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The Shadowyn Chronicles
Chapter 2

by Adam "Prydeheart" Blanchard


Tsoo be or not Tsoo be - Part 1
 
"To be," intoned the street side actor to the upheld skull. "Or not to be: That is the question. Whether 'tis nobler in the mind to suffer the slings and arrows of outrageous fortune, or to take arms against a sea of troubles, and by opposing end them? "
Standing in the shadows of an alleyway, watching the street-corner production of Shakespeare's Hamlet, I find myself marveling at this world's productions and history. I turn around and begin heading back toward the Tram. I needed to finish off a mission that I have delayed for a while.
I flip a switch on my armbands that trigger the flight jets I recently developed. I can control my flight pattern through a neural-interface network that I implanted within my own skin. I feel the silent throbbing of the jets as they ignite, sending me skyward. Within five minutes, I find myself resting on an empty Tram, and watching the scenery as Steel Canyon rushes by.
As we stop at the station, I step off and engage the jets once again and head north towards Bell Point. It's a small little area in Independence Port rife with Council agents and Tsoo sorcerers, with a small spattering of Family members.
Fortunately, my contact convinced me that this would be in my best interest, as she gave me the dossier of Death Moon.
She tells me that he has a couple of bases that need to be taken out, and that he may have something regarding my home dimension.
I hate negative magic in the worse way, but the price may be worth it.
Turning off my jets, I make a perfect landing right in the middle of a trio of Red Ink Men. Within seconds, two of them are headed to Brickstown and I hold onto the third for some questioning, and those questions might just take a while to get answered.
"Shadowyn this, Shadowyn that, Shadowyn NOTHING," yells a dark voice, two days later. "I thought you gaijin were WARRIORS!"
His dark robes swirled around his legs as he walked through the ranks of newly appointed Red Ink, Green Ink and Yellow Ink Men. Many of them bore wounds and blackened eyes and not a few had arms held in slings. It was an ugly addition to their numerous tattoos. His feet defy sight as they kick some of the uninjured members onto the floor. "And the rest of you dishonor your ancestors." Behind them, large packs of Ancestor Spirits nod, as the area began to chill. The sense of failure permeated the chill and infected the Ink Men deeply.
"You have already let him invade and conquer three of our most sacred dojos," the master continued yelling. "Only this one remains, and if he conquers this one, I expect all of you who are defeated to commit seppuku in atonement, should you survive!"
A Green Ink Man rushes into the chamber, his knees, hands and forehead hitting the floor all at once. The master slowly walks back to the front of the ranks and to where the prostrate slave lays.
"Speak."
"Master," the student groveled. "He has come."
"Disperse," Death Moon commanded. "Do not fail me." Within a heartbeat, the room is completely clear of any of the living Tsoo, except for the one on the floor. The remaining spirits fade away, heading for their chosen defensive area. "Take this artifact and hide it somewhere he cannot find it, fool."
"Yes, master."
Gunfire sounds ring in the hallway as he hands over the artifact to the Green Ink Man as he gets up. Muffled screams and deep thuds resound off the walls. Death Moon pushes the student in front of him as the wall explodes with bodies being forced through it. As the dust clears, a single shot rings out and the student collapses and fades from sight.
"I think class is dismissed, Death Moon," a voice calls out from the hall.
"Not yet, fool!" He raises his hands, as black ichor flows from them towards the hall. A deep scream follows and Death Moon starts to head into the hall as the butt of a rifle slams into his temple. As consciousness starts to fade away, he notices the muzzle of the rifle on his forehead. The last thing Death Moon sees is a bright flash of an explosion.
 
I clean up the rest of the Tsoo after 'arresting' Death Moon. They willingly surrender themselves to the authorities after they have seen their Master defeated. Unfortunately, I can't say the same for the Ancestor Spirits as they evidently took off.
"I guess my membership for the Freedom Phalanx will be turned down now," I joke wiping the muzzle of my rifle clean. One of the officers behind me gives a short humorless snort. I turn and glare. He shuffles off into the other direction, taking a few of the other officers with him.
As I turn back around, I notice a small glint of metal near the makeshift 'doorway'. I bend and pick it up as it suddenly comes to life.
"What do you want, Death Moon?" snarls a voice on the other end. "I'm in the middle of negotiating with some Red Caps."
"I'm sorry," I reply back, dripping sarcasm as I speak into the receiver. "You might want to know that Death Moon has been detained. Permanently."
"Who are you, fool?"
"You can call me a hunter, as I am going to call you my prey."
"You sound like one of those buffoons Statesman plays with," he growls back over the receiver. Evidently, I'm not the only one who can drip sarcasm. I learn something new everyday. "Once I take care of him, you can consider yourself next, Shadowyn."
Something sparks within the receiver and I hastily throw it away from myself and away from any civilians. It goes up in a silent puff of sparks, showering me in a cloud of dust and tiny metallic parts. So much for trying to find out where it came from. I gained a new enemy today, one whom I have no clue of whatsoever, even though he knows who I am.
It also looks like my contact was wrong, though. Other than bringing down Death Moon, nothing in here leads me any closer to getting back home.
 
Tsoo be or not Tsoo be - Part 2
 
A crimson sun fell over the skyscrapers of Talos Island in a hushed tone. The city itself was quietly still, as if expecting a storm of magnitude proportions. The pregnant moon was starting her due course through the darkening skies.
Candice Bell-Madison, also known as Sensei to her fellow friends, sat by the Green Line Tram, watching the sun descend for yet another day. Ever since she was old enough to pick up a katana, her father, being of Asian descent and trained in the manners of the samurai, trained her in the ways of bushido. She took to it like a fish took to water. When she turned eighteen, she designed her very first outfit in the mannerisms of a 19th century samurai and began a career as a super-hero.
Her father was very proud of her. He was made even more proud when she applied to the Babes of War for membership.
The night wind slowly tossed her unbound blonde hair across her jade green masked face and the buckles of her leather armor slightly jingled as she reached up to clear the hair from her eyes. A brief gleam of light flashed in the alleyway beside the Tram and the banging of empty trashcans echoed it's way back to her ears. It sounded like there was trouble there.
She got up and headed towards the alley, expecting the Outcast and Warrior minions who have ever troubled her career thus far. As she reached the alley, what she saw froze a scream in the middle of her throat. Her dark blue eyes could not simply believe what she saw and her body stood there, paralyzed.
She never found out whether or not she got accepted in to the Super Group.

Mason was a simple club bouncer in Steel Canyon before he was gifted with an artifact of immense power. That artifact amplified his inner strength one hundred-fold, as well as his outer strength and literally toughened his body. He tried to live as a simple man after that, but when some Hellions, arson-bent on destroying everything in sight, managed to burn down the club he worked at, he donned a simple straight black costume and fought them to a stand-still. He began to defend all the area of Talos Island under the name of Nightscar.
Many of his recollections included some heroic, as well as non-heroic, times like when someone called the city Baumton 'Boomtown' for the very first time. He laughed at that guy, saying that the name would never stick. He answered the call when Statesman called for heroes to help in Sister Psyche's time of need when Malaise fell back into his villainous ways. He was there when the Arenas first opened up for fellow heroes, allowing them to battle each other for the first time. He was there when Eochai first attacked Paragon City and when the Winter Lord covered the land in ice.
He was headed to Brickstown the same evening Candice Bell-Madison fell, but when morning arrived Mason was no longer there and no longer alive.

Jason General IV almost died during the initial onslaught of the Rikti invasion. Not much was known about him after the incident, although he seemed to be a much different person. It was reported that Sunstorm came to him and talked to him for a couple of hours, before heading back to City Hall.
Many months later, he registered as a hero under the name of Star Vengeance, but the next morning, his body was found in front of his home in Atlas Park.
Dead.

It was only 10 o'clock in the morning and Rick Davies found himself overwhelmed with reports of heroes dying. The files included with each report included a dossier of the hero's life and achievements, as well as known contacts they worked with. As each passing minute passed, more files were added to the pile. As the files grew larger and larger, his headaches grew in the same proportion, but he still tried to make some sense of the growing massacre.
Each hero had a different security level, different contacts and there was very little to connect them to each other. Some had not even began their careers as a hero, whereas other were just finishing theirs. Some were even at the pinnacle of their career. Only one thing held them all together.
Slamming his head upon the desk, Rick sighed and dialed his secretary and informed her to contact Statesman. Hanging up the phone, he paused to rethink his request. Statesman was probably off with his team right now saving some other part of Paragon City. Besides, the files detailed one connection that might solve the combined cases. He paged his secretary yet again.
"Jessica," he began. "Forget about calling Statesman for a second. Do we still have the number for Shadowyn?"
"Yes, sir," she said. "But we haven't called him in quite a few months. We don't even know if he's available right now."
"For this, he best damn well be. Get him."
Forty minutes later found Rick pacing in his office. He understood that getting from place to place took some time, but his impatience was getting the better of him. He sat down at his desk, surrounded by the files that disturbed him ever so much and took a deep breath. Just as he was about to pick up the phone to page his secretary, his door opened up as a tall, darkly clad hero walked into his office, ducking so that his winged helm didn't hit the doorframe. A strapped rifle hung by his side.
"Rick," Shadowyn extended his right hand towards him and Rick stood to shake it. "It's been forever since we've talked. What can I do for you?" Rick sat back down at his desk, picked up his files and handed them over to Shadowyn.
"You tell me."
Shadowyn carefully went through the files, page after page. The look on his face changed from one of curiosity to one of profound anger. His ebon and azure armor trembled in the mounting rage. He seemed to focus on one of the photos quite intently. Rick noticed for the first time that there was a faint blue aura surrounding Shadowyn. He placed a hand on his friend's shoulder and started to say something to calm him down, but a frosty sensation, so cold that it literally seemed to burn his hand to the bone, stopped him cold.
"What the?" Rick exclaimed. Shadowyn looked at his friend and his eyes burned the same frosty aura his body exuded. Without a single word, Shadowyn raced out of the office and out of Atlas Park's City Hall. The paperwork hit the floor at the same time that the frosty trail of Shadowyn started to disappear, forcing all the paperwork to the wind.
Rick bent over to gather the files and the photos, but hesitated when he came across the one photo Shadowyn had focused on. In the photo, was one of the young heroes that were murdered most horribly. What Rick had missed in the photo, that evidently Shadowyn had grasped, was the writing on the wall behind him. It looked to be written in blood, but once he realized the significance of the message, his own blood ran cold.
"Come play, Shadowyn. Come play."
 
Tsoo be or not Tsoo be - Part 3
 
Rain began to fall as the darkly clad Shadowyn entered the zone of Siren's Call. Briefly gazing at the dark clouds overhead, wishes of clearer skies entered his mind, but even that vanished as the cold drops of rain fell onto his face. Although it seemed but an illusion, even the buildings seemed darker with the lack of sunlight.
The sound of battle echoed through the area as agents of Arachnos and other villain factions pointedly warred against agents of Longbow and other heroes. Siren's Call had been recently reopened up for heroes to help clear out members of various factions, such as Arachnos and the Warriors, but other villains began to enter it in earnest, villains that had no ties to anyone but themselves.
It was originally closed off due to that unfortunate accident (if it indeed was an accident), concerning a reckless young hero named Sunburst. As the story goes, Thomas Danner, a.k.a. Sunburst, was in the pursuit of a small-time burglar. The chase led to one section of Siren's Call, and disaster. What happened next is between Sunburst, the burglar and the gods themselves, other than the citizens that witness the most frightening sight they were to ever behold in their lives.
The short remainder of their lives.
An explosion occurred that rocked Siren's Call down to its heels as it took out part of that city's War Walls, Sunburst himself, and the burglar. The fallout from that explosion caused the quarantine of the city. Since that time, no one was allowed into the city due to unsafe radiation levels.
Once PEMO (Paragon Emergency Management Office) reported that the levels of radiation were within reason, Siren's Call Councilman John Chard granted a partial lifting of the quarantine. Since that time, this area has known nothing but harsh conflict. Even the heroes themselves have not been unable to avoid it.
Now, Shadowyn entered this city for the very first time, but not without friends.
Entering behind him were seven darkly clad figures. Each of them wore outfits made out of hunter green and black, as per their Super group's color scheme. Each one of them wore an insignia of angel wings, and bars promoting their ranks within that group. With a touch of a button on Shadowyn's wrist computer, his costume changed from the usual black and blue to the colors his friends were now sporting.
"We're ready whenever you are, Shady," voiced the leader of the group. His being was outlined in intense electrical sparks. Shadowyn nodded his head mutely and lead the group toward a building in the middle of the city that was rumored to be the central headquarters of a villain who had been recently killing heroes.
The ruined building became a technical marvel once the group stepped inside. No signs of the ravaging from the outside had reached the interior of the building.
"Keep your eyes open," Shadowyn instructed the others. The look on a couple of their faces told him that he was stating the obvious. "Humor me. I'd really rather not lose the few friends I have left."
"Are you gonna tell us how to dress, as well?" This was from one of the ladies known as Sweet Sensation. She nudged the horned demon next to her in rebuke of his gravel-like snort. He, in turn, bopped the youngest member of the group.
"You cut that out," he told him, his voice seemingly coming from depths below the ground. "Been in this group for only a week and already you're irritating the locals."
"Okay, Diesel," this coming from the leader. "No poking fun at Tempest just because he's new. At least wait another week."
"Yes, Rand," Diesel's voice betrayed his disappointment. The rest chuckled at the brief exchange, knowing full well that he no intention of listening to the advice.
The corridor from the door looked empty, although sounds of activity came from the wings. Everyone took their cues to get themselves ready for battle. Glows surrounded everyone as Sweet Sensation provided some additional protection for everyone in the form of bubbles. Megatramp, the other young lady of the group, had her mace out and was tapping it into her hand, not so gently.
Her boyfriend, Straker, was eagerly awaiting the command to engage someone. Tesserac, yet another leader of the group, was emanating sub-zero temperature in anticipation of battle. Shadowyn had his assault rifle in hand and led the group down the eastern corridor.
"No one, and I mean no one, is allowed to leave. Arrest them or incapacitate them is up to you, but no one is to kill a single one of them. We need the boss of the group and we need the information out of one of them. We also need the boss captured alive." His head turned toward Diesel and Tempest Shocker and intentionally made sure he got a nod of acceptance before turning back to the front and moving on.
"Spoilsport," came a voice behind him.
"Quiet!" hissed Tesserac.
Diesel elbowed Tempest Shocker again and not so quietly whispered to him, "Yeah, you heard the boss. Quiet." Tempest's reply back to Diesel made both Sweet Sensation's and Megatramp's ears and face flame in embarrassment. "Oops."
The first group they encountered was a bunch of Serpent Blue Ink men.
Both Megatramp and Diesel led the way into the bunch of men, displaying unerring accuracy in their attacks. Megatramp maced one of the men back towards Tesserac, who in turn froze him on the spot. Diesel's flying kicks sent a couple more men off the floor, providing both Rand and Tempest flying targets for their electrical blasts. Sweet Sensation dominated one of the men and mentally forced him to attack his own teammate. Both of those men defeated each other, resulting in both of their teleportation to the Zig. Straker and Shadowyn both unloaded their attacks on the same targets, providing the means of quick arrests for more than a couple of the men.
"Oh guys!" yelled Sweet Sensation. She was picking herself off the floor where she suddenly found herself. "Ancestor Spirits incoming!" Everyone quickly turned around to see a small army of Spirits headed in their direction.
"I hate ambushes," yelled Tesserac as he glazed the floor with a sheet of ice.
"Then you'll hate this one even more," yelled Rand, his eyes blazing with electric fury. "We got another army behind us as well."
"Take cover!" yelled Shadowyn as he unloaded his assault rifle into one of the ambushes. A few of the Spirits recoiled and disappeared, but the rest continued their rush of the group.
Even as his mind registered two of the members of his group fly past him toward the ambushers, something hit him from behind. He didn't remember turning on his flight jets, but found himself flying nonetheless before finding out how hard the walls of the lab truly were.
The impact rendered him unconscious.
Some time afterwards, although not knowing exactly how much time had passed, Shadowyn came to his senses. His body ached and his mind felt fuzzy, but the disappointing realization came when he found himself alone in a jail cell. Fortunately, he found that his captors left his cell open. Rushing blindly into the unknown, he ran directly out of the cell and right into the back of his captor. His captor turned around, grabbed Shadowyn by his uniform and slammed him onto the wall before he could defend himself.
"Careless, Adam," said his captor, using his real name instead of his heroic nomenclature. "I expected better out of you."
Clearing his sight and head, Shadowyn looked up into the face of his captor, and found his own face staring back at him.
 
Tsoo be or not Tsoo be - Part 4
 
The darkness of the cell became deafening. Not one sound escaped the binding black, nor one corner eluded its grasp. A roar of frustration escaped his lips, but the sound stuck in his throat. He could not tell how many days or nights have passed since his capture, but he assumed it was a good deal many.
All he could do was wait until something changed.
And wait he did.

"I assume we'll be civilized humans about this?" The voice, heard so often from his own mouth, seemed eerie coming out of another. "After all, one word from me and you can be executed right here and now, although that is not my intent."
Shadowyn gave a small nod, although being held by the neck up against a wall made it somewhat difficult.
"Good." The psuedo-Shadowyn slowly lowered him down to the floor, and gently removed his hand. Two Malta Sapper guns were instantly placed at Shadowyn's chest level. "As you can see, we cannot afford any foolishness on your part. After all, you are a hero, and must act like one."
"Fine," Shadowyn replied back, his tone level and even. "While you are holding me here, you can at least tell me what this is all about. After all, even the villain must act like the stereotype now and again." The other flinched for just a second, and Shadowyn would have missed it completely if he hadn't purposefully been looking for it.
"It's very simple," replied the doppelganger. "I'll start at the very beginning so that you can get every bit of what I am about to tell you.
"First of all, my name is also Adam Webb, just like yours. Just like you, I'm not a native to this world. The Rikti assaulted my home dimension, but, in a fit of anger, I launched a full out nuclear attack against them. The result was fairly predictable. The Rikti were defeated at the cost of my home. In the few remaining years my world had left, the key to dimensional travel was discovered. To prevent a wide-scale rush for my people to escape, the scientists were forced to allow me entry and I found my way here.
"Unfortunately, the gate exploded once I entered Paragon City. I can only guess what happened on that end, as I can no longer return to verify it."
"And that would be?"
"The Rikti came back and finished what they started. My world has been destroyed completely."
Adam paused, and hung his head down as if to mourn the passing of a world. His body started trembling as he whipped back to face Shadowyn.
"But that was my past. Now, I plan on creating a new empire, one that would make figures like Tyrant and his crew even tremble at the thought of it. With my connections within Arachnos, and even the Nemesis organization, my plans are slowly coming to fruition."
"Can I add in the standard 'We'll stop you...' commentary, or is that already expected?" Shadowyn's sarcasm was not lost on Adam as he, yet again, twitched. "After all, one must act the part of a hero, mustn't we?"
"And no questions about your comrade in arms?" This time, it was Shadowyn who twitched.
"Yo, Jeeves?" growled a voice behind them. " You rang?"
"Who...." Adam stuttered as he glanced behind himself, just in time to find Diesel's armored fist upside his face. Upon impact, the doppelganger bounced off the wall with a metallic clatter and fell flat on the floor.
"I love doing that to them, every time," Diesel growled. He looked at Shadowyn for a second and chuckled. "He needs better minions. They forgot to lock the cell."
"I don't think they have a cell for that two ton frame you call a body, Diesel," Tempest yelled from the rear of the party. "Although, I'd expect better body hygienics from a homeless man in a bath in the Sewers."
"Why, you little..."
"Enough, Diesel, Tempest..." bellowed Rand. "First, clear a way out of here and then you can needle each other to your hearts' content."
Tesserac was already bending over Adam as he slowly began peeling back the face. A few sharp gasps behind him betrayed the disgust of a couple of teammates.
"Relax," he told them. "It's one of those Nemesis robots, and quite an upgraded one at that."
A few electrodes flared to life as the construct suddenly grabbed Tesserac and flung him away from itself. Diesel swung a leg swing kick as Tempest pumped electrical pulses into its body, trying to overload it. It gave off a metallic laugh as it got up, and limped over to Shadowyn's form.
"Enjoy your victory," it rasped in a harsh metallic voice, no longer sounding like Shadowyn. Megatramp grabbed Diesel and Tempest and threw them behind her, as sparks began flying from the construct in all directions. Shadowyn quickly limped behind her as well as it exploded in a fiery blaze.
The pieces bounced off her body, leaving only her uniform singed from the fire. "You're picking up my dry-cleaning bill, Shady," she laughed.
"Care to see what else this place has got?" inquired Sweet Sensation from within her deflection bubble. "There had to be a reason for all this."
"What I'd like to know," stated Diesel, "is why they assaulted us with Tsoo, and then had common minions guarding us."
"Indeed," Shadowyn said. "And what I'd like to find out is where this construct got his thoughts from."
"Why?" asked Straker, looking puzzled. "Does it really matter?"
"This time, it does," Shadowyn answered. Within moments, the group formed into teams and proceeded to search the complex. Other than a few Dragon Red Ink Men, the complex seemed empty and the group reformed after an hour of searching.
Tesserac was handling a large pile of paperwork as Rand handed a bunch out to the others to go through. Within a few minutes, everyone compared notes about what they saw and read.
"One of these files was about the clone project the Crey Corporation has been using," Sweet commented. "It seems that they did find someone from another dimension, and used his body to clone from."
"That's funny," Tempest stated. "I found something about the automatons the Nemesis has been using. Seems the plans for that Nemesis robot had gotten out and was being used here."
"And I found a record concerning me," Shadowyn added. "Well, not really me. I think that another one of my dimensional counterparts has made it here and has been making progress within the Arachnos organization, just like that construct said."
"Hey Shady?" Diesel yelled. "When did you start calling yourself 'Lord Shadowyn'? Kind of ostentatious, isn't it?" Rand came over and looked at the paperwork Diesel was going through.
"Hey!" Diesel exclaimed. "I was looking through that!"
"Shadowyn?"
"What's up, Rand?"
"Have you ever been to Mercy Island?"
"Not yet, but I think there might be reasons for me to start going there, right?"
Rand held up a photo for all to see. In the photo, Shadowyn's face stood staring back at them, only there was a small difference between the face and the one standing before them. The one in the photo had a scar over his right eye and cheek, and a tattoo right beside it.
"Eerie."
"This was taken not even three weeks ago," explained Rand. "I think you might want to handle this one, and I don't think we can help you with it either."
"Guess they didn't break the mold when they made you, Shady," joked Tempest, as he handed over Shadowyn's assault rifle.
"No," said Shadowyn, grimly, cocking the rifle. "But I'll make sure to correct that."
 
Tsoo be or not Tsoo be - Conclusion
 
Scarlet sunset found a masked figure strolling off of the ferry. Its black and dark gray armor gleamed with scarlet highlights as it approached the door into Mercy proper. It strolled with a purpose, which made even the Arachnos agents who patrolled the area stand aside for the stranger.

Weird rumors of people who were called the "Destined Ones" rolled through the streets. Bands of Skulls, fighting the police force known as the Rippers, stood aside for these folks. Humanoid Snakes slithered and slept over the street, and on the ground like trash littering the earth. Weird Arachnos drones patrolled areas of this city.

Again, they all cowered as this unknown figure walked towards the base.

Darwin's Landing, the city before the base, was full of wrecked buildings and unchecked fires. Its streets were filled with infected people and unwashed gangs of Skulls and Hellions. Yet again, Snakes were present in the alleys, waiting to ambush unobserving citizens as they tried to go home. Remnants of battles come and gone littered the roads.

The figure in the death mask kept walking.

At the base, it walked up the long stairway up to the landing pad where Kalinda stood waiting for new "Destined Ones." Slowly, it approached the stand where she stood and stopped. She looked down at it and told it what it can do to gain Arachnos' trust and how it could gain more in terms of prestige and infamy for doing missions for them. It nodded and began its new career as a "Destined One."

A new star in the night sky fell into oblivion.

In time, it found itself being drawn to more and more contacts and eventually, brokers. Mission upon mission, it finished with deadly accuracy and merciless precision. Eventually, it found contacts that would lead it into interacting with other villains.

This is what it was looking for.

Again, with unerring accuracy, and mechanical proficiency, it unleashed its robots and terrorized the neighborhoods. As its skill improved, the amount of robots it could use increased. With each additional robot, its reputation increased as well. Eventually, its reputation lead into a recommendation by a fellow villain for a chance to go against the heroes of Paragon City in Bloody Bay. It found out that the mission leader was someone called Lord Shadowyn.

For the first time, the face behind the mask grinned, and nearby homeless children ran away, screaming in fear.

The sun reached its zenith as it met the Destined One called Lord Shadowyn in the Arachnos base located in Bloody Bay. As usual, Lord Shadowyn was up on the ramparts looking out toward the Longbow base on the other side of the zone. What wasn't usual was the lack of personnel surrounding him. It approached him and made its presence known.

"Your lordship," it began, "a contact of mine would like to meet you if possible."

"Would this contact have a name?" he inquired, not bothering to look around.

"Not one he would have known," its sexless voice answered back.

"Where?"

"Not far from here. I would take you there."

Together, they traveled across the city of Bloody Bay. No one followed them, and no assistance was requested. As far as the eye could see, Shivans dominated the area. Eventually, they landed by one of the villas not far off of the Longbow base, but far enough away from the Shivans. Lord Shadowyn's scarred eye focused on the skull-masked entity.

"Now," Lord Shadowyn exclaimed. "Now, I've got you, Shadowyn!" With a quick gesture, Lord Shadowyn ripped off the other's mask only to find that it was not Shadowyn underneath it.

"NO!" he yelled. "It can't be!"

"But it is," came a voice behind him. Whirling around, Lord Shadowyn found the tip of a rifle pointed at his forehead. Focusing beyond it, he found his own face looking back at him. It was Shadowyn himself.

"Unnerving, isn't it?" Shadowyn grimly asked. "I thought the same as you do now."

Lord Shadowyn held his arms straight out to the sides, signaling that he had no weapon. The entity picked up its mask and placed it back on his face, and then slowly turned around and left.

"No mercy, Shadowyn," it said, referring to both of them, as it left.

"So," Lord Shadowyn said, with a touch of scorn, "will the great Shadowyn kill me unarmed and without any means to defend myself?"

"No," Shadowyn replied back, squeezing the trigger back fully. The shot rang out and Lord Shadowyn fell to the ground, his blood pooling almost immediately at the site. "I won't kill you at all. You will remember that I saved your life once, and I can take it anytime I want to. You kill any more heroes, and I'll finish what you started."

"Why?"

"To be, or not to be. That is the question."

"Huh?" Lord Shadowyn asked, as his vision slowly blurred by the loss of blood. Shadowyn turned and started to lift off towards the Longbow base. Lord Shadowyn quickly grabbed the rifle he had hidden beneath his armor. With the remaining effort, before his own blood blinded him, he squeezed off one shot at Shadowyn's head. The shot went awry and glanced off the back plate armor with a resounding ring. Shadowyn turned around, and raised his rifle again.

"Not to be."

The shot was the last thing he heard.


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