Ninety-six hours later and Matt pushed his twelfth thug-of-the-night's face roughly into the wall of the money laundering lair he'd busted into in search of any lead on Kingpin's safehouse where Fisk had sequestered himself, or the whereabouts of his elusive aide - the mysterious gentleman with the distinctive watch. He'd had no further attempts on his life from any agents of the shadowy cabal called 'The Hand', but near everywhere he went he felt hooded eyes and patient minds upon his back, biding their time, watching him work. A tiny, darkened part in the back of Matthew's mind quietly wondered what flood water Kingpin held back with his presence; but he would not allow himself to be distracted from his righteous crusade, not when he had come this far, and had so much taken from him. The lines between Justice and Revenge blurred and muddled together in Matt's heart until they were inextricably linked, two sides of the same coin.
This was his third raid on Fisk's operations tonight alone, and he had dismantled seven more of various sizes and purpose in the nights previous since his escape from the custody of police. He was now well and truly a fugitive; there was no remedy, no soothing of the blow. Fisk had backed him into a corner and now Matthew fought with the rabid ferocity of a feral dog. This war between the immovable Fisk and the unstoppable Murdock had thus far been too heavily weighted against Matthew, but now he felt the scales tip beneath his feet and the balance of power slide towards him, every new goon bloodied, bruised, and broken another piece cleared from the board. Kingpin was powerful, Matt held no delusions about that, and probably hoarded enough fortunes to disappear forever - but the flaw of rich and powerful men, Matt knew, was their inability to be sated by their wealth. Fisk would be just like any other man who considered himself above others: unable to satisfy himself, starving for more, using money to fill the void where his humanity fled him long ago. Matthew would shut off his supply, and Fisk would become desperate, panicked. He would make a mistake. It was simply a matter of time.
Matt felt the thug squirm beneath his grip and he pulled his latest victim up by the collar. The thug whimpered slightly. Matt's cowl glared at him with red lenses and there were lashes of blood across his face, very little of it his own, and as he smiled in a violent, menacing grin, the blood seeped into his teeth and completed his ghastly visage. The goon nearly pissed himself in fear.
"Wh-what do you want from me?!" Suppressed panic threatened to overwhelm his voice. Matt said nothing for a second, allowing the sheer tension to disturb the thug further, and then broke the silence with a low, sinister hiss.
"I don't know man I don't FUCKIN' know okay?! Ain't no one know!"
Matt unsheathed a billy club from its holster on his thigh and released the end section, allowing it to fall to the floor on its wire. The metallic clang rang through the darkened room and melded with the creaking of the lights left swinging from Matt's ferocious assault. They were the only two things conscious in the building; around them lay the out-cold bodies of 3 more of Fisk's men, all low-level muscle. One lay messy with blood, his hair matted to face. The thug looked around frantically, searching for any single shred of hope, but found none as Matt pushed him to the floor and placed his knee across the top of his chest, restricting his breathing and movement as he picked up the thug's left arm. Matt seemed disconcertingly serene as he methodically wrapped the wire of his billy club around the lowest knuckle of the thug's first finger - and then with a flinch from both men, pressed the button to withdraw.
The thug screamed as the high-tension wire rapidly spun as the club retracted itself, and then cut clean through the flesh and wrenched the finger bone from the knuckle as the two halves of the club came together. Matt stood and allowed the man to buckle over in pain, clutching at his missing digit - only to put his boot back into his chin and the knee back on his chest, picking up the same arm again and releasing the same billy club again and wrapping the same wire around the second finger.
Against the melodic backdrop of blood dripping and quiet sobs, Matt hissed the same question a second time.
"I do-I don't know, please, I don't, I really don't, I-I I ain't told no-one's told please, please! There's one-one guy that knows, his o-only trusted guy. That's it just him he organizes everything for the boss his name's S-Silkworth, okay?! O-Oswald Silkworth. Fuck man take my burner man take it I only ever get, get calls from him, it's in the safe! It's in the safe...code's zero-four-S-L-one-nine-six-four-B-E...just take it..."
He slipped into unconsciousness from shock and fear and exhaustion. Matt let his arm drop to the ground and unwound his baton. He tuned back in to the ambiance of the room for the safe, and felt a hidden crack in the floor in the rear corner where air currents slipped in and pushed back out. He moved towards it quickly and ran his hand across the concrete, feeling the micro-canyons beneath his fingertips...and then felt where the floor changed feeling and pushed. The hidden mechanism activated and the slab popped up on one side, allowing Matt to grab an edge and pull the covering off the front of the safe. The door was thick steel with magnetically sealed lock, and in the center a small screen and keypad. Matt tapped the screen lightly and it whirred to life coming out of standby, and then he ran his fingers over the keypad. He wondered if the screen was QWERTY or alphabetical.
It was QWERTY, and the locks hissed as they unsealed and the safe popped open. Inside was a small phone and nothing else. Matt retrieved it, suspicious and wary, regarding it at arm's length - and then it began to rang.
"Mr Murdock, I presume? Don't worry about answering, there's no need. Presumption is merely a formality, I assure you."
The speaker paused. Matthew didn't say anything.
"Quite. I understand my associate has given you my name, and I already know yours, so we can skip any perfunctory introductions. You are looking for my employer, and I can assure you he is eager to accept a meeting. You've ruffled some feathers, as I'm sure was your intent, and I have to say your efforts continue to surprise and impress us. Simply unacceptable, obviously, but we must offer respect where it is due nonetheless."
Matt growled. "If Fisk wants a meeting you just tell me where and spare me the rhetoric."
"A man of action and not a little bluntness, I see. No room for subtlety these days. A shame. Very well, Mr Murdock, lest you fail to consider either myself or my employer men of our words. There is a vacant property owned by our organisation that we recently scheduled for condemnation on the upper east side of Hell's Kitchen. Should your altercation result in some structural damage the expense will be minimal. I trust we can expect you there shortly?"This is a trap
, Matthew thought to himself. G O O D
the Devil thought back.
"This ends tonight." Matt spoke.
"At last, we can agree on something. It has been a pleasure, Mr Murdock. I do believe we will miss your fervor when you are gone."
Silkworth hung up. Matt smashed the phone in his hand and left.
Matt picked his way through the debris that littered the building, thinking that any structural damage that could be done to the place had already been done long ago. He had slipped in to the top floor through a large empty window pane, quietly ducking through the rusted and bent iron frame with ease. Holes in the bare concrete floor were patched over with planks and duct tape; mesh wire stretched haphazardly across gaps in the walls; exposed rebar threatened laceration on the end of every pillar. Glass and rubble crunched beneath his boots and everything he could taste and smell was shrouded in dust and concrete powder. He reached out with his senses with every step, letting the eruption of sound from his footsteps light his way forwards, trickling down steps and around corners. He felt stifled by the stale, unpleasantly warm air, and he knew that any step could be the first one into whatever manner of trap Fisk had laid here for him. He had cleared the top floor, each crumbling room empty save for piles of wreckage and litter, and avoided the stairs down in favour of carefully lowering himself through an uncovered hole in the floor.
He hit the ground with a muffled crunch and paused, listening to his landing ripple out. He felt it immediately - the stifle and suppression he had felt in the holding cells before the ragged man had attacked him. Whoever The Hand were, Matthew knew they and their agents were here now. He felt vulnerable, naked - they had a technique to hide from him, and the concept was alien and frightening. He drew his batons, curling his fists around the cold metal as hollow reassurance. He felt out of his element, relying on senses he could not trust, paranoia playing on a deeper fear. He had built the devil to fight against fear. To be the man without fear.
He knelt, putting a baton carefully on the floor and placing his hand flat on the ground; Matt could feel the building shudder and creak minutely under his fingers as the beams groaned under their own weight. The Hand hid from his ears and his nose, but he doubted very much they could hide from his hands. Touch was firm, touch was concrete, touch was infallible. Touch showed him two sets of footprints coming from the room in the east corner of the floor. The door was closed and locked, but flimsy. It was definitely an invitation. Matt would gladly accept.
He seized his baton again as he took off sprinting, jumping feet-first into the door, boots placed beside the lock and crashing through as the old wood splintered and burst from the force. He landed on the first set of footsteps and felt their ribs break under him, and followed up his impact with a boot to the chin; jaw snapped and teeth crushed, Matt finished him off with a baton to the front of the skull. The man beneath him switched off like a light, but Matt barely had time to switch focus before he felt two sharp stings in his shoulder and ribs - the other agent had taken the opportunity to flank and throw two knives, puncturing Matt's armour, and now they came quick and fast with tantos. Matt rolled backwards and kicked towards the agent's ankle, but he drew his leg up and deftly feinted backwards, before lunging for a swipe. Matt had time to think they're fast
as he swung a baton up to deflect and pushed the agent away, stepping back himself to gain some space between him and his adversary.
His senses were still suppressed, sound and smell like faint echoes and wafts; his side ached from the knives and he could feel blood trickling down his leg; he was exhausted from his relentless assault on Kingpin's operations since his escape from the precinct; and something in the back of his mind screamed at him that something was wrong, something was off. The agent before him seemed to swim in his radar, their image fading in and out as Matt tried to keep a clear bead on them. They struck quickly, rushing forwards with another lunge - deflected by Matt - followed with a swipe - Matt ducked and jabbed at the knee - the agent stepped sideways and brought their other leg around - Matt blocked with an arm and stumbled -
A tanto found its way into Matt's shoulder and he growled loud, tearing it out and throwing it as accurately as he could approximate. The agent dodged it easily and Matt felt it vibrate in the wall, using the feeling to judge the positioning and throwing a hay-maker; the agent caught it in midair and jabbed Matt's face, pushing him aside and putting another two jabs in the existing knife-wounds. Matt was in pain and bleeding out. The agent put a solid boot into his stomach and his head exploded as he burst through the weak wall and the weaker floor behind it. Matt un-latched a baton and launched it, hoping to snag something to break the fall. He blacked out when he hit the ground.
Matt came back around a few seconds later. His senses were cleared, he felt that immediately; sound and smell surrounded him and rushed inwards, painting the clearest picture of the building he'd had all night, and now he could feel the wrongness stronger than ever. Something else, something worse, lingered in the air, the faintest ghost of a scent, but present nonetheless: Elektra. Matt's mind spiraled, desperate to find her and protect her, rescue her from this vicious cabal, this new breed of adversary."I'm sorry it came to this, Matthew."
His blood ran like ice. Despair clawed at the bottom of his soul and found its way up his core, spilling into his throat and bulging the space behind his eyes.
He could see her now; she approached him from the stairwell at the far end of the floor. The baton he had launched lay beside him in two pieces, line neatly severed before it had had a chance to got taut around an anchor. He reached for his other baton, but it wasn't there; he tried to reach for the broken end, the stub better than nothing, but his arm wouldn't stretch, his fingers wouldn't work, couldn't form a grip -
"The knives, of course. They were all I needed. Everything else was simply showmanship. Toxin is a cowardly way to best a man. But Fisk...Fisk is a coward."
Matt swore. From the shadows came another voice.
"Were I not indebted to your organization, Miss Natchios, I would kill you where you stand.
Fisk stepped forwards. Elektra faced him.
"You wouldn't be able to."
Fisk merely chuckled. "Despite my... extensive portfolio, I assure you... I still hold many secrets for myself. You have performed adequately.
Elektra ignored him. She continued towards Matt. Fisk spoke again, now with an edge of eagerness and viciousness creeping into his voice.
"Your orders were not to kill him, need I remind you. You have done enough damage. He will hardly make for sport.
Elektra knelt beside Matt, running a finger over his wounds, chuckling playfully when Matt drew a sharp breath from pain. She hushed him, and gently put his other baton back in his holster.
"Step away from him.
" Fisk ordered, and Elektra complied.
"I was only helping your sport, Wilson. The toxin has done its job; he won't be moving. I trust The Hand can expect you to honor your end of the deal?"
"Then I'm done here. I don't want to spend another moment in this hovel. I feel filthy."
She slipped away, and Matt lost her, his senses dulling again but this time from the toxin. He could feel Fisk moving towards him.
The world grew dark. Matt closed his eyes, and slipped away.