J♥
Part Twelve
of the
Face Cards Serial

(shot in glorious black and white)


"This should have been over."

Agent Borona gave Jack the "evil eye" before going back to the telephone and continuing to update his field office on what had occurred. Someone had taken Victoria Berger and driven off with her. They left the hospital in a convoy of black, unmarked cars and slipped off towards the edge of town before Borona could so much as read their license plates. Jack could tell Borona worried about how his fumble would be perceived. He could also tell that Borona was even more concerned about where his fellow agents, especially Special Agent King, had been when this happened.

"Get some clothes on, Sharper. I need you to come with me."

"I sure would hate to pull out my stitches.
Do you think they'll mind if I leave without paying my tab?"


Jack Sharper reclined in the passenger seat of Agent Borona's black sedan while the young FBI agent frantically tried to reach Special Agent King on the radio. Jack had trouble holding back laughter. Not only was the man in charge of the investigation completely missing in action, the convoy of cars they were following were proceeding well below the speed limit and making no effort whatsoever to lose Borona. This was all starting to feel like a dream. This was classic Demetrius Povanko. He got an extra special feeling of joy from taking care of business in broad daylight in full view of the authorities and getting away with it.

"He owns pretty much every cop in the city.
It was just you and your pal against the world.
No matter what badge you carry it wouldn't matter.
Royal flush beats two of a kind every time."

"I think you underestimate The Bureau, Mr. Sharper."

Agent Borona picked up the radio again and began barking into it. He was not just talking loudly and quickly, he was actually barking like a dog. Taken aback, Jack slid over on the seat so that he was as close to the passenger side door as he could be without leaving the vehicle.

"This bird has flown. Chicken hawk circling. Bring in the horses."

After waiting until Borona was done with his second round of barking, Jack cleared his throat and bummed another cigarette off the FBI man. Not sure if the man was insane or just abnormally clever, Jack waited patiently before saying anything further.

"I take it you have a bus filled with Feds somewhere to back you up?"

"Not really. I'm just messing with Povanko because I know he listens in on our channel."

"You get much sleep last night?"

"Nah, I haven't slept in three days."

"Well, thats great news.
You have any idea what you are doing?"

"Pretty much no idea at all."

Jack rolled down the window and watched the scenery fly by as the slow rolling pursuit continued. By the time he finished his second cigarette, the caravan of cars had pulled into the long dirt driveway of the house with the loft where Jack had been locked up briefly. He wondered if the second man to claim he was Hans Berger was still locked in the loft.

Agent Borona opened his door and jumped down behind it. He pointed his gun at the group exiting the vehicles and held up his FBI badge with his other hand. They paid very little attention to him, other than dispatching three gorilla sized men to return the gun pointing favor while everyone else slipped into the house.

"You're going to get yourself killed."

"I don't intend to let that son of a bitch get away with this. I can't wait for back-up."

"Well I am not going to storm the house with you.
The odds are stacked rather highly against us."

Borona shouted out that he was with the Federal Bureau of Investigation and ordered the three gorillas to drop their weapons. Jack slid down lower in the seat. He did not wish to take on any further wounds. Despite the number of times he had been shot in his life, he had no great drive to add to the total. The three men opened fire, riddling the car with bullets. Borona returned fire and took two of the gorillas down. Jack was impressed enough to sit up high enough to watch the next round. Borona did not miss. When he fired, he always got his target. When the smoke cleared, the three goons were dead and Borona was leaning into the car telling Jack they were going into the house.

Agent Borona flipped his car keys over the roof of his vehicle and instructed Jack to remove the shotguns from the trunk. The concept made Jack feel a little uneasy, as he hadn't used such a weapon in nearly fifteen years. Knowing this was likely to be his last opportunity, as it was a given that Borona would insist on storming the house, Jack moved slowly to the rear of the car.

A motorcycle was coming up the road. Borona kept his gun facing the house, but looked over his shoulder at the approaching rider. He nodded to Jack and told him to take all three shotguns out of the trunk. The biker was apparently friendly to the cause.

"I've never felt inclined to suicide, Borona.
You get suicidal like this often or is it a passing phase?"

The motorcyclist brought his bike to a stop behind the car, jumped off and removed his helmet to reveal a boyish face with dark, wavy hair.

"Mr. Sharper, this is your real client. He had that fellow hire you to follow his wife."

"Erich Rudzek? Victoria's husband?"

"In the flesh. We can chat and exchange phone numbers later, gentlemen. We have work to do."


Through the back window of the house, Jack, Erich and Agent Borona could see a dozen men. Victoria was sitting on the couch flanked by two armed men. Demetrius Povanko was enjoying a glass of brandy and supervising the festivities. As they watched for a few minutes longer, Special Agent King came out of the bathroom, approached Povanko and spoke in hushed tones. Then Povanko smiled and laughed and King walked over to the door to look out over the parked cars.

"Looks like your boss has gone over to the enemy.
I never thought Povanko could buy Feds,
but I'm not that surprised.
You want to turn back yet, Borona?"

Borona pretended not to hear Jack. He preferred not to have to answer the question.

"Don't shoot Povanko and don't shoot anyone unless you absolutely have to. This should go off without anyone having to get hurt."

"I'll look forward to seeing how you manage that."

Borona kicked in the back door and stormed into the house ahead of Jack and Erich Rudzek. He kept his shotgun out in front of him and yelled for everyone to drop their weapons and get their hands in the air. Jack lowered his own gun after seeing Special Agent King and six other men draw guns and turn them on Povanko and his henchmen.

King stepped forward and dangled a pair of extra large handcuffs in front of Povanko's face.

"Sorry, Demetrius, I'm afraid we outbid you for the crooked cops.
Never trust anyone who can be bought, my friend.
There is now a little matter of obstruction of justice to deal with.
Shall I read you your rights now or can you wait until we get to the car?"

Povanko mumbled something about entrapment, but with his loyal troops disarmed he allowed King to slip the handcuffs on him and lead him past Borona, Rudzek and Jack Sharper.

With Povanko removed from the scene, Erich Rudzek rushed forward. Victoria stood up, looking sheepish and uncertain of what Erich might think of her, but smiled broadly when he threw his arms around her and hugged her desperately.

"Well, that was fun, Mr. Sharper.
Hope I didn't scare you too much with the storming the house bit."

"Well, Borona, all I can say is that you have style.
I'm not as young as I used to be, you know.
Fella my age is susceptible to certain heart conditions."

"Can I buy you a beer?"

Jack looked back at Erich and Victoria. They were kissing each other passionately and he could see tears streaming down her cheeks. The story seemed to have a happy ending. That wasn't usually the case with Jack's investigations.

"Yeah, I think I could probably use one."


THE END


Back to the Beginning: Jack of Diamonds
Back to Part Two: Queen of Clubs
Back to Part Three: Jack of Spades
Back to Part Four: King of Hearts
Back to Part Five: Queen of Hearts
Back to Part Six: King of Diamonds
Back to Part Seven: Jack of Clubs
Back to Part Eight: Queen of Diamonds
Back to Part Nine: King of Spades
Back to Part Ten: Queen of Spades
Back to Part Eleven: King of Clubs

A hero published by Marvel Comics. Jack of Hearts first appeared in Deadly Hands of Kung Fu #22 in 1976.

Jack Hart was the son of Philip and Marie Hart and lived a relatively normal childhood. Philip Hart was a scientist who was working on a alternate energy source called Zero Fluid that appeared to be a cheap and efficient way to provide energy. Philip planned to give Zero Fluid to the world to help with the then present energy crisis.

The elder Hart's work in alternate energy sources had brought him to the attention of two groups who were also interested in his work. The first was a group of aliens named the Contraxians, whose star was waning and who hoped to discover a way to reenergize it. To this end, the Contraxians sent agents throughout the universe to seek alternate energy sources. One of these agents was Marie Har, who had fallen in love with and married Philip Hart while spying on him. This made their son, Jack, a half-human/half-Contraxian. She died in an accident before Hart completed his work.

The other group who was interested in Hart's work was a shadowy group called the Corporation. The Corporation's energy interests were threatened by Hart's work and once he had perfected the Zero Fluid, agents of the Corporation attempted to steal it and the formula for it from Hart. Philip Hart was killed by agents of the Corporation and his son Jack escaped, but not before being doused with the only sample of Zero Fluid. In a rather Harvey Dent coincidence, Jack was only doused on the left side of his body which was burned black and the the fluid caused Jack's unique physiology to mutate so that he began to release large amounts of energy. He returned to his father's lab and fashioned for himself from spare parts around the lab a suit of armor that helped him to regulate his energy output. Vowing vengeance upon the Corporation, Jack combined his new armor with other costume parts and created an identity so visually complicated as to make artists weep. And so the Jack of Hearts was born as a tribute to his father's love of cards and play on words of his own name, showing once again the danger of names in a super-hero reality.

Jack of Hearts fought against the Corporation and teamed up with both the White Tiger and Hulk during his early career. He briefly came under the tutelage of Iron Man during a period when Stark International was battling a takeover by the evil industrialist Mordecai Midas. Iron Man helped Jack to learn to use his new powers, and during this time, Jack was fitted with a Stark invention called the Scanalyzer that allowed him to think and analyze at computer speeds.

After parting company with Iron Man, Jack found his powers growing ever more powerful and he had less and less control of them. Fearing he would be a danger to the public, Jack turned himself over to S.H.I.E.L.D., who employed a mist to help regulate his powers. During this time, Jack met and fell in love with a scientist named Marcy Kane. Kane revealed to Jack that she was from Contraxia and helped him to piece together parts of his heritage. Jack went with Kane to Contraxia in a bid to regenerate their star. Jack used his enormous power to restart the star, but when he returned to Contraxia, his power output had greatly increased melting the ice caps of Contraxia and putting the population in danger. Jack left for the stars, thinking himself incapable of being near other people from that point forward.

For a time, Jack wandered the universe until he was captured by the Elder of the Universe, the Collector and taken to the planet that housed his collection. Jack was freed by the actions of Quasar and returned to Earth. Once there, he was the victim of mind-control by a villain known at the Presence and forced to fight Quasar. During the battle, Jack of Hearts was seemingly killed when his armor was breached, but he was rescued by Moondragon, a former Avenger. For a brief time, Jack was used by Moondragon in an attempt to gain favor with Quasar, but eventually, Moondragon gave up and Jack was freed.

Still in danger of losing control of his power, Jack sought the help of the Silver Surfer. Silver Surfer guided Jack to an alien who constructed Jack a superior set of armor. Jack then helped the Surfer and others in fighting the threat of the Tyrant. Though they were successful in their attempt to end the Tyrant's plans, Jack was injured and traveled for a time with an alien female named Ganymede. They began a relationship which eventually ended and Jack returned to Earth.

On his journey to Earth, Jack encountered a group of beings known at the Infinites and was nearly killed by the encounter. Jack was rescued by the Avengers who restored him to his original armor design but with superior abilities. Jack helped the Avengers fight the Infinites and later aided them when they turned back an attempt to turn the Earth into a interstellar penal colony.

Upon their return to Earth, the Avengers offered Jack membership in their team which he accepted and is actively serving as a member of the team currently.

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