The Cavalry Rides to Gotham
Cutscene: The Cavalry Rides to Gotham
Author
IC Details
Synopsis:

Frank finds out Babs is in trouble, and heads for Gotham. It's a long drive.

IC Date: July 01, 2019
IC Location: NYC, Jersey City, Gotham and parts in between
OOC Notes & Details
Posted: 04 Jul 2019 06:54
Rating & Warnings: R for language and some violence
Associated Plots

Frank Castle has a sense of humor. It's a twisted one, but he's got it. So when GAARD needs to get his attention for something critical, his phone plays the bugle call "To the Colors," just what you use to wake a jarhead up. It would do that even if the phone was on silent. His head snaps up from where he's putting the finishing touches on the burger patties for the night, and he goes straight to his jacket, not much caring about the beef on his hands. His thumb unlocks the phone, and a code unlocks the deeper functions, reveals the message there. "Fuck."

He shoves the phone into his pocket, heading to the sink to scrub off his hands quickly. He's still drying them when he storms out into the bar, grabbing the most-competent barback and starting to drag him back into the kitchen, "You're the fucking cook tonight, Darren. Don't fuck it up." With a normal boss, this would get him fired. With Luke? He'll understand. Mostly. Darren is still babbling when Frank thrusts an apron into his hands, "You got this, kid. Everything's prepped." Turning aside, Frank grabs his jacket, and then he's gone.

In the van, he tosses the phone onto the passenger seat and peels out of the parking lot. "GAARD. Where is she?"

"Unknown. Red's signal cut out shortly after she was struck." Frank's going to have to change the voice. It's too weird having Barbara's voice talk about her like that. But right now, he's a little busy. First he has to get to 125th, and that requires a lot of stopping and starting and some… communicating… with other drivers.

"Track the path it took between the attack," Frank's assuming it was an attack, "and where it cut out." He hammers on the rim of the steering wheel as he makes the turn, letting out his frustration as he growls, "Shit, shit. Think Castle. Think, goddamn it."

Wisely, GAARD stays silent as Frank cuts a taxi off, barely notices the rash of cursing, and then makes the left-hand turn toward the 9A onramp. His scowl deepens, and he hits the steering wheel again, "Do you got a direction, GAARD?"

"Tentative, Frank. The duration of travel is insufficient to be sure of a direction."

Frank blares on the horn as he pulls onto the highway, venting some of his frustration at the SUV in front of him. "Shit. Come on, Castle…" his words drop down to a mutter, "Goddamn it."

"What about traffic cameras, Frank?" Castle looks up sharply, grunting encouragingly. GAARD has learned to read his grunts, and continues, "Find the vehicle while the tracker was active, and then continue searching for the vehicle after the tracker was disabled?"

For the first time since he checked the message, Frank feels something more than anger, fear, and determination. There's hope. That doesn't stop him from smacking the top of the steering wheel again, "Yes. Fuck yes. Do that." He finds a tiny gap in traffic, accelerating, only to have to brake again, traffic stymieing his desire to floor the big beast of a van. Logistics. "You gotta park somewhere. When you've got a direction, look for places that can handle the vehicle. If it's a car, look for some place the car can pull into, or some place with a parking garage. If it's a van, look for a place with loading docks, or warehouses the van could drive into."

"I can do that while I search the cameras," GAARD assures Frank, "I'll start with the most likely locations, but narrow them down as the cameras give me a route."

"Well fuck, what do you need me for, GAARD?"

"I need you to drive there, and to deal with the people who did this, Frank." GAARD has definitely been shaped by her time with Frank Castle.

Thirty minutes to his place, then two hours down to Gotham. And hopefully the AI has a location by then. "Too long, Frank." He's been doing the calculations in his own head, and he grimaces, "GAARD, call Blondie."

There's a pause, and Frank's thumbs begin to drum a tattoo on the steering wheel as he works his way through the relatively light traffic. It's taking too long, and he growls again, "GAARD, call Blondie."

"There's no response, Frank."

And that's when Frank decides that traffic laws are suggestions.


Nearly two hours later, and Frank is tearing into the outskirts of Gotham, sweltering with a black hoodie zipped up over a torso bulked up by kevlar, ceramic plates, and spraypaint — the bulletproof vest that's become the symbol of the Punisher. The back of the van is weighed down with hardware picked up from Punisher Keep, but still he's driven well over the speed limit, risking discovery by the police. Because neither Babs nor Dinah is answering.

GAARD has tracked the panel van that probably picked Babs up. She figures it's a 96% chance. That's enough for Frank. She tracked it into West Downtown, but then it disappeared. There are too many possible locations to canvas the area and start asking homeless people. It's already been too long. So how to narrow it down. Logistics. You snag a bat, you need a place to hold them, and you can't do that in just an empty warehouse with no prep. Not in Gotham.

"Find a place that's drawing a bunch more energy than it should be." Frank's knuckles go white on the steering wheel as he whips the big van around a tractor-trailer, accelerating hard up the other side.

"Eight locations." GAARD has gotten terser and terser on the ride down. Either she's picking up on his frustration, or he's straining her capabilities to do this much research on the fly. "Three warehouses, one abandoned tenement, two office buildings, a nightclub, and a manufacturing facility."

Frank is roaring down the southwest bank of the River Liberty now, industrial property flashing by on his left, the Robinson Bridge not far off. He needs the location. He takes a risk, "Cut out known Falcone properties." With any luck, he's still looking north, doesn't want trouble with the Bats. With any luck.

"Five locations," GAARD responds, "Two warehouses, the tenement, an office building, and the factory." There's a pause, "The tenement is also drawing a great deal more water than it should be, Frank. It's possible that its population is simply significantly larger than reported." Frank grunts thoughtfully, and GAARD continues, "One of the warehouses is suspected of holding an illegal server farm in its basement."

"Yeah," Frank temporizes as he cuts the van across two lanes of traffic to take the exit for the Robinson Bridge, crossing into Gotham proper from the west. "Down to three." Inspiration strikes, "Ties to shitheads currently in Arkham?"

GAARD actually sounds vaguely surprised when she responds, "The factory was been used several times by the Mad Hatter in the past. That may suggest that it is not likely being used for a current plot against the Birds of Prey, Frank."

"Yeah, yeah. I'm fuckin' brilliant." Frank may be relieved that there are only two locations left on the list, but he knows how sketchy some of the assumptions they've made are, "Is the warehouse or the office building easier to get to from here?"

"The warehouse. Shall we start there, Frank?" GAARD barely waits before she starts to rattle off directions. The Punisher has a target now.


Unfortunately, the Punisher's target is swarming with rich people… rich people leaving the venue. The plastic of the steering wheel creaks as his hands clench down on it, but he drives past, pulling into an alley a block or two away. "Fuck. Come on, Frank…" They wouldn't have Red anywhere the rich assholes could see her, right? So if this is the place, there's got to be another entrance. And if it isn't the place, he needs to find out fast, and move on to the office building. Okay. Time to hit the streets. Until they talk or something breaks.

It only takes a minute to gear up, the M4 carbine, the pump action shotgun, several pistols, the last of his grenades, and a black balaclava. Just in case there's video cameras. No sense getting Frank Castle's face splashed all over Gotham — or Pete Castiglione's either. He moves pretty well for a bulky guy, going from alley to alley, pulling himself up over once fence and dropping down on the other side.

Soon the Punisher is behind the warehouse, close by a nightclub that's shut down tonight. He unzips his hoodie, revealing the white skull standing stark on his vest, and pulling the balaclava down over his face. He's not too proud to lurk behind a dumpster, crouched down, listening to a couple of guys smoking cigarettes and shooting the shit, bitching about hauling gear inside and down into storage.

The two part ways, one going back inside, the other lingering outside to finish his cigarette. The Punisher steps around the dumpster, heading straight for the guy dealing with a cigarette that's little more than butt and ember. That worthy fumbles the cig and makes the wrong choice. In other circumstances, it might be the last one he made. As it is, he probably wishes it was. He finds himself dragged back behind the dumpster, a knife settled low at his stomach.

"I'm bettin' there's some place under this warheouse," The Punisher doesn't wait for a response, "you're gonna tell me how to get down there." He tightens his arms around the man's throat, eliciting a choking, wordless complaint, and then backs off again, leaving the goon able to talk again.

"No way. I'm not gonna — " he cuts off with a yelp that's smothered by a pull of the Punsher's arm across his throat. The yelp, however, is caused by the knife cutting in carefully at the man's side. Not a deadly wound, just a bloody one, and painful.

"Look, you shithead. I don't got time for this bullshit." The Punisher twists the knife lightly, digging out another whining groan of pain from his victim, "So you can tell me what I want to know, or I can gut you and leave you to die in the alley while I find someone who will talk."

"Okay! Okay! Don't kill me." The Punisher's being a little sloppy, the wound bleeding more than he intended, but it's working. "There's a loading dock on the back. A hidden door under the vent on the left. Switch is under the railing. Don't flippin' kill me! Please!"

The Punisher draws the knife away from the wound, using his right arm to lock in the hold around the guy's neck, holding through the struggles until he slumps unconscious. The Punisher wipes his knife on the guy's shirt, shoves him into the dumpster, then turns back to stalk toward the loading dock. "Fucking Gotham. Hidden doors. Secret switches. And the shitbirds can't even curse right."

There's one more goon on guard outside the loading dock, but he's easy meat for The Punisher, left unconscious inside the hidden door. And then he descends down into the darkness, into the sewers and storm drains under the warehouse, clearing the shotgun from his shoulder as he does and racking the slide to check on the bird-shot shell within. It's not a rubber bullet, it's not a beanbag round, but it's as close to lethal as he could get from Wal-Mart.

The Punisher is just inside the tunnels when the lower class of the audience start trickling out, rough men and women who were there to see blood and death — and didn't see enough of it. He lurks in shadows, lingers in darkness, watches scum go by. This is taking too long. Frank waits for a singleton to sway past his hiding place, and drags the poor bastard back into the shadows, the barrel of the shotgun pointed at his knee, "You seen the Bat?"

Before the drunk can do more than babble something about "Which Bat," there's a sound, and two more people come around the corner, one carrying a flashlight — the other reaching for a snub-nosed .38.

That's when the fun begins.

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