The Training Room: Chapter 6
I should have felt relief that she finally believed me, or vindication, or satisfaction that she had now suffered as I had, or something. Instead, all I could feel was a chilling numbness. A foreboding sense that Stoppable was not through yet, with me or Dr. Director. Without speaking, I motioned to one of the attendants, pointing at the patio. He nodded, and mimed drinking. I nodded back, then motioned Dr. Director to follow me.
Outside, away from possible microphones, I pulled back a chair for her, then seated myself. I clasped my numb hands together, trying to regain control. When I was certain I had it, I said all I thought I needed to say. "Stoppable?"
Dr. Director's head came up sharply, her startled gaze searching mine. "Stoppable? Will, are you still worried about the sidekick?"
I don't know what she thought she saw in my face, but her hands came up placatingly. "Will, I checked everything. Stoppable's whereabouts, his times with Possible, his injuries, everything. I'm telling you there is no way he did this."
I managed to unclench my teeth. "You still don't believe me, do you?"
"Will, you...I mean...when I..." I interrupted her stammering attempt at reassurance.
"Why don't you just tell me about the visit."
She looked away, swallowing harshly. "Will, how much do you know about what's been happening the last five months?"
"Not much. They try to keep us fairly isolated. "Excitement or anxiety might retard out progress" is, if I remember correctly, what the head quack said."
She kept her gaze averted. "Will, GJ has been going to hell in a hand basket." She paused to relax her fists. "It began before you were transferred for further assistance. Mission failures, public knowledge of mistakes, what looked like pesky bad luck. And Possible was always there when we screwed up."
"Was every mission during that time a failure?"
"No, it seemed at first they were just random, unrelated incidences. But then the frequency of failure began to shift. Instead of being random, anything I personally was involved in began to fall apart. If I came up with an idea for research, it ended in a dry hole. If I planned a mission, it became a colossal failure. Not every time, but enough." Her head whipped around as her palm slapped the table in anger. "I began to look like an idiot. A complete incompetent."
I waited for her to regain control. "Go on."
Her eye dropped, "Everything I tried failed. I couldn't figure it out. As long as I stayed away, the agency functioned, not at peak, but enough. I began to think I was loosing my mind. But I knew I could get it under control, I just had to find out what was behind it. But yesterday...yesterday I ran out of time."
She suddenly looked defeated, weary. I had never seen her like this before.
"Will, you know GJ gets its authority and funding through a U.N. Security council resolution, right?"
I nodded, why was she bringing up this old history, surely a non sequitur.
"There are many nations, and people, who do not agree with the resolution. Countries that do not like us crossing their borders unannounced, or assuming police powers in their country. Also many who consider the UN corrupt and a waste of time. And we are tarred with the same brush since we are a nominal UN agency."
"Ancient history." I murmured.
"Not so ancient. Have you ever heard of a United States senator named Austin?"
I searched my memory, but I could recall little except the name. "The name, yes, but..."
"He considers himself a Constitutionalist independent. He has very little use for the major political parties of the US, and none at all for the UN. In fact, one of his major campaigns in the Senate is to negate the UN association."
"Sounds like a crackpot. As an independent, he can't have much power."
"Power? No, not officially, but he does have considerable influence. He is a totally ethical man, enjoys enormous popularity in his district, and the press loves to hear him attack the powers that be."
"Two weeks ago I was 'requested' to appear before an investigating committee chaired by Senator Austin."
I felt uneasy, the United States had no official authority over GJ, but..."Did you go?"
"Will, despite all the pretty words about 'nations sharing the burden', the UN gets the majority of its funding from the US and it's allies. When the Secretary General thinks it might be a good idea if an agency head responds to a request, that agency head had better appear."
"A public questioning of an independent agency?"
"No, private and confidential." She stood and took a few agitated steps away then back. "Du, it was a set up. Don't ask me how, but he had proof of actions that I thought were long buried. How the original director strong armed and blackmailed UN members, and some US senators to approve Global Justice's charter. Details about wasted finances, money spent on exotic and useless research..."
"The Ron Factor." I interrupted.
For a moment she almost smiled, "That was one of his examples. I thought he was going to have a stroke when he talked about the Rufus Factor research though."
"I'm afraid I lost my temper. I informed the Senator that he had no need to know about the actions of Global Justice, or our methods. That in fact, he had no authority over my agency. Then I stood up and left."
"I take it the Senator was not happy?"
"He didn't say anything when I left. But yesterday I was informed that I had thirty days to wind up my Directorship, and place all agents on indefinite leave of absence by the Secretary General."
I jerked upright in my chair. "They...they can't do that! Destroy GJ? After all we've done!"
She waved her hand in sad dismissal. "Oh, they're not going to destroy GJ, the mission statement is going to be changed is all. Now GJ will be a global information gathering bureau for the police forces of the member nations. As such, it has no need for independent research or field agents."
'How..." I pulled myself together, "how did it happen."
"My sources tell me that the Senator only hit the highlights, or lowlights if you will, with me. He informed various other Senators, and the SG, that the files in his possession were going to be turned over to his 'friends' in the media, unless certain terms were met."
"And they believed him?"
"Oh, yes, they believed him. So, I'm out of a job, so are you by the way, and you'll be out of here shortly unless "competent medical personnel" declare you insane or a threat. Neither of which I think will happen."
Freedom! But what about..."Dr. Director, you started by saying "he came to visit you last night". What was that about?"
She looked at me, a haunted, shaken look in her one good eye. I noticed her fingers were trembling as she reached for her coffee.
"He.." She took a strengthening swallow. "He came to my quarters."
Annoyance banished her fear for a moment. "Will, I'm telling you what I saw was not Stoppable. There is no possible way that he could..could...It was not Stoppable." The last was said in a fierce whisper.
"All right, what happened."
The haunted look returned to her eyes.
Betty Director looked around her personal quarters, her home; her expression a mixture of dismay and fury. There was no way she was going to allow some politician to destroy all that she, all that GJ had accomplished. There had to be a way. There was no one so pure that there wasn't something they were hiding. With GJ's extensive intelligence gathering capabilities, in short time she would know everything about Senator John Stephen Austin, down to the brand of diapers his mother had used. Then we'd see who told who what to do. She stiffened as the lights dimmed, preparing herself for anything. When she whirled she saw...nothing?
She carefully began easing over to the coffee table she had placed her sidearm on. With a quick step she grasped her weapon and turned. Again, nothing.
Grasping her pistol with both hands in the approved stance she gritted, "All right, I know you're in here, come out where I can see you."
"As you wish."
Before Betty's widening eye, a black clad figure emerged from the shadows. Keeping her gaze on the intruder, shifting her pistol grip, she brought her wrist communicator toward her mouth. In a move so swift she had no chance to counter, both her wrists were grasped and twisted, the pistol falling from her suddenly flexing fingers. Ignoring the weapon, the man snapped her bracelet apart with two fingers.
"I would really rather keep this conversation private." How, she couldn't tell, but she knew he was laughing at her.
Dr. Director glared as he released her. "All right, old school." She snarled. Feinting with her right fist, she brought her left leg up for a strike at his vulnerable knee.
When the silence had gone on too long, I spoke up, "What happened then? I've seen you use that combination. It's as unstoppable as any strike I know."
"I...I don't know. I missed. Somehow, I missed."
She fiddled with her coffee cup a moment before raising her eyes. "Will, what do you think of my abilities as a fighter. Be honest."
"One of the best I've ever seen." I answered immediately, "You take me two out of three, and I have a better win record against you than any other agent."
"Will, I never touched him. He seemed to be able to touch me at will, but I couldn't even touch him."
She stared back into her cup. I had the feeling she wished it contained something stronger. "I don't see any visible bruises." I ventured.
A strained laugh was her answer. "He never struck me." She must have heard my surprised grunt. "Oh, I'm not saying he didn't touch me, he did. He touched me over and over. If he had carried through I'd be dead or crippled. He just kept at it, and kept at it, until I collapsed at his feet."
"Why...?" I began.
"I don't know. After all he had to have gone through to get through security and into my quarters, why he didn't do more, I just don't know." She raised haggard, infuriated eyes to mine. "But you know what the worst part was?"
"Getting beaten that bad?"
"I've been beaten before. No, he was laughing at me, the whole time he was laughing at me."
"How could you tell? What did he sound like? Did he say anything?"
"No, no, he never made a sound until I fell, except one word as he vanished."
A/N To all those who have reviewed, I promise I have answered. I just hope the bot finally lets my appreciation get to you. As you can see, this is rapidly coming to an end, but there are a few things to decide. Will Kim find out? Or has she known all along. Have Du and Dr. D. surrendered? Is there a possible counter attack in th future? Only the Spectre knows. (EG) Thanks for reading. I hope you've enjoyed it.