Issue Two, Volume One

"Eyes Wide Open, Part Two: Back to Basics"

Written by Bowie Sessions

Edited by: David Ellis and Jason McDonald

Chief Editor: David Ellis


Daredevil

Arcadia Davers
Hierophant

Lena Russell



“Our every action is a battle cry against imperialism, and a battle hymn for the people's unity against the great enemy of mankind: the United States of America. Wherever death may surprise us, let it be welcome, provided that this, our battle cry, may have reached some receptive ear, that another hand may be extended to wield our weapons, and that other men be ready to intone our funeral dirge with the staccato singing of the machine guns and new battle cries of war and victory.”

– Che Gueverra


It is a dark, stale night. The wind hardly even blows. Fury addles Daredevil’s mind, and he looks down from these high apartments while perching among the gleaming steel towers, seeing only shadows below. The precipice is so high up here that no one can even see the suffering below. Daredevil watches in disgust, rage making his fingers tense along the concrete beneath his fingers. “I have been distracted from my dream and from my cause,” he tells the air.

“These people need my help and I can’t give it from up here. That bitch Arcadia corrupts my dreams. Re-Activ-8’s nose is far from clean. No. That innocence is gone.” He remembers only hours ago, seeing Arcadia speak to Lena Russell, CEO of JR BioTech, to get from her the very information that some mysterious unaffiliated men were sent to beat out of her.

He wonders if they saved her only to kill her. His head snaps and looks to the side, as if asking someone. “Did I take her from the wolves and throw her to the lions? Am I in a nest of vipers? Am I up to playing the mongoose? What the hell IS a mongoose, anyway? So long since I’ve even seen nature…” He looks lost, deep in thought.

“Is it a kind of goose?” Daredevil follows up, whispering to the sky.

He tries to clear his head, his body acting so that his mind can rest. He seek purpose in the pain awaiting me. Daredevil stands and leaps from his perch. Really, its more of a fall. His arms extend and he drops, the wind rushing past him. Daredevil’s head spins as he plummets, the oxygen so much thinner up so high, where steel meets cloud. Through his insulated suit, he can still feel the cold air bite against him, tearing into his nerves. He welcomes it and it awakens him.


Past the Thirteenth Street Line

"THOR has forsaken you! Having chained his brother inside the Earth, the noble and deceived Loki, Thor and his Gods have returned to the skies above, never to return! The times of this era's pain, this day's suffering, are conditions of STASIS - of CALCIFICATION! Jormunggand is no visible thing; the Serpent of Midgard encroaches us all, circles the Earth, as it is the spirit of liberation and of dissent. In Loki's children do we infest this Earth, readying it for the cycle to be turned again."

High upon a pedestal is a man dressed in his new styles of teutonic tribute, neo-Scandinavian complemented with the a small helm engraved into it the upper jaw of a terrible beast.

"The cycle MUST be turned, if we are to save this Damned world!"

Snarling, Daredevil can't help but agree with him. The Fenrir speaks with the fervor of a preacher, but he is tainted. No truer could he be that he says he's a child of Loki. The preacher calls on rebellion, on the tumbling of some dark government, while peddling to the masses a drug given to him by those same powers above. Now his speech tells of the Rainbow Bridge and of how the world’s eyes are sealed from the truth.

"You must broaden your vision -- they tell you this is SIN, this is CRIME -- but this is LIBERATION! They fabricate such ancient spiritual journey with CyberNet, trick us with holograms -- they COMPUTE our dreams! Fight this -- it is only our minds we must overcome!" The masses are responsive. His tongue is silvered. Daredevil can't help but sneer as people begin to take from his men's hands, his gang scatters through the crowd. Daredevil watches while a teenaged girl takes a small capsule and he knows anger. It is pure and clears his mind.

“Things seem so much simpler when righteous,” Daredevil whispers quietly and counts them. There are twelve, with at least fifty innocents nodding along to them, so easily swaying to this man with his smooth voice. Daredevil’s mask tightens around his scowl, but a smile soon serenely replaces it. He surrenders to action. He leaps free the wall at the far end of the courtyard, his feet finding hard stone below him. It's a firm kick-off that sends Daredevil skyward again, a forward flip which hurls him over the heads of seven listeners. Again he lands and again he leaps, this time a reverse hand-spring to toss him into a tall aerial that ends standing upright and balanced on the rail cornering this former bus-stop that the Preacher uses as a pedestal from which he speaks.

This preacher begins stumbling back quickly. No one’s responded just yet, but that’s why they call it the Element of Surprise.

"I'm sure Loki will protect his loyal followers, his Grandchildren, the so Blessed of Fenris," Daredevil offers sarcastically, as the Preacher runs away. He sends an energy cable flying straight for the Fenrir’s back which spears through his stomach from behind before it extends its three grappling hook legs. It catches him that way, making him scream as it tears at his organs within.

Daredevil reels him back in like a caught fish and the energy dissipates, leaving the wound to seep as Daredevil catches him by his wrist. DD pulls the arm back, twists it around and shoves the Fenrir chest first into the rail. Collapsing against it, the Preacher screams when Daredevil torques his arm as a threat to remove it from the socket. Really, it seems kind of like his hobby lately.

"Huh, that’s weird. I kinda expected smiting." At that, Daredevil places a foot in the small of the Preacher’s back and cranks his arm up and over. Apparently it wasn’t just threatening a second ago. The arm circles the entirety of its orbit and pops free from its socket like a stubborn bottle cap. The Preacher hasn't stopped screaming yet. He twists and slams his face into the concrete below him twice and then finally stops struggling.

Daredevil speaks to no one listening, observing that the Preacher is at least very unconscious, if not dead from a brain hemorrhage. Doubtful, he figures. “Good man, stay down.”

Standing up, he looks around for the first time. He sees the gaggle of Fenris quickly approaching and speaks loudly to the crowd before the Preacher’s compatriots reach him. "Go home, you idiots. Their 'sight' has not saved them. It will only ruin you. They lie for profit. Go read a book. Get your own damn opinions. Read The Bible or Danielle Steel. Go nuts." The people are retreating in obvious fear while the gaudily dressed crowd of Fenris’ believers rush the masked hero.

The energy baton extends into a staff and Daredevil spins it with a quick, fanciful and unnecessary flourish. Behind his mask, his lips crease into a broad smile.

"Afternoon, gents."

They try to talk with their fists, like savages, which seems fine to Daredevil. It is with action that he replies. He does not bother to put too much attention in it - he operates mostly on instinct, letting his mind wander even as he hears their pained cries.

“What is Arc doing right now? What could she be doing?” he asks out loud, a sweeping kick toppling the first several.

“When she gets that information – who’s it for? I wonder if I’ll need to beat it out of her,” he ponders quietly.

“I wonder if I would like to.” Blood splatters across the black of his uniform as a hard right cross meets the face of a Fenrir and he grip the thug’s shoulders to leap-frog over him and send his own feet crashing into the chests of those rushing up from behind....

He wonders where she even got the uniform he’s hiding within right now. Questions race that he blindly never thought to ask. “How did she know to send me – hell, how did she ever find me...?”

He catches a Fenrir by his arm and uses their body to make himself stable as he over-extends to hurl a kick high into a Fenrir’s adam's apple and then yanks at the thug’s arm to pull them towards him. With a kick, this sends him flying up over the thug in a mid-air cartwheel. Landing on their opposite side, Daredevil drops to a knee and pulls the Fenrir down with him, sending them crashing into cement and standing again carelessly. Looking around, Daredevil dusts himself off.

“Am I paranoid? Is she pure?” He asks again, looking askew.

“No, no. We can’t kill her, rushing to judgment… maybe Lena is innocently rescued… maybe we really found our way there by some rumor… but you’re right … it doesn’t mean I’m wrong.”

Daredevil wipes up their blood from his uniform that is thankfully stain-free, with one of their ratty t-shirts that he took the liberty to remove. Taking their drugs, which he balled up in a cloth he tore from one’s head and loosely dangles it in his other hand. Sirens break the din of silence he had created with their broken bodies.

Dropping the drugs to the ground, he opens a lighter Daredevil'd lifted from one of the criminals. Flicking its archaic flint, he lights the shirt on fire. Cracking open the lighter, he releases its fill of gas all along the cloth below. The flames rise and he knows it will burn well. And maybe the idiots laying next to it will too, if they're not lucky.

Daredevil extends his hand from which forms the small baton of light and erupts its cable which snares a ledge high above and pulls him into the air with it, swinging him quickly skyward. The sirens call to him – he’s got a job to do.


The Baxter Building, HQ of Stark-Fujikawa

This is the office of Hikaru Takeshi. He admires his own small note sketched upon his desk. The letters ‘DD’ joined and scribbled on his notepad. The same sigil which was found carved into his employee’s forehead only last night. Looking to the far end of the room, this powerful man can not help but smile ruefully, eliciting no response from the shadowy figure. “This is clearly the man,” he suggests, quietly and bitterly, his face a grizzled expression of regimented frustration. It bleeds through his eyes, through the wrinkling of his cheeks… but his face does not twitch, lips do not forgive.

“This is a man who has taken the flag and face of a man known to our histories: a blind samurai, a gaijin samurai. It… would seem he continues a legacy. And, it would be appear he has become … disapproving of us in some manner. However, we are righteous and we are wronged; which would mean that he has begun a blood feud in the shaming of our family. This must be resolved.”

His long rhetoric is finally nodded to by the figure in the thick, resilient cowl resting around his neck. Long hair hangs forward in his face from beneath the hood, his head bowed and hands crossed before him subserviently as he listens to Hikaru’s spiteful words.

Hikaru looks to this figure quietly and thoughtfully before he speaks at length once more. “He has embarrassed us. Shamed us in such a way as can not be repaid for with our blood alone. We will avenge Takiwara. Eagle, my most able of prospects for this task, I would care to see this man suffer so he would face us with honor. It is the respect I will extend him for his predecessor. I would like it if he were forced to be honorable enough to speak to me as a man. I would like it if I could be allowed the chance to make reparations to Mr. Takiwara’s family.”

The long-haired figure washed in shadow bows, and pulls forward his cowl so his eyes meet Hikaru’s. His hair is tucked into the concealing headpiece, and eyes open beneath the slits in the tight hood, one eye brown and one an inverted dot of white on an orb of black. He manages to smile. “I believe I know just what must be done, Hikaru-sama.”

“I know nothing of your plans, and this will be the truth forever. I speak only of wishes and desires, not plans. Not intentions.”

“The Project named Eagle works for your interests alone, Hikaru-sama,” the smiling figure named Eagle assures. His smile never fades.


Past the Thirteenth Street Line

This place used to be a fairground. It was a mecca of entertainment and industry. There were musical concerts, social events, and boardroom excursions to the sunny skies above. As this city grew upon its shoulders time and again, it sank what was formed below them under their freshest skylines … what was once splendor and greatness became desperate and irrelevant. There is now a gaggle of underprivileged gathered and staring at the destruction before them, as seven Public Eye officers have arrived to brutalize a small group of dissidents whose voices differed from the tripe of corporate head-lines.

Now again a man calls to a crowd. Before, the speaker sold lies in drugs. This crowd now has their conviction strengthened with each blow against the corruption of the Corporations – and simultaneously weakened by the impassability of their imposed order. The man preaching has little effect, unlike the last; the Eye speaks, and his words fall on the deaf ears of poor that won’t ever afford their service.

It did not take long for Daredevil to follow those sirens or discover where they were going. He just followed the sirens to their sudden silence. He found them already bloodying a broken-apart gazebo with the faces of citizens they have long since labeled as refuse.

One of the Public Eye hoverbikes suddenly makes itself known to the gathering as it sails viciously through the wreckage loosely called a gazebo and rams most of the Public Eye in it, flying high enough to avoid the crumpled victims below. It carries them through the structure, slamming them violently into the opposite wall, crushing their ribs and breaking limbs as it goes. They’re vainly struggling to their feet and their weapons when Daredevil walks up the gazebo’s half-broken steps, onto the ruined floor.

And so he speaks, anger quivering in his voice. “I believe I can define the word ‘hate’. It is the emotion one feels when they or those for whom they care are abused. Hate is never empty or invalid – it is always pure and true. Hate forms in men for those whom have wronged them or their loved ones.”

They shoot at the masked vigilante. It is almost dismissively that DD whips out his baton, which somehow draws the energy from the blaster into itself like a vacuum. Again they fire and again the energy coalesces into the weapon in his grip as if fed by it. He bears down on them grimly in his rage.

“I hate you all. You abuse innocent men for your pleasure without culpability. Well, I’m here to tell you – you’re all culpable before these same men you abuse. A simple law of nature: We. Have. Nothing. To. Lose.” One of the men stands up, and rushes Daredevil with a shock-stick in hand. Daredevil dismisses it with his baton and punches them in the face before grabbing them by their neck and slamming them into the wall repeatedly, until the wall gives way and he finally lets them go. They do not get back up.

The crowd below has never paid more rapt attention. “THESE MEN are not the law! Our Constitution, the one for which your first ancestors lived and died – it was not in failing. Written in those pages is the very right to dissent – no, the implication that one must. We have the right to choose our own government.

“These aren’t Gods, not implacable beings of power – these are some schmucks who signed up for cheap abusive power to the first dime that bought them, these are some schmucks I just BEAT THE CRAP OUT OF in front of you. They fell down. They’re fallible.

“Every person who employs them is fallible. To the last man, these bastards will fall if you just fight back. You can only take so much from a man until there is nothing left to take – then they are free again.

“Your life is empty because of them! This isn’t a curse – this is liberation! FIGHT BACK!”

There is fervent nodding as a man dressed all in black stands at the precipice of this derelict structure looking into the fields to the gathered wave of protestors that listen with dedication, nodding and whispering complicity.

“There is a sickness, and we must cure it. This life is only theirs if you let them take it. Do not go gently into that good night! Rage, rage, against the dying of the light!” Daredevil seems to lose them with that poetry excerpt, but the point is made and they throw their fists up defiantly into the air.

But their cheer masks something in the noise that Daredevil sees in the distance. Specks form against the sunset, first … but then it becomes very clear. There is a wing of men riding through the air, uniformly astride mounts that would’ve once resembled motorcycles. He can hear strains of Ride of the Valkyries sing through his mind and a dark voice laughs inside of him. The Public Eye has returned in force. Daredevil counts at the very least thirty of them. Apparently they do not take well to ‘Officer Down’ calls.

“Everyone needs to leave. Bring this fight to them, but on your terms, in both public and shadow. But not today.

“Rage,” Daredevil melodramatically bids them last.

The staff forms into a cord with its head a legged tripod. He swings it back and casts it forward.

“I. Do. Not. Run,” he whispers defiantly.


On the Net-stream, Private Chatroom of Re-Activ-8

The screen reads clearly, /Entering Channel – iRace TV-8/ as Arcadia sails through cyberspace under her avatar of a sleek, silver-clad surfer-girl. She arrives into what appears to be a small park, with benches all surrounding a miniature lake filled with ducks. Thrown into the pixellated waters are small breadcrumbs of the Users’ make. The tension in the bandwidth is palpable – as it always is. Terrorism is launched across thousands of fronts with constant secret meetings in arenas that are wordplay or a jumble of their nomenclature.

“Thank you for joining us, Hierophant. Thank you for deeming us worthy of your interest,” speaks a man with his lower body that of a spider and covered in illuminated trails of binary along all ten of his limbs.

She bites back any disagreeable feelings, looking upon the alternately abstract or precise digital avatars of her co-conspirators. Most of them don’t know each others names; many of the inner circle even keep their identities secret. The faith in each other must be absolute.

“I had difficulty with some of my update content, Protograde,” she answers sharply, kicking up her gleaming silver surfboard, catching it quickly and standing beside it at a lean.

“All present now. Begin the minutes.”


Past the Thirteenth Street Line

The count is thirty-five, it turns out. That’s thirty-five Public Eye forces astride their vehicles. Daredevil hears the cry above, “Move on the LT, flank his sides.”

He saw the grizzled face of a Public Eye officer in his sparkling-clean uniform leading the pack – clearly this ‘LT’, or ‘Lieutenant’. Daredevil launches himself into the air and cast the cable. It catches against his vehicle’s airfoil, giving him traction and the Flyboy descent.

Daredevil uses the leverage and the baton’s recoil to fling himself higher off the now-spinning vehicle, navigation compromised by the vigilante’s momentum, the cable still attached to its air-foil. Its spinning too fast to pull out. He hears already, “Lt. Puglisi – fix trajectory!” over the radio as he passes.

When gravity pulls Daredevil back down, a foot extends to slam into a passing PE’s helmet and sends them driving wildly while DD pulls roughly on his baton only to release its grip on Puglisi’s bike. Puglisi has no time to comply to the earlier order.

Already the once-hooked vehicle sails into this one while our hero leaps free. Daredevil hears the pleading cry – “Puglisi, VEER! VEER!” before the Lieutenant named Puglisi, who obviously wasn’t able to comply, goes careening headfirst into his coworker. Their fall doesn’t look pleasant, either.

Daredevil does not say anything. No clever retorts. No cute affectations or rants. Performing a beautiful double-axle in mid-air, he releases the cord again to send it catching onto another free bike as blasts are fired in every direction through the air after him.

He swings through the mass of them as best he can, friendly fire sent back and forth to them with frustrated and pained cries under their own assaults. Daredevil even leads two into crashing together as he performs his aerial bounds.

He is caught, though. For thirty five of them, he cripples half a dozen of their bikes. A blast wings him in the shoulder just as he clings onto another bike and drops through the air to the end of his cable, hanging on by a prayer and striving to convince his shoulder to overcome the pain. “I think I saw this in Blade Runner,” Daredevil whispers.

Then there’s another voice. A flying car screeches up to the fracas of police action, bearing in it a massive black suit-clad man with massive gauntlets and armored pads along his body, creating a juxtaposition of formalwear and battle. His ponytail is pulled back tight, and the police barely become aware of him before he stands up with a bizarrely barreled weapon affixed to the bottom of his arm. It looks like an old-fashioned gatling gun is suspended from his forearm. “Crap,” our hero whispers.

The new face opens fire… and it slices through the Officers, who scream in agony, riddling their newly-minted corpses with lead, just as it gives crippling damage to the hoverbikes they ride. Daredevil can only hang there watching until the bike he is suspended from no longer has a rider and it starts rapidly losing altitude. He doesn’t have time to act before he comes crashing into the ground below. It hurts considerably and he feels broken, slack loosening on the cable rapidly.

Struggling to move, Daredevil looks up. He instantly wishes he hadn’t. “Oh, %$#@.”

The bike plummets into him. That hurts more. But he doesn’t feel it for very long.

He blacks out and is only dimly aware of being lifted. The first awareness he has is looking into this new enemy’s eyes, suspended by his skull like he was a basketball lifted by this over-sized foe in their one hand. This new face is easily six and a half feet and three hundred pounds with none of it fat. Daredevil is lifted as if he weighs nothing. The prospect that he might be out of his league occurs to me.

“The name’s Graveyard. You made my bosses very—“

Daredevil does not give him the time to finish. Never let bad-guys orate to you, Daredevil knows. If they get to the end, they will kill you. DD grabs Graveyard’s huge wrist and pulls himself upward by it, slamming a foot into his crotch and the other catching his chest as Daredevil kind of runs up him. DD kicks himself free from Graveyard, pain forcing Graveyard to release Daredevil’s head just in time to flip backwards free of him and land with a flourish.

Daredevil spin kicks him in his side, as all around DD sees crashed remains of Public Eye forces, bodies and vehicle wrecked through the fairground. Most are either barely moving or dead. Daredevil realizes he obviously was out long enough for Graveyard to finish every last one of them off. Wrecks are still smoking – so minutes at most. He eliminated every last one of them. Disgust fills the masked vigilante.

“SHOCKING IDIOT! Now I just ‘splain to them, you didn’t go quietly – I hadda kill you—-“

Graveyard seems not dazed at all. Daredevil ducks a swing of his fist and leaps into the air, striking a foot into his face. Does not even budge him. “I got the impression you already were planning that,” Daredevil mentions.

“Yeh. Just, now, I ain’t gotta lie ‘bout it,” he smiles and grasps Daredevil’s foot as it comes in for another kick and stops the motion dead. Daredevil hangs there, leaping on one foot and trying to get free. Well, he gets that wish – when he’s thrown backwards at an unbelievable velocity with a simple toss of a brutish hand. Daredevil crashes instantly into the same gazebo from which he spoke his agenda, only to have its ruins crumble around him.

Groaning, Daredevil works to free himself only to see the imposing figure casting deep shadows over him.

“This won’t stop me. This won’t stop the revolution. You’re wasting your time and energy.” He lifts Daredevil easily from the rubble and Daredevil sees clearly. He’s wearing a Body Chassis. Daredevil curses under his breath. He looks to our hero with amusement before he throws him into the nearest building, right through the window and into the coffee shop level of the abandoned apartment rise. It takes a few minutes for Daredevil to find his feet – just in time for Graveyard to come in, Daredevil ignoring his own blood dripping to the ground below.

“They don’t care what you think—“ Daredevil tries to begin, and groggily dodges Graveyard’s fist as its sent into a support wall of the crumbling building. It surrenders to his strength, the ceiling above wobbling. Daredevil leaps behind a desk, trying to think up a plan. It is not coming.

“They just—“ Doesn’t even give Daredevil a chance to finish. He lifts a desk up and slams it into Daredevil twice, reducing it to splinters as the masked vigilante crumbles to the ground. His fist destroys the support wall just for emphasis as DD hacks up his own blood, gurgling beneath his mask.

“They pay you into slavish obedience…” Daredevil argues desperately as Graveyard walks up to him with his grin, business suit in tatters from destruction and this one-sided fight. The ceiling starts to give.

All Daredevil remembers after that is the massive fist coming for his skull.

“They pay well,” he hears as it comes.


Private Channel, /iRace TV-8/

“…which brings us to you, Hierophant,” the pleasant voice of Isotopia suggests, implying it her turn to talk.

“My Agent … he … is off the grid. Not answering comms. Data black-out. It is still unclear if we’ve been compromised.”

There is much silence around the still and pixellated pond. Many eyes study Hierophant carefully, while many mutter frustrations beneath their breaths and more curse silently to themselves.

“What of his last project? What were the finds of his most recent acquisition?”

At this, Hierophant smiles pleasantly to them and bows her head in submission. “It has failed. The Agent killed her to prevent her from saying more – she was compromised at the extraction point. I’m sorry.”

There is a forgiving nod that surrounds the circle. “We don’t approve of his actions.”

“Oh, Thor, neither do I!” she protests, trying so hard not to smile.


Sometime Later, Past the Thirteenth Street Line

There is a shift in the debris of the building's foundation, pebbles trickle down their hill of destruction like the smallest hints of avalanche, appropriately enough. A massive slab of warped metal is hurled free from its top a moment later and skids down the side of the decimation, taking chunks of wall and furniture with it as it topples.

A single black hand emerges from the newly-made pit and pulls its prisoner free from their tomb. He drags himself out inch by inch until his arm is far enough that the baton forms in his right hand. Its tip turns into the hook and releases its long cable. Blindly it catches something and reels him to it. Violently torn out of the debris, pulled over rock and over land, his body is limply and painfully dragged across what remains of the ground.

Coming to a stop, the baton forms together again and dissipates in a quiet hum, leaving him to lay there. He groans for several moments and just lays there. He soaks up the pain quietly and finally rises, kneeling and then standing. Graveyard is long gone, leaving DD for dead. “I know I have been in more pain before, but I am having trouble remembering when,” he whispers into the dark.

“Jesus,” he amends, eschewing the era’s preferred jargon.

He looks to the skyline above and once more the baton forms to his hand. He grips the side to test his injuries… and decides against swinging, letting the baton dissipate. He hobbles over to the unconscious body of Lt. Puglisi and gives his hoverbike a shot. It revs, engine roars, and begins to float. As Daredevil straddles it with a wince, he thinks that maybe he should get his own ride. “I don’t know, the DareDunebuggy… DareDirtbike… something,” he tells the sky defensively.

He knows just where he’s going. He needs information and as much as it pains him, there's one person with that knowledge - Re-Activ-8, more particularly his contact to them. He plots the course and starts driving. He’s going to go see Arcadia. And then they're going to have a few words.


Apartment High-rise, Tormen Towers, Eighty-fourth Floor

Arcadia, the true face of Hierophant, signs off of the Cybernet and places the helmet quietly on its stand on her desk before relaxing in her lush leather chair. She breathes quietly and stressfully, before she stands and turns, sipping at a glass of water prepared and placed on the corner of her desk.

“Where’s Lena?” Daredevil asks and she is shocked at his appearance. She drops the glass and seems more aware that it doesn’t shatter than she is of him catching it. He watches her ruefully, his eyes glowing with their apparent crimson hellfire.

She stutters, struggling to find her confidence to speak before managing her angry protest. “She’s … in a protected home, she’s being watched—“

His eyes darken in his reply, “Imprisoned.”

“Guarded!” she rebukes me fiercely, pointing at me in accusation.

“From what?” He contests, voice snapping, not moving an inch.

She slaps him as her response. Daredevil’s face turns to exaggerate the strike. He’s surprised by her action and he gathers her conviction.

Fists tighten and relax furiously, rage coursing through his blood. His vision would turn red, if it could. He thinks he’d like to kill her, right now, and dark desires in his mind scream for him to. That sensation has filled him several times lately. As always, sin exists not in the appetite but how you wet it.

“Don’t ever strike me again, Arcadia. My service here is for your aid, not your employ. I have … had … a really bad night and I need to know. I need to know that I am not your fool. I need to know that you aren’t the crazy bitch I think you are.”

Again he finds her hand races to him, but this time he anticipates it. This time he catches it before it lands and pulla her to him, viciously kneeing her in the stomach and hurling her against the wall. She groans at the impact and he steps forward.

She once more cries in her defense, “I’m just trying to protect her, you slag! You helped her, I helped her – I’m protecting her! She’s safe!”

“Tell me where. I’ll ask her about it.”

She lunges for him. With a kick to her stomach, she goes flying back to the wall and he pursues it with a quick jab to her face. She buckles under the impact, collapsing into the drywall behind her. “Shock you, you analog retread! I gave you this! This second chance! I made you a man again! I made you! And this is it? You treat me like this? My trust? My faith in you?” He punches her in the face again. It feels good to him.

She slaps him across the face again in return. They seem full of repetition, but he feels he deserves it. Then she pries up the mask half-way before he slaps her hand away and bloodies her lip. Daredevil doesn’t really answer her rhetoric so much as assault her to prove his point. He’s punched in the face again. Good, he thinks. She’s getting some guts. He knees her in the stomach once more, making her gasp. She launches forward and kisses him. Daredevil finds himself returning it. Once more, she’s returned to the wall. This time knocks less breath out of her.


Daredevil awakens hours later, moving through the darkness of this room into the shower. The water baptizes him. Water is religiously seen to wash away all manners of sin, and he prays for it now.

In the shadows of this room he slowly pulls on his black uniform and walks to the balcony. He steps onto it, and finishes pulling the mask on over his face, red eyes beginning their glow as he stares into the night.

The darkness takes him. He stares into the abyss which is swallowed by the neon lights of the city. “Am I going mad?” he whispers.

“Put to tasks that I believe in… only to find doubt in my mind? Preaching words of action or purpose… and see believers run like rabbits?” he can’t help but wonder.

“Am I damned to see demons everywhere, and to never see angels? Is there justice and nobility still? Or do I just scream against the sky?”

…he remembers the first time. There were angels.

There will be again.


TO BE CONTINUED_


NEXT ISSUE: The mysterious vigilante Daredevil takes the fight to his enemies, and this time he has help: an ally in Arcadia's brother. But they'll discover that they're going to get more than they bargained for.


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