Chapter 2

Castle broke the petrified man's wrist like a twig.

He fell to the floor roaring in pain, unable to move or talk other than muffled sobs. "Scream all you want," said Castle. "You're the last one, no-one's gonna hear you."

Castle picked the man back up by his collar and sat him down in the driving seat, taking out his handgun and placing it on the man's temple Castle glared deep into the scared eyes of the horrified, bleeding man.

"I'll ask again, where were you taking them?" Castle cocked the hammer back on his gun and pushed it further into the man's head, it was enough. Turning his head to face Castle the man reached a shaking hand into his front trouser pocket and pulled out a small envelope that had the initials L.W. written on it. He then started to speak. "My name is Sergei, I place where they have..." His words trailed off when he saw Castle begin attaching a silencer to his pistol. Castle glanced upward when he noticed he'd stopped speaking, "Carry on" said Castle with a sinister nod.

Breathing heavily, blood trickling from his nose and mouth and holding his limp wrist between his knees, Sergei attempted to piece together his story for this menacing brute standing above him. "I take these people to warehouse, it my job...I...see they...they get there. When you come, Dmitri order us kill them." "Evidence?" replied Castle. "Yes." Sergei nodded. Castle glanced around the van at the three dead Russians and the remains of the Asians, the back of the van was a sickly sea of dark red, the sides and floor littered with chunks of flesh and shell casings. Castle turned back to Sergei. "So what were you going to do with them, sell 'em?" Again Sergei nodded nervously, "Dmitri with gang you say...mercenary?" Castle cut in quickly, "What for?"

His stare pierced the craggy faced Russian into flinching. "I do not know. I...only take them." At that, Castle, without a moment's hesitation, let off two rounds into the Russian's kneecaps. For a split second Sergei stared vacantly ahead before tilting his head and letting out a screeching wail at the roof. Castle calmly placed the envelope Sergei had handed him into his coat pocket, then leaned over to his squirming victim and held a hand over his mouth. Sergei's screams died out and he stared at Castle with a pale look of resignation.

Sergei sat slumped in the seat; he could taste the crinkly leather of Castle's fingerless black gloves wedged in his bleeding mouth. Castle waited a moment before speaking again. "What do Chinese mercenaries want with a bunch of Asians? And what's in the envelope?" Quickly he removed his hand and wiped the blood on Sergei's jacket. Sergei spoke mechanically, all the resistance appearing to have left him. "I hear it because they important. Envelope...has our instructions and...address...where to take them." Taking out the envelope, Castle saw that it was sealed, "You read this?" He said. Sergei winced in pain as he shook his head.

Castle briefly double-checked the interior of the van for anything he might have missed before placing the envelope back in his pocket. Approaching Sergei, he knelt down beside him and from behind his back produced a steel tube with a keypad attached to the middle. With deliberate movements, Castle slowly pressed the buttons while holstering his Colt with the other hand, making sure the badly injured Russian saw the broad, cold smile on The Punisher's face.

The tube made a hefty thud as Castle placed it down on the dashboard. He turned the tube around so the keypad was facing Sergei, who was panting heavily, too drained of blood and energy to talk, looking from Castle to the tube, desperately anxious for an explanation. Castle sighed mockingly as if tired.

"Now Sergei, this little thing here is a timed grenade, it's set for fifteen minutes from now so if you put the effort, in you may just be able to reach it and deactivate it," Castle pointed to the button marked "X", "This is what you press to cancel it. If you can't manage it in fifteen minutes however, you'll get to see your buddies back there a lot quicker than you thought you would." He nodded without looking to the dead Russians in the back of the van. "I'm meeting you halfway here," Castle grinned. "You've been very helpful and I'm feeling generous, so this is your reward."

Castle stood up and strode over to the back of the van where he began gathering up his shell casings from among the sticky corpses, disposing of the cases in a small plastic pouch, Castle turned to take a final look at the dying Russian sat motionless against the door window, squeaking as his head slid slowly down it. Sergei strained to turn his head at Castle and with noticeable pain uttered a curse in Russian, before spitting at Castle's feet.

Castle sighed. He looked down toward the bloody saliva on the floor, and placed his leather boot on top of it, rotating his foot as if stepping out a cigarette. Glancing back up at Sergei, he smiled. Sergei cursed again, before looking back over at the grenade perched menacingly on the dashboard, waiting to erupt.

Castle turned for the sliding door of the van that was already open. Stepping out onto the concrete he straitened his coat, bracing against the unforgiving night wind. "Well," he uttered. "До свидания, comrade."