"Punisher and Manslayer"

By Rider Paladin and MasterODST

Disclaimer: The Punisher is owned by Marvel Comics and the Walt Disney Company. Rurouni Kenshin/Samurai X is owned by Nobohiro Watsuki and Viz Media.

Author's note: This story received some positive reviews for our updated interpretation of the Rurouni Kenshin characters. Let's keep this going now, shall we? Things have gotten off on the wrong foot for Frank and Kenshin and now our gun-toting warrior is captured by the cops. Jigsaw and Shishio have sent some of their wise guys to kill our two heroes. Will the Punisher and the Manslayer put their differences this time? Let's read on in our dramasterpiece, true believers. Bullets and blades ahoy!

Chapter 2:

"Forced Assault"

An hour had passed since Frank's capture by the cops. Frank was sitting in the interrogation room, staring stoically at the one way window. He knew Det. Soap was watching him and if he wasn't handcuffed, he would've stormed out of the room and choked the detective out. All he could do was let the rage swim in his mind with the lights flickering in the room. Martin watched Frank while he was drinking some coffee and eating a chocolate glazed donut. He bought some Dunkin Donuts and coffee for celebrating the Punisher's capture. Kenshin and Saito had come back to the station from the hospital; Kenshin had some stitches sown into his wound from his impromptu fight with the Punisher and his chest was taped up since his ribs were cracked. Martin turned his head to see the two Interpol cops walking up to him near the one way window.

"How was your time at the hospital, Agent Himura?" Det. Soap asked.

"I've been better," Kenshin replied. "I've dealt with worse injuries than this."

"Perhaps a donut will take care of the pain," Det. Soap said.

"That would be nice, thank you," Kenshin responded, grabbing a jelly donut from the Dunkin Donuts box.

"How's the prisoner?" Saito asked.

"He's just sitting in that chair, hasn't moved a muscle," Det. Soap replied.

"You wouldn't mind if I spoke with him, Det. Soap?" Kenshin asked with his mouth filled with donut.

"Hmm, all right," Det. Soap acknowledged. "I should warn you, he's a ticking time bomb."

"Don't worry about it," Kenshin said, finishing off his donut.

Kenshin stepped into the interrogation room and sat down at the table, across from Frank.

"You," Frank snarled, his tone cold and emotionless.

"Yes," Kenshin responded calmly. "I want to know, from your perspective. Why?"

"Why should I talk to you, lawman?" Frank asked contemptuously. "Did you lose your goddamn brain matter in our fight?"

"No, I didn't," Kenshin replied, "but I believe more is gained from interaction with a foe by understanding the way they think, the way they operate, than just shooting them in the face and calling it a day."

"You don't want to know what's goin' on inside my head, lawman," Frank said. "I deal with the demons of my family's deaths every day. You don't know what it's like to see your loved ones die around you."

Kenshin's violet eyes darkened with memory. "Actually, I understand better than you think." Trying to push that tragic moment of Tomoe's death out of his mind, he grabbed a manilla folder containing all of Frank's personal history and criminal record.

"What's that supposed to be?" Frank asked. "My file?"

"Yes," Kenshin said. "Det. Soap left this here for me to look at it."

"You think you're gonna understand me better with that?" Frank mocked the long-haired Interpol officer.

Kenshin ignored Frank as he flipped through the file. "Francis Jack Castiglione. Born February 16, 1959. Sex: Male. Age: 51. You once served in the US Marine Corps and earned many medals for your valor."

"Is there a point?" Frank asked.

"If I may ask you again, what's your perspective in this case?"

"Jigsaw's scum," Frank answered. "He needs to be wiped out."

"No, I intend to capture him alive," Kenshin said. "There won't be any bloodshed on my watch."

"Many people will die, kid," Frank said. "In war, there are no pacifists, just killers and soldiers."

"People do die," Kenshin admitted sadly. "But let me ask you this. Are you doing what you're doing because you genuinely believe this is the only way to assure justice, or is it still about revenge for your family after all these years?"

Frank's expression hardened. "Revenge is an emotional response. What I do is punishment. There's a difference."

"You were quite emotional during our encounter in the train station," Kenshin remarked.

"Your idealism pissed me off," Frank answered dryly.

Despite the seeming calm between the two men, Kenshin could sense the rage that dwelled within Frank Castle's soul. The worst part was that Kenshin knew that when Frank unleashed that rage, it would not be blind fury – but a tightly controlled, precisely aimed weapon that would strike with no mercy. That scared the former yakuza assassin more than he'd ever like to admit.

Outside, Martin was getting frustrated. "Why isn't the son of a bitch talking? Why the hell doesn't your pretty boy there just dispense with the niceties and the understanding bullshit and just make him talk?"

Hajime sighed with slowly fraying patience. "Because there are more efficient ways to get someone to talk than just beating them to a pulp that can't even speak in the end."

"Tell that to the B-50 Kings," Soap responded.

"Common thugs have no discipline," Hajime scoffed. "They are, in the end, weak cowards who are only good at appearing to be intimidating but quickly crumple in the face of a stronger opposition. This Castle is far more methodical, and he will not be bent by the same methods you could use on these so-called B-50 Kings."

Outside of the NYPD, a black car stopped across the street. Jigsaw's two top boys, Pittsy and Ink, were in the front seats while Iwanbo sat in the back. Pittsy's cell phone rang; he picked up to answer it.

"Hey, boss," Pittsy answered the phone.

"Did you dispose of the guns?" Jigsaw asked.

"Yeah, I stored them at Ma Gnucci's old place on Grand Nix," Pittsy responded.

"Good," Jigsaw said. "Set that fat ass on Castle and that X-scarred bitch."

"Got it, Jigsaw," Pittsy said before he hung up his cell phone. "Ink, open the door and let him out."

"Sure, pops," Ink said. "He's stinking up the car worse than Fred Flintstone's ass anyway."

"Just shaddup and open the fuckin' door," Pittsy ordered. "Goddamn kid, doesn't think, just like his mother."

Ink stepped out of the car to let Iwanbo out; the massively overweight psychotic got out of the car and galloped his way toward the station while laughing with glee. "Fuckin' fat ass," Ink muttered as Iwanbo butt-bounced through the window into the station.

The cops whipped their heads around to spot a fat man dressed in tattered denim standing in front of a broken window. "What the hell!"

"Who is that guy?" One of the cops shouted.

"Get him before he starts any trouble!" Another cop ordered.

The police officers drawn out their guns and fired but Iwanbo jumped into the air to dodge the bullets and belly-flopped on to a small group of cops. One cop tried to restrain him but he ended up having his neck snapped and quite dead afterward. The commotion interrupted Kenshin's interrogation of Frank, and he quickly rose from his chair after hearing the noise.

"Stay put, Mr. Castle," Kenshin said, running out of the room.

"What the hell's going on?" Martin asked.

"We're being attacked," Kenshin replied as he unsheathed his blade. "Let's go!"

Martin and Saito followed Kenshin to find out where the noise was coming from. Frank scoffed and shook his head. "I'm not stickin' around, kid."

The Punisher got up from his chair and ran out of the interrogation room. He made his way to the office area of the police station to see Kenshin and Saito fighting against Iwanbo with numerous cops lying dead or unconscious on the floor. Frank spotted Det. Soap sitting against the wall, knocked out. He also saw a ring of keys near his body, he quickly grabbed them and rifled through the ring to find the handcuff key.

Meanwhile, Kenshin and Saito were having a hard time taking down Iwanbo. He punched Saito in the chin then backhanded Kenshin in the face. The redheaded Interpol agent smacked Iwanbo in his flabby chest with his sheathe and then kicked him in the head. The attack knocked him back several steps but not onto the ground.

This enraged the fat man but before he could charge at Kenshin, Saito jumped onto his back with his arms wrapped around his neck in an attempt to choke him out. Iwanbo thrashed about to get Saito off but Saito was clamped on his back too tightly for Iwanbo to shake off so easily. Kenshin delivered a series of blows to Iwanbo with his sheathed sword.

Frank finally found the key to his handcuffs and unlocked them to free his wrists. He grabbed a SPAS-12 shotgun from a fallen SWAT soldier and checked out ammo. There was some ammo in the shotgun but not much. Frank searched the dead SWAT cop for any shells and found some. Frank loaded his weapon and aimed at the three men. Saito saw the Punisher with the shotgun in his hands.

"Castle, you shit," Saito snarled under his breath.

"Get off," Frank said to Saito coldly.

Iwanbo threw the commanding officer off him as the Punisher pumped a shot into the fat man's gut, the impact from the shotgun blast sent him flying through the wall of the station. Punisher ran toward the hole in the wall to see where Iwanbo fell but there was nothing but an oily spot on the street. The Punisher ran out of the station through the hole made by Iwanbo to get a closer look.

He looked at the blood stain on the road which formed a trail for him to follow. As he followed that trail, Frank sighted a motorcycle parked near a Subway restaurant and decided to hijack it. He got on the motorcycle to start it up just as its owner came out of the restaurant with a sandwich in his hands.

"Hey, asshole! That's my ride!" The motorcyclist screamed.

The Punisher didn't say anything to the motorcyclist; he revved up the motorcycle and began his chase for Iwanbo. Kenshin and Saito ran out of the station just in time to hear the motorcyclist screaming, "That motherfucker stole my bike!"

"What did he look like?" Kenshin asked.

"Fiftyish, greased-back hair, and dressed all in black with a trench coat and a goddamn skull on his chest!" the motorcyclist replied irately.

"Castle," Saito murmured. Speaking more loudly, "Where'd he go?"

"That way!" the motorcyclist shouted, pointing where Castle had ridden off.

"Thanks," Saito grunted before he and Kenshin took a police car to pursue the Punisher in.

As Frank cruised through the streets, he contacted Microchip with his earpiece. "Micro, come in," Frank said.

"Frank, what the fuck's goin' on!" Microchip cried out. "I heard you were thrown in jail, man!"

"Well, I escaped," Frank said. "I need you to do something for me."

"What is it?" Microchip asked.

"Prep my Battle Van," Frank ordered.

"But I'm in the middle of Modern Warfare 2," Microchip complained.

"I don't give a fuck!" Frank shouted. "Prep the damn van!"

"Ok, ok," Microchip said, almost shitting himself upon hearing Frank's order.

Microchip put down the Xbox 360 controller and quickly shut the console down. Castle's weapons man grabbed several guns off the gun rack and loaded them up into the battle van. He loaded a M16, a couple of Colt .45 handguns, an M4X knife, and several hand grenades. Microchip got into the driver seat of the van, turned on the radar to track Frank's signal, and drove out of the warehouse.

Saito and Kenshin charged down the highway as the sirens screeched loudly. Although Saito was used to driving on the left side of the road back in Japan, he quickly managed to get the hang of driving on the right side.

"Sir, I see Castle up ahead," Kenshin said.

"I know, Kenshin," Saito grunted, almost clipping a passerby.

"You almost hit that man!" Kenshin shouted.

"Should've looked both ways," Saito answered unsympathetically.

As the Interpol officers chased down the Punisher, passersby couldn't help but look at the chaotic scene. Meanwhile, Microchip was tracking Frank on the radar in the battle van. For the last twenty minutes, he searched through the city for him but couldn't find him. As he pulled up to a red light, the radar started to beep rather loudly, meaning the Punisher was nearby. He saw a man in black on a motorcycle zooming down the street, and the skull symbol identified him as Frank Castle. Before the red light turned green, Castle's weapons supplier drove after him, almost hitting another car in his zeal.

"You fuckin' fat ass!" A motorist screamed.

Saito and Kenshin saw a black van with red stripes coming in front of them. They assumed the driver was Frank's accomplice aiding in his escape and pursuit of Iwanbo. "What the hell's a van doing here?" Saito asked.

"I'll find out who it is," Kenshin replied, rolling down the window to crawl out.

"Kenshin, get back here!" Saito shouted. "That's an order!"

The former Manslayer ignored his superior's command as he crawled out of the cop car to the roof. He made a leap of faith onto the Battle Van's roof. Micro decided it was time to lose the police before the chase got ugly. He pushed a tiny lever on the control panel to spill some oil all over the road.

Oil spread itself across the path of the cop care which caused it to spin out of control. Saito tried to maintain control of the car but the oil slick was too slippery. He crashed into a hot dog cart, knocking down a bunch of hot dogs, buns, and condiments. Saito stepped out of the car and pounded the hood in frustration as the vendor screamed at him in Spanish. Saito turned to the vendor with a death glare that could have melted steel, and the vendor quickly shut up.

Frank stopped his stolen motorcycle in front of an abandoned mental asylum where the blood trail had ended. Microchip parked the van, got out as he said, "Frank, who were those guys chasing you? They don't look like local law enforcement."

"Interpol," Frank said.

"Interpol? Now you're really a wanted man," Microchip said.

"They're not after me," Frank stated. "They're after Jigsaw and Shishio."

"What was the chase about, then?" Microchip asked.

"I tailed one of Shishio's minions after he attacked the police station," Frank replied. "I shot him and followed his blood trail right here. I'm going inside to kill him, bring some heat in case this shit starts to get ugly."

"Sure thing," Microchip obeyed.

Micro opened up the Battle Van's door to grab some of the weapons and then followed the Punisher into the insane asylum. Kenshin kept himself out of sight so he wouldn't be spotted by the gun-toting street warrior and his accomplice. He pulled out his cell phone and quickly dialed Saito to tell him where he was.

"Hello?" Saito's voice boomed on the speaker.

"Sir, I know Frank and his accomplice are," Kenshin said.

"Where?" Saito asked.

"A place called Joshua Roland Mental Hospital," Kenshin replied.

"I'll be right there," Saito said. "If that idiot Det. Soap wakes up, I'll contact some backup. Don't let them kill Iwanbo until I show up."

"All right," Kenshin answered.

Kenshin entered the asylum to search for Frank, Microchip, and Iwanbo. The whole place was in ruins – rusted out stretchers and wheelchairs, the old bed frames still in the old rooms, holes on the floors and ceilings, not to mention graffiti covering the walls. He drew his reverse blade sword while looking around the hallway, only to hear the sound of a shotgun being loaded when he stopped at an intersection. Kenshin turned cautiously, and found himself staring into the business end of a shotgun.

"I knew you followed me here, punk," Frank said. "I should blast your brains to the floor right now."

"C'mon, Frank," Microchip said. "You don't have to kill him."

"Maybe," Frank answered in a tone that sounded like he was far from convinced. "Or maybe he's just a stupid punk that's gotten in way over his head and pay grade."

"We can use his help, Frank," Microchip said. "He seems to know this Shishio fella. He can give us some information on his gun smuggling operation."

"But right now, we have to deal with Iwanbo," Kenshin said.

"That piece of shit is a dead man," the Punisher said grimly.

"No, he will be taken alive," Kenshin said.

"I don't play by your rules, kid," The Punisher said. "Let's go."

Punisher, Kenshin, and Microchip searched through the institute to find Iwanbo. The screeching of rusted wheels echoed through the hallways. The screeching got louder as the trio saw Iwanbo riding on a stretcher while he was foaming at the mouth like a diseased animal. They lined up against the opposite sides of the hallway's walls as he came zooming past them. Iwanbo hopped off the stretcher and faced them; his vest, beer belly, and blue jeans were covered in blood thanks to the gunshot wound to the chest. How he survived such a fatal wound was anyone's guess.

"Ruraaaaaaagh!" Iwanbo screamed.

"Oh my God, he's gone berserk!" Microchip screamed.

"Bring it on, you fucking pile of shit," the Punisher challenged coldly as he aimed his shotgun at Iwanbo.

Iwanbo charged at the trio, roaring with rage all the while. He jumped and did a Blanka-style vertical roll that left the Punisher, Kenshin, and Microchip on the floor from the force of the attack. Iwanbo just landed on his feet and ran off.

"Jesus Christ, he sure is fast for someone so fat," Micro said.

"Where did he go?" Kenshin asked.

"That fuck went that way," Frank replied, point to their left.

They chased after the particularly unhinged assassin. The blood trail led them to the asylum's cafeteria and straight to the kitchen, where they searched for Iwanbo. Kenshin opened up an old, broken-down dishwasher to see if he was in there but found nothing but sprayers and a dish rack.

Frank searched the walk-in fridge for Iwanbo, peeking behind clearly expired food boxes and checking the freezer in back, but didn't find him. Microchip walked around the stock room to see if Iwanbo was in there and rummaged through the shelves and behind the boxes but found nothing. He checked the storage closet, expecting to find nothing.

He wasn't that lucky, as he found a massive fist striking him in the jaw. Microchip fell on his back as Iwanbo stepped out of the closet. "Oh, fuck!" Microchip screamed as Iwanbo grabbed him and tossed Castle's weapons supplier into a shelf of canned food. "He's here! Fellas, he's over here!"

Microchip's shout made the Punisher and Kenshin run to the stock room, where they saw Iwanbo brutally beating Microchip. The Punisher aimed his shotgun at Iwanbo and fired, only for Iwanbo to duck under the incoming pellets, which hit a bag of sugar. Iwanbo pushed Microchip aside and ran out of the stock room but not before Frank shot him in the shoulder with one of his handguns. The wounded Iwanbo retreated into the cafeteria, only to be greeted by Saito with his sword drawn.

"Going somewhere?" Saito asked. "There's no where to run, Iwanbo. I have the whole place surrounded by police and SWAT teams. Give yourself up while you're still alive to choose."

"He's going to be in a body bag when this is over," Frank said to Saito as he and Microchip walked out of the kitchen.

"You," Saito said coldly.

"Lieutenant," Kenshin greeted, walking into the cafeteria.

"Kenshin," Saito responded.

Iwanbo was trapped. Not only did he have to deal with four men, three of whom were well-trained and well-armed, but there were flashing red-and-blue lights all over the cafeteria that alerted him to more trouble waiting for him outside.

"Time to die," Punisher said as he aimed his gun at Iwanbo.

Before he could pull the trigger, Iwanbo ran at Frank and knocked the shotgun out of his hands. Frank dodged the incoming punch from Iwanbo and socked him in the face with a right cross. Microchip tossed the M16 to Frank and he proceeded to fire at the insane assassin. Iwanbo dodged the bullets and picked up a table to shield himself from being shot. He ran at Frank with the table in front of him and smashed him against the wall, causing Frank to drop his gun.

Iwanbo turned his sights to Saito, who had his sword ready by his side. They charged at each other, Saito slashing at Iwanbo only for Iwanbo to catch the sword with his hands. Kenshin came out of nowhere and smacked him in the back with his reverse blade sword. With his sword free, Saito sliced Iwanbo's chest, prompting a pained scream as Kenshin smacked him in the chin. Saito stabbed him in the stomach and then Kenshin delivered bone-breaking blows to Iwanbo. Despite taking such a beating, he was still standing.

"Should I call an ambulance, sir?" Kenshin asked his superior.

"No," Frank said with two guns in his hands.

"Mr. Castle, don't!" Kenshin screamed but Frank ignored him.

The Punisher shot Iwanbo until he ran out of bullets. He dropped his guns and took his knife, tossed it at Iwanbo and stabbed him in the chest. Finally, he took a grenade, walked to Iwanbo, shoved it into his mouth, and pulled the pin. Everyone backed away as Iwanbo's head exploded in skull fragments, blood, and brain meat. His headless body dropped to the floor and the sound of his bowels exploding in his pants was audible, much to a shared disgust that only Microchip had the lack of stoicism to voice.

"Ewww . . ."

Frank turned Iwanbo's body over to retrieve his knife and wiped the blade clean on the dead man's vest. "C'mon, Micro," he ordered. "Let's get out of here.

"Right behind ya, Frank," Micro said.

"Hold it, Castle," Saito said. "You're not going anywhere."

"Watch me," Frank retorted before he and Microchip walked off.

Frank and Microchip drove off as Detective Soap spotted the battle van. Needless to say, he was quite frustrated to see the vigilante and his accomplice escaping police custody. The police stormed into the insane asylum and searched their way through but all they found a headless dead body and the two Interpol agents.

"What the fuck happened here?" Soap asked.

"Frank killed one of Shishio's boys, Det. Soap," Kenshin said.

"Why didn't you two stop him?" Soap asked.

"Catching him wouldn't do us any good," Saito replied.

"And why not?" Soap inquired irritably.

"Because I would have killed him myself after making him spill his guts," Saito replied. "Castle happened to reach him first."

"Now we're back at square freakin' one," Soap said angrily. "I've worked real hard to capture him and now he's escaped. Can't let him do that again."

"If I were you, I'd just get them all in a position where they could take each other down and we'd scoop up what's left," Saito remarked.

"I don't wanna see any more corpses after all this," Kenshin said.

"Spare me the song and dance, Kenshin," Saito sneered.

"With all due respect, sir," Kenshin answered defiantly. "We can bring down both Jigsaw and Shishio without so much bloodshed and death. We came here to America to capture Shishio for all the pain and suffering he's caused. I vowed to capture him alive so he can face justice in our courts. He will spend the rest of his days in jail and never hurt innocent people ever again."

"Don't delude yourself into thinking you're some kind of saint," Saito shot back, irritated by Kenshin's unfailing idealism. "The only reason you're not in a cell for life is that you turned state's evidence on your old boss and got yourself a new shot at life."

"I joined Interpol to repent for my crimes," Kenshin admitted. "I don't want my unborn son to grow up in a world of violence and chaos."

Soap had to admit, he was pretty touched by Kenshin's words. In a way, it showed him that what he was doing wasn't so pointless. They were all fighting for a better tomorrow for all the innocent people of the world, and if a former yakuza killer like Kenshin Himura could redeem himself, there was hope just yet for this world.

Elsewhere, Jigsaw and Shishio were discussing their business on what to do next until they heard a knock on the door. Jigsaw shouted, "Hey, we're in a goddamn meetin' here!"

"But boss, it's important," Pittsy pleaded.

"Can't it wait, Pittsy?" Jigsaw asked.

"No, sir," Pittsy replied.

"Then come in then," Jigsaw conceded.

Pittsy opened up the door into Jigsaw's office, looking quite shaken. "Uh, sirs, Iwanbo got clipped."

"What?" Shishio asked.

"He's dead," Pittsy clarified. "It was on the news."

"Goddammit!" Shishio shouted. "Castle killed him, didn't he!"

"Y-yes, he did," Pittsy said. "They won't even talk about how it happened, so I figure Castle really did a number on the son of a bitch."

"Get out," Shishio whispered.

"What?" Pittsy asked.

"I said get out before I burn you to a cinder!" Shishio shouted, scaring Pittsy out of the room.

"Don't ever talk to my boys like that or I'll have you wearing a pine overcoat!" Jigsaw snarled.

"You know what happens to people who fuck with me, Jigsaw!" Shishio screamed.

"I'm not afraid of you, burning man," Jigsaw said firmly, almost coldly. "Unless you want this partnership to work and put this stupidity aside, you better walk out this door right now."

"Whatever," Shishio said.

"If you and I don't wanna lose any more of our boys, I suggest we hire some hitmen," Jigsaw said.

"Yeah," Shishio said. "I know someone who can get the job done."

"I got a hitman who can get rid of someone without a trace," Jigsaw said. "He is called 'The Bushwhacker.' What's the name of your boy?"

"Jinei Udo," Shishio said.

"I'll place a call to them right now," Jigsaw said.

Jigsaw pulled out his cell phone and began making some calls. In a small town in Florida, Carl Burbanks, a.k.a. Bushwhacker, was having a smoke when his cell rang. He picked up the cell and answered it.

"Hello, Jigsaw," Bushwhacker greeted.

"I know it has been awhile, Carl, but I have a job for ya," Jigsaw said.

"Yeah, what is it?" Bushwhacker asked.

"I want you to eliminate the Punisher and some redhead bitch named Kenshin Himura," Jigsaw said.

"Ok, how much ya payin'?" Bushwhacker asked.

"I'll pay ya ten million solid for the job," Jigsaw replied.

"Not a problem, I'll be up there in a few days," Bushwhacker agreed before hanging up the phone.

Inside a local cathouse in Kyoto, Japan, Jinei had just finished having sex with a prostitute. His cell phone rang when he sat up on the bed. He grabbed the phone and spoke, "Hello?"

"Is this Jinei Udo?" a voice asked.

"Yeah, that's me," Jinei replied.

"I'm Jigsaw, I'm calling on behalf of your client, Makoto Shishio," Jigsaw introduced himself.

"All right, what does he want?" Jinei asked.

"He has a job for you," Jigsaw explained. "He wants two guys dead, one Kenshin Himura, and the other Frank Castle, the Punisher."

"That vigilante from New York?" Jinei smirked wickedly. "It'd be an honor to have his head on my table."

"There's a cool ten mil in it for ya," Jigsaw added.

"Excellent, I will arrive in New York in sometime soon," Jinei said as he hung up.

Jinei got up to get dressed as the prostitute came into the room. "Hey, baby," she greeted in Japanese. "You gonna give me my thousand ryo?"

"I got things to do," Jinei answered in curt, precise Japanese as he dressed himself.

"I'm not some slut who'll do it for free!" the prostitute yelled at him, her Japanese slipping into a rude tone.

"I frankly don't give a damn," Jinei retorted, finishing dressing as he turned to leave, only to hear a gun being pointed at his back by the prostitute.

"You don't get to walk out of here without paying," she stated with cold finality.

"Actually, I do," Jinei replied just as coldly before quickly slashing at her in the same instant he'd turned to face her. Her head fell off first, and then her body dropped to the ground. Having sheathed his sword by that point, the assassin departed the cathouse to prepare for his trip to New York City.

To be continued . . .

Endnotes: The violence will escalate to a whole new level, true believers. Jigsaw and Shishio have hired two bloodthirsty killers to take out the Punisher and Kenshin. In the comics, Bushwhacker was a ex-priest turned cybernetic serial killer who believed he was doing away with sinners. Here, he'll be a ordinary human but still an ex-priest, and Jinei was a manslayer himself known to kill high-ranking government officials in the Rurouni Kenshin manga. He won't be changed very much, although this modern update has him as a hit man for Shishio.

Sorry it took so long to finish this chapter since life pretty much got in the way and we've been planning on doing a follow-up to the Batman retrospective on DeviantArt. Also, the co-plotter of this story, The Wolf Demon had recently changed his pen name to MasterODST. So from now on, you'll see that new pen name in future stories. We do appreciate the good reviews for this story, so keep them coming, true believers, and we'll give you more of the action you crave!