The Scorpion in
The Legacy of the Scorpion



A 7-Chapter Masked Hero Adventure!

by Howard G. Martin
About the author


Chapter Four - A Monumental Task


Previously: Teleported from 1940 to 2080, the Scorpion is recruited by Commissioner Valentine to clean up a future NY which has become a cesspool of corruption. With new hi-tech weapons, Scorpion visits Vegas Feral, a child pornographer, where he learns the corruption extends to the highest levels of government, including the Mayor...

COMMISSIONER VALENTINE UNLOCKED HIS OFFICER DOOR early the following morning and walked in. Upon turning on the office lights--by waving his hand in front of a plate on the wall--he was startled to notice the Scorpion sitting in his chair, behind his desk, waiting for him.

"Scorpion! How did you get in here? We're four floors up and I always keep the office windows locked. Oh, and, by the way, after what you did to Vegas Feral last night, every officer in this building is looking for you, and not to give you a medal."

"You know, the future gizmos that you people have come up with are simply amazing," said the Scorpion. "I've been sitting here for the past couple of hours, getting news and information, both sound and movies, on any subject that came to mind, through the mechanisms that have been sewn into this mask."

"That's quite true, Scorpion," said the Commissioner distractedly. "The things they've done with technology are astonishing, but the fact remains that this is a dangerous place for you to be. Why didn't you just set up a meeting at Quantamatic if you wanted to talk to me?"

"Because what I have to say is for you to hear only."

The Scorpion balanced one of his throwing knives on the end of his finger as he spoke.

"Like I said, I've been doing a lot of research in the last couple of hours, in addition to what I found out last night, and I gotta tell ya, the task you've set for me is impossible, hopeless, too monumental to accomplish. It would take an army of Scorpions, working at it for years, to make a dent in the corruption and decadence of this cesspool that used to be my city. Judging from the news reports that I've been monitoring, the rest of the country, hell, the whole world is in just as bad a shape."

"I didn't say it would be a simple task," replied the Commissioner. "But I know you can do it. You are the example that this city needs to turn itself around. Do you really think we would have gone to the trouble of illegally using Time Portal technology to bring you here if we didn't think you could save us?"

"I don't doubt your motives, Commissioner, just your judgement. I'm telling you, this isn't going to work. Corruption this deeply entrenched in the upper levels of government isn't going to be stopped by one man. I'll do what I can for this city, because I remember how it used to be, but it won't change anything."

With that, the Scorpion sheathed his knife, strode to the open window, activated his low gravity field generator, which simulated the force of gravity that the Moon would exert on a body, and stepped out into thin air. The Commissioner ran to the window just in time to see the Scorpion land on a flagpole that was attached to the wall about ten feet below. The Scorpion crouched and leaped thirty feet to the next flagpole, which he caught with his hands, swung around and perched on. Then he leaped again to the next flagpole, and continued on until he had reached the flagpole at the edge of the building. From there he leaped to the roof of a smaller building that adjoined the Police Headquarters, doing all of this as policemen and civilians passed by on the street beneath him unknowingly. The Commissioner lost sight of him after he landed on the roof of the adjoining building.

***
The sun had just disappeared behind Manhattan's towering spires as Eve Kingston paused in the process of shutting down her computer for the day. The computer was located in the secret Time Portal laboratory, located within the Quantamatic Corporation Headquarters in Manhattan.

The desk that the computer sat on was positioned so that Eve could see the Time Portal while she worked. For a long moment she sat and stared at the Portal, then she unlocked a drawer in the desk and produced a scrapbook. She opened the book and began slowly flipping through the pages. Each page contained computer printouts of old newspaper clippings. They were all news stories about the Scorpion from the Thirties.

"So that's where I put my scrapbook," said the Scorpion's voice at her shoulder.
Eve's blue eyes went wide for a second, then a smile drifted slowly across her face. She closed the book and turned in her chair.

"You shouldn't sneak up on people."

"Nonsense. I wouldn't be a very effective crime fighter if I didn't," said the Scorpion, returning her smile.

"Well, how did you do it, then?" queried the girl as she put away the scrapbook and locked the drawer.

"Sorry, can't tell you, trade secret."

"What, is there some sort of Union of Mystery Men or something?"

"That would be a good idea if I weren't the only one, at least as far as I know."

"So, what brings you here this evening?"

"I thought you might be hungry. There's a fantastic Italian restaurant about three blocks from here. I ate there all the time back in the Thirties. I'm surprised it still exists. Would you like to accompany me?"

"Don't you think it will look a little funny, me walking into a restaurant with a masked man?"

"You won't be. I brought a change of clothes," said the Scorpion, motioning toward a black backpack that was slumped against the wall, next to the armored security door that was the only entrance to the laboratory.

"You're going to take off your mask?" asked Eve, clearly astonished. "I was beginning to think you never took it off. I pictured you sleeping with it. I thought maybe you had some hideous facial disfigurement that you were ashamed of."

"You tell me," said the Scorpion as he carefully removed the mask.

"My mistake," said Doctor Kingston, picking up her handbag and rising from her chair. "Can I watch you change?"

"A man of mystery has to leave a few things to the imagination," said the Scorpion as he made a circular motion with his index finger, indicating that she turn away while he removed the rest of his uniform.

Ten minutes later Eve was walking out of the main entrance to the Quantamatic building next to a tall man with red hair, who appeared to be in his mid-thirties. Although his body was completely covered by a gray Italian suit, it was evident by the way it fit, and by the way the man moved, that he was physically powerful and in excellent condition. He had a classically handsome face that was completely overpowered by his intense, piercing blue eyes.

"Where did you get the employee badge?" she asked. "The guard didn't even give you a second look."

"That's another trade secret," said the Scorpion.

"If we're going to be friends, you're going to have to start confiding in me. What's your name, for instance?"

"That's just why I asked you to dinner tonight, and you can call me Alex."

"Alex, huh? Alex what?"

"My last name's Campbell, but I doubt if I'm in any of your history books. What I want to talk about is this task that you and your friends have set for me."

At that moment the Scorpion and Doctor Kingston, now about a block from their destination, noticed that the wide sidewalk ahead of them was completely blocked by four hulking young men. Purple leather and chains covered most of their bodies. Tattoos and body piercings covered the remaining exposed body parts. They were stopping people as they walked by and refusing to let them pass unless they gave up their money. Business was good because vehicle traffic was fast and heavy on the street. No one could cross to the other side to avoid them.

"Excuse me one second," said the Scorpion to Eve as he increased his stride in order to get to the men before she did.

"Alex, wait. You don't have your--equipment," she called, but the Scorpion ignored the comment.

These men had their intimidation chatter down cold. As pedestrians approached they would loudly and belligerently order them to halt and deliver the goods.

"Where do you think you're going, Mother Fucker?" said the largest and dirtiest of the men upon noticing the Scorpion's rapid approach. "Nobody gets by without--guh!"

The Scorpion quieted the man with a surprise uppercut that caused him to almost bite his tongue in half. While his bleeding tongue distracted the man, the Scorpion kicked him squarely and accurately in the groin, then finished by kneeing him in the face as he doubled over in pain.

By this time, the downed punk's three accomplices were aware of what was happening. They pushed the pedestrians they were harassing aside and attacked Alex, moving to surround him as two of them produced knives. Out of the corner of his eye he noticed a cop walking by on the opposite side of the street. He didn't even slow down. Alex moved to keep the two men with knives in front of him. When the third grabbed him from behind, Alex slammed his head back into the man's face, stunning him, then spun around behind the dazed man and pushed him into one of his knife-wielding accomplices.

The Scorpion heard a scream as the dazed man realized that there was a knife stuck in his gut and crumpled to the sidewalk. As he prepared to battle the two men left standing, he was surprised to see Eve Kingston rush in from behind him and spray something from an aerosol can in the eyes of the remaining assailants. The two dropped their knives and ran off clutching at their eyes. One of them, not being able to see his way clearly, ran out onto the busy street and was batted around by cars like a tennis ball, finally ending up beneath the wheels of a large tank-like vehicle.

Eve contacted the emergency site using a small card-like communication device that she kept in her purse.

"The police may be useless these days, but Emergency crews are pretty efficient," she said as she finished her call.

"I'm sure they get a lot of practice," he replied as he held out his arm for her to take. "I guess we're going to be a little late for our reservation. By the way, thanks for your timely assistance."

"I was happy to help," said Eve, putting her arm in his.

They continued on down the busy street, ignoring the many staring pedestrians.

The restaurant was called Francesco's. The moment Alex Campbell stepped through its double doors he felt that he had come home. As a smiling old gentleman in a black suit led he and Eve to their booth, Alex marveled at the ornate, freshly polished mahogany bar, being tended by a young man with short, pomaded hair, wearing a white apron and polishing glasses with a bar towel. The waiter brought a bottle of the house red wine and poured some for Eve and then for Alex. For the first time in weeks, he relaxed.

"What are you thinking?" she asked as they touched their glasses together.

"That it's funny how good always seems to come bundled up with bad. On the one hand, this world that you've brought me to saddens and disgusts me. On the other, if you hadn't brought me, I'd never have met you."

Eve's smile seemed to brighten the entire room.

"But you'll change this world, make it one that we can be proud of."

"That's not possible," he said. "The problems I see in this society run too deep to be solved by one costumed avenger from another century. It would take many people, who cared about making it a better world, working over many years, to make any significant change."

"All of the problems that we have today existed in the Thirties. I've read quite a bit about that time--and your place in it," she said.

"Yeah, we had murder, corruption, and evil in those days, but the people never surrendered to it. This society seems to have embraced it. Back then I was a man who fought for what everyone wanted but most were too afraid to stand up for. Now I feel like I'm only fighting for you, me, and the Three Stooges you work with."

"You have to keep trying," she said as she reached out and grasped his hand across the table. They may not all know it yet, but these people need you."

"I'll continue to fight for three reasons, Eve, for you, for me, and because I don't like giving up."

***
A week later, a black-clad figure stood outside the double French doors that led to Mayor Eustace Baudritten's bedroom. The doors led out to a large terrace that overlooked the city. The Mayor's huge and luxurious apartment was on the thirtieth floor of the Chrysler Building.

The Scorpion stuck a small round device against the window. After making several unusual hand movements, he crouched to one side of the doors so that no one looking out would see his silhouette. He listened.

Inside, a tall, corpulent man of about sixty, with a receding hairline and a nose that was in full gin blossom, stood with a drink in his hand, wearing a very expensive silk robe and nothing else. Four men in designer Italian suits sat in various spots around the room, in beautiful antique chairs, watching and listening. A naked brunette who couldn't have been older than sixteen knelt in front of him. The Mayor was talking.

"Keep going, honey. You want to be a model in this town? You want to be famous? Just keep going. Now where was I? Oh, yes. You gentlemen may control the illegal activities in this town, but I control everything else. I make things easy for you and you make things easy for me, right?"

"Of course, Mayor. We've always had a very lucrative relationship with you," said the oldest of the men in the designer suits. "What can we do for you tonight?"

"Ah, ah, that's right dear. I see big things in your future," gasped the Mayor. "What--oh God--what I want from you gentlemen are two things. First, I want Police Commissioner Valentine to have a fatal accident. He's been a thorn in my side ever since he was elected. The fucking Boy Scout just won't play ball like the rest of--That's good dear. You may go now.--like the rest of my constituents. He's even trying to turn some of the rank and file against me. One of these days he's going to develop the balls to confront me openly. Best to get rid of him now. I've got an election coming up in two days and I can't afford anyone muddying up the waters. The other thing I want is some information about this crazy bastard they're calling The Scorpion. Is he real? Who is this nutjob? Well, regardless, he's scaring the shit out of some of my soldiers in the trenches, beating the shit out of them, too. As you gentlemen know, it's bad for business when your men are more afraid of someone else than they are of the boss. Find out what you can about him and, if you get the chance, put a bullet in his head for me."

The Scorpion silently disappeared over the balcony. The next morning, every news site in Interspace was carrying the Mayor's entire recorded conversation on audio file. The E-mail message that accompanied the conversation stated the following:

I thought the citizens of New York City should know what kind of man they elected Mayor. Election Day is Tuesday. Don't forget to vote.
The Scorpion

***
The two days leading up to Election Day were not the happiest for Mayor Baudritten. Questions and accusations swarmed across Interspace and inundated the Mayor during public appearances. The Mayor denied all accusations. He maintained that this Scorpion was nothing but a crackpot who had simulated his voice and faked a recording to discredit him.

Meanwhile, four of Commissioner Valentine's most trusted officers volunteered to guard the Commissioner round the clock until the election was over. The Scorpion, unseen, did the same, but no attempts were made on the Commissioner's life during those two days. In truth, the Scorpion would have been surprised if any had been. The media attention given to this mayoral election was far too hot to risk a stupid move like that, even in this century.

***
Commissioner Valentine, Professor Barnum, Fred Wodowsky, Doctor Eve Kingston, and Alex Campbell, sans uniform and mask, sat on various chairs and couches in the Commissioner's spacious, comfortable living room. Alex and Eve sat next to each other on a large sofa. They stared at the wall, which was actually a wall-sized, flat screen TV monitor. There was one covering each wall in the living room, as well as the floor and ceiling. They were part of a virtual environment system that the Commissioner had installed. When all monitors were active and synced, the room could be transformed into an African veldt or a forest in the High Sierras, any environment that the user wished.

Only the monitor they watched was currently active. The Commissioner had invited them all to watch the election results of the mayoral race. All five of them believed that tonight would be a landmark night in the struggle to bring justice back to New York City. Mayor Baudritten would surely lose the election due to the controversy surrounding the Scorpion's recording.

As the evening wore on and the results continued to be reported, it became clear that they were wrong. When the final tally was taken and Baudritten was announced the winner, they all sat in stunned silence.

"Alex, I'm sorry," said Eve, touching his arm.

He held her hand gently for a moment; then removed it as he rose to leave.

"Me too," he said. "We should all be sorry."

As he walked slowly to the Commissioner's front door, a female voter was being interviewed about the election results on TV. The interviewer asked if the woman was shocked by the Mayor's reelection.

"Nah. Sure, he's a scumbag, but so are the other candidates. What difference does it make? Better the sleaze you know than the one you don't."

"And that's what's wrong with your city, Commissioner," said Alex as he walked out the door and closed it behind him.

Alex took a taxi from the Commissioner's apartment back to the Quantamatic building, where a secret headquarters, with an exit through the sewer system, had been constructed for him. TV monitors, mounted on the backs of the driver and passenger seats, blared the news. The Mayor was giving his victory speech.

"--My friends and fellow citizens of this great city, we have an unwelcome guest in our midst. He's a dangerous, violent vigilante who calls himself the Scorpion, obviously naming himself after the famous hero from the Nineteen Thirties. This lunatic has already tried to besmirch my good name, unsuccessfully, I might add. I doubt if you're aware that he has also, over the last few weeks, attacked and severely beaten several of this city's fine, upstanding businessmen. This fellow, as I've said, is obviously mentally unstable. He must be captured and treated at a proper facility, for his sake as well as all of ours. I've just made a phone call to the Commissioner of Police, urging him to put the entire Police Force to the task of finding and stopping this madman. Dangerous criminals like this will not be allowed to run free, harming citizens, while I am Mayor. You all have shown me your continued support by reelecting me. The least I can do in return is try to make your streets a little safer. Now I'd like to--"

Alex muted the monitors via a button placed on his seat's armrest. He had the cab driver drop him off next to a pet shop with frosted-over windows that had recently gone out of business. Once the driver left, and he was sure no one was watching, Alex passed an electronic key card in front of the door. He heard the lock disengage and quickly walked inside.

A tunnel had been dug, using the existing sewer system, from this abandoned shop to the Scorpion's headquarters in the Quantamatic building across the street. There was a manhole with a ladder leading down to the tunnel, right in the middle of the pet shop floor. The tunnel was large enough for Alex to walk through without stooping.

When he got to the other side, a second manhole and ladder took him up to the headquarters and living area that Quantamatic CEO Fred Wodowsky had secretly ordered constructed for him. Alex changed into shorts and running shoes and immersed himself in a strenuous, hour-long workout, including sit-ups, push-ups, jumping rope, and hitting the heavy and speed bags. As his body strained, he mulled over the whirlwind of events that had brought him to this place and time.

Now that he had won the election, there was little doubt that the Mayor would have the Commissioner killed. He'd probably even have a cop do the job. In addition, after listening to the Mayor's speech, he was sure that every cop and crook in the city would soon be looking for the Scorpion as well; ready to shoot on sight. What could he do? The Scorpion couldn't fight an entire city. He could, however, make sure that no matter what else happened, the Mayor got his.


Previous episode: The City

Next episode: The Mayor


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The Legacy of the Scorpion is copyright Howard Martin.