DCM Vertigo


Moon Knight

Welcome to the Urban Jungle
by Toby Kernan

Jonathan Crane confidently threw open the door to the Bar With No Name, and strode right in as if he owned the place. It wasn't easy for him, the place was little more than a pathetic dive, complete with sawdust on the floor and an automated bucking broncos, the kind of fecal hole Crane would never be seen in normally. He was a Hellfire Club-kinda guy, preferring class and elegance to such crass surroundings. The only thing he liked about the place was the way eyes got big and wide when he walked in the door. In a bar full of criminals, his face was well known, and even amongst such company, he was a creature to be feared and respected. He knew his own reputation, it had been the same during his days at Suicide squad. He was the Boogey Man, the scary, crazy villain that other villains spoke of in whispers.

"Can I get ya' somethin' Scarecrow?" asked the man polishing glasses at the bar. Crane recognized the man, a petty criminal named Sebastian Patane. He had been a costumed goon named Badcat, or DemonCat, or Hellcat, or something like that. A strict 'nickel and dimer', Crane was hardly surprised to see the man scrubbing glasses at this dive for petty costumed criminals.

"Just some information, my good man," replied Crane, trying hard to hide his disgust. "Avalanche in here?"

Patane thought for a second about giving out such information. At the Bar, it was a haven for criminals, and as a rule, information about others wasn't given out. Patane then took a quick look into Scarecrow's eyes, and knew what he had to do.

"He is in the back, playing cards," replied Patane quietly, then returned his gaze and attention back to the glasses he was cleaning.

Jonathan Crane then turned his attention to the Bar's back door. Walking confidently through the Bar, he felt the stare of the other occupants upon him. He liked it. He relished it, because he knew that he was above the rest of these cretins, above them.

Crane knocked on the door. A pair of eyes appeared from a slit, examining him.

"I suggest you let me in now," Crane said, in a quite, yet demanding, tone. He could see the look of recognition appear in the occupant's eyes, then he heard the lock slip from it's home, and he door swing open.

Scarecrow looked around the card table, and recognized most of the occupants. Female slithering temptress Black Mamba was wrapped around card-playing thug Tim Stuart, better known by his criminal moniker Discus. Several others at the table were members of Mamba's Serpent Society-including Bushmaster and Rock Adder. The other occupant was the man Crane had come looking for.

"You," replied Crane, pointing to the man he wished to speak to, "I wish to have a conversation with. Everybody else, take a few minutes to relax. Go out and have whatever this place passes as consumable swill."

Mamba and Discus were out the door immediately. Rock Adder, for a moment, seemed offended and ready to confront Crane, but a hand on his shoulder, and a quick harsh look from Bushmaster, and the two quickly joined the others outside the room.

Crane brushed off a seat and sat down, ready to begin a conversation.

"What do you want, Crane?" asked the man. Crane noticed he was half-drunk and looking very uninterested.

"Dominic Szilard Janos Petros," began Crane, "I have a job for you."

"And what," replied Dominic, still non-enthusiastic, "makes you think I want to work a job for you?"

Scarecrow thought for a moment. Either Dominic was very brave, or very stupid. He wasn't sure which.

"Oh," replied Crane, throwing his hands in the air, "like you are doing so well currently? Since your precious Mutant Liberation Front folded, what have you been doing? Sitting here, getting drunk, playing cards for petty cash. Is that any way for the great Avalanche to act?"

"I suppose," replied Dominic, "you have a better idea for me?"

"Indeed," said Crane, smiling, "my dear friend, I do. How would you like to make fifty thousand dollars, get revenge on an old nemesis, and possibly get a chance to flourish in a new, more powerful organization with great health benefits and top pay?"

Dominic could do little to repress the sense of excitement that swelled in his stomach. Crane was correct, he had done little since MLF disbanded, and he hated being out of the action. He had tried to contact Mystique, in hopes of her finding him a position with the government, or starting a new group, but hadn't been able to contact her. The money wasn't that big of a deal, nor was the revenge, but the idea of being part of something again, especially something big, peaked his interest more than he wished Crane could know.

"Okay, Crane," said Dominic. "Details."

"I need you to bring down a mansion for me," replied Crane.

"Whose and why?" asked Avalanche curiously.

"Because I want to," said Crane, arrogantly, "and the mansion is the home of Moon Knight."

Dominic knew Moon Knight. Years ago, Dominic and his partner Pyro had taken a job for the Silvermane Crime Family, destroying property so they could buy it up cheap. Moon Knight had come in, and stopped them, getting them both sent to Belle Reve, where they had to do some hard time in Suicide Squad. Avalanche and Pyro had been left for dead in a mission to Quarac, and would have not escaped had it not been for MLF. Avalanche wouldn't mind reeking a little revenge on Moon Knight, especially if he was getting paid serious bank to do it.

"Alright, Crane," said Avalanche, satisfied with the idea. "You have yourself a deal."

Crane smiled, satisfaction creeping onto his face.

"Here is all the information you need," replied Crane, throwing a folder upon the table. "Now, if you'll excuse me, I have other business to attend to. Havoc to cause, and such. Have a good day, Dominic."

With that, Crane strutted out the room's door.

"Well, this is the place," mumbled Moon Knight to himself. He sat upon a rooftop in New York City's Newport Disrict, a rundown section of the city containing dilapidated warehouses and abandoned factories. He was watching, through special binoculars, a nearby warehouse. According to an online search, it was an empty storage facility for Anderson Bio-Technics. Judging by all the traffic flowing in and out of the building, Moon Knight surmised the empty part was highly exaggerated. It appeared that the paper he had taken off the dead Hydra agent was correct, and this was some kind of meeting place.

Moon Knight contemplated what he wanted to do. He figured the best idea would be to get inside the building and further investigate, to see what exactly this faction of Hydra was up to. Then, if he could stop them himself, he would. If not, he could always call in Avengers League, or SHIELD, or place an anonymous call to the Super-Unit Police. He surveyed the building's rooftop, noticing it had an unguarded door. He also noticed several strategically placed video cameras on swivel heads, constantly monitoring every inch of the rooftop.

As Moon Knight considered ways to eliminate the cameras, the cameras all suddenly stopped moving. Each of them seemed to be held in stasis, all moving a fraction then clicking back into place. Something had frozen them into one position.

As Moon Knight watched, he understood why. Suddenly, from the opposite end of the rooftop, a single figure emerged. Moon Knight recognized her. She was known as Vigilante, part of the duo of females that had gotten Moon Knight, in his guise as cabbie Jake Lockley, involved in this whole situation in the first place. It had been her, along with a friend, who had leapt into his cabbie, and led him on a wild, bullet-laced spree through the streets of New York. In the end, the women's pursuers lay dead in an overturned car, where Moon Knight had discovered the address to this place, and a computer disk containing detailed information on Vigilante's personal identity. Moon Knight assumed Vigilante was now on the offensive.

Moon Knight stepped into action, as only he could. Finding a suitable wire and connecting the two buildings, Moon Knight activated the magnetized Moon Boots, and using his agility, crossed the wire as though he were a circus tight-rope walker. He was careful to avoid the views of the stationary cameras, but noticed that Vigilante had seen him coming, and had stopped in her tracks to watch him walk across the wire.

"Nice job," replied Vigilante, as Moon Knight finished his walk across the wire. "Where can I get myself such wonderful gadgets?"

"You can't," replied Moon Knight, unmagnatizing his boots. "Now, what are you doing here?"

Moon Knight had to be careful. His identities had been compromised too much lately, and he didn't want Vigilante to know he knew her real identity, thanks to the disk, and have her figure out that he and Jake Lockley were one and the same.

"Same as you," replied Vigilante, checking the clips on the two pistols she was holding. "I would imagine. Hydra has got something big going on in here, and I intend to find out what, and put a stop to it. Care to join me."

Moon Knight thought for a second. Hoping she was a professional, not a liability, Moon Knight decided that two was probably better than one, in this situation. Also, Vigilante had proven herself resourceful and adept in their car chase, so he decided to join her. Also, this way, he could keep a close eye on her.

"Let's go."

"What ez going on here?"

Frenchie felt the first tremor shake Grant Mansion. He had been moving towards his personal bathroom, ready to take a nice bath and sip a glass of Cognac, waiting for word from Marc in case he needed a quick escape from his current mission. Then the house began to shake a bit. Nothing major at first, but it was consistent, not stopping. Frenchie went to his room, and turned the television on, hoping to see a news brief on a tremor hitting New York. Nothing of the sort was on the television.

The shaking started getting worse. He heard several crashes from various rooms, as items of glass and precious vases began to rock from their places, shattering upon the ground.

"Good grief!" cried Frenchie, as he ran through the hallway. Although he knew it was a bad idea, he made his way towards a window. Something wasn't right, he could feel it. As he peered outside, his suspicions were confirmed. He looked out upon the hanger, which held the Moon Copter and several of Steve Grant's Bentleys, and saw that it was not shaking. Nor were the other mansions he could see to the distance. Something was shaking just the mansion.

Frenchie quickly ran to his room, barely dodging a falling bookshelf. He grabbed his pistol, making sure there was a full clip inside, and took a deep breath. The he started to make his way to the spiral staircase which separated this living area from the mansion's downstairs.

The trip towards the mansion's exterior was quite a harrowing experience for Frenchie. The fierce shaking has nearly pulled the stairs from under his feet. A large mirror had shattered as he made his way, covering his exposed flesh with small cuts as the shards were sent flying. He had fallen several times, tripping over objects that now lie sprawled across the floor of every room.

Finally, Frenchie made his way outside, and once there, the culprit wasn't hard to locate. Frenchie noticed a man, around a hundred feet from the building, with his hands pressed firmly against the pavement leading to the house. He was dressed as one of those costumed villain types, with a shining metallic helmet across his head. The ground around him seemed to almost roll in waves, and the waves seemed to send powerful ripples, which ended at the mansion, and seemed to simulate an earthquake. An earthquake that was destroying the mansion.

Frenchie saw that the man noticed him, and quickly pulled up his firearm to fire, but it wasn't quick enough. As Frenchie squeezed the trigger for his first shot, he found the ground under him shift, and suddenly he, and a chunk of the pavement, were high in the air.

"Sorry, bud," yelled Avalanche, steering his concentration from the mansion to Frenchie, "ain't nothing personal. Just business, you know."

Suddenly the pavement below Frenchie shifted, and he was falling towards the earth. The first thing to hit was his left leg, which Frenchie heard break in a series of bone-crunching thuds. Then his head hit the ground, and all he saw was a thick cover of blackness as unconsciousness set in.

Despite the number of cameras on the building's exterior, the inside of the warehouse seemed to have relatively little problems for Moon Knight and Vigilante. Apparently, the people inside had figured that the surveillance outside would be sufficient to deter anybody attempting to disturb them. There were no cameras on the top floor, nor any guards. In fact, there was nothing up here but some old, musty, dusty crates of outdated technology that Anderson Bio-Technics had left here. He and Vigilante had opened several crates, and found nothing of importance.

Not wanting to arouse suspicion by taking the freight elevator, the two warriors decided it was best to take the stairs. There they found a few rudimentary traps, including a trip-wire armed with a grenade, but nothing that was a serious threat to either experienced infiltrator. There were also video cameras on the stairs, but there timing was easy to read, and the two snuck easily around their probing eyes.

Moon Knight had to admit, he was impressed. Despite his first impression that Vigilante, a.k.a. Patricia Trayce, was just a poser playing in spandex for the thrills, she was in fact a highly-skilled and trained professional. He supposed, with her SHIELD background, he really shouldn't have ever thought otherwise.

At the bottom of the stairs, the two heard a large mass of voices very close by. Stealthfully slinking along the wall, the two made their way towards the room.

Looking around the corner, the two warriors finally discovered what they were looking for. The huge storage room was filled with Hydra agents, all in the typical dark green garb, with red-eyed masks and yellow snake insignia, which marked the outfit of every Hydra soldier. There were a lot of agents in the room, Moon Knight counted at least fifty. Worse still, all were crowded around a group of tables filled with high-tech weapons. Several of the agents were inspecting a rocket launcher, which one agent held, and was pointing towards the ceiling. Several other were looking through the sites attached to energy weapons.

"They are up to something big," whispered Vigilante. Moon Knight noticed her hands tense up upon her pistols, ready for action.

Suddenly, several agents ran in from another room and made their way to a costumed man Moon Knight hadn't noticed at first. He had an outfit very different from the Hydra agents. Instead of green, he wore an individualized costume of red and gold. The agents consulted him, and then pointed towards the roof and the stairs. Suddenly the man, and a small contingent of agents were heading for both the freight elevator, and hallway Moon Knight and Vigilante now stood in.

"Damn," whispered Vigilante, noticing the event as well, "they must have noticed the cameras not moving. They're coming, Moon Knight. What are we gonna do?"

Next issue: Moon Knight and Vigilante vs. Stinger and the forces of Hydra! Plus Scarecrow's destruction of Moon Knight's life continues!