Reaping the Whirlwind

September 06, 2018:

Immediately follows You Know My Name. Months ago, Matt Murdock upended an alliance between Wilson Fisk and the twin leaders of the Brotherhood of Mutants. Now, a desperate captive on the Kingpin's yacht, he summons them to his aid. Like any good Faustian bargain, no one ends up happy with the results.

The open sea off the Connecticut shoreline.


NPCs: None.

Mentions: The Defenders, Magneto

Mood Music: [*\# None.]

Fade In…

Matt Murdock and Wilson Fisk share certain things in common. They are both self-made men from the same broken neighborhood. They were each slaves to their fathers' dreams and victims of their foibles. They each hold the anger at their cores closely, until it burns too bright and too hot and has to be let out. They are both inveterate liars, especially to themselves.

But more than than that, they both believe in destiny: that some things are appointed, or meant to be. Matt believes fate is set by a jealous and unforgiving God, one who is willing to author or permit all kinds of hurts while demanding obedience and obeisance of the sufferers. Fisk casts himself in that role, believing that he exerts his own kind of gravitational pull that bends the world to his will as he makes his way through it. The casualties of his ambitions are just victims of fate; you might as well blame a hurricane.

Which of them is right, if either, could be put to the test momentarily.

Matt struggles to his knees, broken chair still tied behind him and forcing his back into a bow. He listens to the approaching storm, feels the deck beneath him shift and sway with the roiling waters, hears the blood surge and sound in his ears. He makes the decision he'd been wrestling with since he first woke up from that heavy, drug-induced sleep on Wilson Fisk's mammoth yacht. It was Fisk throwing him across the room that did it, ironically enough, not his vain struggles against his bonds. The roll across the floor and cracking of the chair gave his arms and hands just enough freedom to pry free a slight, slender trinket embedded in the lining of one red gauntlet.

Ask your question, Fisk commands Matt in his baritone rumble.

And seemingly supplicant, in fact literally on his knees, a bruised and battered Matt Murdock raises his head towards the man towering over him and complies:

"Heads," he rasps, "or tails?"

With that question lingering in the air between them, Matt flips the coin in his palm, the one given to him months ago by people he had no business consorting with, the one that has been burning a hole in his pocket for months now, and sends it arcing behind his back.

The yacht sways nauseatingly in the roiling seas. Crashing waves slap against its sides, rocking it in the brewing storm as it ploughs through the restless ocean. The deck of it almost seems to surge up to welcome that descending coin as it falls, spinning almost in slow-motion.

Inches away from the floor, it starts to smoke with red, red light.

By the time it hits, clattering to a stop, the red light is a blinding glow, and it hisses where it makes contact with the floor. Despite the back-and-forth of the yacht, however, the coin never slides with its movements. It remains as if magnetically-fixed, blazing.

Presently, it starts to burn clear through the deck.

A moment later, there is the distant crack of what sounds like thunder.

Something comes slicing through the ten-foot waves, racing the oncoming storm, bisecting the dark ocean in a spray of flash-boiled seawater. At first glance it might be taken for some sort of fired missile, but — it's moving much too quickly for that. No missile on Earth travels in excess of Mach 5. No missile aims itself this precisely, course-correcting at the last second to home in on just the right spot.

No missile starts to smoke with a matching red light, nanoseconds before impact.

The impact and all its horrific kinetic energy focus down onto a single, comparative pinpoint of a target, in defiance of all known and conventional physics: the side of the yacht. It bores clear through the yacht within half a heartbeat, blasting shrapnel out the other side through a horrific exit wound.

Whatever it is swings out wide into the sea. And then it starts coming back around.

Wood snaps. Metal shrieks. The yacht groans around them in the tortured sound of disembowelment, and the room begins to lean perilously to one side, as if gravity itself decides to upend — whatever the collision, it's taking on water.

The distant hum of its motor chokes and drowns. The lights flicker and burn out. The climate controlled air ceases its constant, white noise hiss.

Matt Murdock will sense it, like a ceiling of ozone over the storm, an ambient crackle in the world around him. As if every frequency decided to skip a beat.

Reality itself contorting, reshuffling — bowing in supplication to let someone through.

Two points of light, red like arterial blood, shine from one corner of the contained, concussive room. Light that smokes at the edges like a moondog, trailing wisps and curls of scarlet.

"Mr. Fisk," speaks a woman at their backs, gentle, soft, with an accent that wanders as far as the Caucus.

The Scarlet Witch joins them, here, now, occupying space and time where she did not before, shrouded in her blood reds and funeral blacks, one onestretched hand holding Murdock's flipped coin in her palm. It still burns.

Those points of light are her eyes, flaring monstrous and wrathful. "We've come to renegotiate our contract."

There is hardly time for one Wilson Fisk to react. One minute he has the upper hand. All is within his control.

Then, as sure as the coin flips, it's all going to Hell. The coin is burning. The boat is sinking. And the witch is here.

The look he gives Matt is poisonous. And yet he has to admit, the move had a certain panache. "Two names, indeed. Well-played," he admits, in his gravelly rumble.

And yet he does not look afraid. Maybe he's just lacking in sense. But he sets his wide feet to account for the sudden tilt of the room. The shouts of his men up above, the person piloting the boat. Someone shoots rapidly at…something, it's not even clear what.

A flick of his wrist and he's holding a mother-of-pearl stone in the palm of his hand. Wanda might feel the magic radiating off of it, something holy and corrupt all at once. There's some sort of Enochian sigil burnt into the thing, if she recognizes such. "I'm afraid I have another appointment. Farewell."

He snaps the word on the stone, and some power draws him away, teleporting him out of there to destinations unknown.

He may not have inherent power, but gaining powerful allies of his own has ever been a skill of his, and it seems someone equipped him with an escape hatch this time.

For all Kinsey Sheridan's warnings about the moral perils of getting entangled with the Maximoff twins, all of Matt's moral calculations about flipping that coin were made in the moments that led up to the getting of it. He flipped it as soon as it was in his palm, and with no real sense of whether help would actually come, much less when.

Minutes, perhaps. Hours, even. Not the scant seconds it takes for that coin to make its aborted journey from his hand to the deck. The form that help takes is a surprise too, the sheer speed of Pietro Maximoff ringing his bell the same way heavy artillery might as the son of Magneto bursts into and out of the yacht leaving devastation in his wake. It's so much so fast, on top of so much previous trauma, that the kneeling vigilante barely hears Wanda, or that bit of grudging respect from Wilson Fisk before he…

Disappears. Can he do that? Wilson Fisk has magic, or access to it. It's an unpleasant revelation, and something Matt had never accounted for in all the times he'd imagined putting the twins to use against his enemy's empire. Of course, his enemy had never accounted for Matt having access to the same. Wilson Fisk and Matt Murdock are well matched — two sides of a coin, even in their mutual failures.

Which of them is the worse off is an open question. Fisk is now on the run, his hideaway destroyed. But Matt is broken, beaten, tied to a chair, on board a sinking ship on the open sea with a storm brewing. He's compromised his ethics by calling on the aid of people he should arguably be bringing to justice. And now? He's officially exposed not just to his arch-nemesis, but to two ruthless mutant terrorists.

On balance, he feels defeat, even in the midst of a triumphant gambit that saved his life. That's depressive thinking for you. And at least some of that thinking is reflected in his aspect, the knitting of his brow and the profound weariness of his aimless hazel eyes. Still, he's gracious. That's Catholicism for you. "Thank you," he murmurs, just loud enough to carry to Wanda over the wind and distant sounds of gunfire. His head sways; it looks like he may faceplant onto the laquered wood floor of the cabin.

Up above, men shout. They shoot at whatever it is courses through the water — over it. Their efforts are clearly futile, because the sound of their voices escalates, heightens with frustration and fear —

Quicksilver slices back towards the yacht. The bow wave of his approach rocks the boat violently. A series of screams and splashes precede a sudden ringing silence.

A moment later, the son of Magneto — dripping with salt spray, head held high — steps lightly down into the cabin where Daredevil and the Kingpin had their showdown. He regards Matthew Murdock's exposed features a moment, hears out the graciousness of the thanks he offers his twin sister. Something in his aspect mollifies at the latter. He glances at Wanda, then back at Matt.

"Hmph. I see," he finally says, his sole reaction to the revelation. "Perhaps you should consider devoting more time to your practice and your pro bono work after this, Mr. Murdock. Clearly your moonlighting is why your advocacy has slowed recently. And we did have a bargain."

He steps closer, circling behind Matt, and puts bare hands to the ropes still binding him to the chair. There is a strange hum in Matt's perceptions, the sound of molecules shivering far too fast, and after a moment Pietro tears the deteriorated ropes away like tissue paper, discarding them. Should it appear Matt will fall at the sudden loss of the chair's weight, Pietro will steady him by a shoulder. His eyes stray to where Fisk once stood.

"Close. But not quite. 'More than he seems,' indeed," Pietro muses, eyes hooded. "Few escape my sister — or me." He considers Matt. "My sister is the only reason this yacht is still afloat. I will take you back to shore. You may thank me once we are there."

Both son and daughter of Magneto pay attendance, with all the presentation and destruction of their infamous father.

The yacht, in large, all-encompassing sounds — echoes carrying embryonic through its hulls and rooms — cracks apart. Opens with new holes, its gaping exit wounds sucking in sea water. But, all around this room in particular, the walls gleam with a chitin shine — like the glint off a beetle's back, like oil on water — as scarlet flows in its spaces, and a moving hex holds the structure together.

The Witch makes work as she stands, simply, demurely, the beads of her headdress a constellation orbiting the light of her eyes. Her right palm closes, then opens again, and the coin is gone.

"For your sins against our kind, Fisk," she whispers, her voice like the hiss of a drawn blade, "it is time to feed on yourself as you have everything else."

Pietro inherited Magneto's fury — his impetus, his demonstrative revenge.

Wanda inherited something far more subtle, far more simple, far more sure: his cruelty.

Her eyes burn like coronal fire. Red circuits through her hands, fingers curling, reality blinking in and out in the spaces between them — pure chaos wrought from her smallest gestures. She begins weaving a hex just for him, just as promised. Let the devouring serpent desire most its own tail. If he wants to consume, let it be every ounce of his own flesh from his bones, never to stop until dead —

Cruelty requires complexity, as the scarlet builds around her hands — not quick enough, as Wanda senses, too-late, foreign magic. It pushes back against her senses, and forks risk — complication — all through her probability.

"Don't you dare!" she snaps, furious, as Fisk wills the sigil on that stone. "There is nowhere LEFT for you —!"

But he is gone. Her scarlet hex strikes an instant too late, her formless curse missing its target and dissipating. Normally so gentle, so patient, so composed, the Scarlet Witch snarls with frustration, fisting her hands as red bleeds off them in vehemence.

Quicksilver joins them. The Witch turns her eyes, but does not move from her place. Her senses stretch elsewhere, rage warring against her rocky lucidity.

Thank you, speaks a broken man, and Wanda remains still. She does not look, does not answer, but the vicious red relents out of her fists.

There is nowhere LEFT for you —

To run, one supposes she meant to say, but Fisk has run before she even says it. Matt does not actually collapse face-first onto the ground at Pietro Maximoff's feat, but his head does bow in weariness, if not genuflection. One of his best friends is dead, his enemy has escaped, and he's reliant on two wounded, haughty, vengeful…

Pietro has a great many things to say about what Matt should or should not be doing, but it's that final, I will take you back to shore, that has Matt's head snapping back up, alert and intent. You can thank me later. But while Matt had offered thanks just seconds before, gratitude seems the furthest thing from his mind now. "The people on board," he says of the ruined yacht's crew. Fisk's people. The people who armed to the hilt and have doubtless been ordered to kill him if he gets an inch out of line. "I won't let them die out here."

Because if he did, their deaths would be on him, the person who had called the agents of their destruction to the scene.

They're nearly the same height, but somehow Pietro Maximoff still finds a way to seem as if he's staring straight down on Matt Murdock. Perhaps it's the haughty cant of his head, that way he has of looking down his nose, or just his judgmental silence as Matt has a… singular reaction to what is, frankly, a rather generous offer to see Murdock safely off the sinking ship.

Well, the silence is only half judgmental. Half of it is that his concentration is split, a good portion of his attention on his sister as she seethes in uncharacteristic rage. It is his twin who he sees to first, leaving Matt's declaration to temporarily wait. «We'll get them, Cerxai,» he mururs in her head, and his left hand briefly reaches to tangle and hold her right. Their fingers twine. «Sooner, rather than later.»

His attention returns to Murdock. "They were going to kill you," he says, incredulous, "and you concern yourself with their lives?" He shakes his head, dismissing the odd vagaries of the human mind. Turning to his sister, he lifts her hand in his, and kisses it. "Meet you back home."

Pulling away afterwards, he steps towards Matt. In the dark gloom of the cabin, he is an unforgiving figure whose most stark characteristics are his pale white hair and blue eyes. "You owe us your life," he says bluntly. "What happens now is what I decide. And we will absolutely let them die. They were complicit in the murder of our kind." It is not a standard for the weak…

A split instant later, without so much as a by-your-leave, Pietro is bearing Matt back across the open ocean. It would be a spectacular sight, if Matt had the eyes to see it — as it is, his senses are likely overwhelmed by the incredible noise and thunder of travel at hypersonic speed, even given the odd protection that Quicksilver can typically extend to his charges.

Fortunately it's over almost as quickly as it began: to those locked in the normal flow of time, anyway. Solid ground — or the sand of a beach, anyway — welcomes Matt Murdock back, and as his senses return, it will be to the sound of a seaside town, not far away. To the sound of Pietro Maximoff, already walking away.

"Of course," are his parting words, "what you choose to do is your own business."

Rage is a rarity on Wanda Maximoff.

So when one takes her, it is always one too powerful to be easily dispelled.

The witch stands in silence, wreathed in the same, moving scarlet that cross-stitches together their sinking yacht. The energy churns with violence, not unlike the seas in a storm, ready to crush and pull apart any such weak thing that would dare too close —

Pietro dares. He reaches out, and by virtue of taking Wanda's hand, exists the sole being who can stand in the eye of the Scarlet Witch's storm. She holds still as he speaks to her, unmoving, unspeaking, no focus spared even to turn her head to give him her sightless, glowing red eyes.

Then, her slack fingers squeeze his. Acknowledgment.

The twins separate, and Wanda lets Pietro go, turning to put her back to them both. There is no last sight for someone like Matt Murdock, but there is last sense of the Scarlet Witch — stance squared, arms outstretched, hands open. Her head rolls back, and her eyes lash shut, giving herself to the power that moves through her blood and wreathes her flesh. Lifting off from her feet, levitating amidst her lashing scarlet, she holds together the boat for the time needed for her twin to take Murdock out.

Quicksilver needs no time.

In his speed, it may well be lost — the distant, defeaning crack of the yacht splitting, and the tidal pull of the water to suck its broken pieces down into the dark and cold.

The water takes Wanda too. No matter. Men always said that true witches float.

With her ability of teleportation, one would expect the witch at the shore before her brother. Perhaps he is still quicker; perhaps, for her own reasons, Wanda decided to lag. She arrives, moments after Pietro, stepping free from a spinning vortex of red. Her dress and dark hair drip with seawater.

Looking first at Pietro, Wanda holds her silence. The scarlet still has not left her eyes.

Finally, she looks on Matt Murdock. One can feel eyes like hers, sinking in slowly, like pushed needles. "This is on you," she declares, voice as cold as the sea. "You should not have been in that position. He should be dead. The sins he soon commits — they are yours."

Quicksilver moves more quickly than Matt can protest, or even process. His powerful yet delicate senses are all off-kilter in the scant seconds it takes the mutant terrorist to whisk them to some rocky island beach on the Connecticut shoreline.

But Matt adapts to his new surroundings quickly, and feels a familiar swell of anger rising in him —

— that he just as quickly sets aside.

After all, what would be the point? This was the inevitable end of any alliance between the three of them: an ugly collision of fundamentally different ideologies, moralities, and self-appointed roles. Pietro and Wanda see themselves at war with the worst of mankind, or perhaps the entirety of it. Matt, for all his occasional forays into genuine vengeance, sees himself as a peacekeeper rather than some holy warrior. He treats killing as a very last resort, not just another weapon of the supposedly righteous.

The realization hardens him against Wanda's words, which would have drawn real blood at almost any other time. On paper, and certainly in her experience of him that night when she delved into his mind, he seems a man who bears the fates of others on his shoulders, and is quick to count his perceived failures.

And he does even here, after a fashion. "Yeah, this is on me," Matt says. But there's a note of defiance and bitter rue in his voice that suggests he doesn't mean Fisk's future acts all. If anything, he probably means them, and his role in calling them.

He brings himself up to a full rise, even though his skull and shoulder ache and every hypersensitive nerve in his body feels raw and exposed. He realizes they are not the only things that feel exposed, as the sea-salt wind skims along his bruise-mottled face. His grimace lances pain through that loose tooth.

"My helmet is sinking along with that boat," Matt says with as much quiet dignity as he can muster, "and I was taken away too quickly to retrieve it." Perhaps having no expectations that notions of fair play or mercy will sway them, he adds: "I'm a more effective advocate for your people with this side of my life unknown."

Matt Murdock will have a harder time going on CNN to make the case for mutants if he himself is regarded as 'powered,' or so goes the lawyer's logic.

As the Devil speaks — though now, he is no more than a man, unmasked and human as the rest of them — the Witch holds her own silence.

Even if he cannot see, he holds her eye. Perhaps the Scarlet Witch is curious to see his face for what is is; perhaps faces mean nothing to her, transient layers peeled away the deeper she sees — and she is stealing a straight, fierce look straight down into his possibilities.

Countless universes and their iterations, opening up like a tarot spread.

The barbs pointing his words bring a flicker of flint to her red eyes; ultimately, the Witch looks away. Apparently well and truly done — at least with tonight — she departs to catch up with her twin brother, leaving the Daredevil at her shoulder.

He calls after. It is last request of them, and not one so easily made — especially not of a man who has built everything he is on the work of his own hands, the ingenuity of his mind, the meddle of his spirit.

Wanda's forward pace holds for a beat. She thinks on that helmet. She has the ability to feel along the distant shape of that still-sinking boat, and bring back that missing piece of equipment to Murdock's feet as if it were never lost. She also has the ability to ignore a human's need and continue on.

What have they ever done for her?

That is what the fury asks her, over and over. The coldness, too, and the cruelty she feels welling up from some dark place within — why help the same beasts who only know how to hurt?

Then Matt adds his careful justification — advocate for your people — and Wanda's curling fingers loosen and go slack. She thinks of the Maximoffs — her mother, her father — and the anger opens its chokehold from her heart.

She pulls off her red shawl, lets it unwind from her shoulders and fall to the sand. And the Scarlet Witch leaves it behind.

True facts: Matt Murdock's ears are so sensitive that he can detect and parse the whisper of a slowly falling shawl over the din created by the whip of the ocean wind and the lap of the waves on this pebbly shoreline. Relief floods him, if not quite gratitude, as he trudges forward towards the piece of red fabric that lays there on the beach.

At least he'll be able to protect his identity as he charts his next course. Except he won't, really, he's reminded. Because Matt's greatest enemy now knows his name, and that enemy is in parts unknown. In fact, it's safe to say that, so long as Wilson Fisk lives, Daredevil's identity will never really be safe again.

Matt realizes with a dim sort of horror and resignation that Fisk will remain alive, or at least that Matt won't be the one that sets his death in motion. For months now Matt has vacillated on that question, obscuring his once-bright-line and just moments ago outright crossing it by summoning these deeply damaged people with the full knowledge they would try to kill Fisk. And he didn't just know it. Steeped in grief and rage over the death of Jessica Jones and eight-thousand more like her, he wanted them to do it. Counted on it.

He pulled that trigger, set off that nuke, and what happened then? Fisk escaped anyway, and now some dozen other heartbeats are sinking or swimming on the ocean sea. Many of them are undoubtedly killers, and all of them would have let Fisk kill him, but Matt knows suddenly in his bones that he can't just let them die on his account, at least not without a fight. Strange, he thinks, that so many of his moments of clarity come in the company of the twin terrorists who just left him there on the shore.

Matt reaches down and grabs the red shawl to make a wrap around the top of his head, knotting it at the back as he plots his next steps. He can smell the storm rolling in, feel the changes in air pressure on his skin. He has an hour at most to get out there and save who he can.

It might seem farcical, this sudden conviction to make amends by turning right back around, heading out to sea to save these bastards. What can he really do? He doesn't have a boat. He's just a blind man on a beach, beaten so badly that each step and breath he takes is agony.

But, then, if this day proved anything, it's that this Devil still has a few tricks up his sleeve.

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