Avenue of Discovery

August 20, 2018:

Daredevil contacts SHIELD with important information about the Hell's Kitchen Bombing.

Flushing Meadows-Corona Park

It's the park with the globe from Men in Black: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Flushing_Meadows%E2%80%93Corona_Park

Characters

NPCs: None.

Mentions: Wilson Fisk, Jessica Jones, Agent Coulson

Mood Music: None.


Fade In…

"Agent Phil Coulson died in the line of duty."

Those are the words that set this meeting in motion, spoken over the phone by a SHIELD agent to a raspy-voiced man on a burner phone somewhere on Manhattan's West Side — or so SHIELD's cellular tracking data says — that claims to be the 'Devil of Hell's Kitchen.' A local vigilante of some small repute, who lately came under disrepute as a person of interest in the serial murder of nine women he'd previously saved.

Then I need to speak with whoever's in charge of the Hell's Kitchen investigation, the man on the phone claiming to be Daredevil had said at the time. I have proof that it's related to a case Coulson and I worked. I need a meeting, in person, ASAP. I'm not coming in; they come out into the field.

Negotiations go back and forth, but the end result is a meeting scheduled at Flushing-Meadows Park in Queens, under the shadow of the great silver globe that dominates the empty park. It's after sundown, but the thick summer air is still stifling and there's no real breeze to speak of.

What's more, there's no immediate sign or sound of the so-called Devil of Hell's Kitchen.

*

The woman who sits on the bench in Flushing-Meadows Park is one that would be familiar to Matt Murdock, if not the Devil of Hell's Kitchen. She is not dressed in her vintage wear, nor in her SSR uniform: one meant to broker a link between her past and James Barnes to lend credence to his case. No, this woman is dressed in quite a modern outfit. Her hair is wavy, not pin curled, but against the humid summer weather it is still twisted up into a proper knot. Her outfit is tailored, fitted pants and a jacket. Those might mean nothing to Daredevil, however, she still wears a vintage perfume as well as a lipstick brand that is rather unique. Of course, she is armed. While she does not expect to be attacked by the man who claims to protect Hell's Kitchen, nor does she think he is someone trustworthy enough to come unprotected. There are, however, no hidden agents amongst the trees, nor does it seem as if there are drones or anything else of the like.

In the distance, there are still people playing frisbee and also those walking their dogs. Instead, Peggy looks at the large silvery dome and remembers it as it was during the Queens Expo. She was not actually here when Howard debuted his floating car, but she visited afterward. It was sunset and at the end of its run, but it was still brilliant. She does not close her eyes, it only takes a moment to remember this. Instead, she then scans about the area, still on the lookout for the man who is the Daredevil.

This case now has something to do with Coulson, who was murdered. While it might have been proper to send someone else, she refuses. If someone is to talk to Daredevil, it is her.

*

"Agent Carter," comes a voice from some dozen feet behind her. He steps out from under the cover of some low trees, just beyond the shadow's edge. There's no hoodie or attempt to mask his mask under a veneer of normalcy; this time of year a man bundled up in a sweatshirt and hoodie will attract almost as much notice as a man in a devil's suit. So he's in his full, red-horned regalia — which will keep this meeting short, among other things.

It was her vintage perfume that had marked her, and allowed him to name her with real certainty. He remembers it from well-over a year ago now, when a buttoned up, proper, and canny spy stepped into his office and suggested all sorts of legal chicanery to save James Buchanan Barnes from lethal injection. With any luck, she'll bring some of that inventiveness and flexibility to this latest tilt against a windmill.

"Glad you could come," he says with a lift of his stubbled chin. A beat. "I was sorry to hear about Coulson. He was a decent man. What happened?"

*

To her credit, Agent Carter does not start. Instead, she stays stock still for a moment. This is not a deer trapped in the headlights so much as a woman ready to spring into action…with deadly force if necessary. With a precise turn, she easily spots Daredevil approaching. The red amongst the slate grey cobblestones and green of the trees certainly make him stand out.

Standing, she moves from the bench to the treeline so that they can speak without shouting. However, she doesn't walk right up to him. Instead, she gives him the courtesy of a few feet and angling off to the side. While sunset, there is still the occasional jogger or determined dog walker. With a smirk, she can't help but quip, "Subtle." It's very much like the proper spy Matt Murdock met, but without the weight and worry of James' life on her shoulders, there is a bit more bite to her demeanor. "Do you prefer Daredevil? Or Devil of Hell's Kitchen? 'He in the horned mask' and the latter does not exactly roll off the tongue."

The thanks is met with a squaring of shoulders. "Thank you. Yes, he was." It's a proper thanks. If the Daredevil worked with Coulson, he most likely knew what kind of a man he was and therefore would certainly know his value. As for how he died, though? "He was killed in he line of duty." Some SHIELD business remains SHIELD business to strangers. The party line remains the party line.

"I was told that you have information dealing with a case you worked on with Agent Coulson and you needed to speak to whoever was in charge of the Hell's Kitchen investigation. Both of those things involve me."

*

"My moniker is Daredevil," answers the man in red through a hint of a smile. "Subtlety was never in the cards." Still, he'll keep to the shadows as he can, grateful for her willingness to meet him halfway, as it were.

Condolences are given, inquiries are met with demurrals, and then they're quickly to business. "Coulson helped a group of interested parties get a highly dangerous designer drug off the streets last year," Daredevil begins quietly. "The drugs gave some people temporary human abilities. Super strength, telekensis, mind control. We shut down the plant, this old private prison upstate, where they were testing on dozens of metahumans and mutants. But — " and here, a pained grimace, "— the man behind the manufacture and distribution of those drugs slipped through our fingers. He's a local crime lord who has put most of the gangs of New York quietly under his thumb. He keeps his name out of the papers and off the streets, but he controls hundreds of millions in assets, all tucked away in shell companies and fronts."

Daredevil's jaw sets, then resets as he manages a wave of anger that comes too frequently these days. "He was also the one responsible for the Hell's Kitchen bombings."

*

Peggy quirks a smile as her ribbing is taken in stride. "That is true. The first step is in admitting it, after all." She did, after all, work very seriously with a man who went by the moniker 'Captain America' and therefore she can't exactly say that she doesn't understand where he is coming from. A man in star-spangled red, white and blue in the middle of a battlefield cannot be any less outrageous than a man in horns who guards a place named Hell's Kitchen. It seems it is her lot in life to help and abet men with very area appropriate names.

Immediately, her head turns and she studies Daredevil when he says that the man he is describing is responsible for the Hell's Kitchen Bombings. The costume leaves little but his lower jawline to study, but she attempts it anyway. "Drugs, yes. We thought multiple gangs were responsible for setting the explosives, but we could never find a sustainable connection between them all. You're saying the link is a single man who has put all those gang members under him?" In Peggy's mind it was a syndicate, something much like Hydra. She could not fathom a singular person being responsible for a terror quite like this. Her words are suddenly quieter, focused.

Wheels start to turn. Unable to help herself, she step forward toward him. She all but demands a name: "Who is he?"

*

"His name on the streets is the Kingpin, but his real name is Wilson Fisk," Daredevil answers, even as he listens for calamity to strike. The last time he spoke that name to someone who didn't know it, the world erupted in gunfire and later… goo. It's enough to think that the man's name really does hold supernatural power, bringing ill fortune on the person who speaks it out of turn.

But no such fireworks are to be found here, so after a moment's pause he'll go on. "Yes, the gangs were all working for Fisk. The Albanians, the Cartel, the Russians before — " I put most of them in the hospital "— they were taken out. The man has a significant chunk of the NYPD on the take, even if they don't know they're working for him directly. His main holding company is Confederated Global Investments. It owns a freight railway line, R&D laboratories, a munitions plant, five other private prisons, a shipping company, and warehouses in several piers along the West Side docks."

His jaw sets, lips curling into a sneer before he makes one more grim addendum to that accounting of Wilson Fisk's invisible empire: "He also owns a significant amount of Hell's Kitchen real estate, and he is working on buying more. That's what all this was about. Remaking the Kitchen in his image, and replacing the tenements and NYCHA projects with what you see in the rest of Manhattan."

*

In her investigation of Hell’s Kitchen, the name Kingpin crossed the page as a man who had his fingers in the area. However, the name Wilson Fisk hasn’t come up, she hasn’t heard it mentioned at all before this. For something as involved and extensive as the Hell’s Kitchen Bombings, that’s certainly worrying. Peggy’s eyes narrow. And even more worrying is that this man killed thousands of people gentrify and to consolidate power. “I’ll assume that even if we look into that prison with this new information, nothing will be able to link back to Fisk.” While she says it as a statement, there is a lilt of a question at the end.

“You did you get this information?” If they’re to pursue Fisk in the courts, everything must be legally buttoned up tightly. Someone like Fisk almost certainly has an outstanding lawyer. Of course, SHIELD is not against handling things in a manner outside of the courts, but that also means that justice happens quietly. Fisk may pay for his crimes, but many will have no answers.

Knowing something of Daredevil’s methods, and also hearing about the slow and thorough hospitalization of gang members they have been keeping tabs on, she can take an educated guess. “I’ll assume that some of it came by force.” She does not hint at torture, instead at what she assumes are a few liberally applied batons. She watched Thompson’s interrogation tactics often enough. Wrly, she adds, “Unless you are a horned, red themed Deep Throat.”

Crossing her arms, she takes another step closer. “You said that you had proof. What is it? Just the name?”

*

She has little reason to know it, but few people better understand the needs of preserving chains of evidence — or at least the plausible fiction of chains of evidence — than the costumed vigilante before her. It's a longstanding issue for the motley group of vigilantes he represents, and it informs all of what the man in red says next:

"We have the member of the Mexican Cartel who helped set up and then had a change of heart and reported the bomb under P.S. 35 to the authorities," Daredevil tells her. "That allowed the Titans to stop it before it went off. He's a minor, and he's being represented by Foggy Nelson. The boy doesn't know Fisk, but he can corroborate the fact that the orders came from this 'Kingpin' and implicate members of the cartel, some of whom are already in police custody for trying to murder the kid outside of Nelson's apartment building. If SHIELD and U.S.A. Archer can get the kid in the witness protection program, he can give you a running start on tying Fisk directly to the bombgs."

A beat, a collecting breath: "We also have two brothers who ran the Russian mob in New York," he adds, his voice taking on a note of disdain that was absent when he spoke of the former Cartel kid. "The Ranskahov Brothers left the picture six weeks before the bombings, but they were intimately familiar with Fisk's empire and had direct contact and negotiations with the man. They — or at least one of them — is ready to flip and tie Fisk to the metahuman designer drug operation Coulson helped us shut down last year."

Another beat, meant to mark the next invisible bullet on an unwritten list. "We have the location of Fisk's newest drug venture, a massive warehouse for a new and very potent strain of heroin. It's not connected to the bombings, but some good police surveillance and a well-timed sting could shut the operation down and get you people with direct knowledge of and connection to Fisk."

A slight smirk touches his lips. "I'm laying a lot on you, but much of this is documented." He pulls out a flash drive, seemingly from mid air. "I won't say all the information on here was cleanly gotten, but most of it can be independently verified using proper procedure. We've mapped out many of his shell companies and holdings, and have ID'd his money man: a Wall Street guy named Leland Owlsley. My guess is if you get Owlsley on something basic and run of the mill, like tax evasion or fraud, he'll be able to open whole new worlds that could put Fisk away."

*

That is a lot of information. And, in Peggy’s experience, most vigilantes are not the type to think about what happens after the criminals are subdued and knocked out. The kind of person that takes the law into their own hands don’t tend to care about said law. It’s interesting to her to meet one that is.

Though there is a lot to digest and think on, she memorizes these details quickly. Being a wartime spy, she’s used to absorbing large pieces of information to be reported later to military intelligence. The groundwork of a plan to ensure these invaluable leads are not squandered starts to form in her head. First, verify if this Daredevil is the real deal. If he is, then there’s far more to do: talk to Archer and Nelson, interrogate the Ranskahov’s, raid Fisk’s warehouse.

Peggy’s hand outstretches to take the flash drive. This will also need verification, but if the information involved is true, that would certainly be the break that she needs in this case. “We?” She asks with a raised eyebrow. “There is more to your crew than you?” The need to arrest Owlsley on something is met with a nod. She’s sure she can find some reason to bring him in. Shady characters cover their tracks, but she tends to think of herself as better.

*

There's more to the crew than you?

The question seems to surprise the vigilante, or perhaps he's more surprised by the answer he wants to give. "Yeah," he says, his low tone rueful. "They're calling us 'the Defenders' out there, though we haven't lived up to the name yet. Jessica Jones is part of it. I think you know her, at least. The rest of us — " a beat. Then, wry: "We're kind of a motley crew."

More serious then, with the rest. Quiet and emphatic: "You have to protect those witnesses. That's what killed us last time. We had the chief scientist behind those metahuman drugs ready to testify about Fisk's involvement. Coulson was keeping him in the Raft, but Fisk had a New York advocacy nonprofit on his payroll sue over jurisdiction issues. He was transferred to Rikers, where they promptly 'forgot' about his peanut allergy. And Fisk walked."

He's been sober and pragmatic through their conversation, and sometimes even wry. But there's simmering anger when he speaks of the near-miss on Fisk, even if the direction of that anger isn't clear.

He relinquishes the drive and folds his hands across his chest, angles his horned head in the direction of some stray summer leaves on the ground between them. "Fisk himself has gone to ground. Or actually to sea, we think. He's on a boat somewhere off the East Coast. We're looking to narrow that down a bit. When we do, we'll let you know."

*

The Defenders. That will have to be something she puts a pin on for updating SHIELD information. The mention of Jessica Jones is met with not exactly surprise, but something of a ping of recognition. That does sound like something Jessica would do. "Yes, I do know her." When he says they are a motley crew, the line is met with a matched quip and quirk of her lips, "When the two people I know of in your group are a PI and a man who dresses in horns, I have no trouble believing your crew is disparate.”

She is charged with protecting the witnesses and with that, the wry grin fades into something far more serious. Her tone shifts to acknowledge the seriousness their talk has taken. The Raft was quite a smart idea, but she can also see the problems that can cause with someone so adept at circumnavigating the law. “I will,” she promises without actually telling him how she will do it. The less said outloud, the better.

The drive disappears much as it appeared, as if into thin air. That is something she will verify immediately.

“Yes, should all this information check out, I am sure SHIELD would be glad to provide help. And if they do not, I will.”

*

"I'm not even the most outlandish," Daredevil quips back on her dry assessment of their team. That honor probably goes to his robot girlfriend, but that's really neither here nor there.

Her pledge to offer SHIELD's assistance is met with a slight nod. He expected it, to an extent. The agency was willing to help take on Fisk when he was just a drug lord, and since the Hell's Kitchen bombings his stature as a threat has only risen.

No, it's her offer to help even if SHIELD will not, or somehow it's efforts fall short yet again, that gets a moment's pause and a low, sincere: "Thank you." He's all too familiar with what it means — and costs — to step up and take action when the usual channels of justice fall short.

And then he's stepping back. "There's a number to contact me on that thumb drive if you need me. Good hunting, Agent Carter. I'll be in touch."

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