Sebastian Shaw was dead. It was over. It was... it was finally over.
It was time.
The dust hadn't even had time to settle before Alistaire invoked his authority as the Black King and called the Inner Circle to order. Once everyone was assembled and the usual formalities were out of the way, the Black King snapped his fingers and a Pawn brought an item draped in cloth to the center of the floor, before being dismissed.
"Lady Selene, esteemed others.. this is the end." He drew back the cloth, revealing a stark black filing box and a steel drum. "My time as the Black King, as any member of this organization is complete. I am departing peacefully, and taking nothing from your ranks or your resources for myself." He laid a hand across the lid of the box. "This was my previous way out. My... means of mutually assured destruction. Meticulous files, really. Compiled by the very best."
Another glance around the room, with eye contact in all the right places, before he let out a breath. He produced one of his favorite blades with a flick of the wrist, and smoothly cut open the box. He upended the contents into the drum, giving the exterior of the box a firm tap against the rim, before dropping it in as well. He reached into his pocket and swapped the blade for a lighter. He ignited it, then dropped it into the drum. He watched as it took a moment for the contents to ignite. The smell of burning paper, tinged with a hint of metal and plastic from clips and discs and thumb drives, wafted through the room.
Alistaire let the white noise of the fire and the furtive murmurs of the Inner Circle hang in the air for a long moment. "But I think I like this better." He signaled for the Pawn again, and the drum, still burning, was wheeled out. No sense leaving any scraps to be investigated. There were instructions to add accelerant and repeat as many times as necessary. Resurrection was too common a theme in his family to allow the information the same opportunity. "I can't honestly say I wish you all the best, but I can leave one piece of gentle advice. Something I read somewhere or other...
"'There will always be fools who believe that if a man dislikes violence and goes to great lengths to avoid it, it is a sign of weakness and vulnerability.'
Six weeks and three days ago
The courtship had been particularly public, and suitably extravagant. The wedding had everyone who mattered invited, and everyone who could be found on such 'short' notice showed up.
At the end of the day, there was a Mrs Reiko Shaw.
Six weeks ago
"I just need to cut out a few last cancers... I'm changing things going forward." He kissed his wife on the forehead. "Let me do this, and keep you out of it. I'll be back as soon as I can. If anything happens, go to my aunt."
Five weeks and one day ago
"Breaking News: Efforts were mobilized by the US Coast Guard in cooperation with neighboring national authorities today, in a search for wealthy socialite Alistaire Shaw. Shaw's ship is believed to have been destroyed in an unexpected storm while at sea. Although trace wreckage has been found so far, there has been no indication of the crew or any passengers' fate--"
"Hello, Mrs Shaw? Your husband has been found. We were instructed to contact you, along with his aunt, to inform you that he's left against medical advice, and being transported directly back to Manhattan by private security. He should be arriving at your primary residence with an armed security and medical escort within the next few hours."