DCM Vertigo


Moon Knight

Life Is But A Dream . . .
by Toby Kernan

Chloe stretched her legs and cocked her head, appreciative to finally get out of the mansion and see a little action. All she had done lately, it seemed, was pine over Jean Paul Duchamp, and practice fight with dummies in the Grant Mansion's gyms. Now she was on the streets of New York City, hunting for a gang of street thugs known as The People. The gang had filled poor Gena's children full of bullets, and Chloe was going to find them, and extract some justice.

Chloe crinkled her nose in disgust as her cab pulled up outside the dance club known as the Crystal Triangle. From outside, the neon lights, combined with the looming stench of sweat and liquor, were enough to let Chloe know this wasn't her kind of place. She preferred Enya and Charlotte Church to the raging techno beats which shook this building as though an earthquake was occurring. She preferred a quiet book and a cup of orange-cinnamon herbal tea and a good book to dancing all night long with a fruity drink in hand. Still, she had wanted to get out, and see a little action.

Chloe made her way to the bouncer outside, sidestepping the line and walking straight towards him. He looked her up a down. Her pretty smile, along with her white leather thigh-high boots and flowing leather coat, were just too much for the poor fellow to resist. He let her quickly in, not even bothering to check her age or the shiny sword tucked neatly into her jacket.

Inside the building, Chloe found the interior lived up to her expectations. A drunken, sweaty throng of hip dressed degenerated gyrating on a triangular dance floor. Chloe found the whole thing very uncivilized and demeaning, watching as a scantily clad young lady slid up her dance partner as though she was a snake in the mating season. She found it hardly surprising that a band of gun-totting, drug-selling street thugs would frequent such an establishment.

Leila O'Toole was watching the door when SHE entered the nightclub. She chuckled to herself, figuring the idiotic bouncer had figured her for just another New York pretty-girl socialite slumming on the wrong side of town. His assumption was very wrong of course, and Leila could tell. She first had noticed her walk -- the cautious stride of a proven warrior. Then she noticed the golden cross around her neck -- emblazoned with the symbol of the Knights Templar, a religious sect bound to protect a sacred bloodline or something. Leila thought this grimy nightclub was an odd place to find a Templar. Her curiosity was now peaked.

Leila slowly followed as the Templar made her way to the bar. She listened as she ordered a dry martini and asked about the whereabouts of certain individuals. Leila recognized the names - they were the people she herself was here to meet. They were a gang of street thugs named The People, low level 'bangers with access to some descent weapons and plenty of drugs. Kingpin's liaison had mentioned they might be of some use to Leila and her army, so she had decided to come scope them out. It appeared that this Templar had some need of them as well, though she had a hard time believing it was for the same reasons.

Leila watched as the Templar slipped the bartender some money, and her directed her towards stairs, which led to some private rooms upstairs. She watched as the Templar walked towards the stairs and also as the bartender made a call to whoever was in those rooms, telling them to expect her arrival. If she was here to make trouble, she was walking right into a trap.

Leila decided she would follow the Templar. After all, this could get very, very interesting.

Moon Knight landed with a thud upon the building's roof. He noticed as pieces of rotted wood splintered and flew in many directions.

"Ez everything alright Marc?" asked Jean-Paul 'Frenchie' Duchamp via headphone link from the Moon-copter hovering above.

"Peachy," mumbled Moon Knight as he scuttled along the roof towards the entrance door. He was treading lightly, hoping to not fall inside before he could reach the door. As far as he knew, the Dreamtime Theatre had gone unused for years. It was dilapidated before the villain Morpheus had taken it as his hideout, and from the look of it, the criminal hadn't invested any in remodeling.

"Ez dis just a wild goose chase?" Duchamp chirped in from the 'copter.

"It could well be," commented Knight as he wrestled with the locked door. "Nobody has seen Morpheus since our last encounter. This was the only place I know of him frequenting though, so I have got to check it out. You best get the 'copter out of here and landed before the Vigilante Police come looking to take you down."

"Indeed. Good luck," said 'Frenchie' as he pulled the 'copter away from the building.

Moon Knight poured some acid on the door's lock, and pulled it opened. He made his way into the building, slinking slowly down the dimly lit staircase. He bent over, and checked the dust upon the stairs, and noticed there were boot prints, which looked fairly recent.

As he reached the bottom of the stair, he noticed music. He recognized the tune, a classic by jazz legend Billie Holiday called "What A Little Moonlight Can Do." Moon Knight followed the music into the building's auditorium, which was very dimly lit, with a velvet curtain pulled down before the stage.

"Well, it is about time the guest of honor showed up!" boomed over the announcement system, starling Moon Knight, and forcing him against the back wall in a defensive posture.

"Morpheus?" asked Moon Knight, unsure, as he searched through his armaments for a proper weapon.

"Hardly," scoffed the booming voice. "That poseur was a pathetic third-stringers, stealing the name of something more powerful than anything he could ever dream of. No, my poor, old, confused friend. He wasn't worthy, so I disposed of the poor fellow, and decided to set a trap for you myself. Something a little more worthy of our long standing 'friendship'."

Moon Knight hardly had time to contemplate what had been said, when suddenly the lights to the stage flickered on, and the curtain began to raise. The spectacle upon the stage was one that Moon Knight could hardly imagine. The stage was filled with dancing mannequins. There were a great many of them, dancing in the air on strings. There were some with tuxedos on, others with military fatigues. Some wore street clothes, and some were adorned with Moon Knight costumes. All were jerking around, dancing in the air in bizarre fashion.

As Moon Knight watched the horrific display, he noticed the one of the mannequins was not a mannequin, but a living person. Slowly he moved closer to the stage, to see the identity of the person. He was filled with shock as he noticed the person was his new psychiatrist, Dr. Robert Flesko. The man was not moving on his own, and did not look to be breathing.

"Alas, poor Dr. Flesko," boomed the voice, "to die so young. Oh well, he was a quack anyway. Now, let us see what a real mental man can do about all your issues, my little Knight of the Moon."

Moon Knight finally put all the pieces together. The voice. The deaths. The 'mental man' remark. He knew whom this was-one of the most psychotic men he had ever met. It was Jonathan Crane - the criminal known as the Scarecrow.

She had put up a good fight, Leila would give her that, she had just been overwhelmed by their sheer numbers and the weapons that they all carried.

Leila had followed the Templar up the stairs, and had stood outside, while the guard at the door had let her in. She listened as a conversation began, and the mention of a shooting a several local teenagers and brought out harsh voices and thinly veiled threats. She had chuckled as the Templar told the gang members they were coming with her to face justice, or she would be forced to dispense it now. She had been impressed as she heard the gang members refuse, and watched as the guard, that let the Templar in the room, came flying out of the room, crashing through the railing, and falling to the dance floor below. Suddenly the entire building was in an uproar, as the bullets began to fly and chaos erupted.

Leila had contemplated for a moment, then decided she herself would intervene. She found this Templar both interesting and amusing, and figured she could be of some use to her. More so than any petty gang of street thugs, so she leaped into the room full of action herself.

When she entered the room, she found herself in the middle of a battleground. The Templar had a sword, and had sliced her way through several members of the gang. Unfortunately for her, there were still several members, and all had firearms. The Templar, had been shot in several spots now, and her white outfit was tinged with a fair amount of red. Leila decided it was time to act.

Leila used her mutant ability to fire a massive blast of cosmic energy at the gang members. When it was done, nothing was left of the four of the gang except smouldering ashes. Witnessing this, the other remaining gang members quickly dropped the weapons, and fell to their knees, begging for their lives.

Pathetic, Leila thought to herself, as she moved to the wounded Templar. As she reached the unconscious woman, she heard movement behind her, and turned to see several of her members from the Knights of the Moon standing behind her. They were armed and ready to aid her. Leila had them gently pick up the wounded Templar and carry her outside.

Upon leaving, Leila made sure not to forget the pathetic groveling gang members, turning to dispense them with another blast of her energy, before leaving to tend to the wounded Templar.

This New York trip, she concluded to herself, was turning out to be better every day.

Moon Knight tried to absorb everything that was happening. His therapist was dead, and he had been lured into a trap by his nemesis Scarecrow, a demented and brilliant killer with no conscience. Moon Knight decided that it was best to try to talk to Crane, and see if he could discern his location, which was currently unknown.

"I thought you were in jail, Crane?" asked Moon Knight as he slinked ever closer to the stage.

"Ah yes, jail," boomed Scarecrow, the joy in his voice unmistakable. "What a lovely place. I was bale to travel to exotic locations like Quarac and Vlatavia. I made new friends, like poor old Mr. Morpheus. Oh, and Marc . . . or Steven . . . or whomever you are this moment, I was able to . . . release . . . my pent up violent energy frequently. Then, in the end, I was released with time off for 'good behavior' and services rendered. It was a very . . . stimulating adventure."*

*(Scarecrow was a member of Suicide Squad, a government agency that uses incarcerated criminals in suicidal missions, in exchange for reduced sentences and other benefits.)

Moon Knight thought for a moment, then asked, "Crane, why are you doing this? Petty revenge seems so beneath, someone of your caliber intelligence."

Moon Knight had almost made his way to the stage, hoping that the intercom system would be close by.

"Petty revenge? You silly man. There is no fun in petty revenge. You may have gotten the best of me in our last encounter, but this time, the game is all under my control. I have the dearly departed doctor's files, and I now know all of your little identities and mental instabilities. You are my little mouse, and I think I will drag this little maze out a few miles further. You are my shiny new toy, Moon Spector. My revenge will hardly be petty."

Moon Knight quickly jumped on the stage and rushed through the stage entrance, only to find the intercom station empty, the one bun pressed down with tape, the microphone strapped to a nearby phone.

"Goodbye for now, silly mouse," said the voice on the other end of the line, as Moon Knight ripped the receiver from the microphone. The line then went dead.

"Crane!" Moon Knight screamed in frustration as he made his way back onto the stage to pull the dead psychiatrist from his hanging position, center stage.

Next issue: Chloe is in the clutches of Plasma! Scarecrow sets his eyes on Marlene! Oh, and Moon Knight takes on Hydra!

A Word from the Writer

Well, betcha' didn't see any of that coming, did you? Just wait, because I plan on taking Moon Knight on a wild ride nobody expected, and nobody will ever forget. Big changes are in store for this title!

-Toby Kernan