DCM Vertigo


Moon Knight

by Mark Sarver

At the hospital Jake Lockley inquired with the Nurse as to the condition of his best friend - Frenchie. They had him listed as a John Doe - no ID - for the present time. Lockley couldn't identify him as that would blow his own cover. Stephen Grant was a wanted man himself so he couldn't take on that role either and Moon Knight just wouldn't do in trying to remain as discrete as possible in this crowded hospital emergency room.

They'd brought Frenchie in less than half-an-hour earlier, enough time Lockley thought for them to have an idea of his condition and status if they would even talk to him. Plus, who could tell how long it would be before the cops got here wanting to question Frenchie themselves - their only "eye-witness" to the destruction of Stephen Grant's mansion.

He moved nonchalantly towards the attending nurses' station and spoke to one who looked preoccupied with the computer on the desk in front of her.

"Ma'am, I was wondering if you could tell me how the John Doe is doing."

The nurse, an older woman carrying more than a few too many extra pounds with a face wrinkled with time and one too many cigarettes, looked up at Jake Lockley quizzically and said, "Who?"

"Came in as a John Doe about half-an-hour ago. Well built fella with a small moustache. French looking." Lockley didn't want to give too much away and blow his current anonymity.

"Let me check. And you are?" She began to shuffle through a pile of charts on her desk - found one and typed something on the keyboard keeping her eyes on the computer in front of her.

Lockley acted disinterested feigning impatience and answered, "Jake Lockley, N.Y.P.D.."

She never even looked up at him, "Right. Give me a minute."

While waiting for the nurse, Lockley looked around at the others in the ER. It was a crowded night, but in New York City, a hospital emergency room was never a dull place - especially at night.

"He's being moved to a room now. Broken leg and a head wound. They think it might be a concussion, but they won't know for sure without further tests. That's it up to the moment." She looked up but Jake Lockley was already gone.

He walked slowly down the hallway after making a hasty retreat from the ER. Just as the nurse was filling him in on Frenchie's status, he caught sight of Detective Perez and her gang entering the ER.

It was time to go.

It was time to find a place to stash the cab and change into Moon Knight for some nighttime investigations.

"Stephen . . . I mean Jake, is that you?"

Lockley turned to see Gena running towards him coming off the elevator.

"Gena, how's Ray?" He was surprised at first to see her, but then remembered the shooting involving her two sons. Ray had been shot in the head - through the eye and was in Intensive Care under close supervision. It had been close for a while - he knew that much.

"He's gone, Jake."


Gena sounded hysterical and a few of the people milling about the hallway were craning their heads towards the two of them to listen in. Lockley took her by the arm and guided her towards the parking garage and his cab. He said quietly, "My cab is a bit more private."

"He's gone, Jake, gone." Gena was now sobbing with her head partially buried in Jake's broad shoulder as they walked, or he walked and guided her, to his cab.

"The room was empty. No Ray, no bed, nothing."

"And you were gone just a few minutes, Gena?"

They sat in Jake Lockley's cab in the hospital parking garage. He'd held her for a few minutes letting her cry out the tears she needed to. It had been a rough time for her lately and now this.

"Just a few. Where have they taken my baby, Jake?"

"I don't know, Gena. But I promise I will find him and make those that took him pay. Where is Ricky right now?"

"Home, asleep more'n likely." She wiped another tear from her mocha face.

"Let's go get him and then I want to take both of you to someplace safe."

Lockley started up the cab and tried to think of a safe place he could deposit Gena and Ricky while he went about his duties as Moon Knight. He remembered Vigilante and Wendy Conrad - they were hiding out in a safe house and they could keep an eye on his friends while he took care of business.

As they pulled out of the parking lot on the way to pick up Ricky, Lockley turned on the radio to a local 24-Hours News/Talk station. From the ether carried to his ears on radio waves he heard all about the destruction of his mansion and the APB out on Stephen Grant for the murder of Dr. Robert Flesko. Gena looked over at him and started to speak. Lockley raised a finger to touch her lips lightly.

He said, "My problem, Gena. Focus on your family right now. First Ricky and then we get you to a safe place where you can be protected. Then I find Ray."

Getting Chloe out of the Gotham Regent Hotel had not been easy. Crane and O'Toole had carried her in between them joking about how she was plastered and just needed to be taken home to sleep it off. Then the drive across to New York City's Fujikawa Building which was empty this time of night except for the cleaning crew which was not a problem. He parked quickly near the freight elevator in the basement and went directly up to the thirteenth floor with his groggy young female captive. He was glad to dump her inside the door of 'Star Creations, Inc.'

I got her here. These freaks can do the rest, thought Crane as he straightened out his rumpled suit before walking past the empty receptionist's desk to the door into the Star Chamber's main lair.

Darkhawk was waiting for him with a sly grin on his face and a glint in his shiny black eyes. The whisper of a voice wafted across to him before he was fully in the room, "Success, Crane. I must admit I am impressed and so quickly. You are good."

"Where is Bad Betty?"

"Waiting for your instructions in our Computer Facility. We're connected."

"Who isn't." It was a statement posed as a question.

"Tisk tisk, dear Doctor Crane. We had a deal. You completed your part and now . . . " The creature known as Darkhawk led Crane into an adjoining room where Bad Betty was already seated before a console screen made up of several monitors with a single keyboard and mouse unit. Around the room were several tall machines - servers or supercomputers, Crane couldn't tell offhand but it was impressive. He didn't like having to work out "arrangements" with groups like the Star Chamber or villains like Darkhawk, but in this case it was a perfect fit - delivering the girl named Chloe for the services of Bad Betty - a "no-brainer."

"Transfer the funds and delete it all, as we agreed." Crane spoke directly to Bad Betty. She turned to Darkhawk, who gave a slight nod of his head before turning back to Crane. Bad Betty then was engrossed in manipulating the myriad technologies in front of her working with several screens at once able to coordinate and triangulate at will.

"You'll understand if we have to leave now, Dr. Crane. Trade secrets." Darkhawk said with a smile showing his white teeth contrasted sharply against the deep black of his eyes.

"How long?"

"Twelve hours." This from Bad Betty.

"Notify me as soon as it is completed. I can let myself out."

Crane picked up his step as he walked down the street away from the Fujikawa Building and the HQ of the Star Chamber. The pieces were falling into place exactly as planned. Now it was up to Cheshire to lay the trap and spring it. First he had to arrange the trap. The next phase - a show of sorts - called for a captive audience of one - Moon Knight.

Leila O'Toole stood directly across the desk from the inordinately large man named Wilson Fisk who also carried the moniker that struck fear in the hearts of the evil as well as the good in New York City - the Kingpin. He sat leaning forward both arms resting on his desk fingers strumming the desk as if in deep consideration as Plasma related the events of the night surrounding her visitation by Dr. Jonathan Crane and their "deal."

"From the inside out. Interesting. What else?" Kingpin inquired continuing to strum his fingers on the desk slowly.

"He is . . ."

"I specialize in working that way, Mr. Fisk." Jonathan Crane stood in the doorway to the Kingpin's large office with a smile on his face and a slight glint in his eyes.

Fisk stopped strumming his fingers and looked up startled momentarily with the intrusion but quickly regaining his composure and command of the situation - of his office - his turf.

"I'm aware of that fact, Dr. Crane. From what I have heard and understand, you are a genius at taking apart your foes from the inside out. I am impressed and somewhat envious. A man like you could come in handy in an organization like mine."

Crane walked slowly across the room to stand beside Leila O'Toole - Plasma. She was looking from Crane to Fisk and back again. She'd been taken aback by the appearance of Crane - she hadn't mentioned her silent partner - Kingpin, and was trying to figure out how Crane knew. Now she fought to regain her composure standing in between these two powerful men. She couldn't show weakness - they always looked for the weakness in the women. Not her. She was Plasma - powerful servant of the Gods. She thought of how easy it would be to kill either of them in a moment with her power. Comforting thoughts.

"I prefer to work alone, Mr. Fisk. Be my own boss. I make alliances only when necessary or expedient and of some benefit to my ultimate goal - like now." Crane reached up and removed a small piece of lint from the shoulder of Leila O'Toole's jacket. He put it into his pocket and turned back to Kingpin.

Crane said, "I figured she wasn't here in your town working alone without some involvement so I tracked her to see where she would go and who she would see. My bonus for me - it's the "Big Guy," Mr. Fisk himself - the Kingpin. I guess I hit the jackpot."

"You bastard." This from Plasma - face red with anger and fists clenched.

Wilson Fisk chuckled and stood up slowly. He walked around and sat Leila O'Toole down in one of his plush office chairs. Then he turned to Crane and said, "If I'm the jackpot, Dr. Crane, I suspect you want something from me."

"How about you make a simple phone call or two. In return, I give you a lot of money and interest in an African country."

"An African Country - which one?"

"The Sudan."

Lockley and Gena picked up Ricky at their home before driving across town to the safe house where Lockley knew Vigilante and her associate, Wendy Conrad were holed up waiting for the next move. Ricky had been resting and was still having trouble getting around having been shot in the leg just days ago.

They pulled up to the house, actually a former concession stand sitting right in the middle of an abandoned drive-in movie complex. Surrounded by tall buildings, the complex looked out of place and was scheduled for demolition soon. For now, it was acting as a safe house used by Vigilante and Wendy Conrad and other members of S.H.I.E.L.D. when necessary.

Lockley thought about changing to Moon Knight and then thought better of it until after dropping off Gena and Ricky. No need for more than necessary to know any more about any of his identities than was necessary. Sometimes he thought too many knew too much already.

They parked and walked up to the side door. The lights were on inside. They also heard movement and the droll monotone of an electronic device - radio or television. The door was unlocked so they walked right in. Sitting across the room was Vigilante and next to her on the other end of the couch was her partner - Wendy Conrad. Both looked at Jake Lockley, recognizing him from the cab ride-shoot out earlier. They said nothing. They just continued to sit expressionless on the couch.

Lockley said, "Moon Knight asked me to bring these two here for safe keeping."

They still said nothing. The hairs on the back of Lockley neck stood on end - his senses picking up that something was terribly wrong with this situation. He took a step back to prepare himself for an imminent attack, thinking that he should have changed into Moon Knight and reconnoitered the building before just waltzing in.

"Jake Lockley, a.k.a. Stephen Grant, a.k.a. Marc Spector, a.k.a. Moon Knight."

He recognized the voice of Cheshire. She was somewhere to his right in the dark of a hallway.

"Don't you mean that you decided to bring them here yourself, Jake . . . I mean Mr. Moon Knight?" Same voice a little closer.

Lockley heard a gasp and turned to see Gena and Ricky in the clutches of green and yellow clad Hydra thugs with guns being held to their heads and several pointed at Lockley himself. He tensed up considering the sequence of moves it would take to get the jump on the thugs and disarm them before they could do any harm to the innocents in the room.

"They have orders to shoot to kill if you resist in any way, Moon Knight." Cheshire again, much closer. Now he could make out her form in the dark standing just inside the darkened hallway.

Lockley stood dropping his arms to his side and faced the hallway.

"You've got me. Let them go."

A laugh followed that was picked up by other members of the Hydra contingent on hand. Then she was there in the light of the room. With a wave of her hand she silenced the laughter and walked directly up to Lockley.

She stared up into his ruggedly handsome face and said, "Jake, Stephen, Marc - whoever you are - we have you all. No one goes anywhere except with us."

Lockley tried to consider all his options as they quickly bound and gagged the other four of his compatriots in the room. There was literally nothing he could do without endangering at least one of the four. The thought hit him hard - helpless - that was something he was not used to.

Two other Hydra gang members grabbed Lockley by the arms and sat him down hard in a tall backed heavy wooden chair. They then proceeded to wrap a chain around his legs, torso and arms before padlocking it in the rear making sure it fit tight enough to hold him very still.

Cheshire stood in front of Lockley chained to the chair. The others were bound with heavy rope and being held in a group near the door.

Cheshire said, "Consider yourself lucky, Moon Knight. I, or I should say, Hydra was originally contracted to kill you outright. Well, just this evening, in fact this past hour - the contract was lifted and we were given another contract to merely detain you here and wait for the show to begin."

"Who contracted with you?" asked Lockley defiantly still considering options for escape and rescuing his friends.

"Confidentiality forbids me to share that information, Mr. Spector. I may be a criminal, but I am an ethical criminal."

"You'll pay for this."

"We'll be paid for this - handsomely I might add. Now, on with the show. Your friends are to be taken out of here to . . . oh well, let's just say unnamed locations known only to us . . . and killed." She finished off with a wave of her hand and another laugh.

"No - what have they done?" Lockley asked desperately fighting furiously against his chains.

"They have done nothing, Stephen, except be in your world. Take them away and give him the injection NOW!"

Lockley watched with clenched teeth and the fires of hatred buring in his eyes as the green and yellow Hydra devils dragged the other four out the door and out of his sight. They all struggled and screamed to be let go of to no avail. Soon enough he heard several engines start, drive off and then all was quiet with Cheshire alone still with him in the room.

He didn't see the other one standing behind him. He only felt the prick of a needle as it was inserted into the back of his neck and the cold sensation of a foreign fluid entering into his bloodstream. For a moment there was nothing else. Then a tingling throughout his body before all sensation ceased altogether and the super-hero known to the world as Moon Knight found himself paralyzed completely able only to move his eyes from side to side.

"It's a paralytic the good doctor provided. Seems to work very well, I might add. Now, Moon Knight . . . or should we call you Captain Still or The Paralytic or Immobile Man. . ." She laughed out loud before continuing, "Enjoy the show."

Next Issue: Who will save Moon Knight's friends and what is the "Show"?