A secluded beach house on the California Coast:
The subject of the Special Crimes Unit investigation had put away her costume and hid the sundial-shaped flying disk. She hummed to herself as she got ready for bed. The flow of adrenaline was slowly ebbing, leaving a general feeling of weariness behind. She climbed into bed, flicking on the television with the remote. The local station broke in with the scene of the outside of the museum. A handsome reporter began speaking.
“The L.A. County Museum was the target of an assault late tonight. Some individual known as Arsenal broke in and stole one of the newer exhibits. A violent confrontation occurred between her and the police inside the museum. Fortunately, the officers are all reported to be in stable condition at this time. She then destroyed several police cars and vandalized the outside of the museum. Her current whereabouts are unknown. Richard Benson III and Karrin Murphy with the Special Crimes Unit have been called in to investigate this crime. No comment from the Department of Extranormal Operations is available. Stay tuned for further updates.”
The station went back to a rather dull movie as the woman known as Arsenal leaned back on her pillow. She picked up a small box and activated several buttons on it before beginning a rambling discourse.
“Log note number twenty-three: My mission to recover the swords for my father was a success. I have also taken the next step in my own plan to achieve an independent name for myself. The thrill of battle is an intoxicating one, despite the lack of skill of tonight’s opponents. My father would prefer that I plan all my actions out, but I’d much rather improvise. The weapons I used seem to function properly, as per design. However, as a precaution I will transfer the costume back to base for inspection. Plans to attend the Scientific Conference remain unchanged at this point in time. Log ends here.”
The woman yawned loudly as she turned the device off before dropping it back on the nightstand table. She stretched and curled before drifting off to sleep.
The Scientific Conference at the Radison Hotel:
Several discussions and panels were being held with some of the best and brightest minds both lecturing and asking questions. Major corporations were well-represented at the conference, searching for the bright new talent. Into this mix came the Vice-President of Bishamon Technologies, Kompera Lee, escorted by his chief of security and his new executive assistant.
Lee’s green eyes swept the conference area, searching for someone until he found him. His executive assistant went to have a quiet word with the person after a whispered word from Lee. The man listened to the assistant before moving toward where Lee and his security chief were waiting. The man offered a hand for Lee to shake but dropped it after he received only a cold glance in return.
“Professor Jarvis Kord, have you gathered the people that I requested?” Lee said with confidence as if there was no doubt that Kord would obey. Kord nodded his head and pointed to a small conference room to the side, which had been reserved. Lee motioned to his chief of security. “Quimby, you know my requirements. Scan the room and then activate the security precautions. Miss Winter will aid you in this while I make the customary greetings to the people at this conference.”
Kompera Lee walked regally through the conference, occasionally pausing to talk to certain highly respected scientists. Most didn’t recognize Lee but instinctively sensed the innate power of the man as he conversed with them. Kompera Lee paused as he saw his executive assistant walking toward him. He admired the way she moved smoothly through the crowd.
She executed a respectful bow before standing. “All is in readiness for you.” One of her eyes closed in a wink at him.
Lee frowned at her before nodding back. “You skirt the edge again, child, with your insolent mannerisms. You will watch and perhaps learn something. These people I have gathered are because of my subtlety, unlike a certain person who believes blatant acts achieve her goals better.”
Miss Winter bowed again and said respectfully, “I am always ready to learn from a great master such as yourself.”
“At least you have learned the art of flattery, child. Now let us go speak to the scientists.” Lee moved toward the conference room with Miss Winter respectfully following in his wake.
Kompera Lee strode into the conference room and took the empty seat at the end. Miss Winter stood behind him, while all the gathered scientists except for Kord looked puzzled. Quimby closed the door to the room before activating a specially designed device to prevent eavesdropping. “All green, Mr. Lee.”
Lee spoke in a soft voice full of confidence. “Thank you, Mr. Quimby, for your diligence. You are wondering why I have gathered you here. The man I really work for is known by many names, but you have all encountered his agents at some dark point in your life when they aided you.”
Mr. Lee began to name the scientists at the table. “Profesor Jarvis Kord, Dr. Louise Lincoln, Professor John Starr, Professor Bruce Gordon, Danton Black, and Dr. Yokito Oka.”
He continued, “In a show of trust, my chief of security will start off by speaking of his encounter with Ryo-Wo.” The scientists all looked startled by the mention of Ryo-Wo as Ira Quimby began to speak.
“I was a police detective for a large city, and a damn good one. The other guys on the force called me I.Q. because I used my intellect to solve cases. The thrill of putting the pieces of a puzzle together that led to some punk being off the street and in the slammer was my reward.” Quimby smiled bitterly as he remembered.
“It was my last few big cases that led to me leaving the force. One of these so-called criminal masterminds had been leaving behind cryptic clues after each of his robberies. I, of course was smart enough to figure out what the clues meant, and knew that his next job would be a government storage facility. He arrived to find me waiting at the storage place with some other officers. He threw down some sort of teargas grenade as we moved in. Most of the officers went down, gagging on the smoke.” Quimby shook his head at the memory.
“I was at the edge of the gas, so I only got a little dose of it. I took off after the guy, not realizing that he was armed with other, more dangerous grenades. I chased him into a closed lab, and we fought. In hindsight, I should have just shot him instead. He managed to get one of his grenades and tossed it at some of the canisters. The government guys were busy with the distraction that this criminal had arranged before, so that’s why it was so easy to get where we were.
“The grenade went off, blowing up the canisters and releasing some sort of purple mist. The criminal took off but made a fatal wrong turn, running into an electrical panel which fried him to a crisp. Meanwhile, I was being exposed to this gas as I tried to seal off the room. I blacked out and came to in a hospital.
“The doctors were very nice to me when I woke up, asking me a lot of questions. Everything felt like it was slightly fuzzy and off as I tried to answer the questions. One of the doctors explained that the grenade contained some sort of virus designed to reduce intelligence. It was a horrifying thought as I finally came to the conclusion that the fuzziness was in my head.
“I was healthy enough, so they eventually let me out of the hospital. The force put me on medical disability and gave me my pension. My former pals on the force were all so kind to me when I came around, but I could still sense it was pity. I could hear the whispers about poor I.Q. being an idiot, so I stopped coming around. To me, being slow was worse than being dead. Things that used to come so easy were now too damn hard to do.
“It was at this point a man came to me. He said that his employer had heard of my situation and felt that there might be a way for him to aid me. The man said that his boss, Ryo-Wo, knew of a process that was still in the experimental stage to restore damaged brain tissue. The man also showed me the documentation that listed the canisters as part of a bio-weapon process started by the United States government. My own government, which I trusted, was responsible for my reduced intellect. It was a bitter pill to swallow, but I managed it.
“The man took me to a lab where an oriental guy checked me out. He never mentioned his name, but said that his tests showed a seventy-five-percent chance that his process would restore my mind. Then he gave me some sort of shot that knocked me out. I remember bits and pieces after that of lights and sounds and sensations of heat. When I woke up, Kompera Lee was watching me from a chair. He nodded politely and took me to a featureless room where a whole series of tests took place.
“The tests all proved that my mind had been restored to its previous level, if not a little better. Kompera Lee said that Ryo-Wo asked nothing in return for his aid. I disagreed and offered my services in whatever form would be most useful. Lee was reluctant, but recognizing my determination offered a position as the head of small security force. I accepted.
“Later on, I received a package in the mail of a rock on a string. The note said it was a gift from Ryo-Wo to give me luck. I’ve worn it ever since. Sometimes, when the sun is bright, I pull the stone out and gaze at it. It’s been the inspiration for several flashes of brilliance that I have turned to my security work. I’ve guarded Mr Lee or other members of his corporation with the best of my abilities because of Ryo-Wo’s kind gift to me.”
“A most interesting story, even though I already knew it. Perhaps Professor Kord would like the honor of being next,” Kompera Lee said from his chair.
Professor Jarvis Kord crossed his arms nervously as he looked at the other people in the room. Hesitantly, he began to speak.
“It all started a great many years back when my brother Thomas was still alive. I had always been interested in mechanics, while my brother was more inclined to the pursuit of money. He often spoke of his dreams of building a company to leave to his children when he finally got around to getting a wife. To save money, he drafted me into replacing his front brakes, which I reluctantly agreed to.”
Kord’s face became melancholy as he spoke of his brother. “He was the real dreamer of the family. It was a dark and dismal day with the rain pouring down in sheets when my brother asked me to come on a trip with him. If only I knew the horror that day would bring.”
Several tears fell from Kord’s eyes as he tried to regain his composure. “We were driving when out of nowhere came a car. I can remember the sounds of the brakes squealing as the two cars collided — the scream of metal rubbing against metal. The impact threw me out of the car before knocking me unconscious.
“I awoke in a hospital bed, half-dazed but still aware enough to ask where my brother was. I knew by the looks on the nurse’s face that my brother was dead, even as I tried to block that horrible, horrible thought. I never learned who the driver of the other car was until much later. The police came and asked me all sorts of questions about whether my brother was drunk or doing some other kind of drug. I screamed at them to leave me alone and asked where my brother was.
“I fell slowly apart over the next couple of weeks. The next blow would come at the my brother’s funeral. His friends and I were in attendance as the coffin was lowered into the ground. We each threw a shovelful of dirt on the coffin as I accepted the condolences of his friends. Afterwards, I just stood looking down at the grave marker trying to make sense of it all. It was then that several people in suits came up and gave me paperwork claiming that the reason the accident happened was the faulty brakes that I had installed.
“My nights became a living hell as nightmares stalked me about being responsible for my brother’s death. I found solace in the bottle. My brother’s friends tried to help me get out of the pit I dug for myself, but I refused to listen to them. I sold what little property I had and vanished. The next couple of months were a blur as the alcohol became my sole reason for being alive.
“I was begging for money when a man came up to me. He said that his employer Ryo-Wo was interested in helping me. I thought he meant a bottle, so I agreed to go with him to meet this Ryo-Wo. The man took me to a clinic instead, where I was a prisoner until the worst effects of my drinking were over.”
Kord looked sheepish as he remembered the anger and hatred that he showed the people at the clinic during that time. “Eventually the man came back to speak with me. I screamed at him that I was a murderer and deserved to suffer the fate I had picked. He said that his employer had discovered several reports about the accident and felt that I deserved to know the truth, instead of the convenient lie that the men had given.
“I examined the reports with disbelief several times before accepting what they showed. The man in the other car was drunk at the time of the accident, but he was also an important government official. He used his influence to alter the records to show that the accident was my fault. All this time, I had been blaming myself for my brother’s death, when it was this pompous, self-important fool that had killed my brother.
“I thought about revenge for a while, but the agent of Ryo-Wo talked me out of it. He said that I should devote my life to building instead of destruction. The man also offered me a position in a new company that recently had lost their main mechanic. I took the position and from there went on to become a builder of mechanical men, or robots, as the younger set might call them. I have always felt like I still owed this Ryo-Wo a great deal, so when Mr. Lee asked me to gather several scientists together at this convention, I did.”
Kompera Lee smiled at Kord. “Yes, the good Professor and I have had a few encounters before where I was most rude to him. The pressures of my job at the time caused me to be less than tactful to him, for which I now apologize. Now, if Professor Gordon would tell us of his encounter with this benevolent Ryo-Wo…”