The picture fades in to Ravenhearst Manor, the bright spring sun shining out of a cloudless sky. Inside, in The Shadow’s study, the mood is far less bright and happy. The Shadow is being examined by Alistair McLean, while Sanford Thibodeaux has assumed his usual spot in the big armchair. The Shadow is sporting a heavily bruised left eye and cheekbone from the Limit Break Lv2 inflicted upon him by Zach van Owen, technically his tag team partner at Evolution 51.
Alistair: He got ye guid.
The Shadow: No kidding.
Sanford: You didn’t stand a chance. Who would seriously have expected Zach to flip the lid like that and attack? Guess he ain’t no friend anymore.
The Shadow: For now, obviously not. I’m not sure what is happening of late, but things are just not making sense anymore. Ataxia doing a 180, or in his case probably rather a 450, now Zach is going completely rogue, but I’ll deal with Zach when the time comes, for now I have a burlap fish to fry!
Sanford: Where the heck did that whole broken halo thing come from to begin with?
The Shadow: What? Oh, the match. I’m not sure actually, it just came to me. And yes, I am aware that it might play a bit more into his cards, because he doesn’t give a damn about what he does to his body, but at the time it felt right and if you think about it, he deserves it.
Alistair: Damn reit he is, but dae ye know 'at he’s connected wi' Myfanwy disappearin'?
The Shadow: She didn’t just disappear, she was taken, by force. And no, we don’t have any solid proof of it, but this whole triangle between Stewart, that shades guy and Ataxia is connected to everything. So consciously or not, he is part of it.
Sanford: Trying to understand his brain’s always been like tryin’ to nail pudding to the wall, but he’s really gone off the deep end now.
The Shadow: Yes and no. With everything he says and does, no matter how whacky it may seem, one thing none of us should ever do is underestimate him or write him off. Underneath all that crazy veneer there is an incredible sharp and cunning mind. And one thing we also HAVE to keep in mind is that with his complete disregard for his own health he WANTS us, well, me to lose it and want to hurt him and break him and do God knows what to him. But that is exactly his domain, this is when you know it will be his advantage.
Alistair: Sae he’s tryin’ tae goad you.
The Shadow: Of course. He wants me to lose it, so that he can then pounce and hit me when I let my guard down. But I will not give him the satisfaction. He will meet a Shadow he has never met before, but it will not be like he thinks it will be. He will not be in charge.
Sanford: What if he dangled Myfanwy in front of you.
The Shadow: Then that would be the last mistake he’ll ever do…
Sanford: So what are we going to do?
The Shadow: Make sure he doesn’t bring any reinforcements…
Sanford: Aye aye, captain!
Despite the seriousness of the situation and his mood, The Shadow can’t help but smile.
The Shadow: The ship was last year, Sanford.
Sanford: Yeah, yeah, I know.
The Shadow: Well gentlemen, let’s get started, this is not going to be a walk in the park.
Sanford: Walk down the plank?
The Shadow: Geez, man, if you continue like this, I’ll keelhaul you.
Sanford: That would be unpleasant.
Alistair: Ye bit it is…
The picture fades out with Alistair putting some sort of ointment onto the swelling, much to the protest of The Shadow.
Darkness. The howl of the wind can be heard, the soft rustle of grass. The screech of a preying owl pierces the blackness, which is slowly lifting to show a solitary torch set in the ground at what looks the edge of a precipice, barely illuminated by the pale light of the moon that is barely managing to penetrate the cloud cover. As the camera moves closer to the flickering torch, it barely is able to pass through the ever wandering, dancing shadows across The Shadow’s face, looking out across the vast expanse of darkness ahead and below. Without acknowledging the presence of the camera, he begins to speak in a low voice, barely above the sounds of the wind yet with an edge that gives it distinction to be heard loud and clear at the same time.
The Shadow: Light is the fuel of life, it is what keeps things going. It has since the beginning of time. Take away light and slowly life will wither away and die. It is the same with hope. If you see every strand of hope slip out of your hands without you being able to do anything about it, you, too, will begin to wither. But this also is the exact moment in time, where a decision is made. Give in to the darkness or fight it. Let yourself wither away into oblivion or take fate into your both hands and take over the rudder.
He lets the words hang for a moment as if pondering the course of action he should pursue.
The Shadow: Now Ataxia, nobody knows whether it is day or night for you, if you are stuck in perpetual twilight or in a surreal fast-forward world that blinks in and out of existence as fast as you blink your eye. At times I wonder, if you do yourself. Especially since your return. It is one of your greatest strengths, though, even though many will not see or admit that. By luring others into your fantastic, twisted, distorted world, you bring them to your place, to your plane of existence, where you reign and where you are in control. Where they can only react to things that you are able to set into motion. You are the puppet master, the author, the director.
With that he turns his head to fix the camera with a cold, hard stare.
The Shadow: You may think that you have me figured out, that you know how I feel and will react. You are teasing me, goading me into accepting your challenge and stepping through the curtain and onto your playing field. You feel that if you just provoke me enough, that last glimmer of hope will be extinguished, this last strand of sanity will snap. You may know more than many others what I have been through, yet at the same time you do not know anything of what will be in store for you, of what I am truly capable of. Yes, there is the moral compass that I have been living by and no matter what the situation was, it has helped me through a lot of things. But do not think that there are no exceptions to the rule.
His gaze kind of drifts away into the distance again.
The Shadow: It is kind of amusing that looking back at history one of Winston Churchill’s most famous speeches can easily be adapted to the two of us. As he once said: “I cannot forecast to you the action of Russia. It is a riddle wrapped in a mystery inside an enigma; but perhaps there is a key.” Do I have the key? No. Does Mia have the key? Doubtful. Do you have the key? Very doubtful. Someone does, the one who “activated” you with I don’t know what or for what purpose.
He looks at the camera again.
The Shadow: And for some reason beyond me that person seems to have an issue with me, otherwise they would not have sent you, out of all people, on my trail to make my life a living misery. But it is one thing to single me out and attack me, but you and your…puppet masters…decided to take it further and thus take it too far. When you took Myfanwy, the last frayed strand of hope that you had not gone past the point of no return yet, let go and you made the maybe biggest mistake of your life… Like I said, you think you know me and my limitations, self-imposed or not, but you have never seen me pushed to and past my limits.
You see, Elisha tried and he almost succeeded, but he was different. Granted, he was a maniac, some may argue like you, but on a very different level. Ruthless, without morals, yet deviant, cunning, following a grand master plan. He never tried to make a secret of his plan, though. He always was very open about where he wanted to go, what he wanted to achieve. He was very linear in his approach. Did he make himself more vulnerable through it? Probably. That and his arrogance made him leave gaping holes in his plan of attack, too sure that he or any of his Oreos could easily cover them up if the need arose. That being said, he had the firepower, the strength in numbers and the whole SSRI/Ouroboros/whatever else was the flavor of the day machinery behind him.
He raises his arms and makes a sweeping motion.
The Shadow: You, however, are a completely different kind of beast. You seem to be the only field operative while the others do the dirty work in the background. And while I can never underestimate what these others might be able or willing to do, I am not facing them in the ring, but you. So you are number one on my list.
With this the camera moves in closer, zooming in on The Shadow’s face, his gaze hard enough to be able to carve diamonds.
The Shadow: But be it as it may, I will not rest until I have uncovered and destroyed the cabal that has been put together against me. One by one I will dismantle each and every one of you, no matter what it takes to make you pay. You will feel a wrath like you have never seen before, like you have never felt before. As every ray of light is being stripped away, every shred of hope, the darkness will descend upon you until you wish you had never been born.
He stands up, picking up the torch in the process, exposing it to more of the wind traveling along the cliff’s edge.
The Shadow: Ataxia, a cold wind is blowing and it bares your poisoned tongue, the foul breath of deceit. You are trading everything you stood up for to re-write your history in blood upon the sacrifices of the innocent. And when you turned on me, the sun began to darken and turn black.
His voice drops to almost a whisper, but with a menacing intensity rarely heard by The Shadow.
The Shadow: Through the crowns I am baptised in the first gnawing rays from a blackened sun. In the name of my blood I curse thee...
And like every empire will fall, like every monument will crumble, your words that rose up in betrayal will turn your future to ashes. Your deeds will soon be the ruins of your past and when the night finally will fall upon you, you will be nothing but a fleeting memory, a spectre dissolving into darkness…
While saying these last words he flings the torch into the air, the dying rays of it getting lost in the all consuming darkness below, leaving behind nothing but blackness and the howl of the wind.