A DarkStalkers Fan-Fiction
Written by: Psycho-Mantis
Legal Info: All DarkStalkers characters are copyright CapCom, Inc. 1994. Leon Reinhardt is copyright the author 2003. All Marvel references are copyright Marvel 2003.
Rated: ‘PG-13’ for violence, and language.
Note: This takes place several of years after “Hide and Seek” by Ishmael but before “Animal” or “Of Wolf And Man”.
“What do I do to ignore what’s behind me?
Do I follow my fate to escape blindly?
Do I hide my pride away from these bad dreams
And give in to sad thoughts that are maddening?
Do I let it go and try to stand it?
Or do I try to catch them red-handed?
Do I trust some and get fooled by phoniness
Or do I trust none and live in loneliness?
Sunlight burns the skin of sleeping men.
I make the right moves but I'm lost within.
I put on my daily facade but then,
I just end up getting hurt again.”
-Mike Shinoda of Linkin Park
~ ~ ~
Nathan Claymore’s heart pounded in his throat, threatening to depart his body via his oral cavity, despite the unpleasant consequences that would result from the loss of such a vital organ. He was no athlete, and the lactic acid was starting to take its toll on the thirty-something male. He stooped over a bench near the corner of Thornwood St. and Hooper Ave. in the lower part of Suffolk, clutching his belly where a cramp was starting to form. A storm was brewing in the night sky, and the resounding report of thunder told him that rain was soon coming.
“Shit…*puff*…Gotta keep moving,” he told himself while drew out his Glock 9mm from his coat pocket. “There!” He fired off three shots at a shadowy image that bounded over the rooftops, none of which met its intended mark. “Damn it…too fast,” he muttered as he loped down the street. Incomplete thoughts, suggestions rushed through his head at an impossible rate. “Whadoido? Hide, shelter. Monster! Jesus…. Why did I do it? God help me!”
Claymore collided with the tall, sturdy, wooden doors of St. Paul’s Church and hurriedly pushed past them. “Anyone here? Sanctuary? That thing’s gotta be a Dark One. Maybe they can’t come in here.” He called out a distressed “Hullo!” which echoed across the walls of the building. “No one. Scary dying alone. Christ, I don’t wannna die!” The Church’s bell tower tolled the hour. “One A.M. My grandmother died at one A.M. on a Saturday.”
“Crime and Punishment. Written during the nineteenth century by a Russian named Fyodor Dostoevsky,” a low growl mentioned from the rafters.
“Get away from me!” he screamed and shot blindly at the pitch-black ceiling.
“In it, the main character murders two women, thinking that he will be aiding mankind in his efforts. He imagines himself above the law, believes himself to be an extraordinary individual unbound by the rules of man, if you will. Is that how you viewed yourself when you raped that poor seventeen-year-old girl?”
“That’s bullshit! They didn’t even come close to convicting me!” he yelled, regaining some of his confidence.
“You were acquitted on a technicality!” The voice was now a feral roar.
“She’s just some broad! Why do you even care?” Claymore cried out. He squinted at the roof, hoping to catch a glimpse of his tormentor.
Out of the darkness, a more-or-less humanoid figure dove at the felon, kicking the gun from his hand. “Her name was Sarah (whump) Margaret (crack) Mayfield (thunk)!” After each word one of the phantom’s fists shot out and struck Claymore visciously in either his face or his fleshy stomach. “And she had a life before you so callously shattered it!” The figure grabbed him by the lapels and threw him on the altar.
“Who the hell are you?” Claymore wailed in absolute terror.
“God’s mischief or the devil’s whim. Take your bloody pick,” the being snarled, his golden eyes blazing.
A bolt of lightning stabbed through the air and flashed through the stained glass, giving Claymore just enough visibility to make out the visage of the mysterious vigilante. The felon’s countenance warped into a ghastly expression of utter horror, and his blood-curdling scream ripped through the air. The vengeful spirit unsheathed the talons on his right hand and sliced with the precision of a trained assassin, severing Claymore’s jugular vein and tersely silencing him. The man’s assailant took a step back to watch as a fountain of crimson jetted from his neck, staining the white cloth that covered the altar. Nathan Claymore seized himself by the throat in a futile effort to slow down the loss of life-sustaining blood, and after a few moments had passed, he lay still. A clap of thunder that could have easily passed for a mortar shell rang out in the night. Jonathan Talbain, his wolfish countenance the embodiment of disgust and contempt, spat on the corpse and stormed out of the church.
~ ~ ~
‘A Kindred Spirit’
“How strange, that I chose that analogy,” Talbain mused as he ambled down the streets of England in the wee hours. Indeed, why had he decided to relate that gutter trash to a famous literary work? He became consumed in his thoughts, allowing his feet to choose the destination. The storm became more subdued eventually, reducing itself to a slight drizzle. Drops of rain spattered on his brown trench coat, and he sloshed indifferently through puddles of murky water.
“Wait,” he spoke aloud. The werewolf stopped in his tracks. Most assuredly, this habit of taking to the streets to ponder things was positively and uncannily similar to the proceedings in the novel he had alluded to in the church. “Rodion Romanovitch, the murderer, did he not also peruse through his mind while wandering through St. Petersburg?” His immediate reaction to his own inquiry was to brush off the matter as mere coincidence, an action that satisfied him for the whole of one and a half seconds. “Damn it all, Jon, you’re regressing to your old routines of self-doubt and insecurity.”
He then saw that his feet had chosen to discontinue its journey in front of the Royal Flush Pub and Grill. Jon made his way inside and took a seat on one of the stools in front of the pub tender. The atmosphere of the establishment stank of cigar smoke and cheap booze. In the corner two men sat at a cracked, dusty table, one busy ingesting a rum concoction and mumbling a single line from a rustic drinking song, the other looking on his companion with bitter scorn. Lamps that were as dingy as they were tacky dimly lit the bar, shedding a sickly, yellow glow over the patrons. The owner of the joint, a corpulent and testy fellow, leaned heavily on the counter, his balding head almost resting on his crossed arms. He scowled, obviously annoyed that Jon appeared to be in no great hurry to invest in his wares.
“I’ll have a Bloody Mary,” the NightWarrior spoke.
The pub tender grunted an affirmation and turned to procure Jon’s request. Approximately five seconds after he had ordered, the entrance to the Royal Flush creaked open, revealing a man in his mid-forties who wore a heavy black overcoat. His black, rain soaked hair hung just barely over his eyes, which were a cold, steely blue. A noticeable shadow covered his chin and cheeks, and his current facial expression gave the impression of, “Fine. You wanna fuck with me? Your funeral.” As the newcomer passed by Jon, the NightWarrior saw out of the corner of his eye the insignia on the man’s coal-colored body suit: a bone-white skull. He sat down directly to Jon’s left and pulled from one of his inner pockets a thick cigar, which he stuck in his mouth and lit with a Zippo that he produced from another compartment in his coat. The pub tender performed an about-face and slid his drink to Jon, after which the old man stepped into the back room. As Talbain lifted the glass to his lips, the stranger spoke in a rasping baritone.
“I saw your handiwork back there at St. Paul’s. Very professional.” He exhaled a puff of smoke.
Jon rested his drink on the countertop and glanced at the man. “I know.” He smiled wryly. “I sensed you were tagging along, but that didn’t really matter. I was and am still certain that my dirty little secret is safe with Franklin ‘The Punisher’ Castle.”
“I see that my reputation precedes me,” the anti-hero chuckled. “With a publicist like J. Jonah Jameson singing my praises to the world via the Daily Bugle, what can you expect, eh?”
“Hah. If he knew half of what I’ve heard about you, he’d shit himself at the mention of your name. No, don’t act like you don’t know what I’m talking about. You were the brains behind that Cartel massacre in Brazil three months ago. Those poor bastards didn’t have time to mutter an obscenity before they realized that their ‘trusted American consumer’ had paid them in suitcases laden with hidden canisters containing VX poison gas.”
“He he he. I’m one crafty sonuvabitch, aren’t I?” Castle puffed on his cigar. “How’d you find out that was me?”
“I have my sources.”
The Punisher raised his eyebrows fleetingly and shrugged slightly. A few minutes of silence passed between them. “I saw you transform. So, what are you, a mutant?”
“Oh.” Another period of speechlessness took hold of them.
“Why are you here?” Jon asked finally. He really couldn’t surmise as to what the ex-Marine would want with him. Was he recruiting?
Frank fiddled with the grip on the Desert Eagle .50 that was strapped to his leg. “One of the Kingpin’s associates is running a big-time drug ring, and his base of operations is somewhere near here. I’m gonna put a hole in ’im and all his goons for every minor he’s hooked.”
Castle stared at the lycanthrope incredulously. “Well, Raskolnikov, you tell me.”
“That was Rodion Romanovitch’s surname,” Talbain thought to himself. Then he spoke. “You consider that by your unlawful actions an even greater good will come about. Therefore, the ends justify the means.”
“Bingo,” Frank replied, snapping his fingers. “Though you worded it rather mildly, that’s the gist of it. People like you and I, we’re just taking out the trash. No one’s gonna miss the pushers, the rapists, the serial killers, the child pornographers….”
“Do they really deserve death?”
“I don’t deal in death,” Castle stated bluntly. “I deal in punishment, in case you were unaware. They only get what they deserve.”
“But is what we’re doing moral?”
“I stopped worrying about that after I held my wife and kids in my arms and watched them die.” He grunted and ground the butt of his cigar into an ashtray. “From then on, this was and is my way of life. That’s all there is to it.” He stood up and skulked to the exit, leaving Jon to his half-finished beverage.