The number was dialed quickly by the hurried, shaking hand of Phil Urich, reporter for the Daily Bugle (as the chief editor J. Jonah Jameson liked to call it, "New York's hard-fact newspaper"). He waited, forcing himself to relax in the chair and even take a few drinks of his coffee as he was put on Hold for only a moment ("thank you God", he whispered). He quickly gave his ‘Trusted Caller' identification number to the automatic service, and finally a new, robotic voice came: "This is the Captain America Hotline, Avengers Mansion Extension. Please hold. We're working as fast as possible to-" The voice was interrupted by that of a human, and Phil Urich wondered if he had any cigarettes left. He felt he needed them. "Hello? Yes, this is Phil Urich. I'm a friend of Daredevil's. Crimefighter, dresses up in red tights and takes care of that neighborhood called Hell's-? Good. The less I have to explain to you, Cap, the better. Look: "I'm calling on behalf of Daredevil. He's been missing since that lunatic drove an armored tank through his neighborhood [[Happened in Daredevil the Fearless #5! – Bennie]]. I don't know what's become of him. Look, that's not why I'm calling. We've got a situation… You familiar with a man called ‘Bullseye'? "Right. As I hear it, he's carving his way through the Clinton Mission Shelter right now, Cap, and Daredevil's not around to do anything. Right. He may have already killed Wilson Fisk- yes, the ‘Kingpin of Crime'. You're coming? Thanks, Captain… "I'm going to try to get in touch with as many of Hornhead's friends as I can. Look, before you go, see if you can't find Spider-Man. Right. Thanks!" Phil hung up the phone, taking only a second in break so that he could take a new gasp of air, and then he dialed again… He had to reach them all. Every person he thought might be able to help. Everyone he knew would know Daredevil. DD had done plenty for New York City, he thought as he dialed number after number. It was time for them to return the favor, before that psychotic Bullseye could do whatever he was sent to do. Phil only hoped Karen Page and Foggy Nelson could reach those he didn't know… Even if Daredevil did arrive, who was to say Bullseye wouldn't…- Don't think about it, he thought, and listened as the phone rang. New Marvel Presents: DAREDEVIL the Fearless # 11: "No Man An Island" Written By: Ben Kaine Editor: Brian Provow *** ‘ey there, True Believer. In case you were lost, here's a recap of what's been going down in that wholly remarkable book, "Daredevil the Fearless", thus far. Finally returning to his home of New York City after a mission involving the fate of Mankind, Daredevil's got problems! Not only does his girlfriend Karen Page have AIDS, he's found that his mother, a nun named Maggie, is being stalked by his worst enemy, the assassin Bullseye! The assassin had yet to succeed, however, because his secret employer and archenemy of Daredevil, Wilson Fisk, has a change of heart and has tried to protect the sister! Angered, Bullseye attacked the Fisk, nearly killing him… but lo and behold, Daredevil has arrived at the last moment! Let the battle begin! - Ben *** The bones within the foot of Bullseye, the assassin who's aim was so amazing he never missed, had actually been replaced sometime ago with a metal called Adamantium, regarded to be the most indestructable metal on the face of the planet. Needless to say, it would hurt to be hit by such a foot. This foot slammed into Daredevil's breast, threatening to collapse the scarlet crimefighter's chest as it impacted. Daredevil cried out as he rolled with the blow, falling onto a cold, damp sidewalk that gave no comfort to his already-tired body. He had only just returned from what was, for all intents and purposes, a small war, with gunshot wounds in his shoulder and waist [ Daredevil the Fearless # 7 and 3, respectively- Bennie]. He had not gotten anything that could be considered decent rest in a week. And if he was going to face facts, Daredevil thought as he struggled to stand again before Bullseye could score another hit upon his already-abused body, he was in no shape to deal with his second-greatest foe. Make that greatest, he corrected himself. The former champion, Wilson Fisk, had just gotten beaten within an inch of his life by this runner-up… defending Daredevil's mother? Although Daredevil could not see with his blind eyes, the almost-sonar-like sense he held showed that Fisk was slowly standing, trying to leave the battle area. Daredevil would have to protect him if Bullseye chose to strike him dead. He dodged the punch that Bullseye threw, returning one of his own. And Bullseye laughed it off. Another adamantium-filled fist shot forward and Daredevil tasted blood in his mouth. He turned away from Bullseye, his sonar keeping track of the assassin's movements… Bullseye had taken up a knife once more, his bloodshot eyes focusing upon the back of the crimefighter. "This is a treat, Hornhead…" Daredevil heard the crazed man laughing. "…I'm gonna have you! I'm gonna have Fisk! Truly, a…(gasp)… treat!" The ragged breathing of Bullseye was easily heard by Daredevil's ears. Apparently, the fight with the Kingpin hadn't simply been all roses for the assassin… He was tired. Maybe Daredevil had a chance after all- The knife was thrown forward, spinning through the air toward Daredevil's exposed back- Bullseye. An assassin who never missed. *** "Phil! Over here!" Phil Urich made his way toward the source of the calling, shivering at the cold that gripped New York City at that time of year. Across the street, a woman named Karen Page and an old buddy/co-worker of Matt Murdock's named Foggy Nelson. Matt Murdock had never told Phil of the others who he had entrusted his secret to, the others who were aware that Matt Murdock put on kevlar-lined tights every day and went around beating on muggers. It was something that Phil filed away for later, something he thought he should talk to Matt about… but for now, Matt Murdock's neighborhood was in danger. Hell's Kitchen had always been under the protection of Daredevil, but now that Daredevil was no longer here, it would receive the protection of Daredevil's friends! Phil Urich had called Captain America and asked the Star-Spangled Hero to hurry to the Clinton Mission Shelter, but he no longer knew how to contact Daredevil's fellow crimefighter Spider- Man. The one man who usually knew how to get in touch with the Webslinger was dead [[Check out the New Marvel "Astonishing Spider-Man" and "Ben Reilly: Spider-Man" titles for the fully story on that little situation! – Bennie ]]. "How did you do?" he asked, the teeth chattering his mouth. He walked up to Karen and Foggy, looking down on them from his greater height. He tried to smile when he saw the looks upon their faces. They were friends of Matt, as worried as he was. He would try to keep it in mind. "I went to Matt's apartment and tried to find a few numbers, but I didn't get much…" Karen began, her eyes fixed upon the sidewalk. "Foggy found the Black Widow's number on Matt's speed dial at the office, though. We've left word with her." Her voice was colder when she said those words. Phil wondered at that for a moment, and then understood. A beautiful fellow crimefighter and Avenger, on Murdock's speed dial. Hm. "We can't get anybody else?" Phil asked. "Who did you get?" the shorter Foggy asked, frowning, then added: "Sorry, didn't mean it like it sounded, Phil." "No harm done. I did get in contact with Captain America, but I don't know how to find Spider- Man… We've got to think bigger. Isn't there anybody else who we can call on? Someone who feels some loyalty to the man, for god's sakes-?" At that, Karen's eyes blazed excitedly, and she ran from the two men… "What is she-?" Phil began, and Franklin Nelson could only shrug. "Hope it's an idea," he said. *** The thrown knife clattered to the sidewalk, along with the crimson club that was Daredevil's own trademark. The crimefighter had managed to turn, deflect the blade in mid-air. The Devil smiled in momentary triumph, only a second before his senses picked up Bullseye's body flying at him. Those senses began to dim as another fist hit him, and then another. He answered with his own punch, connected with Bullseye's face. Bullseye laughed through a mouth of bloodied, half- loosened teeth. And he had the right to laugh. It wasn't working, none of it. Daredevil couldn't simply fight Bullseye, not in his shape. He was already far slower than his average when he first entered the battle, and now every one of Bullseye's blows connected. He could hear the hitman's own heart beating quickly, his labored breathing, knew the assassin was tired… but not nearly as tired or hurt as he was. A thought entered his head, a dooming thought that rang through his brain with Biblical prophecy: I can't beat him, he thought. Bullseye threw another punch and Daredevil's face crushed against a car window. The vigilante lurched to the left before the hitman could knock his face THROUGH the window, sent a kick into the assassin's gut. Bullseye grunted at the impact, falling backwards onto the icy concrete. Bullseye began to stand as Daredevil clenched his fist to punch. (I can't beat him, Daredevil thought.) Bullseye got to one knee, Daredevil's hand ready to deal another blow. (But I can't beat him.) Daredevil turned and began to run through the falling snow... *** "…er, is that-?" Franklin ‘Foggy' Nelson asked as Phil Urich handed him the small gun. "Is that a gun? I- I don't have any experience with-" Phil let a white cloud of breath escape his mouth, shook his head. "Flare. I procured ‘em for all of us. Now listen. We find the psycho, we shoot those things into the sky. I've got Captain America searching, but I think we need to-" "Where's Karen?" Franklin asked, looking around. Phil attempted to control his anger at the somewhat-pudgy lawyer. Phil had learned, as a way of life, to set the priorities straight as quickly as possible. Karen Page's location was lower on the chart at this point. "I'm sure she's fine. Shoot the flare if you spot Bullseye and Fisk." "What about Sister Maggie-?" "Forget the damned women. The old lady'll be safe enough with the police unless we don't catch this guy. Just pull the trigger on the gun if you see them. Go!" Phil Urich turned, leaving Foggy alone on the street corner, the snow falling gently. Nelson looked around, as if hoping someone would come. He had rarely been able to do anything by himself. In Law school, he had Matt. His mother, when younger… ..In Law school, he had Matt. Foggy tucked away the flare gun in the pocket of his jacket, holding the material close to him as he crossed the street. Now Matt needed to have him. *** On one occasion, Matt Murdock, in the guise of the vigilante Daredevil ("the Man Without Fear", ha!), had been hurled off of the bridge, broken and beaten, by a lover. Daredevil shivered, the ripped costume he wore doing far less good against the cold than he would have liked. He leaned on the railing of the small bridge, his senses showing him the dead grass and iced-over stream below. Tossed, broken and bleeding and beaten, by a lover. That had been one of the worst points of his life. He'd lost Karen, the woman with whom he'd built a life in Hell's Kitchen. He lost New York City. Everything. He came back for it. Now Bullseye was coming (and you can't beat him), and he was going to take it all away again… As if he hadn't already lost it? Daredevil's teeth set in anger as he thought back at that. His entire life had really begun to unravel sometime ago. Close, he decided, to when he had decided to prosecute Bastion for crimes against the mutant citizens of the United States. He had learned Karen had AIDS, had been forced to compromise with Wilson Fisk and take his dirty money. Through all of that (Bullseye's getting closer and you can't beat him), however, he still held one thing: Faith. He was a hero, and the heroes won. God was on his side, and that was something he did not doubt. God was with him. Everything else would be ok. The Black Widow would call him a fool for that, being a Russian atheist. Karen would try to change the subject. (Bullseye's almost here. You can't beat him.) No, he decided. He couldn't beat Bullseye. That was why he felt he couldn't do it again, couldn't win out yet again and put the psychotic hitman in prison where he belonged. He didn't think God was still on his side. Not after the events within Bastion's base, the Bastille. He had committed two sins, great ones that stood emblazoned upon any copy of the Ten Commandments you could see. He had committed Adultery, with the Black Widow, and he had murdered a man. Two, if you included Bastion, but only one in outright, logical cold blood. [[For a more-detailed account of Daredevil's questionable actions in that base, check out "Daredevil the Fearless" #8 and 9- Bennie]]. They had not been some sort of foolish mistakes. On both occasions, he had been in complete control of himself. He had done it anyway. How could he be a champion of God now, at this hour, when he'd lowered himself into such Sin? He couldn't, he thought, and his unseeing eyes gave off a tear that dampened the scarlet cloth over his eyes. Bullseye was coming… and Daredevil couldn't stop him. Not this time. Perhaps as a man with God. He believed a man with God could do anything. But a man? A man couldn't. Bullseye had arrived. Daredevil's senses had yet to even pick up the assassin, but he felt it anyhow. It was a chill, a demonic cold that froze the blood far more than any weather… Daredevil turned, and he noticed how quiet New York City was now. The effects of the electromagnetic pulse that had recently flooded the city had not finished their work, and so no electronics worked. No bright lights or loud sounds. Only peace. The City That Never Slept was finally snoozing. Daredevil's sonar made out the form of Bullseye on the other end of the snow-covered bridge, the wide smile of madness upon the hitman's lips. Daredevil noticed that Bullseye was out of weapons. The assassin had not come prepared for a battle with Wilson Fisk, or a final encounter with his most-hated foe. He had only come to kill an old woman, and packed light because of it. The two men had a psychic bond. It had dissolved through history as they parted their separate ways, each going on, but it was a bond none the less, and one formed of nothing more or less than Hatred. They could feel each other's presence, knew each other. They were like two sides of a coin, a Dark and a Light that were intimate with each other's minds. Bullseye paused, instead of simply crossing the bridge and attacking the waiting Daredevil. They stood there, in what could be called a standoff, each running through the minds of the other… Bullseye laughed. "You can't beat me, Daredevil! You're finished! You can't beat me!" "I'll die trying," the scarlet swashbuckler responded, running forward. The two men darted at each other, each covering half of the bridge's length in the same exact three seconds. Their bodies collided in the middle, and Daredevil refused to scream in pain. "Your god's abandoned you, DD! How do ya like that-?! Gone! You're all alone! I'm not though, DD! I've never needed what you've depended on! I'm whole and you're halved! Hahaha-!" Don't listen to him, Daredevil thought, fighting back. Just kill him. Kick, punch, block, punch. Daredevil felt another blow slip through his defense, groaned, kicked, blocked again, delivered a punch. Their bodies became blurs as they finished a rivalry of years, ending with a deadly dance upon an icy bridge on what was, Daredevil suddenly thought with surprise, Christmas Eve- Daredevil felt something in his leg give out. Don't think about it, he thought. Kick, punch, punch, block. An arm gave out. Block, block, punch and- Daredevil fell. Don't think about it- Kick upwards and- Bullseye seized his ankle, twisted it. There was a snap and Daredevil lay beaten. The assassin stood there for what seemed like years, watching the crimefighter lying in the snow, breathing in and out in harsh gasps, almost completely unable to do anything more than will himself to continue to live. Bullseye did not smile. The destruction of the Light side on their coin gave him a feeling that held no happiness, although he held no doubts. Bullseye reached into the back of his white belt, drawing forth a gun. It wasn't a remarkable weapon. Only a standard Glock, a black weapon capable of delivering the death required. He would never, of course, have used it in the battle. That would have been cheating. Now, however, it seemed a fine way to end the battle. He'd never killed a man with a simple, regular gun before. It was a final honor for Daredevil. He raised it, aimed. "So long, Hornhead." There was no reply from Daredevil, except in the struggles of his respiratory system. The reply, instead, came from a strong baritone behind Bullseye. A new voice. "Hold it, Mister." Bullseye turned, his eyes slightly widening. Upon the bridge stood a living legend known as Captain America. He held his shield ready in his gloved hand, the red, white, and blue colors proudly encircling the star at its center. Bullseye frowned. Beside Captain America stood others, only one of whom he recognized. Wilson Fisk, broken and bloody, but still towering over the rest. The other two? An older man wearing glasses and a chubby one. They were men from Matt Murdock's life, although Bullseye didn't know it: Phil Urich and Franklin "Foggy" Nelson. "You're under arrest, Bullseye. Step. Away." "Captain Freakin' A," the hitman muttered, the gun not wavering from Daredevil's head. "To what do I owe the honor, Cap?" "I'll say it once more, Bullseye. Step away." "You think you can take me, Cap? I'm tired, yeah… but I don't miss and I don't break. Got Adamantium in me. Daredevil'll be dead if you take one more step… and if I recall, you failed miserably at bringing me down last time when I still worked for Ol' Fisk there." "We're not letting you," Phil Urich growled. "Not… No way," Franklin agreed, and the giant known as Fisk behind him only glared, the eyes of a former king saying far more than words needed to. "Heh. Come on," Bullseye grinned, and the finger tensed on the trigger- "DON'T EVEN TRY IT!" The beer bottle flew through the air, poorly thrown but on target. It hit Bullseye's back, falling to the ground where it broke into a number of brown shards. "What the fu-" the hitman began… and stopped. "We would like a few words with you, Sir," came a gruff voice… A man. A… hooved man? Bullseye had no experience with the Inhumans, and he was not aware that the half-man he faced now was none other than royalty by the name of Gorgon. Nor that the man at his side was Karnak, another servant of the Inhuman royal family, his hands able to cut through steel. His eyes wandered, looking up the nearest streetlight at the costumed superhero called Spider-Man that waited there, ready to pounce. He turned, his eyes still roaming over the blonde woman, a Karen Page, and the agent known as Natasha Romanov, AKA the Black Widow, who he had fought once before and knew she was no pushover. Behind the two women, a balding man that Bullseye couldn't know was Melvin Potter, the retired supervillain known as the Gladiator. Finally, behind them all, stood a crowd of fifty people, if not more. They were residents of Hell's Kitchen, the Devil's Kitchen, and Karen Page had managed to find a number of them quickly. They held whatever weapons they could find. Some held firearms, others wood, or broken bottles. The mob waited, all of the eyes burning into Bullseye… "Step away from him!" the voices began to stream in. "Get back!" "Daredevil's our hero, you sonuva-!" "Yeah!" "You want him, Buddy-" "You're gonna have to get through all o' us!" The assassin took several moments to register it all, looking at one side of the bridge and then the other. Each side was sealed off by the angered denizens of Hell's Kitchen, come to rally around their hero, and there were at least four superheroes among them. The gun. He had the weapon, the superhero under his control. He could still get out of this, but it would mean a delay of execution for the Devil- The Devil's breathing, Bullseye thought. It was no longer coming in gasps- Daredevil's scarlet-gloved hand seized the gun in an iron grip, turning it away before Bullseye could pull the trigger. Several gunshots sounded through the air and then Captain America had hurled his shield, knocking the hitman to the ice. A grey substance quickly wrapped about Bullseye, pinning his limbs before he could move into a new action. Webbing. Spider-Man had webbed him. Bullseye fell again, and was unable to stand. The crowd gathered about… The senses of Daredevil flickered in and out, foretelling his unconsciousness. Daredevil had a last thought before slipping off into his dreams: I couldn't beat Bullseye. I didn't have to. * * * One Week Later * * * "Matt!" A blonde angel ran up to him, hugged Matt Murdock as he rolled out of the hospital doors, the wheelchair tires squeaking. Matt smiled at Karen, then let his senses give him a picture of the other faces crowding around his chair… Phil Urich. "Foggy" Nelson. Even Foggy's mother and his employer, Sharpe, had found it in her to come down. The End of the World must be on its way, he thought. Matt let his senses reach out further, and smiled a little wider as he heard the heartbeat of Spider-Man somewhere nearby. Thanks for checking up on me, Peter, he thought… He refocused is attention on those closest to him. Sharpe had already left to procure a car for Matt to get home in. The others- "Karen," he said, "..what happened to Natasha?" "She says she'll visit you later," Karen replied, and Matt did notice a cold to her voice. Uh oh, he thought, and then he remembered Karen's own situation… She had AIDS. He "looked up" at her again, took her hand… "Later, Matthew. Let's just get well, ok?" she smiled down at him. He sighed, nodded, and allowed Phil Urich to wheel him out towards the car. It was all finally over, Matt thought as he listened to Phil Urich's account of how Captain America was going to see to it that every last one of Bastion's cronies were dismissed from political service. All of the horror that he'd gone through lately. Bastion and his insane plan to wipe Mutants from the face of the Earth. Bullseye, once more in a maximum security facility. He'd made it through all of it… No, he hadn't. He stopped listening to Phil Urich's excited words, falling deeper, deeper into his own thoughts. Karen. She had AIDS. What was he supposed to say? Do? Was he still supposed to be her boyfriend? Hadn't he wanted her to be his wife one day? What havoc had her revelation wreaked upon those dreams? Natasha. Shotgun. He'd killed a man in cold blood, committed Adultery. He was still alive, yes. His wounds, the doctors said, would heal. Even if the physical wounds did heal, though, what was left of Daredevil? His ideals? What was left of the life he was comfortable with? **NEXT: The Big #12! Matt Murdock, and Daredevil by association, is stuck in a wheelchair. Hell's Kitchen is still half-reduced to rubble from the joyride of Shotgun in DDF # 5. Matt's relationships with Karen and Natasha. Fisk. Matt Murdock has plenty of problems to deal with, even out of the red tights. Join us for a landmark issue that will redefine Daredevil's world. **And As For the Writer…** The big finale to "Daredevil the Fearless" comes February. So does the end to Ben Kaine's agreement with the New Marvel Fan Fiction Group. So where does this leave the book, you ask? Well, the "Daredevil the Fearless" action isn't QUITE over yet, even after #12. The "Daredevil the Fearless Annual" #1 will be out soon, penned by none other than ROB PAYNE. If you're unfamiliar with Rob Payne's work, his latest stuff is some great Batman work over at the "New DC" Fan Fiction Group and the first issue of New Marvel's DEADPOOL series. I won't spoil the great stuff he's getting ready for DDF's annual, but if you feel that the DDF series thus far has gotten too far away from the urban/criminal underworld environment normally associated with Daredevil, you're in for a treat. As for lil' ol' Ben Kaine, I'm going to wrap up all the loose ends from the run on the series with #12, and then it's goodbye. Bennie here has plenty to do already, what with my current "Bullseye" series over at Tales.Dreamhost.Com and forthcoming "Justice League of America" at New Marvel's sister site, New DC. Yeah, I know. Plug, plug, plug. So what actually happens to "Daredevil the Fearless"? The series will most likely be discontinued, as the point of New Marvel in the first place was to continue OLD series where Marvel stopped them… So we may just be seeing the return of ‘Daredevil, the Man Without Fear' by some other writer with a different take on our fave devil. It's been a pleasure. See ya for #12.