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Location and Time: New York City; Mr. Greene's Goods - 8:56 PM
Issue #2: Charles Forte Rides, Again?

Interaction(s): None
Previously: Routine

I had been on shift for about twelve hours. The guy on next shift, Ron, called in sick today. I didn't have much better to do and Mr. Greene knew that, so I had to cover for him. I wasn't complaining. What else am I gonna do on a Friday night? I'm not one of those middle-aged guys that goes out to the bar to play pool and hit on girls half their age. Unlike them, I still have some modicum of self respect left; I'd just be there for the drinks.

My boss, Matthew Greene, walks out of his office. He's an older guy, late 60s, with horn-rimmed glasses resting on a friendly round face. A smile forms beneath his bushy gray mustache as he makes his way behind the counter to talk to me. "Thanks for working double shift, Charlie," he says, patting me on the shoulder. "I'm gonna be closing up now. Feel free to grab a six-pack or something for yourself before you go, on the house." He heads back around the counter and towards the door.

Guess I wasn't hitting the bar tonight. I give him a thumbs up and b-line for the beers. While browsing the cold beverages and trying to make my selection, I hear Mr. Greene start talking to somebody. "Hey, sorry, but we're closing up. You can't come in." Must be a customer trying to come into the shop too late.

"Sorry old man," the person outside the shop says, "But we're not here to buy." I hear a shout from Mr. Greene followed by a dull thud. Turning around, I see about half a dozen thugs walking into the store. Mr. Greene is on the floor with a bloody nose, clutching his face. The leader of the thugs, a well-built man with slicked back black hair and a leather jacket, grabs Mr. Greene by the collar and lifts him up. "Look at you. Who did that to you? Your poor face. We think you might need some protection."

He drops Mr. Greene back to the floor and moves over to a magazine rack, spinning it slowly and examining the books on display. "Lucky for you, we're just the guys you're looking for. You're gonna start paying us five hundred a week. If we don't get our money?" He nods at one of his boys. The thug he nodded to stalks over to Mr. Greene, then stomps on his knee. I hear a sick crack and a howl of pain from the old man. "You'll start having 'accidents'."

I had been hiding behind one of the shelves, watching the whole ordeal go on. I know it would be stupid to intervene. I should just head out back and go home, get drunk, try to forget about this. But that phantom calling out to me tells me otherwise. I need to do something about this. Leaving would be the smart thing to do. Unfortunately, I'm not too smart.

I step out from behind the shelf. "Hey," I call out. The thugs all turn to look at me. Mr. Greene is breathing heavily on the ground, his eyes clenched shut. "You leave him alone." The leader of the thugs looks at me with a bemused expression. He and his boys turn and walk towards me slowly, trying to be intimidating. I stand my ground.

"And who the fuck are you?" he asks. I can see the pistol stirring in his coat. He's looking for an excuse to pull it out. I need to give him one so I can get a hold of it.

"I'm someone punks like you used to fear." I take a step forward.

He turns to his boys and laughs. They join in, like a pack of rabid hyenas. "Oh, this is fuckin' precious! Looks like we got a wannabe hero in our midst fellas! Who do you think you are? Spider-Man? Moon Knight? Oh no, wait, I know. You're some Punisher fanboy, aren't you? Think you can shoot up all the big bad guys don't you?" Like I expected, he pulls a Beretta out of his coat and levels it at my head. He's leaving himself wide open. He's even holding the gun sideways. Bad move. "Tell me, shit for brains. You think you're Frank Castle?"

The irony almost makes me laugh. I merely shake my head and smile at him. "Yeah. I think I am." I grab his wrist with my left hand and jam my right palm into his nose as hard as I can, a wet cracking sound telling me that I broke it. Blood streams from his nostrils and he starts to fall to the ground. I grab the pistol from his hand just a second before he hits the ground. I plug two rounds into his chest before he even has time to process what happened.

The thugs stand there and watch me for a second, processing what just happened. "Oh. Shit," one of them whispers. Then they scatter, taking cover throughout the store as they shout and curse up a storm. I duck behind the shelf I was hiding behind and check the magazine of the gun. Thirteen shots. Should be more than enough.

A few bullets hit the shelf. Still in a crouch, I turn and start walking the opposite way around the shelf to flank them. As I round the corner, I see one of the thugs had the same idea. He looks into my eyes for a moment and starts raising his gun. I've already shot him in the throat. Unfortunately, now the others know just where I am.

Before they get a chance to act on their newly found knowledge, I throw myself through the doorway of Mr. Greene's office and lay on my back with gun trained on the doorway. Thug #3 walks in, I fire once into his thigh and he drops to the ground while screaming bloody murder. His pistol falls out of his hand and scatters towards me. I sit up, grab his gun with my off-hand, and shoot him in the head. Three left.

I stand and flatten myself against the doorway. I hear the footsteps of the fourth man heading towards the office. Right as he's about to walk in, I step forward and start blasting him. One, two, three, four, five rounds to the chest. I step through the doorway of the office with pistols at the ready.

It almost feels like time has slowed exponentially. I haven't felt like this in years. "The Zone", I used to call it. That place you go when you're stacking bodies. You don't think. You act. Focus. Guy a few feet ahead. I could just shoot him now but where's the fun in that? Let's see if I still got it.

With a grunt, I throw myself forward in a dolphin dive, firing all the while at the thug in front of me. His body shakes violently as each bullet pierces his flesh, rocking him to the core. I hit the floor and he falls to the ground. Still got it.

I push myself up and start scanning the room for the last thug. I don't see him anywhere. As if on cue, I hear the distinctive jingle of the front door opening. I peer over the shelves at the front door and see the last man running away. I fire at him once, twice. I hear him shout in pain, but he doesn't slow down. Shit. Probably just grazed him. I'm gonna have to find him so he can't warn any other friends he may have.

I stick the two pistols I have into my waistband and pick up two of the guns the other thugs dropped. Tucking one pistol under my arm, I reach into my pocket and pull out my phone while heading to the front door. Mr. Greene is there, injured but still breathing. I dial 911 and hand him the phone. "Call for help. I won't be back again. Thank you for everything you did for me while I worked here."

He nods shakily, then hits the call button. I'm out the door before he even starts talking.

Dumb move. I should've just left while I had the chance. Would've still had a job at least. But then, wasn't this what I wanted? To go back to the old days? This is my chance. I might as well take it while I still can. If I didn't, what kind of man would I be? A fool trying to outrun his past instead of embracing that part of himself. You can try all you want, but in the end, all it does is hold you back.

I look down and see drops of blood on the sidewalk, trailing after him. From the looks of it, he's already covered quite the distance. Guess the fear of getting shot in the head will let you outrun any sports car on the road. Enough chit-chat. I've got a two-bit thug to track down. I set off into the night, intent on finishing this.

Location and Time: New York City; Mr. Greene's Goods - 1:31 PM
Issue #1: Routine

Interaction(s): None
Previously: Exhale

"No miss, we don't sell diapers, I'm sorry." I reply to the customer.

Behind her amber-tinted shades encrusted with plastic gems, I can see her eyes narrow. "I come here all the time and the first time I ask for a specific product, you don't have it?"

I've never seen this woman come to this store in my past ten years of working here. "We just don't carry them. There's a Walgreens a few blocks away. They should have some."

She scowls at me. Her expression would belong better on the face of a hotshot young socialite that's never worked a day in her life, not the poverty-stricken single mother working two jobs she probably is. "Well good then. I guess I'll take my business there from now on."

She pivots to the door and walks away. "Please come again."

The line of customers she was holding up moves forward, the first of them casting me a sympathetic glance as he places his six-pack of beer on the counter. I scan the item, swipe his card, and accept the payment on the register screen. "Have a good day," I say to him as he leaves.

Next customer. Scan the item. Take their cash. Put it in the register. "Have a good day."

Next. Scan the item. Swipe their card. Accept the payment. "Have a good day."

Next. Scan. Swipe. Ching. "Have a good day."

Next. Scan. Take. Ching. "Have a good day."

Next. Scan. Swipe. Ching. "Have a good day."

Before I know it, I'm on break halfway through my shift, smoking a cigar out front next to the ash tray. I've done this whole song and dance too many times to count over the last decade. This routine has become my entire life and my entire life has become routine. Why am I even doing this? I don't have much going for me in life. All I do besides work is wait to go to work. Is there something that I'm waiting for? Is there something I should go looking for?

I snuff out the cigar and walk back inside. Break's over. I'll save the existential ramblings for later.

Scan. Swipe. Ching. "Have a good day."

Scan. Take. Ching. "Have a good day."

Scan. Swipe. Ching. "Have a good day."

I repeat that routine for four more hours, and then it's over. I walk out of the store and start heading back to my apartment. Back to regularly scheduled brooding: what can I do to shake up this routine? I've done everything I can to leave my old life behind me, but everyday it seems to be calling back to me. It's a specter looming over me, howling my name. I've done my best to ignore its cries, but how long can I keep that up?

A scream in the alley across the road. There it is again, crying out to me. I glance over, see two men standing over another man, sobbing and shouting as he lays bleeding on the ground. I've managed to walk away so many times before. "It doesn't involve you", "they probably picked that fight", all sorts of placating excuses running through my mind. They used to help. Lately, they haven't been. And they sure as hell aren't right now.

I make a beeline right for the alleyway. The perps are two guys, both around half my age and around the same size as me. One has a baseball bat soaked in blood. The other? He's on the ground with a broken nose before he even has a chance to see me coming. Out of the fight before it even begins.

Slugger backs away from me and raises his baseball bat. He swings, I duck while raising a hand to catch the bat. The hit stings as it connects, the nerves in my fingers and palm screeching out, but I power through. I slap my other hand on the bat and pull. He jerks towards me and I bring a knee up into his crotch. The bat is in my hands now. I flip it around and grip the handle tightly.

Reel back.




I don't give him time to get up. I bring the bat down on his head, then I do it again, and again, again, again, again, again. If his head was a watermelon, I think Gallagher would be proud. I give it one final swing. He won't be hurting anyone ever again.

I turn to his friend. He's backed up against a wall, blood streaming out of his twisted nose as he watches on in horror. I walk up to him, kneel down to be at eye level with him. "You see your friend over there?"

He jerks his head up and down.

"Do you want that to happen to you?"

He rapidly shakes his head no.

"Then get out of my sight."

He pulls himself up and sprints out of the alley. I don't think I've ever seen anyone run that fast outside of Olympic races. I turn back to the young man they were beating on. He looks up at me with a mixed expression of reverence and fear. I offer him a hand up and he takes it. "T-thank you," he says, his voice shaking.

"Don't thank me. Just get yourself to a hospital and try to steer clear of this part of town." He nods, then limps out of the alley. I look over at the corpse of the assaulter and sigh. Hopefully no one saw that. I tuck the bat under my arm and pluck a cigar into my mouth, lighting it. Inhale. Exhale. I leave it in my lips, keeping it held in place with my teeth, and start the walk back to my apartment. The streets are dead right now and I can't even begin to express how thankful I am of that.

It's only when I've stepped into my apartment and closed the door that the reality of the situation dawned on me. I killed a man for the first time in ten years. The mingled catharsis, regret, and disappointment is a strange feeling. I swore I wouldn't do this again. There was no reason to. Especially these days with all the heroes running around in tights. There's no need for a person like me anymore, if there ever was any need.

I clean the bat off with an old rag, then toss the bloody rag and my clothes into a garbage bag. They're ruined now. The bat finds a place in my closet and I find a place in my shower, rinsing off the excess blood. I watch the pinkish mixture of blood and water wash down the drain. Used to have to clean blood off myself every night. Some nights I just didn't. I'd like to say it was for a scare tactic, but in reality it was because my hygiene wasn't even existent anymore. I was a machine with one purpose: killing.

Would I really want to go back to those days?

Later on, I lay awake in bed pondering that question.

Do I really want to go back to those days?

Of course I don't. I left them behind me ten years ago.

Do I really want to go back to those days?

Maybe. Evil is like a plague. You wipe out all the rats and it's gone, right? But you're forgetting about the fleas, tiny, innumerous, too small for the folks in the big leagues. There has to be someone wiping out the fleas.

Do I really want to go back to those days?

... No. It's a fool's dream to go back to that life. To go back to the killing. I'm past my prime, if I went for the stunts I pulled in my youth I'd get wiped out before I could even tell what happened. I don't want to die. And that's the end of that.

I close my eyes, fall asleep, and dream of drowning in an ocean of blood.

F R A N K C A S T L E C A S H I E R / R E T I R E D V I G I L A N T E N E W Y O R K C I T Y I N D E P E N D E N T
C H A R A C T E R C O N C E P T:

"I'm just an old killer looking for an excuse. But I guess it's better than not needing one."

You know the basics already. Ten years ago, Frank Castle's family was murdered. He gave up his career as a detective to become the Punisher and take his revenge on the people who murdered his family. After killing those responsible, Frank continued his crusade on crime, waging a one-man war on the criminal underworld of New York City.

Except that's not what happened.

After killing the men responsible for his family's deaths and taking down an entire crime syndicate in the process, Frank called it quits. He got what he wanted. His short-lived career as the Punisher was over before it truly began. For the past decade, he's been Charles Forte, a middle-aged divorcee working as a convenience store cashier and living in a rundown apartment in the Bronx. Keeping a low profile and holding back that part of himself that wants to go back to vigilantism. But with a new gang moving in on his neighborhood, the Punisher might need to come out of retirement.

C H A R A C T E R M O T I V A T I O N S & G O A L S:

Ah shit, here we go again.

To start off, I'll discuss my reasons for playing the character. It seems like every character I've tried since Punisher has flopped horrifically in some way or another. My attempt at Blade was half-baked and every time I tried to play the Question, I realized I had no idea how to write solo adventures with him. With that in mind, I decided to look back to my first character in one of these Hype style comic games: Frank Castle. Writing him was fun because I had an idea of where I wanted the story to go and I could write some cool ass action scenes along the way. It's pretty hard to mess up "angry man shoots bad guys". Since then, I've always wanted to return to the character. So, I figured "what the hell? I'll shoot my shot." And so once again I am asking to play the Punisher.

My story's gonna be simple and straightforward. Frank's retired, a new gang moves in on his neighborhood and starts trying to extort his employer, he decides to return as the Punisher to take them down. Pretty basic. Once that initial arc is finished, I'll probably focus on doing crossovers and maybe take a page from past me and have Frank go on a cross-country road trip like he did in Ultimate One Universe. The sky's the limit.

In terms of inspirations (because I always have those), first and foremost I'm trying to recapture the spirit of my original Punisher run. So as it was there, John Woo's heroic bloodshed films are the primary inspiration. Beyond that, there's also Max Payne 3, Logan, and The Dark Knight Returns, all of which feature that archetypal "old man returns to being a badass" storyline that I'm doing with this run. As usual, you can expect some recommended listening tracks with my posts every once in a while.

So yeah, that's that. I'll try not to flake out again, folks.

C H A R A C T E R N O T E S:

Supporting characters list TBA.

S A M P L E P O S T:

P O S T C A T A L O G:

You know, I'm feeling in the zone so I may regret this, but I think I'm gonna try a second character.

You actually went and did it, you mad fuckin lad.
Added a sample post to my sheet. Not my best work but I'm hoping it's good enough.
<Snipped quote by Simple Unicycle>

It just means I'll use a Punisher hider for my inevitable Howard app.

Can't wait. Throw a picture of Chow Yun Fat in there for me too.

And God I missed this.


Would you get my hopes up like that, my son?

I had to do it to 'em.
EDIT: Sample post has been added.

... Is it that time again? I'm thinking it's that time again. Hopefully won't flake out for the fifty-seventh time in a row.

Location and Time: Hub City, Illinois; Aristotle Rodor's Home - 3:17 AM; Two Months Ago
Issue #1: Triage At Dawn

Interaction(s): None
Previously: Run

I give a muffled grunt of pain, biting deeper into the dishrag Tot gave me. It turned out that hit to the head gave me a pretty hefty gash and it needed stitches. Can't risk going to a hospital these days, too many sick with the Malkovian Virus. If I didn't have Tot, I think I would have taken my chances with an untreated head wound rather than risk catching that thing. "Shid, carnt yew wark any fasher?" I ask around a mouthful of cotton. Tot quirks a brow, indicating he didn't make that out. He sets the suture and needle down before pulling the cloth out of my mouth, leaning in closer and cupping a hand around his ear to hear me better. "I said 'shit, can't you work any faster?' This fucking sucks, Tot."

"You know what else 'fucking sucks', Charlie? Being woken up at two-thirty in the morning to tend to the wounds of my idiot protege." He shakes his head and gives a "tsk". "I'm not as young as you. I can't go days on end without sleeping. We can't all be unwavering machinations of some ungodly force like you are." Tot smiles slightly and I can't help but give a grin back.

"Point taken, old man. And for the record, I've been sleeping better lately. Got a full eight hours the other night," I add with a cocky grin. Of course, that's a lie and Rodor gives me a pointed look for it. The truth is my sleep has been getting worse. Insomnia has plagued me since my late teens but it's never been this bad. Last month I went for two weeks with only little scraps of sleep every few days to recuperate. It left me wondering if I was going to die. I finally sigh at Rodor's disapproving look and shrug. "Okay, I slept for three hours two days ago. Haven't slept since."

Tot merely shakes his head again, then picks up the suture to get right back to stitching my wound shut. Another pained grunt from me. Tot doesn't even blink at it. Just keeps on stitching. "You stopped drinking coffee before you went to bed, right?"


"No TV or other such electronics."


"Have you been taking those sleeping pills your doctor prescribed to you?"

"They haven't work- agh! They haven't worked. I haven't taken them since last month."

"Try them again."

"Oh, come on, Tot. If they were gonna work they would- fuck! They would have worked last time."

"Try them again."

"... You know talking to you is like talking to a brick wall?"

"I could say the same of you."

It wasn't long before Tot had finished stitching my wound up and I was popping a few painkillers. This isn't the first time he's played doctor for me. Back in college, I used to get into fights almost daily. Sometimes it was a broken finger or two, sometimes a busted lip, sometimes a broken nose. Once I had to get him to stitch up a stab wound. I still have the scar from that, right next to my belly button. Getting it stitched up was so painful that I bawled my eyes out between curses and prayers to God. I don't think I've ever cried that much in my life.

I cooked breakfast as a thank you while Tot brewed coffee. I set down two plates of eggs and bacon on the dining table while Rodor set down a cup of coffee next to each plate. We both took our seats and I immediately went for the sugar shaker, pouring greedy amounts of the sweet dust into my coffee. "Are you sure you don't want coffee with that sugar, Charlie?" he asks. I don't answer. Too busy giving my coffee the consistency of syrup. Tot simply shakes his head.

I finish pouring the sugar into my coffee and begin to stir it. Tot quirks a brow at me. "So tell me. Who gave you that wound?"

I stop stirring my drink and lift the mug, staring into it for a moment. "Some no good asshole in Hupert Square. He and two of his buddies tried robbing me. You think this was bad? Well, one of them is gonna have to be eating out of a tube until Christmas." I took a drink of my coffee, feeling my teeth slowly rotting from the excess amounts of sugar. Perfect.

Tot takes a sip from his coffee. "You've been getting angrier since the pandemic broke out. And now, you're beating up muggers in the park. Why is that?"

That gives me pause. I don't have to think about my answer. I don't even really need to think about whether to tell Tot or not. The man knows me better than I know myself half the time. Might as well tell him. "... I don't know. I think it's this pandemic. Ever since it's started, I've been looking out my window and seeing all sorts of things. Robbery. Mugging. Assaults. Drug deals. Rioting. This city isn't exactly paradise, but lately, it's given Gotham or Detroit a run for their money with all this crime." I clench my fist. "I feel like I need to do something but I don't know what."

Tot takes a deep breath through his nose at my response, as if stopping himself from saying something because he's waiting for me to finish. "Really?" he says. There's no tone in it but I know what he's doing. He's being condescending. I can already tell. He's acting like I'm some fucking toddler babbling nonsense and he's playing along.

A hot burst of rage rips through me. He thinks that I'm lying through my teeth. Thinks I'm shoveling bullshit right at him. "Let me guess. Out of character, right? I'm the fucking punk that used to break into houses to steal jewelry and TVs and pawn them off. I used to beat the shit out of all the rich kids in college to feel better about myself. I used to abuse drugs and alcohol because I thought it was fun and would enrichen my life. And now suddenly, I have all this righteous rage over the injustices this city is facing. What a fucking joke, right?" Rodor continues to stare at me while I rant and rave at him. It just pisses me off more. "You're trying to stop yourself from rolling your eyes at me. I know you are. Laugh at me! Laugh at me because you think I'm lying you old fucking prick!"

Tot's passive expression morphs into an icy glare and it's enough to stop my rant in its tracks. "You're delusional, Charlie. I don't think that at all and I'm insulted that you think I do. I know you. It doesn't matter how much you keep it buried, I know how much you hate seeing people gain from the suffering of others. You did it and all it did was make you hate yourself and anyone who was like you. Right?" I look down at his words, slightly ashamed. "Right?"

I give a shaky nod in response. He is right. I'm a fucking mess. I'm not some righteous crusader leading the charge against the wicked. I'm just some asshole projecting his self-loathing onto criminals. I'm a joke. Tot might not think it, but I do. "... It's not just that, Tot. I do want to do something about the state of this city. Something I can't do as Vic Sage. I want to take it down from the source. Stop criminals before they have a chance to do anything instead of just telling people about it. Everyone already knows this city's a shithole, but no one has been doing anything about it."

"What do you have in mind, Charlie?"

"What does it sound like? Vigilantism. I want to go out and do what I did tonight. Find crimes, stop them before they happen." I say, then find myself giving a disappointed sigh at my own words. Saying it out loud makes me feel like an idiot. This is the start of some bad Taxi Driver rip-off. What would they call it? Investigative Journalist? No, that doesn't roll off the tongue that well. Starting to wish I went to med school instead. That opens the door for a lot of cool titles.

"That sounds like a terrible idea, Charlie. You could get killed." I should have known he'd say that. Leave it to Rodor to call me out on my dumb ideas. I turn away and take a sip from my coffee, now cold after I ignored it for so long. Rodor's disapproval doesn't mean I won't do it of course because I know I have Tot to fall back on. That's the cycle of our relationship: Tot warns me not to do something, I do it, he patches me up while he says "I told you so." Rodor seems to pick up on what I'm thinking because he sighs and rolls his eyes. "... Who the hell am I kidding? You're going to do it anyway. I might as well try and help you do it properly."

I smile at that. Leave it to Tot to have my back. "I had a feeling you'd say that." I yawn slightly and find myself feeling genuinely sleepy for the first time in a while. I guess the excitement of tonight had finally calmed down and I could sleep again. "... If you'll excuse me, your couch and I have an important meeting to attend to," I say, standing up from the table and heading to Tot's living room.

I can't see it, but I can feel Tot shaking his head and tutting in disapproval. "Of course you do. Sleep well, Charlie. You need it."

"You've never been more right in your life, Rodor!" I call out, before collapsing face-first onto the sofa.

I'm out like a light in seconds.
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