The picture fades in to show grey, low-hanging clouds. Slowly moving down, we see the copse of trees in the back of Ravenhearst Manor, its tops partially obscured by fog, the air heavy with humidity. The outline of three figures can be seen through the mist, one standing a bit to the side, while the other two, an adult down on one knee and a child are side by side within the old cemetery. As the camera slowly zooms in, it is The Shadow and a boy in front of a grave with an ornately carved cross, heads bowed.
Boy (with a breaking up voice): I miss Mama.
The Shadow: I know, I do, too. Be strong for her, we both have to be strong together.
The boy gives The Shadow a tight hug.
The skies are still grey, one can barely see the little river at the edge of the property, obscured by mist. As the camera turns around, it shows the study as busy as ever, with the addition of a huge whiteboard making up most of one wall, showing diagrams and flowcharts now. Some file folders have slid off one of the overloaded desks, where The Shadow and Myfanwy are trying to avoid a particularly precariously perched pile from toppling over. Suddenly the door crashes open and Alastair McLean comes rushing through, promptly stepping onto one of the fallen files and landing unceremoniously behind the desk with a loud thump. After a moan a hand comes into view with an outstretched thumb and somewhat compressed words.
Alastair McLean: Aam fine, floor broke me fall.
Myfanwy rushes over to help him up, but the stocky Scot is already dragging himself to his feet with the help of the table.
The Shadow: What happened?
Sanford Thibodaux: Someone ate your pet haggis?
Alastair McLean: Nae, Lachlan is fine.
Myfanwy: What on earth--
The Shadow: Don’t ask… Alastair, what happened?
Alastair: ‘At voice ah heard at Wrestle Fest!
The Shadow: Yes?
Alastair: Ah know who it belongs tae!
Suddenly all eyes are on the Scot.
Alastair: Ah was watching sum old wrestling an’ ah heard it! Hostility!
The Shadow: That promotion that CWF once kind of invaded or something? That was before my time.
Alastair: Aye, that one. That devitt, James Milenko, th’voice is his!
The Shadow: I only know that there was some bad blood coming out of that, but that was ages ago, are you sure?
Alastair: Aye, ah aam sure.
The Shadow: Alastair, can you go get Sanford and see, if you can find some more stuff on Milenko and what he has been up to?
Alastair: On me way!
The Shadow: Say hi to Lachlan from me.
Alastair (over his shoulder as he leaves): Will do!
Myfanwy looks at The Shadow as if he just sprouted wings.
Myfanwy: So Lachlan is-- what? How?
The Shadow can barely stifle a laugh, then puts a hand on her arm.
The Shadow: Trust me, you’re not ready for this one.
With this The Shadow and Walcott both break out in laughter, while Myfanwy looks at both of them as if they had gone mad.
Ravenhearst Manor, it is unclear, if it is dusk or dawn, but the twilight adds to the murk of the heavily-fog saturated air, giving everything a ghostly appearance through the misty haze. A few of the windows of the manor are lit up, but everything is quiet. The camera zooms across the lawn, past the statue towards the veranda, where a lone figure is sitting, fully clad in black, looking grim.
The Shadow: Now that the Oreos are gone, it looks like a new reign of terror has been established in our hallowed halls and while it lacks the inherent evil of Elisha and his consorts, it definitely does not have to hide behind them in terms of unscrupulous ruthlessness, “any means necessary” takes on a completely new dimension in the light of it.
He raises a piece of glass, carefully turning it around in his hands.
The Shadow: The famed Glass Ceiling, risen to fame like no other stable before, taking everybody by surprise. Who would have thought that Jace would come out of hiding, uh, retirement and that Jarvis King, shining knight of the Paramount title would suddenly turn sour like the milk you forgot to put away on a hot summer evening?
I must admit that it was a magnificently orchestrated entrance into CWF, at first establishing the Smokin’ Aces as guns for hire, no matter how brutal the assignment could be and then at first revealing Jace, which already was an extra dimension in itself, and then Jarvis as the piece de resistance and before you knew it, bam, they were there, sitting right at the top of the heap.
And successfully, too, since they hold three titles right now between them with MJ the only bastion of righteousness in their sea of evil, but then again, she might be next on the list for Jarfish, uh, Jarvis.
He puts the piece of glass down again, making sure not to break it. His gaze passes the camera, moving on to get lost in the mist.
The Shadow: So let’s start right at the top, as the fish starts to rot from the head - Jarfish King. I am not quite sure what is happening of late, but it seems as if all Canadians are rotting of late, Jace, Silas, Xander, now you, you guys are giving us a really bad name of late. Is it something in the water? But then again, we’re on the road most of the time, so…
Anyways. You sometimes remind me of a chameleon, changing colour as you see fit, good guy, bad guy, tweener, you’ve done it all and once more you have taken a turn towards the dark side. Wait, I am the dark side, am I not? Hm. Anyways, when you came back after your injury and Shane Donovan began to tease you as Solstice, you seemed like you were one of the good guys, but I guess that deep down it was still lurking, slumbering within, waiting for the right moment to awaken and come out and strike. Again, this almost sounds like Silas, what is it with you people?
He shakes his head with an almost painful looking smile.
The Shadow: You claim that the Glass Ceiling is an equal opportunity employer, but if you look at your history so far, even preceding the official announcement of it and the eventual reveal of all its members, then it looks as if the Smokin’ Asses seem to be responsible for the dirty work before you make your grand entrance. You also claim that the spectacular ousting of Jace was a product of your united brain cells, but let’s face it. Duce and Freddie have been a team for a long time, probably before they even knew they were one, but there is only space for one “king” and as you correctly identified back in Memphis, Jace is not exactly the one to share the spotlight, so in the end it did not really come all that surprising that it ended how it ended, now did it? Disposing of the potential usurper to the throne.
I can only assume that the ultimate goal is to lay your hands on the big title at least one more time, to prove that you still have it in you, but as far as that is concerned, you are not really doing yourself any favours, now are you? The way to the top is steep to begin with and now making enemies of pretty much the whole federation does not exactly make things any easier, now does it? Unless you count on the factor of intimidation to aid you, but knowing the people around here I don’t think that’s really going to work.
He looks up at the skies and the camera follows his gaze as he trails off. Big, wet snowflakes have started to fall, white specks appearing out of seemingly nowhere in the grey, humid air.
The Shadow: So then the Smokin’ Aces, whose career path feels as straightforward as Ataxia’s thought process. We have met. Several times, both in singles competition and in tag teams and I must say that you are not shy when it comes to taking opportunities, even though the developments in the last few weeks were, to say the least, surprising.
Who would have thought that the underdog team was under these masks, performing all these run-ins, most grave of which the heinous attack on Mia, which is something that was, is and will be unacceptable, whichever way you would be looking at it. Now what I don’t understand is “Why?” You had the world in your hand, the fans were worshipping the ground you were walking on. You had the titles. Granted, we won them from you, but that is besides the point, with the state of the tag team division you could have ruled the roost.
He has lifted his hand and now flips it over.
The Shadow: But then you have to look at the other side. As bad guys so many things are easier. You can cheat and lie and not risk losing any reputation. You can try to intimidate and shake people instead of having to gain the upper hand by doing the right thing. You can pretty much do ANYthing, because you don’t have anything to maintain, no fan ties, no ethical standards, nothing. Which again raises the question of “Why?” Why did you stoop so low and beat a fellow athlete within inches of death? What is the tradeoff?
Glory? You already had that. Money? I would assume that you are making a pretty penny even without engaging in this kind of extracurricular activities. Respect? Nope, that went out the window a long time ago. Power? That is the literally the only reasoning I could think of that would make at least some sense, but at what price? Look around the world, which reign of terror ever lasted? Which dictator, leader, captain, chief or whatever label you want to slap on them ever managed to survive? Who ever managed to retain power? Not a single one of them.
A door opens and closes and Myfanwy comes into view, passing through and taking a seat on a chair opposite the small table between the chairs. The Shadow briefly looks over and without saying anything Myfanwy just gives him a nod. He wordlessly mouths “Thank You” and turns back to the camera.
The Shadow: You might be able to soak in the glory, the electrifying feel of power pumping through your veins, but the thing is - you will have to maintain the same intensity, the same brutality, the same ruthlessness to maintain that status, to keep that level. You can’t let your guard down once as not to give others an opportunity to exploit that little weakness, that little crack in your armour and bring you down.
And guess what - it wears you down. The amount of energy and focus you have to spend just on keeping this up is enough to wear you down and bring the strongest man to his knees. But that’s not all. If you continuously taunt cobras, you are bound to be bitten and now you have three black mambas waiting in the shadows for you, ready to strike.
Myfanwy gets up, picks up the piece of glass and moves to the end of the veranda, where she manages to stand it up against one of the posts before returning to The Shadow, who has now stood up.
The Shadow: You all seem so sure of yourselves, that you have gained control and will be able to rule from above with iron hand, now that you have most of the titles in your position. Well, it’s lonely at the top and to be quite frank, up there you make a magnificent target. Yes, the Forsaken might be wounded, but that makes us just all that more dangerous for you, because we have scented the blood, Mia’s blood, which is on your hands and you will suffer the consequences. And that is not a threat, it is a promise!
He holds out his hand towards Myfanwy and she hands him a hammer. For a moment he weighs it in his hand before continuing.
The Shadow: Jarvis, Duce, Freddie - you know what the beautiful thing about glass is?
With that he takes the hammer and hurls it towards the sheet of glass. Just as it strikes it, the camera goes into super slo-mo and shows the impact and the glass shattering in thousands of pieces as it effortlessly goes through.
The Shadow: If you hit it right - it will shatter… We will be your Hammers…
The picture fades as a door opens and closes again.