From the personal diary of Alice Medley, entry from 1973, thirteen years earlier:
When I was a little girl, my daddy would take me to my grandpa’s house, and we would spend time there. I would usually wear a bright blue pinafore or a jumper with a rainbow pattern over white leggings and Mary Janes. I thought of that as my “visiting” outfit. There was a pond below the house, and we could fish from its banks. I remember my Uncle Dave caught a fish once while I watched excitedly. Since he placed my tiny hand on the pole as he drew the fish out of the pond, it became “my” fish, and we raced back up the hill to the house to show it off. I don’t think I really grasped the fact that I had truly not had anything to do with catching the highly prized fish until I was an older girl.
The memory comes back to me now, because of what has happened with my formerly empty love life. For a number of weeks now, I’ve been receiving gifts from some secret admirer. He would leave them on my desk with small but delightful notes that said things like, “I wanted these flowers to see the sunshine of your smile.”
I didn’t know who was leaving them, and none of the other secretaries would tell me. That at least made me comfortable with the situation, since I knew Kay, Angela, and Lisa would not hide something from me if my new fan was a creep or was a threat. I think it amused them to see me squirm! After all, I’ve always been the girl they came to when they needed advice on men. (Kelly would laugh at that, since she knows I’ve always had more male buddies than real boyfriends).
Anyway, I reached the Mount Everest of dizziness today when I started to unpack my gym bag for a lunch hour jog; I was trying to lose a couple pounds, and skipping a meal for a run seemed a reasonable idea. I slipped into my bright green butterfly patterned running suit and promptly pulled out a pair of five-inch high heels, much to the amusement of all assembled.
“What’s wrong, Alice?” asked an amused Kay. “Did you forget your tennis shoes?”
I shrugged and lamely quipped that I was committed to a fitness routine, but I wanted to look dressy just in case I met Mr. Right while jogging. The truth was I had left the worn old Nikes at home and had packed my best heels by mistake.
Later that day, I returned to my desk to find a rather nervous co-worker named Eric Yamaguchi waiting by the public area. He smiled and held up a name tag that said, “Mr. Right!”
I laughed, and he sheepishly admitted that he was my mystery man. We talked, and he added that Kay and the other gals had been helping him, since they just knew we were perfect for each other.
Well, they were right! We really connected. He even likes ballet.
I think I may have caught the perfect man without truly doing a thing myself! Not that Eric is the least bit like that fish from my girlhood in any other way.
Ted’s wedding is next week, and I’m glad I won’t have to go alone or with a girlfriend. Tracey Simmons is a lucky girl to be marrying him, but I’d like to think that I’m just as much of a lucky girl to have met Eric! (*)
[(*) Editor’s note: See Blue Beetle: Times Past, 1973: The Wedding Planner.]
Meanwhile, Alice Medley jumped to her feet after the first disturbance shook the KORD Incorporated building, and she quickly guided the other secretaries toward the exits. They were gabbing in confusion while Alice’s keen mind and calm nerves allowed her to act efficiently.
“Come on, girls — we better take advantage of this and get a free break!” she said in a chipper tone designed to reassure the others.
Although Alice was not the oldest secretary, she was looked on as a leader. There was something in her crisp yet perky efficiency that made her a natural. Everyone liked her, and she was so sweet-natured that others were drawn to her as though she combined the maternal with the ever so chic.
She was also the best-dressed woman in the company. Executives with salaries that dwarfed her own lacked Alice’s sense of style, and her wardrobe caught every eye and impressed with a completely professional and tasteful beauty. She had very short black hair that left her ears bare and ended with a fluffy row of bangs. It was a cute look. She was trendy without being a creature of fads. She always wore decorative earrings. Those earrings, along with costly shoes, were her weakness. Alice loved to hunt for the most exotic yet stylish earrings and shoes. She was a true shoe connoisseur. Now those stilettos clattered as she led the others to safety.
Alice pursed her pink lips as she thought about Eric. I hope the lab is safe. Poor Eric and the other scientists could very well be behind the noise, she thought. What if the noise came from a lab accident? Her heart raced a bit as she thought of her boyfriend in peril.
Kay gasped and said, “Alice, how do you do it? We’re all dying here, and you haven’t even broken a sweat!”
Alice smiled and assumed a heavy mock Georgia accent as she said, “We Southern belles glisten. We nevah perspire!”
They laughed, and she got them to safety. It was just the kind of woman Alice Medley was.
Blue Beetle caught up with Indigo as she kicked down his office door. “Indigo, or whatever your name is, stop!” he yelled. “We can talk this out! People will be hurt if you keep on like this!”
“I seek Project Auto,” she repeated.
“Listen, if you need a ride, I’ll be glad to call a limo,” said Booster Gold. At a mere gesture from Indigo, Booster felt waves of magnetic force buffet him. “She’s tough, but so am I!” he vowed as he fought to move forward.
Blue Beetle watched and then made a hasty decision. “Indigo, stop! We’ll take you to Project Auto!”
The robotic girl stopped in mid-step and walked over to him with a weirdly girlish flounce. There was little in her graceful movements to indicate that she was truly a superhuman machine.
As she followed him, Blue Beetle led her down to the service elevator that led directly to the lower levels. He inserted a special key that activated a mechanism allowing the elevator to descend to a secret level below, where an odd craft was parked.
“What’s the plan?” whispered Booster as they approached the vehicle called the Bug.
“I can hear you,” said Indigo. “My auditory sensors are fully functional.”
Booster grinned and said, “Is that what they’re calling those now?”
“Project Auto is inside my craft,” said Blue Beetle. “KORD Inc. allows me to store some gear here.”
“That is a falsehood,” stated Indigo. “You are Theodore Kord. My creator programmed me with that data.”
Booster whistled softly and glanced at his friend. Someone knows Ted’s secret, he thought. This can only get worse.
Blue Beetle was equally worried. I guess anyone who could whip up a girl-bot like her could deduce my secret easily enough, he mused. I doubt my little ploy will work, then. “Booster,” he said aloud, “I can’t chance other folks stumbling upon my gear. Guard the elevator.”
Booster nodded and said, “Sure.”
As the Beetle and Indigo entered the Bug, he calmly closed the hatch and pushed a button. An unseen pulse filled the vehicle, and Blue Beetle caught the blue-hued beauty as she fell into his arms.
“She’s out!” he said with relief. “I had hoped a concentrated EMP would shut her down.”
He bent over her and gently felt her face until he found a tiny opening in her pink hair. He slid open a panel, and his nimble fingers swiftly worked across a series of tiny controls.
“‘Kord’? This thing was made out of parts from my company!” he gasped.
Booster Gold ran inside and said, “What happened? I know your secret elevator has its own failsafe so nobody could just walk in. I figured you didn’t want me to get in the Bug.”
Blue Beetle nodded and said, “I activated an electromagnetic pulse. It shut her down. I was concerned it might hurt your own gear.”
“Is she scrap now?” asked Booster.
Beetle shook his head. “No, far from it. She is rapidly beginning a sophisticated process of self-repair. She’ll be up all too soon.”
“Maybe that will still buy us time to figure out what she wanted,” said Booster. “What is Project Auto?”
“While I denied knowing a thing about it, it is possible that it may be something connected with my father’s work,” said the Beetle. “You know, he was the one who designed the rough outline of the Bug. I mean, he designed a flying and submersible vehicle. I gave it the Bug theme when I took over for the late Dan ‘Spunky’ Garrett as Blue Beetle!”
Booster said nothing. He was far more sensitive than his glib façade revealed. He knew his friend had some real and personal concerns about his relationship with the very distant and morally challenged elder Kord.
“Oh no!” he said suddenly. “We’re not out of the woods yet!” He gestured to where a monitor on the Bug was displaying a flashing light.
“Trouble upstairs,” said the Beetle. “I guess little girl blue didn’t come without a date.” He grabbed a small tool from a table and ripped at the inert robot’s wiring. “That may slow down her recovery,” he said.
Booster frowned. He knew how much the Beetle valued scientific achievement. Damaging a wonderful creation like Indigo didn’t sit well with Kord’s values, but this time he had little choice. He had to protect his company and the staff above.
They hurried upstairs, only to find a startling scene outside the main building where employees stood in a crowd and watched the office. A male humanoid with wires bolted to his bare and bald head was menacing the group. Four security guards were stunned at his feet.
Booster sighed and said, “Man! I wish our robot maker had stuck with the first design. She was a lot hotter than Kojak, there.”
“He’s going into the crowd!” cried Blue Beetle. “We have to stop him!”
Booster Gold slammed into the robot and activated a force-field. “I’ve contained him! He’s none too happy, though!”
“Run!” shouted Blue Beetle to the staff. “This is a crime scene!” The crowd fled, and he noticed his secretary among the group. Alice Medley was as calm and perfectly groomed as ever. The robot spotted her and resumed his effort to break free from Booster’s field.
“I can’t hold it much longer!” said Booster. “He’s a lot tougher than he looks!”
“Haul him away!” said Beetle.
Booster nodded and flew skyward. In his wake, his force-field carried the trapped robot as well. Finally, the field shattered, and sparks flew out of Booster’s belt. “He shorted it out,” he explained with a shrug of his shoulders.
The robot landed unharmed and suddenly charged directly at Alice Medley. She gave a small cry and tried to run, but his arm extended, and his hand closed around her ankle. She toppled to the ground, and he retracted his arms until the struggling woman was held upside down in a crushing embrace.
Blue Beetle dived forward and slammed his BB-gun at the robot’s head. “Let her go!” he said.
Booster started to follow when he spotted a helicopter zooming into view above. “We’ve got company!” he said. “That’s the KORD Inc. logo on it, too!”
Blue Beetle clawed at the robot, but he simply could not free the dangling secretary. She stared at the robot with obvious concern, and then suddenly an unseen force knocked it across the compound.
It staggered to its feet as Alice crawled away on her hands and knees. She raised her head, and as her eyes locked on the battered robot, it began to tremble. Finally, as it drew closer, step by step, something happened to change the situation. The robot’s chest erupted into tiny fragments as an invisible force broke it open from within.
Blue Beetle gasped as he picked Alice up in his arms. “You’re OK now,” he said. “But how did you do that? That was telekinesis! You moved him and finally shattered him with force of mind! I’ve seen Guardian do the same thing.”
“I… I don’t know!” said Alice. “He was holding me upside down. My vision was blurry, and I was dizzy. My skirt was slipping up, and all I knew was I had to make him let go.”
“Look!” said Booster. “More security?”
Blue Beetle saw the chopper land and said, “No! Great Scott! I didn’t expect this.” As the helicopter door slid open, a tall man with iron gray hair stepped out. That’s my father! thought Beetle.
Alistair Thomas Kord smiled coolly as he accessed the situation. He walked calmly through the crowd and smiled thinly. “I think we have much to discuss.”
Blue Beetle nodded and started to put Alice down.
“Oh, bring her along,” said Alistair offhandedly. “After all, she’s the point of this whole endeavor!”