"Punisher and Manslayer"
Chapter 1: "The Mob Rules"
Disclaimer: The Punisher is owned by Marvel Comics and Marvel Studios. Rurouni Kenshin is owned by Nobuhiro Watsuki and VIZ Media.
Author's note: The Wolf Demon and I came up with this story as a way of reimagining the characters of Rurouni Kenshin for the 21st century for the sake of their team-up with the Punisher and his supporting cast and enemies. Here in this crime thriller/drama, our favorite nomadic samurai will join forces with the most notorious and infamous vigilante of the Marvel Universe, Frank Castle, a.k.a. the Punisher, to take down the unholy alliance of Jigsaw and Makoto Shishio. Will the Punisher and Kenshin save New York from the Mob and the yakuza or will their contrasting styles in crime fighting be their downfall? Let's begin this little drama.
Special dedication: Ronnie James Dio, rock on in Heaven!
In downtown Kyoto, Japan, a small band of criminals gathered at a pachinko parlor that doubled as the base of a notorious crime boss named Makoto Shishio. They sat a large round table with a man and a woman standing near a rotating leather chair facing away from the audience. The chair turned so that the person sitting in it, a heavily bandaged man in a crisp suit, was now facing them.
"Gentlemen, I gathered you all here to discuss a major problem," Makoto said.
"What's goin' on, boss?" An associate asked.
"The police hired a former contract killer named Kenshin 'The Manslayer' Himura," Makoto replied. "For the last few months, he and the police raided my distribution warehouses for my guns all over the country."
"So what do you want us to do about the son of a bitch?" one of Shishio's mooks asked.
"We could kneecap him," another one, who imagined himself to be a lot smarter than he actually was, suggested. "Put a couple of bullets in his knees and then see if he can live up to his name."
"No," Shishio said. "I want to capture him and slowly torture him before he breathes his last breath."
"I heard he's pretty fuckin' fast, boss," One of the thugs said. "I even heard he's armed with a sword that don't draw no blood."
A sword that doesn't cut? Makoto thought. Interesting, the Manslayer is going soft.
"How's that even possible?" another of Shishio's associates asked. "Everyone knows blades can cut through anything."
"Why does he wield a sword that doesn't draw blood?" Shishio rephrased the question. "Because he's been a cop so long he's now starting to deny his basic instincts, his true self."
It was then the phone began to ring.
"Who the hell?" Shishio grumbled before picking up. "Speak quickly."
"Where are my shipments?" an American-accented voice – New Yorker, if Shishio had it right – boomed over the speaker.
"Interference on our end," Shishio answered. "Bastard called The Manslayer."
"I got clients on my end of the world with itchy trigger fingers and you have problems with some low-life asshole?" the man asked.
"He used to be one of us," Shishio explained. "Then he went straight and started working for Interpol. He's been on us like a goddamn rash."
"I have the same freakin' problem too," The man said. "Except this man's a war hero turned vigilante."
"You referring to that Punisher character?" Shishio surmised.
"Yeah. He's been goin' around killin' all my goddamn customers who purchased all my guns," The man said. "Even the police on the take are shittin' themselves because of him."
"Perhaps we can work out a business arrangement," Shishio suggested.
"I'm listenin'," The man said.
"I'll charter a flight to New York with my top assassins to take care of The Punisher," Shishio said. "After we take him down, our business will go smoothly with no further interference."
"And this 'Manslayer'?" the man said.
"I've got a good feeling he'll follow me to New York," Shishio said. "And one more thing, you never told me your name."
"I am Jigsaw," the man said. "I'll see you soon."
The phone clicked before going silent.
"Who was that, sir?" One of the yakuza asked.
"That was a customer of mine," Shishio replied, hanging up the phone. "I have a little business to attend in New York. So in the meantime, defend whatever's left of my weapons supply."
"Yes, sir," the Yakaza mobsters said.
"Good. Hoji, Yumi, go gather my assassins and meet me at my private plane," Shishio ordered.
"Of course, Shishio," Hoji said.
As Shishio and the rest of the yakuza left the room, one yakuza stayed in the meeting room and pulled out his cell phone. This yakuza mobster was really an undercover agent. He punched a few buttons on his cell and said, "Get me Lt. Saito right away. I have some urgent news."
"Kenshin, come to my office," Lt. Hajime Saito of Interpol's Japanese branch ordered with his finger on the intercom button.
"Right away, sir," Kenshin responded.
The Manslayer, a lithe and girlishly handsome man with long red hair tied back and an X-shaped scar on his left cheek, entered Saito's office and sat down on a chair near the desk. "Have you something to tell me?"
"Yes," Saito replied. "One of our undercover agents informed me about Shishio scheduling a flight to New York to meet his American contact called Jigsaw."
"That's not good," Kenshin stated. "This investigation will be for nothing if he manages to flee to America, Lt. Saito."
"Don't worry about it," Saito reassured. "You and I are catching a flight to New York in an hour. We will notify the NYPD and the FBI about our investigation and vice versa."
"I will pack up my things right away, sir," Kenshin said.
"There's one more thing you should know before you leave," Saito said before Kenshin got up.
"What is it?" Kenshin asked.
"The local law enforcement is dealing with a vigilante known as The Punisher," Saito said. "He's been killing these criminals who might've bought Shishio's weapons. He may interfere in this investigation and the last thing I need is to deal with another gun-toting psychopath."
"Don't worry about it," Kenshin said. "Dealing with Shishio and his mob is our top priority."
"Good," Shishio said coolly. "Get ready and meet me at the airport in a half hour."
Kenshin returned to his home, a modest Japanese house, almost fifteen minutes later. He immediately went to his bedroom to pack his things in preparation to leave. His pregnant wife Kaoru sauntered into the room, asking, "Hey, Kenshin, why are you packing?"
"I have to head to New York with Saito on assignment," Kenshin replied.
"For what?" Kaoru inquired.
"Shishio is heading there to meet with an American contact," Kenshin answered. "We can't lose him now."
"You don't have to go, Kenshin," Kaoru said worriedly. "I need you. We need you." Kaoru placed her hand on her stomach, silently making clear what she meant by "we." "Our child and I are worried about you when you go out there."
"I know you are," Kenshin admitted sadly. "I haven't been the best husband to you for the last four months because of this investigation. But I want this world to be a better place for you and our baby. I know I can't undo the terrible things I've done in the past, but I can provide a better future for all of us."
"Just come home safe," Kaoru pleaded before she hugged him.
"I will, Kaoru," Kenshin said as he hugged her back. "I will, I promise you. While I'm gone, Yahiko and Aoshi will look after you and our child."
After packing up his things and kissing his wife good-bye, Kenshin hopped into his car and drove to the airport where he met with Lt. Saito. The two Interpol officers paid for their plane tickets and then boarded the plane bound for New York City.
In New York City, in a game store called PlayStop, the B-50 Kings were preparing themselves for a war, not with a rival gang but with the Punisher. The gangbangers were armed to the teeth with sawed-off shotguns and short-barreled rifles. They were sweating profusely while they searched around the arcade for the vigilante. The anticipation almost made them urinate and defecate on themselves. As one of the members of the B-50 Kings walked to the center of the arcade, a frag grenade dropped right near his feet.
"Jesus fu –" the member barely had time to scream before the grenade exploded, killing him and anyone unlucky enough to be immediately near him.
"Who the fuck dropped that frag!" The leader, Moey D, screamed.
"Look up there, Moey," G-Rick responded.
The B-50 Kings looked up to see a muscular man in his early 50s carrying a smoking grenade launcher in his right hand, looking down at them. He wore a short-sleeved black T-shirt with a white skull branding, a pair of black slacks, black leather boots, and a black leather duster. He jumped into the arcade, ready to take down the rest of the B-50 Kings.
"Who's this motherfucker?" G-Rick asked.
"I seen his picture on TV," Dawg replied. "He's the Punisher. He's killed every criminal in this city and now he's right here."
"I don't care who the fuck he is! Waste 'im!" Moey D screamed.
"Let's kill the bastard!" B-ri screamed.
The Kings fired their guns at Frank but he took cover behind a Guitar Hero arcade cabinet. He loaded one last grenade into his grenade launcher and fired at the Kings. They scattered before the grenade got a chance to kill them, but this gave Frank the advantage. He dropped his grenade launcher and grabbed his adaptive combat rifle off his back. The Punisher aimed the gun at any B-50 King who came at him.
B-ri aimed his shotgun at him but ended up drowning in bullets from the Punisher's rifle, thus dying horribly. G-Rick rose from behind a prize booth to get the drop on Frank with a couple of 9mm guns but he got shot dead before he could pull the triggers, with even a few stuff toys riddled with bullets. Dawg ran to a nearby pinball machine to reload his gun. He was caught by Frank and was shot once in the head, crashing into the pinball machine with the back-glass lighting up on and off.
Moey D ran to the back room as the Punisher blasted his fellow gangbangers in the arcade. He huddled in the corner, waiting for the bullets to stop flying. Sometime later, Moey D walked out of the back and saw a sight that made his eyes widen with horror. The bodies of the B-50 Kings were all over the floor of the PlayStop arcade and blood splattered all over the arcade cabinets, pinball machines, and ticket games.
Moey D knew the killer of his street gang could pop out at any time to finish him off, so he had to sneak out of there and fast. He saw a window right next to a Street Fighter II arcade machine, and thinking quickly, he grabbed a footstool and made his way with it through the dead bodies of the Kings to the window. He placed the stool just below the window but before he could climb out, fingerless-gloved hands grabbed him off the stool and slammed him on the control panel of the Street Fighter II cabinet.
"Please don't kill me," Moey D pleaded pathetically.
"Who supplied you the guns?" Frank interrogated. "Tell me!"
"I don't know, man!" Moey D exclaimed. "I don't know the name of the dude!"
"Bullshit!" Frank screamed, shoving his Colt .45 into Moey D's mouth. "Give me the name or you'll be kissing the business end of the barrel!"
"It wath Jikthaw!" Moey D screamed with the barrel in his mouth.
"What was that?" Frank asked, removing the pistol from Moey D's mouth.
"It was Jigsaw!" Moey D screamed.
"Jigsaw," Frank repeated. "Thank you for the name, now you earned yourself a play of Street Fighter II."
The Punisher smashed Moey D's face into the screen, killing him almost instantly. He calmly walked out of the arcade while pulling out his cell phone to call Microchip. "Hello, Micro?" Frank called.
"Hey, Frank," Microchip responded. "Did you get any info on the illegal guns?"
"Yes, I did," Frank replied. "Turned out our disfigured party pal, Jigsaw, was selling the guns to every gangbanger, mobster, and self-professed tough guy all over the city."
"That's one part of the case down," Microchip said. "But the question is who is supplying him the weapons in the first place."
"Hmm. I'll find out who Jigsaw's supplier is," Frank said. "Let you know when I do."
"Ok. Keep me posted," Microchip said before Frank hung up the phone.
The next morning, Kenshin and Saito's plane landed at JFK Airport with a blond-haired cop dressed in a tan suit and blue tie waiting at the gate. They walked down the stairs of the plane to meet with a Det. Martin Soap inside the airport. As Kenshin and Saito entered the airport, Kenshin asked, "Where do you think this Detective Soap could be?"
"Hmm," Saito responded. "Could that be him over there?"
They saw the blond-haired man carrying a sign that said "Welcome, Kenshin and Hajime."
"He doesn't look much like a cop," Kenshin said.
"Mind your manners, Kenshin," Saito whispered.
"Hey, are you guys Detective Kenshin Himura and Lt. Hajime Saito?" Det. Soap asked.
"Yes," Kenshin replied.
"I'm Detective Martin Soap," Det. Soap greeted with his hand extended. Kenshin shook Soap's hand but when Soap lent out his hand to Saito to shake it, he refused. Not letting any sign of being disappointed or offended show, Soap went on. "Well, on behalf of the New York City Police Department, welcome to America."
"Thank you," Kenshin said politely.
"Let's just head to police headquarters now," Saito ordered rudely.
"Of course," Det. Soap said nervously.
"You have to forgive my commanding officer, Det. Soap," Kenshin said. "He's not that good with people."
"Sure thing," Soap responded. "And please, call me Martin."
Soap and the two Interpol officers got into his car and drove to the NYPD for their meeting on the gun smuggling investigation. When they arrived at the Det. Soap's precinct, Soap, Kenshin, and Saito walked into his office.
"I understand you have some info from your end on this gun smuggling operation," Det. Soap remarked.
"Yes," Saito confirmed. "Four months ago, a low-level enforcer turned crime boss named Makoto Shishio began an illegal gun smuggling operation in Japan. He was selling weapons to criminals of various stripes in places like China, England, Sudan, Iraq, Mexico, and the United States. He was able to smuggle these weapons out of the country undetected until we figured out they were putting them in boxes labeled toys and electronics. The yakuza thought they could outsmart the customs agents but not us. Kenshin was able to put a stop to the distribution of these illegal weapons but that didn't stop Shishio from fleeing the country to meet his American contact."
"What does this man look like?" Det. Soap asked.
Saito presented a photo of Shishio to Soap. Shishio was burned crispy, with bandages wrapped around his skin that made him look even more like a mummy. In contrast to his mummy-like appearance, the man wore a black suit with a black tie.
"Scary guy," Det. Soap commented. "How did this happen to him?"
"Shishio got reckless," Saito explained. "The yakuza usually prefer to keep their 'business' private, and Shishio's bosses had no patience for the publicity his actions were bringing on them. They punished him by beating him to the edge of death and then lighting him on fire after practically drowning him in gasoline. Unfortunately for all of us, Shishio was just too damned stubborn to die, leading some of the more superstitious to openly suggest that he made a deal with the Devil. In any case, five days later, local police found the bodies of his former bosses at an amusement park – bound, hooded, and shot execution-style. Now tell us who Shishio's American contact is."
"All right," Soap answered as he presented a photo of his own, this one depicting a heavily scarred man. "His name is William 'The Beaut' Russo. He once served as an underboss in the Gnucci Mafia. Five years ago, after Ma Gnucci died of cancer, Russo took over as crime boss. When Russo was tracked down at a recycling plant, he was confronted by the Punisher. He threw him into a vat of glass, turned on the machine, and Russo's face got carved up."
"No wonder he looks so ugly," Saito remarked.
"Yeah, like it went through a pastrami slicer," Det. Soap quipped. "Now he goes by name of Jigsaw."
"What has he been doing with the weapons?" Kenshin asked.
"He was selling them to street thugs, bike gangs, mobsters, you name it," Soap replied. "We've been trying to arrest Jigsaw's customers and get them to talk, but they ended up dead before we could get anything out of them."
"Who is this 'Punisher'?" Kenshin asked.
Soap presented another photo, this one of the murderous vigilante. "His birth name is Francis Castiglione but he changed it to Frank Castle. He served in the U.S. Marines during the Persian Gulf War. After he was honorably discharged, he returned to New York to be with his family. One day, when Castle and his family were having a picnic at Central Park, they witnessed a mob killing. They were caught by the mobsters who did it and somehow, Frank was the only survivor. When he got out of the hospital, he became the Punisher and went on a rampage against the criminals that had killed his family before turning his guns on the whole criminal underworld as a matter of principle."
Kenshin could understand the anguish that motivated Castle's actions. His first wife Tomoe Yukishiro had been a victim of the criminal lifestyle Kenshin had tried to escape from, only it had been Kenshin himself who accidentally killed her while fending off his former comrades. That was where the X-shaped scar on his left cheek came from, and it had never healed, as a symbol of his inner turmoil over Tomoe's death. Kenshin had the feeling that the skull motif on Frank's shirt served the same purpose for him.
"You do realize putting a stop to Shishio's operation is more important than some vigilante, right?" Saito remarked dismissively.
"I know but we can't afford to have him interfere in this investigation," Det. Soap answered. "When we do see him, I will personally slap the cuffs on his ass."
"Have it your way," Saito assented. "Just remember, we are taking Shishio back to Japan, dead or alive."
"Where do you think Jigsaw may have placed his stash of weapons?" Kenshin asked.
"My hunch tells me he may have some weapons hidden somewhere in Jersey," Det. Soap replied. "Whatever weapons he has, we can't let him and Shishio sell them to anybody, including terrorists."
"We should get prepared right way," Kenshin said. "There's no telling what would happen if terrorists did get a hold of those weapons."
Outside of the precinct building, Frank had his middle and forefingers on an earpiece connected to a listening device inside, using it to eavesdrop on Soap and the Interpol officers. Having learned enough, he switched to his cell phone to inform Micro on the news.
" I just found out who Jigsaw's weapons supplier is," Frank said.
"That's good," Microchip responded over the phone. "Who is it?"
"A yakuza crime boss named Makoto Shishio," Frank replied. "Can you find out where Jigsaw is keeping his weapons?"
"Sure thing, Frank," Microchip answered. "I'll call you back when I find something."
"Thanks," Frank said before he hung up.
The Sebastian Hotel was once a luxurious hotel for the nouveau riche and famous; the place was decorated with art deco and had a spa, a pool, and a bar called The Starlight Lounge. Now it was just a broken-down shell of its former self and a hideout for Jigsaw. Sitting in his office, the scar-faced gangster pulled out a thick cigar from his pocket and tried to search for his Zippo, unfortunately being unable to find it.
"Need a light?" a voice asked.
Jigsaw looked up to see a heavily bandaged man, almost like a mummy, standing in front of him. "May I help ya?" Jigsaw asked.
"Are you the one called Jigsaw?" the mummy-like man asked.
"Yeah, who's askin' here?" Jigsaw growled.
"You and I spoke over the phone," the mummy-like man replied. "I'm Makoto Shishio."
"Oh, yeah," Jigsaw responded in recognition. "You're him. Have a seat."
Shishio sat down on an old chair to discuss his business with Jigsaw.
"Got a lighter or any matches on ya?" Jigsaw asked.
"I got some matches on me," Shishio replied, pulling out a matchbook from his jacket pocket to give to Jigsaw.
Jigsaw ripped a match from the matchbook and lit his cigar with the small flame. "So you came to America to help me deal with the Punisher."
"Yes," Shishio confirmed. "I heard he was killing all your customers who bought my weapons."
"Yeah, that sonuvabitch is costing me money big time," Jigsaw said. "The police were snagging all the weapons I bought from you and ruining my business."
"Same thing's happening to me back home," Shishio stated. "I have my best killers with me right now and I'll make sure they take care of the Punisher and Kenshin once and for all."
"I also have some of the sickest fucks in the Gnucci Mafia to help out," Jigsaw answered. "You know, I have a private stash of weapons in New Jersey. I'll take you and your boys to my private boat to show you."
Shishio smiled unpleasantly. "I like that. You got any sake to drink?"
"No, but I do have a bottle of Jack Daniels if you want some," Jigsaw replied.
"Of course," Shishio assented.
Jigsaw got up to his liquor cabinet to grab a couple of shot glasses and a bottle of Jack Daniels. He poured the hard liquor into the shot glasses. He capped the bottle and set it down on his desk. They grabbed their shot glasses filled with Jack Daniels for a toast.
"Here's to a new partnership," Jigsaw said, raising his glass.
"And to the deaths of our enemies," Shishio added before they clinked their glasses together and slugged down the booze.
"Come, Shishio," Jigsaw ordered. "I'll introduce ya to my boys."
Shishio followed Jigsaw to the Starlight Lounge to meet with their respective associates. Jigsaw and Shishio's mooks were talking amongst themselves. Jigsaw's brother, Looney Bin Jim, had finished off a KFC double down sandwich and let out a small burp.
"Hey, mind your manners," Bullseye grumbled. "We got company."
"Fuck off, you Irish piece of shit!" LBJ shouted.
"Talk to me that way again and I'll toss this dart into your head!" Bullseye screamed.
"Bring it on, Lucky Charms!" LBJ screamed right back.
"You'll regret sayin' that!" Bullseye yelled as he and LBJ were about to fight.
"Hey, knock it off," Anji said, grabbing Looney Bin Jim and Bullseye to stop them from trying to kill one another.
"You American mobsters are so stupid," Cho said.
"Says who, you little bastard?" Bullseye shouted.
"You better take that back or I will eat you!" LBJ screamed.
"Go ahead, psycho!" Cho shouted, grabbing his urumi blade.
"With pleasure," LBJ said, staring down at Cho.
Before the fight could begin, Jigsaw and Shishio came into the lounge, irritated by the lack of discipline their men were showing.
"James! Knock it off!" Jigsaw shouted.
"No problem, brother," LBJ said.
"Cho, put your sword away now!" Shishio ordered.
"But, boss . . ." Cho complained.
"Put it away or I will burn you alive," Shishio ordered, his tone scaring Cho.
"Sure, boss . . ." Cho said as he put his sword away.
"Henchmen," Jigsaw muttered.
"May I introduce you to my two associates?" Shishio asked.
"Ok," Jigsaw answered. He gave his men warning stares. "You all better behave yourselves."
Jigsaw and Shishio went over to the table where Yumi and Hoji were sipping some tea. "Hey, she your girlfriend or something, Shishio?" Jigsaw asked about Yumi.
"As a matter of fact, yeah," Shishio replied, with a certain tone that spoke of danger for Jigsaw if Shishio ever believed that Jigsaw had offended the beautiful woman.
"I'm Yumi," the woman introduced herself calmly.
"Nice to meet you," Jigsaw greeted. He turned to Hoji before looking at Shishio. "He your lawyer or something?"
"Or something," Shishio answered.
"It's Hoji, Jigsaw-san," the man offered.
"Sure," Jigsaw grunted.
"So, you wanna show us the goddamn weapons?" Shishio asked. "This Punisher clown couldn't have taken all of them, now could he?"
"No," Jigsaw said. "I stashed them babies at this old abandoned restaurant called Brasco's. The weapons I have will blow your fuckin' mind. Now gather your boys, we're heading down to Jersey."
"Very well," Shishio said.
"Hey, James! Go get The Russian and Barracuda!" Jigsaw ordered. "We're leavin' right now!"
The Gnucci and Shishio crime families left the Sebastian for Jigsaw's private boat. When they reached the harbor, the crime families boarded the boat and set sail for New Jersey. After arriving in New Jersey some time later, the crime families headed for the abandoned Brasco's restaurant. They pulled up to the restaurant an hour later and went inside.
Brasco's was a booming restaurant back in the day. The place once served some of the finest Italian meals in the state but it also served as a base of operations for the Gnucci Mafia at one time. When the police were onto the Mafia's illegal operations, most members of the family were arrested but Ma Gnucci and Jigsaw were able to escape before the cops could capture them.
"Where are the weapons, Jigsaw?" Shishio asked.
"Right this way," Jigsaw replied, pointing out to the kitchen.
Jigsaw ordered his and Shishio's men to stay in the restaurant in case they see anyone suspicious. The two crime bosses walked into the kitchen to a broken-down walk-in freezer. Jigsaw opened up the door to reveal several large crates within the freezer. He picked up a crowbar to open one of the crates and inside was a rocket launcher. Jigsaw picked up the rocket launcher as Shishio asked, "A rocket launcher?"
"Yeah," Jigsaw replied. "This bitch is a RPG-29 Vampir grenade launcher. This thing is capable of taking down tanks and a whole police force."
"Got any other weapons?" Shishio asked.
"I got this thing here," Jigsaw replied, pulling out a CornerShot from one of the boxes.
"What is that?" Shishio asked.
"This is the CornerShot," Jigsaw replied. "Invented by the Israeli Defense Forces, this baby allows you to fit any semiautomatic pistol and kill anyone without bein' exposed."
"Very nice," Shishio said as Jigsaw gave him the gun.
Shishio tested out the gun by aiming the CornerShot from the inside of freezer to scan the kitchen.
"I got plenty more of these motherfuckers in these crates," Jigsaw offered. "Care to see?"
"The more lethal, the better," Shishio replied.
NYPD's SWAT division lined up outside of Brasco's, having managed to track Shishio and Jigsaw there along with the weapons they were trying to foist onto the streets thanks to an anonymous tip. Kenshin, Saito, and Soap took point with the leader of the SWAT division, ready to bring the wrath of God down on the heads of Shishio and Jigsaw and anyone who stood with them. Of course, they weren't the only ones preparing to take on that particular mob; the Punisher was waiting in the wings, having also tracked down Shishio and Jigsaw with Micro's help.
The SWAT leader used his fingers to count down from three to one, signaling to his team when the time was to break into Brasco's. Upon the last finger being folded into his fist, he kicked down the door and led his men inside, Kenshin, Saito, and Soap coming along as more police lined up outside to form a barricade preventing any escape.
"Down on the ground now!" the SWAT leader yelled at the gangsters, who had come out to see what the commotion was.
"You are all under arrest!" Detective Soap declared. "On charges of racketeering, illegal weapons trading, illegal drug trafficking, and conspiracy to commit murder!"
Jigsaw just snickered. "Boy, you sure know us, huh?"
Shishio just curled his lip when he saw Kenshin and Saito. "If it isn't my old friends . . ."
"It doesn't have to end in violence, Shishio," Kenshin declared. "You can keep your life, at the very least."
Saito rolled his eyes. "I don't know why you still bother with that speech, Himura. Has anyone taken you up on it who didn't intend to kill you once you'd let your guard down?"
"You should listen to your boss, pretty boy," Jigsaw taunted. "No mercy here." He looked at his men. "Blast that weak shit out of my house."
"With pleasure, boss," Bullseye said.
Bullseye, The Russian, Barracuda, and Looney Bin Jim whipped out their guns and started firing.
Shishio turned his gaze to Cho, Usui, Katamari, and Sojiro as he ordered, "Don't just stand there, kill them!"
Shishio's minions pulled out their weapons and aided Jigsaw's boys in trying to take down the police.
Outside of Brasco's, Frank heard the sounds of gunfire within the restaurant; he was aware the SWAT team had the place surrounded and had to figure out a way to break into the restaurant. Considering the chaos, though, if he was clever enough, he could slip right in with hardly anybody noticing. Frank made a quick dash to the entrance of Brasco's while the SWAT teams were distracted by the fight between the police and the mob.
As the fighting factions were trading bullets, blades, and blows, Frank aimed his UMP sub-gun up high and fired, drawing everyone's attention to him. "Castle!" Jigsaw shouted.
"Teaming up with someone uglier than you, Jigsaw?" the Punisher remarked.
"So you're the Punisher," Shishio deduced. "I heard all about you."
"And just who the fuck are you?" the Punisher asked.
"Your killer," Shishio replied.
"You and Jigsaw are gonna die," the Punisher said as he aimed his gun at the two mob bosses.
"Stop!" Kenshin shouted as he jumped in front of Frank.
"Back off," Frank ordered. "I'm not in the mood to take on law enforcement."
"Let the police handle this," Kenshin instructed.
"Don't give me that bullshit," Frank retorted. "The cops never get their goddamn jobs done."
"Frank, drop your weapon," Soap ordered, his gun pointed at Frank's head. "You're under arrest for murder."
"I don't have time for you, Soap," the Punisher murmured in a threatening tone.
"You'll have plenty of time when I bring you in," Soap answered.
"While we waste time bickering, Shishio, Jigsaw, and their thugs are slipping away," Saito cut in. "Lucky for you, I got one of them."
They turned and saw one of the goons bleeding out from a gunshot from Saito. "God damn . . . aaah," Jigsaw's low-level thug cried out.
"Talk, scumbag," Saito snarled. "What's your boss up to?"
Kenshin, in the meantime, had taken off after Shishio and Jigsaw and their forces, also tailing the Punisher so that he didn't kill them. At least, that he didn't kill them before they could be brought to proper account for their crimes.
"You should really stay out of my way," the Punisher growled darkly, recognizing Kenshin's approach. "I don't do law enforcement."
"I read the stories about you, Mr. Castle," Kenshin responded. "Your family was killed by scum like Jigsaw, so you've spent your life since then killing your way through this city's underworld. I ask you this, though: Let me and my cohorts take them alive."
"And then what?" the Punisher asked. "Let them get their slick lawyers, strike a plea deal and get off scot-free after a few years? I don't think so."
Frank raised his sub-gun at Kenshin as he said, "Now back off before I paint the streets with your blood."
"We don't have to do this, Mr. Castle," Kenshin said. "Just let me through so I can catch . . ."
Kenshin's speech was interrupted by the blast of bullets from the sub-gun but thanks to his quick reflexes, the former yakuza assassin swatted the bullets with his reverse blade sword. As the Punisher was about to reload, Kenshin dashed up to him and swatted the gun away. Unfortunately for him, the Punisher was just quick enough to give him a cross to the jaw, following it up with a roundhouse kick to Kenshin's stomach and an uppercut to the chin.
Frank tackled Kenshin down the stairs of the subway, and frightened onlookers began moving away frantically from the two combatants. The Punisher chased after Kenshin, only to be kicked in the face by the smaller man. He whacked the ex-Marine in the stomach with the blunt side of his sword and hit him in the chest with an open palm. Unfortunately, the armor woven into the Punisher's shirt blunted much of the impact.
Frank retaliated with a head-butt to Kenshin's forehead, relying on Kenshin's brief disorientation to grab him by his tie and hair. Having gotten hold of Kenshin, the Punisher smashed the Interpol officer's head into the glass frame of an ad for the movie remake of The A-Team, which busted his face wide open. The Punisher pulled his M4X knife from its holster and swiped at Kenshin with it.
Kenshin quickly blocked the incoming knife blow with his sword. Their blades clanged against each other while subway goers fled the dueling men. The Manslayer's vision was getting blurry from blood loss but he couldn't let that stop him from taking down the Punisher. He shoved the knife aside and smacked the Punisher in the head with the hilt of his sword, only for Frank to kick him in the chest.
"This is my war, punk!" the Punisher yelled. "Locking criminals up in some shithole of a cell where they can be released after a few years of 'good behavior'? That's not justice, that's just letting the scumbags bide their time until they can do it all over again."
"More dead bodies don't necessarily equal more justice," Kenshin answered grimly.
"You're wrong, lawman," Frank snarled. "What you're doing is putting a Band-Aid on a cancer."
"Maybe," Kenshin retorted. "But death isn't the radical surgery you think it is."
Kenshin swung his sword at Frank but Frank quickly dodged it, smacking the sword away and smashing Kenshin in the ribs with his knee. The lithe redheaded man fell to the ground and Frank grabbed up his knife, going after Kenshin with it one more time. Before he could threaten Kenshin with the knife, he let out a scream from a sudden electroshock, forcing him to drop the blade as he himself fell, convulsing. Kenshin looked to see the SWAT leader carrying a taser while Soap and Saito caught up with him.
"Good job, Roarke," Soap said.
"Thank you, sir," SWAT leader Roarke said. "Time to scoop and poop."
Soap was quite excited that the day he captured Frank Castle had came. He grabbed his handcuffs and placed them on Frank's wrists before ordering a couple of officers to take him away in a police van. As Soap, Roarke, and the two cops hauled the Punisher away, Saito helped Kenshin up, asking, "Who was that man you fought?"
"That was Frank Castle, sir," Kenshin replied. "The Punisher."
"Punisher?" Saito echoed. "He was the one who interrupted us back at the restaurant?"
"Yes," Kenshin confirmed. "I want to have a talk with him and find out about his involvement with this case."
Saito nodded. "Very well."
Kenshin and Saito left the subway and met up with Soap for the trip back to the NYPD.
Inside Jigsaw's yacht, the enraged leader of the Gnucci family threw a chair to the wall, screaming, "That cocksuckin' sonuvabitch! I worked too hard to get those guns in this country and now the police are taking them away!"
"Jigsaw, stop it!" Shishio shouted.
"Why should I!" Jigsaw asked. "I could've made a ton o' cash with those guns!"
"You didn't stash all of them at Brasco's, did you?" Shishio asked, cutting through the fog of rage consuming Jigsaw's mind. "Otherwise you'd have a right to be pissed."
"Yeah, I have other places," Jigsaw replied.
"Hey, William," Looney Bin Jim called out. "Check the news."
"What?" Jigsaw asked.
Jigsaw and Shishio gathered around the couch to watch the news on the television, a report on the Punisher's capture headlining. "During the investigation of illegal gun smuggling, the police captured Frank Castle, known to the public as the Punisher," a news reporter said. "Almost twenty years ago, Frank's family was killed after witnessing a mob hit at Central Park. Castle took up the cause of eliminating crime by any means necessary, including multiple counts of violent mass murder. The Gulf War veteran will be facing charges of first-degree multiple homicide and vigilantism. Det. Martin Soap had this to say."
A clip of Soap's interview popped up on the TV. "The NYPD has worked for a long time to capture Mr. Castle and he will finally be brought up on charges for all the vigilante murders he's committed. This is a great day, not just for the NYPD, but for me too."
"While the police are overjoyed in Frank Castle's capture, their investigation into the illegal gun smuggling continues," The news reporter said. "Interpol's Japanese branch is working very closely with the New York City Police Department, FBI, and now ATF in searching for more illegal weapons. So far, only 20,000 weapons were found in New York, Massachusetts, Connecticut, and right here in New Jersey. This joint task force is currently alerting other authorities all over the world to keep an eye out for any smuggling activities. This is John Fletcher reporting, back to you at the studio."
"Castle got arrested by the pigfuckers," Jigsaw remarked with a satisfied smirk on his face.
"Hmm, I have an idea," Shishio spoke up.
"What is it?" Jigsaw asked.
"I'll send one of my assassins to kill the Punisher and the Manslayer," Shishio replied.
"Who?" LBJ wondered.
"Him," Shishio replied as he pointed to an overweight man sitting on a chair, picking his nose.
"That fella? He fuckin' stinks," LBJ scoffed.
Looney Bin Jim couldn't have been more right. The fat man was dressed in a pair of dirty and torn blue jeans, a stinky wifebeater tanktop, and an old and stained vest. He had a very stupid and goofy expression on his face. His whole body gave off such a horrible odor, as if he had been swimming in a dumpster.
"Mind not saying that about him?" Shishio remarked. "Oh, Iwanbo."
Iwanbo looked up at Shishio. "Huh?"
"I have a job for you," Shishio said.
Iwanbo grunted excitedly.
"I want you head down to the police station and kill two people for me," Shishio ordered.
"Ahhhh," Iwanbo cried out which Shishio took as a yes.
"Good," Shishio said.
"What's he gonna do?" Jigsaw asked. "He looks like a retard."
Iwanbo jumped up and down on the seat and beat his chest with his fists in anger.
"Don't say that," Shishio said sternly. "He's very sensitive about his mental problems."
"So's my brother but I'm not complainin'," Jigsaw said.
Shishio managed to calm down Iwanbo. "Once we get back to New York, I want you to kill the Punisher and the Manslayer. Got it?"
Iwanbo gave Shishio an acknowledged grunt.
"If any cops get in your way, kill them, too," Shishio ordered.
Iwanbo nodded to his boss's command.
The united crime families of Gnucci and Shishio returned to New York a few hours later. Soon enough, the streets of New York was going to become a battleground between law and crime with the innocent caught in the middle. This was going to be a bloodbath that no one would be prepared for.
End Notes: The Gnucci and Shishio crime families have forged their unholy union and no one is safe. If Frank and Kenshin can somehow work out their differences, they might just very well be an unstoppable force against the united crime families. Will they, though? Well, you'll just have to find out.
If you're wondering why I did this, I thought it would be pretty cool to write a story featuring both the Punisher and Kenshin and their contrasting styles of dishing out justice. The Punisher is quite brutal in his approach out of the belief that criminals deserve no mercy, while Kenshin has striven never to take a life. Both of them are motivated by the loss of their loved ones, but while Kenshin walks the path of peace, the Punisher is one-man army determined to wipe out crime at any cost.
Despite the characters of Rurouni Kenshin being in the 21st century here as opposed to their 19th-century roots, I will strive to keep them true to their personalities. Hope you guys enjoy this story, and be sure to review. Later, everyone.