Midnight in the Alley of Good and Evil
Roleplaying Log: Midnight in the Alley of Good and Evil
Participants
IC Details
Synopsis:

The Punisher falls for a trap and Daredevil… helps him?

Other Characters Referenced:
IC Date: January 06, 2019
IC Location: Hell's Kitchen, NYC
OOC Notes & Details
Posted On: 10 Jan 2019 03:57
Rating & Warnings: R for language and violence
NPC & GM Credits:
Associated Plots

Frank Castle is hunting in the new year. He's no Batman, but he has his own ways of finding out what's going on in Hell's Kitchen. And they require 'volunteers.' He's found the next one, a solid man in a demon-head mask exiting a construction site and slipping into an alley between it and the building next door. Frank is in his trenchcoat again, spread wide to show the white-painted skull on his bulletproof vest. The Punisher crouches on the second floor of the construction site, glancing to the roof opposite. There's nothing there, at least not to his senses, and so he acts. Despite the shotgun slung on his back, he leaps off the building with bare hands, the wings of his coat billowing as he drops on his prey. The two go down in a tangle, each letting out an explosive breath at the impact. Expecting the jolt, Frank recovers first, drawing out a pistol and tucking the barrel under the Hellraiser's chin, tearing off the mask.

That's when he realizes that something is very, very wrong. Hellraisers don't wear bulletproof vests, for instance. Nor do they wear balaclavas under their masks. Nor do they usually carry SOCCOM .45s at their belt. Nor do they focus on reporting over subvocal microphones with a pistol to their throat.

"Fuck." The first bullets come from above, fired by shooters who had been hidden until the Punisher made his leap. Two strike his back, driving him forward into his erstwhile quarry. One pierces his left triceps, and another grazes his left thigh. A snarl paints the Punisher's features, half pain and half anger, and he drops the barrel of the pistol, firing off a shot into the collarbone of the man under him. It might be fatal, eventually, but it certainly incapacitates his target. Which is good, because there are half a dozen highly-trained shooters above him.

*

Frank Castle obviously isn't the only one on the hunt. In this odd circle of life that is Manhattan's underbelly, one man's predator is another man's prey. Frank's finding that out, barraged by bullets from above.

But lucky for Frank, these shadowy gunmen aren't the only ones looking for him. The Devil of Hell's Kitchen never forgets a voice, and Frank's was heard loud and clear in the clusterfuck that was the Jennings Ball.

He's looking for that delicate bundle of sense impressions that is Frank Castle again — and so close to finding him — when the world erupts in brutal gunfire. It catches him mid-parkour on the rooftop of the very building from which bullets spray.

It could be cops, he thinks. Law enforcement come to take down the 'Punisher' at last. Wouldn't that be justice?

But, of course, if they are cops, they're every bit as rogue as the NYPD who entrapped Zatanna Zatara. Suspects, even suspects like Castle, need notice. They need Miranda readings, and all the protections of criminal procedure.

And so, even if it is the arm of the law, it's opened itself up to a little bit of vigilante correction. Daredevil takes only a half-second to make his choice, and he punctuates it with a breath and a sharp nod. Then it's a whip of his club around a ventilator on the roof, and a leap off the ceiling so that he can fall down one story, two, three — there

— right where the bullets are springing from. He cuts short the slack of the rope with a flick of his wrist and flings his full body towards the window so that he's crashing into the gunmen currently spraying Frank Castle with bullets.

*

The sudden arrival of the Devil of Hell's Kitchen through one of their firing windows is enough to throw off the barrage of gunfire, to halt it for a moment. It also sends two of the gunmen slamming into the ground, although they don't seem all that much the worse for wear in their balaclavas, hockey helmets, bulletproof vests, and knee and elbow pads. One of the pair under Daredevil tries to club the vigilante with the butt of his submachine gun to gain room to get up, while the other rolls over and whips out an extendable baton, letting his own SMG hang on its sling. The next nearest turns toward the developing brawl, gun-butt up to his shoulder, waiting for a clear shot on the Devil.

The other three return to their target, evidently convinced that three of their fellows can handle the one devil. That's probably a very bad idea. Still, it lets them pour more automatic-weapons fire into their main target in the alley below.

Frank makes the most of his brief respite, turning from his initial target to look up and see a shattered window and two more with smaller panes shot out. The two hits he's already taken pull at his awareness, his left arm hanging low, but he shoves his pistol into that hand and pulls out a blockier shape from a pocket of his jacket. Raising up Owen's grapple gun (he really needs to return that at some point), he fires off the grapple toward the roof, then grunts in pain as the cable hauls him up off the ground and toward the windows — and toward the resumed fire. He takes a grazing shot to the temple, a through-and-through to the calf, and another pair to the chest. The last of those actually pierces the damaged protective vest, and Frank stifles a cry of pain as he hits the release and goes tumbling through a window — gaining a few more gashes in the process, but ending up in the lap of the farthest two attackers from Matt.

*

Daredevil ambushes the ambushers, putting two of the gunmen monetarily on their backs and creating the briefest pause in the rolling thunderclap of automatic fire. He and Frank are both opportunists, and Daredevil capitalizes on the element of surprise above every bit as much as Frank does below.

For a blind man, he's remarkably attuned to lines of sight. He keeps the men he's tangling with between himself and the man lining up a shot.

The devil's motto, more often than not, is get there first. He doesn't try to block or duck that butting gun. Instead he leans in, or rather over, his would-be assailant, grabbing the man's vest and delivering a bruising headbutt of his own. That doesn't get Daredevil off the hook — the impact arrives — but the man delivering it is dazed and wounded, so when it strikes Daredevil's helmed temple, it's with far less force than it might have been otherwise. He counterpunches again, raising his red-gloved fist high and delivering a brutal blow to the jaw of the man below him. He hears the crunch, the clicking sound of dislocation.

He's about to turn to his other assailant, the one with the baton, but then Frank Castle is making his bloody ascent upwards, taking fire but keeping on, and he lands in the baton-wielding man's lap. That frees Matt up, and he immediately throws himself towards the gunman, trying to close the distance and force the weapon up before attempting to twist-and-disarm.

Of course, that's just one gun. There are more almost certainly being trained on both the Punisher and Daredevil momentarily.

*

Frank is seeing red. His own blood, certainly, but there's a certain something that happens when he gets into a brutal fight. As he rolls into his attacker, Frank roars, reaching out to grab the man's web gear (his grapple gun goes clattering across the floor), and slams him repeatedly into the ground. The man's arms windmill as his helmet hits the floor twice, three times, four… and then the first bullet from a new fusillade hits Frank's vest, knocking him aside. He rolls with the impact, and… pulls his opponent's body into the line of fire. Luckily, the guy's wearing a bulletproof vest, but he absorbs several rounds — and Frank takes another hit to the hip.

The gunman under assault from Daredevil holds his fire until he has a clear line of sight, and that's too late. The MP-5 is twisted away hanging on its sling, and instead he attempts to slam a forearm into Daredevil's face, trying to bludgeon him hard enough to get out of the line of fire of his fellows. Luckily for Matt, two of the other gunmen are pouring rounds into Frank and his human shield, and the third is backing up and stepping aside, trying to open up a line of fire to Daredevil.

*

Daredevil hates guns. Besides being noisy, they introduce uncertainty into any fight, raising the stakes and diminishing the vigilante's ability to control the field of battle. It's why he almost always goes for the disarm first.

But there's too many of them for that. Frank's continuing to take brutal hits, and his human shield won't last for long under the circumstances.

So Matt opts for killing multiple birds with a single stone. He ducks low to avoid the forearm jab from his current opponent, and roars as he sets his shoulder and charges his midsection. His aim? To send the two of them directly into the remaining gunmen.

Frank Castle has a human shield? Matt Murdock has a human battering ram.

*

When the bullets stop impacting on Frank's human shield, he tosses the groaning man aside. The guy's not dead, but he's definitely not doing so hot. Frank hauls himself to his knees, swaying as he does, only to have Matt go pounding past, driving another of the gunmen. His situational awareness may not be as ridiculous as Matt's, but it's impressive. He spots the gunman circling around, and snatches up the submachine gun on its sling, pouring a long burst into the man's lower legs and torso. Not immediately deadly, but… well, it's not pretty, and it puts the guy down in a moaning lump.

The gunmen are good at what they do, the two Matt is charging toward moving quickly in opposing directions. One of them is hemmed in by the wall and sprays down the Devil and his ram, aiming for torso shots, assuming that his fellow will survive due to his vest. Unfortunately, it doesn't stop the Devil, and at least two of the three men go down in a heap. The other gunman leaps into a roll, coming up searching for a target between the Punisher and Daredevil.

*

Matt, his unwilling assistant, and one of the targets all go down together. But Matt has the advantage of momentum and forethought. He's on his feet before either of them, landing the heel of his combat boot on the wrist of the hand that holds the sub-machine gun, hard enough to break the delicate joint. There's a kick to the head of his former shield/ram, who already has a bruised rib from the short-range friendly fire.

Then Matt's looking towards the other gunman, who even now is eyeing both himself and Frank as likely targets. Matt makes a dive and roll for the baton left on the ground near his initial point of entry, his best chance of both staying in motion to avoid gunfire and, eventually, neutralizing the gunman.

*

The motion draws the last unhurt gunman's attention, and a low burst of gunfire follows after Daredevil's roll, kicking up splinters and impromptu shrapnel. Forcing himself to his feet, Frank sways, his face a bloody mask as he lumbers into a charge. That draws the gunman's attention back to him, and he gets a scorching bruise from a hot gun barrel alongside the temple as he ducks his head, planting his shoulder in the man's stomach, taking the gunman off his feet and dropping him onto the ground. Frank's hands grab and grapple, and then get hold of the man's pistol, drawing it out, the pair of men struggling on the ground as they both try to get hold of the pistol, the barrel pushing back and forth between their faces.

*

So far the body count of this fight has been shockingly low for the number of bullets fired, at least to Daredevil's rarefied senses, and he means to keep it that way.

Matt can hear and feel the struggle between Frank and the final gunman as they struggle for control of the submachine gun. The situation is untenable, set to resolve itself with one or the other man's brains scattered around the room in a matter of seconds.

So he moves quickly, baton now in hand, making an underhand swing to try and knock it out of either's control. That in itself is a dangerous move — it risks the gun going off and scattering bullets at random — but it's better than either of these men wresting unfettered control of it.

*

Rolling across the floor with the gunman, struggling for control of the pistol pointed nearly at his face almost half of the time, Frank can do nothing about the approaching Devil. The blow to his hand causes a snarl to flash white teeth amidst a red face, "Goddamn it, Hornhead." The pain is clear in the man's growl, even as the gunman goes sprawling after the pistol. Frank is in no shape to go diving after anything, and so he instead hammers a punch into the man's groin, causing the gunman to curl up around his fist. Frank catches a boot to the head, knocked onto his back, and then the gunman has the pistol, one hand pressed between his legs, the other sweeping the pistol toward Frank, despite Matt standing over them both.

*

Goddamn it, Hornhead.

"You're welcome," Daredevil says to the Punisher with exasperation that's only half-hearted. Most of his focus is on that last assailant, who just retrieved his own gun.

Daredevil is the obvious threat. He's not as wounded as Frank, he's (for once) better armed than Frank, and he's standing while Frank is still on the ground. And yet the gunman is aiming at… Frank.

That's dedication beyond a simple gangland beef, or a law enforcement dragnet.

Not that Daredevil has much time to think through those implications. It's all he can do to send the baton down to crack the forearm of the arm that sweeps upward in Frank Castle's direction.

*

Struggling to try to regain his feet, Frank seems to be having some trouble making his limbs work in sync. He wobbles to his hands and knees, gets halfway up from there, and then drops back down again. "Yeah, yeah." Blood runs from the various and sundry bullet wounds and slashes, dripping across the floor, but he starts to force himself up again, crawling after the last gunman. That worthy loses his pistol again, scrambling to his feet and awkwardly trying to flee out the door at the back of the room. Unfortunately, he leaves behind a rather impolite gift — a grenade without its pin or spoon. Frank spots the grenade, and flops out on the floor again, batting it twenty or so feet away. He doesn't quite get it outside the danger range of the two vigilantes, but at least he gets it far enough away that it's not likely to kill either of them.

*

A dozen sensory cues tell Matt exactly what the final gunmen left behind as he hobbled away, and the recognition is punctuated by an angry grunt.

Frank gets there first, diving to the ground and swatting it away. Matt — does what Matt does. Frank is battered and bleeding and barely mobile. He obviously has some protection, or he'd be a dead man, but it's not full-body and chances are it isn't up to par with the sleek supersuit fashioned by Dr. Foster.

There's really only one logical choice for a man of Matt's self-sacrificial bent, even when dealing with a problematic case like Frank Castle. He crouches above Frank's form, back to where the blast will inevitably come, shields the Punisher's body with his own.

*

The grenade roars in the enclosed space, there on the top floor, and shrapnel pings off walls, ceiling, floor, helmets, and super-suit. As the echos die down, Frank rolls onto his back, looking up at the Devil of Hell's Kitchen through one eye closed off by blood and a rictus of pain, "Sorry Hornhead. You ain't my type." Is that 'thanks' in Punisher-ese? He breathes with a little wheeze that suggests cracked ribs, and he's bleeding from a multitude of grazes, cuts, and actual bullet wounds. He might even still have a bullet inside his torso. "Any more of 'em movin'?"

There are in fact several still moving, although mostly moaning in pain. The one shot in the legs and lower torso isn't even doing that, although he's not quite dead yet. The one Matt used as a ram will probably be up soon, despite the bruised ribs, and the one with the dislocated jaw is groaning in pain but not moving beyond that.

*

It's the noise of it all more than the dings of shrapnel and the force of the blast that jar Matt, send his world-on-fire ever so briefly off kilter. It passes quickly. He's becoming an old hand at catastrophes, quick to recover his equilibrium.

A little puff of breath and nothing more answers the Punisher's 'thanks' for the shielding. He pushes himself up and gives the room a quick sweep of his senses: the heartbeats, the breaths. "None moving, a few close to it though," Matt says with a gesture towards the former human battering ram.

His jaw juts, he lets out a sigh. "And one about to bleed out, from the looks of it." None of that allowed tonight. He walks over to the leg-shot man and proceeds to methodically open the man's protective vest, tear off a piece of his shirt, and turn it into a makeshift tourniquet.

"You look like shit," he tells Castle as he works.

*

"I've had worse." Debatable. Frank rolls onto his front, groaning as he does. Through the wash of blood, he watches Matt work on the downed man. "Tried to keep 'em low." Has the Punisher changed his stripes? There certainly isn't any lie in the words, although there isn't a very good baseline to read from right now. He tries to push himself to his feet and fails miserably. His left arm buckles under him, and he tries again with three limbs, finding a little more success. "Goddamn it." Disappointment ripples through him at that, and then he gravels, "These assholes are military. Modern Army Combatives." Daredevil reads heartbeats… Frank Castle reads military fighting styles and firearms. "Or ex."

*

Matt's no expert on special forces, but Frank's estimation of the men gels with his less-educated one. These surely aren't drug runners, at least not of the traditional sort.

Just as interesting is the fact that Frank doesn't know who they are, or why they tried to blow him straight to Hell. He tightens the tourniquet on the bleeding man and brings himself to a rise, right before walking over to one of his compatriots who is just about to stir. A swift, fierce kick to the side of the head puts that to a stop. That's Matt: dealing out protection and pain in frighteningly fluid equal parts.

"You have any sense of why they'd be after you?" Matt asks. "I mean, beyond the obvious." The mountains of bodies at his feet, in addition to the deaths wrongly attributed to him.

*

Frank starts to sink back to a kneeling position, only for the motion to pull at his thigh and calf, and he flops down onto his ass instead, bracing himself with his relatively-unhurt right arm. He looks around at the mess of unconscious, bleeding, and both ambushers, "One down in the alley too. Collarbone. Should survive." If he gets medical help soon. "Response time here's what… eight minutes?" For all his relative coherence, he's clearly not tracking all that well. Right, there was a question in there. "Dunno. Had one dressed up like a Hellraiser down there. Bait." He starts to work his slow, painful way over to the nearest downed man, reaching out to strip the balaclava away, "Don't know him." Truth. The next one is closer, and gets the same treatment, "She looks familiar. Don't know where from." Truth. And Frustration. He glances toward the nearest exit, then the next-nearest gunperson. "What the hell are you doin' here, Hornhead?"

*

"There was an accident on 8th Ave, so you've probably got nine," Matt says of response times, head cocked to one side like a cat. There's a beat of deliberation. "I can maybe get you to someone who patches me up now and again." He won't promise Claire Temple; it's her choice whether she wants to let one more madman into her life.

What the hell are you doing here, Hornhead?

"And I was looking for you, looking for Hellraisers," Matt answers dryly. "You were at the ball, and I think we're following similar leads. When I heard the fun start — well, I've always had a hard time staying away from a party, Castle."

*

Frank leans back until the back of his head touches the floor, and then gathers himself, rolling up and pushing himself straight up to his feet. He grunts in pain as he does, and sways for a moment, but stays up, at least for now. The offer for medical help causes a pause from Frank, struggling through the cobwebs driven into his head by repeated impacts to consider the angles. If you can't trust a goodie-two-shoes who won't even let you kill someone cutting loose full-auto in a neighborhood, who can you trust. "I got a guy." The answer to his question draws another pause as he shuffles over to pick up his borrowed grapple gun and his pistol. "Knew somethin' was gonna go bad, but didn't know it'd be that bad. Pretty sure it wasn't the Hellraisers. Tryin' to find out if they know who it was. They're stubborn as shit." Beat pause, "That's a dangerous name." 'Castle.'

*

That's a dangerous name, Frank says of 'Castle.' Daredevil gestures to the largely unconscious group of men and women around them. "Apparently."

Then Frank is talking about the 'stubborn as shit' Hellraisers — except he doesn't think they were behind it at all. "Someone's trying to frame them, or someone's trying to use them," Daredevil asserts. Probably the latter. Anyone sophisticated enough to pull off that kind of stunt has better things to do than frame a bunch of assholes like the Hellraisers.

Maybe whoever set this up, if they knew Castle was poking around. Or maybe not.

"You need to get out of here, if you have a place to go," he tells Castle. "I'll wait and see what happens to our friends when the police arrive." That should say an awful lot about whether they are acting under any authority at all.

*

Frank looks around the chaos again, grunting his agreement with 'Apparently.' "Fuck." There's a lot of emotion behind the single word. Fading rage, low-bubbling anger, and burgeoning worry. He breathes hard, struggling to stay on his feet. He staggers over to a wall and leans against it, leaving another smear of blood — his and not his alike. "Yeah. Usin' them as a stalkin' horse. Hellraisers don't do magic. Someone else does." There's a pause as he breathes hard, "I'm workin' on gettin' out of here."

And to Matt's hearing comes the far-too-quiet sound of helicopter blades, and soft crackles of transmissions from the close earpieces of the downed gunmen. Backup? If so, they're not flying a commercial vehicle.

*

Matt's head tilts as he picks up that ominous sound in the distance, the one that only he can hear for now. "There's a chopper getting close," Matt says with a 'look' up towards the ceiling. Backup? Sniper? Ready with a goddamn grenade launcher? Whoever is after Frank Castle doesn't feel the typical criminal's constraints, and isn't shy about overkill. And Frank — he's in bad shape. Moving slow, bleeding from half a dozen major and minor wounds. The Punisher has a reputation for resilience, but this is Kobyashi Maru territory.

Even if it is, is there any question that Frank Castle brought this on itself?

He thinks the thought, and banishes it just as quick. A few paces carry him to Castle's side. "Come on," he says. "They go high, we go low." His voice lowers, drops below what any of their assailants might reasonably pick up. "Sewer entrance right off the first floor of this building. From there, half a mile to a decent safehouse. I'll show you the way." And, though he doesn't say it, doesn't explicitly offer it, he offers himself for Frank to lean on.

Sewers. Matt hates sewers, for obvious reasons. Frank's lucky he's a masochist.

*

Frank frowns at the Devil's intel, starting to shake his head, then just leaning there against the wall and listening for a moment. By the time Daredevil is by his side, he can hear the soft whop-whop of the helicopter as well, if only because he's specifically searching for it. "Goddamn Black Hawk." A military helicopter, although it has civilian versions, it also has a version used by SpecOps with quieter rotors and radar-absorbent angles. "Pickup, probably." Frank is moving slow and thinking slow, and so he pauses at Daredevil's suggestion, then nods slightly, "Yeah." After two dragging steps, he puts a hand on the red-armored shoulder, first just steadying, and then leaning more than a little weight on the other man. Frank is certainly proud, but he's also practical, and he's not going to make it a half mile without help. "Sewers. Great." It doesn't sound like Frank is looking forward to them any more than Matt is. It may have something to do with the blood pooling in his boot. By the time they're painfully picking their way down the stairs, he adds an additional, grunted, "Thanks."

*

Thanks, Frank says, and it gives Daredevil pause. Underscores exactly what he's doing. I'm helping the Punisher.

He could choose not to. Let Frank fend for himself, as he'd tends to do, or even take the proactive step of delivering him to the cops himself. End the cycle of violence right there.

Except it wouldn't. Whatever is happening here makes it clear that a jail cell wouldn't protect Frank from whoever is after him. If anything, it would make him an easier target. To turn him in is to kill him.

And so Matt makes a deliberate choice. He feels the hand on the shoulder, the grudging lean, and puts his arm around Frank's shoulder to keep him steady. One step forward, then another.

"Yeah," the Devil of Hell's Kitchen says as they make for the stairs down. "No sweat."

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