At the California branch of Bishamon Technologies in the vice-president’s office, an older oriental gentleman was busy looking through the most urgent requests for his attention. He paused at the request from the newer branch of the company for someone to play escort to a reporter. Kompera Lee then summoned his executive assistant into his austere office. He was busy looking through several pieces of documentation when she walked in.
“How much do you know about Gotham City, Miss Winter?” he asked as he closed the folder.
Buffy Winter thought for a moment. “Gotham City is the home of Batman, Red Robin, Batwing, Green Lantern, and a few lesser-known masked vigilantes. The Justice Society’s current headquarters is located there. Many businesses have offices in the city, from Wayne Enterprises to STAR Labs. I do believe that Bishamon Technologies has just opened a new research and development site in that area as well.”
Lee gave her a small nod of approval before handing her the folder. “You are flying there to escort a reporter around the facilities. I expect you to make her feel welcomed.”
Buffy Winter flipped through the folder before looking at her boss. “Do you know the name of this reporter, Mr. Lee? ”
Kompera Lee turned his attention back to his desk before answering the question. “I believe her name is Alex DeWitt.”
“I will pack my bags and acquire a plane to Gotham City as soon as possible. Will I need to pack any special equipment?” Buffy Winter asked, giving particular emphasis to the last two words as she looked at her boss.
“You will not need to take any special equipment, Miss Winter. Contact Accounts to receive money for the plane ticket and extra cash for the housing arrangements. And, Miss Winter, I would prefer that you refrain from your current extracurricular activity while you are in Gotham. Do you understand me?” Mr. Lee gave his executive assistant a stern gaze as she nodded her head reluctantly.
Buffy Winter left the office, leaving Kompera Lee staring after her for just a moment before he returned his attention to his desk. Then the phone rang, and Lee answered it.
“Ira, a genuine pleasure to hear from you. Yes, I know Maxwell Lord. He wants to meet with me? Certainly, I can arrange to take time to fly up there. I’ll tell my secretary to arrange his reservation at one of the restaurants that I won to ensure we will not be disturbed.” Lee replaced his phone before rising from his desk to go and arrange a meeting between himself and Maxwell Lord.
[(*) Editor’s note: See DC Universe: The Race, Book 1, Chapter 6: Running Mate.]
The Gotham City Airport, where the lithe form of Buffy Winter was exiting her airplane. Alex DeWitt was waiting in the airport, wanting to get an early start on her story and occasionally gazing down at the picture of her contact. Alex recognized Buffy Winter as she went to the baggage carousel.
“Miss Winters, I’m the photojournalist assigned to cover your facilities opening in Gotham,” Alex said just as Buffy grabbed her bag.
“Actually, that’s Winter with no S at the end. You must be Miss DeWitt. I would say it’s a pleasure to meet you, but I’m not sure if our working together will be at all pleasant.” Buffy wore a slight smile on her face before giving Alex a small bow out of respect.
“That was terribly blunt but honest. You must not work in the advertising portion of your company.” Alex returned the smile before offering her hand.
“Sorry, but I’ve picked up the habits of my employers in preferring to give a respectful bow instead of shaking hands, Miss DeWitt.” Buffy looked around the airport with a professional interest.
“I hope you don’t mind, but I would like to offer you a tour of the city instead of you taking a taxi to whatever motel you’re staying at,” Alex DeWitt said while watching the young Buffy Winter look over the airport.
“I suppose that it’s not terribly inappropriate. Tell me, Miss DeWitt, have you ever seen any of the super-heroes that live in Gotham?” Buffy Winter wore a serious expression on her face that belied the slightly amused twinkle in her green eyes.
“You can call me Alex, and I will call you Buffy, if that’s all right with you. I’ve seen several of them. My favorite is probably Green Lantern, though. Do you have a favorite super-hero, Buffy?” Alex started walking to the parking garage, while Buffy followed behind her. The amused look went to Buffy’s face as Alex turned away.
“I have always found the villains more intriguing, but Green Lantern is interesting enough. I would like to have one of those rings like he has to create stuff. It would be ultra-keen.” Buffy toned down her alert posture, trying to portray herself as a slightly naïve young lady to the photojournalist.
“Villains more interesting? I definitely don’t agree with that. Just consider the likes of the Flash, Superman, Batman, Green Lantern, Wonder Woman, Mister Terrific, Hourman, Doctor Mid-Nite, Hawkman, Hawkgirl, and Starman against Solomon Grundy, the Wizard, Ultra-Humanite, Vandal Savage, Sportsmaster, Tigress, Brain Wave, and Gambler. All of the heroes outshine those villains a hundred to one.” Alex sounded irritated as she quickened the pace.
“I didn’t mean to strike a nerve, Alex. After all, it isn’t like you are secretly a super-hero and I a super-villain, so there is no real reason to be so upset. I was just making idle conversation.” Buffy wiped away the smirk on her face as they neared the airport exit.
Nearby, the Sorasons were busy making sure that their special equipment had already arrived undiscovered by the Customs Authority. Jack spotted two attractive blonds leaving the airport and nudged his sister. “Look at those babes, Jill. Definitely a seven, or maybe an eight on the Jack scale of babeness.”
Jill looked up from checking the crates marked office equipment and gave a soft whistle when she saw the two blonds her brother was talking about. “I call dibs on the taller one if we manage to find time to track them down. After all, we are here on business and not a pleasure trip.”
Jack gave his sister a big, sincere smile. “There’s no law against combining the two. I’ll go introduce myself before they get away, while you get someone to move our office equipment.”
Jill waved her brother off before adding, “Just remember — I want first crack at the taller one.”
Jack sprinted over to the ladies just as they left the building. He chased them down to the parking garage, where the taller one was unlocking the door to her vehicle.
“It’s a gift from a friend, since I told him that I didn’t have a vehicle here in Gotham,” Alex explained as she unlocked the door to what appeared to be an old-fashioned, yellow taxicab.
“You have some friends with really odd tastes in vehicles.” Buffy raised one eyebrow quizzically as a blond, well-tanned man came running over.
The man with the trace of an Australian accent in his voice introduced himself. “Hello, you gorgeous ladies. My name is Jack, and I just had to meet you both.”
“He doesn’t look like a mugger, at least.” Buffy looked over the handsome blond man with an appraising honesty.
“I’m Alex, and that’s Buffy. I like your accent.” Alex unlocked her own car door while watching the man called Jack with hidden suspicion.
Jack gave the two his best sincere smile. “I know that this is going to sound like some sort of line, but I’ve never been to the States before and hoped one of you lovely ladies would volunteer to show me and my sister the sights.”
“I’ll consider it, but right now I and my guest are going to be very busy today.” Alex gave Jack her own version of the sincere smile as she slid into the driver’s seat.
“Let me give you my card with the number of the motel we are going to be staying at, so I can at least prove that I am not one of those crazies you get in Gotham.” Jack quickly pulled out a business card and scribbled the name of the motel and the room number on the card before giving it to Alex. She looked at the card for a second or two before passing it to Buffy, who had already fastened herself in.
Buffy examined the card with a keen eye before asking, “You must be Jack Sorason, then, of this Troubleshooters, Inc. business. It’s funny that I have never heard of you, though.”
Jack gave her a quick grin before answering, “We like to keep a low profile, me and my sister, when we are working. In fact, a client has hired us to investigate several American cities to see what can be done in the high-tech field. We thought we would start in Gotham before picking another place.”
Alex started the taxi which, despite its antiquity, ran excellently. “I’ll call you if our schedule clears up, Jack.”
The taxi backed up as Jack gave the two a slight wave before heading back into the airport to talk to his sister.
Jill had the crates resealed and sent to their hotel room by the time he came back in. A sly, mocking smile was on Jill’s lips when she looked at her brother. “So did you get their numbers?”
“I gave them the number of the motel and our room number. I’m sure the shorter one will call this week.” Jack smiled with confidence at his sister Jill.
He pulled an innocent-looking list of businesses out of his pocket and unfolded it. “I can examine the small ones tonight to see if they will meet our requirements. If they don’t, I’ll go to the middle-sized ones, which will probably take both of us to tour their facilities. We have to make certain that these places meet our stringent safety codes.”
Jill nodded in agreement as they discussed their plans covertly. “I certainly wouldn’t want to do business with places prone to accidents.”
“Let’s find a place to eat, then, Jill,” Jack said absently, twisting the metal band around his arm as he looked around the airport. The two of them walked out and headed downtown.
Alex DeWitt was driving with an unconscious ease as she pointed out some of the sights to her passenger. “That’s the new stadium where the Gotham Knights play now. I managed to get some shots of Power Girl and Red Robin fighting some costumed maniac just before it opened.”
“So are you a photographer or a reporter, Alex?” Buffy asked as she watched the buildings pass by.
“I am more of a photojournalist, but in the past year or so I’ve branched out a little to more of a print media focus.” Alex checked her rearview mirror as she explained her profession to her passenger. “I am no Lois Lane, but I can usually manage to string some sentences together that sell papers. I still prefer taking pictures to writing, though. So what about you? Anything you want to do with your life?”
“I enjoy some parts of my job, I suppose,” Buffy replied, thinking of her battle with the Ray; the poor boy was still trying to track her down. (*) “Other parts are not as interesting, though, even if they are usually educational.”
[(*) Editor’s note: See Showcase: Arsenal Strikes, Chapter 5: Zero for Infinity Inc.]
“If you find what you love to do, don’t ever give it up, or so one of my mentors says.” Alex turned into a parking garage, where she parked the yellow taxi.
“I hope you don’t mind, but I need to check my messages. If you want to, you can come up to my apartment,” Alex said as she exited the car and moved to a small elevator. Buffy slid out the other side to follow Alex inside the elevator. Alex pulled out a small I.D. card to activate the elevator, sending it up four stories.
“Wayne Enterprises built these two years ago, and I was lucky enough to get one of the apartments,” Alex explained as she put the elevator card away. “State of the art security, but the air-conditioning still conks out a lot.”
Buffy gave the card reader a professional glance, hiding her interest from the reporter. “So they must be expensive, then. I mean, to rent one of these apartments.”
“Not as expensive as you would think, but I’m usually out of town on assignment, so I don’t get the chance to enjoy being here very much. I used to live somewhere else, but it had too many memories of my boyfriend.” A pained look of remembrance crosses the blond Alex’s face.
“A boyfriend. I have never had time to get one of those. Most of the people I run into are work-related contacts.” Buffy thought back to her encounter with the Ray and smiled.
“Poor Kyle was an artist before he died in an… accident. (*) I sometimes have odd nightmares about finding him in a kitchen appliance late at night,” Alex explained before looking self-conscious.
[(*) Editor’s note: See Showcase: JSA Reserves: All This and Earth-Two.]
“I didn’t mean to start talking about my personal life to you, Buffy. It just slipped out.” Alex pulled out another card from her purse as the elevator door opened.