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News briefs and new characters.



Separate Scenes

A half dozen Manhattanites, kidnapped during Sunday's unexplained attack by Vikings, were found in the parking lot of Stark Industries. The victims, all women, were shaken and scared, but were unharmed. SI security personnel took the women into custody until the police arrived. The women were then taken to the nearest hospital for observation. According to police sources, all of the women were instructed not to talk to the press. One of the victims, Miss Patsy Walker, came forward and identified herself. She expressed thanks to the costumed "super-heroes" who allegedly rescued her and the other women from an alien world populated by Norse gods such as Thor and Loki. Walker did not identify the other victims, none of whom have come forward to tell their tales.

Finally a campus demonstration that doesn't involve chanting hippies! This Saturday at Empire State University's Cullen Hall, Dr. Chen Lu, one of China's leading physicists who sought asylum in the United States, will be lecturing on and demonstrating his revolutionary new "broadcast nuclear generator." According to Dr. Chen, his new technology relies on controlled nuclear fission to create electricity that can be broadcast harmlessly and cleanly through the air. Receivers then convert the broadcast signal into usable electricity for homes and offices. What will they think of next?

Simon Williams, co-CEO of Williams Electronics, has been indicted in absentia by a grand jury for embezzlement. Inside sources reveal that Williams allegedly had been channeling WE funds into various pro-segregation organizations.
    Authorities have been unable to locate Williams for the past week. It is believed that he has gone into hiding in an effort to avoid prosecution. WE spokesmen are silent about the details, but do say that Eric Williams, Simon's brother and co-CEO of WE, was in no way involved with the embezzlement scheme. Eric Williams has been unavailable for comment.

Rumors coming out of Harlem have been confirmed. There is yet another costumed "super-hero" running around New York City. This new one, apparently a Negro male, has so far confined his activities to Harlem. Police sources credit him with breaking up one street gang involved in small time gun and narcotics dealing.
    Harlemites express general approval for the vigilante, who is called Malachi. "About time someone did something," said one resident. "Police sure enough don't seem to care about the hooligans beating and robbing us colored folks."
    Other people are more concerned. Said one man, an Upper East resident, "We certainly don't need some colored vigilante stirring up more trouble in Harlem. Those people commit enough crime as it is without one of them taking the law into his own hands."

In an unusual move, the Communist Chinese ambassador to the United Nations will reportedly present evidence to the General Assembly of American and South Vietnamese war crimes perpetrated against North Vietnamese civilians. Sources in the Chinese embassy are mum about the details and timeframe, but do say that the evidence they will present is damning to both "American capitalist imperialism and her lapdog, the military-industrial complex."
    Mr. Tom Petersen, Pentagon spokesman, said in a press conference, "These allegations are baseless. The United States government welcomes the opportunity to examine the evidence. We have nothing to fear from the truth. The only people guilty of atrocities in Vietnam are Ho Chi Minh and his Communist followers."

Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr., has been arrested and jailed by Sheriff "Bull" Connors in Birmingham, Alabama on charges of "unlawful demonstrating" and "disturbing the peace." Representatives of the National Association for the Advancement of Colored Persons and the Student Non-Violent Coordinating Committee both confirm that King is good health and has not been mistreated.
    Connors told this reporter, "We got enough problems down here without people coming in and stirring the pot. Everyone around here, White and Negro, knows his place, and we don't appreciate liberals trying to change our way of life."
    Despite this setback, civil rights workers in Birmingham promise that they will hold other lawful demonstrations.


Elsewhere and Earlier...
    Janet drops the last of the boxes on the bed. She hated moving, but she couldn't stand to be around anyone who thinks like Henry. Ever since Henry brought Simon to dinner, Henry seemed to be more fervent about his beliefs.
    She began unpacking, putting her clothes in the dresser. Part way through the second hurriedly packed box, she comes across a framed picture of her and Henry at zoo. In a moment of anger, the picture and frame blows out of her hand, and spins across the room to shatter on the opposite wall.
    She holds back sniffled tears as she goes to the kitchen to try and find a dustpan. She carries it back into the bedroom, and with a focus of effort, the broken pieces of glass and wood march across the floor and into the dustpan. _With all the mutations out there, I had to get the ability to control dirt._ She smiles at her own private joke, she knows she can control more that dirt, but housework seems to be the most of what she uses her powers for.
    As she dumps the broken glass in the trash, the phone rings. _I didn't think they would have it turned on yet_ She picks up the receiver and hears a familiar voice on the other end. "No Sarah, I don't think I will make it into the office today... I will try and get in tomorrow... No, the agency won't fold if I miss a day or two, I know you can handle it... No, I don't want the messages from Henry, I don't even want to talk to him... Ok, I will talk to you in the morning." She hangs up the phone, and goes back to unpacking in her new apartment. The rest of the day passes uneventfully.
    Janet decides not to cook tonight, and dresses for dinner. She locks the door on her way out, and walks out to her car. He father wanted her to get an Impala, or one of those safe cars, but she wanted one of those little sporty T-birds. She gets into the baby-blue Ford, and backs out of the drive. It is a short drive to a little diner downtown. She takes a table, and the waitress comes to take her order. Janet looks up, and gentle smile appears on her face. The waitress is black, and Janet can't help but wonder what Henry or even Simon would have done, as she places her order.

Eric Williams still couldn't believe the strange, possibly dangerous turn his life had taken in the past week. First, Simon's betrayal. Then, the discovery of the full extent of Simon's and their father's ties with a horrible legacy. Finally, the desperate, even foolish, act that gave Eric a frightening, yet thrilling, power.
    He had searched Simon's offices at WE, as well as Simon's home, in an effort to figure out where Simon had vanished to. It was to no avail. The only thing Eric had found was a black and white snapshot of Simon, his friend Henry Pym, and some older, heavier man who looked strangely familiar, all three sitting at a table in a bar or a restaurant.
    But try as he might, Eric could not remember where he had seen the older, heavier man before. He was certainly no one he had ever met personally. Eric considered contacting Pym, but then thought better of it. If Pym sympathized with Simon, there could be trouble in that direction.
    Then, like a snap of a finger, a named popped into Eric's head: Janet Van Dyne. Pym had been dating her. Simon had mentioned that several times, as if it reflected well on him vicariously. But Eric read in the society pages that Van Dyne had broken up with Pym recently. Maybe, just maybe, the young socialite would be able to help Eric track down Simon.
    Eric, glad of his inspiration, looks up Janet Van Dyne's address and decides to pay a visit. Best to drop in as a surprise rather than risk rejection; and old formula, but one that occasionally worked. He pocketed the photo of Simon, Hank and the unknown man and left. After a long, and rather dull drive he finally arrived and rang the bell. Hopefully she'd be in.
    There is a brief pause and then a voice comes over the intercom.
    "Yes?" the woman inquires.
    Eric identifies himself and asks to speak to Miss Van Dyne.
    "Miss Van Dyne's gone out to dinner," the voice informs Eric. She's not expected back for at least two hours. Can I take a message?"
    Eric looks at the intercom and decides to take a chance, "Tell her its Eric Williams and I need to speak to her about Hank and my brother."
    There's a lengthy pause.
    "I can do that, Mr. Williams," the woman, presumably the housekeeper says. "Is there are number where she can reach you at?"
    Eric states, "I'll be at the bar around the corner for the next couple of hours. She can reach me there. After that, she has my home number." he then walks to the bar and orders a meal, prepared to wait awhile.
    Janet finishes her meal, leaving a larger tip that deserved, but in some small way she thought she was getting back at Henry. She pulls her coat on, and goes out to her car. She doesn't really feel like driving home yet, but doesn't want to just ride around either. She soon pulls into her driveway, and goes inside. Diana, the housekeeper, meets Janet in the foyer. Diana is an elderly Black woman, in her mid-50s, who works to help keep her son and daughter in college at Empire State. She was a proper woman, proud but not arrogant, who took great satisfaction in running a well-managed household.
    "A man came by looking for you, Miss Van Dyne," Diana says. "Said his name was Eric Williams, and that he wanted to talk to you about his brother and Dr. Pym. Said he'd be at Arlo's for a couple of hours or so, if you wanted to contact him."
    "Thank you Diana, I will walk over to Arlo's. The air might do me some good." Janet puts her coat back on, and starts down the block. _I wonder what Eric wants, I don't remember Simon or Henry mentioning him, other than in passing, some sort of tinkerer in Simon's company._ She opens the bar door before thinking. _Not exactly a place for a lady, I should have asked Diana if she knows what Eric looks like._ She steps into the bar, and lets her eyes adjust for a moment.
    Eric sat in the bar named Arlo's, his thoughts whirling about a mile a minute. "Where was Simon? Would Janet Van Dyne talk to him?" and a thousand other things flew through his mind. He didn't bother to drink alcohol, wanting his mind clear; so he gave the bartender a twenty dollar bill and stuck to Pepsi. Then suddenly Janet Van Dyne entered the bar. She was dressed in a long coat and looked completely out of place in this pub. She was looking around, so Eric decided to approach.
    "Miss Van Dyne? I'm Eric Williams. May I ask you a few questions?", he indicated a private booth in which he had been occupying.
    Janet looks casually at her watch. "Yes, Mr. Williams, I suppose I have a few minutes." She pulls her coat a little tighter, and follows him over to his booth. "What would you like to know?"
    Eric sits down in the booth and takes out a picture. He places it before Janet and says, "My brother is wanted for embezzling Williams Corp. company funds. He's a devoted believer and supporter of racist causes, as was my father. I'm trying to track him down and repair the damage my family has caused over the years." Eric taps the picture, "I found this in his private office. That's my brother and Hank, but who's this third person? He could be the key." He taps the third person in the picture and appears very intent.
    Janet takes the picture, changing its position in the dim light. "I hope you didn't drive very far, almost anyone on the street could have answered this question. That man is that sheriff from Alabama, Collins, no Connors, Bull Connors. There was an article about him and Dr. King in the paper." Janet hands the picture back to Eric. "Was there anything else you needed?"
    Eric nods, "yes I do have something else. What were Hank and my brother working on? I need to know!"
    Janet retreats back a little in her seat. Eric Williams seems to be getting excited. "I honestly don't know what they were working on. I paid very little attention to Henry's lab. The complexities of science have never really interested me."
    Eric sits back in his seat and lets out a long breath, "You were my last hope of tracking Simon down. Unless you know where Hank is these days."
    Janet relaxes just a bit. "I haven't heard from Henry in almost a week. And I would prefer to keep it that way. But, I can call my secretary in the morning. Today she said had some messages from Henry. I will find out if she kept them."
    Eric nods, "Thank you Miss Van Dyne. I'm sorry to be so intense, but my brother is, if possible, worse than my father. I can't let their nazi dreams to go on any further." Janet stands up, and adjusts her coat. "I understand, if you have a number that you can be reached at, I will give you a phone call in morning."
    Eric pulls out a business card and quickly scribbles his home number on back, "I can be reached at either number. Thanks you."
    Janet takes the card, and without really looking at it, puts it in her handbag. "I will let you know anything I find out Mr. Williams. Good evening." She rises from her chair, and heads for the front door.
    Eric nods, "Good evening Miss van Dyne." He waits until she's already left the pub and leaves himself, returning to his home.
    Eric returns home and begins packing. He doubted Janet van Dyne would give him anymore information, but he still retained a bit of hope. The company jet had booked a departure time of 11AM, so he still had time to sleep and search out the records of Simon's last actions. Then it was on to Alabama and a chance to seek out his errant brother.

Janet leaves the pub, and walks down the street. The implications of the picture Eric had shown her finally sinking in. _If Henry and Simon were meeting with that sheriff, was that up here, or in Alabama. Simon is supposed to have stolen money, I hope he isn't funneling it to one of those racist groups down there._ Leaves and bits of discarded paper begin circling around her as she walks down the street. If someone was paying attention on this late evening, it would appear she was walking in the eye of a forming tornado.

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© 1999 Mark L. Chance et al