Author's note: This takes place between PUNISHER MAX arcs LONG, COLD DARK and VALLEY FORGE, VALLEY FORGE…





In the dark graveyard stands a lone, dark figure. A broad shouldered silhouette, covered in a black trench coat was watching over a tombstone.

Frank Castle, former Marine, current vigilante known as The Punisher, was standing over a grave.

The grave of a man called Yorkie Mitchell, former SAS, British Special Forces, former MI-6, which Castle met back n the 'Nam.

An ally in The Punisher's war on evil all over the world.

A good man.

In recent years, Yorkie has helped Castle track drug dealing terrorists in Ireland. Former IRA killers turned organized criminals in Hell's Kitchen.

The latest case got Yorkie killed.

Yorkie and his wife, both murdered by Barracuda, a psychotic mercenary, a monster, just to get at Castle. And at Sarah.

Sarah O'Brien.

Castle's daughter. The baby girl he had with CIA spook, Katherine O'Brien. Also dead.

A huge conspiracy with ties to high ranking US military people. They hired Barracuda and tipped him off about Sarah. Castle had crossed paths with those bastards before. A long complicated story involving Russia, Nick Fury and corrupt spooks.

Barracuda was no longer a problem. Sarah was with her aunt, O'Brien's sister. O'Brien's polar opposite. With any luck, Sarah will never know the blood soaked history of her parents.

The Punisher would deal with those high ranking fucks later.

What mattered was that moment. Castle was paying his respects for a comrade in arms. A friend. One of the very few he had in this world.

The Punisher's world was a slaughterhouse. Most people he dared get close to got broken or killed, with rare few exceptions.

Steps. Smell of cigarette smoke. Castle felt someone coming behind him. In one smooth move, he pulled out his .45 Colt from under his trench coat and pivoted, while ducking one knee.

A man, alone, was standing there. His hands up in the air.

"Easy, mate." The man said. "I come in peace. I come to pay respects, just like you."

Castle took a closer look at the man.

White. Tall, about 6'2", solid muscular build, over 200 pounds. Light brown hair. A long vertical scar on the right side of his face. Early 40s. Not nervous at all at the sight of a gun.

He hadn't even dropped his cigarette from his mouth. He was wearing a green sports coat.

The man seemed familiar to Castle. He thought he knew who the man could be.

"Frank Castle, right?" The man said.


"Alexander Swan. Former SBS."

"Special Boat Service. Brit version of the SEALs." Castle said.


"You're a private detective. Sometimes bounty hunter in California. You specialize in the supergeeks."

"That's me. Trust me, I long for boring infidelity cases. Being involved with those super-arseholes is murder."

Castle: "You go by the name, Firearm."

Swan: "Always hated that tag. Makes me sound like a right cunt."

Castle: "You brought down several super-human scumbags. Like the Sportsmen."

From what Castle had heard, Swan had been hired on a simple missing person's case. Turns out the missing person had been killed by a group of super-human sociopaths called the Sportsmen. They took pleasure in hunting down humans. Swan singlehandedly killed all of them but one.

Swan: "You're well informed."

Castle put his gun back in its holster. The man was not a threat. "I have to be in this business."

"Yeah. I can relate to that, actually."

Pause. Swan moved up next to Castle.

Swan: "I worked with him a few times, in the old days. Even had a few pints with him later on. We weren't blood brothers, but he was a good chap"

Castle: "He was."

Swan: "He mentioned you a couple of times."

Castle: "I know."

Swan: "The way he talked about how you went about your business, you'd think you were either a right madman, or the Reaper himself."

Castle remained silent. Swan went on.

Swan: "But Yorkie always spoke about you with respect. And if you're here, with all the trouble that can represent, that makes you more decent than people give you credit for."

He pulled out a small flask. Took a swig. Handed to Castle. He hesitated before taking it and taking a gulp himself. Scotch. Like Yorkie liked. Castle handed back the flask to Swan who poured some on Yorkie's grave.

Swan: "Here's for you, old man. Hope you like it, it's the best I could afford."

Swan put his flask back under his jacket.

Swan: "You know who did this to him?"

Castle: "Yeah."

Swan: "You dealt with them accordingly?"

Castle: "Not with who bankrolled it. Not yet."

Swan: "Do I wanna know more?"

Castle: "Honestly, no. You seem to have enough problems. Besides, this is personal. Yorkie died because he worked with me on a couple things. I have to set things right myself. On my own. And there are other…factors. It's complicated."

Castle thought of Sarah. Barely a year old. So much blood spilled in her name. So much more to go. Maybe.

Swan: "Fair enough." He pulled out a business card. "For future reference."

Castle took it. It read ALEC SWAN. Investigation services. Phone numbers and e-mails.

Swan: "Just in case."

Castle put the card away. "Thanks."

Swan extended his hand. Said: "Be good." And smiled.

Castle took it and shook it. "Likewise."

Swan chuckled and nodded. And walked away.

Castle turned back towards the grave.

"Thanks for everything, Yorkie. For Sarah, for O'Brien, for you and your wife, I'll find your killers. And Punish them. Or die trying."

And with that, Castle turned away and walked away.

It would soon be time to go back to work.

Back to the war.


THE PUNISHER was created by Gerry Conway and Ross Andru and is owned by Marvel Comics.

FIREARM was created by James Robinson, Cully Hammer and Howard Chaykin and is owned by Malibu Comics which is owned by Marvel Comics. (or was, the last time I heard.)