It all started as a game. Cosmic Entities wanting to create the ultimate show. So they merged the Marvel and DC universes to see who was best. But it didn't quite work out that way and they lived in peace. Until the kabal of Circe, Dormammu, Darkseid and Thanos teamed up. Heroes and villains alike came together to stop them. When they were done the kabal was defeated but over half of NYC was destroyed and the heroes and villains who opposed them were left maimed and/or insane from the war. The rest were simply dead, along with millions. Now the next generation is nearly forced to step up, trying to save the world.
Apocalypse has arrived with his Horsemen and army. Titan Tower, Jean Grey Academy, Central City, Keystone City and more have fallen. Thousands, if not Millions of humans have been killed by the Plague. Human/Mutant relations are at their lowest in 15 years. SHIELD has been crippled by all the attacks and heroes are falling. Help may be coming though! CURRENTLY LOOKING FOR A MODERATOR. PM JJ GRAYSON IF INTERESTED! ALL CREDIT FOR CODING AND SKIN WORK GOES TO CHUCK
Post by Walter West on Sept 29, 2016 14:44:01 GMT -6
"A trap would speed things up, at least." Walt looked his newly disguised companion up and down. "Well, Sergei, I don't imagine the black market will mind a couple more generic henchmen, at least. We'll tell 'em we're doing Titanium Man's grocery shopping." There was no humor in his voice, but no impatience, either. They were moving forward.
Glancing down at his own disguise, Walt snorted with quiet acceptance. A lazily-buttoned black shirt, slacks. Enough scruff on his face to even claim to be Russian. Ivan the Terrible. Classic.
In Russia, Walt surveyed the region around them with thorough attention. As James whispered a few garbled phases, Walt generated a heuristic of the language subconsciously, leaning against a building while still maintaining his stone-faced demeanor. Then James left and entered the rental building, speaking a few more words to the dealer, which Walt bent his head to hear. As the Captain returned, Walt sighed and got in the passenger seat of the Land Rover. Popping the glove compartment, he rummaged until he withdrew a travel atlas, which he thumbed through as James drove. Absorbing as much as he could before the first turn, Walt threw it in the backseat wearily.
"Are we there yet?" The Flash spoke with weary confidence, certain of his pronunciation. Whatever intricacies he picked up from the scum at the market, he could integrate before anyone noticed.
A day at the market with dear old Sergei. Walt allowed himself a smile, despite the torturous pace at which they crawled to their destination. We're bound to sniff something up. Or smoke someone out.
Post by James Barnes Jr on Oct 2, 2016 2:02:34 GMT -6
"A trap would, but then it might give our friend a chance to go underground. And neither of us wants that to happen." James said in his accented Russian. After a moment, he allowed himself a smile. "Grocery shopping is fine, as long as we don't have to do his laundry. That suit probably really seals in the juices."
He continued to drive around and sighed as Walt asked the question. Lydia used to do things like that to him. He replied back in Russian. "Ivan... Your accent is atrocious. You sound like you learned to speak, while chasing down a moose and squirrel." As strange as this encounter was going, James didn't mind it. He hadn't hung out with Walt since they were both younger. And the younger man's animosity seemed to have... well, it had at least gone back into hiding if nothing else. He could always hope.
As they pulled up to the warehouse in question, James got out and motioned for Walt to follow. He walked through the gravel lot to a warehouse. After a knock on the door and some guttural exchanges of Russian, the guards let them pass. They didn't do pat downs or scans, because it was expected that everyone here was packing some kind of heat. It was an unspoken agreement that kept the villains from drawing on each other.
There were various vendors set up, selling different technologies. Some tech from this world, some from others. This was the only place that you could get a homemade pirogi and a Skrull disintegration ray in the same spot. They walked past a vendor that was selling what they claimed to be "Authentic Lantern Corps Rings", but James was pretty sure they were just some kind of metallic replica mood ring or something.
"We are looking for a vendor named Shadow. She brokers information. She'll be the one we want to speak to. She'll find us the right job."
Post by Walter West on Oct 17, 2016 19:05:38 GMT -6
Walt snorted at James's criticism. "Like you are so perfect," Walt continued in newly-calibrated Russian, "With your stench, the moose and squirrel would make better company!" He almost smirked at his own joke before remembering that he was still angry.
Dammit, he thought. Not about to let him off. Not until we make some real progress.
"'Shadow', brilliant. We should find her under the tent marked 'Budget Antagonists'."
The tents were impressively varied, but mostly bore only trifles, which Walter dismissed almost as soon as they came into his field of vision. But then he saw, on the frontmost display table of a nearby vendor, something which nearly made him break stride.
I built that. These were his first thoughts as he looked at a chip-sized arc reactor, a few yards away, hidden partially by a crown of onlookers. On the heels of that were his next thoughts, his first suspicions as to how his invention wound up here: Hammer. It had been a few months since he heard reports of missing tech from Stark subsidiaries, but it hadn't amounted to anything more than a few dozen pounds of discarded scrap that had been suspected stolen- well within the parameters necessary to establish a traceable trail to a larger market... but now here it was, and he in the center of the bidding.
"Hold on, my friend," Walt spoke as he halted James, "I see something I like."
Walt's hands dipped, unnoticeable, into a dozen pockets or so as he pushed to the front of the disorganized queue. Once there, he spoke to the seller, a dirty-looking man in an inexplicably expensive suit, in an arrogant drawl.
"I believe I'll take this." Laying his recently accrued funds on the table, the speedster smirked and reached for the merchandise. Just as he did so, the man behind the counter, deceivingly lithe, pulled a serrated blade from beneath the bar of his stall and held it against Walt's throat. Walt, of course, allowed this to take place over a span of time just long enough for him to don a facial expression of utter horror.
The man hissed, grinning with yellow, shipped teeth. He spoke in rural dialect that Walter recognized as such purely from its offensive simplicity. "It'll be a bit more than that, my stupid boy!"
Walter trembled convincingly, and spoke with a shivering timbre he had practiced during his hours in the Central City slums (which he often dedicated to acting practice.)
"That's fine!!," Walt whimpered. "That's fine-"
The crowd of spectators, eager to watch the scene play out to its inevitable conclusion, were surprised to hear a crack, after which they were downright astonished to return their attention to the scene reversed: the knife was now in the right hand of the younger man- Ivan the Terrible, Walt thought behind a vicious grin- while his left held the seller, now panicked with surprise, to the splintered wall of his own stall.
"-Especially given the price you can get for a human stomach around here." The man in his grip pawed pitiably in Walt's grasp, but the young man didn't loosen his chokehold enough to let him speak.
The crowd was nearly cheering at the free entertainment. Walt sneered at the man, an inch away from his face, as the man jittered, breaking the skin of his neck against the unwavering blade beneath his chin. Walt lowered the knife, slowly tracing a path to the man's gut.
"What do you say we haggle?" Walt asked the man, in perfect Russian.
Post by James Barnes Jr on Oct 18, 2016 3:11:38 GMT -6
"No, no. We'll find her under semi-trustworthy double agents."
He let the insult slide without remark and just moved on to the other joke. "She can be trusted, to a point. She will not burn us unless she is being offered a rather hefty sum, though. Repeat customers are important in that line of work."
James watched Walt stop and look. He took a moment to glance over too. He didn't know what it was, but he recognized it as a picture from a file Ginnie was looking at earlier. James clenched his teeth. Walt was going to blow the operation. But he was protecting Stark Tech. Something in his mind told him not to let his feelings get involved here. One of them had to keep a clear head.
He watched the scene unfold and then saw the man pull a knife. That was in clear violation of the neutrality of this place. Then Walt reversed the scene and was suddenly holding the man's knife after slamming him into a wall. 'Good job, Ivan. Terrific,' James thought to himself. This was going to get harder to keep together.
The thing that James found the most annoying, was that he didn't actually know if Walt would stab the guy. He'd already killed the evil version of Lydia and quite frankly, he wasn't sure what would happen to Winter Soldier if they found him. Stabbing this guy would probably be a walk in the park. Walt's moral crisis aside, James decided it was time to do something. Subtle be damned. It was Ginnie's tech.
James whispered "F*ck subtle" in Russian. James pushed his way through the crowd and looked at the item on the table. He spoke loudly in Russian. "Ivan, Ivan, Ivan. Do not kill the useless man. Even though he was stupid enough to steal technology directly from Crimson Dynamo and Titanium Man, we should let our master deal with him. Clearly, he and anyone else here who will buy from him, don't care about their life span. We will tell Titanium Man and he will deal with him. And if not him, then the Dynamo."
"He will take care of this fool and the rest of them." As James spoke, the crowd started to disappate and James smiled. He reached down and picked up the ARC reactor and pocketed it as well as a few other pieces that looked like stolen Stark Tech. There wouldn't be a need for the deaths of anyone now. They could knock the guy out and leave without drawing more attention to themselves. They did need to start moving soon anyway. The guards would be coming to see what the commotion was about and James didn't feel like being shot at.
He tossed Walt a hypo injector of knockout drug. "Make it quick. We don't to be ejected. Only this fool."
Post by Walter West on Oct 18, 2016 15:26:05 GMT -6
Walt allowed himself to be talked down by his companion, but he didn't drop his smile or blink through his eye contact with the shuddering degenerate in his grasp. Abruptly, he dropped the man to the ground with a shrug.
"You my be right, my old friend- after all, it will be all the more entertaining to watch this man face the usual penalty for inconveniencing our leader. This man is certainly misusing his tongue, anyway." It almost makes me sick to refer to that B-lister seriously, Walt thought, but his voice remained ominously threatening.
Turning on his heel, Walt tossed the knife he held over his shoulder. It landed with a thin clang inches away from the man's head, and he whimpered once more before covering his head with his arms as though to hide himself. This act of cowardice gave Walt enough time to snatch the drug from James's hand and administer it to the vendor. Anyone still looking on saw a man pass out from fear.
Walt himself returned to stand beside the disguised Captain. Looking around, he spoke without making eye contact.
"You know, Sergei," Walt nodded to himself self-assuredly. "I believe we have found our friend at last."
A woman stood some distance away, staring straight at the pair of them.
Post by James Barnes Jr on Nov 15, 2016 2:47:30 GMT -6
James offered a smile through the holocloak. That was translated on to Sergei's face on the outside of the mask. The threat of implied danger here was more than enough to make the crowd disburse. If Titanium Man didn't carry the threat, then the mention of Crimson Dynamo did. No one wanted to be involved with Department X's business. That usually ended poorly for everyone involved, as his parents could testify.
He trusted Walt to deal with the man. Their had to be trust if they expected to repair anything between the two of them. It was James' distrust of everyone that had gotten Walter and quite a few others in the position they found themselves in, in the first place. James looked up at the statement and saw the blonde woman looking at them.
"You are correct, Ivan. That is exactly who we are here to see."
As they detached themselves from the scene, James walked over to the blonde and spoke hurriedly to the woman. They stepped inside her tent and she drew the flap shut. James tapped a button on his belt and the face part of the holocloak disengaged, nothing else. The blonde threw her arms around his neck and kissed James. He returned the kiss, clearly shocked and then the blonde broke it off and stepped back.
"That was for Berlin." He looked at Walt and completely missed the hand that slapped his cheek with a loud crack. "And that was for Tehran."
James rubbed his face and just quietly said, "I liked Berlin better."
"Yes, you always did." She looked at James and Walt and then spoke. "I did not expect to see you again, Yuri. You are somewhat of a ghost these days. Even my network couldn't find you. I heard someone took your place. He is even wearing your costume. Some of my people say he's indistinguishable from the original."
"That's actually what we're here about, Shadow. My friend and I need to find this man and confront him. He's dangerous and we need to shut him down."
"Yes, I figured that was why you came. It is never just to say hello. Never to bring me flowers or chocolates. Always just information. Well, I can get you all that I have on him. There is not much. My contacts in Department X don't even know who he is. So he's not a Red Room remnant or a Winter Soldier sleeper agent. I thought perhaps, he might be your replacement."
"Shadow, I came to you because you're the best at what you do. That's why I keep coming back to you."
"Yes, yes. Don't ever forget it." She starts typing commands into her laptop and pulling up data.
Post by Walter West on Nov 29, 2016 16:29:08 GMT -6
Walt made no effort to suppress the smile that broke out on his face when the woman struck James.
"Ah, I think Tehran has its perks."
His arms crossed, Walt stared at the woman as she tiptoed around James's questions. God help me, I forgot there were women in Russia. I should've left him at home.
But Shadow was soon at her laptop, making what Walt perceived to be dreadfully slow progress. He turned and shouldered open the flap of the tent, and while his eyes reflected disinterest, the corners of his mouth turned up to form a near-undetectable smile.
A few yards away, a small group of men in egregiously conspicuous disguises were stopping passerby, speaking in clipped, harsh tones, and moving on to others. Most suspiciously, they were speaking through a translator, who conveyed their rapid English to the impatient-looking members of the crowd.
"Americans," Walt whispered dramatically. He smiled.
A few individuals were being interviewed near where Walt had been attacked, and seemed to be gesturing towards where the unconscious man lay. The speedster dipped slowly back into the tent.
"Sergei," Ivan spoke with deliberate calmness, "Things are about to get messy. I do hope your friend has found what we needed."
Post by James Barnes Jr on Dec 3, 2016 15:17:16 GMT -6
James noticed Walt's smile through the holocloak, but he let it pass unremarked. 'Let the kid have his fun', he thought to himself. He watched Shadow transfer files and work while Flash slipped out of the tent. James imagined that babysitting him and the Russian information broker was probably slow and tedious for the scarlet streak. Cap pulled out a secure phone. "I will transfer the funds into the usual account. Thank you for this."
"Well, I would tell you that we could find better arrangements than that, but I know you're off the market now. So, we'll keep it strictly business."
"How did you..." He paused. "Right. I suppose you know all sorts of things."
"I do. I know things that are not for sale. Things about you go on that list." Shadow said, pressing the flash drive into James' hand. She kissed him on the cheek. "Tell Stark if she doesn't take care of you, I might steal you back."
"Yes, Ivan. We have all the information we need." He reactivated his cloak, and peeked outside the tent looking at the men, taking count. "They will be lead back to this tent if we just vanish. We'll have to make something rather public. Say, Ivan. If we walk right up to them... Can you super speed us out of here and make it look like we just disappeared? Without killing us? Because I have an idea in mind."
Post by Walter West on Dec 12, 2016 22:32:51 GMT -6
"In my country, we call this the bait-and-ditch," Walt quipped in an indulgent Russian accent. Shaking the dirt out of his sleeves, Walt made for the armed group approaching his tent.
"Excuse me! Comrades! I am in need of your generous aid!" Walt shouted in English.
The men immediately raised their guns, took aim, and started shouting for him to get on the ground.
Walt complied, placing his hands behind his head. He continued speaking as the men rushed to force his hands behind his back and fasten handcuffs around his wrists.
"You know, this is what I get when I save all my holiday shopping for the last minute. Can't find a copy of High School Musical in the States, and this is what happens."
"Shut up!" A man leaned in and barked the command at Walt, spraying spittle, who reacted with contained distaste.
"Yeesh, buddy, say it, don't spray it. Anyway, is there an Auntie Anne's around here? Do they have those he-"
A different man slammed the butt of his gun against Walt's jaw, eliciting a crack.
"Hoo!" Walt shook his head and smiled, spitting a glob of blood to his side.
"Buddy," he started, "You just did yourself out of a cinnamon twist."
The speedster propelled himself forward from his knees, ramming his skull into the gut of the man who hit him. As the other men started firing, he vibrated the handcuffs off his wrists, and attached them to an ankle each of two of the remaining mercenaries.
"That should do!" Walt spoke out loud before speeding over to where James stood, grabbing him by the arm, and dashing away from the chaotic scene behind him.
Post by James Barnes Jr on Dec 23, 2016 23:09:18 GMT -6
Barnes watched the exchange and counted to five. He walked forward, watching Walt get 'arrested' by these goons. The kid was good at making a scene. That much hadn't ever changed. That was really what this whole plan counted on. He was shocked to see that Walt complied with their demands. Then the thug hit Walt with the rifle butt. And James got angry. No one hit his sister's friends. Or his friends. Whatever Walt was today.
Without a second thought, the super soldier drew his .45 and fired at the man Flash headbutted. He knew the speedster could dodge the round with ease, so that wasn't an issue. The bullet impacted into his ribs. The vest he was wearing under the clothing would stop it, but he'd at least have some broken ribs to show for the attempt.
As the scarlet blur handcuffed the other two's legs together, the .45 barked twice more, aiming for their mid-chest area. Center mass. A kill shot any other time. The slugs impacted with body armor as well, sending both men end over end into the dirt. He'd probably have to tell Walt they were wearing body armor, but he figured the Speedster might know or not even care. The men would at least know they were in a fight.
Then the blur appeared and James felt one hand on the back of his head and the other on his arm, before the world went super sonic. After a moment and some extreme disorientation, James noted that the world had stopped moving and they were somewhere else. He looked over at Walt. "Your Russian is passable now," He said in English, before breaking out into laughter.
After regaining his composure, James left the holocloak active, but slid up his sleeve. He plugged the flash drive into a port on his cybernetic hand and it displayed information on a holographic projection. He loved that Ginnie added this feature for him. He tapped a few icons and data collection started. A moment later, three separate dots appeared. One in Siberia, one in Europe, and a third in Antarctica. He studied the maps.
"So, the first two are based on sightings of the Winter Soldier in the last few months. They're manufacturing centers for the drugs. The last one is based on some rumors and some hearsay. It's an old SHIELD monitoring station in the Savage Lands. One of these locations contains the target. Normally, this would be a problem and would take time and manpower," James grinned widely. "But I figure you can recon all three and figure out which has the target. And then we go in and get our guy."
"Side question... Where the hell did you take us?" He looked around noticing that they were in some place a lot sandier and warmer than Russia all of a sudden.
Post by Walter West on Dec 24, 2016 23:11:51 GMT -6
The Flash's smile slipped as he realized that his feet were doing the same at Mach 2. He was able to regain himself just in time to skid to a halt, albeit earlier than he had intended. As he achieved balance he smiled confusedly, watching James enjoy their overall success before the soldier briefed him on the next phase of their mission.
"Well, Cap'n, I 'd be more than happy to swing around the old stomping grounds, but to answer your question..." Walt rotated, taking in his surroundings: a golden beach, a dazzling sun high in the sky, and a flock of birds dancing so high above them that they appeared as black specks to the two displaced travelers.
"... I have no idea where we are. I mean, I was trotting back to your place, but along the way it sorta felt like I was lagging... like I was being sucked in." Walt put his hands on his hips and sighed sharply. "To this place. Wherever this is. You got any idea?"
One of the birds above swooped downward in a graceful slalom, and Walt shaded his eyes against the sun with his hand as he squinted up at it.
"Well, wherever it is, I wouldn't mind splitting a timeshare here. What do you think?" Walt grinned over at his companion.
His head snapped upward, and his eyelids flicked open. He started forward, and his expression turned to panic.
He dove just in time to avoid the winged monster's predatory dive. The beast screeched as it arced upward to reunite with the group circling above.
Walt, propped up on his hands, locked eyes with James.
"What the fuck was that?! What-" Another screech came from above, this time echoed from a few different sources.
Walt tried to run, but his pace was so agonizingly slow that his groaned violently in frustration. Reaching James, he spoke with manic urgency.
"I lost it. I can't r-"
Another howling roar reached them. Much louder.
And much closer.
You've gotta be shitting me, Walt thought, his frantic mind whirling. His head turned towards the treeline inland from the coast, where the sounds of the colossal trees cracking and plummeting matched the tremors his felt at his feet.
Post by James Barnes Jr on Jan 14, 2017 23:05:05 GMT -6
The scenery was interesting. They were at some sandy locale next to a small body of fresh water. It definitely wasn't anywhere near Russia. "Not at the moment. I bet I can get a fix on us with the Global Positioning System. I'll see if I can get access to SHIELD's network." The scenery was rather picturesque. It was almost peaceful. Frankly, it looked too peaceful.
"Maybe you can count me in for the time share." As the large not-bird dive bombed Walt, he sighed. "There it is." Then a sudden realization dawned on James. "Oh, f*ck me. Flash, we're in the Savage Lands. Last time I was here there were..." Another roar came in the distance. James recognized it from the Avengers last visit here. The camping trip where he'd brought them all for training. "Pterodactyl."
A second roar. "And that's a T-Rex. Probably the same one I pissed off last time. Flash, let's get the hell out of here." The words that Walt said finally resonated inside his head and clicked. He'd lost it. It. His powers. "Are you serious? You don't have any..." The T-Rex burst from the trees. It was large and covered in scales and feathers, with a scar over one eye.
"Oh, it's him. Wonderful." Flash couldn't run, and James had a shield and a gun. Not really the kind of things that you'd use to pacify a Tyrant Lizard King. He looked over at Walt. "This happen often? The performance thing? It happens to a lot of heroes. Do they make a blue pill for this?" He threw the shield at the giant lizard and it hit the dinosaur in the face. James caught it on the rebound. That just seemed to make it angrier.
Post by Walter West on Jan 14, 2017 23:33:54 GMT -6
Walt's eyes flicked from those of the soldier to those of the colossal reptile. Whereas his powers failed him, his instincts remained more or less intact, and he was sprinting by the time James regained his shield.
"Four out of five speedsters!" He shouted his retort without turning his head, his feet slamming the sand as he traced the coastline at what seemed to him an excruciating pace.
This is gonna be it. A f***ing T-Rex. Where are my powers?! Where-
A hill rose to meet the horizon abruptly enough to attract Walt's attention, and his dilated pupils locked on to his target while his legs ached in tandem with his heartbeat.
And what is this?! Is it- am I sweating?!
Every muscle pained him as he hurled himself towards the alcove at the base of the nearing hill, and still he may as well have been crawling. His panic was at the forefront of his consciousness, but then the beast which was pursuing them let loose another monstrous bellow and he thought of nothing but escaping.
Without looking back (although sparing a half-formed thought for his companion) the young man dove into the crevasse, landed on his hands and knees, and scampered several dozen feet further into the cave. Heaving, he looked back to see the bottom of the monster's enormous legs, wider than any tree trunk he had ever seen, just outside of the opening of his place of refuge.
His head snapped forward, sweat still dripping off his chin. He exhaled slowly. A large metal door, very well-kept and very out of place, met his gaze.
He was too exhausted, and much too dismayed, to make sense of it.
I can't run. Power's off. Oh, god.
For the first time since before he could walk, Walter West was an average boy.
Post by James Barnes Jr on Jan 15, 2017 0:00:20 GMT -6
"Four out of five? Oh, you would be the fifth. Always have to be a special snowflake."
James ran after the Flash, turning to throw a pair of dazzlers from his belt. They hit the T-Rex in the face and lit up with their strobe-like flashes, temporarily blinding it, hopefully. James ran and passed the Flash. He savored it for a second, because he was fairly sure that he'd never do this again. As he passed Walt by for a moment, he said "There's some joke about a bear that could work here." Without even showing a sign of being winded.
As the speedster dashed into the cave, James followed him in there. The dinosaur roared outside the cave and stayed for a few minutes. It would leave soon. They had become too much trouble. More than they were worth. James looked at Walt. "That guy had a grudge that he was holding. I sort of removed one of the eyes last time." He looked at the door with interest, scanning it with the cowl's sensors. "I don't remember seeing this place last time."
James touched the pad near the door and looked at it. "Hmm. Retinal scanner. Three guesses and the first two don't count." Captain America lifted his mask just enough to show the right eye and let the beam scan his eye. The door lock clicked and the door slid open. James looked at Walt, after pulling down his mask. He tossed him the shield, slowly.
"You've got no powers, right now. We're going to need something to protect ourselves here. You think you can use that?" He tapped the side of his cybernetic wrist and a red and white energy shield in the same shape and size of the one he passed off. He gave a little smile. "I do like the upgrades Ginnie gave me."
Post by Walter West on Jan 15, 2017 0:21:38 GMT -6
Walt's hands were shaking as Captain America passed his shield. He looked down at it, his eyes wide and his mouth closed tight. He gripped the strap with a tremulous arm. It's all wrong, he thought.
"James," he started. His voice was shaking, too.
I don't know if I can do this. I don't think I can do anything.
Although he didn't voice his concerns, he was every bit as jittery on the outside as he was internally.
No training. Every bit of experience I have is useless if I don't have my speed. A few sparring sessions are not going to mean anything to whoever we find in there. If I walk in that room, I'm dead.
No. I've got to get it back. Walt clenched his jaw.
Either way, I've got to get it back, and it's in there.
"I'm good." Walt's voice regained a slim degree of composure. "I'll be alright- but listen. Whatever did this to me-" here his voice wavered in a more manic, desperate pitch, "Whatever did this, that's gotta be our first priority. I'm no good like this- dead weight. I'm likely to get us both killed."
A full, booming chuckle echoed around them as the room lit up with the glaring intensity of a miniature sun.
"That's the idea," said the man as he stepped from the shadows.