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FIRE In the Hole; Luke Cage, Open
Topic Started: Jan 14 2015, 02:39 PM (392 Views)
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Terrorist acts were on the rise at the moment, that much was obvious to anyone who bothered watching. And some days, Frank Castle wondered if he was one of the last to be bothered watching. There were greater things afoot right now, and a part of him wanted to find out if Micro could get him to Nigeria so he could take apart these Boko Haram guys. After all, hadn't he fought for similar causes in 'Nam? And hadn't these jackoffs already done worse than the Vietnamese? Hell, they were attacking their own people, intentionally holding them back from having decent lives. Castle could easily understand after what he'd seen and done that not everyone was a fan of Americans, but there had to be a limit. And usually that limit came for him with clean water, clothing, housing, and basic education.

But, for the moment, The Punisher was trying to forget about international affairs, since he was holding a cup of overpriced coffee while in the subway. He was at the 63rd Street subway station, not too far from Central Park - and coincidentally about 10 blocks or so from Avengers Mansion. He'd only come here because it was reasonably far from his current safehouse and his coffee maker had abruptly died this morning, spraying boiling-hot water everywhere and only narrowly missing him. He had tried to take it apart and see what was what, but the damn thing was so full of electronic gobbledygook that he gave up and called Micro about it - hoping that he'd be able to have a decent cup of joe by the end of the day. But, apparently, today was a good day for Frank to be here. A train pulled into the station and suddenly a bunch of men, armed to the teeth, appeared out of what seemed to be nowhere from both the train and the platform. Frank immediately pulled back to hide and pull his MP5s off his hips, readying what few tricks he could hold in his sleeve without warning, putting the coffee down on top of the only bench that didn't smell too bad. It was amazing the kind of gear you could hide under baggy clothing and a trenchcoat these days. And that seemed to be just as applicable to himself as it was to his opponents today. He started scanning the enemies - micro-Uzis, AKs, a smattering of other weapons. They were well-armed, but not smartly. This was definitely the bottom level of a terror cell. He'd have to keep one alive if he wanted to go up the chain.

Frank moved in to act when he realized that even if the cops were here, they were going to get ventilated for their trouble if they tried to take matters into hand. The terrorists started shouting somewhat incoherently, and before Frank could react, there were molotovs being thrown around and suppressing fire laid down to pin the innocents. Fire in the subway was a bad thing, though thankfully this station was well-ventilated enough that they wouldn't all die from lack of oxygen. Instead, they could die from the panic of a fire in an enclosed space. Oh, well, that seemed much better - at least to Frank's warped sense of sarcastic humor. He couldn't promise that no one would die today - but he'd make damned sure he at least took a stand.

He made his presence known by opening the trench and lifting his arms, a gun in each hand. Taking a look at his enemies, he fired a couple of three-shot bursts, taking them down with the kind of surgical precision he was capable of - he was going mostly for knee or groin shots - disabling, painful, but not deadly. After all, he had to figure out who he had to thank for this. All the while, he was quite glad for the smoke that the molotovs had started to cause - as bad as it was to have caustic s*** going into his lungs, he was definitely better off that they couldn't see him clearly - just the skull and the muzzle flare, and then he moved. He muttered to himself. "All this because my damn Mister Coffee's on the fritz."

The coffee was still hot (since he took it black), and he moved back to the bench quickly, grabbing it and throwing it in the face of one of the terrorists - while it wouldn't stop him as effectively as a bullet, it was still enough of a distraction that Frank could take advantage of it for a quiet takedown - a knee in the groin, and a few solid kicks with the sole of his boot into the man's face until he stopped moving and passed out.

There were still more - and they were now probably to the point of taking hostages. Castle really didn't want to deal with that today.
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The terrorist activity across the city came in waves. They started small, like robberies and muggings from thugs claiming one thing or another, and then escalated to matters that drew in the police and their SWAT teams. Then, like waves, the swells would die down and the whole process would start over again. Luke Cage had never been one to sit back and ignore such matters. In fact, he himself had been involved with several of the more recent swells of activity. He'd busted a few heads, broken a few bones here and there, and had stopped a good amount of flare ups before they flared up. The problem was that, well, he was practically alone in the good fight. In a city choked full of super heroes and even teams of super heroes, the streets still had to fend for themselves. While the local super muscle was busy taking down national, international, and even intergalactic mamajammas, the actual people who worked hard to build the nation into what it was and keep it that way were sufferin'.

The whole Heroes for Hire thing had become a bad joke that no one had cared to give a punchline to. Sure, Luke and the old team had a good run, especially when Danny wasn't off on some mystic quest half way 'round the world, but as of late, no one was willing to rekindle that fire that the streets really needed. There was that kid, Hone, but he had gone off the grid after their job escorting the Ralbanian Prime Minister. And there was Frank Castle, who worked in the same city as Cage, but rarely did the two ever cross paths. Frank's work was sometimes too gritty for Luke, though. Even though they had similar causes, it was best for Luke to steer clear of getting involved with the type of man who, eventhough he fought for righteousness, found himself having to duck and dodge the law every now and then. It was true that sometimes the dirtier deeds needed to be done for the greater good, but Luke Cage was never the type to willingly get his hands dirty. If he was going to make a difference, it would be done with as little dirt as possible.

His head swam with thoughts on such matters as he made his way toward the subway entrance. Thinking about that stuff was much better than thinking about how his relationship with Jessica had gone on the fritz, somewhat. It was amazing that super folk had normal relationships too, but at the same time, it wasn't so amazing that something petty had put the two at odds again. It was inevitable, when two strong-minded individuals got together. And darn it, he was thinking about it again.

When the crosswalk light turned red, the cars came. Well.... Actually, they didn't. There was a large 18-wheeler blocking the intersection. The back doors swung open, and out of it came a whole mess of armed thugs in similar dark attire and face masks. More of them terrorists he had been seein' around lately. This time, there were a lot of them. As horns honked and angry New Yorkers' voices filled the air, the thugs flooded into both entrences of the subway.

"Sweet Christmas," Luke said, taking out his cell phone. He had Cap and some of the Avengers on speed dial (even though Cap ended up accidentally rejecting more calls than he actually answered), and being only a few blocks away from their mansion, they would probably respond quickly. But, heck, the phone chimed a friendly little tone as the screen went black. Battery dead. Pocketing the thing, he decided to go handle it himself. It wasn't like he really needed help with that sort of thing. That many guns... He might have been a bit out of practice, but it wasn't anything he hadn't faced before.

Smoke and the sounds of gunfire made the situation all the more urgent as Cage rushed across the street and toward the stairs. He didn't walk down them, nor did he run. He jumped. His solid bulky, yelling form bowled over several of the gun toting terrorists as he caught them from behind with his arms outstretched in a flying double lariet. The guns were turned on him and they opened fire as if expecting to actually do something with those pea shooters. Shielding his face with one hand, he ran forward and grabbed a man who wielded dual SMG's. He himself wasn't sure how he had grabbed him, whether by arm and leg, by neck and groin, whatever; he just knew that whatever he had grabbed had been squeezed with a grip that made iron crumple like paper. There was yelling, the body went flying like a human fastball, and down went a handfull of terrorists.

The immediate threat that Luke posed to the terrorists had gained him much attention from them, which was good. It bought time for more people to get out of there, but time was growing short. Even Luke knew that it would turn into a hostage situation pretty soon. As the bullets bounced off of him like Nerf darts, he continued his assault, snatching up two men by the scruffs of their necks and sending them like torpedos through the glass windows of the lead subway car. A man swung the stock of his rifle at him, and eventhough he didn't need to, his reflexes demanded that he duck. Thanks, Danny, he thought, as he swept an arm low and snatched the man's feet from under him. Using him like a club, he beat two more terrorists that were foolish enough to approach. He still hadn't let the first man go when he did a great leap half-way across the platform and prepared to man-club yet another gun wielding maniac. But then, there was something familiar about that particular maniac. He too was shooting the bad guys. He landed on his feet beside the man and discarded his temporary man-mace when the realization hit him like a ton of bricks. It was Frank Castle himself.

"Rush hour at 63rd ain't no joke, eh, Castle?"

Cage must have been a sight to see, swinging men around like maces and clubs, tossing people like skeeballs and holdin' a strong 228 at the body bowlin' game, not to mention doing it all while the bullets tore his clothes more and more to shreds as time went by. He'd eventually have to get the number to the X-men's tailor, he thought as he looked down at the rags that used to be one of his favorite shirts. His skin was dimpled where he had taken a shotgun blast to the abdomen, but it wasn't a big deal. His favorite shirt was more of a big deal. Beside the point, though. There was fire, shouting, smoke, and bullets. All had to be dealt with before things escalated even further.
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Frank Castle did one of the scariest things anyone on Earth had ever seen him do, in response to Cage's joke - he chuckled. Shaking his head with a smirk on his face, he took aim and fired at one of the terrorists who was holding a Molotov - more specifically, he fired at the incendiary jar, spraying broken glass and fire into and onto the failed arsonist, who fell, screaming and burning, to the tracks below; by which time Frank had moved onto another target. The hits just kept on coming, as Frank actually killed one of the enemies - he was dragging a woman away, and Frank's only clear shot was to the head. He'd rather have a woman freaked out for life about a man's head exploding behind her than her dead, or worse. She'd get over the death of a man who wanted to hurt her.

But that creepy smirk hadn't disappeared yet, Frank was just saving his one-liner for a moment when he could breathe. "No kidding, Cage. If it's like this here, the line at Starbucks must be hell!"

The smoke was getting heavier though as oil and garbage on the tracks caught fire, billowing smoke out towards the platform. The smoke was getting sucked up towards the surface, but right now, these terrorist freaks were blocking said exits and keeping people from getting out. Frank saw a couple civilians and realized the attackers were going to try and take them out. His reaction was crazy, but proved he really was one of the heroes - he pointed quickly to Cage, indicating there was a problem, and took off at a charge, firing controlled bursts to disable the attackers. He probably took a bullet or two, but that hadn't stopped him before and it wasn't going to now.
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A joke? A witty piece of banter from a man who called himself "The Punisher"? Man, that must have been some kinda day for that to happen. For a moment, Luke wondered if the planets had aligned or something like that, but when the Molotov cocktail exploded on his face, bathing him in in a fiery liquid that held the flames close to his skin, he changed his course of thinking. There went the remaining scraps of his shirt. The flames continued to burn as their fuel stuck to his skin, but he barely broke a sweat from the heat. The one who had thrown the cocktail, however, was sweating bullets. He was standing within arm's reach, thinking that such a close ranged attack would be effective. Upon seeing how wrong he was, he probably messed himself. Cage's face through the flames that danced across his chest and shoulders was an unforgettable sight. Calm anger; a drastic coolness in contrast to the fire framing his head. His brow furrowed just slightly, and the very fact that he wasn't as angry as one would have expected was just down-right scary to the poor firebug.

Just as the man tried to turn and run, Cage reached out and grabbed him by the scruff of the neck. He was frozen in fear upon being grabbed, and Luke saw that. So, despite the man's wrongdoings and whatnot, he decided to let him down gently. And by "gently", it should be inferred that the man ended up laying in a crater at Luke's feet, barely able to count the little birdies that danced around his head. Stepping over the man, Luke decided that he'd have to cut his frendly banter with Frank a bit short. They had work to do.

When Frank pointed out the civilians in danger, Luke had to act fast. He was a good runner, his legs being just as super powered as the rest of him, but the place was too crowded for him break off in a run. He'd likely flatten a civilian or two on his way. So, doing one of the things he did best, he decided to throw something. The nearest thing was a trash can. One that didn't happen to be on fire at the moment. In a moment of quick thinking, he snatched it up and rocketed it toward the attackers. It flew swift and true, taking its target out and slamming him into a tiled pillar near the tracks.

As the smoke billowed up toward the exits, it still clogged the air enough to make Luke Cage himself begin to cough. If they didn't get folks up to the surface soon, it would be bad. Real bad. Fire was all around, but on the fringes of the wild crowd as if they were being herded. The handful of guys with the flamethrowers had come, and they were seeing to it that no one was brave enough to make a run for either exit. Clearly, they hadn't met a man who's skin was as tough as titanium.

As quick as he could in the crowd of fearful civilians and dangerous firebugs, Cage took off running for one of the exits. As Danny Rand had once told him, he remembered that sometimes it was best to be like a feather instead of a brick, or something like that. He sure as heck wasn't a feather, but he had trained with the kung-fu master enough times to know how not to be so brick-like. He used his whole foot when he pushed off while running, and that gave him more control over where his body's momentum went. There was a woman huddling over her child protectively directly in front of him. As his foot came down, he rolled his weight from heel to toe and then shifted his weight, narrowly missing them in his dodge. Right after, he spared a left hook to take down a would-be attacker. His eyes caught sight of something flying toward him. Another Molotov cocktail that would probably go right past him and into some unsuspecting civilian. Like a wide receiver, he extended a hand and caught the flaming bottle. There was enough of a gap in the crowd for his next few steps to be unencumbered by fleeing innocents. He used that time to snatch the flaming rag from the bottle and then used that bottle as ammunition, sending it right back at the gas mask wearing man who had thrown it in the first place.

His run had taken him to the stairs that lead up and out in a short amount of time. He was fast, but the flamethrower crew was ready for him. Or so they thought. They had thought to empty their fuel tanks on him, quickly turning valves on their weapons to widen the nozzles. As they fulled the triggers, wide, concentrated jets of fuel were spat at Luke Cage, being ignited by the flamethrowers' ignition sources on the way. The fire punched into him like something almost solid. With one arm shielding his eyes, he fought blindly, relying on a visual memory from seconds before when he saw where each of them stood. Three of them in a triangle; their point man on the lowest step. Three or four steps apart vertically. A swing that looked wild, but was actually well-aimed, took one man right in the hip. Something popped as he crumpled like a wet paper bag. His moaning and complainin' about his leg told Cage that he hadn't killed the man.

The other two stepped further up the steps to escape Cage, and though their tanks were empty of fuel, they both held their hands out as if trying to hold the fire on him. By that time, Cage was familiar with how long that foul smelling gassy stuff usually took to stop burning, so he found it unusual that he was still blazing. He tried to brush the fire off, but to no avail. Oddly enough, it began to grow uncomfortable. Not quite painful, but alarmingly uncomfortable.

"Sweet Christmas!" Luke exclaimed. Though the fire had died down a slight degree, he still felt it full-on. Those two that he hadn't taken out were standing together, and through the flames, Cage could see the concentration on their faces as they held their hands out. It didn't take long for him to put two and two together--They weren't your regular, run-of-the-mill terrorists. They were controlling the fire. Maybe with their minds, maybe with some unseen kind of tech; whatever. But it was apparent that they were controlling it. Cage felt out for them, and in the process he missed a step, stumbling onto the flat surface before the steps that lead up and out. He could hear their snickering as they figured they were doing their job well, and it only served to frustrate the brawler more. Figuring that enough was enough, Luke suddenly leapt into the air. With those legs, he easily jumped higher than anyone in there was tall, and when he came down, he clammed his fists into the ground like great hammers. The resulting sound was like thunder, and it shook the entire subway so hard that people stumbled and fell, civilian and villain alike.

In their moment of being knocked to the ground, Cage found himself free of the fiery grasp that once enveloped him. He hovered over the two remaining pyro freaks, presumably pyrokenetic, or whatever its called, and cracked his knuckles in a dangerous way. Reaching down, he lifted them both up and slammed their skulls together. His strength there was measured, of course, and they were rendered unconscious with the greatest of ease and satisfaction. Tossing them aside, Luke found himself still feeling the sting of those flames. With skin like titanium, those flames must have been hotter than hot, he figured. He'd heal, like three-times as fast as normal maybe, but for the time being, he felt that sting all over. Pushing it to the back of his mind, he remembered that he had work to do in terms of freeing the trapped civilians.

Cupping his hands to his mouth, he turned around, his back to the exit, and shouted, "Hey! This way! Everybody out this way!" When he turned, expecting to see the clear sky above at the top of the steps, a pang of frustration befell him upon seeing the light go away. The beep-beep-beep of a truck being backed up over the entrance was a dead giveaway that those pyromaniacs meant to keep everyone down below. Some people had made it to the base of the steps, but they stopped upon seeing the entrance blocked.

"Frank, where you at?" he shouted. A spray of gunfire he thought he heard told him that Frank wasn't too far off. "Handle these fools while I clear the way!" It was a request more than it was a command, yet with the current situation it seemed to be one of those things that went without saying in hindsight. Whatever. Cage had a truck to move. A 20-ton obstacle that meant the difference between life and death for the people down below. "Aiight, here we go," he said to himself as a bit of self-motivation before making his way up the steps. Once he got to the top, he put a shoulder up against the bottom side of the 18-wheeler trailer that plugged the entrance. He gave it a heave as a way to measure how much it really weighed. Stepping back, he rolled his shoulders and then really got down to business with it. After finding a good way to push the thing, he gave it all he had, hoping to feel its weight shift as he pushed against it. If Frank could hold the attackers at bay just a bit longer, he'd have the subway unblocked and the people would be able to get to safety and fresh air.
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Frank's response to Cage's request for his location was simple, he fired a burst into the ribs of one of the terrorists who'd decided it'd be smart to try and take a hostage. It was enough, though, and Frank was left alone with his prey. The lights were still on, but now there was enough smoke that Castle knew the enemies weren't going to be seeing him anytime soon. Time to work.

He holstered one of the submachine guns and drew his Ka-Bar, dropping off the platform and running along the edge of the rail, pulling himself back up with a grunt. He had taken a shot in the side - but the bulletproof combat suit had blocked it. Good thing too, or he'd be bleeding. The terrorists down here were scared now, trying to convince themselves that what they'd seen hadn't been just two men. One of them still had a hostage - a girl, maybe 10. She had long, blonde hair, and the man was holding her by it, leering at her through his balaclava, threatening to do things Frank wouldn't tolerate on his worst day. He moved closer, his knife first slicing upward through the girl's hair, then cutting off the bastard's hand, still clutching the girl's shorn locks as she ran off toward Cage and the exit. Screams emerged from the fool, followed by blood. These were two of Frank's favorite weapons. Watching one of their own suddenly attacked like that had disheartened greater enemies than these pukes.

Another one moved in to investigate by the time Castle had hidden himself in the smoke from the ongoing fire. A swift kick to the kidneys downed the man, and Frank took the opportunity to slice the throat of the man he'd used as a distraction. He stood up straight and came face to face with another guy, who, in desperation, tried to punch Frank rather than just shoot him. The knife, already coated in blood, stabbed into the man's wrist and twisted, leading him to scream in pain as Frank used the gun he still had out and fired into the man's exposed neck. He dropped the still-gasping, soon-to-be-corpse on the ground with his friends, shaking his head. Others were moving in from the sound of three dead men, but if they thought for a moment, they'd realize they didn't have a chance.

They threw another molotov, this one caught Frank in the shoulder. The suit could handle it, provided he put it out soon, but it was long enough to walk out of the smoke, wreathed in flame - leaving the terrorists to scream 'Oh, s***, they both can do it!'.

Frank Castle smiled. And in a matter of moments his enemies were dead.

Then he heard the bang. The sound of an RPG colliding with a subway tunnel support pillar. That was bad, especially if there were still civilians down here. "CAGE! How's that exit comin'? Gonna need it, pronto!"
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The goons who weren't either dead, ko'ed, or running with their tails between their legs were tied up by sections of ripped up train track or similar materials from the ravaged subway platform. With the truck up above flipped on its side, the exit was no longer blocked and the smoke was finally starting to clear just enough to make breathing bearable. People rushed out, for the most part, while a handful of good simaritans actually had the calm state of mind to stick around and help those who were injured. Luke Cage sat on the edge of the platform, just in front of the now inoperable subway train, his legs hanging down as he rested his elbows on his knees. Frank, "The Punisher" himself, was sitting next to him. The two had succeeded in saving the day on their chance meeting that morning, and sirens were sounding in the distance as the police approached. As they finally approached.

"Why can't cops ever be where they're supposed to be, when they're supposed to be there, ya know?" Cage's comment broke the silence between the two as they sat there, their adrenelin levels slowly tanking after such a high. Speaking of cops, Luke wondered if Frank would be sticking around. They'd be poking around for statements and whatnot, and as far as Cage could tell, that wasn't quite Frank's type of party. Truth be told, it wasn't Cage's type of party either.

"Hm. Well, anyway," Cage said, standing. He offered Frank a hand to help him to his feet. If he took that hand, Cage would then give him a firm handshake and hold the grip for a moment longer. "Po-po is on the way. See you 'round, Mr. Castle?"

After Frank's reply, Cage respectfully shook his hand again and released it. He then reached into his back pocket and fished something out. In the process of fishing, his finger poked through a hole in his pocket and he grimaced at the thought of his clothes being in such a ruined state from the battle. What he took out of his pocket was a business card. It was a plain white square with black arial font. No fancy borders and no designs, other than the bullet hole that obscured some of the text. The card read:

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  ke Cage
  ro For Hire
212-555-0153


He handed the card over to Frank and then turned to walk away. Over his shoulder, he bid the man farewell, "Give me a holla if you're ever in the neighborhood. Take care."

[exit Luke Cage]
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