DAREDEVIL the Fearless
# 6: "Road to Hell: Part One "
Written By: Ben Kaine
Editor: Brian Provow
******** PROLOGUE ********
The name meant Power, Strength, Humanity.
The soon-to-be Saviour of Mankind hopped out of the helicopter, looking about the military base that was now completely under the control of Prime Sentinels and his own mercenaries. The base had no name… Some called it ‘Area 51’ and said aliens were kept there, but that was a pathetic little misconception. THAT base was far off, somewhere in the Southwest. This base was the Unnamed. Radio silence was broken for seven seconds every 24 hours, just to check in.
"BASTION!" ‘Sheriff’ Cold greeted as he fell into step behind his boss. "Welcome to ‘the Bastille’, Boss."
"The Bastille?" Bastion murmured as he walked, looking about. SHIELD soldiers stood about, weapons ready, alert, tense. There were enough to defend the base from an invasion.
"Yeah… It’s the nickname of the base. Y’see, SHIELD originally confiscated this base from a terrorist organization. Hydra, I think, or some splinter group of. Anyhow, it was-"
"That’s very interesting, Cold," Bastion hissed, in a manner that told Sheriff Cold it wasn’t. Bastion stopped at one of the SHIELD troops, inspecting the blue/black uniform, the fastened helmet and plexiglass visor. The shimmering SHIELD insignia upon the chest.
"Where did you put the bodies of the troops?" Bastion asked, raising an eyebrow. The SHIELD troop’s eyes turned to a golden glow, and it answered mechanically: "Prime Sentinel: Mold Battalion, reporting. All corpses stored and burned, as ordered."
"Well," he sighed, "…the Prime Sentinels seem to be all in place, at least, eh Cold? Now then. What of my ‘special assistants’?"
"Those mercenary hotshots ya ordered? I think those varmints are swillin’ back some of the fine wine stock. Uncowth punks-"
"Heh… Whatsay then, my dear Sheriff, we go meet them? ‘Tis but 24 hours until the moment of our victory comes…" Bastion grinned, "…and perhaps a little bit of relaxation IS in order! Oh, and what of ‘Shotgun’?"
"Shotgun’s on his way," Cold answered. Yes, Shotgun had been thoroughly successful in his mission. A perfect deal struck. Such confusion would arise since Shotgun disappeared, his commanding officer did likewise, and… Oops. Their new weapon was suddenly set off.
Heh. Hell’s Kitchen, wrecked. Sheriff Cold wondered what Daredevil thought of THAT?
*** THE OUTSKIRTS OF HELL’S KITCHEN ***
"Grab hold of me!"
The thirteen-year old had been trapped under the avalanche of debris that had resulted from one of Shotgun’s blasts… It was a miracle he had survived. The mysterious China-Man* [[[ You didn't miss his first appearance in Daredevil: The Fearless #4, didja? -Beckster ]]] gingerly grabbed hold of the young man’s hand, pulled him out of the rubble. He turned, handing the dazed child to a waiting civilian, and then made his way through the sea of bricks.
Shotgun had slashed through Hell’s Kitchen like a hurricane, destroying buildings and sealing several streets. The damage estimate and casualty would be incredible, once finally reported. Driving a tank through a neighborhood. Absolutely amazing. Amazingly idiotic.
And where WAS Shotgun, the China-Man wondered as he looked around from his perch on the top of the small mountain of rubble? He hadn’t heard a word about it on any police band since Shotgun had been taken away… and wasn’t that lunatic a government mercenary?
"THERE’S SOMEONE ALIVE DOWN HERE!"
Ah. That was his cue… Considering how he had attacked Daredevil for invading his territory, he wondered if the Devil would do similarly to him. Well, something to worry about later.. His quest could not be undone…
…but he did wonder, how WAS the Devil going to take the attack on his home?
*** …A CERTAIN BUILDING… ***
From his office, the former Kingpin of Crime could see the smoke rising from Hell’s Kitchen… Amazing. Simply amazing. He’d have to find out who’d done this, commend them. It was giving him far too much amusement.
He had no ulterior motive when he had funded Matt Murdock’s case against Bastion… The irony was pleasure enough… but this? Oh, icing ‘pon the cake!
The former Kingpin of Crime, and still a King of Evil, smiled wide as he looked off at the distant, wounded neighborhood. Oh, if only he COULD see the Devil’s reaction.
*** SOMEWHERE FARTHER WITHIN HELL’S KITCHEN***
Matt Murdock, the Daredevil, clad in his trademark crimson suit, sat perched upon a rooftop, looking over ‘his’ kingdom. Hell’s Kitchen. Half-destroyed by a lunatic. Stopped by an usurper. How WAS he to take it?
The Devil’s cry of rage echoed for blocks… Many stopped what they were doing for a moment, listening, struck dumb.
"Y’know, that ain’t gonna help," came an old, grizzled voice. The Devil didn’t bother turning; he’d picked up the man when he’d climbed on the roof. He was Dum Dum Dugan, formerly of Nick Fury’s Howling Commandoes… A World War Two legend. Daredevil decided he wouldn’t feel honored just now.
"Come to arrest me for taking ‘your’ kid, Dugan?" the Devil hissed. Dum Dum Dugan stroked his bright red mustache and leaned against the chimney. He wasn’t currently wearing his SHIELD uniform; just a civilian suit.
"I could, ya know," Dugan answered. "I could run your red butt in, Murdock. I could let the rest of SHIELD know, and they’d take you out, no problem. We did it once."
"So why haven’t they already?"
"Ol’ Nick was quite the guy… Had a sense of honor. He never actually entered your identity into the computer banks. He was nice enough ‘bout that, I guess… but I was there, remember?"
"I remember," the Daredevil sneered, looking out over the smoke rising from Hell’s Kitchen. Destruction. Destruction caused by Shotgun… and… and- "Wait. Dugan. Did- did you-?"
"Hire that lunatic Shotgun?" the SHIELD agent finished. "Nah. That was an officer actin’ on his own volition… His name was Cold.. Some called him ‘Sheriff’ Cold. We been tryin’ to hunt ‘im down, but he seems to have disappeared off the face o’ the Earth. Any idea why he’d want your guts?"
"None. I don’t know a Sheriff Cold. And what about Shotgun, Dugan? Take him in? No, you didn’t, did you? You whisked him away back to whatever agency he came from. Why? Because he was just following orders… and he isn’t going to pay a thing."
"…I’ll be honest with ya," Dugan said, "..Yeah. We tried that. Unfortunately, there was this lil’ side effect. We lost him, too. Him and Cold. They’re both gone- ‘EY!"
Dugan had been rammed and almost flung over the side of the building. All that kept him from falling to the street below was the red-gloved hand of Daredevil, holding onto his collar.
"You LOST him?! A butcher who should be locked away, and you tried your fancy work and you LOST him-!"
"Mighty unlawyerly of ya, Murdock…" gasped Dugan. "...Innocent ‘till proven guilty, right-O?"
Daredevil paused. Innocent until proven guilty. His mission statement. His life. Yes, he lived by that… Everyone got their day in court.. but what of those that were ABOVE the Law? What of those who would never have to be brought before a judge, even if you stripped away that mask they hid behind and brought them into the court yourself? What then?
"Now that I’ve got yer attention," Dugan said, "…I’d like to make a lil’ propositi- HURK!"
Dugan was jerked back up onto the roof, and the Devil hissed: "Talk fast."
Agent Dum Dum Dugan did talk fast… and as the Devil listened, someone else watched as well. The China-Man, who’s smile became wide.
*** "THE BASTILLE" ***
The door slid open, and Shotgun entered… A wide smile on his face. He’d put on some spare sunglasses during the trip, and looked as normal as he ever looked… Save, of course, for a number of large bruises.
It was the Control Room. A room made of durable, attack-proof materials, with monitors and more buttons than could be counted. Windows ran along one side of the room, showing the mountains that surrounded the Bastille. The sunset turned them orange, beautiful.
Shotgun was not there for beauty, unless it was of the female variety. Sheriff Cold and Bastion turned to look at him from where they had been going over blueprints.
"Welcome back… ‘Shotgun’, is it?" Bastion smiled. He quite well knew the name of this government-contracted mercenary, but it was best to keep an air of superiority around such swine.
"Pleased to meetcha," Shotgun grinned back. "So, this is the big ol’ base! The castle! The fort! Pretty cool, Bastion, Sir. Pretty awesome, yep. My fellow mercenaries already hit the beer?"
"I’m afraid so," Bastion answered good-naturedly, then turned to look at the blueprints again. That was enough talking with the rabble. Time to get back to work. Cold could handle Shotgun.
"Go down a floor and you’ll find the main area. It’s got the office of the last commanding officer of this place," Cold said quickly. "There’s a cabinet stocked with fine wines, beers, and whiskeys, there. Hurry, and you might be able to get a few."
"Coolness. See ya ‘round, boys!" Shotgun laughed, leaving. Sheriff Cold turned back to look out the window… Beyond the window was a large platform of rock and metal, upon which a giant machine lay… waiting. The Black Out Gun. A weapon of true power. Beyond the Black Out Gun and the platform it lay on, there was nothing. Only a long, steep cliff. Anybody who fell would feel nothing by the time he/she hit the ground.
The Black Out Gun. It gleamed beautifully in the sunset light.
*** UNDISCLOSED LOCATION – S.H.I.E.L.D. OUTPOST ***
"The Black Out Gun," Dugan murmured. "Amazing what kinda crap ya gotta deal with when you sign on with SHIELD… And I should know. I’ve been dealing with them longer than anybody.. ‘least, anybody alive today."
Lt. Kipson nodded as he flipped through the folder. It was hard for him to concentrate in the observation room; there was always somebody in the cell below.. and they were usually very weird. "Yessir. The Black Out Gun was created using technology confiscated from A.I.M. on an early raid. The annual ‘Super-Villains Technology Show’ or somesuch. We built it in secret at the ‘Unnamed’, Sir… The base, that is. We took the base from Hydra in the 70’s. Supposedly, the B.O.G’s been operational for the last seven months."
Dugan sighed. "Sendin’ someone else out to clean up our mess again. Don’t like it, Lieutenant. I don’t like it one bit. ‘Tis pathetic… but then again, we’re pathetic, if we allowed somebody to actually take something that big."
"We should count ourselves lucky, Sir. One of the agents was able to get a signal out before the base was taken over… although we still have no idea who’s behind it. Satellites show two helicopters, both unregistered with us, landed there since. Any idea who’s behind it?"
"Yeah.." sneered Dugan, "..I do. Get all the info on ‘Sheriff Cold’. Could be a coincidence, but I still want to be prepared... or more accurately, I want HIM prepared."
Kipson looked down into the cell, where sat a lone man. "That guy? In the funny little ‘devil’ suit? He’s our operative?.. Hey, isn’t he wanted or somethin’-?"
"Heh… Hell yeah, m’boy. Now go get that file. We leave in hours."
Within the cell, Daredevil sat… There was nothing to ‘see’ in the cell. Bare, white walls, all around. He could barely even sense where the door lay… His thoughts weren’t on escape or any such action against SHIELD, however.
They were on Shotgun. A man above the Law. A man Daredevil was unsure how to deal with… Most, they were accountable to the Law. The masks, the false identities and corny names, gave them immunity from the Law… and that was where Daredevil came in. Stripping away the masks, everything that made them unaccountable. He gave them to the Law…
…but not Shotgun. He needed no mask, he feared no law on Earth. He killed whoever, retired to a lavish life, never having to worry. Nobody from local police to INTERPOL would catch him.
Daredevil felt his blood boil, felt his heart start to weigh… He felt a light headache.
The door suddenly appeared on his radar as it opened. Dugan entered.
"Let’s go, Murdock. Time to make good yer deal with Uncle Sam, eh?"
Of course. Uncle Sam. The deal. Do this for Dugan, and he was off the hook for the kid he’d saved [[[Daredevil: The Fearless #3 - Ben]]]. How wonderful they were, how kind. A new thought struck Daredevil as he stood and walked with Dugan.
"Natasha. What happened to her?" he asked. "Where is she?"
Dugan appeared puzzled. "…Natasha?"
"Romanov. The Black Widow. What happened to her?"
"…T’tell you the truth, Murdock? She disappeared too."
Elsewhere within the SHIELD outpost, Lt. Kipson ran his fingers through the rows of files in the cabinets… The Record Room. Ha. And they thought the Library of Congress was big?
His fingers finally found the file he wanted and pulled it out… "Operation: Black Out" in bold type on the cover, stamped with a ‘TOP SECRET’ in red. He opened it, looking through the files within it… The Black Out Gun. Schematics of the base. Kipson stopped for a moment, whistling as he ran his eyes along the photo in Agent Black Widow’s file. Nice.
He should’ve paid more attention to the more masculine form behind him. Gloved hands seized his head, and Kipson’s neck was snapped with a low ‘crack’. He fell, and CHINA-MAN caught the file before it could hit the floor and scatter about.
"Let’s see here," he whispered, in a very different voice from the one he had used before.
*** "SUB-WAY", HELL’S KITCHEN ***
"I just.. don’t know what to do," Karen sighed, leaning against the back of the booth. Across the table from her, Franklin "Foggy" Nelson took another large bite of his sandwich and munched thoughtfully. He swallowed, spoke.
"..Well, we know he came back from Washington DC, right?" he asked.
"Yeah.. He was on that plane… but I don’t think he ever came home, Foggy. I don’t think… I don’t know WHAT to think."
"He could be off playing in red tights."
Karen nodded, sighed. "The thought crossed my mind, but-.."
"But there’s something you aren’t telling me, right?" Foggy huffed, taking another bite of his sandwich. His eyes became downcast as he ate and talked again: "…That’s right, isn’t it? Another secret. Don’t get me wrong, Karen, I’m used to it. Matt never told me about his other life. I had to stumble on it. Nothing new about people keeping things from the Foggster."
"Sorry, Foggy. You’re right. Matt and I… had a rather big fight, last time we saw each other. You probably don’t know about it, but…" and she took a deep breath to continue, ".. I came back because I’ve a condition.. AIDS."
Foggy had dropped his now-forgotten sandwich. She had his attention.
"It’s a…long story. There was a time when a lot of things happened… to both Matt AND me. Now, I’ve told him about it.. God, he might have it too because of me.. and I’m thinking, maybe he’s hiding from me or sorting things out… Remember when he disappeared into the countryside for months? Like that."
"…I-I just don’t know what to say, Karen."
"Please don’t," Karen shrugged, standing. "I don’t need any sympathy… Like I said, it’s all a long story.." She paused, then looked at Foggy. "Got time for it?"
Foggy smiled and stood as well, throwing the remnants of his meal in the garbage. "Of course, Karen… Of course. Come on. We’ll go for a walk."
*** The SHIELD Outpost ***
"The sniper rifle is a ‘Poor Man’s’. Easily disassembled and reassembled. Quality. It’s got a scope and laser sight. You should be able to pick off a man-"
Daredevil frowned, handing the rifle back to Dugan. "Sorry. I don’t use them."
"Is there anything you DO use?" Dugan mumbled, putting the rifle back and picking out a utility vest. It was sleeveless, with many different pockets and devices within. Smoke bombs. Flashbangs. Mini-flashlights.
"Let me see the vest," the Devil said. He fit it on, "looking" over its contents with a quick scan of his sonar. It could come in use. "I’ll take it."
"Well, at least ya got SOMETHIN’. Come on. We’ll head out to helicopter. You’re going to be inserted several miles away from the ‘Bastille’… The base, that is. You’ll have to hoof it the rest of the way."
They walked through the metal corridors, exiting the outpost. It was dry, windy. Little to be seen for miles. A helicopter was parked upon a helipad nearby, its blades already starting to rotate. The two men made their way towards the helicopter as a second helicopter lifted off from the other side of the base. Daredevil "looked" up at it, giving the impression to Dugan he noticed it.
"That’s your backup," Dugan said as he lit his cigar. "Lt. Kipson is going to be on stand-by, should you need any help. You can contact him with the transciever radio in your vest. Umm… You sure you want to wear that circus outfit on the mission? Not exactly inconspicious."
"I’ll be fine," the Devil answered, hopping into the copter. Dugan entered behind him, sitting down as the helicopter took off.
"Well then," said Dugan, "..why don’t we get to the meat and potatoes of it? We have no idea what exactly these terrorists want with the Bastille, but there are some mighty dangerous things in there… including the Black Out Gun, a weapon that is capable of letting loose an ‘EMP screen’."
"Electro-magnetic pulse," the Devil murmured.
"Right. Think of it as a nuclear warhead that just disables anything to do with ‘lectronics. It’s a damn deadly weapon… and there’s just about nothin’ to defend ourselves with. Like we said, the terrorists ain’t made no demands. They might not even want the B.O.G."
"Who’s doing this?"
"Well, I already dropped our suspicions ‘bout Sheriff Cold and Shotgun, didn’t I? That’s why you’re here.. Other than that, we’ve been running constant sattelite images over everything, and checking back through our earlier feeds. We’re only getting a blank spot, unfortunately, when the first helicopter landed. Somehow, we were jammed."
The Devil was about to speak, but the pilot spoke first: "SIR! WE’RE ALMOST ON LOCATION! TEN MILES FROM THE BASTILLE!"
"That’s a VERY uphill climb," Dugan noted.. "..You’ve got some climbing gear in your vest-"
"I know," Daredevil said… and before the pilot could land the helicopter, he opened the door and jumped out. Dugan watched as the Devil fell toward the earth below… and smiled.
"Let’s get back to the post, Pilot!" Dugan laughed. "I can’t wait to see this! Oh, has Kipson landed in his own position?"
"Yessir!" the pilot answered, and the helicopter retreated.
*** "THE BASTILLE" ***
The doors to the office opened, and Bastion entered. Shotgun was sitting in the easy chair, a bottle of imported wine in one hand and his own sawed-off shotgun in the other. Off to the left, looking through the books of the office’s private library, Bastion thought he actually saw the Avenger HAWKEYE standing there…
…but the costume was different in areas. The man who was in the costume was thinner, more wiry. No, this was not the Avenger. Bastion turned to look at Sheriff Cold, who stood behind him.
"The man’s name is Bloodbow," Cold said quickly. "…He’s one of the ‘Evil Avenger’-types that came out of Taskmaster’s Technical School. Almost got caught by Spider-Man once, but he’s a reliable piece of scum." [[Happened in Amazing Spider-Man #367- Ben]]
Bloodbow turned, gave a cold smile, and then looked at the books again… and Bastion turned to the last of the three mercenaries, who had his feet propped up on the big office desk.
"Well, well…" smiled Bastion.
Cold nodded. "Allow me to present… DEADPOOL!"
The cold eyes within the mask of Deadpool looked up, surveying Bastion and Cold. Bastion knew well of Deadpool; one of the most dangerous men alive. Formerly of the Weapon X Program and Tolliver’s employ. He’d taken a look at the file when he was going through his list of mutants… According to it, Deadpool’s gifts were all artificial.
Sheriff Cold had read the SHIELD file on Deadpool as well, and he tried not to appear slightly nervous..
"Hidey ho, Boss," Deadpool said jovially, balancing a dagger on the tip of his finger. "When do we get to gut some feebs?"
*** ON THE OUTSKIRTS OF THE BASTILLE TERRITORY ***
"Bzzzt…. Kipson?…Bzzzt. Are you in position?"
"Roger. Kipson in position. Radio silence initiated."
‘Lt. Kipson’ turned off his transciever and replaced it in his belt. Well, he was now safely in position… Although Lt. Kipson certainly wasn’t. He could dispense with the disguise properly now.
His fingers reached up, digging into his flesh and peeling away the fake layers….
China-Man was fiction.
Lt. Kipson was fiction.
The Daredevil that had saved Hell’s Kitchen from Shotgun was fiction.
…but he was not quite ready to wear his true face yet….
…not yet, but soon..
*** TO BE CONTINUED ***
*** NEXT: "Road to Hell" Part Two! Daredevil against impossible odds… and alongside impossible allies! …Meanwhile, Karen and Foggy go on their own quest.. and it may just be more dangerous than DD’s!
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BEN KAINE’S LISTS
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I’ve got a quick correction to make to last issue’s listings… Kevin Smith’s 7-part "Guardian Devil" story has been incredible, and he definitely scores a top spot on the Best Daredevil Writer’s List.
And hey, readers, how am I doing? If I’m not living up to your expectations, tell me and I’ll try harder.. If I am, tell me and I’ll try harder. I can’t get better if I don’t know how I’m doing, right? So drop me a line! ;)