Author's notes: A few things must be stated.
BLACK LAGOON fans:
-I've read the mangas until and including "El Baile de la Muerte". There will be no spoilers in this fanfic. No references to any storyline except some hints at how "Rock" ended up in Roanapur. So, no need to ask: "Does this take place between this and that story arc?".
-There will be character death.
-This is an Alternate Universe crossover fanfic. If things get shaken up, remember that.
-This version of the Punisher will be similar to the MAX version, which means: no superpowers or super tech.
To all readers:
-I wrote this to be accessible by all readers: those who know Punisher, those who know Black Lagoon, those who know both and those who know neither.
-Some characters are introduced early on and are not yet revealed. They are not Original Characters. There are no Original Characters of great importance in this fic.
-Reviews are welcome. Good or bad, be constructive.
Rokuro Okajima was curious.
He was aboard the Black Lagoon. A boat. An 80-foot war era Patrol Torpedo boat. He was looking at the passenger holding the cargo. It seemed the size and shape of a framed painting. Both were in a cabin below deck. The man wouldn't speak, wouldn't answer any of Okajima's questions. He stood there, holding his package, not moving. Busy being mysterious.
"Well," Okajima said, still trying to be friendly, "I'll see you later, then."
Still no answer. Okajima went up on deck.
"Fuckin' Christ Almighty, this is fuckin' boring me outta my fuckin' mind," a harsh voice said.
He looked over at his comrade. Revy. She looked like she always looked: dark tank-top, cut-off jeans, tribal tattoos covering her right arm. Twin 9mm stainless steel Berettas in a customized shoulder rig. She always wore those items, along with a constant angry scowl on her young-20 something-Chinese-American features. She has more than attitude. She has uncanny skill with those guns. That got her the nickname "Two Hands". She was just as good with one hand or the other or both at once. Rock saw it many times. Rock has also seen Revy smile while shooting, which was even more troubling...at first.
Funny how he got used to what he once considered immoral...
"What I wouldn't fuckin' give for some action right about now," Revy added.
"That's your opinion, 'Two Hands'. To me a day without a gunfight is a pretty good one," a male voice answered.
Benny. Mild mannered computer expert and hacker. White man, also in his 20s. Bright Hawaiian shirt, khaki pants, long blond hair tied in a ponytail. Small glasses. Despite his look, Rock knew Benny to be very jaded. Disillusioned. Revy let out an annoyed sigh.
"Yeah, well, that's you, Benny," Revy said, "I mean, delivering paintings, not my idea of fun."
"Well, now, Revy," a based filled baritone said, "in this city, pretty sure you'll run into trouble by sundown. This is Roanapur. You'll be up to your eyeballs in chaos and bloodshed in no time."
The skipper of the boat, the leader of this motley crew, the man who'd just spoken was simply named Dutch. Large, broad shouldered Black man. American, like Benny and Revy. Older, maybe late 30 or early 40s. Bald. Goatee. Small round shades. Flak jacket. Army pants. A hard man. One who has seen much death. And dealt it. But, always level headed.
Dutch was right about Roanapur. It was ruled by gangsters and corrupt police. This was a completely lawless town. Except for the law of the jungle.
"Besides," Dutch went on, "we are couriers. This is what we do, deliverin' stuff."
"Still fuckin' boring," Revy went on.
"So, Rock," Benny said, "Anything from Mister Congeniality down there?"
"Rock." The nickname Rokuro Okajima had gotten used to. Once a modest salary man from Japan, after series of complicated events, he ended up as hostage of this group. He then joined the group when he realized he nothing waiting from his back home. Like Revy, he was in his 20s, but felt much older. The things he'd seen since he joined the Lagoon crew. He spoke several languages and found out he was skilled as a negotiator. The crew found him useful, that's why they kept him. He seemed meek: he wasn't very tall, slender, always dressed in a short sleeved white shirt and black pants, but he's learned to adapt to his environment. A very hostile and corrupt environment.
"Nothing," Rock said. "Won't say a word."
"Amazing," Revy said, "Somebody Rock isn't able to annoy. Miracles do exist."
"When we reach destination, who knows, maybe the client will tell us," Dutch said.
"Who gives a shit, it's only a painting," Revy said. "Only Rock would care about some shit like that."
"You're not curious? Not even a little?" Rock asked.
"I'm only curious to see who many shooters of Jack our fee will buy me," Revy said.
"Here we go," Benny said, "There's Chang's boat."
"Holy shit, that's a big fuckin' boat," Revy said.
Revy's colourful description was right. It was a luxury cruise ship, most likely converted into a floating casino and brothel. Open 24 hours.
A ladder was rolled down as the Lagoon crew climbed aboard. So did the mystery man with the mystery painting. Dutch anchored the boat and closed the climb. There were many comings and goings on the deck, from drunken gamblers to serious looking Chinese henchmen wearing submachine guns over dark suits. The police wasn't much of a problem in these parts.
"Lagoon traders!" A voice said cheerfully, "Welcome aboard the Palace of Heavenly Purity!"
A tall, dapper, sunglasses wearing, slender, handsome, 30 something Chinese man came to meet them. Rock recognized him instantly. Chang. The leader of the Roanapur branch of the Triad. He seemed like an easy going kind of guy. He was also a brilliant business man and a ruthless gangster. And, on occasion, Rock knew, a hard-boiled killer.
"Hey, Chang," Dutch said, "What did you call this ship?"
"The Palace of Heavenly Purity," Benny said. "In China's Forbidden City, built in the 1400s, it was a large building where important meetings were held, along with really big banquets."
"Exactly," Chang said with a satisfied smile.
"Fuckin' nerd," Revy said, elbowing Benny in his side.
"Pretty impressive, Benny-Boy," Dutch said.
"Knowledge is power, guys. Is this a Sovereign class?" Benny asked.
"Right again," Chang said, "Almost 900 feet long, 12 decks, it can hold almost three thousand passengers. I bought this a while ago, it was a bargain."
"Nothing pure or heavenly happenin' on this tub," Revy said.
"So cynical, as always, Revy," Chang said, still smiling. Chang then saw the mystery man, with the mystery painting. A few words were exchanged. Rock recognized Cantonese. Then: "Come on, I'll take you the conference room, you can cool off and have a couple drinks, on me."
"Best idea I heard all day, Chang," Revy said.
Minutes later, they were all in the conference room, everyone, but the silent stranger having a beer in hand. Chang gave Dutch the fee for transporting the man and the piece of art. Then, Chang unveiled it.
"Ah. Perfect," Chang said.
"So," Revy asked, "What's the deal with this painting?"
"Chu here is an art thief," Chang said, "And I'd asked him to bring me this."
It was brightly colored. It showed a large fire and two people escaping from it. Chang hung it on a wall.
"The Destruction Of Sodom And Gomorrah," Benny said.
"Once more, well guessed, Benny," Chang said.
"You on fire, Benny-Boy," Dutch said, "A walking encyclopedia."
"Yeah, you tryin' to qualify for Jeopardy or somethin'?" Revy said.
"Nah. More of a Wheel of Fortune guy. Always did find Vanna White pretty hot," Benny said.
"So I guess that it represents God's wrath released upon a city of corruption and vice," Rock said.
"Yeah, well, God would have his work cut out for him in this city," Revy said, "He'd get his ass kicked."
"Yeah, he probably would," Chang said.
"Why'd you want this painting?" Rock asked.
Chang's mood was bit more sullen, Rock noticed: "Well," Chang said, "The good people in Sodom and Gomorrah though they could do whatever they wanted and to hell with the consequences. Sooner or later, they got theirs all right. Total destruction. God did give them a warning before, though. He asked them to find ten righteous people in the city before he decided to destroy it. They couldn't. So the entire city burned. Divine punishment."
There was a silence in the room. Rock knew that Chang loved irony. Having a piece of art showing the destruction of an evil city aboard a floating brothel called The Palace Of Heavenly Purity was amusing him, in a twisted way. Rock also knew that Chang had no illusion about what he was and how he would meet his end. Maybe that was why his mood changed when he described the painting.
"So anyway, enough about the art," Chang said, "More drinks, you wanna take a tour of the ship?"
"Why the fuck not?" Revy said. "If I can't kill anybody, might as well get drunk."
"Good plan, Revy," Dutch said.
Everyone left the room. Rock looked back at the painting. A strange feeling came over him. The destruction of a city of vice. Few survivors. Someone looked back and was turned into salt.
Rock shook his head. And walked out. It was just a painting, he told himself, it had no meaning...
No meaning at all.
Evening in Roanapur
The Yellow Flag
Rock was sipping on a glass of Bacardi Rum at the bar.
Benny once called this place "our favourite shit-hole", Rock remembered. Accurate description. The place always smelled of tobacco, sweat and marijuana. Poker games, loud conversations, thugs bragging about how bad-ass they were, that was all routine in the Yellow Flag. In a city like Roanapur, the Yellow Flag was like a saloon in the old westerns. Brawls, knife fights and gunfights were not rare. In the time Rock's been in Roanapur, he's seen this place blown up, burned down and riddled with bullets several times. Bao, the tireless owner, kept rebuilding it.
But Rock's thoughts were lost in the recent past. Chang's boat and that painting...
"Hey, Rock," Revy said, "You're sittin' there all brooding and shit. The fuck is the matter now?"
"Yeah," Benny said, "Almost 24 hours, we haven't been shot at. That's enough to make me happy for today."
"Easy job, easy money," Dutch said, "Happens as often as Christmas. That's a reason to celebrate."
"Wait a minute, I think I know what's crawled up your ass," Revy said, "It's that fuckin' painting, ain't it? The Burning of Sodomy and Gonorrhoea or whatever the fuck it's called! "
"How did you know?", Rock asked.
"Please, Rock, I know that sad-ass look anywhere. I'm beginning to know you," Revy said. "Despite your time here, you're never gonna wipe that sentimental-bullshit-right-and-wrong philosophical crap outta your brain! I don't need to be Oprah Fuckin' Winfrey to figure out what you're thinkin'! Let's see: city of sin gets destroyed, Roanapur is a fucking cesspool packed with all sorts of fuckin' freaks and degenerates, matter of time before we all get ours, right? Fuck that shit! You believe that, you might as well start believing that Santa Claus is fucking the Easter Bunny in Never Never Land."
"That...is a weird fuckin' picture," Benny said.
"Revy's got a point, Rock," Dutch said, "Good guys, bad guys, that's nice in Hollywood movies and comic books. Truth is, we're all grey. Good people get fucked over, bad people get fucked over. Ain't no rhyme or reason to it, man. Life's a bitch, death's a motherfucker. Ain't no changin' that."
"Why would Chang want something like that?" Rock asked.
"Who knows," Dutch said, "Maybe it's good for a laugh to him. Maybe it's just a nice piece of art?"
"Yeah," Rock said, "I kinda-"
"You Lagoon motherfuckers! It's time to fuckin' die," someone bellowed from the entrance.
"The fuck?" Benny asked, "Who-"
Then, fully automatic weapon thundered in the bar.
"Holy fuckin' shit," Revy said, leaping over the counter, shortly followed by other comrades.
"Like I was asking, who the fuck are these assholes?", Benny shouted, trying to be heard over the sound of gunfire.
Bao ducked behind the bar: "Fuck me, not again! Revy!"
"Don't blame me for this shit," she said, as bullets shattered bottles of liquor above their heads, showering them in booze and glass, "I don't even know who the fuck these guys are!"
She pulled her customized Berettas out of their holsters. They were fitted, as usual, with 20 round mags.
"I think they may be buddies with those pirates we had a run in with last month," Dutch said.
"What did they call themselves?" Rock asked," Wait...Yeah, the Captain Morgans!"
"What? Those cocksuckers? With the faggy shirts?", Revy said, "They tried to hijack us during a run! We were fucking defending ourselves! They fuckin' tried to rob us, for fuck's sakes!"
"Didn't say it made sense, Revy!"
Bao was beyond consolation. Still, he grabbed a 12 gauge pump action shotgun underneath his bar and jacked a round in the chamber: "Why me? Why me?"
"Just lucky, I guess, Bao," Revy said with an evil smile. "Dutch!"
Dutch pulled out his big, shiny .44 magnum Smith and Wesson revolver, and shouted: "Now!"
Dutch rose from behind the bar, fired almost blindly at the opposition.
Rock risked a peek.
There were seven of them with AK-47s equipped with Banana-Clips and drum magazines. Rock knew that each of them had between 60 and 80 rounds of 7,62mms before having to reload.
They had more manpower and more firepower.
They were screwed.
One of Dutch's .44s hit the nearest one, center of mass, blowing a fist sized chunk out his back. He went down.
Most of the other patrons had left. Whoever hadn't been fast enough got killed, as it was often the case.
Revy leaped over the counter. She fired two double taps to the shooter closer to her, two from each pistol, before her feet touched the ground. As soon as she landed, she ducked and dove sideways and three times from each pistol to another pirate in rapid succession, almost making it sound like a submachine gun, instead of two pistols. Her first victim fell as the second one took six slugs in the chest. Before that one fell, Revy was already on the move.
Rock never ceased to be in awe. It was like watching a jungle cat take down her prey. Revy seemed to dance around the enemy's fire.
And she never stopped smiling as she effortlessly killed those guys.
"Hey, Bao," Benny said, "Look at that!"
"What now?" Bao said risking a look. "Hm. Damage isn't bad actually. Hopefully those guys don't have hand grenades."
Rock ignored the chatter and watched Revy somersault over a table, land, roll on her sides while unleashing the power of what she called her Cutlass specials. Two more of the Captain Morgans got kneecapped and collapsed to the ground, their legs torn to shreds.
The last two attackers tried to get a bead on Revy, but her speed and their lack of skill, and maybe nerves, made them miss.
Revy got to her feet, ran towards her prey, took a step on a chair, got on a table top and soon was airborne. She twisted in the air over their heads, back flipped, yelled:
"Death from above, fuckwads!"
And gave them each a headshot that shattered their skulls, while she was above them. They dropped and she landed on her feet, gracefully.
Five dead. Two crippled.
"And that is fuckin' that!" Revy declared holding her smoking pistols.
The other members of the Lagoon company walked over to the crippled men. They were rolling around, moaning in pain.
"What the fuck is your problem, huh?" Revy asked the fallen men.
"Yeah, what did you have to fuck up a perfectly good drinking binge?", Dutch asked.
One of them tried to speak through the pain: "You...you killed our guys...We...had to..."
"Fuckin' retard: the fuck were we supposed to do, let you dipshits steal our cargo and kill us?", Revy said.
"We're...new to...the city," the wounded pirate said, "Need to...build...a rep..."
"Really, how's that working out for ya?". She paused and let out a small chuckle and lowered her guns. "New in town, huh. Then, welcome to Roanapur, assholes. Enjoy your fuckin' stay."
And she gave them each a headshot.
"Man," Benny said, "Captain Morgans. Jesus. Complete with Puffy shirts and high boots, look at that. Think they took the pirate thing a bit too literally?"
"Looks that way, Benny Boy. What did I tell ya, Revy?" Dutch said, "There's your gunfight."
"That doesn't even count," Revy replied, "These fuckin' guys, man..."
Bao came from behind the counter: "You guys managed not to set fire to the place or flatten it! Mircales do happen!"
"Guess so," Dutch said.
"I'm ready to go home," Rock said, running his face with both hands.
"Amen to that," Dutch said.
They said their goodbyes to Bao and soon, Benny was driving his fellow mercs back home in his Pontiac GTO.
The adrenaline rush from the firefight dropped and Rock's mind started wandering back to Chang's painting. Maybe he was making something out of nothing. Maybe not. He needed to sleep, he knew that much. This had been a long day.
Sleep. Tomorrow would come soon enough.