The Thread: Unraveling

July 18, 2015:

The Kingpin continues to make plans for fending off the threat of the 100, unaware of the cracks forming in the foundations of his empire. (Rated R for: Language, Venomous Anti-Liechtensteinian Sentiments)

All Over The Place

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=yca6UsllwYs

Characters

NPCs: Wesley, Vanessa Fisk, Some Wiseguys, Nobu, Shadow Thief, Electro, Titania

Mentions:

Plot:

Mood Music: [*\# None.]


Fade In…

MANHATTAN

Wilson Fisk absently swirls 50 year old Dalmore around a glass and keeps an ear on his right hand's briefing. His eyes are ostensibly on Wesley too, but most of his attention is on the wall of glass behind the younger man through which the setting sun bathes the office in a mixture of warm amber light and growing shadows.

"In any case, Porter understands his place in the world," Wesley assures as Fisk takes a sip and savors the taste of thousands of dollars on his tongue. "I'm not sure that he has the stomach for the bounty, but he's open to any and all opportunities that Hammerhead is willing to offer him. I got the impression that change tends to make him— uncomfortable. Given another month or two to think it over, he may have joined the lionshare of his fellow mutants in hiring on with Martinez's people due to sheer iner—"

"Martinez is already well on his way to being a particularly unpleasant memory, Wesley," the Kingpin interjects after swallowing with a soured look, anger boiling beneath the surface of his placid tone. "Tell me about Sytsevich."

"He's been— agitated since the Resorts World bombing. If he'd been in the country in the aftermath of it instead of taking care of an undisclosed matter at home, it's quite likely that he'd have been making a mess of things on his own. But I've spoken to him; he understands that if he wants revenge, the only way he'll get it is by assisting his people's old friends in the Falcones."

"Bullseye."

"He's… been located, sir." Wesley looks briefly, uncharacteristically queasy as he remembers the 2 a.m. call about Bullseye's whereabouts. The man on the other end of the line that morning could barely get through his explanation without retching. "I've reached out to him, and as far as I'm aware, he's moving into position."

"And the others?" he wonders as the glass is traded for a smoldering Cuban.

"Amenable. Waiting for further instructions."

"Excellent," the Kingpin exhales with a cloud of grey smoke. "Send them the first dossier. If Creed, or any of the others on the list attempt to establish contact, reach out to them; otherwise, I believe that happy hour has come to an end."

Wesley stands with a brisk nod of understanding. "Right away, sir. I also have engagements in Gotham with Rant and Dekker— "

The Kingpin makes a face.

"— he has more potential he's given credit for, sir. I don't intend to inform him of the bounty, obviously, but he has his uses."

"Fine," the Kingpin sneers with a dismissive wave. "As long as he understands what failure could cost him. I've neither the time, nor the patience to coddle fools and madmen in their delusions of greatness; he will serve ably, or he will suffer a fate that even his mind could scarcely conceive of."

"I will not let you down, sir. Least of all now."

"Of course not, Wesley; you never do, do you?"

ESSEX COUNTY

"Fat fucking smug arrogant piece'a motherfuckin' cocksuckin' shit— !!" Tony Pancamo roars after ninety straight seconds of failing to open a pickle jar. "FUCK!!"

*SMASH!* it goes when it hits a walnut cabinet. At least it's open now.

"Jesus, Tony, c'mon," Leo Palmice calls from the coziness of the living room just down the hall. He was willing to overlook the minute and a half of uninterrupted filth until things started breaking; he rises and races down that hall. "This is my goomar's place, and I do not wanna hear her shit when she comes home an' sees glass an'— " He leans into the kitchen. "— pickle juice? C'mon, clean this shit up, eh?"

"Fuck that Liechtensteinian cunt, what the fuck!" is Tony's snap response, delivered as he twists towards Leo with an incredulous expression.

"Oh!"

"You think I give a SHIT what some stuck-up SKANK from some piece'a shit country NOBODY'S EVER EVEN HEARD OF has to say about ANYTHING?!" Tony continues, trampling right over Leo's shock. To Leo's goomar's credit, it is a pretty nice kitchen, for all Tony's outrage. "Fuckin'— FUCK!" *WHAM!* His fist begins pounding against the cabinet.

"WOAH! Easy, goddamnit, easy!" Leo rushes into the kitchen to grab Tony's arm. There is a bit of a struggle, but Pancamo relents after a few seconds of wriggling and cursing. "Look! Tony, I fuckin' get it, alright! That selfish prick, that Fisk— givin' up our territory to a bunch'a fuckin' burrito-munchin' motherfuckers— "

Tony's features twist through various gradients of rage as Leo holds and speaks to him. "'It's only territory'," he spits out in an approximation of Fisk's voice. "'Opportunities abound for a man of your ambition. You have my full support, should you choose to pursue them— so long as they are not in New Jersey'. No fuckin' severence, no gettin' back what's ours; just a pat on the head and a 'go fuck yourself'! I'D LIKE TO SEE THAT FUCK TRY TIGHTENING HIS FUCKIN' BELT SOMETIME!"

"Woah, woah, hey!" Leo exclaims while straining to keep Tony from swinging again— until Tony roughly jerks himself free during that last outburst. No more punches for now, at least. Leo clenches and unclenches his fists a couple of times before pulling a hand back to rub his neck. "How's fucking up Lia's place gonna help this situation, Tone? Huh? C'mon. Just— relax, alright? You know as well as I do, this thing of ours… it ain't all sunshine and happy days, right? Plenty'a hard times, plenty'a struggle— and the guys who blow their stack, who get to punchin' walls and screamin' when things get bad… well, sometimes they make it through okay, if they get lucky. You got that thing over in Philly, I got that cousin down in Florida, we both still got our guys, and push come to shove… I'm willin' to bet we could work somethin' out in Boston— "

"With Cavella?" Disgust twists Tony's features further. "That oobatz?"

"Just sayin', we ain't gonna starve, here. You think this is the first time someone's tried to fuck with the Kingpin, my friend? No, Fisk'll clear those south'a the border shits out when he's good an' ready, and then we'll be back to earning."

"And meanwhile, that fat fuck'll be taking our percentages like nothing's changed."

"Just so," Leo admits with a frown. "Shit goes downhill, you know that."

"Yeah, yeah, right," Tony mutters. Growls, really, as he rubs at his face, agitated and defeated. "Fuck it, then." He slaps his cheeks a couple times. "Month or two, we'll probably be back in business."

"Month or two, definitely," Leo agrees, trying not to sound as tentative as he feels. "Three, tops."

"And once we're back, now that everyone's seen him blink… what's gonna stop every other asshole from smellin' blood in the water and pullin' the same shit, huh? The fat man sold us out, Leo!"

"Kingpin's still the Kingpin, Tone. This guy, that whole thing with the Urbanos in '08… they come, and they go, and the Kingpin stays right where he is, for better or worse. Man's an institution in this town, y'know?"

"Yeah," Tony scoffs, "right. Rigoletto was an institution too, but when was the last time anyone heard from him, eh?"

"Hhh," Leo quietly exhales while dropping his head to study the tiles. "Yeah, guess you got a point, there."

They're both silent for a while after that, but it doesn't take long before Leo looks up and finds himself meeting Tony's own thoughtful gaze for what becomes a lengthy and increasingly uncomfortable moment.

When they finally look away from one another, Tony finds it in his heart to start hunting through the kitchen for pickle jar-cleaning supplies and Leo busies himself with minor tidying. The occasional, furtive glance is exchanged.

JAPAN

"Tohoku is lovely this time of year," Vanessa Fisk says with a smile for her walking companion. "Thank you so much for taking the time out of busy day to show me this slice of it, Mr. Nobu."

The path they're on winds through the sprawling gardens of Nobu's estate where all manner of flora - native or otherwise - surrounds them, held on the delicate edge between pastoral nearness and obstruction by rigorous daily manicuring. A system of ponds and small lakes lies at the heart of it all, with creeks and streams stretching from them in all directions like babbling veins. Yet more trees, flowers, and bushes surround the bodies of water, shrouding parts of them. There are branches in the path that would allow one to cut directly to the center, but it is designed to lead through the entirety of the outer gardens on its way inwards.

"Your husband requested that we watch over you," Nobu replies after a stiff nod. "This estate has been in my family for generations; there are few places on Earth that could be safer for you."

Indeed, a lithe figure in blood-red garb watches as the pair strolls beneath his cherry tree perch, casting no shadow and drawing no breath.

"All the same, I've found your company to be surprisingly pleasant," Vanessa replies. There's no hand behind the words, despite their content— nor are they particularly untrue: Nobu is not the smiling, laughing, joking, or even funny anecdote-telling type, but they spent the morning discussing art, history, and the implications of world watched by Sentinels throughout their stroll. Perhaps they aren't actually friends - Vanessa would, frankly, be shocked to hear of Nobu having even one friend - but a connection has been established, however tenuous.

It isn't much, but it will have to do.

"I didn't want to come here, you know," she continues, the smile fading as she looks away from Nobu. "But then, Wilson hardly gave me a choice: here, or the back of another car." Her features twist in disgust and rage for a moment. "Or worse. Whatever he's started this time… it has been a long time since the idea of his enemies using me against him left the realm of theory, and I do not care for it in the slightest," she murmurs as her arms tighten around her midsection. "I am not his trophy to be fawned over and protected, not after this long."

Nobu listens silently, attentively, never interrupting or interjecting as Vanessa works her way to what appears to be a point. He's a pretty good listener; the whole 'cold-blooded assassin' thing helps immensely.

"I am not just here to take in the beauty of your garden, Mr. Nobu; I want to be protected," she says while fixing sullen but resolute eyes on his. "Not because I am the Kingpin's wife, but because I've built something around myself that no one in his right mind would dare assail." She slowly exhales and fights the urge to look away as her voice falls: "And… I want to finally, after twenty-one years of marriage to that man, understand what about that life — your life — is so alluring that he would continue chasing it without regard for me. For Richard.

"I want to learn how to do what it is that he does, Mr. Nobu." Vanessa's voice is barely above a whisper, but Nobu hears her just fine.

"What he does requires money, Mrs. Fisk." Nobu stops, and so does Vanessa. "Money, ambition, cunning, ruthlessness; it is not a life to be entered into lightly."

"Wilson hardly thinks twice about letting his beloved wife do as she pleases with his money," she scoffs. "And— I am not without means of my own. My gallery… I've been growing it since Richard went off to boarding school; money is not a concern. Nor would it be, once I was off the ground."

Nobu studies his companion for what feels like forever.

"Perhaps we can come to an arrangement," he finally says. "If you are serious. My partners are— skittish about working with gaijins, but should they be unwilling to accept your business, there are others who may be more open-minded. I can show you the path and tell you how others have walked it before you; it will not be free, nor will it be easy." He offers his hand and Vanessa takes it, squeezing firmly.

"Neither is the one I've been on these last years, Mr. Nobu. I'm sure I'll feel right at home."

GOTHAM CITY

A shadow slithers down the chassis of a black towncar as it approaches Paul Dekker's apartment complex. It passes right under a busted street lamp on its way on its way into an alley down the block, unseen by anyone in the towncar— just as they failed to notice when it hitched a ride somewhere on the GW Bridge.

Once the car is parked, Wesley steps out and takes a moment to study the area while buttoning his jacket. Plopped in the middle of Battergate as part of an affordable housing initiative/scam back in the '90s, it is one of the sadder shitholes that the Kingpin's right hand has had the displeasure of visiting in a long and storied career of fishing in shitholes to find manpower for his employer.

Being a professional, Wesley doesn't let an iota of this judgment show in his features as he approaches the complex, leaving the driver and a bodyguard behind in the car. It isn't that his meetings aren't sometimes aided by the addition of an entourage, but he prefers to handle them himself whenever possible. The entourage is, he finds, more effective when it's deployed after a hostile party is already secure in their superiority over the well-dressed, but otherwise unassuming man.

Several of the stairs up to Dekker's floor are missing. The hall leading to his apartment is a mess of flickering fluorescents, chipped paint, screaming, crying, and at least one addict nodding out between two doors. Wesley strides past and over it all on his way to Dekker's door, sparing no more attention than he absolutely must to avoid tripping hazards.

He knocks.

Eventually, Dekker answers in a wifebeater, boxers, and slippers. And his helmet, golden and adorned with brilliant, strobing red, yellow, and blue lenses. Wesley has to turn his head and shield his face, but he maintains a collected tone as he says, "Mr. Dekker, I'm here to discuss an employment opportunity. We spoke over the phone…?"

Dekker mumbles something unintelligible under his breath as he looks Wesley up and down, but ultimately steps aside to let the other man in.

"As you may know," Wesley continues while entering, "there's a very robust market for talented workers, right now…"

Dekker wanders over to his couch while Wesley speaks and flicks the TV back on to a scrambled showing of an unauthorized Alison Blaire biopic.

"Sometimes," he then murmurs, eyes wide as he stares at the screen, "if you look between the lines just right… you start to see the movie they didn't want you to see instead of the one they made…"

Wesley might be busy for a while.

It's fine, though, because the his people are busy too— with magazines. And a sudoku book. To their credit, though, it's unlikely that they would have noticed the shadow sliding up a rear tire to move across the hood regardless— not before it was already too late. It wriggles through a narrow gap at the upper edge of the rear window and adroitly bends itself around the spots of reading light on the roof.

Slowly, it extends shadowy limbs towards each guard until its shadowy fingers are wrapped around each man's neck. They fight, they gurgle, they kick, they struggle. They die.

Twenty minutes later, another car pulls up behind Wesley's and parks. A masked brickhouse of a woman with bright red hair and a man with lightning bolts attached to his face climb out and stroll inside, stepping over broken stairs and people on their way to Paul Dekker's apartment.

They knock.

Paul Dekker answers the door even as Wesley raises his voice in an abortive warning. He is greeted by a stone-faced Titania and grinning Electro, the former of whom shoves him into his apartment almost immediately so they can step inside.

Wesley springs to his feet from Dekker's couch, eyes darting the two newcomers for a moment before he settles on Electro and finds his cool. "Mr. Dillon," he says, swallowing. "Ms. MacPherran; I wasn— "

"Ah-ah-ah," Electro says as Titania shuts the door, then begins advancing on him "Not tonight. Our employer's got a little message for your employer tonight."

The scent of ozone hits Wesley's nose and he begins to pale. "Sir," he quietly intones. He is trying to balance keeping his cool and backing off from the giant metahuman. "Ma'am— "

"He's got no more business in Jersey," Titania adds. She cracks her knuckles and it sounds like a series of gunshots going off. "That means he's got no business being in Jersey. Him or his weasel-y little shits."

"I think you've got the wrong idea. I'm not here on anyone's behalf bu— " Wesley trips over a stack of old newspapers and tumbles backwards to the ground.

Before he can stand, Titania is on him.

Unless otherwise stated, the content of this page is licensed under Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-NoDerivs 3.0 License