DCM Vertigo


Moon Knight

Head Games
by Drutz

Marlene smiled at him, looking for the all the world like a scared and nervous little girl. Steven's heart skipped a beat, blessed relief from the hammering it was doing against his chest.

"Marry you . . . ?" He paused, fighting conflicting emotions. He did love her, that he knew without a doubt, but at the same time . . . marriage. The word resounded in his mind. He'd thought of it before, of course, but always as some distant goal, attainable once his crusade as Moon Knight was over.

Marlene was watching him, all the emotions playing across his face. Her own heart was hammering in her chest. She suddenly felt very, very foolish. "I'm sorry, Steven, I shouldn't press you. It's not right."

Steven moved towards her grabbing her arms, bringing her close to him, holding her tightly. He kissed her hair. "No, no, it's not that. It's just . . . "

Marlene pulled back and looked at him. She saw that his own eyes were glistening with tears from the emotion of it all. "Just what, Steven?" she asked him.

"I don't know . . . I . . . love you, Marlene. I really do." he stammered.

"I know you do. I love you, too, Steven." Marlene answered.

Steven swallowed. He felt foolish -- why should a simple word like marriage frighten him so? At this moment he would rather be facing a hundred super villains than be here, in this room. It wouldn't be that different from the situation now . . . Marlene living with him, at his side as it should be.

"Do you need time to think about it, Steven?" Marlene kissed his cheek softly. Steven felt against him, smelled her skin. It all felt so right.

He smiled. "No . . . no, I don't. You're the one thing that's been a constant in my life since I was resurrected. I love you . . . and I don't want to ever be without you."

Marlene smiled. "So . . . ?"

"I'm saying yes."

They pulled together tightly and for the rest of the evening all doubts were set aside.

He was a tall, well-built man with a dark glint in his eye. He was sitting in the Daily Grind, a small coffee shop, and staring at the front page of the Daily Planet. There he was . . . Norman Osborn. He'd hated the man for so long that he'd long ago given up hope of living without that emotion. He'd spent many years locked away in prison because of Osborn, left high and dry after Osborn decided that the Headsman was no longer useful. Left to rot because Osborn claimed he no longer needed a secret enforcer.

He was still thinking about how he'd been shafted when a hand fell on his shoulder. He turned and saw Harold Minster. He frowned. "Whatcha want, Harold?"

Harold Minster smiled and set a large case on the counter. "In here, my friend, is the answer to all your dreams and prayers. Want to come to my place and see what it is?"

"You're crazy." Simon Louis went back to staring at Osborn's picture.

"Sure you don't want to know what's in it . . . Headsman?"

Simon turned and stared.

The next morning found Steven Grant at the Manhattan Mental Health Clinic, a posh facility that specialized in the mental breakdowns of executives. Steven felt rather insulted -- whatever was going on, he didn't really believe he was going crazy. He sat in the waiting room, going over in his mind the fact that he had just accepted a marriage proposal. He should be happy, he reminded himself, to be marrying a beautiful, intelligent woman . . . but he was still uncertain.

Perhaps about that, at least, the psychiatrist could be of help. His mind turned to other things . . . specifically Stained Glass Scarlet. Why she was continually in his mind? She had always . . . intrigued him . . . but he never would have considered himself obsessed with her. She was a killer, one with understandable motivations to be sure, but a killer regardless. He was deep in thought when his name was called.

Moments later, he was stepping into a relaxing office. It was decorated in soothing colors and had numerous plants and painting, all designed to evoke a sense of peace and calm.

The psychiatrist entered the room. He was a middle-aged man, with a small goatee and glasses. He smiled warmly at Steven, who started to rise. The psychiatrist waved a hand in the air. "No no, don't get up. Dr. Robert Flesko, pleased to meet you Mr. Grant."

Steven returned to his seat. "I'm pleased to meet you, Dr. Flesko. I was getting a bit worried sitting in here on my own."

"Ah, well, I am here now. When I heard that Steven Grant needed help, I volunteered my services."

"Thank you, Doctor."

"And I understand that you have been experiencing strange headaches that appear to be psychosomatic in nature?"

Steven sighed. "So my Doctor seems to think, yes."

Dr. Flesko nodded. "Well, then, sit down. We should begin at once . . . "

Simon Louis gaped. It was true, every bit of it . . . He reached for it with excitement, but the case lid slammed shut. The man responsible for that was grinning. "Like what you see, Simon? Well if Simon says the right amount . . . it's yours again."

Simon frowned. "Where did you get that stuff? It's been years since I've seen my Headsman equipment . . . " Years. Years since he'd been in the employ of Norman Osborn.

Harold Minster laughed. "Listen, they don't call me the Finder for nothing. I found this junk a few years ago in some sort of old hideout. Figured it was one of those places that Doc Ock or somebody used for their crimes . . . but then I remembered having seen it before. Some second-rate guy called the Headsman."

Simon frowned.

"And it occurs to me recently . . . didn't old Simon use to be a supervillain? Yes sir, turns out you were. Turns out this used to be yours, right? Well, now you can have it all back again . . . " Harold's slender frame rocked with laughter. Simon could tell that the Finder was enjoying this . . . it must have been obvious how badly Simon wanted it. Wanted to prove himself. He'd kept quiet for years about what he knew regarding Osborn, but the chance to pay Osborn back once and for all. He wanted it. Bad.

"How much? You know I don't have any money -- I've only been out of jail for a few months . . . "

The Finder nodded. "I know, I know. How about this . . . I give you the equipment, you become the big, bad Headsman again, and in return . . . you hit somebody for me."

Simon looked up at him. "Hit somebody? You mean kill 'em?"

"Yes, Simon, I mean kill them . . . Deal?"

Simon sighed inwardly. He'd be risking jail again . . . but it was a chance to be back in the big time. He'd get his revenge on Osborn. He nodded. "Deal."

Marlene Alraune smiled. "So it's official, Jean-Paul. Or it will be, anyway."

Frenchie slid out from underneath the Moon Copter, a big grin on his face. He was dirty -- covered with oil from working on the ship -- but Marlene didn't flinch as he hugged her. "Fantastique! That is wonderful! I can think of no one who deserves happiness more . . . "

Marlene laughed. "For a second there, I thought he was going to turn me down . . . "

Frenchie shook his head. "Only a fool would refuse a woman like you. Have you set a date?"

"Not yet, but it'll be soon."

"Good! You two have waited long enough . . . and Marc needs you."

Marlene nodded. "I need him, too." She kissed him on the cheek. "And we both need you."

Frenchie laughed. "Well, then, we should be one happy family, then! For I am zee luckiest man alive to have such friends . . . "

As they laughed, Chloe watched from the doorway. She was jealous -- not because she suspected Jean-Paul and Marlene of being lovers, but of their trust and friendship. Once, she had had those things with Jean-Paul, but were they to be lost forever now?

The Headsman flew quickly above the streets of New York. His energy-axe hummed in his hand, and the flying platform was responding well. It was like it was ten years ago, all over again. He wondered how Osborn would react when his former lackey turned up, alive and well . . . and ready to kick his slimy butt.

But first there was the hit . . . Harold had told him where to find the guy. His name was Lamont something, some two-bit hood who'd raped Harold's sister a few years back. A series of hitmen had failed to ice the rapist since . . . but the Headsmen was a pro. He wouldn't fail. After this, it was Osborn.

He turned, heading deeper into Hell's Kitchen. Here he would find Lamont . . .

Jake Lockley drove his cab, his face one of extreme depression. Steven's first session with Dr. Flesko had been a rather boring recanting of Marc Spector's childhood. Jake was at least grateful that names had not been mentioned, already too many people knew his secret . . . it wouldn't make this any easier.

The cab moved further into the slums of Hell's Kitchen. He stopped in front of an area of construction. Stepping out, he looked up at the area that would eventually house the offices of the new, revamped Grant Corporation. He'd refused to listen to all of his advisors, ordering Warhammer Construction to build the building in the middle of the worst slum he could find. Steven wanted to bring some order of life back into the area . . . to that end, he'd been attempting to buy many of the buildings in the area, hoping to refurbish them and bring new money into the area.

He looked up, hearing what sounded like a very small plane flying low overhead. What he saw was the Headsman, though he didn't recognize him. He watched the villain circle the corner and then drop into a dive towards a group of toughs loitering on a street corner nearby. The Headsman, barreled through the group, flying back up on his platform. He heard the words, "Lamont! Today is the day of your execution!"

Jake Lockley didn't hesitate. He slid back into the driver's seat and pulled into an alley. Moon Knight's costume was in the trunk . . . it was time for the Fist of Khonshu to reappear.

For Lamont Willis, this was a really bad day. First he'd found out that the shipment of crack cocaine was gonna be late . . . and now some dude in an executioner costume was trying to cut his head off . . .

The Headsman spun around, lifting the blade. Lamont was running now, but the flying platform was much faster. He caught up to the rapist and raised the axe into the air for a final downward strong . . .

When some sort of cable wrapped around the axe and yanked it out of his grip. The Headsman gaped at his now empty hands and spun around the platform, letting Lamont go. He could always catch him later. Only one thought was going through the Headsman's mind . . . "Spider-Man?"

Moon Knight stood in the center of the street, holding his truncheon. A long line from its tip was wrapped around the blade. "Sorry, but no. Name's Moon Knight. Aren't you a bit far from home, Hangman?"

The Headsman fumed. "I'm not the Hangman, idiot! How dare you accuse me of being that idiot. Now give me back my axe!" He rocketed towards Moon Knight.

Moon Knight leapt aside, letting the Headsman buzz by. He whirled the truncheon line, slicing through the air with the axe. The axe sliced through the bottom of the platform, sending the villain flying. He landed hard on the road, rolling with the impact.

Moon Knight pulled several crescent darts from his belt, throwing them at the villain. The tiny blades hit their target, landing deep in the Headsman's leg. He roared but staggered to his feet. "No way am I losing to you, Moon Knight. I've got plans . . . and I've spend too much time in prison to go back."

Headsman advanced on Moon Knight, both men waiting for an opening. Headsman feinted left hoping to fool Moon Knight, who having no of it planted a back hand blow on the villains face.

"You should have stayed in jail. You're rusty," taunted Moon Knight.

"Well I ain't going back!" growled Headsman, dashing forwards.

With a howl of anger Headsman swung a haybailer punch at Moon Knight, who dodged the punch, driving a knee deep into the Headsman's stomach.

"You should have thought of that before you tried to kill someone."

The Headsman fell to his knees. Moon Knight lifted his chin with a hand. "And you're going to spend a lot more time in prison." Moon Knight's fist drove into the Headsman's face, sending the villain into unconsciousness. Moon Knight glanced back over at his cab and frowned. While he'd been fighting, someone had stolen his hubcaps.

"Damn." He looked down at the Headsman. "And you owe me for those too."

Stained Glass Scarlet was running, her feet slipping deep into the mud. Her red robes were soaked with both mud and her own blood. Her mind ached and she screamed again and again soundlessly. Behind her footsteps moved closer. She did not look behind her.

She moved through the trees, into a small clearing. He was standing there, waiting. He wore a white-gray costume, vaguely reminiscent of Moon Knight's . . . but his aura was of pure madness.

"You gave us a pretty chase, little red . . . but it's time for the wolves to eat." The madman reached out for her, grabbing her roughly as the twisted, misshapen forms of strange creatures moved into the clearing behind her. "Such a pretty little thing, you are. I can see why he likes you."

The madman placed a hand over Scarlet's throat. "Oh, you'll taste sooooo sweet." Life began to run from Scarlet, moving in waves towards the man called Knightshadow, feeding him, giving him life . . . Randall Spector gasped in ecstasy . . .

Scarlet woke up, screaming. She was in her barren home, still dressed from one of her nightly excursions . . . her heart was hammering. She could still feel the madness that had surrounded the man. A madness that could not hide his identity.

"Moon Knight," she murmured, looking out of her window. "I have to find you." She lay back down, staring up at the ceiling. "Knightshadow is coming. Your brother is coming."

Next Issue: Gena asks Moon Knight for help, while we move ever-closer to the greatest Moon Knight epic ever!