The Axe, Part 4

Summary:
July 13, 2014 Daredevil meets up with a hacker extraordinaire to help him with the laptop, while Pezzini gains more information on the Bale case.

Hell's Kitchen/Lower Manhattan

Once a bastion of poor and working-class Irish Americans,
Hell's Kitchen's proximity to Midtown has changed it over
the last three decades of the 20th century and into the new
millennium. The 1969 edition of the City Planning
Commission's Plan for New York City reported that
development pressures related to its Midtown location were
driving people of modest means from the area. Today, the
area is gentrifying.


Characters

NPCs

  • Mark Roosevelt, NYPD Homicide, Lead Detective of the Bale case
  • Gary Immerman, NYPD Lab Technician

Mood Music:
Calexico's Crystal Frontier: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=gLsQ_8PwwDs


The Axe, Part 4

SUNDAY NIGHT

HARLEM

2006

A group of school aged children huddle around Rhys Bale for a photo shoot at a local park. Once the teacher, or whomever it is takes a few shots the children cheer and several stop to give him a hug. After a few moments, they go off to play on gleaming new equipment as Bale smiles over at the teacher.

From the surrounding buildings it is clear that the area surrounding the urban square is filled with dilapidated buildings-burned out and left behind. Just like the rest of this part of Harlem.

"It's great, what you've done here," the teacher says with a genuine, pretty smile. Her straight teeth gleam as she brushes some of her auburn hair away from her face.

"It's the least I could do," Bale says with his Welsh accent. "I wanted to give something back to the adoptive home that's been so good to me. And it's fun to see the kids happy."

NOW

HELL'S KITCHEN

Daredevil sits at the gargoyle above a busy street in the Kitchen, waiting for Aspect. The latter had given Murdock an email address at which to contact him at their first meeting. In Daredevil's eyes, the Man Without Fear had assisted the mysterious man that night. Perhaps Aspect would be willing to return the favor.

Slung over his shoulder is a black nylon sack, clearly a laptop

NYPD HEADQUARTERS

1 POLICE PLAZA

Down in the basement all the lights are turned low. What Sara asks for, Sara gets, especially when Gary Immerman is involved. If Sara walked off a bridge, it's likely-as his mom might say-he might too.

His voice is low, in a whisper. "Sara, I hope you understand what lengths I've gone to get this information for you."

Sara Pezzini has recently been put on Administrative leave after the death of her partner, Paul Manning. Her third partner to die in recent years.

Immerman holds out an envelope towards her for her to take. Instinctively he looks over his shoulder, clearly worried.

"Hey, I get it," Sara murmurs, softening the words with a small smile. "Look, if anyone tries to make something of it, you just let me in your office, okay? I threatened you, you were on your way to get someone, but I was gone before you could find anything. You thought I was looking into what happened to Manning." She tucks the folder under her arm, sobering. "I can't just sit and stew, after that, Gary. I've gotta keep busy."

She leans in, pecking a kiss next to his cheek. "I owe you one, Gary. Thanks. You're a real hero."

The call from Daredevil had been unexpected. So unexpected that it had actually caught Jericho in a rare moment of relaxation. He'd been getting a drink at a coffee house not too terribly far from Hells Kitchen. He glances at the window open in his screen. Illyana's love of fantasy had him on a fantasy kick recently.

___

Gary nearly melts as Sara's red lips brush his cheek. "Well, of course Sara, I mean I'd do anything to help you…find a perp, I mean." He looks a little goofy standing there in his glasses and ill fitting cop's shirt, a pudgy belly showing he's been limited to desk work for quite some time.

As Sara's about to leave, Gary stops her. "Wait, Sara, before you go."

"There was some weird stuff in there. Stuff I didn't get from the papers and how they found him. He had a drug in his system. Folks in the MT call it The Smooth. It's similar to heroin and many of the muties down there use it to control some of their involuntary changes or whatever. So far it's been limited to down there. We literally haven't seen it make the jump to any non mutants."

__

As Aspect approaches, he'll hear a voice from behind him. Similar to how they originally met, Daredevil appears to him from the shadows.

"Need your help. Figured since I scratched your back, you might be willing to scratch mine," he says with a gruff, low voice.

Sara pauses, brows rising. "So you're thinking maybe he was in the closet?" she asks, opening the folder to take a look at it. "Nothing illegal about being a mutant. Yet, at least," she adds with a brief wrinkle of her nose. "But it might explain why someone was after him. Plenty of people out there with grudges. Is that the sort of thing that shows up on a standard autopsy?" she asks, looking back up at the man.

Jericho turns. He's without the coat Daredevil saww him with the first time. Long sleeve tee covers his traces still. Other than that it's casual jeans and boots. "Ah. I was wondering when I'd hear from you again. Yeah, you did me a good turn back there. It's actually had all sorts of… fallout, that discovery."

His eyes light up, literally glow with red light and a familiar harmonic hum fills the air. Daredevil may remember it from the first time they met. It's coming from under his skin. "Right. So your message sounded a bit urgent. What can I help you with, Ren Faire?"

__

Gary shakes his head, "If he was a mutant then yeah, he was closeted. At least nothing came up in the background I did on him. That's not the sort of thing I can get without doing a DNA test. You want me to?" Sara gets the feeling that he'd do whatever she asks.

"Oh, and another thing. I ran the internal background on him. Two weird things came up. He had a prior for narcotics possession in almost 20 years ago. Pled down to a misdemeanor, but wrote several letters to the editor for the Times discussing his innocence. Took that shit even to the Chief of Police and demanded Internal Affairs take a look on it. And that's not even the weirdest thing. In 2004, we started keeping a file on the guy. You know who was on it?"

He doesn't wait for Sara to guess.

"Roosevelt. And guess who's on his murder case?"

_

"Computers. I need a hacker, you're a good hacker. I gotta find out what's on this laptop. I need a deep look, if you know what I mean," Daredevil says to Aspect, walking closer to him. "Good fall out or bad?"

Daredevil holds out the vinyl case to him. "It's pretty urgent. Tonight would be great, if you're in. Now would be best."

"No, let's hold off on that test for now," Sara shakes her head. "Could be nothing, and it's an ugly can of worms. Besides, people start wondering if you run too many tests, and you've done enough as it is," she adds with a small smile. One that fades as he mentions the detective on the case. "Damn," she murmurs. "Hey, keep this to yourself, okay, Gary? If Roosevelt's not on the up and up, I don't want him getting jumpy at you."

Jericho is a very good hacker, as it turns out. Who knew? Well… lots of people know actually. "Bit of both. Been some sneaking and some shooting and some getting shot at. A lot of that, actually. Day in the life, you know." He says dryly. "But it's been important. I'll let you know later, if you like. I take it that's the computer in question? I can look at it now, absolutely."

He pauses. "If you don't have a venue in mind, let's go into that alley. This may be a bit obvious." The ex-soldier takes the case and opens it, just to see what exactly he's dealing with before he fires it up. As he's asking about venue he's already moving, pressing the power button to get the silly thing booted up so he can interface with it.

"What am I looking for? Anything in particular or just… everything?"

__

"Fuck Roosevelt," Gary says defiantly. "If you need anything don't hesitate to contact me. Everything's in there. Roosevelt kept a file on him for years. Why in the hell would a cop be worried about some archaeologist junky? Doesn't make sense." He shrugs, "If you decide you want the test I can do it on the down low. I got the machines, no one needs to know. Just give me a call."

He pauses. "Hey, you okay? I mean, with Manning and all."

__

"Alley's good."

Daredevil hands over the case and then ducks into the side street and doesn't mention about Jericho's day in the life. He is interested, for certain, but he's worried about this case going cold and things starting to get covered up.

The laptop opens up to a standard password screen.

"I want websites he visited, emails, and the business on financials. I want as much as you can get." Daredevil gives an upwards nod, "How long do you think it will take?"

"I'm not great," Sara admits, shaking her head to Gary. "But at least as long as I'm working, I'm keeping my mind off of it, you know? I'll let you know if I find out anything else. But I mean it about keeping your head down," she adds, tucking the file under her arm once more and tapping a finger at his chest. "My funeral schedule's all filled up."

Jericho reaches out with his cyber-warfare suite and readies several industrial strength hacking tools. The first one to come up is the password spoofer. "Depends on how secure the laptop is. How'd you get it anyway?" Once the password is down Jericho bypasses the operating system and looks directly at the data on the hard drive. If it's encrypted he may have some work ahead of him. Web history, shouldn't be too hard unless the owner wiped it, in which case, silly owner. He'll have to reconstruct it. Then he goes from there to the network id's on the e-mail information actually on the drive. Most of that he can get better from the e-mail server itself… he just needs a place to start. Unless it's a super secret government e-mail, it shouldnt' be too hard. Most public and corporate e-mail systems are pretty easy for him to break into.

"Listen, Sara," Gary says looking at her seriously. "I should say the same to you. Last time someone took on Roosevelt it didn't end well for them. You remember Howie Kiplett? No one does. He was lucky to get a job as a security job upstate in Albany at a shopping mall. You know what I mean?"

He exhales, "Just be safe." The funeral comment cuts to the bone, but not for the reason that Sara meant it.

__

"Got if off a dead man," Daredevil responds simply. The glow lights up his face in the night, but reading the screen is impossible for him. With written word he can figure things out easily-text on a screen and he's screwed.

Jericho is able to get in easily, taking a look. Web history is easy peasy. And this is interesting: The last sites that Bale, or whoever was acting as him, were for something sort of risque: It appears to be an escort service, pimping mutants.

"Roosevelt wants to pick a fight with me, he's probably going to run into some SHIELD folks," Sara says with a small smile. "Might be worth watching, right?" She gives the man's shoulder a squeeze, stepping back. "I'll be safe as houses, Gary. You keep an eye out for yourself." She nods once, then turns to start down the hall, tucking the file into her jacket and putting her hands in her pockets as she tries to look inconspicuous.

Maybe 'Devil can sense Jericho's eyes narrowing. He can certainly hear his jaw clenching. Victimizing mutants, mmmm? "Seems your dead man had some odd tastes. He was trolling the internet for mutant 'company.' The last world is half growled. "Most of people who do that kind of thing aren't exactly on the up and up. And some are downright scumbags. Guy was dead, you said?" Jericho begins pulling information onto his buffer. Addresses both physical and digital, websites, emails, contents of any interesting conversations.

"I guess the question I have to ask is was he looking for company? Or looking at the people providing it. Well… assuming it was actually him using this computer, I suppose. It's not very secure."

There's a short pause as he makes a note of all this for himself and then compresses all the data into a single file. "Where do you want it sent? Or do you just want a verbal rundown?"

Try as she might, Sara does a pretty good job of laying low as she looks to leave the HQ and get back to her car. She takes a side exit, one that lets out to a street away from the main and out of the eyes of those who might wonder what the hell she's doing here.

Out of the darkness of the basement she steps, into the light of the side stairwell. She opens the door, and the breeze of the cool air billows her hair just a bit as she looks up to see Officer Mark Roosevelt standing out there, smoking a cigarette.

"Pezzini?" Understandably he seems surprised. "Hey, you okay? I heard you're on leave."

__

"From what I can tell, the only deviance this guy truly had was a bit of pot back in the 90s and a kinky lifestyle in the bedroom. Not sure if he was one to exploit, but it could be. It's a good lead."

"If you can send it to this email address, that'd be great. In bunches." Foggy will print it out information for him, which will make it easier. He hands over a blank white card with an email address written on it.

As Jericho gets deeper, he'll notice two things in Bale's emails: He sent some racy emails back and forth with one of the mutants on the site, someone known for switching teams in the middle of the game, if you catch my meaning.

He'll also notice that he got an automated email thanking him for his service at a storage facility which gives him his username and password.

"Yeah, well," Sara grimaces at the other officer. "You know me. Never was great at taking orders." She tips her head back toward the door, shrugging. "I wanted to go back and get Paul's stuff to take it to his mom. But it looks like the department people already hit his desk. So that's a trip wasted for nothing." She snorts, a humorless laugh. "Guess it's not like I've got a whole lot else to do with myself right now anyhow. Time better spent than seeing the department shrink."

"Hrm…" Jericho grabs the name partly for his own reference and parly for Ren Faire's and does an extended search on the mutant in question. "Hrm. He seems to have been… fairly involved with one of the escorts on the site. I doubt you want to read these… well, maybe you do, I dunno. I'll put them in the file incase it's useful. Wait… one moment."

It's a hop, skip and a digital jump to the site where he inputs the username and password. So handy. He doesn't even have to crack it. Now… what's in here…?

"Shit, Pez, I'm sorry," Roosevelt says shaking his head. "Look, if you want I can put in a call and get his stuff out to you. He puts the smoke in his mouth, eye closing to preventing it from stinging. "Easy, I can put in a text and have it to you tonight. You still liv-wait, I actually don't know where you live these days."

__

"I want it," Daredevil says solemnly to Jericho in regards to the racy material. If nothing else, it'll make Foggy blush.

In the site, Jericho finds that this has been an ongoing thing for months between Bale and this call-girl/guy. Calling themselves Charlie, they seem to recount their encounters in pretty graphic detail, seemingly to the enjoyment of both of them.

Later, when he checks the financials, Jericho will find several things: A large withdrawal of cash of 25,000 dollars about 6 months ago, a string of expenses from his stay in the Slavic countries where he was searching for something called the Axe of Perun, whatever that is, and continual payments made to both his sister and his mother.

"Nah, it's okay," Sara shakes her head. "She probably won't want to see me anyhow. Never had a chance to meet her the right way, and right now she's probably just thinking it's my fault. Like the rest of the media and the captain," she adds with a brief, sharp smile. "What about you? Doing anything interesting?"

"Whooo boy. Okay… You want a mutant call… person named Charlie. He/she was… let's just say very, very involved with your dead man. Hrm…. now this is interesting. There's a lot of money flying around here. Big withdrawal of cash to the tune of twenty five grand… a lot of travle in eastern Europe and repeated references to the 'Axe of Perun'… which… google tells me is an axe-head shaped amulet connected to a Slavic god of weaponry. Certainly an odd set of interests. I wonder which one of them got him killed."

Jericho shakes his head. "Right… well. This is all rather disturbing. Do you need a hand with any of this?"

"Sara, I read the report. That wasn't your fault. You can't beat yourself up, alright?" Roosevelt sighs, looking at her empathetically. "Me? Doing a murder investigation on this guy Bale? Was in the papers, if you read those. Some archaeologist go got offed. Layin naked in the bed, flappin in the wind. Some crazy ex, if you ask me."

__

"The Axe of Perun was what I think he had in his possession," Daredevil says, crossing his lithe arms over his chest. "At least for a while. Can't find a trace of it."

Daredevil exhales as he tries to think. Mutant hooker. Lots of money going out. The Slavic purchases make sense to him, 25k does not.

"Yeah, I know how busy you are, but if you want in I need all the help I can get."

"Who goes after archaeologists?" Sara arches a brow. "Next think you know, we'll be chasing down the Nazis for the Ark of the Covenant, right?" she smirks, shrugging. "Good luck with that one. Give me a call if you come on anything too weird, yeah? Not like I'm doing anything useful until they decide I'm not offing my partners for fun."

"You've got my e-mail, Ren Faire. I've got a lot of irons in the fire, but so long as you don't mind doging the occasional hit time when I'm around, I don't mind helping out. I'll keep looking at this. There's a lot here that doesn't make sense, frankly. And that usually means, 'round here, that you need to be digging a bit further… and that you'd better be prepared to put on your boots."

"Pez, don't talk like that," Roosevelt says as he flicks his cigarette out on the wet street. "You know it's not true. They'll get this sorted and you'll be back on the force in no time." He frowns, "I'll call ya. I'm sure this one is pretty cut and dry, but it'll be good to keep tabs on ya. Make sure you're doing alright."

"Take it easy, Pezzini,"

Roosevelt lets himself back in the way he came, leaving Sara to her own. As she begins to walk towards her car, her cell rings-the name that flashes up is 'RESTRICTED'

_

Daredevil nods, "Keep it as long as you want; I won't need it now that I've got you sending the information by email. Be careful about who sees you with it, though." If Jericho connects the dots, its pretty clear that Daredevil has lifted it from the scene and that the NYPD would freak if they found out it was gone.

"I've got to go," Daredevil says. "We'll be in touch."

_

"Sara," says the voice on the other line. "We need to meet."

_

Inside the USTOR-IT in Harlem, a figure wearing a ratty pair of blue jeans and a black hoodie concealing his identity, steps up to a storage unit. He pops in a few key codes and the large locker opens up. Inside a large, ornate axe hangs quietly. The man lolls a toothpick to in his teeth as his face smiles.

With a slam the locker clangs shut as the man begins to walk briskly towards the stairs and the exit.

Another patron harmlessly gives the man a smile and a nod. Like it was fired out of a rocket, the toothpick leaps from the thief's hand and heads straight into the victim's face.

"MY EYE! MY FUCKING EYE!" screams the unfortunate man as the thief laughs to himself-his smile, missing a tooth on the left side.


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