1 – In The Beginning

Author’s Note: This was originally written for the late, lamented Comics Horizon site, which shuttered before it could be published. The only limitation on the fight was “no sniping from a distance”.

This is my personal Mockingbird, who retains the camotech suit she had in her Secret Avengers run and is a standing member of the New York Avengers team. She’s still married to Clint Barton.

I am in “The Punisher is not a hero” camp, FYI. His internal monologue here DOES NOT represent my personal opinions.

CW: Gun violence/threats of violence, Fire/Burn damage, hand damage, blood

Frank Castle had seen enough. He wasn’t one hundred percent onto what these scumbags were doing on the back end of this deal but now bundles of drugs had appeared on the table next to the computer and he was done.

“We good?” Asked the smarmy dude in the leather jacket with a very diverse group of sullen hired muscle backing him up. His voice was whiny, entitled and Frank ached to punch him in the mouth.

He dropped down from the suspended walkway above the whatever-it-was deal and landed in the middle of the table, smashing open one of the packets of white powder with his combat boot.  A chorus of yells erupted around him.

One of the damn ‘heros’ would have said something snappy right about then but the Punisher didn’t banter. He levelled his pistols at the thin, androgynous person who’d set the computer on table. They had about half as many hired guns as the guy but theirs looked like professionals. 

Frank bared his teeth and pulled the triggers.

There was a flash of disturbed air and something…no someone…erupted out of the shadows of the cluttered warehouse (all rusting industrial equipment and debris). They body checked the person out of his line of fire, his bullets ricocheting  and sparking off the big metal machinery behind the group. Which meant they’d been moving way before he actually pulled the triggers.

Two of the hired hands went down, screaming, hit by strays. Both groups of muscle scrabbled collectively for their weapons. Frank bellowed in frustrated rage and hooked a gas grenade off his belt, tossing it behind him into the biggest group. Then he dove off the table as it ignited, enveloping them in the smothering chemical.

Whomever had saved this asshole was apparently not a part of their crew because as he tumbled and landed, Frank saw them knock the slim figure out and turn to put down the rest of the still standing minions on that side of the room. They were all in black, body suit and jacket, and they moved fast and smooth. 

Frank backed off into the shadows himself, trying to get a hold on the situation, hoping the newcomer would be dumb enough to get lungful of the fast-dissipating knockout gas.

The two guys who’d been hit by bullets—no, one was a woman, that was nice to see—both took kicks to the head that put them out of their immediate misery. The figure in black—and why couldn’t he quite resolve what they looked like?—turned to the rest of the standing muscle and methodically took them out like they were little kids.

Once all the rest were down on the ground, the figure turned towards where Frank was holding position.

“Castle! You destroyed my op!”

He knew that voice, even without its usual edge of humour and mischief.

He holstered one gun and emerged from the shadows, noting that Microchip had been right and the heavier than air gas had already cleared out. 

On the other side of the table the figure in black sort of shimmered into full sight and the Punisher faced off against Mockingbird of the Avengers. She was visibly seething with rage which was rich given she’d stopped him from doing his job.

Frank grimaced at her. “Are the rest of the savior scouts around here or am I actually going to have a good day today?” 

Do you want to answer that question Mockingbird? (Go to 2)

Do you really care about that answer Punisher? (Go to 7)

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