[AC] Shadestalker #3

Artifice Comics artificecomics at yahoo.co.uk
Sun Feb 22 21:07:42 PST 2004

>>From Artifice Comics:

	This can't be real. this is completely impossible. I'm
dreaming. I'm in a coma.

	An endless string of logical explanations flew through Reggie Evans
mind. He
searched the dusty shelves of his brain, hoping to find an answer to
one simple
question. two simple questions actually. 
	Where am I and how do I get out of here?

	The dark and desolate place where Reggie Evans soul lay trapped was
not really a
place at all. He found nothing in his vicinity except silence and
emptiness. His eyes and
ears became dormant for the first time in his life. With nothing to
see or hear, the vital
organs became rapidly useless. He wasn't even sure if they were his
real eyes or ears
after all. Likewise he was unsure if the face he now adorned was his,
or if he even truly
existed here. He could not see his body, but he could feel it. For the
life of him he could
not explain how, not in a way that would make any sense to a
reasonable man. Then
again, reason had seemed to abandon him in recent days. From the
moment Reggie Evans
saw an everyday man like you or I, an average Joe, suddenly rise above
the teeming
masses, he knew that things would never be the same again. With his
once dark brown
eyes, Reggie Evans had watched a perfectly normal human being bend
light itself at his
own will. Sadly it was the last thing those brown eyes would ever see,
for moments later
they were closed forever. A man he had never met before had tragically
cut his life short.
	As Reggie's dimming mind began to put the pieces together, the
reality of the
situation became very apparent. He was dead. He would never see his
friends or family
again. He would never pull another job with Devon Lane; he would never
laugh at his
jokes or admire his ambitions again. He would never see his mother
again; he had left her
behind to face Eugene alone. He would never hold Christina in his arms
again. He would
never tell her he loved her again, he would never see her beautiful
black hair or her deep
brown eyes again. He would never watch another orange sunset with her;
he would never
fall asleep slowly in her warm embrace, all the while wishing he could
live in that
moment for all of time. He would never do anything ever again. He was
dead; it was a
simple fact with which he refused to come to terms. 
	And then, out of the blue it happened. A wave of emotion bathed his
form. His eyes did not tear, his lips did not curve into a disdainful
depiction and his
posture did not collapse in defeat, but nonetheless he felt it. He
felt sorrow and regret
overwhelm him. he felt. He loathed himself for wasting his life. The
storyline played in
fast-forward before him, and with each passing second he felt more and
more disgusted.
He watched the picture slow down as it passed over every wrong choice,
every mistake.
Lamenting the decisions he made, Reggie tried to force the memories
away, but he failed
in his mission. The last words he had uttered came into focus, and his
soul screamed for
an escape route, for a seam in time, for anything, anyway to find a
second chance.
	And then, as if the ethereal void itself heard him, the nothingness
Oxygen filled his lungs with fresh life. Fluorescent light bathed his
retinas, a brand new
digest of pain coursed through his body. Bruises were born upon his
flesh, muscles ached
and sinews stretched in new directions. The horrible wave of anguish
that overwhelmed
his body was unbelievable. It was impossible for him to comprehend
how, but he didn't
care. One simple fact would suffice for him. Someone or something had
heard his cries,
someone or something had another plan for him, or maybe someone or
something had
never intended for him to die in the first place. It didn't matter.
Reggie Evans was alive.
	The ascent from the ancient tile floor was grueling. He stood erect
and wiped the
soot and grime from his body, only to watch the particles turn
invisible in a radiant light.
He followed the brilliant glow of white to its source, and his heart
sank to a new depth.
There in an aura of glory stood Father McKinley. Reggie Evans tried to
put himself into a
fighting stance, but his body was too weak to struggle anymore. He
scoffed at fate itself;
folding on the hand it dealt him.

Shadestalker #3
(Burning Bridges Part III)
Written By James Queally

	"Please don't tell me you went through all the trouble of bringing me
back here
just to kill me again?" Reggie spat sarcastically. He fired a steely
gaze into the priest's
eyes, but found himself squinting from the sheer brilliance emanating
from the clergy
	The old man seemed confused as he folded his pale white hands
together. The
aura of white dimmed allowing Reggie to view him fully. He stood with
a humble
posture, his hazel eyes displaying indifference towards the ravaged
	"Pardon me, but I have no idea what you mean."
	Reggie's jaw dropped in astonishment. He slapped his hand to his
forehead in
complete shock. "Hello! You killed me. but here I am living and
breathing. I believe
you owe me a slight explanation"
	The old man smiled, conveying that the gears had begun to spin in his
mind. A
devious smirk formed on his aging visage. "Thou shalt not kill Mr.
Evans. I try not to
make a habit of breaking the commandments. After all, it doesn't sit
well with him". He
cast a bony finger in the direction of a man hanging on a cross. The
ancient symbol for
salvation glowed for a moment as a glint of moonlight descended upon
it through a
broken windowpane. The silver shine it cast seemed to acknowledge the
	Reggie was not amused "So you mean to tell me that by using these
whacked out
powers of yours and throwing me off a balcony that you weren't trying
to kill me?"
	The priest advanced slowly down the scarred walkway that divided the
sections of
old oak pews. Reggie stepped back now disturbed by the old man's
ominous presence
and eerie demeanor. "You seem to be very confused. Maybe you're having
some form of
head trauma." The old man reached out a decrepit hand to touch
Reggie's bruised
forehead. His touch was cold and dry. He shook his head and stepped
back further away
from the increasingly frightful priest.
	Reggie held out a hand signaling for the clergyman to hold his
ground. Frustration
overtook him as he screamed; Stop it! Don't touch me and don't take
another goddamn
step! I want to know what the hell is going on and who the hell you
are. and I want to
know right now!"
	The old man's expression changed to one that hinted at embarrassment.
apologies, I seem to have skipped a few steps haven't I?"
	Reggie grew more aggravated with every sarcastic reply. He simply
stood stone-
faced awaiting an explanation. 
	"Well then" The priest continued "Let's get your facts straight then.
My name is
Father John McKinley and you didn't die. You had me scared for a
moment thought.
Your pulse weakened rapidly, but it caught itself in time. You must
have slipped into a
dream for few moments."
	That was more like a nightmare Reggie thought, quietly recalling the
ending blackness. He recomposed himself, channeling his anger at
McKinley again.
	"That still doesn't explain the energy blast off the balcony, or the
attack in the
bodega either."
	McKinley scoffed and chuckled lightly. "Those are much easier to
explain. In
both instances I was only trying to do the job assigned to me. Your
headstrong nature
however, forced me to curb my actions both times"
	Reggie tapped his foot impatiently "and that job was."
	McKinley inhaled deeply, and then exhaled with the same force. He
seemed nervous as he opened his mouth to speak again "To awaken the
powers bestowed
to you. You see Mr. Evans, you are his next champion"
	Reggie's expression stalled. Powers. oh man this guy is off the deep
end. but
he's dangerous. so I guess I should play along
	"Whose champion?" he spat back
	Father McKinley turned again and pointed in the direction of the
altar. Reggie's
eyes followed his gaze to the crucifix hanging on the church's aging
back wall
	"His" he responded proudly
	Reggie coughed trying to stifle back laughter. "Ok let me get this
straight, God is
giving me superpowers? Come on; look at me, what I have done to
deserve this."
	Father McKinley's tone became grave for a moment. His eyes narrowed
as he spoke again "Nothing, and neither did the others whom he
	"Others?" Reggie asked growing more bewildered
	"I see that you are not well versed in history" McKinley continued
"God has
given amazing abilities to people in the past. Samson's strength was
contained in his long
brown lock of hair. Constantinople's armies painted crosses on their
shields and never
lost a battle."
	Reggie contemplated the evidence. He had seen some very odd things in
the past
few days. Hell, Pacific City was becoming overrun with these superhero
nut jobs. Most
of them were average normal people like him. Was it so hard to
believe? Reggie let his
scrutiny fade into the back of his mind for a split second
	"Alright, so then where are my powers?"
	McKinley sighed heavily "I thought you would have deciphered this
from our last
few encounters." and with that he raised his left hand, spreading his
fingers out like an
arcane magician. A white aura formed around it. Reggie stepped back
bracing himself for
another attack from the old man but it never came. A slight tug at his
neck called his
attention to the black stone around his neck. It was glowing, a
fluorescent shine was
radiating off its edges creating a dark blue tinted gleam. The pure
white light overran the
miniature rock and then blasted it all directions creating a strobe
effect. Reggie winced as
his entire body tingled for a moment
	"What the hell." Reggie said as he stared dumbfounded into the rock.
The priest
closed his fist and let the polished stone fall back against his
	"In there. inside me?" Reggie asked. He was genuinely stunned by this
revelation, and he now spoke with the innocence of a small child. 
	The priest nodded with a paternal look in his eyes. 
	The wonder that had temporarily overwhelmed Reggie ceased to be as
his brash
arrogance retook its mantle. He looked back at the priest "So. so what
can I do?"
	McKinley turned around and began to walk back towards the altar
"You'll know
in time"
	Reggie watched the priest walk away as if nothing had happened and
gritted his
teeth loudly. "Where are you going? You just turn my whole freaking
world upside down
and then you walk away to go take a nap? There's got to be more to
this! Why me? How
do I...?"
	McKinley turned around and pressed an aging finger to his faint red
lips "That is
all you need to know. The rest you need to discover for yourself. Do
not worry; we will
be seeing each other again"
	And with those words Father McKinley disappeared into the sanctum of
the lower
church, leaving Reggie Evans with a bewildered look on his face and a
million questions
in his mind.

	The few hours Kozu had spent operating out of the dusty warehouse had
made him miss his normal place of business. The elegant midtown
penthouse where
Kozu now stood was much more to his liking. He ran his finger along
the finished leather
of a black recliner and smiled as it passed inspection. Not one piece
of dirt ran off the
expensive furniture onto his finger, not one piece would be found in
the entire room. He
moved his wandering eye over the oak desk that sat quietly in front of
the large
windowpane behind it. He briefly admired the workstation before moving
along. The
entire north wall of the penthouse was one huge glass sheet. From here
he could look out
over Lorrington and gaze out into his city. Some days he smiled down
on it warmly,
showing approval to its mysterious ways. Other days he spat down upon
it, cursing every
person and thing inside it, wondering why he wasted his time in this
accursed city.
	Today he cast a more ominous shadow over the buzzing metropolis. He
down upon it as if he were staring at a prized possession. Soon enough
it would be.
The previous night had gone perfectly. Scattered acts of larceny and
murder had
steamrolled the city all in one night. The inept police forces would
never see the
connections, the grand scheme behind the intricate moves that had
taken place. They
would simply pass it off as a bad night. They would never see it, and
they were never
designed too. La Casa Nostra, however, would see the telltale signs.
Kozu glanced at his
silver watch, and breathed in deeply as the minute and hour hands made
a ninety-degree
angle, signifying that it was 9am. At this time the next chain of
events would take place.
Jack Casso would be making his early morning rounds as the employees
of the Gemstone
Casino began to get it up and running. In the next ten minutes or so,
he would walk by a
roulette table. In said roulette table he would find an assortment of
different colored and
sized fingertips. At about the same time a janitor or perhaps a chef
who showed up too
early will open up the freezer. Inside he would find a pleasant
surprise behind the
slaughtered animals that took up residence within. He would find 5
corpses thrown
arbitrarily against the walls; he would find amalgams of human and
animal blood
splattered against the walls. This cook would then run outside
screaming to Mr. Casso
who was already painfully aware of what was going on inside of his
establishment. Mr.
Casso will then take out a cell phone and call Frank Sabatino, the
owner of the Gemstone.
Mr. Casso would relay the brutal tale to Mr. Sabatino, who would
tremble in fear, drink a
sip from his cleverly placed bottle of Amaretto, and then hang up.
After choking back a
large amount of rancid bile, Mr. Sabatino would call Vittorio
Grimaldi. Sabatino would
nervously relay these events, and Mr. Grimaldi would simply nod and
hang the phone up.
The Italian bastard would hold up his arrogant bravery despite the
lack of an audience,
but his heart would sink because he would know exactly who was behind
the murders.
	Kozu opened his eyes, allowing the visions of carnage to wander to
the back of
his mind. He turned away from the picturesque overview of the city
that hung outside of
his office and cast his eyes upon the 34 inch television screen that
adorned the western
wall. With a light flick of his wrist he pressed a small red button on
the remote control,
causing the television to hum to life. A ridiculous commercial about
some new child's
toy displayed itself momentarily, winding down to its end graciously.
As it faded, it was
replaced by three large words in black and gold. Wake Up Lorrington
had fast become
the most popular early morning news program in this city. Kozu could
not determine
how, the anchorwoman spent nearly all their airtime playing with her
hair and flirting
with the weatherman. Current events were an afterthought on the
hour-long program.
Kozu quickly moved to change the channel but halted as the arguably
retarded woman
said a name. a name that he had come to associate with very dire
	In her cheery voice, the ditzy blonde strung together a tapestry of
dismay for
Kozu "We now take you live to City Hall, where District Attorney
Candidate Eugene
Evans is trying to rally votes in the last weeks leading up to
Election Day." Kozu folded
his hands together and sat attentively as the scene moved from a
dreary news desk to a
parade of journalists flocked at the foot of a podium on the steps of
City Hall. Atop the
pedestal overlooking the sea of hungry reporters was the object of
Kozu's distress,
Eugene Evans. 
	Evans tapped the microphone and cringed at the shrill cry of
feedback. After a
minor adjustment he opened his mouth to speak. 

	"Citizens of Lorrington, a new day is dawning! A new day, where we
finally forget the crimes and debauchery that have plagued this city
in the past. A
beautiful new sunrise of promise and of progress awaits us."
	Kozu's expression was unmoved. Evans had opened with the usual
jargon filled with empty promises of a blissful utopia. Evans was a
force to be reckoned
with in the courtroom, a lion. However his tenacity failed to carry
over into the political
arena. Evans had mustered decent support, and was holding a relatively
close race with
the Incumbent Dennis Monroe. As Evans continued his speech he held the
same policy
that he and Monroe had the entire campaign. The issues that they
discussed had been nice
and conservative and failed to strike out at Lorrington's true demon.
Kozu thought that he
had waited out the storm. but then Evans hit his stride and Kozu's
stomach did a back

"However, the bigger fish still elude me. The decision makers, the
bosses, the
head honchos. They all escape me because my opponent and his office
are either to
impotent to stop them, or too afraid too!"

"Son of a Bitch" Kozu muttered quite unhappily. There it was. Evans
had just
pulled his trump card and signed Monroe's political death certificate.
Within an hour
every crime boss, consigliari, and high-level crook in this city would
share the same
disgusted look that Kozu did. Eugene Evans had just called out by name
the monster that
hid under the nose of the citizens of Lorrington. Organized crime. 
Kozu immediately knew what had to be done. Monroe had been in the DA's
office for the past 6 years and that had been a blessing to the
ravaged underbelly of
Lorrington. After the police clean ups a decade earlier the
foundations of both the local
mafia and Yakuza were on the verge of collapse. Monroe had taken
office with both
organizations in a very vulnerable position, but he feared the
backlash he would face
from desperate criminals if he struck. He knew how dangerous the
Yakuza and La Casa
Nostra were, even while they were wounded entities. He never tried to
make deals, never
tried to make the scores of underlings driven into police custody name
names, he was a
complacent man, happy with his catch.
But once again the Yakuza found themselves in the crosshairs of
justice. Last
night had been the first step in a long chain of events that would end
in them once again
being the kings of this aging city. The process of a takeover would be
noisy though. It
would drag them out from their safe houses and into the bright white
lights of the city
skyline. It would put them in a position where Evans would have a name
and a face for
his public enemy. Evans would be much more deadly in the courtrooms,
much more
potent. The LAC officers would know that their jobs weren't futile
under his wing,
because once they caught a man he would stay put. Evans was going to
be the epicenter
of an all new Lorrington crime clean up unless something was done
about it
Then, through the sea of doubt, a beacon of opportunity shone bright
as day. This
was the perfect chance to raise his stock without any risk for
himself. He oozed with
excitement as he greedily snatched the phone off the desk and began to

	Ren Yamagishi had quite an interesting character sipping a beer in
his living
room. He had spent a good portion of the night with Devon Lane in his
company, trying
to get a feel for exactly what kind of a person he was. As Ren
considered bits and pieces
of their conversation he had to remind himself not to smile. Devon was
young, arrogant,
and hungry for a big score. He made Ren feel nostalgic for the old
days when he was
trying to claw his way up from the bottom of the ladder. Ren allowed
the pleasant
memories to slip away as his cell phone began to ring. Only one person
would call at this
time of the morning, so Ren didn't even spare a glance towards the
number flashing on
his screen.
	"Hello Kozu" he spoke with a slightly agitated urgency. 
	"Ren we have a problem that you would be quite adept at solving" Kozu
swiftly and deliberately
	"Of course I would be Kozu. What is it this time?" he said with a
hint of
	"A candidate for District Attorney. Eugene Evans. He is gaining
popularity in the
polls and he won't be easy to control. I'm very worried about this
	Ren was sure he hadn't understood correctly "So you.."
	Anger bubbled up in Kozu's voice, he hated repeating himself ". stop
	A confused expression crossed his face. His voice dropped into a
whisper as he
cupped his hands over the phone "I'm not a hit man Kozu. I don't kill
	Kozu must have woken up on the wrong side of the bed, because with
each reply
Ren gave, Kozu's voice grew more malicious "No you aren't you idiot!
Neither am I! I'm
looking to do this with both of our hands clean"
	"How do you propose this?" Ren answered slightly calmer.
	"I believe its time to test your "guinea pig's" mettle" he replied
	"You'd risk our necks by sending a child to do this!" he answered 
	Kozu sighed loudly in frustration "Have you been listening at all!
freelance. this is what freelance is good for. If he succeeds, I er.
we'll take the credit.
If he fucks up so what! He doesn't have any tattoos. nobody will
associate him with
	"You have a point" he replied surrendering
	"Good day then" he said loudly and allowed the receiver to crash
	He returned to the petite living room and approached Devon with a
grave look in
his eyes. He placed his palms over the boy's wrists and stared dead
ahead. He prepared to
speak but then his vocal chords faltered. He was always a smuggler, a
crook, and a deal
maker, which was the way he'd be until the end of time. In society's
eyes he would
always be shunned, but on the inside he believed he was a decent human
being. Decent
human beings did not sent 16 year olds with groundless dreams on
suicide missions. at
least not without a fighting chance. Sure, Devon could probably get
close to and
eliminate Evans, but he'd never survive the security teams and police
manhunts to
follow. To live through those harrowing experiences he would need
something greater.
Ren pressed his hand to his chest, making sure the rectangular silver
box was still safely
tucked away in his breast pocket. He felt its frame and sighed looking
back into Devon's
eyes. The mask of sympathy was removed and the gruff confident facade
took its place.
	"All right Mr. Lane. you want to prove your worth to the Yakuza?" His
screamed to stop this now, to tell the kid to walk away, to get out
while he still could, but
in all seriousness he knew doing the right thing would be effectively
committing suicide.
If Evans didn't die, there was a very good chance that Ren might. 
	"Yes Sir" he replied eagerly, hunger seeping through his eyes
	Ren's heart sank and it showed in his voice.  "Well. then here's your

	People said that Lorrington would never change, and they were
probably right.
The city as a whole would never become more than an afterthought to
those visiting
Australia. Most travelers forsook the resorts and casinos of
Lorrington for the glimmering
lights and spectacular events that occurred only in the gem of the
isle, Pacific City. Most
things wouldn't change, but some would, and some had. 
	If someone was searching for said changes, then they didn't need to
look any
further than Salem's Diner. The building had once been just another
corner luncheon,
constantly robbed and vandalized and never able to get itself off the
ground. After the
gang cleanups Salem's became known more for its chicken salad then its
collection. Few people nowadays remembered Salem's misery-ridden past,
but Reggie
Evans was one of them. He recalled many times when he was only six
years old walking
past the then reclusive shack and tugging on his mother's shirtsleeve
asking to go in and
have a soda. She would always smile and say she knew where there was
better soda, so
he surrendered to his mother's knowledge and walked past.
	As she stepped through the silver framed glass door that marked the
Reggie smiled recalling the old carefree days of first grade. When
Reggie had called his
mother and asked him to meet her that evening she declined because she
had to go to
work. Reggie begged and pleaded trying to impress upon her that this
meeting was of dire
importance, so she grudgingly agreed to show up late to the Green
Dragon. She wore a
plain beige blouse with simple black pants and stiletto heels. She
stepped up and onto the
booth of the 50's style restaurant and smiled. 
	"Why'd you pick this place?" she asked wrinkling her nose
	"Nostalgia" he chuckled at his inside joke
	She threw up her hands as if to disperse the question and gazed back
into his eyes
"Alright kiddo. You got me all the way out here now so what's up?"
	Reggie cracked his neck and tapped the fingers on his left hand
against the
knuckles on his right. He might as well have said that he was nervous.
	"Well ma." he said uneasily. 
She placed a comforting hand on his shoulder as her face took a more
stance. "C'mon Reggie, just tell me what it is"
Reggie breathed in deeply, allowing the odor of French fries and
pickles to invade
his nasal cavities and then spoke "I just wanted to apologize for the
way I am Mom"
"Reggie." she started to try to intercept him but he ignored her
"No, listen. Some really strange things have been happening to me
lately, things
I'm not sure I could explain. Hell, I don't know if anybody could.
None of it makes
sense, but that's now what I need to talk to you about."
A momentary pause came and went, allowing Ariana to steel herself for
was coming next.
	Reggie Evans eyes drifted away from the quiet booth as he spoke again
"I know
the things I do aren't right. and I know they cause a lot of problems
between you
two.. And I know he regrets me being around"
	Ariana reeled back, creating some space as she tried to start an
outburst "Reggie!
Your father loves you"
	Reggie half chuckled and half choked as he went along "Mom, please
don't lie to
me, he said our family was a failure, you think just because I go
upstairs means I don't
hear anything?" He froze again for a moment as a tear welled up and
then dissipated as
he continued "Thing is Mom. I almost died last night." Ariana's head
jerked back as her
eyes leapt open in visible shock. Reggie moved along as if she hadn't
	"I almost died and I realized that I would have left and not thanked
you for the
way you are. You see ma, throughout all the years, all the shit I put
everyone through,
you never gave up hope. Not once. Hell or high water you refused to
just let me destroy
myself. For that I can't thank you enough. For that and for more Mom,
I love you."
	Ariana's face was paralyzed in a medium between shock and love. She
for a moment, unsure of what to do. Teary-eyed she clasped her hand
around his and
smiled "I love you too Reggie" 
	A Chinese man in a black apron appeared beside the booth, placing
down two
large glasses with white straws bent at their mouths
	"What's this?" Ariana chuckled while trying to regain her composure.
	"Sodas" he smiled "You know I've never had one here?"

	The air was cold, the moon was full, the street was pitch black and
Devon Lane
was once again walking with a purpose. If not for the change in the
calendar he could
have sworn that he was reliving the previous night. 

	No not the same. he reminded himself over and over again . when I
pull this off
everything will be different

	He padded himself down as he turned the corner onto Mclean Avenue. He
ran his
hands along his newly obtained leather jacket, feeling no obscene
bulges as he moved
swiftly amongst the shadows. As his fingers traced their path
southwards to the waistband
of his faded jeans he felt two bumps in the correct places. On the
left side he found the
framework of a tan holster for the black berretta pistol given to him
by Ren. On the right
he found the second gift from the Yakuza, a rectangular silver box
that contained
Devon's safety net. Ren's voice echoed in his cortex as he drew ever
closer to the Evans'

	"Listen kid. if you get in any kind of trouble I want you to inject
yourself with
this stuff. It should give you a little.let's say boost of energy.
enough to get you out of
whatever shit you find yourself in anyway."

	With those words Ren had opened the box and displayed a plain looking
syringe embedded in the protective cushioning of the box. The syringe
itself contained an
orange liquid that must have been some form of steroid. Devon smiled
as he returned his
hands to their rightful place in his pockets. Sure it was nice to have
the wonder drug as a
plan b, but he doubted he would need it to take out that old bastard
Evans. As Devon
crossed another busy intersection he reminded himself that Eugene
deserved what was
coming to him. He recalled the times that he had seen Reggie, his best
friend, emotionally
drained from the endless fighting in their house. Images of the
beautiful Ariana Evans,
face covered in makeup that had run from her crying eyes after another
shouting match
with her husband. He let the memories play like a mid-afternoon soap
opera through his
head. He needed to do it to drown out any hesitations or reservations
he had when it came
time to pull the trigger. He wouldn't hold back, he'd fire, end the
punk's miserable
existence, and then walk away like nothing happened. That was the plan
anyway. The
reality was just seconds away as Devon's eyes caught sight of the
familiar two level
Tudor. The lights were off signifying that nobody was present. This
late at night Reggie
was probably out somewhere, and Ariana was almost definitely working.
That meant that
only Eugene Evans would be coming home tonight, and him and Devon
could play
undisturbed. The young assassin scurried out of sight and into a
thicket of bushes
propped up in front of the fence that divided the Evans territory from
their neighbors.
Simultaneously a black Lexus' headlight shone on the boring white
garage door of the
Evans' home. It pulled up into the driveway, allowing a moment for the
motor to silence
itself. Then, out of the driver side door came the object or Devon's
malice, Eugene
	He watched as the proud lawyer strode arrogantly along the winding
concrete path
to his door. The bugger must have had a good day. That was about to
change. As Eugene
placed a key in the door Devon slipped out from his foxhole and spoke 
	"Well well, if it isn't my favorite dad in the whole wide world!"
	Eugene spun around at the sound of the familiar voice, a look of
disdain on his
face. "What do you want Devon?" he muttered. Devon scowled inwardly at
the high
pedestal the man placed himself on. He imagined that the thought of
conversing with
Devon made Eugene's stomach crawl.
	"Oh you know, just too catch up with my old pal Reg. Is he here?"
Devon asked,
fighting to keep a smile at bay
	Eugene turned away from Devon and returned to the task of opening his
door. With his face to the oak entranceway he muttered to Devon "One
he isn't home.
Two I don't want you talking to my son again because I don't want him
to become scum
like yourself. Three why don't you go scurry on back to whatever
gutter you crawled out
of this morning, I have things to do"
	Devon moved his hand to his left side and defiantly said "No"
	The door clicked and swung open but Eugene turned around once more.
This time
he wore an expression that told you to back off, but that changed
rather quickly at the site
of pistol barrel being shoved in his face.
	"Think I'll stay a while" Devon said with a confident smile. Eugene
backed up
slowly and into the foyer of his own home. Devon raised the gun up and
slammed down
the butt on the would-be politician's forehead. Eugene crumbled to the
ground as metal
and soft tissue collided. Devon strode purposefully into the house,
searching for
something to restrain his new playmate with. He froze as his eyes
wandered across a law
degree. They ventured further westward to find a variety of pictures
of his victim. An
idea was born in his corrupt mind.
	"Whadda ya say Gene? Up for a bonfire?" he asked coldly, bending down
to stare
at his prey. "Cause I'm not just gonna kill you buddy boy. I'm going
to destroy
everything you ever were"
10 minutes later.
	Reggie Evans stalked Maclean Avenue with an unsettling feeling in his
His emotions were a combination of excitement and dread. He had
completed half of his
fear-induced reconciliations having met his mother earlier in the day,
but now came the
difficult part. Reggie and Eugene had a long convoluted history of
incidents, and closing
those wounds was going to require major surgery. The prospect of
finally being at peace
with his father was very promising, but the execution of the desire
was the source of
Reggie's nervousness. Half of him hoped that Eugene would not be
present when Reggie
arrived home, but the sight of a black Lexus parked quietly in the
driveway squelched
those dreams.
	Reggie solemnly opened the door prepared to face the music, but
unprepared for
the scene that was unfolding in front of him. On the floor lay his
father, bound and
gagged and bleeding from a wound in the center of his forehead. A look
of complete
hatred enshrouded his face, his eyes burning a hole in the figure
calmly sitting in the
expensive recliner in the living room. An acrid scent caught Reggie's
attention and lured
him into the living room where he found a small fire, its roots dug in
a metal trashcan,
with black smoke billowing out of it. Beside the garbage can was a man
throwing documents into the fire, whistling an unfamiliar tune. Reggie
raced up to the
chair and spun it around. Reggie backed up, eyes wide with horror at
the revelation.
Devon Lane, his best friend in the world, was sitting their arms
folded and legs crossed as
if he were an aristocrat. He rose silently, the barrel of a
brownish-black Beretta trained on
Reggie's collarbone.
	"D.Devon?" he stammered as he shuffled backwards, the surprise still
in his voice "What the.. What the hell is going on here?"
Devon's face displayed minor disdain camouflaged behind blatant
"You really picked the wrong night to come home early man" he replied
Reggie took another step back, the wooden floor creaking under his
Devon advanced in slow motion, raising the gun to the same level as
Reggie's neck.
"Why don't you just get out of here man?  I'll explain this when it's
all over."
Reggie slowed his retreat and shot Devon a frustrated look. He cocked
his head at
a slight angle. "No, I think I'd like it explained now. First off."
Reggie pointed over his
shoulder into the preceding room ". explain the bound and gagged man
bleeding out
slowly on the carpet" Devon sighed "Let me give you the abridged
version. Our friends
the Yakuza want chuckles over there dead. They asked me to do it. they
will reward me
very nicely if I do it." A smile spread across his face "Oh and I
wasn't gonna let him
bleed out." he said twirling the Beretta ". I was about to shoot 'em"
Reggie was not amused. He placed a hand out towards Devon's shoulder
but he
jerked back and trained the weapon on Reggie with both hands this
time. His shoulders
bent and legs split in a traditional firing stance.. This time the gun
wasn't just an
accessory, this time he was ready to kill. "Leave Reggie, let me make
both of our lives
"Better how? I lose my father and you go to prison for life?"  
Devon scoffed "Lose your father? You mean the man who makes your life 
miserable day in and day out? The man who makes your mother cry
herself to sleep every
night? That piece of shit is not a father."
Reggie stood his ground firmly, anger beginning to bubble up from his
innards "I
never said he was a good father, but at the end of the day he is my
father. That means
however fucked up he makes things they're my problems. That means if
you don't put
that gun down in 2 seconds Devon. then you become my problem."
Devon flicked his thumb rapidly to deactivate the safety mechanism.
This game
was for keeps now, and both players knew it. Miniature dots of sweat
began to seep out
of the pores on Devon's forehead. Reggie saw the same look in Devon's
eyes as he had
seen in the Bodega a few nights ago. He was a cornered animal, waiting
to lash out
whatever came near it.
"Reggie. move. please. don't make me have to pull this trigger"
Reggie knew that Devon was bluffing now, no matter how greed-driven,
matter how afraid, no matter how possessed by whatever had driven him
to this point
already, he would never fire that gun at Reggie. 
"Put it down Devon, put it down and we can fix this." Another step
closer and the
gun would be in striking distance. Reggie had broken Devon down by the
books, now he
only needed one more inch. Then Devon changed the rules, swinging his
right arm out in
a wide arching motion that resembled a punch. Reggie raised his own
forearm to absorb
the blow. Reggie looked left and caught his fatal mistake as Devon's
size 11 boot caught
him in the ribcage. Reggie clutched at his side but forced himself up
in time to see Devon
storming off for the foyer. Reggie threw out his left hand, wrapping
his fingers around
Devon's left ankle. The teenager toppled to the ground but flipped
over on to his back
quickly. Simultaneously Reggie Evans leaped up and pounced on Devon's
chest. Devon
wasn't trying to force him off, rather scrambling for something with
his arms. What the
hell was he doing?
Devon pushed Reggie onto his back as he produced the black Beretta. He
down the would-be hero and forced the barrel to his chest. He clasped
both of his sweaty
hands around the trigger and looked away as he prepared to squeeze.
The round fired off
clean and Reggie Evans prepared to die for the second time in
twenty-four hours. An
unsettling pain formed in his sternum, but it was not as harsh as he
expected. Even
stranger, he didn't feel any blood pouring out of the wound. He opened
his eyes to see
Devon Lane across the room pointing at Reggie's chest with his mouth
gaping open in
shock His friend looked quasi-nauseas as he stared at what should have
been a dead man.
Reggie allowed his eyes to travel southwards as well and the same
expression appeared
on his face. The bullet was not burrowed into Reggie's body where it
should have been.
Rather it hovered, frozen in the air by a murky black substance. It
wasn't Kevlar or a
piece of clothing. It looked more ambient, more intangible, more like.
"A Shadow." 
Devon lane threw his gun to the floor and ran his hand over his
forehead. "You
too.. Your one of those freaks!"
"Devon please" Reggie said with a hint of humility in his voice.
"No. not again. I'm not getting beat that way again" he screamed and
ran off
into the back rooms of the house. Reggie gave chase. His legs moved
although he wasn't
quite sure show because his mind was drowning in a sea of confusion.
Were those the
powers the priest was talking about. and had Devon really tried to
kill him? Reggie
halted his sprint in the dining room in the back of the house. He
found the room in
pristine condition, the fireplace glowing warmly. The heating device
made its usual
crackling and creaking noises. creaking?
Reggie spun around and dropped too the floor immediately, narrowly
missing a
broken ribcage. Devon Lane swung through with the steel fire poker. As
his movement
slowed the oblong metal staff crashed through a green vase, shattering
it into a thousand
Reggie backed up as far away from Devon as he could until his back hit
the wall
separating them from the foyer. Shit, I need a weapon. As if on
command, darkness itself
rose up from the tile floor. The shifting shadows manifested
themselves into a long object
resembling a bow staff. What the.
Reggie would have to answer that later. Devon Lane was wasting little
time as he
raced forwards again. He raised the fire poker over his head and swung
down in a wide
arc. Reggie raised the staff given to him from nothing and hoped it
was as effective as
whatever had stopped the bullet. The two objects met and a resounding
ping noise
confirmed Reggie's hopes. Devon backed off a step, most likely
confused as to the string
of good fortune that his adversary was receiving. Devon snarled in
disgust and stabbed
with his weapon this time. Reggie sidestepped as the metallic device
pierced the wall,
sending plaster and paint chips flying out in every direction. Devon
pulled his weapon
out and pulled it into a defensive position. Reggie pressed the two
staffs together forming
a cross. He began to force Devon off balance, delivering two rapid
kicks to his left shin.
Devon fell backwards and rolled up again. Reggie played matador as
Devon barreled
forwards again, this time delivering a half spin kick at the base of
Devon's spine.
Devon crashed too the floor again. He pressed his hands to the cold
tiles to force
himself up, but then decided against it. He moved his hand with
something resembling
excitement down the right side of his pants leg. Reggie watched with
wonder as Devon
produced a small metal case, similar to a jewelry box. He tore it open
and threw the silver
shell aside, holding up a medical syringe. The color of the liquid was
indiscernible from
the lack of light in the room, but Devon looked at it with sheer
reverence. He plunged the
point of the needle into his upper bicep and screamed in pain at the
initial shock. In a few
seconds he regained his composure, gritting his teeth and standing
tall. He looked more
determined, more energized, and more importantly, ready for another
"The kid gloves are off Reggie. you've got your little secret," he
said with a
sinister smile, throwing the syringe over Reggie's shoulder. The metal
point buzzed by
his neck and stabbed into the far wall ". and I've got mine"
With those words Devon Lane rushed at Reggie Evans with speed that he
did not
possess. His shoulder hit into Reggie's abdomen with a force that was
not its own. As
Reggie hit the floor he felt it moan from pressure that had not been
previously forced
upon it. Reggie did not know what the new substance that Devon Lane
had just forced
through his body was, but whatever it was, it was helping him
dramatically. Reggie got
up and ate a left hook. His teeth rattled and before he could recover
a right hook knocked
his other cheek for a loop. He caught his balance refusing to fall and
be finished off this
quickly. Devon charged again but Reggie ripped a picture frame down
from the wall and
smashed it over his enemy's head. Devon howled in anguish as glass
shards bit into his
flesh. Reggie took the opportunity given and grabbed Devon's arms,
pinning them at his
sides, and drove the point of his knee straight into Devon's left
quadriceps. The
paralyzing maneuver caused the already bleeding Lane to hobble
backwards. Reggie
raced forwards and delivered a severely painful uppercut to Devon's
jaw, knocking
Devon on his back once more.
"How many times do I have to knock you down man? Just cave" exhaustion
swirled around his words. Devon Lane only twitched and jerked his
muscles slightly
where he lay, and Reggie assumed that he had taken the fight out of
him. He approached
his friend and checked his head for any pieces of glass embedded in
his skin. Devon
rolled over slowly and looked into his friend's tired eyes. "R..Reg?"
he asked as if he was
surprised to see him. "What is it man?" Reggie retorted angrily. "Can
you do me a
favor?" he asked with innocence. Reggie looked puzzled and stopped his
haphazard first-
aid attempts and looked in his companion's eyes. "What?"
With lightning quickness Devon Lane's left arm sprung up and wrapped
Reggie's throat, forcing him to the ground "Die!" he hissed. Reggie's
vision was going
hazy quickly as he spasmed and sputtered for air. He flailed every
muscle trying to force
Devon over, but whatever he had injected himself with was making that
impossible. His
eyes flew in every direction, looking for anything to assist his
muscles. The wild look had
returned to Devon's eyes as he glared at his former friend "You
couldn't just let me help
you. huh buddy? You couldn't just let me get rid of all your little
problems? You were
always so fucking arrogant you know that? Always thought you had it
all under control.
but you never did! You always let him push you around, push your
mother around, push
me around! Well fuck him and Fuck you! This is the end of the line
man. nobody is
ever gonna push down Devon Lane again!"
Reggie couldn't even make out half of Devon's speech; he was too busy
trying to
concentrate on a murky object to his left. He knew what it was, but he
didn't know if he
could reach it. He had to try though; for the sake of anybody he cared
about he had to try.
He focused all his energy into his left arm, giving up the struggled
against Devon. As the
life drained out of him, his fingers began to feel a smooth object.
The material was
unfamiliar but the safety brought with it was. He clasped his hand
around the shadow
staff and flexed his wrist once. As his vision turned from gray to
black he swung with all
his might. He felt the item smash into something solid, and he felt
Devon's weight shift
backwards. Devon's hand unclasped from his throat and sweet oxygen
filled Reggie
Evan's lungs once more. He gasped in the air gulps at a time as his
sight returned to him.
He looked at the shadow staff and saw its tip covered in blood. Across
the room, Devon
Lane was pulling himself to his feet, blood leaking from his misshapen
nose. No doubt it
was broken. Reggie's body ached all over but he trudged forwards. He
wasn't even sure
if Devon knew he was coming, the boy was too busy howling and
screeching at the pain
of shattered bones floating within his epidermis. Their eyes met.
Devon's were filled with
hate and sadness; Reggie's were filled with sorrow and pity for his
former best friend.
"I'm sorry" Devon said with a slight hint of sincerity
"Me too" Reggie responded coldly and delivered a front kick to Devon's
With one final burst of energy he raised the black staff over his
head, bringing it down
hard on Devon's spine. Devon collapsed mentally and physically
drained, and Reggie
wearily made his way to a chair. Reggie buried his head into his hands
allowing the sweat
and blood to drip off of his brow. He cast his tired gaze over Devon's
prone body. He
knew he had to call the police, but he also knew he wouldn't be able
too. Reggie owed
Devon a lot for the past 3 years, namely keeping him alive on the
streets. No matter how
great a sin he had committed, Reggie and Devon had been kindred
spirits at one time. If
for nothing else but the memory of a great friendship, he could not
turn in Devon Lane. A
heavy heart and a bruised ribcage slowed his steps, but Reggie Evans
crept towards the
backdoor of his house and pulled it open, allowing the late evening
moon to burst through
onto the otherwise dark scenery. Devon moaned like a child being woken
up for school.
His momentarily lapse in consciousness was disturbed by Reggie, who
was pointing at
the open doorframe
"Go" he said coldly
Devon struggled to his feet. When he was back on two legs he looked at
gateway to freedom and then at his battered and bruised friend. "Why?"
he asked
"You don't get an explanation.. You don't deserve one. just go"
Devon didn't bother continuing the banter because it was going
nowhere. He
dragged his carcass out the door without a sound.
Reggie returned to the foyer to see his father glaring into him, eyes
burning like
hellfire. He methodically untied Eugene's bonds, and after two minutes
the lawyer was
on his feet. He wobbled as he stood, probably a combination of blind
rage and blood loss.
He released a string of inaudible curses as he found a wall to lean
against, and
then placed his steely gaze back upon his son.
"Why?" he asked angrily, desperately trying to hold back from
Reggie had no idea what his father was talking about. "Why? Not a
thank you for
saving your life, just why? Why what?"
"Save my life? I heard you talking. You let him go! You didn't save my
postponed my execution! He'll come back by Friday!"
Something in the back of Reggie's mind told him to snap on his father,
to go find
Devon and let him finish the job. Reggie closed his eyes and exhaled,
letting the thoughts
drift off. He walked towards the door, completely ignoring the raving
lunatic beside him.
"No he won't come back." he said opening the door ". and neither will
I". Reggie
Evans stepped out into the frozen tundra of late night Lorrington and
walked off into the
shadows, feeling more alone than he ever had before

Father John McKinley knelt before the altar in St. Agnes Church. The
old man
bowed his head with a rosary intertwined around his fingers. He began
to speak ancient
words that some man had written down nearly 2000 years ago. Words he
believed were
given to him by a teacher. As he finished what he assumed was a prayer
he looked up to
the crucifix that hung above him and cried out "I have done as you
asked Lord, please
watch over your chosen one." The clergyman's joyous outburst caused
the ethereal being
to arrogantly chuckle at his lowly misguided servant on earth. The
poor old fool believed
that he had given his world a tool to fight off a great evil. when in
truth he would only
drive it closer to the flame.

Reggie Evans was accustomed to spending his nights in a heated room
complete silence and a warm blanket to lull him to sleep. Tonight his
only sleeping aids
were his own hands wrapped tightly around him, and the shadow of a
highway overpass.
He shivered violently, now more than ever understanding the plight of
those who had to
endure this each night. He knew he wasn't going to sleep tonight; he
had too many things
on his mind. There were so many questions in his mind that he couldn't
answer. But he
knew someone who could.

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