled, "I'm not. In fact, I feel better than I did back up top." Maverick took advantage of the momentarily confused look on Sabretooth's face to kick away from him. In a quick, effortless motion, he grabbed two large silver guns from their thigh holsters. "Gotta love kinetic energy," Maverick smiled as he fired away at two different Mandroids, disabling them. His mutant power allowed him to rechannel kinetic energy in the form of energy blasts. The guns served to channel the energy in tighter, more accurate blasts.

He heard the growl from Sabretooth behind him and dodged quickly to the side, feeling Sabretooth leaping over him. Rolling up, he saw bullets imbed themselves into Sabretooth's skin.

"Yodelayheehoooooo!" the merc with the mouth yelled as he ran down the hill, blasting away at Sabretooth. "It's Wonder Boy to the rescue! Yes, that's right, sports fans, Wonder Boy! Junior sidekick to Wonder Man, with a costume older than Angela Lansbury's career!"

Sabretooth snarled angrily as he leapt away in a criss-crossing pattern to avoid the bullets. His path led him to one of the remaining Mandroids that, to Sabretooth's surprise, attacked him! "Of all the double-crosses!" the angry beast yelled as the Mandroid pounded down on him.

Maverick and Deadpool immediately leapt into the fray. Maverick pointed to Deadpool and then to the escaping Auctioneer, who was already running up the steps into the large house. Deadpool - or Wonder Boy - took off after the man responsible for everyone being here.

Tigra and Velvet battled fiercely and in her rage Tigra didn't notice just how little offensive maneuvers the assassin offered. Velvet played defense for most of the battle, using that to disable Tigra instead of using offensive moves. Checking to see if Paramour was looking - she wasn't - Velvet let loose a series of offensive maneuvers that ended with her knocking the wind out of the feline Avenger.

Ms. Marvel and Paramour were locked in a martial arts duel, their bodies continuously punching, blocking, kicking, spinning … anything and everything to get an advantage. It was an odd pairing, Carol thought, for two women who were built surprisingly similar. Paramour was, unquestionably, the better martial artist and had a much easier time breaking through Carol's defenses to land her blows. For all the good it did her. Ms. Marvel was, unquestionably, stronger and the continuous punches landed by Paramour didn't hurt as much as they could have.

Paramour locked onto Ms. Marvel's wrist and used the Avenger's momentum to flip her over onto her back. As Carol rolled to get up, she saw Paramour's hand in one of her pouches. The assassin smiled, bringing out a handful of something, but Carol couldn't tell what. She hung back, and Paramour and Ms. Marvel circled each other slowly.

They had locked eyes, sizing each other up, when Paramour darted her eyes to the left for just a second. Ms. Marvel took the opening and leapt for Paramour, but the assassin was ready for her, giving her a faceful of sparkling gold powder. Carol screamed and her hands went right to her face.

Paramour grinned as Ms. Marvel's body crashed into the pavilion's wooden floor, her hands frantically rubbing her eyes. "It's brimstone powder, Ms. Marvel," Paramour explained gleefully, stalking the fallen Carol Danvers. She leaned down and grabbed the Avenger's long blonde hair and yanked her up hard. "Burns, doesn't it? It's a down payment from my next employer who's rescued me from my hellish existence on this backwater planet. It looks like it's rather effective."

She turned to look for Velvet and was pleased to see that she had Tigra defeated.

Ms. Marvel squeezed her eyes shut, but that didn't stop the burn. As part of her training with Air Force intelligence she'd been pepper-sprayed on many occasions. This felt a hundred times worse.

She felt disoriented, but since Paramour had grabbed onto her hair, she knew exactly where the assassin was and brought her hand back quickly, slamming it into Paramour's shin. "Ah!" Paramour cried, and Ms. Marvel leapt up and swung wildly, connecting with her chin and sending her sprawling backwards.

Maverick saw Velvet approach the hurt Ms. Marvel slowly, and started running towards her. There was only one Mandroid left standing and it was busy fighting with Sabretooth. Maverick raised his guns and yelled as he closed within fifty yards. Velvet looked up and her hand went into one of her pouches.

Maverick fired low intensity blasts, wanting to move Velvet away from Ms. Marvel more than anything. Quicker than Mav thought she could move, Velvet smeared something right across the Avenger's face, causing Ms. Marvel to lash out again.

Velvet jumped back to the hurting Paramour and made quick circles above her head. There was a twinkling of light that circled around them and the two assassins vanished just as Maverick reached Ms. Marvel.

"You okay?" he asked.

"Yeah, I am," Carol shook her head and blinked her eyes repeatedly. Her vision was restored and the burning was gone. She looked around at the scene around them. Tigra was holding her head as she slowly walked towards them. Deadpool was exiting the house, dragging the Auctioneer behind him. "Wonder Boy victorious!" he shouted cheerfully. "My fists hit as hard as Thor's little toe!"

"Where's Sabretooth?"

Maverick looked around, but Sabretooth was nowhere to be seen. "Must have cut out with the last Mandroid. I only count four out there."

"How are you feeling, Tigra?" Ms. Marvel asked.

"Not good," Tigra admitted.

"Come on then," Ms. Marvel put an arm around her fellow Avenger. "Let's get home so Jarvis can fix you a nice big bowl of milk."

END


MS. PRINTS

comments to mariner2@tiac.net

The opening arc of my Ms. Marvel run is completed. As they say, the best is yet to come! Our first letter comes from a review by Ralph IRON MAN Angelo!

I've read every issue of the fighting fury both in the MU and here in the MV1. I liked Marks first two issues, he jumped into the fire here feet first, and kept the series rolling along. Which is a good thing. With only about 11 issues here on the MV1, MS Marvel has already had 3 authors, probabaly more then any other title of such short length. I like Marks use of two badguys you wouldn't expect to be seen here, Sabretooth, and Bullseye, as well as the two new villainesses. The guest stars seem to be a staple of this book, which is both good and bad. Bad , because it really takes the spotlight away from the heroine herself, especially when she's had so many different incarnations of late. Maybe incarnations is to strong a word, but she has been written by three different people in the past year. I would love to see at least an issue or two, where Carol is alone, against someone who is a tough opponent, and no help or even friends are in sight.

All in all, a good start to Marks run on the female fury, who's always been one of my favorite female characters of Marvels pantheon.

Thanks, Ralph! Rest assured this won't turn into MS. MARVEL TEAM-UP as next issue we focus in more on Carol. As for the turnover in authors … I can't say just how long I'm going to stay on the book, but I've got plans out through issue 50 and I hope to be here until then!

NEXT ISSUE: Carol receives a mysterious package that changes her status-quo! Plus, the "Prince" from Destiny's omen is revealed!

-- Mark - 13. June. 1999 --


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