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Chapter 3: He’s the Hairy Handed Gent Jack Russell groaned as his eyes attempted to focus in the darkened room. He tried to move his arms only to find that both of his wrists were manacled and metal chains extended to the stone wall behind him. A leather collar was around his neck and handcuffs were strapped to his ankles, all with chains clinking against each other. Squinting, Jack could make out a female figure in front of him, fixing him with a cold stare. “You’re finally awake. Good. Now we can proceed.” Jack tried to pull away but the chains wouldn’t give. “Who are you?!” he yelled. “Where am I?!” The woman stepped closer to Jack. He could make out the two ponytails in her hair. “This is the Tower of Shadows,” she intoned in her best attempt at a Dracula accent. “This is where you shall remain, until you die. And, perhaps, even beyond Death itself!” Jack looked back in terror, then the woman burst out laughing. “I’m sorry,” she chuckled. “I’ve always wanted to say that!” She gave a sultry smile as she walked further into the stone room. “But come to think of it, this does remind me of a video I saw once. A sexy woman? A semi-attractive man tied to a wall? Then the guy says…” “Just keep the hell away from me!” Jack shouted. The woman snapped her fingers. “Yes! Just like that. But unfortunately for you, furball, I’m not here to play.” She walked back to the oak door entrance to the room and picked up a plastic tray. “Meatloaf? Potatoes? Digger wanted to give you hot dogs, but we all agreed that would be too on the nose.” She set the tray on the ground, then moved to unlock the bonds on Jack’s wrists and ankles. She gave the tray a shove with her foot . “Go ahead, eat. Though just to give a heads up, Tick Tock isn’t exactly a master chef. You’d think a guy who can see the future would be able to see how his food turns out.” Jack stared at the tray in disbelief. “Just who are the hell are you people? You shoot at me! You hit me with a shovel! Then you…” He looked at the tatters of what was his shirt and jeans. “Oh God. What did you make me do?!” “Calm down, wolf boy. We have nothing to do with those guys who were chasing you. The only reason we know about little Miss Madball is because Tick Tock snuck a peek into your future to see where the meeting would take place.” Jack pulled as far as the collar would let him, stopping a few feet short of the woman. “So what do you want from me? A thank you for chaining me in a dungeon instead of being strapped to an autopsy table somewhere?” The woman rolled her eyes. “Right now, I’d settle for you eating this stupid food. Go ahead. I made sure they didn’t slip any silver in there.” Jack slowly crouched next to the tray, and picked up some meatloaf with his hands. He slowly put it in his mouth and ate it. “See?” the woman smirked. “Now be a good boy, and mommy will give you ice cream for dessert. Oh. I’m Moth, by the way. Welcome to the team.” Hannibal King stared at the figure in the black cloak. He reached for his holster but his gun was gone. “Forgive the intrusion, detective,” the man’s voice boomed. “You’re property will be returned to you after we have finished.” King scrambled to his feet and charged toward the man, only for a woman to seemingly appear out of nowhere and flip him on to his back. The woman held King’s gun and phone in her hands, and put her foot across his throat. “Where did you come from?” King gasped. “Oh, she was always here, detective,” the man said. “Her dance simply blurred your mind to prevent you from seeing her. Let him up, Dansen.” Dansen removed her foot and King massaged his neck as he turned to face the man. “Alright, alright. We’ll talk. First let’s talk about who you are!” “I am Shroud,” the shadowy figure said. “I wish to engage your services.” King finally made it to his feet, not breaking eye contact with Shroud. “My services, huh? Funny, cuz I never thought my services would interest a mob boss. That is you, right? The guy who’s been taking out some of the major players in the LA underworld? Were those freaks I saw at Tombstone’s with you?” “You are partially correct, detective. I am merely a man who believes the same things you do: that this city is on the brink of falling into chaos at the hands of cruel, violent men. These are men who do not fear the law, or those who enforce it. But they do fear me. And I shall bring them to heel.” King turned to look at Dansen, who continued to glare at him. “Sure. And running all of their rackets shouldn’t hurt your bank account either. Look, if you know anything about me, you should know I’m not some dirty cop. I lost my job with LAPD because I wouldn’t look the other way. Why should I work for you?” The darkness billowed from Shroud’s cape, surrounding King and making Dansen and Shroud seem to vanish. “Because I can give you what you want, detective,” said Shroud from the blackness. “Assist me, and I give you my solemn vow that Tombstone will be brought down. I will require your connections with LAPD to acquire some information for me.” The darkness gave way to reveal a square spot on the roof, where King’s gun and phone sat. But another cellphone sat between them. “This cellphone belongs to a young man named Jack Russell. He is another individual I desire to join my organization. However, he is being pursued by another player in the game. A group that his well-organized, and well-equipped.” “So what do you want from me?” King shouted into the darkness. “Why don’t you just send your playmates after these guys?” “I will not send my team into an unknown situation, detective. If this group is looking to acquire their own super powered forces, they pose a risk to everyone in this city.” “The way I see it,” interrupted King. “Your whole crew is a risk to this city. Why don’t we just give a call to the Avengers and let them handle it?” King could of sworn he heard a faint chuckle coming from the shadows. “The Avengers. They are far too busy fighting cosmic threats and world conquerors to deal with this. They are the shining heroes. Figures who gladly stand before the public in the light of day, giving them something to look up to.” King felt the hairs on his neck stand up, as if someone was moving behind him. “Then… who are you people?” Shroud’s voice whispered in his ear. “Consider us… the Night Shift.” King spun around and threw a punch but hit nothing, only to feel a kick take out his left knee and punch to his face send him to the ground. “Your initiative is admirable, detective,” Shroud said. “But at the moment you just need to make a choice. You can either choose to fight me and lose. Or you can work with me, and together we can make certain that Tombstone never harms another person again. Do we have an agreement?” King rose to his knees then looked around the darkened rooftop. “Yes. But when you take down Tombstone, I want to be there to see it. Now. What do you want me to do with this Russell guy’s phone?” The darkness started to disappear as Shroud’s voice echoed. “Jack Russell was in contact with a woman named Alex Bell. It is most likely an alias. Check the LAPD’s database for who it belongs to. You will make a report of your findings on this roof to me. You have three days.” The darkness had completely cleared, leaving King alone on the rooftop with his gun and two cellphones in front of him. He picked up his and searched the files. As he had guessed, the pictures of Shroud’s people that he had taken had been erased. Grumbling, King holstered his gun, and picked up Russell’s phone. Terri wasn’t going to like this. He made his way to the fire escape as the full moon shown down on the roof. Jack was almost finished with the meatloaf as Moth sat on the ground in front of him with her legs crossed. Jack took another bite and looked up at her. “Do you have anything else you could be doing?” “No, not really,” she replied. Jack grabbed a handful of mashed potatoes and scarfed it down. “So. Could you at least tell me where I am?” “Well, I was honest about one thing. This place is called the Tower of Shadows. You probably never heard of the show, haven’t you?” Jack shook his head, and Moth shrugged. “Not surprising. Some old monster movie show from the 70s. Digger used to work on it as a stagehand.” Jack wiped his mouth with the back of his hand. “Digger. That wouldn’t happen to be the guy with the shovel?” Moth smiled. “Well, well. Abs and brains. Yeah, that’s Digger. Shroud found him here in the Tower. He made it his home, after he killed the cast and crew.” Jack spit out some meatloaf in shock. “Ugh. I’m sorry, what?” Moth leaned in closer and lowered her voice. “That’s right. He killed them all. According to Digger, they all treated him like crap. He was just some horror movie geek that worked for them. Then, one night, the host of the show, Mr. Gravely, invited him to come here to audition for a part in the show. When Digger got here, Gravely seemed to have lost his mind, killing two of the actresses. But it turned to be a trick by Gravely and the rest to humiliate him. Digger says everything went black, and when he came to, he was surrounded by all of their dead bodies and holding a bloody shovel.” Jack gulped nervously, as Moth’s expression grew more excited. “He buried the bodies in the backyard, then hung himself by the chandelier in the living room. That’s where he died. And after the rope finally broke, the shock of the fall woke him up.” Jack started to twitch slightly. “You mean, he really is a zombie?” Moth picked up the tray. “As sure as you’re a real werewolf.” Jack shuddered and shook his head, wrapping his arms around himself. Moth’s face suddenly turned pale. “Jack? Are you alright?” Jack pounded the ground with his fists, which were already starting to be covered with fur. “Moth!” he groaned. “The chains! Quickly!” Moth dropped the tray and grabbed Jack’s right wrist. She quickly locked the manacle in place, but before she could move to the left, Jack grabbed her by the throat. “I can feel it!” Jack snarled. “It’s coming! It’s coming for you!” “Misfit! Digger!” Moth screamed. “Get in here!” The two giants swung open the door and grabbed ahold of Jack’s arms, causing Moth to fall to the floor. “Take it easy, Russell!” Digger grunted. “Or not!” growled Misfit. With a roar Jack yanked the chain out of the wall. Misfit tumbled on top of Digger and Jack leapt through the door and into the creaking hallway, becoming more wolf-like as he went. “Get off of me, freakshow!” Digger shouted, shoving Misfit to one side. Misfit pushed back with a dangerous gleam in his eye. “Why don’t try pushing me again, pus brain!” “Oh will both of you shut up and stop him!” Moth yelled, reforming her wings and flying through the door. By the time they made it down the ornate staircase the werewolf had already sent Tatterdemalion and Needle crashing into some suits of armor. Hangman sent his rope around his waist but the werewolf slashed him with his claws and sent him flying into the study. Tick Tock was hiding behind the sofa, staring wide eyed at the scene. Then the door of the Tower of Shadows swung open and darkness entered the room. Shroud and Dansen had returned. Dansen raised her hands in preparation only for the werewolf to leap on her and bring her to the ground. Shroud sent a current of darkness around the head of the werewolf, and began to rain down blow after blow. The werewolf howled as it finally grabbed hold of Shroud’s robes. Giving a tug, the werewolf raised it’s other paw to come crashing down on his face. But Shroud blocked the blow, gritting his teeth as he gazed at the werewolf with sightless eyes. “You are a guest in our home, Mr. Russell. And it is time you learn some manners.” OK: Shroud (Generation of darkness, Daredevil level extrasensory perception, expert martial artist and acrobat) (Full strength) vs Werewolf by Night (Full strength) If Shroud can immobilize Werewolf and get him back in his cell, he wins. Game On!