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DAREDEVIL the Fearless
# 8: "Road to Hell: Part Three"
Written By: Ben Kaine
Editor: Brian Provow

"THE BLACK OUT GUN-!" Daredevil cried, and his 'twin' finished his horrific exclamation.


The two men turned. They stood side by side, a strange sight. The Faux DD was dressed in a kevlar version of Daredevil's costume, the gleaming silver and impenetrable black of the armor a stark contrast to the blood red of the true Devil. They stood on the project test pad, and behind them stood the Black Out Gun, an EMP-wave launcher that could black out entire cities. Beyond that, a cliff and a drop that would take you several minutes to finish.

The Black Out Gun had just fired twice, and God only knew where the monster Bastion had targeted. The man called Bastion smiled from within the heavily-armored control booth, the glass of which even the Faux DD's concussive blasts could not penetrate. By his side, a grinning Fascist named Sheriff Cold. How the hell he had risen to a high position in SHIELD before, Daredevil couldn't guess.

All he knew now was that the mission had failed, and whatever horrific thing those two terrorists had planned came to pass. He felt complete fury welling up… along with a loss of hope. Here was a man the Law could never touch… Just like Shotgun.

Bastion's cold but amused voice rang out through the speakers fixed about the test pad.

"Game set and match, Daredevils," Bastion grinned. "All is done. You and your friend have lost. Do you have any last words before I bring you down in a very violent manner?"

"You… You sonuva-!" the Devil spat, and then the black-gloved hand of his 'twin' came to his shoulder. Daredevil shoved the hand away, giving a blind but threatening glare.

"DD- Don't fall for it-!" the Faux DD hissed. "We can still stop him-! He's tryin' to make you think it's all over, but it ain't-!"

"The gun fired, Mister… and who knows how many people are probably hurt because of it! You're right, though. It's not all over-" Daredevil growled, and then he turned back to the control booth. "Not for you, Bastion! I'm going to beat you and take you in myself!"

"Are the mercenaries in position?" Bastion asked, placing his hand over the microphone so as to mask his speech. Sheriff Cold nodded, and the self-appointed mutant saviour uncovered the mike.

"I'll question them later," he said. "Take them. Alive."

One of the several armored doors opened with a hiss, and another costume appeared. The red and grey colors were lost to the Devil's unseeing eyes, but the basic form of it was evident. He didn't know who this new flunkie of Bastion's was, but judging from the numerous weapons on him, most lethal, he quickly figured on another paramilitary assassin.

He could probably take this new guy alone, but along with his new 'partner' he could definitely-

It was then that Daredevil's radar caught the movement behind him. The imposter Daredevil had turned and leaped for the rock walls- He was leaving Daredevil to fend for himself!

"What are you-?" he began to ask, but then the radar warned him that his adversary was on the move. He ducked to avoid the jumpkick of the mercenary.

"…Don't you worry about the fellow fashion-plate, DD! Especially when you've got so much more crap to worry about!"

"And you are?" Daredevil asked with disgust, his nunchukas whirling as he turned to deliver a blow to the loudmouth's back. Instead, he met a red-gloved fist with his mouth and fell backwards… The merc was fast. Very fast.

"..Deadpool. Pleased to meetcha. That's two O's and a D-E-D. I'd give you a card but these things cost money and- well, ya know, since you're dyin' and all-"

Daredevil's powerful hand gripped Deadpool's leg as his other fist pulled back to repay Deadpool's own attack… Then, his ears picked up the whisper of a flying arrow, and he released the foot in time to retract his arm. An arrow landed between the two combatants.

Daredevil's senses picked out the archer who would be sniper quickly… Hawkeye?! No, the heartbeat was different. So was the outfit, in some places. Then who-?

A kick to the head reminded him of Deadpool, and the mercenary's sarcastic voice told him what he wanted to know. "Bloodbow, if ya care to know! Hey, I'm good at this.. 'I'll take Losers in Spandex for $500, Alex..' "

Daredevil's word was spinning, but he knew he could still focus and land a good blow to this maniac. That would allow him to recover and-

He felt another fist slam into his cheek, but it wasn't Deadpool's. Another one?

"Hey, DD… Remember your ol' pal Shotgun?"

That was one of the few things the Devil could remember.. His teeth clenched as he thought of the damage to Hell's Kitchen, and the scarlet crimefighter began to stand again.

"…Yeah, I can see you do. Been wantin' this, DD! Those were nasty bruises I got from you!"

"…S-Shotgun.. I'm… going to-"

"Whooooooops!" Deadpool snickered, and Daredevil grunted as several more lightning-quick blows blasted his body. "Sorry about that little omission. Frankly, none of us really like the man anyhow. We had to have a black guy or else the government would've been all over us. Ya know how it goes. The NAACP writes a letter, Shotgun here files a complaint-"

Deadpool pulled back and launched his fist a final time… Daredevil fell… and didn't stir.

"-and suddenly, you're screwed."

New York City. A church.

"I'm sorry, Child. I don't know a Matt Murdock-"

Karen Page bit her tongue, resisting the offensive words that were coming to her mouth. The woman that she knew to be Matt's mother, a Sister Maggie she had seen Matt talk to on her last trip to the church, did not look at her. She performed the duties of her convent as Karen followed her through the hall, arguing as well as she could. Somewhere behind them, Foggy Nelson had sat down on one of the pews, exhausted.

"Of course you know," Karen said. "You're his mother!"

"If you have something you wish to know of this man, this Matt Murdock, then perhaps you should ask him yourself, Child?" the nun asked, and Karen groaned inwardly. Why wouldn't she say anything of her son? Why did she pretend to not even know him?

"That's just it!" she hissed with exasperation. "He's missing, Sister! Missing! Doesn't that bother you? Doesn't it-?"

"I'm afraid you should leave, Child, or at least return to the place of worship. This area is only for the sisters…"

And Sister Maggie turned, leaving Karen standing alone. She watched the nun leave, then closed her eyes and took several deep breaths. Then came a tear, and she leaned against the wall. A comforting, chubby hand gripped hers.

"You alright?" Foggy asked meekly.

"…Nothing. We're going to get nothing. What is WRONG with that woman-?! I don't even think she'd admit who she was to Matt himself, unless there was some sort of damn emergency-!"

"…C'mon. We can go have something to eat…"

She sighed, following, but she turned back once, as if hopeful. Sister Maggie stood at the far end of the hall, in the shadows, watching them… but she was gone in an instant. Foggy and Karen left, but both knew they'd return. Karen was determined, and Foggy sensed it. He failed to sense the intentions of the man in the back pew, however.

The miniature recorders and cameras used during the conversation turned off, their information recorded and sent.

In a certain building, as he listened to the voices of Karen and Sister Maggie, Wilson Fisk, formerly the Kingpin of Crime, smiled. Ah, Matthew's mother. A pleasure it would be to meet her.

* * * THE BASTILLE * * *

Daredevil's brain slowly came back online as he felt his body shoved into a dark room, a cell by the sounds and outlines of it. There was some dark joke at his expense that he couldn't quite make out. Deadpool's parting shots, probably. Then, the door locked with a loud click.

He was alone. No, he wasn't. Warm breath. He could smell it, along with the scent of a woman. There was slight movement and the beating of a familiar heart. He would've smiled, he really would have, but he still didn't find the strength to stand and to smile would be to let loose a mouthful of blood. His radar sense showed perfectly the fellow prisoner approaching him, though, outlining the seductive body of the Black Widow.

"…Matt?" came the familiar, sultry voice, and Daredevil let go of his mouth's blood.

"..Natasha. Hi," he groaned. Natasha Romanov, the heroine and secret agent known to many as the Black Widow, stepped forward from the back of the cell, taking him in her arms. She didn't bother smiling, although her heart beat a little slower to know who her intruder was… Glad I could help, Matt thought.

He groaned at even slight movement. "…Ow.. You- er, look great.."

"Well, you don't," the Black Widow answered. "What happened to you? How'd you get here-?"

"..Shotgun. That perp.. Sheriff Cold. They- They wrecked the Kitchen, Natasha. I wanted Revenge… and the baby thing.. SHIELD. They held it- over my head. You-?"

"Same reason, although I was chosen first."

"You were…?"

"I was the agent who was supposed to handle this, Matt," she repeated, helping him gently to the small bed in the corner of the room. "When they lost contact with me, I knew they'd send in a second agent… I never thought, though, that they'd use you- Damn it, Matt. I'm sorry."

There was a moment when the image of her beautiful face was replaced completely with darkness, and then Daredevil saw her again. Then, darkness. Then back. He sat silent for a moment, complexed, then decided he was blacking out.

"Who-?" Natasha asked, her question obvious. Who did this to him?

"..Some jerk.. 'Deadpool'.. and two of his buddies, including Shotgun..."

Silence again. Lights out. It was through sheer force of will that his senses came back to him.

"..You're not doing well," Natasha sighed. "Don't fight the sleep, Matt. There's not a lot you're going to do right now anyhow. Just… sleep, yes Hero?"

And Matt Murdock, the Daredevil, did. Strangely, it was one of the most peaceful sleeps he'd ever experienced, knowing that the former Avenger and spy Black Widow was keeping watch over him. He admitted it to few, except for a short talk he'd had with Spider-Man once. Superheroes did not sleep easily, knowing that out there were so many evils, all wanting their blood. Dreams could be filled with Elektra, Bullseye, both. The Kingpin. The terrors of Mephisto's Netherworld, with thousands of demonic eyes watching him. Now, however, he had a protector. No godless mercenary was going to take him in the middle of the night and slay him. Not on his watch.

"Murdock's mother," the Kingpin said aloud to an empty office. The shades had been drawn halfway, the golfing equipment set in the corner where the servant would take it. He found darkness soothing when thinking, when there was nothing to think of but his own affairs and the sweet scent of his cigar, feeding its cloud of smoke over the room.

"Murdock's mother," he said again. This time, he smiled when he said it. So. Daredevil had been born again with the aid of a Sister, yes… but not simply a Sister. His mother. "Murdock's mother."

When he had learned Daredevil's identity and destroyed his life, he had neglected nothing… except for a mother. A mother even Matt Murdock did not know of? Or that Karen Page had simply never known of? It didn't matter. Murdock's mother.

One of his great fingers tapped the intercom button. "Pembroke. Contact Bullseye. I need him."

There was silence on the other end for a moment, instead of the automatic 'Yes, Sir!' that usually came with any command he gave. This was the obvious clue to something being wrong, Fisk frowned. If any of his servants didn't answer, it was simply because they couldn't do what he asked.

"Pembroke?" he asked again, his voice eliciting an obviously-scared response from the usually-eloquent Pembroke. The reply came.

"Sir.. Bullseye, he- He's said he'll no longer work for you… Remember, Sir?"

The Kingpin sighed, remembering. Yes, after the last fiasco when he had Bullseye impersonate a missing Daredevil at Typhoid Mary's advice, Bullseye had cut off his relations with the Kingpin. He wondered whether he should be angry at Pembroke, but decided to let Pembroke carry on in relief. It wasn't his fault, and he had a sterling work record.

Still, he wanted Bullseye. What other man could elicit such a reaction from Murdock, especially after slaying his mother? None. And a furious Daredevil made more mistakes than a more calm one, even if he could be even more dangerous.

"…Well, then, since I cannot hire Bullseye.." Kingpin began, and he heard Pembroke's sharp intake of breath, "...Someone else will have to. Shall we say, 'Thomas Charteau'?"

He had named one of many aliases he used when dealing with those wary of him. He heard a hearty 'Yes, Sir!' from Pembroke and smiled. Murdock's mother.

It was sometime shortly after Pembroke finished with his call to Bullseye that the entire city went into darkness…


Sheriff Cold had been ready the moment Bastion had entered the control room, but he waited dutifully anyway for the boss to look out over the Colorado sky for a moment, appreciating its beauty. He'd learned that the old punk was something of a romantic soul, actually, who appreciated the world he was a blight on. Cold wondered if he could sit down, decided to retain his 'at ease' position.

"Report," Bastion said, and Cold launched into it. The SHIELD Helicarrier had crashed and burned long into the night. The death toll wasn't known, nor was there any way they could know unless SHIELD reported it to the media, which wasn't going to happen. New York City had gone completely black. Crowds stuck in subways, in buildings. Electronic locks refusing to open. Life support gone. A complete success, he said with a grin, but Bastion didn't share his enthusiasm. It occurred once more to Cold that this wasn't some psychotic, and Bastion did not enjoy taking the lives of Humans. He took off the grin, wisely, but didn't bother to look sad for a bunch of punks he didn't care about.

"And Daredevil?" Bastion asked.

"Locked up tight. As for his twin… Er, I dunno, Boss. We haven't been able to find him. He got past Bloodbow somehow, I guess. Useless, that archer. What's it matter, though? We've got this place armed with Prime Sentinels. Ain't now way anybody short o' the Avengers with the Army behind 'em could take this place."

"The Avengers…" Bastion muttered, and Cold's eyes widened a bit.

"Ya think SHIELD would call in the-?"

"It doesn't matter, Cold. Nothing SHIELD can do matters now. You may trust me on this. Continue your work as I do, and leave the future to Fate's arms. There is much to be done, now that we have committed ourselves to the holy war we now fight. Keep the Devil locked tightly with the Widow. They can both serve a purpose, I believe."

"Ain't no way they're getting out, Boss."


The door slid open with a hiss, opening the cell to entrance or exit. It was at this split-second that Black Widow crouched and prepared to leap, her entire body automatically readying for an assault as soon as the guard's boot landed on the floor of the room. She'd defend Matt, who had started to awake with the shove he had been given by Natasha and the sound of the door opening, all too loud to his ears and jarring him from the steady beat of Natasha's heart.

"Don't think about it, Babe."

The voice was Shotgun's, and the barrel of the gun by the same name was trained upon the Black Widow in a moment. Behind him, the eyes of two sentinels dressed as SHIELD guards could be seen, glowing eerily in the little light that came in. Black Widow made no movement.

"I'm just here to visit my lil' buddy Daredevil," Shotgun grinned.

"Sh-Shotgun…?" the Devil groaned, trying to rise from the blood-stained sheets of his bed. He was firmly knocked down onto his back in an instant by the shove of the Black Widow, who glared at Shotgun with an intensity that gave the man pause for a moment.

"You're not touching him," she said evenly, to which Shotgun smiled and answered: "Ya'd rather I touch you? Not a bad thought, there. Back off, Baby. The Devil and I gotta score to settle, ya know?"

"No!" she said, and at those words Shotgun took several steps to the right, allowing the Primes entry into the room. They launched forward with inhuman speed, their eyes zeroing in upon the woman that leaped at them with equal determination. They each took a side, using their far superior strength to overpower her in midair. Natasha was slammed back against the cell wall, pinned but struggling against the two silent guards. The Devil's first reaction was an attempt at leaping into action, to crash into the backs of the two assailants. The "Ch-Chak" of Shotgun's pump-action , however, stopped him short of the rash movement.

"Chill, m'man," Shotgun grinned, his green sunglasses flashing in the light. "They're lil' more than robots, right? Ain't like they're gonna feel her out."

"What… is this, Shotgun? What are you doing?" the Devil growled.

"Simple enough. I'm not that satisfied by how our last round went, m'man. As a matter o' fact, I'm downright peeved. I'm thinkin' the Red Man could stand to help his ol' pal Shotgun out with a lil' Sudden Death, hey? So's I grab me two sentinels and come on down here to challenge ya."

"You… You want to FIGHT me? That's what…erk.. this is about?"

"Bingo, Baby-Cakes. I got the mess hall that Hydra's boys used to use all decked out for the match, too. It's at the top o' the billing, y'know? Next up, Deadpool says he wants the Black Widow… but that ain't your concern. 'Cause I guarantee a lotta discomfort for both of ya."

"…Lead the way," Daredevil frowned, standing fully. He heard words from the still-fighting Natasha, something along the lines of: "Matt, you fool-! Don't-!"

"Step this way, Red Man," Shotgun smiled happily.


"Bastion!" Cold gasped as he burst into the room, earning him a cold glare from Bastion at the interruption. He paid it no heed, however.. There were larger problems this sec than the boss' peeves.

"That merc- Shotgun! The punk's let out DD!"

"What?! That fool-! What's he trying to do-?"

"…Ya ain't gonna like this.."


The cheering was almost deafening. Not that it was actually cheering, the Devil thought. Shotgun had ordered the Prime Sentinels to do it, and they had carried out the order with all the precision in their programming, creating a racket like a stadium. The sick jerk was really getting off on this, he thought as he focused his senses on the mercenary standing on one of the tables.

For Shotgun's part, he was as cocky as ever. Daredevil waited as Shotgun disarmed himself, handing over the weapons to the capable hands of a sentinel. Daredevil had no doubt what might happen if he won the battle. Boom. Several rounds pumped right into his body.

Wonderful. As per Shotgun's orders, he hadn't been given back his weapons. It would have to be a 'man to man' thing, as Shotgun put it, although considering one man had apparently been injected with something that weakened him on his way to the prison cell, it was still hardly a fair contest. Daredevil was having trouble concentrating, thinking straight.

Yeah, they'd definitely shot him up with something. A drug, maybe. He caught a word or two from Shotgun as he reeled from the overloading to his ears. What had he said? Something about… Rumbling. Oh. 'Get Ready to Rumble'. That meant-

Krak! Shotgun's fist grazed Daredevil's chest as the scarlet vigilante leaped backwards, landing and fighting to hold his balance on a nearby table. The small spikes decorating Shotgun's outfit had cut into his costume, but done little to the skin.

The Devil fought to lock out the sounds. For someone who could be distracted by the sound of a couple arguing a block away, it was hurting his chances. According to his radar, Shotgun was running at him again, his mouth moving but Daredevil not catching the words. Probably bragging anyhow.

He leaped over the oncoming fist, landing and slipping. He fell, rolling across the floor and trying desperately to get up before Shotgun made another shot. Too late. The fist hit him, again only grazing but keeping him off-balance. He lashed out with a kick, connected, knocking Shotgun away and giving him a moment to breathe.

He stood, facing the man whom the Law couldn't touch. Shotgun. What did you do, the Devil asked silently, when you couldn't strip away a mask that usually gave a man so much power over the System? What did you do with a man who could slaughter a hundred men and walk off without a judge to worry about? This man derailed the Devil's methods by simply existing.

Shotgun was attacking again. The Devil launched a punch of his own, catching Shotgun in the jaw even as he took a punch in the gut. Another punch, back and forth, but Shotgun had more endurance. Daredevil rolled again, this time directing himself under a table to buy him another few breaths. He crouched under the table, using the incessant cheering for the only thing it was good for: providing him a constant outline of what was happening.

Shotgun kicked out with his foot under the table, catching the crimefighter in the head and causing him to spit blood. The Devil rolled out the other side even as Shotgun leaped over the table to greet him properly. What did he do with this man?

"Come on, DD-!" Daredevil could hear him saying, although the rest of the words were once again drowned out by the roar of the crowd of sentinels.

Daredevil's hand clamped the oncoming wrist of the villain, snapping it with a resounding crack that Daredevil gratefully could hear. "Whatever you say, m'man."

Shotgun cried out, but the Devil put a stop to it with a punch into his mouth, knocking loose several teeth. The Devil tensed, waiting as Shotgun fell against the table, his mouth bloodied. He had half-expected to die right there, the sentinels destroying him. It turned out, however, that Shotgun had a better sense of fair play than he thought. Or, at least, he wanted the victory he was so sure of to look a little better than that.

Whatever it was, Daredevil wouldn't look a gift horse in the mouth, as the expression went. Shotgun was standing. The Devil launched forward to correct that, catching Shotgun's fist in his chest even as he sent both of his own into Shotgun's head. Another tear in his costume, more blood from Shotgun. Shotgun. What did you do with a man whom the Law couldn't touch?

Shotgun had fallen again. Daredevil's chest felt like it was on fire, but he focused and kicked, catching Shotgun in the ribs. The government killer cried out, and Daredevil silenced it with a second kick that knocked Shotgun onto his back. The killer's cracked shades fell from the man's dark eyes, and Daredevil dearly wished he could see them. He was standing again.

So put him down.

The final blow, delivered by the Devil's bloodied and bare knuckles, smashed into Shotgun's stomach. The enemy fell, and he wasn't standing again. Daredevil would help him. The crimefighter seized the beaten man by the ponytail, jerking him up and crashing him against the table, to put them on more even ground.

Now, he thought as he savored the details of Shotgun's face that his radar gave him, what did you do with a man the Law couldn't touch? This was different, though. Very different. Shotgun was working with Bastion now, not for his government. For Sheriff Cold, not his superiors. SHIELD would have him, or somebody would, and he'd be locked up like the animal he was. He doubted a certified judge would ever handle the case. The government had its own way of doing things, he was sure. It would happen, though.

"When we get out of here," the Devil growled, "…it'll be it for you, Shotgun. I'm going to hand you over to Them. This is one time you won't just walk off with a smile from so much destruction. You hear me, Shotgun?"

Shotgun did. And he was smiling. "What makes you think," he asked, spitting blood before he could continue, "…that they don't already know I'm here? You think… my department works for.. SHIELD? Or any other freakin' branch..(koff) Hornhead? Ha ha… We're like the Men in Black, suckah. We don't answer t'nobody. And I ain't going anywhere… Ha ha ha ha-"

The Devil's unseeing eyes grew wide. He couldn't be telling the truth. It was impossible. There were regulations somewhere. There had to be. There had to be something. Where was the Law? The Justice? Where-?!

He noticed with only a small amount of surprise that he had been shaking Shotgun as he thought, and now his own thoughts were coming into guttural, enraged words.

"What does it take-?! Dammit, what does it take-!!!"

Shotgun fell again, landing near the red-clad feet of the vigilante. What did you do with someone the Law couldn't touch? Who was answerable to nobody?

The Devil's hands reached out, seizing the killer's head and jerking sharply. With a snap that seemed to drown out every other one of the loud sounds in the room, Shotgun went lifeless.

He let go, allowing the body to drop as he himself examined his own hands in a dreamlike state. He heard somebody running. Somebodies. The cheering had stopped, and everything was clear. Sheriff Cold's heartbeat. Some sort of outcry. Sentinels, his voice was saying. Something.

Oh, he thought disinterestedly as stun bolts crashed into his back and he fell down…

..awoke to find himself back in the cell, on the same bed. He wanted to believe it had all been a nightmare, and that Black Widow was still watching over him... Shotgun had never come. Yes, he had. He groaned as he moved, muscles screaming. It didn't seem to matter. Little did. His body was in the cell. He was still… still back there…


A voice. Natasha. God, it was Natasha. Maybe she'd know.. She was a secret agent, right? Maybe…

"I heard Sheriff Cold talking… Screaming, more accurately.. Matt? Matt, it's ok.. What you did, it wasn't-"

Why was he thinking he could talk to her, though? She was a secret agent. A cold-blooded damned killer, not like him. Not like him.

"Matt, damn you, talk to me."

"It wasn't 'Ok'…" he whispered. "Maybe… Maybe for you, it was.. Not me… Not-!"

For the millionth time that day, he was hit. Natasha the Black Widow held back, however, and the punch did little more than knock him back onto the pillow. He decided he wouldn't be grateful.

" You son of a… 'For me'? Matt, damn you… I am not some sort of psychotic! That monster that challenged you? Welcome to my damned world! You can't do anything else, Matt! The Law couldn't touch him and so it could't protect him, either! You understand?"

He didn't answer the question, only whispered an apology. Her face softened, but his didn't. He wanted to die. He couldn't die. Confession. He wanted a priest… He wanted a priest so much. What if he died with Murder on his hands? What would happen to him then?

His head was pounding from the stress he felt in every part of his body.. His senses barely even picking up anything in the cell, but they caught the form before him. He started, swiveling his head as he retracted slightly and found he had nowhere to run. Natasha had unzipped the long, silver zipper that ran down the front of her costume… His radar sharpened somehow, focusing on the naked woman in front of him and everything it entailed.

She was trying to help. He realized that. She thought he was going to have an attack of some sort, or simply a nervous breakdown… He was. Ludicrous- He couldn't do this. To add another sin to the great ones he had already committed that day? He had sex before, with Karen.. but as cowardly as it was, he'd hidden it behind the belief that they were going to marry anyhow. Karen. No! He absolutely wouldn't-

She was kissing him. Maybe… Maybe it wouldn't be that.. bad..

* * A ROOM * *

Nicholas Kolef was one of the very few humans, alive and breathing, unlike those nano-whatever sentinels, that Bastion trusted to accompany him on this venture. One of three, actually, including Sheriff Cold but not including the mercenaries, who he regarded as less than human anyhow. He was posted within one of several security stations, watching monitors with his undivided attention, lest Bastion enter at any moment.

Thank God. He'd been wondering if he'd ever get a better channel on these 'TVs', and now he was smirking as he watched Camera 431. Now what were the prisoners up to…? Very interesting indeed. God, that woman had a body. Maybe he'd ask Bastion if- Well, for now, he'd just search for a new bag of popcorn and settle down for the show-

Two black-clad hands reached out behind him, catching the head, snapping it precisely the way the real Daredevil did only an hour before. The Daredevil, the Other Devil. 'Faux DD', China-Man. Whatever name his victims would like, although few ever saw him. He preferred one name above all the others, though.

Evading a base full of sentinels was a skill he had been forced to learn quickly, and he was grateful that the security station was manned by a human. After that idiot Daredevil got his ass handed to him instead of listening, it had been an achingly slow task trying to reach the security stations to learn exactly where they'd placed Daredevil. Now, he'd have a goal again. He checked the monitors, searching for the correct picture-

Stopped, then smirked. It would take him a bit of time to reach that level of the base anyhow. He'd start moving, and it would probably be half an hour before he arrived. Long enough. He just hoped they all had long enough… before Bastion put his true plan into operation.

Whether using the armored edition of Daredevil's costume or his own, however, the sentinels would still attack him. There was no longer a reason to hide his identity from the only players in the game that mattered, the humans.

Plus, he'd feel a lot better in his own garb. He changed quickly, disassembling the Daredevil costume and packing it in a secure place, should he need it sometime soon or should the true Daredevil. He'd keep the staff with its concussion blasts, however. A useful tool.

He smirked as he began to assemble the last components of his own costume. Who else, now? Who else could mimic the Daredevil's fighting style so beautifully, or be someone out of a Kung Fu movie? Kill and take the place of that SHIELD agent with such ease? Ha.

TASKMASTER pulled the last glove on, gripped and placed the white skull mask in the proper position, followed by the white hood over it. He opened the SHIELD agent's backpack, which he had emptied a long time before, replacing it with the only two items he'd need. His own, beautiful sword and shield. He paused for a moment, using his reflection in the shield's polished surface to make small corrections to his costume. Look yer best in battle.

"…Welcome back, Slick," he said in his own, throaty voice, his eyes gleaming like a demon's. "Let's kick some ass."


* * BEN KAINE'S AUTHOR'S NOTES (Read 'em and Weep… of Boredom) * *

Wow. Issue nine already. Boy. Wow. That's… Wow. Boy.

Ok, enough of that. It's been seven issues since I took over the title after the short but (as described by readers) quite interesting run by Kari Retzlaff, who laid some of the groundwork for all of this when she (A) gave Karen AIDS and (B) got Matt Murdock mixed in all this Zero Tolerance stuff. I basically took the ball and ran with it.

Not that Im complaining. I've enjoyed writing every one of these, and I'll enjoy writing the next four (after #12, my 'contract' is up… whether or not I'll 'renew' and go another six or twelve, I'm not sure).

Being rather excited after I received a little feedback from fellow writers and even an editor or two (fanfic, of course), I thought I'd take a moment to mention what I've got coming ahead.

Issue 9: The conclusion to "Road to Hell"! 'Nuff said.

Issue 10 will be an all-supporting cast story, with Daredevil getting a very small scene if he gets one at all. Karen Page, Foggy Nelson, Sister Maggie, Wilson Fisk, and a certain assassin we know all too well. They'll all be here, and prepare for something I promise you're not expecting!

Issue 11 is simply what Tradition says all writers must do. Heh.

As for 12: Daredevil has committed two great sins this issue. He's going to have to deal with what he's done sometime, and what Karen Page and even Natasha Romanov mean to him. Daredevil will finally return to Hell's Kitchen… and I guarantee some major surprises (then again, if the Taskmaster Revealed thing didn't get you this issue and I can't surprise you with the tenth issue, maybe not…).

I'm going to close with the usual pathetic cry for feedback. Why do I write fanfiction? Believe it or not, it's to improve my work. Writing favorite characters is a secondary, if not third objective. So you'd make a certain lil' guy very happy if you'd take a moment to write. To those who have written, major thanks.

Well, 'till next time