Moon Knight 2099UGR Volume 2, #2 - April 2006

Moon Knight 2099UGR

Issue #2, Volume 2

"Ticking Clocks"

Written by Jason McDonald

Chief Edits: David Ellis

Marq (Edward Somerset)
Moon Knight

Gale Nocturne

Reginald Vonvargas

Jennifer Symes


It toys with your psyche, often playing upon your worst fears come to life.

It can paralyze you with fear.

It can drive you to commit unconscionable acts.

It can cripple you, confound or destroy you in a single, horrific moment.

It can even plunge the most collected of men into the churning ocean depths of unrelenting, irreparable psychosis, if given enough time and fear to feed on.

And it all stems from the desire to solve a problem, or reach a goal. And the sickening feeling in your stomach that there may be no way in hell you will ever get there.

Take for example, Downtown New York.

Downtown, the crumbling cesspool of human suffering. The residents live in a perpetual state of despair, fearing for their lives amidst the heel of their corporate overlords.

They are peons against the neon electric system of control and conspiracy at work above them, in Uptown. They are pawns and playthings of the rich, disposed of when they are not needed. If they argue with the system, they are silenced. If they strike back, they are crushed. If they complain, they are ignored and swept under the rug like the garbage they’re perceived as. Nothing ever changes for these poor people.

The indigent denizens of Downtown, of Old New York, are hidden away. Forgotten. Left to their own devices.

They are weak. They are nothing. They will never be able to free themselves from bondage in the darkness. They will never reach their goal; that faraway heaven in the light where they are free from injustice at the hands of brutal pay cops and liberated from the indignity of living in a sprawling, unkempt ghetto of pestilence and warfare.


Hell, you’d be desperate too in that place.

Right now, Moon Knight is feeling the same kind of desperation his comrades Downtown feel on a daily basis.

His closest friend in the world has been shot in the head by a Fenris sniper. He’s several miles away from the nearest hospital. He’s got a bullet in his shoulder and can barely hold Gale’s lifeless body steady in his arms, all while hovering a dozen feet above a gang war battlefield.

And the sniper that did this is a trigger’s pull away from ending it all. For both of them.


It’s the order of the day.

The Fenris sniper sneered wickedly from the disheveled rooftop, watching through the cross-hairs as the floating Moon Knight held the dying nurse in his arms.

Another shot, and suddenly the floating figure clad in all-white hundreds of feet above had a new hole in his shoulder. The sniper heard the knight roar in pain, even above the raging turf war between the sect of Fenris and the wild Thorites below.

The sniper took another swig of a perfectly-preserved bottle of Jack Daniels they’d found in the wine cellar of the building.

“Wonder whut kinda high-tech gadgets this yutz has on ‘im that lets him fly like that,” he muttered idly to himself as he peered once again through the scope at the flailing couple in the sky, “Won’t hafta wonder f’r long, though….”

The sniper aimed the vintage rifle toward them once again, cocking the shell into the chamber with a click. This one, the sniper aimed at Moon Knight’s masked skull. Dead center.

There was a flash of blue light; the Fenris’ shot bounced off into thin air.

The rooftop caved in, swallowing the shooter into the upper floors of the building.

And the knight was gone long before the Fenris had time to dig himself out from the wreckage.

Marq raced; everything around him was one long, unimportant blur.

He held her tight to his chest with his one good arm, a vein popping out on his forehead from the strain. The other arm hung useless at his side, warmed with blood dripping to the tip from two fresh gunshot wounds that hurt beyond reason.

‘I’m not going into shock,” he thought, ‘Jammit, I’m not going into shock!’

A pristine white cape shot out from the nape of Marq’s neck. Within the fluttering silk, silent orders shot out amongst the microscopic nanotech robots that had formed it. The cape knowingly wrapped itself around Gale Nocturne’s dormant form, holding her up and relieving the pressure on his arm as the sparkling hero flew faster than he ever had before.

Marq whipped in-between rotted buildings and mossy alleyways. He swept up dust and light debris in his wake; his zig-zag path taking him to one all-important destination: Docs in a Box Local 189. All the while, the shockingly warm cape kept the infirm woman from freezing to death from the sheer wind resistance.

“Gale! Wake up, Gale!” He yelled at her, “WAKE THE SHOCK UP!!” Gale stirred.


A death spasm?

The buildings rocketing past them both slowed. Marq turned his attention downward, toward the beautiful nurse cradled snug in his arm.

“Gale…?” He held his breath, eyes wide.



The hollow echo resounded across the alleyway they flew through. Marq brought his eyes forward and arced their bodies away from the fire escape he’d grazed with his bleeding shoulder.

He moaned in tune with the dull aches creeping up his dead arm, their flight path becoming more wobbly by the minute. He looked ahead weakly in front of him, dodging the speeding onrush of obstacles. Blackness was swimming in from the periphery.

Shit. He hadn’t been paying attention. Stupid move. Such a stupid, stupid time for a stupid move.




Thank God, she was still alive!

“Marq…” she murmured slowly.

“Rest, Gale, just rest…” he whispered softly to her, feeling the renewed pulsing of warmth from the wound in the back of her head. The warmth coated his good arm now, dripping along his forearm to the elbow, “We’ll be back soon. Just….just stay with me. Just, stay with me.”

“Marq...” she stammered, “…you can always…crash here at my place…only have th’couch though…only have the couch for you to sleep on….always…”


This wasn’t good at all.

She was delirious, flashing back to the time she offered for Marq to stay at her apartment as a houseguest. They were both losing a lot of blood.

He slowed involuntarily, exhausted. He couldn’t tell which was draining the life from him faster; the energy demands of flying, or the blood loss. But they weren’t too far away now. Through the green haze of his night vision, he could already make out the familiar buildings of the neighborhood. Just a few more blocks…

“…m‘off to bed, Marq…bed…bed…..have a g’night…g’night….have….” her head rolled back onto his palm.

“Gale? GALE?!” he let the cape hold her weight as he brushed at her face, looking for a sign of life, “Hold on, Gale! Just hold on! We’re almost there, just…hold on, Gale, just… GALE!

Moon Knight somehow tripled his pace, speeding and dodging along brick husks in the night sky.

Jennifer Symes, resident electronics expert at the Docs in a Box Local 189, wiped away the rising layer of sweat from her brow. She bit her lip, intense in her quest to refine the bit-by-bit processing power of the stubborn hard drive. Not too long ago they’d discovered that the hospital’s outdated computer system was far below par. And far below par for Downtown computer software, at a hospital no less, was a very bad thing indeed.

A little extra ROM space here, a few more connections there, and presto: More storage speed and faster info-recall. Invaluable at a place such as the Docs.

As she finished re-sealing the decades-old monitor with a modified pressure sealer, Reginald Vonvargas, chief surgeon at the Docs, staggered out from the operating room. Jenny didn’t even notice his presence until he was standing right above her, soaked from head to toe in blood.

“Hey Jen, do you know where Gale is?” Vonvargas asked through wet crimson scrubs, removing his sterile mask, “Her shift starts soon and I haven’t seen her all day.”

“You’ve been in the OR, bud,” Jen smirked, “You haven’t seen much of anything all day.”

“Very funny.”

“But yeah,” Jenny paused, rapping the auto-sealer against the heavy grains of the tabletop, “Yeah, her and Marq went off to explore the city a bit. I think she said she’d be back for her shift, though.”

“Ah,” Vonvargas muttered.

“Somethin’ wrong, doc?”

“Uh, no. No, it’s nothing.”

“No, nothing is what I believe of what you just said,” Jenny raised an eyebrow, her thin lips in a half-grin, “Out with it, Reggie. You’ll feel better.”

Vonvargas rolled his eyes, “Don’t call me that.”

“Only if you tell me what’s wrong, Reggie.” She dragged the last syllable out as long as she could, reveling in joy as she watched him cringe.

“You always say that, you know.”

Jenny threw a sly smirk, “Well if you’re gonna nitpick, Reggie, we’ll never get anywhere.”

Vonvargas rubbed the bridge of his nose, chuckling quietly to himself. He knew when he was beat. “It’s just…it’s Gale’s safety I’m concerned about.”

“She knows how to take care of herself, hun,” Jenny placed the auto-sealer on the computer table, propping her legs up and folding her hands behind her head. “Besides, Marqy-boy’s there to protect her. Big ol’ buff guy like that. I mean, did you see that costume he was wearing? That was Bad-ASS!”

Vonvargas glanced down at her, frowning, “The problem with costumes is that they seem to attract more problems than they prevent, Jennifer.”

Jenny arced her eyebrows at him in protest, “You’re kidding me, right? Everything’s fine, Reggie-kins.”

Vonvargas let out a long, forlorn sigh and glanced at the freshly-sealed computer, “How’s the repair job coming along?”

“No sweat, boss. It’s already…”


The doors clattered open, shoved aside by a speeding bullet train of a stretcher. Two of Vonvargas’s duty nurses gripped either side of the creaking, rattling monster; directing it toward the operating room.

Atop the stretcher was a lone woman, arms laid straight, her body riddled with IVs and heartbeat monitors. Her dark hair was matted to her scalp, stained with pools and streams of scarlet warmth. She wasn’t moving.

Trailing behind the speeding posse was a lone figure clad in all-white, swatting away another set of nurses who were focused on the multiple bullet wounds in his shoulder rather than the old friend in the stretcher-cart.

Jennifer did the math as quickly as Vonvargas did.

“Gale….my God…” Jenny stammered.

Vonvargas straightened up, tying his damp mask to his face. He jogged over toward the speeding duty nurses as Jenny shakily stood up from the desk, trying not to think of the horrific irony.

The doctor listened to the shouts of his nurses as they wheeled her through the double doors of the operating room with a heavy THUD. Jenny watched as the wounded knight limped after them, his entire posture bent over with the weight of a dead arm.

Vonvargas paused at the door, finally hearing the labored shuffling of footsteps behind him. Jenny’s eyes widened as Vonvargas turned about a full 180 degrees, a tensed line where his mouth used to be. She keyed in on his eyes; stony, violent things that stopped Marq in his tracks, allowing the fretful nurses behind him to catch up and steady his swaggering form.

What the doctor said next shocked Jenny and the nurses to their core, considering Dr. Reginald Vonvargas’s dogged adherence to the Hippocratic oath despite the penny-pinching and corner-cutting times they were in.

Perhaps what shocked them most was the complete sincerity of his voice.

“I should have let you die on the table, you piece of shit.”

With that, Vonvargas turned and sped off into the off-white arena, letting the swinging doors rap shut. Jennifer inhaled sharply, listening to the shaky drumbeat in her chest and hearing the faint sounds of med-carts being wheeled around in the next room.

Somewhere far away, the two nurses had sat the knight down and dressed his shoulder wound. They’d given him something for the pain and an IV for the blood loss, but like Marq, Jenny’s mind was somewhere else.

Marq sat on the gravel sidewalk outside the Docs in a Box, running his finger along the stitches in his arm. The nubs of metal sewn into his flesh reminded him of the blinding pain he went through getting the blasted pieces of metal out from his shoulder. Despite the medtechs’ skill and the pounds of morphine, it had been two hours of hell he wouldn’t wish on anyone.

Despite all that, the wounds were healing nicely; faster than any bullet wound had a right to, yet not nearly fast enough. A low-level healing factor was part of his genetic armor’s myriad capabilities.

And yet, all Marq could do was feel guilty.

Guilty his arm was healing, while Gale was laying on the table, bleeding very nearly to death.

Guilty he flew her along the path of the Fenris-Thorite battle, never realizing the crossfire could touch them in the skies above.

Guilty that their last conversation together had been a stupid argument.

Guilty that he wasn’t standing right outside the OR waiting for word on her condition, instead of outside the Docs sulking and staying out of Vonvargas’s way.

Marq felt something grab his good shoulder. Instinctively, his body tensed, his other arm craning back, ready to attack….


“Whoa, Marq. Little jumpy, are we?” Jenny breathed out, holding her hands up in peace.

Marq let his bad arm drop, barely feeling the sparks of agony jump from the stitches in his shoulder down the rest of the tensed limb. His gaze drifted back toward the empty alleyway across the street, focusing on a rusting dumpster hidden by the shadows.

“How’s Gale?” the injured knight mumbled, fearing the answer.

“She’s stable, for now.” She massaged the bridge of nose, placing her back against the wall and sliding down next to Marq in a crouch. She bit her lip, steeling herself for what was next. “She, um…..they got the bullet out. But she’s in a coma. They don’t….ah, they…they…don’t know when she’ll wake up, so…”

Jenny’s gaze fell to the ground. Marq shuddered, tears welling up behind his eyes. He didn’t let them out.

“I…I should have been able to…” he stammered.

“You did what you could, Marq.” She sighed, looking over toward his hunched frame, “We all know that.”

“Vonvargas doesn’t seem to think so.”

“Reg…he’s just known Gale longer than many of us. He got her through a tough time. He’s hurting, Marq. He’s lashing out. You didn’t do this.”

“I should’ve been able to prevent it.”

“How, Marq?” Jenny turned to face Marq, “Seriously, every other day we get people coming in with bullet wounds or laser scarring from gang wars. And most of them aren’t even in the shockin’ battle!"

Marq stared ahead at the street, silent. She continued on.

"There was one guy a year or two ago that got shot with a magnum round fifteen blocks away from the actual warzone. Had to be some kind of elephant gun to have that kind of power. But, what I’m trying to say is, there are just some things beyond our control. Nothing we can do about it.”

Jenny’s gaze slipped off towards the middle of the abandoned street, noting the slips of trash and empty cans rolling along the dusted asphalt. They were silent for a moment, feeling the wind washing over them, listening to faraway curses and the bumblebee buzzing of streetlights.

Marq pushed off of the sidewalk, lifting his mass up on barely sturdy legs, and broke the silence. “I’m going in to see her. I don’t care what Vonvargas says.”

“I’m comin’ with ya,” Jenny rose.

Out of nowhere, a horrible scream echoed above the clatter of trash can lids.

“Shocking hell,” Jenny muttered, “Always somethin’.”

“Get inside,” Marq straightened up, focusing on the source of the shouts and narrowing his eyes. “Hurry.”

“Go get ‘em, Marq,” Jenny smiled, watching the knight run off toward the darkened stretch of a nearby alleyway.

Marq’s feet slapped heavily against the asphalt, his arms pumping in tandem with his legs for more speed. There was a power line of pain screaming from his shoulder, torn muscles screaming for him to stop. But someone was in trouble. And Moon Knight wasn’t failing anyone else tonight.

His nanotech suit bubbled out from his pores. Marq gritted his teeth, letting the routine waves of nausea and the dry heat singeing his throat accompanying every single activation of his genetic armor creep over him like a muted battle cry.

White bled along his patched-up street clothes, the billions of nano-machines fully covering his frame in the familiar silk suit before he reached the other end of the street. Everything faded to a jade haze as his night vision came on automatically, the jaundiced fuzzy light of the streetlights unable to penetrate the dark alleyway beyond a few steps.

The knight ran into the darkness, searching the monochrome green alley for the source of the shouts. They were getting louder now; their sender becoming more desperate. Somewhere on the right, he could hear the rattling of metal and animal grunts laced with malice and blind anger.

Marq took a b-line through the building, feeling nothing as his nanobots made him intangible at the speed of thought. He ran through the building, past the cobwebs within, cutting between the molecules of the walls, focused solely on the whumps and the clangs somewhere in the alley ahead.

The silk-clad knight leapt out of the back wall, a blind rage welling up inside as he saw two Watchdogs stomping on some poor woman, kicking her bruised form with no restraint. Every kick from their thick military boots drove her further back into the toppled-over row of metal garbage cans in the alleyway. Spatters of saliva dripped down from her cheek to mix with the pulpy blood coating her lips. The saliva wasn’t hers.

The eyes on Marq’s mask narrowed into two thin lines, his bo staff forming in his fingers. He didn’t realize he'd been running until he struck the first Watchdog in the temple with the end of the metallic staff.

As the other pay cop turned around, Marq shoved the bo hard into his ribs. The loud crack was satisfying enough, but the extra swing into the murderous officer’s head was icing on the cake. The Watchdog slumped to the ground, his helmet driving hard into his skull.

The first Watchdog had ripped off his shattered helmet now, fumbling with his weapon at Marq’s feet.

Marq shoved his foot into the sadist’s ribcage. Blood spattered Marq’s white costume as Marq tore into the corporate drone with a fierceness he’d never thought he could muster. He kicked at the cop, shattering most of the bones in his leg.

He remembered Jeanine. He remembered the Watchdogs that had attacked him Uptown. He remembered the cell that Stark/Fujikawa had locked him in and the horror he’d felt after listening to the Specialist’s pro-corporate babble and kicked harder. He remembered Gale’s talk about needing the corps to survive and kicked even harder. The ‘dog was spitting out teeth now.

And then Marq heard labored breathing somewhere behind him. His fury slowly ebbing away, the knight turned, seeing the young woman the Watchdogs had been beating. She was wearing a blood-stained, badly-shredded Punisher T-shirt and tattered jeans, brown with dirt and liquid grime spilled out from the trash cans. She was shaky, holding up her ruined shirt with one hand, bracing against the wall with the other. She swished around the copper pulp in her mouth.

“Are you oka--?”

A thick mucous stream of blood sounded from her lips, splashing onto the unconscious Watchdogs eyelid.

She quivered, staring at the pathetic wretch below them, “Sh-shockin’ putz. Yuh…You should k-kill the bastard…kill him...”

“No,” Moon Knight breathed out, glancing back toward the broken officer and feeling a slight twinge of pity, “No, I’ve done more than enough.”

K-kILL HiM! He…he…all I did was wear a shirt…shockin’….T-shirt….! SHOCKin’ WrETCHEd….!

She broke down, sobbing as she shook in pain from her injuries. Marq grabbed her as she slipped off the wall, hugging her gently.

“Shhh, shhh. It’s okay. He’s not hurting anyone for a long while. Don’t worry.” Marq cradled her shattered frame in his arms. She couldn’t have been older than nineteen. “There’s a hospital just around the alleyway where you can…”

A warhead detonated between his legs.

The frenzied woman lowered her knee from his groin, the knight already breathless and hunched over. That’s when the true pain hit.

“Shock off, ratbag!” the woman screamed hysterically as the knight fell to his knees. “You’re c-c-crazy if you think thuh..they’ll stop! Grow a goddamn pair, freak!”

She kicked him in the crotch once again for good measure, and hobbled over to the nearest Watchdog’s firearm. Writhing on the ground in agony, Marq heard two rounds go off at close range behind him and watched the woman hobble around the bend of the alleyway, out of sight. He slowly got up, keeping himself hunched over to alleviate the pain, amazed how solid the kick was despite her injuries.

The scraping of her labored footfalls was gone by the time he was able to walk more than a few steps. Marq glanced down at the corporate soldiers on the ground below him, bodies still, smoke still swaying above pulverized brain matter spread out along the alley floor.

That’s when he heard the screams.

A woman’s screams.

Could they be hers?

Marq gazed toward the direction of the screams, looked down at the Watchdogs, and gazed back towards the source of the screaming. They sounded like they were getting more desperate by the moment.

“Aw, hell. Not again.” He cursed to himself as he lumbered off quickly toward the direction of the screams, his bo staff firmly in hand.

Moon Knight rounded a corner, sucking in more air as he continued his pace. His heart skipped a beat when the screams stopped. He glanced around the dark corridor, trying to figure out where the woman could be.

He gazed across the dark green dumpsters and lime windows, his night vision giving him no clue of where she was at. He could have sworn the shouts had come from this way…

…and then she was coming out from behind the dumpster. A pale-faced woman wearing black; short leather jacket and tattered navy blue leggings…

So pale, almost white.

That’s when he saw her eyes; glistening with some inhuman golden sheen. They were almost like a cat’s eyes, but far less inviting. Predatory eyes. Goldenrod dots atop solid black pupils, wide with desperation and hunger.

This wasn't the same girl from earlier. Nothing human had eyes like this.

She was coming at him swiftly, soundlessly; at a speed that defied the laws of physics, let alone the laws of nature. She moved with an unnatural grace; despite her shaky, unsteady gaze. She was like a crack-addict, walking towards him with a single-minded purpose. She cleared the five feet between Marq and the dumpster she’d hid behind in the bat of an eyelash, the wind whistling past them in her wake.


“So thirsty…so thirsty….” She stammered, eyes longing with hunger, canine teeth suddenly lengthening. A flash of movement, and she was on him, digging her teeth into the side of his neck.


She slurped hungrily, eyes completely glazed over. The knight struggled at first, desperately trying to rip himself from her grip. But she held firm; the vampire hunger and adrenaline taking over. She was beyond resistance.

Marq’s body slackened, slumping to the ground as the vampire girl followed, taking a final healthy slurp as she straightened up. She gripped her knees, breathing in and out, letting the waves of satiation sweep over her completely. She stood up, drawing in a long breath of refreshingly cool night air. Her eyes glowed a healthy golden brown as she smiled, licking at the blood on her lips.

“Sorry. I had been hoping to draw in a street surgeon or a Watchdog, but you were right there and I couldn’t wait.”

She stretched her limbs and sighed, crouching down to the fading knight.

“You’ll be fine in a few hours or so, but I’ll move you to the roof so no one robs you or messes you up while you sleep it off. Name’s Lachryma, by the way.”


Next Issue: That vampiric vixen from 2099 Unlimited #4 is BACK! Lachryma has made her UGR debut, and her little love-bite this issue is going to have some serious consequences for our battered hero! In fact, it might just drive him over the edge from hero to murderer in one fell swoop! Oh, and Emmanuel makes another appearance as well! Two lunar cycles hence, you shall be privy to: “System Ghosts”. Till then, take it easy.

Jason McDonald