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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
I have to say that this has been one of the most amazing displays of RPing I've ever seen. Every time I sat down, I found the Shadow to be the most thought out and realistic characters I'd ever seen. More real than anything Sep ever wrote, by far.

This may be the first time I'll ever really miss a Story Hour. And I've read a lot of them. I'll look for you on AIM and via e-mail.

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Overlord of Chat
I'm sorry to see this storyhour go :S

Please do me a favour and drop a post here if you start a new game up and decide to get a storyhour going for that one ;)


First Post
Yeah, sorry to see ya go Shadow, it was a good story with great roleplaying. *thumbs up*

Maybe try playing a character that isn't a facet of yourself so you don't get worried when you really get into the game? :)

Or maybe you should start playing Everquest or Shadowbane or something instead, so you can be all cool and detached.... :^D Someday I'll get around to actually installing my copy of Shadowbane, someday....probably the same day I get a new job and can afford the subscription.


First Post
Hello all,

I'm Suentis Po, the GM of the Shadow game, and a new poster to EN world. I suppose it is rather ironic that my first post would consist of the closing of a campaign.

Like the rest of you, I will miss the Shadow campaign; it has been extremely fun and well worth the effort I put into it.

The Shadow requested that I post a few comments on the planned future of the game:

David and Carlos would have problems the second time they met (the first time they would be on their best behavior); the Shadow/Alex's behavior would be crucial to how the acted in the future. (Isn't sibling rivalry fun?)

Maria was kidnapped by the 'troubleshooters'- that was the next planned episode. This would be the close of the Omni-Metal arc- I wasn't planning on having any threads for the Shadow to follow back. She had been spotted by a telepath and grabbed, they were trying to program her mind and running into her fierce willpower. I mistakenly told the Shadow that this arc was over, I forgot about her when I did- mea culpa.

The next arc after that was going to be 'The Return(?) of Hexmaster'. For those of you who don't know him, he was a homozygous telepath who had coped with his immense telepathic powers by going insane. He fought the Shadow in an earlier version and is, in some way, a dark reflection of him- a what might have been.

Hexmaster would have had the two psis and mutated ape that the Shadow chased off before as allies- yes, this was planned out that far back. The twin psis had vastly different powers: 1 was an empath that could also do a minor bio-drain, and the other was a powerful biokinetic, able to boost her strength, stamina and fleshcraft others- including a gorilla they stole from the zoo (the 'monster' before- controlled by the boy). These 3 were an homage to both the earlier Hexmaster's minions (a trio called Leech, Mutator and Ogre) and the Wonder Twins of the old Superfriends cartoon (I couldn't resist ;)

After that, my plans were a bit more nebulous. I was planning on having one more story arc, then go back to Omni-Metal (or to be precise, The Overmind Project). I would have introduced the problem of the undecided story arc during the Hexmaster arc- a big possibility was Maria Escalante and the Red Shivs. The Shadow was going to regret letting her rebuild- she was planning on having a cadre of high-tech goons- none of them could take her on, but they would be able to wrest control from the police quite nicely. This was where the extra profits she made from the drug sales were going to go.

Somewhere in there, I was going to have Dr. Wright (as he would insist on being called) and his threat to seed a dangerous variation on the Legion process all over the city- that was the other contender for the big story arc, as it would tie back into the Overmind Project. Jay Warren was toast. Wright was planning on 'testing' the compound on him as payback. If I didn't make it a huge story arc, just a one-shot, it would be the start of the Overmind Project storyline.

The last possibility for a story arc would have been Alex's disassociation from his Shadow and the problems that would cause. I hadn't decided on what to do with that (or even if I was going to do it at all). 'Dr. Wright' might be a huge problem for the Shadow in this case- he wouldn't know why Wright was doing what he did, thus preventing him from anticipating his next moves. The PC said he was thinking about doing this anyway, it was just how much energy I was planning on putting in it.

If there was any plans in my head for a death scene for the Shadow, it would have been at the end of the Overmind saga, ironically, they might have gotten a start on what they wanted, just as they were defeated.

Thinking on that, Maria and the Red Shivs might have been a great nemesis for the Shadow's successors (as seen in the short he posted). Alex left a mess and the boys work together to clean it up.

Just a few thoughts on the possible futures of the game.

Suentis Po

A couple of after thoughts

Grace would have been very important to the boys after Alex died. In an odd way, she would be the 'mother figure' for the two of them. I'm sure they would have appreciated the information and insights she could provide.

No, Hal was not directly responsible for Maria's toys. They are the work of a telepathic thief- he steals ideas from the hyper-intelligent and markets them as his own. He has 3 genii he 'skims', Hal was just one of them. (The head pieces were from Hal, though)

At the time this went to press, I didn't have any ideas for/about Mike (or anyone else). In the months to years of game time, I'm sure I could have come up with something.

If any of these ideas interest anyone, they are free to use them. I'd like to be notified, so I can see my work through another's eyes.

Hey everybody,

I find I've been getting mildly nostalgic for the Shadow game lately. I have no intention of starting it back up, but I thought I'd exorcise onto paper some potential scenes that have stuck with me ever since the game ended. Thought you guys might like to see the results.

These are fragments, really, and some of them may be inconsistent with each other. Some even date from an earlier period of the game, and were obviated by later developments. But hey, it's Shadow-stuff. :) With some commentary by me.


What Dreams May Come

Alex was awakened from his cot at the base by Carlos screaming in horror. Rushing over to the boy's cot he found Carlos shaking violently in panic. The young man looked up at him with frantic apology, "Sorry, sir! I, uh," he gulped, "had a dream."

Alex nodded gravely. "I had a dream too." Carlos glanced at him, startled. "You did?" Alex nodded, then quoted from the Shadow movie deadpan: "I dreamed I tore all the skin off my face and was somebody else underneath."

Carlos stared at him as if he'd grown another head, then burst into peals of infectiously helpless laughter; Alex joined him, and they both laughed until they all but cried. (And if Carlos' laughter started out with an edge of hysteria, Alex was pleased to note it had faded by the time they wound down to light giggles.)

Carlos made a huge effort to compose himself, then attempted to return Margo Lane's line with the appropriate gravity: "You... have issues." The effect was somewhat spoiled by his dissolving into giggles again by the end, though, and he lost it completely when Alex nodded and gave Cranston's response with an earnest expression: "I'm aware of that."

[I kept waiting and waiting to use this one in-game, but the chance never came, darnit! :)]


[This is what I planned to do if Ricky ever did anything blindingly stupid again - putting his life at risk. It woulda been fun - that kid got on my nerves at times. :)]

Object Lesson

The Shadow slammed Ricky against the wall of the alley. Snatching the hat - nearly the copy of his own - from the boy's head, he used it to thwack him repeatedly about the head and shoulders to emphasize his words. "You (THWACK!) stupid (THWACK!) little (THWACK!) idiot!!! (THWACK! THWACK! THWACK!)" "I'm sorry, Shadow," Ricky snivelled, "I didn't mean..." "I don't care what you meant! (More THWACKS!) You could have gotten yourself KILLED! Dead! Deceased! Do you understand me?!" "I..." "Shut up! Let me think." He absently tore Ricky's hat apart before the lad's widened eyes.

Regaining a bit of composure, he finally said, "I suppose an object lesson is in order. I tried beating some realities of life through your thick skull the last time, but it evidently didn't work. In fact, you thought it was ... COOL." He spat the word as if it were a vile insult. "I guess I'll just have to come up with something definitely 'uncool' this time, won't I." "I-" "WON'T I?!" "Yessir!" The Shadow's lips curved in a disturbingly creative smile. "I have it." "Wh-what?"

"Richard, your black-wearing privileges are revoked." "Huh?!" "From now on, you will wear nice, bright, *happy* colors." Ricky flinched at the venom in the word "happy". "If I ever catch you wearing anything black again, you're going to go home without it, if you have to end up going home naked. Understood?" "I-" "UNDERSTOOD?!" "Yessir!" "Now tell me, do you think that's COOL?" "Nosir!" "Good." He released the boy, letting him slide along the wall back to his feet. "Well?"

Ricky gulped. "Uh, well what, Shadow?" "That ridiculous trenchcoat has to go, don't you agree?" "Oh. Right." He shrugged out of it, looking ready to cry, and the Shadow methodically slashed it up with a knife. He pointed to the tattoo of the Shadow movie logo on Ricky's right biceps, "Oh, and I never want to see that thing again. You'd better wear shirts with sleeves long enough to cover it from now on." "Yes, Shadow."

"I'll let you keep your jeans. This time. But the boots and shirt have to go too." "But..." "DO IT!" Ricky complied. "Now." The Shadow offered him a piece of a chalk. Ricky accepted it meekly. "What's this for?" "I'll bring you some new clothes to go home in. IF you have written, 'I will not stupidly put my life in danger ever again," two hundred times on the walls of this alley by the time I return." "Okay... Uh, Shadow?" "What!" "Uh, how do you spell 'stupidly'?"

The Shadow nearly exploded at him, but had a suitable revenge later. Ricky looked ready to cry when he saw the bright yellow shirt with Tweety-Bird on it (two sizes too small) that the Shadow brought him a few hours later...


[After I was dragooned into seeing Kill Bill 2, I couldn't help but picture the 'Wise Old Master' as Mai Pei - though SP tells me this is a mere slander, that the WOP is a much nicer guy than that. Still, this scene wouldn't let me go.]

Wise Old Master

Remind me again why I'm not supposed to kill him. He's helping your son learn how not to kill people by accident? That's rapidly becoming insufficient to prevent me from killing him on purpose, Grace. His methods are harsh, yes, but...

But unnecessary! I don't expect anyone can learn to fight without picking up bruises, but this is out of line! He fumed down at David's sleeping form, the boy's livid, recently-broken arm healing almost before his eyes. ...I was going to say, "But effective." I don't like it any more than you do, Alex, but we can't have David leaving a trail of bodies everywhere he goes, can we? He wouldn't do this to someone who couldn't heal the way David does.

Effective or not, I'm tempted to add a body to the trail myself. He may be a deadly martial artist, but I'll wager he can't catch bullets. You might be surprised...


[I had originally intended to develop Alex's relationship with Carlos very slowly. I expected them to go on never quite coming out and saying how they felt, preferring to leave the heavy stuff tacit. Of course, events in the game ended up forcing things to a new level, but this scene, which dates to quite an early period, is still compelling to me.]

[I had also originally intended for Alex to gently force Carlos out of the nest once he graduated - and while the whole mind-rape business and the subsequent "adoption" did complicate that quite a bit, something *like* this would probably have happened anyway.]

Graduation Day

Alex smiled slightly to himself at the eager bustle going on behind Carlos' dressing screen. The boy's eyes had bugged out at the suit Alex had bought him - he'd never had clothes like that before. But today was his "graduation" from the GED program, and Alex had wanted to make a special day of it. It would help cushion the blow for later... but Alex forced that unpleasant thought from his mind.

A frustrated noise came from the screen, then Carlos emerged with his collar awry, holding out the new tie as if it were a poisonous snake. "How on earth are you supposed to tie this thing, sir?!" Alex chuckled. "Here, I'll show you."

Slowly looping the tie up and around so that Carlos could see how, Alex was struck, not entirely comfortably, by the memory of doing the same thing for David. He's special to me, he admitted to himself. Carlos seemed to have a similar vibe from it all; at any rate, he wouldn't meet Alex's eyes but looked pleased as punch.

Finally getting the thing suitably arranged, Alex handed him his jacket, then went through the ritual of inspecting him ostentatiously, brushing off imaginary dust here and there. "You clean up nicely," he said mock-grudgingly. Carlos grinned at him, then rushed over to the mirror. Alex followed, resting his hands on the boy's shoulders from behind.

The lad did cut a fine figure, no doubt about it. Carlos emitted a subdued "Wow" at his own reflection. Alex smiled, then tried one of the lines from the Shadow movie on him: "Where did you get that tie?"

Rather than returning Lamont Cranston's response ("Brooks Brothers!") though, Carlos looked down at his feet. Then, lifting his chin, he met Alex's eyes squarely in the mirror.

"My dad gave it to me," he whispered.

Alex opened his mouth, but nothing came out. He forced the whirling thoughts and emotions out his mind, though, as Carlos had hunched his shoulders as if under a heavy burden. Not knowing what to say, he just turned the boy around and embraced him. Carlos hugged him back for a long time; when they parted, neither knew what to say.

Alex cleared his throat. "Well. Ready to go knock 'em dead?" "Yessir!"

Later, sitting on a metal folding chair, Alex clapped until his hands hurt as Carlos received his certificate, grinning from ear to ear, while "Pomp and Circumstance" played tinnily from a recording. He was the only one who had come to see Carlos, of course; and that was one more than many of the other graduates had. But clearly Carlos' own favorite moment came when Alex shook his hand after and told him, "You've worked hard. I'm proud of you."

Out at dinner afterward, Carlos was still glowing lightly as he devoured a steak. When they'd finished, Alex told him softly, "I have another gift for you." "Sir! You don't have to..." "I know. But I want to." "Well... Okay. What is it?"

For reply, Alex picked up a napkin, took out a pen, and carefully signed his name on it, handing it over. "What... what is it, sir?" "My name, Carlos. Alexander Brighton." The boy's face drained of color, but before he could say anything, Alex went on gently, relentlessly, "I'm going to sign it again on a check for your college education. Or, if you prefer, as a co-signature on a loan to start a business of your own."

Carlos looked almost ready to cry. "You... don't want me working with you any more." "Of course I do, Carlos!" Alex told him intensely. "You've been invaluable." "Then... why!" "Because, Carlos, while your time at the base has been good for you - a time of healing, of knitting together - it simply isn't healthy for you in the long term." "Can't I decide that for myself, sir?!"

"Carlos," Alex told him gently, "you aren't exactly objective about it." When no reply came, Alex went on, "This is too small a life for you, Carlos. You're going to want a career of your own at some point, won't you? A family? How are you going to have those things if you're spending your nights helping me?" "Sir, I'm happy with you!" "I know, Carlos. I know. But you can't spend your life, well, in my shadow, indefinitely. There comes a time in a young man's life when he has to strike out on his own."

Carlos plainly did not know what to say. Alex said quietly, "I can't be your father, you know." Carlos looked down at his plate, a tear trickling down his cheek. "I know, sir. I've known it the whole time." "It's not for the reason you think." The boy looked up, startled. "Huh?" "It's not because I don't *want* to, you know." Silence. Alex told him softly, "It's because you don't need a father at this point in your life. You're a man, Carlos. You've been able to fend for yourself for years. You needed a time of pulling yourself together, of learning to love yourself. You've had it. And now's the time to go out and make your way." Alex grinned. "After the streets, I think you'll find the 'real world' quite tame."

The young man essayed a weak smile in response. "Can... Can I come visit sometime?" Alex snorted. "I will be personally offended if you don't visit now and then. Particularly on the holidays." He paused, then said emphatically, "You're like family. And... I love you."

Carlos' eyes widened at the words, and he did start shedding tears then - happy ones, Alex was relieved to note.

[Like I said, this scene came to me just about in whole cloth early on. It was an eerie moment for me when SP had Carlos say in their big scene, "I know you can't be my father." He'd never heard of my ideas for this one. Of course it wouldn't really have happened this way, given later events, but I still like it.]


[Here's something I had in mind for Juan Martinez, before it became clear that he wasn't going to be waking up any time soon.]

Juan for the Home Team

The Shadow slipped past the guards into the hospital room - invisibly, of course. Drifting over to Juan's bed, he spread invisibility over the boy's sleeping form, before shaking his shoulder gently.

"Wha- Oh sh*t!" "Hush, Juan. I'm here to talk. Nobody can hear us right now." "Wh-what do you want??" "As I said. To talk."

Juan began to recover his composure. "What about?" The dark avenger gestured about the hospital room. "I never intended for this to happen to you. I misjudged your reaction. So I've done what I could to make it right." He smiled, not an entirely pleasant smile, but close. "I hope you enjoyed the flowers." Juan took that in, then responded sardonically. "Yeah, they've really brightened my day." "Glad to hear it."

"Is that it? You're real sorry you got my head busted?" "Watch it, punk. I decide how much I feel guilty about what happened. Not you. I seem to recall that your own stupidity was involved too." "Yeah, well, I don't quite remember. Head injury, right?" He gave it up when he clearly saw the Shadow wasn't buying any. "Fine. What do you want?"

The Shadow folded his arms. "Have you given any thought to what happens *after* you get out of here?" Juan paled. "Some." "Let me spell it out for you. You ran from the Red Shivs, and in doing so violated your parole. There's cops outside that door, and they're not exactly overflowing with sympathy. You're gonna do time... and I think your brothers with the knives will do their best to make sure it's hard time. Short, though, if you see what I mean."

Juan winced, but flung back, "Yeah, what's it to you?" "I might have another option for you, if you're willing to cooperate." Warily, "What?" "I can get you a lawyer better than any you've had wet dreams about. And I can protect you from the Shivs. There is, of course, a price." Juan sneered, "I didn't think you'd help an hermano out of the milk of human kindness! What is it?"

"You're going off drugs, and you're going legit. I can give you a good job if you prefer that to flipping burgers." Juan looked puzzled. "That's it?" "That's it. Though if you ever betray me, or violate our agreement, you'll wish very earnestly you hadn't." "...All right, sounds good."

Wheels were plainly turning behind the lad's eyes, as he angled for what he could get out of this. They abruptly froze to a halt when the Shadow said, "I'll have to read your mind, of course, to make sure you're sincere." Frantic, animal fear. "Madre de Dios, no! Please! I can't!" "Juan..." "I CAN'T! Oh please, Shadow, I want to, but I just can't!" He began whimpering in Spanish, the very picture of a hurt little boy, and a wet stain started spreading on the bedsheet. Reading the young man's surface thoughts, the Shadow found to his chagrin that he wasn't faking. He really was that terrified.

Shaking him slightly, he said, "All right, Juan! Relax!" Clearly shamed, Juan looked away. "Sorry," he muttered. "It just... scares me." "So I see. I'll let it go, for now at least. Do we have a deal?" He extended a gloved hand. Juan grasped it. "Yeah. Deal. It's better'n what I'll get from the Shivs or the court."

The Shadow rose to his feet. "There's one more thing." "Yeah?" The Man of Mystery slowly pulled the bandanna from his lower face while Juan's eyes widened. "You've seen my face. I think you know what that means." The boy nodded, awed and scared, as the Shadow tied the bandanna to his arm. "Wh-what's that for?" The Shadow looked down at him with an unpleasant smile. "That's your colors. You're part of MY gang now!" And with that, he was gone.

[That last bit was pure theatrics, of course. Juan didn't see Alex's *real* face, just an illusion. Great fun, though!]

[If Juan had kept his nose clean for a few months, Alex would've entrusted him with more and more. He might even have ended up replacing Carlos once Carlos' "Graduation Day" came to pass. On the other hand, if he'd tried messing with the Shadow, he would have gotten the scare of his young life, at the very least.]


[I had always wanted to bring the Forbidden back into the game, but it just never worked out. Here's one way I proposed to do it - though the end is my own fanciful guess as to events, just because it woulda been cool.]

Forbidden Fruit

Alex sighed. Their first meeting had gone so well - both of them on their best behavior. Why was this one such a disaster?

David and Carlos were shouting at each other, the epithets getting fouler by the moment - Carlos even resorting to Spanish as his creativity in English was getting exhausted. Presently David shoved him, and that was it for Alex - that turn of events could only end one way, given David's strength.

Both young men turned to him in shock as he brought his palm down on the table like a thunderclap. "ENOUGH!" David recovered first - enough to roll his eyes and mouth the predicted words along with Alex: "We're going camping." He had indeed experienced more than one camping trip with Alex meant to end a family difficulty. It had usually worked, too - this was to be his first with a new brother, however.

Carlos had never left the city in his life. He couldn't help but gasp eagerly, open-mouthed, as the mountains came into view. David rolled his eyes in worldly fashion at the newbie. He got in a few smart comments at Carlos' inept attempts to pitch a tent later, but was quelled by his father's cold stare.

He was still sulking when Dad gave the obligatory man-to-man talk to them over the campfire that night. But dammit, why does it always have to WORK?! How does he DO it?!

Carlos abruptly interrupted - a highly uncharacteristic way for him to treat his hero, David thought sardonically - and said "Sir! There's something out there." Alex paused, concentrating, then said, "You're right." He got to his feet, poised - David now knew, after a few lessons - for combat. Carlos faded to his side, looking surprisingly dangerous, and David moved to Dad's other side, not to be outdone. "What is it?"

A glitteringly angular black form approached, the campfire seeming to shrink back from it as it drank in the light. Alex said with surprised incipient joy, "John!! Is that you?!" David smiled too. "It's Forby!" But Carlos said warningly, "Sir...!"

Probes uncoiled menacingly from the black aura before them like black icicles, humming with power, and a harsh voice grated, "Go away, Alex." Then it leapt toward them, plainly ready to kill.

[My theory: Rose has been kidnapped by the Council and the Forbidden is half-mad with the Hunger. NOT a pleasant situation to deal with! Given that he doesn't really WANT to kill anybody, though, I suspect that he wouldn't put up much resistance on the mental plane.]


[This one dates, of course, from the period when Juan Martinez ended up in the hospital. This one and the next one mirror one direction I might have taken Alex as he became increasingly unhinged. SP and I discussed it repeatedly, though I didn't let him in on these particular scenes. This would have happened shortly after Alex had his climactic battle with Johnson and Torrance.]

Hats Off to the Shadow

The cloaked crusader frowned as he entered the alley. It'd been a rough week. He'd been troubled much more than usual by dreams, nightmares really, of violence and vengeance and betrayal. It'd been interfering with his sleep. Now Juan Martinez had escaped from the hospital... and in tracking him, Alex found he'd been leaving a disturbingly bloody trail behind him. But now...

"End of the line, Juan," he said as he cocked his pistol. The young man in the hospital gown looked up from the man he'd just knifed, and Alex' heart froze within him - Juan's tan features were slack, drool running from the corner of his lips... his eyes staring sightlessly into space. He was plainly still a coma patient... though a coma patient holding a bloody knife in his hand.

Then, yet more horrifyingly, those slack lips shaped themselves into a lopsided smile, and those eyes tracked his invisible form easily. "Juan's not in right now. But I'm glad to see you, Brighton. I've been expecting you." "WHO ARE YOU?!" "Now Alex," the not-boy chided him gently, "You know perfectly well who I am." And with that, he faded from sight.

Alex fired several shots reflexively at the space the young man had just occupied, but they ricocheted off the walls of the alley. "Don't worry, Brighton," that horrible voice went on, "We'll be seeing a lot of each other. Oh! And I almost forgot."

A hand snaked out from behind him and snatched the hat from his head. "You have something that belongs to me."

[Yes... Once the Shadow personality got "killed", I saw it as becoming increasingly crazy, increasingly separated from Alex, manifesting in his dreams and astral-projecting. Finally it latched onto Juan Martinez's effectively empty form and used it. Ugly, ugly, ugly.]


[But that was only one scenario. Here's another.]

Good Times Are Here Again

Alex walked slowly over to the hat where it lay on the mat. He'd accidentally left it there when he and Carlos had sparred and... well.

His heart constricted in his chest as its lonely presence there on the floor smote him almost like an accusation. He was letting his feelings interfere with his work, he knew. That wasn't good... was it?

Alex wrestled within himself for a time, then deliberately turned his back on the hat. "No!" he gasped. "You don't own me." His hands started to shake, then his whole frame... and abruptly he folded to the floor in a convulsion. "Sir!!" Carlos shouted, and ran to him. "Are you OK?!"

When no response came, and Alex's helpless flopping showed no sign of abating, Carlos ran to the phone and started frantically dialing Grace's number. Totally unexpectedly [yes, despite his Danger Sense and all the rest] a hand clamped itself on his shoulder and spun him about as a cold voice inquired, "Who are you calling."

Carlos shouted in surprise, then relaxed slightly as he saw Alex standing there... with the hat on. "I, uh, was worried about you, sir. I'm glad you're okay?" "Who. Were. You calling." "Amazing Grace, sir. I was worried." "There's no need to call her, Carlos. I'm fine. You won't do that again. Will you?" "Of... of course not, sir." "Good. We don't need to involve others in our business. Speaking of which, we have matters to attend to, don't we?" "Y-yessir."

Lamont laughed soundlessly to himself as he mounted the stairs. If only he could explain to Burbank that he'd been reincarnated as a Chicano street tough and see the look on his face! And Margo - an expensive hooker! (Though as much of a looker as ever, to be sure!) She'd laugh herself silly if she could hear her own present accent. What's next, will Moe Shrevnitz turn out to be a WASP investment banker or something?

But of course he himself had to be different, had to be out of the ordinary. Of course that ridiculous milksop Brighton wasn't HIS new incarnation. No, Shiwan Khan must have bound his soul into the hat somehow. He'd worked with the pathetic tool he'd been given, but it felt good to be back in the driver's seat. Khan was probably still out there somewhere... How to find him? This new world was frustratingly large!

Maybe Doc Savage was still hanging on somewhere? He'd know, if anyone did...

[This version is at least as unhinged as the previous one, but of course rather less dangerous... Unless confronted with the truth. And who knows - SP hinted once or twice that in this world, there may actually have been something to the old Shadow stories. Was there really a Shiwan Khan out there to find?]


[But either way, eventually Alex's and the Shadow's respective noses would have been rubbed in their predicament, and they would have had a big confrontration. Probably orchestrated by Grace. I don't think even she would have expected what would happen next, though, when all the gloves were off...]

Rat Race

There was no one but the rats to see when the shadow crept under the door of the lab. The lab run during daylight by the meticulous Dr. Alexander Brighton. ...The shadow of a man wearing a hat and a cloak.

The shadow crept along the floor, rising up and solidifying into the shape of that man. A cold smile curved his lips. "What's that, Brighton? You don't understand why we came here? I have something to show you." He moved over to the rat cages. "These rodents are your metaphor for your society, aren't they? The society you keep trying to 'save' from itself. As if you could, with your pathetic scruples and fatal weakness."

Alex forced his own words through his lips: "I was strong enough to keep you from killing Grace." "That meddling bitch! We were doing fine! Or I was, anyway!" "Some of us beg to differ." The Shadow recovered its composure. "Yes, well. Maybe you'll change your mind. It's time you saw the truth." "What truth?"

The Shadow pointed to the rats. "Like I said - your metaphor for society. Not bad, actually. But it's lacking a certain something. Let me show you the truth about what you're trying to save." It clenched its fist, its face screwing up in concentration and hatred.

The rats went wild, lunging at each other, chittering maniacally. Some flung themselves at the cage walls, trying desperately to escape, while others attacked their fellows with a savagery never seen in nature. Fur flew, and blood sprayed as the little rodents tore each other limb from limb. Soon the only sounds were a few faint whimperings as the few survivors bled to death. "Do you see, Brighton?! DO YOU SEE?! THAT'S your f*ucking society! THAT'S what you're trying to 'save'!" "No!" "All you can do is take out the predators before they take you out!"

"And how are you different from a predator?!" The Shadow's lips curved in a smile. "Oh, I'm a predator all right. But my prey is the other predators. That's the difference." "You just like the challenge!" "There is that," it admitted, "but mainly I'm just trying to carve out a space to survive in. So that David and others like him don't have to be predators."

"Then I guess you're trying to save society too, hm?" "Nothing so noble! Just the - very few - people I give a sh*t about." "Like Grace?" Alex inquired maliciously. "Bastard! I couldn't let her destroy everything!" "Destroy YOU, you mean!" "Yes!"

"Well," Alex finally said, "I guess we do agree on one thing." "Oh?" "Yes. Some predators need to be taken down." And with that, the man convulsed as his own hands flew to his throat. "Damn you, Brighton!" the Shadow gasped as he - they - rolled about on the floor, knocking glassware to the floor with a crash.

[And where things would have gone from there, I just don't know. I feel quite sure that it wouldn't have ended here, though. The end was something quite different...]


Once Alex got put back together again, I expected him to continue adventuring, but more circumspectly, and with more respect for human life. Here's a little scene I imagined happening after a truly knock-down-drag-out take-no-prisoners brawl with the Overmind Project, or maybe the Council. I don't have enough to write it up, but I can describe it.

To set the scene, the Shadow, Grace, Carlos, and maybe even David have finally been cornered by more force - both physical and psionic - than they can deal with. Finally, in a desperation move, Alex does the only thing he can think of - he unites his mind with Grace more deeply than ever before and pours all of his immense power through her, letting her shape it with her incredible skill. The result is victory snatched from the jaws of defeat, to everyone's relief.

Afterward, they're all detoxing with a stiff drink - tea for Alex, of course! :) - at Grace's place, when Alex announces, "There's only one question I still have." Everyone looks at him. He walks over to Grace and goes down on one knee. She looks at him blankly. "What are you doin' on the floor, darlin'?"

"Miss Sullivan, it would give me great pleasure if you would consent to have me as your husband." As she stared at him, he said quietly, "Will you marry me?"

Talk about your bombshells! I'll bet the look on her face would be priceless. :) SP speculates that she might well have said yes - Grace could only marry a telepath of at least her own caliber, and Alex is one of the very, very few who fills the bill. See, my theory - and SP concurs - is that when you do telepathic gestalt with someone, you come away from it either loving that person with an undying love, or hating their guts for life. You just plain know them too damn well to stay neutral.

Of course it's an incredible step for Alex. Where things would have gone from there, I honestly have no idea at all. But it would sure have been interesting, no matter what!

There remains only the end:


When Shadows Fall

"NO!!!" Carlos cried as the shot caught the Shadow in the throat. His own pistol blazed at the Overmind agents, taking down two before he ran out of bullets. Then, knowing the end was near, he just sat down next to Alex and cried as they approached.

Unable to speak, his dad's mental voice, so familiar, rang in his head: Carlos, run. Scram! I won't have you die here too! "Nothing doing, s- Dad! I won't leave you!" Go! The first shot rang out then, silencing Alex's mental voice, and Carlos prepared himself for the end: "Padre Nuestro, que esta' en cielo..." But neither he nor the Overminders expected what came next.

Towering waves of raw emotion poured out from Alex's dying form. White-hot rage, plunging depths of despair, canyon upon crevasse of anguish and grief... relieved only slightly here and there by the flowers of tenderness and love growing in crannies of the rock. These and more poured through Carlos and the gunmen... and through the minds of most of the populace of southern California. Psychic sensitives turned their numbed senses toward Los Angeles the world 'round, so potent was the outpouring of a uniquely telempathic life.

Miles away, the Forbidden raised his head from his book. "Ah, Alex. I'm so sorry." He wept.

Grace punched the wall, breaking a nail, dammit. "Why'd you have to go and get yourself killed, you son of a- Oh, Alex!" She also wept.

Legion cocked its collective heads toward the west, and communed on what this might portend.

Hexmaster smiled with an almost childlike joy of discovery. "So THIS is what it is to die!"

Those less aware of psychic nuance responded the only way they could - drinking themselves into oblivion, or picking fights, or otherwise acting on the emotions they received. The Overmind agents started shooting each other, while Carlos wept on, oblivious.

The heavens themselves responded, psychic energy bleeding over to the physical realm, with sheet lightning flaring from one horizon to the other, and thunder booming out of a clear sky. The light picked out in the smog the form of a man, a man wrestling with a dark shapeless form.

Finally the emotions changed - a surge of triumph and joy and peace, as harmony was achieved for the first time. Millions laughed and wept for joy, and many were sensitive enough to hear the celestial figure's final joyous words: "THERE ARE NO MORE SHADOWS!"

That was not quite the end, however. Alex had a few messages still to deliver.

The Overmind agents heard a friendly voice say, "I'm sorry. Please forgive me," as they were plunged into sleep. When they woke, hours later, they would find their psionic powers to have been forever excised. Their memories were riffled through in an irresistible fashion and their contacts in the Project fingered.

Legion heard, "Care to help me, friend?" They responded willingly to a mind that was now their ideal of harmony, rather than the ragingly divided mentality they'd rejected before. Spreading out through them, Alex added dozens of willing psionic minds temporarily to their union, and used that power to strike surgically at the Overmind Project around the globe.

The Council scrambled to erect their own defenses against this terrifying threat... which only served to draw attention to themselves. Alex told them nicely, "Best behave. A lot of us know about you now!" The Masters began hatching plots immediately with great urgency, knowing their cover was finally blown.

That bit of unpleasantness taken care of, he could finally turn his attention to the important things - the people he loved.

David awoke from a sound sleep. "Dad?!" His father bent over his bed and ruffled his hair. "Yes, son. I'm going now. Be kind to Carlos... And know that I've always loved you, even when I couldn't show it the way I wanted to." "Dad, what's..." "I'm going to be with your mom, Dave. But I'm always with you." Alex kissed his forehead, and vanished, leaving the startled David unsure what to do next. "Aw sh*t!"

A dozen or so other messages were left: "I love you, Grace." "Thank you for your friendship, Dat." "Sorry about the shirt, Ricky. Hang in there." "So long, Frank. I know you'll do right by David... and my other son." "We had some good times, John. I wish you peace." Soon only one was left.

"Carlos..." That voice was the only one that could rouse the young man from his misery. "D-Dad?!" "Yes, son. It's me." And there he was, standing there, although Carlos was sitting next to his corpse. "But... What...?" "Shhh. Don't worry. It's OK. I don't have long to talk." "Are you..." "'Fraid so. But I'm not gone, you know. Not really." "How can I go on without you, Dad?!" Alex smiled. "It's easy. You just keep on, like you always have. You'll have plenty to do - and you won't be alone. Like I said, I'll be watching... and you've got family to take care of you now too. Be good to Dave, will you?" Carlos swallowed. "I love you, Dad." "I love you too, Carlos. I'm just sorry I didn't say it from day one." They embraced, and he was gone.

Alex made one more stop before the Great Beyond. He looked down upon the tortured soul of Hexmaster - almost a twin to his own in power, but broken by it, half-formed, hardly a human individual at all. Gently, he said, "Care to come with?" Hexmaster smiled beatifically. "Sure, Alex, why not?" His heart stopped quietly, and they went on hand in hand. Alex Brighton was no more.

But his hand rested on his city all that night and all the next day. Los Angeles saw a night without killing, without hurting, without hating, for the first time in anyone's memory. Lovers reconciled, children played in the streets, gang members rethought their priorities... it was good. It didn't last, of course. The killings, the hurtings, and the hatings returned soon enough - but those who did those things knew, perhaps for the first time, that they didn't really have to.

And a week later Carlos received his father's final gift: A letter from his uncle, begging for forgiveness.

The line between good and evil runs through every human heart - and who is willing to destroy a piece of his own heart?

--Aleksandr Solzhenitsyn, _The Gulag Archipelago_
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Drat! Wouldn't you know, when I sat down to exorcise all of those scenes, I managed to forget one! And now that the others are fixed on paper, it's been nagging at me too. :) So here you go. This one's from very early on, though I never got the chance to use it, with David gone so much. They didn't get the chance to really argue.

You see, Alex *never gets mad* with his son. It's part of his mental discipline. The more upset David gets, the calmer and more reasonable Alex generally gets. Naturally, this drives David NUTS! He can never get a rise out of the old man.


The Power of Sharing

Alex gazed with outward calm on his red-faced son. When a gap occurred in the boy's tirade, he inquired, "Are you ready to discuss it now?" "NO! I'm not 'ready to f*cking DISCUSS it!' And that's another thing!" "Language, David," Alex reminded him, but that mild remonstrance did nothing to blunt the onrush of angry words: "You're like a statue! I never know what you want! You just STAND there and act all Mr. Spock and high and mighty!" Here he mimicked Alex's voice nastily, "'I would prefer that you not play next to cliffs, David.' 'I do not think that shooting yourself in the head is a good idea, David.' 'Please pass the salt, David.'" The tone of all three sentences was much the same.

"I do not intend to cause you distress, son." "YOU'RE DOING IT RIGHT NOW!" "Doing what?" "That!" Alex just looked at him, his face growing more impassive and calm as his inner turmoil increased. "Being like that!" David huffed on, striving to retain his momentum. "All... I don't know! Like you don't even CARE!"

That really hurt. Alex closed his eyes, took a deep breath, let it out. David's voice took on a nervous tinge as he saw that, but it didn't stop him from twisting the knife: "DO you even care?"

Carefully, Alex said, "Of course I do, David." "Well, it wouldn't hurt to be a little more obvious about it!" A slight quaver entered Alex's voice as he felt his mental shields starting to buckle. "If I understand you correctly, you are saying you would like me to share my feelings with you more often and more vividly. Is that what you mean?" The boy plainly realized he'd gone too far and tried to backtrack a bit. "Um, yeah! I guess that is what I mean."

Alex, eyes still closed, murmured, "All right. If you insist." His shields slipped out of his grasp then, and all of his anguish, grief, and rage whipsawed into his son like an onrushing train.

David's eyes went round with agony and terror at the torrent of emotional hurt. Raising his hands as if trying to defend himself from a multitude of foes, he crumpled to the ground, whimpering, then finally passed out.

Alex's fists clenched until his palms bled as he struggled to get things back under control. Slowly, slowly, slowly, he thrust the raging storm of power back behind the steep walls he'd built for it. Very gradually he let his hands relax. Only then did he open his eyes.

His movements were swift and efficient, as ever. He gathered David up, carried him to the couch and covered him. He set about a few other tasks.

When the boy awoke, moaning, his limp hand clenched tightly on his father's. Yes, there he was, sitting next to the couch, holding his hand.

Alex offered him a cup of hot tea impassively. David accepted it feebly and sipped. Finally Alex spoke:

"Those are my feelings, David. Would you like me to share them with you more often?"


David's the type to get angry quickly but to get over it quickly too. He doesn't hold grudges. When he IS angry, though, his hormones just plain take over. (Literally. His strength skyrockets, as does his fighting ability, speed, and so forth.) I see their infrequent but very nasty arguments as David constantly jabbing a little harder, trying to get some reaction out of Alex, some sort of tangible reassurance that Alex really loves him, rather than just feeling dutiful toward him. That jabbing finally culminates in this.

I think it would have had a huge impact on their subsequent relationship. Finally, David would have a gut feeling for just what his father goes through - why he is the way he is. And I suspect that the emotional barrage might have included some overtones that would have told him how much Alex really cares, too. I don't think he'd hold it against his dad - he knows darn good and well he was asking for it.

Don't judge him too harshly. I feel almost certain that the first words out of his mouth after that last line would have been a heartfelt, "I'm sorry." But only SP can say for sure. (I feel pretty sure about the rest, because we discussed the dynamic of their relationship a number of times in detail.)

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