Aug 23, 2011


On the deck of the Holdsworth on an overcast Lisbon morning, just a day before launch, Hank found himself stressing out over the massive stockpiles of cable being loaded onto his ship and the extensive modifications being made to enable the laying of said cable. There were all sorts of strange men on the Holdsworth doing things Hank didn't quite understand. He kept his two-tone Walther P99 closer at hand than usual. The reason he used a P99 was because of an old friend who carried one very much like it. On more than one occasion, he was given the opportunity to use it and fell in love. The handgrip was simply too comfortable to pass up. It had been a while since Hank had the chance to use it against either a living or undead target. He hoped that would not change any time soon.

Hank heard commotion coming from the pier below. It was worth noting because he specifically ordered some of his crew to make nothing happened down there. The entire area was off-limits to anyone not personally authorized by Hank himself. There should not have been anything happening unless there was an accident or an upset of some kind. Hank sighed as he looked over the railing. His eyes widened as he noticed a man sprinting through security. “Aw, what the hell,” Hank exhaled as he drew his P99.

“Intruder! Intruder!” Someone shouted from below.

Hank dashed down the boarding ramp, pushing aside a few of the workers. The security below had been ordered not to use lethal force unless absolutely necessary, so they gave chase. As Hank grew closer, he realized that the intruder wore a Russian army uniform. Curious.

As soon as Hank made it down to the pier, the Russian changed directions to charge right at Hank, shouting, “Captain Mitchell! Captain Mitchell!”

Hank raised his P99 and set his sights dead center-mass, “Hold it right there!”

The Russian stopped and raised his hands. The other guards joined Hank in pointing their weapons at the stranger.

“Who the hell are you?”

The Russian looked confused and spoke in a thick accent, “You do not know me? It is me! Ivanov!”

“Ivanov?” Hank lowered his pistol; the other followed suit. “Good God, what brings you out here to Lisbon?”

“Ivanov!” Lena beamed. Where'd she come from? Hank wondered.

“Mrs. Mitchell,” Ivanov sighed in relief that he was recognized. “It is good to see you.”

“You too, Iv,” she called him by his nickname, pronounced, “I've.”

“Lena, head up to the mess and get something going for our guest here. This man deserves our best.”

In the mess hall of the Holdsworth, Hank and Lena sat in front of Ivanov as he scarfed down some hashed potatoes and bacon. It was what they had leftover from breakfast, which was a miracle because the bacon almost always vanished at the speed of light. Of course, Ivanov rapidly rectified this issue. After a few minutes of letting the Russian eat, Hank decided it was time to kill the elephant, “So, what brings you here, man?”

Ivanov, for once, took his eyes off his plate and looked up to the captain and his wife. He wiped his mouth before saying, “This is good food.”

“Ivanov,” Hank insisted. “What are you doing here? You blew through my security and now you're whoofing down my food like it's going out of style. What's going on?”

“I ran from Russia. I fled. I am a traitor. I abandoned my post and fled. I came here to warn about the Shadow. I have yet eaten in four days, so I thank you for-”

“Wait, warn us about what?”

Ivanov set down his fork, “The Shadow.”

“The what?” Hank shook his head.

“Shadow,” Ivanov wiped his mouth again. “Two weeks back, I was enjoying alcohol like a good Russian when suddenly I find I am being tortured. It was one man and one man alone. He called himself the Shadow.”

“Go on.”

“He tortured me,” Ivanov shivered. “Made me tell him things. Things about you, about the ship, about what you are doing-”

“You told him everything?”

“Yes,” Ivanov replied remorsefully. “I did. I am sorry.”

“Do you know what this Shadow wants?” Lena asked.

“He made this speech about- about, I don't know. He sounded like he wanted world domination. He reminded me very much of Tokovsky,” Ivanov said bringing up a haunted specter of the past.

“Tokovsky,” Hank snarled. There was a name he hadn't heard in a long time; one he had hoped to leave that way. “So, just one guy?”

“There is more,” Ivanov swallowed. “The Shadow told me that he works with Steelewood.”

Hank paused, “Are you sure?”

“It is what he said.”

Hank and Lena exchanged worried glances. “Steelewood,” Hank repeated. “Why would Isadora do this?” He asked his wife, referring to the woman in charge of Steelewood and a very old friend.

“Maybe this guy's actin' alone,” Lena suggested.

“Did he ask about the line?”


“How much did ask?”

“Everything,” Ivanov pushed his plate away. “I told him as much as I knew, which was not much, but it seemed- it seemed that his intent was to get as much information about the Fu- Fujeh-”


“Fujikawa Network as possible.”

“Damn,” Hank sighed. “What does Steelewood want with-?”

“Hank, we talked about this,” Lena interrupted. “Whoever controls the line controls communication. Communication is power and we all know....”

“Yeah, Steelewood is in the power business.”

Lena nodded, “I still don't wanna believe Isadora would ever do somethin' like this to an old friend.”

“Isadora Fleming never was one for friends, Lena.”

She sighed, “Hank, I just can't-”

“Well, look, we don't know anything right now. We can't know.”

“Hank, I really don't like this.”

“I know, I don't either. But we have spoken to Isadora in, what, five, six years now? A lot can change in six years.”

“Hank,” Lena pleaded. “I want us to assume she's still our friend. I don't wanna make enemies of one of the people we trust most in the world for no reason. Let's please assume she's good.”

Hank thought it over and then put his hand over hers, “Okay. Isadora's innocent until proven guilty.”

“Thank you,” Lena squeezed her husband's hand.

“Well, Ivanov, you're welcome to stay with us as long as you like.”

Ivanov nodded, “I will stay as long as there is... what do you call this?”


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