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  1. Chapter 8: You Always Keep Me Guessin’ Max delivered a kick to Jerome’s groin. He crumpled over in pain as Max kipped up to his feet. Jerome shook his head to gather his senses then snarled at Max. Max tried to land another kick but it was caught by Jerome who tossed him aside against the stone wall. Dansen leapt on his back and her arms around his neck in a choke hold. He waved his arms until he grabbed fistful of her hair and flipped Dansen off him. “Stay out of this, babe!” he snapped, moving towards Max. “This is between and your knight in shining armor over here!” Max yanked a tapestry off the wall, and hurled it, covering Jerome. Jerome tore through the fabric just in time for Max to deliver a punch to his face. The big man fell to the ground, and in an instant Max was on top of him, fist raised to strike again. “Brothers! Hold!” Everyone turned to the doorway. Standing there was a statuesque woman draped in black silk robes. Her skin was white with albinism, and her black hair was tied into a single ponytail that reached down below her waist. She was flanked on either side by two women in purple and red robes. Dansen scrambled to her feet and bowed her head. “Sister Nekra. I apologize for this disturbance.” Nekra strode into the room, giving a disapproving look to Dansen. “Are you the cause of this, Sister Dansen?” Jerome pushed Max off him and rushed to Nekra. “I was just trying to get a fighting lesson, sister. But then Brother Max jumped in attacked me!” “That’s a lie!” shouted Max. “Calm yourselves, brothers,” Nekra soothed. “We are all children of Kali. Kali does not wish us to fight amongst ourselves.” “But Jerome is lying!” Max argued. “Dansen didn’t want to be with him!” Nekra looked back to Dansen. “Well, Sister Dansen?” Dansen kept her head bowed and took a deep breath. “I made a mistake, Sister Nekra. I behaved inappropriately.” Max was taken aback as Jerome leered at him. Nekra closed her eyes, and the other sisters drew close behind her. She opened her eyes and smiled at Jerome. “Brother Jerome, I have good news for you.” Jerome looked confused. “Um, you do? What kind of good news?” “The best kind, brother. Kali has spoken to me. You have been chosen to receive her blessing.” The sisters behind Nekra raised their hands above them. “All praise Kali! All praise Kali!” “You’ve got to be kidding!” The three women stared unblinking at Max. “Why would Kali give him a blessing after what he’s…” “Brother Max,” Dansen said with a strained voice. “Do not question the will of Kali. We must obey her commands in all things.” Nekra nodded to the other sisters. “Well spoken, Sister Dansen. Sister Ushas? Sister Shaya? Escort Brother Jerome to the chamber to receive his blessing.” Jerome looked very pleased as the two attractive woman took him by both arms and walked with him out of the room. He looked behind him at the fuming Max and chuckled as disappeared into the hall. Nekra bowed to Dansen and Max. “Please remember your words, Sister Dansen. And you remember them as you, Brother Max. Kali’s blessings upon you.” After Nekra had left the room, Max whirled to face Dansen. “What was that about? Why didn’t you tell them the truth?” Dansen picked her robes off the floor and started to put them on. “I cannot speak against someone who Kali has chosen. That is not the way of the temple.” “Well, maybe Kali has made a mistake! Or maybe Sister Nekra did.” Dansen turned toward Max indignantly. “Sister Nekra is the voice of Kali! She guides us in her teachings! She will lead us on the glorious day of Kali’s return!” Max shook his head in disbelief. “I don’t know about that. I only came here because I wanted to learn how to fight.” Dansen scoffed. “Of course! You don’t truly believe in Kali! You’re no better than Brother Jerome! He’s only interested in finding women, and you’re only interested in training. Why? So you could make up for not being able to save your parents?!” Dansen stopped short, seeing the hurt expression on Max’s face. She looked away from him. “I think you should leave, Brother Max. And do not approach me again.” Max took a step forward, then turned and walked out, leaving Dansen standing by herself in an empty room. “Hannibal? Earth to Hannibal?” Hannibal King looked across the table at Terri. They were sitting in a French restaurant that Terri had been telling him about. He never could pronounce the name, but it was French so it probably sounded less interesting in English. All around the dining room were guests being ushered to their seats and engaging in quiet conversation. “Huh? Yeah?” he asked. Terri rolled her eyes. “Typical. The one night we have off, you ask out for dinner, then you just sit there staring into space.” Hannibal adjusted his tie then moved the salad around his plate with his fork. “I’m sorry, Terri. I’ve just been thinking.” “About Shroud?” Hannibal tapped the plate with his fork then set it down again. Terri sighed. “Look, it’s over. You haven’t heard from those freaks in weeks. Ever since what happened at the Headmen’s lab, no messages, no leads on Tombstone, nothing. They dragged into their world, then they let you go.” “But why? Why would Shroud ask me to help and then just let me and you walk away? Maybe it’s some kind of test; he wants to see if we go to the department and tell them what happened.” Terri gave a small laugh. “Yeah, because I would really want to go to DeWolff and tell her that I was kidnapped by Tombstone and rescued by a bunch of monsters. She would have both our badges and put psych watch for weeks.” There was the sound of shouting coming from the front door, then the maître-de came flying into the dining room and crashing into the table next to Hannibal and Terri’s. Everyone in the dining room looked to the doorway and collectively dropped their jaws. In the doorway, stood a woman in a one piece swimsuit, a blue plaid trench coat, and a pink bowtie. Her face was painted white with whiskers and she had headband with bunny ears. She was accompanied by an extremely large man in a brown bodysuit, who had what looked like tusks sticking out from his mask. The woman twirled her folded umbrella and pointed it at the customers. “Good evening, all! This is a stick up! Allow me to introduce myself! You can call me… The White Rabbit!” Her large companion nudged her with his elbow. “What about me?” White Rabbit rolled her eyes and hissed under her breath. “I’m getting to you! Shut up! You’re ruining the moment! Ahem. And my friend, the greatest force of mass destruction alive: the Walrus! Now, we’re already running late, so if you would be so kind as to hand over any valuables, we will be on our way without causing you much bodily harm.” Terri looked at Hannibal incredulously as other patrons started laughing at the sight of the bizarre pair. “Do you think this is a test too?” Hannibal stared at the would be robbers. “Well, they sure aren’t any member of the Night Shift I saw.” Walrus looked around at the laughing crowd. “They aren’t giving us their money, White Rabbit.” White Rabbit groaned and waved her hand dismissively. “Then show them we mean business, moron!” Walrus nodded and lumbered to an empty table. He picked it up with ease and hurled it at one of the booths, forcing the people eating air to run out of the way before the table crushed them. Terri and Hannibal drew their guns and aimed at Walrus. “Freeze!” shouted Terri. “LAPD! Stay where you are! Get down on your knees now!” White Rabbit yawned. “Blah blah blah. Sorry, but we can’t. You see, we’re not ourselves today. But the best way to explain it… is to shoot it!” She twirled the umbrella and pulled a hidden trigger. Explosive bullets struck Hannibal and Terri’s table, forcing them back. Walrus stomped toward them with fists raised. “Now we got ‘em! Oh yep! We sure do!” “Think again, lardbutt!” Walrus turned behind him to see two men in business suits rising from a table. Another stood up from a booth next to them. “Who are you guys?” Walrus rumbled. “Just some people…” Barton Grimes said. “That want to tell you a story,” continued Percy. “Or just kick your ass,” finished Hangman. Barton and Percy raised their hands to their faces and shouted in unison. “Once Upon a Time!” They transformed into the forms of the Brothers Grimm, summoned their clouds and flew to Terri and Hannibal’s side. Hangman pulled on his hood, and threw his noose like a lasso. White Rabbit sprang through it with a mighty leap and opened fire at him. “You guys again!” Terri shouted. “Shroud wanted to make sure to keep an eye on you,” Percy explained as Walrus trudged toward them. “And that you didn’t do something stupid!” Barton snapped as they all jumped out of the big man’s way. He crashed through their table and went on running through the doors in the kitchen with a clatter. “Leave these two to us!” Percy shouted. “Get the civilians out of here!” Hannibal and Terri nodded, then turned to the frightened guests still hiding at their tables. “All of you!” yelled Terri. “Follow me to the emergency exit! Move!” Terri led the crowd behind her, as the sounds of battle followed them. Hannibal noticed two men sitting at a booth watching the fight calmly. “Hey! You two! This isn’t dinner and a show!” Hannibal called to them. “Move it!” One of the men slid a glove off his hand and rose to his feet. “I assure you, monsieur,” he said. “We are exactly where we need to be.” A waitress ran past the table to get to the exit, and the man grabbed her by the wrist. The girl screamed in agony, twisting her arm to try to free herself from the man’s grip. But her screams grew weaker and weaker, until her legs collapsed out from under her. Finally, the man let go, leaving a lifeless husk on the floor. White Rabbit looked annoyed at the macabre scene. “Hey! Did the Headmen send you guys too?! They said this was our assignment!” The man removed his other glove and nodded to his friend. “Not at all, mademoiselle. We have an assignment of our own. To all of your petty leaders. All praise Kali! Brother Fritz?” The other man cracked his neck and had a demented look in his eyes. “All praizzzzzzze Kali! All praizzzzzzzzzzz!” The man’s skin begin to rise and fall on his face, as if something was moving underneath it. Suddenly, the skin fell away, revealing countless bees swarming around in a human shape. Hannibal stood frozen as he shouted to the Brothers. “You wouldn’t happen to know who these freaks are, do you?” Percy’s terrified voice rang clear through his mask. “No idea.” Barton clapped his hands together and drew a sword from his sleeve. “But it’s going to be fun trying to kill them!” OK: All combatants at full strength. The Night Shift is Brothers Grimm and Hangman. Hannibal is still not a vampire. Game On!
  2. Chapter 7: Who Run the World? Max stood in the courtyard of the temple. He watched as people slowly walked and spoke in hushed tones to each other, some working in a communal garden tending the soil. He could look out through the temple gates and see the peaks of the Himalayas stretching out before him. And he also saw her. The beautiful woman with the silver hair, wrapped in white silks. She strode briskly through the courtyard and went down a stone stair way. Max followed after her, trying his best to keep up. He reached the bottom of the stairway to find the woman had disappeared. Candles lit the way and corridors branched out before him. Max could hear a grunt of exertion coming from the left and turned. A large oak door was open just a crack to allow the sound to escape. He peeked around the door to see the woman, shadow boxing and throwing kicks. She leapt into the air and combat rolled back to crouch. She froze suddenly, then quickly turned her head to the door where Max was. Max jumped back in surprise, grabbing a hold of the door. “Sorry! Sorry, I didn’t mean to disturb you.” The woman rose to her feet, and looked up and down at her visitor. “Brother Max, isn’t it? You are one of the new acolytes. You arrived two weeks ago, correct?” Max nodded. “Yes, Sister Dansen. I’ve been meaning to talk to you,” Dansen raised an eyebrow suspiciously. “How do you know my name?” “I… was asking around. I saw you when the guides brought us here. Some of the other brothers told me.” Dansen turned her back to Max, and started going through kata poses. “And just what need would you have for knowing my name?” Max took a step in the training room. “I don’t know. I figure if I was going to talk to you, it might be nice to know your name first.” Dansen continued her practice, throwing a few thrust kicks towards the wall. “I would prefer you not to listen to other peoples gossip to learn about me, Brother Max.” “Fair. Soooo, how about you tell me about you yourself instead?” Dansen nearly lost her balance. She looked at the smiling Max in disbelief. “You are certainly persistent, Brother Max.” Max shrugged and walked onto the mat. “Hey, it’s a gift. So, why not? Where you from? How’d you join the Family of Kali?” Dansen went back to her kicks. “We are allowed to talk of such things. Nothing exists before we found the embrace of Kali.” “Come on. It’s just you and me. Why not?” Dansen paused for a moment, then continued her kicks. Max looked at her for a moment, then moved to her side. “How about this; how about we do some sparring? You and me. If I can take you to the ground, you have answer a question about your past life. You take me the ground, you can ask me anything about mine.” Dansen rolled her eyes. “Really, Brother Max. That is simply childish. I would never play games like that.” Max gave a knowing smile. “Especially if you thought you were going to lose.” Dansen froze again, and turned to Max. “I assure you, Brother Max. You would never pin me down.” Max took a fighting position, still grinning. “Prove it.” A faint smile flashed on Dansen’s face as she mirrored Max’s stance. “Shroud!” Shroud’s memories were interrupted by the sound of Dansen’s voice. He turned on the cushion he sat cross legged on to face her. “Yes, Dansen? Anything to report?” Danesn walked into the meditation space and stood to Shroud’s right. “Misfit, Digger, and Hangman are making the rounds picking up our cut from the gangs. Needle, Tick Tock and the Brothers are looking for any new leads on the Headmen.” “And what about Moth? Is she on her way?” Dansen gave a sharp exhale. “Yes, her and Russell were driven by Tatterdemalion a half hour ago.” Shroud turned away and closed his sightless eyes. “You don’t approve of my forcing her to go?” “I don’t believe it was necessary. Moth and the others would be more useful in the field then…” “Russell has still been on edge ever since you rescued us from the Headmen. And it would be good for both him and Moth to be out of the Tower for a while. And Tatter can keep an eye on them.” Dansen stared at the meditating Shroud. “Why did you send Tatterdemalion? If Moth was correct, then there shouldn’t be any trouble. Unless you have sensed something more to it?” Shroud took a deep breath and folded his hands together. “Simply a precaution, Dansen. I’m sure they will have a relaxing evening for a change.” “This sucks,” moaned Moth. She and Jack were in the backseat of a limo being driven by Tatterdemalion in chauffeur attire. As for themselves, Jack was dressed a black suit and blue tie, while Moth wore a blue sun dress. The limo passed through ornate gates and followed a winding drive way to the front door of a extravagant mansion. “I don’t believe this is happening,” she went on. “Just relax,” said Jack. “It’s just a party. You’re friend invited you. Nothing to get worked up over.” Moth shot Jack a glare. “You don’t know this girl. Lorina Dodson is barely an acquaintance. I had to put up with her parties all the time when I was with Jason in New York. I don’t know how she found my address here. And I have no clue why Shroud would make me come here!” “Well, if it’s any consolation, you do look very charming, Moth,” Tatterdemalion said smugly. Moth stared daggers at Tatter. “1: it’s no consolation. 2: you can’t say anything without sound like a creep. So 3: shut up.” Tatter shrugged and turned back to the wheel. “You do look great though,” said Jack. Moth opened her mouth to say something, then just sighed. “Let’s just get this over with.” Jack exited the car and held the door open for Moth. “I’ll be listening through the ear buds,” Tatter said. “I’ll enter if there’s any trouble.” “Thanks, mother,” Moth snarked. The limo drove back down the drive way to where similarly expensive looking cars were parked. Jack and Moth walked up the steps to the door. They could hear the bass of loud music drifting from the backyard. Jack rang the doorbell, and Moth adjusted her dress. Then she used her power to cause the hem of the dress to rise until it had morphed into a skirt. She nodded in satisfaction, then glanced up at Jack, who was enthralled by the new outfit. Moth grinned. “Now, I look great.” Jack was about to agree when the door of the mansion swung open. A woman with red hair dressed in a pink crop top and yoga pants stood before them. “Sybby!” she squealed. She gave a bear hug to Moth, who looked toward Jack with a piteous expression. “Hi, Lorina,” she said, desperately trying to sound enthusiastic. “Oh my god! I’m so glad you could make it!” Lorina rambled on. “I thought you had said something about moving out west! When I managed to find the address to the apartment, I just knew I had to invite my bestie!” Lorina released the hug, then gave a suggestive look to Jack. “And who’s your boyfriend?” “I’m… Jack.” “And he’s not my boyfriend!” Moth and Jack shot each other an awkward look. Lorina chuckled. “My, my, my. Curiouser and curiouser. Well, don’t worry, Sybby. I won’t steal your man. That’s what this whole party’s about! Come on in!” Lorina led them through the entryway and down the hall that lead toward the sounds of cheers and music. “Um, Lorina, what do you mean? What is the party about?” asked Moth. “My engagement, silly Sybby! Today I’m going to introduce all my friends to the man of my dreams!” Jack cleared his throat. “Congratulations. Where is he?” “Oh, he’ll be here in a little while. Good thing you two made it in time. You were almost late!” Lorina pushed the glass doors open to reveal the spacious backyard. A DJ stood at his equipment blasting pop music while Lorina’s guests danced, chatted, and swam in the pool. Jack’s eyes widened at the sight of some of the guests wearing rabbit masks. “You’re friend… er… Lorina sure throws an interesting party,” he said, waving aside a server offering a plate of hors d’oeurvres. “Jason dragged me to every one of them,” Moth muttered under her breath. “Lorina always has have some stupid “Alice in Wonderland” gimmick. Bunch of privileged pricks making small talk. It’s a miracle I didn’t became a thief sooner.” “Hey, take it easy,” said Jack. “You were able to save me from a mad scientist. I’m sure you can handle a party full of 1%-ers.” Moth was about to reply, when she was interrupted by a high pitched whine. Lorina had grabbed a microphone from the DJ. “Helloooo, everyone! Is everybody having a good time?” Cheers and applause rang out from the crowd. “Of course you are! Everyone knows my parties are always lit! But this one is going to be the best ever! Because I know you’ve been hearing the rumors, and I’ve thrown this party to tell you all… they’re true! I’m gonna get married!” More cheers and shouts of congratulations followed. “Thank you! Thank you! I just feel like the luckiest girl in the world! And I want to take this moment in time to introduce you to the man of my dreams! Come on out, honey!” The partygoers turned to the house where Lorina was pointing. The backdoor opened and the crowd gasped. Trudging into the backyard was a creature that resembled a 6 foot tall ape. The guests backed away as the creature walked past, it’s knuckles dragging on the floor. It reached the DJ booth, and Lorina wrapped her arms around it. “Isn’t he beautiful? Don’t be too jealous, girls!” Jack turned to Moth as the crowd started murmuring. “You said she was strange, but has she done anything like this?” “Hell no,” Moth replied. “Something’s not right.” “Is this some kinda joke, Lorina?” a male guest shouted. “What’s with the monkey?” Lorina looked insulted as she held the creature to her. “He’s not a monkey! He’s the man of my dreams!” She looked to the rest of the crowd. “Come on, ladies. You understand, don’t you? How could I resist a guy like this?” There was more murmuring and some laughter from the men, when suddenly one of the women who had been swimming in the pool started walking towards the booth. “Yes, Lorina!” she shouted. “He is beautiful! Let me get close to him too!” “Yes, Miss Dodson!” called out one of the servers, tossing her tray to the ground and running toward the booth. “Don’t keep him all to yourself! It isn’t fair!” To the amazement of the men, the other women in the backyard started moving toward the creature and Lorina. Jack stared at the scene in confusion. “Moth, I think we need to get going… Moth?!” He turned to see Moth slowly stepping toward the crowd. Jack grabbed her arm to hold her back. “Moth, what are you doing?” He could see the blank look in Moth’s eyes. She struggled to free herself from his grip. “I need to go him! Don’t you see? He’s so amazing! Let me go to him!” Jack dragged Moth toward the back door. “Moth, we need to go now!” “Hey!” shouted Lorina. “You can’t leave! My party isn’t over yet!” The creature gave a low growl. Lorina tilted her head as if she could understand. “Oh. Alright, dear. Now, ladies, my man says its time for a little party game.” She reached underneath the DJ’s table and pulled out a box. She lifted the lid, reached in and pulled out a knife in each hand. She carefully handed a knife to each of the women as the men shouted in confusion. “Okay, Lori, jokes over!” “Come on, Jackie! Get back here!” “We’re leaving now!” Lorina calmly held the microphone and looked to the now armed women. “Okay, girls. Time to play my fiancé’s game. Kill ‘em all!” The women spun around and giving a scream charged into the men, blades slashing. The men ran and shouted in alarm, but many were cut down and sent falling into the pool or fell bleeding on the walkway. Some managed to make it to the hedge on the edge of the backyard. They clambered up to try to escape. But the first man to reach the top of the edge was sent falling back into Lorina’s backward, with his head detached. Behind the hedge stood a row of Asian men in turbans and robes, and armed with long swords. Jack and Moth had made it inside, Jack still dragging Moth behind him. “Jack! Jack, slow down!” said Moth holding her head. “What are you doing?” “I’m trying to keep you from falling in love with a monkey,” Jack snapped, taking a second to recognize how ridiculous that statement was before continuing toward the door. The door swung open to reveal more men with swords. They filed into the lobby and brandished them towards Jack and Moth. The pair backed up towards a staircase as Jack muttered under his breath. “Tatter, we need you now!” Giving a cry the swordsmen charged toward them. Moth leapt into the air, letting her outfit be molded to form a set of wings for herself. Jack ducked the first swordsman and ducked into a side room. He moved a bookcase in front of the door and put his back to it. “Ok,” he gasped for breath as he heard the sound of someone banging on the door. “Not a full moon, but I could sure use some help here.” He ran to a window and pulled back the curtains. The waxing moon had finally broken through the clouds. Moth flew over the swordsman, causing the sashes that two of them were wearing to tie together and slam them into each other. Tatterdemalion, rushing to put on his scarf, burst into the entryway, and leveled two more swordsmen. “Is this what you young people do at parties like this?” he snarked. “Oh shut up!” Moth yelled, delivering a kick to swordsman’s face. “You need to get to the backyard! There’s some creature in there with Lorina! I think it’s controlling her and the other girls!” “What about Russell?” There was the sound of crashing wood, howling and screaming. “He’s fine!” Moth snapped. “Now move it!” OK: Tatterdemalion, Moth, and Werewolf by Night (Waxing moon so he’s slightly less strong.) Mandrill has control of a dozen women, plus is backed up by 20 Thugee. Game On!
  3. Chapter 6: I Was Working In The Lab… Shroud surveyed the laboratory from inside the tube he was trapped in. Across from him the Werewolf clawed at his own enclosure. To his left, however, was another man strapped to a large, metallic chair. “Please, please!” he begged desperately. “You! You with the face! Please! You’ve got to get me out of here!” Shroud raised a hand to his face, feeling that his mask and hood were gone. The man could clearly see the blank eyes and the scarring that covered the upper half of his face. “Where are we?” he asked, his voice sore. “Where are we?” The man laughed hysterically, then suddenly became panicked again. “This is where they do their experiments. Where they put us to learn how to create more creatures. Like that… thing in the cage!” Shroud could sense the Werewolf’s fury as it slammed against it’s cage. Shroud reached up and touched the wall of his cell, and instantly received an electric shock. He drew back in pain as the door to the laboratory opened and Dr. Wyndham and Dr. Ohn walked in. “So, how are our new subjects?” Ohn asked cheerfully. Shroud didn’t reply and Werewolf simply growled. “Now, now, there’s no need to be bad sports about this,” Ohn said. “It’s an honor to be chosen by the Headmen. Just imagine! Wants we discover the secrets of your powers, we’ll be able to duplicate them for the highest bidder! Of course, you both will probably be dead, but you’ll live on in spirit! And science!” “Enough of your prattling, Ohn,” Wyndham said bored. “For the moment, let us turn our attention to Mr. Tarleton.” Tarleton renewed his struggle with the chair’s restraints. “Please! I’m telling you, I just worked for AIM as a janitor! I don’t know anything about what Killian was up to! I don’t know nothing about Extremis!” “Don’t worry, Mr. Tarleton,” Wyndham said nodding to two lab techs who moved to either side of the chair. “You may not have given us information. But you will still be useful as our subject. Dr. Ohn?” Ohn was distracted looking at the chair. He snapped out of it and pressed a button on his iPad. “Oh yes, Dr. Wyndham!” The chair suddenly hummed to life, as electricity shot from it directly into Tarleton’s head. He screamed in agony and Shroud slammed into the cell wall but all he received was a shock of his own. “That’ll do you no good,” Ohn lectured. “That is the same material they were using to contain Zero Matter in the 40s. I figured you used similar stuff. It is odd. We’ve heard reports of someone matching your description in New Orleans, right down to the outfit. But he could use the Zero Matter to teleport himself. If we could copy that power in you… ha ha! This will be fun!” Shroud slumped back in the tube, the repeated shocks taking their toll. Meanwhile, at the Tower of Shadows, the Night Shift was in the living room screaming and arguing with each other. With the exception of Needle, Hannibal and Terri, all the other Night Shift-ers were debating who was to blame for their trouble. “I can’t believe this!” ranted Hangman. “We have a man who can see into the future, and we still got ambushed and outplayed!” “My powers only look a minute ahead,” Tick Tock said haltingly. “By that time it was too late.” “So what good are you?!” “You’re one to talk, creep!” snarled Misfit. “All you got is that stupid piece of oversized dental floss!” “Hey, don’t be like that, Misfit,” snarked Digger. “The floss is with him!” “Say one more stupid joke, and we’ll see just how much pain a corpse can be put through!” “All of you be silent!” Dansen yelled over the room. Suddenly a gunshot rang out. All the Night Shift turned to face Hannibal, who had shot his gun at the ceiling. Dansen nodded. “Thank you, detective.” Hannibal shrugged and holstered his gun as Terri looked at him in shock. “Just what kind of nightmare have you gotten me into, Hannibal?” “We cannot go on like this,” Dansen went on. “We need to decide our new course of action.” “Look at you, talking like you’re running something,” Barton Grimes sneered. “I was Shroud’s second in command. Leadership of the team falls to me.” Barton got in Dansen’s face as Percy tried to hold him back. “And I say the leader of this gang should be the people with most power. Not some screw loose ballerina.” “And you think it should be you and your clown of a brother?” Hangman barked. “It takes more than power to run this gang. I should be in charge and I say our new course of action is hitting Tombstone hard!” “But what about Shroud? And Jack?” asked Moth. Hangman shrugged. “Casualties of war.” “I don’t believe this!” Terri shouted. The Night Shift all turned to look at her and Hannibal. “Um, Terri, better just stay out of it,” Hannibal whispered. “Hell no!” Terri snapped. “I’ve been dragged into this because of you and this freak show you got here! And I have something to say about it!” She turned back to the dumbstruck Night Shift. “I know Hannibal has told me a little bit about you people. You’re criminals, thieves, even killers. But apparently he left out that you were idiots and cowards!” The Night Shift bristled at that as Hannibal put his head in his hands. “This Shroud guy is your leader. And right now these Headmen people have him and an innocent man prisoner, getting ready to do who knows what to them! So how about you stop sitting around yelling like a bunch of children, and actually use your powers to do something?!” Digger and Misfit snorted with laughter. “Please, lady,” said Misfit. “Do we look like the Avengers to you?” “No,” Terri said coldly. “The Avengers wouldn’t hesitate for a second to save one of their own. Especially the one who brought them together in the first place.” The room fell silent again. Dansen turned to the Night Shift. “Well? What say you? Do we allow the Headmen to get away with humiliating us? Or do we get our revenge?” Moth, Tatterdemalion, and Needle nodded. Tick Tock sighed. “I suppose I could track his communicator. It could at least give us a general location of where to look.” “You’re not seriously listening to this?” asked Barton. “You have no idea what the Headmen have waiting for you!” “Which is why they might need a little magic, brother,” Percy interrupted. Barton rolled his eyes and shrugged in agreement. Dansen looked at Hangman, Digger, and Misfit. “And what about you three?” Digger looked over at Terri. “Great speech. 10/10. I’ve always wanted to fight mad scientists to save a werewolf. I’m in.” Misfit and Hangman remained silent. Hannibal cleared his throat and stepped forward. “I’m sure you two will be able to find lots of people you can beat the hell out of.” Misfit looked at Digger and nodded with a grin. “Hey? Why not? I want to get a look at these Headcases myself! Show you how easy you can bust ‘em up!” Hangman glared at Dansen, then sighed and folded his arms. “Fine. You win. What’s the plan?” OK: The Night Shift: Dansen Macabre, Moth, Tatterdemalion, Tick Tock, Needle, Digger, Misfit, Brothers Grimm, Hangman, Hannibal King, and Terri Lee, all at full strength. If they can find and rescue Shroud and Werewolf, they will be able to join the fight. The Headmen: Gorilla Man, Shrunken Bones, Ruby Thursday, Chondu the Mystic, Jack O’Lantern, 8-Ball, and the Orb, plus 50 mercenaries, all at full strength. If the Night Shift can rescue Shroud and Werewolf, trash the lab, and defeat the Headmen, they win. Game On!
  4. Chapter 5: One Long Horn, and One Big Eye “So let me get this straight,” laughed Digger. “You two tried to catch a guy who lives in his momma’s basement, and he trounces you by slapping a bell on his head?” Moth and Tatterdemalion glared at him from across the study in the Tower of Shadows. Hannibal King stood across a desk from Shroud who sat calmly in a leather chair. “Verde had been giving tech from the Headmen. From what you said about their hired guns and this Ruby Thursday, they sound like a bunch of nutcases.” “Or headcases,” said Digger. Percy Grimes snickered at the pun and Barton looked at him disapproving. “Don’t make me regret having you for a brother.” “What? It’s funny.” “It’s stupid.” “Enough.” Shroud’s voice filled the room as he got up from the desk. “The point is that we now know our enemy’s name. And that gives us a glimpse into their minds. Willing to give equipment to enable geniuses to continue their work, regardless of their own mental stability.” “Translation,” said Moth, sitting on a couch next to Jack. “A herd of mad scientists.” “And they wanted me,” finished Jack. “If they could figure out a way to control the wolf, no one would be…” Jack was interrupted by the sound of a ring tone going off. He instinctively reached for his pockets, but his phone was still on the desk where Hannibal had placed it. The Night Shift looked in confusion, and Hannibal looked to Shroud. Shroud nodded his consent, and Hannibal picked up the phone and accepted the call. “Hello? Who is this?” “Just a concerned citizen. Is that you, Detective King? I wasn’t expecting to hear your voice.” Hannibal knew the unmistakably voice of Tombstone. “Well, detective?” said Tatterdemalion impatiently. “Who is it?” Hannibal raised his hand to silence the room, then spoke. “How did you get this number, Lincoln?” “I have associates who have made it their business to know things about you, King. Including your connection with a certain LAPD detective. Would you like to hear from her?” Hannibal blood froze as he heard the sound of the phone being passed over, then the sound of a woman gasping for breath. “Hello? Hannibal? Are you there?” Hannibal’s grip tightened around the phone. “Terri? I’m here. I need you to stay calm, alright? I’m going to get you out of this, I swear.” “Hannibal! He’s told me that if you don’t get him what he wants, he’ll kill me. He wants Jake Russell. He says you know someone who can give him Jake Russell. You can’t trust him, Hannibal! Hannibal!” Terri’s voice faded out as the phone was handed back to Tombstone. “You will meet me at auto cemetery outside of the city. You will bring Russell and the Shroud. I see any of the rest of those freaks and we kill her.” The line went dead and Hannibal slowly lowered the phone from his ear. “What’s going on, King?” asked Moth. “What did Tombstone want? Who’s Terri?” Hannibal suddenly roared in frustration and smashed the phone on the floor, shattering it. “Hey! That’s my phone!” shouted Jake. Hannibal spun around and lifted Jake off the couch by his collar. “You! Why does Tombstone want you?” “Perhaps the Headmen have made a countermove,” said Shroud. “We attempted to capture Verde, so they have enlisted Mr. Lincoln to take one of our pieces.” “I’m not a piece!” shouted Jack. “I didn’t even want to be here!” “I don’t give a damn what you want!” snapped Hannibal. “I’m not letting these scumbags hurt Terri!” “And they won’t, Detective,” said Shroud. “Now wait a minute, boss!” said Misfit. “We’ve already got wolf boy. Now you want us to give him up to save a cop?!” Shroud let his sightless gaze fall over the room and the uneasy Night Shift. “This is not about saving a cop. This is about removing Tombstone from the game for good. Detective King, Mr. Russell. You and I will be meeting with Mr. Lincoln. Tick Tock, Dansen, and Digger will be accompanying us in reserve in case of a double cross. Moth and Tatter will stay here until you have fully recovered from the Verde incident. With Lincoln undoubtably bringing his muscle to the meet, it should leave his funeral home undermanned. So we shall not less this opportunity go to waste. Brothers Grimm, Misfit, Hangman. You will attack Tombstone’s headquarters and secure any more information on his organization and the Headmen. Needle, you are in command.” Needle nodded as Hangman glared at him. “Why should Needle be in charge of the op? He can’t even speak to give orders!” Shroud stepped toward Hangman until they were face to face. “Because I can trust Needle to follow my orders. And I know he won’t distract himself with pointless bloodshed just to amuse himself.” Hangman looked away and folded his arms. “I guess that’s it then,” said Hannibal to Shroud. “But you better be right, and we better get Terri back. Because if Tombstone kills her, it won’t matter to me how many freaks you have working for you.” Shroud looked at him stone faced. “Just remember that you work for me as well, detective. I will get your friend back. But I will not tolerate disrespect from anyone in my organization. Remember that.” Hours later, the full moon hung over a vast expanse of burned out and broken cars. Standing in a clearing was Tombstone and five of his men. A pick up truck with a cargo bed covered in shadows down the row of vehicles and game to a stop. Hannibal got out from behind the wheel and followed Shroud. “So, the famous Shroud,” said Tombstone. “I’ve been wanting to meet with you,” “Cut the crap, Tombstone!” snapped Hannibal. “Where’s Terri?” Tombstone motioned with his head, and two more of his men came out of the shadows carrying an unconscious Terri Lee between them, blindfolded, face bruised and wrists zip tied together. Hannibal tried to move toward her but was blocked by Shroud’s arm. “Don’t worry, Detective,” Tombstone said smugly. “She’ll live. Now, where is this wolfman I’ve been hearing about?” Shroud pointed toward the truck and the shadows disappeared to reveal the Werewolf in a cage, slamming against the bars and snarling. “Now,” said Shroud. “Give us Miss Lee and you can take Mr. Russell.” Tombstone gave a discerning look at the cage, smiling. “Not so fast. Let’s just appreciate all this. It looks so real, doesn’t it, boys?” The gangsters nodded. “But I think we might need someone to give this another look.” Another figure walked out from behind the wrecked cars. It was a man in a red unitard and yellow gloves and boots. But his head was a large eyeball. Several feet away from the clearing, Digger looked through a pair of binoculars. He was standing next to a van with Tick Tock, while Dansen weaved her spell on the roof. “You better start looking ahead now, Instagram. We might have a problem.” At that same moment, the Brothers Grimm crashed through the roof of the Lincoln Funeral Home. With a swift gesture they summoned to clouds that floated to the roof and brought down Needle, Misfit, and Hangman. Misfit roared and leapt off of the cloud, charging into the room. But stopped short when he saw that no one was there. “Aw, man,” he said disappointed. “I wanted to bust some heads in.” Needle smacked him with the flat edge of his blade, and Misfit spun around and glared at him. Needle pointed at the Brothers, then toward the door leading to Tombstone’s office. Percy reached into his pocket and pulled out a cigar. Barton shook his head and groaned, but pulled out a lit candle. Percy set the cigar in the keyhole of the door, then Barton lit it. The cigar smoked for a few seconds then exploded, taking the door off it’s hinges. Then gunfire blasted out of the doorway. The Night Shift ran for cover as Bushwacker emerged from the office with 6 gangsters. And behind them was Doctor Bong, with golden sphere raised. “I told you!” he cried over the chaos. “The Headmen know all! Hail glorious science!” “Shut up and kill the freaks!” Bushwacker snarled, taking aim with his gun arm. In the auto cemetery, Orb set it’s singular gaze on the cage and the growling Werewolf. “Scans indicate this cage is empty,” he said mechanically. “Whatever you are seeing is an illusion.” Tombstone sneered at Shroud. “You think my partners didn’t tell me about the powers your girl used on their men? Nice try, but not good enough. Kill the bitch!” “NO!” Hannibal drew his gun and opened fire, hitting one of Terri’s captors in the side. “Dansen! Now!” shouted as he encased the clearing in shadows. Dansen stopped her dance and the Werewolf in the cage disappeared. “Let him go!” she yelled to Digger, and he flung open the door in the back of the van. The Werewolf leapt out and charged howling toward the clearing. “Alright, fright fans! Let’s wreck these guys!” shouted Digger gleefully as Dansen climbed off the van. “Digger! Wait!” cried Tick Tock. “Somethings not right! Something’s coming! It’s…” The van exploded in a ball of fire. The Night Shift were thrown to the ground, with Digger smashing into a windshield. He looked up into the sky to see two men on hovercraft. One had the head of a giant pool ball, the other like a jack o’ lantern. Both fired missiles from their crafts then sped off to the sounds of gunshots. Hannibal swung his pistol and smashed it against a gangster’s head, then he grabbed Terri’s arm and tried to get her to the safety. But Orb stood in his way. “Let me take a look at you, Detective,” he said fixing it’s eye on Hannibal. Hannibal tried to look away, but could only stand and stare, as the eye began to glow with a dangerous light. Suddenly Shroud delivered a kick to Orb’s back, then a strike to his helmet. “Detective! Get Miss Lee to the truck!” Unfortunately, two missiles destroyed the truck as Jack O’Lantern and 8-Ball flew into sight. “You can’t leave now!” 8-Ball said as he flipped off his hover craft and landed in front of Shroud, twirling his pool cue. “We just want a little action!” He jabbed the pool cue into Shroud’s gut and the force sent him flying into the rows of cars. “Ooh. Sorry, bad break.” “Stop playing around and let’s finish the job!” hissed Jack O’Lantern. The sound of a howl cut through the chaos, as the Werewolf clambered up a makeshift hill of cars, leapt off it and tackled Jack O’Lantern off his hovercraft. Tombstone turned to his men. “Let’s move! Let the Headmen deal with these freaks!” OK: Shroud, Hannibal King (peak human), and Werewolf all at full strength. All other Night Shift are either immobilized or fighting with Tombstone’s men at his hideout. Jack O’Lantern, 8-Ball, and Orb all at full strength. Game On!
  5. Chapter 4: Clang! Clang! Hannibal King stood on the rooftop of the abandoned building, looking out at the LA skyline. The three days had come and gone, and he had found what Shroud had asked him for. It had taken a fair amount of convincing to get Terri to look over this Russell guy’s phone. “You are out of your mind!” she had said in the parking lot of LAPD HQ. “You want me to do a phone dump on a phone and not let the cap know?” “I know it’s a big ask, Terri, but trust me. There may be something on this phone that can help us get Lincoln. We can finally get him off the streets for good!” Terri raised an eyebrow. “Just what have you gotten yourself into, Hannibal?” Even now, Hannibal still wasn’t entirely sure. But before he could get serious consideration to going down the fire escape and back to his one room apartment, the shadows rolled in around him. He turned to see Shroud behind him. “Good thing you showed up,” King snarked. “If I kept hanging around up here people would think I was going to jump.” Shroud didn’t look impressed. “Do you have the information I requested of you, detective?” King held up Russell’s phone. “Gave this thing the works. Russell was in contact with someone who called herself Alex Bell. Fake name, of course. My contact tells me it is alias used by a Lester Verde. College kid, lives in the suburbs. I’m going to check it out.” “No.” King looked confused. “What do you mean, ‘no’? You said you want to know who this guy is to lead you to whoever is after your people.” “I simply meant, detective, that you won’t be checking this lead out on your own.” The darkness faded back to reveal Moth and Tatterdemalion in civilian outfits flanking him. “My associates, Moth and Tatterdemalion, will accompany you. In order that this Mr. Verde may be more… cooperative in revealing what he knows.” “Now, wait a minute!” King interrupted. “I don’t need anyone’s help to interrogate somebody!” “Shroud did not ask your permission,” snapped Tatterdemalion. “Relax, Tatter,” said Moth. “This’ll be just like an episode of ‘Law & Order’.” King looked resigned at Shroud. “I guess I don’t have any choice here, do I?” Shroud shook his head, then let his darkness envelope him, leaving King, Moth and Tatterdemalion on the roof. Following the climb down the fire escape, the three piled into King’s 2008 Buick. There was an awkward silence as King drove through the congested streets. King finally broke the silence by turned to Tatterdemalion sitting next to him. “So. Tatterdemalion. I seem to remember hearing some of the vets in LAPD talking about you. Assaults. Arsons. How did you wind up with Shroud?” Tatterdemalion held his gaze straight ahead. “None of your business, detective.” Moth leaned in from the back seat. “Don’t mind him, King. He’s feeling extra old today. I can tell you my life story if you’re interested. You remember the Gala a few months back in New York?” “I.. don’t know. Wait. Wasn’t there some kind of wardrobe malfunction? People’s outfits falling apart?” Moth smiled proudly, using her powers to allow a thread from her shirt to come loose and levitate in front of King’s eyes. “Everyone’s outfits. Leaving me free to snatch a cool 15 mil.” King batted the thread away. “I thought the money from the Gala went to charity.” The thread returned to Moth’s shirt as she replied. “Sure. That’s what they say. Charities that those rich morons support, putting money into their own pockets. I was just making sure it got where it needed to go.” “While keeping 4 million for yourself,” smirked Tatterdemalion. Moth huffed and leaned back in her seat. “Let’s just be clear here,” King said. “When we get to this Verde kid’s house, I call the shots. We find out what the kid knows, nobody does anything crazy. Okay? Or this deal is off.” Tatterdemalion looked at King with a cold stare. “We are professionals, detective. Just remember that should you do something ‘crazy’, Shroud has given us permission to prevent you from compromising our organization.” The conversation in the car fell silent once more. The car came to a stop outside of a two story suburban house. The three exited the car and King knocked on the door. A short women in her 50s with fading brown hair answered the door. “Afternoon, ma’am,” King said. “I’m Detective Huey. This is Officer Lewis, and News. We’re with the LAPD and we have some questions. Is this Lester Verde’s residence?” The woman looked annoyed at the three, then looked over her shoulder and yelled. “Lester! Honey! Get your butt downstairs right now!” “Coming, Mom!” She turned back to King. “Come on in, detective. I’m Leslie Verde, Miss Verde, Lester’s mother. Is this about that computer junk? I had a feeling Lester was making a mistake buying all that stuff off eBay. Come in, come in.” Miss Verde led the trio into the house, not before Moth shot a dirty look at King. “Huey, Lewis and News? Seriously?” King shrugged as they walked into the cramped living room. “This isn’t about him messing around with web cams again?” Miss Verde went on. “I’ve always said he was to smart for his own good. You’re not here to arrest him, are you?” “No, Miss Verde. We just want to ask him some questions.” King was interrupted by the sound of feet running down the stairs. It was Lester Verde, in his mid 20s with red hair and beard. “Hey, Mom! What’s going on in here…” Lester stopped when he noticed King. He slipped on a pair of glasses. “Um, who are these people?” “They’re with the police!” Miss Verde said in a loud whisper. “They want to talk to you about that computer junk in your room! I told you it was probably stolen.” “Mom!” Lester said through gritted teeth. King stepped in between them. “We’re not here to talk about computer junk, Lester. We’re investigating a case of a man name Jack Russell.” Lester started to sweat. “Russell? Um, er, I don’t know any Russell.” “Really?” said Moth. “Well, to be fair he didn’t really know you, seeing how you called yourself Alex Bell.” “You pretended to be a girl online?” Miss Verde said in shock. “Oh where did I go wrong!” “Mom, it’s not what you think!” “And it isn’t what you think either, Lester,” Tatterdemalion said. “We have Russell’s phone. We know you used an alias to gain his trust and set him up for a meeting with people who tried to murder him.” Lester took a step back and fell into a chair. “Murder?! No, you don’t understand! I didn’t think they were gonna hurt him! They told me they just wanted to find him!” King leaned in toward Lester’s face. “Who? Who told you to catfish Russell?” “You better tell them the truth, Lester,” prattled Miss Verde. “For once in your life do something right for a change.” “SHUT UP, MOM!” Lester snapped. Miss Verde was dumbstruck as Lester put his head in his hands, then looked up at King. “They in got in contact with me months ago. I had submitted my research on sound waves and sonics. They said they would be give me more equipment and funding if I worked for them.” King grabbed Lester roughly by the shoulders. “I need a name, Lester. Or I can’t guarantee that the D.A. won’t prosecute you for conspiracy, kidnapping, and attempted murder. Give me the name!” “The Headmen!” Lester choked. “They call themselves the Headmen!” King let Lester go, then turned to face Miss Verde, Moth, and Tatterdemalion. “I think we need to take a look at Lester’s room.” “I don’t know what’s going on around here,” said Miss Verde. “But I have a feeling you people better get a warrant if you’re going to nose around my house.” Tatterdemalion turned to Moth. “Or we may need to take Lester to the… station. For further questions. Wouldn’t you agree, Officer Lewis?” Moth gave a defiant grin toward King. “Took the words right out of my mouth, Officer News.” “No one’s taking anybody anywhere,” King barked, not noticing behind him as Lester pulled out a small circular device from his pocket. Moth’s eyes widened. “Detective, look out!” Lester swiftly slammed the circular device onto a wooden coffee table and dropped to the floor. The device started beeping out the familiar melody of the Carol of Bells. King’s heart sank. “Oh what the…” At that instant the device blasted out a wall of sound that sent everyone flying. Windows and mirrors shattered, and everyone covered their ears in pain. As the noise died down, Lester leapt to his feet and ran up the stairs. “Moth!” shouted King, his ears still ringing. “Are you alright?” “Yeah, wonderful,” Moth yelled back. “Except I can’t hear a damn thing at the moment!” King drew his pistol and ran up the stairs. “Officer News! Get outside the house and guard the perimeter! Officer Lewis, stay Miss Verde!” “But I want to get the guy!” Moth shouted as Tatterdemalion staggered for the door. Miss Verde was behind the couch holding her head. “Look it at my house! That stupid, stupid boy! Look what he’s done to my house!” “Oh shut up,” Moth said. Part of Miss Verde’s sweater inexplicably came undone and wrapped around her mouth to silence her. King reached the top the stairs and slowly walked to the door that Lester had disappeared through. He gently grasped the doorhandle, then flung the door open, gun at the ready. Before him, with his back to the door, stood Lester, adjusting a red cape that covered the purple onesie he wore. He placed a bell-shaped helmet on his head, and a gauntlet with a golden sphere on the end of it on his left hand. Lester turned to face the dumbfounded detective. “You think you can stop the Headmen? You will never defeat the guardians of science! Or the genius of Doctor Bong!” With a swift gesture, Lester slammed the golden sphere against his helmet. Booooooong!!! The vibration sent Hannibal flying out of the room and onto the stairs. “So much for nobody doing anything crazy,” he muttered under his breath, fighting to stand up Doctor Bong approached him. OK: Hannibal King (Peak human, police training, gun) (For those of you who know him from Blade, he hasn’t reached that point yet), Moth, and Tatterdemalion vs Doctor Bong (Younger version of the original character with the same powers and traits) If Doctor Bong escapes, he wins. If King, Moth, and Tatterdemalion catch him, they win. Game On!
  6. 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!
  7. Chapter 2: Such a Lovely Place Private detective Hannibal King sat at the wheel of his darkened car, his focus locked on the building across the street and a block over. It was an ornate building with pillars on either side of the door. In the well kept yard was a sign with the building’s name: The Lincoln Funeral Home. King took a bite out of his In-N-Out burger, wiping off some mustard that dripped on his trench coat. He knew the illustrious Mr. Lincoln probably was responsible for a fair share of the bodies that were tended to in his establishment. He was the cold, calculating gang leader whose ruthlessness had earned a name whispered by every criminal in Los Angeles: Tombstone. King picked up a pair of binoculars and looked through them at the funeral home. It didn’t matter what the LAPD thought. Everyone knew that Lincoln was dirty. Someone just needed to do the work and catch him in the act. And if the LAPD was too busy covering their backsides, then King would just have to do it himself. King’s thoughts were interrupted by a van driving past him and turning to park in front of the funeral home. He focused the binoculars on the van to see two men and a woman get out, leaving the shadowy figure of the driver behind. Two of Mr. Lincoln’s men walked out of the funeral home to meet them, and checked them for weapons. “Alright then,” King breathed. “Now things are getting interesting.” Moth stood with her hands above her head and gave a cheeky grin to the man who was frisking her. “Has anyone told you you have very strong hands?” The man just glared at her and turned to his partner. “She’s clean. What about the other two, Juan?” Juan gave another look at the tall, black haired man in a suit, and the stocky, brown haired man in a black wifebeater. “No guns, Robbie. But the guy did have this.” Juan held the bundle of rope he had taken from the stocky man’s shoulder. “That’s mine,” the stocky man growled. Juan smirked at him, and held the rope out to him. “Not if you want to get in there, it isn’t.” “Please, gentlemen,” the tall man said nervously. “I’m sure we can find a compromise here.” Moth put her coat back on as she interrupted. “There’s no need to compromise anything, Percy. If you want the rope, you hold on to it.” She gave a look to the stocky man, who’s look was becoming more agitated. “You can have it when we’re done. Alright, Jason?” Jason looked away and grumbled his consent. Moth turned back to Juan and Robbie. “See? Settled. Now let’s get going. We wouldn’t want to keep your boss waiting.” As the three guests were escorted into the funeral home, behind the building a man in black snuck over a fence. He quickly moved through the shadows until he got to a window leading to the basement of the building. He opened the window and slid into the funeral home. On the main floor, Moth, Percy and Jason walked past viewing areas until they reached a door marked ‘private’. Juan opened the door for them and they entered the lavishly furnished office. “Take a seat,” Juan said. “The boss will be here in a sec.” Moth and Percy sat down, but Jason stayed standing. Moth looked up intently at Robbie. “What are you looking at, lady?” he said. “Oh, nothing. Just admiring your threads. The jacket, the shirt. It looks very nice. Don’t you think, Percy?” Percy looked away from a clock on the wall. “Hmm? Oh. Oh, yes! Very…um… functional.” The door to the office opened again, and the man known as Tombstone entered. He was dressed professionally in a black suit and tie. His skin was white with albinism, and his teeth looked liked they belonged in the mouth of a shark. Behind him was a muscular man with blond hair in a denim jacket and jeans. He gave an imposing stare toward Jason, who didn’t blink as he returned it. “Sorry about my lateness,” Tombstone said. “We had just finished a service that ran long.” “Not anyone I know, I hope,” Moth smiled. Tombstone sat down at his desk, and took in the sight of his visitors. “I was wanting to see exactly what it is you people were offering. Your initial message was rather… vague.” Moth leaned back in her chair and extended her arms. “We wouldn’t want that, Mr. Lincoln. We understand that you are busy man with a lot on your mind, not all of it legal. And we represent someone who wants to assist you in your daily operations. For a price, of course.” Tombstone stared at Moth, then started laughing. Juan and Robbie joined in as Moth tightened her fist beneath the desk while she maintained her pleasant expression. “Did I say something funny?” “Oh, not at all, miss,” Tombstone chuckled. “I’ve just never had anybody try to shake me down before.” “I assure you, Mr. Lincoln, we are not wanting to take advantage of you. We are prepared to make it worth your while, giving you the protection you need from the authorities and other organizations.” “He already has protection,” the man in denim hissed. “Oh really?” said Jason mockingly. “Does he have you call someone for help?” Tombstone held up a hand. “Easy, Bush. Just how do you people plan on protecting me?” Moth glanced at the clock and then at Percy before answering. “It is a guarantee from our leader: the Shroud.” A hush fell over the office. Moth looked at each of the men in front of her. “Surely you have seen the news? Certain gang members going missing, some turning up dead. Others talking about a living shadow laying waste to 10 men at once? Consider that power at your disposal. Or, maybe, that power turned against you.” Tombstone glanced at his men’s disturbed faces then back to Moth. “Let me get this straight. You work for the guy that’s been taking out my competitors. Now he wants me to sign up with him, and he doesn’t even have the guts to show his face?” Moth smiled and shrugged. “I’ve seen his face. Trust me, you’re not missing much.” Tombstone chuckled and nodded in approval. “Heh. You’re cute. You just bought yourselves 2 more minutes. Talk fast.” Moth gave another look to the clock then went on. “The Shroud will allow you to continue to operate in the city, however there will be some changes made to make certain things run smoothly. Percy?” Percy pulled out a pair of glasses from his pocket and a note pad. He put the glasses on turned to first page. “Er, now, then. If you were to accept our offer, the Shroud or one of his associates…, um that’s us by the way, would be in charge of responding to any threats to your operations, criminal or law enforcement related. The Shroud or his associate will either broker a peace, or will… um…neutralize the problem by the most efficient means possible.” Percy looked up from his notes at the dumbstruck crime boss and his men. “The gist of this is that there will be no more drive bys or retaliation killings of any kind that endanger civilians not in the game. Any action taken without the Shroud’s authority will be punished. Severely. ” In the basement, the man in black fumbled with a flashlight. He shone the light around the room, letting it rest on a large safe. “Lazy,” he muttered beneath his ski mask. “Didn’t even bother to put it behind a picture.” He knelt down next to the safe, and put his ear to the door to listen to the tumblers as he turned the dial. “As for guns,” Percy went on in the office upstairs. “The Shroud is unfortunately kind of particular about that subject. You would be out of the weapons and gun smuggling business, not to kids, and especially not to people planning attacks on civilians. The Shroud is a little more lenient regarding drugs. As long as it’s not to kids, and it’s not enough for them to distribute on their own, it’s fair game for you.” Tombstone stared unblinking as Bushwacker grit his teeth. The man in black finally opened the safe, revealing the stacks of money inside. With a wave of his hand, a white bag with dollar signs on it appeared in his grip seemingly out of nowhere. He started emptying the safe of it’s contents and putting them into the bag. “Hey!” The man in black’s heart stopped, then he turned to see a man wearing a gold chain standing at the stairs leading to the basement. “What the hell are you doing here?!” “And finally, there’s prostitution,” Percy said. Robbie and Juan sat up slightly, having let their eyes close as Percy had rambled. “Now, we aren’t going to get in the way of people’s entrepreneurial spirit. If that’s how a woman, or man for that matter, wants to make their living, so be it. But it will be their choice. No sex slaves, no grooming kids, and no drugging people up to make them perform. And no freebies for your people. They pay the same as everyone else.” “Let’s just cut to the chase,” interrupted Tombstone. Percy gulped as Tombstone’s eyes stared at him. “How much is the Shroud expecting me to pay for all of this?” Percy fumbled with his notepad before finding the answer. “For his protection and assistance, the Shroud will require 33% of your gross earnings at the end of the year. That will still leave you with 67% to use for upkeep and payroll.” “Are you done?” Bushwacker said. Percy gave a last look at his notes. “Umm, yep. Yes, that’s all.” Bushwacker clenched his fist. “Good.” With a swift gesture he pumped his fist, and Bushwacker’s arm started to melt and reform itself. Where his hand was, there was now the barrel of a shotgun. Juan and Robbie pulled out their pistols as well, and aimed that Percy, Moth and Jason. Meanwhile, in the basement, the man in the gold chain approached the man in black with his gun drawn. “Put down that bag, genius. Are you some kind of nut to break in here? Do you even know who you’re stealing from, man?” The man in black swung the bag so it collided with his assailant’s face. He tried to run but the man in the gold chain tackled him by his ankles to the floor. “Oh, you’re going to get it now!” he said as he scrambled to get on top of the thief. The thief didn’t reply or fight back. He just waved his hand in front of his face and whispered under his breath, “Once Upon a Time.” The man in the gold chain didn’t even notice that the thief’s clothes had changed from black to a red and blue harlequin outfit. He grabbed the thief by the shoulder and turned him to see his face, only to see the face of a skeleton. “What the Hell?!” he screamed. “Close enough,” the Brother Grimm said, as sparkling light flew from his finger tips and blinded his attacker. “Please let me waste them, Mr. Tombstone,” Bushwacker said. “Let me start with this geek and finish with this snarky little…” Tombstone stood up from the desk. “Enough, Bush. Lady, and gentlemen. I’ve listened to your proposal. And I believe we have nothing left to discuss.” Moth looked up coyly. “But what do you want me to tell the Shroud?” Tombstone gave a humorless smile. “The Shroud sent you to deliver a message, so it’s only fair I do the same. Bush? You and the boys take these jokers downstairs. I’m sure they’d appreciate a first hand look at how the cremation process works.” Suddenly the door to the office burst open as the Brother Grimm sent his opponent slamming into the desk. “Barton!” Percy shouted. “Now?” said Jason. “Yes, now!” Moth shouted as she ducked beneath the desk. Jason held out his hand and his rope, still hanging around Juan, came undone and started dragging Juan toward him. A fierce right hand knocked down Juan and the rope left off of him into Jason’s hands. “Once Upon a Time,” Percy said and waved his hand in front of his face. He was instantly transformed into the same outfit and Barton. Robbie opened fire, and Percy pulled out a handkerchief from his sleeve. Miraculously the handkerchief wrapped around the bullet, stopping it in midair. Before Robbie could get off a another shot, he cried out in alarm. His jacket and shirt were starting to come undone, long fibers unfurling outward from him. Moth grinned dangerously at him. “Told you I liked that outfit. Let’s see if it looks better if we take it in a little.” The fibers constricted around Robbie’s neck and chest as he fell to floor. Bushwacker opened fire with the gun in his arm and sent Percy sprawling to Barton. “You weren’t supposed to draw attention to yourself, brother,” Percy said. “You’re welcome, Percy,” Barton hissed. “Now let’s get the hell out of here!” Moth stood up and caused the fibers in her coat to reform themselves into a pair of wings. She swung them towards Tombstone only to have them be shot at by Bushwacker. “Reloading that must be a bitch,” Moth said as her fibers flipped the desk over. Tombstone shattered the desk with a single blow of his fist. “Kill these freaks! All of them!” The sound of gunfire carried through the air to Hannibal King’s car. He grabbed the police radio and tuned in to the scanner. “Dispatch! Emergency! Emergency! Shot’s fired! Shot’s fired! Lincoln’s Funeral Home! Send back up immediately!” A confused voice answered back. “Is that you, King? What are you doing on this frequency? You aren’t supposed to have a set up! You were fired, remember?” “Hey, charge me later!” King said, watching as three men ran out of the funeral home to the car parked on the curb. “There was some kind of meet going on at Lincoln’s! They might be in trou…ble.” King stopped short as he watched the door of the car break off, and a large, misshapen man climbed out. The three gang members pulled out their guns, but the thing just roared and knocked out all three with a swinging forearm. King looked in disbelief, then turned back to the radio. “Dispatch! Send all the men you’ve got! We’re going to need it!” OK: The Night Shift: Moth (Mentally can control fibers, either in clothes or hair. Can form fibers into wings that she can use to fly.) The Brothers Grimm (Can magically produce small, novelty objects with magical powers.) Hangman (Strength and mental control of indestructible rope.) Misfit (Strength and durability.) Tombstone (Strength and durability), Bushwacker (Strength, durability, and can transform his arm into a gun), plus 10 gang members. If the Night Shift can defeat Tombstone and his men, and escape with their loot before the cops arrive, they win. Game On!
  8. Episode 1: She Looked So Good, She Couldn’t Be Real The door creaked as the young man peeked into the decrepit warehouse. The lights flickered off and on, making it hard for his eyes to adjust. He was a man in his late 20s in a brown jacket and jeans. He had a gym bag slung over his right shoulder. A sudden noise startled him, and he peered back into the darkness. “Hello? Are you there? Alex sent me. Is anybody there?” “Hello, Mr. Smith,” a woman’s voice answered. “Please remain where you are.” Mr. Smith could start to see the figure of a tall, slender woman some 15 feet away from him. She was dressed in what looked to be a purple sports bra with matching tights. He couldn’t make out her face, just out of reach of the light. “Are you Ruby? Alex, she told me that you could help me get out of the city. Maybe even the country.” “Did Alex also inform you that what you request is not an inexpensive proposition?” Mr. Smith held up the gym bag. “I’ve got the money right here.” He stepped forward to hand over the bag when the woman’s voice rang out. “No. Toss the bag to me, please.” Mr. Smith was puzzled by this, but gave a few swings with the bag before tossing it toward the woman. It landed at her feet with a thud. Ruby bent down and zipped open the bag, being careful to not let the light show her face. “I know it’s not all of it, but it’s all I could get! I had to sell my car, the rest of my clothes!” Ruby looked up from the gym bag. “There is certainly less than half the funds required to get you the new identity you requested, Mr. Smith.” “I don’t care about the new identity!” interrupted Mr. Smith urgently. “I just need you to get me to Mexico as soon as possible.” “Don’t worry, Jack,” Ruby’s voice soothed. “You are in safe hands now.” ‘Mr. Smiths’ heart stopped. He took another look at the woman in front of him. “What did you say?” Ruby fell silent for a moment. “I said, that you are in safe hands now, Mr. Smith.” “No no no. You didn’t say Mr. Smith, you said Jack. I didn’t say anything to Alex about being called Jack so why did you say that?” Ruby’s voice grew hard. “Mr. Smith, I think you need to calm down.” ‘Mr. Smith’ stepped into the light toward Ruby, growing more agitated. “How did you know my name?! Who have you been talking to?! Who are you working for?!” Ruby did not respond. “Answer me, damn it!” ‘Mr. Smith’ grabbed Ruby by the arm and pulled her into the light. And then his jaw dropped. Where the woman’s head should be was instead a red sphere. The sound of mechanical inner workings that had been drowned by the traffic outside were now easily heard. ‘Mr. Smith’ took a step back from the bizarre sight. “What…what are you?” The red sphere tilted, like a normal head trying to get a better look at something. “I’m Dr. Ruby Thursday, Mr. Russell. And I’m here to help you.” Jack Russell stumbled backward and tried to run for the door. A long, red tendril emerged from the red sphere and lashed itself around his ankles, dragging to the ground. Jack screamed and kicked but the tendril slowly started dragging him back toward Ruby Thursday. “Now, now, Mr. Russell,” Ruby’s voice intoned. “You are being very difficult. Please try breathing normally, in through the nose, out through the mouth. And I promise this process will be decidedly less painful.” Jack reached into his pocket, pulled out a stun gun and charged it. Then he jabbed it into the tendril. Instantly Ruby’s voice was replaced by screams of pain and screeching static. The tendril withdrew as Ruby fell to her knees holding her sphere. Jack then took off at run, and started going faster when he heard the sound of footsteps running down from the second floor of the warehouse. Two men in black suits and a third man in yellow hazmat gear hurried down the stairs with guns drawn. One open fired, and narrowly missed Jack as he bolted out the door. “You kssh Gah! Kssh Idiots!” Ruby screamed and spluttered as the man in the hazmat suit checked on her. “We kssh kssh damn it! Kssh kkkkk Need him ksssh kssssh skhkk! Damn! Kssshk Alive!” Jack hurried down the sidewalk, allowing himself to slow down slightly as he attempted to get lost in the bustle of activity in East Los Angeles. Car horns honked and music blared from open windows as he sidestepped chatting couples and tourists. He took another look behind him, and that’s when he saw the two men in suits running down the sidewalk towards him. Jack started running again, darting past a short, balding man in glasses and an overcoat pushing a shopping cart filled with trash. The man suddenly made a sharp turn with the cart right in front of Jack’s pursuers. They collided with the cart, sending it’s contents flying to the air and all over the sidewalk. “Watch where you’re going, old man!” one of the men snapped as he helped his compatriot to his feet. “So sorry, sirs. I’ll be sure to, sirs,” the short man said, but they had already gone off after Jack. The short man knelt down to pick up the mess, then closed his eyes. For a moment his face showed a flicker of pain. Then he opened his eyes and pulled back the sleeve on his coat to reveal a rather expensive looking watch. Pressing a button on the side of it, the short man spoke into it. “He’s on the move. He’s being pursued but he’ll lose them. He’ll be exiting the alley off of Verona in 40 seconds. Be ready.” A hoarse but cheerful voice answered back. “Don’t worry, Instagram. We’ll get him.” The short man sighed in annoyance. “Tick Tock, Digger. My name is Tick… oh, never mind. Just you and Needle see that you do get him.” Jack could hear the shouts of confusion as the two men in suits pushed people out of their way. He ran across the street, causing one car to slam on it’s brakes. He continued with breakneck speed past a large semi. When the two men followed suit, the semi started driving forward, blocking their path. The two men screamed at the driver, but their cries were drowned out by the honking of angry motorists. With the men now far behind him, Jack continued to run into an alley. He didn’t even bother looking behind him. All he was focusing on was the sunlight shining through the other end of the alley. Then his field of vision was completely obstructed by the blade of a shovel being slammed into his face. He fell on his back trying in vain to clear his vision. Standing above him, he could see the silhouettes of two figures, the larger of the two letting the shaft of the shovel rest on the back of his neck. “And…who are you supposed to be?” Jack asked deliriously. “Can’t you tell, my frightened friend?” the big man said. “We’re the Avengers. He’s Thor and I’m Iron Man.” Jack squinted at the silent figure, who appeared to be holding a long, needle-like blade. “Yeah…. Thor has a hammer.” “Meh, he only hammers in the morning,” the big man said. He chuckled at his own joke as Jake fought to stay conscious. “And… Tony Stark’s dead.” The big man stepped closer and leaned down to allow Jake a better look at his face. It was the face of a dead man. Green, rotting skin, his eyes milky white. Stitching could be seen in his skin underneath the tattered garment he wore. He grinned with a mouthful of crooked, rotten teeth. “What a coincidence. So am I!” The shorter figure stepped forward and knelt on top of Jack’s chest. Jack could see that this man was dressed head to toe in white; wearing a hood that concealed his entire face except for his right eye. Jack tried to squirm away as the man held his blade to Jack’s throat. “Please. I just gotta get out of…” Jack’s voice trailed off. In that moment, he could only look into the eye of the man above him. Nothing else existed or matter. There was only that long, unblinking, fearsome gaze. After a minute, Needle put his hand to Jack’s neck to check his pulse. Jack lay motionless on the ground, staring into space. “So? Is he still alive?” Digger asked. Needle looked up and nodded. “Terrific. You managed not to kill him this time. Good for you.” Needle rolled his visible eye and set about laying Jack’s arms across his chest when Tick Tock’s voice rang out from the watch on Digger’s wrist. “Digger! Digger! Did you get him?” Digger lifted the watch to lips and pressed a button. “Hold your horses, Myspace. Needle got him.” There was a pregnant pause. “Oh God. Is he dead?” Needle glared up at Digger as he smirked back at him. “Nah. The kid’s still breathing. Bring the van around. And let Dansen know that we got her captive audience ready for her.” When Jack Russell woke up, he found himself standing on a beach. He could still feel his head aching from being hit, but he couldn’t remember anything afterwards. But somehow that didn’t seem important anymore. He took a deep breath of fresh air, listened the sounds of waves breaking against the shore, and saw the sun just starting to set below the horizon. But that wasn’t all he saw. In the distance, making her way along the beach, was the most beautiful woman Jack had ever seen. Her long black hair cascaded down her shoulders, only obscured by the white sun hat she wore. The white sun dress she had on seemed to glow in the dying light of the sun, as she walked barefoot through the sand and surf. Jack stood dumbfounded at the sight of her, watching her take off her hat and throw it into the waves. “She’s beautiful, isn’t she?” Jack didn’t know where the voice came from and didn’t care. “Yes,” he answered slowly. “Yes, she is.” “You would do anything for her, wouldn’t you?” the voice went on. “Just to have her know your name?” The woman knelt at the water’s edge, letting the water roll over her. “Yes, anything,” Jack murmured. “Well, she wants to know you, too. But she doesn’t want there to be any secrets between you. She wants you to be honest with her. Can you do that?” “Yes, yes, I can.” The woman turned to look at him, her hair falling in such a way that it covered her entire face except her right eye. “She wants to know the truth about you, Jack. She wants to see the side of you that you have hidden from everyone else. Can you show her, Jack?” Jack’s breath quickened. He could hear his heart pounding in his ears. “I…I…don’t know. I…I….” In reality, Jack was not standing on a beach. He was in a hotel room zip tied by his wrists and ankles to the chair he was sitting in. A woman in white was in front of him, but she was in a white unitard with a black ribbon wrapped around her torso, mingling with her flowing silver hair. She swayed and contorted her body with lithe movements in front of Jack. Crouched on his right was a man dressed in raggedy clothes, while behind them Digger, Needle, and Tick Tock sat at a table. “Come on, Jack” Tatterdemalion whispered. “She wants to see your true self.” Jack started straining against the ties as his head rocked back and forth against his chest. “No. No, it’ll scare her away. It’ll hurt her.” Tatterdemalion put his hands on the arm of the chair and leaned in closer. “No, she won’t get hurt. Look at her. She isn’t afraid, Jack. Just let it out and then you and her can do whatever you like.” “No!” Jack shouted, causing Tatterdemalion to jump back. “No! It’ll kill her! It’ll kill her! Don’t let me kill her!” Tick Tock nervously looked up from the table. “Is there any chance we could speed this up?” Tatterdemalion knelt back down beside Jack as continued to pull at his restraints. “We have to be sure. We need to know that his powers are real. And we need to know that we can summon them without waiting for a full moon. It will take time.” He turned to look at Tick Tock with a sneer. “Or would you like to be the one who explains to the Shroud why his newest recruit is in a coma?” “He continues to fight me, Tatter,” said Dansen, the frustration in her voice belying the grace of her movements. “If he keeps resisting me he’s going to send himself into shock anyway. Either that or I will need to use a stronger dance.” “Oh! Oh! Why don’t you try flossing next?” chimed in Digger. Tatterdemalion glared back at him as Dansen continued dancing. “Not helping in the slightest, Digger.” Suddenly, Tick Tock rose from his seat with a start. He groaned and held his head in his hands. Tatterdemalion rushed over to him. “Tick Tock! What is it? What do you see?” Tick Tock looked up from his hands gasping for breath. “Men. Lots of angry men. With guns. They want the wolf. Only the wolf. No witnesses.” Dansen lifted her arms above her with a flourish then crossed them in front of her chest. “Very well. We are ending this now.” She raised her crossed arms as Tatterdemalion ran back to the chair. “No! Dansen, we don’t have to kill him!” “Shroud put me in charge this mission, Tatter,” Dansen snapped. “We cannot afford to have Mr. Russell tell these people anything about our activities. If we can’t make use of him, it’s better that no one does.” She raised her arms up again as Tatterdemalion leaned in to Jack and whispered urgently as he continued to groan incoherently. “Jack! Listen to me! The men who are after you, they are coming. They are coming for you and the girl. They are going to take you away and kill the girl. Save yourself! Save the girl, Jack! It’s your only chance! Let! It! Out!” “NOOOO! NOAAAHHROARRRRR!!” Jack’s screams began to morph into the sound of animalistic growling. The zip ties broke off him as his muscles expanded. Fur began to sprout in patches all over his body. His nose stretched into a snout and his teeth became fangs. The men that Tick Tock had foreseen finally reached the door of the hotel room. There were 20 of them, all in riot gear with automatic rifles at the ready. “Remember,” the leader said. “Orders are to eliminate hostiles, capture the subject. Only use lethal force if necessary. They want him alive. Breach on 3. 1. 2.” Before the man could reach 3, the door to the hotel room flew off it’s hinges and collided with the front line of men. Standing in the doorway in a torn pair of jeans, was the creature that was Jack Russell. The side of him he kept hidden was that of a werewolf. And it was now free. It howled at the ceiling as the mercenaries tried to regroup. “Open fire! Open fire!” But it was too late. The werewolf was upon them, slashing at one man unfortunate enough to get in striking distance of it’s claws. Tatterdemalion grabbed his hat and wrapped his scarf around his face. “Digger! Get Tick Tock out of here!” “I am the leader of this mission, Tatter!” Tatterdemalion glared at Dansen. “Alright, leader. What are your instructions?” Dansen fumed at Tatter before finally turning to Digger. “Digger, get Tick Tock out of danger. Needle? Tatter? With me.” Digger grabbed his shovel in one hand and Tick Tock by the other and charged out the door. “Sorry about the mess, fear fans,” he called to the armed men. “The housekeeping in this place is murder!” One gunmen tried to get a bead on the undead giant, only to have Tatterdemalion grab a hold of the gun. The man tried to fight back, until he cried out in pain and alarm. The place where Tatterdemalion had gripped the gun had started to glow red with heat. The mercenary dropped the gun to the floor, just in time to catch a flying kick from Dansen. Needle leapt into the fray with his long blade, slicing through armor and dispatching any who got in his way. Then the werewolf tackled him to the carpeted floor. “Dansen!” Tatterdemalion shouted. “Get Russell under control!” “I can’t!” Dansen yelled back. “He isn’t responding to me! The wolf has taken over completely!” Tatterdemalion charged ahead as Needle struggled to hold back the snapping jaws of the werewolf. Unwrapping one of his scarves, Tatterdemalion pulled it taught around the werewolf’s neck. The creature thrashed it’s head back and forth until it made Tatterdemalion lose his grip and collide into the hallway wall. Dansen tried to run to help, only to have her way blocked by more mercenaries. “Very well,” she said defiantly. “Who will be the first to feel the vengeance of Shiva? Have at you!” OK: The Night Shift: Tatterdemalion (Athletic, gloves secrete a substance that burns clothing and burns more solid objects) Dansen Macabre (Martial artist, creates hypnotic spells through dance that can cloud people’s minds, control them, or kill them) Digger (Undead, strength, durability, unbreakable shovel) Needle (Paralyzing stare, skilled fighter with ‘needle’ blade) Tick Tock (Can foresee events that take place a minute into the future) Werewolf by Night: Enhanced strength and durability. Mercenaries: 30 armed men with SWAT/riot gear. Whichever sides defeats the others and captures Werewolf by Night, wins. If Werewolf can elude capture, he wins. Game On!
  9. When the gods walked alongside Man, Shiva and his celestial brethren ruled over a time of enlightenment and tranquility. But as is the case of all times of peace, it was not to last. It came to pass that a race of demons known as the Raktabija broke free from their subterranean crypts and spread like a plague on the land, slaughtering all who stood before them. Humanity cried out to the gods for salvation, but the prophecies of the Raktabija proclaimed that only a woman could destroy them. And so the task fell to Parvati, wife of Shiva. Calling on the celestial power of her shakti, Parvati transcended into the form of the warrior goddess Durga. She came down from the heavens and attacked the horde of Raktabija head on. Countless demons fell to her blade. But from every drop of blood that was spilled, a new Raktabija grew to take it’s place. Durga was on the verge of being overwhelmed. And beneath the shroud of Durga, Parvati began to feel fear. She felt despair at the thought of failing to save her precious humanity. But then Parvati felt an emotion she hadn’t experienced in her existence: rage. Parvati became filled with anger. How dare these demons, little more than vermin, stand to oppose her, the bride of Shiva? Rising to her feet, Parvati summoned her power again, determined to ascend to a form mightier than Durga, more powerful than Shiva himself. The roar of the demons was overshadowed by her screams of pain as darkness enveloped her. And so it came to pass that on that day, demons, Men, and gods bore witness to the birth of Kali. Kali. A goddess born of darkness, bloodlust, and fury. A being that possessed Durga’s strength and cunning in battle, but none of Parvati's all too human weakness. The Raktabija charged to attack this new threat, but within an instant Kali was upon them. She slaughtered them all and drank their blood, ensuring that they would never be seen again on this Earth. Humanity thought the battle was over, but they were wrong. The day was not done, and Kali still hungered. With no more demons, she simply turned her aggression toward the humans. They begged for mercy but Kali continued her onslaught, determined to return to the heavens and bring down the gods themselves. Shiva saw that Kali had the power to accomplish her goal, but could not bring himself to do battle with the being that once was his beloved. He descended to Earth and fell prostrate before Kali, offering himself as a sacrifice so that humanity and the heavens would be spared. Kali raised her blade to strike the killing blow. But Kali was betrayed. For within Kali still were the spirits of Durga and Parvati, who forced the goddess back within Parvati’s soul, restoring her body and mind. While humanity rejoiced the victory of their gods, Parvati knew that none were safe as long as Kali lived within her. Calling on her fellow goddesses, Parvati used their combined shakti to remove the shadow of Kali from her spirit, convinced that without a life force to sustain her, Kali would eventually wither, fade, and die. But Kali did not die. She lived on off of her hatred and rage, swearing vengeance on the gods and the humans who worshiped them. But she was now a mere shadow, unable to fully establish herself on the mortal or celestial plane. But she still could give her blessing to humans so that they would create further bloodshed and chaos in her name. And that is why we worship Kali. For hers is the power that will bring down the world. Hers is the power that can make the gods fall down in reverence. The day of the ultimate transcendence draws near, when Kali shall return to us. And on that day, all gods and all Men, shall bow. “Tatter? Tatter! Where the hell are you?!” The woman’s voice broke Arnold Paffenroth’s concentration as he looked up from the scroll sitting on the podium in front of him. At that moment he was in the library of the Tower of Shadows. It was a circular room lined with shelves filled with dusty books and manuscripts. Arnold was a man with unkempt gray hair and dressed in a blue tunic and pants. He was in his early 50s, but he took great pride in the knowledge that he was in better physical condition than most men half his age. Still there was part of him that did enjoy the idea of being by himself and exploring the treasure trove of knowledge in the Tower of Shadow’s collection. “TATTER!” Arnold sighed. There was also a part of him that would have preferred to have his associates use his proper alias. He had long ago chosen the name Tatterdemalion as his nom de guerre, but after realizing his allies either couldn’t pronounce, remember, or care what his name was, he resigned himself to being referred to with the abbreviated term. The oak door to the library creak as it opened and woman’s head peeked in. She was an a attractive woman in her mid 20s with brown hair in two pony tails. She wore a black shirt, jeans, a brown trench coat, and an annoyed expression on her face. “Seriously, Tatter? I’ve been looking all over the Tower for you!” Arnold quickly started to roll up the scroll and reach for the cylinder he pulled it from. “My apologies, Moth. I was just catching up on some reading.” Sybil Dvorak, or Moth as she was known, raised an eyebrow as she noticed the scroll in Arnold’s hands. “You know Dansen doesn’t like people messing with her stuff.” “How odd, since we are supposedly a team now,” said Arnold as he re-sealed the cylinder and moved to the rack on the wall where other scrolls were stored. Five strings of thread sprang from Sybil’s shirt and stretched out to snatch the cylinder from Arnold. He glared at Sybil as the threads placed the cylinder in her waiting hand and re-knitted themselves back into her outfit. “Isn’t there some cliché about curiosity killing cats or something?” Arnold quickly crossed the room and yanked the cylinder from Sybil’s grip. “Yes. There certainly is,” he said trying to maintain his composure. “I’m surprised you are aware of it. Did you read about it on Twitter?” Sybil rolled her eyes as Arnold walked back to the rack. “No. I just figured you’d appreciate it. It’s like you. Creepy, annoying, and old.” Arnold bristled slightly, but before he could come up with a reply, Sybil was already heading for the door. “The point is, Dansen will probably kill both of us if you don’t get your wrinkled butt downstairs. Better move it. This will probably be our only chance to get this Russell guy.” Arnold watched Sybil as she disappeared through the doorway. He looked back at the rack, noting the location of the scroll he had been reading, then followed after her. Sybil had a habit of being rather brusque, but she did have a point. This was an important mission for their organization. “And besides,” Arnold said to himself as he grabbed his wide brimmed hat and wrapped his raggedy scarf over his face. “It’s not everyday you get to hunt a werewolf.” Marvel Studios, in association with Netflix and Broadway Beyonder Presents Night Shift Coming Soon November 2021
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