Disclaimer: Ghost Rider and his supporting cast belong to Marvel Comics and Justice League and JLD belong to DC comics. All I own is the plot and my OCs.


A Strange Ride

Confessions

Present day. Unknown Location.

Tuesday, April 4th. Exterior of a small Church.
10:26 PM EST

A storm raged the night as rain fell upon the land and lightning flashed in the skies. The church was located on the edge of the town next to a back-country road that passes through the town. The storm has caused a power cut leaving the church mostly in the dark except for the candles inside.

Inside the Church.

A man dressed in a priest's attire was standing inside the church, lighting all the candles when he heard a creak behind him and felt winds on his back, which blew nearly all the candles except the one he was holding and a few others. He turned to see that the door to the church was open and a man was standing in the doorway, his face obscured by the shadows.

"W-Who is it? Who's there? the priest asked startled, "I can't see you! We've lost power and it's dark in here" he went on.

"Sorry, Father, I didn't mean to startle you. My name is Adrian, Adrian Grant and I am looking for shelter. I was on my way to the town when the storm began." the newcomer, Adrian, told him.

"Oh? O-Of course! Come inside, son. Dry yourself off and I'll light up the candles" replied the priest, still a little dazed.

"Yeah, sorry about the candles", Adrian said as he moved closer to the priest. Now up-close the priest could take in his new guest's appearance. He was over 6 feet tall, somewhere in his early-mid twenties, he had a strong jaw with light stubble, messy blonde hair and piercing blue eyes. He wore a black leather trench coat over a plain white t-shirt with black leather pants, black biker boots and full finger biker gloves.

"It's all right, son," responded the priest, "though you look slightly troubled. Is there any way I can provide help or guidance to you?"

Adrian seemed to think over the proposal before nodding.

"Perhaps you can, Father. You see, I am not a man of any faith and I have never confided in another. Father, I think I'd like to make a confession." Adrian paused before asking," Is my lack of faith going to be a problem, Father?"

"Of course not, son," the priest dismissed his worries, "the confessional is open to all who have need of it." With that said, he led Adrian to the confessional.

"Uh, Father?" called out Adrian from the inside, "I am not sure about where to start".

"Just tell me about your sins, son. There is no need to feel ashamed." reassured the priest.

"That is the problem, Father. I don't know where my sins begin." said Adrian.

"Then tell me about your life, son. That way all your sins will reveal themselves."

"You want me to start at the beginning?"

"If that makes you feel comfortable, then yes."

"All right, but I am warning you -it's not a very pretty story. Let's start with my family…."

*Flashback*

11 years ago. L.A, California.

The Grants were a normal family, or as normal as a family of two police officers and their children can be in Los Angeles anyway. Edward Grant was a tall, middle-aged man with piercing blue eyes and golden blonde hair, which had started graying slightly. His wife, Pamela Grant was a short, middle-aged woman with chestnut brown hair and ocean blue eyes. Despite being in love with each other, their personalities, on the surface, were entirely different. While Edward was an optimistic and carefree kind of man, Pamela was the image of a brooding, all-business woman in the entire LAPD.

This, of course, reflected in their ranks as well, since Pamela was Edward's senior. How he had managed to not just impress, but marry his boss was always the question on their colleagues' minds. The answer was: In spite of their differences, both of them had a formidable sense of justice matched by very few of their peers. That and the shared love for anything on wheels.

These traits were inherited by their children as well. Though, in a strange twist of fate, each of their two children had acquired the physical traits of one parent but the personality of the other.

Their elder daughter Emma had the personality of her father down pat. Although she was born to a genius mother, she had inherited her father's average academic intelligence and absolute hatred for books of any kind. The only things she inherited from her mother were her physical features. She had the same chestnut brown hair, ocean blue eyes and an average height.

Her five-years younger brother Adrian, on the other hand, had their mother's aura. Calm, calculated and slightly aloof. But unlike their mother, he also had a mischievous side which showed from time to time in his pranks, much to the chagrin of the rest of the family. For his looks he had all of his dad's aforementioned features, though he tended to keep his hair messy instead of finely parted like their father.

All things considered, they were one happy family. The happiness wasn't meant to last though...

Wednesday, September 5. Partly Deserted Road
11:46 PM PST

A custom black 1969 Dodge Charger was making its way towards Grant residence in the calm silence of the night. The silence inside the car, however, was anything but calm...

Inside the car

"You know, you could have gotten the answers without breaking that guy's wrists," said Edward Grant, trying to start up the conversation for the umpteenth time, "It's not like he was some professional criminal, just a petty thug." For some reason his wife had been giving him the silent treatment since the morning and he has yet to figure out why. 'Times like these, I envy Adrian.' Mr. Grant thought ruefully. 'Somehow, he always knows what's going on in Pam's head.'

"Yes," came the clipped response of Pamela Grant, "I know". While she mentally cursed her husband. 'I still don't know what possessed me to say "Yes" to this dork….'

"Okay, that's it. What did I do now?" Edward was irritated now. His aggravation showed in how aggressively he changed the gears, despite it being a nearly empty road.

Pamela just calmly looked at him and raised an eyebrow "What makes you think you did anything?"

"We've been together for about 20 years Pam, I think I can figure out when you're pissed at me." retorted Edward. 'What I can't figure out is why I am always the first one to lose my cool in arguments when you were the one who was angry to begin with?' He added mentally.

"Then use the same experience to figure out why I am angry, Ed." responded Emma, oblivious to his mental dialogue.

Ed opened his mouth to respond but whatever he planned to say was cut-off under the sound of another nearby car hitting the left door of their '69 charger.

"Hey! Watch where you drive, you dumba-", again he was cut-off, this time because another car on the right side of the charger started firing on them with automatic SMGs and semi-auto pistols. The car that originally crashed into the charger soon followed suit. The chaos resulted in the charger colliding with a pole near the road. The assailants continued firing on the crashed car until they were sure that both the occupants were dead. Before dying, both of them had the same question in their mind: 'Why?'

The same question was in the minds of Emma and Adrian Grant when they were told that their mom and dad will never come home again.

The answer was: The attackers were part of a local gang who decided to attack the Grants as revenge for their fellow gang-members who got killed or captured in the last encounter with the police. Tragically, the Grants were not even a part of that operation. They were killed just because they were part of the police force. If this had been disclosed to the children their despair would've reached unimaginable heights. As it was, they weren't faring off much better. Both children had chosen their own ways to express grief. Emma had taken to crying whenever she found herself alone, though she forced herself to take a strong front when in company of people, especially for the sake of her 13 year old brother. As for Adrian…...it was as if he had shut down. He looked as if he had lost meaning of his existence. If not for the occasional breaths he took -which came out in sobs- it would have been easy to pass him off as dead. And perhaps, a part of both the children had died with their parents.

But that wasn't all. The siblings hadn't just lost parents that night, they had lost their sense of normalcy. Their entire way of living was changed, never to be the same again. More than that, that night had sown seeds for something far greater than life and death in young Adrian's future, something dangerous, something…..vengeful. Whether for better or for worse, the siblings were blissfully unaware of the Hell that awaited them in the future.

Following this tragedy, Emma dropped out of college and took custody of her brother. She would spend the daytime hours working in a nearby garage to manage the household and pay for her brother's school fee. Thankfully, the monthly benefits provided by the police department also helped. However, their emotional situation was much worse than the financial one. Ever since that night, the usually anti-social Adrian had become even more isolated. His already small friend-circle seemed to have further shrunk, with Emma being the only one who could truly get him to smile. Emma herself wasn't fairing much better but she forced herself to stay strong for the sake of her brother. She had already lost her parents, she wasn't about to lose her little brother now. Few months after their parents' death they had decided to sell the old house and buy a new apartment in a nearby neighborhood. More precisely, Emma had decided and Adrian had still been hurting too much to care . The old house had too many memories of their parents and Emma wanted to move one from the pain. Make no mistake, she had no intentions of ever forgetting her parents but she just couldn't stand to see her younger brother hurting anymore.

Life seemed to move on...

Present Day. Unknown location

Tuesday, April 4th. Inside the Church.
10:57 PM EST

"That is certainly heartbreaking, my son, you have my deepest sympathies. May the Lord bless your parents' noble souls." finished the priest with sympathy in his voice, "Although, I don't think you committed any sins." he added as an afterthought.

"I know, Father. Just have a little patience and as you said, the sins will reveal themselves." told Adrian, his tone filled with sorrow.

"All right, child. Take your time, I am sure this must be hard for you. "

"Thank you, Father. Now the next life changing event happened to me a few years later…"

*Flashback*

5 years ago. L.A, California

Sunday, June 6th. Inside the Grant siblings' apartment.
12:32 PM PST

It had been five years since the Grants murders, Adrian and Emma had somewhat moved on with their lives.

"Adrian, are you reading one of those books again?" asked Emma incredulously, though the question was rhetorical, as anyone could see that, yes, Adrian was reading one of those books again. They were sitting in the living room of their apartment, with Emma reading a magazine and Adrian reading his book on adjacent couches.

"What if I am?" came the annoyed response. For the past couple of years, Adrian Edward Grant had developed a passion for books centering around the world of supernatural and occult. Adrian had always been an avid reader, much like his mother, that's why he could never understand why his sister had such a hatred towards his new favorite subject. 'It's not as if this is the first time I've developed interest in a seemingly unusual genre' thought the younger Grant irritatedly.

"It's creepy! What's so fun about the, uh, ghost stuff anyway" declared Emma with a frown.

"My book, my choice. It's not like I tell you how stupid your magazines are."

"You just did."

"That's not fair and you know it."

"All right, all right." said Emma with hands raised upwards to indicate surrender, "I'll be heading out now, I have to get a few things from the market." she added.

"Hmph, whatever" was the disinterested response as Adrian lost himself in his books again.

Quickly Emma got ready and left through the front door.

Just a few seconds after the front door was closed, Adrian heard the sounds of a car screeching to stop, his sister's terrified scream and a loud thud. Rapidly dropping his book, Adrian hurried outside to see a sight he would never forget...

A car was standing on the road with smoke coming out of its hood and the driver nowhere to be found, however what really caught Adrian's attention was the bruised and bloodied body of his sister lying in a pool of her own blood. For a moment time seemed to stop for Adrian as he looked at his sister with only one thought going on in his head: 'Not her, not her, not her, no no NO NO NO NONOOOOOOOO'. It took Adrian a few seconds to realize that he was actually screaming those words out loud and that was when he noticed the small movement in Emma's arms and her slow, weak breaths.

Immediately rushing into action, Adrian ran towards his sister while dialing 911 on his mobile and calling for help. Reaching Emma he quickly checked her body for injuries. Her right arm was twisted awkwardly, 'Definitely broken,' he thought with a grimace.

"Ad..ri..an" Emma called out weakly.

"It's all right sis, I am here. Don't try to talk and don't worry, you'll be alright, you'll be alright." Inwardly he was slightly relieved, 'She's still conscious, good. Blood is rapidly flowing from her head though, gotta stop the bleeding somehow.' Thinking quickly he tore off his t-shirt to use as a makeshift bandage. Knowing he couldn't carry her alone at the risk of opening more wounds, he checked the rest of her body for more injuries and gave a small sigh of relief when he only found minor ones. 'Unless she has internal injuries', he thought panicked. He forced himself to calm down knowing that his hysterics wouldn't help her. That's when the medics arrived...

Present Day. Unknown location.

Tuesday, April 4th. Inside the Church.
11:24 PM EST

"The interest in books about the dark certainly wasn't healthy, my son, but it wasn't something that could cause so much trouble to your soul. Moreover you did a noble thing in trying to save your sister." the priest told Adrian.

"Yeah, mom and dad had given us some basic training in medical science and martial arts. Emma continued teaching me about those things after they died. The real problem was that after my parents, I wasn't ready to lose my sister and to prevent that I did something stupid...

*Flashback*

5 years ago. L.A, California

Sunday, June 6th. Inside the hospital.
7:09 PM PST

Adrian was sitting on a hospital bench outside his sister's hospital room. She was still unconscious after the emergency operation. The doctors had told him that although he had done a decent job of patching up her injuries himself, the chances of her surviving were feeble. Either she would wake up in the next 24 hours or never wake up at all. So he was just sitting and praying. Praying to anyone who would listen to save his sister, even if he wasn't much of a believer.

He almost jumped when he suddenly heard a voice from his right. When he turned, he noticed that he was no longer alone and a strange looking man had taken a seat next to him without him noticing. The man looked to be somewhere between his late 30s and early 40s with an unusually pale complexion and long, messy white hair with some red hair on the side of his head. His eyes were blood red and even seemed to glow. He wore a long red trench coat over a white shirt, with red pants and a pair of red shoes. The man looked both strange and unnaturally frightening to Adrian.

"Uh…?" Adrian responded, having not heard what the man said to him.

The stranger just chuckled and said "I asked if you were worried about something, boy"

"Oh! Y-Yes, my...my sister is hurt" responded Adrian thinking about Emma.

"You love her." This was said as a statement.

"More than anything." Came Adrian's response.

"Then what will you give to save her?" There was an unusual look in the stranger's eyes as he asked this.

Still, Adrian responded without any hesitation: "Anything."

"Even your soul?"

"WHAT!?"

"Your soul, boy, give it to me and I will heal your sister."

Adrian looked at the stranger for 10 seconds straight, and then…

"I don't have time for this." declared a now irritated Adrian and made to leave.

The stranger barked a laugh at this and said, "Hah, you think I am not serious. Believe me Adrian, I am dead serious."

Adrian turned back so fast, he almost gave himself a whiplash. "H-How do you know my name? Who are you?" asked Adrian, suddenly bewildered and a little scared.

The stranger laughed again as he said, "The answer to both your questions is simple and the same Adrian. I am The Devil. Though you may call me Mephistopheles, or Mephisto for short."

"You don't really expect me to believe that, right?" Adrian asked skeptically, though seeing the confidence in this 'Mephisto' guy's words and expression, a part of him was beginning to wonder…

"You still refuse to believe me? Fine, then. Look around yourself boy and then tell me what you believe." challenged Mephisto in a condescending tone.

Following Mephisto's advice with slight hesitation, Adrian looked around them and what he saw left him speechless. All around him people were standing frozen, not moving an inch. It was as if time itself had stopped.

"H-How did-" Adrian was cut-off mid question by Mephisto.

"I already told you boy and I am not a fan of repeating myself. Now that I've shown you who I am and what I can do, are you ready to make a deal?" finished Mephisto smugly.

"So you are saying that if I promise you my soul, you will heal my sister?"

"Precisely, yes. Now hurry and make a decision boy, you see time is of essence and trust me on this, your sister will die without my aid."

Adrian thought it over for a moment before coming to a decision. "All right, you have a deal" he answered, 'I still don't believe him completely, he claims to be the Prince of Lies after all, but if there is even the slightest chance that Emma will be spared then it's worth it." he reasoned to himself.

Mephisto, aware of what the young man was thinking, chuckled mentally and took out a strange looking form and presented it to Adrian. "Brilliant. Now that we have a deal, I believe it's time to sign it." He told Adrian.

Adrian looked at the form -noticing that it was written in an unknown language- and said "I don't have a pen."

"Oh, we don't need one. I need you to sign this form with blood as blood is the currency of the soul" informed Mephisto.

Adrian looked strangely at Mephisto before shrugging and biting his palm at the juncture between his thumb and forefinger, bringing out blood. He dropped the blood on the form where Mephisto indicated and noticed how his wound closed instantly. He almost asked Mephisto about this out of sheer instinct but held himself back to avoid another condescending remark from the self-proclaimed devil.

"That'll do nicely. I will be back soon to collect my price. Until next time, Adrian Edward Grant." announced Mephisto before he snapped his fingers, creating a blinding light that forced Adrian to shut his eyes. When he opened his eyes, everything was back to normal and Mephistopheles was nowhere to be seen.

Present Day. Unknown Location.

Tuesday, April 4th. Inside the Church.
11:38 PM EST

"And just like he promised, my sister woke up within a few hours. By nightfall on the next day almost all of her injuries were healed. The doctors claimed that her recovery was a miracle, though they insisted that she stayed a few more days for the sake of caution. I was overjoyed that my sister was going to make it, after all Mephisto had given his word. Well...hadn't he? HADN'T HE?! My sister died the following day in a GAS EXPLOSION." Adrian took a deep breath to calm himself before continuing, "Not only that, she was the only one who died. All other victims escaped with their lives with some minor injuries."

"Uh...Adrian…my child, you have to get hold of yourself. I mean, this is all very, very extraordinary and I am sure you sincerely believe that this all happened to you, but you must realize that you have hardly committed any major sins. These delusions of devils…" the priest tried to reassure Adrian before being cut-off by another of Arian's outbursts.

"DELUSIONS?! You think I don't know that he wasn't the actual devil? Well let me tell you, Father, I am well aware that Mephisto wasn't The Devil, but he wasn't that far-off either. Anyways, he came to my house a couple of days after my sister's funeral…"

*Flashback*

5 years ago. LA, California.

Tuesday, June 16th. Living Room of Grants apartment.
08:18 PM PST

"Well, Hello there!" Adrian jumped upon hearing the vaguely familiar voice coming from his right. When he looked towards the source he saw Mephisto, calmly sitting on one of his couches, wearing the same attire as last time and his usual infuriating smirk firmly in place.

"YOU! You have some gall showing here after going back on your word like that!" Adrian accused with a finger pointed at the self-proclaimed devil.

All traces of amusement left Mephisto's face as he stood with an eerie glow in his crimson eyes and spoke with a voice colder than any Adrian had ever heard before: "Do not challenge my word mortal" Mephistopheles spat the word as if it left a foul taste in his mouth, "I promised to heal your sister and I did. Nothing was said about how long she would live after that. I held my end of the bargain, and now I have come to collect my price. Adrian Grant, your soul is mine….."

Present Day. Unknown Location.

Tuesday, April 4th. Inside the Church.
11:49 PM EST

"And with that, the bastard raised his hand towards me and I physically felt my soul leave my body. The feeling was indescribable, I felt as if my insides were becoming hollow, that was when things took a turn for the worse. A strange glowing pentagram appeared on the floor, right where I was standing. Suddenly, there were hands and chains coming out of it, wrapping around me and dragging me down and I just knew what it was. It was a gate, Father -a gateway to hell. That monster had already taken my soul and my sister, and now he was dragging me to hell with him. Something inside me snapped at that moment, there was now way I was letting him have the last laugh. I began chanting a spell, an incantation that I read somewhere in one of my books -the same books you classified as unhealthy interests, Father- and it worked! Somehow it stopped those hands dragging me down to hell. Mephisto? He looked pissed beyond understanding, but instead of doing something else he just left, vanished right in front of my eyes.

I felt victorious, I had bested him finally! But I was wrong. Very wrong." Adrian kept narrating his story.

The priest meanwhile was scared out of his mind, 'What have I gotten myself into? This man is a lunatic. He doesn't need a priest, he needs a doctor.' he thought, scared.

"Uh, Father? Are you still with me?" inquired Adrian from inside the confessional.

"O-Of course, my child. Go on" the priest assured Adrian, 'Maybe if I listen to his crazy story, he will just leave himself. It has even stopped raining.' he thought to himself.

Adrian -oblivious to the priest's thoughts- continued, "Good, good. You see, Father, this is the most important part. Just before he left, Mephisto decided to leave me a little present. He figured that if he can't take my life, he will ruin he placed a curse on me, bonded me with one of his prisoners, an ancient enemy of his. His way of mocking us both."

Adrian took a pause and breathed in deeply, as if to control himself. From doing what, the priest didn't know, nor did he want to.

"Now that….thing….he left is still inside me and all it ever wants is vengeance. In the early days, whenever I was surrounded by evil or if innocent blood was spilled around me, that thing would come out. My skin will burn away and in my place would stand the monster some people refer to as the Ghost Rider. Then he will find those sinners and punish them as he sees fit. During the start, he would come out as he pleased and murder those he considered guilty, leaving me to suffer as my conscience tormented me about what I had allowed my body to do. Though as time passed, we came to an understanding of sorts and I learnt how to take control of his abilities. He even shared some of his knowledge with me! But the thing is, he still senses whenever innocent blood is spilled and guides me to the grounds where the crime is committed.

Another pause, another deep breath. The priest was now trembling with fear for some unknown reason.

"Father, do you want to know why I told you all of this?" Adrian suddenly asked.

'Oh lord, I hope this is some prank, I don't think I can deal with this madness much longer.' thought the priest to himself.

Adrian continued, seemingly oblivious to the priest's inner dialogue, "Well, the answer is rather simple. Tonight I was just riding on an empty road when 'he' felt that innocent blood was spilled somewhere and guided me to the site. Following his advice, I came across a half-naked, almost dead man lying beside the road. The man was a priest, 'Father'."

At these words, all color left the priest's face and he tried to run away from the confessional but two hands suddenly broke through the confessional and took hold of him, their grip too strong for him to escape. They dragged him inside to a sight that scared him to his very soul. Adrian was standing inside and his eyes were completely hollow, literally, and two small ambers could be seen burning inside them. His expression was one of unbridled rage.

"He told me that he was attacked, his clothing stolen from him and then left for dead. I didn't understand the clothing part, until I entered the Church and noticed all the gold inside. The real priest is safe now, but tonight you will understand the true meaning of Vengeance", as Adrian spoke the last word, his voice changed into an unearthly growl and his entire face burned away leaving only a skull that was on fire.

The imposter, beyond himself with fear, somehow managed to choke out: "P-P-Please don't k-kill me."

"You fool, I wouldn't kill you, death is too good a fate for you. No, you will live, live under the weight of your sins for the rest of your miserable life." the Rider intoned in his demonic growl.

"Look into my eyes." he commanded the imposter who obeyed without even realizing it.

The moment he locked eyes with the Rider he saw all those he hurt and felt every ounce of agony he inflicted upon others.

Next Day. Inside the Church.
08:13 AM EST

When the local police arrived at the church, they found the imposter lying on the floor, his mouth open as if locked into a silent scream. They had received a call from the local priest who claimed that he was attacked and left for dead by the man found in the church. He claimed that he had no recollection of how he was healed and that when he returned to the church he found the imposter lying on the church floor in his clothes with the same agonized expression on the imposter's face. Some investigation revealed that the imposter was indeed a wanted criminal under charges for various crimes ranging from burglaries to murders.

The imposter would wake up a few weeks later with no memory of the night except the monster known as Ghost Rider.


Author's Notes -

So this was the first chapter, hope you all liked it. This is my first ever fanfiction story so any feedback is welcome but do try to hold back on the flames people.

This chapter is meant to serve as a prologue so I went a little dramatic with this one. It likely won't happen again.

I am not a Christian and I am not intimately familiar with the workings of the Church so please don't mind any errors that I may have committed in those interactions, though you are welcome to point them out to goes for all of my other mistakes (typos, grammar, punctuation etc.) -call me out on them, but try to be nice.

To those wondering, the whole "confession in front of a phony priest" isn't my original idea entirely. It's something I borrowed from the Ghost Rider issue of Marvel Tales (2019) comic. You can check it out. I have left other Easter-eggs and references as well but it's up to you to figure them out.

As for the appearance of the characters, I will give you an idea so you can imagine things better -

1) Mephisto takes on his human form from his Earth-1610 (Ultimate Marvel Universe) counterpart and his demonic form will be the regular one from Earth- 616.

2) As for Adrian, imagine Robert Pattinson from 'Tenet' with the hairstyle (not color) from 'Twilight'. (His hairstyle was the only thing I liked in 'Twilight' BTW)

I will post more specific details about Adrian in the A/N of the next chapter so stay tuned. Can't promise very regular updates but will try to maintain a bi-weekly pace, at least.

Sorry if this A/N was rather long, I wanted to make things clearer for you guys.

That's all folks. MK out.