Pier 41

September 27, 2018:

Luke Cage and Owen Mercer get the call, and come to help Frank Castle and Barbara Gordon hunt down The Blacksmith.

Pier 41, Gotham City

See opening pose.


NPCs: Various Blacksmith Goons, Gosnell

Mentions: The Blacksmith, Jessica Jones

Mood Music: Genesis

Fade In…

On September 24th, there was a full moon. When it rose over Gotham City, it shone bloodred across the city. The weatherman on WJLP-3 joked that it was all the hellfire burning in New York City, and thus it got named Demon Moon. Just two nights later, it still hangs in the dark skies like a bad omen. But everything has felt like a bad omen in recent days: red moons, raining sulphuric toads, and a glow of brimstone to the north. It's no wonder that the Blacksmith didn't have his goods delivered to the piers in the Meatpacking District as scheduled, but instead diverted the boat stuffed full with drugs to Gotham's own wharf.

Pier 41 is one of the last rusting fingers stretching out into the Gotham Harbor. It is part of just one collection of Docks that is known by Gothamites as The Docklands. It resides on the southeastern edge of mainland New Jersey; from here, the lights of Sandy Hook island shine bright, and the neon sign for Gotham City Stadium glows in its bulb-patterned art deco design. It's a muddled mess of old and new — and a territory shared by all. You bringing in dirty business into Gotham by water? Better bring it in through the Southside docks of the Docklands. Through dirty deals and dirtier means — no matter how hard Jim Gordon tries — Southside is the beat of cops who just don't give a shit. In fact, they are given quite lucrative bonuses for not giving a shit.

And tonight? They are definitely not giving a shit.

It has been no more than a half hour since Frank Castle shot up a diner in the East End waterside. Ask the trembling waitress and line cook, and they'll say that he was protecting some redhead — a woman they could not really be sure was actually Barbara Gordon — from two gun-toting men who had come looking for her. That wasn't how the media was already spinning it: Frank Castle — the Punisher — had chased Jim Gordon's daughter to the diner, and there killed two customers in his pursuit of her. The Commissioner has confirmed his daughter is safe, and is denying she had been in the diner to begin with. It's all convoluted, and who knows if anyone is actually going to get to the truth.

Barbara's motorcycle is parked and stowed in the shadows of a rusting cargo hauler at the base of the pier. It has been sitting in Gotham waters for almost two decades, and still bears the bullet holes from some legendary shootout between the Falcones and Maronis. It took her at least five minutes of hard self-debate before she decided not to show up as Batgirl, and instead went for the black motocross gear. She keeps the boots though, their soles bright yellow. She stands beneath the shadow of cargo hauler, staying in the dark where she's most hidden. She sent texts to both Luke and Frank to tell them where she would be waiting. From here, she can just see the silhouette of the Blacksmith's own hauler — modest in size, but definitely low in the water because of its load. She hasn't heard a sound since she arrived — a kind of bad omen all on its own. She tucks a little earbud in her ear that is a lesser, but still quite powerful, listening device. It connects to her phone that is tucked into her pocket. She listens for the dull murmur of guard conversations, but hears none.

There probably should be the murmur of guards talking to one another on the docks. There certainly are on the next dock over. At Pier 41, however, there's no sign of guards on land or around the warehouse that the pier backs up to. And there's a good reason that it's so quiet. Frank Castle came straight over to the pier from the diner, and he was getting antsy. Now he's less antsy, mostly because he's expanded his makeshift armory at the expense of the two pair of guards who were patrolling around the warehouse. The quiet clink and slide of metal on metal comes from behind a stack of crates, where Frank works on cleaning his new weaponry with an ice-pick taken from one of the guards and strips torn from their shirts. He still has the sawed-off shotgun and pistol from the diner, to which he's added another pair of pistols, three knives, a snap baton, the ice pick, a full-length shotgun, and a submachine gun. The weapons are sorted with their ammo, the bodies of their former bearers tucked further into the warehouse, where they hopefully won't be stumbled upon by other guards, the authorities, or vigilantes with consciences.

Barbara: [totally typo ridden]

Found Black Smith. Gotham Peer 41.




Tell M to bring F carbine. Boomer rings deliver later.

(Luke just looks at his phone like WTF does that mean)

Barbara: [after a long pause] …

Boomerangs. Not rings. Rangs. Owen has F's guns. Sorry hands shaking and autocorrect


We really need to work on your text game. Chill. 20 min out.


Apartment got shot up, then tracked to diner. More bullets. No civ casualties. Text game can wait. See you there. Look out for F. He's already there.

Luke sighs at his phone and fires off a text to Owen: Meet me at Gotham Peer 41. Bring the Rook's guns.

And then he does the most super hero thing of all - he calls an (illegal) Uber.

It costs a bit more than normal to convince the driver to take him into Gotham, tossing a Benjamin into the passenger seat if he can get Luke there pronto. Thankfully at this time of night, the commuter crowd is light and they hit a convenient set of green lights that takes them over the bridge. The big man huddled in the back seat is bouncing a fist off his knee. It's not that he's nervous, he's just trying to prepare himself for walking into a situation virtually blind with no idea what to expect when he gets there. At least from what he's heard from Barbara, the particular brand of chaos centers around guns. He's good with guns. Or more specifically their bullets. He gets let out a block away and jogs the rest. Did someone order a vigilante with a conscience?

o/~ "Do I need to slap you upside your damn head? You gotta text." o/~

Owen Mercer's phone goes off and he checks the message from Luke. He tilts his head sideways and looks at his phone frowning. Not because he's unsure of what Luke means, but instead he's trying to figure out where exactly they fit into this 'plan' that Castle seems to be executing and how he feels about it. Eventually the fact that Luke is going wins out above anything else and he makes his way to Gotham, stopping by a hidey-hole to retrieve both Frank's duffle bag, and some of his own gear. He doesn't dress as Captain Boomerang though, that name was just recently splashed alongside the Defenders and he'd rather not drag more people into this, particularly as he's not even sure he wants anything to do with it.

He responds

Hurray. This should be a cluster.

Owen makes a careful approach from the rooftops, using the tech in his mask to find warm bodies and watching as some of them start to cool. Found Castle. He quietly slips his way towards him, but he's no bat, so his approach might be heard. Once he's close enough he whispers, "Brought you a present sunshine. But it looks like yer doin' just fine in the 'enough guns to make every liberal mom in Connecticut cry' game." The duffel he brought lands next to Frank with a soft thud, the clothes still in it cushion the blow.

Barbara spots Owen first, and tracks him to where she knows she'll find Frank. She comes up behind the two, being quiet in her footfalls until she's almost right behind Mercer. "Owen, nice to see you," she says, tone light to hide the bit of tension running through her. She glances down to Frank. She's had a chance to clean up, but she still bears some of the small wounds — a little bruise at her temple where Frank got her down to the floor, and she moves just gingerly enough to suggest her ribs are still aching beneath the structured jacket.

When she turns her head slightly, she spots Luke. She knows him from VigiWatch mostly, because she still watches and listens to the broadcast. She has actually really enjoyed Abigay Oliver's coverage on Luke Cage — who she affectionately calls The Cage. Her smile is slight when he comes near enough, and she bobs her head. "Luke," she says softly to him, barely above the same volume she spoke to Mercer. She looks back to Frank, and the sight of his already-established armory has her frowning. "Dead… or unconscious?"

The quiet nature of Owen's approach actually suggests that he's not trouble for Frank, since any additional guards are likely to feel at home on their own turf. That doesn't keep Frank from whirling toward the footstep he hears only a few paces away — far closer than he would have liked. There's a pistol in his hand as he turns, but he lowers it again, nodding as the duffel is dropped off and turning back to finish reassembling the last of the weapons. "Mercer. All I had was a knife when I came to Gotham. It's a giving city." There's a pause, and then he reaches for the bag, unzipping it and pulling out the M4 carbine inside. His fingers caress it as he checks it over quickly, then digs out a magazine and slips it home. "Thanks. I'll get you your boomerangs when I'm back in New York. Hey, Red." Despite the opening half-joke, he's clearly focused and intent. Additional magazines leave the duffel and are slipped into hoodie and jacket pockets. One of the pistols goes into a pocket too. Rising to his feet, he looks up as Luke joins the party, blinking and tilting his head in surprise, "Cage. What are you…" Barbara's greeting clears that up, and he decides to just nod instead of finishing the question. Gesturing to the weapons, he answers her question, "Three out, one down." He's not shy about the fact. "Blacksmith's guards on land. Figured I'd clear the way to the ship while I was waiting." There's a brief glance over to Barbara, a hint of a question, 'how much do they know?' but he doesn't ask it out loud.

The big man looms behind the three, stealth not really his strong game. Luke's arms fold over his chest, and unlike the others he doesn't seem to have any weapons on him. At least he has the hood up on his sweatshirt. "I'm just here to make sure nobody ends up dead." Which. He's probably a little late to the game to really enforce when Frank gives his site rep. He doesn't look amused, in fact, he doesn't particularly seem invested in this whole deal. But he's here, as promised.

Dark eyes shift to Mercer, giving him a flat look of 'what did we get ourselves into'.

"What?" Owen's head swivels and he hisses "Why are you sneaking up on me, sneaking on him?!" at Barbara.

Owen is dressed in all black as well, complete with a domino mask that uses a fancy bit of tech to blur his face. His arm is still in wraps under the heavy motorcycle jacket. He tries to ignore very hard the fact that he and Barbara have exceedingly similar out of costume costumes. He looks to Frank for the answer of whether or not the men are dead. When he has it he turns to Barbara with his best crazy look and pulls out a dagger from his boot. "Here's yer chance Red, they're already down. Just go slit their throats. That's what we're here for right? Kill us some bad guys."

His taunting chuckle is cut short by Luke's look, which gets only a mildly reproached shrug from Owen. He does slide the knife away though and turn to Frank, "Because I'm guessin' Frank the Tank here ain't gonna be firing too many warning shots tonight. So. Before we get into a possible pointing guns at people who are trying to be the voice of reason situation, can we just take a quiiiick second to get on the same page?"

He says this with as much Luke in mind as Barbara. Because while Owen is totally fine with Frank killing people, and is willing to do it himself when needed, he feels this weird nagging hang up about actual heroes doing that. It's as if he's discovered some sort of weird moral code laying dormant in his here-for undiscovered conscience.

Barbara actually rolls her eyes slightly at Mercer, but then settles into a rueful smile. "Nice to see you back in Gotham, Mercer. You can kiss the Rose Rooster all by yourself now. And don't worry, Batman doesn't know you're here." Though there's an unspoken yet that hangs as a mild threat. These two would almost be cute if they wouldn't both kill the person who dared to suggest it. That's how you get Barbara Gordon to kill someone… dare to suggest she's got a thing for Owen Mercer.

She tucks a loose lock of hair back behind her ear where it has slipped free of her simple braid. She glances between Luke and Owen briefly, and then back to Frank. The look barely lingers on his blunt features before she's turning more fully to the two heroes for hire — even if she isn't paying them a dime. Her mouth tightens a bit before she slowly nods, arms crossing loosely at her chest. "Alright…" She holds herself a bit different when she's not Batgirl — and of all the people here, Owen would recognize it first. She seems more cautious, more thoughtful. She doesn't have that doggedness, or the weighted silence. Her brows furrow above her eyes, no longer hidden by the cowl.

"The Blacksmith shot up TCLEC, killed District Attorney Reyes, that New York medical examiner, and tried to kill me tonight. He's here, moving his product into Gotham. That's his boat." She points at the cargo hauler that is at the end of the dock. "Reyes tried to set up a sting on the Blacksmith with a deep undercover agent, but instead of them catching him, the three gangs he brought together for a meet in Central Park ended up shooting up the Carousel, and Frank's family was killed." Her jaw works a bit as she comes to the crux of it. "It is up to Frank what happens to the Blacksmith… but we need to shut down his operation, too. Any lieutenants, or second-in-commands… we need to take them in. Any drugs on the boat… we should destroy them."

Because if they end up in Gotham evidence… they'll probably just end up on the street anyway… though Barbara doesn't say that aloud.

The taunting from Owen to Barbara draws a flat look from Frank, but he doesn't comment on it, looking back to Luke, "That's not going to happen, Cage." The statement is flat, a hint of anger trickling into his voice. "There's one man who is coming out of this dead: the Blacksmith." His gravelly voice has gained a hint of a growl, looking in the direction of the ship (for all that there's a wall between him and it) as if he wanted nothing more than to be moving toward it already. He lets Barbara explain why he wants Blacksmith dead, his normally-stoic face twitching a little. He doesn't meet anyone's eyes throughout the explanation, but his right index finger taps on the outside of his carbine's trigger guard. Finally, he looks back up, looking from Luke to Owen to Barbara in turn, "Someone's trying to shoot me, I'm going to put them down fast." Still, he shakes his head and grants, "If they ain't going for a weapon, I got no problem letting them live." His voice goes hard again, or harder, "But Blacksmith? I need him to be gone. I need this to be over." The anger is clearly audible in his voice now, although he keeps it just above a rough whisper.

Luke gives a long exhale out his nose, his nostrils flaring wide as Barbara gives the run down of the situation. As he listens, he straightens his left arm, rolling his wrist until there is a pop somewhere near his elbow, but at least it's better than operating in a cast. "Right." He rumbles the word deep in his chest. "Only one thing you got wrong there, Castle. If someone's trying to shoot you? Get behind me first before you go returning fire. Trust me. Same goes for you, Gordon." Owen knows the drill. He should be trying to talk Frank out of putting anyone down, but somehow he just can't muster those inspirational sort of words about doing good and doing right. Maybe because he knows what it's like to walk in those shoes. To bury a wife. It brings up thoughts he'd rather swallow down, and so he merely reaches down and plugs one of his earbuds in and cranks some tunes. A nod is given to the others. He's good to go.

Owen takes in the information from Barbara with an unsettling unbroken gaze. It rankles him to see a Bat out of costume and acting in a way that goes against their code. Because as much as heroes count on other heroes sticking to a code of conduct, villains rely on it much more. It's funny how making moves to switch what side of the fence he's on has been far more morally fraught than he imagined. Somehow he expected a lot more righteous indignation. Maybe he just hasn't spent enough time around Matt yet.

As for any underlying affection behind his ribs and jibes at Barbara, Owen would deny it to the death. But he would also recoil in horror at being accused of doing the right thing, being kind or in anyway helpful.

"Super." The talk of destroying the drugs actually causes a small whistful sigh to escape his lips but the pace of the conversation probably covers that over.

"Oh yea, don't worry big man, I have no intentions of getting shot. Again. You can take all my bullets for me. But Frank, sorry to say at least two men are aren't coming out alive …" Yes, he's a bit of a jerk for the dramatic pause he inserts here before pointing to the dead guard. "Unless you plan on resurrecting that dude. He's fuckin' dead." Again the dark joke doesn't seem to bother Mercer, he could care less. But Owen feels a driving need to point it out to Barbara that will likely continue throughout the night.

"We should start a running tally. Maybe I'll take pictures of their faces so you can review 'em later in the Batcave?"

Barbara's expression changes a bit at the 'Super' from Owen, and her mouth thins. She actually looks — dear God — she looks a little concerned. It was something she hadn't clicked together — boat full of drugs plus addict — and now it makes her hesitate. Just for a moment. The absolute disregard for Owen's own flaws is not something Barbara does, but she did it. The apologetic look in her blue eyes is brief, but there. She nods soberly. "Alright," she says more or less to herself. "I'll take care of the disposal. You three just handle the muscle." Then she tucks the braid up around her neck, coiling the tail down into the short, standing collar of her motocross jacket. She zips it tight to her chin in a kind of manner that says, I'm doing this, stop looking at me like that.

"We're keeping the death toll down, alright?" Her voice has an uneasy edge to it. "Unavoidables only." Then her chin ducks slightly, and she glances to Frank. "Except for Blacksmith. I want to be able to drop someone at the precinct who can at least tell the authorities that this is over." Her blue eyes cut to Mercer, and she steps toward him on those sunshine yellow soles. "Mercer, cut it out, alright? You think this is easy for me? You think this isn't going to bear consequences for me? I know what I'm doing." Her voice has a slight tremor, just at the edge, and she flexes her jaw to steady it. "You can keep up the jabs if it makes you feel better, but I've already made my decision, and if it helps you stop looking at me like I'm from some shadow dimension…" She looks to Frank, then back to Mercer. "I'm not killing anyone tonight."

Not anyone else…

The request-slash-order from Luke draws a frown from Frank, the smaller veteran Marine (which is sort of like saying 'the smaller tank') hesitating a moment, "I'm not gonna let someone else soak bullets for me." Because evidently he doesn't know about Luke's abilities. The earbuds and the noise building from within them furrows his frown down even harder, but then he's being distracted by Owen. Owen is quite good at that. Frank glances over to the deeper corner in the warehouse where he dragged the three unconscious people and one dead person, then shrugs, "He's already dead. But you're right. And I expect a few more probably too, but it ain't gonna be my first play." He gestures over to Barbara at her request to drop someone with the police department, shifting a little uncomfortably, but still nodding.

"Plan's simple: go on board, search front to back, top to bottom, find me Blacksmith, destroy the drugs, get out." He looks around the little group, settling the tactical sling of his M4 around his chest and making sure it's comfortable, then starting to pile the remaining weaponry into the duffel, "I'm gonna put this all in the car." Which he didn't have when he came to Gotham. "Anything to add?"

Luke just reaches over and, with the flat of his fingers, he taps Owen on the back of the head. Thankfully it's not even a 'Luke' tap, the strength reined in. "Try not to be a complete dick and piss off the people who are supposed to be watching your back /before/ the big maneuver." Because that seemed a little harsh, even for his drug-addicted, smart ass friend.

There is an uncomfortable shuffle of his feet, mainly because he's ready to get this done and over with. He already feels his phone vibrating in his pocket, and peeks at the caller I.D. Jess was at that conference, and no doubt she's phoning him now to tell him what went down. His lips thin into a straight line, his mood getting more sour as he feels the next single buzz to let him know a caller left a voicemail. Only from Barbara does he know no one else was hurt, so she's not calling him to say she's injured.

What's he supposed to say? 'Can't talk, babe. Helping kill the man responsible.' No, no. He's not helping kill. He's protecting Frank. That's different. Frank, who is protesting.

Cage reaches into his jeans to fish out his pocket knife, thumbing it open and making sure it catches Castle's eye before he palms up his shirt and hoodie. "Like I said…" Luke says by way of preamble, before he inverts his grip on the knife and then with the considerable force in his muscled arm, jabs it into his abdomen. Instead of the skin giving, the knife does instead, bending at an odd angle and the very tip chips off and a triangle of metal blade goes pinging off to hit concrete. "Trust me."

The slap upside the head causes Owen to wince and rub at his head giving Luke the look of we will discuss this later, but it does at least have the effect of getting Owen to shut his mouth for a few minutes. "Yea, yea. Remind me to tell you how much lip you gave Claire."

He's also mollified by Barbara's plan to take care of blowing the drugs or the ship or whatever. And also very smug when he gets Frank to admit that there is already one dead tonight and will definitely be more. He quietly listens to the plan and says, "Yea, well if we gotta search the boat, that should be me or … " He looks at Barbara and hesitates for a second before settling on "Batgirl." Maybe Luke's slap had more of an effect. "She's quietest. I'm fastest."

The good behavior lasts all of four more seconds.

"But it's finders keepers on the drugs right?"

/She's quietest./

Did Owen Mercer just compliment her? She actually blinks at him a bit, and then slowly starts to nod in agreement. "You and Luke should clear the sentries, and Mercer and I can find an alternate way to box them in. Then we clear the boat. No one onboard." Then she adjusts her stance a bit, checking the weight of the things on her utility belt and the pouches attached to her thighs. She's at least carrying all that she needs.

When Owen suggests that finders keepers on the drugs, her mouth thins and she glances toward Luke and Frank. When she looks back at Mercer, she frowns. "No. We're going to burn the boat, and all the drugs go down with it."

Then she breathes out a slow exhale. "Let's do this… we're wasting time. Someone is going to notice that there's a few guards out of rotation. Mercer? Let's find a way in. Luke and Frank can go the direct route."

There is a little up-nod to Frank as he draws the line between Luke, the knife, and him being a meta. "That's right." For a second there it's as if he's daring Castle to make a deal out of it, but when Frank hands him the knife he merely nods his thanks and pockets it in his jeans. Before he moves with the others, he looks around to find the tip of the blade that broke off and tucks that away as well. As Frank heads to the Buick, he pulls a pair of work gloves out of his back pocket and slips them on while commenting lowly to the others, "I have zip ties." Either it's his brand of kink he's randomly decided to share, or he's letting them know he has ways to restrain any survivors.

Owen has seen Luke's parlor trick more than once but he still smiles at the reaction it gets. He only smirks at the comments about burning the drugs as he has no actual plans to swipe any. He only shrugs at the part about not splitting up. At the comment about zip ties, he looks to Luke, "I don't think we have time for that now. Ohhh.. for the bad guys. Yea. Gotcha."

But once Frank is back he tilts his head to one side, stretching and he settles into a quieter mode. He flips something on the side of his mask and starts to scan the ship. And then, in a moment, he's not there. Because he's really good at following plans. But he's at least not far ahead, just getting a closer look.

For Gordon, she's just become too accustomed to there being all kinds of humans around her; plus, she knows of Luke Cage enough to only marvel quietly at the sight of the knife. Then she glances back toward Owen at his smirking, but refrains from comment — except for the slight tightness at the corners of her mouth. Batgirl glances toward Luke and — because there's no chance that she would have mistaken his words for anything other than literal and not a profession of his kink list — she nods soberly. "Alright."

She glances toward Owen before she tugs up the half-face balaclava that she has tucked around her neck. She settles it over the lower half of her features, at least maintaining some of her mask. When Owen disappears, she takes off after him in an almost silent run on those bright yellow soles.

Frank's trip to the Buick is quick, and when he comes back, he pulls off his ballcap, slipping it on backwards instead so that when he butts the stock of the carbine up to his shoulder, the brim doesn't get in his way. It also doesn't cut off his peripheral vision once it's turned around. No mask, no balaclava, just Frank. He glances briefly at Luke as if to see if he's going to mask up too, and then notices that Owen is gone and Barbara is running toward the boat. Opening his mouth to say something, he just lets out a little hiss of annoyed air, "Fuck it, let's go." And then he's moving forward, across the warehouse and out toward the dock-end door. He keeps his pace slow enough so that Luke can pass him without running if he chooses to, but it's clear that Frank is at least as impatient as Owen and Babs.

The pathway to the boat is quick. Another four guards are taken out and down, this time far more quietly when there's more vigilantes at work. With Luke's zip ties, four more unconscious men are taken down and secured. The cargo hauler — small and compact, but deck heavily packed with crates and containers — is anchored at the end of the pier. It's dark down this far from the warehouses, with just a few downward-pointed lights to add illumination. The hauler is lit by its own lights, and a guard are at each gangplank up to the deck.

There's at least ten other men moving around the deck in a lazy, strangely professional pattern. They move in pairs mostly, and there's at least four stationary guards — two at the aft and two near the bridge. They are all dressed in blacks and grays and greens, and there's something almost militaristic about their stance and gait.

The lone guard at the aft-end gangplank looks a bit impatient, half-stepping out of his position to glance down the pier. He's on a walkie-talkie. "Miles… Jacobs… come in. I swear to God, if you guys are taking a smoke break, I'm going to call it in so fast you'll need to become a speedster to escape what's coming to you."

Barbara is sheltered in the shadows of a near pylon, watching the guard. She gestures with her hands, indicating the number three: one for the walkie-talkie guard and two for the ones coming near the gangplank exit at the top of the deck. She then begins to unwind the bolas on her little belt arsenal, the weights heavy at the end of the reinforced, wire-braided rope.

Luke does not do stealth, he does not do quiet. Hell, he doesn't even really do strategy beyond rushing in like a bull and knocking heads together. Thus, the man mountain actually defers to the others when it comes time to move on the ship. For all intents and purposes, he sticks closer to Frank than the others, knowing thanks to Owen that Barbara has a superhero alter ego, and Owen himself has his meta properties to give him some safety. While Frank is a marine, he's a fleshy squishy marine the it comes down to it. In an answer to Castle's unasked question: Luke's only obfuscation is a flipped up hood and gloves so he doesn't leave finger prints.


The flight of the boomerang is not quite silent but quiet enough and out of the ordinary enough to not be recognizable as anything. It's a weight boomerang aimed perfectly for the throat of the guard with the walkie-talkie. Owen is forgoing any of the flashier tricks that he might usually bring, but he's still throwing boomerangs because well it'd be a little weird for him not to.

Owen's also not waiting for the boomerang to come back on it's own, or for anyone to come around and find the guard clutching at this throat, he's on the move kick the guy hard in the face and hopefully knock him out. And to retrieve his boomerang. No sense leaving any of those lying around after going to the trouble to not wear the big flashy Captain Boomerang regalia.

Frank (and Frank's medical record) would contest the 'squishy' part of that description, although compared to Luke, everyone but Iron Man is squishy. Frank stops at the sound of the guard's voice, his carbine coming up to cover the pair on the bridge. The odd sound and swooping motion of the boomerang draws a blink from Frank, and a grunt halfway between amused and impressed. Since the others are going to complain if he goes in guns blazing, Frank holds off, just there to make sure that he can put in the weight of fire if something goes wrong. When something goes wrong. Something always goes wrong. Especially once they try to go up onto the lighted deck. His right finger taps lightly against the trigger guard of the carbine, the muscles in his cheeks jumping slightly at his ever-increasing impatience.

All it takes is taking down the walkie-talkie guard, and access to the hauler is just an upward run. The guard hits the ground after a hard stagger after the combo from Owen, his next words dying at his lips as he crumples to the ground. His radio rattles across the cement of the dock before it plops into the water of the bay.

Barbara is sprinting forward once the guard hits the ground, and she powers past Owen on those motocross boots before she drops low, flinging out the bolas as it goes soaring in that ever-moving spiral before it wraps up the legs of the guard at the other gangplank.

It catches him off-guard, and he's hitting the ground about as hard as his fellow. He'd have a chance to scream a warning if not for the fact that Barbara didn't stop running until she was slamming her foot up into the guy's face, and he flops down on the dock.

Both gangplanks clear, Barbara darts a look behind her. Then she's racing upward, shockingly silent despite the flash of yellow of her boot soles. Without her cape, the advance is far less impressive. She's on the deck, staying low and out of sight. She begins to track the movements of the nearest pair of guards, and she's beginning to slot razors into the webbing between her gloved hands. This time, she's not going to nick her own skin when wielding the edges.

With both gangplanks clear of their guards, it is now all about the frontal assault.

There's boomerangs and bolas and fancy equipment. Luke has none of those things. He has two ham fists and bullet proof skin and that's all he needs (unless he's up against a God again, but that's a different story). With the gangplanks clear of anyone that can alert the others, Luke is barreling up the left, hopping the last bit of railing with one hand on a post. With the hip-hop beat playing in one ear, it unknowingly influences the bounce in his step, giving him a bit of swagger. Dropping the beat when he drops the bodies.

Two guards turn to find a determined black man stalking up towards them, one raising their pistol but before the trigger can be pulled, the big man is wrenching it from his grasp and bending it over on itself, dropping the knot of metal to the dock before he's punching out the bewildered wielder and elbowing out his parter with a sickening crack of a broken nose.

Dropping in behind Luke, Owen waits while he drops the two guards before speeding around the big guy to tie them up. They go from getting punched and elbowed one second to tied up with an Owen lighting a cigarette on them the next. He gives Luke a silent thumbs up before charging on ahead. He gets to a door down into the ship and waits.

But then something catches his eye. Thankfully the hologram technology covers how pale his face goes. He curses the lack of a telepathic link or at the very least decent comms. So instead he appears again in front of Luke and says, "I'm out. .. just.. trust me?" But he doesn't wait for any sign that the big man does in fact trust him. In the next instant, Owen's gone. And if anyone was taking very careful count of the guards, they might realize one is likewise missing. But it's much harder to say if any of the drugs on board are also missing. Weird how that works.

The silence isn't going to last much longer. Still, Frank does what he can. As Owen and Luke surge up one gangplank, Frank glances to where Barbara is clearing the other on her own and speeds his steps to catch up with her instead. He lets the carbine hang on its sling, and rushes up the gangplank toward the two guards just turning a corner around a crate of heroin (who had crates of heroin, really?). His left hand strikes out for the gun-hand of the first guard, and then his right snaps out to smash into the man's throat. Then the second guy is coming, bringing up a submachine gun, and Frank can't pussyfoot around anymore. He whips out the pistol at his side and fires off two quick shots into the man's gut. Totally survivable, right? As the man falls to the ground, Frank kicks him in the head quickly. Again, not fatal, but certainly not pleasant.

Once upon a time, Barbara Gordon protected her block without a single piece of gear save for what little she could piece together from her years in motocross. As she learned under Bruce Wayne, he made sure she saw upgrades along the way that landed her in the light armor she sports with her cape and cowl. Now she's back to her roots — her genesis. She's moving quickly without the flourish of her cape or flash of her cowl ears. She slams out a hard kick to one gut, elbow to another face, and then hitting the first with a contact taser that drops him. The second is kicked literally over the side of the boat, landing with as splash in the Gotham Bay.

Oh, where, oh, where did Owen Mercer go? And the guard… and perhaps maybe some of the drugs. It takes Barbara Gordon a good two minutes of actually taking out a few more of the guards on deck to notice that her count is off… and that she hasn't seen Owen. She glances back toward where she sees Luke and Frank taking out their own new friends, and her lips crease with a hard frown that is conveyed through the furrow of her brow.

Calls are coming now as guards drop, alarms being sounded. There's the sound of noise from below, cries for back-up. The center of the deck has been loaded up with crates and containers, ready to be off-loaded, and it gives both guards and vigilantes easy cover.

The gunfire starts within moments of seeing Luke and Frank, though Barbara hasn't quite caught the same attention. It's a blur of semi-automatic and automatic fire, and the first clip that is fired toward Frank completely destroys a crate full of heroin, dropping bags of it to the metal deck. Another clip is being emptied at Luke, because wasting bullets is an experience every bad guy should have when Power Man is in the house.

Luke gives a nice, hard slap square in the forehead to the guy with the broken nose and he crumples like a rag doll. Luke is somewhere around zip-tying their arms behind their backs when Owen zooms in and asks Luke to trust him. Shit. That can't be good. A word of protest dies on his lips as Mercer is gone again, and he's just left to sigh.

Then the bullets start. Cage turns right into the hail of bullets, bulking up his form with a roll of his shoulders upwards just to give the man a bigger target (and to make sure fewer go astray). They eat up his hoodie and his shirt beneath, but the bullets just impact his ever-hard skin and fall away harmlessly. He waits until he hears the telltale click of the guard running out of ammo before he advances. "Sorry, man. Just isn't your day." Cage shrugs and then grabs the still hot muzzle of the weapon without so much as a flinch and yanks it out of the guard's grasp to fling it into the water.

Frank hasn't even noticed that Owen is gone yet. He's too busy ducking behind the former crate of heroin to avoid the bullets that make the crate an ex-crate. The pistol goes back into his pocket, the barrel scorching the cotton-polyester blend of his hoodie. He doesn't notice that either. Instead, he pumps three quick shots from his carbine low toward the man's legs, and then comes roaring around the corner. Literally roaring as he aims to knock the second man off his feet and drive him to the ground where he can smash him in the chest and head with the butt of his carbine and try to render him unconscious.

Frank and Luke are determinedly the biggest bads according to the guards as they get the brunt of their attention. This gives Barbara the opportunity she needs to slip into the shadows after taking another guard out with a nut-kick and then compression hold on his throat. She starts to move through the containers and crates, using the maze provided by their ill-organized arrangement to give her a path. She hesitates when she comes to a container that is a bit out of place. It's a cylinder at the center of the maze, surrounded by the heroin. She brushes her hand across it, and realizes its pressurized.

She would puzzle over it more if she didn't have a big guy suddenly grabbing her from behind and literally hauling her up off her feet, his thick arm around her throat. She reaches behind her, using all that self-defense training her father insisted she get before her move to New York City back when she was a freshman in college, and gouges her thumb into the guy's eye socket.

Frank Castle smashes out his newest target, and then a voice calls to him to make his head turn right into an incoming fist that aims to smash into his temple before advancing faster to try to take out Frank at his knees.

Coming up the stairwell is another six guards, and one of them is carrying something that looks like a smaller version of the pressurized cylinder that Barbara had found. He looks around, and then chucks the cylinder at a fair-haired guard who catches it, turns, squats, and begins to open it.

The disarmed man in front of Luke stares at him in bewilderment for a heartbeat before he advances forward quickly, throwing a punch toward Luke with a snarl of frustration.

Luke just gives the man a flat expression and takes the blow without trying to duck out of it. The man's hand crumples against his chin, finger bones snapping like they were twigs. "Tried to warn you." Luke rumbles and reaches out to grab the guard by both collar and waistband before pitching him towards a stack of crates. It's then he catches sight of the guys with the containers. That can't be good. Hey Owen? Remember that breathing device you were going to make for Cage? Probably could come in handy right about now. "I wouldn't do that if I were you!" He calls to the fair-haired guard.

Frank's head snaps to one side, the impact nearly knocking him off the man he dropped. the blow to his knee causes that leg to collapse, grounding his knee on the deck and wringing another grunt of pain from him. He drops the carbine onto its sling, and aims a short-arcing uppercut between the man's legs. Only then does he do his best to shake off the bells suddenly ringing in his head. He's not the cunning-one-liners type, instead working to get himself up to his feet, swaying just a little. Screw this. His hand delves into his pocket again, and he fires off two quick shots from his hip, aiming center-mass on whoever the hell is turning him into a punching bag.

When Luke spots the fair-haired guard, his buddies advance quickly and bring their weapons to bear. Either they didn't get the memo, or they don't care, because two clips — one from each weapon — is being unloaded at Luke while they advance slowly toward him. This gives the kneeling man the opportunity he needs. With a twist and a hiss of liquid nitrogen, the cylinder opens and he pulls it apart from its base to reveal five small, slender tubes that look vaguely like EPI pens that had been suspended within it. Slits in the pen reveal a luminous blue liquid within. He grabs one hastily, all while being protected by those around him. His expression is almost wild with anticipation — a junkie getting his high. He slams the pen down into the top of his thigh, and looks absolutely satisfied.

He tosses the pen aside, and starts to rise, turning toward Luke. He flashes a broad grin that's almost manic. Then he's charging Luke, and each step, the guard begins to get taller, wider, more muscled, and his fist is up ready to fling at Luke once he's in range.

Frank's assailant is on the move, trying to close the distance again, but then his body is being knocked back in two quick staggers before he drops to the deck in a mass.

Barbara has her own guard on the ground, and she's on the move again to try to get to the other side of the boat where more guards are coming up out of the lower decks.

Below, on the Pier, a truck is barreling its way up the docks without any care about what it might runover. It has another four guys in the bed of the truck, two in the cab. When they swerve to park at the unguarded gangplants, men are getting to their feet with weapons coming up. There's a man standing up from the driver's seat, pulling himself out of the cab to shout toward the Punisher. "This is your last stand, Frank!" And then the four men in the bed open fire at the boat, taking out even their own men in the process.

"Sweet Christmas." Luke mutters in bewilderment as the fair-haired guard morphs right before his eyes into a hulking maniac. But if there's one thing the encounter with Fisk has taught him: duck.

He's wise enough now to know he is not in fact unbreakable, and while he might be able to withstand a blow from the drugged up guard, he'd rather not find out the hard way. Instead, he drops down when the man gets closer and bum rushes him with one shoulder like he's playing football, looking to barrel the other man to the ground and twist him into the open fire on the dock. Hopefully, unlike Luke, he's not bullet proof.

Frank's boot draws back to kick the newly-downed man in the face, but then there's a shout — a shout in a recognizable voice — and he drops next to the chest-shot man. Just in time, because the fusillade overhead shreds a bunch more boxes, scattering splinters and glass shards over him. More scrapes, more cuts, more blood. It hurts. And ducking down onto the deck actually gives him a moment to think. "That you, Gosnell?" He doesn't actually care about the response to the bellow, it's just to buy him some time so that he can roll up astride the man he just dropped, tucking the hot barrel of his pistol under the man's chin and leaning close and snarling, "Where's the Blacksmith? Bridge? Below-decks?"

The air sings with weapons fire, the sound of the metal hull dinging with bullets and crates being torn apart. The hulking out guard is almost on top of Luke before he tackles him, turning his heavier body around under the inertia. Luke's call was a good one, as when the bullets collide with the guard's changing body, it gets torn apart under the constant barrage.

On the other side of the boat, Barbara has kicked another guard overboard and is almost to the stairwell that would take her to the below deck to continue their search under fire.

The guard sputters blood at first, panic entering his eyes a the feel of the gun beneath his chin. He shakes his head briefly, and then swallows back his blood. He stammers words that are lost at first before he tries again, barely managing a rough, "He's not here. Never travels with mer… chandise."

From the truck below, that same guy calls, "Welcome home, Frank!" And then, from the bed of the truck, one of the guards is dropping his automatic weapon for a LAW, the tube already loaded as he brings it up to his shoulder. Once steadied, he fires, and a rocket is screaming toward the hauler, and Frank and his new friends.

Luke wiggles his hands beneath the hulking dead guard's shoulders enough to give him the leverage to push him off. He can lift tons of concrete, but he still has to get ahold of it first. Literal dead weight is no different. And it's way more gross. Cage is trying not to think of the sticky substance of blood that splatters his face, needing to drag a sleeve across his eyes in order to see what the commotion is about. It would be the hailing of old friends if it wasn't for that 66 mm rocket launcher aimed at them. It might not be enough to take out the ship itself, if it weren't for that pressurized tank that they are way too close too for comfort, considering. Luke is rushing at Frank now, while simultaneously bellowing and hoping Barbara can hear him. "GET DOWN." In this case, the safest bet would probably be to drag Frank off the edge of the pier into water and hope Gordon jumps free in time.

Rage takes over Frank's features at the response, and he grabs the man's collar, slamming the back of his head into the deck, "WHAT?" There's a pause, and as the automatic weapon-fire slows a little, Frank peeks up and spots the LAW, draining a touch of the fury from his face, "…fuck…" Twisting painfully toward the aft of the boat, he cries out, "Red! Punchy!" It's a horrible nickname, but he's not thinking too well about that right now, "Off the ship!" And then he drops back to the deck, holding close to the metal plating (and coincidentally the wounded man beneath him) in preparation of the upcoming explosion. The expedited arrival of 'Punchy' drives the air out of Frank's lungs, and he starts to twist to try to get free from the grasp of a vastly-stronger man.


The rocket slams into containers of heroin, and engulfs the entire boat with a blossom of flames. Everything that can burn starts to burn, and heat radiates all around the deck. The big cylinder in the center of the boat is at the center of the heat, and the pressurized contents explodes in flames that a blast that temporarily flares a brilliant, bioluminescent blue before dulling back into a starving orange that consumes the entire top deck of the boat.

It's better that Luke takes the burn, takes the shrapnel, takes the heat rather than Frank even if the struggling prevents Cage from dropping them both in the water. At the impact he merely bear hugs Frank up and forcibly crams the other man's head into hollow of his throat, presenting his back to the worst of it. Once the initial explosion subsides, he shoves Frank with a, "Go." So they can put more distance between them and the blaze. Here's to hoping Red survived. And where the holy hand grenade is Owen?!

Frank gets a nice lung-full of Luke as he's bear-hugged and thumped by a pair of explosions. When he's released and shoved, he stumbles toward the rail, "Get Red." He doesn't bother lifting his carbine to his shoulder, just firing off the while clip from the hip. He's not trying to hit any of the mercs on the pier in particular, just trying to keep their heads down. And what in the holy hell is… WHOMF. Frank was on the boat. Now he's in the air, tumbling ass over teakettle toward the water below.

There's more weapon's fire, but it joins the cacophony of sirens coming in from the North. Police cars are ripping up the dockland roads toward Pier 41, and there's other emergency vehicles screaming their way. Their incoming arrival is enough for those in the truck to pull themselves back into the cab and bed, dropping weapons and getting low in the vehicle as the driver gets himself back behind the wheel. There's a few last minute shots at Frank as he goes overboard before the truck guns it, trying to get off the dock before the police vehicles arrive.

When Luke drives himself back into the fire to find Barbara, he finds her shielded by a hunk of metal that had once been part of the decking. Without a Luke Cage shield, she's taken shrapnel, the worst being a knife-like shard of metal buried in the right side of her abdomen. She's holding onto it, making sure it doesn't move and thus cause more damage.

Luke flicks away the piece of metal as if it were light as a blanket shielding Barbara. Dark, worried eyes take in the injury. "It's alright. I gotcha." He mutters, the words punctuated with a cough at the smoke and fumes of the burning ship. Gingerly he bends down and scoops her up, an arm behind her shoulders and one beneath her legs. "This is going to hurt like a bitch." He warns as he lifts and then starts to run towards the main pier, bounding down the damaged gangplank at the sound sirens. Hopefully Frank knows how to swim.

Frank loses the pistol somewhere in the firefight, explosion, brief flight, watery landing, and the painful struggle to get back to the surface. He treads water for about a minute, trying to catch his breath despite the ringing in his ears, the stars in his eyes, his aching knee, the bruise already spreading into a shiner, and the concussive force that tried to squeeze his chest flat. Just treading water is hard with the carbine still slung at his side, there by the flickering light of the burning boat, but Frank is nothing if not stubborn, and so he slowly begins an awkward side-stroke toward the next pier up.

"I kn — aahhhgg!" She bites back more of her scream, twisting her arm up around his shoulder while still trying to keep that blade of metal steady. She tightens her jaw, clenching her teeth together has he gets her down to the dock in ways that are most unpleasant. She shakes her head, trying to keep her focus. "Shit…" So rare those types of words are for Barbara. "We need to get out of here." Then she starts to look around, jaw working against the pain. "Where's Frank?"

"He went for a swim." Luke says stoically, trying to ignore her gasps of pain as they tug on his tender heart strings. "Just stay with me, I'll get us out of here." It's going to be a game of hide in the shadows once they get near the warehouse, Cage moving as quickly as possible and trying to make his movements smooth to not jostle Barbara too much. He has to twist them behind a forklift at one point when a cop car goes screaming by, curling his hand up around her shoulders to cover her mouth with his fingers in case she yelps at the sudden movement, muttering, "Bite down." And so it goes, until they can get clear.

Finally, Frank makes his aching way to the next pier, finding a low-floating pier and rolling onto it like a beached shark. He groans, then draws in a long, slow breath. Putting a hand to his side, he notices that he's leaking. Somewhere along the way, he took a bullet. That's a surprise. But he also got something very, very important. A name. Pulling himself to his feet, he starts to limp along the pier, headed away from the waterfront. He's pretty sure that Luke or Babs can get into the Buick and get it started if it comes to that. Because he doesn't just have one name. That one name leads to a location, and another name. Schoonover. The son-of-a-bitch. Time to pay his old CO a visit.

Barbara forces her pain down as far as she can, biting back any noise that bubbles up in her throat. Only once they get to the Buick does she manage to speak through the pain. "You need to find Frank." Babs grimaces to Luke. "But first, I need you to send a message and tell my Family where to find me. I'm no good to either of you like this." She looks at Luke, and there's a flurry of emotion in her gaze, behind the deep pain. She looks toward the water, almost searching for Frank.

Cage manages to open the back door to the car without jiggling Barbara too much, "Frank's a big boy. First, let's get you some place safe." He sweeps her into the backseat, laying her out on the bench in the back before slamming the door and moving around to the driver's side. Hopping in, he sighs when he finds an empty ignition and checks the visor. Great.

He hasn't hot-wired a car since he was a teenager, and he's not delicate about it. Hopefully Frank wasn't worried about the resale value on his stolen vehicle, because Cage is just ripping out the lower panel and chunking it into the passenger side before he goes fishing for the correct wires to spark together. It's not until he's pulled the car out onto the streets that he fishes for his phone, getting the number from Barbara to fire off a text to her friend, then Owen. He'd ask her for Castle's number too, but either his phone is fried or it's in the very car he's driving around.

Well. At least Frank knows where to find Luke if he wants his property back. If he's not dead.

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