Distress Call

November 10, 2017:

Danny Rand, Luke Cage, Six, and Daredevil come together to respond to an apparent distress call from Jessica Jones.

Metro General Hospital, Hell's Kitchen, NYC

A fine medical establishment with some weird hidden corners.

Characters

NPCs: Dr. Shane Parker (no relation to Peter), various other bad guys.

Mentions: Tony Stark, James Barnes

Mood Music: [*\# None.]


Fade In…

The call comes in to each phone from one Jessica Jones, and at first it almost sounds like a butt dial. There’s a hard thump, a scraping sound, then scrambling, shuffling, and distant voices.

None of them are her own.

Nervous male voice: “Oh man. She’s looking right at me, and she looks pissed.”

Nasal male voice: “Relax, she’ll be all the way down in less than a minute. There’s enough in there to take out an elephant, and I used a blend in case she’s immune to one of them.”

Creaking, clanking, scraping.

Nasal male: “See? She’s out.”

Nervous male: “Where’d her phone go?”

Nasal male: “She appears to have dropped it. It slid under the cabinet. Don’t worry about it. Does she have anything else on her?”

Nervous male: “No, nothing.”

Nasal male: “Load her up then.”

Clicking, clacking, clanking again, the scrape of wheels on a linoleum floor.

*

Danny Rand is not entirely sure this isn't a crank call or he accidentally called into the livestream audio of a television station. Is that a thing? It could be a thing. He's been away long enough to be the only Millenial who is shit at technology. He's also not all that savvy about what a 'butt dial' is. However, he does know the sounds of a struggle when he hears one. Fortunately, he does know how to use call display. He murmurs softly, "Jessica?" It's only loud enough to be heard by the other conferenced-in people and not Tweedle Dum and Tweedle Dee.

*

It's a busy night at the bar, in fact Luke would have missed the call all together if he hadn't decided he needed a night to himself. Well, himself and that blonde that has been haunting his establishment lately. Still, it's an internal struggle whether or not to answer it when he sees Jones's name pop up on the little square display of his flip phone. With a sigh, he steps into the hall so he can actually hear but instead of being greeted with the litany of melodic swear words that compromise Jessica's vocabulary, he gets something right out of Taken. Luke has a particular set of skills… "Rand, that you?"

*

The soft intake of breath heard over the line is from Kinsey. The smooth, artificial voice that follows is all Six, though, processed through the advanced synthesizer created for that purpose. "Who else is on this line?"

It's a simple question without a very simple answer, given the nature of metahumans and the peculiar needs for privacy involved. She asks only because she's trying to decide whether or not to share whatever the results of her backtrace are — because as excellent as Stark Technology may be, all phones require a connection to something to send a signal, and Jessica's is no different. Sitting in the dark shadows of the laboratory, lit only by the blue glow of countless monitors and holographic displays, she's working already to narrow down the location from which the call is coming.

Tell me you've got something, Five.

«I'm working on it.»

*

Matthew Murdock, just off work and making his methodical way down 33rd Street when he gets a call in that other phone, is quick reach for the flip-burner in his pocket with the hand not currently engaged in a tap-tap-tap of his walking stick on the sidewalk. Once the line is open he hears the scuffling, which brings him full stop and sends his heart rate spiking — and then recognizes not one but two voices in the silence that follows. The first, Luke Cage's heavy-toned incredulity. The second, Six's silkily-synthetic query. The third is a mystery, but at least he responds with Jessica's name, and a hint of earnest concern.

Who else is on this line? Six asks. "Yeah, you first," comes Matt's dry reply in a voice he's sure that she's sure to recognize. The blind man's already beelining for a nearby alley-way to duck out of sight. "What's going on?" he asks with quiet urgency.

*

Nervous male: "Are you sure about this, Doc? The boss isn't going to like it much. He said—"

Nasal male: "He won't care once I fix the problem. Ironic as it is, this accident is one of the only survivors of the early test rounds, and the only genetic data I have is fifteen years out of date. Let's just get it open. With luck he won't find out until we get what we need."

Nervous male: "If you say so. I think he's gonna kill ya. I don't have to come along do I?"

Nasal male: "No. I have some of the new elites meeting me at the first intersection. Go back to work so nobody thinks to wonder."

There's a loud scraping sound, metal on metal. The creak of some wheels. Footsteps receeding away from the phone, growing fainter as they move away from the microphone's ability to pick them up. The metal on metal scraping sound happens again. Then, the ding of an elevator button, and silence on the line.

*

Danny pulls his phone away from his face to look at the display as if to double-check it says Jessica. It's also got a little icon underneath that he's never seen before that indicates additional callers, but he doesn't know that's what it means. Um. His confusion is more understandable when you realize he probably doesn't know you can do conference calls on cell phones either. Will wonders never cease? He stops walking and leans against a building. He was tracking some illegal shipments using the Rand name, but this suddenly feels a lot more pressing. "Uh…L…Laurence?" Then he snaps. "No, L…Luke, right? The bartender?"

Then more people are chiming in too. He makes a loud shushing sound so he can strain to listen to some…gobbledygook Tweedles Dum and Dee are saying. He lets out a breath after Jess' line cuts out. "Well, I'm no Great Mouse Detective, but I think that's a bad sign. And we can all sit here saying 'who are you?' for a half an hour or someone can figure out what happened to Jessica." He shifts the phone to his other hand and moves away from the alley he was about to go down and back towards the street. "I don't suppose any of you can track a call? That's uh, that's…a thing you can do, right? The Jeepy thing?"

*

"One big black man that's about to be pissed off." Luke reaches back inside the girl's apartment, snagging his hoodie off the hook just inside and leaving without so much as a goodbye to the blonde he left twisted in some sheets. "So somebody better point me in the right direction." He slaps out of the building as he answers Six, into the cold snap of air, switching which hand holds the phone to his ear as he threads his arms into the fleece material and flicks up the hood. "Yeah, that's right, it's Luke. And apparently the Devil of Hell's Kitchen, too. As much as I'd like to catch up about meditation and Chi, Mr. Rand, you should probably hang up right about now." And let the big boys work.

*

The sound of Murdock's voice — Daredevil's, actually — across the line gives Kinsey pause, but not so much so that she isn't capable of staying with the flow of the conversation. "I want to know who you are so I can decide whether or not to tell you what I know about the call, which I've-" She pauses, does a mental check, "-already traced. It's coming from Metro General. Basement level. It looks like…" Brief pause. "She activated a conferencing app on a Stark phone and told it to dial the last however-many people she called. So, us." She's literally stripping down in her office at Stark Tower and praying to god that Tony isn't anywhere near the security station, bunny-hopping on one foot as she pulls herself into a bodysuit and opening a closet containing a secondary set of prostheses. "I'm assuming that means she likes all of you. I'm going to tap into the on-site security and see if I can't acquire a camera feed to track her location. Shit."

The artificial voice is smooth as silk. Pleasant. Feminine. Not her voice at all, actually, and it lacks much in the way of emotional inflection, making the word 'shit' sound especially disconnected and strange — but that's a result of Kinsey banging her knee on the closet doorframe as she reaches for her other equipment.

*

By the time Rand and Luke are bantering and Six is delivering that crucial bit of insight into why each of them were called and — more importantly — the call's point of origin, Matthew Murdock has already discarded his latest walking stick and is bounding for the fire escape at the end of the empty alley.

A yank, a lift, a grapple and he's off and racing up the metal stairways as fleetly as any fox. He's jammed the phone back in the pocket of his pantsuit — still flipped up, so that he can hear the voices even if he can't add much to the conversation. Kinsey's already given him a destination, anyway, and so when he reaches the pavement he's already grabbing the essentials out of his satchel slung around his shoulder — a pair of wooden escrima sticks, a black head-wrap and matching cargo pants and black boots. A quick change there on the roof and he's off. There are many things he misses about the body-armor that was rent and ruined on his Wakandan sojourn, but the old costume has its virtues too — a speedy change among them.

He brings the phone back up to his lips for a terse, "See you there." And then it's a run, a leap, and a racing parkour along the New York City skyline — straight towards the hospital.

*

Six's ability to track Jessica Jones' phone clear down to the very floor of the hospital it's on (basement level), down to the very room— what looks like an old teaching operating theatre that's now being used as a large storage area— shaves a lot of time off the question of where the phone, at least, is. Security feeds will also show a large orderly by the name of Ollie leaving that location via the elevator a few seconds after Six taps into it. He gets off on the first floor.

What the security cameras don't show is any sign of an unconscious detective being wheeled around by anyone in particular.

In the basement room, there is a huge formerly climate-controlled supply cabinet about half full of various drugs with high street value (for those who know what the street value of various medical drugs are) taking up the entirety of the west wall, looking less than-impressive because it's all dented and screwed up. It's a little bit off the floor; Daredevil can probably hear the feedback from her phone under there easily enough, far enough back that it was probably flung under there, not casually dropped when she, say, hit a floor, the way the men on the call assumed.

It might have been Jess who dented this cabinet? But the damage seems more consistent with what one might expect if someone had taken a hammer to the thing in a snatch-and-grab.

It's hard to see what the opening and closing metal thing might have been, as there's nothing immediately visible which might have fit the bill, but when they get to the room itself, Daredevil can certainly hear that there is air rushing up from a wide, deep tunnel below, and pick out the outline of the secret door in the floor with ease. He, too, can hear the distant sounds coming from deeper in the Underground, some old, unused subway tunnel, maybe, that's stretches beneath the city for miles. The rattle of wheels, steps, heartbeats. Fourteen heartbeats, some of them coming unnaturally fast. One of them Jessica's, moving abnormally slow.

*

If this were to play out in a stylized panel like a comic, this is where it would hit a split screen between the participants.

"Metro-General. I'm close." When Danny was a kid, he actually knew the city pretty well. A lot of things change, but not the location of a landmark like a hospital. That, and he uh, passed it not that long ago. It seems he's going to ignore Luke's advice. There's the sound of shuffling, and if Six is tracking his Jeepy-thing, she'll see a dot moving at a good clip towards the hospital. The poor homeless dude gets quite a shock when the curly-haired billionaire parkours over his bench-bed. "Sorry!" he calls out, then keeps running.

He is among the first to reach the scene of the crime. He's dressed in pretty nondescript clothing. No suits tonight. Instead, it's jeans, a long sleeved tee and a hoodie under an army jacket. He's got a closer shave than the last time Luke saw him, and he's gotten a haircut. It makes him look younger than he is.

As he previously said, he's not the Great Mouse Detective, so he doesn't quite know how to read the basement scene when he arrives. Which means the smarter people have a chance to catch up.

*

"Three minutes out." Luke barks back into the phone, pushing off to give his lumbering form some momentum into a run.

He's sweating and breathing heavier by the time they all converge in the basement, his hands balled up into fists at his hips while his shoulders rise and fall. For all intents and purposes, he looks like a man just waiting to punch something that looks even remotely guilty. And then there's Rand. "Man, try not to get in our way." Cage is more irritable then normal, and has no time to deal with a billionaire with nothing better to do than stick his nose where it doesn't belong, it seems.

*

There is nothing non-descript about Six. From the slick, glossy black helmet impenetrable to the eye to the sleek bodysuit and the military-grade materials and angular geometries of the prostheses making up her lower legs and right arm, everything about her alternate persona screams 'high-tech' and 'artificial.' In spite of the 'heeled boot' configuration of her prosthetic lower limbs, they're absolutely silent even on concrete: the heels are cushioned shock absorbers. The door that grants her access to the basement beeps and light-blinks green just before she stalks through it in a gait more predatory than feminine, and her artificial voice whispers through the filters low on the front of the helmet in time with a faint pulse of white light, because something-something-Quarians-Mass-Effect-Emergency-Induction-Port. It's all home-brewed tech, okay? Don't judge her.

Within the helmet, her HUD transitions between various filters: thermal, ultraviolet, electromagnetic, displays built around various sensors, all of them bent on finding…something. Anything. "What do we have?"

*

The door behind Six almost closes shut when it's stopped by a hand gloved in black weave and kevlar ridges. What have we got? she asks, and he's already answering despite being the last person through the door. "There's an abandoned subway tunnel below us, and it's where they have her," says the Devil of Hell's Kitchen as he slips through the doorway and closes it gently behind him. "Maybe two-dozen assholes down there — and Jones." His assessment is cool, quiet, and composed — and his explanation for how the fuck he came to it is nowhere to be found. He stalks, menacing and vaguely predatory despite his modest stature, towards one corner of the room, where he kicks his heel downward. An index finger jabs downward."False floor here."

A beat. "Oh, and her cell is over under the cabinet," he adds to the others, almost off-hand.

(Side-note: It's probably for the best that Matthew Murdock — never, for obvious reasons, a gamer — has no idea what a Quarian is. He'd totally judge her.)

*

"Whoah," says Danny in his best Keanu-impersonation when he sees Six. And then, "Hey, are you…?" Because he has actually been trying to pay attention to the news. Luke just gets a look and a little bit of a cocky smile. "Don't worry, big guy. False floor, huh?" He moves forward. "Might want to step back."

He closes his eyes, then directs his Chi towards his fist. It starts off as a faint yellow glow, until it's a bright golden light. "Get ready. I have a feeling this is going to give away our position." He pulls back and slams that golden fist against the false floor. Most of the force is directed into the ground, but the shockwave is strong enough that it bucks him even as he's braced for it. The others might find they're knocked off their feet, or at least shaken a bit.

*

As the merry band of rescuers all converge, Luke is left blinking at the one in the group he hasn't met yet. "Huh." Is all he says oh so eloquently to Six, before he's distracted by Rand telling him not to worry. "Look, all due respect…" And then his mother-bleeping fist starts to GLOW. "Sweet Christmas." Falls off his lips just as the ground beneath him quakes and he has to crouch to keep from tumbling over.

*

Huh, says Luke Cage. Whoa, says Danny Rand. The featureless faceplate just tilts over to one side, and it's almost possible to feel the slow arch of whatever eyebrow is concealed beyond, particularly when one gloved, apparently organic hand props itself atop her cocking hip.

She says nothing, though, head turned as a familiar voice comes from the space behind her. No questions, either, as to how he's discerned what's beneath their feet. She pivots to make her way toward the damaged cabinet, dropping slowly into an unnaturally smooth crouch to reach beneath for the phone there-

And that's when Iron Fist explodes the false floor. She'd have almost certainly gone sprawling if it weren't for the fact that her legs aren't actually her own legs. The 'heeled boot' look shifts all at once, the feet splitting into claws with three toes, not unlike a bird's feet. Whatever the little claws at the end are made of, when they spit from the ends of said mechanical toes they bite directly into the concrete as though it were nothing. She's still got to pinwheel one arm momentarily, and afterward snaps her head up and around to look at the man responsible. There's a short pause.

"Now, we should hurry."

*

Danny, as the originator of the blast, feels its impact the least. Luke, owing to his sheer solidity and imperviousness, can get by with a crouch. Even Six has those spiky claws that emerge from her faux-heels to keep her steady when the shockwave emanating from the Iron Fist's impact with the floor resounds through the room. The Devil of Hell's Kitchen, for all his other skills, has no such saving graces — and so he is knocked back off his feet and into the nearby wall.

But it's only a two heartbeats of shock and a passing grunt he pays the episode and then he's on his feet again. His head cocks, like a cat catching a stray sound. "We've definitely got their attention," he concurs with Six as he makes for the hole, to live up to his moniker by diving down feet-first. "Let's go, people."

*

The metal door crumples inward like an aluminum can, then falls off its hinges and slides straight down a gently sloping metal ramp to hit the concrete floors of the tunnel below. This tunnel is well lit, for those who care about such things; steel caged lamps set into concrete brick walls basking everything in a slightly greenish glow.

Their quarry was moving, and it had a bit of a head start, but they weren't moving super fast, not trying to wheel a hospital bed, as they are. The team can close with them quickly enough.

And they are in fact wheeling said hospital bed; because that's where Jess is, rather in the center of them.

They are relying on drugs alone to keep her from becoming one super pissed-off threat; there's an IV in her arm. Someone got super over-zealous about them, too. Several dangerous scents may hit Daredevil's nose at once (if he focuses in to process any of it): a cocktail of Sufentanil, Morphine, Penothal and Ketamine. Unless she has worked up a tolerance to any of those drugs over the course of her life they're all having an effect on her just like they'd have on any other person at all; if she isn't tolerant to at least two of them she's probably got enough anesthesia in her system right now to be dangerous even to her. It's not just the IV; Daredevil can smell a little blood mixed in from the prick of an injection site at the back of her neck, too, in addition to the crap that's coming through the IV drip. Six's thermal scan says Jones' body temperature has dropped considerably.

Jones is being wheeled by a skinny man with coke bottle glasses in a white lab coat and scrubs.'

The doctor is not the threat though.

The threat comes from the aforementioned dozen or so assholes, each dressed in body armor. The noise has gotten their attention and they've turned to backtrack; four start snapping open batons. Four pull knives that start spinning and whirling in the air above their heads, and four of them just raise their hands and start firing bursts of energy from their fingertips, sending these bolts careening down the tunnel towards the rescue team. They crackle and pop, like ball lightnings.

The doctor? Starts trying to pick up his pace, trying to flee with the bed, though he's not exactly Road Runner.

Daredevil may also smell something else, coming from the sweat glands of their attackers. Smells that he once smelled, here and there, at Dr. Miriam Kelt's house. These guys may be on at least 3 different varieties of pills; they will all be functioning way better than humans could. Six's thermal scanners certainly tell her their body temperature is completely through the roof.

*

Danny looks back over his shoulder at Matt and murmurs, "Sorry, man!" His glowing fist fades. He can't hold it indefinitely, and something tells him he's going to need it again before the evening is out. He doesn't waste any time charging down the ramp either, though he skids to a stop to take a moment to survey the situation. Um.
"So, uh, Devil guy. You usually wear body armor, right?" He twitches a little smile. "Maybe you can hook me up if we get out of this?" Because he's suddenly feeling pretty exposed. He's tougher than your average bear, but not that tough.

He doesn't have much time for smart talk though, because lightning bolts. He dodges neatly and tries to get closer to one of the attackers to start doing what he does best - breaking bones and twisting muscles. "Hey robo-lady!" he calls back. "Don't suppose you can take out the thunder fingers?"

*

"There is so much I need explained to me later. In teeny tiny words." Luke shakes his head that still feels like his brain's been rattled around like dried beans in a canister after the mini earthquake. His big booted feet drop down onto the ramp that leads into the tunnel, absorbing the shock of the jump through his knees as he pushes up to his full height. "Oh, hell no." Instead of taking a defensive stance, Luke just rolls up his shoulders and barrels right into the thick of it like the bull he is. A baton catches him in the shoulder, and he just looks at the guy with a Really expression before he grabs him up by the collar and attempts to slam him in the wall.

*

Last down into the subterrene tunnels, Six is fortunate enough to be behind a wall of more substantial bodies when bolts of electricity begin to thread through the narrow space, and she presses herself back against the cold solidity of the wall, heartrate suddenly accelerating as though someone had poured octane into her bloodstream.

As Luke races off into the thick of things, she spends a moment experimentally exploring the answer to the question Danny asks her: projecting her consciousness outward, trying to see if there's any electrical charge inside of the lightning-slinging pill-poppers that she'll be able to exploit. The answer is: "No."

And the worst of it is this: she can't afford to be hit by lightning, for a number of reasons.

But the longer that guy is up, the worse the risk to herself. The others have by now outpaced her, and there's no time to think about the possible consequences anymore — not when Jess is looking the way she's looking. She peels herself away from the wall and takes off at a dead sprint, feet splitting open again; as she nears the thick of bodies, she vaults sideways, claws dug into the material of the wall, across which she banks, looking to hurl herself beyond, onto the far side of the thick of things, and if she can do that and tear the IV bag open en route, all the better.

*

The one person in the room the Devil of Hell's Kitchen doesn't know — oh he of the glowing and exothermic fist — asks him for a hookup to sweet, sweet body armor. "I need to get another set for myself first," he answers back, affable if noncommittal. But his attention is fixed on the array of opponents before them. Some brandishing knives, others batons, and others still…

What the hell? Matt thinks, before the smell strikes his nostrils. It's the damn drugs: he hopes briefly that it's all lightning-bugs and gills rather than the telepathic variety. "Cage," he shouts over the growing din, "If you can take a fork to the leg, you can take one of those bolts!" Which does not logically follow, of course — and may not even be true. But it's at least a safe assumption that he could take one of them better than himself, or Six, or… the guy trying to hit him up for a set of body armor.

Six is catapulting herself past the fray to intercept Jessica, which is a smart and bold move, but which also opens herself up to an attack from behind. Matt plucks the twin sticks from the holster at his calf and spin towards the (seemingly) ordinary combatants between himself and Jessica Jones forward-rolling gurney. Knives and batons he can handle — and does. There's a dash, a cry, and spinning kick into the first of the combatants to start it off in earnest.

*

Danny's attempts to get closer do bear fruit; he smoothly dodges blasts and can get within range of one of the energy blasters quickly enough to do some damage; though that puts him in the path of one of the knife throwers, who flings a pair of them at him with his brain.

The one Luke picks up may be on a combat enhancer, but that doesn't do much against a super-strong, bullet proof man-mountain who wants to slam him into the wall. That guy's down and out without having hardly danced at all. And the energy-tossers turn to test Daredevil's theory that Luke can take it, cause everyone just saw a baton bounce off him like it was nothing.

Six executes a phenomenal burst of acrobatics that nobody expects in the least; the IV bag splatters open in a pop of liquid and plastic, drugs spewing everywhere. Not a one of the men is even able to keep up with her, and the Doctor (whose nametag, now, she can see, says 'Parker'), lets out a frightened sound and takes a few qualing steps back against the wall, letting go of the gurney. He wasn't expecting that one either, and now he's way closer to one of the hero types than he really wants to be. The other two TK people whip around to try to regroup and deal with her, knives flipping in the air to point in that direction; several launch.

That spinning kick from the Devil of Hell's Kitchen takes one of the telekinetics with the spinning knives. He's not totally down, but all the knives clatter and hit the floor; it's really hard to maintain telekinesis with a foot to the gut.

Nobody has gills. There are neither extreme divers nor silly Trishes in this mix.

Two of the baton guys close to meet with Daredevil; one whipping it down towards his right collarbone, the other sidestepping to try to slam his own into the kidneys of the man in black.

*

Danny is in his element when he's close enough to properly fight someone, though the telekinesis knives are…new. He lets out a little sound of surprise, then wheels to the side. He prepares, then surges forward to wall walk and push off the side, using the momentum to aim a solid kick to the side of the energy blasting man's head. In one smooth move, he reaches for a knife embedded in the wall. His intent is to whip the blade hard at the calf of the TK guy, but he hasn't considered the possibility that he might just be re-arming a telekinetic.

He looks over to check the status of his fellow combatants. He was taught to fight as part of a team, so when he sees how hard Luke hits, he decides to use it to his advantage. He tries to grab the nearest guy to toss him towards Luke so the big man can take him out. For the moment, he can't focus on more than that.

*

Yeah, because those are comparable. Electric bolts. Silverware. Totally the same. "We need to discuss semantics later." Luke says as his fingers open and an unconscious body slides from his grip to puddle on the ground so Cage can turn to deal with those tossers of the energy variety. He bulks up his frame, becoming as much of a human shield as possible for those that continue the good fight behind him. Balls of light strike his chest, singeing his hoodie in ugly black pock marks that leave the fabric smoking. A growl escapes through clenched teeth. He can still /feel/ that, dammit, even if it doesn't do any lasting damage. Like a synchronized volley ball team, Danny sets him up and Luke literally spikes that guy down.

*

«You have a plan for this?» That's Five's question, as Kinsey races across the span of the wall and slashes the IV bag open with her artificial hand, little claws spitting from the ends of metallic fingers long enough to rend thin plastic.

Not really!

«Because we're going to be on the other side-»

Yep.

«Away from the people with very durable bodies-»

YEP.

«Where they're throwing knives at-»

I KNOW FIVE CAN YOU PLEASE SHUT UP I'M PRETTY BUSY

She lands on the far side of the gurney with a skidding of metal on concrete, whirling around just in time to narrowly and unintentionally avoid one of the flung knives. The next one she deflects with her false arm, but there are more of them than there are of her, and even with her thoughts moving at a speed considerably faster than the human average, it's a sad reality that she's not especially well-trained as a combatant.

They're throwing knives, though, not coming at her with them. She decides her best option is to close the distance — distance she doesn't want to close. Rushing in again, aiming for one of the blade-flingers focusing their attention on her, she flicks her artificial wrist and light winks on the slim, barely-there needle that emerges from said wrist, primed with a potent narcotic.

«We're going to get stabbed to death and die,» Five says, resigned.

NOT HELPING, FIVE!

*

Electric bolts, kitchen cutlery. Tomato, tom-ahto. If Matt actually had played video games past the age of ten, he'd have the vocabulary to say, in effect: Come on Cage, you're our TANK!

Of course, Cage seems to realize it readily enough, charging as he does against the bolt-flinging goons and then teaming up with Rand for a combination move. They work well together, Matt thinks dimly as he engages with his own set of opponents. Matt, unlike Daniel Rand, was not trained to fight as a unit — and in early days of fighting with others balked at the very idea of cooperation. He was trained — and for a long time operated as — an army one.

Fortunately for them, he's a pretty effective one. The batons whistle through the air, sending currents of sound ahead of them. It's more than enough time for him to block the baton headed towards his collarbone with the escrima stick in his right hand. He absorbs the second blow in a moment of blinding pain — Oh, right, this is why I had body armor — before letting out a rage-fueled yell and slamming the back of his elbow into the jaw of the opponent who just struck him. There's still the one who he countered, and the other still on the floor, soon to regain his wits if his breath and heartbeat are any fair measure.

*

As with a boot to the gut, a knife to the leg makes it really hard to control telekinesis, especially as none of these guys are focused, practiced individuals with an inborn ability. They're using stolen, temporary powers, so all his knives clatter as he clutches his leg with a howl. Those guys might be the easiest of the whole crew, really, given that weakness.

Meanwhile, an energy blaster gets dwarf-tossed to Luke Cage a la Danny Rand, a move which momentarily puts a stop to all his blasting while he flails…

Only to be spiked into unconsciousness by the indomitable Cage himself, hitting the floor until his face bleeds. No more of that shit for him.

Regardless of Five's dour predictions, that narcotic needle takes another one of the TK guys; he's down for the count, now taking a face-first nap in the tunnel muck.

The final TK guy flings his knives at Six again though, even as the energy blasters figure out Luke is just…all sorts of a problem for them. Two whip more bolts towards Danny Rand as he and Cage do this volleyball impression, the third is still stubbornly trying to see if he can bzzat Luke.

Parker decides it's time to flee now. A bunch of his escort is either down or disabled. One guy seems immune to everything. He does a little equation in his head and comes up with 1+1=he's screwed if he doesn't run. So he does.

Matt's elbow strike to the jaw staggers the opponent, then drops him. He is running on too much adrenaline, giving him way more strength and speed than he should otherwise have, but combat-enhanced or not the baton guys are still just at peak human, not at super-anything.

The one who Daredevil just blocked tries to kick him in the gut before sweeping low to try to take the Devil of Hell's Kitchen in the knee. And the telekinetic who got tagged by that initial kick does indeed spring up, snatching up a knife. He tries to maneuver around behind Daredevil so he can put it in his back. The final baton guy starts circling, looking for an opening should Daredevil give him one.

The count stands thusly: two baton guys up. Three energy blasters up. One TK guy fully functional. Two TK guys who no longer have TK, but who still have knives to play with.

*

It's a little difficult to keep track of who has what power, and judging wrong could potentially be very painful. The two whipping energy bolts do a good job of identifying themselves. "Sure hope you can take this! If you can't, um, at least you don't have hair to frizz out? I can't imagine what it'd do to my hair," calls out Danny as he moves to dodge behind Luke to use him as a human shield to absorb the energy blast.

Whether he can or can't, the martial artist is on the move. This time his team awareness sends him to Daredevil's aid. He raises his hands to grab hold of the man wielding his knife, then to deliver a sharp, devastating blow upwards with the aim of breaking a few bones. It leaves him open to the baton guy for a moment. Here's hoping someone is watching his back like he seems to be instinctively watching others.

*

Luke can take it, sure. What's a few more energy bolts to his otherwise swiss cheesed hoodie and shirt beneath. Still, that doesn't stop him from making a very bland face as Danny ducks behind him so he can absorb the blasts instead of the very fleshy billionaire. "All I'm saying, man, is I way undercharged you for that catering gig." That's about all the clever banter he has time for, because it's time to put an end to this. His nose hairs are starting to curl from the smell of burnt fabric. Last time he buys his clothes from China town, 100 percent cotton my ass.

Cage stalks forward, grabbing two of the energy blasters unceremoniously by the scruffs of their necks. He holds them are arms length apart just long enough so they can realize what's coming judging by the roundness of their eyes. There is a sickening CRACK as he brings their skulls together in the middle, letting them fall in a heap at his feet. "Who's next?"

*

Wrist-needle sinks home in the fleshy side of one over-amplified human being's neck, ensuring that at least one of the knife-throwers will momentarily be down for the count.

There are two though, sadly, and that one has the uninterrupted opportunity to do what he does while Kinsey is clinging to the now-staggering body of a man she's waiting to release until he begins to topple over. She might have been able to take him on quickly, but the doc decides it's time to scram, and that means passing Kinsey and her assailants by, and he seems…important to retain.

Daredevil's already seen her pull this particular trick, so it won't arrive as any surprise. Grappled onto one man, she twists her hips around to the side, wrapping one leg around the body of the man she's needling and lifting the other to snap that prosthetic outward in a kick that allows her to latch the clawed end of her transformed foot around one of the doc's arms, where it vises closed.

Of course, this means all of her available means of grappling someone are in use, so the next knife pegs her square in the thigh and the uncomfortable squawk of noise that comes through the filter of her helmet — it sounds a bit like an old school modem, actually — is what happens when the synthesizer program she's written has no idea what to do with the sound of her pained yell and the subsequent blue streak of bad language.

She doesn't let go, though.

*

Daredevil's knife-wielding opponent goes low with a knee sweep, so the masked man does the only thing to do — go high. With a responsiveness that borders on precognition, Matt is already up in the air, rotating his hip and sending his knee into the ducking man's temple. He feels the knee connect, bursting capillaries, bruising an ear, and sending the man's brain sloshing in its case. It leaves the man staggering towards the floor, and Daredevil turning around to face the knife-wielder…

…whom "Rand" has already dispatched. There's a heartbeat of surprise. Matt is still unused to anyone having his back. But as historically and tempermentally unsuited as he is to teamwork, he still knows the value of recpirocity. He throws himself towards the remaining baton wielder with his two sticks still in hands that quickly become a flurry as each seek an opening in the opponent's guard. There a rib, there a collar-bone, there a skull. He doesn't stand a chance — especially after Kinsey's distorted cry sounds in his ears. He's heard that one before too, and it fills him with a sudden, fierce urgency.

*

There are 3 pill poppers left conscious after the brilliant displays from all and sundry. One energy blaster, and two telekinetics.

Something fairly horrible is happening with all three of them. For some reason they are all bleeding, gagging or choking on blood, and are clawing at their arms and legs as strange tumors spring out all over their forms.

The whole problem Kelt had been impressed into service to fix, after all, is just how blasted unstable and dangerous these super-power pills really are, leaving a large percentage of those who take them dead on the ground. Some of the signs that these guys were doomed no doubt were happening during the fight, but who had time to pay attention to it? They hit the ground groaning, convulsing, frothing blood at the mouth until they finally expire.

Parker, caught in Six's grip, scrambles and scrabbles like a rat to try to get away from her, but that mechanical hand is merciless. He finally licks his lips and pushes up his glasses, and stops, letting a tiny, strangled sound out of the back of his throat.

The battle is over, with guys strewn all up and down this tunnel like flower petals after a wedding, and one Jessica Jones still very unconscious and very cold on a gurney, her heart sluggish, her breathing shallow, her body temperatures still well in the hypothermic ranges. Six, however, very likely saved her life then and there by making sure she didn't get any more of those damned anesthetics.

*

Danny may be a hell of a fighter, may be good at watching the backs of others and may even be okay at quipping. What he doesn't have experience in is fighting in the trenches. Or watching men froth and choke on their own blood. He's a young man whose emotions are rather easy to read, and it's clear that what just transpired disturbs him.

He keeps his guard up until it's clear that no more enemies are going to attack. Only once he straightens does he feel the bruises and a few shallow cuts. But then there's the urgent matter of the don't-call-her-a-damsel.

He rushes over, reaching out to touch her arm. It might seem like he's doing it to comfort or out of some familiarity, but he almost immediately pinches his eyes closed and shakes his head like he's trying to endure a wave of pain. "There's a lot in her system that shouldn't be. I think I can burn it out."

*

When the dust settles, so to speak, Luke doesn't quite seem satisfied. He's still making that same face and his neck twists until the vertebrae audibly pop. "Don't let him go." He instructs Six, not like she has any reason or want to. He must decide it's better not to come over and help deal with the doctor lest things take a darker turn, and instead stalks over to the gurney that Jessica is laid out on. "Burn it out?" He asks in a low rumble that carries with it a hint of warning to Rand. Protective over the not-damsel, this one.

*

Somewhere in there, the guy Six is clinging to crumples like a wet tissue, which means that Doc Parker is going to go for a topple with the rest of them. She has no intention of letting him go — she signals that by looking up to nod sharply at Luke when he passes her with his instruction — but she does take a moment to extricate herself from around her first target, and then another moment to grasp the knife in her leg and yank it out, tossing it aside with visible irritation. There isn't an immense amount of blood, all things considered, so it seems as though she's in no immediate peril: she stays where she is, and keeps her focus on the doctor.

*

Some foes are felled, others take a one-way bad trip. It all amounts to an empty field and a Devil of Hell's Kitchen trying to collect his breath and his wits in the aftermath. Both return quickly enough, spurring him quickly towards a prone Jessica Jones and, beside her, an injured Six and her captive doctor.

Competing impulses war for his attention: Jessica's state, Six's wounded thigh. But overriding them all is a sudden surge of rage that propels him to where Six and the doctor lay. He lowers himself down, grabbing the man by the lapels. "Why did you take her?!" he growls at Parker. "What were you doing to her?"

The one question he doesn't ask? Who gave the order. Because as of last week, he already knows.

*

The Not-Damsel definitely appreciates being Not-Thought-of-As-A-Damsel. Or would, if she were thinking of anything in particular right now.

Parker tumbles with a squawk. A few things tumble out of his pocket as he does.

Five pill bottles. Red pills, white pills, blue pills, yellow pills, and some disturbing neon green pills. No purple ones, at least. But there's something else.

A little yellow thumb drive. It spirals across the floor to hit the opposite wall, landing right near Luke's foot. Might look familiar to him.

There are, of course, lots of yellow thumb drives in the world. But how many with the initials 'R.C.' lightly etched across the surface?

Parker doesn't even notice. His head snaps up. There is a furious Man in Black in his face, grabbing his lapels, he's being held by a cyborg, there's an invulnerable angry guy…yeah. He caves.

His heart rate skyrockets.

"I needed her at the Factory. We can't stabilize the pills. The fatality rate for every variety is still unacceptably high. There was an early round of near-successes with the mutagen, but they all died within a few years. The only times we've ever seen the compound work was this guy who escaped from our prison project, and her. And she was an accident of all things!"

They don't know, after all, about another successful accident. "Her tissues were useful for other projects years ago, but we're out of them. And DNA sequencing has come so far in 15 years. Fresh data might have broken it wide open. There's some genetic marker the successes all share that we haven't isolated yet. The original research team should never have let her get loose in the first place." He's just spilling it all out for them rapidfire, enough to add, "Boss told me I couldn't go near her— Stark, he said, Barnes, he said, but he doesn't understand the science…"

He sort of trails off here, as if realizing that appealing to the science is the wrong thing to do in this crowd.

*

Danny has to focus in order to do what he needs to do, but Daredevil's spike of rage does draw his attention. He looks to Luke as if to ask him to intervene. He'll alsp miss the confession, because he needs all his energy for what he needs to do next.

"This is going to sting a little. For both of us," Danny says to Jessica. He touches her arm, gives it a little squeeze, then gathers what Chi he has left to give and directs it back towards his fist. In truth, he's never done this on anything more than a few minor scrapes and bumps just to prove that he could. But he can feel that her energy is off. He can almost reach out and touch the foreign substances that run through Jessica's veins.

His fist glows brightly, which to the others might seem a threat at first considering what he did to the false floor earlier. But after a moment, he unfolds glowing fingers and hovers his hand over the PI's core.

The actual burning out of the offending drugs is not a pleasant sensation for either of them. Every vein feels like it's on fire with an unpleasant heat that radiates from the inside out. Danny's experiencing a similar sensation. But the longer he does it, the more those who can sense these things will see her vital signs stabilizing. He reaches deep, burning out the last of the drugs. Once it's done, he has a moment of satisfaction and a dopey little smile before the world goes fuzzy around the edges, then his vision swims with spots. Then, the labradoodle ninja drops to his kneels and crumples to the ground, glowing yellow hand extinguishing before he collapses fully.

*

Luke faced bolts of energy without flinching, who would have thunk that a tiny little thumb drive with some random seeming initials carved into it could make him quake. He nearly goes weak kneed when he bends to pick it up, thick fingers careful not to crush it in his haste. The name that was forming dies on his lips as he looks up to see the 'burn' that Danny had mentioned, barely managing to rush forward at the end to make sure Rand doesn't crack his skull open on the unforgiving ground with a thick forearm that guides him the rest of the way down. "Well. Shit."

*

Luke sees and recognizes the little yellow thumbdrive. Strangely enough? So does Six. She snaps a hand out into a pointing gesture, turning her helmeted head to look at Daredevil. She says nothing, but it seems unlikely that she needs to.

That's when the doc begins to spill not just a few of the beans, but the whole bushel without any compunctions at all. She listens silently — he's wrong about this crowd being the wrong crowd to science at, or at least he's wrong about it when it comes to herself, specifically — but rather than comment on any of the details he gives them, what she says is, "You should come with us. The man you're working for has no tolerance for people disloyal enough to confess. You'll be safer with us than elsewhere."

Somewhere behind her, Danny Rand does —

Something.

She can't tell what. She can sense the light thrown off by it, the way it sends shadows crawling up the wall. Luke is there just in time to spare him a nasty fall, at which point it they're officially in Rough Shape as a group.

"We should go."

*

Somehow, at the end of a fight, Matt Murdock — glorified spandex and all — is perhaps the least injured or otherwise beleaguered of the troupe. Which means, of course, that it's on him to help get the crew moving. He abandons his pounce of Parker, giving him a light shove as he lets those lapels free. Then he turns his attention to Six, offering her a shoulder to lean on should she like to stand and carry her talky captive up along with her.

"Agree," he says of leaving, even as he's doing a quick stocktaking of the dead and unconscious henchmen strewn around them. Most of them will be out for a while, but still.

"Let's get out of here. But first — " there's a gesture of Matt's hand to the pill bottles — and the solitary thumb drive scattered on the floor. "Cage, why don't you grab some of that stuff on our way out? Something tells me it'll come in handy."

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