Where Shadows Never Fall – Chapter 1

Here’s Another Fine Mess…

Mere weeks ago, I, Lady Midnight, saved the superhero world from a diabolical hostile takeover. Now I find myself back in a situation I swore I’d never be in again.

In another, sure-not-to-fail, villainous trap.

Excuse the cliché, but let me set the scene. It’s a rainy night, not heavy rain, just enough to make you wet and miserable. I know this because I’m wet and miserable. It’s also almost pitch dark, so it’s a good thing that one of my lesser-known superpowers is the ability to see in the dark.

I control shadows, so I guess it kind of makes sense. At least as much as my powers ever do.

At the moment, I’m on my knees with the love of my life cradled in my arms making us both look completely helpless. I know that sounds romantic, but add to that scene a couple of villains who are looking entirely too pleased with themselves, and…

Strike that. Only one of them has that look. The other one is just making me nervous, but I don’t know why. Which in its current context is both annoying and just a little scary, and that’s never a good combination.

Now, I admit, this all looks really bad, but it’s not what you think.

Really, it’s not.

For instance, you might be tempted to blame Rafe, aka The Chevalier, for this fine mess we’re in, as he’s the plan man. Except it’s not his fault, or mine either. Because you have to consider who we’re up against, and that’s one of the best villains in the business.

The Baron. Yes, I do mean that Baron.

So what did we do to rate him as an adversary, you may be asking? I’m not being sarcastic. This guy is the Matterhorn of supervillaindom. The only one who would be worse would be his mother, but that’s a really scary thought, so let’s not go there.

Because she’s Mount Everest.

Okay, so we were investigating him, and we think we know what he’s up to, but we’re not sure that there’s not more to it. There usually is where The Baron’s concerned.

Unfortunately, it looks like we may be getting confirmation the hard way, and the hard way tends to be so very uncomfortable.

Trust me, I’ve had some experience.

Just in case you’ve been living in a cave somewhere and don’t know who The Baron is, I’ll give you a quick rundown as I don’t seem to be going anywhere just at the present time.

His full name, at least for public consumption, is Baron Malpro. His real name is Malevolent Proud. I kid you not. Strangely enough, it suits him. He’s got that whole brooding good-looking bad boy thing going on, with longish black hair, and smoldering dark eyes. Plus, he’s rich, owns his own country, and is very, very smart.

After all, he’s figured out my fatal weakness.

I should have remembered that all supers have one. I guess it’s God’s way of keeping us humble, not that most of the other supers seem to take that into consideration.

My mother, father, sister, her boyfriend, heck, even Captain Cornflake has one. I guess I figured since I faced a diffused light situation, and was still able to control shadows, I was immune.

Right, pride goes before destruction. I’ve got to pay more attention to my Bible…oh, wait, his high and mightiness is speaking.

Does that sound bitter? If so, good, because I am. Especially as I am cold, wet, and so over the whole ‘you have fallen into my trap so you must listen to my villainous justification speech’ thing.

Have I mentioned that villains, super and otherwise, talk way too much?

But The Baron, as usual, surprised me.

“Here,” he says, tossing what looks like a piece of black leather my way.  “Put that on, get in the cage, and your boyfriend goes free. It’s not him we want. Just you.”

What do you know? A villain who gets straight to the point. Not a novelty I needed just now. I know I was just complaining about that very thing, but…just be on my side, okay?

Now what is it that he wants me to put on? Let’s take a look, because it can’t be good.

Never trust a supervillain, that’s my motto.

I examine it before deciding that it’s supposed to be a neck collar, at least I think so. From what I can tell it resembles one of those fancy Victorian asphyxiation chokers. I agree, they could have come up with a better name.

Looking up, I notice something behind the villains. It’s one of those old-time circus cages they used to put wild animals into, and it’s being drawn by a team of black horses. With black and white plumed harnesses yet.

How darkly vintage.

What’s the plan? To lock me in it and then parade me throughout the city?

I really don’t think so.

Not that I’d put it past him, but it’s probably a necessary mode of transport due to the power outage he arranged.

The Baron likes attention, but not when it interferes with his villainous plans.

So why a circus cage? Well, this is just a guess, but The Baron has been into steampunk just lately. This thing definitely fits the period. So why steampunk? Turns out there was a reason for that. The Baron, as The Chevalier so aptly put it, always has a reason for everything he does.

Just in case you don’t know what steampunk is (I know I had to look it up), it’s basically tech that doesn’t use electricity – with a Victorian flair. Of course, there’s more to it than that, but that’s the short version.

Think Jules Verne with a little Grimm’s Fairy Tales thrown in.

In an attempt to stall for time, I decide to ask some questions. I’m sure His Highness feels suitably contemptuous of my efforts, as he’s probably made sure that the cavalry is not coming to the rescue.

Unfortunate, that. Because in my case, the cavalry, although small in size, would be effective nonetheless.

“What’s the collar for?”

He sneered at me. If he had a moustache, he’d be twirling it.

I nearly roll my eyes. I’m all for vintage, but when you start on the melodramatic villain impersonations, that’s when you know that a line has been crossed.

Not that The Baron seems to care.

“Just a little something my sister made up to nullify your powers. Once it’s on, it has a locking system in the clasp that makes sure that won’t come off. If you were to try, you’d be in for a nasty shock, and I mean that literally. I hope you like it, she worked very hard on it. She even added a little style to make sure it went with your costume.”

Just so you know, he’s talking about his henchwoman, Miss Chievous (oh, don’t get me started on the lame alter-ego name thing again), and he’s not exaggerating about her skills. According to our sources, she’s a genius high-tech engineer. I know, it doesn’t fit into the whole steampunk thing. However, once again, there’s a reason. I’m not exactly sure what it is yet, but it should be coming forthwith.

Especially with a little prompting from yours truly.

Yes, it’s a stalling tactic. Not exactly original, but it’s all I’ve got right now.

“Why? I think we’ve already established that my powers don’t work at the moment.”

Once again, The Baron doesn’t mince words.

“That won’t last, they’ll be back once the lights are back on.”

Okay, this isn’t looking good, but what’s new about that? I seem to be the Calamity Jane of the superhero world, falling into one mess after another.

So, you may be asking, if our current situation isn’t Rafe’s fault, and it’s not my fault, and let’s be clear on that point, it’s not, how did we get into this fine mess?

Once again…it’s a long story.