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%

The Shadow has collected a number of individuals who are sympathetic to his cause and are willing to help him out from time to time.

He also has a collection of low-level criminal scum who are so terrified of him that they are in effect minions - willing to spill everything they know with the barest prompting, and even willing to occasionally stick their necks out on his behalf, simply because they fear what he might do to them more than they fear what higher-level criminal scum might do. Most criminal scum will just kill you, after all...

Finally, there are what could almost be called a few Shadow fan-club members in local high schools and even on the streets. A bizarre mix of goths, misfit loners, and Straight-Edge types, they think he's cool. Very few, of course, are willing to do anything concrete in the name of his coolness, but there are a few hard-core types. (Carlos could be considered an extreme case of one of these.)

Here's a few specific people I've thought of.

Officer Harvey Grant: Harvey's a grizzled old beat cop in a number of the Shadow's favorite haunts. He is glad to see somebody finally taking the fight to the bad guys - unlike those wimpy politicos who keep tying the cops' hands. He is well-connected among police circles - everybody knows ol' Harvey - and he's quite willing to pass on tidbits to the Shadow. Given an extreme enough emergency, he might even be willing to put his career on the line - retirement isn't all that far off anyway, and it'd be worth it to finally get his licks in. Harvey's younger partner, though, is a bit nervous about the Shadow, though it would take extreme provocation for him to rat on his buddy.

Harvey's one of those guys everybody likes. In interrogations, he's always the Good Cop, and he's quite good at it. He's developed a mild potbelly, but is still within regulations. He's held quite a number of positions in the force over the years... the only reason he's a beat cop in his 50's is that he has trouble with authority - and to be honest, he likes being in the thick of things. His wide range of experience means that he knows a lot of people all through the force, though - and people from lab techs to detectives are often willing to share a little more with good ol' Harvey than they probably ought to. He also knows his neighborhoods, and the people in them, like the back of his hand.

Harvey was a redhead in his youth, but he's mostly grey now. His family life is not the happiest - he argues with his wife a good bit - but neither is it a disaster. He has grown-up kids.

Doc Griswold: A dedicated doctor who does a lot of charity work in neighborhood clinics. The doc has a dry, biting sense of humor - think Dr. McCoy - and can get quite gruff with people who get themselves hurt through stupidity... but his bark is much worse than his bite. He sees so many deaths and injuries from gang stupidity and other causes, and also sufficient drug addictions, that he is willing to patch the Shadow up quietly, no questions asked. On one infamous occasion, he even made a house call to the Shadow's hidey-hole at the pleading of a tearful Carlos.

The doc (his actual name is Ezekiel, which he hates - the few who are on a first-name basis call him Zeke) is a stringy, dignified older guy with piercing blue eyes. His hair is grey and neatly kept. He is a fairly recent widower with grandchildren he dotes on - and has shrewdly guessed that the Shadow has also lost the love of his life, though he hasn't pried or otherwise tried to find out more. His black doctor's bag is a constant companion, and also his shield on the street - the local gangs have declared him off-limits out of respect for what he does in the community.

Lance Reston: A high-priced upper-crust lawyer the Shadow saved from a mugging. He and the Shadow have never actually met since then, but he's done a good bit of pro bono work on his own initiative since that day to gum up the works of those trying to crack down on vigilantes like the Shadow. He is toying with the idea of running for office - maybe DA, maybe even something more political - and pushing a tough-on-crime agenda. Certainly he's well-enough known to the city's elite. The Shadow has passed on the names of a couple different people he thought deserving of a break (Carlos was one) and Lance has willingly helped them out on the cheap. He'd do the same for the Shadow. However, Lance himself may be needing the Shadow's help in the future - his teenage son is getting involved in a really bad crowd. And if he ever does get into a position of political power, the underworld powers-that-be will probably not take very kindly to him.

Lance is WASP clean to the bone, and dresses with understated elegance and style. Everything about him screams "class" - but softly. He has the confidence of a man who was raised rich yet still has earned his way in a tough world - he graduated very high in his class, and is a rising star in legal circles. He has a gift for setting people at ease; if he does go into politics he'll probably be very good at it.

Maria Volanti: A private investigator, hard as nails. She gets the job done, and her sources of information often complement the Shadow's nicely. They have a bit of an arrangement: She passes on what she hears, he does the same, and has even occasionally mind-probed a scumbag for her when she asked nicely. In turn, she wouldn't object to leaning on people the Shadow wanted discreetly leaned on, and would even consider going in somewhere with guns blazing if he really needed help. And note that though wild horses couldn't drag the fact from her, Maria is a closet romantic. She entertains a certain degree of fascination toward the Shadow, and would not be averse to it becoming rather more than fascination if given the excuse. So far it hasn't been given. (A standing joke between them is for him to sneak up on her, to her indignant "Don't DO that!")

Maria is a smoldering Italian with long, jet-black hair. (And the temperament of a classic red-head.) While not very pretty in the classic sense - perhaps even a touch on the homely side, especially given the broken nose - her features could be described as "interesting"... and her hair and sultry dark eyes make up for a lot. She dresses in power suits and packs a gun at every opportunity - if she could get away with carrying grenades in her purse, she's the kind to do it. (No wonder she and the Shadow get along... :) While not exactly a feminist in most respects, Maria does have a serious chip on her shoulder against those who are surprised at finding a female PI - "What, you think maybe a coupla balls would help me do my job? Maybe I should take yours?" She still has a trace of a New Yawk accent - if asked what she's doing on the West Coast, she just mutters, "Long story."

She makes a mean spaghetti sauce, and is prone to inviting friends to dinner for good Italian cooking.

Hal Garrity: Hal's a brilliant but scatterbrained inventor and tinkerer who operates out of his garage. (Which is equipped with something quite other than your standard workbench...) He could probably be rich if he had the determination to stick with one project long enough and the people-skills to market himself. As it is, he's one of those people too smart to be an effective member of society - he makes a living by repairing stuff in the neighborhood and selling bizarre novelties. Hal would love to be a gadgeteer superhero, but lacks the courage and physique for it. He contents himself with supplying some of the Shadow's more unusual goodies. (The Shadow often designs and synthesizes "interesting" chemical compounds for himself, but Hal has much more skill with the packaging.) He also designed some of the "special" features of the Shadow's headquarters, and willingly consented to having his memory of the specifics wiped for his own safety - the mere knowledge that he helped design the local "Bat-Cave" is enough to keep a smile on his face.

Hal has a face like a hyperactive chipmunk, and glasses so thick you could use them as re-entry shields. He is unhealthily thin and pale. He's balding somewhat prematurely in his 40's - what hair is left is salt-and-pepper. He wears whatever is at hand. Hal cannot seem to sit still for more than a few moments - he has to DO something. He talks a mile a minute... then gets lost in thought in the middle of a sentence, not budging from his reverie until prompted. His classic response to requests for explanations of his magic is, of course, "Oh, never mind!"

"Hands" Malone: A typical example of the scum who propitiate the Shadow. A small-time hood, Hands got a taste of what the Shadow could do to his mind while breaking and entering, followed by one of the most sincere beatings he'd ever received. Back on the street, Hands still makes his living by larceny (knowing no other trade), but is so racked with nervousness he isn't very good at it any more. He supplements his income with the pittances the Shadow gives him for singing like a canary upon command. He always begs the Shadow abjectly to wipe the memory of their meetings, so that it can't ever be gotten out of him.

Hands (his real name is James) is in his early 20's and in moderately good shape, though he'll probably flab out as he gets older. He's one of those people who manages to look tacky even in a suit, but he more often wears a mildly grungy T-shirt and leather jacket with jeans. He is blessed with entirely nondescript brown hair and eyes. He seems either unable or unwilling to find honest work no matter how much the Shadow terrifies him, which excites the Shadow's profound contempt.

Ricky Montel: A typical example of one of the Shadow's more dedicated young fans. He affects dressing in black, wearing a floppy black hat, and speaking in sepulchral tones. (The tattoos and piercings are his own idea of accessories, though.) He's also enough of a tough-guy that not many mock him for it. Ricky isn't averse to going to bat for the downtrodden - with an actual baseball bat. The Shadow's had to speak to him sharply about that... (*Ricky slammed against wall by invisible figure* "Listen up, BOY. If you want to get yourself killed, at least have the decency not to do it in my name!" Ricky thought that was so cool! :) Terrifying at the time, yeah, but cool! It gives him serious bragging rights in some circles, to the Shadow's chagrin. On the other hand, he hasn't done anything TOO stupid since then, either...) Anyway, Ricky is one of the Shadow's plug-ins to the teen crowd, a group he doesn't interact with well on his own. (If you really want some amusement, Ricky could even go to the same high school as David! :) True, David lives in a better class of neighborhood than those the Shadow tends to haunt at night, but Ricky is as capable of slumming as anyone else. [Note: The GM took me up on this.])

Ricky is a big bruiser of a kid (16 years old) who typically dresses in a black tank-top (usually of some heavy-metal band) to show off his muscular arms and his tattoos (including the logo from the Shadow movie on his right biceps), black jeans with a studded leather belt, heavy black boots, and of course the black hat. When he wants to be especially impressive (or to conceal the bat) he will wear a black trenchcoat over all that. He'd all but kill for a cloak like the Shadow's, but hasn't figured out how to have one made yet. He has multiple piercings in places of your choice, and also favors bracelets with spikes small and blunt enough to be allowed in school.

Jerry MacTavish: Unique among the Shadow's contacts in that he isn't a contact of the Shadow! Rather of Alex... they knew each other in college. Jerry has an erratic mind-shield (he's heterozygous mindblind) and was a pretty clean-cut straight-laced All-American as a young man, so he got along OK with Alex... and it didn't hurt that he liked hanging around Jennifer, too. Anyway, Jerry was Air Force ROTC and ended up flying missions over Iraq in the Gulf War. He was shot down, captured, and severely ill-treated. Honorably discharged, he returned to the States a broken man - heavily burdened with Post-Traumatic Stress syndrome.

Alex came upon him again by sheer coincidence about a year after Jennifer's death - driving home from work, he caught sight of a homeless man being shaken down by low-lives in an alley. Being Alex, he had to stop and do something... and, being Alex, he was packing heat. Between the gun and the surreptitious use of his Aura of Menace, the bad guys were soon beating a hasty retreat... and Alex found that the homeless man was his old college buddy.

Alex took him home, fed him, and listened to his story. (Jerry, for his part, was devastated to hear of Jennifer's death.) Moved, Alex decided he had to try to help him somehow. While Jerry slept on the couch, he downed one of his pills and tried to touch the man's subconscious mind. The effort exhausted him [ie, he used Extra Effort to get an Extra for "Unconscious Alteration"] but he succeeded in reversing the trauma that had burned into his friend's brain, and restoring his native sense of hope and determination. Jerry woke a new man. He attributed the change to the shocks of the previous day (the mugging and the news of Jennifer's death) and to Alex's kindness - which was more true than he knew.

Over the following years, Jerry succeeded in turning his life completely around. He got a job as a pilot and, after some time and with the help of his much-relieved family, he started his own charter-flight business. (Some shrewd investments in stocks at the height of the Internet boom helped finance this.) He visits the Brightons a few times a year, and David has come to call him "Uncle Jerry".

When his dear friend Alex came to him a year ago and told him that David had been kidnapped and hurt to try to get at his father, Jerry was outraged. Upon the news that it could conceivably happen again, he readily agreed to help get David out of harm's way if the need should arise. Alex gave him a sealed envelope with instructions, to be opened upon a certain phone call... and other than that, their relationship has not changed. There is NO connection between Jerry MacTavish and "the Shadow", and Alex intends to keep it that way. Jerry does know that Alex is a telepath, however - Alex had to tell him SOMETHING to convince him why he couldn't just go to the police. (The secret of Jerry's cure came out at this time.)

Jerry is a white-bread All-American - blond, blue-eyed, ruggedly handsome. His military habits of neatness and order have reasserted themselves with a vengeance - everything in its right place. In short, he looks like something off a recruiting poster, right on down to the crease in his slacks. He got married recently (Alex was the best man) but does not have any children.

Mike Barnes: Better known as DarKnight in cyber-circles. A 15 year old hacker extraordinaire with the usual arrogance, Mike has a fascination for comics, especially "dark" heroes like Batman, the "Dark Knight". Naturally the rise of the Shadow in his own backyard, so to speak, caught his fancy. (Mike lives in San Diego.) He maintains one of the more elaborate websites on the Shadow, full of fanciful theories - one Carlos and the Shadow often visit to see what is being said, and occasionally to plant rumors.

The secret to Mike's success as a hacker is that he is a cyberkinetic - he possesses the Datalink power. (And possibly a specialized Computer "Possession" power, too.) He noticed the bizarre way in which the Shadow's computer interfaced with his site [Note: As the base writeup says, Hal Garrity has provided some mods to the base's telecom that really shouldn't be possible], and traveled down the lines to "visit" - only to find a truly alien operating system he had difficulty making head or tails of... [Garrity's home-brewed OS - I'm surprised the poor kid didn't go mad :)] and no data of any interest. (The Shadow does not keep interesting data on the Net-connected computer.) Meanwhile, Carlos and the Shadow (who was looking over Carlos' shoulder at an amusing post) both sensed the presence of a mind located IN their own computer!

The Shadow lashed out with Telepathy, and managed to hold on to the terrified youngster's mind long enough to gain his name and address. When DarKnight managed to flee down the connection, the Shadow saw him off with a healthy dose of telempathic fear. Then he paid the lad a little visit at home late one night... Turnabout, after all, being fair play.

Once satisfied that the boy was not part of some plot against him, the Shadow went easy on him. Well, by his standards, anyway - Mike found the experience the most terrifying of his young life. Much like Ricky, though, he also found it extremely cool! But unlike Ricky, he has had the stupidity and unwisdom of his actions firmly impressed upon him. (Mike is a good deal brighter than Ricky, and also is rather the pencil-neck geek - skinny as a rail.)

Mike considers himself an "agent" of the Shadow in the mold of the movie. He has pledged himself to help the Shadow out with any hacking needs he may have - and the Shadow has found the offer sufficiently intriguing as to not discourage him too much. He has, however, made it VERY clear to Mike that any further stupidity - especially boasting about their meeting - will be met with unpleasantness. Mike, already used to keeping the secret of his cyberkinesis, readily agreed to this. The two have set up a number of very hard-to-reach email addresses to keep in touch - and Mike turns up at an agreed-upon public-access computer on a regular basis to meekly have his mind read so the Shadow can be assured he is keeping their agreement. (It also gives an ultra-secure means of passing on news and assignments - the email addresses are only for arranging "drops".)

DarKnight's site remains one of the main places to visit for (mis)information on the Shadow, and he has willingly set up a number of different dummy usernames for Carlos to use as plants. Nothing untoward has appeared there, and his mind remains "clean". In fact, the only point of friction so far is that Mike bristles at always being called "Michael". :) Not too much, though - he can handle "Michael" much better than he can "unpleasantness". :)

Ed Fullman: Once one of the better burglars in the area - specializing in defeating alarm systems and other electronic surprises - Ed decided that crime really didn't pay after a nasty run-in with the Shadow. Starting out as a locksmith, he later branched out into security consulting. Along the way he got a helping hand in the form of a grant from an obscure nonprofit... after looking "penumbra" up in the dictionary he started to get an inkling into what was going on. After he'd thought about it a while, he decided it was pretty classy for the Shadow to lend a hand as well as a fist or a bullet. (Normally the Shadow would not have the Penumbra Foundation directly help somebody he'd "converted" - he'd go through more elaborate channels. This was probably an oversight - perhaps he got Ed's last name wrong.)

Anyway, Ed has kept his mouth shut... and sent the Foundation a little note offering them a great deal on security consulting if they should ever need it. The note referred to the Foundation's motto, "Out of the shadows, into the light," in such a way as to hint that he knew. The Shadow has learned most of what he knows about locks and disarming electronic systems from Ed - though of course he hasn't openly learned as "the Shadow" and has used an entirely assumed name, which Ed himself likewise guessed and accepted. Ed has let it be known that he'd be willing to help out if the Shadow needs to get into someplace he can't manage on his own, though so far he hasn't been taken up on this offer.

Ed is not exactly a virtuous man - he got out of crime because he didn't see it as worthwhile, not because he saw it as wrong - but he does believe in paying his debts, and is quite relieved nowadays to be legit... it's a lot less nervous-making. If he does do a break-in for the Shadow, he'll expect to be paid for his time and risk, though not steeply. He won't betray the Shadow willingly - he can be a stubborn cuss when it comes to commitments he's undertaken, and he's decided he owes the Shadow several big ones. (Even if he comes to perceive himself as having "paid off" his debts, he will honor the "connection" so long as the Shadow plays straight by him.)

Ed is not the marrying kind, but he does have a couple children out of wedlock with different mothers. He pays child support loyally - that's another debt he feels honor-bound to repay. He's a hair under thirty with a wiry build, with the hands of a pianist and wire-framed glasses. He has dark brown hair and green eyes and dresses neatly. His habitual expression is one of sardonic amusement with life.
 
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And just so I don't completely overwhelm you with background information, here's the next session, in which Amazing Grace makes her first appearance. She'd been one of the most important NPC's in the original game.

------------------------

Alex puttered about the house a little in the morning, putting off his troubles a while until realizing it was futile. When David got back from his morning jog, he asked after Twyla and was told he hadn't been able to reach her yet. "Let me know what you find out," he asked, and David agreed.

Then Alex went out to the base. Carlos was, unsurprisingly, still awake - and snickering at the computer screen. "What is it this time?" he asked, and got the gleeful reply, "Congratulations, sir, you're a vampire. It's obvious - you only go out at night, after all. Some say you're a moral vampire who only drinks the blood of criminals, others argue you're a psychic vampire who feeds on fear and pain. Currently they're arguing about whether or not a stake through the heart would do you in."

The Shadow snorted. "This might be a good time to toss in the alleged correspondence between my appearances and the phases of the moon again." (One of Carlos' screennames specializes in that pet theory.) "Do you want me to play up the werewolf angle?" "No, just throw it out there and let them draw their own conclusions. It's always better that way." "Will do, sir." He then muttered to himself, amused, "Thank God I'm a person." [Carlos' private terminology: "People" (in the mass) are idiots, while "persons" are individuals.] The Shadow asked, curious, "How long have you been a person, Carlos?" "Well," the frank reply came, "since shortly after I met you, sir." "I believe I shall take that as a compliment." "You should."

"And Carlos... see what you can find out about recent doings in this alley." He gave the location. "I have reason to believe that some bodies turned up there last night. ... No, I didn't do it! ... I want to know how many and how they died." Carlos nodded and started tapping away at the keyboard. "Got it, sir - a police report filed this morning..." He read a bit then whistled. "Wow, sir, this is a nasty one!" The Shadow winced visibly.

"Five dead. One with a knife wound... Two with crushed skulls... One guy with a broken neck... Another with his chest caved in. What happened?! Do we have a new serial killer on the loose?" The Shadow, looking very unhappy, took a long time to reply. "...A man that I know has body-altering powers that he hasn't learned to control." "Wow! He does this stuff like this every time he gets upset?!" "No, just every time he's attacked on the street." "Self-defense, huh? Well, that's a relief. Still - five guys at once!"

The Shadow sighed. "It was six actually. And he did it with his bare hands." Carlos stared. "He crushed a guy's skull with his bare hands? Sir, this guy is dangerous!" Defensively, the Shadow grated out, "He's not a bad man. They jumped him, not the other way around." "Well, I'd assume so - that's what self-defense means, and even a guy like that'd be stupid to jump six guys with weapons if he had a choice, but..."

Carlos trailed off as he took in the Shadow's expression and tone of voice. Warily, he asked, "Do you know this guy personally, sir?" Long silence, as the Shadow wrestled with how much to share.

Almost unwillingly he admitted quietly, "He's my son." Carlos's eyes bugged out. "Your son! But he's just a kid! What is he, sixteen?" "Seventeen... Wait a minute, I've never mentioned him to you before! How do you know about him?" The Shadow's tone grew almost a bit menacing.

Carlos temporized hastily, "Well, given your age, it would make sense..." The Shadow cut him off. "You haven't answered my question, Carlos." "I... I got a flash of him with you once. I guessed his age based on how you look now compared to the image I got." "Why did you never tell me this?" The undertone of menace was still there.

"It... it didn't seem important." Then, in a small voice, "Are you mad at me?" The Shadow was silent for a long time. Finally, he replied, "No, Carlos, I am not mad at you," and the young man let out his pent-up breath.

All business once more, the Shadow asked, "Have any of the bodies been identified?" "No sir, not yet. Do you want me to check later today, maybe the newspapers too?" "Yes. I want you to keep tabs on this." "Will do."

The Shadow brooded a bit longer, then picked up the "Shadow hotline" phone and dialed. "Grace? This is Shadwell."

The rich Southern drawl of Amazing Grace came through clearly. "Why Mr. Shadwell, what a pleasure to hear from you! Will you be wanting an appointment?" "Yes." Teasingly (knowing full well the answer), she asked, "A 'couch' appointment as usual, I assume?" "Of course." "I can fit you in at one - will that do?" The Shadow agreed, and hung up. [The 'couch' business refers to the fact that she IS a high-priced courtesan. But while she has no formal degree, she's also quite good at counselling... being a powerful telepath and mind-controller helps more than a little, of course. Some of her clients just want to talk.]

"I'm going out looking for the men with suitcases, Carlos. Do you mind staying up a little longer?" "Not a problem, sir!" So the Shadow went on a fruitless search until 1 PM, when he turned up invisibly at Grace's home.

At his knock, the door opened, and Amazing Grace appeared wearing a simple silk robe. She looked him over as he stepped in and said, "I do hope you're not broadcasting that way to the general public!" "Sorry," the Shadow muttered, "A moment of weakness," and zipped his shields up more tightly. Have to watch that, he mused. I'm more upset about all this than I thought.

He proceeded to prove it by taking his hat off and crumpling it a bit in his hands as Grace brought him a cup of tea. Curling up on a sofa with her own cup, she asked, "All right, Alex, what brings you by?" "Several things, this time. Business AND pleasure." He put so much acid into that last word as to leave no doubts about the purity of his intentions. She raised an elegant brow. "Go on. ... Should I cancel my five o'clock?"

Alex finally sat down. "It shouldn't take that long. Business first. What do you know about the men prowling about in the black cars?" She responded, amused, "I assume you don't mean the FBI types who tend to infest this neighborhood!" Her Southern twang was much muted today, Alex noticed, a faint lilt in the background. Her stage persona packed away in storage, perhaps? At his nod of agreement, she said, "I've heard a little. They carry big suitcases that are curiously repelling." Alex's heart sank - so it was all the same outfit after all. "Our kind of repelling, that is... and I do fear that it may be cybernetic."

Alex frowned. "I have it on the best authority that that just isn't possible." "I wouldn't know, dear. But I do have a pet theory. Only a theory, mind you." "Go on." She shrugged. "Those suitcases are just about the right size to hold a human brain..." Alex stared at her in shock. "Are you telling me that they've cored some poor bastard and put his BRAIN in a suitcase?"

"I know nothing for certain. Nothing, in fact, but the word of one of my clients... and I will freely admit that he's more than a little paranoid. But it's not just theory that they're after him. ... He's one of us, you see."

Alex asked incredulously, "But if they've got telepathic brains in suitcases, why on earth are they using them to infiltrate the gang scene in LA? What is there about small-time hoods to interest them? Why not go to Washington... or NORAD, for that matter."

Grace sipped her tea. "How much travelling have you done, Alex?" "Some, on business." "And how good are you at spotting people like us?" "Slightly." "I'm quite good at it. And I can tell you that there are more of us here in southern California than on the east coast. Why, I don't know. But it's true."

"All right, perhaps they've got some more suitcases to fill. But still - why the gangs?" She laughed musically. "You're the investigator, not me!" "True... Perhaps it's the drug angle. I imagine that adding cocaine to the life support fluid could help quite a bit in controlling even a telepathic brain. Then again, surely it wouldn't take very much..." "Or," Grace added bleakly, "very much per brain." "I refuse to believe they have THAT many telepaths. Perhaps they just need the money - all this technology has to cost." He mused some more, then shook his head. "I would seem to have my work cut out for me. At least they think I'm a myth."

"Keep it that way as long as you can, Alex. They know my client isn't a myth, and they are definitely hunting him. He's convinced they want his brain, but again, he isn't the most stable of individuals." "I will bear that in mind."

"So much for business," he concluded. "Now for pleasure. ... It's David." Grace nodded, unsurprised.

He told her the gist of the fight the previous night, and concluded, "I don't know anyone capable of giving him the training he needs. I'd do it myself, but I'm not superhuman! ... That way, I mean," he amended at her smirk. "Do you know anyone?"

Grace sighed. "You never bring me easy problems, do you?" Alex snorted. "The easy problems I can handle on my own!" "To be sure... The best teacher would frankly be the Forbidden. Do you know how to contact him?" "No, or I would have already. He covered his tracks well."

She mused a while, then said, "I know of two who might be able to help you. The first is very competent and completely discreet, but lacks David's... advantages... which could cause problems. The other has all the advantages one could wish, but..." "But," Alex suggested, "he is less than discreet?"

Grace sighed and got up, moving to the window. "People differ, Alex. Some see the world all in black and white... and worse yet, they don't always agree on which is which. If this man decides that David is too dark a shade of grey, things could get ugly." "Not worth the risk, then?" "I'm not saying that. The payoff could also be very great. A lot depends on David. And I would not like to see a training accident happen to the first individual I spoke of." "Well, tell me more of the second man, then."

Grace pondered. "Have you ever watched many of the more cheesy kung-fu movies, Alex?" "I can't say that I have." "Well, he is almost the perfect stereotype of the 'wise old master'. Full of confusing aphorisms for every occasion." "I know the type. 'Confucius say.'" Grace chuckled briefly, then went on. "He firmly believes that what he does is based on 'chi', and all the philosophy that goes along with it. Mind you, the philosophy might do David good if he will actually be willing to learn."

"Would he want payment, or will he take David on for the challenge? I understand 'wise old masters' go in for that kind of thing." "It depends on how he views David - whether he takes him as being sadly in need of control (in which case he will insist on payment) or if he takes him as being granted a rare and precious gift, in which case he will probably see the challenge as sufficient." "What sort of coin does he accept payment in?" "You needn't worry. Money will do quite nicely."

"Can you sound him out ahead of time so we can decide?" Grace nodded. "I'll try to set things up for next week."

"Thank you, Grace. This has been very difficult, and of course David has been quite shaken by it." "Of course. He's lost some of his innocence, poor boy. I shall miss it. He was such a sweet boy." [Amazing that a professional prostitute can say that with not a hint of innuendo. She was completely sincere and chaste about it.]

Alex rose to his feet. "You've taken a load from my mind." Grace smile grew, not precisely warmer, but more personal. "I'm glad, Alex. A pleasure as always." He paused at the door. "If you will permit me a slightly impudent question?" She dimpled and shrugged languidly. "If you like." "How on earth did you meet the 'wise old master'?"

Grace laughed. "I could say I met him professionally... and give you entirely the wrong impression. In fact, he actually trained the first individual I mentioned, the discreet one. He ought to be discreet, he's my brother." Alex struggled to keep his jaw from dropping. "I never knew you had a brother!" "I have parents too, if you can imagine that!" she teased. "Impossible," Alex maintained, and took his leave after thanking her again... feeling vaguely honored by her confidence.

He dropped off the costume at the base (Carlos was sound asleep) and then went home. David was reading in the living room. "Hi Dad." Alex nodded. "Son, we need to talk." The boy looked a little apprehensive, but set the book aside. "Yeah?"

Alex sat down near him. "I have learned some details of what happened last night." Never one to soften the blow, he simply handed over the hardcopy of the police report. David read through it slowly, wincing visibly in several places. Finally he set it down and said quietly, "I didn't do the one that was knifed." "I know." "And I swear I only broke that one guy's arm, nothing more." "I know, David. I believe you. But we need to act to make sure that something like this doesn't happen again." "How?"

Continuing, Alex said, "I am arranging for you to be trained by someone with abilities similar to your own. Grace knows him and is contacting him for me." He noticed with slight resentment how the rising storm in his son's countenance subsided somewhat at the mention of Grace's involvement, but he kept his voice neutral as he said, "What I need to know is if you are willing to learn." David sighed and pondered. "I'll give it an honest try," he said. "That's all I can promise." "And what is an 'honest try'?" "I'll sincerely follow through with what's expected of me for a few weeks at least." "Very well. I will warn you that it will take up a great deal of your free time." David nodded. "Figures."

Alex explained the details, then hesitated and gripped David's shoulder. "This has been very hard for me, son. I can only imagine how hard it has been for you." David resorted to the universal teenage answer for any topic too hard to want to deal with: He shrugged ambiguously. "I love you, David." Another moody shrug. Alex suppressed a sigh and let him be.

[If you noticed that Alex was more animated and open with Grace than even his own son, you get a gold star. The reason is simple: People like the Forbidden and Amazing Grace are peers of his with formidable mental shielding. He has no real chance of hurting them by accident. He can allow himself to be himself with them in ways he doesn't dare permit himself with others... even those he loves best. That is part of the tragedy of his existence.]

[The GM tells me, btw, that Amazing Grace is about the only person around who could conceivably tear down Alex's walls and teach him to shield in a more healthy manner. But since they're so deeply embedded in his personality and sanity, it would take about six months on a desert island (ie, nobody around to get zapped) and near-total trust on Alex's part, at least at the outset. In other words, it ain't gonna happen. He likes Grace, but that doesn't mean he trusts her with his soul.]

[Alex's homozygosity, btw, means he has more raw psychic potential than just about anybody, including Grace. It's just that the vast majority of that potential is bound up in containing his raging emotions and preventing him from "zapping" everybody around him. If he were ever to fully "cut loose", he could probably beat down any telepath on the planet not similarly cursed... the problem is he'd go hopelessly mad just afterward. But of course, he has such incredible inhibitions against "cutting loose" that it's psychologically impossible. He's never been able to lower his shields that far.]
 
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Swack-Iron

First Post
The Shadow said:
Thanks for suggesting this, Swack-Iron.

I thought the audience here might appreciate it. I note that as of 10:45 PM PST you've got only 11 posts and a whopping 81 page views!

FYI, in case you didn't notice it, there's a M&M banner, in case you'd prefer to use that one over the more general "Comics" banner.
 


In the evening, David announced he was going out to play a shirts-and-skins basketball game with the guys, maybe pick up some pizza afterward. Alex asked, "How is your shoulder? It might be best to play on the 'shirts' side." David responded, "It looks no worse than a cat scratch now, Dad." "Very well. Have you spoken to Twyla?" David shook his head, plainly uncomfortable with the question. Alex let it go.

At ten, the Shadow was stationed by the public library, his mental sight focussed through the wall on a particular computer. Shortly before the hour struck, a mental trace blossomed there that hadn't been there before. He reached out with telepathy, taking in the young man's cocksure yet respectful overtones. Michael.

Hi, boss! the response came, with only a little quickly-suppressed irritation over the name. Do you have anything to report? Nothing unusual. Very well. I have an assignment for you. An interesting one, this time. Unconcealed glee - all the Shadow's requests of him thus far having been dull and humdrum. Tell me more!

Very well. Give me fifteen minutes, then come to my 'home' computer again. I will have it connected to your site. Great surprise and greater curiosity - he'd never been "invited" to the base computer after that first fateful meeting. I'll be there!

The Shadow sped back to the base. "Carlos, pull up DarKnight's site." Carlos looked mildly surprised, but clicked on Favorites. "Here you go, sir..." he said, then looked startled when the Shadow, instead of coming over to the computer, went and sat on his cot.

Then, "Sir! Mike's in our computer again!" Calmly, the Shadow told him, "I sense him too." "Is he allowed to do that?" "I have invited him this once." Carlos said a bit dubiously, "All right, then..." as the avenger of the night reached out with his mind again.

Here is the situation, Michael. He passed on what he knew of the black cars, sparing the boy only Grace's "cybernetic" theory. The trouble is that they can likely spot you in a computer as readily as I can... Mike's cocky confidence took a bit of a dive at that point. ...So I propose to come with you. I am good at not being seen. Shock and a delighted-scared anticipation. HOW?! ...Hold still. Then, aloud as he stretched out on the cot, "Carlos, I am going to appear to sleep for a little while. Do not be alarmed." A little more dubiously, "OK, sir..."

The Shadow wormed his way deeper into Michael's mind, getting a firm hold there and settling in. There was no resistance. He let his awareness expand in and through the boy's unique esper talent. [In game terms, I used Extra Effort to get an Extra for maintaining telepathic contact beyond Sight range. The GM and I agreed that my "touch" range Area Mental Invisibility could also apply to "mental touch" in this situation.] Let's go.

Mike traced down the phone number obtained from El Bandito's mind in moments, but the information gained was not terribly useful. It was a cell phone, with a P.O. box given as address. The bills were always paid in cash. The name proved to be a dead end - evidently a false one. The Shadow did make a note of which post office the box was obtained from.

Searching phone company records for calls made to and from the phone recently yielded about sixty numbers, and soon sixty names - a couple of which the Shadow recognized as belonging to gang leaders. Dump the data into an Excel file and send it to my computer, he directed, intending to have Carlos do a cross-reference with the gang database at a later date. Mike promptly obeyed. Now what?

Is there any way to trace where a cell call was made from? Mike hit on the bright idea of checking the cell company's records of what stations calls from that number were routed through. After some tedious searching and triangulating, he reported, Most of the calls are made from a single block, boss. I can't guarantee that they live there, but they certainly spend a lot of time there. The Shadow smiled an unpleasant mental smile. Excellent. What is on that block?

A quick search of city records, then... A big office building. No floor plans available, sorry. There's about twenty companies that rent offices there. He provided the list, and one of them niggled at the Shadow's memory. [I made a pretty good Int check.] He'd heard of "OmniMetal Inc." before - at work, or in the newspaper perhaps, he couldn't recall. Does OmniMetal have a website?

Mike flashed them over to another computer. Yeah, but it's down. Server trouble, it says... Then the boy froze when the Shadow "shouted", Get us out of here, Michael! NOW!

The connection was broken at the speed of thought. What? WHAT?! Someone scanned us psychically, or rather over our location. I do not believe they could have spotted us, but I also do not believe in taking chances. I think we have found what we were looking for. He did not mention the strangeness of the fleeting contact... a curiously "flat" mental trace, with none of the inevitable tiny fluctuations one found even in a skilled telepath like Grace. It was as if the scanner were completely focussed on the task at hand, even monomaniacal, with no distractions or other thoughts getting in the way. Excellent work, Michael. He sensed the young man swelling with pride the instant before he broke the connection.

Carlos started when the Shadow leapt off the cot. "Plug in, Carlos." "Already done, sir." The Shadow was already nearly to the hangar. "Good. Pull up this address on the master map so you can give me directions." "Done." The Shadow did a quick check on the cycle, then activated the lift. "Oh, and Carlos?" "Yessir?"

"Leave a message on Grace's machine. 'Mr. Shadwell is meeting the people he spoke with you about at this address.'"

"I suspect she'll be interested."

[And as SP put it, "A bit paranoid, are we?" :) To which the only possible reply is, "ALWAYS!" :)]

[BTW, when the Shadow smiled his smile and said "Excellent," I just about pictured him doing the Mr. Burns thing. Scary. :)]
 
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As the Shadow sped toward the office building of OmniMetal Inc., he rapidly filled Carlos in on what he and Mike had found. "Do a websearch on OmniMetal, tell me what you find. Check recent news stories in particular." "Sir, Mike's still in our computer - do you want him to handle it?" "By all means."

After a short interval, Carlos reported over the commlink, "Mike says he's finding lots of boring stuff, for whatever that's worth." "Check through it for things that would be interesting to me, as opposed to him." "Gotcha, sir... They're involved in a good bit of electronics assembly, looks like, pretty high-tech cutting-edge stuff. Oh, here's something, they were involved in that robotic arm business."

The Shadow clicked on the memory that he hadn't been able to nail down before. A very sophisticated prosthetic arm had been a nine-day wonder in the news a month or two ago. While its range of motion was limited (with improvements expected soon), within that range it had a delicacy and precision beyond anything else on the market, indistinguishable in performance from a normal human arm. "Oh. That." Then, grimly, "Wasn't there also talk of them developing a full-body exoskeleton?" "Yeah, I seem to recall that."

"Oh, sir, Mike just found out that OmniMetal is a subsidiary." "What is the parent company?" "It's called the 'Organized Multinational Investment Group'." The Shadow snorted. "Now there's a name with marketing cachet for you. Have him see what he can find about them." Shortly after, "Mike says he's running into some really heavy firewalls, sir. He asks if you want him to proceed." The Shadow pondered a moment, then said, "Tell him to go ahead."

Moments later, Carlos shouted, "OH CRAP!" and started typing so furiously the Shadow could hear it clearly through the commlink. "What is it, Carlos?! Talk to me!!" "Can't, sir, wait a second!" Then, "OK, he managed to break the connection in time. Mike says there's something really Bad in that computer, sir." The young man clearly pronounced the capital letter. "It tried to attack him, but I was able to warn him just before it struck. He's scared, sir." Carlos' tone revealed that he was rather shaken himself. "Tell him he's earned a good night's sleep. Did he get anything at all?" Carlos typed a little more, then reported, "Just a filename, sir. 'Overmind Project'."

Silence, then, "Carlos, please repeat that." "The 'Overmind Project'."

"I do not like this, Carlos. I do not like this at all." He hesitated, then finally continued, "Grace has a theory. A very speculative theory, mind. She isn't sure about it." Carlos, a bit nonplussed by the Shadow's uncharacteristic hedging, asked warily, "What is it, sir?" "She thinks these people are carrying around human brains in those suitcases."

"Gross! Why would anybody want to do that?!" "You do not understand, Carlos. Living brains. Living telepathic brains, to be precise." Long pause. "Oh sh- er, shoot, sir. Um. Where, uh, exactly did these brains come from?" The Shadow did not bother to answer that one. After a little more cogitation, Carlos followed up with, "And what do they want them for?" "I do not know. But I do not like it." Carlos' agreement was fervent.

By this time, the Shadow had reached his destination - an eight story office building. He circled it slowly, getting a feel for the place, his mental shields at maximum and his invisibility firmly in place. Then, cautiously, he lowered his shields to let his mental senses range outward.

The first thing he noticed was a pervasive basso "hum" in the psychic background, almost like the thrum of a bank of generators. It tended to wash out other mental impressions, make it more difficult to get a fix. But after some patient (and quite passive) scanning, he managed to ascertain a number of facts.

The bottom half of the building seemed empty save for watchmen, janitorial staff and so on. The Shadow guessed that the first four floors were occupied by the other tenants of the building; at any rate the fifth, sixth, and seventh floors seemed to reflect OmniMetal's style...

Those floors featured some of the strangest minds the Man of Mystery had ever encountered. Flat, passive, dormant - inhumanly so. The closest thing he'd ever seen was when he'd probed someone deep in meditation. These minds were awake, but not thinking anything at all. They were... waiting. Waiting, and nothing more.

There were also some more normal minds moving about, though there was something strange about them too that he couldn't quite pin down.

Finally, the eighth floor, which at first had seemed quite empty, proved to have the same utterly blank reading that the black cars had. The Shadow frowned deeply. They have power and to spare, it would seem, he thought.

He stopped and hovered the cycle between two windows, near a place where his senses told him a mind was waiting. Cautiously he extended his telepathic awareness into its surface thoughts... or what would have been its surface thoughts, if it had any. There was a blank inactivity there that frightened the Shadow more than he could say.

Nothing ventured, nothing gained, he thought. He projected a single word to the waiting mind, as flatly and emotionlessly as he could: Report. [SP: "Ballsy." :)]

The mind abruptly flared into activity, and the Shadow nearly cried out as he experienced something like a red-hot poker in his mind. He broke the contact frantically; it had been trying to stun him, render him senseless. When he recovered himself, he observed the reaction inside the building.

The more normal minds were converging on the location of the one he'd just interacted with. Now that they were closer, he got a better "feel" for them... weak minds that seemed somehow augmented, sporting greater psychic strength than they ought to somehow. He'd never seen anything like it, and found it quite disturbing. These augmented minds entered some sort of rapport with the mind he'd touched... After a short time, they went their separate ways again.

Grimly, the dark avenger reached out once more with telepathy, this time to one of the augmented minds. Despite its unnatural strength, its shields were no match for him; he easily slipped into the stream of consciousness... Noticing peripherally as he did so that one of the "waiting" minds suddenly became frantically active.

Surprise and uncertainty - something about an alarm being triggered. Racing to another room and announcing, "The detector just went off!" Then tapping at a keyboard and anxiously scanning a printout that would have the answer. "Sh**, we're being probed!" Somebody else present ordering, "Activate the defenses." The Shadow decided it would be prudent to back off the cycle from the building, but remained in mental contact. There was some more typing at the keyboard, then several "waiting" minds speared probes over and past the Shadow's location - he was certain they did not notice him.

Then the mental background noise stepped up, and it became difficult to maintain his contact with the man in the building - the closest analogy he could think of being that of feedback squeals from an amp. Thinking quickly, he gave one parting shot before he broke off the connection: You should not trifle with Mastermind, fools! You have invaded my territory long enough! Hopefully that would give them something to think about - something other than the mythical "Shadow".

The Shadow sped away on his hovercycle, relaying what he'd found to Carlos. "That's some big bad juju in that place, sir!" "Yes, Carlos. I know." He didn't bother to repeat that he didn't like it, as that would have been quite superfluous. "Either those 'augmented' men live in the building, which I doubt, or they are working the night shift. I believe I shall pay a visit again early this morning, see what happens when they get off work. In the meantime..."

"I think I am going to see if I can find Juan Martinez again. My instincts tell me that he has been involved with these people before... They would certainly account for his unnatural terror of mental contact, and he does have a mind-shield stronger than the average. It could be unrelated, I suppose, but it is worth checking."

[To quote a Mr. Han Solo: "I've got a bad feeling about this..." For that matter, Obi-Wan's comment has some merit too - the one about millions of minds crying out in unison...]

[That's no moon, ladies and gentlemen... I think this may be the biggest caper the Shadow's ever faced. Hope it's not more than he can chew.]
 

Just a little info here - I've decided to mark the actual sessions with the M&M icon, and campaign information with the News icon. (If this is inappropriate, somebody please let me know.)

Does anybody mind my practice of interspersing new campaign information in between every few sessions? I've got a lot of it; when I get inspired, I produce reams and reams... and I got really inspired this time around!

By the way, my avatar is taken from the following old movie poster for the Shadow, which captures my image of Alex almost perfectly:

shadow-e.jpg
 

Lela

First Post
The Shadow said:
"Five dead. One with a knife wound... Two with crushed skulls... One guy with a broken neck... Another with his chest caved in.
RBDM!!!!!

Just a little info here - I've decided to mark the actual sessions with the M&M icon, and campaign information with the News icon. (If this is inappropriate, somebody please let me know.)
Icons aren't a big deal. Just a little flavor/filler. I wouldn't worry much about it if I were you.

Great avatar. Does Alex have that same nose?
 

Lela said:
RBDM!!!!!

I haven't encountered this acronym before, but I'm guessing it means something like, "That's one bad-ass kid!" :)

Yes, you don't want to make David mad. Trust me on this. The lad don't know his own strengt'. :)

The GM has let a little about his stats slip, btw. David is PL 8. He has a 20 Str normally. (Doesn't look it, though, he has a very dense musculature. He's well-built, yes, but not Arnie.) If he gets an adrenaline rush or perceives a threat, his Super-Strength and Super-Dexterity kick in, along with a bit of Strike (extra unarmed damage) and, I'm guessing, a considerable amount of Attack and Defense. Oh, and of course Regeneration coming out of his ears, and a bit of Running. Flawed Immunity to Poison - when he and Alex found this out, they did a controlled experiment... David gets buzzed after drinking four six packs of beer. He also hasn't seemed to get sick since puberty, though I don't know for sure whether he's Immune or just super-healthy.

Great avatar. Does Alex have that same nose?

I'm not particular about the nose (and anyway, when acting as the Shadow he maintains a light Illusion about his face to fuzz his features), it's the intensity of the eyes that grabs my attention. That and the wonderfully battered black hat... too many depictions of the Shadow show him in a freakin' bowler or the equivalent.
 
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Lela

First Post
The Shadow said:
I haven't encountered this acronym before, but I'm guessing it means something like, "That's one bad-ass kid!"
smile.gif
Actually, it stands for Rat Bastard DM. Generally, it's saying that the DM/GM is evil in that good, realistic, DM way.

The Shadow said:
Yes, you don't want to make David mad. Trust me on this. The lad don't know his own strengt'.
smile.gif


The GM has let a little about his stats slip, btw. David is PL 8. He has a 20 Str normally. (Doesn't look it, though, he has a very dense musculature. He's well-built, yes, but not Arnie.) If he gets an adrenaline rush. . .
I'm not up on my M&M but I'm getting the gist of most of it from the power names. So, if I have my Intro to Bio stuff down, the Mindblind power surpreses the Telepathy. Which, in turn, doesn't allow the Telepathy to suppress the super-strength. But, as I understand it, Alex has to be careful around his son so as to not project too much, right?

So, does the combination of abnormal protiens in his system result in something completely different? Or do I have the sequince wrong? Then again, perhaps all the chromosoms in question weren't passed on to him.

This would also affect Amazing Grace somewhat. She seems to have a brother with similar abilities as David (though not as advanced). Following the same logic above, wouldn't he have to be a half/step brother? Assuming the genes were passed on that is.

Keep in mind that I'm running off a 100 level course (I dumped the 200 level course due to cemestry problems) that I took a year ago.

The Shadow said:
. . .it's the intensity of the eyes that grabs my attention.
You're defintally right there. Those drill right into you.
 

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