Wrath's Reckoning

June 16, 2018:

Azalea Kingston confronts the impostor Daredevil known as Ikari. She wants him to deliver a message to one Wilson Fisk.

Hell's Kitchen, New York

Screams happen.

Characters

NPCs: Ikari, Gabriel (emitted by Kingpin)

Mentions: Trish Walker, Matt Murdock, Jessica Jones

Mood Music: [*\# None.]


Fade In…

NEW YORK CITY.

NIGHT.

The heart of the city pulses, and Azalea Kingston plays the most dangerous game.

It has been weeks since a man dressed as the Devil of Hell's Kitchen tried to kill Trish, and succeeded in killing another. This, a man who would destroy the name of a Devil that does not kill. This, a man who would punish Matt Murdock for the audacity to do good. The Kingpin chose his assassin well, and it took Azalea time to find him. But as far as tracking killers go, she found it easier than tracking an innocent. All she had to do was follow the same scent of his inevitable prey.

Here on the rooftops at the edge of Hell's Kitchen, she waited for him to move, one shadow disengaging from another, and a great leap that would carry Azalea in an arc that will leave her silent save for the motion of the wind. More than that, the air seems to bend to her will, her heart all but stopping. She is a deadzone, until the very last moment, a matter of concentration and ability she learned from The League of Assassin. Whatever leap Ikari had meant to make, he will instead be checked into a tumble off the edge of the roof. Here she puts the man to the test - sheer brick, leading to an alley. A fifty foot drop, but she's certain he knows how to break his fall.

Az slides down one wall, brick all but crumbling to her touch before a foot plants and she leaps, intent on coming down near enough to him that he'll know this is no mere accident of costumed idiocy. This is a challenge. A latticework of grey stretches over her torso and arms, while her pants are baggy and black, filled with many pockets. The belt she wears is not ordinary, and the bat symbol on it, black and dull, might be enough to give any common thug or hired killer pause.

But not this one, right?

Azalea wears no mask, long done with those. It will let this man know the face of the one who has come to destroy him.

"I need you to deliver a message for me."

The calm in her voice is unsettling, because all humanity has been leached out of it. In the time after her change, she often wondered what might happen when someone challenges her humanity, when someone seeks to take from those things that are sacred to her. But it is not her humanity that leaps for vengeance, a surprising surge of divine wrath taking hold as she stares across the alleyway at a man who cannot possibly comprehend what stands before him.

But she will try to help him understand.

The man known as Ikari does indeed know how to break his fall.

It's more a twist mid-air, a grab for a fire escape, a series of light leaps down to the ground below from escape to escape that really does look eerily reminiscent of the man he pretends to be.

He's upgraded the suit.

It's not the same fabric. It's a Nomex-Kevlar mix, not the kind of high-tech work that Jane Foster is able to put together. And it's black as midnight. Small devil horns have been added. At first it might look like he has no eyes at all, not like Daredevil with his red lenses. But really close inspection might reveal the lenses are blacked out to offer that effect, and are wired up with sophisticated night-vision gear by way of substitute.

It, too, helps with the jarring final landing, which sends him to a fine three-point crouch as he regards this third devil in the kitchen. His name means Wrath, or Fury, or Anger, depending on who one asks. One of the seven deadly sins, anyway, no matter which terminology one uses. The Devil of Wrath facing the Dark Devil, brought together by the nobility of the Daring Devil. There's poetry to it. Symmetry even an impostor can appreciate.

Up close and personal it's easy to see the midnight black stubble too, on a sculpted jawline that really is a mirror of Matt Murdock's as well. His skin is darker. The build is the same. All the differences besides the color choices are subtle. He really could be Daredevil's own Jungian shadow brought to life.

But of course. He's just a guy.

His American accent is almost good enough to pass, if he were not speaking to someone with 10,000 years in the world. The seasoning of Gifu Prefecture dances in and out of his words.

"It may please me to deliver a message, Child of the Bat," he rasps. "Provided the message is an interesting one."

To hear Trish speak of this man fight, she expects Matt's mirror etched in shadow and blood. This is where Matt was heading. The man without fear, allowing his fear of failure to turn him into a monster. For all these reasons and more, Azalea lets her body do the talking. It begins as a slow step, as if closing the distance to make sure that this man, this killer, can hear her message. But she has no message made of words for him.

Instead it is fury given form, blows sent rocketing towards his armor that mocks the man who would do so much good, first a leap that sends her toward him at impossible speed, a diving punch purposely off kilter, meant to hit his side, but never center mass. This cannot be over quickly, or easily, and with command of her body and form a leg lashes out next, daring to challenge Ikari to defend against someone who punches above her weight class.

But she holds back. It will be everything one might expect from someone her size who pushes herself to an extreme, but no more. For the denizens of the underworld do not fully know the strength of the Dark Devil's current incarnation, do not know that she could hold her own against Steve Rogers and Bucky Barnes with strength and speed and stamina.

"Often I wonder."

This, in the middle of that opening melee, maneuvering to feel him out, a twist of her torso sending an elbow diving for his jawline.

"How could such focus and skill can ever hold a price. But I imagine this boy from Gifu did not arrive at this point all at once. Tell me, where did your soul lose it's grip on your bones, and begin to slip into the abyss?"

He is a mockery of the Man without Fear, and yet he neither displays any nor smells of it. She holds back, and he is forced to his limits, but much like the man who fought her darker half on the rooftop over a year ago, Ikari keeps up, at least right now. That first blow gets through, delivered with such speed. He grunts.

But snaps a sharp block at that kick, and leans his body back with elegant flexibility to get out of the way to the strike to his jaw. That is the weak point on his suit too, as it is Murdock's; he guards it well.

And he responds with an economy of motion that does speak of years of hard training. He counters with a right-hand punch towards her solar plexus, and doesn't wait to see if it lands before he's whipping out with a hammer-fist towards her left temple, followed up with a knee strike towards her gut.

"My soul?" A chuff of breath. A near laugh, accompanied by a gentle quirk of his lips. "I am afraid I am an atheist."

This is like many battles she'd had before her change. But never with such clarity or focus. Never without the malice she might have otherwise held. She'd be lying to say that she does not feel the old thrill. She'd be lying to say that she probably feels like this man does, just before he leaps upon his prey. The conversation continues, but never about the words. A fist slams into her solar plexus and nearly lifts her from the ground. But hitting her is like hitting stone. It must be that grey bodysuit she has on, must be some invention of the Bat's.

The hammerblow sails in, clipping through hair and turning her head slightly, the one of the three she dodges best. It will give Ikari a moment to look into her eyes before the knee sails in, the impact solid, and where he might expect the breath to be driven from her, instead he will find only an iron grip hooking his leg and lifting him with one hand digging into armor to hoist him high.

"That's because you've never stared into the face of a God before. Take a good look."

SLAM!

It is not to the ground. She leaps with him, bearing him forward, shoulder to his chest, and then his back through hard brick. If he thinks quickly, he can wrap her head for a guillotine, but it seems not to stop her from ramming her own head through that brick, as long as she gets to plant him in the wall and drag him downward. The leap brings them ten feet above the ground. The wall crumbles inward, brick crushed and scattering to the ground like a tree shaken of it's leaves. They will not go through, and she will not let him go until they hit the ground, Azalea dropping him as her feet plant and she looms, her eyes a burning gold against the backdrop of red dust that now covers them both.

Fingers curl into fists filled with divine rage. For this is a man who will not stop. And yet, there is a line she cannot cross. Besides, she has a purview to uphold.

"Beg for redemption. I will put you on the path. I will forgive your transgressions. I will help you find your soul."

"Kuso!"

To say that she has shocked him would be an understatement. It's the shock that's his predominant emotion, though the pain of being slammed into a wall, planted through it, and then dropped to the ground by a monster is certainly evident.

He gets to his hands and knees and turns his head, spitting some blood. His head raises, and of course it's impossible to see the look in his eye.

He hesitates. Is he going to take her up on her offer? Beg? Try to find redemption? Try to find his soul?

He spits out another wad of the stuff. Bright red against the pavement.

Then his lip curls into a snarl, and that's the warning. His hand flies to some compartment of his suit, and then he's grasping the katana. The smell of the poison will hit the goddess' nostrils; this is not an honorable warrior.

Rearing backwards to a crouch, not springing to his feet yet, he tries to drive it right through her stomach, a guttural growl of, "Shinjimae, yariman," issuing from his lips. He tries to follow up with a hamstringing maneuver while he's at it.

Now the differences between himself and the Daredevil are stark. While he might emulate Matt Murdock's cool and collected nature, he does not possess it. Rage now has him in his grip, a fire that ignites in that charcoal-soul of his so hot and bright, so intensely, that it sears sense, erases doubts, refuses to admit a loss even in the face of an enemy so far above his weight class.

It is almost too much to process, fighting someone who has hurt someone she loves. To have such fury held boiling in her soul, churning through power that might strike a building to ash or bring a forest crashing into existence through asphalt by will alone takes a price from her. It is a human price, for this is a God's vengeance. Steel flashes, and she smells something familiar in the air, but Azalea Kingston does not move.

The Aspect of Redemption belongs to Azalea and Xiuhnel's merged form, but Creation and Destruction pulse in her chest to the beat of a heart that she was not born with. When the blade dives in, driven by such hatred and might, it finds the material over her stomach seems unable to keep it at bay. Just seeing the material split should be a victory, well anticipation of felling someone who dared proclaim herself a God.

The shock of the blade's rebound, of impacting something immovable will travel down Ikari's arms, stinging them. The reactionary followup catches at her skin, cutting into the material of her cargo pants but stopping at the back of her leg with another arm-searing reverberation. There is no blood, from either wound. Things created by mortal hands cannot draw blood from this stone.

The snap of her fingers around his arm, even through armor, is painful. There is a twist, pulling the limb taught, and her fist rockets through the joint with expert precision, bending it the wrong way. She does not let go, even if he drops his blade, turning to slam him to the other wall, front-first, with enough force to knock the breath from him, if not shatter the brick. That done, she kicks the back of his knee hard enough to take his balance, to hyperextend the joint, to send pain racing up his spine.

In the fire of it, the raw moment of it, she wants it to last longer. To extract from him some measure of pain equivalent to what he has caused. It is the nature of divine beings to need such symmetry. Instead she finds another balanced circle, this one at the end of a blow that strikes like a knife.

"Shhh."

CRACK!

A sudden bloom of heat at the bloodied assassin's lower back, and he will know the touch of the Three Blossom Star. It is a blow that strikes not for the brick on top, but the one several layers beneath. It leaves his armor spiderwebbed with strain, skin blossomed into a bruise, and bone shattered into a thousand nerve-rending splinters.

Splinters she sends tearing through his spinal cord.

Below his navel, he will feel nothing but the cold embrace of helplessness as Azalea Kingston takes from him, a man who has taken so much from others.

Strength fails even the strong. The blade hits the ground with a clatter as this mere mortal cries out in agony. It's happening even before that devastating final blow.

The scream of that last is a thing that might well send people throughout the Kitchen skittering to check their locks, to check their weapons. It is the kind of thing that might bring the Daredevil on a different night, or Jessica Jones. But tonight his cries go unanswered, and were either of the other two to show they wouldn't help this s.o.b. Anyway.

He draws ragged breaths through a clouded haze of pain, a crumpled, shattered figure.

He says something in Japanese, coupled with a sudden, mad laugh. «"The message…is definitely…interesting."» He laughs like he finds it hilarious, the madness welling up from that deep poisonous pit inside of him.

Fingers curl into his mask. She takes this from him much like she once took Matt Murdock's. And so too will she take from him other things, pulling equipment from his suit, but leaving most of his weapons. It seems she's only interested in the electronic bits, finally, though, she does take up his sword. If he has a phone, she'll leave that, so that he might call for help. Her gaze has once returned to the crystal blue that once looked upon the world and all her opponents with a base ire that could not fade.

Now she looks upon him and knows she crippled a man who deserved every bit of it, even if some in her Pantheon might not approve. "I have no doubt it will find it's way to the man I meant it for. As for you, the nature of this world and all it's wonders might see you back from this precipice yet. Or your owner may decide you are not worth the trouble, and discard you like so much trash. May you live to learn a better way, boy from Gifu. I would like to meet the man you were supposed to be."

With his sword on her shoulder, his mask and other baubles in her other hand, she begins to talk away. Azalea knows well that her message will make it to the Man who would be King. A message given loud and clear, a challenge for his vision to stand before her storm and survive retaliation that the others might not bring. But no matter how it is taken by Wilson Fisk, she will not dwell on it. She will say goodbye to Trish tonight, and in the morning, Tamoachan will have itself a new radio talk show host. At least for a little while.

At least until after the storm comes.

Without his mask, well. He might have been a handsome fellow, were his face not contorted in agony. He passes out shortly after her speech.

Nobody stops her from walking away.

He doesn't call for help. Not in so many words. But Wilson Fisk has gathered a strange, diverse group of allies. He is a man who prepares well for storms, and if he doesn't think in terms of pantheons he does think in terms of mutually assured destruction, if he can't get to a clear win.

Which is why what happens next is very strange.

Long after Azalea is gone, polished cream-colored shoes step into the muck of Hell's Kitchen. One could follow a line of sight up perfectly creased cream colored slacks. To a jacket. And a vest. To a pop of blue at the shirt, and to a sunrise orange-pink tie that has a mother-of-pearl tie clip on it. To pale, pale skin and blonde hair slicked back. This is as an androgynous of a body as it is possible to wear, rosy lips and high cheekbones and pale, pale blue eyes, litheness of form and grace of motion making it all but impossible to assign a gender. He is he or she is she at the glance of an eye, a change of the camera angle.

The individual crouches beside the fallen man. "Ahh, Amano Riku," the figure says. The musical voice gives no more clues. Alto? Tenor?

Those pale, pink lips pull into a sardonic smile.

"None of this goes as you expect, hmm?"

The figure crouches, brushes two fingers across his forehead. As well he is out cold. This being's brand of healing is no mercy, and his injuries are so extensive that he surely wouldn't enjoy it. But he will live, and he will walk, and he will fight again.

Eventually.

Probably much to the vexation of the goddess who just passed judgement upon him.

The deepest damage is a slight surprise, and causes golden eyebrows to lift. "Well, that is going to take a hot minute. It's been awhile since I had to stitch up a soul."

The being in white hefts him up like he's a child, cradles him close. Takes a deep breath. "Mmm. I smell her, yes I do. Well, do not worry, little one. I have a solution to present to your master. And I'll make sure you are not blamed. Not for this, at least."

And then, in a ray of golden light, this strange being is simply gone, along with the man who calls himself Ikari, perhaps to issue The Aspect of Redemption's message from their own strange lips.

A choir sings in the wake of the light, but it is fractured and mad-sounding, a thousand celestial voices raised in a song that should not be. Mercifully, the sound of it stops minutes after the creature departs.

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