Wednesday, March 09, 2005

Deadpool's Theatre Of The Obscure Presents - Ride the Streak! Part 1 - Rassum Frassum Casey Kasem


You’re late.

I watched Pokémon waiting for you people!

I am so going to kill Tony Stark...

Now kindly sit down. The show’s starting.

Boys! Remove the guy with the dog collar...

...I whip out this baby...

The guy wets his pants.

I know your momma was a pig.

...I see this big, huge...

C’mon Jessie, shake it for daddy!




By Deadpool. And that Chris guy. I think that’s his name.

So, where did we leave off last time...

Ah yeah, now I remember. So, I’d just ducked into this alley, and I was about to flip on my image inducer, when I see this big, huge...

Oh for... will you people at the back shut up, already? Honestly, some people!


That’s better. So, I see this big, huge...


Yow! Geez! Sorry folks, one of our halogen bulbs just burned out. Hang on, I’ll be with ya in just a sec...

Gus! Get up there and fix that!

*crashing noises*

Hurry up, these people don’t have all day!

*lights flick on*

That’s better. So, I see this big, huge cat.


*cricket chirp*

*tumbleweed rolls past*

Well, you hadda be there. This was one fat mother-friggin’ cat, you understand me? But the interesting thing was, it was sitting on the hood of this silver and black Datsun sports car. So, I’m thinking, why does someone leave an expensive, well-cared for sports car just lying in an alley, for Top Cat’s bulimic cousin to relieve himself on the hood of? So, I scoot the cat off it, and look in through the windshield. Empty as a bag of cheese doodles on a fat farm. So I go around the side, and look in there. Still empty, believe it or not. So, I try the handle. Locked. Big surprise. So, I start to try and force it.

And then the weird stuff starts.

It’s like... the car yells at me.

"Back off, ya jerk!" this voice just comes out of inside the car or something, and I’m so startled that I lose my grip on the handle and wind up on my well-toned buttocks amongst the trash cans. And I swear to God, this car sounded just like Casey Kasem.

Hey! What are YOU laughing at? You think it’s funny? You think I’m makin’ this up?

That’s better. Now keep your trap shut. Joe and Gus don’t get much fun.

"Hold the friggin’ two-way executive cellular phone!" I said out loud. I talk to myself a lot. It’s a bad habit.

"You could scratch the bodywork!" the car snaps at me again. By this time, I’m beyond thinking that maybe the radio in the car suddenly came on and Ol’ Casey is running through a Top 40 with song titles that sound remarkably like insults directed to a loud-mouthed mercenary. So, the only thing that I can say is:


Wade Wilson, master wordsmith. Oh, the irony.

So, then, the car starts to shake like a melon on Baywatch, and it starts changing. At this point, I’m up on my feet again, watching this with he attention I would give the aforementioned melon, as the car starts to rise up, the hood swings down, the doors open ,and arms and legs form out of the chassis. And then, this funky looking head pops out of the works, and before I know it, there’s an honest to goodness, son-of-a-snowblower, thirty foot tall robot standing in front of me. I look up at it, about a zillion things running through my wigged-out little head, and the only thing that comes out is:

"There’s somethin’ ya don’t see everyday."

"I guess I should have waited to transform. You shouldn’t see me like this," it replies, in a voice that makes me think that Scooby-Doo is about to pop out from behind a trash can. Me, I’m still standing there with my mouth hanging open. At that moment, I voice the one thing that’s most prominent in my mind:


"The name is Bluestreak, human," it says. "And I think the question is, what am I going to do with you?" Then, there’s this beeping noise, and it presses its forearm, and this little panel opens, and a screen with a this little picture of a guy who looks just like Streaky on it.

"Bluestreak, report back to the Ark at once," this other guy says.

"But Prowl...," he says, jerking his head at me.

"Never mind him," this Prowl character says. "One human is not important. There’s a situation developing with Optimus. We need you here for briefing."

Huh? Whuzzat, Chris? Oh, Chris says that you people might want to check out ‘X-Men’ #’s 4 and 5 for more about this junk. Go on, I’ll wait right here.

Hey! Get back here, dammit! Don’t you know an empty gesture when ya hear one? Damn X-Men, taking readers away from MY book... I hope one of those robots steps on ‘em.

And another thing, if you know so much about this stuff, Chris, why the heck didn’t you tell ME? I’m the guy who lived it, ya know?

...uh-huh... yeah, well I guess... huh. Okay, I’ll buy that. Cry baby.

So, anyway, then the communication’s cut off, and this Bluestreak guy sighs. "Who the hell was that?" I ask. "Your twin brother?" Personally, I was just grateful that he didn’t sound like another member of the Scooby-Doo ‘Gang’.

I’m tellin’ ya, I’ve got a REAL problem with that show. They’re on drugs, I tell you, all of them. They think the dog can TALK! And Velma... don’t get me started on her, she is SO a lesbian!

Whaddaya mean, how would I know? What are you implying? You want to take this outside?

I didn’t think so. Wuss. Now, just let finish the story, huh?

So, then - and this really cheeses me off - Ol’ Streaky Boy just ignores me. He turns back into a car, with this groaning, straining noise that I guess I just didn’t hear the first time. Personally, I think he needed a little more fibre in his diet. And he zooms off, leaving me dazed, confused, and with a strong urge to watch "Battle of the Planets".

So that’s the story. Like I said last time, pretty freakin’ messed up. But I’m not complaining. It’s the story of my life.

If you liked Deadpool’s Theatre of the Obscure, remember to send strongly-worded e-mails to those crazy MUTF guys telling them you want to see more of me. Oh, and Chris accepts cash, cheques, postal orders and all major credit cards.

Thank you, and good night!


A word from the author:

Thanks, Wade. On a serious note, though, if you guys out there enjoyed these two issues, and want to see more, then please feel free to drop me a line - I wont know to write any more if you don’t! If I get positive response, at some time, I’ll publish a Deadpool questionaire, so you can tell me exactly who/what you’d like to see in future ‘Marvel Universe Transformed Presents... Deadpool’ issues, should any come to be.

Thanks for your time - Chris

Deadpool's Theatre Of The Obscure Presents - Ride the Streak! Part 1 - A Big Load of Nothing

MUAHAHAHAHAHA! Die, you furry little rodent! DIIIIIE!


Oh, hi! You’re late!

The name’s Wilson. Wade Wilson. But you can call me Deadpool. I gotta tell ya, I’ve been waitin’ for you for a while now. You wouldn’t believe how hard it is to fill the time when you’re just a bunch of words on a page, honestly, ya wouldn’t. There’s never anything decent on TV these days. I hope you mouth-breathers are happy - I watched Pokémon waiting for you people!

Now, I’ve seen a man’s brains seep out his eye sockets. I’ve seen guys disembowelled, and fed their insides. But I have never seen anything as horrific as this little electric rat. Of course, this Jessie character, on the other hand... well, if I ever got my hands on her, I’d put the POKE in Pokémon, know what I’m saying’, huh? Team Rocket blasting off all through the night, eh? Heh heh...

...I’m sorry, did I say that out loud?

I did?

Damn. Sometimes its hard to tell.

But, anyway, I’m getting away from the point. You brought your carcass here to read a story, didnt’cha? Well, sorry, but I’m afraid that your regularly scheduled Marvel Universe Transformed has been cancelled. Instead, I’m afraid you’ll have to make do with:


*ring ring*

‘Scuse me a minute...

Hello? Yeah? Uh-huh? They WHAT? God DAMMIT! Yeah, fine... aw geez. Yeah. Have your people call my people. Yuh-huh. We’ll do lunch. Say hi to Cindy for me. Yeah. Bye.


Well, it seems we’ve hit a snag with the aforementioned girls. Seems they had a better offer for a private performance. Well, I guess you’re stuck listening to me, then.

Dammit, I am so going to kill Tony Stark...



By Deadpool. And some guy named Chris. Or something. Who cares?

Okay, now I warning you, this is one messed up story, but hey, if you’re still here listening to a guy like me, I guess ya really don’t care all that much, now do ya? Do ya? No you don’t! Do ya! A-goo. Poo-poo-goo-goo!

Hey wait, come back, I’ll stop the baby talk!

Okay, okay, sorry about that. But if you want to hang around and hear this thing, expect stuff like that, okay with you? Audience?

What? Why, yes madam, I did make it myself, thanks for noticing. Now kindly sit down. The show’s starting. Shh.

Okay, so this happened just after this big mess I got myself into, involving me being the herald to a little thing some people might have called... a-heh... the Messiah. Trouble with that was... well, long story short, and believe me, you do not want the long version... I had to kill the ugly thing.

Hey, you! Sit down! I’m talkin’ here! There are other people listening besides yourself, you know!

Oh, you’re gonna be that way about it, are you?

Boys! Remove the guy with the dog collar, and let me get on with my story!

*assorted thumping noises*


Thank you. Now where was I? Oh yeah. I’d just killed the Messiah. Keep your comments to yourselves, thank ya's very much. So, anyway, as you might imagine, I was pretty friggin’ wigged out after that. Even moreso than usual. So, I took a little day trip to my favourite city, New York, the Big Apple, where the vice is so nice they frisk you twice. So, I’m wearing my newest holographic disguise...

What? How do I make the holograms? With this thing. It’s what we in the merc business call an image inducer. Only $29.95, not available in stores anywhere! And if you act now, we’ll throw in this nifty teleporter belt too! Call 1-800-POOLMAN today! But back to the story.

So, I’m walkin’ down the street, and I’m stopping every so often, admiring whatever pair of legs happens to be walking by - and I’m tellin’ ya, that’s a lot of legs - and I’m lookin’ around me, and the next thing I hear is this scream. So, I look around, and I see this old broad screaming an’ shouting, as this guy grabs her bag off of her and runs in my direction.

"Don’t worry, lady!" I yelled. Hell, I dunno why I yelled it, something inside’a me just came out. That happens a lot. Generally after a night out at the HellHouse. Sorry, I’m gettin’ away from the point again. So, I flip off the image inducer, and I whip out this baby...

*scream from woman in audience*

Yoinks! Wrong baby!



...ahem... THIS baby... my trusty AK-47, and the guy runs smack into the barrel. "Hello there," I say to the guy. "Say, you wouldn’t happen to have something that doesn’t belong to you, now would ya?"

The guy wets his pants.

And by the time I’ve stopped rolling around on the ground laughing at the sissy-boy, he’s run off down the street, nowhere to be seen.

So I blew that one. Sue me. I’m not perfect. Who is?

What’s that, sir? You think you’re perfect? Well bully for you. Boys?

*thump thump thump*

Thank you, boys. That’s Joe and Gus, there, audience. How ‘bout a big hand for these guys? Their daddy was a milkman and their momma was a naive, unsuspecting young cow. Literally.


Hey, simmer down guys, I’m just kidding.

I know your momma was a pig.

Okay. Right, so on with my story.

Despite the fact that I just laughed myself silly at a pants-wetting little girly man, I’m still feeling bummed, so I duck into an alley, and I’m about to flip on my holographic disguise again, when I see this big, huge...


What do you MEAN, "we’re out of time?"

Sorry folks, but this Chris guy is telling me that we’ve used up all the time available to us this issue. Oh well, I guess you good people’ll have to tune in next week to hear the rest.

Now if you’ll excuse me, I must get back to my Pokémon.












C’mon Jessie, shake it for daddy!

...are you guys still here?

Aw geez...


The Punisher #4 - Conclusion

Marvel Universe Transformed Presents: The Punisher

By Brian Kilby

A cold February rain pours down over New York City. An old filthy wino lays huddled in a stinking alleyway. He lays there, nursing a bottle, vainly crying to God to stave off a wet death in pneumonia. Cats unable to find shelter will freeze to death, leaving a bountiful feast for the rats that retreat into the gutters. A man who whores his daughter for cocaine hides away and finds warmth in his mind altering drugs.

Everyone hides from something in New York City. The weather. The world. Themselves.

Nobody hides from me.

My name is Frank Castle. I'm the Punisher.

The day before yesterday...

A local pool hall, a tabernacle of depravity.

A man sits at a table, counting his money. He sits there, oblivious to the tempest of blood and sweat that beats down upon the cheap linoleum floor.

I ask him, "Who is out to kill Richard Eller!?"

He looks at me, smiling like the cat that swallowed the cockroach and answers "I am."

I didn't even have time to react. As fast as I ever saw a man move, he takes a butter knife from the table and tosses it towards me...with all my training, skill and exercise, I manage to dodge it. I turn around and find him gone. A second and a half later I get a nice surprise in my bad shoulder...stinking knife bounced off of the wall and tagged me.

It hurts like living Hell.

He'll pay for that one.

The wind howls, chilling to the bone. Cold, like the look in his eyes. He is planning to kill former mayor Richard Eller, for God only knows what reason. He is the deadliest of assassins. His name is Bullseye and he kills for money.

Not for much longer.

We're both killers, he and I, but there ends our similarities. I kill because I must. I made a vow upon the bloodied, twitching bodies of my family that I would end the suffering. That I would punish those that cause pain, those that destroy lives. Bullseye kills because he's good at it. He is epitome of the evil that I slave to destroy...but I got sloppy. He got away. Slow. Too slow. I've pushed my body beyond its practical limits. I've done damage that can never be healed...all because I was too slow. Too slow to save my family.

My family...

The wind howls and the rain family dies.

When the birds sing and the sun family dies.

A thousand times, they die. In my head. In my arms. At my feet. They die and I do nothing but lay there over their bodies, reaching...reaching for something....

It didn't take long to figure out what I was reaching for....

How many families has Bullseye destroyed? How many lives has he ruined? How many other men reach over at night to give his wife a kiss, only to find nothing. Nothing but a bottle. Nothing but a whore. Nothing but a gun....

Bullseye has done many horrible things in his career...a career that I will end tonight.

Chapter Four: Crime and Punishment.

Elsewhere, a killer is speaking on the phone.

"Yeah...I've kept it nice and high profile, just like you said."

On the other end of the phone. "Then I take it that it was you who foiled my bomber's plans?"

"Heh, yeah. 'Made a command decision on that one. I didn't want him in the way, so I iced him. You know that I can do this on my own. I didn't need a rookie with a chemistry set to get in my way. I took the initiative."

"My dear Bullseye, taking the initiative can get you killed."

"Yeah, yeah but--"

"No 'buts', you will make the hit at noon. I've made arrangements so that my dear friend Richard's celebration is televised city-wide, do not fail me."

"I won't."

"Fear, Bullseye. Fear. Hold a man's life in your hands and he will do anything. No one will be able to link this to me...but everyone will know. The Kingpin is back...and no one, not even his most trusted ally is safe." Fear, The Kingpin thinks. 'Fear.' He sits there, smiling with dreams of ten-thousand dollar suits and shattered lives.

The Conversation ends.

Bullseye hangs up the courtesy phone of his filthy motel room. It's a courtesy that the phone works, unlike the sink or the toilet. With nothing better to do, he watches a roach crawl across his foot. He watches it, curiously. Startled, the roach scurries away, moving aimlessly around the room. Bullseye leans back in his chair and plays with a disused pen cap.

Ill-content, he takes a long breath, he then glances at the money on the table and smiles. "It's not a bad job sometimes," he thinks. "Good hours, lots of fresh air, exercise...." He flips the pen cap across the room and hits the roach, killing it. "...fringe benefits." Bullseye smiles. "Yep, this is a damn-good job. I can't see myself doing anything else."

He glances at the clock. "Three more hours...I can get a nap in before that." He leans further back in the chair.

"A damn good job..."

For the next two hours Bullseye dreams of dollar-signs, easy women and broken vigilantes.

War Journal. Thursday. The Fourth. Ten a.m.

I've searched and dug, Eller is under armed security in a mob safehouse... "Mob safehouse," I get a chuckle from that...the mob was trying to keep safe from me. My sources said, after some encouraging, that he will be at the banquet. He's scared. This is too strange, why show up? Why make yourself a target? Why get yourself killed? I vowed that he would not die, that he would live as a broken monument to those who aspire to be him. That vow may be broken itself. If he's not careful enough, he's going to die. In all honesty, I can't say that it bothers me much but then again, I'm an optimist.

I sit here in an old alleyway. Garbage strewn throughout, I spot an old milk bottle and, a few feet away, some old oily rags... a thought comes to me. A nice warm thought.

War Journal. Thursday. The Fourth. Party Time.

I sit here in the audience listening to jokes and old stories. If that wasn't bad enough, I had to put on a stupid tuxedo. Thank God I have a gun stashed in the jacket and a few scattered around the room. Oh, and another, better surprise.

"As a young actor, before his days as Mayor, Richard told me that to be the best in your field you have to work hard, be quicker than the rest, smarter than the rest and you have to have a nice car. Never worked for him, got me an Oscar, though."

The speaker gets a strained chuckle from the audience.

"Yeah, he wasn't much of an actor...but he was a good man, in fact, at his weight, he was a few good men! Ha!"

The audience laughs a little harder.

Eller sits at a table, on-stage and at the butt of many bad jokes. He's obviously not happy, I wouldn't be either. He's been called old, out of shape and his manhood has been questioned. Of course that and--


We hear an explosion, everybody stands up. I take off this stupid suit. Time for work.

Bullseye jumps through a window, smoke not far behind. "Hello people, I'm getting a bonus for not killing you, so I'd appreciate it if you all got the Hell out of here!" Everyone runs out, Richard Eller tries. "Not you, friend. You're the guest of honor." Bullseye grins and looks towards the TV cameras. He runs over to the camera and rips off the microphone. Looks like he wants them left on.

I take out my automatic rifle and fire a few shots--a few shots are all I get out before the gun is knocked from my hand by a fancy flower vase.

The room clears and an old security guard runs in. "I'll take care of him, Sonny." The old man fumbles around and withdraws his revolver. He gets a salad fork through his sternum for the effort. That's what you get for twenty years at minimum wage? No thank you. The old security guard's lungs fill up with blood. Like a walking pneumonia, he staggers a few feet, drops his revolver and falls over dead. I make a leap for the gun and rap my fingers around her, in constant motion I roll over and put my sites between Bullseye's eyes.

I take two quick shots. As soon as the bullets are in the air, he picks up a silver platter and deflects them.

"One, two, Franky. Four more? Let 's find out." He smiles and throws the platter towards me.

I duck and take another shot at him. He picks up soup spoon, throws and knocks the bullet from the air. He's showing off. He's gonna get sloppy and get himself killed. I love it when they do that.

"Three down. Keep it up."

I roll towards him intending to put a couple in his belly. "Four, fi--!" One hits, glances off a rib, the other is lost as he back-hands me.

Visibly angered, he tries to regain his composure. "Four, five." He covers his rib, I tagged him at least. That'll help me sleep tonight. "Got any more?"

I shake off the last blow, still hurts--he's got a lot of force behind those fists. He glances at the revolver and smiles. He stares me down, just begging to be shot. Playing chicken, Bullseye? He flinches. "Cocka-doodle-doo." I fire, hot gun powder fills my nostrils and powders my face, it's a good sensation.

Time freezes, my heart stops and my eyes tell me something that can't possibly true. Bullseye looks at me, throws out his hand and snatches the bullet from mid-air. I hear the familiar sound of a bullet breaking skin and hitting bone. Blood pours down his wrist. he smiles. He smiles!

"And that would be six." He tosses the bullet back, it tags me in the neck. It took little more than a second, I feel the strength leave my legs. On knees of cotton, I fall.

Looks like Bullseye's done with me...for now. He walks over to a corner, where Richard Eller lays weeping.

"Ah, Mr. Eller," says Bullseye. "How good of you to show up. Mr. Fisk told me to ask you something. What was it again?" Bullseye strokes his chin. "Ah, yes. The family? How are they? Wife and kids doing well? Mr. Fisk is," Bullseye smiles, "concerned for them."

"I-I know--he's going to kill them!"

"Oh no, Mr. Eller, you know better than that. He's going to kill you. Your wife and children will be safe, thanks to your cooperation."

"Wh-why are you doing this?"

"I'm doing this because it's my job. I get a nice little thrill and a big-fat paycheck for snuffing you out. Mr. Fisk is doing this, on the other hand, because it suits him to do so...or, at least, that's what he . If you ask me, I think that he gets a giddy little thrill from it too." Bullseye looks down at the poor, pathetic old man and frowns. "Buddy, you're no fun at all." A nice, swift kick snaps the old man's neck.

"Damn! I forgot to tell him.--." Bullseye coughs. " Nobody is safe from the Kingpin! Aw, man--doesn't have the same effect when the guy's dead. Oh well, you heard it Frank, didn't you?" Bullseye lights a cigarette. He turns around, he takes a draw off the cigarette and exhales through the . Where'd you go? Don't worry...I might not even kill ya, I haven't decided yet." He spots a trail of blood that leads . "Hiding? 't do you any good."

Bullseye walks to the table and lifts his leg to kick it over. I'm not behind the table...I'm under it. I take the butt of the Russian beast and take his other leg out from under him. As quickly as I can, I climb up on him and start beating his head in. He's strong. Stronger than I am. He has no problem, barring the chunks of meat that I'm biting out of his shoulder, in wrestling me over. He's on top of me and I've dropped the gun. He's pounding on me, bones break under his fists. He's strong and bulky and I'm--I'm blacking out. With a blinding punch, he's taken out my eyes, I can't see anything but a blur.

Unable to fight back, I reach for something to hit him with. He keeps pounding, I'm not gonna last long like this. I feel blood pouring down my chin and I feel my face and ribs softening up.

That's when I grab it--the Russian, the mammoth shot gun. With one free arm, I take it. My vision is improving, I see Bullseye beating away, he's not slowing down but my vitals are. I put the Russian to the side of his head... or to his face, I can't tell, vision's still no good.

I pull the trigger.

I don't need my vision to hear the roar of Hell cast open. He's off of me. I see his head snap back and I see a fine red mist fill the room, reminds me of a Spring morning.

He's down, looks messy. Dead? I can't tell. I do spot something on the ground, something that's glowing. His cigarette...I pick it up, find a package that I brought in with me and I crack it open. A molotov cocktail, Bullseye's just got a one-way ticket to Hell, paid for by me.

I turn around and he's gone. "What in the Hell--?"

"You think you killed me? You think your gun scrambled my brains? My skeleton is reinforced with adamantium! WHAT YOU DID WAS PISS ME OFF!"

I can't see him, something made of glass hits me in the back of the head. Then a dish in the back and a tea cup in the chest. He's pelting me with dinnerware, I get knocked around the room. If it wasn't for the thick skull and the kevlar, I'd be dead. I can barely see, I'm bleeding, I have to end this fast. Time for me to give back. I run towards a light that I think is a window. He keeps throwing. It keeps hurting. I keep bleeding.

I hit the window and turn around. I get a bead on him, I see him--he's about fifteen feet away from me. "Bullseye! Fire in the hole!" I light the bottle with the cigarrette and I throw it towards him.

He catches it and laughs. "It'll take more than a little fire to hurt me, Franky-boy. A lot more." He tosses it aside. The bottle shatters and the fluid covers the floor, burning everything.

"I know--" I wrap my fist up and shatter the window. "That's why I switched the water line on the sprinkler system this morning--with the gas line!" I jump through the window.

A column of fire and heat pours from dining hall's windows, throwing me into the New York air. I catch some of the heat, scorches my suit, would be worse if it wasn't for the ice-cold rain.

It took me less than six minutes to lose, Eller's dead. I can't say that it wasn't fun, though.

I did hear something, however. It was a name--one that I didn't want to hear. Fisk, the Kingpin. Body counts are bound rise--on both sides.

I make my exit. The fire department will handle this, the police will investigate, they'll find Eller's body, the security guard and anybody else who might've been unlucky enough to get in Bullseye's way. They won't find Bullseye, though. I'm sure that he got away. He'll be back... after me, looking like Jigsaw's ugly sister, I'm sure. He'll be back and I'll be waiting.

Elsewhere, in the sewer line under the city. "Oh yeah, you got me this time, Franky-boy. I'll admit it, you caught me off guard. You're good, I won't deny you that. But buddy, I'm the best. You'll be seeing me again. Count on it." A badly burned and battered Bullseye staggers off, victorious, if one can call it that.

Yet somewhere else, a television tuned to a Fisk owned channel goes black. The Kingpin sits smiling. "Bullseye, my boy," he says to himself. "You've done well. You've completed your objective and for that I applaud you. You've managed to inflict pain and suffering upon those who I wish to regain control. Very good. For that my dear Bullseye, I will mend your wounds, I will soothe your injuries and I will reinstate you as my chief assassin...until I can find a suitable replacement." The Kingpin laughs with a grin that extends to the depths of his marbleheart. "Indeed."


The Punisher #3 - Bullseye!

Marvel Universe Transformed Presents: The Punisher

Number Three.

By Brian Kilby.

War Journal. February the second, later that afternoon.

Things get stranger. The Police swept Eller's apartment. They found a body...or, at least, they found the majority of one. They found a little of it on the walls, the floor and ceiling. They assume that this was the bomber, I'm not convinced. No recoverable fingerprints, no recoverable dental work; nothing but little chunks of meat, there's no way to make the i.d.

Other than the 'body,' the apartment was empty; A little furniture, a few appliances and that's it. For a wealthy man, Eller's home was surprisingly barren. He was tipped off; given time to clean out. He knew about the hit in advance. No doubt about it. The question is why? And why was he at the apartment at the time of the bombing? Coincidence?


The strangest item of all: Eller isn't in hiding: He's staying at the Royal Grand Plaza Hotel, in the busiest part of town. To top it off, he's demanded that the Roast go on, as planned. The only explanation is that he feels some measure of safety in public; something that he can't afford in private.

But why?

Questions. Questions. Questions.

Few answers.

But I have a way of getting answers.

This is going to get real messy, real fast.


War Journal. February the second. Night, outside of an abandoned warehouse: Temporary HQ.

I can smell the trouble brewing in the air, its familiar aroma fills my nostrils, calling me.

I must answer.

The time spent fasting is over. The time for indulgance looms forth.

I have to load my gear, I've a job to do.

The Manifest:

Knives: One hunting, three daggers, one utility.

Guns: Enough.

Bullets: Never enough.

Bandages: Six feet.

Chip: On shoulder.

Ready. Time to go.

War Journal. February the second. Late night. A filthy pool hall, usual hang out of local hoods and small time mobsters. A rock band that plays the hall for Heroin is performing a CCR song...poorly. The room is thick with smoke and the putrid odor of wasted humanity. The hall is full of noise. Loud with cursing, boasts of past scores and cheap music.

I've got something louder.

From my side, I withdraw the nameless Russian beast. One shot to the ceiling; fire, a shower of concrete with tile and an ungodly roar brings the crowd to silence. Their eyes are fixated on me, right were they need to be. An old familiar feeling comes back and I'm on top of the world.

"Now that I've got your attention." I glance across the crowd, noting movements. "Who is out to kill Richard Eller?"

"Who ain’t?" smirks a large man with a shaved head and a pot-belly. He lurches over the pool table in a drunken stupor.

A roar of laughter ensues...they're not afraid of me. They should be.

I'm not gonna let piggy here, get away with that. I'm not in the mood. "Who is trying to kill Richard Eller!?" I scream.

He laughs at me, he's not afraid. He's not afraid. He's too stupid be afraid. He breaks a bottle over the pool table. He starts his move toward me.

I let him get close.

"Who are you, little man?" he asks.

Little man? Yes. Next to him. He's big, seven feet tall, easily. He weighs four hundred pounds if he's an ounce and he's coming at me with a broken bottle. But he's slow and fat and I let him come.

He's almost within striking distance. I let him come. Closer fat man, closer.

"Who wants to know, little man? Who wants to know?"

He's close enough.

He swings his fist and the bottle flies towards my face but he's slow. Too slow. I duck. One swift kick to the knee cap does the trick; compound fracture. He falls to the good knee and the butt of the Russian beast tears into his face. He's helpless, wonderfully and beautifully helpless.

I spit in his helpless face. "The Punisher wants to know! Now tell me, who wants to kill Richard Eller?"

"..." He manages to make a pathetic sobbing sound but he provides me with nothing. He doesn't know. This is only partially gratifying.

A man taps me on the shoulder. He holds a pool cue and he swears at me in Vietnamese...too bad, I speak Vietnamese. He swings the cue at me...I catch and return the back of his skull. He falls to the ground.

One of his buddies draws his .45, thank God. I thought it would never get to this. The Russian screams with fire and gunpowder. The man loses his arm and the most of his head and chest. Scorched blood splatters the wall.

It's been a while.

Suddenly, the dozen or so men in the room draw their weapons, except for a man sitting at a table smoking a cigar. He sits in the corner and counts his money; he doesn't even acknowledge my existence. He knows something, I'm certain.

The next four minutes are pure bliss. A symphony of gunfire and blood....

A man comes from behind and tries to slit my throat. I duck and he grazes my forehead.

That'll cost him his lower jaw and his life. From my ducking position, I reach to his throat. The muscle under the chin is thick, but not so much that a man can't tear through it with enough determination. His last coherent word is 'mercy.'

"Sorry, not today."

One guy comes at me a sawed-off 12-guage. I duck behind the bar. He gets in a couple of shots. A few pellets tear into my arm. A flesh wound. He thinks he's aced me. I don't tell him any differently.

He walks over and peers over the bar. Stupid, stupid maneuver. I teach him better. I lunge up and put the fear of God in him. The rest is easy. I Snap four of his vertebrae, he'll remember this for a good, long time.

Three guys rush me. Two from behind and one ahead. The guy ahead is fast, he tags me with a .38 in the shoulder. I've had worse, I ignore it. One guy behind me has a chair, the other, a broken bottle. The guy with the chair swings but I dodge, he nails the guy with the .38, taking him out.

Lucky I wore my brass knucks, I rupture the chair-man's nose under my fist but he's juicing on some major drugs and he doesn't even notice. He jumps me and we fall to the ground, tearing at each other like rabid dogs. I reach my knife and fillet his exposed tricep. That gets a reaction. He screams for his mother but he's still on top of me, whimpering like a baby. The guy with the broken bottle is smarter. He lets me wrestle with the bloody, chair-wielding dunder-snot. He cuts across my injured shoulder with the bottle. The left-over bourbon cuts worse than the razor-sharp glass. I put my hunting knife in the belly of the oaf on top of me and push him off. I roll over and grab the Russian. The look on the guy's face is alone worth the price of the shoulder. One shot to the belly and a horrible brown fluid flows forth--it stinks to high Heaven...I think it's his lunch.

The other guys see the mess on the floor and they lose their lunches too. They don't hesitate in making their exit.

The man who apparently likes his cigars still sits at his table, counting his money. He acts as if he's the only one in the world. I walk up to him and tap on his shoulder. "Who is trying to kill Richard Eller?"

He ignores me. I tap him on the shoulder again and ask nicely. "Tell me! Who is out to kill Richard Eller!?"

He looks up and turns his head as if I'm talking to someone else. He then looks at me and smiles, "I am."

I recognize the face immediately.


Next: Things get even messier. If you can believe it.

The Punisher #2 - Two Kills Past Eight

Marvel Universe Presents: The Punisher #2

By Brian Kilby

War Journal, February the first. Two kills past eight a.m.

Word on the street is that somebody has a hit out on former Mayor Richard Eller. I'm no fan. He made sure the book was thrown at me when I was incarcerated a few years back. They called him "Rough Rick," he liked to make sure that the book was thrown at everybody. Truth be known, he has a lot people who 'aren't fans.' There are a few hundred people who'd like to rub out "Rough Rick," and on top of that, I can think of another couple of dozen people who'd be glad to do the job just for kicks.

Eller'll be roasted by the Academy of Associated Actors later in the week, he was an actor himself back in the day. He made lots of powerful, famous friends. Lots of powerful, corrupt friends. He's a very dirty man; got his fingers in everything. Details of the hit are vague but odds are the hit'll be made on the day of the roast. Starting tomorrow I'll stick to the old man like dry blood on a bayonet. Can't be too cautious. Now, however, I have other plans.

I have no money, no guns, no friends; nothing. I have some stuff put in storage but that'll have to wait until later. I have a good ten hours before dark; good thing, I've not slept in three days.


War Journal, February the First. Twilight, Yankee Stadium.

They say that Jimmy Hoffa is buried under the pitcher's mound. They're wrong, I checked. Eight feet under is a box, a big box. It's loaded to the brim with the tools of an artist of death and destruction.

I'm about to paint a masterpiece.

The lights are blown and security's down. Good. I'm one pair of night-vision goggles away from withdrawing my deposit, it's amazing what drug dealers carry these days.

Pitcher's mound.

The air is cold and dark and my lungs burn. Perspiration on my brow, it rolls down my face. It tastes like salt; like blood. Like blood! God, I'm getting ahead of myself.

I'm three feet down, with five left to go.

There's a weight in my stomach that's rising into my throat. It's excitement. It's anticipation. The calluses developing on my hand disappear as does the weight of the shovel. My one focus is on the contents of the box, nothing else matters right now; I need my 'fix.'

Six feet down, two to go.

I huff and puff, my muscles rip and pull the soil beneath me. The weight in my stomach explodes as my shovel hits something hard. My heart pounds and my fingers tremble. I've torn through the wrapping, now for the box.

I crack it open. It's Christmas and I'm a kid again.

I stare into the open box with satisfaction, with glee. Santa has been good to me this year. He didn't check his list did he? "Heh, no, he didn't."

I check the contents. "Damn!"

"Imports," I mutter. I had forgotten what I stowed away. Every gun an

import. Every one! Worse yet, some are customs, making it even harder to find ammunition. I'll have to conserve ammo. I hate conserving ammo!

It seems so wrong.

Maybe Santa checked his list after all. I double-check the contents:

The first gun is an Italian shotgun. It's a custom job, made for me years ago. Its name roughly translates as 'The Excavator.' It blows big holes in people.

The next gun is from Portugal. It's a black automatic rifle, a beautiful weapon. Take a block of steel the size of your head, it can punch a hole through it. A big messy hole. Needless to say, it gets the job done. Its name means 'The Bane of a Nation.' I call it 'my right hand.'

The next is from France. It's another custom. One of a kind. Unique triple barrel design. Six magazines, fully automatic. Nasty weapon. I found it on one of the Kingpin's assassins. I never caught its name.

The next gun is Russian. Big mammoth of a shotgun. When you shoot it, it sounds like the end of the world.

Fire, brimstone and the whole mess. This gun has no name, I like it that way.

The last is from Mexico. It's a tiny little rifle. You could hide it in your shirt if needed. The semi-automatic version has been illegal since the Carter Administration. The name translates as 'Montezuma's Revenge.' I kid you not. Most non-head or chest shots are still fatal. Without immediate medical attention, you either die of blood loss or gangrene. Regardless, it's a slow, painful death.

War Journal, February the second. Six a.m.

I loaded up and stowed away what wasn't being used into an abandoned warehouse. I took another rest and now I'm fresh as a daisy.

I've made my way to the former mayor's uptown residence. He lives a pampered life in a lavish apartment paid on the sweat of the city's tax payers. I stand outside. From street level, I look up into the early morning

New York sky. I laugh at how easy this is. I'm on the top of the world.

His apartment building glows like a beacon in the blackness of the hate and filth that is New York.

It's not a beacon. It's a testament to its filth.

Richard Eller is one of the most corrupt men in the city but I won't let him die. I want him to live in fear. I want him to suffer. I want him to know that his life of sin and corruption does not go unpunished.

I want him to--wait. I smell something. It smells like smoke.

There's an explosion that could wake the dead.

I look up just in time to see it go. A bomb. Fire and rubble rain from the heavens. His top story apartment goes up in fire and devastation. I'm too late.

"Damn! I'm too late!"

Or am I?

A long black limousine peels out from the underground parking lot. It's

The mayor's limousine. He's alive? I hear something else, someone's running away. Can't tell the direction.

My ears are ringing like Christmas Eve. The bomber?

Maybe this is more than just your run-of-the-mill mob hit.

"I wish I had more guns."

Next Week: Questions, Answers and Spilled Blood.

The Punisher #1 - I'm Back and It Feels So Good

War Journal, Tuesday the 18th, 4:00 a.m.,

I've tracked two pieces of slime across town to a sleazy motel that decent people wouldn't use for a toilet. The refuse that call this place home sickens me. If this godforsaken Hellhole were torched down, the world would be better off a few dozen junkies, a pimp and an old tramp that cheats on her Social Security. Right now, however, they're not my concern. The two pieces of slime raped and killed a woman in the village. They hauled her body ten miles to dump it here but it seems that they're not done with her. They carried her body up the fire escape, two stories, to the roach-infested hole in which they live. I stand here, outside; in the freezing air, waiting for the kill. It's good to be alive.


Working over the dead woman, stripping her of her jewelry, one half-intoxicated waste of space says to the other: "I don't know about this, man. What if the Avengers show up or something? Why in the Hell did we bring her up here?"

His equally worthless counterpart replies: "Because nobody up here gives a damn! Do you think nobody saw us up here? Hell yes they did! Do you think they'll report us? Hell no. Just shut the Hell up and make sure we got everything. We’ll leave her and head for Jersey."

"What about the Avengers?"

The Avengers? Hell, do you think they worry about this stuff? What's another dead bimbo to them? They only care about the big stuff; Dr. Doom, Clinton; crap like that."

"Dude, what about Spider-Man or Daredevil. It ain't exactly safe in this city no more."

"Spider-Man? Daredevil? To Hell with them! I ain't afraid of them. I've been in and out of the slammer since before I was old enough to shave--I ain't afraid of going back."

"Dude, dude--what about the Punisher?"

"The Punisher!?!" The slimeball laughs to the extent that his blackened lungs allow. "He's dead!"

"Dude, he's back and I hear he's working for angels or something?!"

"Angels? What's he gonna do? Pray for us? To Hell with him. If he shows up, I'll kick his ass!"

The night air explodes like shrapnel in your best friend’s face. On cue, the lights go out and the half drunk waste of space leaves a mess in his pants.

"Dude, dude! The lights. Where are the lights?" Surprisingly, the soiled, half-drunk waste of space fumbles around and finds the light switch.

The Godforsaken, worthless, half-drunk, punk turns around to find his equally worthless friend, blood erupting from his mouth with a hunting knife through his throat.

Trembling with the most satisfying type of fear; the type that steals any shred of hope, the punk cries to his mother and prays to anyone who will listen. "Holy mother of God. Our father who art in Heaven hallowed be thy name...."

A loud, tearing, ripping sound comes from behind; it’s the laughter of a very large, imposing man. "It won't work," he says. "It won’t work."

The soiled, worthless, half-intoxicated waste of space does what any coward would do, he runs to the window and jumps through. Right behind him, his pursuer follows. Gasping for air to sustain his worthless life, the soiled, worthless, waste of space makes it to the guard rail and leaps down, into the alley. He doesn't make it; He's betrayed by the length of his own hair. Suspended two stories only by his hair's tensile strength, the intoxicated, soiled, waste of space once again prays to God and repents of his sins.

"Dude, dude, please! Let me live. I'm sorry! I'M SORRY! Jesus, sweet Jesus!"

The Punisher waves his arm slightly; swaying the soiled, waste of space in the frozen air of a New York back alley rat's nest. The punk screams and makes the moment all the more sweet.

"You use conditioner don't you, Slimeball? I can tell these things. You got nice, strong hair. I can hold you up as long as you can hang, how does that sound? Not too good from your perspective, I don't imagine."

"Dude, please! Please, what do you want?"

"You can't give me what I want!"

"Mary, mother of God! Jesus, sweet Jesus!"

"Okay, I'll tell you what you little piece of sewer-trash." The Punisher leers over the edge, spits to the ground and counts the seconds 'til it hits bottom. "You have a good fifty-fifty chance of surviving a fall from this distance. For your own sake, make sure you die when you hit the pavement."

"Oh God.--"

War Journal, Tuesday the 18th, 4:15 a.m.

I'm back and it feels so good.

Marvel Universe Transformed Presents: The Punisher.

Written by Brian Kilby

Number 1 of a 4 issue, weekly series.

Next Week: The Punisher faces a threat unseen from a familiar face.

Heroes for Hire #9 - The Defense of Avalon

"The Defense of Avalon"

Written by: Wes A.


With a flash of white light, ten figures appeared. At first they had to wait a few moments for their eyes to adjust.

"Do you believe it possible to blind us even more, friend Dane?"

"Sorry Lord Tyger, I guess you get a bit used to it after a few times. Anyway, here we are: Avalon!"

The group looked around with awe. Before them was a courtyard to a castle that could only be described as majestic. The structure looked hundreds of years old but appeared solid. The Knights were gaping in awe of such a sight. Sersi lightly brushed a hand on the wall, checking if it was actually real. Dane grinned at his companion's reactions. Then he noticed Drake just staring with mild amusement.

"Not impressive enough for you?" asked Dane.

"It's very.....quaint." said Drake in a deadpan tone.

The group made their way inside castle to what looked like a meeting hall. In the center of the room was a roundtable that looked like it could seat several dozen people. Dane motioned for everyone to take a seat.

"So when do we meet the Lady?" asked Drake.

"Lady?" asked Sersi with confusion, "What Lady?"

Dane cursed to himself, he probably should have given everyone a full report before they left. "Oh, I guess I didn't fill you in on all the exact details. You see, I was in kind of a rush to get you all here."

"Knowledge is the ultimate power Black Knight. The first Pendragon knew that very well."

Everyone jumped, the voice came from almost every corner of the room. Lord Tyger jumped from his seat in a flash. His hand rested on the handle of his katana.

"Whose voice doth invade my ear? Show thyself or taste death!"

The air before the assembled group seemed to reshape itself, like someone was twisting it inside out. Within a moment, the Lady of the Lake appeared. She was tall and dressed in all white. Her feet hovered about a foot off the ground.

"Do not worry yourself Lord Tyger. I am the Lady of the Lake, the guardian of Avalon and keeper of King Arthur's tomb. I trust the Pendragon told you why are here?"

"Pendragon? You mean Dane?" asked Sersi.

The Lady of the Lake nodded.

"We're here to protect Avalon against a threat of some kind, right?"

"Correct. The Pendragon and the one called Drake battled a minion of the evil before. They were successful. After that defeat, the evil has remained more cautious, taking more care to gather his forces."

"Excuse me," said Sir Ram, "But who is this evil that we will be fighting?"

"He is an evil that is matched only by the darkest of gods themselves. Twice he has tried to rule this world, he was barely defeated each time. His name is Charnel."

As the Lady said the name, Dane swore that he could see Drake's face go slightly pale.

"Charnel?" asked Drake, "As in the Sumerian God of Darkness, Charnel?"

The Lady nodded. Everyone's eyes at the table was shifting from the Lady to Drake.

"You know about this thing, Drake?" asked Sersi.

"Yes, I do. As you may or may not know, I've been around for a few centuries, I've picked up quite a bit of information in my time. The legend of Charnel is one that predates even the Asgardian time of worship by man. Charnel is one of the Ancients, the beings that existed when the Earth was first formed. They were the ones that were worshipped by man before any other gods or spirits. It's safe to say that they ruled the Earth and it's people. After a while, a war broke out between the Ancients. Many died in the war, and in the end Charnel was the last Ancient standing. For nearly a millennia he ruled the world with terror and fear. Finally, a group of human mages summoned a power that could combat Charnel. That power took the form of a man, who became the first Sorcerer Supreme of Earth. After a long battle, Charnel was defeated and driven into exile on an empty plane of existence. Like the Lady said, he came back and was defeated. I'm not sure how, but from the bits I've heard they weren't easy fights to win."

Everyone in the room was dead silent. Dane could see Sersi looking at him from the corner of his eye. He was the one that brought them all their, it was him that will lead them. Dane took a breath and broke the silence.

"Ok, so how is it that we stop Charnel this time?" he asked.

The Lady of the Lake fielded that question. "The few followers of Charnel have gathered in a small pocket dimension to resurrect him. When he is restored, he will attack Avalon, then the Earth."

"We must make sure that they do not breathe life into the beast once again." said Lord Gator in his raspy whisper of a voice.

"Agreed" said Dane, "We'll leave in one hour. That should give us enough time to prepare."


Dane stood out on one of the castle's balconies. He looked down at the courtyard to see the Knights checking on their robotic Atomic Steeds. It would be a shame if in the midst of battle they lost due to a faulty engine. Dane also noted how beautiful the island itself was. The grass and forests were pure green, so unlike most of Earth's land these days. Suddenly, Dane felt guilty that he didn't try to spend more time in this place. It would have been.....nice.

"So here you are."

Dane turned around to see Sersi looking at him, leaning against the doorway that led from the castle to the balcony. "Yeah, here I are all right."

The two just looked at each other for a moment, studying each other. Each of them had images of their time together. Although it wasn't more than a year or two, it seemed so much longer than that. They thought about their time in the Avengers, time alone with each other, and then their time apart. Suddenly, the mood between them went from friendly to uncomfortable.

"So, ah....been keeping busy?" asked Dane awkwardly.

Sersi had a sad look on her face. "Dane, we don't see each other for months and that is the best you can do?"

"Well...yeah, pretty much."

The two looked each other in the eye for a minute, then laughed at the lame joke. Sersi walked over to Dane, her hand on his shoulder.

"It's good to see you again." she said sincerely.

"You too. So, are you going to answer my question?" he said with a grin.

"I've been taking relaxing mostly. Went to Rio, stopped a flood, got a tan. Not as exciting as mercenary work, but it works for me."

"We're not mercenary's. We help those who need it." said Dane in defense.

"Dane, calm down. I know that you help those who need it. It must be hard to a profit-seeking team, what with all the other mercenaries out there."

"You mean like Deadpool?"

"Yeah, although from what I've heard Deadpool isn't as much of a bad-ass as he claims to be."

Dane chuckled. "He's out there all right."

"You've met him?" asked Sersi with a raised eyebrow.

"Yeah, it was just before that business with the Master went down. He was a loan from another company."

"Really? So J. Jonah Jameson was right, you really do let ANYbody on your team."

The two shared a short laugh over that. Sersi made no attempt to hide her mischievous smile from Dane. He knew that she was joking with him and he liked playing alone. It felt nice. He almost wanted to tell her how much he missed her, how much he wanted to hold her and love her like he used to. This might be his last chance. It...

"Looks like the Knights are just about ready. Shall we?" asked Sersi, motioning towards the courtyard below.

"Yeah, let's."

The two turned to the doorway and began their way down to the courtyard. On the way down, Sersi kept repeating in her mind that it was best to get out of that situation. Dane had moved on with his life, no need to try and burden herself on him. It just wouldn't be right.


There are many dimensions in existence. Some are lush, beautiful places that are teeming with magic and splendor. These heaven-sent places enrich the very soul of your inner being. Tanagar was not one of these places.

The phrase "hell of Earth" is used to describe a place of brutality, pain, and chaos. Tanagar is as close to this as you could get. There were no plants, animals, or water of any sort. All that was there was harsh winds, dirt, and rocks. There were occasional mountain formations that looked hard and craggy. Inside the bowels of Tanagar's largest mountain formation, the priests prayed. They were dressed in armor that were as black as midnight. They had no solid form, in fact, they were little more than spirits anymore. Long ago, they were the minions of Charnel. When their lord was defeated, they went to Tanagar to hide, to wait for the day when the opportunity to resurrect their master returned. Today was that day.

Outside the mountain, dozens of the priests stood guard. They never moved, not one bit. But when the blue portal opened above them, they let out a piercing scream. The Knights of Wundagore burst through the portal, mounted on their flying atomic steeds and their weapons at the ready. Sir Ram was in the lead.

"For Avalon!"

The Knights broke formation and began to attack the priests. Lord Gator swung in low and blasted two of the priests with his electro-mace. Where the two priests stood, there was a surge of red light. Their spirits were gone, their armor silently fell to the ground.

The Knights each took passes at the grounded priests. One of the priests leaped onto Delphis's steed when Delphis had made a pass. The priest had a short sword with him. Delphis wrestled with the priest, his atomic steed careening out of control. Delphis activated the gauntlet on his right forearm. The gauntlet emitted to electronic bolt to the priest. There was the same red surge and, as before, the armor dropped. Delphis got control of his steed and readied for another pass.

Delphis turned to see Sir Simian and Lady Vlad dispatched of three more priests with their firearms. He had a smile on his face until he saw more priests coming out of the mountain. Delphis gulped his fear down deep into his stomach.

"I hope we can buy them enough time."


"I hope they can buy us enough time."

Black Knight, Sersi, Drake, and Lord Tyger emerged from a smaller portal inside the mountain. While the rest of the Knights kept the priests busy, the Lady of the Lake would teleport the others inside the mountain. The foursome moved through several tunnels before coming across the main room. Nine priests prayed in a circle around a large vat of green liquid.

"There, that's it." whispered Black Knight.

"What are they doing?" asked Sersi.

Drake answered the question. "That liquid in the vat is a mixture of several magical substances from multiple dimensions. To raise Charnel, they had to get specific ingredients and wait until the cosmos were aligned right."

"So we stop them from finishing that chant, and Charnel stays dead?"


"Well, let's-"

"Mechlah!!" the priests chanted as one.

The mountain itself began to shake. Below, the priests had their arms raised in triumph. The liquid in the vat was rapidly shifting colors.

"Aw crap." muttered Black Knight.

At once, the four charged the priests. Lord Tyger drew his two katanas and slashed four of the priests to pieces. Sersi turned two priests into steam with a touch and another into ice. Black Knight gutted two more with his Sword of Light. Drake stood over the vat, a very concerned look on his face.

"What now?" asked Sersi.

"Yoooouuu diiieee."

The voice came from the vat. A figure began to emerge, it was large, musceled, with glowing red eyes and skin that was tough as leather. Its mouth showed talon-like teeth, as if in a smile.


The four heroes just stood motionless, unsure of how to attack. Several of the spirit priests burst into the chamber. The quakes had obviously made them aware of their master's awakening. As soon as they saw their master, they bowed to their knees.

"Master." they said in unison.

"Ah, my followers."

Charnel held out his hand. After a moment, the priests "bodies" turned into the red burst of light. Instead of dissipating however, the energy surged into Charnel. As the energy was fed into him, the ancient god grew stronger. He shot up to over seven feet high, his muscles grew, and the talons on his hands elongated. Charnel looked at the gathered heroes with an amused expression, then shot a bolt of energy at them from his hand. Tyger and Sersi ducked for cover, Black Knight tried to absorb the bolt into his shield. The energy was abosrbed, but the impact knocked the armor-clad hero into a wall.

"Run!" yelled Drake.

The foursome made a mad dash into the caverns. They eventually found a tunnel that lead to the outside. The other Knights were in a pitched battle with the other spirit priests. Black Knight ordered them all to consolidate their forces. As the heroes gathered around a rock formation, Sersi saw that Charnel found his way out of the caverns as well.

"Dane, you better look at this."

Several dozen spirit priests surrounded Charnel in a circle. Charnel raised his arms to the sky. Like in the chamber all of the priests were reduced to the red energy, which flowed into Charnel. With each second, Charnel grew in size and power.

"This isn't good, is it?" asked Delphis.

"No," said Drake, "not good at all."

By the time Charnel was done feeding off his remaining followers, he was nearly ten stories tall. His very form crackled with raw energy and power.

"FINALLY, I LIVE AGAIN!!!" bellowed Charnel.

"Dane, what do we do?" asked Sersi.

Dane looked at her and saw the concern and fear on her face. "I'm not sure. I didn't have a plan for this."

Drake took a few steps away from the group. "Well, I guess I'll just have to give you time to think of a plan."

Before everyone's eyes, Drake's form changed. His skin turned scaly, his body elongated, and wings sprouted from his back. His overall form grew exponentially. By the time he was done, Drake was no longed a well-manicured man in a pinstripe armani suit, but a large golden dragon. Everyone, except Charnel and Black Knight was in awe.


"I thought the same of you." said the metamorphosed Drake.

Drake opened his large maw, releasing a torrent of fire that was as potent as hellfire. Charnel roared in pain as his left arm was engulfed in flames.


In his right hand, Charnel formed a ball of energy and flung it at Drake. Being more agile, Drake managed to avoid the onslaught. He brought his tail around and hit Charnel with a mighty slam. The old god was once again surprised by his foe, but was no less determined. Charnel grabbed Drake's tail with his right hand and sent a powerful wave of energy coursing through the dragon's body.

"HHRROOOOOOAWWW!!" roared Drake in pain.

On the ground, the heroes watched the two titans battle. Although their ally fought bravely, they knew that Drake couldn't hold out forever. Black Knight's mind was racing, trying to think of a way to beat Charnel, but he couldn't think of a thing. Suddenly, Lord Tyger whipped his head around, furiously sniffing the air.

"Tyger, what is it?" asked Sir Ram.

"I smell magick approaching."

As if on some cosmic cue, a portal opened no more then a few feet from their gathered position. Floating above the portal was a small aboriginal man in a loincloth. He appeared to be spinning a string in the air, which was the source of the portal.

"What the hell-?" asked Sersi.

"Not what, who."

Out of the portal emerged a cyborg. He stood well over six feet tall, his a yellow skull mask for a face, red dreadlocks for hair, two horns on his head, and a blue metallic substance that made up most of his body. The cyborg turned to the heroes, then to the fight between Drake and Charnel. If it were possible for a cyborg to sigh, this one would have done so.

"Wonderful. Nice to know that a hero can have all the power in existence, but still needs the Calvary to back him up."

"Who are you?" asked Black Knight.

"Name's Death's Head, Housewares."


"Forget it. How long has Charnel been up and at ‘em?"

"Only a few minutes." said Black Knight, keeping a close eye on Death's Head for any sudden movements.

"Ok, there's still time. How long can the salamander on steroids keep him occupied?"

Sersi looked over to see Drake wrapping his oblong-shaped body around Charnel and squeezing with all his might. Despite his best efforts, it was obvious that Drake was in over his head.

"Not sure, a few minutes at least. Why, you here to help Charnel?"

If he were able, Death's Head would have snorted in amusement. "Hardly. I'm here to save all of our asses. All I need is two things. The first is a clear shot."

"For what?" asked Lord Tyger, who had his katanas drawn.

Death's Head held two metal disc's about half the size of a frisbee in his left hand. He extended it out so all could see. "So I can put these on him."

"What will those do?" asked a curious Delphis.

"Why do you people ask so many damn questions?! It'll get rid of him, ok? Now, are you with me or not?"

Everyone turned to Black Knight. To be honest, he wasn't sure about this guy. He just showed up and it didn't look like anyone had ever heard about him before. Then again, he had a plan and that was a hell of a lot more than what they had right now.

"Ok, what else do you need?" asked Black Knight.

"After these are planted on him, they're going to need a charge to be activated. I can provide one, but I need one of you to hit the other at the same time."

Black Knight smiled. "I can do that."


The group turned to see the dragon form of Drake fall to the ground. Charnel stood before his fallen foe, wounded but still standing.


"Really?" yelled Death's Head as he emerged from the rocks, "And here I thought you said I was the only one for you."


"Actually, it was the last two times, but who’s counting, right?" asked the cyborg calmly.


Charnel unleashed a massive energy bolt. Death's Head leaped out of the way just in time. As he was in mid-air, his right forearm turned into a powerful plasma cannon. Death's Head let out an energy blast, hitting Charnel directly in the chest. The blast barely phased the angered demi-god as he let loose another energy bolt. Again, Death's Head leaped out of the way. Black Knight and the others knew it was time.

"Knights, take to the air and distract Charnel. Sersi and I will attack from the ground. Go!" ordered Black Knight.

The Knights took to the air on their Atomic Steeds, pelting Charnel with their energy weapons. The blasts did little more than distract Charnel. Sersi made a force bubble to protect Black Knight and Death's Head on the ground.

"I take it you know this guy?" Black Knight asked Death's Head.

"One of my bridge club members." deadpanned Death's Head as he handed Black Knight one of the discs. "Plant this on his right side, I'll take the left one. Then, when I give the signal, hit it with all you've got. It'll need a charge to automatically start."

"Got it. Sersi, lower the force field."

As the shield lowered, the two heroes made a mad dash to either side of the beast. Black Knight looked up to see Lady Vlad hit with one of Charnel's eyebeams. The Knight's Steed was destroyed and the knight herself hit the ground. He hoped his friend would be ok. He pushed the thought into the back of his mind as he threw the disc onto Charnel's right rib. On the other side, Death's Head aim was also true.

"Now!" shouted the cyborg.

Black Knight channeled the blast his shield absorbed from Charnel in the caverns. It was very powerful and would be plenty for this task. The energy went from the shield to Black Knight's sword, which released the blast and hit the disc square in the middle. Death's Head fired his forearm cannon and hit his disk as well. The two discs glowed with power, each enveloping a half of Charnel's body. The demi-god stopped fighting the Knights. His face had a look of fear on it.


Charnel's body was slowly being torn in two, each side dissipating more and more as it was separated. With an animalistic howl, Charnel was literally ripped apart from reality. Within moments, there was nothing left but a slight crackle of energy in the air.

The heroes stood still, their gaze not moving from where Charnel once stood. Only the howl of Tanagar's winds could be heard. The group jumped as they heard a groan. They turned to see Drake, now in human form, shaking his head as he got up.

"What happened?"

The group just looked at him, not saying a word. Drake went from face to face, until he spotted Death's Head and the small aborigine. Drake extended his hand. "Hello. Don't believe I've had the pleasure. Name's Drake."

The large cyborg shook Drake's hand, then nodded his head over to the small aborigine a few feet away. "Death's Head. The Yoda with a tan is Gateway."

"Charmed. Think you could tell me what happened?"

"We won."

"We did?"


".... Well, good for us."

"Isn't it, though?"

Black Knight was the first among the star-struck heroes to speak. "Excuse me, but what exactly were those discs?"

"Time travel devices. Each one transported half of Charnel to another time."

"You did this before?" asked Sersi skeptically.


"Didn't seem to work very well the first time."

"Yes, well, this time I've taken certain precautions to make it work right this time." said Death's Head confidently.

"And those precautions would be?" asked Sersi impatiently.

"Ones that work."

Sersi was about to press the matter further, but Black Knight took ahold of her arm. Sersi knew that Dane would look into the matter. "Perhaps we should head back to Avalon and tell the Lady of the Lake that her island won't be destroyed today."

"Good idea," said Death's Head, "You guys want a lift? Shorty over there can get you pretty much anywhere through out the space-time continuum."

"Sounds good to me." said Dane with a shrug.

Gateway made another portal, this one leading to Avalon. The group gathered their weapons, made sure everyone wasn't seriously hurt, and stepped through the portal, leaving behind the rocks, sand, and victory.

Heroes for Hire #8 - New Beginnings

Heroes for Hire #8

Iron Fist - martial arts master raised in the mystic city of K'un Lun! Luke Cage - street-tough private eye with super-strength and steel-hard skin! Black Knight - man of science armed with weapons of sorcery! White Tiger - acrobatic feline fighter created by the High Evolutionary! Ant-Man -scientific genius with the ability to shrink to miniscule sizes! Together, they make the Heroes for Hire - an organization devoted to righting wrongs for a price!

"New beginnings"

Written by: Wes A.

It's popular opinion that the state of Maine has some of the most beautiful country in the United States. The sight of the land takes everyone who dwells or visits there aback. And it's for that reason that so many people, especially tourists, visit there. Small towns that border the Atlantic Ocean are always making tourists feel at home. All those people needing places to stay, eat, and visit. For the men and women who cater to these needs, the job seemingly never ends. It was after the dinner rush, and the small café began to quiet down. Dinner rush was always a hectic time for the staff, all the people needing their food almost within minutes. The waitresses’ shift was almost over. All she had to do was drop off a check and then she could leave. The young waitress went over to one of the tables, the man that had been eating there had been sipping from his coffee for the past hour, either in deep thought or just trying to pass the time without being a bother to anyone.

"Is there anything else I can get you?" the waitress asked cheerily.

The man looked up at her as if she had just popped into existence from thin air. ", the check will be fine. Thank you." he said quietly.

The waitress gave the man an odd look and gave him his check. As she walked away, the man couldn't help but notice the look she gave him. He didn't blame her. The past few weeks had put a strain on him, and he knew that his appearance showed it. He scratched his chin, feeling the whiskers he was starting to develop. With a sigh, he walked over to the cash register and paid his bill. After leaving the café, he took a walk along the sidewalk, overlooking the harbor. It was turning from a beautiful day into a rainy night. He could feel a few sprinkles beginning to beat down on him. He hugged his coat a bit tighter to himself. For a moment, he leaned against the railing of the sidewalk, looking out at the beautiful Atlantic Ocean.

"Oh Emile, what have you gotten yourself into?" he asked aloud.


In an underground lab, the man known as Morden contemplated his future. It had been a while since the Bransteg fiasco, and the Overseer had given him a new duty to fulfill. Morden knew that after his last assignment, it would be wise to be sure this one didn't end in failure. Morden stood in the middle of the lab, facing a large cylinder tank filled with liquid. Inside, a humanoid form floated. When any bit of light hit part of the figure, it glistened. Morden didn't know how long he had been staring at the form. The truth is, he didn't even know why he was staring at the form. Possibly because he knew that that being represented his future with the Overseer and the Five.

"What's wrong Morden, can't your new friend come out to play?" came a voice from the lab entrance behind Morden. Modren closed his eyes accompanied by a sigh of frustration. He knew all too well who was speaking.

"What do you want, Sesimen?" asked Morden.

Archibald Sesimen just smirked. He knew that Morden wasn't very fond of him. In fact, Morden considered Sesimen a sor.

of enemy to him. Both knew that any violent act toward the other would result in a direct meeting with the Overseer. As a result, neither took any action towards the other. But that didn't Sesimen from enraging Morden to no end whenever he got the chance.

"Oh come on, can't a guy just stop in and say hello from time to time?" Sesimen walked up next to Morden. He followed Morden's gaze to the tank.

"You know, I don't see why we have to bring this guy in. From what little we have learned, he could turn on us at any moment. I say-.

"I don't care what you say, Sesimen." said Morden coldly, " As far as I'm concerned, what you think or feel doesn't matter. The Overseer wanted this...creature... to join us, so it will. And as for being a threat to our operation, we're taking special precautions to curtail that from happening. Now if you'll excuse me, Sesimen, I have work to do..

With that, Morden walked out of the lab. Sesimen just stood for a moment, completely dumbstruck.

"Suck-up." he said under his breath.

He turned to the tank once more. With a wave of his hand, he dismissed its presence and left the room. Inside the tank, the form began to open its eyes. It knew that soon it would awaken to serve it's new master.


Deep under the Pacific Ocean, a large complex lay hidden under tons of seabed. Inside the complex, a man sat in a dark room. The room had only one chair, which received light from an illuminated orb in the ceiling. For months, the man has waited for his time to strike. The Heroes for Hire foiled his last attempt, and he would be sure that his next time wouldn't end in failure. He is currently known as the Master of the World. Once, he went by the name Eshu, but that was a very long, long, long time ago. He lived in a time when the world was covered in ice and man lived in caves. He went hunting for his tribe and found a deserted alien spacecraft. The craft abducted him and prepared his to insert alien DNA into his body, making him a hybrid for the craft's nearly extinct race to survive. Unfortunately, the craft was malfunctioning and just left him cut and scarred. For millennia he lived inside the craft, watching the world outside change. He was freed eventually, and began his plans to save the world, by any means necessary. One of the Master's servants entered the room. He waited for acknowledgement before he began to speak.

"You have information?" asked the Master. .

"Yes sir. It appears as though Earth has been visited by aliens..

The Master stared at the man for a moment.

"Earth has been visited by aliens almost since its existence. What makes this time so special?" asked the Master calmly.

To the Master's right, a holographic screen appeared from thin air. The screen showed a group of superheroes fighting a large red, white, and blue robot.

"Those are the X-Men," stated the Master.

"Yes sir. This is footage from a newscast. The event took place during New Year's Eve..

The Master looked more closely at the screen. His interest appeared to be growing.

"The man with the white hair is Magneto. He appears to be fighting with the large robot, but the machine is resisting his power and winning. Interesting. Also, this robot is unlike anything I've seen before. A race of sentient mechanical beings, perhaps related to the Kree's Sentry guards?.

"We've also received other reports sir. Recently, three large robotic insects have been sighted hear Stockholm*(*see Fantastic Four #8 for details). Those insects appear to share similar designs to the robot the X-Men were fighting..

The Master sat in thought for a moment. This was getting more interesting by the moment.

"Have we obtained any information on where these beings came from?" he asked.

"Our sources have done some digging and have found out that the military base near Mt. St. Hillary plays a role..

"St. Hillary?" mused the Master thoughtfully, "That place sounds familiar to me. Hmmm. Have our agents infiltrate the base and find out as much as possible. Keep me updated on any finds..

"Yes sir." said the servant as he bowed.

He then left the room, leaving the Master alone to ponder what shape the future will take.


Emile shut the door to his motel room. He started to remove his jacket and set it on a nearby hangar.

"Dr. Nordstrom?.

Emile literally jumped. He spun around to find a woman standing in the middle of the room. She appeared to be in her late 20's with long blonde hair and pretty blue eyes. She wore an all black and appeared to be unarmed, but that did little so settle Emile down.

"Who are you? How did you get in here?" exclaimed Emile.

The woman raised her hands in a non-threatening way. "Calm down doctor, I'm not here to hurt..

"Then what are you here for?.

"To ask for your help..

"Oh really? Well I've been helping people more than enough lately. Now get out of my room or I'll call the police!.

The two just stared at each other for a moment. Emile was growing very agitated and feared that she was with Bransteg. He reached to the table behind him and grabbed the lamp that was on it.

"You heard me, get out!.

"I know about Morden." she blurted out.

"Oh I'm sure you do!" sneered Emile, "You go tell him that I'll never work for you people as long as I live. I looked through the files I stole before I left Bransteg, I know you're up to something..

"You don't understand we work against Morden's masters, not with them." She calmly told him.

"And why should I believe you?.

The woman looked like she was about to say something, but couldn't find the words. It was like she knew what to do but didn't want to. With a sigh she turned toward the room behind her that held the kitchen.

"He's not going to believe me unless you show yourself." she called.

Emile looked at her suspiciously. "Who are you talking to? Who's in there?.

"I am." came a raspy voice.

With that, he came out of the kitchen. Emile's mouth dropped. The lamp that he held in his hand fell to the floor. For several moments Emile just stared at him. He had seen some amazing things over the past few months, but this took the cake. Although he tried to talk, it came out as little more than stutters.

"Y-you' look like-.

"Yes, I do." he said simply.

" Why? W-who?" stammered Emile.

"Those questions can be answered doctor, but you must come with us," said the woman, "Like I said, we need your help..

"Help with what?.

"There's a war coming doctor," said the being with the raspy voice, "A war that we must be ready for. You've worked with the enemy; you have knowledge of their weapons. We need that knowledge if we're to win. Will you help us doctor?.

Emile looked up at the...being. It was so familiar, yet so different. If what they were saying was true, that they were against Morden, then Emile knew he could help them. And even if they were lying and were with Morden, at least he wouldn't have run anymore.

"All right, I'll help you..

The woman and her companion smiled. Well, as close to a smile as her companion could get. The woman walked over to him and put an arm on his shoulder.

"Thank you doctor. You've made the right choice..

"I hope so." thought Emile.

"Come Karen, let's get the doctor back home." said her companion.

"Home?" asked Emile.

Karen smiled at her reassuringly. "Trust us, you'll like it there. We've been very busy and we've got a lot of work to do."


At Oracle, Dane Whitman paced back and forth on the H4H heli-pad. Behind him stood a man in an elegant business suit with jet-black hair and a neatly trimmed goatee.

"Are you sure they'll show up to help us?" asked the man.

"I've know these people for a while Drake, they'll show up..

The man merely watched Dane continue to pace. Within a few minutes, a ship descended from the clouds above. It landed on the heli-pad and a door opened on the side. Dane walked over to the ship. Out stepped the half-man half-animal Knights of Wundagore* (*created by the High Evolutionary to serve and protect Mt. Wundagore-Wes). In their company was Sir Ram, Lord Tyger, Lord Gator, Lord Delphis, Lady Vermin who was perched on Delphis's shoulder, and two other Knights Dane didn't recognize. One appeared to be a gorilla and the other looked like a female bat.

"Dane, it is good to see you again." said Sir Ram.

Dane shook the Knight's hand. "And it's good to see you all as well. Thank you for coming..

"'Twas the least we could do for an old comrade." said Lord Tyger in his noble tone.

"I see you've brought two others with you. Are they new Knights?.

"Yes," said Sir Ram indicating to the newcomers, "This is Sir Simian, and Lady Vlad..

The two Knights bowed to Dane. Dane did likewise, showing respect.

"It is an honor to finally meet one of Knights most cherished allies," said Lady Vlad, "Our people are most grateful for the help you gave us in defeating the Man-Beast.*"(*see copies of the Heroes for Hire and Quicksilver story arc "Siege of Wundagore" for this epic battle-Wes again) Lady Vlad smiled at Dane, showing off her sharp teeth. Dane just nodded politely. Delphis spotted Drake and was watching him carefully.

"Who is your friend, Dane?.

"This is another ally of mine. His name is Drake..

Drake nodded politely at the gathered group. "A pleasure to meet you all..

"How will he help us in the coming battle?" asked Gator in his haunting rasp of a voice.

"Don't worry, you'll find out when the time comes." said Drake with a smirk.

"Speaking of which, when will this battle take place?" Sir Ram asked Dane seriously.

"From what the Lady of the Lake told me, soon. We'll leave as soon as the last of our party arrives..

"Then you'll wait no longer. Hello Dane, it's nice to see you." As one, the group turned to see the Eternal and ex-Avenger Sersi standing before them. The tension in the air rose dramatically. Dane and Sersi's relationship, or what was their relationship, was well known by the Knights.

"Hello Sersi, glad you showed up." said Dane stiffly.

"I'm sure," said Sersi with a thin smile, "So what's all this about a final battle between good and evil?.

Dane knew that it was time to clue them all in. "I've told all of you about the mystic isle of Avalon, the place where King Arthur is buried and the Lady of the Lake lives. When I resurfaced with the Heroes for Hire, my job was to find heroes to defend Avalon against a powerful evil. Several months ago, Drake and I had an encounter with a minion of that evil*(*see Heroes for Hire #14). But now the evil will attack and it's up to us to stop it. Any questions?.

The group took in a moment to absorb all of what Dane said. Some were scared, some were anxious, and some remained impassive. Finally, Drake was the one who spoke up.

"So when do we leave?"

Next: The Defense of Avalon!

Heroes for Hire #7 - Can't We All Just Get Along?

Heroes for Hire #7

Iron Fist - martial arts master raised in the mystic city of K'un Lun! Luke Cage - street-tough private eye with super-strength and steel-hard skin! Black Knight - man of science armed with weapons of sorcery! White Tiger acrobatic feline fighter created by the High Evolutionary! Ant-Man -scientific genius with the ability to shrink to miniscule sizes! Together, they make the Heroes for Hire - an organization devoted to righting wrongs for a price!

"Can't we all just get along?"

Written by: Wes A.


Right about now, Randy McNeal was wishing he was far, far away. Sure, the slums of New York tended to be a bit dreary and decaying, but, hey, wasn't everything these days? And granted, the risk of getting murdered was an everyday risk. Then there was the common invasion by aliens or mutants or the occasional giant insect. But that wasn't the reason either, no. The reason was Luke Cage's tightening fist around his throat.

"Don't play dumb with me Randy, you know where he is." said Luke.

Randy felt the brick wall behind him suddenly mashing him a lot more. "I swear Luke, I don't know anything." said Randy through precious breaths.

Luke shook his head. "Randy, Randy, Randy, didn't your momma teach you not to lie? It's bad for the soul."

Danny just shook his head and let out a frustrated sigh. He and Luke had been to half a dozen sleaze bag joints in the past hour, and had made little progress finding who they were looking for. They knew he was hiding out in this part of town and we wanted to keep a low profile. Beyond that, they had

no leads. Meanwhile, Luke tightened his grip on Randy's throat just a little more.

"This is your last chance Randy, now 'fess up." warned Luke.

Randy had enough. It was one thing to keep a secret, but this one wasn't worth dying over.

"Okay, okay, okay. I'll tell, I'll tell!!!!" he exclaimed.

Luke smiled and loosened his grip. "Talk."

"I heard he was holed up on Ash St. somewhere, maybe the old tire factory. That's all I know, I swear!"

Luke let go of Randy entirely, letting the man fall to the ground, gasping for breath. "Thanks Randy, always nice to catch up with ya. We should get together

again." smiled Luke at him and Danny walked out of the alley.

The two walked in silence for about a block. Finally, Danny turned to Luke.

"You knew he was going to squeal, didn't you?" Danny asked.


The two made their way towards Ash St. through the decaying slum of New York. It had been about six hours since they left Oracle. It seems that the New York museum of rare antiquities had recently been robbed. The museum had just received a 12th century emerald sculpture of Aphrodite, the Greek goddess of love. The foot-tall sculpture had been in the museum hardly a week before it was stolen. Although the culprit had evaded the museum's alarms and guards, he hadn't evaded the security camera. The police identified the culprit and the museum hired Danny and Luke to catch the culprit and bring back the sculpture.

"So have you ever faced this guy before?" Luke asked.

"Nope. But from what I've heard, I'm glad I haven't." answered Danny as he dropped a homeless guy a few bucks.

"I hear ya. He's given some of our fellow do-gooders a good licking." Said Luke.

The two walked in silence for another few minutes. They took in the sight around them. The lost, forgotten people roaming the filthy streets. Danny wondered why anyone should live like this. He knew that the streets Luke grew up in weren't all that better. And when the two friends first formed Heroes for Hire, their office started out in a neighborhood like this. They had moved up in the world since then, but they never forgot where they came from.


One minute, Dane was just strolling the halls of Oracle. The next, he stood on the ancient island of Avalon in his Black Knight armor. He looked around, and found that he was in a courtyard next to a large fountain. Scenes like this took place when he was summoned by the mystical Lady of the Lake.

"Hello? Lady of the Lake? Why have you summoned me?" he shouted across the courtyard.

"The time has come, Dane Whitman." spoke the water in the fountain.

Before Dane's eyes, the water went rushing out of the fountain and took the form of a beautiful woman, clad in a white dress. This was the guardian of Avalon, the Lady of the Lake.

"Time for what?" asked Dane.

"The time when the great evil will attempt to take Avalon. You must now gather your forces and battle the evil which threatens this island." The Lady said in her soft voice.

Dane knew that this moment was going to come. Back when the Lady of the Lake first summoned him*(*See Heroes for Hire #1 for more details-Wes), he knew that he would have to put his life on the line to defend Avalon. The Lady told him that he'd need allies, that's why he joined the Heroes for Hire. And now, it was time.

"Very well," nodded Dane "I'll assemble the Heroes for Hire and we'll-"


Dane stood surprised for a moment. The Lady appeared calm and serene as

always. "What do you mean 'no'?" he asked.

"The Heroes for Hire are not the ones that you are destined to lead into battle. You must find others."

Dane couldn't believe his ears. The Heroes for Hire were a good team. Why wouldn't they be the ones he should lead?

"Then who must I lead?" he asked.

"You must lead the Dragon, the ones that walk as both man and beast, and the eternal that held your heart."

"What?" asked Dane confused.

"Find them Dane Whitman, time grows short."

The next thing Dane knew, the world around him melted back into the halls of

Oracle. He took a moment to ponder the Lady's words. The Dragon, those who walk as man and beast, and the eternal who has held his heart. He took a few minutes and pondered who they could be. It then began to click in his head. Some of them he wanted to see again, others he wouldn't be so sure about. He made his way to Oracle's communications room.

"Computer: open a channel to Wundagore Mountain."


The Evans Tire Factory didn't get much use anymore, hadn't for several years when the place closed down. But today, one man was using it. He was in what used to be the boss's main office. The man placed a briefcase on an old desk and unlocked the case. Inside was an emerald statue that was just stolen from the museum. The statue shined, and as it did, it brought a smile to the man's face.

"Excellent." said the man, admiring the statue.

The man's name was Bullseye, and he couldn't wait to give his boss the statue. Bullseye had recently come under the employ of the Kingpin again, but until his boss found a job for him, he needed some fast money. Thievery wasn't his strong point, but desperate times call for desperate measures. And what better way to score some cash than with a 12th century emerald statue worth millions of dollars. Unfortunately, the police intercepted him just after the heist and forced him to lay low for a bit.

"Baby, you're gonna be my meal ticket for a while." said as he put the statue back.

Bullseye snapped the lid shut. The locks on the case made a click. But after the locks clicked, he heard another one, except this one was behind him.

"Hello Bullseye."

Bullseye's entire body stiffened. He recognized that gruff voice and felt the gun barrel pointed to the back of his head. Bullseye slowly raised his arms over his head.

"Hello Castle. Fancy meeting you here."

Frank Castle, the Punisher, jabbed the back of Bullseye's head with his gun barrel.

"Shut up. It took me a while to track you. Luckily, some of the fine residents of this neighborhood are very helpful."

"I bet they are." said Bullseye with a sneer.

"Turn around." orders Punisher.

Bullseye slowly turned around. Punisher was in his black body armor with the skull on the chest. He also wore a gray trenchcoat. He held an automatic machine gun in his hands, which was pointed at Bullseye's face. Bullseye could also see a handgun strapped to Punisher's belt. Punisher no doubt had

more weapons, but Bullseye couldn't see them.

"So you came after me, huh? I thought maybe you'd think twice about it, considering the beating I gave you last time*(*check out MUTF Presents: Punisher #4 for details-Wes)."

"I think you know me better than that." said Punisher with a dark smile. Punisher's finger tightened on the trigger. Just before he shot, Bullseye dropped down to his feet. He performed a leg sweep that knocked Punisher onto his back. Bullseye then grabbed the case with the statue in and bolted out the door of the room. Punisher got to his feet and went in chase of his prey.

"Damn it, too slow!" he cursed as he ran.

Bullseye ran through the halls of the factory, not caring where he went so long as it was away from his pursuer. His remembered the injuries he sustained the last time the two met. The operations he went to be healed weren't an experience he wanted to repeat. He ran into a supply room, which still had several tires in it. He picked up a tire and threw it at Punisher as he entered the room. Punisher used a high-kick to deflect the tire, giving Bullseye enough time to pull a knife from his costume. Bullseye dropped the case and lunged at Punisher, knife in hand. Punsiher used his rifle to hit Bullseye in the stomach. Bullseye fell

to the ground, arms covering his sore stomach. Punisher aimed his gun at Bullseye's head.

"Let's finish this."

Punisher almost pulled the trigger when he heard a footstep at the doorway. He whipped around and began firing on pure instinct. The barrage of bullets him their target dead on, but did little harm. All they did was rip open Luke Cage's jacket.

"Aw, c'mon is that anyway to greet an old friend?" asked Luke.

Punisher's eyes went wide with recognition and annoyance. The last time he met with the Heroes for Hire, they didn't part on good terms*(*Heroes for Hire #9)

"Not you guys again!" exclaimed Punisher.

Luke was about to make another quip when Punisher opened up several more rounds on him. The shots didn't hurt but they made Luke mad enough to charge the vigilante. He took Punisher down with a tackle, knocking the gun out of his hands. The two were sprawled out on the ground. Bullseye made a grab for the rifle, hoping to kill at least one of the heroes. He took aim at Punisher, when the gun was suddenly kicked from his hands. He turned to see Iron Fist standing there.

"I think you have something that doesn't belong to you. I suggest you return it and surrender before you're hurt."

"I'm getting really sick of you heroes." snarled Bullseye.

Iron Fist just stood there as Bullseye threw a punch at him. With ease, Iron Fist caught the punch and kicked Bullseye in the chest. Bullseye was knocked down, but got right back up. The two circled each other, each sizing the other up. Bullseye threw a roundhouse kick, Iron Fist ducked it and then performed an uppercut. Once again, Bullseye was knocked back. He wiped a bit of blood from his nose, then charged at Iron Fist again. Meanwhile, Luke and Punisher were busy with their own brawl. Punisher knew that bullets wouldn't hurt Luke, so he drew his knife. To Luke, it looked more like a small sword than a knife. Punisher made a swipe at Luke, which Luke dodged. Again, Punisher tried to stab Luke. This time, the knife connected straight in the middle of Luke's chest. As the knife made contact, the blade smashed.

"Guess I'm tougher than the average drug pusher, huh?" asked Luke tauntingly.

Punisher grabbed Luke's arm with lightning quick speed and performed a judo flip. Luke landed with a crash on the wooden floor. Punisher turned around to see Iron Fist pounding on Bullseye. Judging from Bullseye's bruised face, the fight was obviously in Iron Fist's favor.

"You heroes aren't going to stop me from doing my job." he said as he picked up his rifle.

Punisher took aim and began to fire. A stream of bullets separated Iron Fist and Bullseye. Iron Fist took a stray shot to the leg. The hero received a sudden jolt of pain and was taken down to one knee. Bullseye turned to Punisher, now taking aim at him. He also saw a window that had the glass knocked out of it. For a second he debated on jumping or fighting. They were on the second story of the factory, but it was either that or face three enemies.

"Forget the statue." he murmured.

Bullseye ran to a window and leaped out. He landed on the street in a crouching position. As soon as Bullseye regained his balance, he bolted to an alley across the street. He didn't have the statue, but he had his life. Besides, there'd always be another chance for revenge. From the window, Punisher watched as Bullseye made his escaped. He slammed his fist down on the window frame.

"Blast it! I would've had him this time!"

Punisher whipped around to face Luke and Iron Fist. Iron Fist was now able to stand but was still in pain.

"I hope you're happy now! You've just let a dangerous criminal slip from my hands." said Punisher angrily.

"When are you going to learn that killing criminals isn't the answer?" asked Iron Fist.

"Oh shut up! I've heard that too many times from the web-head. Next time, don't get in the way until my job is done."

Luke shook his head. He started at advance on the Punisher. Everyone from the police to the FBI wanted this man, and Luke knew he couldn't take both him and Iron Fist. It was time to take the Punisher in.

"There's not gonna be a next-" Before Luke could finish, Punisher jumped out the window himself. "-time." finished Luke lamely.

Iron Fist bolted to the window to spot him, but couldn't find any trace of the vigilante.

"He's gone!" exclaimed Iron Fist.

Luke just shrugged dismissively. He had enough for one day. "Good riddance. Come on Danny, we got the statue, let's just go home and get our paycheck."

Iron Fist nodded as he backed away from the window. Luke helped get the bullet out of Iron Fist's leg and made a bandage out of a tattered coat remain.

"This'll help get you back to Oracle. We can get Dr. Foster*(*Jane Foster, as in Thor's Jane Foster) to get a better look at you."

Iron Fist nodded in agreement. He picked up the case with the statue as he followed Luke out of the room. The two changed into their street clothes and walked out of the building. From the rooftop, the Punisher watched them walk down the street, shaking his head.

"They'll never learn." he said to himself.

With that, Punisher slung his rifle across his back and headed for the building's fire escape. This city was full of criminals that needed punishing.