Moon Knight, A Twist of Fate pt. 9

He gathers all his friends in a single place.  He thinks he has me grasping at straws, he thinks I believe Randy and Ricky are capable of all this on their own.  The revenge story is a tired plot, I’ve heard it at least a dozen and recited it on my own at least twice before I was twenty, the son of a bitch has no idea who he’s toying with.

The fucker’s guards go down easy; they’re not even worth a third bullet to make sure.  Guns aren’t very satisfying; a million assholes can squeeze a trigger, some of those assholes actually know what they’re doing.  Fists and blades are what I’m looking for, but I’m not an idiot. All these sons of bitches will be packing at least a nine mil. or even a forty-five.

The time marks their predictability.  Three minutes of radio silence and here come reinforcements.  My heart is pumping pure adrenaline as I pull the fabric over my face, it still smells of mothballs, but I almost forgot how excited I get wearing this thing.  God damn I hate mothballs.

They’re searching the roofs, and I don’t want them to wait any longer than they need.  I step to the ledge to let them see me, and three new bodies wear the same look.  This is New York after all, assholes in capes are a dime a dozen these days, but I’m no Captain America, I’m looking for some blood and broken bones.  The look on their faces tells me they know what is coming their way.

The moon is at my back, my silver and whites are no doubt shining, because there’s nothing better than a dramatic entrance to scare the shit into your enemies’ pants.  The zip line is already secured; all my prep work is going to pay off.  I swing across the open air between the two buildings and not a shot is fired.  They’re scared, weighing their options and two of them take off running.  Leaving the third guy to stand there and wet himself.  He’s at a total loss of what to do, both feet slam into his chest and he’s out like a light.  I don’t kill him, but he won’t be getting in my way tonight either.

I land softly and without incident and walk straight into the den of my prey.  There are only a few steps before I’m on the top floor of some old office building, probably shut down years ago after the economy went to shit.

A roving guard stops short of walking into me at a hallway intersection.  His neck snaps like a dry twig and the out of shape dimwit crumbles to the ground.  I just keep walking.

Once I’m confident, no one will walk up on me I tear away an access panel and crawl into a maintenance duct.  The elevator looks like its been out of use for longer than it should, but it suits me just fine.  I take the ladder down, listening for the commotion I should’ve caused by now, but I have to admit, I’m disappointed at the silence.

These dicks are ready for me.

Lucky for me they’re playing up the washed up do-gooder mentality.  The complacency their boss has them filled with is playing to my strengths and he doesn’t even know it.  The guys at the front were just to lure me inside, fill me with over confidence and march me right in to my death.  Sorry, Charlie, but that’s not the game I’m going to be playing.  You made me get the mask out, I don’t play by anyone else’s rules anymore.

Too bad for him that I’m a step ahead this time.

Third floor and I hear punks talking, laughing it up too.  There’s a ventilation duct just overhead as I decided to embark on a fact-finding side trip.  Low crawling through the ventilation, I’m quiet as a ghost; I push myself through the vent counting a small number of thugs on the opposite end of a large enough vent.

The first one doesn’t know what to think of the noise I make when I kick down the metal grating.  I swing out and before he has a second to his thoughts, my boots crush down on both his collarbones and I listen to them snap as I make my way down on top of him.  I stand to the left of him, just as his buddy’s turn to see what the commotion, and stomp the heel of my boot into his skull.  Their mouths fall open as blood pools on the ground, extending outward from the limp body.  It’ll be a bitch to get the grey matter off these boots in the morning.

“This is all up to you.  You can give me what I want or I can enjoy killing you all.”

They pull their weapons, I should’ve known, they always pull out their weapons.  Then again, it’s four on one; they think they have a chance against me.

I relieve the closest asshole of his forty-five, smacking him in the face with it.  He’s bent over like a kid who just got his first black eye and I spin to build up my momentum.  His head damn near snaps as my foot swings into it, his body tumbling to the ground like a bag of heavy sand.

I’m in motion and there’s no stopping me.  Coming out of my roundhouse, I hear my knuckles clang against another skull, the brass knuckles I packed under my gloves ring beautifully and the blood flies through the air out of his mouth and nose.  I follow it through with a left hook and thrust his face in the opposite direction, he was unconscious falling the first time, and I’ll be surprised if he wakes up after this.

One punk rings off a shot but his aim is too wide.  He thinks a gunshot is going to scare me.  He doesn’t bother to take his time and aim, the bullet doesn’t come anywhere near me.

I break out of that feeling of slow motion and pound both fists again and again into the largest of the four thugs.  His blood spattering all over my gloves, some of it will stain the mask but I have spares.  I let up for half a second, give his buddy my right hook, and send him to the ground, reeling for some sort of balance.  An uppercut finishes off the big bastard, the asshat that tried to shoot me.

I have the last thug cornered between a wall and me.  He holds up his pistol as if I didn’t hear it double-feed.  “Looks like my lucky day,” I catch him staring at the red fingers of my gloves.  “You don’t look terribly bright, so let me say just ask:  Where is your boss hiding?”

Overcome with fear, the little puissant couldn’t speak if I didn’t have a knife at his throat.  He stammers a whisper of a prayer, “Sorry, there’s no god out to save you right now, and I don’t think he uses an answering machine.  He’s not going to save you; you’re the only one with that sort of power right now.  Speak up, and you’ll wake up tomorrow, I don’t think I have to mention the alternative.”

“W-warehouse, behind…”

It’s all I need, really.  Despite my promise to let him wake up in the morning, I shred my knife across his throat and empty his blood down his body.  The floor needed another spot of red to cover up the rotting carpet.  His eyes flutter and his mouth hangs open as the life ebbs out of his body and finally he falls against and down the wall that supported his body.

Wiping the knife clean against his flannel shirt, I tuck it back into the sheath and walk back to the elevator shaft.  Only five thugs so far, it’s starting to be a much slower night than I figured, I hoped for a little more action tonight, but I’ll take what I can get.  I need the release after all.

* * *

The money she stole from Marc’s wallet was plenty for the cab; she only hoped there was something to eat upstairs.  She hated walking into the empty penthouse, but once again it is well after midnight and Marc is nowhere to be found.  Child services would love to hear about this, if she wanted to subject herself to foster care, Amanda might even tell them all about it.  She sighs, as she knows her chance of seeing him tomorrow is another slim hope.

She hardly has the door open and a cool set of fingers wrap around her forearm and yank her inside.  There is only time for a muffled cry before a hand clasps tightly around her mouth.  Amanda breathes quickly through her nose as she struggles against the bear hug.

Two men in black ski masks and gloves walk from the halls, “Jesus, what’re we supposed to do with her?”

“I don’t fuckin’ know, the boss didn’t say anything about a little kid.”

Amanda is able to break a hand free from behind her back as the thugs argue back and forth.  She calms her breathing and reaches behind her and under the large man’s legs.  He screams out as her fingers tighten and she pulls down the mass of flesh hanging loosely from his crotch, but it isn’t until she swings both heels into his shins before he lets her go.  The thug drops to his knees, holding himself and crying.

His buddy’s find it all hilarious until the little girl shoves her foot into his nose.  “Damn this little shit wants to scrap!”

She backs away toward the kitchen.  Seeing the front door unguarded, Amanda knows they’re faster than she is and she’d never make it down the elevator before they caught up with her again.  Amanda had little chance to find anyone to help her.  Backed into a corner she reaches for the block of kitchen knives on the counter behind her and one of the thugs’ backs off, “Hey man,” he says to the man behind him, “You take her, I don’t hit kids.”

“You’re a pussy, what fucking harm is she going to do…”

The almost brave thug screams a blood-curdling yell.  His scream gets louder as Amanda twists the blade into his thigh and breaks the wooden handle away from the metal.  Blood squirts from the open wound and the thug claws at his leg, screaming and hoping to grasp the metal still sinking into his leg.

The floor is slick with blood and Amanda just picks up another knife.

“Jesus tits!”

She throws a knife at the thug backing away from the scene of his two bleeding friends.  He doesn’t say word, the only criminal left standing just backs away looking for a way out between the locked door and the crazy pre-teen.  He tries to gather his wits, his teeth chattering as he thinks of something to say.

“C’mon girlie, I don’t want to hurt ya.  Your dad has something we need, that’s all we want.”

“That so?”

“Yeah, so how about I take it and leave?”

She glares at him through scowled eyes, “I’ll give you something and then I’ll call the cops.”

“I don’t want anything to do with that knife, girlie.”

“That’s too fucking bad.”

“Really, you kiss your mother with that mouth?”

He can almost see the hatred in her eyes and he immediately regrets the statement, he starts stepping backward again.  “Sore spot?”  She doesn’t answer him, her knuckles turning white as she grips tight the steak knife.

The thug holds up two hands as she slowly walks toward him, staring straight ahead, her eyes locked tightly on the face of the thug.  The vapid look on her face has him fearing for his life, she closes the distance between them and slashes across, tearing into his jeans and ripping into the flesh of his thigh.  “Fuck!”

She inches even closer to him and he backed into the corner, “let’s talk about this,” he pleads to the eleven year old girl.

Amanda can’t hear a word he says, only the voices of the Seattle cops engrained in her memory sound over and over again.  She watches his lips move and yet she can only hear their voices, the pair of cops that told her about the death of her mother.   The emotion had shut itself off that day, buried it down deep.  These thugs overpowered her and when she was able to fight them off, they were suddenly sorry, she wondered to herself if her mother ever fought back.

People like these three thugs shot her dead in the street.

“You don’t have anything to say to me.  You left me all alone, I hate you!”

“I’ve never seen you before,” he cowers and screams with a high-pitched voice as he tries to avoid another slash with the knife.  Covering the gushing wound on his leg, he isn’t able to do well enough to avoid the next swing.

“You’re all the same!”

Her voice is low and melodical, it’s almost as though she doesn’t feel anything but anger.  Amanda keeps a reasonable distance to keep herself just out of reach of the thug cradling his wounded leg and hand, “You killed my mother!”

“I didn’t kill nobody!”  He cries.

“You’re all the same!”

She yells this time, the thug watching the tears well up in her eyes, “You’re as crazy as your old man!”

A hollow thump echoes in the dark and Amanda’s knife falls from her fingers.  Pain shoots though her head and neck and taking a chance to save his own life, the thug puts every bit of strength behind his fist.  Amanda falls unconscious before her body collapses to the ground.

“What happened to your no kids rule, Chuck?”

“Fuck that man, that ain’t jus some kid.  She’s as crazy as they come.”

The man called chuck places his hand over his nose again.  The lump already forming from the shattered cartilage, but the bleeding had finally stopped.  “I don’t think I’m going to have any of my own anymore.”

“Just as well, I don’t think I want any of this generation.  Jesus, look at what video games do to them.”

* * *

What is it with these assholes and warehouses?  It’s like every mob boss I’ve ever heard about does his business in these damn things, and that’s no small number.  Either it’s something about the empty space that makes them feel like their dicks are bigger or it’s a money thing.  It definitely has nothing to do with safety.

One of the brats stands close to an idiot in a large hat, I can’t quite see his face, but he counting on that.  Several more guards surround him and some other asshole in a business suit.  They always stick out in a crowd but the cops can never work around their lawyers.  My masks and I are what fills the gaps in this piece of shit justice system.

I almost recognize the shit-head in the suit.  His name escapes me, but I know that face.  Frankie-something or another, seems like I can sum up every big time thug with the name Frankie and be okay with it.  It takes me a few minutes but I realize where I know the face, he’s an expensive arsonist, very thorough and the last I heard facing extradition in the states and several European nations.  Setting fire to a few government contractors’ houses a few presidents back earned him quite the reputation on the FBIs wall of most wanted, I haven’t heard of him working in the US even before I gave up the cape, even the business lost track of him.

Looping a cable around one of the rafters, I secure myself for another perfect entrance.  The weight of two blades feels just right in my hand and that fucking arsonist is right in my line of sight.  I reach back and the blade almost rolls out of my hand as my arm comes around.  It catches a stray glimmer of light, the silver plating shimmers in as it spins perfectly.

It’s a thing of beauty.

The fucker gasps for air; direct hit.  He brings his hands to his neck and all sorts of chaos breaks out.  Gurgling as blood flowing freely from his lips and neck, it’ll be less than a minute before the world is free of one more criminal.

The guards close around the man with the ridiculous hat, saving me the effort of hunting down the one most important to them.  Shouting commands, Ricky – or Randy, I can never tell them apart – orders them to the bay doors.

My second blade catches on my glove, its spin is much less perfect but that hardly matters anymore.  It spins uneven and I toss four more to compensate, three pierce one of the twins whose name I face I can’t name.  Tearing at his leg and abdomen, the motherfucker topples over unsure of which wound to grasp.

I can’t help but laugh as the fourth blade wedges itself into some poor bastards eye.  He screams out and misfires his pistol, blowing out the knee from one of his co-workers.

Their guns train on the ceiling where I’m hiding.  They aren’t sure where I am but they’ll launch bullets in every direction, one might get lucky.  I let my feet roll away from the rafter and toss the cable down.  My cape lifts over my head as I glide down the length of the line.  The men not wounded drop their aim to watch me land.

With the press of one button, my staff extends in my hands.

I tap the metal on the concrete and a few of them laugh.  It’s okay though, I’ve been out of the super heroics game for a few years and they’ve forgotten about me too.  They haven’t a clue what’s coming, and the entertainment coming my way promises to be something to enjoy.  Their eyes are all focused on my staff, and it’s their first mistake.  Three crescent blades leave my hand with an underhanded toss, one missing entirely but another guard falls to the ground, desperate to keep his intestines inside his body.

“An excellent entrance, full of showmanship and almost awe inspiring.”  A voice I know right off the bat sets my stomach on fire.  “I always regretted the times I didn’t see you in action.”

He claps because he knows I’m pissed, “You were always a good strongman to keep around, I was disappointed to see that you had given it up, but it’s nice to know that leopards cannot change their spots.”

He stops talking for a few seconds to take a breath, “You talk too damn much.”

“It’s a character flaw, I admit as much.”

“You’re a lot more than flawed, Crawley.”

He pulls himself away from the guards I’ve kept alive, “Sticks and stones, Marc.”

He was one of the best informants I ever had in my early career behind this mask.  I look into his smiling face and it makes me want to tear it from his head.  “This another one of those revenge stories?  I leave you to fend for yourself and all of a sudden you hate me?”

“You’re only a loose end, old friend.”

“Don’t call me that.”

“Betrayal stings, I know, but I couldn’t keep you looming over my head.  You were useful in the old days, but you’re too unpredictable to keep alive.”

His remaining guards lift their pistols, “You drew me out here, threw my life into chaos, only to kill me?”

“I need Moon Knight dead, no one cares an ounce for Marc Spector or his business, that costume is a threat which I cannot allow to haunt me any longer.”

I pull a flash bang away from my belt with my free hand.

“Come now, Marc, must we continue with the theatrics?”

Setting the fuse, “Execution isn’t my way to go, you should know better than that.”

I toss the cylinder with my last handful of crescent blades, not caring who I hit, and I roll to the left as the thugs open up with a volley of gunfire.  My lenses behind my mask filter out the magnesium burn and the hired guns are firing blind, shoot one another.  They don’t come close to hitting me, but I keep moving all the same.

The blades take care of another guard and wound one more. Leaving me two more between myself and Crawley.  The blindness will wear off soon, but they’re easy picking, a couple solid strikes with my staff and they’re nothing more than speed bumps.

“Always the theatrics.”

I release the clasp that keeps my cape in place.  I t flows to the ground behind my feet and soon my mask follows.  “No more theatrics asshole.”

I let the staff drop, the adamantium doesn’t make a lot of noise.

He brings up his arms like an amateur fighter, it’s almost laughable.  “Good then, we fight like men.”

Crawley has a solid right hood, but it’s easy to predict.  He’s quick to take advantage of my face, thinking he’s better than me.  “No so tough.  No, not if I’m not afraid.”

Fear makes everything easier, he’s got that much right.

He’s not as good as he 00 or my right eye – might think, as he winds up for another hook I see it for miles.  His fist comes at me almost in slow motion, I knock it away with my forearm and spin my hand around to grasp his wrist.  Rolling him around, I tighten my grasp on him, “You still talk to much.”  I force his face down to the ground and his forearm snaps.

He screams like a little girls and I enjoy every second.  I don’t stop until I hear the second bone crack and then I come down hard.  Both bones force their way out of his skin with a spattering of blood.

“Not like men, Crawley.”  I can barely hear myself in my voice.  “We’re far from equals in you’re little game and it’s time to even us out.”

The brass knuckles sing my favorite song as they vibrate with every strike to his face.  Again and again, I strike down, my heart speeding each time.  Teeth fall from his mouth as I take almost three weeks of anguish out on his face.  He’s a bloody mess before I let him have and reprieve.  “You bet the wrong way.”  I’m not even sure if he’s alive at this point.

I have my answer a few seconds later as his only working eye looks up at me, “You still lost,” he tries to put a toothless smile together but he can’t.  “Cops.  They won’t save her.”

My heart drops.  That son of a bitch.

I bring my leg up and force my heel into his face to finish the job.  He won’t be getting up.

Never again.

* * *

I left my blood stained costume to sink to the bottom of the Hudson in my haste to find a cab.  Life in the super hero market is a lot harder without reliable transportation.  I try to think about everything under the moon besides Amanda.  The cabbie doesn’t argue about speed after I toss him several twenties beyond the fare.  I couldn’t imagine if he’d care about my daughters life, or understand the words coming out of my mouth.

The cab is still moving as I jump out, leaving behind a hundred in the back seat, I sprint through the door and the doorman doesn’t bother greeting me.  Someone says hello as I run past and sprint up the stairs.  The elevator was too full and too slow to bother taking, and the climb of the steps isn’t enough to wind me with what I have on my mind.

I throw the door open and stop dead in a bloody mess before my living room opens from the hall.  I didn’t remember to keep any weapons with me, it’s too quiet in here and I hate it.  I cleared out all the evidence of my existence from my crime scene and I should have pocketed something to take with me here, unarmed, it’s a good way to get myself killed.

The blood spots are all I focus on, thanks to the sparing light in the hall.  Shutting the door behind me, it closes loudly and I curse myself for alerting anyone that may have stayed behind.  I make my way to the kitchen and find a number of knives missing and almost trip over a body slumped over the floor.  The floor is covered in blood as a knife handle rests near the dead thug.

The amount of blood underneath this asshole is immense, someone knew exactly where to tear into the femoral artery.  I guess this guy didn’t take kindly to hurting a little girl, and I suddenly piss myself off with the thought.  I can see the outline of another body on the floor just across the living room.  Blood and bodies litter my house, but it’s still deathly silent.

“What the fuck” I utter to myself repeating.

I pick up a knife from the floor, unsure who’s blood is caked on it.  Reaching for a light switch, it’s all I can do to keep the damn thing in my hand.  I count five all together, either breathing or not, but my little girl in the center of three of them, tied to a chair.

I’ve seen plenty of weird shit in my life and I’m not entirely sure if Amanda is old enough to be a mutant.  Slowly I take my time to get to her.

Her heartbeat is slow, but she doesn’t react to the bruise on her neck when I touch it.  She moans when I shake her a bit but moves her head around and settles back to sleep.  “Amanda,” I whisper in her ear and she doesn’t move.

“Amanda!”  I speak just a little loudly and start to slap her face lightly to wake her.

“Ow, ow, Stop it!”

I lift her chin to bring her face up, she sees the black eye forming on my face.  “Amanda?”

“God, what?”

She opens her eyes and suddenly everything floods into her mind.  Her eyes dart all around the room, taking in the bloody sight of it all, “oh my god.”  She stammers and tears up.

I put her head on my shoulder as I untie her.  Letting her cry it out.  I don’t say another as she mumbles into my shirt, and she doesn’t protest when I lift her out of the chair and into my arms.  For a moment we stand there, amidst the chaos and I hold onto her tightly.  It’s strange but even with the scene around us, I almost feel human again.  I set her down after a few minutes and start to say something apologetic but she just wraps her arms around me again and hugs me tightly.

Her bruise is nothing for me to worry about and we both agree to stay out of the hospitals.  She asks me about the marks on my face and I don’t even try to lie to her.  I take her by the hand and take her into the spare bedroom, and just like my bedroom closet , I pull another lockbox from the false wall.

Pulling out my spare costume, I show it to her and without an ounce of emotion on her face.  “This is why.”

I nod, “she didn’t think it was safe to raise you around this sort of mess.”

She runs her hand over her neck, looking down at the carpet, “Is it safe anywhere?”

Amanda walks around the room, looking at everything.  The pictures of her mother are particularly interesting to her, and they hang on the wall between the family pictures that we took every year since her birth.  There are only five before Marlene decided to leave and take Amanda away from me.  She asks questions about everything, all the silver and the heavy metal she can hardly lift, it’s almost cute to listen to her try and say adamantium.

I tell her the story about Jack Russell and some less than friendly werewolves, she takes it all in stride almost like she knew it all along.  She’s glued to every word that leaves my mouth and not once afraid of anything I have to say.  “And that’s the long and short of it.  I had some questionable people I acquainted myself with, some even more questionable enemies that were only a mask away of figuring out who I was and maybe hurting you both to get to me.”

“You tried, though.”

“Tried what?”

“I saw the medicine on your counter, you gave it all up.”

“I tried for years and it was a daily fight.”

Amanda smiles at me, reading my honesty in my face she walks over and hugs at my waist.  She starts to sob, “Why couldn’t she just tell me?”

“Probably the same reason I couldn’t.  To protect you.”

I drop to my knees and let her cry on my shoulder again.  She starts to let it out, all that hurt and frustration and for once it doesn’t feel strange to have emotions.  We stay like this until my legs fall asleep and I almost fall over,  then the emotions turn to laughter.

“I’m sorry to burst in on the whacko family moment,” we don’t stop laughing even to the Frenchie’s dirty cop walking in on us.  “Quite the scene you two are laughing over.”

“It’s not what it looks like, officer.”

“Right,” John doesn’t even break a smile.  “My men will be here in ten minutes, I think its best the two of you aren’t here when they show.”

“And why is that?”

“Unless you want to explain all this to the media, I suggest you two take some clothes and find a nice hotel to stay.”

Amanda looks up to him and then back to me, I nod and tell her to go pack a bag.  She runs off and I stand, bracing my hesitating legs.  “Is this another one of your services, John?”

“I just dispose of bodies and evidence, the cleaning bill is up to you.  Though you did a fairly nice job at the warehouse at the shipyards earlier,” he stops to hand me four crescent blades I missed.  “But not careful enough.”

“Fair enough,” I shrug.

I have no reason to trust this man except for his dealing with Frenchie, and if he can trust John then I suppose it’s good enough to start.  However, I can’t help but wonder how much this will cost me tomorrow.

* * *

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