'...if he be worthy...'

by Adrian Tullberg.

Synopsis: There's a new God of Thunder, but he's not anybody you'd expect...

Dedicated to those 'What If' comics. Personally, I loved them, the best excuse for published writers to do really fun things like major character death and continuity buggery. Face it, you simply can't do that with major publications.

***

"THOU SHALT FACE THE FURY OF THOR!"

"GODDAMNIT!" The Unstoppable Juggernaut leaned away from the God of Thunder's swing. "WOULD IT KILL YA TO SPEAK LIKE EVERYBODY ELSE?!?!"

It was not a good day for Cain Marko. In a fit of boredom, he had intended to walk to Winchester County, and beat up on the X-Men.

Marko had intended to stop for a quick drink first... but one of his old sparring partners, the Mighty Thor, had dropped down from the sky, not even having the decency of letting him wet his whistle first, and started his attack.

The Juggernaut really wanted to lay into Chuck's muties, not blondie. Not this weird talking longhaired freak.

There was something about Thor that really made Marko's blood boil. The arrogance? The method of speech which defied conventional syntax or definition? The Juggernaut, unused to complex self-analysis, decided he hated this weirdo and left it at that.

***

Alfredo Giovanni was watching the battle at the edge of the crowd. Early twenties, thin moustache that meant to lend sophistication but gave away an air of stupidity like it was going out of style.

The assassin was in the crowd, wearing a black trenchcoat and a cold, calculating expression. Giovanni was not a target he'd usually bother stalking and hunting down like he'd been doing just now, but the small time hood had shown up near where the killer was buying coffee and a bagel, and decided to take him out on a whim.

So far the criminal hadn't seen the killer who was edging towards him with an unerring finality.

***

Marko charged Thor, knocking him to the ground. The Juggernaut usually didn't have much of a strategy beyond plowing into his enemies until he battered them down, but a germ of an idea was forming in his head.

The God of Thunder wasn't as strong as him... but that damn hammer hit harder than anything else that had hit him before. If he wanted to win... and Marko was as determined as only the terminally pissed off can be... he had to separate his opponent from the hammer.

Moving closer to the Thunder god, Marko faked a punch at his head while stamping his right foot. The enormous reverberation staggered Thor... as well as shattering every window on the block, and stumbling all the onlookers... giving the Juggernaut enough of an opening to launch a powerful uppercut, with the heel of his palm the terminal impact point.

Thor's hammer was jarred from his grasp, soaring into the air in a high arc. The God looked up to catch sight of his weapon, to will it to his hand...

... and the Juggernaut kicked him with a leg as thick as an oak trunk, sending the diety into a nearby minivan.

59...

58...

***

The assassin followed his target. The Italian-American had seen him, and wisely started running. Unwisely, he'd left the relative safety of the crowd, and the police that were keeping the crowd away from the supers fighting, and headed into the alleyways.

The assassin knew the alleyways, quickly estimating where his target would end up, and waited in ambush... when he heard the quick slapping of expensive leather loafers, he quickly stepped out of hiding, and plunged a long steel stiletto into the target's right eyeball, experience lending incredible speed to his actions.

The blade pierced halfway through the brain, the victim gurgling, the body twitching, still trying to cling to life despite the brain's destruction. The assassin watched the death tremors of the now cooling body, confirming his kill.

Pulling out his stiletto from his victim's body, he heard a high-pitched whistling which was oddly familiar... the sound of a heavy object falling from a great height...

... the assassin quickly positioned himself inside a doorway a split second before the impact. The force of the collision jarred every bone in his body and dislodged masonry around the block.

***

19...

18...

The Thunder God was trying to push the Juggernaut away from him, but the behemoth was continually pressing his attack with a savage, rapid series of blows.

Thor suddenly grappled the Juggernaut across the shoulders, trying to get an instant of leverage...

10...

9...

The Juggernaut peeled his battered body away, and lifting him up with one massive hand, slammed him into the pavement

6...

5...

Juggernaut held up the dazed hero for a final blow...

4...

3...

...drawing his arm back, lining up...

2...

Thor felt his body warp, buckle downwards into that of dead Paramedic, Jake Olsen...

...just as Juggernaut's fist impacted.

The crowd gave a collective gasp as the hyper-powered fist plowed through the human skull with a wet squelch.

Juggernaut saw the body and frowned. Damned idiot... shouldn't have gotten in the way. The massive figure absently wiped off his hand while looking around. "Where's blondie?"

***

Opening his eyes, the assassin moved from his hiding spot, and saw a crater not ten feet from where he was. A nearby dumpster had shielded him from a chunk of concrete which would have pulverised his legs.

If it was an artillery shell, why hadn't it gone off?

The assassin headed towards the impact crater. If it was an unexploded warhead, maybe he could disarm it... his military service, among with other things, had given him an expertise with explosives. Despite his grisly work, he didn't want innocents hurt...

It wasn't a artillery shell.

A hammer. Large one.

In fact...

The assassin searched his memory... he'd seen it, in the hands of the self-proclaimed Thunder God, Thor. Intrigued, the assassin scrambled down the crater, then reached for the hammer. Might be useful...

The killer touched the weapon...

...pleasure/pain/heat/cold/fire/current/flowing water/darting/swarming/growing /flying/screaming...

... the sensation flew up the handle, through his arm, and insinuated itself into every cell in his body. The assassin was too surprised to speak, to scream, to react in any way shape or form...

The sensation died down, leaving a sense of energy and strength. The assassin noted absently that he was still holding the hammer. He lifted it up, appreciating the weight of the weapon.

Then he noticed his body.

Somehow, he'd grown half a foot. Grown wider across the shoulders as well. His clothes had adjusted to fit his new girth.

The assassin decided to spare the whyfores and howcomes for later. The owner might come looking for it...

... the owner had been fighting the massive creature known as The Juggernaut. The sounds of superfights usually filled whole boroughs, but there was dead silence now.

The hero of this fight had been disarmed, now the fight was over...

... a premonition filling the assassin, he hefted the hammer, and headed back to where he remembered the fight taking place...

***

The cops were trying to keep the onlookers away from the Juggernaut. All they could realistically do.

Marko had entered the bar he'd been trying to get into in the first place, and was now leaving, downing his seventh keg.

The supervillian didn't like killing, despite his carefully cultivated bad-ass image. Too messy, and a bitch to deal with in court. Better to beat the tar out of them, humiliate them beyond belief and either have them stand as a broken testimonial to your power, or come back again to get their ass whipped again.

And it this wasn't even his fault, either. He was pretty sure he could get a good Self-Defence issue out of the Thunder God attacking him... wherever he'd got to. And he didn't even know this guy who'd he'd pulped...

A massive impact lashed across his shoulders.

The Juggernaut was knocked over by the blow. He immediately started getting up... what the hell was going on?

He got a good look at the man who hit him... six foot, well built, seemed to be forty-something...

Wearing black.

He started walking over to him, and the Juggernaut noted that he seemed to have a white symbol on his chest.

A skull.

A white stylised skull on an all black uniform.

And he was hefting Thor's hammer.

***

Frank Castle, aka the Punisher, looked at the bloodied fist of the Juggernaut, and the crushed skull of the corpse beside him. His eyes narrowed when he saw the paramedic's uniform on the body.

He suddenly started walking, quickly towards the Juggernaut.

Marko wondered how this guy had managed to knock him over, but wasn't particularly worried by this human's approach. "You're that guy... the Punisher? I've always wanted to meet a guy who named himself like an S&M joint employee..."

The Punisher kicked him in the groin.

In the instant where the Juggernaut's eyes bulged out of his sockets, the Punisher took the hammer in a two-handed grasp, and slammed it across where the bridge of where the nose would be.

The shockwave sent Marko to his knees... by the time between action and reaction, the Punisher had stepped behind the Juggernaut, grabbed the much larger man's left shoulder, and sent the hammer directly into his right kidney. Almost instantly, the ex-marine sent his arms over his opponent's head, latched his fingers into the eyeholes of the Juggernaut's dome-like helmet, and wrenched back.

The dome resisted, but the Punisher felt the give in the metal, and virtually willed the helmet off, the screaming sounds of the alloy reverberating around the area.

The Juggernaut's regenerative abilities eliminated the effects of the attack, and twisted around with all the power in his waist. The Punisher found himself snapped over head, his arm clinging to the half-off helmet in his hand.

Not letting go, the Punisher flipped over, and slammed into the front of the enormous man. The helmet flipped back into place, but the ragged tear under Juggernaut's chin was plainly visible.

The blow knocked all the air out of him, and his shoulder felt like it was a millimetre from dislocation, but the Punisher still clung on, looking up into the giant's face, dangling from his face.

The Juggernaut smiled, relishing the pain he would inflict on this maniac. "You are..."

The Punisher, who never quite got the hang of talking in the middle of combat, slammed his free hand... holding Mjolnir... into Juggernaut's exposed right shoulder, right on a nerve cluster, making the arm now useless.

The Juggernaut concentrated on the pain for a split second, allowing the Punisher to drop to the ground, and slam the hammer on a ninety-degree angle into the top of the dome-like helmet, sheering the device off in one devastating blow. The face of the Juggernaut peered out from a secondary skullcap and mask arrangement he had placed to reduce his vulnerability to mental attacks. Then the Punisher backhanded the exposed chin with the hammer's pommel.

The large man dropped to the ground like a sack of cement. The Punisher immediately wedged his fingers under the cap, and pulled.

The brown metal was peeled away like paper, now exposing red hair and a slow realisation of the danger the Juggernaut was in.

The Punisher's face was emotionless as he raised the hammer high over his head.

***

"Mommy? What's that man doing?"

"He's..." The woman quickly turned her son's head into her shoulder. "...it's nothing honey."

A loud, wet, cracking sound reverberated throughout the suddenly quiet street.

The sound repeated itself with a rapid, methodical rapidity.

The woman didn't turn away, keeping her son's head firmly in her shoulder as the sound continued. Something wet splashed into her face, but she didn't dare move her hands away from her child.

***

One more blow separated the sodden mass of flesh that was his target from the rest of his body.

The Punisher examined his work, his uniform soaked with blood.

He kicked away what was left away from the main mass of the corpse. Satisfied, he turned around, to see two of New York's finest. They had unholstered their revolvers, but weren't pointing them at him.

The Punisher made it a point never to kill honest cops, even went to prison more than once to uphold that principle. But he wasn't above resisting arrest.

The policemen let the man who had killed the Unstoppable Juggernaut walk past, get into their cruiser, and drive away.

***

Work In Progress ...

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