Shadow of a Chance
Al Bruno III
No one came to the River City docks at night, it wasn't safe. That was why no one was there to see what happened.
A cluster of automobiles that surrounded the dilapidated warehouse were sleek and classy, the men that guarded them were not. Their clothes were shabby and stained, their faces and bodies networked with prison tattoos and old scars. Each of them was armed with a brand new gun, freshly cleaned and scrubbed of any serial numbers.
Boss Aragosta and the Shellfish gang were taking no chances.
But neither was Kevin. He slipped from shadow to shadow, his body literally a wisp of darkness. One by one he knocked out the Boss's thugs, sometimes with a punch, sometimes with a headlock. It didn't matter, they never saw him coming. They were too busy expecting a rescue attack to come blazing from above.
He slithered along the pavement, a ribbon of black. This was his power and his curse- every night Kevin Raymond became a tangible silhouette with the power to become and strike from the darkness.
And that was every single night since he was a teenager whether he wanted to or not.
It made his teenage years a dateless misery, after all if he revealed his condition to a friend or a special girl he was all but revealing his father's secret life as the crime fighter Shadomask. No one knew what caused his son's strange condition but everyone suspected that somehow the impossible fabric of the hero's mask had affected his son at a genetic level.
Slipping under the door Kevin made his way through the warehouse. Any moment now the bidding would begin, any moment now and these assorted villains and thugs were going to take his adopted sister apart piece by piece.
He knew he was a fool to come here by himself, not when the Local Heroes would be more than willing to help but this was something Kevin felt he needed to do alone. It wasn't because of his father's legacy- his father was almost ten years gone now and the responsibility of defending truth and justice had moved onto a younger, flashier generation.
Not that any of those gleaming paragons had much interest in the likes of River City.
Moving quietly now, past where Overkrill stood guard and beneath where Johnny Crawdad waited on the rafters with a high powered rifle, Kevin tried to control his anger at the sight of his adopted sister- Lisa aka the Maven. She wore a dark purple costume and a full face mask that emulated the one worn by the man that had been her father in all but blood. They had tied her by her arms and weighted down her feet, there was no sign of her utility belt. It looked like she was barely conscious.
His father had taken the girl named Lisa Gray after her parents had been murdered by the RedDeath. Kevin had been thirteen then and preparing this short lived and disastrous quest to try and follow in ShadoMask's footsteps. Millionaire industrialist Rob Raymond had seen to it that his son had gotten the very best training in the martial arts and detective work; and after some wheedling and begging Kevin had found himself learning these things along with the 9 year old girl that had become his sister.
And damned if she wasn't better than him at all of it. Before Keven knew it he had been gently pushed aside in favor of her and while ShadoLass became a sidekick sensation he found himself using the name NightBleed and working with the other like minded young heroes of Emo Force.
That was fifteen years ago now and Kevin had fond memories of those days, of friendship and adventure and really questionable costume choices but he was done playing hero; he had thought he was done forever, at least until now.
Boss Aragosta stepped onto the stage and raised his fleshy claw arms for silence, “All right, quiet down you mugs. It's time for the real festivities to begin.”
Retreating further back into the warehouse Kevin found the fusebox. He waited until the bidding to begin before he shut down the lights.
The chaos was immediate. Boss Aragosta tried to hide behind Overkrill and knocked them both off of the stage. Johnny Crawdad fired at random onto the lower levels wounding Pink Eye and killing Walt Mephisto. Kevin moved fast, weaving between the criminals, pausing only long enough for a well timed punch or to smash a pair convenient heads together. Some slashed at Kevin, barely missing him by inches- he didn't recognize the costume but a kick to the solar plexus crumpled him as quickly as any of the rest.
By the time Boss Aragosta had untangled himself from Overkrill and Johnny Crawdad had gotten the lights back on the Maven was gone.
An hour later Kevin and Lisa were sitting on a rooftop, she had her mask off revealing a smile that shone through bruises and welts. “I can't believe you did it,” she said.
Kevin kept his voice neutral, “I'm just glad you're all right.”
“I haven't seen you since the funeral,” she said.. “Where have you been?”
“It's almost dawn,” he stood.
“Don't go,” Lisa grabbed for his hand but he was intangible again.
“Be careful,” Kevin jumped from the ledge into the darkness. It was time to head home, back across the river, to his one room apartment in Megalopolis City. He had wanted to stay, Lord how he had wanted to but he couldn't take the chance. She was one of the world's greatest detectives and he couldn't risk her deducing how he felt. Would she return those feelings or find them a betrayal? It was better never to take the chance.
It was at moments like this he was glad his face was obscured by shadows.