Bloody Vengeance
Roleplaying Log: Bloody Vengeance
IC Details

Frank Castle is beaten to within an inch of his life, and Batgirl takes a life.

Other Characters Referenced: Billy Russo, Max, William Rawlins III
IC Date: September 16, 2019
IC Location: Punisher Keep, Jersey City
OOC Notes & Details
Posted On: 17 Sep 2019 06:50
Rating & Warnings: R for violence and mild language
Scene Soundtrack: [* ]
NPC & GM Credits:
Associated Plots

"I love you," Frank's voice exhales through the small speakers of the phone cradled in both her hands. She's sitting in the driver's seat of the van, hearing what might be the last time that Frank Castle confesses his heart to her. It is a rare thing for Frank to say those words, relying on his actions to convey his affection and dedication to Barbara Gordon. She's always known that she occupies just one part of his heart, because Maria Castle and the two children that died with her on that grassy patch in Central Park will always have a place there. But, her whole heart aches as she hears the not-so-empty silence at the end of the recording turn to actual silence. She is left with just the rain beating down on the black van.

She looks up, her eyes swimming with tears that only redouble the blur of gray through the windshield. It is almost sunset by the way the colors drain from the world, leaving the already muted-colored block of Jersey City darker and drearier. He asked her not to watch, he asked her to wait, so she smears the back of her hand across her eyes as she tries to honor both pleas. She looks out toward the almost abandoned streets of this industrial park, spotting the large bulky SUV that must be taking Frank back to the warehouse that he calls home.

Barbara bows her head over the phone as it sits quiet in her hands, and then — with a sharp breath through her nostrils — she looks up again. "GAARD, navigate me to the closest parking structure near the Keep." Her voice is thick with emotion. "And then I want you to track every body moving in the Keep… I need a count." She starts up the engine, and then pulls the van out onto the streets of Jersey to make her journey back.

Frank's head jerks up as the acrid bite of smelling salts hits his sinuses. It probably won't be the first time tonight. He's been ziptied to a chair in front of GAARD's terminal, and Twitchy pulls back quickly out of range of any headbutting or other tricky business, stepping away, "There you go." The terminal's screen is blank in front of him, the computer apparently sleeping, so Agent Orange doesn't have any compunction about stepping right up alongside Frank, pulling on a pair of black leather gloves. There's a little limp to his step, and Frank has a moment of fierce glee that sparks in the midst of the rage scourging his veins.

"Your stupid-ass gloves. Those the same ones you used for Zubair, Rawlins? Or did you get yourself a new pair?" The other man may not know that he's on candid camera(s), but Frank sure does, and he's going to play it for all he's worth.

Rawlins looks down at the taut black leather, "Oh no. These are special. Just for you. I didn't even use these on Miss Gordon."

Frank tugs at his bindings, trying to fight through the surge of fury within him. He remembers the bruise on Barbara's face, the way she held herself carefully around her ribs. He owes Rawlins before this is all over, owes him hard. "You gonna finally do something? Instead of sitting behind a desk like the worthless sack of shit you are?"

Rawlins doesn't hesitate, just stepping forward and slamming a gloved fist into Frank's nose. A second blow, and Frank can feel blood starting to pour over his lips. A third, and Frank feels something crack. It's a familiar feeling, and something about that makes him laugh, chuckling through a fourth punch and a fifth. There's no sixth, not yet, and looks up, "You hit like a pussy, Rawlins."

There are another three or four blows in quick succession, hard, sharp, well-aimed and powerful. Frank can feel his mind wandering a little with the concussion, but Rawlins is talking, "Are you going to open the computer for me now, Castle?" Frank's blood speckles his face, but he doesn't seem put off by it — on the contrary, there's an almost sexual glow in the man's eyes. "Or do I have to keep going?" Frank doesn't say anything, just spits blood from his split lip, cut cheek, and broken nose, spits blood and grins.

The van is parked a block and a half down from the warehouse that Frank calls home. It has been sitting there for twenty minutes, dark and silent as rain-soaked street. It's silent out there — deathly silent. Barely, from several blocks away, she picks up the first wail of sirens. They are rushing away from the port. In fact, she's dead certain that Agent Orange has made sure that there will be no one to interrupt his time with Castle based on how quiet it is out in the early autumn thunderstorm.

In the back of the van, Barbara's fingers slide her armor's seal closed. Her new prototype is all ballistic weave and close fitting. It isn't the motorcycle leather done-up with armor plating, but instead something that returns to darkest roots of the Bats. It's gray instead of black with the yellow silhouette of the open-winged bat stretched across her chest. Her cape is black and scalloped, it lining a that same mustard color that matches her elbow-length gloves and knee-high boots. She winces as she collapses back down to her knees, feeling the deep throb in her ribs; she presses her hand down over the wound. She closes her eyes for a long moment, regaining her breath.

"Your fifth through seventh rib is badly bruised, Red," GAARD's voice remarks casually. "Another impact will fracture the bones."

Babs glances toward the front of the van, showing her teeth briefly with a fierce smirk. "Thanks for the info, GAARD." She clasps her heavy utility belt around her waist. "Secure the van when I'm out and then go remote into the cowl. You're my eyes in there, GAARD."

Her hands slick back her red hair, securing it so she can pull the cowl up over her head.

Frank's head lolls forward, blood dripping onto his chest. The repeated blows have slashed the inside of his mouth to ribbons, his lips swollen and split. There's a puddle of blood under him, and his ribs scream. At least three cracked, another couple broken. It's been at least an hour and a half, maybe two hours or more. It's hard to tell when you keep fading in and out of consciousness. At some point, Frank goaded Rawlins into admitting to killing Zubair, of gloating about it. What he hadn't expected was the CIA spook gloating about arranging the death of his family.

"Huh. That's some bullshit." The voice is familiar. His blood brother. Billy Russo, crouched there in front of him. "The mission ended. What's the point? You don't seem to understand." There's a pause, "Who are you protecting? Maria? The kids? Gone. Gunner. Zane. They're dead. They're all dead because of you. And you've already signed that spicy redhead's death warrant. There's nobody left." Russo pauses, shaking his head sadly, "I get it. That's a heavy, heavy burden. It's time to put it down." Frank can almost feel the touch of Billy's fingers against his cheek, a light pat, "You're a revenant, walking the earth completely unaware that you're already dead." Another pause, and Billy sounds sorrowful, "I hate seein' you like this. It's sad. Give it up, Frank. Give it up, and he'll make it clean and fast. Go out like a soldier."

Frank grunts, drifting away for a moment, flashes of memory, of dream. Maria sitting on a blanket in the Park with him, listening to him play guitar. Barbara sitting on the couch behind him while he sprawls on the floor, leaning back against the couch and playing. Kisses stolen from two women, kisses given freely by two women. He forces his attention to what he sees here and now. "Bill."

William Rawlins III scowls, starting forward, but Acid-Blood puts a hand on his shoulder, looking to the empty air that Castle is addressing, murmuring something in his boss's ear.

The Billy that's a figment of Frank's imagination, sparked by traumatic brain injury, smiles reassuringly, "Yeah, it's me, I'm here."

Frank squeezes his eyes closed, looking down at the bloody floor between his feet. He's got to… got to what? Got to do something, get somewhere. Right, he needs a code to finish the upload, to share the footage. His swollen lips purse painfully, his words stumbling, mumbling, "I'm ready, Bill. But it's gotta be you. You gotta promise me."

Billy Russo's soft, quiet assurance is nearly cut out by William Rawlins's snarl, "I promise."

"Okay." Got to play this right, Frank thinks blurrily. It's hard trying to think straight, let alone trying to act. Thankfully, the blood, the shortness of breath, the pure damage that Rawlins has inflicted over the past hours helps as much as it hurts — and it hurts a whole lot. "Get me over there. Retinal scan and a keystroke. One eye, my right hand. Gotta be you, Bill."

Rawlins looks aside to the unarmed woman, now bereft of her balaclava, showing a plain, serious face. "Move." She moves, quickly too. At a gesture from Rawlins, Everson and Twitchy come up, Everson walking straight through where the phantasm of Billy crouches, lifting up Frank's chair and hauling him over in front of GAARD's terminal. Billy disappears like the mirage he was, leaving only blood-spattered concrete where he once crouched. Spiny chimes in, nodding to the desk, "Just so you know, we found the pistol you had under there." She reaches down, cutting Frank's right hand free and then practically hopping back.

But Frank doesn't strike out. No, he slumps forward, reaching out with his right hand to type a long series of numbers into the keypad, and then leans further forward to put his eye up to the webcam. The computer chirps softly, and a window of scrolling code pops up on the screen. "That's it. It's done." Even as he breathes the words, his hand drops back down to his side, then under the chair, grasping for the simple shiv taped there.

Rawlins steps up off his right shoulder, looking at the screen. "You know," the smugness seeps out of the spook's voice like the guts from a squished slug, "I'm actually a little disappointed in you, Castle — "

Frank doesn't let him say anything more, finally loosing the reins of his fury, lunging out of the chair and stabbing the shiv into Agent Orange's chest, into the neat white shirt now stained with Frank's blood. He starts to topple from the chair, to fall toward the floor, but he hauls on the knife, keeping himself upright as he roars his rage. Rawlins collapses to his knees, and Frank goes with him, awkward in the chair but still trying to drive the makeshift blade deeper. Arms reach out for him, shouts and screams filling the warehouse as the weary goons struggle through their Meta collapse to react to the sudden assault.

Everson starts to haul Frank off of Rawlins, but Frank lashes out with the only thing left to him, biting into Rawlins's ear and cheek, struggling and straining to stay close, to inflict more damage, to finish the job. The butt of a gun strikes home at the back of Frank's head, once, twice, three times, four… Frank doesn't know how many times he's struck, but eventually darkness takes him again.

The grappling hook catches on the roof with a dull thud and clank. A camera glares down right at her, but she doesn't care that it spots Batgirl giving a tug on the hook before she thumbs the trigger that makes the line retract, whispering as it pulls her to the roof. She alights just beside the camera on the roof edge where an upward wind catches her cape and sends it unfurling around her shoulders. She unhooks the tether, letting it auto-retract into the gun before she bolts across the roof on silent feet.

The storm has gotten worse as thunder rumbles low from the skyline of New York across the bay; lightning illuminates the skies and ignites the roof in a brief flash of light. The rain beats down on the flat surface, turning the rooftop into a shallow pool of rippling, freckled water with her running stride splashing through recklessly. She skids low as she comes to the freshly cut and framed hatch in the roof. She crouches low beside it, letting the rain wash down along her cowl and cape. She looks up sharply, glancing aside toward the far side of the warehouse.

Reluctantly, she asks, "GAARD, I need a status update on the files." Her throat tightens. "And on Frank."

Frank wakes up again to more impacts, punches slamming into his ribs, chest, shoulders, stomach, and face. It's not the methodical punishment of the past hours, but a rage that strives to match his own. He grunts with each blow.

"I was the bulwark against our enemies." Rawlins is driven through his pain by pure anger now, self-righteous indignation, "What I did was greater than you could ever measure! Do you know what you've done?"

Frank manages to gravel a sarcastic, "Did they take your pension away?"

That engages Agent Orange even further, and he rains blows down on Frank once more, "You are nothing but a grunt! You do not get to take me down. You are gonna beg to me. You will know fear. Pain and fear, Frank." He's ranting now, run raw by the pain in his hands, his chest, and his cheek.

The two are in the middle of the warehouse again, leaving room for Acid-Blood and the hacker in front of the computer, the two talking in curt, low tones under the sound of the beating. Spiny has wandered over to the weapons benches, poking around with weary boredom. Twitchy has wandered off to take a piss and get a few minutes away from the ever-present slap of leather on flesh. Everson lounges near the bottom of the stairs, his arms crossed as he watches the beating.

"Oh, I'm gonna take all the breath outta your lungs." Orange's eyes, clear and milky alike, are wide. "And the last word outta your mouth is gonna be please."

Spiny looks over, disgust showing in her features, "Sir… we've been here too long. We're in. We can wipe things and get out of here, put him down and go."

Rawlins looks up sharply, shakes his head, "No! He's taken things from me. From that he does not go down easy." One bloodied, leather-sheathed finger jabs out at Frank, "He owes me an eye."

Frank hurts. He's been hurt before, but this is extreme even for him. In addition to the ribs, the gut, the face, the head, there are bloody tracks where he's been pulling against the zipties the whole time — at least when he's been conscious and semi-coherent. But they still hold him to the chair, unable to defend himself. And as blackness starts to claim him again, he can feel Rawlins grabbing hold of his short hair.

"Stay with me, Frank." Rawlins has the shiv now. "It was always gonna come down to you and me, Frank. Time for quid pro quo." Rawlins leans in close, patting Frank's chest with one hand, using it to brace him as he holds the point of the blade up to the veteran Marine's eye, a bare half-inch shy of puncturing it.

Things are happening behind him, but every bit of Agent Orange's attention is on Frank. "You're a dead man. You just don't know it yet."

Rawlins should have listened to Spiny — they should have gotten out.

Now, a shadow drops from the ceiling in a graceful crouch on the first landing heading up to the rooms upstairs. It is perfectly silent in its drop despite the stairs and landings being hard metal. She stays crouched for a long moment, her head lifted up just enough to take sight of everyone in the room. Her chin lowers as she sights the behemoth at the bottom of the stairs. She slips forward one step, then another, and her cape whispers behind her.

Beyond him, she sights the violent punishment being inflicted on Frank, fueled by Rawlins blind and egotistical rage. Her first instinct is to sprint to him, but there are too many active guns in the room. So, she fights back that deadly urge and hones her focus on the obstacles between her and the bloodied, hunched figure of Frank Castle. She slips down another step, and then she lunges forward. Her arm sweeps around the big man's throat, and she locks her arm in place. She braces as Everson lurches to his feet, flailing against the redhead as she tightens her arm more around his windpipe.

Everson falls in just under a minute, and the rattle of his body against the stairs prompts a glance from Spiny. She barely has time to shout out something, raising her machine gun toward Batgirl before the redhead is barreling toward her at full speed. She leaps at the woman, barreling her into the bench as both knees slam into her chest. Spiny slams into the bench with a rattle, and Batgirl is already sending her fist down into the curve of the woman's neck against her jugular and the nerve cluster that runs alongside it. Spiny throws her weight forward, sending both to the concrete floor.

There's a call of panic from the computer station as Acid turns on the hacker and starts barking in quick succession, "Wipe it! Wipe it!" Acid and the hacker can only listen in as Spiny slams her elbow into Barbara's face only for the redhead to slam the woman's head back into the concrete with a crack. The computer monitors are alive with information scrolling and tiling across it before it suddenly locks. A window pops up, reading: FILE TRANSFER COMPLETE.

The hacker's eyes widen. "What…"

Then the window flashes again, this time reading: BEHIND YOU.

Acid turns right into Barbara's fist as she slams a punch into his face. The hacker chokes on a scream as the soldier's collapses back into the console only to be grabbed and thrown back across the floor. She turns to stare right into the fierce eyes of Batgirl. "Run," the Bat breathes in a low, dangerous growl. "And pretend this never happened." She doesn't wait to see the hacker run, because now she's turning to Twitchy who is just realizing what he's about to walk into. He looks slowly over toward the Bat, and he blinks owlishly for two long heartbeats before he abruptly flees back into the bathroom and slams the door shut.

You're a dead man. You just don't know it yet.

Now, all there is, is William Rawlins. She turns toward him, and where all the bloodied streaks across the floor tries to tell her the story of what's happened in here. So much blood, and so much of it Frank, her heart goes cold just as the anger rages through her. She's not sure when she slipped the razor-edged batarang from her belt, but it is there in her fingers as she starts toward the spook.

For Frank, it may look like the shadow of a bat rears up behind Rawlins before he sees the blue eyes and familiar locks of red hair. Rawlins is too focused on his blade and that brown eye that sits directly under its sharp point to realize she's behind him until it is too late. Everything slows as she reaches over Rawlins head to grab him by his forehead, wrenching his head back. Her fingers curl into his brow ridge, digging into the edge of his eye sockets. Her hand moves fast as she rakes the edge of the batarang across Rawlins throat, and blood explodes from the wound in a spurt. The cut is deep.


Frank would love to do something about the marauding specter of Bat-dom that terrorizes her way through the warehouse, would love to react to the appearance of Batgirl behind William Rawlins in a manner that would do Batman proud, but it's all he can do to stare defiantly up into the man behind the blade poised over his eye.

Rawlins never even knows that Babs is there. One moment he's triumphant, on the verge of killing the man who took his eye, who wrecked his profits, who threatened his position, and the next moment his head is being dragged backwards and he's choking on blood and trying to get breath through a sliced windpipe. The shiv falls from nerveless fingers, and Rawlins tumbles slowly backwards, grasping for the waterfall of crimson pulsing from his throat. Frank looks up slowly, Agent Orange's blood washed over his own. Blood dribbles from his lips, and he tries to say something, his lips moving soundlessly. Drawing in a little breath with a dangerous-sounding rasp, he finally manages, "Nice timing." Whatever name he might have been intending to call her, he doesn't have enough breath for it.

The batarang clatters to the ground not long after the shiv. Rawlins's body is pushed aside, freeing the space in front of Frank for Barbara to drop to her knees. She gathers up his face gently in her gloved hands, lifting his head slowly in her hands. She looks down into his brown eyes, brushing her hands gently along his bloodied jaw. "Frank." His name is a soft, choked breath. "Oh god, Frank…" She releases him just long enough for her to cross behind him, using another batarang to cut away the thick zip-ties from around his wrists. She is swift to catch him, knowing that he might fall without the brace of his arms behind his back. She presses her shoulder into his, and she's trying to guide him against her. "Can you walk? We need to get out of here."

The best that can be said for Frank Castle at the moment is that he's alive. His head slumps against her hands, blood tracking down from his nose and mouth alike, further tainting those new gloves. As the bindings are cut away from his wrists, Frank slumps forward, falling into Barbara's quick grasp. His response is a pained breath, "Can fuckin' run." His response is also a lie. His legs are still ziptied to the legs of the chair, but even if that wasn't the case, he wouldn't be able to stand on his own. His right arm tightens around her neck, and his left presses to the yellow bat symbol on her chest. "He… ordered the hit." The pain never wrung salt from his eyes, but now a tear trickles down his lined face, pinking with his blood and Rawlins's.

Barbara's arms tighten around Frank as she remains close to him with his arm looped around her shoulders. She looks down at the hand pressed against her chest, and then back up at Frank; gently, her hand collects his and she brings it to her lips where she kisses softly at what little of his knuckles are not bloodied. She closes her eyes as she sinks her forehead closer to press against his, smearing blood across the brow of her cowl. Her lips tighten. "Shh. We're getting out of here." She presses Frank back against the chair so that she can reach down to gently cut loose the ties around his ankles. Now she looks back up at him before she twists her arm around his shoulders once more to ease him up to his feet. "We're going, Frank. I'm taking you to Curtis." She guides him forward one step, then two. "Stay with me, Frank…"

Frank closes his eyes, his bloody brow heavy on the cool surface of her cowl. "Not… goin'… anywhere," he whispers. He drops back down into the chair with a grunt and a pained groan, teetering and nearly falling before Babs has him back. He manages the one step, then the two, then stops, and lashes out with a blood-filled boot, kicking Rawlins's corpse in the side of the head. He doesn't protest Barbara's plan to go to Curtis, but several more steps along the way, clinging to her as best as he can with only the last vestiges of his fury overruling the pain flooding his nerves. "Where's Max?"

Barbara can't look down at the corpse of Rawlins, and so she can't let Frank linger there long to kick the corpse. Once he's back to stepping along with her, she huffs out a short breath. "The van. He's hurt too, Frank." They're all hurt, their little family. She looks behind her briefly. This mess will have to be cleaned up, the bodies dealt with. Her lips tighten into a thin line. "GAARD, close up the Keep. If that Twitchy asshole gets out of the bathroom, you make sure he gets out before we get back… remind him, or else." Then she's stepping out of the warehouse with a limping Frank so she can get him to the van, and to Curtis.

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