Later, after Rei Suzaki had begun to come to terms with her grandfather’s secret business, she found the items in the hidden room to be both fascinating and a bit bizarre.
“The gloves in such an ugly shade of purple must have been meant for the Squids. They emit an inky substance that is both sticky and difficult to see through. I can imagine the idea was to mimic the ink that an octopus can project. Now why a gang named the Squids would have that trick in mind is beyond me. Maybe there’s a Captain Octopus out there somewhere waiting on his order.”
Rei found time after work to visit the shop and study each item along with some of the unfinished plans in the file cabinet. “Some of the plans were marked as if they could work for numerous types of super-crooks, depending upon how he stylized them. I guess grandpa was developing gear for potential clients as well as for existing ones.”
She raised a short rod or staff and nodded approvingly as she caressed its highly polished surface. “It really looks a bit like a royal scepter. I’d hate to think there’s a super-villain out there desperate or lame enough to call himself the King of Krime,” she laughed.
Finding an odd, fist-shaped bludgeon, she realized that it could easily link on the end of the scepter. After a loud clicking sound echoed in the small room, Rei pressed the handle of the scepter and gasped as the fist-shaped end shot across the room with smashing force and trailed a thin but sturdy cable in its wake. “Whoa! Talk about the long arm of the law! Or better still, a punch-line. This thing could be a great tool for some circus or clown-themed crook.”
Rei also found a delicately woven body suit that consisted of a flexible weave of micro-circuitry. She slipped it over her head and adjusted it carefully until the garment was aligned with her torso and limbs. “This is some type of body skeleton. No — exo-skeleton! That’s what they call such structures in insects. Weird. It seems to give me the feeling that I’ve got oodles of energy.”
She punched out at the air and gasped as her blow connected with a shelf, shattering it. “Jumping catfish! It really does boost my strength. Maybe it also can make me faster.” She jumped into the air and cleared a work table with ease. I guess this exo-skeleton stimulates or increases my own natural abilities, she thought. It’s also thin enough to fit easily under normal clothing. I think I’ll keep this baby.
A crash jolted her from her thoughts, and she raced out to see two shadowy figures in the main part of the shop. They didn’t see me emerge from the secret door, so I’ll see if I can surprise them, she thought.
She could dimly make out the two intruders as moonlight streamed into the window and illuminated them briefly. Two goons are trying to rob the place, she thought. That’s a relief! I was half-imagining some League of Darkness descending on the place to demand refunds.
Rei dived forward and rolled acrobatically through the air to land perfectly before them. As they looked up in amazement, she sprang forward and used the edge of a table to push herself up so that both legs were able to swing forward and connect with their heads.
They crashed to the ground as she drew closer and managed to roll her body into a tight package and bowl them down a second time when they tried to rise. She punched out in the darkness and — guided by their own cries — managed to knock them out.
“Awesome!” she cried as she bent over them and swiftly tied them up. “I’ll call the cops after making sure no trace of the hidden gear or my new outfit here can be seen,” she said to herself.
That night, Rei sat on her sofa and sketched on a notepad.
“Not half bad,” she said as she looked at a drawing she had made of a brightly colored costume with matching facial make-up and a fright wig.
“I can’t know how much grandpa knew or cared about how his inventions were used, but I can redress the balance by doing good with what’s left. My job’s a joke, but just maybe this gear can give me a whole new hobby that might turn things around.”
She stood up and dramatically cried out, “Look out, action-heroes, there’s a new babe on the block!” Then she plopped back down on the sofa, laughing at herself.
The next evening found Rei Suzaki in a bright red costume with an ornate white diamond pattern running down the side of each leg. She wore high-heeled blue boots that opened at the front in a wide flared design. A short jacket with vertical blue and gold stripes completed the outfit, which concealed the micro-circuitry of the exo-skeleton that she wore beneath her clothing. A fluffy blue wig with bangs covered her real hair. She had painted her face with a chalky white powder and surrounded both eyes with heavy layers of mascara. One eye’s black circle was wider than the other, and as she had squinted at her reflection in a mirror hours before, she had quipped, “I look a bit like the dog from the Little Rascals shorts. I think his name was Pete.”
Now dressed in the costume of the Joker, as Rei had decided to call herself, she watched from a place of concealment in a back alley as three young men in green and gold jackets conferred with an older man who wore a flashy suit and smoked a noxious cigar. Sheesh! Doesn’t anyone ever clean these alleys? she thought. I’m gonna need about a three-hour shower tonight.
As the older man removed a small bag of a recognizable white powder from his coat, the Joker lifted a trashcan lid and hurled it against the bag. The drugs spilled out over the men as they whirled to see the garishly clad Rei flip into their midst and curtsey in a mocking manner. “Hello, sailors!” she cried as she leaned on one elbow against the brick wall.
“You witch! You ruined the deal!” roared the big man with the cigar.
“And you’re ruining the mood, what with that smelly weed,” she said. “Or is that your aftershave?” She activated the punch-line, and the cable shot out to deliver a stunning blow that left the drug dealer flat on the pavement. She rolled across his fallen body and retracted the device before facing the other three punks.
“This broad is nuts!” said the youngest of the three.
“Broad? Broad?!” cried the Joker. “You don’t know me well enough to use such a word when describing me. Now vixen, babe, goddess — even strumpet if you’re feeling Victorian (and who hasn’t felt a Victoria in their youth) — but not broad!”
She ducked under a punch and capered wildly until she could spin around and kick the man backward into his two friends. As they scrambled to get by him and pulled out two wicked-looking knives, they received a blast of ink that blinded them and left them at the Joker’s mercy.
The Joker laughed in a high-pitched screech and then slammed their heads together. “What — no Warner Brothers-inspired sound effect? I’m hurt! A girl could get pretty disillusioned on these mean streets. I’ll never believe in Bugs Bunny again.”
She called the police on a nearby pay phone and then used the extending cable to anchor herself to a roof above and pull herself skyward.
Back at her own apartment, she tossed the blue fright wig on a dummy and wiped away her make-up. A broad smile brightened her face as she thought about the night’s work.
“Well, I walked around and then waited in that alley for about three hours, but it was worth it in the end. Being the Joker is going to be a blast.”