Making Ready

November 29, 2017:

Danny Rand, Daredevil, Luke Cage and Six meet to prepare for an all-out assault on Wilson Fisk's drug empire.

Danny Rand's abandoned walk-up in Harlem


NPCs: None.

Mentions: Jessica Jones, James Barnes

Mood Music: [*\# None.]

Fade In…

There are two heartbeats beneath that thrum of motorcycle motor that idles for a minute outside before it's cranked off. One is the steady thud of Luke Cage's and the Devil - should he be standing 'lookout' again - might recognize the other as Danny Rand's. The problem with Luke is it's hard to tell when anything is off with the man, he's still courteous making sure Danny gets off the bike okay. Still that same rumble of voice as he tells Danny they're here. There's just the slightest change in his gait someone with sensitive hearing might pick up on. A drag of his heel like he's just going through the motions and forcing his muscles to keep moving. Always forward.

One might think that Danny Rand would be delighted to ride on a motorcycle. But that was something that was cooler in theory than in practice. In practice, he hasn't been around vehicles at all since he was a kid, let alone zipping around in the open air through Manhattan traffic. So as a result, his legs are a little jelly as he steps off, and his heart is pounding a little fast. "I'm okay, I'm okay," he reassures before Luke can ask.

It's been three nights since three people spent several hours delving through the sordid secrets of a conspiracy decades in the running that spanned the little-known research company IGH, Seagate Prison, and the secretive multinational conglomerate CGI — and intersected intimately with the lives of Luke Cage, Jessica Jones, and who knows who else?

Now, the three (plus one) have returned to the scene of the unearthing of the crime — Danny Rand's dilapidated walkup in Harlem. Daredevil is already there, early as ever, and it's he that buzzes the odd-couple of Rand and Cage into the building. The masked, black-clad man is in the next room by the time they walk up, back against a shadowed wall, waiting. "Gentlemen," he rasps in a one-word welcome.

Six has been here, and not here. Specifically she's been several floors higher up doing a little bit of work on the electronics she installed to monitor the doctor being kept in relative comfort but absolute isolation. When the appointed time arrives she descends the stairs and slips through the door into the room they abandoned days earlier in the wake of uncomfortable revelations for most parties concerned. She'd said little enough then, and she says little enough now — just lifts one visibly mechanical hand in greeting, and takes to propping up the wall beside the door, arms loosely folded.

"Hope you don't mind, I brought a friend." Luke rumbles, indicating Danny with a little motion of his hand that seems laden with lead, heavier than normal. "Seems I'm having a few trust issues lately, no offense to you and …Six there." He gives an up-nod to the Robo-chick in greeting. "It's been a helluva few days." Seems he's done a lot of reading from that thumb drive that's left him a little numb. "He's up to speed." Ish.

Ish. Danny didn't understand a good 75 percent of what was on that thumb drive. But what he did understand was enough to disturb him. He stops to have a look at this building. "Man, this place looks nicer in the pictures." Since yeah, he owns this place but has never seen it with his own eyes. He pushes up hair from his forehead. It sticks up a little from time spent under a helmet. He lifts a hand in greeting.

If Daredevil has any objection to Danny's presence at this meeting of minds, he makes no visible sign of it. His lips are pressed into a flat, even line as he brings himself up and away from the wall and towards the center of the room. "Good," the man in black says of Danny being up to speed. "Here's a little more to chew on, that wasn't on the drive. The laboratory where all this is taking place — where people are being experimented on, and where all these pills are being developed and produced — is about thirty minutes north of the city. A former prison called Monterary Shock."

Daredevil draws in a breath and lets it out with the careful deliberation of a yogi; it's his only visible concession to the emotions roiling in his chest. "Within those walls there are dozens of metahumans being tested — harvested — in the hopes the company will make a breakthrough on this new wave of pills they're developing. All of them are comatose, and one of them —"

A beat, a glance of his cowled-head towards Cage. "Is Zebediah Kilgrave."

After that brief aside he adds a grim: "Besides the metas, there are nearly a hundred ordinary people being kept prisoner — test subjects for the pills themselves. Given the fatality rates, you've got to assume it's a revolving door of them."

Trust issues, Cage says, and he won't be privy to the faint frown underneath that helmet of Six's, sympathetic and illogically guilty. It hadn't been her fault that the drive contained terrible revelations about so many things in his life, Matt's, and Jessica's, but nevertheless she'd been the inadvertent semi-bearer of bad news. Not her favorite place to be.

So she shrugs, a small notching upward of her shoulders to dismiss any concerns. Rand had been there when they nabbed Parker, anyway.

Very fortunately for her, and possibly also for everyone else involved, Daredevil helms the conversation to begin their deep dive into the vast ocean of information contained on the thumb drive.

"It's obviously a priority to ensure the prison cannot continue to operate this way going forward, but it won't be as simple as a jailbreak. The metahuman community of New York is far larger than any organization is presently able to guess. Dismantling this operation will only delay the inevitable reopening of another similar facility, though I think it likely that pressure would act as incentive to accelerate the aggression of their testing protocols. I can see numerous ways in which they could adopt even less ethical approaches to obtaining the information that they want. Forced pregnancies, for instance."

"Sweet Satan in a Sunday hat." Seems Luke's normal catch phrase just won't cut the mustard once Kilgrave's name is mentioned. His hands fold on top of his chrome dome and he turns to the door as if for a moment he might just throw up his hands and quit this thing entirely. Instead, he just paces towards the exit and spins right back around again for a handful of fevered steps. "So that's it then. We're screwed without the benefit of dinner first. How are we going to shut down an entire factory that /breeds/ Metas." His finger waggles near frantically at Six, "/If/ we managed to dismantle it."

"That's…bad," says Danny. He's the master of the understatement, but in this case it just seems he can't find the words to describe dozens of people being held hostage and experimented on. "I uh, I don't pretend to understand most of what's in those files." He didn't…exactly have a standard education in K'un L'un, after all. "But one name did ring a strong bell. Dartmouth Pharmecuticals. It's…" his jaw tightens. "It's a Rand subsidiary. My company is the money behind this operation. But not for much longer. I intend to find out who set them up, and who continues to shuttle money to them. And make sure it stops."

The others have mostly seen him as a slightly derpy, laid-back kid who is a hell of a fighter. But this is the first time they've seen the fierce determination that settles in to his features. Someone has been using his family name and his family money to hurt people. He's not going to let that stand. "We dismantle it by cutting off their money at the same time the lab is getting broken up. Destroy their resources and their capital while cutting off their access to replacement assets." Someone's been paying attention to all the business majors that surround him these days.

Daredevil absorbs the commentary from his — team? One year into vigilantism has seen him only a grudging participant in group ventures, and now there's a team. Some of whom, like Danny Rand, bring new and valuable information into the mix. "That's good," he says to the sandy-haired billionaire, with something like respect. "It's not his only source of income, for sure, but I expect it's one way to make him think twice about restarting." Who he is goes left unsaid, for now, while the masked man turns to the matter of —

"The prison is heavily guarded," he admits, with the quiet conviction of a man who has seen it first-hand. "There's a hexagonal fence forming a perimeter, with five watchtowers and two gunmen a piece. Beyond the fence? Two gunmen at the gate, seven patrolling inside. Any or all of the guards may be on the same pills that were fueling the men we fought in the tunnels. Super-strength, resilience, and those energy bolts. The latter burn out quick."

His jaw sets, his chin lifts. "That's a tough scenario, but not impossible," he says to Cage. "Especially not if we bring in some others who have a vested interest in seeing this operation shut down."

Six's glossy helmet turns on an angle that gives her a view of Rand when he offers up that little tidbit of information. No one else in the room seems especially troubled by it, and she says nothing, but her posture suggests she's still looking at him long after the conversation continues to roll onward.

It does finally turn away again, just in time to take in Daredevil's final remark to Cage. "Jones," she says, the word emotionlessly filtered through her voice's synthesizers. It doesn't sound quite like a question, but given her head-tilt to look at Cage, maybe it was, in a way.

Luke stops in his pacing, letting his head lull back to stare at a water stain on the ceiling, but instead of it's borders he's imagining the layout that Daredevil provides, the edges of his mind dredging up images of Seagate. "No." At the mention of Jones from the mechanical mouth. "If Kilgrave is in fact there," And he has no reason to question Daredevil's intel, "Even the sight of him could rip that poor girl in two. How can we risk that. Her."

"I want to be there for this," says Danny. "I want to help you all break this apart. But I can't leave the money issue up to my lawyers. And if we cut off the money too soon or too late, they're going to find a way around it. I have to…" he sucks in a long, tight breath, "…sit in a conference room with Jeri Hogarth beside me and cut their legs out from under them with some kind of court order at the same time you're all storming this place."

And he looks absolutely, utterly, sulkily unhappy about it.

Unbeknownst to all of them, the Devil of Hell's Kitchen has recent and very good reason to credit Cage's take on Jessica Jones' state of vulnerability visa vi Kilgrave. "Maybe not Jones," he allows to Luke, "But Jones does have friends who may want to be involved. The Winter Soldier, for one. I have some others in mind, too. My point is that this is doable."

He turns to regard them. "We can subdue the guards, while you do whatever legal manuevering you're doing — and you better make sure your ass is covered there. You don't want all this blowing back on you when the police and the press get wind of it."

A beat, and then: "Because we're going to want to give the police — or some legal authority — a head's up as soon as we've secured the space."

There's no argument from the helmeted figure with the mechanical limbs. Whatever her thoughts about Jones, she keeps them to herself. Likewise any mention of the Winter Soldier. Instead, the next time she has anything to contribute it's to turn her head toward Danny again. "He'll know." Elbow braced on the other arm folded across her ribs, she lifts her hand and the matte black and silver fingers uncurl, curl again, dim light winked off of artificial knuckles. "He'll find out that we were there no matter how careful we are. I can eliminate local security cameras, but the man in charge is resourceful. I would, given the extent of what we're about to do, on his finding out that we were not only there, but working together. And you," A loose gesture at Rand, "When he sees the timing, will be outed along with the rest of us. Your holdings may become a target."

Luke isn't so far stuck in his own misery that he can't recognize someone else's. His big paw reaches out to clamp on Danny's shoulder briefly. "I appreciate it, man. But we gotta protect you too." Luke's nostrils flare with an exhale as he turns to look back at Daredevil and Six, stringing them together with one long gaze. "Who is this 'man in charge' we keep dancing around?"

"I'm not worried about being outed. Since I'd be outed for trying to stop my company from engaging in illegal activity." Danny's all serious-faced now. He shoots an appreciative look Luke's way for the shoulder-pat. "I'm not worried about the bottom line. I'm worried about protecting the integrity of my family's legacy. Of my father's legacy. Besides, if I know J-Money, I know she'll find a way to do this that doesn't let them counterattack so easily." The use of the nickname for Jeri Hogarth is unconscious, since he doesn't immediately move to clarify who he means.

To talk of family legacies and, err, 'J-Money', the Devil of Hell's Kitchen simply shrugs his shoulders. Danny Rand's business is literally Danny Rand's business, and this vigilante won't contest his choices, or offer commentary on them one way or another beyond that initial word of caution.

And then Luke asks the million dollar question. Daredevil ducks his masked head a moment, the only signal of some inner debate, before he says, simply and softly: "I think his name is Wilson Fisk." There's a beat before he elaborates: "I can't prove it in a court of law, but I can say with confidence he's involved and high up. If you haven't heard his name before, it's because he doesn't want you, or anyone else, to know it right now." Which is, in part, why he made the deliberate choice to disclose it. He, Six, could die in a few days, storming that castle. And who would ever know the truth then?

The likes of Wilson Fisk has survived too long on secrets.

"It's him." Whatever Six's opinions of a court of law, she obviously believes what she says. Her upraised fingers curl again into the palm of her hand so silently that only Daredevil will be able to hear the whisper of advanced robotics, and the slight, whining edge that says there's more tension in those fake fingers than is immediately evident.

"I compared recordings of his voice with the recording from…" Pause. "My earlier encounter with his voice." Right. Sure! That's sufficient information, right? Matt gets a small nod. "High enough up the chain that he makes people nervous, and has the latitude to shut down vast swaths of the organization's digital infrastructure."

"Leave the burden of proof to the lawyers but if Six there has recordings, that's surely a start." Luke says, fingers laced together at the back of his neck so that he is arms hang from that hitch. "I can get passed the guards, I can get passed guns and energy bolts, but if they're trying to make more /like/ me, what's to say that they don't know how to deal /with/ me? I can knock a hole right in the side of their prison -" He's done it before! "Alright, fine. Whatever. I'm in. Whatever it takes. But if I see Kilgrave I might just put him down." He says, with a note of warning.

Danny looks down at his phone when it buzzes and frowns. "Guys, please let me know how I can help. And tell me when you're going to do this so I can make sure everything is lined up. But right now I have my hands kinda…full because I don't know who I can trust inside Rand." Which means learning how to do basic forensic accounting and other digging by himself. It's…really not his strong suit.

"I also think you guys might want to be cleared out of here before everything goes down. I'm working on a better place." Because apparently a base of operations might actually be a thing going forward? Or maybe Danny just needs a place he can safely return to all beaten and bloody that isn't crawling with reporters. "Luke, I gotta go. I'll uh…walk a few blocks over and take a cab." And hope no one recognizes him.

And although he doesn't react to it outwardly, the name 'Fisk' is filed away for now.

"Yeah, there's a chance they'll have metas on hand who can match you," Daredevil says to Luke's note of caution with a spread of two black-gloved hands. "Maybe it's someone who knows they've earned a death sentence for their part in this death camp may figure it's worth it swallowing a pill with a ninety percent fatality rate if there's even a ten percent chance it gives them the power to take us out. We'll be bringing our own firepower, though." On the matter of Kilgrave, though, the Devil of Hell's Kitchen shakes his head. "No bodies. Even though you have all the righteous cause in the world. That's the non-negotiable price of admission." And it doesn't take super senses or a heartbeat monitor to tell that the predatory shadow of a man means it.

He turns his head toward Rand. "Thanks, Rand," he says with a little lift of his chin in regard. "We'll clear out before then. Our upstairs houseguest too."

Danny just gets a deep mm-hmm of understanding from Luke as he has to run off, no doubt tending to his family name and fortune in some form or another. Luke doesn't leave a body count, he'll take down an entire drug ring, and just leave twisted guns and broken bones in his wake. But something about Kilgrave, and now a connection to him that goes beyond just knowing Jessica, that has the big man with murder in his eyes. "He better not so much as twitch." It's as good as a promise from Luke - likely because Devil /does/ have those senses - and those he doesn't break.

Six trills her metallic fingers just once as Danny excuses himself and passes by her on his way through the door. She waits until it swings closed again behind him to speak. "It would be ideal to root out the persons in his company responsible for that financial connection. Not that we lack leads, but because failing to identify and deal with them leaves him, and us, vulnerable in the aftermath."

She leans forward to part ways with the wall behind her. "I should surveille the facility for the next several days. I'm not good for dealing with physical threats like the rest of you. I can provide electronic support. Open doors, manipulate cameras — possibly other assistance, but it depends on what I find. It's better that I know what to expect."

He better not so much as twitch, says Luke Cage in a grudging assent. "If he twitches, knock him back out again before he can say a word," Daredevil replies in kind, ready in agreement. "But that means finding him and isolating him first. You let me handle that part." How the masked man knows so much about the compound, or suggests he'll be able to identify Kilgrave, he declines to elaborate.

He turns to Six and nods once, slightly. "You may be able to pick up things I missed," he says, though again fails to elaborate on how. "Meanwhile, I'll start putting together the rest of the team. We've got to move fast, though. It's a minor miracle Fisk hasn't figured out what's happened to Parker yet. Once he does? He'll move what he can out of the prison before burning it to the ground."

This, the Devil of Hell's Kitchen knows from experience. And so: "Friday, we move in. Agreed?"

Luke just gives a tiny nod at first, a creak of his leather jacket the only indication that there was movement at all. Another exhale, a pace to look towards the door. A swallow in his throat like he's suddenly feeling claustrophobic now that Danny is gone. His jaw works, teeth set against each other in a grind. All in all, his deep seeded will to do the 'right thing' will win out every time. "Yeah. Agreed. You need anything from me in the meantime, I guess you know where to find me."

"Signals and frequencies, networked systems…" Six's map of the facility is definitely decidedly different than the one everyone else is going to inhabit. In the walls, in the ground. The turn of her helmet says she's watching Luke, this time, taking in whatever signs of agitation there are, but she elects not to participate in the very human exchange he's having with Daredevil, about Kilgrave. That probably, at this point, surprises no one. "I'll let you know either way."

They are in agreement, a fact Daredevil notes with a kind of quiet wonder. Sure there are fractures and fissures, and any number of potential pitfalls along the way. But there is at least the beginnings of a plan to put an end to this decades-old horror, and a consensus around it. How often does that happen in a world of idiosyncratic super-humans, each with their own concerns and agendas?

The cynic in him tells him it can't last. The Catholic in him has hope. There's not even a ghost of a smile to be found on the Devil of Hell's Kitchen's lips, but there just might be a hint of it in his voice as he starts a slow, backwards walk towards the window he came in through:

"See you all around, then."

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