• The VOIDRUNNER'S CODEX is LIVE! Explore new worlds, fight oppressive empires, fend off fearsome aliens, and wield deadly psionics with this comprehensive boxed set expansion for 5E and A5E!

The Shadow Knows! (Final Update 6/3/04)

Which of the Shadow's epithets do you like the best?

  • The Cloaked Crusader

    Votes: 1 6.3%
  • The Dark Avenger

    Votes: 7 43.8%
  • The Man of Mystery

    Votes: 2 12.5%
  • The Sable Sleuth

    Votes: 6 37.5%
  • I've got the perfect one! (post it!)

    Votes: 0 0.0%


First Post
Sorting by first name or last name doesn't matter much to me. Neither really makes a big difference. I'd recomend listing any alieses under the main entry for a given individual.

The Shadow said:
P.P.S. Lela, I haven't yet had enough time at my disposal to work on the calendar. However, finals week will be over on Friday, and then I should have time. Sorry for the delay.

You're the one helping me. Take your time. ;)
Last edited:

log in or register to remove this ad

Once More With The News!

Bad News: SP is almost as insomniac as Carlos lately (job-related stress, probably - he's thinking of quitting) and was too tired to game Tuesday night.

Good News: He did make it down Wednesday for another marathon session!

It's taking a while to write up, though, so be patient. (I'm having to fill in a lot of the details, as SP tends to gloss over scenes a bit when he's tired.)

Lots of interesting stuff went down; this session takes us up to the day before Thanksgiving, and the return of both David and Carlos.


First Post
As Zoidberg said in Futurama, after devouring the last anchovies in the universe...... "Mmmmoooorrrrreeee........!"

(yes, I have nothing useful to contribute at the moment)

Alex returned to the Shadow's usual haunts, renewing auld acquaitance in his own inimitable fashion. He quickly ascertained that the Red Shivs had been having a busy week... A number of bodies had turned up - reports ranging from three to a dozen - near the border with "Green Dragon" territory. (The Dragons being a gang that was about as peacefully inclined toward the Shivs as two gangs can possibly be - lots of posturing, little violence.) Speculation was divided between a new gang war (coming at a very bad time for the Shivs) or yet another phase in the leadership struggle, perhaps with blame being deliberately thrown elsewhere.

As for the struggle in question, the word had gotten around that Julio had left town in a hurry; it was generally conceded that he'd been badly frightened by somebody, but nobody could agree on who - whether Maria, Mario, some other Red Shiv, Lady V, the vampires running around town, or maybe even the Shadow. The cloaked crusader might've been higher on the list, but he hadn't been seen - or at any rate experienced - in the last few days. (Several of his usual informants were surprised to see him - some pleasantly so, others not so pleasantly...) Mario was still in the running, but Maria was starting to be openly favored - while many scoffed at the idea of a woman leading the Shivs, there were a couple whispered rumors about her having a fearsome "edge"... bracelets around her wrists that apparently gave her great strength. Supposedly she'd accounted for several of her rivals personally and graphically. (The Shadow also noted, intrigued, that some said he and she had had it out in one fashion or another.) Even so, the smart money thus far - with Mario still eluding her - was that the Shivs were due to splinter into factions and tear themselves apart.

In other news, no black cars had been spotted in the last few days, but this was not yet cause for comment, inasmuch as they hadn't ever been an everyday sight.

Among others, Alex located Ricky in an arcade / teen watering hole. Approaching the lad a little more warily than the last time, he cleared his throat for the boy's benefit just after he'd won a tough game of foosball. This time Ricky didn't start too badly when he caught sight of the Shadow. He did seem puzzled why nobody else could see his hero, but managed to handle things with a degree of aplomb. He sauntered off to buy a soda, then sat at a table and apparently people-watched lazily while talking to the Shadow out of the side of his mouth.

"Hey Shadow, glad to see you're still around." "Yes, the rumors of my disappearance have been greatly exaggerated." The joke was plainly lost on Ricky, who nodded and said, "Yeah. Did you really meet with Maria - you know, that Red Shiv chick?" "We talked," the Shadow told him noncommittally, then asked, "What all have you been hearing?" Ricky put the death toll at six, and passed on his analysis that the rumble had been an "inter-gang" struggle among the Red Shivs. "That's 'intra-gang', Ricky." "Is it? OK. Anyway, I think they were fighting with each other over who'll run the gang." "Anything else going on?" "Nah, nothin' interesting." "Staying out of trouble?" "Yeah yeah," the boy told him with apparent sincerity - though of course, Alex thought to himself wryly, it's only been a few days.

Taking his leave, Alex decided to check up on Julio next. To his surprise, there was a mind in the man's house - late teens, maybe 20, male. It didn't match Julio's trace, however. Has he left a surprise for me, I wonder? The Shadow rang the doorbell. When no answer came, he rang again. Abruptly he heard a noise behind him and whirled - only to find his erstwhile target sneaking up on his position with a gun out. [SP and I both forgot how difficult a trick this would be while Alex was using his mindsight. Ah well.]

Between the use of telempathic fear and invisible martial arts, the dark avenger quickly had a terrified and disarmed young man shoved up face-first against the wall of the house. A quick telepathic scan on the youngster revealed to the Shadow's chagrin that he was the legitimate lessor of the property, having bought out Julio's lease at a terrific price. [SP: "From his mind, you find that you've just brutalized an innocent man." Me: "Nobody who points a gun at me is wholly 'innocent'." :)] He'd been ultra-wary because he knew how troubled a neighborhood it was, but he had only the most minimal of connections with the Shivs - the obligatory contacts to keep a guy his age from being hassled overmuch. Alex let the whimpering kid go with an ironic, "Have a good evening, sir."

The rest of the night was quiet, with little in the way of opportunities for superheroics. The Shadow scared off a few muggers and queered a drug deal or three, but nothing heavy. On the way back to the base, he found himself wondering just how Julio was doing... and managed to shock himself by slipping with accidental ease into the man's mind! What the-?!

Julio was asleep, so there wasn't much he could learn from him. But Alex got the distinct impression that the man was hundreds of miles away, with many thousands of minds between them. It's always taken a huge push before! How can it be so easy?! Suddenly Alex remembered how easy it had been to go out on the Net with Mike this last time, as opposed to the time before. And he remembered half-consciously stopping himself from touching David's mind when he'd called him last, and when he'd listened to David's messages. It had been a subliminal thing, scarcely registered, but it came back to him with a start now. [I'd actually rolled for it on one of those occasions, but a 2 didn't cut it.]

Alex groaned. That ultra-screamer must have really knocked my telepathy out of whack - or maybe into whack! Am I going to have to stop myself from reading the minds of everyone I happen to think about?! He got ready for bed, troubled, but quickly fell into sleep's embrace.


Rising early, Alex performed his customary ablutions then made a few calls.

1) "Maria, Maria, Maria." The erstwhile gang leader's sleepy voice responded, "This had better be worth it!" Evidently she wasn't any more of an early riser than Grace; Alex wondered wryly if it was a trait common to the world's oldest profession. "You told me a 'few' bodies." "Who is this?!" "We had a little chat a few days ago at gunpoint." "Oh. You." "Yes. Me." "It was only six." (Alex mentally gave Ricky points for perspicacity and/or luck.) "Too many, true," she continued, "but the fight got out of control. The more so for my not being there to give orders." "Too many more, and the cops are going to get really interested." "What do you care?" she flung back at him, and Alex conceded to himself that she had a point there. "But in the remote event that you do, there's probably going to be two or three more incidents on that scale."

Alex changed the subject. "You'll be happy to know that Legion has been... taken care of." "Has it." "Yes," Alex told her with irony heavy as lead, "the world is safe for drug trafficking once more." "Hey, it's a living." "I seem to have done you a favor." "Imagine that. I'm all tingly. What do you want?" "You recall our dear friends in the black cars?" "Don't worry, I've already planned to charge them street value and then some, just because they annoy me." "I had something else in mind." "Oh...?" "I am very curious to find out if and when they start buying again." "Aha. Well, that can be arranged." They proceeded to arrange it.

2) Calling the other Maria, Alex got only her machine. He left a rather vague message asking her to call back.

3) "Van Helsing for Mr. Hashimoto." "One moment, sir..." Soon, a resonant, unaccented voice responded. "Mr. Van Helsing, a pleasure to speak with you at last. I think we will save much time by omitting the pleasantries and getting down to the matter at hand." "I quite agree." "You seem to have certain... abilities... that Mr. Johnson thought valuable against this Legion." "It would seem so."

[I have had great difficulty reconstructing this conversation; verbal fencing is hard to hold in the memory, I find. Suffice to say that Hashimoto claimed never to have heard of the Overmind Project, and seemed completely sincere. (I made a darn good Sense Motive on him, too.) He also claimed to be unaware of Johnson's illegal activities, and said he understood now why I seemed so untrusting. :) He tried to maneuver Alex into admitting he'd been working against OmniMetal, but Alex stonewalled him quite thoroughly. He wanted me to call once more on Monday after he'd looked into a few things; Alex tried, but never got him. On one occasion, in fact, he encountered a rather transparent ploy to keep him on the line (ie, "Mr. Hashimoto just stepped out - oh, there he is, let me ask him to speak with you, can you hold? ... He can't speak with you right now, but can you wait just a couple minutes?" and so on and so forth) so his call could be traced - much good that'd do them! :)]

4) "Hal, it's Shadwell again." "Hi, Mr. Shadwell!" "Have you had any trouble?" "Naw, things've been real quiet." "Did you get any defenses up?" "Oh, I figured something out, don't worry about me!" "...Right. Well, I was wondering if you'd mind bringing your scanning equipment into the city today. I'm worried the base might be bugged - and I have some stuff that you'll have lots of fun analyzing, I'm sure." "Well, gee, Sha- er, Mr. Shadwell, I'm sure willing to help you out, but y'know, I've got a couple lawnmowers ahead of you, and it just wouldn't be right to do your stuff first..." Alex contained himself and said gently, "I understand, Hal. How long does a lawnmower usually take you - a half hour? An hour?" "Well, it depends. Give me a call at eleven - with any luck I'll be free then." "All right." "And could you remind me just how to get to your base again? I seem to have forgotten where it is..." "That's because I erased your memory of it, Hal. Remember?" "Oh! Right. I guess I forgot I forgot." Alex promised to call again at 11 and give him directions if he was available.

5) "Good morning, Grace." "Ah, Mr. Shadwell, what a surprise!" Alex snorted. "Anything I should know?" "Not especially." "Carlos seemed upset yesterday when I left. I have my own ideas as to why, but I wanted to hear yours first." "Hmm. Well, I think he feels out of the loop with your work." "That was my thought also. I thought, with your approval, that I might bring something by he could help me with and feel part of things again." "What is it?" "I've, ah, acquired a number of files from OmniMetal's computer. Somebody needs to comb through them for the interesting bits and collate them; it's tedious work but not over-taxing, I think." "Yes, that should be fine. I won't want him to spend too much time at it, but that's easy to enforce. Bring it on by." "I was also thinking of spending the afternoon with him - if that's OK." "Of course, Alex. He'll like that."

So Alex copied the files onto a stack of floppies and headed over to Grace's place. Carlos looked up from the remains of his breakfast and beamed at him. "Hi, sir!" "Hello to you too," Alex replied as he snagged a chair. Once Carlos had finished his meal, washed up, and sat back down, Alex mentioned gently with his customary bluntness, "You seemed a little sad yesterday when I left."

The young man found the wood grain in the table suddenly very interesting. "Well... I... just miss working with you, sir. I mean, I know my assignment right now is to work on getting better and all, but..." he swallowed, then continued nervously, "I... guess I feel like I'm not pulling my own weight." Alex told him quietly, "Carlos, what happened wasn't your fault." Carlos shifted uneasily. "I should've sensed something coming." "You did. There wasn't anything you could do about it." The boy slumped in his chair. "I should've... done something." "How much has Grace told you about what happened?" "A little." "You were mind-blasted, Carlos. There's no way to dodge that. And you fought him to the best of your ability, I knew that even before Grace told me. There's no shame in what happened." "I guess, but..."

"But nothing. Carlos, there's no shame in getting hurt unavoidably. And there's no shame in having to recuperate a while from it. It's okay." He squeezed Carlos' shoulder to emphasize his words; Carlos nodded glumly, looking perhaps a little mollified. "And I've brought something with me that you can help me with too. Grace says it's OK." That brought the lad's head up with an eager expression. "You bet, sir! What is it?" Alex showed him the disks. "Michael and I recovered some files from OmniMetal's computers. These disks are from Johnson's and Torrance's accounts... but they're fakes. I want to know what they want us to know. And these hold files from people associated with them. They're probably genuine. I want you to separate the wheat from the chaff and prepare a summary for me." Carlos looked more and more eager - this was something very like his usual job. "On it, sir!" He scooped up the disks and made a beeline for Grace's computer in the next room.

Alex laughed. "Whoa there, Mr. Castaneda! We're going to spend today having a little fun together, it'll wait!" "I know sir, I just want to get a quick idea of what we're dealing with..." He inserted a couple disks in turn, skimming rapidly through a few files to get acquainted with the format; Alex humored him. Finally Carlos powered down the computer, looking almost like his old self. "OK, it looks like it'll be pretty straightforward. I'll have it for you soon!" "I expect you to follow Grace's instructions on how much time you can spend at it," Alex warned him. "Yessir, I promise."

Grace entered, asking humorously, "Somebody taking my name in vain?" She looked Carlos over carefully and seemed cautiously pleased at the change in his demeanor. "We're just discussing our plans for the afternoon," Alex told her. "And what are they?" "I was thinking we'd take a walk, then if Garrity can join us, Carlos will help me load up the bike for him and recover the stuff I left in the radio tower too." He looked to Carlos for his approval and got an emphatic, beaming nod. Grace considered, then nodded. "Sounds good. Have fun, boys!"

Alex called Hal, who cheerfully informed him the lawnmowers were done. Reminding him to bring his truck and scanning equipment, Alex headed out with Carlos. The walk was low-key, the conversation light but easy. Carlos was plainly glad to get out of the house, the more so at Alex's side. He seemed a little ambivalent about displays of affection out in public, but Alex reminded himself wryly that that was no surprise in any teenager - David not least. (And he quickly packaged up the whole set of feelings raised by thinking of David while with Carlos, and set them aside.)

Returning, they played a game or two of cards before Hal drove up. The three of them went out back to manhandle the bike onto the truck... Carlos' jaw dropped when he saw the condition it was in (he hadn't heard any details about Alex's fight) and Garrity nearly suffered apoplexy on the spot. "What have you DONE?!" he cried, as if Alex had mortally wounded one of his children. "It's... it's... a disaster! The frame's ruined, the motivator's all bent out of shape, the altimeter's useless, even..." (here he opened a panel) "even the gyros are all out of alignment! ... Well," he added reflectively, "I guess they're not really gyros, more like - oh, NEVER MIND! What did you DO, ram the thing into a car?!"

"Yes," Alex replied economically, which brought Hal to a teeth-clicking halt and caused Carlos' eyes to bug out. Garrity digested that, red-faced, for several long seconds before finally bursting out, "WHY?!" "It worked," Alex told him coolly. Hal threw up his hands and stalked back to the truck... then turned around and stalked back sheepishly when he realized they still needed to carry the thing. After that he seemed to forgive Alex, at any rate when distracted with more interesting things.

After covering the bike with a tarp, they drove out to the base, invisibly the last couple blocks. After Alex spent several long minutes restoring his memories, Hal got out a couple small handheld devices and waved them vaguely at the building. After an interminable period of interpreting the results, he announced, "The place's clean. There's nothing electronic that doesn't belong." "Are you sure, Garrity? You missed the tracker last time. Try again?" "I'm telling you, Shadow, I've just compared every scrap of metal in that building to every scrap of metal that was in there when I was here the last time. There's nothing that can't be accounted for, unless somebody's found a way to build a transmitter entirely out of plastic." "Could you build a transmitter out of plastic?" "No." "...Good enough for me, I guess. But don't they make superconductors out of ceramic these days?" "Yes, but they act enough like metals that I could pick up on them. Plus, I'll guarantee there's nothing transmitting." "...All right, I feel a little better now."

With that they drove out to the radio tower, which caused Garrity to go all red in the face again. "You left the stuff up THERE?! And I suppose you're going to use the bike to get it down." "Well... yes." Hal took a deep breath, let it out. "Straight up and straight down! No lateral movement! Take it slow and easy!" "All right, Hal, don't worry." In the back of the truck, Alex threw off the tarp and carefully stood the bike up - making it and himself invisible, of course. He carefully eased it upward; the whining noises and the juddering movements were more pronounced than the last time.

At the top of the tower, Jones' suitcase and pager and Thomas' lightning gun were... missing. "Damn," he swore under his breath - then froze when Carlos said nervously through the commlink, "Sir! Something's... wrong!" "What is it, Carlos? Talk to me." "I don't know! I just know something's wrong!" Alex looked around rapidly, but saw nothing untoward. He carefully lowered the bike back to the ground. "You still feeling uneasy, Carlos?" "Yessir!" The boy sounded very nervous, with perhaps a faint note of hysteria. "Don't worry, Carlos. Hal, any thoughts?" "Take me up with you," the inventor abruptly decided. "I've got an idea."

Waving his debugging wand around, Garrity quickly zeroed in on a small camera fixed on the spot the OmniMetal materiel had been secreted. "Are we on Candid Camera right now, Hal?" "No, it's not transmitting. Probably it's waiting on a radio squirt." "Can you convince it to have seen no evil, as it were?" "I think so..." Hal jiggered with it a while, then set it back in its place almost regretfully - plainly he was tempted to make off with the thing and study it in lieu of the wonders the Shadow had told him about. "There. That should do it." Alex remained slightly wary, though, until he asked, "Carlos? How are you feeling?" After a long silence, the young man replied, "It's gone, sir. Things are back to normal." Only then did he relax.

Carlos didn't, though. He was noticeably jittery on the drive back to Grace's, but responded gratefully to Alex's wordless arm about his shoulders as they got out of the truck. Grace took one look at the boy and quickly claimed him, swooping him off for a thorough checkup. Meanwhile Alex turned to Garrity. "I need to tuck your memories away again, Hal. And... Do you mind if I do a search on your other clientele? I don't mind saying that I've been very concerned by some of things you've told me about making for other people." "Well, gee, Shadow. I can't stop you, I guess, but it just doesn't seem right. I'm an honest businessman, y'know, and I don't see why I should reveal my work for other customers any more than I reveal yours to them. That make sense?" Alex sighed. "Yes, Hal, I suppose it does. And of course I'd never do anything like that against your will." He wiped the inventor's memories of the base again, and saw him off.

Re-entering the house, his inner sight reported that Grace was bundling Carlos off to bed. Returning to meet him, she told Alex calmly, "He's been set back. He stretched himself way too much." Alex replied defensively, "I didn't anticipate any trouble," but she told him, "I'm not assigning blame, Alex, only stating the fact. He tried too hard to use his powers and it has set back his recovery somewhat." With a sigh, Alex asked, "How long?" "I'll know in a couple days."

With that, Alex returned home, a bit discouraged, to spruce the place up a bit for David's return. He found a couple boxes that his son had shipped home (from somewhere in Arizona, he tried not to notice) - the infamous laptop and a rather expensive thermal sleeping bag. What on earth did he need that for?! He sighed and put it out of his mind, getting the fixings ready for two of David's favorite foods - beef stew and homemade bread. He had a feeling it would be best for David to be in as good a mood as possible...


The next morning, he was at the train station a good hour early, waiting impassively. Finally the train pulled up (a little late), and soon David's beloved form emerged with a backpack and the satchel Alex had packed for him. The backpack provided only a mild obstacle to the crushing hug Alex immediately enfolded him in. "Welcome home, son." David took it with somewhat better grace than usual in public, managing to pat his father's back awkwardly. "Thanks, Dad."

Once home, David inhaled the home-cooked meal with even more enthusiasm than usual - "I've really missed your cooking!!" Alex gathered that the boy had survived on fast food and his own feeble attempts at the culinary arts. It transpired that Jerry had left him in a cabin in the mountains of eastern Arizona. "I needed the sleeping bag because the heater had stopped working. It's COLD up there! I figured I'd get more use out of the bag than a space heater once I got home." Alex nodded. "Should be handy next time we go camping." David went on to complain, good-naturedly enough, about the extreme boredom the wide-open spaces engendered.

Once David had called all his friends and exchanged the latest, the two of them spent a companionable day figuring out how to network up his new laptop to the family connection. Once it was all ready and working, Alex reminded him, "Letting you have this computer in your room is a gesture of trust on my part, son. Don't disappoint me." "I won't, Dad." "What's the condition?" David sighed. "No porn." "Right." With that, they had dinner, another heavy meal that sent David into raptures. "Did I mention that I REALLY missed your cooking?!"

After a little more commiseration about the lonely place of exile, Alex steeled himself, then asked, "Do you have any questions for me?" David looked a little nervous. "Uh, yeah. ... Dad... where did all that money come from?! There was over HALF A MILLION DOLLARS you dumped in my lap!" Alex blinked, not expecting that one. "David, where did you think it came from? How much do you think I make a year?" "I dunno - forty thousand, maybe fifty?" His father couldn't help but laugh. "David, I made more than that right out of grad school, and I've been working at my company for years! I'm a lead now, too." "Well, how much, then?" "I make over six figures," Alex told him drily, and David's jaw dropped. "You didn't know? How much did you think this house cost, anyway?" The boy named a figure half that of the actual value, and Alex set him straight on that one too.

David shook his head. "We don't live like we're rich." Alex shrugged. "No, we don't, which is why there's a good deal of money saved up. There's plenty of people richer, I assure you. ... Surely you didn't think I'd obtained the money dishonestly or even illegally, did you?" David snorted. "A straight arrow like you?! ... Well, except for the beating-up-criminals bit, I guess. Nah. I just... didn't know what to think. It was a little hard not to spend it - the laptop seemed like nothing. Why'd you hand it all over to me like that?"

Alex told him quite seriously, "Because I wasn't sure I would survive. You found the will?" The boy nodded uncomfortably, and changed the subject - asking a number of intelligent questions about the power of attorney and just what it had implied. (Alex informed him that his lawyer had cancelled it the previous night.)

"Dad... Just why did you send me away? Are you gonna do that everytime the Shadow gets into trouble?" The question was just a little belligerent and piqued, as if to complain about being treated like a defenseless child. "This wasn't your average 'trouble', son. I told you - it was a homicidal telepathic group mind." "Yeah, but I can take care of myself..." "I think my actions were reasonable under the circumstances, David. I was afraid southern California was about to be overrun." "...What do you mean?" "Seen any zombie movies lately?" his father asked him harshly. "Huh?! ... You mean... it could SPREAD?!" "I told you it was contagious. You didn't understand what I meant?" "Wow. I, uh, guess not." Grudgingly, he added almost inaudibly, "Iguessitwasagoodideaafterall."

Alex chalked that up as the moral equivalent of an apology (parents of teens having to settle for what victories they can get) and conceded magnanimously, "It turned out not to be able to spread that far, but I didn't know that at the time I contacted Jerry." David nodded, still a bit overawed. After a moment, he asked, "So is it dead now?" "No, not exactly. But the remaining members got over their antisocial behavior and even helped me out against yet another threat." "...Oh."

Alex took a deep breath, screwed up his courage to the sticking point, then exhaled slowly. "David, there's... something else important we need to talk about." "Yeah?" "It's... about the Shadow." David looked a little uneasy - they'd rarely talked directly about the Shadow. "Okay..." "For the last eight months or so..." He abandoned that tack and tried another, "The Shadow has a number of people who work with him - informants and the like. Some of them work with him - with me, I mean - more closely than others. I, that is, there's, ah, one of them..." David stared at him. "You're dating!" He sounded as if he couldn't decide whether to be intrigued, outraged, or amused.

Alex's train of thought was not merely derailed; it plunged off the tracks into a flooding river with many sharp rocks. "What?!" "You're dating, aren't you?" "No!" "You're acting just like a friend of mine said his dad acted when he told him he was dating again after he broke up with his mom..." "David, I AM NOT DATING. All right?!" "Okay, fine, sheesh. What is it, then?"

For a moment Alex had to reroute the tracks of his brain. "...Right. I, well, as I said, for the last eight months or so I've been, well, getting closer to..." "You ARE dating!" "David, will you STOP THAT?!" "Well, you are, aren't you?!" "NO!" "What is it, then?!"

Yet a third time, Alex began, clinging desperately to the facts. "For the last eight months the Shadow has had an assistant... a young man who has worked with him closely. I've come to rely on him more and more as time has gone by. During this latest trouble... he was badly hurt. Almost killed. I... when it happened... I realized... that he was... part of my family."

David stared at him in mute astonishment for almost a full minute. Then he asked in a flat, dead voice, "How long has this been going on." "About three days. Before that, he was my comrade, my ally, even my friend... but I didn't see him as my son until then." David looked slightly - very slightly - mollified by that. "All right," he said. "How old is he?" "Eighteen."

"Is he your son," David asked cuttingly, "or the Shadow's?" Alex had to pause to think that one over, wanting to give an honest answer. Finally he said, "Mine. To the extent there's a distinction... the Shadow doesn't think that way." David's voice became a lash, seeking to wound. "Are you sure the Shadow didn't want a son to replace me?" The jealousy and anger were there now, green and red and throbbing. "David! It isn't like that! I've never seen him as replacing you! How could he - how could anyone?!" "I don't know, Dad! How could they!" Alex put all his passion and sincerity into his voice: "They couldn't, David. I love you. With all my heart."

David weighed that for a long time, then announced, "I'm going for a walk. Alone." Alex nodded. "All right." He waited tensely for his son's return; it took several hours. When he did, he was holding a hand to his side, his shirt bloody and torn. "I need a Band-Aid." Alex pursed his lips, holding in all the remonstrances that came to mind, and simply went and fetched a Band-Aid. It was all that was needed; David's wound had already mostly closed.

Once that was taken care of, Alex finally allowed himself to ask, "How many were there?" "Three. No guns, don't worry, just knives. Muggers." "...Were you looking for trouble?" "Not consciously," David replied honestly, "But in retrospect, yeah, I probably was - it was a really bad part of town and I knew it. ... I felt a lot better after I'd beaten them up." "Are they still alive?" David snorted. "Yeah, I was real careful. Dead guys don't moan and groan."

After a short silence, David said, "I want to meet him." It was clear who he meant. "You will. But not just yet; he's still recuperating. He suffered the equivalent of a stroke." The boy accepted that with something approximating good grace. "All right. How long?" "A couple weeks or so. Grace is helping him, and he's coming right along." David's brows contracted; he was clearly not pleased by Grace's involvement.

After some more thought, he continued firmly, "I want to meet him alone." "I'm not sure that's a good idea, David..." "You can introduce us, Dad. But I need to see what he's like when you're not around." "...We'll see." David got all cutting again, "Why shouldn't two brothers be able to have a heart-to-heart, after all?" Alex took a deep breath, struggling for control. When he found it, he said quietly, "The fact that he's my son does not necessarily make him your brother, David. That will be up to you, and to him. I will force nothing on you; this is my doing, not yours."

That statement seemed to actually rock David back a bit. He considered. "Are you gonna adopt him?" "He's legally an adult. He doesn't need a guardian; so no." The boy pondered and said, almost as if to himself, "Grandpa Frank would be pissed if he knew you'd basically adopted another son yet we weren't brothers..." Alex, alarmed, stated, "Grandpa Frank doesn't need to know anything about this." "Yeah yeah, I know. I'm just thinking out loud. ... I'll reserve judgement until I meet him. That's all I can say for now." "Do you want to know anything more about him?" "No. Not until we meet. That'd make it a lot harder to reserve judgement." "Very well."

Alex came to a sudden, blazingly intuitive decision. Quietly, he asked, "I've never talked with you about your other grandfather, have I? My father, Philip? Did your mother ever mention him?" David blinked, startled by the change of subject. "Not really. Just that he died a year or two after I was born." "I'm not surprised. She hated him nearly as much as I did." His son absorbed that, startled, then asked, "Why?"

"Because he was an arrogant, petty, miserable excuse for a human being." David replied with his father's heavy irony, "You don't need to hide your feelings, Dad, say what you really think. ... Mom felt that way too?" "Yes. She hated it whenever people mistreated me, and he mistreated me notably and often. Also, he offended her deeply once; the details aren't important. ... I'll show you his will someday. You'll understand a little more then." David listened, mute.

Alex sighed. "He was a mind controller, David. I didn't know it at the time - and neither did he, I think - but I recognize the signs now. He was very used to getting his way, and easily wounded whenever he didn't." The words tumbled out of him as if a dam had burst. "He was a salesman who could sell nearly anything to nearly anyone. He divided the world into three types of people, he told me once - Salesmen, Suckers, and A$$holes." "What's the difference?" "Salesmen are those who can convince others they need things; Suckers are the marks who will fall for a good enough pitch; and A$$holes are those who manifest sales-resistance. Guess which category your mother and I fell into?" "...A$$holes, I guess." "Right."

"...Do you have any brothers and sisters, Dad?" Alex snorted - not quite a laugh. "Yes. One full brother, and seven half-siblings that I know of. I'm not really in touch with them, but your Aunt Alicia did come out for the wedding and the funeral, and a couple other visits. You might remember her from when you were little; she's the only one I've ever been remotely close to. Well... Except my brother, but I haven't seen him since I was seven." Real grief entered Alex's voice. "Our parting was painful. I haven't thought of Rich in years." David was plainly stunned by all this - a new dimension of the family tree was opening up before him, and he'd never seen his dad this way either. "You mean I've got all these aunts and uncles - probably even a boatload of cousins - and I never knew?!" "Yes." "...Why are you telling me this? Why now?"

Alex's voice rose almost to a shout of pain. "David... Do you think I don't KNOW I haven't been an ideal father to you?!" David paled at his father's emotion, clearly having no idea how to answer a question so dangerously barbed. He finally settled on, "Go on." "I am aware... that I am not the open... fun-loving... affectionate father you've wanted and perhaps needed. I've done... what I can do. I've been shaped, both by my upbringing and my abilities, to be what I am today." "You think you're unique in that?!" "Doubtless not. But... my abilities are a little beyond the average, I think you'll admit." "That's what I mean," David said, pointing to himself, "You think you're unique?!" Alex sighed. "No, I suppose not."

They stood together in silence, facing each other. Finally David announced, "I'm going to bed." Alex nodded, reaching out hesitantly, but his son's stiff posture did not welcome his touch. He let his hands drop, looking downward, as David moved past him to his room.


When David returned from his early-morning jog, he announced tersely that he'd likely be staying out late with the gang studying. Alex nodded quietly. After breakfast, the boy loped off without a word. Alex suppressed a sigh.

At least work was a little more pleasant it had been. There was a tremendous uproar going on, but that was an improvement over the backbiting that had dominated the previous week. Summoned to a meeting of higher-ups by Bob's boss Dr. Harris, he found Wright's team there, looking highly irate - but with Wright himself, and Bob, conspicuously missing. Harris economically related the fact that Bob had "decided" to take a period of administrative leave, and that Mr. Wright had likewise "decided" to tender his resignation. There was a warrant out for Jay Warren's arrest, for chemical assault among other things, and any employee seeing him was to report it to the police at once.

A Babel of questions ensued; Harris was fairly tight-lipped, but did reveal the poisoning of the water cooler, which set Wright's team angrily muttering about a class-action suit - against Warren, or at any rate that's what they said in the presence of their superiors. They were also outraged by Harris' taut admission that the company initiating the project apparently did not exist, and never had existed. (Alex gathered that Bob was on paid leave until the company decided if he was a dupe or an accomplice.)

When a moment of temporary silence finally emerged, Alex managed to get the question in edgewise, "Mr. Wright was not implicated in Mr. Warren's, ah, irregular activities, was he? Why, then, did he, ah, feel moved to resign?" "That's confidential of course, Dr. Brighton, but I can say that Mr. Wright felt that he was no longer able to interact in a productive way with his superiors." Translating from the bureaucratese, Alex decided that Wright must have pushed one too many buttons - and that the company was covering its nether regions. Too bad, he thought, though I can't say I'm sorry to see him go.

Lunch was a buzzing hive of rumors, but far less poisonous than before - nobody was projecting their emotions more than verbally, for one thing. Harris made a site-wide announcement in the afternoon, giving a carefully-abridged version of the whole affair designed to make Warren the scapegoat for all the hostilities of the past week. The company water supply had been contaminated, he said, and it wasn't yet certain just how much of it had been. All water canisters were being replaced, and all water coolers being thoroughly flushed out and cleaned - and replaced, if and where necessary. He urged everyone movingly not to hold their co-workers responsible for the angry words and actions of the past week; some no doubt were affected by the contaminants, and the others influenced by the actions of those who were. (Basically true, Alex thought, but artfully done all the same.) He also announced a company picnic for the week following Thanksgiving, with details to be announced Monday. Alex, old hand that he was, confidently predicted that it would feature many tedious "team-building" activities. Probably not a bad idea, either - for once.

Returning home, he had a message from David that confirmed he'd be out late studying for his make-up test in World History. Giving Grace a call, he found that she thought it best for Carlos to stay with her right up to Wednesday. "And I suggest that you take the whole Thanksgiving weekend off too - tell him he can use the time to catch up on his schoolwork, it's the simple truth. I don't want him to be overwhelmed with that while also trying to get back into his job." "Understood. How is he doing?" He could easily picture Grace's wry smirk as she said, "He's been a perfect little angel. Working on that computer stuff is proving to be a great carrot. I let him put a couple hours in on that, and also wear himself out in a workout, so he was well-satisfied and sleeps the sleep of the just." "I'm glad to hear that. ... I... told David about him last night." "Oh? How'd it go?" "I'm being punished." "Cold shoulder, eh?" "The whole nine yards, silent treatment and all." "He'll come around, don't worry. I'm a little relieved that he didn't work out his frustrations physically, actually."

"He did, on some muggers." Again he could picture her smile. "He takes after you, you know." Stiffly, "I hardly think I go out looking for a fight to calm my nerves." "Well, no. But if he's going to pick a fight, he's going to pick a heroic one. Beating on people who beat on other people." "...I suppose. Tell Carlos I called, all right?" "Of course, Alex. Have a good evening."

Alex put the phone down and sighed. Then, after some extensive thought, he fetched a dolly from the garage, loaded it in his car, and did some shopping. Eventually he rolled an invisible crate into the base and carefully down the stairs and performed "Some Assembly Required" before things were arranged to his satisfaction. Only then did he go out as the Shadow.

Once again it was a fairly quiet night, mostly spent reminding people he still existed and terrorizing a few petty thieves. He tried calling Maria Volanti, but got her machine again, which caused him to frown a bit in worry. He'd long since made it a policy never to worry too much about Maria until at least a week had passed or solid evidence arose to justify it, however.

Returning home, he reinstated his custom of looking in on David. The boy was a lanky tangle of limbs and sheets; awkward, ridiculous, and infinitely precious. "I love you," he whispered, and went to bed. It was good to have him home, silent treatment or no.


Tuesday and Wednesday were more of the same, though David started to look increasingly harried. His excuse of needing to study for hours on end proved to be more true than he'd bargained for; Alex hoped his intensive work would take his mind from family troubles. Little Dave's mother (a notorious busybody) called to chat about how hard the gang was working to help David, which led to remonstrances about how he really ought to have had David take his schoolwork with him, and also some not-so-subtle probes as to just what the "family emergency" was all about. Alex used one of his stock responses - a contrite "You're absolutely right!" which shut her up somewhat - and stonewalled the gossipmongering with his usual aplomb. Eat your heart out, Bruce Wayne, he thought sarcastically. Nobody beats Alex Brighton with the ladies.

Wednesday evening, though... That was a special time, and Alex met it with slight trepidation. He drove out to Grace's and received from her a mostly-healthy and entirely-eager Carlos. Physically he's better than ever, emotionally he's pretty much back to normal, but mentally he's still a bit fragile. Try not to give his powers a workout; like I said before, take the weekend off if at all possible. Oh, and I'd like to check him out again next Monday. I will, and I'll send him by, he promised. Thank you so much for all you've done, Grace. I can never repay you. With that she shook Carlos' hand fondly and turned him loose.

The two looked at each other. "Good to have you back, Mr. Castaneda." "Yessir! It's good to BE back." Alex drove them close to the base's neighborhood, though not so close that his car was likely to be in grave danger. They shared a long, silent, companionable walk under the twilit sky. Only when they entered the lobby did Alex turn to him with open arms and say fervently, "Welcome home, son." Carlos flung himself into the embrace warmly and rested there for a time; then they stepped through Garrity's fake wall and went down the stairs.

Only then did Carlos catch sight of the new element in the decor, an audible gasp escaping him. His cot was gone.

In its place was a brand-new bed with crisp new sheets. (Its frame of solid oak, none of that cheap veneer stuff - Alex preferring things built to last.) Carlos moved toward it slowly, moving like a man in a trance; he ran his hand over the wood, then patted the mattress as if assuring himself it was really there and not a mirage or a dream.

Alex followed, gripping his shoulder from behind. With quiet intensity, he said, "You're here to stay." Carlos nodded, swallowing hard and turning bodily away from Alex, his head bowed - evidently unwilling to let an overwhelming flood of emotion be seen. When he had recovered a degree of self-possession, he said in a slightly quivering voice, "I've, uh, been working on those files you gave me, sir." "I know." Carlos gave a very preliminary report on what he'd found, still not looking Alex in the face, clearly using the business at hand to steady his nerves.

Alex nodded gravely as the recital was finished, although it hadn't really told him much. "Thank you, Carlos." "Glad to do it, sir." With that the boy sat down on the bed as if he didn't think he'd be able to stand much longer. Alex sat next to him. Silence reigned for a while.

"There are going to be a few changes in the way we do things around here," Alex told him. Carlos nodded, unsurprised. "I want you to go cold-turkey off of caffeine for a while. And I really need for you to be very frank with me about how tired you are. I can't make good strategic decisions unless I know the facts of your status, Carlos. So if you are tired, especially if it is enough to affect your work, I need you to tell me that. All right?" "Yessir." "And you and I are going to design a workout plan for you to follow." He smiled and continued, "Don't worry, I'm not as protective as Grace! But I don't want you working to the point where I find you snoring on the bench press any more, either. It isn't really healthy, you know."

The "protective" joke broke the ice. Carlos grinned and visibly relaxed. "All right, sir, you got it." "Finally, I'm going to take the entire Thanksgiving weekend off, all the way to Monday. You can use that time to catch up on your GED classes." "Thanks, I'll need it." He looked quite relieved.

"I think we'll take most of tonight off too," Alex continued, "but there's one or two things I could stand to check out first. Do you care to back me up?" "Absolutely, sir!" Carlos eagerly lunged to the computer and fired it up, fiddling with his commlink.

Alex smiled to himself as he put on his vest and cloak, his hand pausing on his hat. "It's good to have you back, Mr. Castaneda," he repeated. "It's good to BE back, sir!"

On the way up the stairs, planning out some very low-impact patrols he could do that wouldn't bring Carlos' precognition into play, he said, "Oh, and one more thing." "Yeah?" the young man's voice rang tinnily and comfortingly into his ear.

Out the lobby now, and onto the street. "You're to let me win a hand or two of poker tonight." "Pssh! I think that's what they call an immoral order, sir!"

Arguing good-naturedly about the morality of fleecing and being fleeced, Alex strode off into the night, his shadow looming menacingly behind him.

[Up until the last second, I had no idea if Alex was going to be able to tell David about Carlos or not. There were two basic scenarios - this one, where he managed, and another in which he rationalized a completely different story - and I wasn't sure which one was going to play out. Either would have been interesting; and now that I know, I think I see ways to incorporate the more evil bits of the other one into this one. ;)]

[A loooong and very RP-heavy session, as you can see. Great fun! And I think I see the outlines of what SP has planned for the next arc. Which will, of course, prove to be wrong, but at least it gives a sop to my plot spider-sense. :)]


[This session was mostly written up, save for the note on the conversation with Hashimoto, a week ago. I had waited to post mostly so I could talk with SP to jog my memory about it.]

[Events have since transpired that have caused me to post it as-is, however. Please see my next post.]
Last edited:

[Please note that there is a Shadow session - the final one - posted just before this.]

My friends,

I've reached a moment of decision in my life over the last couple weeks. Far-reaching changes are taking place; and one of them is that I can no longer continue this game.

I'd like to leave it at that, but I do feel that I owe my loyal readers an explanation.

It'll be easiest if I describe something that happened several years ago. I was a devoted MUSHer, having played a character on an Amber-themed MUSH (ie, text-based RP environment) for the previous seven years. A little too devoted. It got to the point where that game was eating up too much of my time and thoughts, and interfering with my daily life. But more than that... I came to realize that playing that character was keeping alive in me traits that I didn't like. All of my characters are images of some facet of my own personality; and playing him was giving one facet entirely too much exercise.

I fought shy of admitting it for some time. But when I finally came face to face with it, after a lot of heartache, I killed the character off and had him deleted so that I could never start him up again. It was hard. Very hard. But experience showed that it was the right thing to do; many things in my life started going right again shortly afterward.

Well... today I came to the same realization about Alex. And once again, I've fought shy of admitting it for a matter of weeks. I think it's the suggestions for further developments of campaign support that finally brought it to the surface where I had to look at it.

I'm spending too much time, effort, and thought on this game, pure and simple. And playing Alex has ceased to be good for me, much as I enjoy it. He is a good and strong but very flawed man (much like my MUSH character was, but in a totally different way); and just as before I find that playing out his flaws magnifies flaws in me that I cannot tolerate being magnified.

I'm not the kind of guy to do things by halves. I don't think cutting back will help. I just have to stop. God knows, I'll miss the guy - and Carlos (who is also a mirror of me in a great many ways, I'm very fond of him), and David, and the rest of the gang. But he's not good for me any more. I'll treasure the memory of him, but I just can't continue to play him. (And the same, I regret to say, goes for my character Paratwa in MDSnowman's Chain Gang game.)

What I really regret about this is the effect it has on you guys. I never intended to string anyone along; I fully intended to mine the rich potential of this game for years. But it's not to be. I ask you to forgive me. Feel free to use the world, and the character, in whatever way you choose provided that SuentisPo goes along with it.

I debated today whether it was best to make a clean break or to wind things down in a couple adventures, and regretfully decided that the former is best. I tried things the other way on the MUSH, and it only made things much harder for me and the people I played with. The campaign has reached an interlude point in any case; this is how I'd like to remember it.

I very much hope to continue the relationships I've formed with people on this board and ENWorld - notably Ronin, Mitchell, Lela, and PsychoBlonde. I'll probably stay away from the boards for a while as I bring my life into order (my decision about the Shadow is only part of a wide-ranging series of life-decisions I've been making today), but that doesn't reflect at all on the good company.

Please feel welcome to contact me by email or on AIM if you wish; I'm putting the information in my profile. I will enjoy talking with you. But do understand that my mind on this matter is made up.
Last edited:

One thing more. If you haven't read the posts above, please do that first.


I thought I'd mention some of the things I was hoping to see happen in the game in the future, just for those with "'satiable curtiosities". ;)

Evidence was mounting that Maria had been kidnapped. Alex was planning to assault OmniMetal with as many people he could dredge up - Legion too, if it was willing. He'd been planning to wait for the heat to die down, but once he confirmed Maria was missing things woulda gone into overdrive.

I honestly have no idea how the meeting between Carlos and David would have gone, except that it probably wouldn't have been pleasant. :) Pity we won't find out - SP, care to comment?

I've long known how Alex's death scene would have gone, if he'd ever gotten to the point of dying. His emotional instability would have raged out of control, "zapping" everyone around him (quite possibly with a WIDE range), but then he would have pulled himself together and basically undergone apotheosis.

Mental energies would flow over into the physical, with thunder crashing over Los Angeles as the outline of a man was seen - at any rate by those who were minimally sensitive - against the clouds, laughing. With a flicker of his mind he would have resolved whatever problems were remaining - most likely the Overmind Project - perhaps drawing Legion and other telepaths into a momentary gestalt to draw on their power as well.

Then the people of the city would have heard him say joyfully, "THERE ARE NO MORE SHADOWS!" (Those he loved would have gotten more personalized messages in addition.)

And with that, Alex Brighton would have been gone, save that his hand would rest upon the city all the rest of that night - a night of peace, for once. No shootings, no robberies, no drug deals; lovers reconciling, people walking out and enjoying the night. He'd give LA a night of the peace he'd always desired and never achieved himself.

And, just possibly, he would have left a piece of himself in Carlos to help him over the rough road ahead.

P.S. Yes, I did design, have SP approve, and buy a feat that would let me get away with all that. ;) I called it "Swan Song". Basically it gives a player author-control for a scene when his character dies or otherwise basically becomes an NPC.
Last edited:


First Post
Although I'm sad to see this story go, I'm priviledged to have been a fan from the very beginning (although posting for it far more frequently on the M&M boards). This has been one of the best "story hour" type serials I've ever seen. Thanks, Shadow, for illuminating some of the dark places in Los Angeles, and in your/his mind.

Thanks, guys. I appreciate it. And I'm sad to see this game go, but honestly my dominant emotion when posting about the end was relief. I don't think there could be a surer sign that quitting was for the best.

Thanks for some great times and for all your feedback!

Voidrunner's Codex

Remove ads