HER NAME IS: VENDETTA/PUNISHER
CONTINUITY NOTE: Before you even think about the idea of looking at this issue, check out Dino Pollard’s fantastic Punisher 2099UGR limited series.
WASHINGTON DC. FEBRUARY 20, 2100.
Special convening of the United States Senate, session already in progress…
“We bring this meeting to order!”
The clambering inside the chamber began to die down, and the “Matter of Business” became the primary concern. Louisiana Senator Toshiqua McDermott waved a hand through her grey hair and followed the command without question, as did her associates.
Strange, she thought as she looked around at her peers with wizened eyes. All these empty seats...
There were supposed to be two Senators representing each state, a total of one hundred Senators deciding the state of affairs for a country. Now, only fifty-four seats were full and of those, she was the only remnant of the old guard.
It had only been a few months ago that the terrorist Victor Von Doom - a relic of a century long gone - had attacked the Senate Chambers and the House, vaporizing their inhabitants utterly before taking over the country as its false president.
Since Doom’s assassination and President Keyes’ induction as the new President of the United States, the seats of the Senate Chamber had been filling up quickly - edicts from on-high to let the whole of the Executive Branch know that the American Government would not be letting some foreign upstart jeopardize things for their corporate benefactors…
INTERLUDE - Two hundred miles above the Senate Chamber
I’m sitting here inside something that shouldn’t exist, looking at two choices on my screen.
CANCEL or EXECUTE.
Looking at the dead girl below me, I weigh the options in my mind carefully.
Thank the Good Thor that heart attack reared its head when it did. Senator McDermott smiled to herself. Kept me nestled snug inside a convalescence tube while the other idiots burnt alive on this very spot. To Hela with ‘em.
Senator McDermott sat back in her comfortable chair, twiddling her thumbs idly as the speaking secretary ran over the minutes of the previous meeting. It was all the going-through-the-motions they did that bored her most of the time. After all, there was little point to the Senate as an actual governing body - Alchemax and Stark/Fujikawa were the reigning governmental forces anymore. The two corporations had kept the entire Executive Branch - including the office of the President - around to, well, more than likely just to make the populace think that there was a power higher than Alchemax or Stark/Fujikawa around. That they were answerable to a higher authority.
Disinformation like that usually tended to keep the populace properly at ease with things.
SECOND INTERLUDE - Two hundred miles above the Senate Chamber
My finger hovers over the CANCEL button.
Beside me, the reactor for Alchemax’s Prototype Satellite Laser hums with the power of a starship.
If I hit the Execute Button, the fusion chamber will reach critical mass, and the satellite will fire an insanely-powerful laser at the planet below me. But if I hit Cancel…
I hold my breath, and press the button.
Not that any of this really bothered Senator McDermott that much. This was the way things had always been - even before Doom’s takeover.
All that mattered was the corporate salary.
Especially this year’s salary.
Quite secretly, fifty-one percent of the Senators would be receiving a nice, fat bonus in their annual salaries from the good people at Alchemax Incorporated, thanks to the lobbyists from Venus Enterprises - creators of the Venus 10 Gene Dolls. All the Senators had to do was sign a non-disclosure agreement, and vote to pass one bill in particular today into law.
Senator McDermott licked her chubby lips as the secretary got to the good stuff.
“All in favor for the ratification of Directive #139530B-Kappa - otherwise known as the Gene Doll Bill - into Law, press the green button on your mobiles.”
THIRD INTERLUDE - Two hundred miles above the Senate Chamber
My artificial heart races as the gentle hum builds to a thunderous crescendo and the satellite fires its laser.
I pull up a satellite view of the Senate building on the terminal in front of me. I lick my lips and smile at what’s coming.
Senator McDermott sighed confident and did as she was told. The thought of the money kept her warm even as a bright light flooded in from the massive windows of the Senate Chamber.
What the shock--? She thought as her skin temperature rose to six thousand degrees. Her entire body bubbled painfully before disintegrating into ash along with the rest of the Senate Building.
“Today’s digi-cast of Alchemax Newsnet is brought to you live, from the ruins of the Senate Building, where more than fifty U.S. Senators were killed today…”
“…Senate in ruins for the second time in the past year…”
“According to sources, the Senate were discussing the passing of the Gene Doll Bill, when a massive laser shot from orbit down into the Senate Chambers, destroying the building and incinerating any living thing inside. Until genetic remnant testing of the rubble can be completed, full death toll figures cannot be confirmed. It is believed to stand near one hundred, but as it stands, the laser burned so hot as to leave no actual bodies to identify.”
“Not since Doom’s terrorist actions four months ago have we seen such callous disregard for human life.”
“‘Why the bombing, dear listeners? My guess would be that someone didn’t like that bill they were voting on passing? You know, the one where women get mass-produced to be sold into sexual slavery? These are the times we live in, my friends…’ That’s what NYFAX’s Jack Whitlow would be saying, if he were still alive today. Today’s “Thoughts From Beyond the Grave” brought to you by Excretainment Enterprises. Editing old news footage so realistically, it’s like the dead speak to us from beyond the grave.”
“Apparently, the blast came from a satellite orbiting the Earth, leading many people to wonder…have the aliens come back for us?”
“Alchemax CEO Miguel O’Hara had this to say on the incident, ‘Shock’s sake, is Washington D.C. even allowed to stay standing for three whole months anymore?’ ”
“Stark-Fujikawa could not be reached for comment.”
ALCHEMAX PROTOTYPE SATELLITE LASER
Two hundred miles above the smoking crater that was once the Senate. Eighteen Hours Later…
The Senate lies in ashes.
They were attempting to legalize Gene Dolls in America. Gene Dolls are synthetic women devoid of free will, sold as sex slaves to the highest bidder.
I was a Gene Doll once. I know the pain it brings.
They would have gotten away with it too, if I hadn’t turned their bullshit machine into a whiff of carbon and methane.
Microchip - my former partner - had uncovered the massive conspiracy and had attempted to trick me into doing the dirty work for her. The dirty work of course, being attacking Alchemax‘s infrastructure while she fired a laser into Capitol Hill. I discovered her manipulations and put a bullet in her head before any of that could happen the way she‘d intended. I don’t like being lied to. Nor do I like being manipulated.
However, the more I thought about it, the more it made sense.
The street criminals that Jake Gallows targeted as the Punisher…they’re one thing. But these criminals are something different entirely. Corrupt corporations who run America’s politics. The black carders that don’t just live above the law - they control the law. They corner the market on the law, re-writing the Constitution and the rights of Americans to reflect their agendas and desires.
Their corruption taints this world.
They must be punished if this world is to survive them.
Microchip, you fucking bitch.
You manipulated me after all, just like you planned.
I recline back in my chair, listening to the steady pings on the radar screen of the War Room as I assemble another smart-grenazer.
The Alchemax Prototype Satellite Laser was one of the corporation’s biggest and deadliest secrets. It was so secret, in fact, that Alchemax forgot it even existed. It’s been hovering up here for Thor knows how long, collecting dust….until I found it and started to use it as my Base of Operations.
But when I fired it, thousands of computer arrays, defense systems, and action cameras picked up the discharge. Most probably triangulated the canon’s position in space before the crater even had a chance to smoke.
They’re coming for me now.
I’m surprised they aren’t here yet, with the head start they’ve had.
There is cloaking technology on this thing, but unfortunately a minor hull breach during the attack on the Senate had reduced the thing to a frozen chunk of slag. I repaired the breach in the meantime and found a replacement for the cloak somewhere planetside. I was all ready to get in my ship and go down to grab it, when I started hearing the steady pings of incoming ships.
Despite my attempts to randomly alter my trajectory around the planet, they’ve managed to track my ship down. Inevitable, I suppose. The shuttles they’re sending are much faster and more maneuverable than the laser array. I could outrun their craft in the shuttle I used to get myself back up here, but if they set up a perimeter around the laser array, they could wipe me out before I get back on the damn thing. No, I’ll need to deal with them before I do anything else.
I’ve been checking the news feeds while I’ve been arming myself. Stark/Fujikawa hasn’t responded to the incident at all. Alchemax stopped responding within a few hours of the Senate’s destruction. That means Stark-Fujikawa will be first.
*WARNING! PROXIMITY SENSORS DETECT INCOMING VESSEL. WARNING! PROXIMITY SENSORS DETECT INCOMING VESSEL.*
Out of time.
“Request identification and secure docking bays.” I command, placing the grenazer into my backpack as I shove a full clip into my Terrorizer pistol. It’s a stall tactic. To lull them into a false sense of security.
I’m already running down the corridor as the computer pipes in their response: “This Laser is now the property of Stark-Fujikawa. You will cease and desist all terrorist actions at once and surrender.”
I smile. “By all means, computer, do as he says. But keep the docking bay doors shut until I arrive. I want to be there to welcome them personally.”
*PREPARING DOCKING PROCEDURES. STANDBY.*
I stand at the docking bay doors, and I’m hearing drilling on the other side. Looks like they’re not in a mood to wait.
I holster the gun and grab something from my backpack.
“Computer, pipe the following message through to the bastards.”
I change my voice to a girly, incompetent, non-threatening tone and start speaking to the invaders: “I’m so sorry about that, the door was jammed. I’m over-riding now. Computer, open the doors.”
The blast doors slide open with a mechanical hiss, and I hear seven plasma guns clicking off their safeties at once. I put my hands up in surrender, seeing the space-suited Stark-Fujikawa vermin pointing seven laser sights at my head.
“You there! Identify yourself!”
“Hi, I’m Penny Johnson.” I smile innocently, pouring on so much charm I sicken myself. “I just want to personally welcome to the Alchemax Prototype Satellite Laser. I’m here to make sure the transition in the management of this laser from Alchemax Incorporated to Stark-Fujikawa goes as smoothly as possible.”
They snicker amongst themselves. One of them gropes himself through his space suit. “Penny Johnson, huh? Well, I got some ideas on how we can…make things go smoothly. Yeah, real smoothly.” He gives me a deep-throated laugh and I smile pleasantly back at him.
Then, he notices the thing I’m holding in my hand.
“What is that you’re holding? Drop it!”
“It’s just my personal data directory. I was using it to open the--”
“Drop it now!”
“As you wish.” I grin, silently clicking a button on it as I release the round thing I’m holding. It starts to fall toward the ground, stopping at about my waist-height. With three loud beeps, it arcs straight towards the seven Stark-Fujikawa Watchdogs as I run off for cover. Before they even know to shoot at me, the smart-targeting grenazer explodes, turning three of them into a mass of red jelly.
Sitting behind a pile of cargo crates, I reach for my Terrorizer as plasma blasts singe the air above me.
“Computer! Close docking bay doors and turn on the docking bay defenses!”
The docking bay doors close. Blindly, I fire back at the four still-living attackers. I hear them curse out the door once they realize I’ve locked them out of their ship. Then, the station rocks and rumbles and the massive explosion I was waiting for happens on the other side of the reinforced wall.
“Do you hear that? That was the docking bay defenses blasting your ship into pieces! You have no way off of this station alive!” I pull out a mirror from my backpack and use it to see the Watchdogs behind the cargo containers I’m using as cover.
The one that groped himself in front of me is in shit-shape, leg flooded with shrapnel and oozing red. His mate’s next to him on the ground addressing his wounds. The other two are firing above me, hoping to knick me in the head if I peek around. One of the shooters is firing erratically, one arm hanging limp and bloody by his side.
The one lying on the ground oozing blood growls viciously. “You’re going to pay for this, you little bitch, I swear to Thor…”
“Not before you.” I say, jumping out from behind cover and letting loose a blast of my Terrorizer’s submachine rounds into the shooters. The one with the bad arm spins around in a circle from the impact, firing with abandon. Three of his shots hit me hard in the chest, knocking the wind out of me.
I cough, ducking behind the opposite wall. I examine the center of my black skull shirt, the logo now ripped to shreds. The important thing - the heat sink armor beneath the logo - is not ripped to shreds. No blood. No burning pains. The armor protected me just fine. If the fucker hit my head though, I’d be a bloodstain on the floor. No more dicking around with them; time to get things done.
I pull out another grenade and toss it around the corner at the one still firing at me. I shut my eyes tight. The flash bang lights up the dim docking bay with a brightness that’s blinding even with my eyes shut. The shooting stops as the blind bastards scream.
I dart out from cover, running toward the still-standing shooter. I use a mono-molecular edged sword to cut his arm off at the elbow and slice his carotid artery in a graceful swipe. He screams as he falls to the ground, never seeing his killer.
I look towards the medic, still-kneeling next to his buddy and vainly trying to claw the blindness out of his eyes. The screams of the dying shooter make him panic and punch at the air in front of him in an attempt to get to me. Amused, I watch him flounder about and I can’t help the laughter from rising out of my throat.
“Crazy psycho! Get the shock away from me!” He screams wildly, finally getting the presence of mind to pull out a gun.
“No.” I whisper, and stab my sword through his calf muscle, pinning him to the ground.
“AAAGGHHH!!” He thrashes fitfully, shooting completely in the wrong direction.
The man lying injured beside him regains his sight back as I grab the gunman’s arm and bend it in the opposite direction. I notice him looking at me, and I grin.
“You still want to get in my pants?” I ask him and make him watch as I slowly snap the writhing man’s appendages in front of him before breaking his neck.
“…what…what…what…?” He stammers. He tries to lift the gun in his hand, but I break it before he can get far.
“Thor’s goddamn son of a…I’ll kill you! I’ll kill you you stupid little…!”
“Mmm. This dirty talk’s getting me hot.” I say seductively, pulling my Incendigel gun from my backpack. I lick my lips. “Time to turn up the heat…”
I bury the muzzle of the gun in his crotch and fire liquid napalm into his groin. He screams as the fire burns through his suit and dissolves what’s left of his manhood. I blow a kiss at him as he cries and begs for mercy.
I don’t let go of the trigger, and hold his gaze as the gel eventually lights his entire body on fire.
*FIRE SUPPRESSION SYSTEMS ACTIV--*
“Cancel that,” I order the computer. “Let him burn.”
I watch him thrash and scream as his skin boils off. A feeling fills my body - not quite an orgasm but something almost as good.
I’ve thrown the last body out the airlock when I get the transmission I was expecting.
*VESSEL INCOMING. VESSEL IS TRANSMITTING FRIENDLY CODES. PREPARING TO OPEN DOCKING BAY DOORS AT YOUR COMMAND.*
That’ll be the Alchemax response. And only fifty minutes behind the Stark-Fujikawa vessels. Impressive. I would have thought longer.
“Computer, re-classify incoming Alchemax vessel as Enemy Combatant and launch pre-emptive strike.”
I walk calmly over to the screen and zoom in on the vessel closing in. I watch the station’s defense systems attack the vehicle with only a minor showing of strength. When entire decks of the vessel start to flake off into space, the computer pipes in the dying ship’s transmission.
“You are not authorized to pilot the laser! By the authority permitted me by Miguel O’Hara himself, I order you to power down and prepare to --ccchhhzzzt!”
The ship explodes quietly in the vacuum of space. I shut off the monitor.
This station is obviously much too visible. Time to resolve the cloaking situation.
UPTOWN NEW YORK. FEBRUARY 21, 2100.
Alchemax Incorporated. Miguel O’Hara’s office. Private meeting with the Security Chief, already in progress…
“You‘re saying that not only did we have a secret orbiting laser powerful enough to burn through the entire Senate building, but we also had a secret cloaked base in Antarctica. And when I said had, I mean until someone ran into the base, killed all the employees and stole its cloaking device.” Miguel O’Hara, CEO of Alchemax, gestured angrily in the air.
“That’s right, sir,” Security Chief Anders said.
“And we were in the Antarctic, without approval from me - because you know, I’m only just the president of Alchemax - in order to …what, melt polar ice caps?”
“The base was there to dig for alternative fuel sources using nuclear-fusion drills. The reason it was kept secret was because that area is located on a major tectonic plate, and drilling there could break the polar caps apart, causing them to melt more quickly.”
“So if we were melting the polar ice caps, what the hell were we still doing there?” Miguel O’Hara glared at his security chief. “And for that matter, why do we have a laser in orbit around the planet that just blew apart the Senate?”
“The laser - best we can guess - is a holdover from at least a decade ago, when corporate rivalries were more…intense,” the chief began, back as stiff as a board. “No one in Alchemax knew it was there, sir.”
“And the Antarctic Base…?”
“Tyler…uh, Mr. Stone…felt it best that you not be apprised of that particular detail when you were appointed your new position.”
Miguel growled. “So you knew about it?”
“Well …yes, sir. I did.”
“Question: Is Tyler Stone your boss?”
“No, sir. He is not.”
“So who is your boss?”
“You are, sir.”
“Nnnt! Wrong. You’re unemployed. Now, don’t let the door hit you on the way out, Rick.”
“But sir, I…”
“Do I need my vision checked? Am I still seeing you in my office? Why am I still seeing you in my office?”
Rick Anders strode furiously out of Miguel’s office, slamming the door rather hard on the way out. Miguel cracked his knuckles and neck in frustration, and walked over toward the knife that sat upon his desk in an evidence bag.
Miguel picked up the knife. When the Security Chief had come in to deliver the news of the Antarctica base, he brought in the knife. It had apparently been found inside the head of the base’s director Alan Sharpe. On the hilt, it had a thin piece of paper attached with a black string.
The paper had the words: YOU WILL ALL BE PUNISHED. Below the hand-written words was an image of a skull. Trademark of the Punisher.
“Jake Gallows, that can’t be you. I saw you killed by a shocking wave spider on television.” Miguel asked, “What is going on here?”
Miguel started tapping his fingers on the desk. Too many secrets were being kept from him. And he wanted answers.
FINAL INTERLUDE - Two hundred miles above a dead base in the Antarctic. A loose elliptical orbit.
I breathe out, placing the replacement cloak into the slot. I listen to the sounds of the entire Satellite Laser disappearing off the face of the map again.
My skull shirt is covered in the dried blood of dozens of Alchemax workers. I think about the symphony of shouts and screams I listened to inside the Antarctic Base, right up until the gurgled moans of the base’s director as I shoved a knife through his damn head.
No one will be able to identify me on camera, thanks to the face scrambler. And now, no one will be able to find this satellite either, thanks to the cloak.
I have time now. Time to get my head together. Time to pick my targets, to start burning away the corruption in this world with a laser that could burn it all away, one ratbiter at a time.
I left them a message planetside though; I couldn’t resist.
I let them know The Punisher’s back in town. I let them know I’m not going to rest until all of them get their proper spanking.
CHECK OUT WHAT HAPPENS NEXT TO VENDETTA/PUNISHER IN DOOM 2099UGR!
HIS NAME IS: JAKE GALLOWS/PUNISHER
Continuity Note: The following back-up stories take place before Jake Gallows’ death in the 2099 A.D. Genesis one-shot comic book.
"Punisher 2099: The Darkness Behind Closed Doors"
Written by Jason McDonald
I break into the safe house of some black-carders I’m tailing. What I find sickens me to my core.
Child pornography via cyberspace subscription plan.
I tell the children to cover their eyes. Steel-tipped turbo kick boots remove the rapist’s reproductive organs. Magnum bullets end the camera crew. Power bat’s saved for the leader. Titanium-strength setting turns him to jelly. I get the children home safe.
Using my data device, I download the ISP numbers of the people accessing this garbage. Cyberspace gives me their addresses.
Every single one of them is going to die.
So swears Jake Gallows.
"Punisher 2099: Loose Ends"
Written by Jason McDonald
She opens the sliding window of this expensive apartment suite with stolen gold card. ID chips keyed to make the card work clack around her neck. The removal of each chip was an act of murder.
She sits down on plush fabric. Relaxed, she turns on the vid screens.
She sees my reflection on the screen, but I’ve got her by the throat before she can do anything about it.
“…who…?” She stammers weakly.
“You glorify violence. You murder for theft and sport. I told you I’d kill you.”
“Gallows…?” I squeeze. Blue Max‘s life slips out between my fingers..
WHAT COMES NEXT FOR OUR ENGINE OF PUNISHMENT?
WELL, THAT'S UP TO YOU, DEAR READER.