by PaladinLgt and Immortalwildcat
Kompera Lee frowned at the collected group before speaking. “Ryo-Wo has gathered you together to ask that you aid him in forming a select group he would call a Science Council. Because of my own debts to him, I have agreed to act as a facilitator for all that agree to join.”
A loud beeping filled the room as one of the scientists’ pagers went off. Dr. Yokito Oka looked down at her pager and then stood. “I must apologize for asking to leave this noble assembly early. I, of course agree to this plan to form a Council of Science, if someone will contact me later about when next we will meet. A special project that has been in development for quite some time is about to attain completion.” (*)
[(*) Editor’s note: See Dragon Knight: Into the Light.]
Kompera Lee nodded his head in agreement. “I will arrange for someone to get in touch with you about the next conference. I trust your project meets all of your expectations.”
Danton Black grinned at the group. “I am in.”
Ira Quimby deactivated his gadgetry, allowing Yokito Oka to depart the conference room. Quimby looked over at Lee. “Do you want me to reactivate the scrambler?”
Lee shook his head indicating not to reactivate the device. “Nothing else would be considered confidential at this point.”
The others talked over the offer for a while before agreeing to the idea of a Council. Kompera Lee thanked them all for coming as the group left the conference room. Finally, only Ira Quimby, Buffy Winter, and Kompera Lee were left in the room.
“Mr. Quimby, I wish for you to tour the conference to examine the security arrangements while I speak to my assistant.” Kompera Lee waited until Quimby left the room before turning to his assistant.
Karrin Murphy, journal entry 427:
I pause to reflect on the circumstances that have drawn seven very different people to work together after returning from another crime scene. Fortunately, this was a robbery where no one was critically injured. It began after the DEO once again bruised some politician’s egos. Instead of forgetting about the incident, the elected official chose to become the instigator in creating a new type of police unit based in the city of Los Angeles.
The first incarnation of the SCU was a complete and total disaster. The head of the SCU was a petty tyrant more interested in playing politics than solving crimes. The regular police went out of their way to be obstructionists, while the politicians used the unit to make headlines. It was some sort of corporate official that first came up with a different method of organization and convinced enough of the higher-ups to put it into place.
This version would not be led by someone interested in making headlines or kissing some political hack’s rear-end. A lot of names were looked over in the regular police, but none of them seemed to be quite right, so the focus was extended to include both federal and non-authority figures. That was how Richard Benson III was chosen to be new head of the now-statewide organization.
The idea about not having some sort of rank was one of the more brilliant ideas, but it often led to some confusion to the more rank-conscious public. It’s too bad no one realized how bad Richard was at dealing with reporters. He’s great at dealing with regular people and even the authorities, but stick a microphone and camera in front of his face, and he reverts to no comment.
And so I got picked to be his second-in-command and chief media spokeswoman. I was originally a homicide detective for the LAPD before I transferred over to the hostage negotiation field of the business. Having six brothers and three sisters as well as a whole slew of aunts, uncles, cousins, nephews, nieces, and grandparents, all with strong opinions, helped me get good at playing peacemaker.
Working with the guidelines of the unnamed genius made us choose to stay a small group with a maximum number of about twenty people in mind as members of the SCU. Richard picked some damn odd people to be members of the unit over protests from other organizations. Lucas Carr was his first choice at my flip remarks. Lucas is a lawyer who also happens to have been a trained cop. He’s a damn good lawyer, but his habit of snapping his fingers when he gets excited made many of the cops he came into contact with want to break those fingers.
Then Richard lured away one of the DEO’s best forensic scientists away. Johnny Jones, Jr., more commonly known by his colleagues as the Answer Man. Johnny wanted to be an in-the-field type of guy, but his agency kept him in the lab. First rule I learned is never ever play Trivial Pursuit with Johnny, because he seems to know every answer.
The next choice that Richard made was one I argued with him about constantly — Lena Inverse, who may be the greatest bomb-defuser in the world, but has a temper shorter than any of the bombs she works on. She was a former Hollywood special effects technician for a couple of years before becoming a bomb squad team member. She’s also extremely sensitive about her chest size. How she beat up a squad of Marines is one of the more famous stories going around about her.
Then came Anthony Stark and Minsc Borinsky, who are both military personnel. Anthony has been all over the world as a Special Forces squad member. His nickname is Steel due to something involving Vietnam and shrapnel. He’s damn handsome, though, with well-developed charm. He’s also some kind of weapon designer whiz. Perhaps if his family hadn’t been killed while he was still a child, and his less-scrupulous relations hadn’t bankrupted the family fortune, he would be a famous millionaire instead of a soldier-turned-cop.
Now my favorite squad member — Minsc Borinsky, who was one of the Soviet Union’s finest intelligence officer before disappearing for several years. He was rescued along with his best friend, Boo, the miniature giant space hamster. Needless to say, his career for the Soviet Union was over. Boo is quite adorable, though, and Minsc was quite right in doing what he did when they tried to dissect the hamster. He made headlines by escaping with a top secret military jet and coming to America. It was funny as hell when Richard announced picking Minsc as a member of the SCU.
I have all of the video tapes, from the several dozen conferences that happened after that, hidden away. They threatened to cut our funding, dissolve the unit, and even replace Richard. All of it became sort of moot after I arranged for the reporters to interview Minsc and Boo. The general public fell in love with them both, and many politicians and city officials received millions of letters.
They gave up and let us have a year to prove the worthiness of the program. They did cut our funding to hamstring us, but Richard paid for office space, labs, vehicles, and everything else from his father’s company. Not many people know about how rich our dear SCU leader really is. Then we got to work and surprised everyone with how well we did.
Even I was surprised, to be completely honest. We all clicked working together, plus the general policy of working with local and federal officers revised the opinions held over from working with the other SCU. We didn’t steal the credit or place any blame when things went wrong.
Now everyone calls us in when something unusual happens, such as some costumed woman stealing museum pieces and then freezing the local police in ice before blowing up their cars. I think that’s enough nostalgia for tonight, diary. I just hope no costumed crazies do something today, so I can catch up on my sleep.
In the main conference room of the Radison Hotel, an eclectic collection of devices was arrayed around the room. At booths and tables, scholars and scientists mingled, discussing the latest advances in computer technology, waveform generation, and shock absorption. Truly, a gathering that only a genius could appreciate.
A minor disturbance had rippled through the room earlier, when Kompera Lee had summoned a few, select attendees for a private conference. Nothing major, and the crowd was soon once more absorbed in their discussions. So they remained when the attack started.
At first, most thought it was a marketing ploy by one of the high-tech companies exhibiting at the show. After all, how seriously could one take a force of three dozen when they were clad in red and black leotards, with four-foot playing cards hanging over them like sandwich-board signs? Each was carrying a long black spear, with the symbol of one of the four playing card suits at its end. It was only when the strangers were scattered through the crowd that anyone realized there might be a problem.
“Ladies and gentlemen–” started an oddly dressed obese man speaking through an old-fashioned cone megaphone. It was ripped from his hands by his partner, who was his almost-identical twin, and who was equally obese.
“And, since this is California, those who aren’t so sure,” added the second before handing the megaphone back. The first speaker fumbled with it a bit before speaking again.
“Ahem, yes, that is, listen up, people! As you have probably noted by now, you are all surrounded by our poker-faced soldiers. We mean you no harm, no indeedy! We would just like you to vacate the premises, so we can help ourselves to all of these lovely little toys! So, if you will just be on your way now, and we can get started!”
Nobody moved. The crowd stood, stunned into immobility and disbelief until a tall man wearing the image of the King of Clubs raised his spear, and a bolt of electricity shot up and struck a chandelier above him, showering the crowd with sparks. Then began a frenzied rush for the exits.
“Wonderful, brother Dee, simply wonderful. Shall we survey the spoils?” said one of the portly ringleaders of the bizarre gang.
“I’m so glad you think so, brother Dum. Let’s see what they’ve left us,” replied the other as they shuffled down from the stage.
They paused at a booth where a mannequin stood, clad only in a bulky harness. “Hmm, the placard says it’s a personal force-field. The inventor claims it will stop a .38 caliber bullet at point-blank range. Shall we test it?”
“Jack of Hearts! Come over here!” shouted Tweedledum. When a thin, card-clad man rushed up to them, Tweedledee lifted the harness off the dummy and passed it to the man. “Put this on!”
He rushed to comply, removing the card face and back. When he had it on, Tweedledee reached into his vest pocket, pulled out a derringer pistol, and fired it at the man’s chest. The impact of the bullet threw the man backward into another display, where he crumpled onto the floor. Stepping up to him, the Tweedle brothers looked down and took stock of the man’s injuries.
“No blood, no wound. Looks like it works! We’ll take that one. Have to remember the recoil, though.” Tweedledum called another man over to remove the harness from the test subject, who laid on the floor with a broken neck.
“Now, what is this thing supposed to be? Do you have any idea, brother Dee?” Tweedledum lifted a large amulet, a rather boxy-looking thing, and placed it over his neck. “Hmm, wonder what the button does?” He pressed one of the seven studs on the side of the box.
“I don’t know, brother,” said Dee, looking for a description. He turned back to face his brother and jumped in surprise. “Yikes! Superman? What are you doing here?”
“Superman? Where?” asked a startled Tweedledum, looking every which way. “What are you talking about?”
“Dum? Is that you? Why are you wearing Superman’s body?” asked Dee, recognizing his brother’s high voice coming from the image of the Man of Steel.
“Eh, what? What nonsense are you spouting now?” Dum lifted the amulet off his neck, and the image of Superman vanished. “What do you mean about Superman’s body?”
“Sorry we can’t help you with Superman,” said a new voice on the scene. “Mind if we step in instead?”
Tweedledee and Tweedledum turned to face the doors where their henchmen had been hauling their high-tech loot to a waiting truck. Three figures stood there with a half-dozen of the playing-card looters at their feet.
One red-clad figure immediately detached himself from the others, dropping into a low crouch as he knocked a pair of arrows in his long bow.
“You want to make this easy on yourselves, boys? Or do you prefer to be my latest target practice?” asked an impatient Red Arrow.
“I remember these clowns, Arrow. They were around back in the ’40s and weren’t much to write home about then. Let’s take them down!” said the Patriot, launching himself in a blur of red, white, and blue as he jumped up to grab the broken chandelier and swung himself into a group of bewildered thugs. “Aquaman! Take the group on the right!”
“As you say, Patriot,” replied the blonde youth wrapped in a swirling suit of sea green and blue. He waded into another group of armed fighters, quickly disarming and disabling them with strength borne of the ocean depths. “Amazing! Your own leaders freely admit that they have no idea what they are stealing, yet you risk your lives for them. How can you have any hope of succeeding?”
Tweedledee and Tweedledum, recently made young men once more by a mystical rejuvenation process, dived below the tables of the exhibit booth as arrows whizzed over their heads. (*) One of the arrows curved upward in its flight, striking the ceiling and exploding in a shower of liquid. It came down over the Tweed brothers, coating them and everything around them. The other arrow streaked past, emitting a high-pitched screech that sent their hands to their ears. They tried to run away but were held in place by the quick-drying glue that had already congealed over them.
[(*) Editor’s note: See Showcase: JSA Reserves: All This and Earth-Two, Chapter 3: Villains Rejuvenated.]
“Drat, brother, these lads are as ingenious as the Batman and his brat of a partner!”
“Yes, I fear you’re right!”
“I should hope so!” said a smiling Red Arrow. “After all, it was Red Robin who gave me the idea for the screaming arrow.” He turned and started firing normal target arrows, easily pinning the other felons to the floor by their large, playing card costumes. “You did make it a little too easy, though, fellas.”
Across the room, the young Aquaman slammed the heads of his last two opponents together, rendering them both unconscious. “Patriot! Do you need any help over there?” he called.
In a far corner, the former Star-Spangled Kid had ten of the animated playing cards bound up in bands of stellar energy. “Nope. I’ve got things pretty well wrapped up here.”