The Thread, Part 8: Black Heart

July 07, 2015:

Wilson Fisk makes moves on those who might have his kingdom, and gains some important information. Meanwhile, Grayson and Mills get some more information and get two steps closer to cracking the case.

Off the Beaten Path, NYC

An old building, well kept, and perfect for this sort of thing.

Characters

NPCs: Aurelio Martinez, Jair, Guti, Officer Thomson

Mentions:

Plot:

Mood Music: Black Heart, Calexico


Fade In…

The Thread, Part 8

What would've been a neighborhood library back in the 80s wound up being tied up in so many construction, funding, and zoning issues that it wound up falling into a sort of bureaucratic limbo from whence it never returned. Now, it's merely an unassuming, three-story brick building planted somewhere in the middle of the Bronx, surrounded by a plethora of mostly failed businesses and a scattering of homes. It's boarded up and perpetually cordoned off, and unlike other such buildings in the area, it is mostly free of graffiti and trespassers.

The city may not have had a use for it after all, but someone did. Someone who would no doubt be very upset to have his property tampered with.

Sometime after midnight, a black van pulls up beside its back entrance, having crept there through the alleys. Four prisoners ostensibly signed out for a transfer to another facility face each other on the benches in the rear of the van, and are joined by three cops and— a woman who is most certainly not one. All of the prisoners are hooded and bound, and have been since they left the precinct.

"So," one of the cops, a bald and middle-aged detective says as he sets his eyes on the woman. "Listen: I already know better than to go asking questions about who you are, how you got here, that kind of thing. I know. The man upstairs said you're along for the ride, so you're along for the ride. I just— " He casts a rueful glance towards the men, and then to Lady Deathstrike. "How much paperwork am I gonna be looking at when this is all done? Inmates start disappearin', and it's a whole mess for me and mine, y'know?"

The man who owns the building reached out to Lady Deathstrike to assist some of New York's finest in ferreting out some answers from a group of stubborn criminals. Members of a gang without a name, the Kingpin wants to know who they work for and what their intentions are, as they've had the temerity to assault his territory in the hopes of adding to their own in the weeks since HYDRA's fall.

"If you are concerned about the logistics of this assignment, I suggest you take it up with your employer. I'm not here to answer your questions." Deathstrike certainly does not look like a cop. She's dressed in black body armor that looks like something out of a movie called Samurai Warrior 2116.
There's something…off about the woman. Not just her presence here, but about her in general. Her complexion is too even, her expressions too blank, her eyes reflect in a way that organic material simply doesn't. The effect is unsettling overall. She's locked her attention on the four prisoners.

The four prisoners make their way, bound along, murmuring in Spanish to each other. «Shut the fuck up, Guti. Shut the fuck up and not a word.»

Jose Gutierrez, Guti for short, is the one that seems most likely to crack. The four of these men knew something like this could happen. They'd sworn their allegiance to their master and three of them are steadfast. Guti, has always been sort of a little bitch, though.

GOTHAM CITY

"Now what in the hell are those?" Mills asks Dick as he comes in, this time with another shopping cart full of evidence. Their tiny office is getting very cramped. "More phone records?"

"Well," Dick says as he pulls some up onto his desk, making room by just shoving a bunch of the earlier records clear off his desk. "I figure if they're going to block us on the Ballard phone tap, we could just take a look at all of the similar style hits that were presumed organized crime, but that we couldn't link to anything. Maybe we'll get lucky on a couple."

"Who in the hell pulled that for you? That must have taken hours."

"Sanders."

"Sanders?" Mills laughs. "I hope you bothered to promise her lunch. You owe her big time."

"Dinner. At Dorsia's."

Mills laughs out loud. "Oh man, you're a sucker."

Detective Hoffman swallows back a knot, nods in the affirmative, and directs his eyes elsewhere. All of the detectives are doing their best not to look at her for too long; it isn't enough that she doesn't belong in the van, she looks as if she doesn't belong on the same Earth as them.
"Inmates, listen up!" one of the officers booms as she and the others push the prisoners along the way from the van to the building. "You are to proceed through the facility in an orderly fashion! There is to be no— "

She's in plainclothes, but there's still a baton hanging from her belt; in a fluid motion, she frees it and cracks the guy telling Guti not to snitch across the back of the head. She doesn't speak Spanish, but there's a point to be made.

"— speaking unless you're spoken to— and you will be spoken to! In interactions with any of the officers or our special liaison who's graciously taken the time to join us this evening, you are to be honest! Respectful! Forthcoming! Infractions will be penalized swiftly and with maximum prejudice; you shitbirds are not in Kansas anymore!"

The building looks significantly less abandoned on the inside than its outsides might suggest. The doors lead into a fairly cavernous space, but there are visible branches leading towards side rooms, stairs, and such. There aren't any decorations, but it's clean, painted in the last few years. The windows are actually blacked out on top of having been boarded on the outside, and plastic lines an otherwise unremarkable floor.

The procession of police and inmates heads up a flight of stairs, eventually ending up before a hallway of doors. Each door leads to a small room where a table's been arranged with a variety of nasty implements, but the officers only herd one suspect - the chatty one - towards one room while letting the others linger in the more spacious area outside with Hoffman.

Hoffman forces himself to give Lady Deathstrike a briefly lingering look, then nudges his head towards the room where the officers are headed.

Despite wearing armor, Deathstrike doesn't appear to be armed. Which would seem odd, except she's a woman who oozes secrets. It's highly unlikely that she's anything even approaching defenseless. When they reach their destination, she hops out of the van with unnaturally smooth movements. She walks ahead of the contingent, not looking back to ensure that the cops are bringing the men along.
When she's led to the hallway, she meets Hoffman's eyes with an unblinking, empty gaze. She nods once, then enters the room with the chatty suspect. She shifts, her armor creaking as she folds her arms behind her back. The tray of implements provokes a little smile. How cute. Toys. "You have something to tell me. You know why you're here. I won't insult your intelligence by weaving tales of which body parts you will be mourning should I fail to appreciate your respones. I assume you have an imagination."

The struck prisoner falls over and moves to hold his head in pain at the vicious crack levelled by the woman. He staggers to his feet, trying not to take any more punishment.

Up the stairs they go, shuffling along. After the earlier violence, the prisoners go in without putting up much fuss. They want to ask to talk to their lawyers, but they remain quiet. It doesn't seem like these cops give two shits about their lawyers.

As Lady Deathstrike begins talking to them, three of the men stay strong, saying nothing.

Guti, however, begins to breath heavily and might be beginning to cry.

"Now," Hoffman says to the three outside as he posts up with his hands behind his back, "just in case you all get to missing your partner in there, don't worry: y'all should be able to hear him just fine."

Officer Thomspon - the woman with the baton - nudges the door shut once Deathstrike is in there with them and steps towards a corner while the other officer pushes the inmate towards a section of the wall that never quite got finished.

"Just so you know, I do habla," he offers while cuffing the man to a pipe jutting from the wall. He follows that reassurance with a swift punch to the gut before making room for Deathstrike. "«Just in case that makes things any easier for you.»"

It doesn't take long for Deathstrike to finish with her first customer. There's a lot of screaming, and then the man is sent back into the hallway minus his left ear. There is a fair amount of blood, but none of the tools of torture have been moved or bloodied. Only her left pinky finger shows signs of gore.
The next is sent out looking like a tiger mauled his chest. He might be missing some fingers, too. It's a little hard to tell with all the blood.
The last one gets off easy. He only loses an eye.
She's growing impatient. She stands in the doorway of the interrogation room and cracks her knuckles. It makes a strange, metallic popping sound. "If this last one isn't forthcoming, I'll have to go through them all again. I'm afraid round two will be messier." She sounds bored, and almost a little apologetic. Oh dear me. Torture is so tedious.

"OKAY!" the final torturee says in a scream, his heavy breathing heard from outside of the room. Even before Lady Deathstrike is ready to, well, strike, he's ready to sing.

Oddly, it is Jair Maria Horatio, the man who was telling Guti not to be such a bitch.

"I'll tell you what you want to know, I'll tell you what you want to know."

GOTHAM CITY

"You think we're going to find what we want to know from random phone records?" Mills asks. Grayson looks up at him with his highlighter pointing in his direction, "Better than nothing."

"Not if you're finding nothing," says the large African-American detective.

"Shut the fu…" Grayson is about to curse when he stumbles upon something. "Missy Ballard. What was her number?"

"867-5309. Metropolis area code."

"Son of a …" Dick looks up with a thousand watt smile. "This guy made a page full of calls to Mrs. Senator three days before he confessed to murder."

"Dick Grayson you are all at once the most tedious god damn detective I've ever met. And the luckiest."

Now and again, Hoffman leaves the other inmates to collect the ones being shoved out of Lady Deathstrike's office and usher a fresh candidate in. He tries very, very hard not to actually look at any of the men as he leads them along; even for him, who's made his share of troublesome prisoners disappear without blinking, Deathstrike's methods are a little extreme.

The Spanish-speaking cop ends up bolting out of the room looking more than a little green around the gills when Perp #3's eye goes missing. Thompson doesn't look much better, but stands firm in her corner, ostensibly there in case Deathstrike needs some help. This isn't her first rodeo either, but she will be eternally grateful when it turns out that Deathstrike is fine working on her own.

Even when Jair swears that he'll talk, she has to steel herself with a slow, shaking breath before squaring her eyes on him and closing in. Or— peering over Deathstrike's shoulder, if Yuriko doesn't give her room to close in; fuck if she's shouldering past her after all of that.

"What's that?" Thompson replies with her best sneer while tilting her head and nudging an ear forward. "I don't think I— " Her eyes flick between he and Yuriko a few times. "— oh, you want to talk? Well, that's very good; c'mon, let's hear what you've gotta say. Everything you've got, don't miss a detail— and do not bullshit me. You can leave here with an eyepatch or shades." She has to swallow a bit after that threat, but she manages to tack on a, "Your call," that comes with appropriate amounts of ice.

It might be reassuring that Yuriko doesn't seem to be taking pleasure in her work. She doesn't seem bothered by it, either. She is, in fact, a tower of stony indifference. She registers no protest when Thompson takes over the asking of the questions. Instead, she just watches Jair, with unblinking blue mechanical eyes. Ever have a cat stare at you from the end of the bed? Like that, but with more of a promise of maiming. She cracks her knuckles again.

"Oh god! Alright. Alright. Listen, I'll. Alright," Jair stammers. "Aurelio Martinez. We've known him from back when we were all in Monterrey. He brought us here. He brought us here to take over now that HYDRA fell apart. We're supposed to come after Fisk. once Fisk is gone the rest will fall easy. We did the casino and we did the hit by the Narrows Bridge in Metropolis to show what we could do. To put the other gangs in fear."

Pause.

"Oh god, oh god please don't hurt me. Please don't hurt me."

GOTHAM CITY

"Here's what I don't get," Mills says as he shakes his head. "What kind of senator bashes heroes, then creates an atmosphere where heroes seem more needed? I mean, he's not stupid enough to think that even if these bastards are—"

"Watch your mouth, they're not bastards" Dick interrupts.

"To think that even if these guys have to register that they're going to stop. What kind of crime boss does this?"

Dick thinks for a long moment before pulling the piece of yarn taught on his bulletin board. A grainy printer picture of Ballard sits at the top and several lines of red point to him.

"The kind of crime boss who wants it on their terms."

METROPOLIS

Tess Mercer, or Mercy as she is known, presses the end button upon the phone and sighs ever so slightly. Another assistant looks to her with a raised eyebrow. "Do you need to go see him?"

A sigh, "No. What I will tell him will just make him upset. Let him finish his workout and his shower first."

"Are you su—"

"I'm sure."

"Where is he holed up, shitbird?!" Thompson snarls after a disconcerted glance towards Yuriko and her metallic knuckles. "I want EVERYTHING!"

Whether or not there's actually anything more to give, Thompson sticks around until she's sure, then ducks out of the room to confer with Hoffman.

Hoffman, in turn, excuses himself to make a call.

"Think we got something over here," he says after it connects. "Are you familiar with the name 'Aurelio Martinez'?…"

It's not a long conversation; he's only gone for a few minutes, if that. When he returns, though, he is drawing a gun - not his service weapon - from a waist holster and cocking it.

"Boss says we should get to cleaning up," he grimly informs Thompson. She holds eye contact with him for a moment, draws and cocks her weapon— and then looks towards the room.

"Did, uh," she murmurs. "Did he specify us, or…"

Hoffman follows her line of sight for a moment, then looks back to her with a small nod of understanding and heads to the room.

"Ms— " he begins, turning his head the moment he gets a glimpse of Jair. "— uh— yeah. You got any feelings about… " He turns his attention to Deathstrike and tries to direct her eyes to his gun, then to Jair, in the hopes that she'll get the idea.

But Lady Deathstrike is gone. The black-clad woman from the uncanny valley heard what she needed to hear and did what she came here to do. At some point when their backs were turned, she slipped out, unnoticed. They're going to have to take care of the mopping up by themselves.
She's not a janitor.

Jair's eyes follow Lady Deathstrike out as she leaves the room. For a moment he's relieved, thinking that rolling may have bought him his life. But as he looks back, he'll notice the gun pointed at his face.

The guttural scream he makes is the last thing he ever does.

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