Calgary, Ravenhearst Manor. Spring finally seems to be winning against the merciless onslaught of winter this year, with bright sunshine, melting snow and birds singing. As the picture switches to the inside, the mood is not quite as light as outside, with The Shadow wincing at Myfanwy applying a bandage to his ribs that took quite the beating when Ataxia blasted him off the ramp in Melbourne with the Shooting Star Press. His shirtless upper body also reveals several bruises of various colourations along his back and his shoulders.
Myfanwy: Sorry! I didn’t mean to--
The Shadow: I know, it’s pretty much impossible to do this without hurting me right now. I don’t even want to think what this would feel like, if Alistair would do this. That man has the fleeting fingers of a blacksmith.
Despite feeling bad at The Shadow’s pain, Myfanwy can’t help but chuckle.
Myfanwy: I don’t want to imagine that either. But are you going to be ok with going into the ring with Dan again this week already? What did Dr. Leggett say when you saw him?
The Shadow: Well, he wasn’t happy, but he x-rayed me and there’s nothing broken or cracked, just royally bruised.
Sanford: Like your ego?
Both turn towards the Louisianan casually strolling into the room and letting himself fall into one of the large armchairs.
Sanford: OK, ok, people, I was just making a joke!
The Shadow just shakes his head, while Myfanwy continues to stare daggers into Sanford.
The Shadow: Next time you go in the ring with Ataxia and let’s see who has the last laugh then…
Myfanwy: There, all done. I’d still rather you didn’t have to fight again already…
She helps The Shadow with his shirt, her hand lingering on his shoulder for a moment.
Sanford: So - Ataxia.
The Shadow: Yes?
Sanford: I think we’d have a better chance to waltz into the hq of the Mossad with Burqas on than find that dude’s hideout.
The Shadow: Yes, he is a master of a lot of things, even though most people will not give him too much credit for most of them. Well, not sure what to tell you really, other than try your best.
Sanford: So what happened at Confliction there? He tried to stab you again?
The Shadow: Yeah, I’m still trying to figure out what the heck happened under that mask of his, but I don’t know how…
He puts his palm on his forehead, rubbing it, either from pain or desperation. Either way the look on Myfanwy’s face does not brighten up, worry still prevalent.
Myfanwy: Enough with this for now. We have established that Ataxia is nuts, we don’t know where he is and you have Dan Ryan to worry about. Unfortunately. Now Sanford, would you please let him get some rest?
The Shadow: It’s ok, I’m--
Myfanwy: --going to get some rest.
Sanford jumps up from the chair, clicks his heels together and salutes.
Sanford: Yes, general!
His smile falters as a roll of gauze hits him square in the face.
Sanford: OK, I should give you some time to, uh, rest.
Myfanwy: Marvelous idea, Sanford.
Sanford: I’ll let you know, if we get any closer to anything.
The Shadow: Thank you, Sanford.
As Sanford exits, Myfanwy turns back towards The Shadow, her hands on her hips.
The Shadow: I know, I’m in trouble now, I know that stance.
Myfanwy gives him a playful slap on the shoulder, which makes him briefly cry out and wince. Immediately all anger vanishes.
Myfanwy: Ay, I’m so sorry, I really didn’t mean to--
He takes her hand and pulls her onto the couch next to him.
The Shadow: Like I said, I know you did not. Thank you for caring for me, someone you didn’t even know existed not long ago, basically a stranger.
Myfanwy: You might be strange, but not a stranger.
The Shadow takes a deep breath.
The Shadow: I ran right into that one. I guess you could legitimately call me a sore loser… But either way, thanks for being here.
Myfanwy: No place I’d rather be.
She puts her head on his shoulder, which causes him to sharply inhale again. Immediately she moves her head off it again.
Myfanwy: I’m sorry! I--
He puts his arm around her shoulder and pulls her close.
The Shadow: Didn’t mean to. I know.
He places a gentle kiss into her hair as she closes her eyes.
Fades to black.
The picture fades in to the Talking Stick Resort Arena in Phoenix, where crews are busy setting up for this week’s evolution. One lone figure is seen in the upper ring. As the camera comes closer, The Shadow’s vacant stare into the busy bees below working on the ring turns towards the camera.
The Shadow: So, Dan, another notch in your belt, you better have it reinforced or it will fall apart… Now I could lament the loss and bring this excuse or that to the table as to why I no longer have the belt. I could have said that the exhaustion from running the gauntlet through Modern Warfare and then into Australia finally caught up with me. I could have claimed that I did not even lose the belt, which I did not per se, because Ataxia decided it was more important to try to kill me than go for the title. Or I could have said that it was unfair, because I could not do anything against the pin.
A brief smile plays around his mouth.
The Shadow: Well, I am not going to try to find any excuses. You were in the same boat I was in. With the exception of the finals you had just as many matches during the tournament. I could have pinned Ataxia just as well and retained while you were backstage, it is always easy to either omit parts of the truth or just plainly cherry pick whatever suits the respective situation. In the end you won. Fair and square. But now the tables have turned. You are no longer the hunter, you have become the hunted. By me, by Duce, by Ataxia - the target now is on your back.
He points at the ring.
The Shadow: Welcome to the new reality, Dan, welcome to the one on top that everybody will aim to topple at a moment’s notice. Prepare for your world turning black. Welcome to Future World…
And with that the picture indeed does turn black.