DAREDEVIL the Fearless
# 3: " A Stand "
Written By: Ben Kaine
"I must say, Mr. Murdock, I'm pretty surprised," Foggy Nelson said as he and Matt descended the stairs of the courthouse. "I mean, if you had said you were going to DEFEND Bastion, I would've been reeling, but at least it would've been in character of you… I don't remember your prosecuting in years."
"I defend criminals because I want to make sure that they have as fine a day in court as anyone else," Matt answered. "With Bastion… With Bastion, there's no worry. He's got a team of the highest lawyers in and out of this nation working around the clock on his case. The case is different here, Foggy… I'm getting involved because this time, the Prosecution is what's in danger."
"You sure my mom will agree?"
"It's a big case. She'll agree."
"Well, I guess it's either that or the defending of a Hitler-wannabe- "
"Since when," Matt frowned, "…has your mother ever cared about that?"
"That's cold, Matt. She IS my mother and-"
"She's a cold person, Foggy," Matt said simply. "TAXI! Sorry, Foggy… That was a bit uncalled for. I'm edgy lately. Your mother HAS distanced herself a long way from her emotions, but I've no right to say such things in front of you. Listen… I'm going to the diner.. I've someone to meet there. Why don't you head back to the firm, OK?"
"Fine, Matt… Fine."
Matt sighed, watching Foggy leave… "HEY, MAC, YOU COMIN' OR WHAT?!"
He looked back at the driver, said "Sorry", and entered the back seat.
The diner was a Sub-Way. It was clean, fresh; something rarely encountered in New York City or, even less, in Hell's Kitchen. Karen liked to eat there. She'd always kind of liked to eat there… and at the moment, Matt simply wanted to make her feel as much as the old Karen as possible. "Old Karen"? She WAS the old Karen, just with a disease now… A disease he had already forgiven her for a long time ago, when he had forgiven her for everything else. When he had become Born Again. [Daredevil #226-233 by Frank Miller -Bennie ] He just wished he could get that through her thick head… and keep the possibilities of him now having the virus out.
"A tad hungry?" he asked with a smile. Karen looked up, noticing for the first time how she'd scarfed down just about everything on the table.. including, without noticing, Matt's meal. He hadn't stopped her.
"…Sorry, Matt. I'm just… stressed, and you know how people are when they're stressed-"
"Stop apologizing," Matt frowned. "You're stressed. You can't exactly help that, unless you're in Yoga."
"Care to teach me?" she smirked.
"I'll even try not to repeatedly hit you with a long stick…"
"I don't understand how you managed to LIVE through Stick's training. Matt- I'm sorry for putting this on you. I need to go back to my work and sort it out myself, deal with the consequences myself. It's not fair to you that I weigh you with this."
" Last time I checked, being a couple meant exactly that-"
"We're not a couple, Matt. Haven't been for a while."
Matt's frown deepened. "I stand corrected…. Are we friends?"
"…Sorry, Matt. Yes, we're friends.. and I suppose you're going to say that being friends also entitles you to helping me-"
" 'Entitles'? You make it seem like I'm butting in! Karen, you told me. I didn't ask. You're right; you probably shouldn't have put this on me… but I care for you. And you better believe you can't decide to simply retract it all and be on your way! It's not fair to me!"
"And what about me?! I've GOT the disease, Matt! It's my choice what I do, who I turn to-!"
"And you turned to me! How can I not be a part of this now?!"
"Because I don't want you to be! Isn't that enough?!"
"How dare you-?!" And she stood to leave, grabbing her purse, stumbling.
"I'm the guy with the horns, remember," Matt whispered. He stood, becoming an obstacle between her and the door. "And what do you think? I've never reminded you, not ONCE, Karen, of your betrayal to me or your drug addiction! Now you've come to me, told me you have AIDS and therefore, I may have it as well, and you don't think you owe me a damn explanation?! You owe me MORE than an explanation! A helluva lot more than brushing me off and pretending that you're just looking out for me-!"
Silence for a moment… Then Karen pushed past him, whispering "Go to Hell", and she was gone.
Matt fell back into his seat… "Damn." Well, now what? What was he going to do? Go get tested for the virus? He could do that today.. He had a little time, time he was going to use to take Karen someplace nice… "How dare I"? he muttered.
He picked up the newspaper, took a sip of his drink, determined to stay lengthily and enjoy his damn meal. Wait. Karen had eaten his meal. Dammit. He'd read the paper, though… Two stories seemed to dominate the front page, related: "ZERO TOLERANCE FOR O: ZT?" and "SHIELD CUSTODY OF CHILD IN QUESTION". He read the first one, simply because it always paid to read the Press' take on your case, and moved down to the second…
A mutant child was born in a hospital, one deemed dangerous by SHIELD agents… Operation: Zero Tolerance wasn't actually involved in any way, although the Press asked for Bastion's view on the matter. A quote from the lawyer: "This is exactly the type of thing that O:ZT would have prevented!"
A stinging editorial on the side noted SHIELD's refusing to let a judge decide the matter to let the mutant be taken from its parents and put in their custody… They were using government powers to go over civil heads… The story made Matt angrier, although that only built on his problems with Karen.
He put the paper down…. Twenty minutes. Yes, that seemed good. He could go now… He was a macho jerk for waiting around for that, but what the hell… Time to go.
He headed back toward the law offices, walking the distance since he didn't quite feel like being there yet. Daredevil would've gotten there too quickly; so would a cab. So he walked, listening to a thousand city noises… None of which, he though with interest, were noises that would make him need to change into his costume. The Heroes had just returned, and no criminals were confident enough yet to go back to their ways. Good... That gave him a reprieve to work on the Zero Tolerance case.
As he arrived, he saw a man and woman being escorted from the building by Sunny, their security. They were protesting but, fortunately for them, not struggling against the large man… Still.
"Afternoon, Mr. Murdock," Sunny grunted as an aside.
"Sunny, these two are personal friends… Why don't I take care of this?"
"…Oh! Er… Sorry.. Yessir.. As you will.."
The big man reentered the building as Matt turned to the man and woman he'd never seen before in his life. "Don't hold it against him," Matt said, "…Sunny's a great guy who's only trying to do his job. Now then, what can I do for you, Mr and Mrs..?"
"...Actually, we're not married.." the man said, "…at least, not yet. I'm Richie, and this is Fran… We really don't know where else to go, Mr. Murdock.. Have you heard about the mutant baby and SHIELD?"
"The parents," Fran nodded. "…They're trying to take our baby from us, Mr. Murdock.. and we don't know how to fight them.. Can they really do what they say? Just- just take our baby-?! Can they..(sniff).."
"Easy, Fran…" Richie said, holding her… He turned back to Matt. "We never even found out if it was a boy or a girl, Mr. Murdock. We want our child back. It might've been a mistake having it so young, or before we were married, but dammit, it's our kid and we want to raise it!"
"…I.. I understand," Murdock sighed. "Listen, Richie, Fran, do you have a number where I can reach you..? I can't promise you anything, but I'll look into the Law concerning it for you."
"Oh, thank you, Mr. Murdock! We know you're a busy man…" Fran whispered. Matt smiled, said "Don't mention it" and accepted the scrap of paper that Richie handed him. "Now if you'll excuse me-"
"Of course," Richie smiled, and the couple left. Matt watched them go; neither of them could be 20. It was sad, really, especially considering how courageous they were to raise a child so young… Others would attempt an abortion or an adoption, but those two-… Sad. It was sad.. He'd definitely look into the law over it. He wouldn't have time to present a case for them, but perhaps he could arm Foggy for it… if the Fogster would SPEAK to him, considering what he said about his mother.
He entered the building, took the elevator to the correct floor… Sunny stood at the elevator doors, waiting for any tresspassers. "Sunny? Have you seen Foggy?"
"No, Mr. Murdock."
He thought he heard Sharpe calling for him, but Matt decided he couldn't be bothered. With the stealth of a vigilante acrobat named Daredevil, he entered the office and closed the door without being seen… He gave "Shhh" sign to Sunny as the door closed.
Zero Tolerance. It should come first, but the faces, or at least the outlines of them that his sonar had picked up, were still in his mind. He found his hand picking up a book on government agency laws and powers of, and he sat down at his desk to open it. He flipped through it, "reading" with fingers so sensitive that they could read the print that would throw any other blind man… Powers Of…
It took a full ten minutes to read through the published SHIELD constitution that he'd received a copy of from the Library of Congress.… "Good Lord," he whispered. "Who gave SHIELD all of this?"
It was true… They could do any thing with tbe boy. Anything they well pleased. What in the world was he going to do about it? Well, there was nothing he could do, save give a phone call to Richie and Fran, hear their voices breaking with their hearts.
Damn… What were they going to do with the child anyhow? Contain it? Use it for some damn energy-feed? Well, there was a way he could find out…
Black Widow. Natasha. She had extensive contacts within SHIELD… Hell, the number she gave him went through a SHIELD sattelite, so she was probably on a reserve-status with it. He dialed the number, waited for about five minutes… and she picked up.
"Matt?" came her voice over the phone. He listened to it for a moment, letting it take him back. Well, Karen was angry at him… He considered her for a moment, then snapped his mind back into focus.
"Natasha, hi. I need a hand."
"I'll give you two."
"…Swell… Listen, you know about the mutant baby that SHIELD recently claimed? The one in the papers and News?"
"I know it," she answered.
"…I need to know what they have planned for it, Natasha… I need to know anything you've got.."
"Matt, that's classified-"
"…. Alright, look… There's a sort of motion that SHIELD goes through with these things, although the final say-so is GW Bridge's. If they can't find a way to relatively-safely contain or use the child, then it's possible that they will execute it-"
"…Sorry, Matt.. I think the baby's at the SHIELD New York base, although if you want, I can check to see where they're going to take it…"
"Give me a half hour."
She hung up the phone, and he hung up his… The office seemed dark suddenly. Dark. It had no meaning for a blind man, but still… It did seem… Oppressive. Execute a baby? How could they do something like that? And what if they couldn't find a safe alternative-? There were specialists such as Moira McTaggart- Wait, she was dead… but there were others! Henry McCoy!
As if SHIELD would even consider going to them for help… No, if SHIELD couldn't do it, they'd assume nobody else could… and the baby would be dead.
Dad, Matt thought, what would you have done?
"Battlin' Jack Murdock" was the name of his father, the man who had tried to make sure that Matt didn't become another roughhouse like him… The man who had made sure Matt grew up to become the "somebody" he had always wanted to be. A man with a good education, a man who used his brains instead of his wits… Jack had half-failed, he thought for the millionth time… It was a loophole that Matt had thought up.. He'd promised not to use his fists to resolve anything as Matt Murdock, which was what made being Daredevil necessary to right the wrongs he did…
"Are you turning in your grave, Father?" Matt wondered aloud, "or are you proud of me? I hope you are.."
…As proud as Matt was of Battlin' Jack, the man who had been ordered to throw a boxing match by a gangster called the Fixer… and seeing his son in the audience, had refused. Battlin' Jack had won and been gunned down in the street by an angry Fixer and his men…. The first time he'd become Daredevil, it had been to avenge his father's death… but the rush? The amazing feeling of righting wrongs and the way that his very soul seemed to lighten in God's grace? That had been the deciding factor… That had been what made him stay as Daredevil… He'd used his wits, even as he did use his fists.. And he only hoped Battlin' Jack was smiling because of it.
"Matt?" He 'awoke'. A half hour, almost on the dot, she had called back. He listened to it through the loudspeaker, listening to her information. "I've found it… There's a SHIELD convoy that's going to be leaving the New York building tomorrow.. Matt? What are you going to do? Nothing crazy, I hope?"
"Something absolutely insane, actually."
"Come to New York tomorrow, Natasha… Come to my apartment."
"And whatever you do, don't leave it."
He hung up on her. A rotten thing to do, maybe, but he didn't want to use valuable time to convince her. Not when he had other things to do… Important, crazy things..
"THREE, FOUR, FIVE, SIX, SOMEONE STOP SHIELD'S DICTATORSHIP!"
That and about fifty other chants. Someone had leaked the convoy time out (gee, Daredevil wondered, who could that be?) and about twenty-eight protesters, including Richie and Fran, were waiting when SHIELD agents began to wheel a large, steel containment box toward the truck…
"LOOK!" Fran cried out. "They're treating him like some sorta animal! Stop this! Stop this!"
The cry was taken up as Daredevil watched from a rooftop… The SHIELD agents were having a hard time getting past the protesters, and Richie had to be restrained by a friend. He would've liked to be down there, Daredevil thought.. Protesting, screaming his lungs out.. Just another person voicing his opinion….
He snapped open the cellular phone he'd bought, dialed his house… and the silky voice of Natasha Romanov answered: "Hello?"
"It's me, Matt…"
"Where are you, Matt?!" she asked urgently, and he smiled, answered: "I'm down at the SHIELD building… They're removing the child now."
"What are you going to do?"
"That'll become clear shortly. The message machine has a message on it. Listen to it.. They've loaded the baby, Natasha. Gotta go."
He hung up on her for the second time in as many days… He hoped he didn't slip into the habit… Now then, a little longer….
In Matt Murdock's apartment, Natasha hit the message button… "Natasha, it's me," the message began. "As you listen to this, I'm doing something that is probably idiotic…"
"Matt!" she whispered, and then turned on the TV… Channel Six was covering the SHIELD protest and… and she saw Matt. Or more precisely, Daredevil, as the scarlet crimefighter leaped into the fray as the reporter hurriedly talked and both protesters and SHIELD agents looked up in surprise. The agents raised their stun weapons, intended for use if there was a riot, but Daredevil's feet slammed into them both.
The message continued: "…I'm going to attach a tracer to the baby.. I got it from a friend of mine, Spider-Man… Now you should be able to use the tracker, same source, next to the message machine here, to follow it to the kid…"
Natasha, the Black Widow, shook her head and put the file she had been carrying down on the desk… "Matt, you fool," she said… Before she'd come, she'd gotten new information… including on what the powers of the mutant baby were. The baby was the most powerful mutant yet registered, except for perhaps Onslaught.. and the energy was too much for it to hold. The baby was going to literally explode, probably taking a lot of lives with it… and nobody knew when… and not only that, but Bridge had ordered the baby executed…. SHIELD wasn't going to bother pulling its punches on him, not now…
She looked at the screen, sighed sadly… Matt… She'd do what he said… but she had the horrible feeling that one man, however refined his senses, wasn't going to last long against the most powerful American agency there was…
The box was opened, and Daredevil leaped onto the SHIELD truck with a baby in his arms. The crowds were cheering as the SHIELD soldiers were issuing bulletins and barking orders. He fired his billy club, letting it hook onto the flag pole across the square, and swinged out over the mass.
"Follow him! FOLLOW HIM!" the captain of the SHIELD soldiers barked, and the half-dozen men ran… only to be blocked by the protesters. "No!" "Save Daredevil! Save a life!" "Don't let 'em through!"
"Sarge," the captain radioed, "..we've got civil disobedience here… Pursuit cut off-!"
Daredevil rested after the eighth roof… The baby was actually being pretty peaceful… Just lying snuggled in his arm. The baby was cute. Daredevil looked down at it, unable to comprehend what was going to happen to it… Only hoping that it was somewhat better than the fate which probably awaited it. He wondered what its crime was anyhow, what mutant power it possessed… Why SHIELD had suddenly turned into Zero Tolerance.
He doubted the SHIELD men would be able to keep pace with him. He just had to wait for Natasha to home in on his signal, and then- and then-…. Was that the sound of helicopters?
He turned, his unseeing eyes going wide as two SHIELD attack helicopters lifted into the air behind him, appearing from behind the towers of New York City. He turned, baby firmly in his arms, running again across the rooftop. The SHIELD copters, fast and compact technological achievements, easily kept up with him… He couldn't outrun them… He was a sitting duck on the roofs… Not enough cover…
Within her personal Shield Wing, a SHIELD two-person speeder that SHIELD had based off of the Avengers' Quinjet, the Black Widow raced through the NYC skys, letting the tracker lead her toward Daredevil even as she watched the news on a mini-screen… News helicopters had just gotten into the air, following their story, although none had managed to keep good pace with the chase so far.. What she had gleaned, however, was that two SHIELD assault choppers had been sicced after her friend and former lover… "Hold on, Matt.. I'll be there soon…. Just hold on.."
A roof burst completely into flame as Daredevil leaped through the air, crying out as the flames, while not touching him, warmed his back to painful degrees…. Triply-painful for a man who's senses were so sophisticated… He grit his teeth, his mask going wet with a tear, as he landed hard on his leg in order to keep the baby from getting hurt. It was crying. Well, no pain no gain, Little One…
He turned, finding that he might have twisted his ankle, as the SHIELD copters turned their laser turrets toward him… He tried to run, barely stopped himself from falling. No, the chase was over… He tried to think past the pain. He couldn't cover the baby with his own form… the lasers would go right through him and still kill the child… He couldn't put it down either.. One option left. They might not be able to clearly see the baby, as his red made him the dominant view and those lights of theirs were pretty bright… He had to hold it as far away from himself as possible…
Daredevil stood, lifting his hands heavenward toward the night with the child within them, even as off in the distance, a Shield-Wing rocketed toward the site…
The speakers turned on, and Daredevil heard the voice of the pilot… "DAREDEVIL, THIS IS SHIELD COPTER FOUR… YOU ARE TO SURRENDER THE CHILD AND TURN YOURSELF IN TO OUR CUSTODY. DO YOU COPY?"
"GO TO HELL!" the Devil screamed back, and with a radio command, the turrets opened fire…
As the cockpit popped open, Natasha gunned the jet… She could see the baby… She told herself not to think about Matthew, only catch the baby..
His plan was working… The volley of laser blasts flew past and threw him, turning his entire body into agony… He saw Natasha's Shield-Wing coming, smiled weakly even as a red blast sizzled through his body, inches to the left of his spine…
…He screamed, and as the jet roared by the choppers, he held the baby as high as his trembling arms would let him… and Black Widow's hands gingerly seized it. The Devil fell backwards, partially from being too hurt to stand anymore, partially from the force of the wind that the jet's fly-by had caused… He lay there as the copters whirled, finding out that they'd had the kid sneaked out from under them, giving chase. They'd never catch it, though.
He lay there, in a pool of his own blood… Images of Battlin' Jack Murdock coming to his mind… He smiled. Dad… He'd give anything if he could die now… Just like Battlin' Jack.. If he could die with that same proud honor, just because…- heh… Wait. Someone coming….
Daredevil couldn't really figure who picked him up… He blacked out.. When he awoke, however, his bandages were dressed and he lay upon a couch… the couch of Matt Murdock.
He'd say an angel had brought him… but it wasn't of the supernatural kind. At least, he didn't think so. As he stood, he almost blacked out again…. Concussion? Maybe.. The phone rang, and his head almost split open.. But it wasn't his regular phone. It was the cellular he had bought for that very mission.
He snapped it open. "..Hello…?"
"Oh, Matt! Thank heaven, you're safe! How'd you-?"
"Not to sure myself," he said weakly, but Natasha took what he said as nothing more than wit. "I've made it to McCoy, and he says that previous research on a similar mutant was done by Moira McTaggert… He should be able to help the child…"
"Thanks, Natasha.. What are you going to do now? You- what you did was a crime-"
"…heh.. It was something to do for you, Matt… That's all… Take care, Matt."
"Natasha, wait-" Click. "Natasha?!"
He snapped the phone closed, fell back onto the sofa… How HAD he gotten home? What-
The phone ringed again. He snapped it open. "Natasha-?!"
"…Who- who is-?"
"Keep the phone handy, Mr. Murdock. It may be of use in emergencies."