Maskedhero100: (Spoiler Alert: This story takes place after the unwritten end of "Heroes Legion" so there will be some minor spoilers regarding that series in this entry into the Superhero world of Earth Beta. You have been warned.)
Also, story art for the introductory story "Dark Shadows" and the rest of the story's that are still to come in "season one" can be found on my deviant art gallery under "maskedhero100", anyone interested in the story might want to check the art attached to different chapters.
Shadow Knight: Knight Of Darkness:
Written by: Maskedhero100
Wantanabe Household, Lunar City: August 12th, 2018: 8:00 PM
The scene before our tired eyes is a pleasant one.
One we haven't seen in five years' time.
It is our home, our family.
Five years before that night.
It was a good life.
A happy household.
A mother, a father, a Grandfather and the only child of five the houses only known occupants.
The only child is us.
It is nice to see the family again, it always is.
But as pleasant as it is to see this sight again, we know it won't last.
It never does.
No matter how much we try, it never lasts before he comes.
Before the boogieman comes into the picture, and ruins it all.
Like he always does.
He creeps out of the shadows, and then the nightmare begins again.
A homely lifestyle, is suddenly and inexplicably ripped apart before our very eyes.
The mother and the Father are slain, and the Grandfather is spirited away from view never to be seen again.
Their screams still haunt the corridors of the dream and our memory.
The house is wrecked by hands that are made out of shadows, our parents blood is smeared all over our vision and the walls of the wrecked home and the two giant bloodshot red demonic eyes suddenly turn to face us.
They belong to a voice, a dark demonic voice.
A voice that still haunts our dreams till this day.
"KAIRI!" the dark voice howls, "Kairi. You can't run from me Kairi….I will find you!"
FIVE YEARS LATER…
Miss Sharon's Orphanage/ Chicago, Illinois: June 1st, 2023: 11:45 PM
Kairi Wantanabe woke up from her nightmare memory in a cold sweat of fear in her bed at the orphanage.
She had screamed, like she always had whenever she had that nightmare.
In no time, like always when she had that nightmare, Miss Sharon the head of the Orphanage appeared in Kairi's room.
She always carried the old fashioned candlestick holder with her when she awoke in the night to check on the orphan girls in her possession.
She had figured that the scream she had heard in her bed had belonged to Kairi, she was the worst offender in the place for having nightmares.
Now you would think that Miss Anna lee Sharon would be like those "Orphanage wardens" you read or hear about in stories like "Annie" who are basically the wicked stepmother given a job that she despises as much as her charges.
A gnarly Snarly old witch!
Nothing could be even further from the truth regarding Miss Sharon, she cared about each and every one of her young charges…even the hard cases like Kairi.
She had at the beginning tried to place her with the rest of the girls, but her fear of the dark kept the girls up at night.
For some reason or other that Kairi didn't want to talk about regarding what had happened to her family that night five years ago…it had made her deathly afraid of the dark and shadows in particular.
It was a very peculiar fear, but considering Kairi was a girl who had seen her whole entire family killed before her eyes she didn't pry into it out of concern for Kairi's mental health and did her best to accommodate her special needs.
She had stayed up with her until she had fallen to a sleep for most of the first year she had stayed with her and the girls.
Then she placed her in her own room for a while once she got brave enough to try and sleep on her own, but unfortunately that caused a new problem to occur.
The occasional "nightmares" which would always end with Kairi waking up screaming bloody murder.
They must have been very realistic nightmares because no matter how many of the Kairi had she never became desensitised to them.
She had taken her to see many doctors and psychiatrists, none had been able to help much.
So all she could do was try her best and hope that Kairi would stop having these nightmares.
She figured that the reason why Kairi kept on having these nightmares was because she didn't feel safe or secure at night.
It made sense, her family had been killed in front of her late at night.
But this problem didn't exactly open up a lot of adopting arms that came to the orphanage to adopt one of her girls on adoption day.
Kairi knew this, she also knew that her chances for adoption were getting narrower and narrower.
She was already 9 years old, two years away from puberty. And they both knew that nobody adopted teenagers. They would be too much of a handful.
Despite the shrinking ground around her chances for being adopted, Miss Sharon had high hopes that someone caring and understanding would show up and take Kairi away to a new and permanent home.
But first she and Kairi had to find a way to conquer these dreary nightmares.
"It was the "Boogeyman" again wasn't it?" Miss Sharon asked.
"Yeah…" Kairi said silently, looking out at the stars of the night sky that could be seen outside her bedroom window.
"Kairi" Miss Sharon said stroking Kairi's brownish red hair, "this can't keep going on. We need to face the cause of these nightmares. I know that you have these nightmares because you're afraid of the "monster" you saw that night five years ago will return and try and hurt you. But Kairi, we live a few blocks away from a police station. You couldn't be in a safer place. Besides, the "man made of Shadows" was just a figment of your imagination that was made up by your mind to cope with the horrors you saw. Otherwise, if such a creature was real the police in Lunar would have…"
"Miss Sharon?" Kairi asked, interrupting her words of comfort.
"Yes?" Miss Sharon responded.
"How did I end up here again?" Kairi asked.
"I don't know" Miss Sharon shrugged, "there was just a knock on my door one night, and there you were…with a note attached that explained what had happened and who you were. The cops ran prints, but didn't find anything. The note had also been written by computer. Whoever it was who had written that letter obviously didn't want to be found."
"So you never saw him or her?" Kairi asked, "You never saw if he wore a funny hat?"
"I didn't see anything" Miss Sharon assured the young Kairi, "Now it's late. Try and get some sleep. Try and think of something else. Think of a better time in your life than that night. See if that helps."
Kairi waited until Miss Sharon had left and closed the door behind her before she reached behind her pillow and pulled out the IPad she had gotten for her birthday two years ago.
She turned it on and pulled up the internet window that she had been eyeing before she had finally nodded off to sleep three hours ago.
It was a news article for a Newspaper in Lunar City, Washington…her old home and stomping grounds, before she became an orphan.
She knew what she had seen that night, even though no one else believed her.
A man made out of Shadows and Darkness had killed her family.
She had not imagined that.
Because there was the man in the shadows that she had seen that night, right there on the news article.
It was a fuzzy picture, but it was clear enough for Kairi's eyes to recognise the all too familiar silhouette of a man or person cloaked in Darkness, with a strange looking hat on his head.
But it was strange.
Although this looked like the man who had killed her family, the newspapers and their words regarding the "man made of shadows" in the picture wasn't at all like anything that sounded like the "Shadow Man" who was the killer of her family.
This "Shadow Man" was under debate of being either an "urban legend" or a "public menace" by Lunar City as a whole, sure…but the main debate regarding this "Shadow Man" were about whether or not he was a "Vigilante" or a "Hero" or even more a "Vigilante Hero".
This didn't sound like the man that had killed her family at all, the man who had killed them wouldn't be out there saving innocent people and punishing the guilty…if he even was real and not something made up by a Crime ridden metropolis's jaded Newspaper sellers to sell more papers this didn't sound like it was him.
But…it had to be the same guy.
This "Shadow Man" had to be the same monster she had seen kill her parents and spirit away her grandfather.
It had to be!
There wasn't two of these "Boogeymen" running around out there in the world… or was there.
What if that was the case, and that there actually were two "boogiemen" made of shadows running around out there?
If one of them was her parents killer, who in gods name was the other one?
Twelve Days Later...
Lunar City, Chinatown District/ "Mr. Wu's Jumbo Dim Sum": June 13th, 2020: 10:00 PM
Wu Chi nervously opened the cash register containing the day's hard earned money, while his wife was shaking with fright beside him.
He briefly glanced around at his Chinese dim sum diner.
He had built this place alongside his wife, Lin Chi, almost forty years ago after immigrating to America during early eighties to set up his own business in this foreign country.
It was known as the best dim sum in Chinatown, which is probably why they had drawn the attention of these rather unsavory characters who were standing in front of the till with guns at the ready.
They had ordered him to give him the money in the register.
"Protection money" is what they called it.
What they really mean was money for protection from what they would do to them or their home if they didn't pay them off!
Payoffs were more what they really were.
He had tripped the silent alarm hidden under the counter hours ago.
And during that time he had been forced to have his wife cook these reprobates food, as they ransacked his customer areas.
Sending tables flying, breaking all the glasses and damaging a few of the Chinese ornamentals until Lin brought out the food they had "ordered" while they ransacked the place…again.
This hadn't been the first time this had happened either, this had been going on for almost a year by now.
Wu Chi was convinced now that the cops were no longer busying themselves with the affairs of an old Chinese couple in Chinatown, an extortion racket was small potatoes due to the activities of the gangs of Lunar City. As of this year alone, a six month crime wave had arisen out of the long calm silence that had erupted from the death of the Brain of crime.
The madman who had set himself up as kingpin of criminal activities in Lunar City and who had tried to gas the whole metropolis with a nerve gas that made people go insane.
Nobody knew who killed him.
But since crime dropped down 90% in Lunar City upon his death, the people didn't care how he died, just that he was and had taken Lunar City's cancerous crime element with him.
But they all should have known better, nothing lasts forever. Including a drop in the economy of crime of a city like Lunar.
There was a new guy in charge now.
No one knew who it was, the only thing they knew was just that since five years ago to the day, the criminals of this city had been re-organised back into the organised gangs that they had been before the Brain of Crimes death.
Someone had retaken the position of power left vacant and void by the Brains death, and was now leading the criminals of the city.
And the economic crisis the country was going through due to bad policies being made wasn't helping either.
There was rumors that the cops were all planning a massive strike due to budget cuts.
Maybe that's why they weren't coming or maybe they were too concerned with their own problems to even try to do their job at all, which in Lunar City they didn't seem to try and do proper anyway.
Half of the force went dirty to try and keep the "cash flow" going in their pockets…as if that was an excuse!
If there was no money being sent to the cops, then what the hell did he pay taxes for then huh?!
His train of though was interrupted by the sound of the goons going "Uh oh!"
He then noticed that the leader of the group who had piercing's all over his eyebrows was shaking his head as he counted the cash again in his hand.
"Your two bucks too short old man" The pierced goon said after counting the cash, "you know what that means?"
"Oh come on" Wu Chi groaned, "It's not my fault. You and the rest of the criminals have made it hard for the paying customers to come down here. They are afraid they are going to get mugged or shot or something."
"Not my problem old man" the pierced Goon said apathetically, "The boss needs the loans we collect from yellow teethed Asians like you. He needs the loans to pay off his boss, who by the way…isn't nearly as understanding as we are. Since we're going back two bucks shorthanded. We decided instead of taking it out on your home and your place of business. This time we'll take it out on you and your two legs. Boys?"
Three of the other goons stopped what they were doing, got up, and loaded their guns and began making their way over to Wu Chi and Wu knew what they were going to do.
They were going to kneecap him.
But before Wu Chi could protest, or fight back to defend himself.
Something very odd happened.
Suddenly and inexplicably, from all around the diner came a sinister, ghostly laughter.
This laughter caused the two goons approaching Mr. Chi to stop in their tracks and aim their guns in the direction that the laughter was coming from.
"What the Christ was that?!" one of the asked, weirded out by the "Halloween" styled laughter that had been heard a second ago.
"Who's there?!" the pierced goon yelled out into the darkness of the closed Dim Sum Restaurant.
"Now what kind of game do you think I'm playing here?" the Dark disembodied voice asked the six goons in a mocking tone, coming from the table area of the restaurant that they hadn't already ransacked, "You don't TELL someone where your hiding in a game of hide and seek. You have to come find me."
"The hell we don't!" the Pierced goon snapped, "Boys, shoot the tables. Bastard is probably hiding under one of the table cloths!"
Without further need for orders, the rest of the "protection racket" gang turned their guns towards the untouched tables and opened fire upon the in an attempt to kill the intruder.
Seeing this was his and Lin's chance to escape, Wu Chi quickly ducked behind the counter and carefully snuck away into the kitchen.
Once there, he grabbed his wife and they ran out the restaurants back door into the alleyway, and they didn't stop running until they found the police station or a phone booth to call for police assistance.
However, by the time the police would get there. All of the goons would be gone, seriously injured or trapped within some kind of strange gooey purple substance or whatever…and there would be a note with an envelope of money attached to it.
Money that was in the ten thousands, while the note would say "Sorry for the mess. Your guardian Shadow watching in the darkness of the night reimburses you for the damage. Use it well. S.K" and the two of them would be left confused as to who the initials "S.K" stood for, while also thankful for this strange good Samaritans help and his generous gift of money.
But before any of this happened, a strange kind of scene would occur in their restaurant. One that they would regret to have missed out on when they fled the restaurant to seek police assistance.
The goons who had been terrorising and harassing the two old Chinese couple, had just finished unloading their gun's entire magazine clip into the tables.
Now these tables looked like Swiss cheese with all the holes shot into the table clothes that draped them.
They paused for a moment, awaiting in anticipation for even a hint of that ghostly laughter.
But after waiting for a minute, they heard…nothing.
Not a sound.
They must have done it!
They must have killed the creep hiding under the tables.
"Ha! We got the bastard. Boy's, overturn those tables and find the body. I want to know who was stupid enough to come in here and play kids games with us!"
They did so without question, because they all wanted to know who it was that had been mocking them from underneath one of these tables.
But as they got nearer and nearer to the final table, one of them began to get nervous. The tattooed one with the hair plug.
"Uh oh" he had said.
"What?" the pierced goon asked.
"I know this guy. This is the guy that every crook in the city has been talking about for the past five years. A ghostly voice, talks weird…they saw guns don't work on him. The living Shadow!"
"The living Shadow?" the pierced one asked in disbelief, and rolled his eyes "Oh come on! That's nothing but an urban legend made up by the pigs of this city to scare us. He's no more real than the boogeyman…"
As he was admonishing his colleague for being superstitious, he was currently grabbing the edge of one of the shot tables to turn it over. When he did, he briefly saw for a second the sight of two glowing red eyes looking up at him from within the shadows of the area underneath table he was overturning.
The darkness surrounding these glowing red eyes suddenly "exploded" into tendrils that grabbed each and every one of his fellow goons like some kind of kraken made out of shadows and darkness….while within the main area of darkness where the red eyes could be seen…a hand reached out and grabbed the pierced goon around his neck.
The pierced goon and the others watched in horror as this "Spectre" of darkness began to take form, changing from a mass of darkness…into the shape of a man.
A man wearing a black Trenchcoat, a black slouch hat, and wearing a head mask that was metallic, and had a scowl chiselled into its mouth area and frowning eye holes…it was a fright mask…which was further enhanced in how effectively intimidating it was to look at by way of the two glowing red pupils staring out through the eyes holes at him.
It WAS him.
The Living Shadow!
He was real?!
"That's the funny thing about "boogeymen" you stupid common thug." the Shadow Knight mocked, relishing in the fear he saw in the goon's eyes "They are always hiding underneath something, just waiting for the right moment to jump out of the shadows and get you when you least suspect it."
"Oh sweet Jesus, Oh Sweet Jesus!" the pierced goon began panicking, realising that the thing that had him by the throat wasn't human.
He had heard stories about this guy, a laughing lunatic that put criminals in the hospital…or six feet under depending on their crime…especially if you had done things like raping a girl.
He thought it was an urban myth.
The Shadow Knight rolled his eyes at the panicking thug's profanity, "You might want to keep the profanity down if you insist on calling out that name for help. Now shut up and hold still!"
The pierced goon fearfully did what he was told, and watched as the Living Shadow made him hold up his hand which had several decorative rings on his fingers.
One ring in particular seemed to have caught the Vigilantes eye, because he grabbed it with his gloved fingers and wiggled it of the Pierced goon's middle finger.
He eyed the ring, analyzing it.
It was small, gold, and if his enhanced vision was allowing him to see clearly in the dark. The words of a name, a name on a ring he had been looking for during this past week could be seen on this particular ring.
It matched the description of the ring belonging to a missing teenage girl that he was searching for.
"You know. Screwing up you and your pal's night has just been a bonus. This is the real reason I'm here. I must have went through ten or twelve of your fellow gang banger pals just to find you lot. I'm looking for a ring that will lead me to a "ring"….a ring of Human Traffickers if you will. Now I have found it. It was right here on your greasy little finger. One that you have been putting to use on the ladies of a brothel down in the red light district if the smell is anything to go by." Shadow Knight said, holding up the ring in question as he glared at the goon in his iron grip.
"Hey man, we're just a protection racket for the Night Skulls gang" the pierced goon whimpered, "were not human traffickers!"
"Where did you get this? And don't lie to me, that ring belongs to a missing girl of thirteen years of age." the Living Shadow's voice demanded in regards to the ring he had taken from the pieced thug's hand, the one that had the name "Sheila" engraved on it.
"At…at a pawn shop" the pierced thug whimpered in fear, "Old Joes Pawn Shop on Bleak Street in central Lunar. I swear I didn't know this belonged to a kidnapped Bitch, I thought the name was just for show!"
"Finally!" the Living Shadow exclaimed, "A solid lead into my investigation. Thank you slime bag, you have been most helpful. HA! HA! HA! HA!"
The next thing the pierced goon knew, he couldn't move his arms and legs anymore…and the Living Shadow dropped him hard onto the floor.
Where he was unable to see that he had just been encased in a glowing purple substance that had bound him like a moth in a cocoon.
He wasn't the only one, the entire protection racket gang had been encased in similar cocoons like the one he was trapped in.
The Living Shadow, known as Shadow Knight, turned and looked around at the damage done to the restaurant.
And upon hearing police sirens approaching in the distance, took the time to write a note and leave an envelope of untraceable money onto the restaurant's vacant cashier before he took his leave of this place to continue on the hunt for the human trafficking ring he was perusing.
He left by walking into the wall, and vanishing through his own shadow.
His dark laughter, a most triumphant sound accompanying his dramatic exit.
Trying to find and rescue the victims of a Human Trafficking ring before it was too late.
That doesn't sound like the actions the murderer of a family would take, now does it?