DCM Vertigo


Moon Knight

by Chip Caroon, Toby Kernan, and Mark Sarver

Moon Knight had arrived at the warehouse where Dr. Mid-Nite and Vigilante had encounted HYDRA. He found Cheshire tied up in a chair on one end of the warehouse, with two more agents tied up back-to-back on the floor behind her.

Moon Knight aimed his fist at Cheshire's face, reading to fire one of his crescent darts directly at her. "Give me one good reason not to shoot," he said.

"I'll give you one," Dr. Mid-Nite said, placing his hand on Moon Knight's arm. "She's bait."

Moon Knight lowered his arm, but not his rage. "Of course, just another hired hand. Someone else to get in the way of our main goal."

"Which is exactly why I think we should follow this lead," Dr. Mid-Nite replied.

"What about cornering his associates? I need to go after Avalanche!"

Dr. Mid-Nite shook his head. "Another hired hand. He's not going to get you any closer to the target. In fact, there's a good chance he ends up dead as another destraction."

Moon Knight sighed. "You're right. This had gone on long enough, and If I want to end it, I should take the fight directly to Crane."

Cheshire laughed. "Crane?"

Moon Knight, Dr. Mid-Nite, and Vigilante all turned to look at their captive.

"Why is that funny?" Moon Knight asked.

"Because you should be going after the bankroll. You should go after Fisk."

"And why should we belive you?" Vigilante inquired.

"What is my incentive here? My best odds of getting out of here are helping you. And lying won't help my cause, because you'll come after me anyway."

"Fisk?" Moon Knight wondered.

"Of course," Mid-Night whispered. "Ray's vision . . . "

Leila O'Toole glanced briefly as the man rolled the food cart into the penthouse suite of the Gotham Regent Hotel. This man was newer, older, and considerable less attractive than the young stud who had brought her dinners the last several evenings. That was a shame, as she had been 'tipping' that strapping lad quite handsomely, including on the couch, the floor, and even on the counter of the suite's kitchen. Leila frowned, as this man was nothing to look at, his skin just seemed to sag off him his face, making him look more like one of those wrinkly dogs than a man.

"What happened to David?" asked Leila, as she turned her attention back to the VH1 special on the fabulous lifestyle of millionaire playboy Anthony Stark.

"He fell . . . ill . . . " said the man, as he brought the cart full of covered food within striking distance of Leila.

"I trust my two orders of steak, lobster, and Caesar salads are hot and fresh and ready for consuming . . . " said Leila as she decided to quickly check her food, tip the man, and have him be on his way. Her disappointment over David's illness was threatening to spoil her evening.

"Well," said the waiter, "actually, the kitchen ran out of lobster and the steak was far too overcooked and unappealing. Instead, I have brought you a meal I would hope you will find a little more . . . salacious . . . "

The waiter pulled the lid off the largest plate. There sat a human heart, looking rather fresh and bloody, upon a plate of leafy greens.

"WHAT THE HELL IS THIS?" shouted Plasma, as she flung herself quickly from her spot to a standing position. "GUARDS, GET IN HERE!"

The waiter snickered. "You mean those two ridiculous Khonshu-worshipping infidels you had posted outside? Sorry darling, but those men have gone in search of their god on the 'other side'."

Leila began to concentrate her mental energy, pooling her cosmic energy into her hands, ready to strike with her mutant powers quickly.

The waiter noticed this and chuckled. "And your reaction, I have to declare, is quite disappointing. The young paramour David and I put a lot of work into this delectable cuisine. Hell, you could say he put his heart into making this meal for you . . . "

Anger flamed into Leila's face. "WHO THE HELL ARE YOU?"

"Settle down," said the waiter. The man then grabbed the flesh of his face, and began to rip it from his body. Leila soon realized the face was but a mask, and underneath that mask was another. Leila groaned as she recognized the mask of the Scarecrow.

"Well," said the Scarecrow, leaving his spot by the tray, and flopping himself upon the couch, "you certainly are the agitated type aren't you. What are you all worked up about? The boy? I doubt that, you don't strike me as the type. Was it your two thugs? Sorry about that, they were in my way, and sometimes I can be . . . overzealous . . . but I am sure there are hundreds more where he came from. You can power your little hands down. If I had come here to kill you, you'd already be dead. I came instead just to talk, and perhaps make you an offer . . . "

"What do you want, Crane?" asked Plasma. She did indeed power her energy down, but she wasn't about to let her guard down. Not against the infamous Jonathan Crane. And especially not after their last phone conversation.

Crane took the bottle of wine from the cart and poured himself a glass. "What is it that you want in life, Plasma?"

"Revenge," said Plasma. "The only thing I want in this world is revenge against the foul betrayer of Khonshu. Moon Knight."

Scarecrow look at her for a second, then busted out in laughter. It was a harsh, dark laughter, and it sent shivers down her spine. Despite her best efforts not to, her body betrayed her, and she cringed. She was sure Crane noticed the gesture.

"What is so damn funny about that?" spat Plasma.

"Moon Knight," said Crane, attempting to stifle his mirth. "You say . . . the Moon Knight. White-cowled shadowy defender of the downtrodden masses. The funny-little man with little crescent upon his chest. That Moon Knight?"

"Yes. The one whose life we've been working on ruining. Is there some other?" cried Plasma, her cool rapidly rushing away.

"I suppose not," said Crane, again sipping from his glass. "Well, you don't have to worry about that rascal."

"And why not?" Plasma demanded.

Crane slammed his glass to the floor, shattering it into pieces. "BECAUSE HE'S MINE! And you've gotten in my way enough, woman!" In one swift motion, Crane pulled a scythe from the sheath attached to his waist and whirled it around in a circular motion that cut through Plasma's wrists.

Leila O'Toole didn't have time to scream before the Scarecrow lunged at her again.

Detective Perez started the week in a bad mood, and it had only gotten progressively worse. This latest case - or series of cases, she wasn't sure how it was going to play out - only frustrated her more. She understood that the doctors had their jobs to do, but she hated waiting. Detective Perez was more accustomed to being the one playing the professional trump card, but the one arena where that card got outplayed was in the medical field. It also did not help that she had very nearly brought obstruction of justice charges on nurses at various hospitals several times due to them not wanting to get their patients in trouble, even when their patients were wanted criminals on their way to jail.

As such, it had been a long wait to talk to her only eyewitness to the Grant Mansion destruction. When the night gave way to dawn, Detective Perez gave in to the realization that she would not be able to wait out the doctors. At least if she left for a few hours, she could catch a nap at home and follow some of the other meager leads. She had actually undercovered a few interesting details that might help break the case open. Finally, she got the call that her John Doe had been moved out of the ER to his own room and was ready for questioning.

When she walked in, she found the man she only knew as John Doe sitting up in the bed, channel surfing.

"Hello, I'm Detective Perez, NYPD," she announced. "Do you have a name other than John Doe?"

"Oui. I am Jean Paul Duchamp."

"Mr. Duchamp, do you know why you are in the hospital?"

"Oui. A mansion fell on my head. Hurts like a bitch."

Detective Perez stepped closer, stopping just next to the bed. She glanced at the chair next to it, but felt that she needed to be intimidating, so she remained standing. "What is your relationship with Mr. Grant?"

"We are . . . associates."

The detective knew that answer was loaded, but she figured she could investigate that later. Right now, other details were more important. "When was the last time you saw Mr. Grant?"

Frenchie smiled. "That ez hard for me to say. I don't even know what day it ez."

Detective Perez let the side of her lips curl into a partial smile, and chuckled on the inside. She hoped it didn't show. "Do you know where Mr. Grant has gone?"

Frenchie started to shake his head, but then put his hands up to his temples as he realized that such a movement, no matter how slight, was painful. "No. No. He left on business, and I was not aware of his full intentions."

"When did he leave?"

Frenchie just started at the detective.

"Right," Detective Perez nodded. "Days are mixed up. Fair enough, was it before the mansion was destroyed?"


"Did you see anything out of the ordinary before the mansion was destroyed."

Frenchie took a breath. "No . . . but I was preoccupied. It was late, and I was pouring myself a nightcap." He smiled. "I guess I was a little too focused on that."

Detective Perez was not amused and did not return the smile. She decided to go for the big question, the latest development she had uncovered in her down time. "Mr. Duchamp, are you aware that Mr. Grant recently cleaned out his bank accounts. All of them."

Frenchie's eyes grew wide. "Wha -- No . . . " He sat up even more. "That does not make any sense!"

Just then, a doctor who had been passing by the room walked in. He immediately saw Frenchie's agitated state. "Okay, ma'am, I'm going to have to ask you to leave."

Detective Perez shot her badge. "NYPD."

"I know, ma'am, but it appears that your presense here is putting the patient in distress, which is harming his healing process."

Detective Perez rolled her eyes. "Okay. I think I have everything I need anyway. Don't go too far, Mr. Duchamp." She strode out of the room, convinced that her suspect was hiding something, and was hiding behind his injuries as an excuse. She knew that she wasn't going to get any answers from him directly, especially not while he was still in the hospital.

Meanwhile, Frenchie lay back in his bed, his mind racing. I must find Marc!

Scarecrow stepped over the body of Leila O'Toole, careful not to step into the blood, which was pooling upon the floor. He picked up the end of Leila's shirt to wipe the blood from his scythe, then placed it back into its sheath. He walked over to the balcony and dramatically threw open the doors, stepping out. He stood there for a moment, taking in a deep breath of the nighttime air.

"Enough playing," he said. "Let's just end this now." He pulled out his cell phone.

"Crane . . . " said the voice on the other end of the line.

"Fisk!" Scarecrow exclaimed. "I believe we need to meet again. There have been some . . . developments in our deal."

"What sort of developments?"

"For starters, I have terminated my relationship with Plasma, and strongly recommend you do the same."

Fisk laughed. "No . . . That is my business. I am not through with that sly Egyptian leprechaun."

"Oh," Scarecrow said. "About that . . . "

Scarecrow could feel Fisk tense up on the other end of the line. Finally, Fisk responded, "Crane, I believe I will take you up on that meeting . . . "

Next Issue: Moon Knight goes on the offensive.