I'll never forget the day my best friend had to watch his two sons fight in ...
THE BATTLE OF THE BROTHERS
Story by Kazumasa Hirai (1964) Screenplay by Reuben Guberman (1965)
Transcription by Kirk Hastings (2013)
Adapted from the television episode
A reckless truck driver driving over a major highway at an insane speed was to be, indirectly, the way I was introduced to this case. Jenny, my secretary in my day-to-day work when I'm disguised as Tobor, the detective, was out for a pleasure drive.
The large cargo truck barreled past a car in the outer lane of the overpass at such great speed that the car was almost blown off the road.
"Take it easy, you maniac!" the irritated driver of the car yelled out of his driver's window.
The truck continued on its way.
Meanwhile, Jenny Hartsweet cruised down the highway on a lower overpass deck, headed toward the speeding truck.
The truck blew by another car on the upper deck.
"Did you see that truck?" the girl in the car's passenger seat said.
"He's driving so fast he'll probably cause an accident!" her boyfriend, the car's driver, replied. "... There it goes!"
The truck had just lost control. It crashed through the guardrail of the overpass, and plummeted over the side.
Jenny's car was right below it. The truck came down nose first on it with incredible force.
There was a terrific explosion that completely engulfed both vehicles.
# # #
Minutes later an ambulance pulled up at the scene of the accident. The ambulance screeched to a stop, and its two white-clad occupants leaped out. They rushed over to the burning vehicles on the road, maneuvering around the gawkers standing around.
"Awful accident," the ambulance driver mumbled, half to himself, as he studied the scene. He could not get close to the vehicles involved because of the excessive heat from the flames. He looked up at the broken guardrail. "That truck must have crashed through the guardrail on the overpass and landed right on the sports car!" he said.
"Completely demolished the car and truck!" his companion added. "Did anyone survive?"
Just then the ambulance driver spotted a handsome, athletic-looking young man dressed in a neat business suit standing near the wreckage holding a young woman in his arms. What appeared to be the truck driver was sitting on the pavement next to him, rubbing his head. Otherwise he seemed to be unhurt.
"Apparently yes!" the ambulance driver said. "There's the girl that was driving the sports car - and there's the crazy truck driver too! I don't know how they could have survived that mess!" The two EMTs trotted over to the young man holding Jenny.
"How were they saved?" the second EMT asked.
"Were you the one who rescued these people, mister?" the ambulance driver asked.
The young man looked at them. "Doesn't matter, really," he replied nonchalantly. "I'm turning this young lady over to you." Jenny began to stir in his arms.
"And she seems to have come to!" the young man added.
Jenny's eyes fluttered open, and she looked up at the face of her rescuer.
"Oh my!" she gasped. "I guess you must have pulled me out of that car?"
"You were just lucky, miss," the young man replied. "I happened along at just the right moment. It might have been done by almost anyone. I hope you are all right now."
Jenny stared at the young man's face as he put her down on the pavement.
"I'll say goodbye, young lady," the young man said.
Jenny watched him intently as he turned and walked away.
"8th Man!" she muttered to herself. "I'm sure he's 8th Man!"
One of the EMTs came up behind her. "What was that you said?" he asked her.
She ignored him, lost in her own thoughts.
"Strange," she thought, continuing to watch the young man's back. "He pretended that he didn't recognize me!"
# # #
"I met the strangest man today, Tobor!"
Jenny was now back in the office of the Tobor Detective Agency. Her boss was sitting at his desk, his face buried in the day's newspaper.
"Really?" Tobor responded from behind the newspaper, only half paying attention. "And who was this strange man, Jenny?"
"Go on - guess. Who do you think, Tobor?" Jenny asked, teasingly.
"Hmmm ... Mickey Mantle? Charles DeGaulle? ..."
"Come on - you're kidding me, Tobor!" Jenny responded. "All right, I'll tell you! It was - 8th Man!"
At this Tobor lowered his newspaper.
"8th Man himself?" he asked, somewhat incredulously.
"Yes, 8th Man! What do you think of that?"
"8th Man?" Tobor repeated. "And you say you're positive about it?"
Just then there was a knock on the office door.
"Come in!" Jenny said in a loud voice. "The door's open!"
A well-dressed man walked in. As he did, Jenny's eyes went wide.
"It's him!" she exclaimed. "Oh dear!"
"So, we meet again, young lady!" the well-dressed man said.
"This is the man I told you about, Tobor!" Jenny told her boss.
What a strange coincidence Tobor thought to himself.
"I assume you are detective Tobor," the strange man continued. "My name is Ken."
He does look like 8th Man Tobor thought.
"I'm here on business, Mr. Tobor," the man said. "May I sit down?"
Tobor quickly recovered himself. "Oh, excuse me," he apologized. "Yes of course! Please be seated!"
Ken seated himself on the sofa sitting near Tobor's desk. Tobor sat down in a chair opposite him. Jenny remained standing.
"Ken saved me after that auto accident I had, Tobor!" Jenny explained.
"Is there any reason why you stare so intently at my face?" Ken asked Tobor.
Tobor once again caught himself. "Uh, no," he stuttered. He then tried to change the subject. "You said you were here on business?"
Ken had a slight smile on his face, as if he was privately amused at the stir he knew he was causing. "Can you locate a missing person for me, Mr. Tobor?" he asked.
"I can try. Who is it?"
"The man I am looking for is a scientist who disappeared about five years ago from the military laboratory of the Republic of Armaco. I have reliable information that he now lives in seclusion in this country. His name is Tani, and he's a professor. Can you find him?"
There was a pregnant pause, as Tobor again registered surprise on his face at this question.
"Well, can you?" Ken repeated.
"You said Tani?"
"That's right, Tobor. Professor Tani."
"Oh. Oh, I see," Tobor finally responded. "Well, I - "
"You come highly recommended as a detective. I don't think you'll have any trouble locating Professor Tani for me, Mr. Tobor."
Suddenly Ken was up out of his seat and headed for the door.
"I'll keep in touch!" he said, as he opened the door.
"Wait! Just one minute, please!" Tobor called after him. But before he even got the sentence out, Ken was gone.
Why does he want the professor? Tobor thought.
Tobor turned to his secretary. "I'm going out," he told her, "and I have no idea when I'll be back, Jenny."
"Very well," Jenny replied. Tobor often did that - suddenly announced he was going out, without explaining where or why. Jenny had gotten used to it since working for him.
Tobor followed Ken out the door.
"Mr. Tobor certainly got excited about something!" Jenny mumbled to herself, after her boss had gone.
What Jenny did not know was, as soon as he hit the street below, Tobor instantly transformed himself into 8th Man. Then he raced off down the street so fast he became virtually invisible to the naked eye.
# # #
This strange man who looked like me was looking for the man who created me, Professor Tani. I rushed to the professor's home.
"8th Man - are you sure? Tell me!" the professor pleaded. "You say he had your face?"
"Absolutely," 8th Man replied. "That fact seems to upset you, sir."
"His name - you say his name is Ken?" Tani continued. "8th Man - Ken?"
The Professor already knew what the answer to his question was. He collapsed into a nearby chair.
"So, he has come at last," he muttered.
"Who is Ken, Professor Tani?" 8th Man asked. "Please tell me! Is he an enemy of yours? If he is, I'm ready to fight him for you - right now!"
Tani shook his head. "No, 8th Man. Ken is not my enemy. Please don't worry about him!"
"But, Professor! ..."
"Please - just leave me alone for a while. I need solitude ... to think."
"Well, if you need me, just call," 8th Man said. "I'll come."
With that, 8th Man disappeared.
The Professor just sat silently in his chair for long minutes, thinking.
"So the boy is in this country," he mumbled to himself. "Ken ..."
"Yes, Professor!" came a sudden reply. "I'm right here! Right now!"
"What?" Tani exclaimed. He looked up to see the same well-dressed young man that had visited Tobor's office earlier, leaning casually against one of the walls of the lab.
"We meet again, ay Professor?" the man said.
"It is you, Ken!" the Professor exclaimed. "How did you ever find me, son?"
"Remember, I was always a bright boy, Professor! Right?" Ken replied with a smirk.
"What are you doing here, Kenneth? What do you want?"
"We meet again after five long years, Professor! Is that any way to greet a fellow?"
"Well, Ken, I, uh - "
"You might have said 'Good to see you!' Or 'Welcome, my long-lost son!'"
"I know why you came here, Kenneth," the Professor said quietly.
"So that's why your greeting was so cold. All right - what is your answer?"
"I will not go back to that dictatorship in Armaco!" Tani announced.
"Then you realize I must take you back, even if I have to use force, dear Father! Do you understand?"
"I understand. And you won't be able to do it. No more talk. Go home!"
"8th Man won't stop me! I have my assignment, and I am taking you back to Armaco with me. You have a debt to pay, and you will pay it!"
"I'll have to call 8th Man!" Tani said. He reached for a telephone on a small table next to his chair.
"No!" Ken shouted. He grabbed Tani's hand. "You won't be calling anybody! Watch!"
Ken took the phone receiver out of Professor Tani's hand, and then proceeded to crush it into small pieces. The pieces dropped onto the floor.
"What do you think now?" Ken gloated.
Professor Tani couldn't believe what he had just seen. "Kenneth!" he gasped. "You're - "
"You're right! I'm a robot! It surprises you, doesn't it, Professor?"
"A robot!" Ken shouted. With this, he instantly transformed into a powerful-looking mechanical man with a sleek robotic look, similar to 8th Man. Only his head and face remained unchanged.
"You may be a robot, but you can never defeat 8th Man!" Tani told him.
"That's the main reason I volunteered to become a robot!" Ken replied. "I hate him! You left me in Armaco, and took him with you - remember, Father?"
"I had already lost you, Ken when you joined the Armaco Secret Police!"
"Too bad you didn't show the same loyalty. That is part of your debt!"
"We'll soon see how good a robot you are!"
Tani jumped out of his chair and pushed a button located on the wall. A panel slid back from the lab's ceiling, and a complicated ray device extended out of it. A blast of pure energy shot out of the device and struck Ken.
"Although you are my son, I must stop you, Kenneth!" Tani shouted.
However, the ray blast did not seem to affect Ken. He leaped up from the floor and smashed the ray machine to pieces with his fist.
"That's just a demonstration!" Ken exclaimed as he landed back on the floor. He grabbed Tani by his collar. "I'm ashamed to have a father like you!" he declared. "One who would desert his glorious country where his scientific skills are most needed!"
"But Ken, let me - "
"I won't listen! You could have created weapons that would have helped Armaco conquer the world! And you deserted us!"
"I would not build such weapons!" Tani insisted.
At this, Ken contemptuously threw his father to the floor.
"I cannot think of you as my father!" Ken snapped.
"My boy!" Tani moaned.
"8th Man is your boy, you self-righteous, stubborn old man - and I'm going to break him into a thousand little pieces!"
# # #
"You know, Professor Tani is acting very strangely about this young fellow named Ken," 8th Man was saying to Chief Tanaka at Metropolitan Police Headquarters. "I don't know what to do, Chief."
"I don't understand it. But he must have a reason, I guess."
"I'll activate my Memory Projector."
8th Man touched two precise places on either side of his head, and a beam projected out of his eye sockets, displaying a camera image of Ken onto the Chief's wall.
"Amazing!" the Chief replied. "He looks exactly like you, 8th Man! Did Professor Tani tell you anything at all?"
"He obviously didn't want to talk about it, Chief. But he seemed very depressed. That's why I'm worried about him so much."
8th Man turned off his Projector.
"Well, he's certainly helped the Metropolitan Bureau often enough, so there's no reason why we can't give him a hand now," the Chief said. "I'll investigate this fellow Ken thoroughly. All right?"
"Thanks a lot, Chief!"
# # #
In a big old house located out in the woods somewhere outside the perimeter of Metropolitan City Dr. Gaull, a short, middle-aged, balding man, was talking to Ken.
"I didn't think we'd catch Professor Tani so quickly, Ken," he commented. "You did a good job. Now, let's go see how he is."
Ken followed Gaull down a series of steps into the basement of the house, where they came upon a locked door. Gaull flicked on an overhead light, and then opened the door. The pair stepped into a large, darkened room. There were cobwebs hanging from the ceiling, and the only furniture was a chair located in the exact center of the room. Tani sat in the chair. Otherwise the room was bare.
Tani didn't even look up as Gaull and Ken approached him. The only light in the room was the light that now came in through the open door.
"Are you prepared to go back to Armaco and work in our laboratories?" Gaull asked.
"I will not make weapons for conquest," Tani replied evenly. "And you, Dr. Gaull, shouldn't either."
Gaull became angry at this statement. "I don't want you to lecture me, my dear Professor!" he said, pointing his finger in Tani's face.
"At least Dr. Gaull is loyal to Armaco. That's certainly more than can be said for you!" Ken added. "You are a traitor! As a matter of fact, Dr. Gaull built this robot body for me!"
"I feel as close to Ken now as you do to 8th Man, Professor," Gaull said.
"Can't you realize what a terrible time I had explaining to my superior in the Secret Police after you deserted?" Ken continued. "I made a solemn promise to make up for what you had done to Armaco - to destroy 8th Man! And to bring you back to work in the war laboratories of Armaco!"
"Ken volunteered to become the human material to replace the robot you stole from Armaco," Gaull said. "The one from which you subsequently built 8th Man."
Professor Tani did not reply.
"Well, are you going to return voluntarily?" Gaull insisted.
"I will not help your war-mad leaders!"
"Confound it!" Ken cursed. He smashed his metal fist against the room's concrete wall, making a huge hole in it. "Is this my father, an eternal idealist? You'll never change! ... All right, I'll come back to talk to you after I've finished 8th Man!"
Ken turned to leave.
"Stay away from 8th Man!" Tani begged. "Please, Ken!"
"Why?" Ken replied. "Are you afraid I'll destroy that precious robot of yours, Father? Well, I'll bring him back to you in broken fragments! Just you wait!"
Ken disappeared in a blur of superhuman speed.
"Ken! Don't try it!" Tani called after him.
"It hurts, doesn't it, Professor?" Gaull observed. "It's almost like having two sons fighting against each other!"
"Please stop them, Dr. Gaull! They are both bound to get hurt!"
Gaull didn't appear to be listening. Instead, he casually pulled a cigar out of his jacket pocket and lit it.
"Don't you care about Ken at all?" Tani demanded.
"I have confidence that my robot can destroy yours, Tani!"
"Why, you're mad!"
Gaull lowered his cigar. "I'll make a deal with you, Professor Tani," he said. "You come back to Armaco with us to work in the laboratory voluntarily, and I'll stop the battle between Ken and 8th Man!"
"I - I don't know."
"Make up your mind quickly. It may soon be too late!"
# # #
Tobor stared blankly out of his office window.
"Tobor, what is it?" Jenny asked him. "You look so troubled lately. Can I help? Don't you even want to tell me about it? It might make you feel a little better, anyway."
"Jenny, I'm afraid this is one thing you just can't do anything about," Tobor said without turning around.
Just then the office phone rang. Jenny picked it up.
"Tobor Detective Agency," she said into the receiver. "Yes, Mr. Tobor is in." She turned to her boss. "For you, Tobor. The Chief."
"Good!" Tobor replied. He came over to his desk and took the phone receiver.
"We checked out that fellow Ken and found out his name," the Chief said on the other end of the line. "He's from the Republic of Armaco, and his full name is Kenneth Tani."
Tobor suddenly looked as if he had been punched in the stomach. "You're sure about the name?" he asked. "Kenneth Tani, Chief? You made sure it's Tani?"
"Yes. Do you think he's related to Professor Tani?"
"I don't know, Chief. This whole thing is very, very strange."
"Well, what do you intend to do now? Any idea?"
"I'm going to have to have a talk with Professor Tani!"
# # #
Scant minutes later, 8th Man appeared at Professor Tani's lab.
"Professor Tani? Professor Tani, where are you?" he called.
There was no answer.
"I don't like the looks of this at all!" 8th Man thought. He looked around and noticed some furniture and chairs overturned. "There's been violence here! The Professor - he must have been abducted!"
He started searching the room. "There must be some clues here!" he thought. He spotted Professor Tani's desk. "That desk! I wonder ... "
He didn't like snooping in Professor Tani's private belongings, but this was an emergency. He opened the top drawer of the desk and rummaged around in it. Finally he found a photograph he had never seen before. It was a portrait shot of the Professor, Ken, and a woman.
"That photograph!" he mumbled to himself. "So, Ken must be the Professor's son! That's why my face is molded after his! Of course ... I should have guessed! And that must be Mrs. Tani, the boy's mother! Ken must be here to try to take his father back to Armaco. What an awful situation for the Professor! He must be torn between the love of a father, and his hatred for the things the boy now stands for! Terrible ... "
"Hi, 8th Man!" suddenly came a voice from behind him.
8th Man spun around. "Oh - You're Ken!" he exclaimed.
Ken stood near the lab's door. He was no longer wearing his neat business suit - now he looked like what he really was: a robot.
"Didn't you hear me? You're not very alert, are you? I could have caught you unaware and beaten you up, couldn't I, 8th Man?"
"Don't talk foolishness! What have you done with your father?"
Ken ignored the question. "Look at your face! You're nothing but a copy of me! Give me back my face!"
"Cut it out, Ken!" 8th Man admonished.
"Is it foolishness to want my face back?"
"Talk sense, Ken!"
"All right! I plan to take my face back from you, robot! By force - since it will be a pleasure to do it that way!"
"You haven't a chance! I'm a robot made of steel, you know!"
"Really? So what? ... Take this!"
Ken shot forward and rammed into 8th Man, sending him flying backwards into the lab wall. 8th Man fell to the floor.
"Oh, so you're really a robot, just like I am!" 8th Man said.
"Not just like you are, but much better! I'm stronger and smarter - and to prove it, I'm going to tear you limb from limb!"
8th Man got up. "Ken, why must we fight?" he said. "After all, we're almost brothers! There's no sense to it!"
"Don't talk so much - just defend yourself, 8th Man!"
Both of them started racing around the room so fast they became indistinct blurs. Finally, 8th Man leaped up to the ceiling, and using the magnetic powers of his robot body clung there like a huge insect.
"I'm trying to avoid this fight, Ken!" 8th Man asserted. "Why do you insist on continuing it? Tell me!"
"Because my father chose you over loyalty to his country and his family!" Ken answered.
"You're making a bad mistake, Ken!"
"No more Talk! Fight!"
Ken also leaped upward too. He crashed through the ceiling, carrying 8th Man outside with him. Once outside the two raced away from the lab at high speed.
"Trying to run away, you coward?" Ken shouted. "Stand and fight me - I dare you!"
"I'm running away so I won't have to hurt you!" 8th Man answered. "You'll never be able to keep up with me!"
Suddenly Ken stopped, standing motionless in the middle of a deserted street in a slum area of Metropolitan City.
"He's gone!" he said to himself. "Obviously he's hiding!" He looked around. "8th Man! Listen to me, and listen carefully!" he yelled. "Come out of hiding and fight me right now! Or are you too frightened?"
There was no response.
"I have an idea!" Ken continued. "Once I saved Jenny from serious injury! Don't you think that now I have a right to get even for my help? I will give you time! Meet me here at four o'clock this afternoon to fight to the end! If you don't I promise Jenny will suffer for it! Think it over well!"
8th Man was actually nearby, hiding behind a dilapidated building. "Would he actually do a thing like that?" he thought. "Poor Jenny! Why should she be in the middle?"
"Remember! Four o'clock this afternoon!" Ken went on. "Be here, or I go get Jenny!"
What a terrible choice I was faced with. I could fight Ken and destroy him, and break his father's heart. And after all, Professor Tani was as much a father to me in a way. Or, I could not show up, and put Jenny in danger! What should I do?
# # #
"8th Man! There you are! Thank goodness!"
Chief Tanaka had just come into his office and found 8th Man standing there, staring out the window.
"I was worried! What were you doing about that fight?" the Chief said. He quickly closed his office door.
"That's just what I've been thinking about, Chief," 8th Man replied.
"Ken's hatred of me is so intense - I'm afraid I'm going to find it necessary to fight him! But I don't want to hurt him!"
"Well, then, what on Earth can be done?"
"I'm afraid the fight will have to take place! But I can't be sure who will win!"
"How can you say that?"
"For Professor Tani it will be like watching two sons fight. I'm sure he still loves Ken. Can you imagine how terrible it would be for him if both of us were destroyed in such a battle?"
The Chief contemplated 8th Man's words.
"I can't make Professor Tani suffer," 8th Man went on. "And yet I must fight! There is only one course open!"
"I think I'm beginning to get the idea - and I don't like it, 8th Man!" the Chief replied. "You're going to go into a battle you don't want to win!"
"I'm afraid it's not quite that simple, Chief! It depends on how strong Ken turns out to be! If we're equally matched, it would mean destruction for both! That must not happen!"
"A battle between brothers! This shouldn't happen!"
The Chief sat down on the sofa in his office. He thought about how he had lost his very best operative - and friend - Special Agent Brady, almost a year ago in a deadly gunfight. He realized now that this current fight could mean the end of 8th Man as well.
"Jenny and Professor Tani are more important than my personal welfare!" 8th Man proclaimed.
That was exactly the same kind of decent, self-sacrificing spirit that Brady had possessed, the Chief thought. He couldn't stand the thought of that noble spirit being wiped out again - this time for good.
"Don't go, 8th Man!" the Chief pleaded. Despite himself, a single tear began to trickle down his left cheek. He turned his head to try to hide it.
"Don't be ashamed of your tears, Chief," 8th Man told him. "I too am crying inside - although as a robot I have no tears to show for it."
The Chief looked up at the clock on his wall. It was almost four P.M.
"It's time. Goodbye, Chief, good friend," 8th Man said. "Remember me to Jenny with - with affection. And take care of Skip, will you?"
With that 8th Man suddenly disappeared in a blur of speed.
"Stop!" the Chief cried. But he was now alone in the room.
"It's too late! He's gone!" he said to himself. "The fight will go on!"
# # #
On a small deserted plain just outside the perimeter of Metropolitan City, at the foot of the mountain range that ringed its northern side, three figures stood in the gathering gloom.
"It's four o'clock!" Dr. Gaull pronounced. "Maybe he won't come!"
"He'll be here!" Ken replied. "I'm positive!"
"Here he comes now!" Gaull suddenly shouted.
A few yards away from where they stood, the figure of 8th Man abruptly appeared.
"Now I'll finish you!" Ken shouted with maniacal glee.
The third figure that had been standing behind Ken and Dr. Gaull came forward.
"8th Man! Must this go on?" Professor Tani pleaded.
"I'm sorry, Professor," 8th Man replied. "But I have no choice!"
Tani put his hand on his son's shoulder. "Ken, please, you just have to stop!" the Professor begged.
Ken shook his father's hand off. "We must fight!" he insisted.
"This is madness!" the Professor continued. "Do you hear me? You are both my sons, and precious to me! Please - please don't carry out this terrible tragedy!"
"I think you're ready to cooperate now, right Professor?" Gaull said. "Agree to come to Armaco, and I'll stop the fight!"
Tani closed his eyes. Despite the coolness of the air, drops of sweat began to trickle down from his forehead, caused by his inner turmoil.
"Very well," he finally said to Gaull. "There is no alternative. You win."
Gaull nodded. "All right. Stop! Stop the fight, Ken!" he commanded.
"Absolutely not!" Ken spat back.
"Stop! I said stop right now, Ken!" Gaull repeated.
"I have waited five years for this!" Ken declared. "I let myself be made into a robot for this moment!"
"Ken, please!" Gaull insisted. "I don't think you can win!"
Ken looked at his mentor. "You don't believe that!" he replied. "You only say it thinking I would stop! But nothing on Earth can prevent this battle!" He turned toward 8th Man. "Ready?" he asked.
"I'm ready!" 8th Man called back. "Come on!"
"Ken's right - nothing on Earth can stop them now!" Professor Tani agreed.
Ken leaped forward.
"He disobeyed me!" Gaull exclaimed, incredulous. "He's completely mad!"
"And now I must make a terrible choice!" the Professor cried. "My true son, whom I have loved, but is full of hate - or the son that loves me and fills my heart. I must choose!"
Ken collided with 8th Man, forcefully knocking him backwards into the mountainside just behind him. Before 8th Man could recover from this, Ken grabbed him by one of his legs and began to swing him around in a wide circle. He let go, and 8th Man slammed into the rocky mountainside again. Then once more Ken jumped forward and slammed into his opponent.
8th Man bounced off the mountainside and collapsed, laying limp on the ground. Ken advanced to stand over him.
"Now, 8th Man, I'll break you into little bits!" Ken shouted.
Professor Tani watched this unequal battle in horror. "Strange!" he thought to himself. "8th Man is hardly putting up a fight!"
Then his eyes opened wide.
"Oh no, I understand! - He's sacrificing himself because Ken is my son!"
Tani stepped forward a few steps. "Now I know what I must do!" he thought. "8th Man! Hear me!" he cried. "Fight! I want you to fight and win!"
Ken had just zoomed up the side of the nearby mountain. Once at the summit he picked up a huge boulder and held it up over his head. Then he threw it downward - right to where 8th Man lay prone on the ground!
"8th Man, get up and fight!" the Professor insisted. "For me! Please!"
8th Man heard the Professor's cries. At the very last second, he opened his eyes, jumped up, and shot away just as the huge boulder came crashing down on the very spot where he had just been.
"Now - fight hard!" the Professor shouted to him.
"But - your son!" 8th Man protested.
"I wish you could both be saved - but I've lost Ken!" the Professor told him.
Ken was now once again back down on the ground. "So that's it!" he said. "8th Man is your choice! I thought so! Well, it doesn't matter, Professor!" Ken's face twisted into a grimace of hate and anger. "I've hated you ever since you refused to help us conquer the world!" he spat.
"What!" 8th Man exclaimed. He couldn't believe what he had just heard.
"No, my son!" Professor Tani shouted.
Suddenly, 8th Man found himself surrounded by multiple Kens!
"Here's a surprise!" Ken announced. "I call these my finger robots! They operate like five of my fingers! Now do you think you can stop me, 8th Man?"
"Is this an invention of yours, Gaull?" the Professor asked.
"It is!" Gaull replied. "And now 8th Man is done!"
"I wouldn't be too sure if I were you, Dr. Gaull!"
"One against five! He hasn't got a chance!"
8th Man hesitated, wondering what he should do. Where could these duplicate Kens have possibly come from?
"Ignore the finger robots, 8th Man!" Professor Tani yelled. "Concentrate on Ken himself!"
There was only one explanation, 8th Man thought - the "finger robots" must be some kind of unreal projection from Ken himself. They couldn't be real.
"Yes! I understand!" 8th Man called back.
"Finger robots - attack!" Ken ordered.
"Remember, 8th Man! Get Ken!" the Professor repeated.
"Look out! here they come!" the Professor warned.
The five Ken duplicates moved in on 8th Man, colliding with him. 8th Man felt the impact. Apparently, even though the duplicates were only projections of some kind, they were still capable of packing some kind of electronic punch to anything they touched.
8th Man dodged out of their midst. Once again they surrounded him. But this time, when they all converged on him again, 8th Man quickly leaped upward. The five robot projections then ended up crashing into each other all at the same time. There was a bright flash as they all canceled each other out.
"The finger robots! They blasted each other and exploded!" Gaull exclaimed in dismay.
"Well done 8th Man!" the Professor said.
"I'm not through!" announced the real Ken, who still stood nearby.
"Give up now! Please, Ken!" 8th Man pleaded.
"No! We fight to the end, I tell you! To the bitter end!"
The two robots crashed together once again, like two super novas. Then they separated.
"Enough, Ken!" 8th Man chided.
Ken just stood there, looking at his opponent. "Enough ..." he repeated slowly. And then, suddenly, he fell face forward onto the ground.
"Ken!" 8th Man called.
"Ken, my boy!" Professor Tani cried. He rushed over to the prone figure. He turned Ken over and held him propped up on his knee.
"Ken, forgive me! I was a poor father to you," Tani lamented. "But I did what I had to do!"
Ken slowly opened his eyes. They had a totally different look in them than they had had just a few moments earlier.
"I am the one who should beg forgiveness, Father," he said slowly. "I must have been ... out of my mind. It's better this way."
Tears started to roll down Tani's cheeks. "Ken, my son," he said. "Even as I hold you in my arms, I weep for what might have been."
"I'm thinking clearly for the first time. I love you dearly, Father. Please, try to remember me that way."
Ken's eyes slowly closed.
"Oh, Ken!" Tani sobbed. He lifted his now-lifeless son and held him to his chest. Then he gently lowered him back to the Earth.
8th Man stood nearby. He didn't know what to say.
"Professor Tani, sir, I, uh - " he began.
"At the very last, for a moment, I had him back," the Professor said.
"You seemed certain that I would win, Professor," 8th Man continued. "How did you know for sure?"
"Ken was a robot - except for his brain," the Professor replied.
Now 8th Man understood. "He never had a chance, Professor!" he said.
Tani stood up. "That's right. They couldn't duplicate your electronic brain. So they used his human one. No human brain could stand the pressure of such a fight."
"I see. And my electronic brain gave me greater speed."
Some yards away, Dr. Gaull stood silently, holding his head in his hands. Now it was he knew what it was like to lose ... a son.
"Well, it's all over," the Professor continued. "I am afraid that is the way it was meant to be."
"But you suffered such terrible anguish, Professor Tani!" 8th Man exclaimed.
Tani put his hand on 8th Man's shoulder. "As I have told you," he tried to explain, "a man must be prepared to suffer for that which he knows to be right. The future of all humankind was in the balance."
8th Man nodded. For long moments they both just stood there together, staring up at the stars in the endless night sky.