DCM Vertigo


Moon Knight

The Return of Old Friends
by Mark Sarver


Dr. Pieter Cross was off the floor and next to the hospital bed where Ray lay motionless - eyes wide open staring at the ceiling with tears forming to flow down the side of his face to dampen the white pillow below his head.


Another scream followed by still silence. The only motion coming from Ray was the rapid up and down breathing motion of his chest. His eye was fixed on something not of the room or even of this reality. He was blind - Cross knew that much. What he saw was in the eye of the mind.

Carmilla stood on the other side of the bed, a worried expression covering her face. She ran through checking the IV, checking Ray's pulse and blood pressure before relaying the patient's complete vitals to the doctor.

"Get some adrenaline ready in case he goes into arrest. Paddles too, Carmilla." She was gone and back in less than a minute.

"Ray, talk to me. My name is Pieter. I'm a doctor here to help you." Cross reached down and grasped his hand. He squeezed it tight and said, "You're safe here. Tell me what you see."

Cross motioned for Carmilla to dim the lights in the room which she did and they both waited for the boy to communicate something - anything.

It began with a slight squeeze of Cross's hand and then he spoke slowly, his eye never wavering from staring at the darkened ceiling.

"It's Momma and Ricky. They've got them. They're tied up with rope. Scared. Can't move. Can't talk. Ricky's peed himself. RICKY!!!!!!"

The tears began to flow more freely now. Carmilla wiped them away gently with a cloth while Cross continued to hold his hand and encouraged Ray with a soft, "Go on, Ray. What else do you see?"

"Green and yellow demons. Driving them somewhere. Dragging them out of the car. Momma and Ricky. They're both crying. MOMMA!!!!!!" His expression remained the same and his body lay as still as if he were still unconscious. More tears wiped away.

"Too many demons. They can't move. They can't speak. Ricky is shaking. So scared. Momma tries to comfort him. She is so scared for herself and for Ricky."

"Where are they, Ray?" Cross asked quietly. "Lot's of equipment around - piles of wood and bricks and sand. There is a crane - a tall one. It's a building that's not there. A deep pit. Freshly poured concrete."

"Carmilla, get on the computer and bring up construction sights in the general area. We've got to narrow it down. Let's look for buildings only and with a deep pit - make it taller buildings - not any single stories or warehouses."

She was on the computer running an initial query while Ray continued, "Momma and Ricky being led down into the pit. They're walking towards the fresh concrete. A truck is backing down into the pit - a concrete truck. MOMMA!!!!!!"

Cross wiped away the tears and squeezed his hand even tighter, "Go on, Ray."

"They're forced down into the fresh concrete. Held down with sticks. The truck backs up slowly. The beeping won't stop. Ricky is shaking so bad. He starts to scream. They hit him over the head with a pipe. RICKY!!!!!!"

"Where are they, Ray? I need you to help me learn where they are. We may be able to save them."

"Ricky is dead. He is so still. Momma cries for her son, my brother. She knows she is going to die. It's too late. MOMMA!!!!!!"

"Ray, listen to me now. What do you see around them? Signs or pictures, anything."

"Deep pit. Freshly dug. Trailer has writing on it. C-O-O-P-E-R-C-O-N-S-T-R-U-C-T-I-O-N."

"Cooper Construction. Good. Run it, Carmilla. What else, Ray?"

"Large sign - billboard - picture of a large man. F-I-S-K-I-N-D-U-S-T-R-I-E-S-B-U-I-L-D-I-N-G-P-R-O-J-E-C-T."

"Fisk Industries Building Project." Carmilla was already putting in the new data and running another query.

"Anything else, Ray?"

"Momma can't move. The truck stops. They swing the arm around right over Momma. The concrete runs out quicky. It's so heavy and wet. Slowly covering Momma. Can't see. Can't breathe. MOMMA!!!!!!"

"Got it. Fisk Industries just started construction on a new building - a skyscraper - in Manhattan." Carmilla was up in a flash handing the address and fastest route to Cross.

"Give him a sedative. Let him rest some more. Do not leave his side." A quick change into Dr. Mid-Nite and he was off to the address the computer had come up with hoping against the odds that he would not be too late to save the two people Ray had visioned - Momma and Ricky. He sent his loyal familiar - Hooty the Owl - ahead to scout out the location before his own arrival in the Nite-Glider.

Dr. Jonathan Crane was feeling a bit giddy as he entered the room doubling as his secret office during this excursion to New York City. Everything was going so well with no foreseeable problems. The signal had come through from Fisk a few moments earlier that Cheshire had been successful - Moon Knight was in chains awaiting the next phase to begin.

All had gone so well from the start. The plan was seemingly genius in its scope and potential destructive force. It was all his. Reason enough to feel giddy about the next phase when Moon Knight or Marc Spector or Steven Grant or Jake Lockley learned exactly what the meaning of pain was.

He changed quickly into his Scarecrow costume. It had been a while. He'd forgotten how much the costume comforted him and made him feel more normal. A quick look in the mirror and he was convinced that there was no other to compare. The world was his for the taking. Right now - Moon Knight was his pawn waiting to be toyed with.

Crane, in the guise of Scarecrow entered a side room equipped with a large flat screen monitor hanging on one wall and a video camera on a tripod facing him from a side wall. He turned on the monitor and the camera with a remote control device.

Once both were on and he was sure everything was ready to go he made a call via his cell phone, "Send the feed."

Momentarily, on the screen appeared a figure bound in chains in a large wooden chair. Beside him slight to his rear stood the super villain known as Cheshire - her long flowing hair falling to her waist - her green costume cut low across her chest. A very pretty woman - evil incarnate - but pretty, thought Scarecrow as he prepared himself for his role in the coming show.

He was more interested in observing the bound and paralyzed form of Moon Knight. Whatever this persona was - the man there was Moon Knight without the costume. Better like that. He feels naked, helpless and hopeless. His fear will be heightened without the security and confidence wearing the costume brings to his being.

Before beginning he made sure the whole production was recording for future sales via the Internet and DVD. Millions would pay to see the destruction of a super hero. "Oh, how they love to see the big ones fall," Scarecrow muttered to himself before moving in front of the video camera to play his part.

"My dear Moon Knight, or is it Steven Grant . . . maybe Marc Spector . . . yet still it could be the indomitably street wise Jake Lockley. Whoever you wish to be, I welcome you to your destruction, Moon Knight. We've no plans to harm you physically at this point. Rather, we're going to disassemble you one piece at a time." Scarecrow spoke in a slow deliberate voice using his hand gestures to emphasize points in his speech. He knew the effect would be made more eerie wearing the costume and the appearance of his scarecrowish arms flailing as if wheat in the wind.

He watched for a reaction in the eyes of his prey. The man bound with chains - the Avenger of Death and Servant of Khonshu stared straight at him - through the sceen on his side of the transmission. There was only a slight change in the expression of the eyes. Scarecrow wanted to see fear and apprehension. Instead he sensed a boiling anger building behind those eyes. The thought stopped him and forced him to regain his composure before continuing.

"I am merely the Master of Ceremonies for our little program this evening. The real meat of our show is about to begin. I merely wanted to welcome you and make sure you know exactly who is at the heart of your destruction, Moon Knight."

Another signal came through into his earpiece telling him the main event was ready to begin.

"Moon Knight, thank you for your patience, sir. Now, heeeerrrrreeeeee's Bushman . . .!!!!!"

The feeling of helplessness was overwhelming. The chains were merely window dressing with the paralytic agent they had injected him with. His mind willed movement. None came. He could barely move his eyes just a bit to see some of what was in his periphery but the strain caused inordinate pain.

He felt nothing except the movement of his eyes and the associated pain. No matter how much he concentrated - he could feel nothing anywhere on his body.

He was just his base self now in his mind. He had stopped being Jake Lockely when they bound him to the chair and took his friends away. He had considered what it would take to fight back but every contingency he ran over in his mind involved a chance of harm to one of the other four - especially to Gena or Ricky - which he could not allow to happen.

Now, due to his inaction at the time, they were all doomed. Gena and Ricky, Pat Trayce and Wendy Conrad were all on the way to their individual deaths at the hands of Hydra. And he, Moon Knight, was in no position to do anything to stop any of them from dying.

He could feel the anger rise inside him - but it was in his mind alone. The emotion caused no physical reaction except a slight painful tinge in his eyes. He thought that if he could escape to save the others he would actually kill those responsible without a second thought - even though that went against his very nature.

The appearance of the Scarecrow on the flat screen monitor they had placed on the table directly in front of Moon Knight both shocked and frightened him. He was shocked at the lengths this diabolically dangerous criminal had gone to get him in this position. He was also frightened to think of what the same said diabolically dangerous criminal could do to him and his circle of friends and associates.

Moon Knight knew that Scarecrow would stop at nothing to finish what he started.

He watched and listened as the Scrarecrow spoke his lines. More and more Moon Knight felt himself being drawn deeper and deeper into the void of angry vengeance. If he was going to die, it would be with a fight and others would die with him.

He heard the voice of the Scarecrow and saw images of the dead Dr. Robert Flesko, images that tore at his mind. He remembered the living breathing physician who only hours before his death had been someone helping him - healing a sickness. Then a brutal murder committed by the man on the screen. What was left was a bloody lifeless pulp. The shell of Dr. Robert Flesko - his soul moved on away from the pain of this meager existence.

How many more would there be before this single night was done?

". . . . heeeerrrrreeeeee's Bushman . . . ." he heard the words but it took a moment for them to sink in and shake the inner depths of his being to the core.

On the screen, Scarecrow was waving and saying, "Bye-bye." He dissolved suddenly and the screen was black for only a fraction of a second before it filled with another image - an image that Moon Knight, a.k.a. Marc Spector, a.k.a. Steven Grant, a.k.a. Jake Lockley would have paid a fortune in gold to never have to witness in this lifetime.

On the screen he saw his love and lover, Marlene Arluane, in the background sitting in one of the executive chairs on board one of Steven Grant's Gulfstream learjets. She was blindfolded and gagged and her hands were obviously tied behind her back. It was obvious that she had been struck across the face and tears were still flowing from under the blindfold.

That vision was bad enough. Marc Spector cringed in his mind at the sight. It was what was in the foreground that sent Spector over the emotional edge. He felt himself lose it and fought to regain enough control to keep the images in focus and to hear what was being said.

There on the screen in front of him stood a grotesque figure from his past. It was the man he had fought on more than one occasion before - the man who was really responsible for setting into motion the events that led to Marc Spector's death and rebirth as the Moon Knight.

The man known as the BUSHMAN.

Next Issue: Dr. Mid-Nite vs. Hydra and Moon Knight is helpless before Bushman.

Author's Note: It's coming together now. You can see how disparate forces have joined together to destroy our hero. It's going to be a rough ride for Moon Knight, but remember that adversity breeds character and we have a super hero who knows how to face adversity well.