Mr. Murdock's Wild Ride

May 02, 2017:

The Devil of Hell's Kitchen decides to begin his investigation into CGI by visiting Vistoya Trucking, one of the companies referenced in Kinsey's documentation. His surveillance uncovers a gut-wrenching realization about his past and catapults him into the daring rescue of two unconscious prisoners.

Hell's Kitchen, NYC

In other news, traffic problems continue to be pervasive in one of New York City's most beleaguered neighborhoods.

Characters

NPCs: Turk Barrett, various others (GM'd by Kingpin)

Mentions: Six, Bucky Barnes

Mood Music: [*\# None.]


Fade In…

Vistoya Trucking, 444 E 36th St., NYC, NY

Vistoya is an operation that hides in plain sight. If the chain link fence surrounding the property is a little high, and if there are an awful lot of surveillance cameras on the building, well, most New Yorkers walk right on by without ever noticing the place. As with almost any spot in New York City, buildings do surround it on all sides, offering any number of vantage points and hiding places for a certain hero to do some scouting.

There are plenty of men simply wandering around outside, too…but few people have the training to pick out the shape of weapons beneath the crinkle of their vinyl windbreakers, or the super-senses to smell the faint hints of gun grease, cold metal, and gunpowder indicating their presence. There are at least eight of these guys wandering around the outer compound, with five more heartbeats indicating either workers or more guards stationed inside.

There’s one entrance to the compound itself, manned by a security station. The pungent scent of JR Alternative cigars tells a short story about the single armed guard tasked with checking IDs and watching security cameras inside the little gateway booth.

There’s a single human-sized entrance (west side) and six big bay trucking doors currently occupied with six trucks (on the north side). Employee parking is off to the west as well. Both the employee parking area and the loading area bear the tell-tale buzz and heat-spots of good outdoor lighting.

—-

Ever since Kinsey Sheridan handed those files over to Matt Murdock, he's had an itch, a fairly well gnawing sensation that's grown in the pit of his gut urging him to action. After months of playing whack-a-mole with the Russian mob, leaving men beaten and bound for police intake only to see them walking freely some other night up to the same ugly business, he's finally caught a break. The shape of his foe is slowly, slowly coming into focus for the vigilante, and a bevy of new targets has fallen by some serendipity right into his lap. The impulse to take to the streets and cave in faces until he gets the answers he wants is nearly overwhelming.

But with all this new-found knowledge is a dawning sense of his enemy's sophistication and subtlety, and so Matt the lawyer restrains the Devil of Hell's Kitchen, curbs his more impulsive tendencies, and puts him on the path of more traditional forms of law enforcement: namely, the stakeout. He has advantages even plainclothesed or undercover police officers do not, of course. First and foremost a sense of his surroundings that lays out the compound in 360 degree, three-dimensional detail on which Google World has absolutely nothing.

Second? A familiarity with rooftops. It's an adjoining one where the Devil crouches, thick shadows obscuring his red-suited frame from all sight. He watches the comings and goings, listens for stray chit-chat among the guards, registers a host of new heartbeats — and not one but two familiar persons from his nighttime skirmishes on the west-side docks. Finding familiar persons — in itself confirmation that this 'CGI' is deeply enmeshed in the wave of drugs and violence that has consumed his beloved neighborhood — whets the Devil's appetite like nothing else, sets his mouth salivating.

His grappling hook is ready and set, his trajectory pinpointed with exactitude — he'll make the leap over to the roof of the compound in his own time. But he'll line that moment up properly, take his time, get it right, and listen for interesting details while he does. This is not an assault; it is an infiltration.

—-

There are a couple of interesting conversations to be had.

Inside, Turk Barrett speaks to an unfamiliar female. "Look, baby, I don't know what to tell you. You're lucky to have any of that shit at all. I still think it's premature and a risk to mess with it at all. You ain't got nobody who can work that shit, and until you do it's just a hot liability. Let me sell it. We'll make a stupid good profit and we'll all be laughin'."

Female: Our employer is working several angles. I believe we will have someone capable of making use of it soon enough. Now did you find us a secure place to store it or not? We can't keep it here.

Turk: Yeah, of course. I mean I don't care what you do as long as I get paid. You got my money, I'll drive that shit over right now.

Also inside: a man alone, maybe in the office, on the phone: "What do you mean the incinerator is out? I can't keep a payload like that here overnight. Find me another incinerator then. God damn it…I don't care. Hold up a funeral home. Why can't we just use one of the prison incinerators? I swear to God, Christopher, you're going to be the next thing I load on to that god damn thing if you don't get me a solution like yesterday."

Over by the trucks near the northeast end of the line a guard speaks to a Russian driver.

"Am I supposed to drive these two over tonight or what?" The driver asks impatiently.

Guard: Dunno. Heard something about at least one more coming in, but freaks are a pain in the ass to catch. Just sit tight and wait for the report from the procurement team."

Over near the westernmost truck, "Jesus, I think there's a leak. Jesus! Don't touch that shit, Ivan, are you stupid?"

There's grunt and a whisk-whisk sound, like someone is wiping meaty hands on the leg of his jeans. There are a lot of other sounds and scents in the air, though the metal casing of the trucks makes it hard to get a fix on some of them from this distance. But whatever smell just hit good old Ivan's jeans does tug at Matt's sense memory in some kind of very powerful way. It mingles with Ivan's sweat and nicotine-stained fingers a bit too quickly to get a good fix on it from here, ruining it, but not before triggering a feeling that he knows it from somewhere.

—-

A half-dozen conversations each gliding down their own lanes, and Matt does his best to keep track of them. He lacks Kinsey Sheridan's multi-threaded mind, he can perceive more than ninety-nine point nine percent of the population, but is still limited by his ability to process that data. Still, it's enough to pique his interest, and suggest that there's more afoot here than some cocaine or heroin depository. Talks of 'freaks' and 'incinerators' catch his attention in particular, ratcheting up his sense of urgency. Nothing at all is clear, but there's very little chance it will become so unless he — takes a closer look.

It's a sentiment compounded as soon as that whiff of leakage from the other side of the compound hits strikes him. Our olfactory sense is inextricably tied to memory, and this particular fragrance summons deep ones that might have otherwise been retired completely had they not been so intensely formative. It's a cruder but still potent version of Proust's madeleine, and it makes Matt's decision all the easier.

He waits just as long as it takes to ensure no one could be in eyeshot, far enough away that the 'clink' of his grappling hook would hazard little more than a furtive glance over the shoulder, and then he's running, leaping, swinging to the rooftop of the warehouse to make the quietest landing he can manage.
His silent, expert landing doesn't so much as produce a flicker of an increased heartbeat from any of the miscreants below; the lights don't stretch up here and the universal failure of most human beings to look up provides the redoubtable vigilante with smooth sailing.

—-

From the rooftop he can get scents, sounds, and sensations from each of the trucks.

Every truck save the sixth carries a different sort of depravity or pain lurking within, and the sixth is only spared that because as he sails over his echolocation whispers that last one on the east side is basically hollow, empty. As he sorts through all the myriad amounts of information this becomes clear on a gut, subconscious level, neurotransmitters shooting that information straight to his nerve-endings without requiring him to sort through every bit of it individually. If there were 31 trucks here he'd be looking at 31 flavors of horrible; fortunately, he's only got five flavors to contend with tonight…and it all might, as Kinsey's documents hinted, be little more than a few solid strands of a very large, very demented spider's web.

But first, the truck that drew his attention in the first place.

The Nervous Guy who thought he saw the leak tightens a spigot with a wrench as a few pungent drops of something hit the concrete; the creak of it fills the air. His rubber safety gloves squeak as he mutters; there's the scrape of plastic on flesh as he pushes safety goggles up his nose. "Not a leak, just a drip, thank all that's holy. I hope. I'd better check everything again. Ivan. Hold the flashlight while I check everything again, buddy."

A grunt. A spot of warmth, a buzz of battery; Ivan holds the flashlight.

But none of that might really matter at all, because the smell of the stuff that just hit the concrete is nothing Matt Murdock could ever truly forget. It is in every way the same smell that clogged his nostrils, fumes trickling to the back of his throat even as this unnamed chemical seared his sight away forever, leaving in its wake the raucous snarl of intense, never-ending sensory input: the taker and the giver, casting his world in darkness even as it began forging the hero of Hell's Kitchen.

—-

Matt's heart lurches underneath his body-armor when full recognition of what's down there hits him, sends him reeling back through the decades to the sounds of sirens and pandemoneum, to acrid smells, to burning around his eyes, and to the indelible image of his terrified, hovering father fading forever to black. Never in a hundred years was he prepared for this. For a naturally curious person he'd paid the chemicals that formed him scant mind over the decades. His father was briefly obsessed with 'suing the bastards' who'd run a truck full of dangerous toxins through the side-streets of Hell's Kitchen, but more pressing troubles and a failure to find a single lawyer he'd trust worth a damn sidelined that bout of vengeance. Matt, meanwhile, was initially more focused on making sense of the world said chemicals had opened up for him — and later losses overshadowed even his failed vision in the gallery of his obsessions.

But to be confronted with it decades later, being put to some sort of dark end by this shadowy outfit he's been tugging on the threads of for months. It's a jolt, literally jarring him and leaving his jaw with a tight ache; he can hear the grind of his own molars. Focus, Matt, he thinks as he tries to clear his head and refocus his attention on the present. Breathe.

He creeps closer to the trucks, careful and quiet even while his mind speeds a mile a minute. He senses the mass of liquid in the container next to Ivan, enough to create a ten-thousand-strong legion of Matt Murdocks. But he searches for the rest of them too, focusing on each container methodically: one by one.

—-

The next truck, parked next to the chemical tanker, seems to quiver with a metallic sort of singing, as if a choir of tuning forks were set into motion without ever really stopping, an atonal hum sitting on a low dull E, though, without a single middle C or F-sharp to break up the monotony of sound.

The third truck is refrigerated. It smells of dry ice and the cloying, sickly-sweetness of rotting corpses. Lots of corpses; the lingering individual smells on them say there are at least 25 of them in there, swinging from meat hooks. The truck was initially designed to carry dead livestock to grocery stores and restaurants, not human cadavers.

The fourth truck smells like heroin. The smell is a little bit off, a bit more chemical than the heroin Matt is used to encountering, the smell sharp and potent. It's idling; the driver is up front programming a series of linked destinations into his Google Maps. Looks like that one is on its way out sooner than the others, but then, there weren't any conversations going on to indicate particular problems with these drugs.

Then, the fifth truck. The vibrations of his echolocation indicate it’s mostly empty air in there, but what's in there is important. He can hear the beep-beep-beep of two heart rate monitors. The hum of electrical equipment being fed into some sort of on-board generator. And heartbeats, two of them, one consistent with a pre-teen's, one an adult’s, probably a woman as whomever it is favors a synethetic Japanese cherry blossom soap blend. Slow, steady breathing and a lack of any emotional content whatsoever indicates two people held in deep unconsciousness. IVs slow drip a steady flow of chemicals, presumably into their arms, perhaps keeping them out cold. Matt has certainly seen his share of human cargo, both coming in from foreign nations and being shipped out to them, but— this bit doesn't quite fit the pattern. This would be the truck where Impatient Driver and Russian Guard were having their exchange about whether or not Driver should get these two onward to whatever fate he's supposed to be conveying them to, or whether they should wait for the arrival of a potential, third prisoner.

—-

As he senses those cadavers, cold fury penetrates even the shock that's taken hold of him since he discovered the chemical that blinded him. Even more than the human trafficking and the drugs and the murderous force that backs up all of those operations, what he's grasped some intimation of tonight is a horrific meat grinder on par with despotic regimes, not simple gangland cruelty. He swallows hard, and then thinks through his options.

Every time he's called the police — every single time — it's led to a bust and then silence, a period of quiet, followed by… business resuming, same as it ever was. It only took a few cycles of this particular problem to convince Matt that the police were, in fact, part of the problem. That personally overseeing the disruption of this finely tuned machine was really his only recourse. That it's all on him.

He considers, briefly, calling up Barnes. Few would be better suited to helping him really set this garbage fire of an operation aflame. But his lone wolf streak is still too strong, and his reticence to involve others in the dirty work to be done wins out. So instead he waits, and waits, for decisions to be made about the fifth truck. And in the meantime gauges the distances, surveys the terrain, and contemplates a stealthy drop on top of the freight container itself. If those captives are going for a ride out of here? They may be in store for an unexpected ride along.

—-

The heroin truck pulls out and goes about its merry way.

Inside, the guy gets off the phone with Christopher, muttering, "Jesus Christ." The corpse truck stays put.

He opens a beer and chugs it down.

Turk comes whistling out of the building with a backpack on. It smells like money. He gets into the Singing Truck and drives off with it.

Nervous Guy finally finishes his check of the chemical truck, and starts programming his own route into the GPS.

"Starting route! Turn left onto E 36th St!"

Ivan gets into the truck with him with a grunt.

And then a call comes through to Russian Guard.

Tinny, the voice on the other end says, "We lost it. Tell Ramsey to go ahead."

Russian Guard turns to the driver. "Alright, the team says it's just the two tonight."

Ramsey exhales. "Good. I'd like to get home in time to see my wife tonight, you know?"

And then he's trotting to the driver's seat; the compression brake hisses.

The stealthy drop is more than possible, especially with the truck starting to roar to life like a great growling beast. Timing might indeed be an issue for pulling the whole thing off in a way that doesn't get him killed, depending on how fast the truck goes, but…he definitely has a chance if he wants to take it.

—-

Ramsey, it may be a while.

Because of course Matt will make the attempt. Get him killed? Stealthing into a compound of thugs and evil scientists will get you killed, as will trolling the Hell's Kitchen docks for sex-traffickers. Matt cares not a whit for his personal safety. His concerns are two-fold: finding out whoever is responsible for this ever spiraling list of depravities and saving as many lives as he can along the way. This particular scenario requires him to check box number two rather than stick around to absorb more information about the operations of this CGI subsidiary — and so it goes.

He hears the door slam shut, anticipates the startup of that behemoth of a truck before it happens — he's already in motion, making for the rooftop ledge and vaulting over, only holding on to the side of the wall long enough to slow his fall and quiet the (likely?) impact of his boots on the container's rooftop. If successful, he'll lay down flat on his stomach, searching for any purchase or point of leverage to secure himself as the truck pulls out and makes its way out of the compound.

—-

The top of the truck is at least covered with ridges, rather than being one of the smoother varieties. This doesn't exactly give him a place to say, tie himself to, but it does give him spots where he can hold on; he can grab them, shove his feet into them. There's also the truck portion itself; there are the tall exhaust pipes issuing up from beside the doors that might offer some use, or the lights on top. There's also a bit of a gap between the trailer and the actual truck, though it's not really big enough to wedge one's self into. It might prove to be of some use.

As for that thump?

There's one moment where Ramsey actually powers the truck down for a moment. He stops. He listens. He tap taps his instruments, mutters as he looks at his dash. No check engine lights, no nothing of the sort. The usual thing people do when they hear an unusual noise on their vehicle.

He leans out the window. "Hey, uh, Viktor? Check the back, make sure it's secure, make sure neither of them have woken up?"

The Russian guard gives a gusty sigh, his accent starting to emerge in his aggravation. "I want to get home to my wife too. All this belly aching about wanting to get home. I want to watch game, you want me to check every last thing." He checks the doors. "They're fine. Snug as bugs in rug. Nobody's waking up from drugs like those. They'd make an elephant sleep. Drive, already."

Then he steps back from the truck.

"Yeah yeah, okay. Just so you know I'm throwing your ass under the bus if shit goes wrong tonight," Ramsey returns. He's got a native New Yorker's accent.

The BEEP BEEP BEEP of the reversing truck is nice and loud up here. Ramsey takes his time backing up, as one must when dealing with a semi. Then he pulls out of the complex at last, heading in the direction of the Interstate. Of course, he's got to contend with traffic like any other driver, which means joining the proverbial herd of turtles and creeping along. With that being said, the entrance to 495 isn't really that far away. Matt's got 6 minutes, 7 if he's lucky, before they're going to pick up some speed, unless of course there's a traffic jam up there, too. Not outside the realm of possibility.

—-

The blares of the horns sets Matt wincing the way a punch to the gut never would, but he fights through the ache in his head and grab onto the grooves for as much leverage as he can swing. It's not just to steady himself — these are the flimsiest of rungs on the ladder he must climb to reach his objective, and as the force and whorl of the wind picks up. They're barely enough, and each span of distance strains him, from the joints of his grasping fingers to the ache in his shoulders and back. He'll wait until the truck is well clear of the compound but shy of 495 before fully closing the distance and, with a mix of gasp and groan, rolls sideways to swing himself down onto the side of the swift-moving semi.

This is the craziest thing you've done yet, Murdock, Matt thinks to himself, before adding on in silent addendum: Now, hold my beer.

The wind is whipping and shearing, sending daggers across what little of his skin is opposed and blasting his eardrums. It's likely that the cars behind or ahead, or maybe even Ramsey himself through that rear-view mirror, can see him scaling. It doesn't matter. All this transpires in a matter of /seconds/, with Matt grappling his way across the gap from the container to the truck itself. It's really no time at all before he's throwing the driver's side door open, delivering a swift punch to the side of Ramsey's head with one hand while the other strives — with middling success — to take control of the wheel and keep this beast steady on the road.

—-

"What the H—" That's about as far as Ramsey gets as Murdock's fist slams into his face. He's dazed, if not fully down, but he's literally a truck driver. He's a big fleshy guy who eats a lot of Burger King in the cabin, by the smell, and not a toned and trim individual ready for action. He does have a gun, but he isn't going for it yet.

The beast is really hard to keep steady. The wheel fights him from this angle, all but trying to either wrench him across Ramsey's broad lap or, alternatively, throw him right back out into the street. Horns honk, drivers scramble to get out of the way. Then again, Matt's punch sent Ramsey sliding sideways, taking his foot off the gas. It starts to slowly decelerate, though not enough to create a very real danger of a fender-bender. People are shouting all manner of profanities at him, tires are squealing, an intersection is coming up and Matt's senses will tell him that there are quite a few clueless drivers who don't realize that truck may be in danger of running the red light yet, simply because they're doing that inch-stop thing in the attempt to force the motion detectors on the signal to let them go already.

Ramsey's big ole leg is kind of in the way of the brake, Matt's got seconds to prevent a pile-up, and the asshole isn't even fully unconscious yet.

The Universe holds Matt Murdock's beer and waits in breathless anticipation to see what he'll do next.

—-

Isn't going for it, yet? Matt can't say the same. Even as the scene is careening, lurching wildly towards its conclusion, his hand is already reaching for one of the batons holstered at his calf and bringing it in a sharp strike against Ramsey's unhelpfully lagging leg, aiming a blow against his knee-cap with enough force to shatter it entirely, and hopefully draw it /away/ from the goddamn pedal. As if to reinforce the lesson, Matt will bring the escrima stick up for a stinging followup, arcing diagonal for the poor trucker's forehead.

Matt Murdock: ever at war with himself. His right side is embroiled in mortal combat, while his left side is desperately trying to hold onto some semblance of stability. All his not inconsiderable strength is put towards steadying that unruly wheel, while his leg — suffice to say unused to maneuvering pedals at all — is trying its best to apply the breaks, bolstered by a natural sensitivity to touch and velocity. He's a new driver, but he's a quick study… at least of speed.

That oncoming red light? That may be more of a challenge.

—-

The trucker howls, and then just sort of slumps over into the big broad seat. His head hits a Burger Wrapper. He is down and out, and he is definitely off the pedals. Matt is able to find it. It resists him too. It resists a lot.

Despite whatever dubious wisdom might prompt even a man with radar sense to try to drive at all, semi trucks are probably not the best thing to begin the learning process. They take some strength, they take some firmness…

But by now the wavering truck was really only going a couple of miles an hour to begin with. Still not safe, but not nearly as bad as it might have been had the truck even been traveling at 10 mph.

The brake pads squeeeeeeze against the rotors, ever so slowly. They make a slow uneasy kershuuuu hisss creak. The truck roll thumps, roll thumps, roll thumps…its nose juuuuust edges into the intersection.

There's a click up above. The traffic signal changes.

"Hey buddy, what the Hell!" A heavily accented female driver, maybe Middle Eastern, jerks her car around the nose of that truck before simply moving onward. Guy in a devil suit drives a truck by hanging off the side of it? Whatever. Probably someone called the cops, probably, but…they're kind of impeded by traffic too. Not that their arrival is probably a net positive unless Matt gets a specific set of potentially trustworthy players.

Inside the truck the monitors simply beep softly, the two people inside breathe evenly, blissfully unaware of Mr. Murdock's Wild Ride, or much of anything else, either. They must have been pretty well-secured; the medical machinery continues to do what it's doing back there.

A few drivers pull to a stop behind the truck.

"I wonder if they're filming a movie," says someone standing on the sidewalk, a low-key dude who all but seems to hover in his own personal cloud of pot smoke.

"Did you get it all?" someone else asks.

"Oh yeah, bro, the whole thing, it's pretty great."

Public or no, it doesn't seem like anyone is too interested in intervening. Superheros are, after all, something of a known quantity, Matt now looks like one of them. Masks have advantages and disadvantages, but the breathing room to keep civilians off his business while he continues to act might just well be one of the very big advantages of keeping the mystery alive.

—-

Freedom of movement he has, for now. What Matt does with his freedom might raise an eyebrow or two, but what else is new? Slow as the flow of traffic is going, he brings the truck to a place where it could conceivably pull over, though inevitably it will obstruct some part of the street, sure to rile road ragers everywhere. He leaves poor Ramsey, down for the count, and hops out the side-door. He stalks over, hearing the gawks and feeling the phone-cameras on him with every step, until he rounds to the back of the can and makes to yank those doors open for all the world — or at least this New York City thoroughfare — to see. Let them take their shots. Let the Youtube hits fly.

You know what they say. Moonlight is the best disinfectant. And even the most corrupt of police officers will have a hard time making this disappear.

Having come this far, of course, he won't hesitate to go in to that space once it's open, and see what there is to be seen before the sirens sound.

—-

His echolocation picks out six hospital beds, bolted to the bottom of the truck, four of them empty. It's easy to pick out the fact that they all have thick leather restraints too, simply because the pre-teen boy and the woman both have them wrapped tightly around their bodies.

The boy's bones are light, almost hollow; he can feel that now that he's close. He also has wings. He smells a little bit like a bird of prey, like owls smell at the zoo, a scent that mingles a bit strangely with the Dial that seems to be his soap of choice. He's no younger than 9, no older than 12, given his size.

The woman bears the curves and weight of middle age; a Mom's figure. Someone had no more compunctions about ripping her away from her kids and, given the gold wedding band on her finger, her husband than they did about ripping this kid away from any family he might have had. They don't smell like mother and child; the physiology is completely different.

Sound asleep, it's not easy to tell if there's anything special about her in particular. Her clothes aren't of great quality. They're not terrible, but she's certainly not someone who anyone is going to pay a ransom for. Those Mom jeans smell like they probably emerged from a Wal-Mart or some such, and the sneakers smell old, worn in. Bird-kid actually is wearing higher-quality clothing than she is.

Both of them have burn marks though; both were tasered at some point before being thrown in here. The woman has a big burn mark on her neck and another on her hands, like she fought. The kid just has one right at the middle of his wings; some of his little feathers got singed, by the smell.

The truck is even climate controlled; in here it's cool, but not cold. It's been sterilized, exactly like a little mobile hospital. Custom-designed in every way to keep these people down. The drugs are also strong, stronger than anything anyone would be given in a normal, sane, and ethical hospital setting. Enough to put down an elephant, just like Viktor said.

Pot-Teen does move around to film, saying "Whoa," like some sort of Bill & Ted clone.

—-

The angle of Matt's jaw shifts and tightens as the motionless and deeply unconscious inhabitants of the container are finally revealed; his gloved hands clench. The boy has wings — the woman has… what? Who knows? Are they mutants? Are they something else?

Are they like him?

His hand hovers inches above the boy's unconscious frame, as if he were sensitive enough to intuit the arc of the kid's life from that simple sweep. He can't, of course, but he'll take what he can glean in these next few minutes, and resolve to see this child and woman again.

However much Matt may want this truth — at least the truth of their captivity — out, he won't allow their privacy to be violated for long. "Get out of here," he says in gravely tones to the pot-head, the way an aged, gun-holstering grandfather would tell a kid to get off his lawn. Get out of here and post what you've seen before anyone can think of stopping you, he adds to himself as the sirens sound.

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