Friday, July 1, 2016

The Butterfly Dragon II: What Different Eyes See

Warning: This story deals with some mature situations. Reader discretion is advised.

Disclaimer: This is a work of fiction. Names, characters, businesses, places, events and incidents are either the products of the author’s imagination or used in a fictitious manner. Any resemblance to actual persons, living or dead, or actual events is purely coincidental.

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What Different Eyes See

The This

"With this proposal we are hoping to open the doors around the world to the SY389 and upcoming SY390 programs of treatment. Our studies indicate that this is feasible in the short term with little pressure on our current revenues." Norler addressed the board at Tynan And Associates.

"You're stepping over into the world of international health care Norler. I mean, you've got a great track record here and you've completely turned around how the world views big business with your Edict Of Responsible Business but what you're proposing is a whole new ball game. You're stepping over into the world of Government policy. We'd be pit against many regulatory commissions with the CDA and FDA being at their forefront. We're already in deep water with the SY389 and barely able to keep up with the growth it offers. Let's focus on one aspect and grow it from there rather than branching out into all of these high risk ventures." Vinnler presented for the board as a counterpoint to Norler's delivery.

"Forgive me for interjecting but I'd like to hear the rest of this proposal before we consider our options. Do you have any numbers for us? You've stated about the strain on our current revenues. I'd like to see some proof of your designs as I'm sure would the rest of the board before we make any decisions about this." Werner responded as his assistant took notes.

Walton Norler
"Yes of course..." Norler looked around the board room for any signs of Alica and Valerie before continuing in their absence.

"they will be available upon request." Norler said just as the boardroom door opened for Alicia and Valerie's entrance.

"Sorry we're late. Traffic was a mess out there." Alicia said covering as Valerie made her way over to Norler.

"We've got a small problem..." Valerie said whispering to Norler.

"Couldn't it wait? We're in the middle of this delivery?" Norler asked Valerie with a tint of compassion in his eyes.

"This is about my research for your delivery. It's related to foreign policy..." Valerie began quietly trying to explain to Norler.

"Ahem. Perhaps you might refrain from handling your personal affairs during board time?" Werner insisted.

"Valerie Aspen of Corporate Analysis Technology International is going to give you the numbers and a bit of information about her process." Norler stepped aside for Valerie taking his place beside Alicia.

"What happened to you two? You knew this was important?" Norler asked Alicia.

"Look, I'm sorry. We really tried our best to get here. She received a call from one of her contacts at the last moment. It was related to foreign regulations regarding health care. It was from an insider at the Asian Alliance. It's important, you should listen to what she has to say." Alicia responded into Norler's ear as Valerie began her delivery.

"I'm Valerie Aspen of CATI. Our firm specializes in project analysis, cost projection as well as offering a many other services drawing from a wide range of expertise and specialization. When Norler approached us with the challenge of making the SY389 and SY390 treatment available following in the footsteps of its predecessor, the successful SY349, we knew we were in for a challenge. He did not merely want to make it available, he wanted to make it available to everyone. Rich and poor. Far and wide. His plan entailed setting up a low risk investment fund with steady gains to accrue capital to fund access to the formula by those who could not afford the treatment not only here in North America, but around the world. This fund would require a large outlay of capital and thus we were called in to conduct a study for its feasibility and to assess what barriers there would be to a project of this magnitude. The primary goal being to bring access to this fund to countries around the world to pay for SY389 and the upcoming SY390 as treatment options." Valerie said as she stepped around the boardroom handing each of the board members a handout she'd prepared earlier.

Valerie Aspen - Walton Norler and Alicia Westin
They opened it examining the numbers and graphs which of course were their realm. The realm of business and ultimately the bottom line. Any such venture could only hope for funding if it met the criteria of being profitable at some point in time. Short term investments required short term return while long term investments would require more time before steady gains were realized.

Despite Norler's enthusiasm and idealism, he was often alone while in the midst of the board members and even despite his charisma it was Werner who knew this. For the board members it was their responsibility not only to themselves but to the immense infrastructure their business supported. Jobs and the livelihood of many people. Although idealism is a great wind upon the sails on the ship of business, it takes more than wind to feed and support a hungry crew not to mention all those at your destination who were depending upon the safe delivery of your cargo. Werner being a sailor himself regarded Tynan And Associates much this way and if this boat was to travel the world, he wanted to be sure that it would make it safely. He examined Valerie's handout closely.

"So as you can see on the second page the initial outlay could be put in place over the course of a year in twelve installments. The first installment would be enough to get the ball rolling. We're projecting a nine percent growth per month which is fairly steady and given the capital requirements as you can see, it is well within Tynan's ability to fund this. Upon any treatment funding approval the draw would be made upon the investment fund and would cover the cost of Doctors, Nurses and caregivers and any follow up with regard to the treatment process. The best part is that sixty percent of this expenditure would end up right back in the pockets of Tynan And Associates and would pay for further research and development of future incarnations of the SY series although that's more Alicia's area of expertise. Alicia if you would?" Valerie explained once again indicating the results of her analysis and stepping aside for Alicia to take her place.

"The great thing about this method is that it will make the treatment available around the world though there will be some hurdles with regard to availability and this is exactly what Norler and I wanted to address by the creation of this fund. We're already well into the next phase of the development of the SY390 which adds six new treatments for a variety of Cancers as well as a number of degenerative diseases. Currently we're looking at a 59% treatment rate with less than 15% relapse. Most relapses if caught early enough are treatable within thirty days and result in 5% relapse from that point on. We're on the brink of something remarkable and we want to make sure that it is available to the world, while being available through a stable funding model that does not undermine the current market while not exploiting the people who make it and the people it serves." Alicia addressed the board.

Alicia Westin
"It sounds like Norler is rubbing off on you." Vinnler said out loud drawing some chuckles from around the room.

"...No. It's Alicia that's rubbing off on me." Norler responded from behind her while Alicia kept her posture at the head of the room.

"So what's the snag? This all sounds a bit too good to be true if you ask me. Mind you the SY349 sounded too good to be true and it was true. How can you convince me - us, that lightning has struck twice? There is something you're keeping from us. Enlighten us." Werner said returning the board to the role of realists.

Helmut Werner
"I'll take that if I may." Valerie suggested to Alicia who stepped aside.

"You're right. There is a snag and it's a big one for the time being. While we've met with the standard caution of the CDA and the FDA in North and South America, we're finding a lot of cooperation from within the European Union which is encouraging and promising. We'll likely have little resistance besides the standard regulatory testing required by European standards. The Middle East and Africa have been enthusiastic as well with many health care organizations ready to jump on board for the fund. The main barrier has been with the Asian Alliance jumping on board due to the divisions between Eastern and Western medicine. Oceania too has been receptive though skeptical to some degree and are siding at least partly with their partners at the Asian Alliance, but we could likely depend upon them for support. This really could be the biggest barrier to the whole venture." Valerie explained to the board.

"The Asian Alliance is opposed? They include some of the most heavily populated nations in the world with China and India being at the top of that list. So in this plan, you're talking about more than a third to a half of the world's population being opposed to this idea. This is a very significant hurdle if not one that could pull the whole the whole idea apart. So what is the solution? Any ideas?" Werner asked as his assistant wrote frantically.

Though the meeting was being recorded, Werner and the other board members always like to have a paper transcript of every meeting. Especially when it involved decisions of this scope.

"Alicia? Perhaps you could field this one." Valerie stepped aside once again for Alicia.

"Most of the opposition is as a result of the wall between Eastern and Western medicine that has existed for a long time. This includes some of the ideas associated with medicine of the Vedic tradition in India and of course Traditional Chinese Medicine and treatment. Unfortunately there is a lot of prejudice on the side of our Western colleagues with regard to the Eastern medicinal practices and there is much education required to overcome this attitude which often takes on the form of science versus superstition, though in Eastern medicine there is actually little superstition. The opposition is not really opposition at all but likely due to our disrespect of their traditions by way of our cultural differences and particularly our histories." Alicia tried to explain the conundrum as simply as she could though it was a complicated situation.

"Then this session is closed. This idea is obviously not worth taking any more of our valuable time." Vinnler blurted out.

"I'm not so convinced. I want to hear more." responded Tandy one of the female members of the board.

"Likewise. This sounds like a good idea whose time has come." Hendersen, one of the younger board members added.

"I absolutely agree. What can be done by us to remedy this situation. How can we empower both the East and the West to work together for this purpose and use the best of what each has to offer. We're talking about hundreds and thousands of years of medical learning between many different cultures. We're also talking about a third to a half of the world's population. That's a significant market share." Werner added his seniority to support this idea.

"We're putting together a diplomatic group who will work together with officials of the Asian Alliance to come to a solution or compromise on this issue. We've got Doctor Steven Briggs, a respected expert on Western and Eastern medicine with a background in cultural history and politics. Professor Bryce Maxwell a respected Quantum Physicist, Biologist and Musician will also be joining this envoy as he was a colleague of Sylvia Upadhaya, a respected researcher and native of India who pioneered many of the methods used for the development of the SY349. In addition Norler and I will be joining the team for my expertise on the SY349 and his with regard to this proposal. And finally last but certainly not least, Heylyn Yates who is known by the Chinese Nationals as Ai Yuanlin Ying, a lady of Chinese ethnicity herself will be joining us. She is considered a celebrity in China for her success in North America and Europe as a fashion designer. She is also a practitioner of an ancient multi-ethnic martial art with roots in China, Korea and Japan. Her presence will certainly be regarded with reverence by some and her opinion respected. Our assistants will also be joining us as well and they'll be briefed with regard to cultural customs as will we all. The goal is to open the doors for business and specifically medicine between the East and the West, while breaking down ignorance that often pervades each of us understanding the other. The Asian Alliance will provide their own similar group as well. We will be conducting tours of their facilities as will we be having similar tours here with their envoys. There are many people who are in opposition to this being successful business diplomacy as this will open many other doors other than those pertinent to our dealings." Alicia presented their solution to overcome this hurdle.

"Are there any questions before we vote on this proposal?" Norler asked the board.

"Who will be fronting the money for this envoy?" Vinnler asked seeming a little edgy.

"I'll be funding it personally seeing as it's my proposal. If it results in a success and we are able to bring the treatment to the East, then I will expect to be reimbursed by Tynan And Associates for the full amount minus luxuries not pertinent to the envoy's mission. If we're not successful, then I eat the cost. Any other questions?" Norler answered Vinnler's question.

The room remained silent.

"Why don't we vote on this proposal then. I think that we can agree to an open vote. All those in favor raise their hand." Werner said promptly raising his hand.

The majority of hands rose in support of the proposal with Vinnlers struggling at the halfway point before rising in support as well.

"Good, it looks like this is a majority. Alicia, Valerie, Norler, you many go ahead with your proposal and the board thanks you for your presentation. This meeting is adjourned. Enjoy your evening." Werner said as he stood himself.

After shaking hands and saying their good byes, Alicia, Valerie and Norler began making arrangements for the mission and thus was born the mission to the Asian Alliance.

The Abreviated History Of Heylyn, Alicia, Valerie, Monique And West Meet East International

The colorful offices were alive with activity. For the last six years the building which stood in Toronto's Fashion district had become a symbol for color, expression and creativity in the city and around the world. It had originally been built in the sixties as a printing plant which had gone under in the early nineties and into receivership shortly thereafter. The city had taken ownership of the property and had kept it for years undecided about what to do with it until Heylyn approached the city with her proposal for the building, offering to buy it at reduced cost of course. She'd been a young and successful fashion designer who'd found backing from four major apparel companies for whom she'd designed entire lines of clothing. Early in the new millennium she'd taken the return from this project and bought the building, renovating it to become the headquarters of West Meet East International, her fashion conglomerate.

Every part of the fashion design and marketing process could be accomplished from within her building. From design and pattern making, to sewing, to fashion shows and photo shoots in an auditorium and three separate studios, to a marketing department with the latest graphics design technology. Her company currently employed forty people full time, with another three hundred on call for makeup, photography, modeling and set building. During the economic downturn of the early millennium it had been a welcome addition to a city whose artists were reeling from job loss many turning their energy to the urban renewal. With the appearance of the colorful West Meet East International building it had marked a mini renaissance and signaled some that the economy had come home to roost. By it's namesake and the fact that it's creator was the daughter of Chinese newcomers to Toronto, Canada who'd come here to build a life.

Her Father had been offered a very prominent position as chief architect for Sky Flower Beads, an architectural firm in the city. After moving from China with his Wife and young Daughter Ai Yuanlin Ying, he'd changed their family name mostly as a safeguard against prejudice or predisposition. His reasoning being that when people could not discern ethnicity from your name, they were less likely to discriminate based upon cliches they'd learned by recognizing ethnicity associated with such names. Nobody would make fun of his Daughter in school during attendance for she'd have a North American name as far as they were concerned. When she wanted to share her real name with her friends, she could then pick and choose who they were. Knowing where there shouldn't be fences requires that we are aware of where there should be fences he used to say to her. Around our property we have no fences, but to protect our living space and our privacy there are walls so we may choose who we let into our lives he'd finish. Her Mother would often advise her to live one way or another with those ideas in mind is to be on one side of an extreme or another. To be balanced we must have one foot on each side.

Young Ai Yuanlin Ying had dreams of a field lush with life in her childhood. During her dreams she'd met and befriended the creatures of this field of whom were butterflies, mice, snakes, bees, worms, birds and ants. During one of her dreams the creatures were taken by collectors seeking to turn a profit drying them and selling them. None of the creatures on their own could figure out what to do about it until the butterflies suggested that they could protect them. The creatures of the field laughed at the butterflies for the butterflies were delicate, elegant and full of vanity they'd reasoned. It was then that the butterflies collected a something from every creature of the field so they could build this protector. They'd collected whiskers from the mice, scales from the snakes, stingers from the bees, rings from the worms, the feathers from a bird and antennae from the ants.One of the butterflies gave up her own wings so they could contribute the final piece to their recipe. They put all of these offerings in a cocoon which sat dormant for many months as it grew. Then one night during one of Ai's dreams when the collectors showed up to collect the rest of the creatures from the field, the cocoon opened and out came an enormous dragon. It had the antennae of an ant so it could read minds. It had the rings of a worm so it could heal quickly. It had the scales of a snake so it was armored. It had the whiskers of a mouse so it could sense danger. It had the feathers of a bird and the wings of a butterfly so it could fly.

It terrified the collectors who quickly surrendered themselves. The dragon bade the collectors to free the creatures they'd taken and they did as told. Ultimately the dragon left the fate of the collectors up to those they'd wronged and from that time Ai's dreams were often spent speaking with the dragon. The creatures of the field never laughed at the butterflies again and from that point on they'd become the protectors of the field for their creativity and imaginative solution.

As time passed Ai learned through her dreams that the dragon was descended from a long dead Wife and Husband who'd become one that predated the Song Dynasty and knew of Ai's ancestors. The dragon had been sent by P'ing-i, the rain spirit to protect Ai so that she could find Tàiyáng (the sun) which really was a metaphor for the fact that the dragon was to protect her future.

When she had become older by the age of six she'd started upon a regimen of martial training which had first been instructed to her ancestors thousands of years prior. It encompassed several different forms of the martial arts ranging from Thailand to Japan though branched under three main arts. Goju Ryu, Tae Kwon Do and a very specialized form of Kung Fu taught only once every generation to a different girl chosen to receive this knowledge. Together these styles combined to form the style of the Butterfly Dragon. During her classes she learned much more than how to defend or attack for it was an art poised in keeping peace as much as it was in the hasty debilitation of any attacker. She'd learned of the heart and the pain or hearts lost. She'd learned of ignorance and it's great cost to society and how it was kept in balance by wisdom. Most of all she'd learned that even within the ideas of those without boundaries and with blurred borders that they too were another extreme against those with hard fought borders and boundaries. Somewhere in the middle there was a delicate place where there was peace between the bounded and the boundless, however tiny. It was in this small place that most of the answers to the world's problems could often be found.

She'd founded West Meet East International with that philosophy in mind. It became part of her entire design ethic. It had come from living in the household of a very traditionally Chinese family from the Far East while merging with her schoolmates in a society of the West. At the age of sixteen she'd befriended Alicia Westin who was a genius in the making. Heylyn by that point in life had already become an accomplished martial artist and student of the Butterfly Dragon. Alicia had often ribbed Heylyn for her real life being like the martial arts cliche often associated with those of the Oriental culture. After all, she really was a martial arts master much like some Western parents might have encouraged their children to become accomplished athletes with such sports as hockey, soccer or even tennis. Heylyn mused in this analogy and realized that Alicia was more like a bridge than a barrier. She'd had the heart of peace and balance much like she'd been taught.

Heylyn during her school years often focused on her art work through fashion design. She was obsessed with the idea of creating elegant and yet practical clothing, embracing the design of the body and accentuating it. Sometimes her obsession cost her valuable time learning other subjects. During the graduation year at high school, Heylyn had fallen behind in two of her subjects with which she'd struggled. As chance would have it Alicia was an ace when it came to these subjects, but Alicia had lacked
something imperative to life and her future success and that was self confidence. She'd had a slight weight problem from a young age, enough to make her self conscious and enough so that she was often subject to bullying by other less enlightened classmates. Heylyn had even defended her one or two times nearly ending up in trouble herself. Heylyn's solution to the whole situation was to exchange services between herself and Alicia. She would encourage Alicia to go to the graduation dance even if she didn't have a date, Heylyn would design and make a graduation dress for her. In exchange for this, Alicia would tutor her in the two classes which Heylyn had fallen behind so that she could pass the graduation exams and make it into design college.

The dress was a knockout success and for the first time in her life, Alicia had felt beautiful and confident in herself. Like it had opened her eyes. Maybe it had even given her new eyes. As if she could see what different eyes could see. She was still the same Alicia but she'd seen herself in an entirely different light as did the rest of the school.

From that point on she was no longer bullied and in fact had been asked to the graduation by another male student. Heylyn accompanied Alicia with her own graduation date and their lives changed forever. Heylyn passed the exams and went on to college while Alicia having lost her social fear went on to study and pioneer the fields of Biochemistry and Quantum Biology.

Six short years later and Heylyn was selling her first design contract to four major apparel manufacturers and Alicia was part way to discovering one of the greatest discoveries in medical science. They'd been a long way together and that had only been the beginning of their adventures together. For years they'd lost contact with one another until that fateful night when Alicia showed up and rescued Heylyn from certain harm at the hands of six armed thugs in a Toronto back alley. Not exactly the Alicia she'd known but a much changed Alicia, who'd tested the first generation SY349 on herself. The results were astonishing in that her metabolism and body mass had completely reverted to her perfect form. Alicia but with the body of an Olympic athlete and with agility and skills to match. She had suddenly become what she'd thought she'd wanted during her school years.

Reunited, Alicia had told Heylyn about this miraculous cure which could repair damaged muscle and nerve
tissue and even in some preliminary tests, could reverse the growth of some forms of Cancer. Reverting cells back to their original DNA chains during cellular mitosis. Like some invisible force had corrected errors or noise that had accumulated in the DNA strands during mitosis. Even scarier was the fact that this effect could be steered by the artistic design of something to which the formula was applied. Once a body was treated it could be affected on the outside by any apparel that had been treated with a catalyst that had been manufactured from the same batch which affected their body. The effects were different depending upon the artistic design of the catalyst item whether it be apparel or jewelry of some form. Essentially this had meant that shaping the effects of the treatment relied as much on biochemistry as it did on visual and aesthetic design which had perplexed Alicia. Alicia had told this to Heylyn and the first thing that Heylyn thought of was the dragon that the butterflies of the field had made. That artistry and aesthetics could work with science to change the way people were cured of illness and disease.

A criminal element operating from within the research firm for whom she'd developed the SY349 formula had stolen most of the initial samples. Grier Torman was his name and at that time was planning to reverse
engineer the samples and use the formula to acquire power as an international crime lord. He'd been running a scheme in Toronto of which involved having gangs sabotage local businesses so as to lower their value. He'd show up with an offer to buy when they were at their lowest value and then capitalize on the undervalued purchase later. Eventually moving up in the world landing a place on the board of directors for an investment firm known as Tynan And Associates, he'd managed to perfect his scam to the point that he was able to use the same method against companies that were publicly traded on the open market. Again using his gangs to sabotage the businesses by any means they could do so using his resources.

He'd found out about the formula when one of his gangs were set upon by Alicia who'd taken to the formula's abilities by becoming like a superhero. Torman quickly put the pieces together and figured out where the formula had come from to make her like that and so he stole the formula. Alicia having found out convinced Heylyn to join her, giving her a dose of the formula along with two other Women, one being Valerie Aspen, Torman's former lover and the other being Monique Defleur a model at West Meet East International so that together they could recover the stolen SY349 as a team. An international fiasco ensued and resulted in one of the biggest investigations mobilized by the combined operations units of law enforcement from all over the world. They eventually succeeded in recovering the the formula before it had been reverse engineered and had vowed never to use it for any similar purpose again.

Their lives as superheroes had come to a fitting end and by the end of their adventure they'd realized that they'd already been heroes though of a different kind. Ultimately the ones they'd dreamt their whole lives of becoming in the first place. They were a brilliant biomedical researcher. A successful fashion designer. An entrepreneurial business Woman and a beautiful runway model. It had seemed that their real lives had ended much like many children's fairy tales do, but in real life, the happy ending is just the beginning of another of life's challenges. They'd not become something unreachable for any Woman but had become something attainable to every Woman. Successful by their own measure.

Today was the day of another such challenge and their proposed meeting to plan for the trip to Asia and it would be held aptly at West Meet East International. Doctor Steven Briggs had arrived first followed by Valerie Aspen. Alicia and Norler had once again been stuck in cross town traffic nonetheless had arrived a few minutes early. Heylyn and Monique already worked inside of the West Meet East building and made their way to the conference room that had been prepared ahead of time for their meeting. There was a moment of introductions and then silence as they waited for the last arrival to this important gathering.

Meet You In The Middle

"It seems our last guest has been held up, so we'll proceed until he arrives and bring him up to speed at that time. Who would like to start this meeting?" Heylyn stood addressing her friends and colleagues for this meeting then looking to Alicia, Norler and Valerie inquisitively.

"I'll take the floor for this one." Valerie addressed the room from her chair looking over the notes she'd compiled on her tablet.

"What we're going to discuss here is related to our responsibility and conduct with regard to this business trip which could be regarded as a diplomatic mission. Over the course of the next few weeks we're going to be dealing with the cultures of at least seven different countries. They are going to be India and a delegate from each India, Sri Lanka, Bangladesh and Malaysia in New Delhi. We'll continue from there to Bangkok in Thailand where we will meet with Thai officials along with a delegation from Myanmar and Laos. From there we'll be proceeding to Vietnam where we'll meet with Vietnamese officials and representatives from Cambodia. We'll continue on from there to Beijing where we'll meet with Chinese officials and representatives from Taiwan. From there we'll be continuing on to South Korea where a delegate from the North will also attend so as not to spur an international incident. We're trying to foster trust after all this mission is of a medical nature. Finally our last stop will be in Tokyo Japan where we'll meet with Japanese officials and a delegation from Australia and New Zealand. We'll be crossing many borders and along with that we'll be crossing over into countries with many different customs. Taking the time to respect and understand their cultural traditions and more importantly, the history of their medicinal tradition and their current medical infrastructure will be key to success in this mission. I've given you all a copy of our itinerary. Now that we know where we're going. What is our plan?" Valerie asked the group.

The door to the conference opened as a single man stepped into the room and began speaking.

"I'd say that in this case it might be as important to know when we're going. After all, the date you've picked for our little entourage tour of the East overlaps a number of holiday traditions at our destination not to mention those of some domestically. For one we'll be in India just after Rath Jatra, which isn't quite celebrated everywhere but it will be on the minds of many devout Hindus. Asahna Bucha on the other hand is a Buddhist tradition that we'll encounter in Thailand in some other countries in the region where Buddhism is practiced by many people. In China there's little going on between June and September in terms of holiday traditions, but it might be a nice touch to offer a lantern to the Chinese, perhaps with a Dragon symbol of our own for their Moon festival and Fire Dragon dance. We won't be there when they celebrate, but they'll be sure to light our lanterns for us. An important symbol and a means of building bridges that have been burnt down once too often. It is also interesting to note that we'll be in South Korea close to or during their Constitution Day celebration. Having North Korean officials present may cause resent for the timing of our delegation and incur conflict. We'd best rethink that part of our schedule as that could jeopardize the whole mission. In Japan we'll just be catching the end of Umi No Hi or Ocean Day. An important day to the followers or their Imperial history as this was the day that the Meiji-Maru, a topsail schooner returned with a most precious passenger: The Meiji Emperor himself. Needless to say the Japanese are very grateful to the sea for the safe voyage of their Emperor as he returned from a tour of Japanese lands. So I'd say that knowing when we're going is just as important as knowing where we're going." Bryce Maxwell had opened the door at precisely the right time to interject and contribute to their meeting.

"Bryce, do you wait outside of doors just for the opportunity to make an entrance like that?" Doctor Briggs asked him a hint of scathing sarcasm on his face.

"I'd prefer to believe that you all just timed that perfectly for my entrance and for that: I thank you from the bottom of my heart." Bryce took off his jacket and carefully put it on a hanger before stowing it on the coat rack.

Bryce Maxwell
"Ladies and Gentlemen, Professor Bryce Maxwell." Alicia introduced her colleague and idol.

"The only reason that I came was because Alicia told me there'd be a piano here. My first real love you know." Bryce looked at Alicia as if he was somehow hurt by its' absence.

"Well I think that you've been stood up for the first time, Bryce. Besides, she doesn't deserve you." Alicia replied giving him warm hug.

"Alicia I must admit that you're right. I mean my parlor grand at home would no doubt get jealous and suspect that I'd been playing a strange piano. So what or should I ask when is the consensus so far?" Bryce asked his peers in the room.

"Pleased to meet you Bryce. I'm impressed with your knowledge of Eastern tradition but we'll need a bit more than just a firecracker to impress them. Besides I'm certain that being genuine is far more important than being impressive. Respect and honor do go a long ways, but so does honesty." Heylyn gave her opinion with regard to the matter at hand.

"I agree. This is not a circus. It's an important communication between peoples sometimes divided on many issues of conduct, ethics, behavior, politics and medicine. We've got to step carefully through the other issues in order to address the one that we want to deal with and that's being accepted within the traditional treatment paradigm while hanging on to Western medical ideals." Doctor Briggs addressed the room adding to Heylyn's observation.

"That's a two way street from the way I see it. We're not going over there with the battering ram of Western medicine and modern technology to squash the traditions of a culture that has been practicing medicine while most of the rest of us were still fighting over language. The way I see it is that we've already written the epitaph for the regard of Western medicine by closing the door so readily upon Eastern medicine here." Bryce returned.

"We have standards here. Eastern medicine had the same opportunities as did Western medicines and treatments but those that aren't allowed have not passed our strict regulations. That's what standards are. The regimen we choose to uphold that must be passed for a particular treatment to be considered real and not mere quackery." Alicia said upholding her belief in Western system of medicine.

"The last time we spoke on this subject Alicia, we touched upon one of the most important aspects of medicine and that's the placebo effect. The healing power of one's perception that they've been healed can often be just as important as the actual treatment itself. Sometimes being under the impression that you've been treated successfully is just as important as actually having been treated at all. In other words for some, the mere idea of believing they've been cured is enough. I understand that we cannot build a medical infrastructure upon the crutches of placebo and throw away hundreds if not thousands of years of medical knowledge and research but it does us no good to throw the placebo effect away either." Bryce returned hoping Alicia had only had a momentary lapse of their conversation only a few months ago.

"We haven't discarded the placebo effect. In fact it's used quite regularly in medical procedure and especially in research and in some cases treatment." Alicia returned defensively.

"In Western treatment that's certainly the case. What about Eastern treatment. I mean if you hold that it is not valid and does not stand up to Western standards, are you saying that the placebo effect does more so than Eastern medicine, even upon people who believe in Eastern medicine? So you've discarded the results that you can't prove work but kept the ones that you can prove don't work according to any logical medical explanation. Knowing this how do you think that nearly three or four billion people who've been using traditional Eastern medicine and relying on it for perhaps a thousand years will regard Western medicine trying to make it's entry into their market when in fact it really came into being through the same foundation from whence Western medicine came though it took a much different turn since Pasteur discovered that hot water kills microbial infestations in water meaning that submerging surgical instruments in boiling water was enough to prevent infection. That is pretty much the foundation of modern medicine. Before that we had pretty much relied upon similar but less evolved methods as Eastern medicine hundreds of years earlier. Don't me wrong Alicia, I love Western medicine, but we've got to drop this egocentric attitude before we go stepping on the door mat of cultures who've been treating illness successfully for a long time." Bryce replied to Alicia standing his ground and keeping his tone academic and even.

"Alicia I have to agree with Bryce. This is a two way street and we'll have to make many concessions though without compromising our standards but perhaps being more accepting to those of the East. This exchange of tradition and knowledge has been somewhat one sided though I'm happy to see that it's beginning to change. The idea is that we'll both benefit from each others' knowledge, so we're not going there to break down they're proverbial door at gunpoint and force them to accept our Western treatment despite our miraculous claims. Imagine if we told them the whole story of what had been possible with the SY349. You know what I mean? Everything. They'd look at us like we were crazy. Perhaps just as the West did when it came to Eastern medicine. Our saving grace is that the intent of our medical industry is noble. That's a pretty serious oath after all when a Doctor swears that they will do no harm. It's assuring to know that so many people take that oath seriously." Heylyn responded to Alicia.

Heylyn Yates (Ai Yuanlin Ying) The Butterfly Dragon
"Think of it this way Alicia. That if we can't prove how any such treatment is working according to our physical measure, but is in fact resulting in a successful treatment of the patient's condition, who is it that we're healing? Are we healing the the patient or the Doctor's understanding of how things work? If it does work, then we must as scientists strive to understand why. Not reject because we don't understand how or why they work. This is certainly not an attack on science or medicine but the effects of dogma and egocentric attitudes with regard to Western medicine. We cannot be so arrogant to disregard technologies simply because they were discovered elsewhere or because we don't understand them yet." Bryce addressed the room though directing his point towards Alicia.

"There is sure to be much skepticism when it comes to what we're offering. Especially regarding the treatments. The SY389 and the SY390. The SY series treatment is unlike anything we've ever developed. This is radical technology and they might not be ready to accept it." Doctor Briggs offered taking the role of the devil's advocate.

"On the contrary I believe there is much within the SY series that will appeal to Eastern philosophy. For one, the fact that the treatment itself can be affected by the design, shape and color of something outside the body is remarkable and falls in line with existing beliefs in China, Japan and Korea. India certainly is at home with such ideas as their medicinal implements are often affected by design as per their beliefs. Certain color plays a large part in the effect as does aesthetic design itself. How many sides there are on a faceted gem? Their angles to the outside world and to each other? The East has been playing with these ideas for a long time. These ideas fall right into their concept of the world and medicine. We'll benefit from presenting them in that way and taking advantage of that similarity." Heylyn suggested to the group.

"I don't know a thing about what any of you guys just said, but I've always wanted to try bubble tea. Do you think I'll be able to get some when we're there?" Monique asked as the room broke out in laughter taking a few minutes to quiet down.

Monique Defleur
Monique leaned over quietly to Heylyn.

"I don't get it?" she said to Heylyn nudging her foot under the conference room table making Heylyn giggle a little more.

Heylyn had known Monique for long enough to know that she was playing her own intelligence down perhaps just for a bit of levity.

"One thing that we can all agree upon. That's the we can always rely upon Monique to get us to the surface for air before we drown in our conversations." Norler added.

"She's a welcome addition and I'm pleased to meet you. I think you'll like it. Bubble tea I mean. I see your point and I believe that you're right. I believe some of it is medicinal." Bryce offered her his hand graciously.

"Well most herbal teas that you can get from that region are medicinal or considered medicine. I think that some people even regard Bubble tea as being so. Certain kinds anyway. I think that's on the subject of what you were just talking about." Monique responded

"What's most interesting is that much of their understanding of medicine is based around the concept that a healthy body is in a state of equilibrium and perfect balance. So when one part falters it affects everything else down the chain from it and throws off this equilibrium which is why many of their medicinal teas are used as treatment for they target that specific functioning of the body to restore equilibrium. Much of how we perceive their understanding of medicine comes from the nature of how they relate symptoms to cause and effect and why there has long been this misunderstanding in terms of their forms of medicine. I think the point Monique made is a valid one for certain and It's that kind of enthusiasm and curiosity that will open the doors between us in the West. After all, it's not about whose medicine is better. It's about how our two forms of medicine and understanding can be combined to produce a much more encompassing and effective method of treatment for everyone." Doctor Briggs nodded to Monique.

"Just don't go overboard on the cuisine. You've got an important fashion show coming up. You'll have to fit into the outfits I designed around your current measurements." Heylyn reminded Monique.

"Alicia. I'm sorry if we came down too hard on you but it literally was nothing personal. These are issues that we'll encounter during our visit and it's better that we broach these attitudes here rather than over there when it really counts." Bryce looked over compassionately to Alicia.

"No harm done. After all I was playing the devil's advocate to that end. I agree. We need to find these little snags before we address our counterparts and not during and after. I guess I'm a little edgy with so much riding on this expedition. I'll keep an open mind and more importantly I'll take some time to understand their side of things especially with regard to medicinal treatment. From the sounds of things there's a lot to be learned from their unique viewpoint." Alicia replied still a little defensive.

"As there is for them to learn from ours. After all it's a two way road." Bryce returned a comforting smile.

"That it is. I just can't wait to share some of what we've learned. Perhaps it will stir their curiosity and lead us to find a bit of insight to the mysterious Quantum Observer phenomenon that seems to be at play with the treatment. I've heard the Chinese delegation is going to include Doctor Waitak Te Hong, one of the Chief Biomedical Researchers from Tatung University in Taipei, Taiwan." Alicia informed Bryce who listened carefully.

"Really? That's remarkable and a good opportunity as well. I just read one of his papers. It seems they're making leaps and bounds progress in Bioinformatics. Some of their research is done through the same volunteer distributed computing grid that we're relying on here. Berkeley's BOINC program and the related World Community Grid run by IBM which both run on the same network. I just finished a research project that used the volunteer distributed computing model for a large scale factorization of polynomials for a computational biology project we're working on. It seems that Doctor Hong at Tatung has derived a very efficient means of performing such calculations based upon lookup tables and root mean averaging. Essentially bypassing the requirement for factorization in every pass it's required. In fact it's so efficient that even on a small project it could save a year's worth of computing time. That's pretty significant." Bryce added for conjecture.

"We've been using both BOINC and World Community Grid for much of our non-confidential research related work for some time. Haven't we Alicia?" Norler jumped in looking quickly to Alicia when he'd realized he might be in over his head.

"It's true. Tynan And Associates has been relying on the distributed computing model for a number of current projects in the biomedical research division. Much of the preliminary simulation for the effects upon protein structure of the SY390 has been run on the BOINC and World Community Grid network. In addition, Tynan And Associates has setup a distributed computing farm to donate computing time to the network for other research projects around the world." Alicia informed them.

"It looks like we've found another common ground with our colleagues in the East. This is exactly the kind of thing that will help this mission and this is exactly the kind of cooperation that we should foster." Norler responded enthusiastic to see that the plan was moving forward.

"I agree. It's important to note as well that their researchers right now are likely slavering at their mouths just to get the chance to talk with some of us and what we're working on. After all, it's a two way road." Bryce said and winked at Alicia.

"Alright, that's enough of that language you two. Maybe now you two could indulge us with a conversation that the rest of us can take part in?" Heylyn said a devious smile across her face.

"I agree. After all, this is a business trip and we're going to contend with business related affairs." Norler continued catching Heylyn's drift.

"...of a medical nature I might add." Monique looked around for approval which came in the form of a nod from Doctor Briggs.

"Then it's agreed. We're going to the Far East on a business and medical science related diplomatic mission that will require people like myself and my dear colleague Alicia and possibly even my friend Doctor Briggs here to speak in a language that some might find offensive, though I prefer to call it science." Bryce summed it all up.

Three weeks later and they were entering into the boarding area as a group at Pearson International Airport. Heylyn and Monique accompanied Alicia and Norler. Bryce was in a discussion with Doctor Briggs as they strode the hall towards the boarding area. Their luggage had already been transferred to the cargo area where it would once again meet them in New Delhi. The first leg of their flight would be to Europe via London Heathrow and then on for a stop-over to Paris International Airport. The rest of the flight would fly direct to their first destination at New Delhi.

As they approached the boarding area, they heard their names in a series of frantic screams.

"Doctor Westin! Professor Maxwell! Wait! Wait! We've been sent to meet you here!" a compact man in shirt and tie ran waving a paper over his head.

Just behind him an attractive lady followed trying to keep up.

"Katya? Victor? What are you doing here?" Alicia turned surprised to see her colleagues.

She'd not seen them since her evening out at the Looking Glass lounge a few months prior.

"We thought we missed you. Whew. This is a really big airport." Victor said in his heavy Russian accent as he leaned over struggling to catch his breath.

"Try running in these pumps. Victor." Katya replied to him sarcastically in her own thick Russian accent.

"I told you but you insisted on wearing them..." Victor replied to her taking deep breaths.

"No, I meant try running in these pumps. They're great! And actually very comfortable for running too! I wore them because they're designed by Alicia's friend. By her company. The West In The East Company." Katya responded.

"I'm flattered. I think." Heylyn replied flatly.

"What brings you here?" Alicia asked the two of them.

"Well if it isn't La Phages Aux Calles... Good to see you. How are the two of you doing?" Bryce spoke in jest offering his hand.

"I don't get it." Monique said to Heylyn.

"You're not the only one." Heylyn replied.

"Everyone, allow me to introduce to you Doctors Victor and Katya Piotr. They're a wife and husband team who work in medical research studying a microbe called a Phage." Alicia explained to her friends and peers.

"Oh! Now I get it. That's pretty funny Bryce. La Phage Aux Calles. Like the play. Ha ha. Phages eh? That sounds very interesting and probably very rewarding. So what are Phages anyway?" Monique asked.

"They're a microbial life form which grows in sewer refuse and can most often be found in sh..." Katya began.

"Poop! They can be found in the refuse of living creatures. Living and feeding there." Victor interrupted her quickly.

Victor, Katya, Monique and Heylyn

Monique's smile waned as she struggled to imagine their work unsure of whether to offer them her hand.

"It's an honor to meet you. Thanks for the compliment as well. I'm Heylyn Yates." Heylyn stepped forward introducing herself and taking the initiative and offering her hand.

"Pleased to meet you, I'm Walton Norler. So what brings you here?" Norler introduced himself.

"We were hired by Tynan And Associates just last night. They procured us to accompany you on your trip. It turns out that a Russian science delegation will be meeting us in Thailand as well. Werner wanted us to be there for this meeting and to help you for the rest of the trip. We picked up our tickets this morning before we came here. That's why we're running behind." Victor explained their situation.

"You're a most welcome addition to our delegation. Welcome aboard. We've got just fifteen minutes before they close the gates, so we'd better get moving." Alicia got them motivated once again and they continued as a group for the departure gate.

The flight departed as scheduled and before long the members of the delegation were busy going over details related to their first stop on the mission.

The That

The room darkened briefly and a large screen display near the front came to life. The onscreen camera flew through the points of interest somewhere in an integrated circuit plant. It paused at several points along its' path.

"Have you ever had the feeling that as we progress, that you're being left behind." a narrative voice with an anxious verbosity came from the speakers.

The camera then jumped to a research lab, the Tynan And Associates logo prominent upon a test tube as the technician routinely and perhaps frustratingly picked it up and mixed it's blue contents with a glass stir stick. It appeared the lab technician was ever so unhappy with their job. Mundane left to some corner of a lab and manufacturing facility to toil over test tubes.

The camera then found itself at a funeral with relatives crying over a casket.

"That technology and advancement has left you behind. Your family and loved ones stand to lose the most and you're not alone." the voice continued as if the reluctant bearer of bad news.

The screen suddenly passed through a glowing green light which eventually filled the screen making way for the next scene which depicted a group of Women and Men all in white business attire from head to toe. Angelic in their step and expression as they strode forward at an even pace. On either side of them passersby from the scene started to join them. One at first and then more followed until as the camera zoomed out, the line of people literally extended around a digital globe.

"That's why at Future Tangent Industries our first priority is everyone. After all what good are these advances if there's nobody left to share them? Future Tangent Industries. We'll get there together." the FTI logo slowly appeared superimposed over the globe as the byline appeared.

Tomorrow. We'll get there together.

The screen then went blank replaced by white text on a black background.

Ad proposal: 4. Target audience: North America. South America. Europe.

The picture disappeared and the lights in the boardroom once again brightened as the eyes in the room adjusted.

"I like it." Gartner announced.

"Great touch with the Tynan logo. The legal department won't like that one bit but it certainly gets the point home." Paxton responded adjusting his glasses.

"I think that this ad will work well. Can we change the color of the liquid that the Tynan technician is stirring? Maybe red. Green?" asked Steadman.

"We used green for the transition to the scene depicting our team." Gartner replied.

"Alright. Can we make it look putrid perhaps even lumpy?" asked Steadman.

"They should be able to do it with graphics. I'll have the ad firm get on it right away." Gartner replied.

"What about you big guy? You've been kind of quiet." Steadman turned directing his gaze towards the man near the end of the table.

"It will do. I want the Tynan logo to look even more vague. I don't want the public thinking that we're attacking them." Warley responded coldly.

"Forgive me sir, but we are attacking them. This is business." Gartner responded.

"I know. I don't want the public to though. Make the liquid putrid like Steadman said. Everything else is fine." Warley replied.

"Yes sir." Gartner tapped a few notes onto his tablet.

"That will be all. Steadman, I'd like you to stay. We have a matter to discuss." Warley directed Steadman.

The other men quickly streamed out of the room leaving Steadman to face Warley alone.

"They've sent a delegation to the East." Warley announced.

"Really? Why? The Asian Alliance have already made it clear that they're against Tynan's plan to make the formula available everywhere." Steadman responded defensively.

"What if this delegation is able to convince them to change their mind?" Warley posed.

"I'd say it's not possible. Many in the East might already see it as an assault upon their tradition. That Tynan are treating the East like a third world problem. Pride will most likely be the biggest barrier." Steadman explained.

"They're sending intellects to make the sell. So are the representatives of the East. This isn't going to be a diplomatic negotiation. They're going to reason with one another as equals." Warley told Steadman.

"We can set up another ad campaign. One in the East specifically targeted to their demographic." Steadman suggested.

"Tynan already has one running. An ad campaign in India and one in Korea. They're probably going to expand that campaign to Thailand, Vietnam, China and Japan through one of the major networks. Why is it that I'm telling you this. You're supposed to be on top of it." Warley asked Steadman accusingly.

"What do you want me to do? There's nothing we can do." Steadman asked with the edge of nervousness present in his voice.

"I want you to stop this delegation. I mean stop them." Warley said firmly.

"Alright. I'll send a team of our best and brightest. We'll try to sway them to use FTI for their future cooperation with the West instead of Tynan." Steadman said easing slightly having solved this problem and having gotten himself out of the hot seat.

"I want you to make sure there's measures in place in case that doesn't work. I want you to have an official from the East assassinated during their trip. I want you to make it look as if the Tynan delegation was responsible." Warley ordered Steadman.

"Sir, that will cause an international incident. The repercussions could destabilize any cooperation we've built up between the East and the West. That's a big risk to take." Steadman advised Warley.

"Then do a good job. Make it look good. Check out the histories of the members of the delegation team and create a motive drawing from that knowledge. Succeed and you'll be rewarded. Fail, and you'll be..." Warley began.

"It will be done. I'll get our security team on it right away." Steadman assured Warley.

"Good. Mr. Zek will be watching." Warley reminded Steadman looking up to a camera in the corner of the room.

The camera looked back at them panning slightly.

New Delhi

The transfer went smoothly at London Heathrow International Airport where they had boarded another airbus that took them to Paris for short stop and then on to New Delhi in nine hours. They'd arrived during the evening and went directly from Indira Ghandi International Airport to their hotel where they slept until nine o'clock the next day. They met for a quiet and short breakfast before they were whisked off for their first meeting.

They would meet with with the India delegation who would be accompanied by a representative from Malaysia, Bangladesh and Sri Lanka each at Lodhi Garden Park. The park itself was lush and green with an intricately crafted rose garden, several preserved ancient tombs and various tourist interest sites. Many businesses and restaurants had lined the exterior of the park, symbiotes taking from its namesake and tourist draw. They met the other delegation at the Lodhi Garden Park south gates where one of the delegates held a sign written in clear english:

Welcoming The Tynan Delegates

"Namaskaar." Norler said confidently.

"Namaskaar. Good morning. You must be..." one of the other delegates said a big smile on his face.

"Allow me to introduce everyone. This is Doctor Alicia Westin, Doctor Katya Piotr, Heylyn Yates, Monique Defleur, Valerie Aspen, Doctor Stephen Briggs, Professor Bryce Maxwell, Doctor Victor Piotr and I'm Walton Norler." Norler introduced everyone graciously and the delegates exchanged hands.

"Very pleased to meet you. Let me do the same for my colleagues and peers here. Starting with the ladies, this is Doctor Chandra Bodhi of the Sri Lanka delegation and Doctor Maeya Dharmaprana of the India delegation. We also have with us Doctor Guru Singh Gyan of the Malaysian delegation and Doctor Fardin Choudhuri of the Bangladesh delegation. I'm Professor Aarav Mattu. It is our pleasure to welcome you." Professor Mattu spoke careful of his pronunciation.

"It's our pleasure to meet you. So it is my understanding that you're going to take us on a tour of Lodhi Garden?" Norler asked as they began walking.

"Yes we certainly are. It is a British era park which encompassed several important tombs in the area and some very old buildings. Many local residents come here to meditate and pray while it also draws tourists from Europe and overseas. It is part of the heart of our many ancient traditions." Professor Mattu explained.

"It is with respect and regard for these traditions that we've come here today if I may say so." Alicia spoke unsure if it might be taken with hostility for her to speak out of turn.

"We are speaking as peers and equals here. There is no need to press yourselves down on the basis of any gender based customs you've likely heard about or misunderstood. A Woman may speak as she so chooses. Is that not right Professor Mattu?" Doctor Bodhi addressed Alicia's tension and then confirmed with Professor Mattu not as a subordinate, but as an equal.

"There are abodes where such traditions might still be present, but you will find no such tradition amongst us here. We are equals." Professor Mattu said with a sense of dignity smiling to Doctor Bodhi enough so that Alicia caught camaraderie between them.

"That is a great relief and with that being the case, are we to understand that it is with open minds that you are willing to discuss with us today the topic of medicine?" Valerie asked the delegates.

"That is for what we are here after all. But it seems that you come to us with a slight misunderstanding of our ways and in doing so are being condescending in your effort to avert offending us." Doctor Dharmaprana asked them.

"We are being cautious but not just for our sake. We all have much to lose if we are not mutually successful here. So we are taking cautious steps though we are certainly not being condescending. We recognize that India is one of the leading centers for medicine in this region, having medical technology and advances that rival those of the West. It is as Professor Mattu said. We are here as equals and we need you to work with us." Alicia addressed their concerns.

"We need you to meet us somewhere in the middle." Heylyn addressed the delegation.

"Heylyn Yates. The fashion designer and a former Chinese National here on a delegation that is clearly the grounds of science?" Doctor Choudhuri responded.

"You said and agreed that we are here as equals. Women and Men. Artisans and Doctors alike. So I am speaking on those grounds. I am also asking you to meet us in the middle whether you agree or not. Remember that we are making concessions here as well, so don't try to give us the impression that weight is all in your lap because it's not. The sooner we understand that, the sooner we can negotiate as equals." Heylyn responded to Doctor Choudhuri and the delegation.

"That sounded like something that Sylvia would have said. Doesn't it Alicia?" Bryce smiled to Heylyn.

"I believe it does." Alicia smiled to Bryce catching his line of reasoning.

"It is not known by many that Professor Bryce Maxwell worked with Doctor Sylvia Upadhaya, a brilliant researcher and pioneer of Quantum Biology whom was also from India." Doctor Dharmaprana addressed them all.

"May I tell them Alicia?" Bryce asked Alicia.

Alicia thought momentarily to herself and then nodded in approval.

"It is also not well known that Alicia volunteered for a senior's home and was one of Sylvia's last and most treasured friends at the age of sixteen. An important time in your life was it not Alicia?" Bryce asked her.

"It most certainly was. That was the year that Heylyn made my graduation dress. I had a bit of weight issue and was very self conscious. Heylyn helped me to overcome that lack of self esteem. Doctor Upadhaya, Sylvia was a tenant in the senior's home where I volunteered. We actually talked a fair bit about her work as a researcher. Nothing specific but our conversations definitely had an impact upon my career choice and path. So you could say that I wouldn't be here talking to you as a Doctor if it weren't for Heylyn and for Sylvia." Alicia responded.

"Much as you say, I too had beginnings. I used to come to this very park and look at the leaves of the bougainvillea trees. There are two of them in this park which I will show to you." Doctor Dharmaprana pointed to the distance where two magnificent trees stood whose magenta foliage pierced the distance easily.

"I would stare at their leaves wondering just how such pretty colors could occur in such numbers, so similar to one another yet so unique each one. Aatm samaan. The concept is so hard to describe. Yet many perceive it. It was through my fascination for these trees that I pursued a career in biology that eventually led to medicine. One of Sylvia's biology texts was part of my curriculum so it is there that we share a common bond Alicia." Doctor Dharmaprana finished.

"The golden path. A tapestry that weaves us all to one another in some way. One person's action leading to affect another's destiny. That person's much the same to another and so on. Perhaps it is that we are destined to be here together speaking of these matters for there are great possibilities yet to be explored." Doctor Guru Singh Gyan

"I take it that you know why we are here?" Alicia asked the delegates.

"We most certainly do. It is your wishes to see the Asian Alliance vote again on Tynan And Associates' proposal for the creation of a global fund to pay for the miraculous treatment you've developed. You are trying to rally us to vote in favor." Professor Mattu replied answering Alicia's question.

"Not just our own formula but to cover the medical costs on many different kinds of treatment offered by many other medical sources. Why is it that you would vote against the work that was pioneered by Sylvia?" Alicia asked the delegates.

"We are not at liberty to discuss our individual votes with regard to any assembly of the Asian Alliance. Who says that we did or didn't?" Doctor Choudhuri responded.

"Somebody had to have voted against it because the proposal did not pass approval." Valerie responded.

"We are a people of tradition that are carefully progressing to embrace the new world. Our experiences with the West have not been pleasant ones, and even led to occupation and eventually revolution. This park is a relic of that time created to bind the public and secure their confidence in the people who were occupying our land. The truth is that this park, the land which it occupies transcends the idea of a park altogether for it was here long before these borders and imaginary lines we've made to denote who owns the lands around us." Doctor Dharmaprana explained.

"Now consider that instead of a park, that we have our history and tradition. The foundations that distinguish us from the other leaves on the tree were to be suddenly divided up by the same boundaries and imaginary lines. This is yours that is ours. We would certainly lose what it is to be us though we would still be the same as we were before. The most recent thing that is known about this land is that it was a park founded during the rule of occupation though the land was exactly the same as it was before the foundation of this park as were the temples, tombs and gardens. They did not suddenly come into existence when someone came here and said: this is now officially a park. It always was a park and with many of the ancient lands in India, Malaysia, Sri Lanka and Bangladesh to represent my fellow delegates, it always will be and that which ties us to our own history." Doctor Dharmaprana presented the lands of the park as she eloquently spoke.

"It is true. You are not the first that have come to us with a miracle. Many have throughout history. Some bearing the gifts of science. Others the gifts of religion, sometimes trying to explain why we are wrong and they are right. So what makes this time different from all of the others?" Professor Mattu asked the Western delegation.

There was a long and awkward silence as they progressed along the path through the park. For the next two hours they enjoyed the scenery and refrained from any talk related to the goals of either delegation. At one thirty in the afternoon they found seating and the fresh wind to return to their earlier discussion.

Discussion In The Park

"So here we are. Now." Alicia started.

"My guess is that now is the imperative in that statement?" Doctor Dharmaprana said in a strangely congenial way.

"There's no better time than the present." Katya spoke her thoughts aloud.

"There's the future my dear." Victor responded to Katya with an optimistic smile.

"Well, if we are content with now, and now was the future at some point then I suppose that we're both right." Katya explained to Victor who raised an eyebrow in consideration of her sentiment.

"Well put, though I'm more amazed at how you deftly referred to the future in the past tense to reconcile your mutual concept of now." Bryce expressed.

"Then maybe reconcile is the operative word upon which we should concentrate?" Professor Mattu said.

"I would have to agree with you there. It wasn't long ago that we were regarded as how you say...? quacks? for working in the field of studying the medical applications of phages." Victor addressed Professor Mattu.

"Years ago it was regarded somewhat similarly to the way that some forms of Eastern medicine are looked upon. Like it was not science." Katya explained.

"And what was it that changed that perception of your work?" asked Doctor Choudhuri.

Katya looked to Victor as they tried to come up with the word.

"To keep on going even when it gets a bit hard..." Victor answered.

"Perseverance?" Doctor Dharmaprana confirmed.

"Yes. Perseverance. Determination. We kept at it despite the jokes that often came at our expense." Katya looked to Doctor Dharmaprana and then to the others at the table.

"And how is your research regarded now?" Professor Mattu asked.

"There is much interest and it is taken very seriously. As an alternative to antibiotics especially in the face of antibiotic resistant strains of super bacteria. Phages are essentially a biological solution to that problem that provides genetic engineering with a biological template that is already a capable adversary to existing bacteria. It is in essence a predator of bacteria and operates as a sort of cancer hijacking the bacteria's own genome in order to produce more of their phage strain via cellular mitosis. Once the bacteria have been eliminated in the host body, the phages die out having lost their food source and are flushed out of the body with normal bowel and bladder movements." Victor explained to a captive audience as his wife continued.

"...We've been working with the genome of specific phage strains in order to create a strain that feeds upon antibiotic resistant bacteria in the same way. We've had a great deal of success but in a research sense there are still some hurdles to be overcome." Katya looked to Victor who pursed his lips and nodded modestly for the two of them.

"But from what you're saying, you've come a long way from how you were first regarded. As being quacks I mean." Monique spoke addressing Katya.

"Most certainly. Many people's reactions were much like yours was when we told you what we do." Katya nodded affirmatively considering Monique's viewpoint.

"Sometimes credibility is very much dependent upon the hardware of what you do. What you work with. Where it comes from." Doctor Briggs addressed the table.

There was a moment of pause as they considered his statement.

"Now you've done it. For sparking our curiosity you're just going to have to explain yourself now." Bryce said to him setting the stage.

"Always the show man." Doctor Briggs smirked at Bryce somewhat sarcastically before he continued.

"Consider the field that each of you work in. Specifically I'm going to refer to Katya and Victor for this example. We're Doctors here and adults. Those of us in the medical profession have to start young and get used to stigmas and cliches that it can often take much longer for others to get over. Stigmas that can affect how people react to certain situations. Getting over the discomfort that some feel towards nudity is usually the first hurdle and in much the same way that artists do. In school your fellow students and peers might find it a point of humor to address artists and doctors for this exposure in a sort of demeaning way. That has nothing to do with the artist or the doctor, but more the social psychology of how people deal with aspects of being that draw the boundaries of personal secrets. Our very first personal secret is our body and sharing that with others is an important boundary and symbol. Look at how this concept is regarded in the East by two very different but related cultures. In China, nudity is regarded as an important secret. The secret of one's body. The gift which a lover's eyes fall upon the first time might signify marriage. The sharing of one's greatest secret. Their body. In ancient China as far back and before the Song Dynasty this was extended to even the face of Women as much their body. Chinese culture as a result hold the female body in high esteem and the secrecy of nudity is very important symbolically though this symbolism is important in many aspect the first of which is reverence. After all, the first time that you see a Woman's body in whole as a Man is often the moment that you become a Man, as it is the moment that she might become a Woman. An important distinguishing feature for how nudity is regarded in the Far East. Here in India, we have a similar situation where the body and sexuality has been regarded with reverence though somewhat more chauvinistic in the sense that the sources of this reverence were regarded purely for a Man's pleasure." Doctor Briggs explained his point.

"You're speaking of the Kamasutra. I did a fashion show based around a line of lingerie which drew from the Kamasutra for inspiration. I was actually quite surprised when I read it how male centric it was in terms of teaching Women the art of pleasure. So what happened to the pleasure of Women?" Heylyn asked Doctor Briggs trying playfully to make him squeamish.

He kept his composure as Bryce threw Heylyn a wink hoping that Doctor Briggs would falter. Meanwhile Professor Mattu appeared ever so slightly uncomfortable while Doctor Dharmaprana leaned slightly towards Heylyn's viewpoint.

"In India's early history and very much still present in the pragma and dogma often associated with marriage is the idea that it is the duty of a Woman to be a source of pleasure for their husband. After all in their customs the Bride's body has become the property of the Groom though that idea itself has fallen under attack recently in relation to the laws regarding marital rape. Does a wife have the right to deny her husband sex was the question that was put to the courts and upheld." Doctor Briggs continued drawing a defensive response.

"Did you come here to attack our history and customs or to negotiate a solution to help your miracle cure reach the poor?" Professor Mattu seemed annoyed even drawing some support from Norler.

"We are getting off track here. I want to remind our delegation that we did not come here to promote a political agenda or to criticize the customs of any cultures. Am I making myself clear?" Norler addressed the table slightly agitated himself.

Alicia looked at him understanding his discomfort. Bryce, Briggs and Heylyn were putting this delegation's goal at risk and possibly setting them up for an international incident.

"I can understand your discomfort with this topic but let's look beyond this as Professors, Doctors, professionals and more importantly as worldly adults. I think that Doctor Briggs is getting to an important point relative to the goals of our respective delegations. There's more at stake here than the fund but we have a chance to agree upon that and much more." Bryce spoke in defense of Doctor Briggs.

"I absolutely agree. Being a Woman and a member of the Chinese community I think that this is coming to a very important point." Heylyn backed Bryce.

"I must say that I too agree. It is important that we hear this point out. If we cannot talk about such issues with an honest and open opinion then how is it that we can ever hope to advance beyond ignorance." Doctor Dharmaprana added.

Norler looked uneasy for a moment looking around before reluctantly giving a nod of approval. Professor Mattu appeared disappointed but showed no signs of a rebuttal.

"I am interested in hearing the rest of your point Doctor Briggs." Katya urged him to continue.

There was a moment's pause and he finally spoke.

"The point that I was getting at was there are stigmas and cliches, some of which take much longer for society to outgrow related to what we do as Doctors. Dealing with nudity and sexuality is one example. How the Eastern societies and Western societies deal with these very topics and did so throughout history is one example of our differences. How cliches become manifest socially. Both China and India have their own ideas and history regarding both nudity and sexuality. India is fairly liberal with regard to how they regard it though it is still contained for certain situations. I'd given the example of the Kamasutra where our topic went astray. Japan on the other hand regards nudity and sexuality very differently than both China and India, where the concepts associated with sexuality are introduced from a young age perhaps similarly to how Europeans might introduce youth to wine with their dinner as young as seven years old. As a result there is less social stigma and cliche regarding sexuality and alcoholism is actually less of a problem statistically in France than it is in some other countries of the West. Likewise with youth being exposed to sexual concepts from a young age does not mean they have a problem with youth pregnancy or statutory rape. When comparing how the two cultures regard nudity and sexuality, it is easy to see that China is much more conservative with regard to both topics than is Japan and that is because given the history of the symbolism of nudity as being an important rite with regard to both marriage and adulthood in China. It has held this stance for that time and to this day it is still regarded as an important symbol and rite of passage. It is an important symbol and gift if your lover has shared her body with you as a male. Japanese culture on the other hand is much relaxed with regard to sexual attitudes though they still revere innocence. It is often the gate through which one must pass for the sharing of one's body with their partner. Keep in mind that this very topic if discussed in North America before a university audience might draw many giggles and jokes from Western students when compared to how such talk might be taken differently in places like India, China and Japan. These attitudes aren't necessarily good or bad nor do they make one culture better or worse. They just are and to be aware of them can open many doors that would almost certainly remain closed. Europe went through its own artistic renaissance at a time that challenged the views on nudity and the female body that had been enforced through religious dogma and the concept of sin for a thousand years. During that time Women had taken back ownership of their bodies from the clergy and many were celebrated through art. Once again an important time and change from a stance that had traditionally taught society that nudity was sin and that Women were responsible for the downfall of human kind. It is only fitting that Europe at that time became a center for art related commerce and fashion that has remained until this day. An attitude that eventually inspired enough change throughout the globe to lead to the Women's vote. Now take the same attitudes that have emerged throughout history with regard to medicine and it's safe practice. It's morality. In the Far East this has taken a much different path as it has here in India. Science and medicine in the West were married early and the scientific method was part of medicine from the early stages of its development. In the Eastern hemisphere mysticism was the only science and up until the last two centuries this had remained the case. The prime difference between these two means resulted in very different approaches to diagnosis and treatment. In the West the body was regarded like a device or machine and when that machine broke down, it could be repaired by opening it up and fixing the problem inside. In India the approach was much different as the body and life itself was seen as a process more so than a device. This process was merely the interlinked and interdependent combination of thousands of other smaller processes each of which led to the healthy functioning of the physical through our body, the mental through our mind and the energetic through our spirit. The first encounter with energy was examined through Prana, Chi and Qi which means spirit energy or life energy." Doctor Briggs paused when he noticed Heylyn readying herself to speak.

"Chi is one of the most important concepts when it comes to traditional Chinese medicine and certainly when it comes to diagnosis of illness. Blockages in Chi have a particular feel and effect upon one's body as does reopening their flow." Heylyn said to the group.

"This is much the same with Prana and Chakras in our traditional medicine." Doctor Dharmaprana added.

"So what does that mean to a Western medical practitioner. This energetic body. I mean we're dealing with a very pragmatic and routine understanding of the physical body. This is obviously where much stigma gets in and Eastern medicine becomes regarded as quackery. Are you talking about our soul? Our nervous system?" Bryce challenged knowing the answer already.

"The nervous system has many qualities that are difficult to fathom. The nervous system cells or neurons are indistinguishable from the cells of the brain. Both cells propagate an electrical charge from the synapses through the axon to the dendrites. This is how they transfer information content from one end of the cell to the other. The cells themselves do some processing upon this information which changes the current propagated to the next cells and hence the information content. These cells are literally communicating via electrical signaling throughout the whole body carrying information to and from the brain. Most such communication occurs to affect non-voluntary action and our glands to produce hormones which affect or balance behavior." Katya responded taking Bryce's challenge.

"The spirit energy, Prana, Chi or Qi could easily be described as the resulting magnetic field. The human body is one big electrical conductor after all. It`s fifty to seventy percent water. One of the best conductors of electricity. With a current flowing through our nervous system this would create a magnetic field albeit a small one." Professor Mattu jumped in.

"Sounds like my yoga classes." Valerie jumped in happy to find a topic she could contribute something however small.

"Valerie my dear, we all know that you're there already and are just waiting for the rest of us to catch up." Bryce responded before he continued.

"I'd read in a recent scientific journal that the University of New Delhi has just purchased a Superconducting Quantum Interference Device. I don't suppose that's connected to this topic in some way?" Bryce looked to his peers from the other delegation.

"Equipment like the SQUID is booked for lab experiments and research by participating alumni and students alike. We have several studies which are targeting the measurement of the human biofield and their correlation with the concept of Prana. For the first time we are looking to examine Prana as a scientifically measured quanta." Doctor Choudhuri responded.

"Meaning you're one step closer to bridging the gap between science and quackery and the elimination of..." Bryce began holding up his hands.

"Stigma and cliché." Doctor Briggs finished nodding to Bryce with a smile.

"And more importantly, ignorance. Thank you very much." Bryce brought his hands together in victory.

"That still doesn't help me get over the stigma that I research poop!" Victor replied.

"We were getting to that." Doctor Briggs responded.

"Why don't I take that if you wouldn't mind?" Doctor Gyan asked putting a finger to his red turban.

"Be my guest." Doctor Briggs acknowledged.

"As you were saying, stigma and cliché has played a part in how others interpret our forms of medicine and mostly because of this early marriage between mysticism and medicine. In the West this marriage was formed up out of science and medicine. It began it's life independent of any mystic doctrines and dogma that would have been controlled at that time by the Church. In the East mysticism was governed by its own form of clergy and for a time in early history associated dogma. Mysticism was seen largely as a form of science to to explain the material world through its interactions via the mystical nature of being. The diagnosis related to health issues first went through a regimen related to a philosophy as Doctor Briggs described. The physical nature of being and the body. The mental nature of being and the mind. Finally the spiritual nature of being and our energetic body. All three of these concepts can further be broken down into a holistic view of being which is tied in to the philosophy as an explanation for the cause and effect relationship between diagnosis and treatment. Because this philosophy is as Professor Maxwell stated in a prior lecture, linked to observation for the collapse of the wave function as described in quantum mechanics, the scientific nature of this philosophy would not be discovered for another two thousand years and instead since that discovery had been regarded more as subjective philosophy and perhaps even dogma more so than science. The fact that many treatments prescribed through Vedic tradition involve messy or even dirty treatments. The application of various oils. Mud. Physical massage and tactile stimulation in the absence of quantum mechanics and the effects and impact of the observer upon the unfolding of reality they've accumulated a negative bias. In much the same way that Doctor Katya and Victor Piotr experienced negative bias upon the onset of phage research because phages were common in sewage and biowaste." Doctor Gyan summed up what Doctor Briggs had been trying to say.

"We'd talked about this a bit before we'd arrived here when my colleagues here were kind enough to remind me about the placebo effect which is regarded as a serious application of medicine and research despite its obvious subjective nature and former quackery. It perhaps is the best explanation of subjectivity and the importance of the patient to take part in their own healing. Something that is regarded as very important in many ancient Eastern traditions as that would affect the mind set of said observer and influence what was observed as probability itself unfolded. My colleagues here reminded me that it is ironic how we accept the placebo effect as an important part of our research data and various treatments, but have discarded many aspects of Eastern medicine despite the fact that they were founded upon the exact same principal. The mind of the observer having an impact upon the process of healing." Alicia said examining the notes she'd taken on her tablet.

"We should mention that in both of our medicinal traditions that there have been those who've misused medicine on both sides of the fence. Many miracle tinctures and cures have been sold on the grounds of public ignorance to people looking for a miracle. Preying upon their desperation. Something that Western medicine takes very seriously and spent much time recovering from during the seventeen and eighteen hundreds. Such profiteers seeking a quick fortune only hurt the credibility of real medical professionals at the time." Doctor Briggs added.

"As is the case in the East as well and in doing so those who preyed upon the desperate very much damaged the future credibility of medicine as a whole. Something that affects how the entire medical world is received. In both the Western and Eastern hemispheres." Professor Mattu acknowledged.

"Can we assume that if you'd voted against the creation of this fund for covering the cost of SY389 and SY390 to lower income patients that those were the reasons? You regard it as another money grab that could hurt the credibility of medicine?" Norler asked the members of the other delegation.

"We can't speak for everyone but have you considered that it might have been us in the Asian Alliance exercising our power to reject Western medicine in much the same way that the West had tried with Eastern medicine in the nineteen seventies?" Doctor Choudhuri asked his peers.

"We considered that possibility and that was a motivation in organizing this delegation. We can only hope that our conversation here has helped you to consider our treatment plan and the fund as a viable option. We regard our patients with the same dedication as you regard yours. Regardless of what side the fence they come from. We ask that you consider what we've discussed here when this subject is voted upon again in the near future." Norler addressed the table.

"So you are going to lobby for another vote with regard to this fund?" Professor Mattu asked Norler.

"No. We are going to keep at this until there is another vote with regard to the SY389 Fund." Norler responded.

"Can we assume that we've closed this topic and our negotiations here? If so I'd love to go check out the gardens." Monique asked.

"Don't forget tonight's fashion show as well. I brought enough invitations for everyone should you wish to attend. It's in support of a local designer so you'd be showing your support for local art." Heylyn handed out the invitations.

"Is there a piano or should I bring my own?" Bryce asked Heylyn.

"As long as you don't mind having an accompanying Sitar." Heylyn responded.

"I think we can handle that. Besides, I'm a little rusty on Eastern quarter scaling and diatonics and could use the help." Bryce stood offering his hands one each to Heylyn and Monique who each took an arm.

"You know, with a girl on each arm you can't really lose." Bryce's grin stretched from ear to ear.

Monique had grabbed Professor Mattu's arm as she spoke.

"I was just going to say the same thing about Men." she smiled.

"Where's mine?" Valerie asked looking around for a partner.

"I've got room for another." Norler held his arm out Alicia already on his other arm.

"I don't suppose that you'd like to come with me and find a copy of the Kamasutra?" Norler asked Alicia.

"Only if it's you doing the acrobatics." Alicia replied seductively as they joined their peers for a journey to the garden.

One Night Before Bangkok

It had been hours since Professor Mattu had seen his guests to the airport. The New Delhi roads had been busy for most of the afternoon as New Delhi had settled in for it's evening approach into night. He'd been just around the corner from his modest home in upper New Delhi when remembered something. He picked up his phone and dialed.

"Hello? Grace? This is Professor Mattu. I need to get something from my office, please don't lock the building up. I'll be there in twenty minutes." Professor Mattu urged the administrator who assured him that there would be someone there to open the doors for him.

He turned his car around and started back towards the medical wing of the university and ultimately back to his office. He'd forgotten the data regarding the SY349 case studies and the testing results for the newer SY389. He wanted to go over them during the night to see if this really was the miracle cure they'd claimed.

He'd been impressed with the Tynan And Associates delegation and his peers from North America. The night before he'd dropped them to the airport for their trip to Thailand, he'd spoken at length with Doctor Dharmaprana and they'd come to the conclusion that their peers were in fact sincere. This wasn't mere a sales call put together by a corporate giant but the work of a dedicated team of researchers with the backing of their corporate partners trying to make positive change. If the data spoke to him as he'd hoped, he would call the board members for the India branch of the Asian Alliance and recommend that they approve a second vote. He'd also endorse the proposal for the creation of the fund.

Twenty minutes later and he walked up to the doors of the university medical wing, tapping on the window to catch the attention of a custodian who worked at a steady pace cleaning the floors. He stopped and turned to face the doors.

"I need to get in. Grace said it would be alright." Professor Mattu assured the custodian.

The custodian looked around and then unlocked the door having recognized the Professor.

Professor Mattu thanked him and then proceeded up the stairs from the mezzanine towards his second floor office. As he approached his office he noticed the door still open and he proceeded with caution.

"Hello? Is someone in here?" he asked aloud thinking that another one of the custodial staff might be finishing up with his office.

As he reached for the door a masked man burst out of the room knocking the Professor over onto the floor. The man who'd knocked him down himself stumbled before tripping awkwardly to the floor skidding to a stop. As he fell, he dropped a series of folders and papers which lay scattered about the floor.

"What are you doing? Security! Security!" Professor Mattu yelled.

The man got to his feet pulling a small pistol from inside his jacket and leveled it Professor Mattu. The Professor raised his hands in promptly.

"I'm unarmed. Don't shoot." he said to the masked man trying once again to alert Security as to nature of the threat.

The masked man took aim just as the Security guard jumped him from behind. A shot was fired just barely missing Professor Mattu. The Security guard struggled for a moment with the masked man who threw him off dropping his gun as he did. The man then quickly barreled down the stairs and out of the lobby doors without losing step.

The Security guard radioed for backup and emergency assistance and then went over to check on Professor Mattu.

"Are you alright Sir?" the Security guard asked looking him over.

"Yes, I'm fine. He came from my office. He was going through some of my files." Professor Mattu said as he gathered the file and papers from the floor.

"Stay here. I'll check your office." The Security guard told Professor Mattu who sat on the ground still shaking from the confrontation.

Professor Mattu caught his breath and started gathering the files and papers the masked man had dropped. The guard returned having thoroughly checked the office.

"Your office. It's clear. I'll need you to stay here and give a statement to the Police." the Security guard told the Professor.

"Don't worry. I'm not going anywhere until I've gone through this mess." Professor Mattu assured the Security guard.

Professor Mattu having gathered the files went into his office to assess the damage. The office appeared to have been untampered on first glance. On closer examination the Professor noticed that the paper report and data files left by Alicia were amongst the papers the masked man had dropped.

He quickly went to his filing cabinet and looked for the Tynan And Associates file. When he found it he began thumbing through each folder carefully until he'd found the most recent report. The report and data had been replaced with what appeared to be a doctored copy. He took the phony report and data and began comparing it to the real report he'd picked up from the floor.

Alicia sat beside a sleeping Norler on the flight listening to an audio lecture on her phone given her by Doctor Dharmaprana before leaving when her ring tone interrupted Doctor Dharmaprana's voice.

"Alicia speaking?" Alicia answered her phone.

"It's Professor Mattu. I'm afraid that I have some bad news. You've got enemies." Professor Mattu said to her in a melancholy tone.

"You're telling me? Thanks Professor but that's something I'm quite used to. Is everything alright?" Alicia assured him hoping he'd return to the good mood they'd left him in.

"No. There's been a break in at my office. Someone tried to switch your report with a fake. Doctored numbers all to make the SY349 test results look like a sham. Likewise with the SY389 results. There's someone trying to sabotage your delegation." Professor Mattu said to her in all seriousness.

"But we have data posted on a locked site online. Even if they changed a paper report you'd have been able to get at the real data." Alicia told him.

"Not so. If we'd have seen this report and used it for reference without verifying it against the real data online, we might have recommended that the Alliance disapprove another vote. Your fund would have been dead in the water before anyone had known what was going on." Professor Mattu suggested to Alicia.

"...and when the smoke cleared, if we'd have tried again to get another vote passed the Alliance board members would have likely vetoed it on the grounds of already having made a prior failed attempt to get another vote. The online data wouldn't have mattered at all at that point. Our credibility with the Asian Alliance board members would have been shot." Alicia realized pausing to ponder the situation for a moment.

"Are you alright?" Alicia asked him grabbing Norler's arm and shaking him to rouse him.

Norler mumbled something and then opened his eyes looking to Alicia a bit startled. She pointed to her phone mouthing the words Professor Mattu Emergency! He waited patiently for her to finish.

"I'm fine. He tried to shoot me so these are some serious players if they were willing to risk a murder. I'm just finishing up with the Police here. They asked me about your delegation. This call is just a heads up from one of your peers. Stay safe Alicia and warn the others. I've got to go and finish up with the Police. You take care." Professor Mattu said sincerely.

"You too. Give me a call later. Keep safe!" Alicia said as she hung up.

"What happened?" Norler asked her urgently.

"There was a break in at Professor Mattu's office. Someone tried to switch our reports with fake copies. Botched data. Someone's trying to sabotage our delegation." Alicia informed him.

"How's their delegation. Is anybody hurt?" Norler asked her.

"No. Everyone's alright. They tried to shoot him though. So this is serious. You know what that means." Alicia said looking him in the eyes and then looking down.

"I'll call Werner and let him know. We'll likely be the interest of the authorities for the rest of the trip on account of suspected espionage. Now about the other thing... Honey, you promised me. Remember?" Norler reminded Alicia of the night they'd closed the door on her alter ego, Night Style.

"I know what I promised. This is a bit different though." Alicia tried to convince him.

"How so? When you took on Zek and Torman, you knew what you were up against. You had a little help too. From your friends. Remember? We don't even know who would do such a thing. Why don't we just let the authorities handle it? Werner will probably hire a private security firm for us once we touch down in Bangkok. We'll be fine." Norler asked her though his question bared more insistence and inquiry.

"Not knowing makes this even more dangerous in ways that we're able to handle. You wouldn't understand." Alicia said to him.

"All that I understood was while you and your friends were out playing hero, I was at home wondering if that would be the one night you wouldn't make it home. That would be far too much for us to lose. Myself and the world. We need you but for other reasons. Don't you put that at risk just so you can chase some childhood fantasy." Norler said to her pleadingly.

"A childhood fantasy? Are you saying that what we did was an escape? A means to experience aspects of my teen life that I'd missed out on because of my weight at that time?" Alicia accused him.

"I'm saying that you'd never been in that kind of shape before. It was something new to you. When you went to Treadwater Island to recover the stolen SY349 that was different. You had a goal and objective and really you went to undo a mess that resulted from you trying the formula on yourself. Against the policy of Tynan And Associates." Norler reminded her.

"You knew about it and yet you didn't try to stop me! Why the change of heart now? So after we got rid of Torman and you'd benefited from it by having no real competition on the board of directors, you're against the fact that I did it at all?" she fumed at Norler.

There was a moment of silence as others in the cabin took notice of their conversation.

"I've got to tell the others. Let them decide for themselves." Alicia told him.

"Look honey. I'm sorry but you promised. If you decide to break your promise, I can't see you again until you change your mind. I can't take another night of wondering whether you'll return safely or show up dead. That's final." Norler reminded her once again.

"I'll let you know what we decide." Alicia said as she left Norler to take a seat with Heylyn and Monique.

She asked Doctor Briggs to exchange seats for the flight as he was in seat across the aisle from Heylyn, Monique and Valerie. He accepted and sat down beside Norler brandishing a psychology magazine oblivious of their earlier conversation.

"So, tell me about your Mother?" Doctor Briggs joked giving his best Freud impression holding up the magazine for Norler, who just returned a puzzled look.

Alicia sat down attempting to get the attention of Valerie who lay quietly resting across the aisle from her.

"Valerie!" Alicia tapper her arm.

Valerie came to life looking startled.

"Huh. What?" Valerie looked at Alicia.

"We need to discuss something. Get Monique and Heylyn and have them meet me at the bar in the upstairs cabin." Alicia asked Valerie.

As Alicia headed for the stairs, Valeria woke up Heylyn and Monique.

"What's up?" Heylyn asked.

"I think Alicia wants a night on the town. She wants us to go upstairs for a drink with her." Valerie told them.

"As long as she's buying..." Monique said to her getting up joining Heylyn and Valerie as they headed for the stairs.

A few minutes later and the foursome were seated around a small table tucked away enough so they could have some privacy from the other passengers.

"I just got a call from Professor Mattu. Someone tried to break into his office. They even tried to shoot him." Alicia told the other Women.

"What? Where?" Monique asked her.

"At his office. He'd returned to his office to pick up the reports we'd left him. He was assaulted by someone in his office who had tried to swap the report with a phony report that would have affected the India delegation's vote against the creation of the fund." Alicia told them.

"How are the rest of their delegation?" Heylyn asked.

"Everyone's fine. He's just answering questions with the Police. He called twenty minutes ago." Alicia informed them.

"You talked to Norler about this I take it. So where does that leave us?" Valerie asked her leaning forward a bit.

"Norler and I had an argument. About... Night Style." Alicia said sitting in a bit closer.

"I thought you said that you'd turned in your tights for good?" Monique asked Alicia.

"Well... that's what the argument was about. You see, I think that it might be handy in this situation to take advantage of our unique abilities..." Alicia said kind of hesitantly.

"Are you having the heebie geebies about being in such a tight relationship with him? Are you sure that this isn't a secret desire to get out there again? Be free?" Valerie suggested.

"Not at all. I think... No. I'm committed to our relationship. I'd never see anyone else. It's not about settling down." Alicia said considering for the first time why she'd been so adamant about returning to her Night Style alter ego.

"This is a pretty serious decision for you. Not one I think that you'd make lightly. So you came to us because you want us to back up your plan to return to the world of... super tights?" asked Heylyn.

"You're the only one of us who has continued. I thought I'd ask you what you think." Alicia told Heylyn her intent.

"I continued because I was already committed to this before I'd even seen your formula. You know who predicted you and your formula. That I'd run into you and that this would be part of my path. That at one point we'd part ways but not lives." Heylyn told her.

"Weltherwithsp? Oops. Walter Wisp?" Alicia said suddenly remembering that she was to keep the dragon's common name hidden.

"Yes Walter. Walter Wisp. I don't know what to say about you just wanting to use this as an excuse to have another girls night out." Heylyn said shaking her head.

"Someone tried to murder the Professor to keep this covered up. I think it's serious enough to warrant extra special investigation. Don't you? I mean we're on your home turf or pretty darn close to it. You have an advantage here." Alicia said to Heylyn.

"Sure, I'm Chinese and I love my Chinese heritage and homeland but my home is Toronto. Canada. North America. I'm a North American Chinese girl who is returning to the roots of her family and ancestors." Heylyn corrected Alicia.

"What I meant is that you have knowledge that most of us don't have. Knowledge that some people here don't have about history and the past. It could help us to find these culprits. I mean look, they're trying to destroy a bridge between the East and the West. One that has been precariously flimsy and is in danger of collapse. This fund is important for more reasons than the medical benefits it will bring to people of all income levels. It's about restoring that bridge. One that has been in disrepair for far too long. Like you said... We have to one foot..." Alicia began as Heylyn continued.

"...We have to have one foot on each side. One in the Yin and the other in the Yang. One in the West and the other in the East if we want to find balance. Just like my Mother used to say to me..." Heylyn said reminiscing.

"Well if we lose that bridge, how are we going to any feet there to keep balance? Isn't it clear that someone wants to destroy it for good? Don't you see there's a bigger picture here." Alicia asked the Women at the table.

"Alright. You've got my attention. So what happened? Are you just going to leave Norler to pursue this?" Heylyn asked Alicia.

"I'm going to do what is necessary to prevent these people from succeeding at their goal and I'm going to do everything that I can as a Scientist and a Woman to see that the fund gets approved. Are you with me?" Alicia asked the trio.

"The Butterfly Dragon was with you from the start Alicia. I'm just being cautious for you." Heylyn assured her.

"I'm with you Alicia. You can count on Valkyra." Valerie responded.

"You can count on me as well. The Eclipse is at your service." Monique responded affirmatively.

"What happened to the Strawberry?" Valerie asked her.

"I dropped it... Well... It's implied. Good for marketing you know." Monique answered.

"Can we count on Walter?" asked Alicia of Heylyn.

"I haven't seen Walter for ages. We'll have to wait see." Heylyn replied honestly considering whether Weltherwithsp would make an appearance.

It had been months since the last time she'd heard from the dragon, her dreams mostly peaceful and calm. Her visions of the field too had subsided and yet she could feel the dragon's unannounced presence in every dreaming moment.

"Ok. So it's settled. Just one more thing though. When they built this big West East bridge, did they build it from Vancouver or Seattle 'cause I've never heard of it before?" Monique asked drawing a round of laughter from the table.

The First Dreams In Thailand

The flight had arrived in Bangkok at three in the morning and the delegates quickly made their way to the hotel from the airport. They'd paired up in each of the rooms with Valerie being the only one of them to have their own room. Monique and Valerie had actually tossed a coin for that privilege and it had determined that Monique would share a room with Heylyn.

Alicia and Norler had not spoken since their disagreement on the airbus and as much there was no affection exhibited between them. It was as if they'd gone from hot to cold in a moment's passing and they slipped into their bed on opposite sides though they did not meet anywhere in the middle. Instead they remained close to the edges of their respective side of the bed. Cold and alone.

Monique had already gone to bed while Heylyn spent five minutes removing her makeup and cleaning her face just as she had always done as part of her nightly ritual. By the time she settled in it was just after four in the morning. Another five minutes passed as she slipped into that nether realm where distinguishing between reality and dreamworld was as difficult as figuring our which direction one faced without a compass.

She dreamt of walking a long and lonely path that stretched into the distance and beyond the faded line of the horizon. As she progressed she become shorter and younger until finally she was little Ai Yuanlin Ying, skipping her way along the path making it into a game at every step. She giggled to herself pausing only to consider the symbolism of her dream. The thought occurred to her that she might not be dreaming but that her life had been a dream, and that she was still a little girl who'd just started her first grade studies and her first martial arts classes.

Butterfly, Butterfly.

In the night.

In the sky.

To spread your wings and see you fly.

Butterfly. Butterfly.

She said to herself as she hop scotched along the path. In the distance she could see what appeared to be a pagoda. A tall structure of Chinese design stretching up into the heavens. She marveled at it wondering again about the symbolism. Was this about returning to China? The last time that she'd been she was still only a little girl of two years old. A gem in her Mother's arms and Father's eyes.

She remembered something her Mother whispered to her from that time while she was nuzzled in her Mother's arms:

[Pinyin: Cáifù jingcháng yi lóng de xíngshì lái dào women shenbian, jiù xiàng ta tongguò ni lái dào women. Dang ni niánjì dàle, ni huì jìde wo duì ni shuo, suirán ni huì tingdào, ránhòu tongguò yigè nurén de erduo. You shíhou, xìngyùn láile, qù, yinwèi ta xiàng yongyuan xuánzhuan hé jiaozhi de yinyáng zài yigè zhouqí, women you shí méiyou huáiyí. Ni de lóngye, baohù ni de rén huì lái. Hen xiàng yuèliàng yigè yuè chongman yicì. Shèng xià de shíjian yàome cóng wú suo cúnzài jiùshì cúnzài. Zhèng shì zài zhèxie shíhou, ni bìxu xuéhuì dúlì, lóng jiù huì huí dào you xuyào de shíhou.


"Fortune often comes to us in the form of a dragon much as it came to us through you. When you get older you'll remember me saying this to you though you'll hear it then through a Woman's ears. Sometimes fortune comes and goes for it is like the ever spinning and intertwined Yin and Yang on a cycle there is no fathoming. Your dragon too, the one who protects you will come and go. Much like the moon bears herself fully once a month. The rest of the time either fading from or coming into existence from nothing. It is at these times that you must learn to be independent for the dragon will return to when there is need." she could smell her Mother's fragrant hair and the breath of her voice upon her ear.

Ai tried to reply to her Mother but only child like gibber-talk and bubbles came from her mouth. She took in all that there was to take from such a vivid memory before she found herself standing on her own two feet, very much a Woman.

That was when two familiar enormous green eyes appeared before her.

"I see that once again you fend yourself to afar across the sea to be where you need to be to see me? So did you come searching or is this trip as I expect one that brings you to your origins where upon you'll introduce friends new and old alike?" the dragon's voice spoke like soft thunder.

"To what occasion do I owe your return?" Heylyn asked Weltherwithsp.

"Did you not hear your Mother's words? Her sweet voice or was it lost to your childlike state?" Weltherwithsp asked her.

"When are any words lost to a child?" Heylyn asked the dragon returning some of it's own rhetoric.

"And how true it is that statement though I think you'd find many who'd disagree. I'd suffice it to say that no good words are lost to their ears and hearts. So you were listening with both I see and hear." the dragon slowly emerged from the shadows surrounding them to reveal its long serpentine body.

"To what do I owe this visit? After all it's been such a long time? You can't expect to just drop in and pick up where we left off." Heylyn told the dragon partly scolding it like a lost pet who'd wandered in from the cold.

"And so it turns as it does. Absence on one side and familiarity upon the other." Weltherwithsp slid along an invisible surface using it's flapping wings to lift it's sternum and level it's head to hers.

"So we're back at the beginning again are we? Who should start this then. You or I?" she asked the dragon.

"All of you, for this is about you and so much more than just yourself. We'll save the part about you for later in your trip. For now let's bring in some guests." Weltherwithsp's face got close to hers and then backed off revealing to her view Alicia, Monique and Valerie.

"Are we dreaming this?" Valerie asked the other Women.

"Dare you say, for I'm dreaming of you all and by my graces you are here." Weltherwithsp spoke sending shudders up Valerie's spine.

"Valerie, Weltherwithsp. Weltherwithsp, Valerie." Heylyn introduced the two blandly as if she'd already been forced through one too many introduction before.

"Is that a flying dinosaur?" Valerie asked herself aloud.

"That's Weltherwithsp. It's a special kind of dragon. I think." Monique answered unimpressed having seen Weltherwithsp a number of times already.

Weltherwithsp's face showed no expression for the moment and seemed indifferent to their indifference.

"Why have you brought us here?" Alicia asked it.

"Always the scientist. An inquisitive mind seeks to find those like in kind by form such mind. I've brought you here to let you know a bit more about what you face, for you could fall should you not find your stance and before this is done you you'll see what real balance truly means. You'll understand if only you'd see the clues for the universe rarely hides anything." Weltherwithsp spoke in riddle once again.

"Did you get what he..." Valerie started.

"It. It is an it." Heylyn said sounding almost insensitive.

"As I would have it no other way for now and your understanding is bound to concepts you can grasp. It is a label that will suffice. For now." Weltherwithsp agreed with Heylyn.

"So what were you trying to say Barney?" Valerie asked Weltherwithsp sarcastically drawing a giggle from Monique which seemed only to amuse it.

"Your friend Professor Mattu called quickly to let you know how balance had been thrown. One side to the next. You struggled to force it back the other way only to find that it would not stay. For it teeters and it totters while these four beautiful daughters struggle to find meaning and balance its much more than chance. Is it not?" Weltherwithsp asked knowing already they'd missed the mark.

"Fate? Are you speaking of a predetermined path? Choices?" Alicia asked the dragon immediately thinking of the quantum nature of reality.

"No. Fate would imply no freedom from the grip of time." Heylyn said impressing Alicia.

"The clues lay in the way you failed to stay with your heart's say. You of all should know that price of struggling against the teeter of the totter. You nearly broke it in the fall and it wouldn't have tipped precariously so close to the ledge had you not said what you said. This concept should be clear to you, nearly as much as the Butterfly." Weltherwithsp spoke with the familiar ease of one who had complete knowledge of the future and the past but was lost in the present.

"Your heart's say. It nearly broke in the fall. Your words... with Norler. He... It is talking about what happened between you and Norler." Monique said showing incredible insight.

"Precisely though there's more..." Weltherwithsp added spiraling through the air and around the four of them it's head popping up behind Alicia.

"We had our falling out just as we caught the threat to the delegation. Like the price of keeping the delegation from failing was paid by our argument." Alicia said in utter amazement.

"Once you'd discovered that the documents were switched and that Professor Mattu had caught it in time, that pressure fell into yours and Norler's lap..." Valerie continued.

"...and threw our relationship out of balance... Like the weight of the situation fell onto us directly and was paid by our break up." Alicia said in disbelief.

"Like a teeter totter. One side to the next..." Heylyn finished.

"A concept so simple to a child yet so complex to Women such as yourselves. You owe it to yourselves to spend more time pursuing your inner child's wonder. That which brought you to this very moment and capability. You might better handle the next teeter totter for you're someone's attractive and intelligent daughters." Weltherwithsp reminded them.

"You're saying that this clue can help us in the future too?" Heylyn asked the serpent.

"Help you? I'd say for it's interwoven into the fabric of things, if the universe were a puppet I'd show you it's strings. In the days ahead you'll see this interplay more so flow as an ancient civilization awakens to confront that which pulls you together and pushes you apart. Which side of the teeter totter will you be on when it all falls? With that I bid you farewell." Weltherwithsp asked the four Women as it flew upwards and off into the distance finally to disappear completely in the blackness.

"Well I have to admit was far deeper than Barney." Valerie said once again opting for levity.

"We missed something. Weltherwithsp gave us another clue. It was hidden in what was said." Heylyn told them as she pondered what it could be.

"Something it said or we said?" Monique asked her.

"Both. It had something to do with the balance. There's more to this than what happened in New Delhi." Alicia suggested.

"I say that we get some sleep and consider this further tomorrow. We've got a busy day ahead of us." Valerie advised her friends.

"Agreed. Let's talk about this tomorrow when we have a fresh perspective." Heylyn nodded in agreement.

"Yeah. I've only got fresh perspiration. Let's get some shut eye." Monique confirmed.

"Good night. By the way. To all of you. Thanks for being there when I needed you." Alicia said to her friends.

"That's what friends are for." Heylyn answered as the others nodded.

"That and semi androgynous gender neutral flying dinosaurs." Valerie added drawing a round of laughter from the other three.



Wat Sutat

The delegation arrived the next day at the rendezvous point in the city of Bangkok. They'd all slept for most of the night (from 4 AM) and arose from their restful slumber at ten in the morning giving them six hours of rest. The trip over had been quiet, riding in taxi van which took the whole delegation and dropped them outside of the Wat Sutat (Wat being the Thai word for temple).

Norler had said little to Alicia who in turn only dealt with Norler in small does. Instead she concentrated entirely on the delegation and solving the mystery at hand. While she stood talking with Valerie going over some details related to their dealings with the Bangkok delegation she was approached by Bryce.

"Sorry for the interruption ladies but if I may have a moment of your time Alicia?" Bryce addressed Alicia and Valerie.

"I think I've got it. I read up on the history of Siriraj. I'm prepared. Thanks. I'll leave you two to talk." Valerie nodded to Alicia leaving them to their conversation.

"We haven't spoken for bit. I thought I mention that I see there's been a little bit of a change?" Bryce asked Alicia without prodding.

"Is it that obvious?" Alicia asked Bryce knowing full well that it was.

"Don't worry. I'm not the shark type looking to move in when there's no one else around. Besides I love my Wife. I'm asking because I'm concerned seeing as what we've got riding on this little investment. This is important and even more its imperative now that we succeed." Bryce suggested to her.

"Well we're not talking as much as we did before but perhaps given the situation it's better this way. We can deal with the emotions when we get back and just focus on the professional. Norler and I." Alicia assured Bryce.

"Given the situation you're doing well I have to admit. I'm a little worried myself. If someone had tried to kill Professor Mattu over this thing, that means that we could be targets should they get more desperate. That's significant." Bryce reminded her.

"We've got security now. Werner hired them last night. They're keeping an eye on us right now from a distance and the security specialist is en route from just outside of Bangkok. He'll be meeting us here in about an hour. Until then you're going to have to rely on Heylyn." Alicia told Bryce whose eyebrows raised in surprise.

"I heard. She's a mixed martial artist black belt. A Master from what I understand?" Bryce asked sounding a bit skeptical.

"Why? Because she's a Woman or because she's the owner of a Fashion company?" Alicia asked Bryce not believing for a moment that he was sexist.

"Not at all. What I meant is that being a security specialist requires much more than just martial arts training." Bryce said to her.

"I was just kidding when I said to look to her for security though I wouldn't put it past her to be protective should the need arise. She can kick but. Believe me." Alicia said confident of her friend.

"You know, I don't like to speak of the private lives of my peers but she did strike me as the kind of Woman who'd have a commanding presence in her romantic relationships?" Bryce smiled as he spoke.

"The truth is that I like it both ways. Sometimes its just as fun to be in charge as it is to be in someone else's charge." Heylyn said having overheard their conversation.

"I'm sorry. I should have taken that question directly to you. I mean that in the most confidential and respectful manner. We're adults after all." Bryce blushed.

"You didn't strike me as the type who would look for extramarital affairs. I mean you are married?" Heylyn asked Bryce more professionally than personally.

"Yes I'm married. I'm in love too. Even so I'd never look elsewhere for sex. We're very happy in that way." Bryce replied to her keeping his composure.

"It wasn't an invite anyway. I'm happily single and have been for years." Heylyn told Bryce as sincerely as she could.

"Right now I'm concern for our delegation on two counts. The first being the immediate threat we've recently received by way of a direct assassination attempt against one of our own. The good Professor Mattu. Secondly based upon the personal lives of some of the members of our delegation, though I'd be willing to bet Alicia and Norler won't let that happen. Despite the cost to their relationship." Bryce replied.

"We've got a lot of support here. Believe me. Right now we've got the security Werner hired for us not to mention that we're probably in the sights of the intel apparatus of a few other countries in the area. We're being watched more intensely than we are at home. We're safe for the time being." Heylyn said nonchalantly.

"Sounds like you've got a pretty interesting conversation going on over here." Doctor Briggs said making as he approached.

"Was it that noticeable? Well it's finished." Bryce said curtly and professionally.

"You're damn right it is. Here's the delegation." Norler said slightly more impatient than usual.

Their car pulled up a Thailand flag proudly flying from it's roof. Their security man got out of the front seat checking the area before signalling the driver to get the doors.

"Professor Sangsorn I presume? Professor Bryce Maxwell." Bryce said extending his hand beating Norler to the punch.

"The beautiful Doctor Dara Sangsorn. It's been a long time." Doctor Briggs said gently caressing her hand.

"Indeed it has Stephen. Walton Norler. Doctor Alicia Westin. Pleased to meet you." Professor Sangsorn said stepping onto the sidewalk before the Wat Surat.

"This is Doctor Anuman Yongsaijut. Doctor Pravat Leekpai and Doctor Nanda Cho Zaw." Professor Sangsorn introduced her peers.

"Professor Sangsorn is works with the Siriraj medical internship program that has been training Doctors in Bangkok since the nineteen sixties." Doctor Briggs introduced her.

"My colleague Doctor Anuman Yongaijut is a Pediatrician with Ramathibodi Hospital here in Bangkok. Doctor Pravat Leekpai is a Psychologist and sociologist specializing in transitional issues between traditional and modern medicine in Vientiane, Laos. Doctor Nanda Cho Zaw is a working surgeon for Mandalay General Hospital in Myanmar. If you can remember all of that." Professor Sangsorn said as she introduced her peers.

"You've met Alicia, Bryce, Norler and Me, Doctor Briggs. This is Heylyn Yates an international Fashion Designer. This is Valerie Aspen, a corporate analyst working for this project and this is Monique Defleur, a model under Heylyn's employ." Doctor Briggs started the introductions for their delegation.

"Now that we've got that out of the way, maybe we can make our way inside and get down to business." Suggested Norler.

"We've got a fair bit on the itinerary today so lets get going. We have much to discuss." Alicia said smiling to the delegates as Norler tried to reach her with a quaint smile.

"I have to admit that this visit took us by surprise. We'd only been informed of it a little under a month ago. Professor Mattu called us last night as well. We're sorry to hear about the incident. Perhaps that is a sign that we should prepare ourselves if not to protect our values, then to protect the importance of this meeting?" Professor Sangsorn addressed them as they walked through the gate to the temple.

"So you agree that this meeting has significance for the region?" Norler confirmed with Professor Sangsorn.

"How could it not? Our history is a living example of the tug of war between tradition and progress. Especially in the field of medicine." Professor Sangsorn's voice trembled slightly.

"Of course you're talking of King Chulalongkorn's bold steps to bring modern medicine to Siam?" Doctor Briggs asked of Professor Sangsorn.

She looked to Doctor Briggs as they walked throwing him a warm smile.

"I'm sorry, but who was King Chulalongkorn?" Monique finally drew the courage to ask the question begging to be asked.

King Chulalongkorn courtesy of Wikipedia
"King Chulalongkorn was the fifth Royal ruler of Siam during the late eighteen hundreds and into the twentieth century. During his rule malaria was a huge threat to the populace." Professor Sangsorn explained.

"It was during this time that his son, Prince Siriraj Kukattaphan fell ill as a result of dysentery. He was only a year and a half old when he succumbed to the illness. An illness that could possibly have been diagnosed and treated at the time with proper medical education." Doctor Jongsaijut spoke continuing Professor Sangsorn's history lesson.

"Hence was founded Mahidol University, the oldest school of it's kind in Thailand as well as being the largest." Professor Sangsorn looked to Monique nodding to her for her interest.

"That point in time of course was a branching point and a sore spot in the eyes of many traditional healers. Calling into question the merits of traditional medicine versus it's modern counterpart. The fact that this division is often used for political purposes, especially polarizing the populace for one against the other merely as a marketing or business tool. One of the things that I often remind my clients of is that traditional medicine for the most part is built on the same principals of modern medicine, however the methods of verifying the validity of each took a far different path thanks mostly to the placebo effect." Doctor Leekpai addressed both delegations.

"I read Eastern Medicine: Distilled Through Modern Science by the way Doctor Leekpai. An excellent book by the way. I think that we could safely say that both delegations agree with your hypothesis about the fact that the placebo effect was really the departure point that separated the two forms of medicine. That is between those on both sides of that fence that took medicine seriously and weren't just quacks trying to make a fast buck." Doctor Briggs acknowledged Doctor Leekpai taking advantage of the opportunity.

"As sad as it is, it took such a tragedy as the loss of Prince Kakuttaphan to bring about the founding of modern medicine here. Hence that time is seen as a bit of a loss of faith for the merits of traditional healing here in Thailand though there are many who hold fast to it. Here is one place you find that the two have existed harmoniously but that harmony took some time to achieve." Doctor Leekpai continued.

"That's ironic in a way and certainly a key point in the operation of the placebo effect. I mean if a medical disaster happens at that time such as malaria, many people are depending upon the over stressed traditional medicine of the time already. It in turn is heavily reliant on the placebo effect, which in turn is reliant upon the faith of the public who rely upon traditional medicine in the first place. A destructive paradox at best." Professor Bryce interjected.

"Faith in medicine has always been a key point to it's effectiveness. It took a long time for me to understand that as a Doctor and researcher. It has only been recently that we've been able to quantify that effect more precisely rather than ambiguously. " Alicia reasoned.

"But that faith has to be earned with real results." Doctor Jongsaijut reminded them.

"That's the whole point. It's a case of the chicken or the egg. If the placebo effect relies upon belief and faith, whether it's for tradition or science, then do the results come first or after?" Alicia asked the both delegation.

"In the case of Prince Kakuttaphan they didn't come at all. King Chulalongkorn's decision to found a medical school at that time was founded upon not only the loss of his own son, but the loss of the people as a result of the ravages of malaria. There are times when the objective nature of science has to be the anchor point from which both the objectivity of results and the subjectivity of the placebo can grow. King Chulalongkorn's decision exemplifies that concept in practice. Now we have a long standing medical school and facility as a result." Professor Sangsorn used the opportunity to make her point.

Hippocrates care of Wikipedia
"That is where both sides are right. Allow me to explain. The school and medical facility were the anchor points for faith and the symbol of progress in Thailand. It just happens that at that point in history that it was built upon the merits of the modern approach to medicine as a result of a wise King listening not only to his own heart but the hearts and suffering of his people. Let's rewind the clock a few thousand years to another point in history and a similar situation of particular importance to the medical profession. Keep in mind that it is not scientific progress to which I am referring but the importance of symbol in reinforcing placebo. Hippocrates was one of the founding physicians of the modern practice of medicine as we all know. Keep in mind that he lived during a time of war and struggle, including an influenza pandemic at the time. Hippocrates had during that time in ancient Greece been compared to great sculptors being a great physician who'd been born of a family who'd earlier produced other great physicians. That concept held esteem in Greece at that time as it was a common approach to carry on one's family legacy. So he was quite well known and a bit of a celebrity in the medical field and as such a symbol. A symbol around which faith in medicine could be anchored thus enabling the power of the placebo in that era. Even to distant places such as Athens which at the time was under nearly constant siege until the Treaty of Nicias in roughly 421 BC. Word of mouth at that point would be an effective transmission of the placebo especially in relation to this wonder of a physician who at that point had already made many waves in the field of medicine including the first successful chest surgery. Every physician certainly knows him by his namesake, the Hippocratic Oath, which is still used to inaugurate physicians formally even today. Almost a messiah in the world of medicine whose existence would stir the citizens of ancient Greece to believe in the progress of medicine and thus enable the power of the placebo effect to have a measurable impact upon the future of their civilization and medicine in general. So the power of placebo is not linked directly to objective results but more to the power of faith in what those results imply." Doctor Leekpai explained his reasoning as he asserted his point.

"Well said. I can only speak for myself but I'm sure that Alicia, Katya and Victor would agree that your presence would have been most welcome at a table a few months ago in the Looking Glass lounge in Toronto and a conversation we had there at the time." Bryce said reminiscing.

"Speaking of, how are Toronto, Canada and the United States responding to the SY349 and the creation of this fund?" Doctor Cho Zaw asked Bryce though addressing Alicia and Norler.

"Most of the core research as you know is done in Toronto at the Tynan And Associates research facility there. There was a lot of skepticism at first from my colleagues. I'm sure the Bryce would remember that and a talk I gave at the University Of Waterloo on the subject of using quantum entanglement coupled with decoherence to store copies of the genome in a quasi-parallel universe. When we first proposed the idea I was essentially laughed at. Bryce had the courage to stand up and ask some honest questions about my motives, my process and the theory behind it. That helped to give us a little bit more credibility. Once we had a working protein with RNA and cellular mitosis, the rest fell quickly into place. It wasn't until the first tests came back from the HPFB of Health Canada and it's counterpart in the United States, the FDA that we had confirmation of the safety and effectiveness of our project. From there the clinical trials started mounting success after success and soon the support came in droves. I started getting requests from my peers for any papers I'd written on the subject. So it took a while but once the project had picked up positive momentum it became apparent that this was big. Very big indeed. When we set our aim at Cancer using the same process and increasing the efficiency of recall for the RNA messengers it had already been hailed as a breakthrough. Toronto loves us now. Especially the political and funding arena mostly as a result of the attention from the medical world. The universities certainly like it as well, and as a result there's been an increase in university research funding projects in Toronto and Montreal based educational institutions. Insofar as the United States is concerned, the American branch of Tynan And Associates has been receptive to the creation of the fund for the SY390. Some of the treatments actually qualified for coverage under their new Healthcare program which means that it will be available to American citizens regardless of income level or social class. Not to mention that most of Europe is already on board for the idea. Many treatments requiring th use of the SY349 are already covered by health coverage in most of Europe. The fund will cover for the individual countries whose healthcare system doesn't cover the cost of treatment. Our goal is for this to be available to everyone regardless of income level. A very important issue when you're dealing with the ethics of finances and medical treatment. I'm sure that any of you can attest to that concept?" Alicia explained the situation about her home in North America.

"That's the underlying motive for the creation of this fund. We're standing our ground that such medical treatment and miracle cures must be available to everyone regardless of social class or income on a per need basis." Norler said addressing the Thailand delegation.

"Much like the stance that King Chulalongkorn had taken in building the medical school and hospital." Professor Sangsorn added.

"What do you have to say on this Doctor Cho Zaw?" Professor Sangsorn asked her associate from Myanmar.

"I'm on the same page as the rest of our delegation. I'm impressed. I don't think that you'll find much opposition here to your proposal and there's no harm in telling you that I'm certainly going to vote in favor." Doctor Cho Zaw responded her eyes bearing a heart felt smile.

"Could you two join me for a picture here?" Heylyn gestured to Valerie and Monique.

"Sure. Excuse us for a moment." Valerie told the delegations as she joined her friends.

"What is it?" Valerie asked as soon as there was enough distance between them and the delegations.

"We're being closed in. I don't even think the hired security knows." Heylyn told Valerie and Monique.

"How do you know?" Valerie asked her.

"I just know. I can sense it." Heylyn tried to explain quickly.

"Oh great. Heylyn's having a senior moment." Monique said looking to Valerie as Heylyn rolled her eyes.

"Easy. I'm not that much older than you." Heylyn responded only slightly amused.

"How many?" Monique turned back to Heylyn.

"About four. Maybe more. Most dressed as tourists and touting concealed weapons. There's one dressed as one of the workers for the temple." Heylyn told them.

"What do you want us to do?" Monique asked Heylyn looking around nervously.

"Don't let on that you know, first of all. Secondly, just keep your eyes open. Let's try to keep ourselves on the outside of the delegation so we can protect them in case anything happens. Remember, that we can't reveal our other identities to them." Heylyn reminded her friends.

"What about Alicia? We've got to let her know." Valerie said.

"No. We need her to focus on the delegation. We don't want this to ruin her rapport with them. They believe in her and the creation of this fund. They're our allies and we have to get them through this safely." Heylyn assured the both of them.

"Maybe we could take them out one at a time? I mean the baddies? Silently? I'm fast enough." Monique asked.

"If we do that, we'll separate them. You take one half I'll take the other. Valerie will mop up the ones we miss." Heylyn suggested.

"Sounds like a plan." Valerie confirmed her willingness to go along with it.

"How do we lure them?" Monique asked looking consecutively to  Heylyn then Valerie.

"You're a super powered runway fashion model. You have a gazillion guys drooling over your picture on magazines all of the time. Be creative. I'm sure you'll think of something." Valerie reminded her.

"Right. Good idea. After all, I'm... hot." Monique replied honestly thinking about it.

"Let's lure them towards the little girl's room. You're the bait Monique." Heylyn said walking with Valerie towards the public bathroom area of the temple.

Monique took a look at her skirt, which of course was one of Heylyn's designs. She eyed the slit which ran up for eight inches part way up her thigh. She grabbed the skirt and carefully tore another six inces exposing a much more ample part of her curvaceous and sleek thigh. She leaned against a wall and tried to appear provocative. She had a little trouble at first, for it felt a little artificial and perhaps even tacky. She relaxed a little bit and didn't put any effort into it. Instead she became natural and her magnetism exploded from there.

Monique Defleur dreaming about strawberries
Her first target noticed her right away. She avoided returning any kind of glance to him or his friend but she kept them on her radar. She let them know that she was thinking of them but never gave evidence to support it. When she had them wrapped around her finger, she threw them a very brief glance and smile and proceeded towards the little girls room.

They followed her both because that was their orders and because she implored them to. Almost like she'd had them on her own little puppet strings and was waltzing them to her on a line.

When she'd gotten around the corner, she immediately transformed herself into a beam of light and circled around behind her followers to reappear. Her path would have taken her ten minutes by foot, but in the form of a light beam she traversed the distance in less than a second. There was a blinding flash as she materialized behind them. As soon as she was corporeal she smashed their heads together with her hands. They immediately collapsed. Monique directed their falling weight onto a nearby bench where in all appearances they were just sleeping. Behind her the other two assailants quietly snuck towards her getting their firearms ready. They weren't taking any chances after what they'd just seen her do. They leveled their silenced hand guns at her aiming for the back of the neck for the quickest kill.

Both their arms were violently thrust upwards from beneath and twisted to the breaking point. Both their firearms dropped to the floor as they muffled their screams. Heylyn released their arms striking them both simultaneously just just below their their skull. They fell at once unconscious, Heylyn catching them and sitting them beside the other two Monique had just dispatched.

Heylyn carefully negotiates a fashion distribution deal as The Butterfly Dragon (minus her outfit of course)
"You could have left me one." Valerie said sarcastically.

"Didn't anyone tell you that this was a double date? Bring your own next time." Heylyn replied as she went through their pockets looking for identification.

"They don't look like they're from around here." Monique said looking them over.

"That's because they're not. They're from North America. Canada actually. That's what their passports say." Heylyn said as she searched the other two handing the passports and wallets to Monique.

"These passports have a lot of flights on them. I mean look. These guys have been around the block a few times." Monique said as she thumbed through their passports.

"I wish you would have told me that before we dated them." Heylyn remarked sarcastically smiling at Monique.

"They're from another security company. Not the one Tynan hired and certainly not with the Thailand delegation." Valerie stated as she looked over one of their wallets.

"Then who are they? Are they Government agents?" Monique asked.

"Government agents don't kill unarmed Women. They were going to shoot you." Heylyn reminded Monique.

"I say we take their identification, empty their firearms and leave them here unconscious. Then we'll call the local authorities and tell them that armed vagrants are sleeping at the temple. The Police will then have it on record for their investigation and we'll have handled this as best we could. More importantly the delegation will be safe." Heylyn suggested to Valerie and Monique.

"Sounds good to me boss. I only work here." Monique agreed with Heylyn.

"I'll make the call." Valerie said pulling her cellular phone and kicking one of the assailants in the leg as she did.

Valerie Aspen on a gray day

"What was that for?" Monique asked Valerie.

"That's for them standing me up on our first date." Valerie smirked at the unconscious men as she dialed the Thailand authorities.

The Economy Of Fear And A Second Chance

Steadman closed the door as he entered the office. The room was eerily still as he walked towards the executive desk and stood before it. On the other side of the desk a large chair slowly turned revealing a unusually calm Warley.

"Sit down." Warley said pragmatically.

"They knew about us. I don't know how but..." Steadman started.

"I said sit down." Warley continued unperturbed by Steadman's explanation.

Steadman looked at the seat across from Warley's executive desk. It had somehow taken the visage of an electric chair, the switch of course being in Warley's hands. Steadman thought carefully about whether he should risk sitting in the chair or just continue out the door and start a new life elsewhere. Steadman considered his options as time moved at an imperceptible rate for him. He'd started with Future Tangent Industries only two years ago. Warley had taken him under his wing right from the start. He'd been intimidated by Warley at first but as he grew accustomed to the facade Warley presented him, he often took for granted the cunning at Warley's disposal. Warley preferred it that way and experience had taught him that it was far better to be underestimated and over prepared than vice versa. Young men like Steadman had come and gone over the years. Many with far greater potential than Steadman but the fact was that if you weren't the one sitting in Warley's chair, you were merely a commodity. Easily bought and sold and seldom was there a tear shed when such commodities disappeared. Steadman had often been led to believe that they'd gone of their own accord and had started new lives elsewhere. Still in the same business but not with Future Tangent Industries. Not with Warley. The truth was though that once you'd been with Warley, there was no being without Warley. You were either with him or you simply ceased to be.

Warley had seen other men in Steadman's position. He knew exactly what each one was thinking because he'd been there at one time himself. The only difference between himself and the young men who'd been his commodities was that instead of running from the man in the big chair, he took the big chair from the man. Warley had often pondered when the man of his ilk would come walking through that door. The man who'd look him in the eye and completely deceive him enough to snatch the big chair from under him. He'd been through many during his time at Future Tangent Industries and he'd seen into Steadman's soul enough to know that Steadman would never take the big chair. Nor would he run. Steadman was somebody that Warley would never truly respect but he was useful. Recently however that usefulness had run out. Steadman looked into the headlights of the oncoming car and found that he could not budge. So he sat down.

"The security firm. The specialists that we always use for this sort of operation seem to think that there is an internal leak. Their first operation in New Delhi was compromised somehow when the target returned to his office and found the security operative with his hands in the cookie jar. He made it out but just barely. We had to pull him from India altogether and that cost the security firm an asset. In Thailand I just received word that we lost four guys to the authorities. Nabbed with their unregistered and modified weapons, their identification stolen. The security firm had no choice but to deny that it had anything to do with them. They'll likely serve a few years in a Thailand prison. The security firm will no doubt have them silenced before they talk. They were made even before they had a chance to retire Professor Sangsorn. You did not tell me that the Treadwater Island anomalies were going to be there." Steadman said keeping his composure as best he could through a slightly wavering voice.

Warley smelled Steadman's fear and it energized him.

"They're professionals. They shouldn't need to know such details. Besides, we had no way of knowing that the anomalies would be there either. Our intel said the anomalies are supposed to be inert. That the effects of the SY349 were unstable and that their unique abilities would cease within four weeks of time of the Treadwater Island incident." Warley lied to Steadman.

"Well apparently the the SY349 doesn't have an expiry date." Steadman said to Warley still very much aware of the oncoming headlights.

"You don't seem to understand the big picture. What's at stake here. You do realize that the Asian market makes up more than half of the world's global economy? Do you know what would happen if Tynan became the trusted medical supplier for these countries of the East? You will know if that vote goes through because when it does you'll see the biggest transfer of medical tech and research stocks in history. Future Tangent Industries will cease to be and Tynan will become a behemoth. We can't let that happen and to do that we have to prevent the West from becoming friends with the East through the creation of this medical fund. If it goes through, we can kiss competitive markets for medical advances good bye and that's because the treatment prices will be regulated by the fund itself. That means that we can't come along with a better mouse trap and charge amply for it. What we should get. Worse, what if by chance Western medicine and Eastern medicine start working together more closely. What if the East starts moving in on Western medical markets?" Warley said talking as if he'd pledged his undying loyalty to Future Tangent Industries.

"Sir, we believe that this delegation will not leave China or Japan with any support for the fund or the SY389. The hinging point will be Thailand and Korea. From the word we got on the matter the delegation already had India and Malaysia's support. Sri Lanka and Indonesia are leaning in favor but that's still up in the air. The Thailand delegation is in complete support for the fund. Likewise with Laos and Vietnam. If South Korea supports the fund creation initiative that would mean that both China and Japan would need to vote against it unanimously to stop it unless China vetoes it entirely." Steadman explained hoping that distracting Warley by giving him the power to decide might by him some more time.

"We need a hidden patient to surface." Warley told Steadman.

"I beg your pardon sir, a what?" Steadman asked Warley nervously.

"A hidden patient. A failed treatment based upon the application of the SY349 to a patient. Preferably someone young. Incapacitated enough to be a sympathy case but not so much that people can't identify with them." Warley suggested.

"Sir, there is no such patient. There's two patients for whom the treatment did not work but without any adverse side effects." Steadman replied indicating that he'd already examined that avenue.

"Then hire one and a few Doctors who will go along with it. We'll pay them well. Very well. We'll mount a public campaign against the SY349, SY389 and SY390. Then when the delegation gets to China, we'll set up an assassination and pin it on one of the delegates. That's our solution. That's how we solve our problem." Warley told Steadman as he leaned back in his executive chair piercing Steadman's soul with his hollow and emotionless eyes.

"Sir, we've got a situation that we might be able to exploit in that regard. It's to do with Norler and Doctor Westin. We have intel that says they're having relationship problems. Some people on the flight to Thailand claimed to have overheard them arguing. Since that point they've made no public shows of affection of any kind. Not even holding hands." Steadman informed Warley hoping he'd bought himself another chance.

"That wasn't out of their respect for countries like India where public displays of affection are frowned upon?" Warley confirmed still hesitant to trust Steadman.

"No sir. As I said several people on the airline witnessed an argument. They haven't been seen together since." Steadman assured Warley.

"Excellent work. That's exactly what we'll do. The assassination of a Chinese official from the Chinese delegation. We'll pin it on Doctor Westin who of course will have shot her own estranged lover Walton Norler there before. Arrange for our failed SY349 media patient and some Doctors to support the case we'll build against Tynan and we'll start the pressure cooker. By the time they make it to China, we can exploit the situation easily and the public will buy it! Most of all they'll hate Tynan And Associates and love Future Tangent Industries. It looks like you've got your job back and another chance. Don't blow it." said Warley who loved having his subordinates in his debt.

Another fact about how Warley had managed to stay in that chair for so long was that he understood the economy of fear. The economy of keeping others afraid of him. He was a master of profiting when his subordinates failed him for they'd work just trying to make it up to him. Then when the smoke had cleared he'd come up looking like a hero. After all he'd given Steadman another chance after all of Steadman's failures. If Steadman failed him after that, then Steadman would likely experience a similar fate as those of Norler and Doctor Westin. In order to play Steadman, he only had to convince Steadman that it was the end for him if he'd failed again. In truth though it was. For now though as far as Steadman was concerned, the oncoming headlights had stopped and he'd been able to get off of the road. That day Steadman had left Warley's office with his life, a big change from his earlier fate.

Long enough to make it up to Warley for his "extended" life and second chance.

Delegation Dinner And Drinks In Bangkok

They sat atop the roof of an enormous building in the downtown core of Bangkok as the sun set to the East. They'd separated at four in the afternoon for a break where they'd returned to their hotel rooms. Most of the delegates themselves had taken that time to recharge with a small nap or a shower to prepare themselves for the evening and their only full night in Bangkok for they'd be leaving in the early evening the next day. They'd planned to enjoy the evening together. The Thailand delegation with the Western delegates.

Heylyn, Monique and Valerie had not yet had time to inform Alicia about the assailants at the Wat Sutat and decided they'd find her alone in the evening at which time they'd tell her what had happened. Alicia and Norler were still silent and curt, saying little to each other. It was as if the wounds yielded no pain for them but instead had turned directly to hardened scars. They were both professional enough to maintain their rapport with one another both in public and private and new what lines to keep and which ones to cross. There had been an awkward moment between them when they'd come close to one another in their hotel room. When they were in India only two days earlier they'd found themselves together in their hotel room with thirty minutes to spare before their next meeting. Though they hadn't planned it, they'd found themselves making improvised love, first on the chest of drawers working their way slowly to the wall. Afterwards they'd collapsed exhausted to the floor entangled with one another for a little under three minutes. In that time they'd found more peace in one another than they had in all of the nights they'd spent away from home combined.

They'd found themselves in the hotel room in Bangkok with the same opportunity but from a much different state in their relationship. There was no relationship but there was still the sexual tension. Alicia had considered sending the signals. Letting him know that she was ripe and for the picking and then decided against doing so. They met at one point almost running into one another in the middle of the room and there was a moment of awkward silence that could have led anywhere. Ultimately neither found the want to face the other regarding their most current disagreement and so the moment ended with a whimper rather than an explosion of lust.

Alicia had left early going to the lobby to sit and enjoy a bit of anonymity and more importantly her mental space. She sat in one of the lobby sofas for twenty minutes not even aware that Bryce sat only a few seats away from her in an overstuffed chair reading one of the Bangkok dailies. He'd seen her and having been married for twenty years himself, he'd seen that look before. The look of one who needed their space. Their solitude from just about everyone. A moment to gather one's life unto themselves and get it all in order. To collect one's bearings if not so they could continue in the right direction at least so they could continue. If she wanted to speak at all, she'd notice him when the time was right and he'd oblige her.  As it so happened she did just and when the time was right.

"I'm not interrupting am I?" she asked him.

"Alicia? What a pleasant surprise." he responded feigning unawareness.

"Mind if I join you?" she asked him already knowing the answer.

"Not at all. I see you've found this wonderful haven here. And to think that it was in the lobby of our hotel all along." he smiled catching the last bit of sunlight as it slowly dipped behind the neighboring buildings of the Bangkok horizon.

"I agree. I just came here for a little solitude myself." Alicia responded biting her tongue just after she'd spoken.

"If you need some space I could..." Bryce replied sincerely.

"No. I had a bit of space already. I think that I need to talk with someone I trust." Alicia looked at him.

"By that statement, I assume that you mean me." Bryce put the magazine down on a nearby table.

"Yes. I guess that would be you." Alicia said shifting just a little closer so as not to draw attention.

"If you don't mind me asking, are you having a bumpy spot in your relationship with Norler?" Bryce asked her.

"We tried to keep it hidden but I guess its starting to get pretty obvious. Yes. We did have a little falling out." she replied looking down to her lap for a moment.

"I'm sure the pressure of this situation doesn't make it any easier but you have to ask yourself if when you've succeeded, that both of you might look back upon this time and laugh? Perhaps curled up in bed in a lover's embrace? Haven't you ever had one of those times?" Bryce asked her folding his legs and leaning in himself.

"Of course. I mean there was this one time that he'd locked the keys of my car in the trunk of my car. It was an accident of course but at the time... At the time I was really angry with him. I didn't talk with him for a day or two. Then two nights later I come home and he's got the place decorated for a romantic candle light dinner. My favorite album in the music player. Everything was ready to go. Champagne. Everything. Of course hours later we were in bed laughing about the car keys. I scolded him so much that night jokingly of course. He took it all too." she told him laughing and giggling as she reminisced.

"What's different about this time besides the weight of the world upon your shoulders, Atlas? Might I remind you not to shrug as Ayn Rand so delicately put it or there'll be world all over the marble floor in here." Bryce asked her metaphorically.

She thought long and hard about her situation before she spoke. She wondered how she was going to broach the subject with Bryce seeing as Bryce did not know about her alter ego, Night Style. Norler had known and she'd agreed to give up her nightly gallivanting as a superhero and be the hero from the laboratory and research point of view. She'd agreed that she could offer the world much more as a Scientist rather than a superhero. Their argument had seen them disagree given the current situation and the risk to their goals in Asia with the attack upon Professor Mattu and more recently with the assailants in the Wat Sutat.

"This is different. We weren't able to agree about something very key to our relationship. About trust. It looks like neither of us is willing to give in." Alicia told him.

"A little bit like our current situation if you don't mind me saying. Do you feel that there's something you need that you may not be getting? What about him? Maybe he feels the same way? Is there something that he wants you to give up in order for the both of you to keep going? Together? What about a compromise? You can afford to direct a little bit of that marvelous negotiating power the two of you share to mend your relationship. Maybe if you look at it from that point of view, that might give you a bit of motivation to solve the issue between you?" Bryce asked her pressing the point home.

"You're right. We're negotiating perhaps one of the most important issues of our lifetime together against the most important issue keeping us apart. What's complicated about this is..." Alicia began before she paused for a long while.

Bryce waited before Alicia continued.

"Do you remember the conversation in the Looking Glass Lounge? I mean about causality? About Godel's trickster? About keeping the inner workings of the universe hidden while unfolding in a way that seems like art?" Alicia confirmed with Bryce.

"Like it was yesterday. I hope nothing happened that night that led to your current issues?" Bryce asked her.

"No. I meant like its somehow related. Like if Norler and I mend our relationship, that the universe might balance it for us by denying us approval for the Fund. Like it gives something and it takes something at the same time." Alicia asked him deep in thought about what Weltherwithsp had said to her during their shared dream.

"You mean like balancing the outcomes? As in duality?" Bryce confirmed with her.

"I guess you could say it that way." Alicia asked him cocking her head a little.

"We're in the Far East of Asia. I mean what conversation wouldn't find itself on the topic of duality. I'm not so certain that it's as imperative a concept here as we'll likely find the further east we progress from here. I have two things I'll tell you on that subject. The first being that regardless of the underlying mechanisms that we can only speculate about, you must proceed regardless. When the stakes are high that might not seem a good answer for if there is an underlying duality that balances cause and effect, that would make the universe a hundred percent predicable and very easy to deal with. However that's now what we have so we must proceed regardless with our own wisdom, intent and intuition as our guide. The second thing that I was going to point out that this morning before we departed for the Wat Sutat, I received an email from an old friend from Beijing. He told me that their delegation is going to include a Professor of Eastern Philosophy specializing in Chinese philosophy both ancient and modern. Perhaps and I'm only suggesting, such a question might prove to be useful in a relationship sense and a diplomatic sense? I mean whom better to speak to about this issue than a philosopher that has grown up eating, breathing and sleeping every part of that philosophy. If you don't listen to me, perhaps you should listen to her. In Japan we'll likely broach the same topic but from a much different point of view. I don't know it you can wait for that long but you should consider that thinking about this issue is giving you a lot of insight into Eastern philosophy. The key to solving the problems with your relationship with Norler might lead to the means to negotiate with the Chinese and Japanese delegations. By tomorrow night we'll be in Beijing and I'm hoping that we're able to capitalize on what we learned in New Delhi and Bangkok to help us with our negotiations there." Bryce posed leaning in as he did.

"I have to admit that you've already given me a lot to think about. A lot of hope too but there's still a bit of doubt." Alicia told him still not quite able to smile.

"Kind of like our goal here. We've made good progress but we're still only part way there. Maybe tonight's outing with the Bangkok delegation will be a good omen for the future of of this delegation and of course for your relationship with Norler." Bryce smiled hoping that it might be contagious.

"Thanks Bryce. Your wife is certainly a lucky lady." Alicia said to him as she contracted a smile.

"Luck had nothing to do with it. Once we had our eyes set on each other we knew it was for keeps but that's a story for another time. Speaking of which, my wife is going to kill me if I don't call her. She'll just be waking up for her morning yoga right about now." Bryce stood as Alicia did.

Alicia pecked him on the cheek as he fumbled around searching his pocket for his phone. He blushed slightly as he hit the speed dial.

Neither of them noticed a mustached man sitting in the corner who'd been keeping an eye on the both of them.


En Route

Heylyn grabbed her room card as she left locking the door behind her. In the hall she joined Monique who'd ventured out ahead of her moments ago.

"Ready to go boss? You look great!" Monique commented on Heylyn's appearance.

"As do you. I take it you're looking to turn a few heads tonight?" Heylyn asked her friend and employee.

"That I am. But not away of course." Monique replied in jest.

"I assumed that much." Heylyn replied as she walked for the hotel elevator.

"What about you? You're looking a little more spiffed up than I've seen you during other social outings?" Monique asked Heylyn who looked frantically for the button.

"It's touchscreen." Monique said getting the touchscreen button.

"Right. To answer your question I thought it a special occasion enough to make an appearance." Heylyn replied looking to Monique.

"An appearance? You don't mean... as the Butterfly?" Monique confirmed that she'd heard Heylyn correctly.

"That, and in Bangkok. I mean this delegation is important and I'm hoping that I can draw some media attention to it. You did bring your costume?" Heylyn replied confirming that Monique had also brought her undergarment alter ego along.

"Yes. I have it on. The new one. I didn't forget. Do you think that she'll be ready too?" Monique replied.

"Who? Valerie? Ohhh. Alicia. I think that she'll do what she believes is right. She's got a lot more on her plate than we do. Our role here is a little bit different that theirs. Not lesser. Just different." Heylyn answered Monique and they stepped onto the elevator together.

The elevator arrived at the lobby and they stepped out looking as two Goddesses might stepping from a carriage. Doctor Briggs turned as they arrived admiring them as they approached.

"Well I must admit that of all the experiences I've had as a consultant that this one has had the most pleasant benefits. Accompanying the two of you to the Octave in Bangkok, Thailand is certainly a dream." Doctor Briggs offered an arm for each Heylyn and Monique.

"Well, we are off to see the Wizard after all. The Wizard of Octave." Monique replied.

"We're Canadian errr... North American diplomats too. Don't forget that part." Heylyn reminded them.

"You've got that right. Born in Canada but I studied in both the United States and Canada. I got a degree in Sociology at Yale. I studied Psychology and History and the University Of Toronto. That's where I built a curriculum around specializing in East/West philosophy. So I'm a North American child for this adventure." Doctor Briggs replied.

"Ok. I'll be the Chinese history representative for our little adventure tonight." Heylyn responded.

"Well that's good. We've got a well rounded group tonight to represent us in Bangkok." Monique replied to both of them.

They found a limousine outside of the hotel piling in and began their short journey to the Octave bar. Alicia had already left with Valerie, Norler and Bryce more than a half hour ago which was fine for Heylyn. She'd always liked arriving fashionably late. After all her business was the business of being noticed. Of making entrances, being seen as much as heard then making an exit. A part of that was about being the audience for someone else from time to time. Supporting your circle and what you believed to be right and true. The illustrious life of fashion and the so called vanity arts was as much about being seen as it was about seeing. Being both the subject of your own dream and the audience to another's.

Heylyn after her first two big shows she'd burnt out for time. Not grasping that the show wasn't all about her but about those she'd one day be audience to. Much like the her Mother had told explained to her. One foot on each side. Her Father often used to remind her that she had two ears and one mouth and that they should be used in that ratio. Her Mother had scolded him for she believed that one should reciprocate. Two ears was as good as good to hear one mouth after all and they should spend time listening and talking in proportion to one another.

She'd spent her first season competing against a designer with a cult like following who'd undermined Heylyn's many presentations of the first showing of her designs. They'd often taken the press spotlight from her as well on some occasions taking the credit for her creations. In the first year she thought that she was going nuts until another design and fan of her designs had told her that was one of the caveats of the business. Of show business. There were some who took the team spirit a bit too far. Taking advantage of the media eye in attempt to prop up their icon on the grounds of love and graciousness while they sabotaged mood and manner of any competitors. A predatory bunch they were seeking to make sure their icon rose to the top by any means.

Heylyn had taken this under advisement and for her third show she'd put together a conglomerate, introducing two new designers on the scene as well as mixing her show with the offerings of three other designers. She'd also introduced fund raising as an element of the show itself. Some of her models had been breast cancer survivors whom she'd gone through great lengths to procure while keeping their personal secret. The show itself had rave reviews not to mention the party after the show had made headlines around the entertainment world. That's when Heylyn had realized that the show wasn't about her. It was about the show. About making a difference. Soon after the predatory icon builders disappeared or fed on each other or both.

That was when she'd had a change of heart. With wings of course though that was long before she'd been reintroduced to the magnificent dragon of her childhood. Not long after she'd run into Monique on her way out for Chai Latte during break. Monique had just left her abusive boyfriend and was on the brink of being marginalized. Heylyn had seen her only noticing her for a moment but then it clicked. This Woman she'd just seen was a hidden beauty. She ran back to Monique eyeing her over once again taking her measurements with her eyes.

"Excuse me, but are you trying to pick me up?" Monique had asked her bluntly perhaps a little defensively.

"Don't flatter yourself. You're not my type. But if you'd be willing to listen I might be able to offer you a gig?" Heylyn had responded.

From there Monique had been discovered just like in the media and movies. Like a dream come true. She'd been hired as a model but not just any model. As the flagship model for an upcoming show of West Meet East International. It turned out to be the opportunity of a lifetime for Monique, a French Canadian girl with Ukrainian heritage who'd come to Toronto seeking her fortune. Her piece of Canada's illustrious dream. She'd been used and abused until Heylyn had discovered her, helping her to find her wings. Both figuratively and literally eventually.

Arrival In Style

Monique exited the limousine first, the concierge offering his hand. She accepted it gracefully as a few representatives of the Bangkok press snapped pictures of her tightly wrapped figure.

Heylyn stepped out in her knockout evening suit, both elegant and flexible for her physique. Her pants slit on either leg revealing her musculature up to her curvaceous thighs.

"It would seem that I've been upstaged again." Doctor Briggs stepped out of the cab announcing his presence drawing a little laughter from the press.

The three of them gathered and made their way into the Bangkok Marriott Hotel towards the elevators.

They were greeted on the rooftop bar by another concierge who led them to the bar and lounge area to find the rest of the delegation.

"Well it's about time. We were wondering if you'd ever show." Bryce stood welcoming the new arrivals.

"Fashionably late?" Heylyn offered them.

"Well better late than never." Norler said standing beside Bryce.

Heylyn noticed Alicia sitting at her own table just beside the main table. Alicia gestured for her and Monique to join her.

"Thanks for watching over me." Doctor Briggs offered Heylyn and Monique as they joined Alicia.

"Not as much as you watched over us." Monique replied somewhat sarcastically.

"I didn't think she caught that." Doctor Briggs replied quietly under his breath.

Professor Sangsorn, Doctor Yongsaijut, Doctor Leekpai and Doctor Cho Zaw each stood to greet the new arrivals.

"It's nice to meet and talk on a social level like this. We're glad you could make it." Professor Sangsorn offered her greeting.

From behind Heylyn, Monique and Doctor Briggs appeared Katya and Victor.

"Sorry we ran a bit late. We made it nonetheless." Katya announced.

"It looks like everyone is here." Doctor Leekpai said gesturing for one of the staff to arrange accommodate the extra guests.

Heylyn and Monique joined Alicia who sat in earshot of the main table where Katya, Victor and Doctor Briggs took their places. Soon thereafter their drinks arrived as did a large platter of finger food to accompany their drinks.

"So what is it like being a Doctor in these parts? In your own words of course."  Bryce asked the Bangkok delegation.

Professor Sangsorn looked to her peers two of whom were Doctors in the field. Doctor Leekpai and Doctor Yongsaijut spent a moment deciding who'd speak first.

"Working in the Vientiane, Laos as a consultant I'm often elbow deep in data and statistics related to the medical practice in Laos. That means the infrastructure, facilities and of course personnel. Most of my consulting work is done for world agencies such as the United Nations, the World Health Organization and Unicef as well. In the Vientiane area of Laos the Doctor to patient ratio is between fifteen hundred to eighteen hundred and it's from there that the highest concentration of medical professionals operate. In other parts of the country you'll find that ratio about ten times greater. That is about ten thousand patients per two and a half Doctors. I'm privy to a lot of statistics and instrumental when it comes to bringing more medical care to the area. We have a lot of outside expertise as well from China, Japan and Korea. Doctors Without Borders also play a role in shoring up the demand. Doctor Yongsaijut?" Doctor Leekpai answered first.

"I work here in Bangkok as a Pediatrician but I've done some field work in the area, even working in Laos and Cambodia for a time. Bangkok's facilities are pretty much in line with most of the Western world thanks to King Chulalongkorn's early attention to the issue of health care. We've a lot of hospitals in the city varying from Government operated to privately owned. In rural areas of Thailand there are some areas where access to healthcare is limited. Doctors might sometimes make monthly visits to such places to deal with common health care issues and to do a variety of check ups for the local patients. While working in Laos and Cambodia the most common issues I'd come across as a Pediatrician were often malnutrition and weight related in terms of infant health. In many rural areas food is scarce by our standards and many have to hunt and forage for food from an already limited food supply. Disease is also an issue in some places with Dengue fever and Malaria being at the front lines of that fight. Logistically speaking most issues are related to access and availability to healthcare, healthy diet and of course education. Lack of education and literacy is linked to many health care problems in the area. There have been recent improvements and many Doctors have been and are being trained in Cambodia and Laos to meet the challenge." Doctor Yongsaijut gave his answer.

"Remarkable. Victor and I met during our internment as acting medical staff providing relief care for a village in Cambodia. It was during a breakout of Malaria in the area. It was part of our requirements to do some field work despite the fact that most of what we currently do is research related. It was a humbling experience to say the least. Such a gracious people too. They were so grateful to have us there." Katya spoke as she reminisced.

"That was a wonderful and eye opening experience." Victor gave his wife a peck on the forehead.

"We have a lot of young students in the medical program do field work here in this part of the world." Professor Sangsorn added taking a sip of her drink.

"What about you? What's it like in Canada and the United States?" Doctor Leekpai asked their guests.

There was a moment of silence between them as they decided who'd go first. Finally it was Norler who spoke.

"Alicia and I live a lot different than most Canadians and that's thanks largely in part to my net worth and our combined income. As much as I'd like to say I know what it's like for every Canadian to live in Canada, I can't really speak. I can only say that it's a wonderful country. Certainly on the forefront of being a world model for culture and cooperation. There are still some areas where there are bumps in the proverbial road related to race and sexual orientation and many common issues you'd find anywhere but I'm not exposed to that as much as some other Canadians might be. Our living standards are certainly high as is our access to medical care. We probably have one of the best health care systems in the world. There's social programs and business incentives for both large and small business. From my point of view as a high income earner whose net worth is in the millions, I'd say Canada is a great place though it still has its growing pains." Norler answered giving his best impression of his home country.

"As the daughter of a family that emigrated from China to Canada thirty years ago I can speak having started from humble beginnings. I've faced much throughout the course of my life. Perhaps some discrimination as there is an underlying current of that nature sometimes directed towards Asian Canadians though I think we in the Chinese community have been used to that sort of treatment in North America for a long time. History is proof of it be we endured. Where we've found adversity from some, there are so many more who welcome us with open arms. As far as opportunity goes, I'd say that there's plenty of it so long as you choose to surround yourself with the right people. Try to stay away from the toxic ones who will bring you down or even attempt to pull you into their ways. There are many who will try to bring you down if you don't have that circle of support. Some might deny it but it's there but that might be the case everywhere. Insofar as once I was surrounded by motivated people like Alicia who is a friend from my childhood, I blossomed. From there life became a little less complex every day and I was as a young Woman able to find success in Canada as a successful entrepreneur. Things have been great ever since and I've seen Canada from its greatest heights to its lowest lows. Canada is my home, China is my home of ancestry and it hurts me to see others hurt my home." Heylyn spoke giving her honest testimony alluding to her time as The Butterfly Dragon.

"I'd have to say that I agree with Heylyn at least in part. Most of what I am today I'd not be if it weren't for having Heylyn in my life. I grew up in Canada in a middle class family in a house in suburbia. I'd had plans for my education but strongly thought against them thanks to bullying in school. Yes in Canada we have that too. Heylyn helped me to turn my self esteem around and for other people to see me a little bit differently. Perhaps even admiringly and maybe even regarding me as attractive. Because of that, because a newcomer like Heylyn helped me to find my confidence in myself, I was able to attend university and attain my Doctorate in Biology, Chemistry and Quantum Physics. Something I'd never have done without Canada and without the mentorship of someone like Heylyn. Canada is a wonderful place and I'd recommend to anyone to visit it at least once. Toronto is a good city too but like most cities has its growing pains as Norler put it. Some of those growing pains are as hard on its own residents as they are hard on others. I'd say that's Canada's one current obstacle to a major breakthrough." Alicia responded as honestly as she could muster.

"I grew up in a poor family for the first part of my life. The daughter of a French Canadian Mother and a hard working Ukrainian Father. Both my parents were honest people doing their best in Montreal to survive and raise their daughter. Montreal is a great city with a much different vibe than Toronto though as Heylyn said, if you surround yourself with the right kind of people, Toronto is a wonderful place. I moved to Toronto when I was nineteen and struggled for a long time. I found myself in the midst of some people with whom I should not have surrounded myself. That worked out badly and was nearly mixed up in activities of which I'd not like to speak. I was walking down the street just after escaping these toxic people when Heylyn noticed me and hired me for a photo shoot and later a Fashion Show. Heylyn helped me to get on my feet in Toronto and further more showed me the value of earning it. Thanks to Toronto, Heylyn and Toronto's art and fashion community, I'm a successful model and sometimes a creative Set Designer for the shows. I'd say Canada is a good place but like Heylyn and Alicia said, there's some hidden issues holding her back just a little. I've heard much worse as well, but thankfully I got my happy ending. I much like Heylyn use that opportunity to rescue people from that hidden issue that's a domestic obstacle to Canada's growth." Monique added to her friends' testimony.

Thrust And Parry

"No offense intended to any of you, but I overheard your conversation. I'm a working class bloke and have been my whole life. I'm here on vacation with my wife sitting next to a group of stuck up over educated and wealthy people talking about life. What makes you think that any of you are better because of your education? Your money?" asked a man dressed in suit and tie sitting next to them at the neighboring table.

"Begging your pardon the pardon of your Wife and yourself, but you haven't any right to interject on our conversation. We wish you no ill so why would you bring your ill opinion of us to us?" asked Professor Sangsorn.

"Because I needed to say it. Somebody has to say it. I think most of you think that you're great because you spend too much time in that media spotlight and that swells your head and ego. Likewise many of you because of your superior education you think yourself better than the common folk. Like myself who'd worked his entire life and hands to the bone just to receive a his retirement package and a gold pen for a thank you." the man continued sounding a little irritated.

Norler was about to call for security when Bryce stopped him.

"It's alright Norler. I'll address this man's point of view. After all, he did come to it by a life of hard work. Sir I hope that in your life and years you've learned to listen and hear and more importantly to learn. You've obviously come here looking for enjoyment during your retirement and being the gentleman that you are you chose to bring your wife to this fine establishment. Let's deal with every statement you made one at a time. First of all about money and wealth. You look at us and assume that everything that comes with it is about belaying any sense of responsibility to the society that begat us and people like us. You assume that money is just the power to do whatever you want. I personally do not make that much and I'd be surprised if I made more than yourself. I do however make enough to be responsible with that money. To take care of my responsibilities and then to progress my life a bit further so as to maximize the positive effects I can have upon the world. So it's just a bit better than it was when I got here. As for my wealthier friends here I can attest for them that such riches aren't just a license to do what you want. They're a bundle of immense responsibility and pressure that most persons like yourself could not fathom. Making choices that could have ramifications for the jobs of a thousand people like yourself is no easy task and making the right choice is even that much more difficult. It's not just a license to do what you want because there is always a lot of responsibility not only to your own well being but to the lives of thousands of other people tied to it. My friend here runs a large finance and research company. His daily decisions often balance the well being of many. That includes their health. Their jobs. Their families and the economy. That's not a light weight nor is it an easy pressure to have in your lap. Try going to sleep at night when a pressing decision that you have to make the next day might result in the job losses of hundred of people if not thousands. With the rewards that money brings there is always responsibility. Some of the people here have even earned their fortunes from nothing but what they could do with their two hands and a bit of creativity. So they started from the same starting block as you my friend and one of them is a lady. So don't think that such fortune has come easy to those who have and that its without its weight because often it is nothing but pressure. People that endure that kind of pressure sometimes like to play. We're playing right now because for the most part, our work consumes most if not all of our time. Even when we sleep. Now as an educated man myself, I'm going to deal with your second accusation about educated people thinking their education is a license to regard others as being lesser. There are some that are educated that do regard themselves as privileged and in some ways they are but not the ways they think they are. Education like money once again is a responsibility. The more you have, the more responsible you are to use it for the betterment of the world. The same goes for knowledge. Education and knowledge are different from one another because one can be acquired without an education while education is a method learned to acquire and understand knowledge and its applications. To tell you the truth the one thing that most educated people sometimes forget is that the people who built the educational institution did not have a formal education. It started somewhere the result of curious and courageous people who tried to understand the world around them and more importantly to share what they'd learned with others so that humanity could benefit from their understanding and so that every generation wouldn't be starting from the same place every time. So I am very humble in my acknowledgement that my education came from some courageous Women and Men of ancient history who were curious enough to understand the world around them and were gracious enough to share that knowledge and even record it so that it could further be shared with others. Having that education for myself is a great responsibility just as it is for any of the Doctors sitting at my table here or elsewhere in the world, for they've sworn to use that knowledge to heal and to do no harm. My kind Sir, have you ever sworn such an oath in your life? Some of the most interesting people that I know don't have a formal education that is even close to mine, yet they have that wonderful ability to comprehend and learn and many of those friends I'm able to discuss a wide variety of topics related to my education including the numbers. I often wonder how such people would be had they had the means to get an education. Some of them just didn't fit into the curriculum but nonetheless they were people who were interested in learning. Pioneers themselves and likely the kind of people who created the educational institution itself before it existed. They too use their knowledge in an attempt to make the world a better place living up to their responsibility. I can think of nothing more noble myself than someone through thick and thin who lives up to that responsibility and always perseveres despite that responsibility. Please I do hope that your Wife and yourself enjoy your dinner and retirement. I would ask that you please do not address this table with such misinformed statements again." Bryce answered in defense of his colleagues and friends.

Bryce signaled to the Wait staff to give the couple their next round of drinks on their tab.

"I'd heard of your sometimes outspoken nature Professor Maxwell. I'm honored to have seen it for myself." Professor Sangsorn replied to Bryce.

"Well forgive me but I just could not stand to see those statements go unanswered." Bryce responded.

"No offense taken. You'll always have our support and friendship here." Professor Sangsorn assured him.

"Thanks Bryce. I'm glad that you're part of this delegation." Norler added.

"Glad to have been of service. Now that the music has started Professor Sangsorn, would you like to Dance?" Bryce offered her his hand and she accepted.

"I'd love to." she said standing and joining him on the dance floor.

"Darling?" Victor asked Katya.

"Of course my dear. I wouldn't miss the chance for a dance ever." Katya responded joining her husband on the dance floor.

"I have to admit that this world would be a much better place if we spent our time dancing rather than fighting. I guess there's a time and place for it though." Heylyn spoke addressing the remainders of the group.

"I couldn't agree with you more. Perhaps you'd like to join me for a dance?" Doctor Briggs asked Heylyn.

"I'd love to, but only because I'd prefer not to see you dance by yourself." Heylyn answered him as they walked to the dance floor.

In Security

Alicia sat at the table with Monique, casually checking up on Norler every so often. Monique watched the couples admiringly on the dance floor almost reminiscing.

"So what happened with you and Derek?" Alicia asked Monique not having spoken with her in close company since just after the Treadwater Island incident.

"You mean the Security Specialist? We were seeing each other steady for a few months after we returned to Toronto. I even flew to New York and Los Angeles to be with him during his off hours for two of his jobs." Monique started.

"You don't mean that you literally flew do you?" Alicia asked Monique knowing full well about Monique's capabilities.

Monique rolled her eyes unsure if Alicia was being serious or not.

"No. I mean the old fashioned way. So our schedules got to be pretty hectic and it had been a long time since we'd seen each other. He called me one day and said that he needed some space. He promised me that he'd keep my secret safe and that he'd call me again in the future. I haven't heard from him since." Monique said somewhat emotionless long having gotten over their departure.

"I'm sorry to hear. You two were... You know Monique, you really need a special kind of guy. Maybe he wasn't the one." Alicia answered trying to be supportive though Alicia did not know Monique nearly as well as she knew Heylyn.

"Maybe. So have you managed to patch things up with Norler?" Monique asked her turning the tables with no ill intent.

"It's been a little bit difficult. Especially living in such close quarters to one another. We haven't talked the important talk if that's what you mean. We're still on ice. A bit slippery at the moment too." Alicia said looking over to Norler covertly.

"I'm sure you'll figure it out. Whatever needs to happen will." Monique replied returning the support as best she could.

It had taken Monique a few months to get over Derek. She'd even slept in a few too many days showing up late for scheduled photo shoots which were imperative for her job as a model. She didn't snap out of her simultaneous self pity and loathing until Heylyn sat her down for a long talk. Heylyn needed to do it because if she didn't, the other employees would think that she was playing favorites with Monique. That would not be fair to the others in West Meet East International who worked so hard to keep the company successful. Heylyn tried to go easy on her and fortunately had managed to get through to her. Heylyn had started giving Monique a wake up call in the mornings like she had when Monique had first been hired. Monique lived in the neighboring unit to Heylyn's downtown condominium and after their talk they'd travel to the West Meet East building in the downtown core of the fashion district together. Much like they did in the beginning, until Monique had gotten back in stride. That was what friends did for each other after all. Heylyn was a friend to Monique as much as she was a good boss. In her time running West Meet East she'd never had to fire anyone and she strived to maintain a professional relationship with everyone including Monique. She'd gone out on a limb for others in her company and she intended to keep them together. Much like a family. But when it came to irresponsibility and tardiness she had to draw the line.

Monique at quietly for a moment lulled by the music as Katya returned from her dance with Victor and joined Alicia and Monique at the lady's table as Doctor Briggs had dubbed it. Victor checked with the ladies if they needed fresh drinks and when they told him they were fine, he left them to take his place beside Doctor Leekpai.

"You know, while I was on the dance floor with Victor, I couldn't help but notice someone keeping a close eye on Heylyn. Sitting on the left hand side there near the bar. Do you see him? With the moustache?" Katya tried to point out the suspicious looking man to Alicia and Monique.

"I've seen him somewhere. Maybe he has one of those faces." Monique responded looking closely at the man.

"Heylyn is a beautiful woman. There is the chance that he's just checking her out you know?" Alicia suggested.

"Perhaps. But maybe a little too closely." Katya suggested.

They watched as Heylyn had finished her dance and had proceeded towards the lady's room. She passed right by the man who'd been watching her fully aware of his eyes upon her. Her senses at full alert as she progressed into the hallway leading the lady's lounge and wash facility. As soon as she was ten paces beyond him he stood and followed her. Monique made an effort to stand only to be held coaxed not to by Alicia.

"She's aware of him. That and she's a multiple black belt. If he messes with her he'll be in for a surprise." Alicia reminded Monique.

"I'm just a little bit protective you know." Monique replied.

"I'm watching him. Don't worry." Valerie responded from beside them.

As Heylyn rounded the corner a few strides away from the washroom door the man ran at her suddenly. Heylyn spun to defend herself against her attacker only to see someone had beat her to the punch.

A handsome and well dressed man had caught the assailant and twisted his arm pinning him to the wall.

"Would you be so kind as to check his identification. It's in his back right pocket. I've been watching him for most of the night." her savior responded.

Heylyn looked them both over carefully before reaching into her assailant's pocket to find a wallet. She opened it and found his identification.

"Frank Pheasel. American Press Association. He's a reporter..." Heylyn said aloud.

"A Photo Journalist. I have rights you know!" Frank replied.

"Not when you're stalking a lady to the washroom you don't." the mysterious man responded.

"I like you already." Heylyn replied smiling a bit for him.

"So do you mind telling me what you were doing here? Following me this far? Hoping for a front page photo for a tabloid?" Heylyn interrogated him.

"No. I was going to ask you a few questions about the delegation away from the crowd." Frank replied struggling a little against the other man's hold.

"Well you certainly picked the most dangerous and alarming way to do it. Do you know that this lady could have broken you into small pieces and left you scattered about the floor had I not intervened." the mysterious man spoke addressing Frank.

"I'd heard she's studied some kind of Tai Chi or something like that." Frank responded nervously.

"Tai Chi and then some. You don't want to mess with her that way again. Trust me. If it's alright with Miss Yates, I'm going to let you go. You'd better be scarce or she'll be the least of your worries." the man waited for Heylyn's nod before loosening his hold upon the man.

"Have a good night Frank. Next time think twice about doing something like that." Heylyn told Frank as he walked away.

The man fixed his tie and jacket as Heylyn watched.

"Now I guess I'd better take care of you. Do you have a name?" Heylyn asked him with a hint of seduction in her voice.

"That's better answered with this. Please don't read it aloud." the man handed her his wallet.

She opened it and within was a badge and identification stating him to be Special Agent Trevor Larsen.

"You can call me Troy if you'd prefer. I would. Just makes things a little less complicated." Troy asserted his wishes.

"Fine. Troy it is. So what were you doing here Troy? Are you here on official business or is this a personal call?" she asked him still unsure of his motives.

"Here on business much like yourself. You could consider me to be much like the security detail that has been assigned to your delegation by Tynan And Associates except that I'm here on behalf of the Government. Just to make sure that the little incident in New Delhi doesn't recur and to ensure that your delegation doesn't get mixed up in espionage related charges which has happened by the way." Troy answered carefully leveraging the merit of his motives to gain her trust.

"That's odd. We haven't had any skepticism about our motives here from any authorities, including from India where the attack on Professor Mutta occurred." Heylyn replied eyeing him carefully looking for any signs he might be lying.

"If you were going to be apprehended for questioning they would likely not announce it. You'd be taken and that would be that." Troy advised her.

"Even a high profile group like ours? I somehow doubt that. For one it would create an international fiasco and even cause diplomatic problems between our two countries. How can I be so certain that you aren't already trying to cause problems of that kind. To get the upper hand on one of the countries here with whom we are negotiating for this deal?" Heylyn asked Troy holding her ground.

"You're not quite as misinformed as I'd been led to believe." Troy answered her.

"Why? Because I'm in the vanity business? Did you think that I'd not have an intellect behind this makeup and glamour?" Heylyn crossed her arms purposely showing him that she could be assertive.

"Not at all. I'm just trying to warn you and to keep you safe. There's no pulling the wool over your eyes thankfully." Troy responded purposely withdrawing seeing that the information he'd been given about her was not accurate.

"I'd prefer to maintain my trust here in New Delhi, Bangkok and for the rest of the trip. If you're going to be trailing us I'd suggest that you stick to your profession and not get involved in and of the diplomacy. I appreciate the fact that you're watching over us, but I'd prefer to see this whole thing end without an international fiasco." Heylyn responded as she turned and began heading for the washroom.

"Oh and by the way. Thanks for saving me." she said as she left him in the hall.

"I'm beginning to wonder if I shouldn't have let you handle it." Troy said as he left the hall returning to the bar.

Alicia and Monique watched as Frank walked out of the washroom hall and took his original place. He appeared slightly scuffled and his shirt untucked as he made efforts to fix his attire.

"Looks like he got his." Monique turned to Alicia, Valerie and Katya.

A moment later they watched as Troy stepped out of the hall. He stopped and said something to Frank before continuing to a stool near the end of the bar.

"This is getting interesting." Valerie said as they watched.

Another few moments and Heylyn walked out of the hall and returned to her seat beside Monique and Alicia.

Frank Pheasel

"So what happened?" Alicia asked Heylyn.

Heylyn turned in the direction of the two men.

"That one's Frank. That one's Troy. Troy stopped Frank. I stopped Troy." Heylyn said smiling to herself.

Monique and Alicia looked at each other wondering what had happened.

"'Fess up. Really what happened?" Monique asked her again with a mischievous smile.

"Frank's press. He tried to get at me in the private and Troy stopped him. Troy's a body guard of sorts. Troy seems to believe that we could be in trouble with the local authorities and warned us that we could be abducted. I corrected him stating that I trust in this part of the world. He seems to me the type that's looking to make a bit of trouble to benefit from the diplomatic advantage that might result so I stopped him. We'll be seeing more of him again. I'd say to keep an eye on him too." Heylyn said explaining what had happened.

"Alright. I'll let Norler know." Alicia assured Heylyn.

"Wait. I'd better let him know. That way it keeps that subject away from your dealings with him. Easier on your relationship with him right now. Your relationship with him is important. This delegation is important. Make sense?" Valerie confirmed with Alicia.

Alicia thought about if for a moment before responding.

"You're right." Alicia said as she paused to think for a moment.

"Thanks for thinking of us Valerie." she continued.

The remainder of the night was spent between social groups at their table or on the dance floor. At three o'clock in the morning both delegations made their way to their respective hotels and settled in for the night.

The next day it was Norler who was awakened early by a messaging service. He answered the call on the hotel phone still groggy from the previous night's escapades.

"Yeah? Norler here." he said his voice still groggy.

"You need to check the morning paper's headlines. Hurry and get back to me." Helmet Werner's voice addressed him sharply.

"Alright. Gimme a minute." Norler said impatiently getting out of bed.

He went to the door and found a copy of his favorite newsprint edition. He quickly picked it up noticing on the bottom of the front page a picture of what appeared to be Professor Maxwell delivering his dressing down the retired gentleman who'd broached them the prior night. The headline said Bang Bang Maxwell's Silver Hammer: Professor Bryce Maxwell Digs Into Retired Man's Night.

"Whaaat? How could they?" Norler said aloud as he stepped in reading the story.

Bangkok, Thailand

Tynan And Associates delegation to Bangkok hit a snag when senior delegation member Professor Bryce Maxwell opened up on a retired elderly couple. The attack appeared unprovoked and witnesses say Maxwell's demeanor was appalling for a Professor. When asked for an explanation representatives of Tynan And Associates only claimed they were looking into the matter and denied any further questions. Perhaps this signals the end of the doomed delegation.

Frank Pheasel

"I just read it. Werner that is not what happened at all. You know how it is. Professor Maxwell was nothing short of being a gentleman when he addressed the couple. He even bought them a round afterwards." Norler said defending his friend and delegation member.

"To some that might be an admission of wrong doing." Werner pressed him.

"To Bryce that was his way of saying no hard feelings. The man had made a statement to the effect of targeting the wealthy and educated. Bryce responded by dashing his ignorance but he did it in such a way so as not to belittle the guy." Norler said as he sat on his bed.

Alicia groaned from the other side of the bed.

"I'll do the best I can here but the real damage control is up to you. Speak with the rest of the Bangkok delegation before you leave and make sure we have their support on this issue. Call me later." Werner hung up.

"Who was that?" Alicia asked Norler as she leaned up in bed.

Norler tossed her the newspaper.

She quickly read the headline and story and scoffed.

"That's not what happened at all!" she said aloud in disbelief.

"I know. Can you tell him?" Norler asked Alicia.

"Why? Because I'm his peer?" Alicia responded defensively thinking about the situation for a moment before responding again.

"Alright. I'll tell him. I'm sorry." Alicia said quietly getting up and heading for the washroom.


"That weasel! Troy had him in his hands. That's the reporter that tried to follow me into the washroom last night." Heylyn announced at the breakfast table an hour later.

"Well I must admit I've never had press of this kind. For the most part they've been good to me so far. This is the first attack on my character of this nature." Bryce responded sounding very disappointed.

"Welcome to the club." Heylyn replied.

"Ditto that." Norler responded in like.

"Honestly the press have been very good to me and my career. I've had problems with one or two obsessive and problematic reporters before. Usually they burn out before long." Heylyn assured Bryce who seemed to deep in thought.

"Well honestly I'm more worried for my wife than I am for myself. This is stress that she could do without." Bryce responded.

"Well as Heylyn said they're usually not this bad. It sounds like this is personal or the guy was hired to do this. Maybe a payola of some time to find the dirt on our delegation." Norler told Bryce.

"Maybe the same people that tried to hurt us. The ones behind the attack on Professor Mattu?" Alicia suggested.

"I wasn't going to do this, but clearly this guy deserves it. I'm going to have him served with a cease and desist. Last night he tried to follow me into the lady's room. He denied it but he was already at the doorway when Troy restrained him. I think he's a sleeze looking for an easy sell to the papers fabricating dirt on others. At least serving him and announcing it to the press might reduce his credibility and the credibility of this story. I'll let the lawyers handle the rest. I personally think its the right thing to do. If he could do this to us he'll likely do it to someone else." Heylyn told the delegates.

"Yeah but that could be misconstrued as an attack on the freedom of the press and make matters worse." Norler advised.

"Personally I agree with Heylyn. I mean this guy's a creep. We have this Troy guy as a witness. I've had some try similar things with me. I think its time to put a stop to this sort of thing." Monique said endorsing her friend's plan.

"I appreciate the effort that you're making in your attempt to reduce the damage of this Frank Pheasel person. Consider this though, if that story hadn't been published would you have considered doing the same thing? We wouldn't be having this conversation right now and therefore the topic of pursuing this legally would not have come up. In other words is what you're doing just to conduct revenge or is it really to protect yourselves and other Women?" Bryce asked them honestly.

"Maybe that was the final straw in all honesty. Perhaps I'd have forgiven last night's attempt to breach my privacy but had I encountered the same thing again I'd likely have done what I just proposed. I can't think of a better reason to do this now. I don't want this creep trying to get a peep shot on another lady in that way." Heylyn told the delegation.

"I agree with Heylyn on this." Katya added.

"Me too. If that was my daughter he'd tried that with..." Victor cringed.

"I have to say that in all honesty I agree with taking those steps. I just hope that you're not seeking revenge and seeking to stop this person from doing the same thing again to someone else." Norler gave his opinion.

"I say let's take it out on the creep. Sounds like he deserves it." Valerie advised the delegation.

"I agree." Monique said curt and sweet.

"Then it's settled. I'll call my lawyer right now while Bryce is calling his wife." Heylyn said pulling her phone from her purse seeing Bryce already getting the speed dial on his.

"Meanwhile I'll call and deal with the Bangkok delegates. Let them know we're alright and thank them. Our next flight's at six o'clock this evening so we'll meet back here in the lobby ready to go at four o'clock in the afternoon. Everyone get that?" Norler asked the delegation.

Everybody nodded in acknowledgement and it was settled. Troy sat in his rental car watching as they left the hotel for the day.

Flight And Bryce's Football Game

Alicia and Norler had remained quiet for most of the flight speaking to each other only as required and this had gone further in making the other delegates a little more than uncomfortable. Bryce and Doctor Briggs sat beside one another on the outer aisle seats of the craft. Bryce had been verbally affronted by a few people on the flight who'd read the misleading news story penned by Frank Pheasel. Bryce had politely handled each response only losing his cool momentarily when one such person continually goaded him. It had reminded him of his school years and how he'd often been treated by the more athletic students until he'd earned their respect.

He recalled one such incident and being called an egg head by one of the key athletes for his High School. Instead of making a fuss about it, he'd opted to make a wager with his school bound bully whose name was Bill. He'd bet that he could best Bill in any one of three different sports. Billiards which was not really a sport as much as a parlor game but one that both Bill and Bryce enjoyed. Four person Football, with Football being one of Bill's specialties and the sport that had made him the school's hero in the face of academia. The last was Tennis which again was one of Bill's strong sports and one in which he possessed natural talent. Bill had initially laughed at Bryce but ultimately agreed to the bet whose stakes were simple. If Bryce won, Bill would never taunt him or any of the other so called nerds of the school ever again. Girls or boys. If Bryce lost he'd take all of the abuse directed towards nerds himself in their place. Bill had everything to gain and nothing to lose and so it was that he accepted the wager.

Naturally word of the bet traveled quickly through the school and in the time up until the three day competition Bryce had become a celebrity in his school. He'd figured that he'd have billiards in the bag seeing as his family had a billiards table in the basement. He was a natural when it came to billiards being an ace in math and physics not to mention the hands on experience he'd had with a pool cue. Bill had earned his chalk at the local pool hall and was considered one of the best by his peers and thus could make a challenge. For the other two sports, Bryce only had to ensure that he was victorious in one of them. He figured his best bet was to go for Football and in doing so he picked as his partner a member of the Women's Football team by the name of Wendy, who had kindly agreed to train him as well. Wendy had been looking for the opportunity to rub Bill's bottom onto the football field herself and this was just such an opportunity to bring a victory home for the Women of the school. Bryce had figured that Bill would run him into the ground at tennis but had practiced with Wendy despite. As a result he'd become a much stronger athlete himself and a much better tennis player to boot.

As it happened the first competition to take place was billiards and as Bryce had expected he'd whooped Bill in every game. He'd been modest about it of course even giving Bill the benefit of the doubt by purposely missing a few shots in the last game only to come back and beat him. The so called "nerds" had been there to cheer him on and when he'd finished Bill at the pool hall on his own turf, they'd paid for his snacks and video games for the night in celebration. The next day at noon they held the tennis competition and this was where Bill had the last laugh. He'd beat Bryce hands down in every game, making Bryce work through every inch of the court for little or no progress in score. Bill had left the court without even so much as a breath while Bryce fell to the court huffing profusely dripping with sweat. The win had only helped to invigorate Bill who'd goaded him about the next competition, their four person Football game. Wendy had been at the tennis game and picked Bryce up from the ground giving him a kiss on the cheek.

"Don't you worry about a thing. You just remember what I taught you." Wendy hauled him up off the ground.

"I trust you. If I can throw the ball consistently we should be alright. After all, I'm a math and physics major. I literally know how the forces will affect the ball in flight. My intuition about it, well that's another thing." Bryce responded.

"There's a bit more to it than just knowing. Sometimes life is more about what you feel. You did good out here. Not as good as Bill but good nonetheless." Wendy said walking him off the court.

Bryce had been thinking all night about what Wendy had said to him. About having to feel it more so than think it. In truth math, physics, literature and music had just come naturally to him. Like he could feel it more often than he'd have to think it. When it came to sports though he found himself having to think about what he'd do and then force his body to do it rather than feeling it happen naturally. The same way he'd become so strong in math and physics. Intuition. If he could feel throwing the ball the same way he could feel his way through physics and math, he'd have it made. If he didn't well they'd both be sacked and it was more than just his Honor on the line. He wanted them both to win this as much for Wendy's confidence too. Kind of a post Women's lib era victory for the Women of the school.

The next day being a Saturday they'd agreed to do the competition at eleven o'clock in the morning. He'd arrived to see that the school football field had many spectators at least seventy in all who'd arrived just to see the four person game. Wendy was there warming up in preparation while Bill had picked his friend Mike, one of the linebackers from the school football team as his partner for the game. Mike was a large muscular fellow who'd be rushing Bryce and Wendy on the field as part of Bill's defense. Mike was also a good receiver despite his larger frame and slower more awkward gait.

The rules were simple. They'd toss for the kick off to start the game, the other team having to retrieve the ball and make as much headway as they could up the field until they were tackled. They'd opted for the two hand touch rule meaning that instead of a full tackle the runners would only be required to hit their target with two hands to count as a tackle. They'd had six referees to discern this from a variety of different parts of the field. Each team would get three downs to gain ten yards and if they'd gained those yards they'd get another three downs until they'd safely put the ball in the hands of a player who'd made it to the other team's end zone.

Bill's team had won the toss and would kick to Wendy and Bryce who took their place at the forty yard line. Bryce watched as Bill kicked the ball with ease nearly to the ten yard line on their side of the field. Wendy caught it covering the distance and quickly circled around beginning her sprint down towards their end zone. Wendy had a compact athletic and muscular body being athletically active in school since she was a young girl. Many guys had been intimidated by her for this reason despite the fact that many had found her quite attractive. They'd definitely underestimated her for this reason as they did that day on the field. Wendy had been looking for this chance since she was a small girl and the first time she'd lost out on an opportunity simply because she was a girl. Cliche and stigma had carved their mark upon her and she'd spent her whole life trying to break it. The spectators watched her as she sped down the field towards the two larger Men who obstructed her way. She side stepped them both as one dove for her ankles trying to lay two hands on her. She jumped lifting both her feet just narrowly avoiding their tag and she continued down the field in a sprint as they struggled to catch up. She crossed the end zone with ease scoring their first six points. The spectators went wild cheering for her loudly while Bill's fans booed and taunted her.

She'd easily made the corresponding field goal kick, Bryce holding the ball nervously his hands shaking as she drilled it between the goal posts of the field garnering them another one point bringing their score to seven. Now Bryce would be required to kick the ball towards their end of the field seeing as Wendy had kicked the field goal. Bill and Mike would be required to catch the ball and gain as much ground as they could.

"Remember what I taught you. Don't look at the ball. Look at where you want the ball to go. Feel the kick." Wendy reminded him.

Bryce thought about it taking the wind into consideration and with the weight of the ball if he could just connect with it off the midpoint and put a spin on the ball, it might as she'd said travel where he was looking. He took a breath and held it running forward a step and then delivering the kick to the ball in his own hands. He'd connected with it too far towards the end and the ball cartwheeled into the air a good distance just clearing the fifty yard line. When it hit the ground it darted the opposite direction that Bill had anticipated. Bryce and Wendy ran towards the ball as Bill struggled to get it up off the field and run. He barreled towards them running directly at Bryce while Mike blocked Wendy. Bill ploughed into Bryce at the forty yard line with the force of a freight train sending Bryce tumbling to the field where he lay broken and still. The whistle was blown as it was considered a legal tackle at the forty yard line. Wendy ran over to check on Bryce.

"So this is heaven? There wouldn't happen to be an easier way to get here would here?" Bryce asked Wendy as she lifted him up giggling.

"Did we win?" he asked her making fun again as he caught his breath.

"If you'd stop taking naps on the field we might." she smiled and smirked at him simultaneously.

They played the rest of the game pretty much neck in neck with their competition. The real break for them had come when Wendy had sacked Bill while he played quarterback to Mike's receiver. Bryce had kept on Mike covering him like a pro. Bill decided to have a go directly against the juggernaut known as Wendy. He put the ball under his arm and began dodging left and right as Wendy charged him. He began his legendary sprint, one that had won the school several title championships in their borough of the city. He was fast but in this instant she was faster and much more agile. He ran back trying to circle around her to the West as she rushed him pushing him back by more than ten yards on their third down. She tagged him clearly with both hands and stopped throwing the ball to the ground pushing her back with his hands.

Bryce quickly ran over as the two stood each other down.

"What happened?" he asked Wendy as she walked away from Bill cautiously.

"He did something I was hoping he'd do for a long time." Wendy had told him.

"What was that?" Bryce asked her as they stopped.

"He forgot that I was a girl. Just for a moment in his eyes we were equals on the field and he treated me that way. I beat him at his own game." Wendy said still reveling in her victory.

"We won the game? Really?!" he confirmed with her thinking that there was a rule he'd missed somewhere along the way.

"No. It was a personal game I guess. My own. One I was playing for on the side of the Women. We've still got to make this chance count. The game's almost over and we need to score this time to win. If we don't, we're behind by five points and they win." Wendy informed him as she took her place at their thirty five yard line.

"Ok. But you're alright. So you won already? I still need you though to help us win this. I don't like the idea of being picked a pin cushion in place of all the nerds for the rest of my education. If we win this then the geeks, outcasts and nerds of this school will be free of torment you realize. This is an important victory." Bryce reminded her.

"I know. Nerd liberation though let's try to keep the cliches to a minimum. I'm an outcast too, remember?" Wendy reminded him.

"Really? Not from my team you're not." he said to her.

She stopped on the field for a moment looking at him seriously before she approached him and gave him a hug.

He stood stunned and reeling and uncertain what to do or say.

"What?" she asked him.

"Kind of like being hugged by a Goddess." Bryce said to her feigning deliriousness.

"Alright, geek. Let's win this. This time you're going to play the receiver and I'll be the quarterback." Wendy said to him giving him the ball.

"Are you sure? I don't know if I can..." Bryce replied unsure of himself.

"Remember. Watch the ball as it comes to you. Trust your body to catch it. It knows how to do the rest naturally. Kind of like kissing. You've done that before right?" Wendy asked him.

"Well once or twice but I'm no expert." he said honestly more so than jokingly.

"Just let it happen. When you've got the ball run with it." Wendy told him.

"...towards the end zone." Bryce confirmed.

"Yeah. Yep. Theirs though, not ours." Wendy pointed the direction for him.

"Ok. Just checking." Bryce confirmed taking a position in front of her.

"One... two... three.. huht!" she yelled and Bryce threw the ball back to her from between his legs.

He ran as fast as he could trying to find an opening towards their end zone as Mike covered him. Bill remained on Wendy eager for payback.

"Face it, you lost already. Geek face there is not going to catch it. He's already thinking about his math homework or his piano and band practice!" Bill taunted her covering her as best he could.

She looked for the moment and just for a second there was curved line window to Bryce. She threw the ball putting a slight angular spin on it hoping that he'd see what she'd done. Bryce looked carefully at the ball in flight. It's facing direction, trajectory and angular momentum too. She's thrown it differently he thought. It's got an off axis spin. That means that the centripetal force is going to keep the ball facing in a direction the ball isn't actually moving which means...

Mike watched trying to anticipate the flight of the ball running in a bit of a different direction than Bryce did putting yards between them leaving him the window he'd needed. He remembered what she'd said. To watch the ball and let his body do the rest. He watched the ball which had traveled exactly as he'd anticipated it. In a slight ellipse rather than a straight line. Mike had gone completely in the wrong direction and was struggling to cover the ground back to Bryce as he caught the ball. Bryce watched the ball descend into his arms not even thinking about it and then it was there. He'd caught it. He stood for a moment shocked as Wendy screamed at him to run. He reanimated when he spied Mike charging at him furiously trying to close the twenty yards between them. Bryce turned and ran as fast as he could for the end zone. He charged at full speed as both Mike and Bill closed on him, their athletic practice and prowess making up for his correct anticipation of the ball's real trajectory. As Bryce crossed the threshold Mike and Bill dove at him trying to make the tag. Bryce stumbled just a moment as he crossed the line tumbling to the ground nearly losing the ball as time stood still.

"That's a touchdown! Six points! Wendy and Bryce win the game!" the referee said as the last seconds of the game ran out.

The crowd went wild and the field was filled with the geeks, nerds and outcasts of the school who'd bore their own two heroes on the field that day.

From that point on both Bryce and Wendy had earned the respect of all the cliques of the school and it had opened many doors for them both. For one, Bryce and many of the other geeks at lunch would play billiards and in a big change, they'd often end up winning rather than losing their lunch money or lunches to the former bullies of the school who'd finally accepted them begrudgingly. For a time stigma seemed to give way to acceptance. Bryce would regularly be seen drawing a crowd on the stage during school assemblies either playing piano or trumpet as part of the school jazz ensemble band. Wendy had earned a Women's scholarship for both her athletic and academic performance and had been accepted to the University Of Toronto. Bryce of course had gone on to a life of continued learning studying at University Of Waterloo, York University and finally University of Toronto where he'd earned his credentials as a qualified Professor. Bryce reveled in their victory as time suddenly tugged bringing him back to his place beside Doctor Briggs on the flight to Beijing.

"Can you believe it? He actually changed his name to Pheasel from Gorss!" Doctor Briggs said checking out some rumors about the reporter online, rousing Bryce from his memories.

"Huh? Oh, the reporter. Thanks but it's alright. Let's concentrate on something else." Bryce said as someone across the aisle smirked at him.

"Just trying to help, Bryce. Just trying to help." Doctor Briggs told Bryce.

"I'm sure they'll stop by the time we've landed. It's still a bit fresh though. It just needs a little time." Bryce said as he lay back in his seat and fell asleep.

An hour later the plane set down in China for their only stopover for the trip and it was where one of their delegation would depart taking another route to Beijing.

Guangzhou Sunrise

Heylyn had bid the rest of the delegation a farewell as she left the plane. Alicia had offered to join her but Heylyn had stubbornly refused her and Monique's offers instead insisting that she'd arrive in Beijing in time for their meeting with the Chinese delegation, where her presence would be most precious and valued. She'd left her belongings on the flight only taking her essentials with her and what she'd need for the next day. She grabbed a taxi for the long trip to Guangzhou and her intended destination there within.

She'd left ShenZhen Bao'an International Airport as the sun crested the building tops of the old city known in it's romanised form as Canton. Guangzhou had been the head of the snake, the long winding path that had become known to the west as the Silk Road before finding a new head in what would eventually become Beijing. Heylyn's business although not related directly to the current business of the delegation held some relevance in a roundabout way. She leaned her head against the window of the cab and before she closed her eyes she spoke.

[I'll be sleeping soon. Wake me when we near Guangzhou.]
"我很快就要睡覺了。 當我們靠近廣州時醒來。" Heylyn said to the cab driver in her native tongue.

[Ok. I'll wake you. I'll turn the radio off for you.]
"好。 我會叫醒你。 我會為你關閉收音機。" the cab driver replied to her as she fell asleep.

She quickly found sleep without event and only had mild dreams recalling her childhood in bits and pieces. She remembered protecting the cocoon she'd found on the end of a tree branch from one of the neighborhood boys. She'd fallen and bumped her head while protecting it and had awoken much to her relief to see the butterfly emerging from it safely. Unharmed. She'd heard voices too. Possibly Weltherwithsp's though the Dragon made no attempt to show itself during her restful sleep. She heard other voices from her past as well both familiar and none so nearly. She'd heard two voices, that of a Woman and a Man. They were in a scuffle against unseen attackers and their voices could be heard as they pesevered. Heylyn herself struggled against sleep paralysis attempting to find them and help them. Instead she only found that she was unable to move.

She awoke an hour and a half later to the sound of the cab driver's attempts to rouse her.

[I'm awake. Thank you.]
"我很清醒。 謝謝。" Heylyn responded groggily trying not to wipe her eyes.

[We're here. Just down the road from your stop.]
"我們在這裡。 就在你停下來的路上。"  the cab driver pointed down the road.

Ahead Heylyn could see her destination. A large Temple with traditional Chinese architecture, a large garden lining it's exterior like a moat.

The car stopped and Heylyn paid the man giving him a generous tip. He thanked her repeatedly.

[Thank you! ...Thank you! ...Thank you!]
"謝謝! ...謝謝! ...謝謝!" the cab driver's voice disappeared as she walked towards her destination.

"Three's grace is enough. Don't tempt the fates." she mumbled replying under her breath perhaps clinging to local superstition after all too much was sometimes as bad as not enough.

She approached the Temple gate passing a booth on her way in.

[Hey you. You need to pay!]
"嘿,你。 你需要付!" a Lady yelled out from the booth.

[I'm sorry. I assumed that I could just go in.]
"對不起。 我假設我可以進去。" Heylyn reponded looking through her purse for her wallet again.

[We need to pay for upkeep. It's expensive not to mention the archives here require special care.]
"我們需要支付維持費用。 它是昂貴的,不要提到這裡的檔案需要特別照顧。" the Lady in the booth responded patiently waiting for Heylyn to pay the price.

[Thank you.]
"謝謝。" Heylyn said as she continued in.

[Thank you.]
"謝謝。" the Lady said as Heylyn entered the Temple.

The interior was oddly family though she could not put her finger on where she'd seen this layout before. She searched her memories trying to recall finding only clutter recall. Perhaps the travel and jet lag had caught up with her remarkable endurance. She found her way in seeking out one of the Scholars within. She found him dressed of old, a tall headdress adorning his head and a long robe wrapped his body. He stood reading a scroll which dangled from the ceiling written on the finest silk paper, very obviously hand painted in traditional Chinese calligraphy. She approached the Scholar cautious of interrupting his reading. He stood for a moment oblivious of her presence before he spoke.

[Some of the verses still cause my eyes to tear. How may I help you?]
"有些經文仍然引起我的眼淚。 我怎樣能幫到你?" the Scholar asked Heylyn without looking at her nor taking his eyes from the scroll.

[I'm looking for records relating to a specific line. The Sifu of an old style.]
"我正在尋找與特定行相關的記錄。 老風格的主人。" Heylyn inquired of the Scholar.

[Few in this day are concerned with the ways of old. Always now and me. How is it what you seek is different?]
"在這一天很少關心老的方式。 總是現在和我。 你所尋求的是什麼不同?" the Scholar asked Heylyn still keeping his eyes fixed upon the scroll.

[I'm but a humble student who seeks answers. I know not of time or my place within. I only seek answers.]
"我是一個謙卑的學生尋求答案。 我不知道時間或我的地方。 我只尋求答案。" Heylyn reponded to the Scholar.

There was a quiet moment.

[What do you seek?]
"你在尋找什麼?" the Scholar asked her apparently unmoved by her prior statement.

[I seek the archives related to Sifu Jin Hua and of the style of the Butterfly Dragon.]
"我尋找與金華大師相關的檔案和蝴蝶龍的風格。" she asked the Scholar whose eyes immediately moved from the scroll to take in Heylyn.

He stared at her for a long moment seeming hurt by her statement. He then walked away without saying another word. She watched him as he disappeared into the bowels of the Temple. She turned to the scroll on the wall trying to read the ancient script realizing where she'd seen the arrangement of the interior before. It was very similar to the Toronto Temple where she'd met Sifu Jin Hua. The Temple which she'd told Heylyn was secretly called the Temple Of The Butterfly Dragon. After she'd been graded as passing her final test the Temple had been closed. Two years later the building was destroyed and there remained nothing of the Temple in Toronto though there were many other Chinese Temples to be found in the diversity of the city. Heylyn had been so busy with school work at that time she'd not been able to put the effort required into investigating what had happened to the Temple. Why had it closed? Why had Jin Hua disappeared and where did she go?

[That is much effort for this fine day. Saturday. Are you planning on doing something? Preparing for something perhaps? Butterfly?]
"這是這個美好的一天的努力。 星期六。 你打算做點什麼嗎? 準備的東西可能嗎? 蝴蝶?" came a sultry and lyrical voice from behind her.

All at once Heylyn felt an insurgence of emotions and memories. She recalled a time when she'd been a young girl of twelve years. She'd already been a a multiple black belt in both Goju Ryu and Tae Kwon Do. Her third step was taken with Jin Hua. Sifu Jin Hua though Jin had forbade her from addressing her as such. Instead they'd call each other by their first names. Jin and Ai. From that point on it was that Heylyn or as her parents had named her Ai, had began her final steps towards her destiny as the Butterfly Dragon. It was as the ancient dragon Weltherwithsp had said. Sometimes aspects of our lives disappeared only to resurface again when we'd least expect them. Like fate and destiny were intertwined in ways we could not fathom though Heylyn had little regard for either concept. She'd accepted though that the owner of that voice had returned to her life nearly two decades later.

"Jin...?" Heylyn spoke in English turning to see a figure hidden behind a thin veil and long robe.

"It seems you remembered despite the fact that you'd forgotten so much. It's always the details that take us by surprise." Jin circled Heylyn as she spoke responding in English as well.

"You still have a way with words." Heylyn smiled as she remembered their many talks.

"Perhaps I get that from our mutual friend?" Jin posed the question.

"You obviously mean..." Heylyn started speaking as Jin interrupted.

"Don't say it's name. A rule that we keep around here. There are so few such similar forms of respect in the world. Let's keep this one." Jin said rounding her right side.

"What happened to you. I mean the Temple in Toronto. It's gone." Heylyn asked Jin.

"I closed the Temple and sold the building. Then I disappeared. My real task there accomplished for you'd taken the first nine steps into your journey as the Butterfly Dragon. Your life continued and you've obviously fulfilled your destiny and fate if you've found your way here and to me. The tendrils of life and time run through us each in ways few understand." Jin suggested.

Heylyn thought about it for a moment and it seemed to make sense though ultimately it was difficult to accept.

"I find this a little hard to believe that all of this was just for me." Heylyn responded to her former instructor.

"That's because it isn't all for you. Rather it is something of which you are a part. There is a very big difference in that concept." Jin's subtle smile was barely visible through her thinly veiled face.

Heylyn thought about it some more and what she had said was indeed true. Especially from the point of view of someone within the public eye. The public life had a tendency to fertilize and nurture strong and sometimes self centered egos when one took too seriously their role in life's stage. Many in her business had learned to deal with ego by a variety of humbling means. By helping their younger peers who were starting out. Rescuing Women and Men from poverty by offering them opportunity where they saw such potential. Fund raising and awareness had become a big part of their business too. All contributed to a bigger picture where the successful were merely pieces of a much bigger puzzle. Recognition and thanks was always a welcome reward to the lives of innovators and those who'd persevered but it never should be the sole motivation for anyone's existence.

Her introduction to the life and philosophy of the Butterfly Dragon had been steeped in mystery and coincidence that was sometimes a little unnerving. After all she'd lived this as a little girl up and into her current mid life, it was the biggest part of her. As big as her career but in and by a much different means. It was that for which she lived. To play her part in making this world a better place in ways that few could imagine, have seen or understood. Much like the delegation of which she was currently a part. It had a greater purpose and certainly greater than any of its individual members' purpose alone. Yet it was their combined effort that made it possible.

"I'm here as part of a delegation..." Heylyn began and Jin in style interrupted.

" bring a medicine to the East. How curious it is. Do you seek to repay the medicine that healed your soul from such a young age Butterfly?" Jin asked Heylyn.

"The delegation has nothing to do with the Butterfly Dragon." Heylyn assured Jin impatiently.

"Oh but yes it does. In fact the two are intertwined in ways that you obviously have not seen." Jin said to Heylyn lifting her veil.

Heylyn looked on and was amazed to see that Jin had changed little if all beneath her veil. She appeared as much a Woman in her early thirties as did Heylyn despite the fact that she had to be at least twice Heylyn's age.

"You've kept your youthful exuberance and visage I see." Heylyn said trying to appear unmoved.

"Does the mind follow the body or the body follow the mind?" Jin asked Heylyn though it came out sounding more like rhetoric than philosophy.

"Are you saying that if we think young we will remain as such?" Heylyn confirmed in disbelief.

"No. I am saying that when we discard our stigmas surrounding age that we transcend it." Jin presented to Heylyn for her consideration.

"Are you saying that we should start by seeking out and marrying children?" Heylyn responded.

"Not at all. That would be the unacceptable exploitation of innocence and those we are ushering into the era of their wisdom and ability to grow by one's self. To do as such is an injustice beyond measure." Jin responded calmly.

"But that seems to be the general consensus of any society that does not recognize an age barrier and the value of youth and innocence." Heylyn said still smoldering inside thinking about the human trafficking ring she'd assisted authorities to take down.

"Spoken like a true savior, Heylyn. I'm impressed that these thoughts and words are coming from a little girl that I taught from the time that she was twelve years old. You stand strong in your virtues to protect that same little girl in yourself whom of course is thinking these thoughts. So what is the difference between then and now?" Jin asked Heylyn.

"A coming of age. A loss of innocence. An understanding that the world is not all about me and my feelings and that people can be hurt as a result of my words, actions or in the absence of either. Just as much as I can be hurt by them and theirs." Heylyn spoke feeling her words more so than thinking them.

"So how is it that the notion of this boundary, this coming of age determines that once we surpass it that we should play our part and grow old, taking a role in the world that has already been written for us and that is based upon the ascent of the number of times the planet goes around the sun and to have that form tracks from which we cannot stray?" Jin orated looking deep into Heylyn's soul and being questioningly.

Heylyn thought about it and weighed it carefully.

"Think with your heart Butterfly. Don't let your mind take too much of it's meaning away. How do you feel by that statement?" Jin reiterated.

"Age is much more than just the tracks to which we are bound. I guess I look at it as the tracks to which we are bound that are made up of how we should direct our lives to ensuring that we don't as being older and wiser take away the challenge of learning that youth must undergo to attain that coming of age by solving their challenges for them." Heylyn said giving the most honest answer that she could.

"Now that's typically arrogant, isn't it? You're helping them are you?" Jin came back at her.

"Arrogant? How so? I think that its a sort of sacrifice we make as we get older for the benefit of those just starting out." Heylyn responded.

"So then is that what your elders are supposed to do for you? What does that leave them and their lives? By your statement you're saying that as we get older we are confined to a prison that prevents us from using the very wisdom that we've hard learned through life's lessons to ensure that the younger generation is not denied the opportunity of solving their own problems. So as we get older we become less useful despite the fact that our knowledge and wisdom could benefit the world in many ways. Every single young person has that as their future prison whose bars are made up of how they perceive that they'll be taking away the challenge from the youth by using their hard attained wisdom? I am sorry Heylyn but I am not going to be a part of any such prison for your benefit. What is the wisdom in that statement? The one I just spoke?" Jin asked Heylyn looking into her rather than at her.

"It's taking away the prison bars of limit that exist to accommodate and ensure that the younger generation has challenges to learn from." Heylyn said thinking carefully about her statement.

"Precisely. And what does that do? It removes their bars as well for they won't be growing into a world that will more and more limit their part in it. It also leaves you free to take part in life as you see fit despite your accumulated years. A liberty of ages if you will. I am surprised that your parents did not give you that gem of Eastern wisdom for in the East, the way we value the elderly is not by imprisoning them in cages that limit the application of their wisdom but by celebrating it." Jin asserted herself.

"The wisdom of age and this concept in the East has changed considerably to accommodate youth. Especially since the reformation of China. That is why my parents did not teach me those ways." Heylyn responded.

"You speak of the fact that in the past the case was the opposite. That the cage existed for the youth and was their sacrifice so that the elderly could live their lives utilizing their wisdom while the youth had to earn theirs in order to be able to take part in society. The rank of seniority which no matter how quickly we wanted it was constrained to the rate of the passage of time. That concept was challenged through a long misunderstood philosophical text." Jin told Heylyn.

"You mean the Lao Tsu? The Tao Te Ching?" Heylyn confirmed with Jin.

"Precisely. During the reform it became the handbook for many students and a symbol against this concept of wisdom and age holding seniority over the youth, like prison bars. Like the same prison bars that age holds over the elderly now." Jin said continuing to circle Heylyn though more ceremoniously than predator-like.

"You mean over the lines leading up to the Kill the Sage passage?" Heylyn thought about it.

"Exactly. Take the rank of seniority from the elderly and at that time the ruling class their right to rule based upon that seniority. In fact at that time it was as much oppression against the youth as the current mind set is oppression of the elderly." Jin told Heylyn continuing to circle.

"But this is the way of the East. The Yin and the Yang. The two ever in opposition of one another to become one and part of ever the larger and made up of even smaller duality." Heylyn said disbelieving that Jin who'd taught her much of philosophy could be questioning these values.

"As much as the Tao Te Ching is misunderstood through the Kill the Sage passage so is the form and way of the duality. The Yin and the Yang. The two ever together and yet never as much quite one. Neither apart nor together. I never taught you of Chuang Tzu's works. I'd always assumed that you'd find them and study them yourself. After all growth is the responsibility of one's own self." Jin paused a moment to look at the scroll that the Scholar had been reading before continuing to round Heylyn's front.

"I never read or studied Chuang Tzu." Heylyn said realizing just how little she did understand.

"Then I will tell you what you need to know but you must make the effort to understand it and it's importance for it frees you of the bindings of duality. It is the philosophy of This And That. One discussed by Chuang Tzu, a disciple of Mencius by the way." Jin said inviting Heylyn into a room that appeared very much like the studio within the Temple in Toronto.

They both took a place on the brown hardwood floor of the classroom, candles, beaded curtains and scrolls lining the walls around them. It reminded Heylyn very much of her early years under Jin's tutelage.

"Not many discuss the works of Chuang Tzu yet his works bring meaning to many Eastern philosophies and free us from some of the more rigid forms of thought and principle. This And That is one such philosophy. It comes from the concept that the Way (Tao) can often seem contradictory for it is made up of actions rather than words. In the East words had at one time become as much a part of vanity as fashion had. After all, words without corresponding action are just show, are they not?" Jin asked the Butterfly.

"But that belays the whole point to the story of the Field, The Butterflies And The Dragon. The Butterflies were accused of the same thing. Vanity. Yet it was they who were often laughed at by the creatures of the field who'd saved them by exploiting the best parts of each of them to make something to deal with the dangerous collectors. So the perception of their vanity it turns out was not a liability but an asset in a way. A delicate creature who had only what it could show rather than what it could do." Heylyn argued.

"Precisely. Listen and all will be clear for it is words that I am using to illustrate this point and if actions alone were the foundation of this reality and the Way, then I'd be a hypocrite for using them to describe it. It is words that make up the wisdom of any treatise so how is it that words can be a form of vanity if that very knowledge is of words made? Again that is the dual nature of words or thoughts versus action. For every that there is a this, and for every this there is a that. That deems nothing in and of itself but confusion for what really makes up that which has direction is that which has no corresponding this and this which has no corresponding that. That which has no opposite and which is therefore of clarity. These are the signposts and anchors of reality and the universe for upon them we can fasten ideas that cannot be reduced to this or that. Just like word versus actionWords are not vain yielding no physical result other than a show of knowledge, just as action is not without education yielding only physical accomplishment. Both could be said to be vain depending upon one's point of view and neither yields any lesser than the other. Without the words: don't drink that, it's poison, there might be much needless death and in as much by preventing one from hearing those same words by way of action, it might prevent someone from using said poison to cause harm to others. Neither word nor action is lesser nor greater yet we need sustain the body through action and the mind through word. Chuang Tzu was saying that it is through concepts that have no corresponding opposite that we find clarity. After all, we are much more than ping-pong balls or see-saws are we not? One side or the other? The East is often misunderstood in this way, yet few take effort to think and learn for themselves. Is this because of the bars that the young impose upon the elderly so they are not denied the opportunity to learn for themselves or the bars that the elderly impose upon the young so that they are not denied the opportunity to apply the wisdom they've acquired throughout their lives. So you see? Clarity would come from recognizing that by keeping this tug of war that no liberation of either would result and we'd be prisoners of age, each and every one of us for the rest of time." Jin explained Chuang Tzu's philosophy to Heylyn enthusiastically.

"I definitely understand what you're saying about the prison of age, but how does this connect with the delegation?" Heylyn  asked Jin considering the question herself as she did.

"You already spoke with our mutual friend I assume about this topic?" Jin asked very obviously speaking of Weltherwithsp.

"Yes. We had a collective vision. The first one of that nature since the Treadwater incident. Our mutual friend suggested that Alicia's problems with Norler might be the fallout of balance related to duality. That for the delegation to win that her and Norler might have to lose something that they hold dear." Heylyn informed Jin hoping that she might have insight to the questions Weltherwithsp's presence always brought into being.

"I think that you may have misinterpreted the clues in that case for our mutual friend has transcended this concept and even that of the Chuang Tzu's Principle Of Clarity. I believe that you need to re-examine what was revealed to you. Perhaps the clues were more directly revealing another threat to the delegation or to Alicia and Norler? Even worse, a threat to the relationship between the East and the West. Maybe a threat from within the delegation itself? Possibly a threat you've faced before?" Jin asked of Heylyn.

"I think that everyone in the delegation is trustworthy. There's no ulterior motives. I'd have caught on if there were. It's something else. I have to warn the others." Heylyn said standing from the floor offering her hand to Jin.

"Don't think this a sign of age, just the humbling acceptance of the help of a former and current student." Jin said accepting her hand.

"I'm so glad that I found you here. I certainly did not expect it. I take it I will see you again?" Heylyn asked her former Sifu.

"That you will. There is one more thing Butterfly. There is a coming threat. An ancient one who seeks the lost Gem. One who will not cease until that Gem is within their grasp. The Gem upon your heart though there is always a choice. That is all that I can say to you for it is all that I am permitted to know." Jin informed Heylyn whose face looked puzzled.

"A Gem?" Heylyn asked her.

"A Gem. Perhaps the greatest treasure of all Gems? You must go and seek your friends. Take what you've learned with you and remember that we will always be with you." Jin responded sending Heylyn on her way.

Heylyn proceeded towards the exit of the Temple passing a scroll which caught her eyes along the way:

然後我又一個人。 步行。 說。 思維。




I once had a dream that I was a Butterfly.
Fluttering and flying without aim or anchor.
I am not aware that I was myself yet I am.
Then I was a person again. Walking. Talking. Thinking.

I then had the thought am I myself having dreamt I was a Butterfly or am I a Butterfly dreaming that I am a human being?

Are we the dreamer or the dreamed?]

Directly across from it on the adjacent wall another scroll caught her eyes:






I come again to seek the Gem.
Its shine I seek to cleanse my Chi.
Renewed I will direct it to my will.
Change will come as it has before.

Ignorance will follow and none will know for in ignorance there is no knowing.

This absence will lead all towards their final destiny and the end. It will all begin again from where it ceased to be. 

Devoured by the Dragon to be no more and then like the Butterfly born from the cocoon of it's passing.]

She left the Temple slightly overwhelmed by her newly acquired understanding of the situation and the future.

More so of her responsibility within.

That night she left on another flight to Beijing. She slept for most of the flight dreaming of Butterflies and Dragons.

The Deal Changing Imperative

"Arrangements have been made." Steadman spoke enthusiastically to Warley.

"I'm already aware. Have you spoken with him?" Warley asked Steadman keeping his back to the man.

"Not directly. He's going along with the plan so far. He has been since the beginning." Steadman replied.

"Good. For our little press photo op, I want him to be the next shot. Then you can go with the pyrotechnics. Should impress the crowd." Warley said with a sinister edge.

"It's all in place and ready to go. Should be quite the media sensation." Steadman responded still unsure of his place in the company since their last conversation.

"That's good to hear and I suspect that it will be." Warley responded still deep in thought.

"Zek is aware I take it?" Steadman confirmed with Warley gambling that the only Man alive who could rescue him from Warley right now was confined in a World Court prison in South America.

"He'll know in due time. He's perfectly safe where he is. Why do you ask?" Warley inquired already sensing Steadman's fear and panic in the situation.

"I was hoping I could get an audience with him for an investment idea I have." Steadman said lying.

"He's fully aware of the contribution you've made to the organization. You'll be recognized and rewarded for everything you've done." Warley returned a lie to Steadman.

"Will that be all?" Steadman asked Warley trying to hide his anxiety.

"Yes. I'm afraid it is." Warley replied keeping the back of his office chair to Steadman.

"I guess I'll be leaving you now. Good day Sir." Steadman said as he got up and left Warley's office.

"Goodbye Steadman." Warley said addressing him for the last time ever.

Steadman passed the receptionist throwing her a wink and a smile as he made his way for the elevator. He was relieved to have made it out of Warley's office alive. Perhaps his paranoia over Warley was uncalled for as he'd based his fears upon nothing more than rumors. Most of Warley's past subordinates had disappeared under mysterious circumstances either running from the company or outright vanishing from the face of the Earth itself. Ironic that it's name was Future Tangent Industries for that would imply that where Steadman was going ultimately would be to the same place. To be with the disappeared except that his disappearance would be the result of the reward that Mr. Zek would cut him for his loyal service.

The elevator door opened and two large well dressed men occupied it on either side. Steadman stepped into the elevator between them as the door closed.

"Almost forgot." Steadman said nervously pressing the elevator button for the ground floor.

He smirked when it didn't light up in acknowledgement of his pressure upon it.

"Huh. Technology eh? Sometimes it works..." Steadman said desperately pressing the button trying to get it to respond for his destination.

He didn't finish his sentence before the garote encircled his neck cutting off both his circulation and breath. Thirty seconds later he was unconscious as the two men carried him to the trunk of their waiting car in the underground garage. A man dressed in a security uniform opened the trunk for them dumping Steaman's unconscious body within. An hour later and Steadman was placed in a palette and buried in a limestone landfill site. He awoke within the crate twenty minutes after it had been covered by tons of dirt. His air lasted him for fifteen minutes before he fell asleep forever.

In the mean time Warley had prepared for the single largest stock purchase in history where he would take Future Tangent Industries from the grasp of Mr. Zek and become the world's most powerful industrialist in his place. Warley never actually having met Mr. Zek had gone much further as he had in the past for his real name was not Warley. Warley was the name of his last subordinate and someone whose identity he'd taken over in order to at that time get away with scamming the most powerful industrialist in the world. Alomera Zek. In fact the man who now bore Warley's name had been taking over the identities of others since his early teens and those he'd replaced most often had disappeared.

Warley dialed his phone and a voice on the other end answered.

"I take it you've taken care of our little problem?" Mr. Zek asked.

"Yes, I have. Mr. Warley has been dealt with. He'll never rip you off again. In fact he'll never rip anyone off ever again. I'm not in charge and running things here now." Warley replied as Steadman.

"Know your place in our business and you'll go far Steadman." Mr. Zek advised the new Steadman.

"Sir I can promise you that I'll not make Mr. Warley's mistake." Steadman replied.

"I certainly hope not. Life can be far too short you know. Especially if you don't learn from your mistakes." Mr. Zek responded hanging up the phone.

The new Steadman dialed another number on his phone and put the phone to his face.

"Just before those pyrotechnics go off I want you to buy the whole thing. All the shares. I want to be the majority share holder of Future Tangent Industries when we drive Tynan And Associates into the ground." the new Steadman spoke indeed very comfortable with his growing power.

"We're ready to make the purchases and everything is set." the voice on the other end spoke.

"I'll call again two hours after the purchase are done just to verify and to arrange for your payments. Don't let me down." the new Steadman said hanging up.

"I never have learned from my mistakes but Steadman certainly has learned from my mistakes. Too bad he's no longer alive to benefit from his learning. I think I'm going to like being Steadman." Steadman, the former Warley said aloud.

Heroes In Beijing

Katya and Victor were amongst the first of he delegation bold enough to find their way from their Hotel and down into the streets of downtown Beijing. They'd decided to leave early and meet the North American delegation at their scheduled rendezvous point. They'd been aware of the watchful presence of the security team Werner had hired to protect them and thus felt safe enough to venture into the streets.

Having traveled a bit in their lives, they preferred looking for the treasure troves hidden in most tourist destinations that required a bit of investigation to find. After all if they were going to have memorabilia from Beijing they'd prefer it to be representative of Beijing itself rather than a pre-idealized Western impression of the Chinese city. As luck would have it they found their way into a small market which sold authentic hand hammered cooking woks, many of which were adorned with elaborate and decorative symbols from the traditional Chinese character set. Each was also engraved with the wok maker's signature as each one was truly unique in this age old art form. While they looked for an appropriate treasure to bring home Alicia and Norler had gone with Monique to a restaurant across the street from the meeting point. The restaurant offered local cuisine specializing in Dumplings and Wontons as part of their lunch menu. The restaurant itself also employed Wait staff who were multilingual which would help with their ordering.

"Happy to see you here today. How can I serve you?" asked the Waitress who appeared to be in her early thirties.

There was a moment of awkward pause as Alicia, Monique and Norler looked at each other waiting for one of them to take the lead. Norler decided against ordering for the Women mostly because he did not want to press the situation between Alicia and himself or to avoid the presumption of him being in charge of Monique and her dealings in Heylyn's Absence. Monique was a grown Woman and free to make her own choices. Alicia elected Monique to speak first in order to avoid any further delay or confusion.

"I'm feeling a little bit tired. Do you have coffee here?" Monique asked still used to her Western lifestyle.

"Yes. We have coffee. Would you like?" the lady said nodding to Monique affirmatively.

From the corner of her eye Monique saw a little old lady waving to her. Monique smiled to the lady and waited for her to speak.

"You tired. You need to eat not too much. Try vegetable dumpling with sprouts. You need more Yin and not to eat too much. Have tea. Always good and balance in your body." the elderly lady spoke a big smile on her face.

"Maybe an Egg Drop Soup too? That good for Yin." the Waitress asked looking both to the elderly lady and back to Monique.

"Alright. I'll take some vegetable dumplings with a small Egg Drop Soup. And some tea too." Monique responded looking back to the elderly lady who nodded back smiling profusely.

"Good. It keep you good! Keep you from heart on fire. That make you feel bad very much. Especially when you try to sleep tonight. Eat good now and feel good tonight." the elderly lady advised Monique.

"I'll have what she's having." Alicia responded smiling back to the elderly lady.

"Me too. Thanks." Norler added.

"Where's Heylyn when you need her?" Monique asked somewhat rhetorically as the Waitress disappeared to get their order.

Meanwhile somewhere a few blocks away Bryce and Doctor Briggs stepped out of their Hotel standing out amidst the mid day Beijing crowd.

"What now? We still have a couple of hours to go before our presence is required." Doctor Briggs asked Bryce who fixed his tie.

"I was kind of hoping to go to the Beijing Arts Centre and to catch a bit of a live performance there." Bryce replied to Doctor Briggs just as a pair of hands covered his eyes.

"Guess who?" a sultry female voice asked from behind Bryce.

"Well now this is a surprise. If I had to go by the feel of your hands and your wonderful smell I'd say my Wife was here, though my Wife doesn't often wear that kind of fragrance unless it's a special occasion and of course only when we're in bed. Don't tell her I told you that because I'd like to tell her myself. The last time I heard that voice was at the Looking Glass Lounge. From an attractive Woman that hasn't met Doctor Briggs here if I'm correct? Doctor Briggs, this is Doctor Zheng Ni Wong. Computer Scientist. Mathematician and Biologist." Bryce spoke without losing a step.

"Please, call me Zheng." Zheng offered her hand to Doctor Briggs.

"Zheng? Zheng, you can call me anytime you'd like." Doctor Briggs replied turning up the heat a little.

"I've heard that you're a flirt. Don't commit to anything that you're not willing to follow through on is my advice to you." Zheng replied taking charge.

"Well Doctor Briggs, it looks like we've just been owned." Bryce smiled at Zheng as she gave him a hug.

"It's so good to see you Bryce. Are you surprised?" Zheng asked Bryce.

"I most certainly am and pleasantly so. It can't get much better than to have such an attractive and intelligent colleague as yourself show up at precisely the right time. I couldn't have done that any better myself." Bryce responded.

"Geez, Bryce. leave some for me. It's a pleasure to meet you Zheng." Doctor Briggs stepped in.

"...go on Bryce..." Zheng said grabbing his arm and wrapping it around hers.

"So what ever in the world is a gorgeous computer scientist and computational biologist like yourself doing here in Beijing at this time?" Bryce asked her as the three of them began walking.

Zheng gestured to Doctor Briggs to take her other arm so he'd not feel left out.

"It just so happens that Helmut Werner hired me to come here and join you for the delegation meeting. After all Doctor Hong and I have worked together before though I've never met him in person. He's currently running a distributed computational biology research program out of Tatung University and they're very close to the area of research that Alicia pioneered a few years ago with the SY349. So it would seem that somebody put two and two together and came up with twenty two..." Zheng explained pausing at the right moment.

"...I take it that you mean Catch-22? You're just going to have to explain yourself. Remember. Don't commit to anything that can't follow through with." Doctor Briggs said jumping in on the purposeful cue that Zheng had given him and for which Bryce held his tongue.

"A Joseph Heller fan I take it? I've never read it myself but yes I was referring to his famous paradox." Zheng replied.

"In what context?" Doctor Briggs asked.

"Ironically it has to do with element number 22 in the periodic table. You see, during simulation there are results that most often don't occur in reality for any number of reasons." Zheng began to explain.

"Numerical round off error? Differentials?" Bryce asked Zheng looking to her as she flashed her pretty brown eyes to him.

"Exactly but they're engineering problems that can be dealt with by ready means. Round off error is dealt with by a more accurate formalization of numbers, while differentials as you know are dealt with by varying the trade off between accuracy and time step parameters of a simulation." Zheng pulled herself a little closer to Bryce who smiled warmly.

"You lost me at differentials." Doctor Briggs stated trying to catch up.

"Well for your sake and because you're cute, I'll cut to the chase and explain differentials some other time. In the mean time do your homework on numerical integration such as Runge-Katta or the Taylor series." Zheng explained to Doctor Briggs.

"You've heard of Euler integration right?" Bryce asked Doctor Briggs.

"Just barely. In high school geometry if I recall? It was a requirement for orthopedics. I guess for knowing joint limits and angles and what not." Doctor Briggs looked to Bryce.

"Well integration and differentials deal with the problems that arise from both round off error and the time step problem. Differentials can also deal with the gimble lock problem by representing torque force, angular momentum and angles as homogenous vectors." Bryce explained.

"Such as quaternions." Zheng added to Bryce's explanation.

"Huh? So where exactly were we?" Doctor Briggs looked to the two of them.

Zheng smiled at Bryce and then looked back to Doctor Briggs before continuing.

"We'll come back to that some other time. Anyway it turns out that when you try a simulated experiment in reality that you run into unforeseen factors whose consequences however slight can affect the final outcome. So in the simulation we simulate a biological or chemical process as if it really occurred in a lab somewhere. We simulate all of the processes such as biochemical interactions between cells and an artificial composition and mitosis itself. However, when we get to the lab with the same experiment the outcome can be quite different from the simulation in certain reserved cases." Zheng stopped to catch her breath obviously excited to be speaking with her peers after the long flight.

"You're saying it's the lab equipment you're using? What in your lab is made up of Titanium?" Doctor Briggs asked Zheng.

"I'm impressed. Some of the containment vessels we use are made of titanium because it is supposed to be chemically inert for those purposes. However..." Zheng stopped between the men keeping firm hold of their arms.

"You're finding that the titanium vessels are influencing the outcome of the experiment versus the simulation however when you add the titanium as a factor into the simulation you get different results from both reality and the prior simulation." Bryce surmised.

"Now here's the clincher. I'd recently heard that Doctor Hong has overcome this in both the lab and simulation and he solved it by using his understanding of Chinese medicine and philosophy rather than Western knowledge of chemistry and mathematics which implies that the solution has more to do with how you look at a problem rather than its constituent parts." Zheng explained.

"Well my dear, you're certainly a welcome addition to this delegation. This is certainly an important part of the proceedings and might help this out more than you can know." Bryce said to her grateful for her arrival.

"That certainly lifted my spirits about the current state of the delegation." Doctor Briggs said raising his eyebrows.

"I can't wait to speak with Alicia and Doctor Hong about this." Zheng told them as another familiar face approached.

"You wouldn't mind if I join this little party would you?" Valerie asked as she ran in her heels catching up to the trio.

"Valerie this is Doctor Zheng Ni Wong. Zheng this is Valerie Aspen, the project manager for the delegation." Bryce said introducing the two.

"Pleased to meet you Valerie. Call me Zheng." Zheng smiled cordially to Valerie.

"Thanks. Great to meet you too. So what's with all of the smiles? I mean keep them. They're great. Care to share some?" Valerie inquired of the trio eager to find out what had changed their solemn mood.


Heylyn woke up quickly jumping in the shower for a quick scrub then thowing her face on much like she did any other day in Toronto. She'd arrived in Beijing only six hours ago leaving with enough time for four hours sleep by the time she'd gotten her Hotel room and settled in. Upon waking she'd realized she'd slept through her alarm and had to make up for her last time by cutting corners where ever she could.

Chances are the delegation were already on their way to the meeting point and she did not want to be the late party at such an important meeting. She debated the idea of flying there herself as the Butterfly Dragon but opted against it for the risk of exposure. Instead she grabbed her makeup kit in a purse and ran downstairs to find a cab to the Forbidden City in Beijing where the delegates had arranged to meet.

The cab driver had been a younger man whom Heylyn had of course charmed. He did his best to shave a few minutes time from her trip and ended up cutting it nearly in half by taking side streets and alleys where he could. When they arrived went through her purse to pay the young man giving him three times what he would have made otherwise.

[You creep! You didn't even get the door for me!]
"你爬! 你甚至沒有得到我的門!" Heylyn yelled at him handing him his payment.

He was ready to yell back at her when he noticed that she'd given him much more money than he'd charged her.

[Hey. I think the pretty lady likes me.]
"嘿。 我認為漂亮的女人喜歡我。" the young man exclaimed as Heylyn strode away.

As soon as she arrived someone in the press immediately recognized her as Canada's Heylyn Yates, China's Ai Yuanlin Ying who'd come home to nest again.

She braced for the camera flashes and presented herself as best she could looking for the delegation.

"I'm here representing Canada and the rest of North America and more importantly the interests of the medical community through the charitable work of Tynan And Associates." Heyly announced to the press.

It was Alicia and Monique who found her, each taking Heylyn's side and a bit of the camera spotlight.

"Hi boss. I thought you'd never make it." Monique said to Heylyn herself flashing them some teeth and a bit of her leg.

"It was close. It was worth it by the way." Heylyn said looking to each of them.

"Do you care to explain?" Alicia asked Heylyn as she grinned awkwardly for the camera.

"Not now. When we've a break from the delegation at three. It's important. How are things with you and Norler holding up?" Heylyn asked Alicia sincerely concerned.

"We're fine. Its been very awkward. Especially earlier today but we got through it. Didn't we Monique?" Alicia said finding herself posing for the cameras.

"We certainly did. We learned a lot about food today as well and Chinese medicinal diets. Did you know that to many Chinese people even cooking and eating is a healthy part of medical treatment?" Monique informed Heylyn.

"So my Mother and my Grandmother often would say." Heylyn smiled leaning in close to Monique and then to Alicia for a few playful pictures.

"Well I've got my own Grandmother here in China now. She adopted me. She joined us for early lunch and taught me about what to eat, when to eat it and when not to eat and more importantly, why. Her name is Meihui. Thanks for bringing me with you Heylyn." Monique said laying a kiss of her own on Heylyn's cheek leaving a ruby red bead of lipstick.

"You're welcome. You've already been a great ambassador. Alright? Let's go earn China's trust." Heylyn said to her best friends and they made their way through the gates to the Forbidden City and towards the Palace Of Heavenly Purity where the rest of the delegation were waiting.

On their way towards the gates they'd passed a news stand where the front page headlines had a picture of Garrett Warley (whose picture in the paper bore the face of the real George Steadman) who'd been under investigation in North America for various fraud related charges dealing with his time at Future Tangent Industries. If the newspaper had been of interest to them they'd have read the following:

George Steadman had taken over as Operations Manager from Mr. Warley following Warley's mysterious disappearance. It went on to state that Future Tangent Industries was the only real competition for the medically geared Tynan And Associates and that later this year it would release a technology that would put it far ahead of anything that Tynan And Associates had ever achieved. The CEO of Tynan And Associates Walton Norler, currently in China was unavailable for comment.

Temptation Of Terror

"They've entered the complex and we're just waiting for the window of opportunity to open up on our little investment." One of Steadman's men watched Heylyn, Monique and Alicia proceed through the gates to the Forbidden City.

"Roger that. Team three is on their way to rendezvous. They'll take over keeping an eye on our package from that point. Teams four and five will maintain a distance until we're at minus twenty from our go ahead." the command center replied through their headset.

Some distance away a group of Chinese Women and Men occupied an unmarked van. The group were all well groomed and all adorned brush cuts and were of exceptional physique. They sat in front of an elaborate array of monitors and computers listening in on the communications of the first group.

"Have we got a positive ID on the package yet?" one of Men asked.

"We're not sure if they're referring to a person or a thing that one of the North American delegation is carrying." a Woman with a headset replied to the inquiry.

"Have the bomb disposal unit on standby. Have the National Guard ready too. Keep our blackout team on the press and ready to move. We don't want this to be an international incident." the Man ordered his team.

"Sir, we haven't determined if they are in fact part of the Tynan Private security detail or another group." the Communications lady replied.

"I don't care. Stay in tight with them. Don't lose their signal. Tell me if their comms negotiate a new encryption key." the Man ordered.

A few blocks away in yet another van another group watched over the other two.

"We've got a lot of traffic here. Most of it's encrypted and I can't tell if we're dealing with the Chinese delegation's security, the MSS or another group altogether. Sir, logistically I'd say that this is a very dangerous operation and that we should pull the delegates based upon that potential risk. We're in over our heads on this." one of the Communications associates spoke up unable to break the communications encryption of the other groups against which they were conducting surveillance.

"Deaf or not we're going to protect them. Just keep our clothed security detail close by and the plain clothed security on high alert. We're going to have to earn our pay today so let's do what we're trained to do and protect them." the Tynan Security Chief ordered his unit.

Steadman's group responded by putting one of their assets in the vicinity of the Tynan Security Command van. The car sat a half a block from the Security Command Center. In the car's trunk sat three M72A1 LAWS Rocket Lauchers ready for use. Three other assets watched the other vans and once they'd received the ready code, they would simultaneously deal with each van in this explosive situation.

Not long after they'd obtain the package and the real fireworks would begin.

Steadman laughed at the irony of the situation seeing as fireworks were invented in China. China did not initially create weapons with them but instead used them for amusement and magic. They were about to become victims of their own invention on a scale unimaginable and this day would be the day that brought NATO and China head to head on the battlefield. It might even herald the beginning of World War III. The blame would fall solely in the lap of the delegation. History ultimately would not be remembered for the eradication of Cancer but for the annihilation of humankind.

Heaven In The Forbidden City 

Alicia, Heylyn and Monique made their way to the meeting point under the close watch of no less than four different groups conducting surveillance upon them. They played as if they'd no awareness of this fact but the truth was that with their heightened senses they were aware on a different level. It eventually took Heylyn a moment to point it out.

"We're being watched again." Heylyn announced calmly as they walked across the huge courtyard towards the Gate Of Supreme Harmony.

"I was kind of hoping it was deja-vu. Guess not." Monique responded.

"So we're at least twice as interesting as we were during our time in Bangkok." Alicia said keeping the remnants of a smile she'd experienced days ago.

"That's one way of looking at it. The question is who are the good guys, the bad guys and the neutral?" Heylyn replied.

"I'd say we're going to find that out soon enough. The question is how does this play into what Weltherwithsp told us. What should we be wary of?" Alicia pressed Heylyn.

"I can only tell you that Weltherwithsp may not be speaking in allegory at all and it might be in our best interest not to assume that duality is involved." Heylyn assured Alicia.

"We have nothing more to go on. The list of people who would benefit from the failure of the delegation is far too long to go through using the process of elimination. Those for the delegation and those against. What Weltherwithsp stated was more related to Eastern philosophy and the role that dualism might be playing at a causal level." Alicia suggested.

"We know that the more progress we make with the delegation the more of a negative impact it has on other aspects of our being. Your relationship with Norler. The attack on Professor Mattu and the delegation in New Delhi. Weltherwithsp was explaining that as a natural side effect of causality and nothing more. Like the two slit experiment in Quantum Mechanics. That our observation reduces every problem to a state of dual being. This outcome or that one and always in such a way that all the forces involved balance out in the end at some level." Alicia explained.

"That's where your wrong in that assumption. Not everything in the universe operates that way or on that level and if the observer as you say have an impact upon the outcome, then maybe the observer also has an effect upon the cause. I don't know or pretend to know the first thing about Quantum Mechanics Alicia, but what Weltherwithsp stated was more a clue about the things that break that dualistic point of view to give us a direction. For us to get our bearings otherwise we'd be running around in circles yet making no progress in any other single direction. That's what Weltherwithsp was trying to say. Don't become paralyzed and unable to act by the fact that we may think that everything reduces to two sides, this or that. The opposition of the delegation and our nemesis can likely be seen in that way. A polar opposite to what Tynan And Associates is about but what links them to their actions against us won't be dual in nature at all. What they're doing by attacking the delegation might be in response to the threat the fund poses against them." Heylyn told Alicia adding what she'd learned from Jin Hua.

"That's it! Why haven't we been looking in the direction of Tynan And Associates opposite?" Monique stopped walking as she made her suggestion.

"What? Like people who create Cancer?" Alicia asked trying to clarify what Monique was talking about.

Monique rolled her eyes.

"Do you really think that I think that way? No. I meant a company in direct competition with Tynan And Associates. One who does the same thing but in competition to Tynan." Monique answered.

"Tynan's closest competitor is..." Alicia started as she was interrupted.

"Future Tangent Industries. What's been keeping you? We've been waiting for you for fifteen minutes. What is so important that it kept you?" Valerie said with a hint of agitation and impatience on her voice.

"How long has Future Tangent Industries been involved in the medical industry?" Alicia asked Valerie.

"I don't know. Maybe a couple of years. Just before we went to Treadwater... Wait a second." Valerie said pulling her smart phone from her purse.

"Already on it. They were Incorporated and became public few months before we took Zek down on Treadwater Island." Alicia replied having already looked it up on her phone.

"Not only that but it says here in the International Business Quarterly the financial holdings company that owned them was a subsidiary of Martech International which was owned and operated by Xinc Holdings, the company through which Mr. Zek conducted all of his business world wide. During the court proceedings Martech was liquidated and distributed by court order to the three nearest competitors. During that transaction Future Tangent Industries shares were purchase and are being held by a legal firm in South America." Valerie informed them as she digested the information from her own phone.

"So our enemy now has a name but no face. Not so nearly as dangerous as the Nameless Name." Heylyn remarked.

"South America is not our enemy. Be careful, I have friends from there. You know Helena right? The model we used for your summer line last year. She's from Bogota, Columbia." Monique reminded Heylyn.

"No you're right. They're not our enemies but remember that we took down one of their biggest meal tickets and someone who'd revitalized their tourist economy in the Caribbean. There's going to be a lot of people from that neck of the woods who don't like us for that reason." Heylyn reminded her friends.

"If you're going to discuss business don't you think that you've forgotten someone?" Norler arrived to check up on the late arrivals.

"Sorry, we're just going over some details in relation to the..." Valerie tried to cover for them.

"I clearly heard you discussing business without me. What's going on?" Norler asked the four Women.

"Look, Norler. We've been keeping a lot from you and most of it is because of the fight we had the other day on the flight from India to Thailand." Alicia spoke up.

"That fight was about you not being willing to give up gallivanting around in tights as a superhero. You're unwilling to focus on our life together and what we're doing for the world. You don't have to be a superhero to change the world or to make it a better place Alicia. The world wants you and what you have to share exactly as you are." Norler said directly to Alicia aware that the other three were already in the know.

"This isn't about Night Style. It's about you Norler and the fact that you're not willing to accept me exactly as I am. Don't bring the world into this. Your idea of commitment is about clipping my wings because Night Style is the only aspect of my old life that is still mine. You're so used to running the show at Tynan that you can't share your life with anyone without taking it over. If you want me to be a part of your life you're going to have to accept the fact that there are things about me that I won't give up for you, because part of being in love and making a relationship work is about accepting your partner and what you can't change about them. If you want me you're going to have to accept the things about me that you can't change as much as the things about me that you love." Alicia firmly dressed Norler standing her ground.

Norler stood silent for a moment thinking about what she had said. In considering her point of view carefully he'd suddenly realized that he'd treated her as if Night Style was like a character flaw that he somehow had to cure. He never realized that Alicia was Night Style as much as she was Alicia. They were one and the same and his accepting this aspect of her life was no different than her accepting the fact that she had accept Norler, the CEO. There were times when his candor with the public and the press was less than the repute through which he'd been iconified and she'd had to accept that in like. He'd seen his side as being the only side and realized the insensitivity he'd afforded her.

"Alicia. I'm sorry. If we're going to make this work, at least let me in on what you're planning. If I'm going to accept Night Style then you have to let me be involved with that aspect of your life as well. It's still your life, but I want to have input and say just as you have input and say to my life as CEO of Tynan And Associates." Norler told her.

"You always were the negotiator. Alright. I'll let you in. But don't you ever try to clip her... my wings again. Now give me a kiss, Mr. CEO." Alicia scolded him as she wrapped her arms around him.

A distance away and out of earshot the rest of the delegation looked on with relief.

"I guess it really is the Palace Of Heavenly Purity after all?" Bryce said.

"That's a relief. I couldn't take another moment of tension from the two of them. They're like..." Katya began.

"A pain in the heart...?" Victor said.

"Yes, but not like the pain from eating spicy food." Katya replied.

"I'd say that things are getting a little spicy now, don't you think?" Doctor Briggs said watching them kiss.

"I'm with Bryce. I can't think of a better place in the world for a kiss than in the Forbidden City and the Palace Of Heavenly Purity." Zheng's heart warmed.

Oblivious to the spectatorship of the delegation Monique broke the awkward silence.

"Soooo. What were you saying about Future Tangy Industries Valerie?" Monique turned from the kissing couple.

"Tangent... Future Tangent Industries..." Alicia said having broken the kiss to correct Monique.

Monique smiled coyly having accomplished her goal.

"One of our biggest competitors if not the biggest. They deal in more areas than just medical research like industrial chemicals and chemical engineering. In fact they're one of the lead suppliers of demolition explosives for the construction industry." Norler informed the Women.

"That would have made them the prime candidates to reverse engineer the SY349 during the Treadwater incident." Alicia added backing up Norler.

"Based upon what we know of Zek's way of doing business, we can assume that his associates may have operated much the same." Heylyn thought about Alicia's statement.

Norler pulled his phone and hit the speed dial.

"Hi, Werner. It's Norler. We think that we may be onto something regarding the attack in New Delhi against Professor Mattu and more recently at the Wat Sutat in Bangkok. What do you know about Future Tangent Industries?" Norler started.

"It's ironic that you're calling me because I just received word that the men found unconscious in the Wat Sutat were part of a private security firm used by Future Tangent Industries. Not only that but there was a recent change in their ranks. Garrett Warley was replaced by his former aide George Steadman as the Operations Manager for their medical division." Werner informed Norler.

"Steadman? He was hardly management material if I remember him correctly. He plays a great second gun but he was never possessed of any strong leadership skills. He used to work for Tynan before he was lured away to a position at Future Tangent Industries. There's definitely something wrong with this picture." Norler advised Werner.

"How's Beijing so far?" Werner asked Norler.

"Good so far. We're just a few minutes off of our meeting with the Chinese and Taiwanese delegations. I'll call you later and let you know how it went." Norler replied.

"Alright. If there's anything new related to what we just spoke of I'll call you or have someone call you to keep you updated. Good luck." Werner said hanging up the phone.

"The men you took down in the Wat Sutat were a security team hired by Future Tangent Industries." Norler told Alicia drawing a look of surprise from her face.

"How did you know that we took them down?" Alicia asked Norler.

"I didn't. I just took a guess and it looks like I was right. I'd appreciate it if you'd keep me in the loop when you can." Norler pleaded with Alicia.

"I have to agree with Norler. I mean look at how much ground we've covered just by sharing information and working together." Heylyn said looking to each of the Women in turn.

"Agreed. So let's do this as a team." Valerie added.

"What else was there?" Alicia asked Norler to continue.

"George Steadman has taken over as Operations Manager at Future Tangent Industries so there's been a recent shake up which can only mean that they're under stress resulting from Tynan's mover to get approval for the fund in Asia. They know the Asian market is huge and this literally could make or break their future. They'd certainly benefit from the failure of this delegation. I'd say the fact that they've changed their Operations Manager is a direct indication of that." Norler told the Women around him.

"You said he worked at Tynan. Did I ever meet him?" Alicia inquired.

"I think he was at the purchase announcement when Tynan bought the lab where you developed the SY349. He has light blondish thinning hair. About five foot ten?" Norler told Alicia.

"Here's a picture of him from the Future Tangent press release." Valerie handed her phone to Norler who accepted it examining the image very carefully.

Alicia reached for Valerie's phone so she could see the picture.

"Wait. That's not George. That's Garrett Warley's picture. They must have made a mistake in the press release." Norler said turning to his own phone and searching for news of the change of leadership.

"No, it's the same person in every news clip. There has to be a mix up somewhere." Norler said puzzled by the mystery.

"So now we have Future Tangent Industries putting their security detail on us after they've had a change in their operations leadership which is being run by a Garret Warley masquerading as George Steadman. All this from a company formerly part of Martech International and Mr. Zek's holdings. If we fail it would be of great benefit to them for they could move in and mop up the Asian market." Alicia stated looking to the rest of her team.

"Do you think we should bring this to the attention of the Chinese delegation?" Valerie asked.

"No. They might see it as slander against Future Tangent Industries and think less of us for it. We've got to check this out ourselves. What do you think?" Norler asked the Women.

"I agree but it wouldn't hurt to let the Chinese authorities know something about this. After all we can pretty much assume that Future Tangent's security team is running around conducting covert ops on Chinese soil. It might help us to earn their trust." Heylyn gave her opinion.

"I'm with Heylyn on this too." Valerie agreed.

"Me too." Alicia gave her nod.

"I have one question. If our delegation is full of such brilliant minds, why are we not taking advantage of that?" Monique asked.

"They don't know or suspect anything about our alter egos. If we let them in on that we'd be putting them in grave danger and great risk. The less they know in that department the better." Alicia responded.

"Yeah, but we can share what we know so far with them and get their help without giving away the fact that we're also super powered heroes." Valerie reminded her friends.

"Who said anything about heroes? We're still not out of the woods yet. We're not heroes until that fund proposal is signed and approved by the Asian Alliance." Norler reminded the group.

"Heroes or not it's agreed that we let the Chinese authorities know what we've learned so far so they're not blind. We also let our delegation in on this information as well so we can benefit from their insight. Good suggestion Monique." Heylyn looked at each of her peers.

"Alright. We have a plan. I'll call Werner right now and have him send an advisory to the Canadian and North American authorities and the Chinese Embassy in Canada. You get back to the rest of the delegation and let them know what's afoot so far and what we've learned. We'll still have five minutes to make it to the Temple entrance to meet the Chinese and Taiwanese delegates. I'll see you in a few minutes." Norler said as he dialed Werner once again.

The Women began walking to join the delegates who stood waiting for their return.

"Heylyn, I need to thank you. Again. I think that little talk that we had opened the door for Norler and I to overcome our differences." Alicia spoke with a sense of sincerity.

"You would have found the courage to say what you'd needed to say to him without me just as he found the courage to face his own misgivings against you. I'd say that the two of you found common ground enough to overcome your disagreement. Maybe you'll both be much more accepting and understanding of each others' lives. Even the aspects of your mutual lives of which you have no control. You can accept Norler the CEO. He just needs to learn to accept Night Style the superhero. It's good to see you smiling again." Heylyn's face lit up.

"I'll say. That takes a load of tension from my plate. I hope there's no left overs either." Valerie said clearly relieved.

"Alright. Me too. I'm happy to see that you've mended your relationship with Norler. Maybe its a sign of things to come?" Monique's smile crowned them unanimously and they made their way back to the delegation and Heaven.

Tradition And The Book Of Changes

The delegation walked through the Hall Of Supreme Harmony marveling at the design and architecture of the illustrious building and the complex in which it stood. For Heylyn this was like a return home in many ways and she'd occasionally notice cues linking her knowledge of the The Butterfly Dragon to the design work around her. The very design of the Forbidden City was riddled with symbolism that connected the rest of China with it's ancient and sometimes turbulent history.

They exited the Hall and proceeded towards the main walkway to the Palace of Heavenly Purity where the other delegation was waiting. Alicia, Bryce, Valeria and Norler stepped forward to make the introductions.

"Professor Bai Huang He? This is Doctor Alicia Westin, Valerie Aspen on my left here. You already know Professor Bryce Maxwell. I'm Walton Norler. Behind me from their left to right is Doctors Katya and Victor Piotr. Beside them are Heylyn Yates and Monique Defleur of West Meet East International. Beside them on the right is the beautiful mathematician and computational biologist Zheng Ni Wong. Beside her is Doctor Stephen Briggs with whom I'm sure you'll find much to discuss." Norler said getting through the first round of introductions.

"It is a pleasure to meet you. Allow me to introduce our delegates. On my left we have Professor Jun Ling Jie, a Professor of Philosophy at the University of Chinese Medicine. She'll advise us on issues of tradition and morality with regards to our ways versus those of the West. Beside her is Doctor Jiao Lin Soo, the Medical Director at Beijing Hospital. She's the youngest person ever to have achieved that position at the age of thirty one. We're very proud of her. Doctor Waitak Te Kong is someone you may already know having recently made news with a discovery achieved through distributed computing and simulation at Tatung University in Taiwan. I'm Professor Bai Huang He of the Peking University International Hospital. We welcome you to China and the Forbidden City." Professor Huang He finished the introductions.

"The purpose of our visit should be obvious by this point. You're already aware of the Fund Proposal and the prior vote. We're here to appeal any prior decision with regards to the fund and to open the doors between the East and the West in terms of our respective medical traditions." Norler addressed the issue at hand very directly.

"We'd been advised of your sometimes direct approach to negotiations. At least in terms of how we do things. We understand that this trip has already been pressing for your delegation but we mustn't dispense with the formalities. We will get to these matters in due time." Professor Ling Jie replied addressing Norler's direct approach.

"Forgive me for saying so but we think that pressing the time importance of this issue is in line with Chinese tradition and values, for the longer this process takes the more lives there will be at risk. Whose life do you want to play with in this regard? The lives of your daughters and sons?" Alicia took a much bolder approach.

"Your itinerary is already set. If we discussed all the issues at hand in just five minutes here and now and resolved what took years to grow in terms of the gap between the East and the West, your flight to South Korea would still leave and arrive at the same time for which you'd prepared ahead of time. Your flight from there would leave for Japan soon thereafter all according to your schedule. So getting to the point quickly presents no time benefit to the realization of the fund. It only serves to relieve each of  you of the stress associated with the investment you've already made in making this work. There is no time lost by the presence of formality for that is what separates from our other nature. The nature which would hinder such negotiations. We must foster both carefully and in balance for the moment we favor one is the moment we set the future rule of the other." Professor Ling Jie responded to Alicia's comment.

"I have a question for your delegation. Why did you choose the Forbidden City as our meeting place?" Valerie asked hoping to break appease both sides.

Professor Jing Lie looked momentarily to Professor Huang He. Heylyn noticed Professor Huang He's eyebrow elevate slightly at Valerie's interest.

"The Forbidden City is one of our treasures here though not only for it's grand architecture and dazzling beauty. It is a reminder to us of our history. There is much symbolism hidden within these walls. One could literally spend a lifetime investigating and trying to understand such mysteries and many have. Like a journey in which one travels for years and finds themselves no farther from their starting point or closer to their destination yet has seemingly learned more than such time would allow. Perhaps this is not unlike your own journey to see us here in the Far East? If not, why then have you really come to see us. What brought you to China?" Professor Jing Lie spoke considering her words carefully, her accent thick and embracing.

"We chose to come here to build a bridge between us. Between the West and the..." Norler began one of his charismatic rhetoric filled orations only to be stopped.

"Please Mr. Norler. Not from a script. Not from what your P.R. advisors have asked to you to say. The bridge you speak of has always remained. In your own history the only times we'd not allowed you in was when you brought with you that which would harm us both. So you could say that the bridge has always been there though at times throughout history neither of us were worthy of it's crossing. Perhaps now after so much has transpired we are both ready to embrace once again? Ready to accept the bounded history which each we have traversed. Why in your heart have you come on this journey here?" Professor Jing Lie spoke not so easily beguiled.

"Are you saying that we in the West are not worthy of your audience? That the reason for divisions of past have to do with our problems and mistakes?" Alicia spoke sounding a little bit offended.

"No. What I have said is an honest question and we've both tread through the precarious and sometimes treacherous journey and arrived each with our own scars and often of our own doing. You are no lesser, we are no greater. I assume that your comfort in being able to speak so candidly at the risk of your delegation Doctor Westin, is because of your long standing friendship with Heylyn Yates. Ai Yuanlin Ying as we know her. That is good because you regard speaking with us like speaking with a close friend rather than a distant acquaintance with whom you'd rather bite your own tongue than speak truthfully. Again I ask you why you really came here?" Professor Jing Lie walked looking forward, her hands folded behind her.

There was a long pause as the delegates looked to one another as if unsure of what Jing Lie was asking them. Heylyn stepped a bit closer to Alicia and nudged her side. Alicia looked to her friend mouthing the word what? Heylyn mouthed her own words. Go on. Say it.

"We're here... we're here because for the first time in our history... for the first time in my life... I've seen something that could change the world. Not just one part of it, but all of it. It's something so powerful as to give life or to mend it, yet so fragile that if it was kept from others based upon their level of income or other social demographics that it could be misused to decide who gets to live and who gets to die. It's the doorstep that every Doctor in the world knew that we would one day arrive, and here we are. We've discovered something that puts the power into the hands of those who wield it the ability to decide who gets to live and who doesn't. A power that nobody should wield and a right that everyone should have. Not just one part of the demographic or subsection of the globe. Everyone. We all knew that day would come and it did. Now we've gone from being Scientists, Doctors, Physicians and Researchers to understand the immense responsibility that we have in ensuring that it is available to everyone. That it isn't misused by those who want to prune the genetic tree and shape the future of humanity by their criteria. Clip a few people with bad genes from it. A few poor people here. A few sick people there. A few with special needs here. A few of another culture there. It's capable of saving so many lives that it is also capable of taking. We're here knocking at your door and hoping that you'll see this for yourself as a people with a long history and understanding of medicine through your own unique perspective. It's important that you embrace this idea and the fund. For us to do this it has to be paid for by some means because it takes someone's time, effort and technology to produce. That production, research and development has to paid for and the time of the people who work on it needs to be paid for otherwise nobody would work on it. More importantly nobody could work on it and if we don't do it that way, someone else will come along and set a price for it that only the privileged could afford. When that happens then the power to give life has a price tag and that price tag means that economy and demographics can be used to prune the genetic tree. Our business model does not support that idea at all nor do we as moral human beings. We're here to ensure that everyone can reap the benefits of this discovery despite those demographics. We need you to be on board for this to happen. That is why we came here from Canada. From and for the work of our peers in North America, South America, Europe, Oceania and Africa. To the Far East. To India. To Thailand. To Myanmar. To Laos and Cambodia. To Korea both South and North. To Japan. To Taiwan. To China." Alicia said speaking from her heart and very much a heart with wings.

Norler leaned in close to whisper something in her ear.

"We are so going to have a romantic week long stay in bed vacation when this is done. Not to mention I'll be giving you a lifetime of massages any time you ask." he moved closer but kept distance enough to hold the tension between them.

"I'm going to hold you to that." Alicia replied in whisper.

Professor Jing Lie spoke with Professor Huang He in their native tongue and dialect of Hebei Mandarin. There was more silence before Professor Huang He spoke.

"Many have arrived on our doorstep throughout history. Sometimes to ask for something from us. Sometimes to demand it. Sometimes to take it by force. We're grateful for the diplomacy of the twenty first century but yet still guarded for many reasons most of which our recent history and transition would likely speak. We must consider our position and that history before we can give you any decision. We've seen the research. The years of papers Doctor Westin has written on the subject. We as Doctors and Scientists, your peers are certainly in support of the creation of this fund. Convincing the Party is not going to be as easy as we'd like it to be but you have our support. Our views are certainly in line with yours that this technology should not be kept in the hands of those who'd use it to decide the fate of so many lives, families and lines of ancestry. Any time that decision has fallen upon the hands of even a few people, it almost always ends in bloodshed and genocide. All of us the globe over have dirtied our hands with that crime at one time or another yet has any generation ever learned from it? Many speak of high ideals yet so few act thereupon. Sometimes to speak is to act as to remember is to fuel the fires of a written history and record. We therefore agree that this power to decide the fate of so many based upon demography, social class or any other number of factors as you say would sew the seeds of a new form of genocide. You have our support for the fund though we here have our own people to convince for our support to make it to the final vote. We'll do everything that we can to ensure it passes. Everything. We'd like to see a more open attitude in the West with regard to our forms of medicine. We hope that this acceptance will foster cooperation between us. Medicine. Trade. The possibilities are many and we have much to learn and share in the way of prosperity." Professor Huang He assured the delegation.

"We agree for certain. I guess that really takes much of the stress off of us for this leg of the journey and in China. I guess we're free to talk shop as of this point, though I'm with Valerie in wanting to learn more of your history." Norler addressed the Chinese delegation.

"Professor Jing Lie. Thanks." Alicia said sincerely looking over to the Professor.

"For what may I ask?" Professor Jing Lie inquired.

"For pushing aside the rhetoric and regimen so we could really get to the heart of the matter. For allowing me to speak so freely." Alicia said to Professor Jing Lie.

"I can't accept the credit for you speaking freely, but I do appreciate the gratitude." Professor Jing Lie responded.

"You too Heylyn. A little." Alicia nudged Heylyn's shoulder slightly as they walked.

"Just so you know, I'm getting in on some of reward from Norler. A romantic week in bed? A lifetime of massages? I want a piece of that you know." Heylyn joked with Alicia.

"I can't believe you heard that? Did you...?" Alicia asked her in disbelief.

"You know how good my senses are. Yeah I listened in. Really listened in." Heylyn replied.

"Well little miss my senses are so good, I hope you've been keeping an eye on things around here. I mean there's definitely something going on. Not just our security team either. There's a lot of plain clothed agents running around. I mean why would so many people be carrying concealed weapons?" Monique said slipping in close to Alicia and Heylyn as Norler and Professor Maxwell began a conversation with the Chinese delegation.

Heylyn looked around taking notice of what she'd missed only a few minutes early since her last sweep. Heylyn gestured to Valerie urging her closer. Valerie politely excused herself from Norler's side and joined her friends.

"Things are going so good. What now?" Valerie asked afraid that something had gone wrong.

"We have company. A lot of company." Heylyn replied.

From the unmarked Future Tangent Industries van one of the men addressed the other members of his team.

"Confirmed. Professor Huang He just gave the word on their support for the delegation." a man in front of a communications computer spoke.

"Alright. I guess that means we're going ahead with the operation after all. Let the teams in the Forbidden City know. Pull the rest out to their vantage points. Take us to our designated area in the zone of safety. When the delegation has left the north gates, we'll start the show." spoke the team commander.

"Roger that." the communications man began notifying the operatives by team.

The Palace Under Watchful Eyes

The members of the delegations continued their trek north to the Palace Of Heavenly Purity.

"Decisions like this would have gone through a much different process of approval in our history." Professor Jing Lie continued speaking with Bryce as Doctor Briggs and Doctor Zheng Ni Wong joined them.

"You must be referring to the Court advisors?" Bryce asked Professor Jing Lie.

"During Imperial rule right up until the revolution our leaders relied on such advisers. The so called Sages. Philosophers. Court magicians even. They would often combine their knowledge and experience with the results of many different forms of divination to come to their advice for the Kingdom. Sometimes with startling accuracy. There are still many who rely upon such means." Professor Jing Lie answered Bryce.

"Are you referring to the I Ching?" Doctor Briggs asked.

"Yes in some context. There are many books of changes as the West might know them. Many have been lost to history and the records. The most common deals with divination using a series of trigrams which could be discerned by their selection from Yarrow stalks of varying lengths. A random selection process much like dice or tarot cards of the West. An interpretation would be applied to each series of trigrams of which there are a possible sixty four. Through their interpretation the future could be divined. The Sages used them to advise the Imperial court on matters of administration, finance and even war." Professor Jing Lie answered.

"I understand. During the revolution it became a liability rather than an asset to be one of these Sages from what I understand?" Doctor Briggs asked.

"You're referring to the people's revolution. To many students around the time of the revolution the Tao Te Ching became a symbol of their revolution. At least that's what a friend told me." Heylyn spoke of what she'd learned from mentor, Jinn Hua in Guangzhou.

"Well at that time much of the establishment was symbolized as being and run by the old who did so with the old ways. Of course to many people the Tao is Yin and Yang. The battle between two polar opposites over the hearts and souls of the land which has its own. So it was that the young students made up most of the drive behind the revolution against the old. Each side has its own ignorance and arrogance and yet time only flows in favor of neither. So the young waged war with what they themselves would eventually become. The elderly of the established order. By the time you've aged to join the elderly after having waged a war against it, you begin to realize that you've become what you fought. Of course much paranoia takes its course for you know your own enemy because at one time it was you. A vicious cycle that finds the emerging order in conflict with the young and often students. The students themselves come to ideas that the old symbolize the system and the ways of the old, and must be overthrown. Yet this understanding of duality is only the door mat of the Tao and it is what keeps conflict alive, for in conflict there is control. Whose compass points in the right direction when forward to one is seen as backwards to the other? How far a journey can such people make for they'll always arrive exactly at the point from where they departed having traveled no distance at all." Professor Jing Lie spoke sounding very much like Jinn Hua to Heylyn.

Bryce and Doctor Briggs looked at each other in astonishment.

"You have remarkable insight into these concepts." Doctor Briggs commented.

"That is both the curse and blessing of age. It is not unlike the western tales of the Arthurian legends. To ascend to rule by overthrowing the ways of old. Arthur pulling the sword Excalibur from the stone. A lowly squire who is not of the blood or heritage of a King. By pulling the sword from the stone he has overcome the barrier of tradition and the ways of the old. He brings a new hope establishing the round table to bring justice to the land. Through treachery and deceit he is beguiled into producing a child with his own half sister, Morgan Le Fay. When the sword that forged his rule and that symbolized his sense of truth, justice and honor breaks as he uses it for revenge, he must redeem himself by seeking the Grail. This pursuit of the Grail costs him nearly every Knight that founded the Round Table. Upon finding it Sir Galahad returns from his quest having redeemed Arthur. The lady of the lake returns Excalibur anew and Arthur dies killing his own offspring Mordred and the Mother of his illegitimate heir Morgan Le Fay who have essentially just challenged the established order. Excalibur is returned to the lady of the lake and the order of the land is restored and the cycle begins anew. It is the same tale. A tale of the young challenging the established order by challenging the rules of that order to usurp its power only to misuse it and draw the ire of the next generation who will once again overthrow the established order but not before the order has redeemed itself by some quest worthy of their redemption. The question to ask is whether it is intended as a tale of caution to heed those that might challenge the established ways, or whether it is a road map that always seems to lead to the same outcome in a cycle that has been in place for a very long time. Would challenging this idea lead to the same place yet again because it too symbolizes the established order? These are the questions of philosophy and we both know those ideas transcend our origins here. It would seem we are not always as different as we would like to pretend to be yet so different that we will never cease learning from each other." Professor Jing Lie addressed her peers.

"To be aware of that cycle and to look beyond is what philosophy is all about. For instance I'd say that to seek a way that does not divide the young and old but unites them while recognizing their differences is one way through this problem. How we relate to people is forged by the experiences of our lifetime. That's what divides us by age and generation and those concepts are what foster innovation by establishing new experiences and new ways of thinking about the same problems and solutions. The internet is breaking that barrier already by establishing a place where we keep our collective knowledge. The knowledge of ages and the living generations who all can peruse and share that medium. Even how we use that tool is indicative of our generation. Our experiences. Our demographics. It likely factors into big data and analytics. Information technology and mass data." Bryce added.

"Yes, but this is also a tool which can divide us by not keeping those barriers where they should be. Some boundaries are meant to be traversed by all and some are meant to be protect some. Like the barriers between our homes and our community. There are times when we should have few barriers with community in some aspects, but in personal life there should be barriers between our neighbors and our community. Just as there should be some barriers between young and old. If not to protect either from exploitation by the other." Heylyn spoke giving her point of view.

"I agree with Heylyn. I mean the internet is vast and overwhelming sometimes. It can be used for many purposes and a social life is certainly amongst the forefront of such uses. How though do you guarantee someone is who they claim to be? How about age? I mean both sides of the fence need protection in that regard. The old seeking to exploit the young. The young seeking to exploit the old. It can happen both ways." Zheng expressed.

"I think that when it comes to sexuality on the internet, that's going to be one of the biggest draws but one of the least addressed. That's certainly an area where there needs to be some boundaries to protect the youth from exploitation for certain and from peer pressure or market forces that would lead to exploitation. I'm a married man and I'm not saying that I haven't seen things on the internet of a sexual nature, but I believe that there should be boundaries as Heylyn has stated to protect the young from exploitation. I mean there's many on youtube who use that medium to broadcast their own channels. Some of whom are in their teen years and are impressionable and chasing the numbers associated with viewership much like a television station tries to draw viewers. Drawing those viewers is almost a form of peer pressure because if your peers and fellow broadcasters are older, and are able to offer content that includes something that might be more geared to adult and mature viewers, the younger broadcasters competing on the same market might consider exploiting themselves to follow suit so as not to lose viewers. There's no guarantee to an older viewer that they aren't viewing a younger broadcaster that if they'd known more about that broadcaster's age and situation they might not have so readily checked that content. Likewise there's peer pressure generated by the older broadcasters which results from the demand they create by offering content that might be more geared to adults that some broadcasters that are much younger might be tempted to follow suit hence exploiting themselves. I speak as someone who has no children." Bryce said speaking with some insight.

"You mean to tell me that the newspapers that we read on a daily basis are wrong in offering up page three girls, sunshine girls or last page girls? Many of those Women are in their late teens. As young as seventeen or eighteen. They're being gawked at by guys and girls three or four times their age. In Britain they're topless. This is more about how different cultures understand and accept the taboo of sexuality and how it relates to age. It also relates to our concepts of sexuality, morality, gender and age. We spoke this topic in India. Don't you remember? The Kamasutra? The age of ascension?" Doctor Briggs spoke reminding the delegation.

"Yes but is it necessary to turn Women into a purely sexual object? I mean come on Stephen! If that's the peer pressure and market forces that we expose young Women to, that's how they'll be shaped and how they will perceive society wants them to be. How they'll be able to earn enough money for food and to support themselves without ever having explored other avenues like what they have to offer by way of their mind. Their education. Not by how big their bra size." Zheng said scolding Doctor Briggs.

"Who said that an intelligent Woman is not sexy? Who said that sexiness is determined by bra size? Besides that's a moving target and one that changes more often than we are aware. That's subjective and how we see the members of the sex we're attracted to is subjective as is what attracts us to such people. It's like arguing over what color is better, red or blue. It's possible to be sexually attracted to a Woman without objectifying her as a sex object." Doctor Briggs responded to Zheng's mild attack.

"Yes but I think that what Zheng was saying is that a younger Woman might not have the experience or confidence to come to her own conclusions on that concept. Confidence is important when it comes to this issue. I mean confidence in being able to withstand peer pressure and retain one's own sense of self and comfort with their own views and opinion rather than to be manipulated by outside forces which aren't always looking out for their best interests. I used to have a weight problem in school and I was very self conscious of it. If I hadn't learned to be self confident with the help of a friend, I might have gone a much different path in life. So self esteem and confidence is of vital importance for young people being able to withstand such incredible pressures that information technology brings with it." Alicia spoke addressing their argument.

"We'd not be having this conversation because if Alicia's path had been different and she hadn't the confidence to pursue her education and become a researcher, there would have been no SY349." Norler told the group.

"This is a subject that historically is not discussed, though with the revolution of nineteen fourty eight things had changed significantly. Since the nineteen nineties and a cultural revolution in some of the bigger cities like Hong Kong and Beijing in China, sexuality is discussed and it has come a long way, but it is still regarded as the subject of those involved for a secret lover is one of the most highly considered treasures. Hence the open discussion of sexuality is sometimes seen as giving away one's treasures by revealing their secrets whereas what you don't discuss is seen as what you protect and therefore treasure even though that is often not the case. Many use those ideas to take advantage of our ways in that regard. Taking our treasure from us while leaving us with secrets that we would never protect as treasure at all because they're more like the refuse of others. Perhaps another barrier between West and East. One that is known by few and those who do, often use it as a means to deposit their trash upon our culture. Some might say that's a form of cultural exploitation." Doctor Lin Soo spoke for the first time addressing both delegations as they slowly walked together.

"How do you feel about the issue of sexuality from the perspective of a Woman and a Chinese resident in relation to what we were discussing?" asked Doctor Briggs eager to get another point of view besides Zheng's.

"Sex and love historically have been regarded as utilitarian in China. Only a necessity to maintain a household and a another chore. Insofar as a Woman being a sex object? There are pressures present that direct Women in that direction just as it is likely in the West. I think that the movement to recognize that regardless of the path a Woman chooses, whether it be a home maker and housewife or a an educated professional like a Doctor, or of the vanity arts like a model that a Woman can be as sexual an object as she so chooses and allows. The more Women that realize that it is their body and that they have the final say as adults about what they do with it, the more Women might be empowered rather than someone else determining and wielding the power of their sexuality for them." Doctor Lin Soo answered Doctor Brigg's question much to his chagrin.

"You look disappointed Stephen." Zheng said to him playfully.

"Not disappointed... per se. I half expected a different answer maybe from yours. You're both successful and Chinese but from different upbringings ultimately. I expected a bit of a different answer and that's based upon my understanding and my area of expertise. After all I'm required to keep up with regard to Eastern and Western societies and their demographics. Knowing people and what issues might surround introducing new ideas and ways to their corresponding societies. So I'll take it as an eye opening experience and a lesson." Doctor Briggs answered.

"There's no sense in taking it any other way Doctor Briggs. I mean its still a Woman's body and her power and gift I might add to give that up to whom she chooses or even to give that power to the lover of her choice. No less empowering and no loss if you've earned her respect and love I'd imagine." Bryce smiled to him and Zheng reading their proximity very accurately.

"So we could surmise once again that this problem of age has much to do with confidence and the self esteem of youth so as to reinforce their belief in themselves and their independence. No easy task for any parent in this day and age seeing as the time that you need to start reinforcing that is the very age when they are most dependent upon their parents. I have this feeling though that if the old watch out for the young and the young watch out for the old, we might not have to fear a smiting by the younger generation when we reach our retirement age. Likewise the younger generation might not need to fear being bested by an older, wiser and much more knowledgeable opponent. Put the two together and you'd have a pretty unstoppable society of course keeping those boundaries in the right places as I said to protect from exploitation either side. Now that should be a book of new change?" Heylyn summed up their talk.

"I was wondering if I could have a say as a model? After all, it's my body that's often in front of the cameras not only as a sex object but as a object to sell what what I'm wearing on a lifestyle and look. A life and line of work that I know and love." Monique asked the group.

"Your opinion is always welcome." Alicia assured Monique.

"Well, you were talking about exploitation and I thought that I'd give you my views. I agree that its all about confidence but also environment. Maybe that's what makes confidence and independence so important because any young Woman has be able to maintain it alone and sometimes in a hostile environment. If you grow up in the wrong area you might be at more risk than someone else just based upon the environment. Maybe that's why confidence and self esteem makes such sense. That's because for any Woman at all there would be risks regardless of where you start in life. Peer pressure can come from so many different places now and being able to stand against it and independently requires confidence. There's nothing wrong with wielding the power of your own sexuality but even that has a time and place. An age when we are in charge of whom we share that aspect of ourselves with a mate but rounded with confidence so as we don't give that away to someone who doesn't deserve it or who does not share our goals in life. As a model I guess I share some aspects of myself with the public but even I keep some things on reserve for that special someone. There are some people who make a living being exploited in one form or another and that's alright in my opinion so long as the means by which that occurs and how is always their choice and they are in full understanding of the consequences if any." Monique added.

"That's the point. If everyone knew the consequences they'd likely not make the choice depending upon what that choice entailed. That's what exploitation by age is about. It can be someone older seeking to trick someone younger into a compromising position that profits others having little or no return for the compromised. Likewise it can be someone older who is tricked into a compromising position by someone younger that has little or no return compared to the cost of the older person. It works both ways so it's better if we have each other's back." Bryce looked to Monique smiling.

"Perhaps our trip here will break down many obstacles to our very different understanding of the world and society." Monique suggested.

"We welcome this open and fresh point of view and certainly with regard to this topic, but I'm sure that Doctor Hong is eager to speak with you as you are to speak with him." Professor Ling Jie reminded the delegation.

"Good because we too have many questions and this is more in our area of expertise." Katya said a little bit uneasy with the topic they'd discussed.

"You seem eager to change the topic?" Doctor Briggs inquired of Katya.

"It is really a personal issue. I'd prefer if you didn't speak to my Wife of this matters..." Victor asked Doctor Briggs.

"No Victor. It is alright. He doesn't know how things were during the Russia's reform. In the early days the economy was rough and just starting. Many rackets and scams abound. Much exploitation too of Women. Some not so bad and others very bad. There is nothing wrong with a Woman who is intelligent or educated or both who seeks to profit by presenting her beauty or body for money in some way... to a degree. Some take this a little too far and don't appreciate the beauty of a Woman in this regard and it can go a bit far. My sister had problems with people who did this in such a way during the reform as there were many Women seeking work but not all were aware of what such work entailed. My sister was one such Woman and it took her a long time to break away from such people. She eventually found a nice man to settle down with who accepted her despite this scar in her past history. Things of that nature can make a Woman like a marked person. Nobody wants to be with again. She was fortunate to find a good man who accepted her regardless and she built a new life. In the last decade and a half Russia has changed drastically and Russia is now home to a people that seek comfort and predicable income. A steady job and profession. A steady household and solid families as their economy has grown strong. I always kept in contact with her so I had a direct line on all the happenings. You understand?...maybe?" Katya addressed Doctor Briggs and the delegation through her Russian accent.

"That explains much as to why we didn't hear from you. Don't be afraid to speak ever with us Katya. It's not just the qualities that we think people will like about us that make strong bonds of friendship both domestic and international. Its the qualities that we think people won't like us for that bond us sometimes even more so than the ones we want to advertise about ourselves. Besides, people who need the help of getting away from such volatile situations need other people to be able to deal with those issues openly. Some of the worst travesties in history are the ones that were kept under the carpet. Often they're the most long lived." Bryce said drawing from his own life experiences.

"This applies as much here as it does anywhere. Sometimes it is a bit difficult to break new ground in proud China. To give to pressure is sometimes regarded as weakness and a way to break the foundations of society. With the taste of revolution still fresh in our society after nineteen forty eight, it has taken some time for us to regard these issues though China is definitely a leader when it comes to Women's participation in society. From our earliest Taoist and Buddhist temples and Monks to our administration. Women have always been the cornerstone. Always considered the balance to the Yang which is the masculine aspect. So Women have always been regarded as equals." Professor Huang He responded.

"Though in early history the role of Women in China was one of subservience within the household under a Man's rule. This was challenged with the leadership of China's first Woman Emperor Wu Zetian who changed much about society with regard to this arrangement and the power structure which had long been the domain of Men only. With her leadership and the efforts of the Buddhist and Taoist temples of the land, they'd managed to change that impression in China and inspire and grow one of the greatest trade dynasties in China's history. Here up until recently she was regarded as a tyrant, but much has been uncovered that overthrows that impression and her accomplishments during her rule were remarkable. Perhaps for the obstacles that she had to overcome it required her to sometimes like a jiàn {sword} more so than a flower. Since her time marriage slowly became another manifestation of the Yin and Yang forces. Two equals that are both needed, becoming one and part of a much bigger whole." Professor Ling Jie agreed with Professor Huang He.

"It is said that this too was seen in the yarrow stalks and the trigrams, predicted by an early Sage that predates the Song dynasty. It is like this line from an ancient song. The Summons Of The Soul from Songs Of The South:

Their long hair and thick tresses now fall in splendid disarray.

Two lines of eight dancers in perfect symmetry begin the dance of Wu,

Their outspread sleeves as straight bamboo, swaying downwards.

Winds and strings crescendo wildly to the drum beat,

And the palace halls rock and shake as the musicians begin the
exhilarating airs of Ch'u;

Songs of Wu and ballads of Ts'ai resound to the grand pitch-scales.

Men and Women now sit together openly,
without reserve;

The entirety of the piece says much of the time. It reminds us that there is a hidden truth to her impact upon our history." Ling Jie continued adding a melody to the song much to the amusement of the delegation.

"Perhaps will come a day when Women and Men of all nations will be able to sit amongst one another. To dance and to love one another. A special soul bound to another's despite borders and culture. By the will and decree of the lovers involved. Openly. Without reserve." Doctor Briggs spoke feeling Zhang pressing herself to his side as he did.

Discoveries And Minds In Like As Distance

"So Doctor Hong, one of the real reasons that some of us made this trip was of course to get a chance to speak with you about your team's accomplishment. You know the one I speak of?" Bryce asked somewhat invitingly tweaking his bow tie as he did.

"Yeah. Fess up. I'm looking forward to hearing this too." Zheng added increasing the attentiveness of the others towards Doctor Hong.

The group stopped just outside the entry gates to the Palace Of Heavenly Purity where they stopped for a moment. Doctor Hong very obviously was taken back by his colleague's interest, his face turning a slight shade of pinkish red with the attention.

"It was nothing really. Well it was a team effort as Doctor Bryce said. I think that we all believed that it was an obstruction of mind and a way of looking at the problem that was the real obstacle." Doctor Hong began.

"You're being modest on purpose Doctor Hong. So how did you overcome that hurdle. The problem of simulation especially with regard to chemical engineering in terms of the bonds? In simulation versus reality?" Alicia asked Doctor Hong.

"You've peaked my interest too." Victor said folding his arms somewhat skeptically.

"Victor and I shied away from simulation for a long time. He always argued that there were so many factors in the real world that simulation could never be used productively in biology and especially in work evaluating and modifying the genome of phages. Don't mind him. Really Doctor Hong. How did your team do it." Katya asked Doctor Hong while Victor held his stern face.

"More often than not is is a way of looking at a given problem than the parts of the problem itself. The fact that the world is very complex plays no part in making simulation impractical for research because with enough fast hardware and efficient programming models you can do just about anything." Doctor Hong advised the delegates.

"But don't most simulations take longer to run than real time?" asked Doctor Briggs.

"Not at all. In fact with fast enough hardware you can run simulations that operate many times faster than reality. Not only that but you can run many such simulations concurrently on the same hardware quite often which means you can run many experiments in parallel. So the incentive for overcoming the complexity problem is also a financial benefit. You get many laboratories in one simulation but you always need real world laboratories because simulation is never a replacement for a lab. It should be a tool present in any lab." Doctor Hong explained to Doctor Briggs as the others listened.

"You know, my cousin plays video games all of the time and they're simulations. I mean there's things that happen in those games that is very similar to what happens in real life. Are they linked in any way to what you do?" Monique asked Doctor Hong.

"It's funny you should mention because video games were the number one market force that resulted in the creation of hardware complex and fast enough to run medical and engineering simulations and eventually to make that power affordable to labs everywhere." Doctor Hong looked to Monique in recognition of her question.

"I thought that computing power of that kind came from weather tracking bureaus, automobile manufacturing and military?" Alicia looked to Monique and then back to Doctor Hong.

"Well that's not entirely true. They did have a big role in making simulation accessible on a global scale but it took the market forces of modern home computing and console hardware to result in hardware that is powering most medical simulations. That hardware upon entry into the new millennium was running MRIs, Gene sequencing computer stations and microsurgery hardware. It was showing up in more and more places. As far as automobile manufacturers go, they've always used simulation at least for design. It was an engineer at one car manufacturer that came up with a way to do parametric curves on a computer. Something that opened the door to none planar geometry which again led to many areas of application in simulation. Weather simulations too are the area that you run into factors making accurate simulation of real world events nearly impossible. That's why weather reports are given as probabilities. The market for fast computer hardware was strongest in the consumer market from the mid 1990s onward and resulted directly in many medical imaging breakthroughs. The early gaming and business markets drove for the creation of fast mathematical hardware and the math co-processor was born. I mean you can't very well recalculate a ledger with a hundred thousand entries and wait all day for it to finish. So the math coprocessor was a logical step that led to modern graphics and geometry processors. The first non-gaming application for those processor was medical imaging. So one could say that computer gaming led directly to technology that saves lives." Zheng patted Monique on the back for her question.

"Many of the nodes for distributed computing projects such as World Community Grid and BOINC run on the systems of gamers because their hardware is actually quite good for it. There's many volunteers too from the gaming community who donate their computing time for projects that run medical simulations. For everything from pharmaceutical engineering to gene sequencing. A number of breakthroughs have been yielded in many areas of research as well." Bryce pointed out.

"So that still doesn't explain what your team did." Victor looked piercingly at Doctor Hong.

"Victor! Lighten up. My husband is likely more grouchy from all of the traveling. Please do explain more." Katya said pushing herself in closer to Victor trying to lighten his mood making Norler chuckle a bit.

"As you already know we discovered the problem when we tried to simulate the lab process of producing a particular enzyme needed to initiate mitosis artificially despite what the cellular clock wants. We had set it up to use every factor that was part of the laboratory including the equipment and what it was made of, how much energy potential it had in terms of static electricity and according to relative humidity and temperature of the lab. The air purity as well in particles per million cubic micrometers, basically a cube with sides of a hundred micrometers each. We had factored everything into the simulation meaning that the simulation program itself factored everything we'd included as a mathematical model. We'd done the experiment in the lab and had run into snags with our process. Given the time heavy approach to the experiment we decided it would be more economical to simulate because we could run it faster than real time. In something called phase time which can be either faster or slower than real time. When we ran the simulation, it did not do what we expected which should have mirrored our own results in the real world experiment. Instead we were getting erratic anomalies. The chemical bonds would not form on some of the atoms and we wouldn't end up with molecules that were required for the final enzyme. We looked at everything. The model used to simulate the atomic forces that bind atoms one to the other. The make up of the lab equipment. It wasn't until we looked closely at titanium that we discovered something that wasn't factored into the simulation because it hadn't been discovered." there was a pause as Doctor Hong cleared his dry throat.

"We discovered that in the simulation the artificial titanium lab hardware was affecting the production process of the enzyme by ionization." Doctor Hong continued.

"I though titanium was inert?" Alicia asked sincerely interested in Doctor Hong's findings.

"Yes it is inert. Usually. Except for a special case involving interaction with a radioactive isotope we used as part of the process." Doctor Hong's replied.

"So how did you overcome that quality and discrepancy in your simulation? I mean few robust simulations go so far as to simulate ionization unless you're dealing with weather prediction?" Zheng asked Doctor Hong.

"Well we weren't dealing with something as well funded as accurate weather forecasting but this particular obstacle was imperative to the success of our project and our progression through the next milestone. That is in terms of our project life cycle." Doctor Hong explained, his throat feeling dry from speech.

"So how did you make the simulation fit the discrepancies with the lab experiment?" Alicia thirsted for the answer.

"By modifying the system model with regard to how we deal with the micro and the macro. The alpha and the omega so to speak." Doctor Hong answered.

"Sorry?" Alicia verified she'd heard correctly.

"We modified our physics model to regard everything in the simulation as being the same thing or part of it rather than distinct pieces of it. We utilized wave slash particle duality in a physical experiment. That is we regarded the interaction of atomic forces on the molecular scale as being both wave like in terms of probability and particle like in terms of Planck determination." Doctor Hong introduced the concept to Alicia.

Alicia thought for a moment about Doctor Hong's explanation. One of the important parts of creating the SY349 had to do with the enzyme that initiated mitosis artificially. When creating the enzyme in the laboratories of Tynan And Associates she and her colleagues had used Caesium for the process which had presented no problems in the lab. That part of engineering the SY349 had been the smoothest part of the project. Seeing as Doctor Hong's process was similar it had a few points which were highly optimized comparatively to her process.

Doctor Hong's phone suddenly rang and he answered reflexively. He spoke in disbeliefon the phone as a security team approached both delegations.

"We've been asked to escort you out of the Forbidden City." one of the security team spoke addressing Norler and Professor Ling Jie.

"What? Why? Is there a problem?" Norler turned to the security team leader.

"There's a high risk situation unfolding. Please accompany us." the security team leader gestured to the rest of the delegation to follow them as another part of the team took up their rear.

"I'm sorry Doctor Hong, we'll get back to conversation again after this delay." Bryce assured Doctor Hong as he remained calm.

Alicia looked to Norler. Norler looked back to her.

"So?" Alicia asked him.

"You make sure that you come back in one piece. I don't want to spend that romantic vacation alone." Norler replied to her.

She leaned over throwing her arms around his neck and kissing his cheek.

"Love you." Alicia said as she let go and made her way to Heylyn.

Monique and Valerie were already there. They spoke quietly to each other.

"There's something going on. There's a lot of activity." Heylyn advised.

"Did you bring your costume?" Alicia asked already having hers on under her clothing.

"I did." Monique replied.

"Me too. It's a bit hot but I have it on." Valerie answered.

"I have what I need." Heylyn said still looking around to ensure their perimeter was safe.

For a moment time seemed to stand still as the first explosiong threw them to the ground. It was not inside of the Forbidden City itself but near the front entry gates. It was followed shortly thereafter by another not far from the first. There were screams as panic set in amongst the tourists. The security force scrambled to their feet helping the delegation to theirs. By that time Heylyn, Alicia, Monique and Valerie were already gone.

Heylyn and Monique took to the air first flying as fast as they could towards the gate and the source of the explosion. They'd quickly put their masks on and discarded their over garments unnoticed. Alicia and Valerie took off running for the gates unnoticed in the commotion and hidden by the crowd. They too had their masks on drawing a little bit of caution from the crowd around them.

"It looks like we flushed them out of the wood work. Warley errr... Steadman was right. It is the anomalies from Treadwater." one of the mercenary teams from Future Tangent Industries was already out the door of the van.

It was one of their teams which had rocketed the Tynan security team vans which had yielded two large explosions and started the chaos. The Chinese security forces would still need a bit a time to respond to the crisis giving the Future Tangent team the time it needed to finish it's mission.

"Does anyone have a clear shot at Norler yet?" radioed the one of the Future Tangent team members to a corresponding team inside of the Forbidden City.

"Both delegations are in cover right now but they should emerge in about a minute or two." responded a plain clothed security team member.

"Take the shot as soon as you have it. Likewise with Professor Ling Jie. Remember to drop the gun as soon as you have and run. Make sure nobody sees you." the Future Tangent team leader replied.

The assault team left their cover and started running in the direction of the delegation. Each member of the team were in plain clothes and looked like tourists themselves. That was the plan. To get in and out undetected in the fray caused by the decoy of the exploding vans. To get Alicia, Heylyn, Monique and Valerie away from the delegation so they could do their dirty work.

[Author's Update: Thursday March 16, 2017 3:20PM Keep in mind that this following section is in first draft is the preceding chapter.]

Cooperation, Conflict And Masquerade

"You're faster! Get to the source of the explosions and I'll catch up!" Heylyn yelled to Monique as they streamed through the air Heylyn's wings shaping themselves aerodynamically for speed.

"Meet you there!" Monique said as she transformed into a streak of light and disappeared towards the entrance to the Forbidden City.

Armed men had poured in through the front gates and were charging towards both delegations and the security personnel leading them to safety. Far ahead of them taking up their point were Alicia and Valerie who unable to fly were still on foot. They charged the threat as quickly as they could and as they did gunfire erupted from outside of the Forbidden City gates.

The first wave of armed men stopped leveling their firearms at Alicia who charged them in her Night Style costume. As the first shots left their SMGs she dodged anticipating correctly their trajectory leveraging her balance to gain as much distance towards them as she could while distracting them from the delegation and Valerie. She cartwheeled landing in a roll thrusting herself into the air arcing down to her first target. She slammed him face first into the paved ground of the Forbidden City, using him as a human projectile to take down another on of his comrades. One from behind her turned to fire on her. She jumped straight up into the air as the gunfire missed her ploughing into one of the other armed men.

The Chinese security forces surrounded the armed men taking firing positions from cover.

"Hold your fire! Those two Women are from the delegation security team!" the Chinese security chief yelled to the rest of their security forces.

Eight of the remaining armed assailants focused their efforts on taking Alicia down. Norler watched from a distance with baited breath as she did her thing.

"Honey. Please don't leave me by myself..." he said under his breath.

Valerie approached taking advantage of Alicia's distraction. She picked two of the armed men up off the ground slamming them together.

"Nice doing business with you." she said to their unconscious bodies as she moved forwards to take on the next pair.

Alicia swept her leg in a low arc taking the feet of three of them from under them.

They fell to the ground as she rolled towards them taking two down with her free hands then leaping onto the third with her knee.

From one of the towers in the Forbidden City a sniper leveled his rifle trying to get a clear shot at Norler or Professor Ling Jie, who sat just behind a brass statue of a lion with wings. The sniper adjusted his position hoping for a better shot waiting for Norler to expose himself enough to take him.

The armed men outside of the front gates were behind cover watching the two security vans that had been incinerated earlier by one of their members with an RPG. The rocket propelled grenade had made quick work of the Tynan Security vans which were fortunately unoccupied at that point. The armed men waited for any signs of either delegation as they'd been instructed to eradicate them.

One of them retracted in agony as a blinding flash exploded in his face. For a moment he thought he might have been flash banged by one of his own team members until a solid fist connected with his face. He folded to the ground unconscious.

Monique quickly transformed herself into a shadowy dark cloud moving with lightning speed to circle around to one of the other armed men. She once again exploded into the brilliance of a bright light blinding him. She took advantage of his predicament to incapacitate him.

Another one of the armed men had gotten behind her with his SMG leveled at her back. He'd just pulled the trigger when he was thrown into one of the walls of the Forbidden City with incredible force by Heylyn. Heylyn had landed her wings disappearing into her back.

"I've got your back." Heylyn said to her friend.

"Thanks boss. I've got the next one." Monique replied disappearing as she sped towards the next target.

Heylyn examined the vans outside of the gates for any injured parties.

Four of the armed men had taken advantage of the opportunity to sneak up behind her unaware that she could see behind herself as well as she could in front.

"You're that Butterfly lady I've heard so much about. I thought you were only in North America? Aren't you?" one of the armed men asked her.

"Sorry to break it to you but I'm everywhere. We can do this the quick way with the guns or the fun way, without them. What do you say?" Heylyn asked as she turned making her proposal.

"I say we mow her down now." one of them said opening fire on her.

The others followed suit and as the first shots impacted Heylyn, her skin took the form of metallic dragon scales as her wings shot out from her back wrapping her body protectively. She winced as the rounds impacted her wings and body bouncing harmlessly from her. A moment later their guns were empty and smoking. She remained standing and largely unscathed as her skin returned to its smooth complexion.

"Ok. I guess we do it the quick way. At least you can say that you got your bottom handed to you by a gorgeous Woman." Heylyn said as she moved into a butterfly kick sweeping both legs through the air taking all four of them down in one move.

"Leave some for me." Monique said having returned after dispatching another two.

"We've got some people injured on the other side of that van. We've got to get that van clear so the emergency medical staff can get to them." Heylyn informed Monique.

"Alright. I don't think I can quite move a van. My powers don't work that way. Sorry boss." Monique told Heylyn.

"Get Valerie and fly her here. I'll do what I can in the meantime." Heylyn asked Monique who disappeared as soon as she'd been asked.

Back inside Alicia had just taken down the last of the armed men with Valerie's help. They shook hands nodding to each other.

"A pleasure working with you again Alicia." Valerie said to Alicia.

"Likewise. Let's do this more often." Alicia said as the Chinese Security team approached their guns at ease.

"We've got control of this situation ladies. Thank you for your assistance. You will be required to stick around for questioning." one of the Chinese Security forces informed Alicia and Valerie in a commanding tone of voice.

"We really don't want to blow our cover. Why don't you take the credit for this and keep us out of it?" Valerie suggested being the better negotiator.

The Chinese Security Chief stepped forward and spoke.

"We understand. I thank you for protecting this place of our heritage and our people. We will gladly keep you out of our report. You heard that men. That's a standing order. Any man who violates that order will answer directly to me. Restrain these men before they regain their consciousness." the Chief yelled to his security forces.

Alicia and Valerie began walking back to the delegation as Monique landed. Valerie jumped back startled and ready for anything. She relaxed when she saw that it was Monique.

"We need to get a bell to put around your neck or something. You scared me half to death." Valerie said stepping back from Monique.

"Nix the bell around my neck idea. We need your strength Valerie. There's injuries at the front gate." Monique said slightly out of breath.

"Alright. Let's go already!" Valerie grabbed Monique's hand as she carried both of them into the air.

"I guess that's settled. Don't worry about me, I'll check on the delegations." Alicia said calmly if not sarcastically after them.

Alicia turned continuing towards the delegation on foot looking frantically for Norler in the distance.

Meanwhile both delegations remained in cover waiting for a signal from the security teams.

"They're interesting Women, aren't they? There's obviously more to this story than you've been telling." Bryce said to Norler.

Norler looked to Bryce assessing him for a moment.

"That's up to Alicia to speak to you about it." Norler replied.

"It seems like she's got a greater weight on her shoulders than we've been led to believe. I agree. If she wants to speak to us about it, she will. If not, then mums the word." Bryce responded.

"I agree. They have a lot of potatoes on their plate as we might say back in our Russian homeland." Katya said in agreement with Bryce.

"I'm with Bryce too. I didn't see anything except for a group of brave and heroic Women and a protective security team." Doctor Briggs agreed.

"Well I have to admit, Alicia just doesn't seem the type that would have a secret of these proportions. She's a surprising lady for sure. I'm with Bryce." Zheng added.

"I'm with my wife Katya for certain but I have to admit, I have no idea what means the word mums?" Victor said looking puzzled.

"I think that you can expect the same from each of us too. Your secret is our secret." Professor Ling Jie spoke on behalf of the Chinese delegation standing as she did.

"Thank you. I'm sure that Alicia will want to thank you herself. There she is now." Norler said as he stood waving to Alicia who began running back to their position.

Just as she took her first step the shot was fired from the tower and Norler fell to the ground.

Meanwhile at the front gate Valerie had quickly moved the remains of two vans out of the way with her tremendous strength. Heylyn and Monique quickly moved in carrying the injured a safe distance from the flaming debris.

"Uhhhh... Butterfly...? Eclipse...? take a look at this. Take a look at this..." Valerie said directing her attention to Heylyn and Monique.

"What is it?" Heylyn asked as she and Monique made their way to Valerie.

"Look at the side of this van. There's still a bit of the side panel here with a logo on it." Valerie indicated to a door sized piece of the van wreckage.

"That's the Future Tangent Logo, isn't it?" Monique commented aloud.

Heylyn was already looking at the undamaged vans. They were clearly marked with the Tynan and Associates logo.

"There's something wrong here. Check the uniforms of the men we took down. Quickly!" Heylyn said frantically looking about for one of the unconscious men they'd earlier dispatched.

"Hey! This one has a Tynan and Associates crest on his body armor." Monique said in shock.

"So does this one." Valerie said indicating another.

"How is it that we took down Tynan's entire security team?" Monique asked looking to both Heylyn and Valerie.

"We didn't. We've been setup to make it appear that we did. Whoever did this was trying to make Tynan look like the aggressors in this attack." Heylyn suggested.

"Attacking Future Tangent security. But why their security forces? That would make no sense?" Valerie asked her friends.

"These other damaged vans. They're part of the Chinese Security Forces." Heylyn said checking the wreckage of the other vans as the sound of sirens approached.

"So they set this up to look like Tynan security attacked both Future Tangent and the Chinese forces here in the Forbidden City? Why attack the security and leave the delegations unscathed?..." Monique asked Heylyn and Valerie.

Monique and Heylyn grabbed Valerie at the same time taking to flight speeding towards the delegations as they realized the full implications of what had happened.

Unfathomable Mystery; Subtle and Ineffable 莫名其妙

"Everyone down!" Alicia yelled as she scanned her surroundings for any traces of a gun man.

Doctor Lin Soo crawled over to Norler's body as he writhed in pain. Beside him was Doctor Waitak Te Hong who too was in the throws of agony.

"They've been shot!" Doctor Lin Soo yelled as she applied pressure to Norler's chest wound.

"I need a bandage! Your jackets. Tear them up into strips if you can! Anything long!" Doctor Lin Soo yelled.

"...arrrhhh... the gun man... he's on the west tower... I see him just before he fired the shot..." Doctor Hong struggled to speak.

"Alicia! There's a sniper in the west tower!" Bryce yelled just as another shot rang out.

Alicia was struck by the force of a large caliber round which spun her clear around. She dropped to the ground struggling to crawl to cover.

"Arrrrrgghhhhh! Dammit that hurts! You son of a...! Arrrrggghhhh!" Alicia yelled as her bodies accelerated healing began to repair the wound on her shoulder.

Heylyn and Monique dropped Valerie barely slowing for her. Valerie rolled coming to her feet a few steps from Alicia. She quickly picked Alicia up in her arms and began running for the delegation.

Heylyn proceeded in the direction of the sniper in the west tower having found him with her keen senses. Monique proceeded to the delegation transforming herself to a dark shadowy cloud and placing herself between the sniper and the delegation.

As she reached the tower the sniper dropped his rifle and went for his side arm pistol. He drew the gun as Heylyn breached the tower firing at her several times. The rounds bounced harmlessly off her dragon scales as she folded her right palm delivering a punch to the center of his rib cage. Despite the body armor he wore, he folded to the floor of the tower gasping for breath. She took the rifle and threw it off the tower along with his pistol.

"Who put you up to this?" she asked him as her scales disappeared becoming smooth and soft skin.

"Go to hell! I ain't tell you sh...." he barely had time to finish his sentence before he was hauled into the air. Heylyn flew hanging onto him by his ankle lifting him up to a height of a kilometer from the ground. She then hovered, her aura and wings glowing intensely.

"A fall from this height and they'll be picking up your pieces for years to come. Who put you up to this!" Heylyn demanded.

"I'm not saying a word!" the sniper yelled back to her.

Heylyn let go with one hand quickly catching him with the other.

"I'm still not talkin!" the sniper responded.

Heylyn grabbed him tight flying downward as fast as she could as he screamed. Just as they were about to impact the ground she turned sharply taking for a trip through a nearby orchard. She dangled him at treetop height, the branched impacting him they flew. She carried him like that for thirty seconds before landing on the ground with him.

"The next ride you'll do with me. Who put you up to this?" Heylyn demanded.

"There's nothing that you could do that would be worse than what Warley would do if I talked!" he said his face battered from branches and leaves.

"That's better. Did you get that Valerie?" Heylyn asked pulling her cellular phone from her belt.

"Every word. You'd better get back here quick." Valerie advised Heylyn through the speaker phone.

"Let's get you back to the authorities. I'm sure they'll have some questions of their own." Heylyn told the sniper picking him up.

"I shot your friend. Norler. Even if he lives, he's going to be breathing through a tube for the rest of his life." the sniper said a sinister look on his face.

Heylyn ignored him instead concentrating on getting him back to the Forbidden city as quickly as possible.

By the time she'd arrived they'd already gotten Norler to an ambulance, Alicia riding with him. Heylyn did her best to arrive unnoticed, dragging the sniper behind her. She took a moment to knock him unconscious so she could remove her mask and return to her own identity. When she was confident she looked the part, she emerged from hiding dragging the sniper behind her.

A group of Chinese security officials took the sniper from her as she presented her Chinese visitor's visa.

"He tried to attack me. I was so scared but I just remembered my training." she said to them as they took him.

"You did good. Thank you. We have the rest of the delegates at the front gates. We'll send an escort with you." the security team sent Heylyn with an armed escort.

Heylyn arrived as the authorities were finishing their questioning and she thanked her security escort as he left her with the delegation.

"How's Alicia and Norler?" Heylyn immediately asked.

"Alicia's much better. She's practically healed already. Norler... if he makes it through the night he should be alright though it's going to take him a few months before he can leave a bed under his own power and unsupervised. Doctor Hong's injuries were superficial by comparison. He should recover in about two weeks." Doctor Lin Soo advised Heylyn.

"Doctor Hong observed the reflection of the sniper's scope and tried to push Norler to safety as the round impacted them both. It went through the length of Doctor Hong's arm proceeding through Norler's back and exiting his chest from what we can tell. Norler would certainly not be alive right now if not for Doctor Hong's actions." Bryce explained to Heylyn.

"Alicia is going to call us tonight and let us know the fate of our delegation. Whether we continue on to South Korea as scheduled without Norler given his injuries. He would likely want us to continue without him. That decision is up to Alicia ultimately." Valerie said as compassionately as she could.

"I got the sniper to admit he is working for Warley... or Steadman... whichever one he is now." Heylyn informed the delegation.

"From what we've pieced together of this so far, they were trying to make it look like this was a Tynan organized hit on Future Tangent. I'd be willing to bet that the sniper's real target was someone from the Chinese delegation in addition to Norler." Bryce suggested.

"That makes little sense. Why would they make it appear that Tynan was attacking Future Tangent Industries and it's own CEO?" Doctor Briggs asked playing the devil's advocate.

"As far as the press were concerned, Norler and Alicia were having relationship problems. Maybe they were preying upon that impression in some way?" Monique suggested.

"Alicia and Norler made up earlier this afternoon. Nobody would have known that except for us. As far as everyone else was concerned there was a divide between them." Katya said rubbing her chin in thought.

"Maybe the people setting Tynan up were using that as their false motive. But that still doesn't make sense. I'm going to inform Werner of these new findings. I'm sure he's up to his neck in problems right now." Valerie said dialing her cellular phone.

"When the disturbed waters of the pond clear, the stones at the bottom of the pond become visible." Professor Ling Jie said to both delegations.

The delegation members waited for to be cleared from the scene and to their respective hotels. Alicia sat in a waiting room as the Doctors and Surgeons of Beijing Hospital prepared Norler for emergency surgery.

A Pond That's Clear

"...The news came earlier today when a representative from Future Tangent Industries went public with the accusations and a pending law suit. They are suing Tynan And Associates for corporate espionage regarding research that we've come to know as the SY349 formula program. Future Tangent Industries has released documents and research papers that it claims proves that it was working on the same concept for the SY349 before Tynan And Associates. The two formulas are identical in composition and process which is leading some experts to believe that the court proceedings in this case could take years to play out. That comes when the Tynan And Associates delegation is officially under investigation for hiring a security service to conduct a series of violent attacks which resulted in the destruction of an estimated seven hundred and fifty million Yen in damage and the near fatal shooting of its own CEO, Walton Norler. Chinese delegation official Doctor Waitek Te Hong, from Tatung University in Taiwan was also injured as were a number of security force members hired by Tynan And Associates. Tynan And Assciates Senior Executive Officer Helmut Werner responded in a press conference held earlier today in Toronto, Canada." the news anchor paused as the footage of the press conference began.

"First of all we are keeping our fingers crossed that our Chief Executive Officer, Walton Norler will recover from this tragedy with his health intact. He's currently in surgery as I speak and in the best care facility in Beijing. Chinese delegation member Doctor Jiao Lin Soo is directly overseeing the surgery herself with a team of their best surgeons. We're grateful that there were no further serious injuries to either delegation or any members of the public. As far as the other issue is concerned we'd like to assure our shareholders and the public that these allegations are completely false. Our legal team is investigating and we are putting together a counter suit against Future Tangent Industries." Werner spoke in a calm and collect voice addressing the press.

The doors to the surgery unit opened and Doctor Jiao Lin Soo emerged. She proceeded to the television and thumbed the volume down dimming the audio of the rest of the press conference. She looked stressed and worn after the fourteen hour intensive operation. She approached Alicia who sat in the waiting area with Heylyn, Monique and Valerie.

"It was a long surgery and there were complications but Norler should recover with time. He won't be leaving our care anytime soon nor are we going to release him for any reason for at least three weeks until we're sure his condition is stabilized. The round from the rifle pierced his side passing through his right lung. It continued through his body passing through his liver before exiting his belly. The injuries to his liver will recover with time however his lung had collapsed by the time he'd arrived in the surgery unit. He's on a respirator and will remain on it for a week as his condition improves." Doctor Lin Soo advised the Women.

"Is he conscious?" Alicia asked tears welling up in her eyes.

"No. He'll be unconscious for some time. Possibly the next day or two." Doctor Lin Soo responded as clinically as she could.

"Thank you Doctor." Alicia said wiping her eyes.

"I'd advise that you get to your hotel and get some sleep. It will certainly help his recovery. We've found that in cases where relatives and loved ones are stressed that it can have a measurable effect upon the process of healing. If not for your sake then get some rest for his. I'll be available any time if you want updates to his condition and we'll keep you notified. Do you have any questions?" Doctor Lin Soo asked them.

"How's Doctor Hong?" Alicia asked sniffling.

"He's fine. His injuries were superficial. We'll be releasing him by tomorrow. He probably saved Norler's life by his actions." Doctor Lin Soo replied.

"How about the others injured in the attack?" Heylyn asked.

"They too suffered only superficial injuries and most will leave tonight if not tomorrow." Doctor Lin Soo replied to Heylyn.

"Thank you Doctor so much for your efforts and for saving Norler. We'll be at our hotel rooms if we're needed." Alicia said standing giving Doctor Lin Soo a hug.

The four of them proceeded out to the front of the hospital seeking transportation. They were flocked by reporters as the left the building. Heylyn addressed the Chinese speaking reporters while Valerie addressed the english reporters. Monique quickly found them a taxi bus and the four of them got in and began their journey back to their hotel.

It was a quiet trip for the most part until Alicia broke the silence with a statement.

"Unless the authorities prevent us from leaving, we're going to continue the delegation's itinerary as scheduled. I'm sure that's what Norler would want in this situation." Alicia said with determination and confidence.

"Whatever you decide Alicia, we're with you." Heylyn assured her.

"To tell you the truth, while we were waiting in the hospital I was making arrangements for that decision. I'm with you Alicia. Between us all we can cover for Norler." Valerie responded.

"You can count on me too. So I guess we're leaving for South Korea after all?" Monique asked.

"Not tomorrow but the day after at two in the afternoon." Valerie answered.

"That should be enough time to rest and more importantly it should give Norler some stress free space to recover." Heylyn said tapping Alicia's lap.

"Monique and I can call everyone and let the others know how everything went at the hospital." Valerie said volunteering herself and Monique for the task.

"Just take it easy tonight sweetie and get some rest. We've still got a lot of ground to cover." Heylyn said to Alicia.

Alicia remained silent and deep in thought for the rest of the trip.


"It looks like this fiasco has caused quite a stir in the East." Steadman said reading the headlines on his tablet.

"It played out almost exactly like you said it would. We predict that this will impact the vote negatively for Tynan And Associates if the Asian Alliance even agrees to it." responded Tainer, Steadman's new advisor.

"Good. How's the acquisition in the Pacific coming along?" Steadman asked Tainer.

"The facilities should meet our criteria for large scale production of the SY349. The island is in international waters meaning our operations there will go unregulated. We suspect that we'll be able to produce enough to satisfy the entire Asian market once Tynan is out of the way." Tainer adjusted his tie.

"Good. That leaves the issue of our counter proposal to the Asian Alliance." Steadman leaned back in his chair looking down his nose at Tainer.

"Our consultants advise that we should wait at least a few weeks before submitting the proposal to take advantage of the deteriorating support for Tynan And Associates in the area. We can use the press to accelerate that process." Tainer said looking to his own tablet at the plan and time table.

"And to think, all of their efforts will be twisted to benefit Future Tangent Industries while driving them into bankruptcy court and litigation. I don't think that Warley could have done a better job himself." Steadman said referring to his former identity.

"I'm sorry Sir, I've never met Warley so I can't comment." Tainer replied pragmatically.

"My boy, I'd be willing to bet that you have. Most certainly." Steadman replied with a sinister smile on his face.

Minds Walk Together In Beijing

"Is there something wrong?" Heylyn  grogily answered her phone recognizing the incoming number as Alicia's.

"I just got a call from Professor Ling Jie. She'd like to meet us at ten this morning if that's alright with you?" Alicia responded pushing aside the morning pragma.

"Umm.... Sure? Who's invited?" Heylyn asked rubbing her eyes.

"The entire delegation, but I couldn't get a hold of Doctor Briggs." Alicia advised Heylyn.

"I think Doctor Briggs and Zheng are an item if you know what I mean..." Heylyn responded.

"Really? That would explain why he didn't answer his... Ok. Can you and Monique meet us in the lobby in about an hour?" Alicia confirmed with Heylyn.

"Alright. Have you heard anything about Norler? Everything alright?" Heylyn asked grogily.

"Still the same. He's unconscious... still... My fingers are crossed." Alicia responded hesitantly.

"So are mine... and Monique's." Heylyn replied.

"He'd have wanted us to continue... We agreed to continue. Even if one of us were suddenly... gone?" Alicia expressed reaching for Heylyn.

Heylyn could feel it.

"He's not gone. He'll be with us every step of the way." Heylyn paused feeling Alicia's nod on the other end of the cellular phone.

"Anyway, I've got to get up and shower before Monique does. You know how long she likes to take in the shower." Heylyn told Alicia drawing a chuckle from her.

"I heard that." Monique said groggily from her bed in their shared room.

"Yeah, I still remember our time at the Treadwater resort." Alicia replied.

"Then... I've got to put on my peace paint." Heylyn continued.

"...And we all know how long that takes..." Monique responded nearly face down from her bed.

Alicia laughed from her end of the phone.

"Good morning Alicia." Monique said as she propped herself up and out of bed running for the shower.

"Ok. See you in a bit sweetie." Heylyn replied.

"Bye." Alicia said as she started her morning routine.

An hour and a half later and both delegations made their way to a modestly sized conference room within the hotel for a continental breakfast.

"We're saddened by the events of the last few days, but encouraged by the work of both our delegations. It is good to see that our mutually different approaches to medicine can be beneficial to our different forms of diagnosis and treatment." Professor Huang He stated addressing both delegations.

"You've been most hospitable to us on this difficult journey. Perhaps the future will see us friends and neighbors by the bridge we've built together despite our different approaches to medicine. I know that's what Norler wants to see." Alicia responded.

"There is a tale that some of us were taught when we were young." Professor Ling Jie began speaking.

On a warm starry night three star gazers lay upon the top of a hill, a clear view of the magnificent sky.

The first one, a man spied an as of yet unnamed constellation and spoke:

Look, it is a fisherman on a boat trying to catch a big fish.

The second one, a lady said looking at the same constellation:

No, it is a lady, her hair tied by red and gold silk lace. She holds a flower in her hand.

The third person, a wise old man then said calmly:

I see a fisherman out on a boat trying to catch the day's supper for a lady whose hair is tied by red and gold silk lace. She waves to him, a flower in her hand.

"Let us think of our different points of view in this manner. Two different ways of looking at the same thing can be brought together." Professor Ling Jie finished.

"In Russia we used to say: Just because they're different does not mean that the cow and the horse have to graze in different fields." Katya added.

"In Canada I think that there's a saying from an early explorer in our Country's history that goes: best to hear the mountain lion, the wolves and the moose out before turning any of them away." Bryce said intuitively.

"I think Benjamin Franklin said: If we do not hang together, we will all hang separately. I guess you could say it's the American version of what we speak." Doctor Briggs spoke having an American citizenship.

"To give up individuality in the name of cooperation is to give up freedom in the name of liberty. The truth is that you can't have cooperation without individuality. Individuality is a must at my company. Cooperation is sought but not enforced. Even I have to be reminded from time to time. Right Monique?" Heylyn spoke then looking to Monique drawing her into the conversation.

"Well, you can be a control freak. Sometimes. But all in all I'd say you're the best employer that I've ever had or known." Monique smiled at Heylyn who smiled back graciously.

"Boss, can I have a raise?" Monique quickly continued drawing laughter from everyone.

"No! Now get back to work!" Heylyn blared sounding like a dictator.

A moment later a smile appeared on her face and she began laughing.

"Monique, everything in life is timing..." Valerie replied shaking her head as she giggled.

"We've been privy to some information regarding the investigation. Your delegation will be allowed to leave China though you might be required at some time in the near future to return for a court hearing. We believe that Future Tangent Industries is using this situation..." Professor Huang He began.

"Using? They set it up!" Monique blurted out.

"Monique, let him finish." Alicia countered Monique.

"As I was saying, FTI is using this situation to leverage their market hold in Asia while running a smear campaign against Tynan And Associates. We've heard that they are attempting to file their own case against Tynan based upon the evidence at the scene outside of the Forbidden City. We've been contacted by them to act as witnesses against you. They even offered us a very large sum to do so. We are supporters of your cause and will not bend to their tactics. We thought that we should warn you before you left for Seoul. You best be careful for the rest of your journey while in Seoul and Tokyo. Future Tangent Industries will most certainly try to finish you and your delegation before you gain their support." Professor Huang He finished what he had to say.

"Thank you for letting us know. We'll be in contact with you. Oh and we have a gift for you. Please set these upon the river during the Festival of Lanterns... to symbolize our future together." Alicia said as her delegation members placed their elaborately detailed lanterns on the table.

Later that afternoon their flight left Beijing for the trip to Seoul in South Korea. Norler lay still in the hospital bed unconscious but dreaming. He dreamt of a magnificent Dragon. A serpent like creature with glowing butterfly's wings who slithered it's way through the air towards him before landing on the ground before him.

"Walton Norler I presume? You've come to join us in this realm of dreams, in the field or perhaps its your world that's a dream as it may seem depending of course on the one who deems?" the Dragon spoke to him.

Flight And Scandal

"I can't believe that they'd do this!" Doctor Briggs said fuming as he watched the news through the lcd television mounted on the seat ahead of him.

Zheng who sat beside him nearest the window of the aircraft tried her best to comfort him, rubbing his tense arm with her warm hands.

"We'll get through this. I hope." Zheng responded leaning her head on his shoulder.

The news story repeated again showing a video clip which had been censored. It was a video of his night with Zheng which had very obviously been taken by a hidden camera. That had been the night they'd broken the last of the ice between them and succumbed to their mutual attraction. It was in fact a very steamy night they'd tried to keep low key despite the attention the delegation was getting. In the clip they were both naked (their privates hidden by censorship bars). Doctor Briggs had just overpowered Zheng and pushed her onto the bed where he quickly mounted her. Their positions then reversed a moment later with Zheng on top holding Doctor Briggs down. They kissed one another passionately reversing positions once again before the news clip ended.

"Both Doctor Zheng and Doctor Briggs pictured here are representatives of Tynan And Associates. This is how Tynan representatives are using their time while in Asia. It isn't too hard to see that they have no real concern for the future well being and prosperity of Asia. Rather, more so they appear to be concerned with sewing their oats while there." the publicist from Future Tangent Industries spoke authoritatively for the press.

"Turn it down and ignore it. They're in the wrong and most people know it. They clearly abused your privacy with illegal surveillance. I mean there's nothing wrong with affection is there? Affection happens everywhere. Its not a crime." Valerie asked them rhetorically.

"Exactly but they exploited ours. A private moment between us to damage the delegation." Zheng responded.

"It hurts for a bit but it goes away. Ignore it and don't think about it. Think about each other. Think about the fact that while you were on this difficult journey that you found each other. We have a chance to seal this deal so to speak and build that bridge we've been so longing for. We are not required to give up our humanity in the process. If anything it is the reason we're doing this. Your relationship is not a crime. Their exploitation of you and your privacy is. Let that settle your minds." Bryce advised them.

"Really. Valerie and Bryce's advice is good. You should heed it. I know that Norler and I have been through the mill of public infamy a few times. If you need us we're here for you. Tynan's lawyers are already on this. In the mean time, enjoy the ride." Alicia added from across the aisle.

"I don't find it enjoyable someone exploiting a private moment between us." Doctor Briggs responded.

"For sure it isn't right, but for sure it has happened. We're here for you if you need us." Heylyn said sitting beside Alicia

The rest of the flight was quiet and nobody brought up the subject again. A few passengers commented as they passed the delegation on board the flight but for the most part it was peaceful until they arrived at Seoul International Airport.

Heart, Seoul And Distraction

Heylyn and Alicia took point at the arrival terminal first just behind their security detail with Monique and Valerie following closely behind them. The rest of the delegation followed shortly thereafter less conspicuously. Zheng Ni Wong and Doctor Briggs kept their hands tight following closely behind Bryce and Valerie. Heylyn and Alicia hit the press first trying to lead them away from the main attraction at that point which was Zheng and Doctor Briggs.

The questions flew as readily as the ammunition from any firearms they'd faced in more dangerous encounters. A situation for which Heylyn was better armed and experienced with which to deal. A common experience with which Alicia had become familiar as a result of all the attention Norler had drawn during their time together so far. The flashes fired reminding Alicia of muzzle flashes from her numerous encounters with armed assailants.

The tactic worked as Zheng and Doctor Briggs were able to slip by unnoticed.

"May I direct your attention to these marvelous Women, Heylyn Yates and Alicia Weston! Two Women who represent the most motivated and brilliant Women of our time." Bryce said stepping back for his peers as they stepped forward.

"How did you find out about Doctor Briggs and Zheng Ni Wong?" the first question flew from a journalist.

"My dear, how long did you study journalism just to learn to ask that question rather than to ask my friend Alicia here about how she came to the realization that the SY349 might be a solution to many real health problems in the world?" Heylyn asked the journalist.

"Are you related to Doctor Zheng Ni Wong Ms. Yates?" asked another journalist.

"We're sisters in spirit." Heylyn responded.

"Is Doctor Briggs a part of your research team at Tynan And Associates Alicia?" another journalist queried.

"No. Doctor Briggs is a delegation expert on Eastern Medicine and Philosophy whose expertise has been invaluable. Doctor Wong's contribution in China has been immense as has her expertise in mathematics and simulation." Alicia replied.

"Is Walton Norler guilty of the assassination attempt for which he might be charged and are you involved in the current foul play foible?" another journalist asked Alicia directly.

"Walton is guilty of being in the wrong place at the wrong time. His life was saved by Doctor Huang whose injuries were minor despite his life saving intervention. There is no assassination conspiracy. Walton Norler and I are in a serious relationship I am confident to say and will continue to be so for the rest of our lives." Alicia responded.

"Is it true that he's being held by Chinese authorities until an upcoming court date?" another question came.

"He's being treated in Beijing Hospital under the supervision of Doctor Lin Soo, the Medical program director and Chief of Surgery." Alicia responded.

"Do you need help here Boss?" Monique asked Heylyn.

"Could you cover for Doctor Wong and Doctor Briggs however you can if you know what I mean?" asked Heylyn.

"I think I get your drift. So I'm alright to use my talents am I?" Monique confirmed with Heylyn.

"As long as you can be discreet you are..." Heylyn responded trying to keep the press' attention on her.

"I'm on it..." Monique responded turning to find Doctor Zheng Ni Wong and Doctor Stephen Briggs.

Katya and Victor passed behind them just as Monique made her way forward to catch up.

"Did we miss the something?" Katya looked out into the array of flashes and microphones trying to look innocent.

"Maybe something happened over there..." Victor pointed off into the distance causing many of the journalists to do the same.

Monique used their distraction to catch up to Doctor Wong and Doctor Brigg.

"Found ya!" Monique responded as she ran cover for them.

Meanwhile back at the mini press conference Katya and Victor had become the life of the show. Victor had set about re-enacting a traditional Russian dance he'd done before in his youth much to Katya's amusement. She cheered him on enthusiastically as he struggled.

"Just like in Saint Petersburg and Moscow. Remember Katya?" Victor said as he struggled profusely to keep his balance in front of the onlooking press.

"I remember though isn't this a little cliche Victor?" Katya clapped for him.

"I'd say it's more... how you say...? Nostrastalgic?" Victor continued his dance.

"You mean like Nostradamus? ...or Nostalgic?" Katya said amused by her husband's play on simile.

"Hmmmm.... I never thought of it... maybe both?" Victor said as he collapsed to the floor exhausted the press' cameras flashing about him.

"You floundering fish, I've never been more proud of you..." Katya smiled leaning down to kiss him on the cheek.

"I'd say our delegation is slowly turning into a circus." Bryce commented upon turning to see Victor's dance.

"Slowly?" Heylyn replied beginning to clap for Victor.

Victor went about it for another minute before collapsing in exhaustion to the floor of the terminal. A moment later he was on his feet grasping for his breath.

"Whew! I haven't done that for ages. Maybe too long as my breath would say." Victor coughed.

He then raised his hands in victory (perhaps intending a pun based upon his first name) and proceeded through the terminal after Doctor Zheng Ni Wong and Doctor Briggs. The cameras flashed about him and he took Katya's arm pulling her close as they walked.

"That should give them something to talk about for a bit rather than our friends Zheng and Doctor Briggs." Victor whispered in Katya's ear.

"Perhaps you'd like a nice back rub when we get to our room?" Katya asked him seductively.

"Only if you are the one delivering this back rub." Victor smiled.

Heylyn, Alicia, Valerie and Bryce quickly caught up with the rest of the group.

"Looks like Zheng and Briggs made it ahead a good distance. With any luck they're already on their way to the hotel." Bryce said to the ladies he escorted.

"Remember that we have the evening meeting with the other delegation tonight." Heylyn reminded them.

"That's going to be formal at first. It will become casual after the introductions and familiarization. I'll be giving our delegation a briefing in the hotel lounge before we leave." Valerie reminded them.

"I don't know how we're going to do this without Norler. I mean sometimes just his presence was a comfort. Knowing that if things went awry he could throw that charisma of his into action and get everything back on track. People listened to him. I guess what I'm saying is that I've relied on that since we've been together. This will be the first occasion where we won't have that benefit at our disposal." Alicia expressed herself sharing a bit of her anxiety with her friends.

"He's with us in spirit. I mean just by being around him we've all learned from him and been inspired by him. That leaves each of us with something we've gained from him. His way of thinking. I mean when we encounter future situations, we just have to remember to ask ourselves: what would Norler do? Maybe through our mutual friendship he'll be with us in another way." Valerie spoke sincerely for the first time in a long time.

"It's that kind of thinking that will do us good. Especially here in South Korea and later in Japan. There's a strong belief in this part of the world that people rub off on each other. What you do after being with someone is most often as important as what you do while you're with them. This idea is heavily tied in with the concept of Honor in Japan. In South Korea it is a form of bonding between people. Both countries are a mixed combination of Buddhism followed by Christianity with other beliefs rounding out the remainder. The region being the foundations of early land trade in civilization through the Silk road has a history of cooperation despite their differences in belief. China, Vietnam, Laos and the Siam region which in their early history had been invaded several times nearly losing it's indigenous religions in the process became very guarded in this respect which eventually brought about the construction of the Great Wall as a result having experienced invasion and upheaval more than a few times in it's history. Japan too which had remained isolationist from the rest of the world until the late 1800s. Still this idea of the fact that we rub off on one another and our choices after we meet with someone are as important as our choices while with them. You could say they follow this idea very much. That is why so many ideologies that hold opposition to the Far East of Asia attempt to sabotage a person's behavior during or after a person has interacted with someone of a Far East culture. Believe me, I know from personal experience. A sort of hidden racism that still exists in society to this day. Not so much common in this part of the world but to be aware of it is important because your behavior after dealing with someone from the Far East is often as important as your behavior while dealing with them as I've said. If someone spurs you to a bad reaction or bad behavior, it could be seen as dishonoring the person or persons with whom you met. Remember this because this concept is important. It has in history resulted in the loss of big deals in business and trade, just by strategically coordinated attempts to bring out the worst behavior in a diplomat or merchant at a key moment in time to the benefit of an interloper. Defending and protecting this concept is an integral part of rebuilding the bridge between West and East." Heylyn advised her friends.

"I don't think that Doctor Briggs could have put it better himself and this is his area of expertise." Bryce tried to compliment Heylyn academically.

"Well growing up in a Chinese household in North America you tend to figure out about these things. You find your friends quickly and hang onto them for life. Alicia and I have been friends since we were sixteen. Besides, I do a lot of business in Europe and the Far East of Asia with many designers, fabric manufacturers and cosmetics companies. From France and Great Britain eastwards across the board to Japan. As far as the art of the deal goes, this is mandatory to know when trading with the Far East as much as being fair in your business dealings. One area I'm thankful for is that my martial arts training didn't focus solely on fighting or defense techniques. It included history, art and culture as well. I even learned to play the Guzheng through my martial arts classes as well as studying Chinese calligraphy and reading some of the ancient languages in China. I'd say that in martial arts, that the word arts is the key word. The martial part is more about being skilled in order to protect the arts. I'd say that it's the same in traditional dojos and dojangs for both Japanese and Korean martial arts. There's a physical component, but there should always be a spiritual one as well and certainly one for the heart and mind. It's not strictly about fighting except perhaps fighting your own self limitations. The concept of developing martial prowess came from two origins. The first being a formalized method of combat utilizing farming tools as weapons." Heylyn continued.

"Farming tools? Why would a farmer ever want to attack someone?" Valerie asked in surprise.

"Farming tools along with the discovery of the means to create fire are the foundation of every civilization. Once you get to the point that you're cultivating land for the purpose of growing food to support your population and feed your livestock that's usually the starting point at which a civilization requires weapons and an army to protect it. In fact in just about every civilization the world over, the development and advancement of farming tools coincides with the development and advancement of weapons." Bryce interjected as they walked towards the baggage area.

"Precisely. In China much of the early development of civilization was spread across it's vast territories in farming villages. There were few concentrated settlements so the farmers had no local army to protect their produce. Marauding was common in the fringes of the territory against these farming communities and so they developed a martial system which employed the use of farming tools as weapons. This was the first form of early martial arts employing weapons for an organized martial system of training." Heylyn told them as they arrived at the baggage area.

"And what was the second?" Alicia asked sincerely interested as she looked for her baggage.

"The second originated from Buddhism extending from as far as India and it's eventual spread to Gojoseon, through Angkor and up into China and Japan. Since in the early days much of the time of early Buddhist monks and practitioners was set aside for development of the mind and spirit through meditation, some Buddhists got together and decided that the body was as much a part of the process of enlightenment and Nirvana as was the mind and spirit (or Chi). So they developed a brutal regimen of exercise to fine tune their bodies to peak performance that is difficult for many Westerners to comprehend. It could easily be likened to the kind of constant training that Navy Seals and other mission critical forces might undergo but on a daily basis continuing well into their old age. These Monks were hardened beyond any fathomable measure. Slowly they began developing techniques by observing the nature around them and the beginnings of unarmed martial arts combat training began. It is said that in one instance that ten such Monks were dispatched to deal with pirates raiding the shores of China in the South China Sea. Ten were sent to deal with a hundred pirates. One Monk was lost during the battle and all of the pirates were dispatched. This could easily be taken as folklore but having seen some of the modern greats during my training, I'd be inclined to believe it. The history is much the same in Korea (or Gosojeon at that time) and Japan. Japan and Korea had been many times in their early history mortal enemies. Their history of martial arts developed as a result of this conflict between them strengthening the development of their martial arts through warfare with each other and a few civil wars fought during their feudal periods." Heylyn picked up her suitcase placing it on the floor beside her ready to wheeled away.

"So how did a Woman such as yourself become involved in martial arts?" Bryce asked her honestly.

"I'll take that as a compliment." Heylyn responded.

"It wasn't meant any other way but as you're taking it." Bryce replied getting his luggage.

"It was sort of a calling for myself really. I began when I was around seven years old. I started with Goju Ryu. A form of Japanese Karate in the Shotokan tradition. Goju in Japanese means hard soft, while Ryu means warrior. So it literally means hard soft warrior. I achieved my black belt around the age of nine under the strict and wise instruction of Kyoshi Morgan Hind and then continued by studying Tae Kwan Do thereafter under our instructor Hoon Kwang whom we simply referred to as "Tiger". He was another great instructor like Kyoshi Morgan Hind, both teaching about the history, culture and arts as much as fighting style. I received my black belt. I then continued studying Kung Fu and a specialized form of Wing Chun under Sifu Jinn Hua. So when you say a Woman such as myself, I take that as a compliment because other Women such as myself like Sifu Jinn Hua and many in history were in fact expert practitioners of these arts. In fact, Wing Chun was developed by a Female Buddhist Monk. Nobody wanted to fight her because she was a Woman, and she'd only take students who did challenge her. Many of those that challenged her were trained in other martial arts and experts in their own schools. She defeated them all of course and hence they became her students. She taught them the original Wing Chun and they carried on the tradition and the school creating schools of their own, some combining it with the arts they'd previously known or sticking to her pure form. So you could say that I'm in good company with ladies like her. It's humbling." Heylyn replied confidently but modestly.

"It's an Honor to be in your presence." Bryce responded both bowing to her and presenting her with the open palm bow.

"Bryce, would you turn down the charm for bit? We're trying to get our luggage here." Valerie replied sarcastically drawing a bit of laughter from the rest of them.

"Thanks Heylyn. Knowing these things will come in very handy in this leg of the journey." Alicia said having retrieved her luggage.

"Alright. It looks like we're in business. Let's get to the hotel and catch up with the others. We've got a busy night ahead of us." Valerie urged them.

They wheeled their luggage out to the carport and taxi pickup where a large van awaited them. Their security detail had shadowed them the whole way keeping them as safe as they could but the real test had yet to come.

[Sunday April 16, 2017 6:34PM Updates proceeding]

Night Club And Nurse Appreciation

As luck would have it, Zheng and Doctor Briggs arrived somehow managing to remain low key in the lobby of the hotel while Monique dealt with the front desk for their respective rooms. Their hotel room doors were opened by way of smartphone software which interfaced with the hotel's management system. Monique quickly figured out the software after installing it on her phone. She then made her way back to Zheng and Doctor Briggs showing them as they made their way to the elevator and up to their rooms.

Alicia, Heylyn, Valerie, Katya, Victor and Bryce arrived shortly thereafter making their way to their rooms just in time for a short rest before the soirée. Monique rested in her bed quietly while Heylyn spent an hour speaking on the phone with the three staff she'd left in charge of her company West Meet East International back in Toronto.

Geoff had been the studio manager for the last year and director of photography in the years prior. He'd the most seniority in her company next to Heylyn herself. He'd been given the task of handling her day to day business and coordinating all current projects while Delia Welmer managed everything relating to the models and photo shoot scheduling. Meanwhile Kori Jongliyu kept the production pipeline going, producing Heylyn's backlog of designs working with the sewing and fabrication room. She also ensured that any sets in the studio were built and decorated in a timely manner. Between the three of them they managed to just barely fill Heylyn's shoes or so they'd joked with her on the phone. Heylyn happily conceded that they were probably exceeding her's by a margin by working together.

Victor enjoyed the backrub he was promised by his wife Katya. She poured on the gratification much to his enjoyment and relaxation. When she was done, he reciprocated much to her delight.

Bryce had the room entirely to himself while Doctor Briggs and Zheng spent the rest of the day together in her room enjoying their mutual company. Bryce spent most of his time catching up on the scientific periodicals he'd missed during the course of their trip. He'd cleaned and readied himself an hour before the soirée and headed up to the lounge sitting in with a guitar based jazz trio on the grand piano. It was an unannounced cameo much to the amusement of the patrons many of whom were tourists in Seoul. The Piano's rich timbres and percussive rhythm filled out the melodic presence of the Jazz Guitar, the Upright Bass and three piece Drum kit, which was played deftly with brush sticks of course.

Not long after he'd started Alicia and Valerie arrived at the lounge looking ravishing. Bryce joined them at their table after they'd finished their piece Got My Eyes On You. The guitarist thanked Bryce and the trio continued their set.

"I somehow knew I'd find you up here." Alicia smiled to him as he arrived.

"Would you mind if I join you?" he asked ceremoniously.

"Please do." replied Valerie flirtatiously.

"Thank you. So it looks like we've got the right table. We should be able to seat everyone here between this one and the neighboring one we'd reserved. So what brings you two loverly ladies up here so early?" Bryce said eyeing over the seating arrangements.

"I guess we wanted to dig ourselves in and get comfortable before the other delegation got here..." Valerie started as the Hostess arrived with another patron beside her.

"I'm sorry to interrupt but one of the South Korean delegation has arrived." the Hostess addressed the table.

Bryce stood as did Alicia and Valerie. The tiny framed Korean lady stepped over to the table and introduced herself.

"Hello. I'm Hye Seung Ki, Chief Nurse at the Seoul University Hospital." she said with a tiny but confident voice.

"This is Valerie Aspen our delegation project manager. Next to her is Professor Bryce Maxwell. I'm Doctor Alicia Weston." Alicia introduced her peers to Hye.

"I am pleased to make your acquaintance. May I join you?" Hye asked politely.

"Allow me." Bryce stepped over and pulled her chair out for her.

"Its our pleasure to meet you Miss Seung Ki." Bryce responded to her introduction.

"Please, you may call me Hye. Thank you." Hye replied.

"Well then you can call me Alicia." Alicia smiled sitting back down.

"...Valerie. My friends call me Valerie." Valerie responded.

"Please call me Bryce, Hye." Bryce continued taking his own seat.

"We came up here early to get comfortable and to hear a bit of the music." Alicia began their conversation.

"Speaking of which, I have to go for the next song. If you'll excuse me ladies." Bryce excused himself jumping up onto stage as the trio finished their song.

He spoke with the guitarist for a moment before taking his place at the grand piano.

"Our guest tonight Professor Bryce Maxwell is going to sing the next number. It's a little traditional jazz piece from the golden age. We hope you like it." the guitarist finished as Bryce began with a melodic piano intro.

"This song goes out to Miss Hye Seung Ki. Chief Nurse at the Seoul University Hospital." Bryce announced as he played.

12/8 Moderate tempo with a triple feel


F#m7 B7#9 Em7 A7#9 Dm7 G7#5

After the intro phrase the rest the band came in quietly and Bryce's voice emerged from the speakers.

I've been on this road a long time.

You know I've seen it all.

With every step I take,

its not often that I fall.


But when I fell for you,

there was little I could do.

I knew from the start.

Nurse that you would heal my heart...
Dm7                  G7#6    CM7


I've been a little bruised.

I've been a little broken too.

'Cause in the game of love.

Feelings get hurt and hearts sometimes break.


But when I fell for you,

there was little I could do.

I knew from the start.

Nurse that you would heal my heart...
Dm7                  G7#6    CM7


I know it makes no sense,

all the other girls they want insurance.

When all I wanted was a bed,

and your bedside manner.

Your sweet medicine every night,

Should I call you in the morning?


And now I'm on my feet again.

I'm feeling like myself.

And it was all because of you my friend.

That I can get in the ring again.


But when I fell for you my dear,

there was nothing I could do.

I knew from the start.

Nurse that you would heal my heart.
Dm7                  G7#6    CM7


Nurse. You healed my heart.
Dm7    G7#6          CM7#11 13

Bryce finished drawing an applause from the audience and a few tears from Hye's eyes.

"Ladies and Gentlemen, Mr. Wade Sunny on guitar. Jeong Joon on upright bass and Mr. Steve Morgan on percussion." Bryce introduced the band one by one, each stepping forward or standing for the applause.

"Nothing like an old classic to heal the heart. So where were we?" Bryce said as he returned to the table.

"I think you were about to get the Hostess to bring a tissue for Hye." Valerie replied with accented sarcasm.

[Tuesday April 18, 2017 3:00PM Update proceeding]

"Forgive me if that was a little bit over the top but I really feel that there has been no mention of the importance of Nursing in any approach to healing. Certainly a big part of Western medicine and one that we've neglected on this journey. Hye here is the first delegate representative that we've encountered from the field of Nursing. If the left leg of medicine are Doctors then surely the right leg must be the Nurses. If you'll excuse me, I'm going to get the Hostess to bring a tissue for Miss Hye." Bryce announced to Valerie and Alicia.

Alicia grabbed his arm as he walked by stopping him.

"Forgiven. I can honestly say that's why Norler made the suggestion that you be a member of this delegation." Alicia admitted to him.

"I'm not surprised. After all the man obviously has great taste in the company he picks not to mention Women. I'll thank him myself when he's on his feet which I'm sure will be soon." Bryce smiled and winked at Alicia continuing towards the Hostess.

"Let's hope." Alicia whispered.

Bryce returned to the table a moment later.

"She's bringing one for you now." Bryce assured Hye who thanked him.

The Hostess arrived with the tissue leading three more guests, a lady and two more men. The guests thanked the Hostess and introduced themselves as Bryce stood. It was the lady who stepped forward first.

"Hello. I'm Professor Areum Iseul from the Seoul National University. I see you've already met our Chief Nurse Hye Seung Ki?" Professor Iseul smiled gesturing to Hye.

One of the men, the younger one in his early forties stepped forward introducing himself.

"Pleased to meet you. I am Doctor Joon Myung from the Asan Medical Center." he smiled genuinely and earnestly accepting Bryce's handshake as the last guest waited before introducing himself.

"I'm Doctor Kyung Chul. I'm the Chief Physician at Asan Medical Center here in Seoul." a well dressed Korean man in his late forties said introducing himself.

"I'm Doctor Alicia Westin, Chief Of Research for the SY349 program at Tynan And Associates." Alicia stood greeting the new arrivals at the table.

"I'm Valerie Aspen, Project Manager for our delegation." she smiled throwing a bit of charm as she introduced herself.

"I'm Professor Bryce Maxwell at your service. I've heard much about your pioneering work here in Korea. Especially with regard to the integration of traditional dietary medicine as an integral part of treatment." Bryce said to his peers as they were seated.

"Much like China, food has always been an important part of the medical practice here in Korea. Since our relations with the West over the last fifty years and the integration of Western medicine with both our traditional and modern practices we've lacked an official program that sought to exploit that feature of treatment. It was actually Hye and Doctor Chul here who proposed merging traditional Korean dietary treatment with our modern facilities and methods. Dietary traditional medicine has always played an important role in our culture. It only made sense that it become a part of modern treatment as well, where applicable of course." Professor Iseul replied to Bryce's observation.

The Hostess arrived with a few more guests.

"I'm Doctor Zheng Ni Wong." Zheng said introducing herself.

"I'm Doctor Stephen Briggs. I assume that we're fashionably late?" Doctor Briggs asked.

"No. You're fashionable early by twenty minutes." Valerie replied to Doctor Briggs as they made the rounds of introductions.

Heylyn and Monique arrived a moment later with another two men following behind them.

"I'm Monique Defleur. Pleased to meet you." Monique said smiling to the delegates at the table.

"I'm Heylyn Yates." Heylyn introduced herself following Monique through the rounds before taking her seat beside Alicia, Valerie, Monique and Bryce.

Professor Iseul stood.

"You must be Advisor Gun Kwan Suk?" Professor Iseul asked.

"Correct. I'm Advisor Gun Kwan Suk of the North Korean Ministry of Medical Affairs. This is my personal escort who shall remain anonymous. He is required to accompany me at all times during this delegation." Advisor Suk announced perhaps a little defensively.

"I'm Professor Areum Iseul from the Seoul National University Hospital. We welcome your presence at these meetings Advisor Suk. Please if you will be seated." Professor Iseul responded diplomatically.

"Thank you Professor. I'm familiar with you and your peers here. Perhaps you will introduce me to the Western delegation?" Advisor Suk responded.

There was a moment of silence as the table became acquainted with the diplomatic pressure they'd be under.

Professor Iseul patiently went through the pragma of introductions once again and the tensions at the table eased. Advisor Suk's escort sat quietly beside him looking over the table's occupants in detail.

"Please do not be intimidated by my escort. It is a diplomatic requirement on all foreign dealings outside of North Korean soil. To prevent any representatives from defecting or giving up information deemed as a national secret to foreign powers. Rest assured that I am a loyalist and here strictly as a representative of North Korea's medical interests as part of the region. Perhaps we should keep our discussions to the matters at hand so as to avoid international embarrassment for either of our delegations. Something for which I've seen that you have quite a knack already." Advisor Suk spoke perhaps trying to ease tensions through bluntness only elevating them slightly.

"I can assure you that what the press has to say about the personal lives of our delegation's membership has nothing to do with the scope of the goals of our delegation. That comes with the territory as I'm sure you'll agree. There have been many times I've seen North Korea plastered across the headlines in scandal that may have been largely misinterpretation of the actual truth at it's source." Valerie responded in defense of Zheng, Doctor Briggs, Bryce, Norler and the recent events at the Forbidden City.

There was another moment of intense silence. Valerie's heart began to speed up as she questioned her response. Perhaps he might have been intimidated that a Woman had confronted him rather than a Man. She held her emotionless glance waiting for a reply. The table lay poised precariously close to teetering over the edge.

"Well stated Miss...?" Advisor Suk began.

"Valerie. Valerie Aspen." Valerie gave her name, her heart still beating fiercly.

"Well stated Miss Aspen. I apologize if I offended any of you. Perhaps my sharp sense of humor should wait until we are more familiar. Your statement was due and considerate. With that in mind these negotiations should go smoothly so long as we stick to the agenda and stay away from scandal and our political differences." Advisor Suk smiled still withholding an edge of sarcasm that made her uncomfortable.

Both Alicia and Heylyn could see that Advisor Suk recognized the pressure they were under and was using it to usurp the power of discussion for himself. There seemed no malice intent. Perhaps it was the playful sarcastic humor to which he'd referred. North Korea had been a pin cushion for world disapproval many times before. That had likely resulted in a firm stance to foreign relations that probably manifested itself in the hardened and defensive attitudes of it's foreign representatives. Advisor Suk was no different. He was just using this impression to his advantage and it was a power that the world had given them. It certainly wasn't as simple as one side is the good and the other side is the bad as most people are led to believe. He was a diplomat on foreign soil where the many tensions of recent history had left scars on either side. Some of these scars were still tender for both parties. Not to mention the importance of the principles of governance and how it becomes manifest were at hand. It was in these few moments that they'd received a lesson in diplomacy that they could not have been taught any other way other than experience.

"So it is my understanding that you seek approval for your miracle cure, the SY349 treatment by way of a fund that pays for its costs across all income boundaries so as to make it available globally. For the sake of our dealings, specifically here in East Asia?" Advisor Suk confirmed.

"That's correct. That's exactly why we're here." Alicia replied confidently.

"The fact that it was voted down the first time holds no bearing to you in these proceedings?" Advisor Suk asked.

"That fact is of the utmost importance. We're here to ensure that Eastern medical principles are preserved and that both Eastern and Western medicine can coexist and benefit from one another. This miracle cure is at the current forefront of Western medicine. It needs to be available to everyone everywhere despite income levels and boundaries." Alicia replied staying her ground.

[Wednesday April 19, 2017 12:00AM Updates proceeding]

Into The Night

"I hope that we haven't missed anything important. Sorry we ran a bit late." Katya arrived moving quickly on her heels practically dragging Victor behind her.

For moment the tension seemed to pass with their distraction easing Valerie's concern.

"You're not late by our clock. There's still ten minutes." Professor Iseul stood as did Bryce.

"Good. I hope that we're not interrupting. Please let us be seated. Oh, I forgot. I am Doctor Katya Piotr." Katya managed a playful curtsy for the guests.

"And I am Doctor Victor Piotr at your service." Victor said bowing in jest, his arms spread wide.

The table got through another round of introductions and finally settled into silence.

"...As I was about to say, have you given any thought to what this is going to mean for Korean healthcare and the state of healthcare in East Asia? In this another Western attempt to monopolize the East and rob us of our cultural identity by instilling your superior Western values?" Advisor Suk asked continuing his pressure right from where he'd left off.

"I can assure you that our goals are about getting this treatment into the hands of everyone. This is the front line for this issue. If we put a price and market value on the right to health, especially when it comes to the future treatments the genetic sciences will allow, we'll be making the process of natural selection dependent upon market system and economy. The market prices for such treatments will determine who gets to live and who doesn't. We believe that when a ground breaking medical treatment that has a high success rate is available, it should be available to everyone. The research and development has to be paid for though or nobody will develop such treatments. Health care standards are not the same the world over nor is there universal coverage everywhere. What we propose with this fund is that it will cover the cost of any treatment that employs use of the SY349, given its track record and success rate. Tynan And Associates is creating the fund itself. Your support and vote in the Asian Alliance is needed to implement coverage in the Far East. Your vote will make this cutting edge treatment available to all of your citizens. We believe that despite its high rate of success that it can be improved. Given our research we believe that much of the treatment would work well with existing Eastern philosophies from India all the way through to Japan and augment the effectiveness. You could say it's where our two systems of medicine meet and finally benefit one another. The fund is about making sure that is available to the people. Everyone. Imagine being the Medical Advisor that brings that kind of healing ability to your people." Alicia responded throwing Advisor Suk a bone.

"What I think Advisor Suk is speaking of is, will this treatment replace our current practices with Western practices?" Professor Iseul challenged.

"No. Not at all. It is the same as giving you another tool to fight disease. In fact one that you can improve with your existing traditions and knowledge. We expect that you will share what you learn if you improve the treatment by combining it with your existing traditions." Alicia replied.

"Our traditions combine many different aspects. Just what do you mean when you say by combining it?" asked Hye.

"One of the aspects of this treatment is a remarkable breakthrough that actually seems to be tied in with the placebo effect." Alicia explained.

"Wait... are you trying to sell us on the idea of charging people for a placebo? Are you trying to sell us the Emperor's new clothes? Selling us nothing for something? Do you take us for fools?" Advisor Suk responded.

"No. What I am saying is that the SY349 treatment has some remarkable qualities. It is applied in two stages. The first stage is in the form of an ingestible pill which we call the marker. It is quickly distributed throughout the body to each and every cell, painting them with an enzyme making them receptive to the stage two treatment. The stage two treatment is applied in the form of a spray which contains the radioactive isotope. This isotope has some remarkable qualities when it is received by the marked cells. It affects cellular mitosis giving the RNA messenger access to the original first copy of it's originating genome. The prime genotype through Quantum Dynamics. So when the cell reproduces, it using this other copy of the genome for error correction and even improvement." Alicia continued explaining the properties of the SY349 to the delegates.

"Where does this other prime genotype come from? Is it hidden in our cells already?" Doctor Chul verified with Alicia in amazement.

"No. It's existence is the result of the interaction between the stage one marker and the stage two isotope. It exploits the Quantum soup that make up the atomic particles of the cell and genome itself." Alicia tried to explain to them getting close to the limits of her understanding of the SY349's mysterious operation.

"These genome copies are manifestations of a genotype from another universe. Another time/space manifold if you will. It doesn't damage our space/time at all. It merely remembers or foretells of the same genome in another part of space time. The genome is recalled from either direction of time. Forwards or backwards. Actually in this case the direction of time seems to be irrelevant. Even subjective which is both bizarre and beautiful if you think about it." Bryce interjected.

"So how is it that you expect that our traditions might affect this or improve it?" Doctor Myung leaned forward in his seat.

"One of the most amazing qualities is the aesthetic design of whatever the second stage is applied to has an effect upon cellular mitosis. So in other words, artistic design can shape the effects of the SY349 and this is tied in with the artistic tastes of the person being treated." Alicia struggled to explain herself effectively.

"So I take it this is where the placebo effect ties in?" Professor Iseul confirmed.

"Precisely. The fact that the aesthetic design of whatever the stage two treatment is applied has an impact is an important cue that tells us that the subjectivity of the treated has an effect upon the treatment. A very measurable effect. In fact, that's an area that we haven't even begun to explore." Alicia assured them.

"And you feel that given this nature, that the treatment could benefit from Eastern philosophies?" Heylyn asked strategically more for the benefit of the other delegation.

"Absolutely. It's miraculous that at the very boundaries of where our Western science can take us that we find ourselves once again returning to some of the foundations of Eastern philosophy. We can benefit from each other in this way." Alicia finished.

"I move that we will continue this discussion tomorrow. You have given us much to consider." Advisor Suk seemed taken back.

"I agree. In this short conversation we've covered much ground. Let us examine this in detail tomorrow. The rest of tonight is about relieving some of the tension so we may have fresh energy tomorrow." Professor Iseul suggested.

"I'd say the best way would be a dance? Shall we?" Bryce offered his hand to Professor Iseul who smiled for him.

"I'd be delighted." she replied.

"What's up Doc? Are you up for it?" Zheng asked Doctor Briggs.

"I wouldn't have it any other way." Doctor Briggs accompanied Zheng to the dance floor.

"Shall we?" Victor asked Katya.

"We shall. But do not pull what you pulled in the airport terminal here on the dance floor." Katya reminded Victor.

"Despite your massage I'm still very sore from that. We'll stick to less strenuous dance, ya?" Victor grabbed his wife's hand bringing her out to the dance floor.

Doctor Myung asked Hye out to the dance floor who of accepted graciously.

Doctor Chul in turn asked Valerie who too accepted.

Advisor Suk sat quietly in his chair eyeing the delegation.

"Well I guess that leaves us to hold the fort." Heylyn said to Alicia and Monique.

"Forget that! I'm dancing with or without a partner!" Monique jumped up and onto the dance floor by herself.

Alicia and Heylyn looked at each other for a moment. Both stood simultaneously running out to join Monique on the dance floor.

Another moment later and Advisor Suk joined them while his escort kept a close eye on him.

The Life Of The Night (In South Korea)

The night had found both her and Heylyn dancing and singing the Alma Mater of the high school they'd attended together. Monique had tried to envision the two of them in school but instead watched their display for an approaching thirty something approximation. The night had become an enjoyable fog to her and in light of Norler's situation it was the first time she'd spent with her friends in a long time.

Hye, the Korean Nurse and Professor Iseul had even joined them on the dance floor. Hye had kicked her shoes off for comfort much to the admiration of the many men who'd eyed her thin and curvaceous legs. Monique had watched Heylyn in amusement not used to seeing her boss letting loose in such a manner. In the end Alicia, Heylyn, Monique, Valerie, Zheng, Hye, Professor Iseul and Katya had danced up a storm while Bryce, Doctor Briggs, Doctor Chul, Doctor Myung, Advisor Suk and Victor had talked shop. Their tongues and inhibitions loosened by alcohol, music, good service and environment.

Alicia had remembered the dance she'd talked her friends into, each of them taking the role of one of the four amino acids: Adenine, Cytosine, Guanine, Thymine and turning the spectacle into a dance much to Heylyn's amusement.

"We're experimenting! Come on!" She'd encouraged.

Once her friends had understood what Alicia had been implying they played along happily enjoying every moment. A friendly thought experiment between peers on the dance floor.

Doctor Chul had managed to lure Bryce, Advisor Suk, Doctor Briggs and Doctor Myung into a heated debate about the benefits of dietary medicine. They'd debated the issue from their respective areas of expertise much under the influence of Soju. In the end it was Doctor Chul and Bryce who'd trumped the debate with their combined knowledge of Medicine, Biology and Quantum Physics.

At the moment of their victory Bryce had tapped his ally Doctor Chul on the shoulder when he'd realized that the Women were simulating the genetic formation of amino acids through RNA on the dance floor. Doctor Chul had nearly choked on his Soju when he'd seen Hye and Professor Iseul taking the positions dictated by such a nuclear structure. The ladies danced as if it was natural to them, making the science and medicine of it appear like art.

Bryce spied a tear emerge on Advisor Suk's eye as he marveled at the creative inventiveness of these free minded Women and Scientists. His peers.

"Never underestimate the power of art and the dance. Nor the beauty of the female mind." Bryce responded a smile stretched across his face.

"No doubt here my friend. Just admiration and wonder." Doctor Chul replied.

A moment passed.

"...and a healthy quantity of Soju." Bryce smiled at Doctor Chul who patted him on the back.

"Drink up boy. Its good for you in moderation." Doctor Chul responded.

"I guess I'm moderating. I've only had two and that was an hour ago." Doctor Myung said clearly amused by his peers.


Alicia awoke startled by the ringing of her cellular phone a little shocked to find herself in her hotel room.

"Hello?" Alicia answered the phone groggily.

"Hi honey. I'm awake." Norler replied almost oblivious to their time apart.

Alicia held her breath for moment unable to speak. The tears welled up in her eyes. Perhaps the tears she'd held for Norler when he'd fallen to the sniper's round.

"Its alright. You don't need to answer right now. I'm alright. How are you babe?" Norler asked.

"I'm good. I... I'm so... I..." Alicia responded choking on her own speech.

"I'm going to be here for a couple of weeks. Doctor Jin Soo told me about what had happened. She told me that there's going to be a legal hearing here. I haven's spoken to Werner yet but I'm calling him next. You're the only one who knows I'm awake." Norler spoke to her intuitively.

"Honey. So much has happened. Someone tried to hurt you. They tried to hurt Professor Jing Jie too. Future Tangent Industries seems to be involved though we don't have the evidence we need. Remember the identity mix-up you pointed out? We think that's somehow connected." Alicia cried to him.

"Those are pretty serious charges. Are you sure?" Norler asked her verifying.

"Yes. Heylyn and Monique uncovered evidence at the crime scene at the Forbidden City that link Future Tangent Industries to the ownership of the vans which employed the gun men used in the attack. Whoever did it tried to make it appear as if Tynan was responsible..." Alicia explained.

"Alright. I'm going to speak with Werner. You continue with the delegation and use your heart Alicia. Stick with your friends. They're your best advisors in this situation. If you need to use your other identity. You know the one that I mean, you do it. I support you and your choices all the way honey. Do whats right. We're standing up for more than just our own rights. These are the rights of all people. I'm healthy and I'm fine. We'll be together soon." Norler said with confidence from his bed in Beijing.

"Promise me that you're fine." Alicia asserted.

"I promise Alicia. I'm fine. We'll be together again.  Bye. We'll talk soon." Norler said with presence and confidence.

"I love you." Alicia replied.

"That's the only reason why I'm alive. You know I love you." Norler replied.

"Talk soon?" Alicia asked.

"Soon Alicia. You know it. Bye." Norler answered.

Alicia called Heylyn first and then Valerie letting them each know the situation. Within the hour the entire delegation was aware and the news began to spread throughout the press.

Alicia and the other ladies had managed to stave off the after effects of alcohol by keeping herself regularly hydrated with water during the the prior evening's events. They'd also enjoyed a healthy and well balanced meal before dancing for the night. She surmised that with a combination of regular hydration and physical activity like dancing her body felt great the next day.

Bryce, Doctor Briggs and Doctor Chul on the other hand were a little under the weather. They'd still managed the early continental breakfast but had stayed away from anything that would further dehydrate them, instead opting for water and fiber rich foods such as fresh fruit and juice.

"So how does this great news affect our current itinerary?" asked Zheng.

"For now we'll be continuing as we've planned. Norler will be advising us at a distance. A representative at the University of Beijing has been in correspondence with Seoul University and they're working on getting us a portable video conferencing system before today's late afternoon meeting." Valerie told the delegates.

"Norler will only be taking part as long as he has energy. He's still very drained as a result of surgery and recovery. Doctor Lin Soo will be present to advise on such decisions." Alicia added.

"What about our discoveries with regard to the alleged involvement of Future Tangent Industries in the latest attack?" Monique asked.

"Werner has a legal team working on this around the clock. They have an investigative team in Beijing right now. Arrived a few hours ago. We've given them our evidence and they have access to the same evidence that the Beijing Security Service does. They'll be building Norler's defense from this and the case against Future Tangent Industries." Valerie replied answering Monique's question.

"What about the misidentification of this Steadman person on Future Tangent's staff?" Heylyn asked looking to Alicia and Valerie.

"We're going to have to check that out ourselves. We're at a bit of a loss because Norler is the only one who remembers what Steadman looks like. He says we me at one of the presentations that him and I attended a while ago and that I'd recognize him once I'd seen him. He says their not the same person as they're touting him to be. That's something we'll be checking out between  here and Tokyo." Alicia said thinking hard about what Norler meant.

 "Where does that leave the rest of us?" Bryce asked taking a healthy sip of his water.

"We'll be doing everything together. We'll travel together. Attend the meetings together. The only thing we won't be doing together is what Heylyn, Monique, Valerie and I are better equipped to do. I'd rather not discuss that here but I'm sure you know to what I'm referring." Alicia addressed them.

"If that situation is related to the SY349. I mean that of which you four are capable. How is it that we know that the SY349 is stable enough to be used on other people?" Zheng asked an honest question a look of concern on her face.

"The SY349 that made us is not the same SY349 that is distributed for treatment. They are two different versions of essentially the same thing. However. The SY349 Series One operates in both directions of time, the past and the future when referencing the optimum RNA generations for cellular mitosis. Series Two operates in only one direction of time. The past up until the present which means its RNA referencing can recall branches in genome that are unmodified or bypass harmful dormant sequences. The effect is that it can only exceed what is possible with the patient's current bodily health by a small margin versus the Series One formula." Alicia explained.

"Just enough to overcome Cancer or other degenerative diseases is what you are saying?" Katya verified.

"Exactly. But that effect is shaped by the design of whatever the garment that the formula is applied to. As I stated before, the patient takes the SY349A pill and wears a garment or jewelry of some form treated with the SY349B formula and that shapes how the treatment affects their body. It is still a mystery to us the possibilities of this relationship between the effects of the pill and the garment to which the treatment is applied. The Series Two formula never has negative effects. It either heals the patient to varying degrees or it doesn't work at all. The Series One formula theoretically could be very dangerous in the wrong hands." Alicia looked to each of her peers at the table as they listened.

"So where is this formula locked up?" asked Doctor Briggs.

"Here." Alicia said tapping her head.

"And that's what Future Tangent wants?" Bryce asked astutely.

"Just like Zek wanted from his estate on Treadwater Island." Heylyn answered.

"I understand your concern now. We're with you one hundred percent." Zheng replied.

"As are we. Aren't we my darling?" Victor said to his wife agreeing with Zheng.

"That we are." Katya replied firmly.

"Werner has some people back in Toronto looking into Future Tangent Industries. They have an Asian branch that operates offshore for legal purposes and to get around international laws regarding their research. They purchased the island of Cora Hau privately for this purpose. It's north of the Marianas and accessible only by helicopter or boat for resupply." Valerie informed them.

"I had some of my studio hands check into their dealings in Asia. Apparently they're trying to garner a veto against Tynan's deal with the Asian Alliance with the help of a contact they have in the Japanese House Of Councillors." Heylyn announced to the table.

"I thought the early signs were that the Japanese were supporting the delegation?" Valerie said looking at both Heylyn and Alicia with a look of shock on her face.

"They absolutely do, but they've got to make the sell to their House Of Councillors just the same as the other delegations have to sell the idea to their respective Governments. Future Tangent Industries is trying to undermine that through one of their contacts who in fact is a member of Japanese House Of Councillors. They want the Asian Alliance to dump us, I mean Tynan and go with Future Tangent Industries instead. The thing is they have no cure like the SY349. Future Tangent is not promising any fund that will revolutionize medicine or treatments in the region. This is just how they're doing business." Heylyn advised the members of their delegation.

"Let's hope that we can have success here in Korea and then onward to Japan." Valerie pressed the table.

"I propose that we split up the delegation. I think that we should be investigating the Future Tangent angle a bit more closely." Heylyn announced.

"What are you proposing?" Alicia challenged her.

"Heylyn's proposing that she and I investigate Future Tangent Industries in person and try to get to the bottom of their dealings. Find out about this Steadman person and where he comes from. Who he is." Monique answered.

"...I was going to volunteer myself but I'd much rather have you accompany me Monique." Heylyn agreed to Monique's proposal.

Alicia thought about it and for a long time the table was silent.

"We've got this covered between us. Some of the most brilliant minds of time are here amongst us. Heylyn and Monique's suggestion is just what we need to break them open. To find out what they're up to." Valerie urged Alicia.

"Alright. But I talk to Norler first. They attend this afternoon's meeting and they leave tomorrow for Cora Hau Island." Alicia agreed.

"Now this is really starting to get interesting. What can the rest of us do to help with this situation?" Bryce asked.

"Yeah. I'm in." Zheng said leaning forward.

"You already got our answer, or do I need to give you the Russian dance again?" Victor asked pulling his chair out.

"No! No. It's alright." Valerie responded quickly.

"Good. Then let's get down to business and science." Alicia said as they began outlining their plans.

History, Art And Culture

"A good choice though I would have assumed we'd have been meeting for our first foray into Seoul at the Statue Of Peace. After all it is a symbolic land mark given the presence of Advisor Suk." Katya said as the delegation walked the front stairs up to the National Museum Of Korea.

"It also sits in front of the Japanese Embassy in Seoul. It would be considered saber rattling if we did attend the site. Let us say that it is a site dedicated to Women who often fall victim to sexual abuse and are often used as sexual cattle during times of war. I discussed this with Valerie and Professor Iseul and they agreed that we should keep this visit away from such matters. After all South Korea and Japan have been very active council members in the United Nations movement for Women's Rights. To make such a visit would be to open scars that might set Women's Rights back a step. Turn it into a circus rather than a serious matter that deserves careful attention. I'd say we avert such issues given our track record with publicity lately." Doctor Briggs spoke answering Katya's question diplomatically.

Zheng pressed herself against him and their hands momentarily clasped.

"Well coming to the Museum makes sense. It's right on track with what we're here to discuss. A good mixture of history, art and cultural influences that forged the region." Alicia agreed with Doctor Briggs.

"I'm hoping that this teleconferencing system works. One of the students is scheduled to meet us here at the top of the stairs. If it works as they claim, Norler will be here with us in a little more than spirit today." Valerie added clearly unfazed by the hike up the stairs.

"That's music to my ears." Bryce responded trying to keep up.

Alicia looked back to see Bryce hiking up the massive flight of stairs before the museum. She stopped on the steps and waited for him. Not far behind him were Katya and Victor who were not used to the climb.

"Whew! This must be part of the South Korean physical education program funding?" Katya remarked sarcastically.

"At least its a nice day for this my beautiful wife." Victor replied.

"You try walking in these heels." Katya commented.

"You insisted. I tried to tell you this morning but you insisted." Victor quickly responded defensively.

"Its formal." Katya said keeping on her toes.

"Semi-formal. Casual footwear is alright." Valerie reminded her.

Katya stopped on the steps pulling a compact pair of bright pink court sneakers from her purse.

"Thank you Valerie." Katya said as she pulled the heels off and stepped into her sneakers.

"That's quite fashionable with that day dress, Doctor. Careful. You might start a trend." Heylyn admired her combination of dress and footwear.

"Good darling. Now could you please carry me." Victor said pinching his wife's ticklish side much to the amusement of the rest of the delegation.

"Race you to the top." Zheng said to Doctor Briggs who was startled by her sudden burst of energy as she took the steps two at a time.

He ran up the stairs trying to catch up with her.


The phone rang piercing the darkness of a quaint downtown condominium. Werner rolled over groggily and reached for the phone.

"Hello?" Werner said rubbing his eyes.

"Is this Werner?" a voice on the other end of the line asked.

"Who is this?" Werner asked a little cautiously.

"It's James from the Legal Department. I have some news. Important news." James responded excitedly.

"What is it son?" asked Werner who was twenty years James' senior.

"Police pulled a body from the lake about twelve hours ago." James started.

"I'm sorry to hear. Where is this going son?" Werner asked impatiently.

"The body was identified as that of George Steadman. You know? From Future Tangent Industries?" James said trying to get to the point.

"Again, I'm sorry to hear. What's the relevance?" Werner pressed James.

"It's George Steadman but not the George Steadman running the Projects Division for Future Tangent Industries. It's a different one, but the same person. I mean they're sharing the exact same identity." James tried to explain to Werner.

"Has anyone approached the other one? The one still alive about this?" Werner asked.

"Who's calling at this time?" Fern, Werner's wife asked.

"Just a minute honey. Its important..." Werner assured her.

"That's the funny thing. The other George Steadman, the one we've been trying to contact since finding the identity of the body seems to have fled to one of Future Tangent's remote operations in the South Pacific. He fled to a place called Cora-Hau." James informed Werner.

"That's not all. It seems they've arranged for an emergency meeting with representatives of the Asian Alliance to be hosted at Cora-Hau. I think they're going to try to beat us to the deal signing table Werner armed with all the dirt about our delegation members they've drudged up in the last few weeks." James' voice took on a serious tone.

"Thanks for letting me know. I'll get this over to Norler and Alicia just so they have a heads up. In the mean time make sure we have a verified identity on this other fellow. The one masquerading around as George Steadman. Once you have it, we'll need everything about his background and time with Future Tangent. We're going to need all of it for the court hearing and our case against Future Tangent Industries. Get back to me when you have it. Bye for now." Werner spoke assertively.

"I'm on it right away. We'll talk soon." James answered with a renewed vigor before hanging up.

Werner lay back down as his Wife snuggled up to him.

"Is it serious?" Fern asked Werner.

"No more so than it already was. Let's get some sleep." Werner replied pulling his wife close.


Norler sat in bed while the two technicians finalized their tests of the conferencing equipment.

"So are we ready yet?" Norler asked them patiently.

"We're just calibrating the cameras." replied Wen as he adjusted the angle of one of the cameras.

"You see, we're not just sending a video image of you but a holographic image with an eighty degree view able area from side to side." Xiao said eyeing Norler behind her black framed spectacles.

"A hologram? I thought that technology was a long way off?" Norler asked the technicians.

"Not really. The University of Beijing is partnered with other Universities around the world. University Of Waterloo. University Of Toronto. Montreal. Vancouver. All in Canada. MIT and Yale. New York all in the United States. University of São Paulo in Brazil, South America. University of Praetoria in South Africa. Oxford and Cambridge in the United Kingdom. Paris, France and many other places in Europe. Moscow in Russia. Mumbai in India. Jerusalem in Israel. Amman in Jordan. Vietnam. Australia. Taiwan, Korea and Japan of course. You name it. Not to mention we work with a number of large well known tech firms on cutting edge research. This is one such project collaborated upon integrating voice recognition, real-time translation technologies and of course holography and holo-presence." Xiao explained as she adjusted her glasses nervously blushing at Norler.

"I thought you needed more cameras for holographic imaging not to mention hours just to make one image?" Norler commented looking perplexed.

"No. Just three cameras. Special cameras. They have depth and heat tracking sensors." Wen said pointing to the three lens on the camera he was adjusting.

"The data and visual output from the three cameras are combined. From this we can extrapolate a three dimensional model of your face in real-time one hundred and twenty times a second. The model is then texture mapped with the visual output from the cameras and turned back into compressed data stream which is sent via satellite to the holographic projecting computer in Seoul, South Korea." Xiao explained the process to Norler.

"But how does the receiving computer produce a hologram?" Norler asked her.

"By using LISPEC." Xiao said assuming he'd heard the acronym before.

"The next logical question would then be is what is a Lispec?" Norler asked her.

"Oh. I'm sorry. You work with so much high technology in your research investment firm I just assumed you'd heard of it. LISPEC is Laser Intersection Spectography. The holographic projector contains a series of special variable multi-colored multi-phase lasers. The lasers themselves are invisible. Each laser's frequency is set to oscillate out of phase from the others. The lasers are directed by high speed motorized mirrors to project the holographic image a half a meter from the projector in space. Where two of the lasers overlap the difference in phase creates a harmonic resulting in a visible pixel in the air. One that we can see with our eyes. Where multiple lasers overlap the harmonics produce the color and intensity of the three dimensional pixel through the same technique. Put all of the pixels together and we have a full motion hologram." Xiao turned back to the computer mouse and began running the calibration sequence.

"I'm impressed. Great to see the results of so much collaboration. Maybe we can get the same attitude going for the field of medicine world wide. How long have you been studying this?" Norler asked her.

"I'm a senior student doing my last year in the University of Beijing before my first internship while Wen here is working on his second year in the Computer Engineering program. He's coming along quite good. Wen initially worked on the camera system for the field of materials stress testing. The first generation cameras were used to stress test passenger jets for unseen damage to their wings after each flight. Wen worked with the optics team in one company to modify them for relatively high speed synchronized photography. A requirement of telepresent holography. The process is being miniaturized so that it can be used in surgery. A high quality real-time holograph can be broadcast to the other side of the world allowing surgeons to collaborate during risky surgerical procedures where the expertise of many can be combined for one operation." Xiao smiled.

"Xiao, you should be a teacher. I'm sure we'll be speaking to each other again in the future." Norler smiled and nodded to her making her blush.

A nurse entered the room "Save some of your energy for the conference meeting Mr. Norler." she spoke as she brought him a tray of liquid nutrients.

"I'm feeling much better thank you. At this rate I'll be ready to leave in no time." Norler happily accepted the tray taking a sip of the concoction through a straw hoping to quell his growing hunger.

"I didn't just come in here to feed you Mr. Norler. You have a call from an outside party and I'm a little hesitant about whether I should allow you to take it." the Nurse looked at him maintaining a stern presence.

"Now why would you want to do that?" Norler asked her trying purposely to charm her with a boyish smile as he folded his arms.

"Do I have to remind you that you have serious internal injuries that are going to take a while to heal. Not mention the effects to your Chi." the Nurse seemed unmoved by his attempt at jest.

"My Chi? I don't feel too hot or cold. My head is not as foggy as it was when I first awoke not to mention the acupuncture treatment an hour ago left me feeling very well balanced thank you very much." Norler nodded to her reaching for his nutrient concoction again taking a long and healthy swig.

"Alright. I will let you take this call but you better not be telling me what you think I want to hear. This is for the benefit of your health after all. I'll have the call directed to your phone." the Nurse said as she turned to leave the room.

"Thank you Nurse. Did I mention you have the cutest smile?" Norler said to her as she left.

"I'm warning you!" she replied clearly impatient with his boyishly playful nature.

"I think she likes you. As a person I mean." Wen said to Norler.

"Really? What ever gave you that idea?" Norler responded.

"Just a guess really." Wen answered Norler holding something back.

"Are those cameras ready yet?! I need them to finish the calibration!" Xiao said sharply to Wen.

"Sorry." Wen said focusing himself on his task.

"I need you to hold still for a moment Mr. Norler!" Xiao said to him impatiently.

"I'm as still as I can be for you Xiao my dear." Norler smiled scrunching his face up trying to make her laugh.

He spied the smallest hint of a smile from one corner of her quivering lip as she struggled not to laugh.


"Doctor Westin? I'm Taeyoo Sung. I'm supposed to meet you to setup the teleconferencing system?" Taeyoo held out his hand shakily as he bowed for Alicia.

Alicia looked at Taeyoo's boyish face realizing he couldn't have been more than twenty.

"So you're the technical genius whose going to bring Norler to us for this meeting? I'm Alicia. Just call me Alicia." Alicia accepted his hand shaking it lightly.

"I imagine we're going to be walking around in the Museum a bit first before we actually proceed to the arranged meeting room where Advisor Suk will be meeting us. You'll be hauling the equipment all that time. Maybe what I'll do is have them give you access to the meeting room first so you can set up while we accompany the Korean delegation for a tour of the Museum." Alicia advised Taeyoo.

"That would be most gracious of you." Taeyoo said bowing for her.

Heylyn leaned over to Monique.

"What do you think? He's kind of cute isn't he? He might be your type. He's got a good future. He's smart. Polite." Heylyn commented to her quietly.

"I don't know. I might be a little bit out of his league technically you know." Monique said to Heylyn obviously joking.

"Come on, you're only a few years older than him. I hear that many guys love older Women. I mean look at Alicia and Norler. Zheng and Doctor Briggs." Heylyn nudged her.

"What? Alicia and Norler are only a year apart if that. Zheng and Doctor Briggs are well. Special. Lets just put it that way. Besides if that's the case then why don't you date him?" Monique retracted.

"He doesn't look quite like my type but he's cute and obviously very eager to please." Heylyn whispered back to Monique.

"I'm still getting over my breakup with Derek." Monique reminded Heylyn using it as an excuse.

"I have to get in on whatever you two are saying. Sounds juicy." Valerie pressed herself between them as they waited at the top of the stairs for the Korean delegation.

"I was just encouraging Monique to go after a younger guy. Like the technician over there." Heylyn said to Valerie observing Monique blush slightly.

"What? You're cougarizing Monique already? She's only twenty seven." Valerie replied.

"Gotta start somewhere." Heylyn replied.

"Dare I ask what you are talking about?" Bryce asked the three Women.

"Oh... Cougars and other wildlife." Valerie replied.

"Yeah. That's we were talking about." Monique agreed clearly embarrassed.

"I've always wondered how Women who date younger men ended up with that label myself. I mean my wife is a few years my senior and nobody ever regarded her as a cougar or robbing the cradle." Bryce said to them bypassing their ruse completely.

"Well I have to say that your wife has done an excellent job training you. You turned out great and such a gentleman too." Heylyn smiled flirtatiously for Bryce.

"Yes, I was but a lost stray when she found me. A few years later and Rex Harrison would likely eat his own hat by comparison. Of course I'm referring to My Fair Lady." Bryce smiled for the three of them.

"A bit before my time but I've heard of it. Watch it buster. You weren't alluding to my life before I was employed as a Model by Heylyn are you?" Monique said seeming offended.

"Not at all my dear. As a matter of fact the best of us have experience from a variety of social circles and paradigms. It does a person no good to be accustomed only to one way of life and one social circle. Pretentiousness may have many faces but it often only bares one mask. As a matter of fact I'd say that you have valuable experience applicable to your membership in this delegation. Now insofar as dating younger men, that's a call that you're going to have to make yourself. As a man in just such a marriage I'd highly recommend it though I really think that you should go by your own instincts and tastes." Bryce said to Monique honestly.

"You caught us right while we were trying to corrupt this young and malleable Woman to our ways." Heylyn smiled once again.

"I'm with Heylyn on that one." Valerie buddied up to Heylyn.

"Who are you calling malleable?" Monique said sharply.

"I'm sorry to interrupt this but I'd like to introduce you to Taeyoo Sung, the technical wonder that will be setting up our teleconferencing system to bring Norler back into the delegation for this meeting." Alicia presented Taeyoo.

"Hi. I'm Taeyoo." Taeyoo bowed for them each in turn.

Monique looked to Heylyn smirking at her playfully before punching her lightly in the shoulder. She stepped forward charmingly and introduced herself.

"I'm Monique. Monique Defleur." she purposely accented her curves for him.

"Most gracious to meet you Monique." Taeyoo bowed for her accepting her hand blushing profusely to the point that he remained bowed until his complexion cleared.

"What's so funny?" Alicia said as she observed Heylyn, Valerie and Bryce staving off their laughter.

The Archaic And The Stoic

As Taeyoo erected the holographic display much to Monique's amusement. Bryce examined the contraption in amazement trying to figure out how it might have functioned.

"I can see your projection lenses but where's your screen?" Bryce asked.

"We don't need a screen for this technology." Taeyoo replied still somewhat shy of Monique's smile and piercing eyes.

"So it is holographic? How have your team overcome the projection surface problem?" Bryce asked rubbing his chin thoughtfully with his hand.

"We create pixels in thin air. Our process uses the frequency variance of two or more intersecting beams to create a pixel." Taeyoo answered paying careful attention to level the projection tower at one half of a meter or one foot and seven and a quarter inches.

"Yes but even assuming that the modulation between the two or more intersecting beams is creating a frequency in the range of visible light, it still needs a medium to reflect off of to be seen." Bryce posed the question astutely.

"They could be using Argon?" Heylyn responded carefully recalling Alicia's chemistry tutoring in high school for which Heylyn paid by making Alicia's Graduation Dress.

"Precisely. That's it." Taeyoo answered.

"I'm impressed that you remembered that Heylyn." Alicia smiled to her life long friend.

"Good teacher I guess?" Heylyn replied.

"And a bad dresser at the time fortunately for us both." Alicia responded drawing a chuckle from the room.

"I'm curious, does the machine then spread Argon into the room?" Bryce asked Taeyoo.

"It doesn't need to. There's already Argon gas in the atmosphere." Katya answered Bryce's question.

"But less than one percent if I remember correctly." Doctor Briggs responded looking around the room.

"At that density you'd be finding it just a little difficult to find a consistent surface for projection." Victor said thoughtfully nodding to Katya.

"We send a small electrostatic charge through the air at the same time the projection of each frame occurs. This lines up the Argon evenly across a one meter cube about half a meter away from the projector. By the time the frame has been projected into this cube of evenly distributed Argon and the viewers have seen it, the Argon falls back into the chaotic effects of fluid and gas dynamics until the next frame. This occurs sixty times a second at a resolution of about a quarter pixel per cubic millimeter or two hundred and fifty pixels per cubic centimeter. It was our team in Seoul who designed the device for aligning the Argon spatially during projection. The timing circuits were designed in Russia by the University Of Moscow. Most of the micro-controller software was done in China at the University Of Beijing while the system software was designed at MIT in the United States. I believe that University Of Toronto also designed the Projection Lasers collaboratively with Beijing. Universities in Tokyo, New Delhi and Praetoria also contributed to the project. So it was a group effort." Taeyoo explained.

"I can't wait to see it in operation." Bryce replied very impressed with the device and Taeyoo's knowledge of it.

"That's assuming that it's not on the fritz today. We've had some problems that result from temperature variance in the room which affects the ability of the device to line up the Argon as needed. That's why I've asked them to turn the fans off in here." Taeyoo explained as he went back to work running the diagnostics.

"We are anxious to show you a little bit of our art and history. If you will please follow me we would like to proceed with the tour of the Museum." Professor Iseul beckoned the delegations to join her as she proceeded out of the meeting room and into the Museum.

Professor Iseul led them from the meeting room as Taeyoo continued setting up for their holographic conference with Norler. Monique flagged Heylyn as she was leaving. Heylyn approached her trying to remain inconspicuous of separating from the rest of the delegation.

"What gives?" Heylyn asked her.

"I want to stay here and chat with Taeyoo a bit. I could probably learn a lot more directly from him about South Korean culture than I could from a tour. Besides, I don't exactly have expertise to contribute to this delegation." Monique said hanging onto her chair.

"That's nonsense. You have a point of view as a professional who appears in photographs of monthly and quarterly fashion publications world wide. Do you think that doesn't lend you some insight? I'd beg to differ." Heylyn advised Monique.

"I know. I just feel... out of place with the delegation. I mean here we are gallivanting around the Far East of Asia and I've barely been out of Toronto or Montreal. The delegates are all PhDs and Professors and graduates of programs I've never even heard of. I mean where do I fit into all of this?" Monique said looking down as she spoke to Heylyn, perhaps afraid of making eye contact.

"You don't need a degree to have a point of view. Education sure helps the opinion that you might form about issues by challenging those opinions and forcing you to consider them in real life. However others will never have the same point of view as yourself exactly because they've not walked the road that you have. Nobody has except yourself. Therefore you have insights that even a PhD might not have or have come to by their education or experience. In other words we all have value in our insights but owe others professionalism and merit with the skills we offer them. Just know the difference Monique. You're a part of this delegation whether you like it or not. We want your opinion. It has helped us already more than once. I'll cover for you for now. If you want to stay here, then so be it. Just know that you're important for more reasons than the fact that you can transform yourself into a streak of light or a cloud of darkness. We're here because of our experience rather than our pizzazz. Now be good." Heylyn winked at Monique and continued after the delegation.

"That's so boring... but alright. I will." Monique replied as Heylyn disappeared into the Museum.

Monique turned back to Taeyoo trying to appear sultry.

"So what do you do around here in Seoul at night?" Monique asked him.

"Me? I work. I code and eat Kimchi. On Friday I might drink Soju. I don't know. It depends on what is happen. Maybe it sounds too... too... cliché?" Taeyoo smiled keeping his eyes on the holograph projector.

"We can work on that..." Monique replied sitting down closer to Taeyoo.

History And Seoul Arts

Professor Iseul led the delegations striding beside Bryce who listened intently while observing the various displays. Alicia and Valerie were followed by Katya and Victor who in turn were tailed by Heylyn, Zheng and Doctor Briggs. Hye, Doctor Chul and Doctor Myung followed them. Advisor Suk and his personal escort walked directly across from Professor Iseul and Bryce as if in some imagined diametrical opposition.

"The Museum is divided up between the various eras of Korea's long history. From the Ancient era followed by the Dynasties and then finally modern day Korea. We'll start on this floor which illustrates much of our ancient history." Professor Iseul began.

"Maybe you could start by telling us how far back were the first signs of a people in the Korean Peninsula?" Steve asked Professor Iseul already knowing the answer himself.

"If we look back to the Paleolithic era as depicted in this display, there's much archaeological evidence supporting the idea that a tool using people inhabited the peninsula as early as seven hundred thousand years ago. Most such tools were chipped rocks, which were often used as tools for digging, foraging, cleaning animal hides and many other uses. It wasn't until about three hundred thousand years later in the Neolithic era that we see organized culture starting to emerge. Pottery and other wares produced by early tribes and villages." Professor Iseul explained.

They continued walking as she spoke.

"It was in this time between fifteen hundred to three hundred B.C that the first socio-political structure started to emerge and fledgling micro-societies were born in the peninsula. There is evidence to suggest that there was interaction or at least influence occurring between the different civilizations of the East. Much of the early Korean pottery bears resemblance to that of the people of the Sungari and Amur river basins in Mongolia. Likewise with the Jomon people of Japan." Professor Iseul continued.

"There were also the Baiyue people in Southern China if my memory serves me correctly. There's seems to be much evidence that the people of the area were trading goods and possibly sharing technique with each other." Doctor Briggs added.

"That is correct Doctor Briggs. I'm impressed." Professor Iseul commented.

"Rubbish. Perhaps that is Western doctrine designed to keep us fighting with one another over who came first?" Advisor Suk said skeptically.

"Don't be too sure. There's a lot of evidence to support this hypothesis and actually it saves face for us in each distinct society." Professor Iseul conjectured.

"My dear Professor Iseul, truth I find, is never so unifying. If it were would not the North and the South be one glorious nation without the need for our unique cultures of the East to sacrifice our history in favour of globalism and satiating the ever debt ridden U.S. economy?" Advisor Suk responded.

"With all due respect Advisor Suk, you refer to tradition as if it is regarded as a liability by the West. Likely because the colonies expanded beyond their European ties to embrace a new world, hence foregoing their ties to their own ancestors in favour of rationalism and the republic?" Doctor Briggs responded feeling the tension growing between delegations.

"If tradition were not a liability in the eyes of the colonists then aboriginal peoples of the West would not be clamoring for a future and trying to find themselves in the midst of a global corporate giant." Advisor Suk spoke seeming to savor his challenge of the delegation.

"Nor would they fall prey to those trying to reap the benefit of their claim for their own political agenda in order to divide us. If the Spanish had not come to North America, then the English would have. If the English would not have come to North America then the Dutch would have. If the Dutch would not have come to North America then the French would have. If the French would not have come to North America then another nation would have. Eventually. It just happened to be Western Europe that answered that call first. The resounding question is that if we look at the history of Europe, the crusades and every other war in the name of our differences, then how can we guarantee that the Aboriginal peoples of North America may not be at all if not for the fact that we'd arrived there first?" Doctor Briggs responded his tone sharpening slightly.

"Tradition is the road upon which we always tread. Without it we would be lost, yet sometimes it's weight is far too much to bare." Professor Iseul added.

"Tradition is the echo of what we perceive our ancestors want of us. Lore and oration is the language of their experiences trying to break through that barrier of understanding and interpretation which is blurred by the passage of time. It requires us to empathize with them while considering what we've learned without them. Progress is about reconciling the past with the present, though not to hide our mistakes but to progress from understanding them and their consequences. Your words in this regard hold no progression. They only thrust the weight of the justification for dissent amongst the Aboriginal people in relation to the sacrifice of their tradition and their land for the purposes of gaining public favour for your regime. Our delegation isn't here to gain public support for a smear campaign of your regime. It's here to acknowledge and acredit the fact that East Asia has a medical tradition from which the entire world can benefit in terms of tradition. That tradition may help us uncover the greatest mystery with regard to Western medicine and it's resulting SY349 formula." Bryce stepped forward backing up Doctor Briggs and Professor Iseul.

There was a tense moment of silence where nobody's eyes crossed paths. It was as if the entire museum was paused in time. Alicia thought about Norler, wishing with all of her heart for his presence.

"Impressive Professor Maxwell. It seems you, Doctor Briggs and Professor Iseul might make good states-persons at some time in your career. Harsh scrutiny tends to breed strength of character don't you think?" Advisor Suk relished at his influence.

"I'd consider our European history as the parenthood of what was to become our Western Civilization. Perhaps offspring that both Europe and Asia can take pride in rather than trying to rouse us to conflict?" Doctor Briggs posed somewhat defensively.

"As someone who has spent her life healing the ill of health problems in a modern health care facility, cannot you Advisor Suk as a qualified Doctor of Western Medical training and Eastern tradition seek resolve rather than remorse? Haven't we all despite our political and ideological differences shared the burden of that price by the cost of life?" Nurse Hye spoke passionately, her heart struggling to reconcile the cost of Eastern and Western life of her own family's liberation during the Korean War.

Her tears stung momentarily as the exhibits reminded both her and Advisor Suk of their connected past and its price of their differences in lost life.

There was another awkward pause but this time Alicia broke the silence.

"So what happened to bring about the transitioning of these early people into the Kingdom of Gojoseon?" Alicia asked trying to take the momentary tension down a notch and to get the thoughts of her colleagues in the Korean Delegation.

"That was covered in the Three Kingdoms, which besides archeological evidence is the only account that we have to go on." Professor Iseul answered Alicia.

"Three Kingdoms? I thought that was a Chinese literate work?" Valerie asked.

"There was also a Three Kingdoms era in Korea emerging from the birth of the Kingdom of Gojoseon and actually Three Kingdoms as well who fought to unify Korea in a similar fashion to that of our Chinese neighbours during their unification period." Professor Iseul informed Valerie.

"Similar to the clash of tribes that arose in Canada during the early 1800s between the British, the French and the First Nations. Three Kingdoms each of their own. Same with our neighbours to the south in the United States though they started as one who eventually became two, the North and the South. Sound a little familiar? You see we've all lived this history at various points throughout the ages and I'd prefer to say that we're not as different as we pretend to be, but perhaps enough so as to be of great benefit to one another. Today we're all nations of many different people still grinding our teeth over the outcome of the centuries past. Maybe its time that we move forward remembering the path behind us rather than projecting it onto to the path ahead of us?" Alicia spoke sincerely and directly addressing the tensions of moments ago.

"Are you trying to set an agenda to see North Korea merged with the South? Under whose leadership and regime do you propose this unified Korea be run?" Advisor Suk queried Alicia a piercing look in his eyes.

"We're merely saying that as time goes on and as our nations progress, that what we witness as scientists and citizens locally mirrors the nature of history across the globe in more we ways than we often realize. Our nations each have yet to evolve into something they'll each become in the future and there's no stopping it. Progress is far too powerful a force for any regime with which to contend. There's no telling the exact future. Us being here today and now is a sign of things to come. The internet and global communications have been breaking down the almighty door isolationism for two decades now and many nations have changed as a result. Those changes have allowed us to progress in many ways by working together in every which way except one: the medical practice. Mostly because of the destruction of this philosophical bridge which is now in the process of being spanned once again by physicists and mathematicians the world over who are asking the same kind of questions East Asia were asking thousands of years ago. What is the nature of the body and mind? Of consciousness? Of reality? We're here because we need to understand the answers that your civilizations found and apply them to a new generation of medicine that will benefit the world over. More so we're here to make those benefits available to everyone in the world through a fund. That's why we're here. When Norler first spoke of his idea, he was labeled a lunatic. A commie. A left wing zealot using the United Nations and low GDP nations to promote the agenda of the company that employs him. Every nation that takes part in this will be a part of something revolutionary and that's how they'll be remembered though it is imperative that every nation does take part that we've spoken with in the East. Could we put aside the dividing politics and differences of our nations and get through this together. Change and progress are forces that we cannot stop and we'd like to see future generations have this monumental health challenge met before they are even born. If we can achieve this together, then there's nothing that we couldn't achieve the same." Alicia finished feeling a familiar presence within her.

Somewhere out there she knew Norler was thinking of her.

"We will keep any further discussion to the agenda set forth by your delegation. We will refrain from regional and world politics for the time being should you respect my wishes that we do not discuss the policies of North Korea during these proceedings." Advisor Suk acknowledged Alicia's oration.

Alicia looked to Bryce, Heylyn and Valerie. They each nodded in turn. She turned to the other side to find Zheng, Katya, Doctor Briggs and Victor. They too nodded in approval. Alicia turned to face Advisor Suk once again.

"Agreed." Alicie responded.

"I suggest that we move up stairs for a few more exhibits and then to the meeting room where we can discuss this matter with Norler." Professor Iseul interjected waiting a moment for everyone to acknowledge.

Nurse Hye finished wiping her face with the kerchief provided by Bryce. Doctor Cheul looked the group over then looking down. Doctor Myung started eagerly towards the stairs stopping to wait for his colleagues.

They continued their tour of the Museum before adjourning to the meeting room for their lunch before they began their holographic conference with Norler.

Holographic History In The Making

Taeyoo stepped away from the holographic projector.

"We're live." he addressed the delegates.

A moment later an image appeared before the delegates. The image itself was slightly grainy though it looked as if someone had taken a volume of space from Norler's hospital room in Beijing, shrunk it and laid it out on the table before them.

"Hi honey. Can you see me?" Norler said looking to Alicia his smile growing.

"Perfectly. How do you feel?" Alicia replied holding back her tears.

"I'm raring to go and eager to know how talks have been going, but lets start with introductions." Norler replied from his hospital bed.

Each of the Korean delegates introduced themselves to Norler after which he introduced himself formally.

"I'm happy to see that you've met your Western counterparts, both in an official and leisure environment. I would like to say how glad I am that you were able to make time from your busy schedules for our delegation and I won't waste any more of it. You've taken time to discuss the history and culture of the region which would underline the reason for us being here today. That is to do with the fact that we need the partnership of the Asian Alliance to progress our respective systems of health care and medicine by creating a fund which will allow the patients to receive the SY349 treatment under the supervision of medical professionals around the world. Asia's part in this has to do with the distinct philosophy behind Eastern Traditional Medicine which in turn may help us in solving to medical mysteries. The first one is the nature of the placebo effect and how we can use it effectively in treatment. The second reason and the one that motivated this delegation is that we wish to benefit from the perspective of Eastern Medicine with regard to the functioning and mechanics underlying the SY349 treatment. One of the doors that will open up between us if we are successful with the creation of the SY349 fund is that Tynan And Associates is prepared to enter into a research agreement with the Asian Alliance on the condition of approval by the Canadian Senate under the guidelines of our respective trade agreements. The resources of the United States division of Tynan And Associates will of course be bound and subjeect to any U.S. trade agreements with the Asian Alliance. This will revolutionize medical treatment the world over and you have a chance to be a party to it, or a barrier. That's what we're offering." Norler got right to the heart of the matter.

"Mr. Norler, we are certainly in support of the creation of this fund and are eager to utilize the SY349 for treatments locally however there are some concerns amongst us that this may be a thinly veiled attempt to Westernize our traditions and systems of medicine for purposeful exploitation rather than for the honest treatment of patients and the furthering of our respective techniques of medicine." Professor Iseul responded to Norler's oration.

"I agree with Professor Iseul in this regard and you understand that upon my presentation of this matter to our own Ministry Of Foreign Affairs that there will be much skepticism that the nature of these deals is an attempt to undermine our own political system by injecting us with Western values. It will be a hard sell and one that I am not confident to make. I myself am skeptical about your real motives. Similar deals have gone sour in the past. Convince me that me putting my weight behind this is not going to lead to my subsequent execution for treason. My superiors would never want the North Korean public to have the impression that we are dependent upon western technology for the health of our people." Advisor Suk spoke honestly with regard to his situation.

"That's exactly what we're saying. Your people would not be dependent upon western technology at all. The treatment has properties that can only be explained by the examination of the SY349 formula by Quantum Physicists and Eastern Philosophers. Our best Quantum Physicists including Professor Bryce Maxwell here have reached the limits of objective understanding with regard to what we can garner about the functioning of the SY349. We're dancing on the boundary of what may have been called sheer quackery by some scientists only a few years ago. We can only further this understanding and therefore its effectiveness by giving access to it for strict use in treatment to Medical Practitioners of East Asia. Part of this effort will also be conducted by those who design the garments to which the formula is applied hence examining its functioning with regard to the subjective and aesthetic properties of what it is applied to. Heylyn Yates is already a large part of this aspect of the project and she even suggested that we take it to the East for the input of philosophers and Eastern Medical professionals. Our first impressions were to get the input of India, Malaysia, China and Japan. Upon closer examination and with the help of professionals like Doctor Briggs here, we found that the entire region is fertile with a resounding philosophy that echoes the mysteries of the SY349. After all you only need to examine some areas of research that have been undertaken in the region some of which are slightly similar to Shamanic philosophies found in South America, which provides the pharmaceutical industry with forty percent of the chemical components for modern pharmacology. The work of Doctors Katya and Victor Piotr with regard to Phages as well, which may be the most effective defense we have against antibiotic resistant super-bacteria. Only a few generations ago many of these areas of research would have been laughed at. Now they are cutting edge and when combined with Western medicinal technology they have proven to be the most effective forms of treatment but we have reached the limits of objective research with the SY349 and this requires an innovative approach to how we understand it. If you think that by asking you for your help that western medicine isn't swallowing the humble pill, then you're gravely mistaken. We are coming to you because we need you. Take that sales pitch to your Ministry Of Foreign Relations and they might be more receptive at the diplomatic bargaining chip it may engender you with which in turn might turn out better for the people of North Korea just as it does for the rest of the Asian Alliance. This is a health issue and one of quality of life." Alicia echoed Norler's enthusiasm for the delegation.

"I agree with Alicia on this issue. Its true. History is riddled with the bodies of dictators and despots who stood in the way of social progress in the name of control while elevating those who embraced and accepted it. Even those who meant well and had the best intentions for their people who stood in opposition to such forces usually ended up at the wrong end of a firing squad or at the end of a rope. The difference can often be seen in the level of violence afforded such revolutions and the direction of that violence as both sides of that fence become blind with fear and rage. Look at the French revolution and the violent executions that targeted their Imperial line. Even that of those who did not deserve such an end. What about the Russian revolution? The Romanian revolution? Those leaders and their court thought they were pretty secure and certainly all powerful within their regimes and yet when they'd halted social progress or tried to control it for their own benefit which often resulted in gross corruption, they fell to the rage of their own people in a violent end. Their deaths celebrated. Yet other countries like Great Britain managed to keep the strength and wisdom afforded them by their own Royal line while paving the way for democratic process and Governance by representation. Even China during its revolution did not devour its remnants of their Imperial line, instead integrating them into their society. Likewise Japan who still have loyalists to the line of the Emperor to this day and the significance of its heritage and tradition despite the devastation of World War II. Those that are still with us today serve to remind us that to embrace progress while remembering from whence we came is the hallmark of visionaries and the heart of those whose concern is for the people of their respective nations. Better to guide the horse safely through progress than to be thrown from it and trampled by trying to stop it. This is history's lesson from which every nation should learn and its current student is North Korea. The leadership caught between being an enemy of the world and the enemy of their own people, should pay particular attention. The price of ignoring that recurring history lesson is often lined with the bodies of the violently purged and the bloodshed of many people, most often those who tried to hold progress back. Those who embraced it hence freeing their people have often been raised to sainthood amongst those of their respective nations. Do you remember Boris Yeltsin standing atop of that tank standing down the coup almost singlehandedly? He was half drunk of course but that is not the point. He stared the devil in the eye and said not today, not during my guard! Likewise Gorbachev and the destruction of the Wall and during the collapse of the U.S.S.R. If either of those men were facing the other direction, where would they be now? I'd suggest for the record that they'd certainly be vilified or outright forgotten. So consider our delegation as a necessary part of progress though please do not misinterpret that as a threat but more so as an opportunity. The lives of many people may hang in the balance. I know we agreed not to speak on issues regarding the politics of the region but this issue is far too important for me or any of us to hold our tongue. If you are offended by what I've said, we will strike it from the record and I'll hold my tongue or if you wish I will remove myself from the delegation." Bryce spoke addressing Advisor Suk, finally mustering up the composure and words to get his point across.

Advisor Suk stared at the table clenching his fists. He looked to his security liaison who arched his eyebrows nervously. They both knew that what Bryce had said was inherently true.

"Professor Maxwell. There is much irony in what you say for in speaking it in my country and within earshot of certain authorities you may find your fate similar to those of the history of which you speak. Perhaps the media will ever be given a different story of what was actually said or who was involved and how the events unfolded but for certain you would disappear. Maybe not die, just disappear perhaps tortured for years after which being released in another part of the country with a new identity and a corrected view point. The leadership of any regime as you've mentioned often lives in fear of the power of its people and therefore must become more terrifying than this power in order to control it and contain it. Being sandwiched between world opinion, diplomatic dynamics and the ever growing enlightenment of the people and their possible steps to procure their independence makes the regime paranoid and unpredictable. The real power isn't the regime at all. It's the forces of world opinion, diplomacy and the threshold at which the people will boil over and take their country. The regime lies to each side of this equation while trying to contain them both all the while afraid within their depths. I would ask that Professor Bryce's testimony and mine be stricken from the meeting up until this point so as to prevent unnecessary bloodshed. Perhaps now you can see the immense pressure that I am under, assuming that my liaison here does not inform on me about this meeting." Advisor Suk looked to his security liaison.

He did not dare speak instead sitting still his gaze unwavering. After a few long and tense moments he nodded his head indicating that he would hold his tongue. Both men understood that they could be tried for treason if word of this meeting ever left this room. Their lives were both literally in the hands of every member of the two delegations and the holographic technician.

"Perhaps these words spoken here will make it to the North Korean regime and leadership through other avenues that would be less threatening and hopefully received by that leadership. Perhaps this is the chance in history to have a truthful memorial as being the liberator of the peoples rather than the oppressors. As such you have my word that our delegation will not reveal the contents of this meeting prior to this time." Professor Iseul assured Advisor Suk and his liaison.

"Likewise you have my solemn oath that the membership of our delegation will keep the contents of this meeting up until this point in time to ourselves and never reveal them publicly." Alicia offered her promise.

"I agree absolutely and have the assurances from the technicians on my end that they too will hold their tongues." Norler added nodding his head.

"Taeyoo?" Monique asked the technician of whom she'd become fond.

"I most certainly will keep this quiet." Taeyoo bowed low for the delegation members.

"I must say that this has replenished my hope for all the people's of Korea. North and South alike. Maybe one day will walk amongst each other despite the borders between us." Nurse Hye said once again remembering the price of their independence and freedom today.

"With that understanding out of the way, I would say that you have my support and the support of the health and welfare of the peoples of North Korea. Whether our vote is given is in the hands of the Ministry of Foreign Affairs and our leaders who I am sure would love the benefits to world opinion afforded by their assisting the western nations medically." Advisor Suk announced.

"We too agree to support the vote in the Asian Alliance. You have the support of entire delegation unanimously." Professor Iseul assured Norler, Alicia and the delegation.

"Then I say that we could call this meeting adjourned. Thank you for your time and support in this crucial matter to the future of world health. Thank you to our technicians both here in Beijing and in South Korea for the use of this experimental holographic technology. I would say that it was a very effective way for us to meet each other given the circumstances. Alicia honey, we'll speak later. I miss you." Norler addressed the room, then blowing Alicia a kiss.

"See you soon." Alicia whispered to Norler who caught the movements of her lips from the holographic receiver on his end.

With that both delegations stood and left the room making their way to the pickup point of their transportation.

"I would say that was a success." Valerie smiled keeping her expression somewhat hidden.

"You could say that." Monique replied looking over to Heylyn.

"Alicia? How about you. How do you feel?" Heylyn asked her best friend.

"Ecstatic and sad in a way. I mean this is where we have to part for a while." Alicia said turning to Heylyn.

"Don't worry, Heylyn and I will be done in Cora Hau in no time and rendezvous with you in Tokyo before you know it. Then we'll deal with Norler's court hearing and trial." Monique assured Alicia showing no sign of doubt or fear.

"That's assuming that you find the evidence we need for the case hearing. You know that Norler's freedom depends upon it." Alicia reminded Monique sticking to reality.

"If its there, we'll find it. We'll find the connections FTI may be using to influence the Asian Alliance vote. I am certain that once we present this evidence that convincing the Chinese authorities of the conspiracy involving Future Tangent Industries will be trivial to say the least." Heylyn's determination was apparent now.

She had been quietly observing during the progress of the delegation meeting trying to find any possible links within either delegation and their problem at large. She was satisfied now that Advisor Suk was an honest man in a difficult situation though he'd certainly proven his sense of honour and dedication to the well being of his people. During the intense moments of that meeting they'd experienced a complete epiphany with regard to their understanding of the tension and politics of Southeast Asia and their importance to both world peace and global progress. Western saber rattling would more likely result in the risk of death and make it easier for North Korea to vilify the West as an enemy of the people and redirect their growing pressure of the need for a reform and social progress against the very people of the world who supported their liberty. Perhaps if the leadership recognized this vital point in history as an opportunity to come out of this as heroes of the freedom and progress of their people rather than oppressive tyrants the growing tensions in the area would instead explode the world world economy into an unprecedented era of growth world wide.

The situation reminded her her of Jinn Hua's lessons with regard to the history of China's isolationist policy, and the immense change brought about by the Imperialists and rulers who supported outside trade and commerce such as Wu Zetian of the Tang/Zhou dynasty of (684 A.D. to 705 A.D.) and the Emperors following the Mandate Of Heaven era which started the Ming Dynasty (1368 A.D. –1644 A.D.). The flourishing Chinese economy grew during these times as did their contribution to the sum Asian, Middle Eastern and European economies. In turn this contact enriched China and may have helped to spark a renewed vigor with regard to their strong sense of identity and humility in Southeastern Asia. Perhaps the Southeast Asian peninsula was on the brink of just such another era.

Heylyn thought about her offices and studio back home in Toronto wondering how the staff were doing handling her job while she was away. She trusted them ultimately though that did nothing to quell her curiosity. She missed her home as well but most of all her studio. She missed showing up at the cafe for her morning Chai Latté with Monique and their trip to West Meet East International. She missed it all.

Then the thought occurred to her that Weltherwithsp might have something to say with regard to the subject. She'd been surprised by the fact that she'd not seen or heard from Weltherwithsp since their flight to Thailand. Weltherwithsp had made itself scarce and sometimes most often for reasons beyond Heylyn's understanding. She was certain that with their impending incursion to Cora Hau that she'd be hearing from the Ancient Dragon sometime soon and she was not too far from the truth.

Delegation Departure

Tynan and Associates had secretly chartered the helicopter for their trip to Cora Hau. Heylyn had managed to keep herself calm while Monique had been masking her anxiety with periodic spirals inward. Utilizing her unique ability to merge with light and darkness to balance herself secretly.

Heylyn stepped up into the large passenger chopper finding herself a seat beside Monique who stared out window as the engine grew louder. Despite the noise outside of the craft, the interior was comfortable and quiet as the pilot prepped for the long flight to Cora Hau.

"Is everything alright?" Heylyn asked Monique.

"I'm alright. Just nervous. I mean we haven't been involved in this sort of action since Treadwater Island." Monique answered as best she could.

"And that has you worried?" Heylyn asked Monique already knowing the answer.

"No. Yes. I mean... I don't know what I mean... I mean. I'm scared. Samias left a mark on me. So did his boss, Torman. I can't help but feel anxious every time I see ocean. I can't help it though I'd bet that Valerie has it a lot worse." Monique remarked.

"You and Valerie are two very different people. The wrongs she's experienced somehow empower her with the spirit to face what's to come. She knows how to deal with it. The past I mean. Not easily but she does it. You on the other hand have some stigmas that have fastened themselves to your being as a result of the kind of people who preyed upon you. Perhaps they're not so visible to to other people but they're glaring faults to you. Now if someone else is going to let a stigma regarding your person affect their perception of the quality of your character, chances are they have their own soul searching to do. Likely a lot of it." Heylyn tried her best to the sister Monique never had.

"I don't want people to judge me about then. About the kind of people I was surrounded by. I want people to like me for me, not for stigma or cliché. For the real me. The me I am now." Monique looked out the passenger window of the large helicopter staring out into the ocean as she played with a candied mint still in its wrapper, as if debating whether to eat it or not.

The ocean at one time had harboured the home of the man who'd employed people like Torman and Samias to prey upon the unsuspecting flock of society. On the daughter of a hard working Ukrainian tradesman and his wise beyond her years French Canadian wife. Honesty and sincerity somehow attracted the most devious of predators. She thought of her parents and wondered how they were doing. How they'd changed since that day eight years ago when she'd walked out of their Montreal back-split home when she'd turned nineteen.

Heylyn waited patiently for Monique's attentiveness to return from her daydreams before speaking.

"When others are quick to judge you about the stigmas you've faced and overcome, then chances are that's their issues, not yours. Don't make their issues yours Monique and don't be hard on them for it. That's what makes it so hard living in the public eye. Sometimes you have to eat your proverbial humble pie, and theirs too. When you weigh yourself, make sure that you consider how far you've come, and how you've laboured to be the kind of inspiration for others that you'd always wanted for yourself. As a Woman. As a Fashion Model. Inspiring. Just like the butterflies from the field. Maybe because you think that what other people regard as vanity is not art. Like the butterflies. Frail. So unequipped to protect what they loved except through the inspiration they cultivated in others. Like your parents. Maybe you're trying to be just like your parents and you don't even know it. From what you've reminisced about them with me since leaving them almost a decade ago, they did a pretty good job at nurturing an adventurous and tumultuous heart like yours. Take their lesson and go with it. Don't take on the problems of people who let their opinion of you be determined by rumours and clichés. That's their journey, not yours and don't hold it against them. They're in the audience of people like yourself. Don't abandon them and leave them in the hands of people like Samias or Torman. Teach them. Inspire them. Be yourself and not those stigmas. Most of all don't be mystified by the words alone I've spoken to you but by what they mean. Words are just like colours in that sense." Heylyn spoke drawing from her own experience as a fashion artist and her time worn pain.

"Maybe..." Monique replied returning to her daydream.

"Maybe what?" Heylyn asked.

"Maybe I just needed the help of my best friend. She didn't let me down either." Monique considered the profoundness of what Heylyn had expressed.

"So did you get all of that from your Martial arts? You know, if you can snatch the pebble from my hand you're ready to face the challenges of the world...?" Monique giggled feeling much better.

"I guess that would make me ready to face Cora Hau?" Heylyn revealed the candied mint she'd somehow taken from Monique's grip without her knowing.

"No. That would make us ready to face Cora Hau." Monique replied.

Big In Japan

"It feels so strange being here without Heylyn." Alicia walked beside Valerie as they stepped out of the arrivals terminal and towards the baggage pickup.

"I was just going to say the same thing." Valerie agreed.

"Hopefully not so much as it would be without us?" Katya poked Valerie's side playfully.

"How'd you enjoy the flight?" Valerie asked Katya and Victor.

"Well thankfully I was awake when we passed over Mount Fuji. It was immense and majestic to see. Like a sleeping giant. I tried to wake Mr. Sleepy pants but he kept snoring despite my best efforts." Katya laughed.

"My dear, when you've seen a real active volcano up close and personal, you've seen them all." Victor replied.

"Just because we did that microbial study in one of the smaller Javanese volcanoes doesn't mean you've seen them all. I mean you were practically running for cover when the volcano burped for us." Katya reminded Victor.

"My dear, I was just rehearsing for the real thing. For both our sakes. Spare me the indignity of explaining...? Please?" Victor pleaded with her passing her a wink as discretely as possible.

"We'll have to make a trip to Japan's Great Guardian Fuji before we leave. Perhaps on our own time." Katya insisted.

"Go for the late trip. Try and hit the base at about Ten AM so you hit the peak near early evening. Incredible colours and a magnificent view." Doctor Briggs suggested.

"I'm surprised you didn't mention the fertility rites associated with Fuji. Some practiced local as part of Shintoism." Zheng clung to Doctor Brigg's hand as they retrieved their belongings from the baggage lane.

"Did any of you see Professor Maxwell?" Alicia asked somewhat concerned.

"I think he made it out ahead of you. He was by himself on the flight. We were in a completely different section from him." Doctor Briggs answered.

"He knows we have the rest of the day off. I think. Maybe he already made his way to the hotel?" Zheng suggested.

"Alright. I just wanted to make sure. Lets make our way to the passenger pickup area." Alicia grabbed her bags and stepped over to the escalator.

Zheng struggled with her trunk despite its wheels before Doctor Briggs gave her a hand.

Katya and Victor bore light loads each only carrying a small suitcase between them.

"Keep it simple. I follow Einstein's lead on my wardrobe. One, maybe two suits is enough." Victor said holding up their small suitcase between himself and Katya.

"So long as you keep them clean." Katya replied for the entire delegation.

"Maybe if we were traveling to Mexico and had a diet of beans, corn burritos and chili. This is Japan. A veritable gastro-intestinal paradise!" Victor responded.

"If you like seafood and rice noodles and after you adjust to the diet." Katya replied.

"That's actually an interesting point." Doctor Briggs acknowledged.

"How so?" Alicia asked Doctor Briggs.

"Well dietary wise it is actually quite remarkable, though it depends upon where your ancestors are from." Doctor Briggs replied quickly.

"I hope this isn't some sort of cultural ego-centric pride coming out in you?" Valerie responded.

"Not at all but certainly a very important point especially with regard to diet. I mean you have to consider these factors when you're dealing with history and culture." Doctor Briggs clung to Zheng's hand as he pulled her trunk for her.

"Why do you think I referred to Japanese food as a paradise for our digestive system?" Victor asked.

"Well that's the tricky part..." Doctor Briggs offered.

"Alright. I'm confused here. You mentioned Mexico. Should I be wary of the water for microbes or something like that?" Valerie asked.

"No. Not at all. Japan has some of the most modern infrastructure and civic facilities there are in the world today, at the very least on par with those in populated Europe and North America. I think that Doctor Briggs is referring to the dietary considerations of those whose ancestors inhabited certain parts of Europe and the Americas versus those whose ancestors inhabited the world's rice patio. Namely Southeast Asia and Japan. There are great differences between two types of grain. Those produced by wheat growth and those produced by rice. The diets of Europe are primarily influenced by the cultivation of wheat whereas in Southeast Asia and as far west as India, the common provider of carbohydrates was from rice versus wheat or Seminole. The population of Southeast Asia developed a capacity for digesting rice based proteins more so than wheat based proteins. In fact, many westerners have inefficient means of digestion of rice based proteins when compared with those from Southeast Asia. Our digestive systems are different enough to accommodate the fact that our sole means of carbohydrate production were from two different sources of grain. Some of us can better digest pasta and other starches that start as flour from grown wheat while others are more capable of digesting carbohydrates and proteins found in rice. You've got to how you say... have the right guts? Our stomach and guts are literally quite different when it comes to dealing with either of these two starches and their very different protein structures. These digestive tract traces are found in some aboriginal ancestry in North America, which gives credence to the Bering Sea land bridge between Southeast Asia and North America through what is now Alaska." Victor explained as best he could.

"Pardon me, but if I remember my history correctly, the wide scale cultivation of rice only began over the last four to six thousand years and that's long after the last ice age. If anyone with this newly adapted diet made it to North America through the Bering Straight, they must have been good swimmers. So you're saying that I might experience digestive problems as a result of the fact that my body may not have developed an efficient means to digest rice proteins over wheat proteins? What about the fact that when it comes to complex carbohydrates such as wheat, potatoes and rice, our bodies are very efficient in metabolizing energy from these sources versus other energy sources such as glucose? When we eat complex carbs they produce long term and sustained energy for the body regardless of whether they originated from wheat, potatoes or rice. So I don't quite get your point. Where do the differences in digestion come into play?" Alicia put her foot down throwing her scientific knowledge at them.

"China, Korea, Japan, Siam, Khmer and Indonesia developed very differently in terms of their digestive capacity and this is reflected as a result of the spread of Buddhism throughout Southeast Asia from about two-thousand five hundred years ago. Keep in mind that's a religion or ideology if you prefer that regards eating beef as a pseudo sin against the very Cow who lay down and bore her milk for the Buddha according to the story. That's actually why cows are so prized and protected in India." Doctor Briggs took it upon himself to address Alicia's inquiry.

"I see a bit of ideological dogma coming. So are you trying to convert us to Buddhism?" Valerie asked honestly if not defensively.

"Not at all. Besides I'm more agnostic myself. I just don't know when it comes to that stuff. I am saying only because the spread of religion is also the spread of certain dietary restrictions according to the prevailing religious dogma, like the Buddha suggesting don't eat beef. If we were on the West shores of the Dead Sea in Israel then it might just as easily have been Moses telling us not to eat pork. Both beef and pork are made up of proteins resulting from the production of muscle in livestock animals that are still in use by many different countries. In essence eating those animals circumvented the need for certain regional cultures to develop a specialized digestive system for dealing with the regional grains as part of their diet. By eating beef and pork, the cows and pigs are actually taking care of this specialized digestion for humans. So the impact of religion upon the diets of many cultures actually affected the development of the digestive system. The spread of different religions had such an impact upon local dietary practices that it actually affected gastro-intestinal evolution measurably in Europe, Asia and Middle East." Doctor Briggs addressed his audience as they reached the peak of the escalator.

"What does this have to do with rice and wheat?" Valerie asked stepping in way over her head.

"Not much if you don't think about it and love food of all kinds. Remember that the success of certain regions was directly influenced by their diets and vice versa. So because Buddhism became one of the predominant religions in Southeast Asia, it affected the population in terms of dietary mixing. How do you say...? That is when you eat a complex carbohydrate with an animal protein versus a plant based protein. You eat them both in the same meal. Like meat and potatoes. Rice and fish. Spaghetti and meat sauce. Animal protein is just predigested plant or grain protein but to make it useful to any human body, it must first be digested. When our digestive systems contain both this animal protein and the protein of grains from either rice or wheat, our digestive systems must produce very different enzymes to break down each different kind of protein. Dense animal proteins such as beef and pork take the longest but yield the most efficient proteins and energy for use in muscle construction but at the cost that when mixed with grain protein during digestion, that protein must go through a completely different digestive process to be useful to our bodies. So while we digest the meat, the rice or wheat must wait in line to be properly digested. This is not so much the case with fish, as it is not a dense protein and much easier to digest and also requires less calories to digest. So the rice or wheat does not have to wait in line as long to be digested. So because beef and pork ceased to be the primary source of animal protein in many Southeast Asian cultures as a result of the spread of Buddhism, Hinduism, Jainism, Judaism, Kabalah, and Islam, the digestive systems of the Southeast Asian population changed to accommodate this difference in diet. Over about three thousand years of course." Katya explained.

"Exactly. So Many from Southeast Asia have developed unique functioning in their digestive system for dealing with rice and fish protein rather than just rice and either beef or pork protein. In Japan beef and pork are as popular as they are in China, but there is enough of a Buddhist population to have had an effect upon the regional digestive systems of the people. Even the spread of early Christianity to the region had an impact as early Christians mostly tended to be vegetarians though eating fish and sometimes poultry as an exception. Fish protein provides a whole host of anti-carcinogenic properties along with essential amino acids that are very relevant in healing the body as a result of exercise or natural muscular degeneration. This very same trait in the digestive systems of the Southeast Asian population as it evolved is also present in indigenous Inuit and Native populations throughout North America though a lot of their protein also comes from other game animals such as seal, caribou, elk and deer. This is evidence to further support that migration occurred between Southeast Asian and North America through the Bering Straight." Doctor Briggs dragged Zheng's trunk to the passenger pickup area.

"Yeah but most of the modern Chinese diet is based upon a holistic view of food and medicine. Especially Yin Yang and Five Element theory. China's diet is a bit more complex than just the spread of a few common religions in the region. Korean and Japanese dietary medicine have little in common with those of mainland China. Look at India's diet in comparison with even that of its closest neighbours and you'll see that there was something else compounding the evolution of diet with the spread of the main religions here. Sure they contribute a great deal overall especially when it comes to spiritual commitment which can have a tremendous impact upon diet. India's integration of diet into its medical practices rivals those of China yet the two regions have a completely different understanding of dietary medicine though this understanding is not competitive. Its complementary. It's incredible the diversity in these different concepts of medicine especially when it comes to diet despite the fact that they've been historical neighbours for thousands of years. I have a feeling some of you will really start to appreciate that after the meals we've been privileged to during this trip. You may not realize but to the locals in India, Thailand, China and Korea, what we've been eating of their regional foods is as much a part of medicine as visits to the local Doctor." Zheng grabbed onto the other side of the handle waltzing their baggage together much like a couple might bracket a child on either side.

"Well I don't know about you, but I'm certainly looking forward to a Sushi extravaganza. I could eat a hundred rice rolls right now." Valerie replied.

"I suspect that after a few days here you'll probably have eaten more than two lifetimes worth of fish and noodles. Both are rituals around here."

"Hello. I am here to greet you as recommended by your friend Heylyn Yates. I am Hiroyuki Ruichi, a representative of Kawaī kao Cosmetics. Heylyn asked me to assist you during your visit to Tokyo." the man bowed for the delegation as they approached the passenger pickup area.

Valerie and Alicia immediately returned the gesture, bowing several times for Mr. Ruichi.

"This is Valerie Aspen. I'm Alicia Westin. As you know, Walton Norler is currently undergoing treatment..." Alicia began explaining the situation with their delegation.

"I am well aware of the current state of your delegation. Heylyn asked me to come as an advisor especially given the delicate situation that we have involving a dedicated supporter of Future Tangent Industries with our House Of Councillors. Politically this could prove an extreme setback for your delegation and Future Tangent Industries as well as the man in question may take advantage of this during your time here with televised ads against your delegation. Future Tangent Industries have campaign money invested already." Mr. Ruichi explained.

"Somehow that doesn't surprise me. So we're going to be in for bit of a rough ride while we're here?" Alicia inquired.

"Let's hope not. There is a growing public interest in the delegation though especially with the events that unfolded in the Forbidden City. We are so relieved to hear that Norler is recovering and healthy." Mr. Ruichi expressed his sentiments as a man approached from the other side of their waiting car.

"I hope I didn't give you a scare. I was off the flight first and took advantage of that to contact an old friend here in Japan. Another physicist and part-time musician like myself." Bryce rounded the two waiting vans joining the delegation members.

"I was wondering where you were. I wasn't quite used to your silence during the kind of conversation we recently had." Alicia smiled

"You can be rest assured that I'll be sure to make up for my absence and silence." Bryce responded.

The drivers from each of the vans assisted the delegation in stowing their baggage before they loaded into the vans and departed for their rooms at the Capitol Hotel Tokyu.

Cora Hau

The trip to the island destination had been a long one at nearly two hours. Monique had seen the facilities first as they'd approached the island which consisted of an enclosed business and residential community that bordered the industrial center of Cora Hau.

The island itself appeared large on approach though it was small enough that it did not have an international airport. Instead the entire workforce had been ferried or flewn in along with their families to where they lived and worked on the island. The facility appeared much like a small city having futuristic residences and modern storefront throughout the residential zone while the administrative zone had two distinctive sky scrapers which towered over facility. A bit further south was the industrial complex which housed the site of Future Tangent's chemical and pharmacological production facility.

The helicopter landing pad and docking facilities were both isolated from the main facility which Monique assumed was part of the security in measure. After all, the arrival and departure points on Cora Hau were their border. That would be the front line for any corporate spies trying to make their way inland and to the facilities such as they were. Despite the potential risks ahead Monique remained confident that it wasn't anything that she couldn't handle as The Eclipse.

Heylyn on the other hand had appeared asleep though was in deep meditation. She had tried several times to communicate with her guardian spirit Weltherwithsp without success. This concerned her as she'd not had communion with the mystical dragon for some time. It would most often appear just before such an incursion to provide its own whimsical version of poetic premonition. She'd sensed that somehow the nature of their connection had changed. As if the field itself were disappearing into the distance of her memories never to return bringing with it the mystery dragon that was Weltherwithsp. She opened her eyes upon her arrival upon that thought to find they'd landed.

"You're awake. I thought I was going to have to nudge you." Monique turned her attention away from the window to Heylyn.

"And would there have been a problem if you'd had to?" Heylyn asked still returning from her meditative state.

"Not really, but I'd still get a little edgy over having to wake up my boss. Maybe its a bit cliché but I'd think of it as caution. Self preservation." Monique replied.

"Job security?" Heylyn confirmed holding a straight face.

"Exactly." Monique responded still unsure if Heylyn was being serious or not.

"Speaking of work, we've got a job to do. Let's get to it. Remember, be confident. We're powerful. We have money to invest. We're a much needed customers to them. Investment is what makes operations like these possible." Heylyn gave her some last minute advice for their roles as investment bankers.

"I know my part and I'm good with it. I think after having room full of investors gawk at my body on the runway during a fashion show that it should be no time before I have them eating out of the palm of my hand. Besides, this is a fun way to wear the shoe on the other foot." Monique said standing tall and with poise.

"That's the spirit!" Heylyn stood from her seat carefully stepping towards the large bay door as it opened.

One of the ground crew lined up a portable escalator to the helicopter. Heylyn and Monique made their way to the tarmac where they joined a another group of arrivals.

A well dressed man in his mid to late thirties stepped forward to address the group.

"Welcome to Cora Hau, Future Tangent Industries' latest production facility located in the South Pacific for the ever growing medical industry of Southeast Asia. Our facilities here are the most advanced of their kind in the world and we're very anxious to give you, our potential investors and future shareholders of the company the kind of tour that you deserve as a potential partner. I'll be your host, Mr. Rourke.Welcome to fantasy island." the sales executive delivered his introduction flawlessly as the group chuckled at his reference to the iconic show of the eighties.

"Hmmm. Charismatic." Monique commented.

"They usually are. Moments like these are for what they're employed. I'd hire him." Heylyn leaned closer to Monique.

"Wasn't Mister Rourke someone from a television show that my parents used to watch?" Monique asked Heylyn.

"Yes. On an island as well. He was the enigmatic host and had a trusted reputation amongst the television audience." Heylyn replied.

"I'll bet that's why they hired this guy as the tour guide. I mean they're borrowing Mr. Rourke's good reputation from that television show, knowing that many of the investors might have had parents who watched it. Building a bridge of trust by association." Monique observed skeptically.

"That's clever and you're probably right on the money. I guess its a good thing that they didn't choose another name, like John Hammond?" Heylyn replied holding her giggles.

"Or Doctor Moreau." Monique continued barely able to keep herself from laughter.

"Or Mister Zek." Heylyn added which instantly brought them back to seriousness.

"What is it with ego maniacal guys and islands?" Monique asked Heylyn.

"I'm not sure. Maybe Ian Fleming might have an answer." Heylyn replied.

"Before we get started I must ask for your patience and consideration as we require a substantial security check before you gain access to the facilities on Cora Hau. Each of these checkpoints will require an accompanying test to verify your identity. The whole process will take about one half hour during which time Future Tangent Industries will give you access to their finest catering just to ease the experience. If you will follow me this way we'll get started." Mr. Rourke directed the six accompanying Security Specialists who led the group to a bus where they each took a seat for their short trip to the Security Bay.

Heylyn and Monique followed the group into the first security check point, where they submitted the (false) identification Werner had prepared for them. Beyond the security gate there was a long corridor which opened up into a glass foyer. Several catering tables were scattered about the room, the sun shining in through the glass ceiling. Mild drinks were also served to ease the discomfort any of these potential investors might have about being detained for this security check.

"A bit of overkill on the security isn't it?" Heylyn risked speaking aloud directing her statement towards the security personnel who all wore fine suits and ties.

They appeared to be more suited to a boardroom than the detail required here. One of the more astute of the security team noted Heylyn's disdain with the measures being taken and spoke to Mr. Rourke. He thanked the security team member and immediately made his way over to where Heylyn was seated beside Monique.

"M'aam, I'm sorry but is there a problem? Speak freely. We're here to discuss anything that might make you uncomfortable here." he asked her politely.

"As a matter of fact I am. I mean this is a manufactory if I am not mistaken. Why the added security? Are you manufacturing something that you shouldn't be that might put our investment in legal hot water in other parts of the world?" she addressed him directly, keeping her eyes on his.

"M'aam, we are manufactoring state of the art pharmaceuticals. Our process is a closely guarded trade secret and one we're not about to hand to any of our competitors." Mr. Rourke replied.

"By competitors I take it you mean Tynan And Associates? Don't they already have their own closely guarded secret? I mean that's one of the reasons they've invested enormous amounts of money for regional consultancy and their delegation. We were led to believe that your breakthrough was to be in its own market segment and without competition." Heylyn spoke putting the vice to Mr. Rourke.

"The market for our product is much different than theirs for the SY349 program. East Asia is receptive to our solution and we have strong support amongst the Asian Alliance from insiders. Tynan And Associates require first to convince the Asian Alliance to vote as to whether to overturn their prior decision to keep Tynan And Associates products out of East Asia for risk of having their traditions stampeded by Western Venture Capital, which ultimately would milk their local economy while having little return. So should the Asian Alliance choose to overturn their prior decision, they would still require a complete vote where all members with veto power vote in favor or a unanimous vote in order to distribute the SY349 in East Asia." Mr. Rourke explained his understanding to Heylyn.

"What I understood is that the vote is for the creation of a fund that will pay for their treatment so that regardless of income levels and differences, the treatment will be available to all." Heylyn corrected Mr. Rourke.

"M'aam, I can only assure you that from our inside sources that the Asian Alliance vote will not pass. They in turn will vote in favor of our product which will be put forth at their next quarterly meeting. We have all the bases covered. I can assure you of that. Your investment here will have one of the highest returns in this industry and you'll be looking at a marketplace of customers that make up two thirds of the population of the world. We're in business for the money. The security check will be complete in another five minutes after which you may tour the facility. If you'll excuse me I have other people to attend to." Mr. Rourke spoke appealing to her sense of business and investment and more importantly the bottom line.

He then left making his way over to one of the other investors offering his hand and a smile.

"He certainly has his spiel well rehearsed and ready. So they're going to attempt to prevent the vote from going through on the inside, while a few months later they'll present their own product attempting to open up the same market that Tynan did prior. Only this time they'll have insiders with veto power able to force the vote in their favor." Heylyn addressed Monique.

"But he said their product won't be competing with any other on the market?" Monique reminded her.

"That's because the closest competing product will have been blocked from the marketplace by the Asian Alliance vote. The SY349. We need to find out more about their product, and we also need to find out more about George Steadman and his connection to this scheme." Heylyn explained to Monique.

Their conversation was interrupted by an announcement from Mr. Rourke.

"Ladies and Gentlemen, the security check is completed. If you'd like to proceed through to the next checkpoint we'll be on our way to tour the facility and discuss investment options." Mr. Rourke gestured towards the entry gate.

"We're in. Let's go." Heylyn advised Monique.

"Gotcha Boss. I'm keeping my eyes open for their main data trunk. That should lead us to a place where I can get at their files from a terminal." Monique told Heylyn.

"Just let me know when you need a distraction and an opening." Heylyn reminded her.

They proceeded through the gate into the manufactory and work colony. Mr. Rourke had signaled some of his security team to keep a close eye on Heylyn. He couldn't quite place it but there was something very suspicious about her.

Life In Tokyo

Alicia slept soundly oblivious as to where she was or what she was doing there. She remembered parting ways with Heylyn and thought about their last day at school together. It was a half day for them and it would be the last time they'd see each other for nearly twelve years. Alicia was still reeling from the success of the Graduation Dance where for the first time in her life she'd been the object of adoration rather than the target of bullying. Her sensibilities kept her on guard while she accepted this new feeling that maybe the world had finally accepted her for who she was. Maybe she was looking for friendship from the wrong people? Seeking approval where none was available to be shared with her. From people whose sense of confidence relied upon a constant audience of people with no sense of independence at all. Too afraid to have a different opinion in case they might suddenly became the target of group vehemence.

There she was. The class brain. The smart chubby girl that nobody had liked, yet everyone in the school had stood up for her and Heylyn when the chips were down. The real bullies had been unmasked and were likely dealing with the repercussions of their choices. Alicia had not wished them ill, after all she'd only wanted peace in order to pursue her life and dreams. To become an inventor. A Doctor? Maybe a lab researcher? Doors that had been closed for her because of her social situation in school that had suddenly flung open revealing all of their possibilities to her in one big bright ball. If the world was in fact her oyster, then her future surely must have been the pearl. A pearl which she might never have seen had not she been approached by Heylyn on that fateful day. The day they'd made an agreement to help each other. Alicia would tutor Heylyn attempting to bring Heylyn's grades up in the manditory subjects she'd needed in order to pursue her schooling in Fashion Design, while Heylyn would design and make Alicia's Graduation Dress. In the end it had worked out for both of them, opening their mutual destiny. A destiny that would have to wait another twelve years from that last fateful day of school.

They'd bid each other farewell, leaving as if they'd see each other again the following day but that day never happened. As life became more busy and complicated, they eventually resigned themselves to their chosen paths. One day they might meet again and speak of old times. Each had pursued their personal obsession to their own success as their memories of each other faded.

"It seems that you long for that which you've felt too strongly to deny, though you've tried." a distant and familiar voice spoke in Alicia's head.

She awoke in the field. Heylyn's field but this was not Heylyn's dream. There the serpent coiled its wings spread majestically over her. Its face descended from the heights held aloft by its long neck.

"Do you always speak in such riddles?" Alicia asked it.

"As often as not though less I've wrought in words and rhyme save not this time..." Weltherwithsp addressed her with an answer.

"Where's Heylyn?" Alicia looked around feeling out of place in this strange land.

"She's indisposed to the question you've just posed. What counts is that you're here and that much is clear and for a purpose no less than any I suppose. Your curiosity grows?" Weltherwithsp answered her question shifting its body and uncoiling to surround her.

"You're making me nervous." Alicia responded to the Dragon recoiling slightly.

"You're making you as such for I could never do that much. You've built up ideas from what you've read about my kind and that being said leads not to knowledge but presumption, a closed mind and heart but no conjunction there between." Weltherwithsp backed off crossing its arms and looking to her one of its brows furrowed.

"I take it this... has a purpose?" Alicia asked Weltherwithsp.

"No less than yourself." Weltherwithsp assured her.

"So we're here for my purpose? The delegation? Where are we now?" Alicia asked looking around for some signs of familiarity.

"We're in the field a mystery. You're in the land of perpetual dichotomy a dualistic battle whose peace dare not reproach war whose wounds are healed by sharpened sword. The field of battle or the field dreams? Some might think that the answer is to choose carefully, but I digress as it is neither for doing so will make thee seether without end..." the Dragon dropped its head closer to hers, letting out a small breath of air from its nostrils from which a multi-coloured zephyr took to air.

"Is that a cloaked reference to Japan?" Alicia asked slowly piecing Weltherwithsp's rhyme together.

"Precisely! Where you are and now do you recall why lest I sigh impatiently?" Weltherwithsp asked her.

"The Delegation?" Alicia answered and paused waiting for his approval.

"There's deceit and deception from above though no recollection with the danger be possessed of until confronted and redressed. Perhaps all that is bad is good? May be it is that all that is wrong is right?" Weltherwithsp backed up and then leapt into the air its tremendous wings brushing up wind around Alicia.

"Future Tangent's contact in the Japanese Councillors? But how is it that what he's doing is good if its bad?" Alicia asked demanding an answer.

It was obvious that Alicia had far less patience for Weltherwithsp's mysteries than did Heylyn though Alicia's was far greater than that of Valerie who'd have nothing to do with its shenanigans at all.

"You've already taken the step of which I warned you... You'll need to consider more than right or wrong though you've already come so far and so long..." Weltherwithsp flew higher and higher until it was gone. Field and all had disappeared only to be replaced by the digital blaring of her phone.

"Alicia speaking." Alicia answered her cellular.

"I've been calling you for half an hour. Is everything alright?" Valerie confirmed with Alicia.

"I'm fine. Just needed a bit more sleep. Is it morning?" Alicia asked.

"No. It's just before Six. Hiroyuki has offered to take us for a stroll in the downtown. Bryce is coming. So are Doctor Briggs and Zheng. I'm still trying to get Katya and Victor. Would you be interested? I think it would be fun, not to mention give us a heads up before tomorrow's meeting." Valerie asked Alicia.

"Alright. I just need a few minutes to get ready." Alicia rubbed her eyes.

"Its ok. We've got forty five minutes until he gets here. We'll meet you in the front lobby. Bye." Valerie spoke quickly hanging up the phone.

"Bye." Alicia answered to a dead line.

An hour later she stepped off the elevator still deeply pondering what Weltherwithsp had told her in her dream. She suddenly had the urge to call Heylyn but quickly changed her mind given the circumstances. Heylyn and Monique would likely be readying themselves for dinner and were probably deep in their roles as Investment Bankers. Heylyn was likely the only person that could bring insight to Weltherwithsp's riddle yet she knew that she must figure it out for herself.

"You finally decided to join us? I was beginning to think that I'd be stuck bantering with Doctor Briggs all night." Bryce commented as Alicia approached.

"The night is still young, Bryce. Don't consider yourself off the hook." Doctor Briggs retorted.

"I'd hate to disappoint you Bryce." Alicia said arriving at their gathering.

"I hope that you're prepared to do a little walking tonight?" Hiroyuki asked Alicia bowing to her formally.

"I think that I could handle that, as long as we get to see a bit of the night life here." Alicia replied returning his bow.

"Now we're sure to be labeled as tourists..." Bryce responded looking at Hiroyuki and Alicia.

"We are tourists." Zheng responded.

"Correction. You are guests. That concept is much different here in Japan. That puts great responsibility upon my shoulders. You must be prepared to have a different understanding of social structure and etiquette than what you're likely used to. While in China they may have been silent on matters of tradition and etiquette. Here there are many of us who hang onto our traditions for they link us to who we are and from where we came. Let us begin our journey." Hiroyuki replied leading the group down the sidewalk and out onto one of the main streets of downtown Tokyo.

"As opposed to?..." Katya asked Hiroyuki.

"As opposed to the ever growing Westernization of Japan. The younger generations embrace what they see of the West. Their impressions of it through media. Perhaps a much less traditional point of view where it involves hierarchy, order and honor." Hiroyuki explained.

"And that puts you where?" asked Doctor Briggs.

"I work for one of the biggest cosmetic companies in Japan. Our company's history is a long one stretching back far into our past, though not always as a company or corporation but rather as a clan. I am honored to carry on that tradition yet I welcome what insight the younger generation brings. However I see it as being important not to uproot the wisdom upon which the foundation is built. The youth have more vigor but less experience while the elderly have it the other way. We must take the benefit of each and work together to make Japan better for the future." Hiroyuki explained as they turned onto a traffic filled street where the pedestrians still dwindled though in ever growing numbers.

"But I thought that Japan thrived on that dichotomy? The conflict of two opposing forces? Is not that what Japan's social and life philosophy is built upon?" Alicia jumped into the conversation right on cue.

"That is a common misinterpretation of the East by foreigners. They see the YinYang symbol of China and immediately imagine an everlasting conflict where the people are always divided. In Japan it is the same. Many new tourists who've heard of love and hate or other expressions of the opposing forces and they immediately think that everyone in Japan is bound by this eidos, to use a suited Greek term to describe what I'm saying." Hiroyuki explained perhaps sounding a bit relieved to bite into meaningful discussion of Japan.

"Are you saying that is a fabrication by the West who misinterpret Eastern philosophies?" Alicia responded with a question.

"No. Not so much as it is a misunderstanding that became part of the cultural and tourist marketing of the East. It seems to have really clung to Japan. Yes, this aspect is an important part of our culture, but what is overlooked is that there is a social structure that gives it form. It is not merely the chaos of two forces rampantly tearing at one another until nothing exists. In Japan you might mix two different points of view, each held by a different person however there is social etiquette that is far more prevailing than what you'd see in the West that contains that conflict. Honor. That means much more than you would likely be aware though as Japanese society grows into the future, that impact becomes less and less, and so does the conflict of dualism. In Japanese society, they exist hand in hand. In a sense, you could say that they are two opposing forces. It is honor that keeps us bound to social structure, family, order while it is the duality of conflict that brings about chaos. That is the only side that the West has ever really delved into when trying to understand the East. Perhaps it was of great marketing value too in earlier times, but now without having a balancing context such as honor and a code, it has become dangerous and yet bland and without form." Hiroyuki tried his best to give the concept a context to their understanding.

"You've obviously heard much of the Feudal Era have you not?" Doctor Briggs asked Alicia.

"You mean like the Samurai? The Shoguns? They were kind of like the Dark Ages were they not?" Alicia confirmed with Doctor Briggs.

"In the context of what Hiroyuki was saying, they would be the dualistic chaos where honor, code and order has lost our in favor of this resounding chaos. Different clans with different ethics while still retaining a reflection of what had been in terms of their code of honor. Meanwhile the people, the real power had just wanted peace to raise their families, grow their crops and pay for their rental of the Clan leader's lands. This unrest resulted in uprisings and attempts to overthrow the powers that be at that time, and the Samurai initially became the storm troopers of the Shogunate. They enforced the will (not law) of the Clan leader. As the people gained more power and support this focus shifted and Japan sought a true Emperor to unify the people. It was from that time that the Samurai became representatives of a formalized law and code of ethics which not only protected the upper class, but protected the people as well. This is when the Samurai truly became the perveyors of this code and had departed from their battlefield savagery of beheadings for the purposes of kill counts." Doctor Briggs explained without getting too far into detail.

"Yes. When the chaos of warfare reigns, the tears of order fall in the form of bloodshed. In other words this code had not only to represent the land owners but had to represent the people and the greater good. Honor is nothing without a code. Honor and a code is nothing without order. Honor, a code and order is nothing without the people. This understanding is one way for Japan and is an important part of our history. It is much different in China. In Korea there are other factors to their foundation in regards to this very dichotomy, that our peoples have fought bitter wars over in the past. So the conflict of dualism is nothing but chaos when it lacks context and form to balance it." Hiroyuki finished.

"Aren't there other ideologies that exploit that dichotomy? Extremist dualism?" Alicia asked to the first that could answer her question.

"That sounds like its right up your alley Doctor Briggs." Bryce responded.

"I guess then I'll take it. To answer your question, there are in fact many different forms of the same dichotomy in a variety of different systems of belief the world over. Probably the most notable would be associated with the Greek philosopher Empedocles and his notable philosophy in that vein would be known as Love and Strife. A similar world view. An iconoclastic group can achieve godly powers by exploiting any dichotomy of extreme opposites by using two groups, one to represent each opposing side and then to engage in conflict emotionally with the other group. Apparently this imbues the two groups with a connection and unique abilities that characterize the mythos associated with the philosophies of Empedocles and which may be the foundation of Gnostic dualism. Likewise, another ancient Mystic known as Hermes Trismegistus was purported to have carried a similar philosophy into ancient Egypt. Note the name of the Greek God Hermes who is the messenger of the Gods, whose image was later taken by Rome and adopted as Mercury. Hermes' philosophy is found in a mysterious text called the Kybalion, which was first published in Chigago around 1910 by the Three Initiates at a strangely absent publishing company. Its origins before that time are difficult to trace. It too outlines a dualistic regime referred to as The All, upon which the foundation for a form of Mysticism known as Mentalism is built. In this interpretation of dualism, it states that two opposing paradigms are in fact the same thing, only different by the degree that they extend from some imaginary balancing point or center. That concept is known as Polarity. This form of dualism also states that everything follows its own cycle between two differing opposites and that one can learn to predict or even impart this timing by understanding what is referred to as the Rhythm. One who has understood this to its fullest could be said to be a Master having control over causality to some degree. So this philosophy and possibly Love and Strife was carried by a real person to ancient Egypt where it was adopted later as part of the Coptic branch of religions. It is also rumored to have been developed as an opposition to or the poor man's version of the Kabbalah which of course is an ancient form of Jewish mysticism that was feared by the Egyptians. Kabbalah has little to do with dualism if in fact anything and is more about creating a harmonious existence within the Tree of Life, which in Hebrew really means knowledge. The Kabbalah is not involved in any similar misuse as these other forms of extreme dualism. The most notable use of dualism may have been in the 1960s and 1970s whereby many Women approached their Doctors having symptoms of extreme emotions which would likely be diagnosed as Bipolar disorder nowadays. It is thought in some circles that these Women had in fact become victims of groups who'd learned to use the teachings of extreme dualism as a means to manipulate or even attempt to control them, though nothing has ever been proven to that degree. Instead once again it was left to the medical industry to come up with a solution to help these Women. Their solution was to use Valium to treat these Women, as it limited responses to nervous system stimuli associated with anxiety while dulling them emotionally. The pharmaceutical companies were then accused of a conspiracy to get Women hooked on these pharmaceuticals by the very people purported to have orchestrated these attacks against Women using extreme forms of dualism. So the public naturally turned against the companies trying to help these Women and the Doctors prescribing these pharmaceuticals. The Women who didn't take the prescriptions however suffered a much worse fate than those who did, often ending in confinement or even suicide. I personally believe that the people doing this to those Women knew the pharmaceuticals were protecting the Women from these attacks, and wanted to keep other Women away from the same protection. Most of the groups who follow these forms of extremist dualism are opposed to pharmacology in general which I think is no small coincidence but that's my personal opinion. Worse is that the people who do these kinds of things have a tendency to remember the exact opposite of the truth. So when asked to act as witnesses to such events, they don't consider it lying to retell the story in its exact opposite context. So they'd naturally remember themselves as supporting pharmacology and the victims as being against it and so on. I hope that answers your question?" Doctor Briggs took a much needed breath.

"Thematically speaking, domination and subservience is a common theme that one can find in many forms throughout Japan. It is certainly an aspect of social interaction between couples, each finding roles on either side of that fence, both Women and Men. I don't think that you'd ever find it to the degree to which Doctor Briggs refers and certainly not beyond the many forms of play of which couples might engage in Japan. Consent is of the highest importance. If it were not, then there certainly would be a decided absence of Love Hotels. We have a much different approach to that aspect of our love lives than you'll likely find in the West." Hiroyuki commented somewhat uncomfortably.

"I certainly was not speaking of anything to do with China or Japan's approach to love and consent. I think that it is clear by the good treatment of Women and their rights in both countries that is not the case. I think you'll find many forms of social play in Western society as well, though on a more personal level though I think that the internet has likely opened up the doors to casual social experience between people who are unfamiliar much more recently. I'm still of the old school. I prefer to find and stick with a person to whom I dedicate myself and where the feeling is mutual." Doctor Briggs looked over to Zheng.

"Were you rehearsing that?" Zheng asked Doctor Briggs.

"No. Well, maybe I was thinking about you in saying it. As for dualism, this topic though was part of my thesis in which I tried to differentiate between different forms of dualism and how some have been misused to great damage upon society at various times. I think that this is really where what Hiroyuki said comes into play about the West not fully understanding how the Far East understand dualism and its structure within their culture. In some cases too, this form of dualism is combined with a blood centric approach to sorting people out. This is rumored to have been xenophobic measures enacted by early leaders or theologians who opposed inter-cultural breeding between civilizations and different cultures where it was not appropriated by leadership for diplomatic purposes. So when the extremist dualism broke down socially, it fell back into the lap of a blood centered approach to control the intermingling of peoples. In this way, the leadership and the clergy could control how the people of different cultures interacted. That was the conclusion of my thesis. Perhaps the West mixed it up with this other damaging form of dualism?" Doctor Briggs posed.

"We have the tendency in society to sort each other out into categories that make it easier to deal with similar people and similar problems. If two groups of people have differences, they need the support of other people if they're going to win in terms of the conflict brought about by those differences. In order to gain the support of other people, wouldn't it therefore be better if you could make your opposition out to be the hateful side, while your side is the loving side? I mean if using this form of dualism one could push the other side to behave in ways that make them appear to be the wrong side by pushing them to anxiety or harsh reaction then you've already won. I mean if your opposition is the hateful and despicable side of the fence, then you've already gained the support of the public without even having to explain your side because most will make the assumption that if someone reacts in an angry or hateful fashion, that they are automatically the wrong side. So naturally using this form of abusive dualism might be a means to ease the victory in such conflicts to be won by gaining the upper hand in public opinion just by getting the right hostile reaction from the other side." Bryce added to Doctor Briggs position.

"That is not how Japan operates nor is it what you might see in China as well with YinYang. Our philosophies are not founded upon a show of hands after skirmishing one's enemies to reaction, hostility or attack. The competitive differences founded in Japan are founded in principles whose concepts oppose each other with validity. When such situations arise they are decided upon in principle, not rhetoric and skirmishing one's opposition in hopes of getting your opposition to misbehave. Out of such means as what you speak chaos arises and from such chaos often comes violence and escalation. To lower ourselves to such means says more about us for using such tactics than it does about those who'd befall their misuse. This is deceitful and dishonorable for if we tactically knew to use this as a strategy, then we've truly failed that for what we deem to stand. This is not the way of order or balance or even completeness nor is it with honor. If my workforce operated competitively in such means with other producers of cosmetics in Japan, they would bring much dishonor to our company and firm and this would translate to bad sales. For if our product could not stand on its own merit, then why would we need to lower ourselves to such schemes to compete? Chances are that those who do lower themselves to do as much have already lost." Hiroyuki seemed once again impatient and slightly uncomfortable with the discussion though Doctor Briggs and Bryce more correctly reasoned that Hiroyuki was a man of principle and of steadfast ground in these matters.

Alicia listened carefully and had finally put together what Weltherwithsp had been trying to explain in her dream. The Ancient Dragon had uncovered an aspect that Future Tangent Industries were likely preying upon to further their goals in the Far East. She knew that they must get more information about the insider Future Tangent had in the Japanese House Of Councillors.

"Thank you! I appreciate that answer so much!" Alicia wrapped her arms around Doctor Briggs giving him a big kiss on the cheek.

"Where's mine?" Bryce asked.

"And mine?" Hiroyuki joked.

Alicia leaned over and gave Hiroyuki a peck on the cheek which made him blush slightly.

"Do I get one?" Zheng finished.

"Now that we've had a thorough lesson on the politics of love and hate, what is all of this magnificent scenery that we're missing?" Victor broke his silence his hand clasped Katya's.

"Just around the corner here is one of the older Shinto Shrines in Tokyo. It is a beautiful place and much like most such Shrines they're lands and structures are protected. An important part of Japanese history and culture. Certainly Japan's indigenous religion." Hiroyuki pointed the way up an inlaid brick path to the Temple.

"Is Shintoism the prevalent religion in Japan?" Katya asked Hiroyuki.

"Not really. There is much support for Shintoism which is connected with the Imperial Throne. Shintoism is more of a state tradition though there are likely many elderly folk who'd argue that its more than just tradition." Hiroyuki continued to speak.

"Is it connected with the Throne?" Victor asked.

"Well, it offers the ground work for the justification of the Imperial Throne in the first place, so it is of importance to our tradition. Since the Meiji Constitution, Japan instituted the freedom of religion. There were already a number of religions practiced in Japan, such a Buddhism and Christianity." he answered Victor as best he could.

"I thought they were outlawed religions here?" Alicia asked with sudden interest.

"It was a bumpy ride for most inbound beliefs and as such both Buddhism and Christianity had a rough ride in their early times here. Both had different schools of tradition and belief from what one may have found in other countries. For instance the Ikkō-ikki tradition of Buddhism is one that most people would have readily avoided during the feudal era as it was quite aggressive and militant. A very zealous and aggressive means of spreading this religion and its ideas regarding salvation resulted in it being regarded shrewdly by many Japanese in the southern reaches of Honshu. Christianity on the other hand developed more covertly and largely existed underground as a result of the Portuguese allowing the passage of Jesuits into Japan. Christianity itself was pushed underground and early Christians kept their numbers hidden with secret codes and special mirrors which could be used to signal one another to their presence. The more common form of Buddhism spread quickly coming in from both Korea and China, some of it being interpreted by early Shintoists and Tengriists and developing into Zen Buddhism." Hiroyuki led them up the path into the red wooden structure of the Shrine.

"So there was immigration into Japan at some point? I always assumed that my fellow neighbours had been isolationists until very recently." Zheng asked.

"Europeans were often here for trade in the post isolationist era somewhere during the mid 1500s. I really can't remember that well for certain however there is an interesting fact with regard to the effects of trade in Japan and perhaps how it helped to change the position of power of the Burakumin of Japan." Hiroyuki explained once again a little bit hesitantly.

"I've heard of the Burakumin. They're social outcasts are they not? Does that still occur even in modern Japan?" Doctor Briggs asked already knowing the answer to his question instead wishing for Hiroyuki to explain this concept to the other delegation members.

"The topic brings shame, but by facing this shame perhaps we will grow. I can only do my part if I tell you of the Burakumin, though there are some in Japanese society that if they knew of me speaking to you of this, it would bring me great kegare." Hiroyuki tried to explain only drawing serious curiosity from the group.

"What is kegare?" Alicia asked.

"May I?" Doctor Briggs asked Hiroyuki for permission to field Alicia's question.

"Please do Doctor." Hiroyuki answered.

"Kegare refers to an unseen force, which has an accountable social measure, much like the concept of Karma though Kegare refers only to bad Karma. The kind of Karma that might result from causing harm to a living creature or one who must tend to the dead perhaps through their means to a living and existence. It could be regarded as a taint to one's spirit." Doctor Briggs answered Alicia.

"Very well put Doctor Briggs." Hiroyuki responded.

"So what does this have to do with the Burakumin?" she continued digging further in the mystery.

Doctor Briggs nodded to Hiroyuki in acknowledgement of some quiet piece of information that had passed between them.

"The Burakumin are literally the tainted. They were regarded as sub-human group of people of tainted descent. Of lowlife quality. Criminal and vagrant. As such they historically have been mistreated and discriminated against from the feudal era of Japan onward. It has only been in recent times that this has been redressed in hopes of positive change for them. Nowadays they can live freely without such troubles but it was not always that way. It is this discrimination that actually led to much of the very unlawful activities that the authorities sought to control. This often resulted in the loss of taxes for the tax collectors as monies spent on illegal activities would be circulated into the underground economy. The most notable of these is the proceeds from gambling." Hiroyuki explained.

"So their taint is nothing more than the fact that they gamble?" Alicia asked in amazement.

"No. Not at all. Underground gambling was a side effect of the complete disregard extended towards these people. They were poor. They had no means to make money other than the jobs for which kegare was a risk for those such as undertakers, butchers, tanners and anyone who dealt with death and the dead. So there were few career options for such people. When European traders brought Jesuits to Japan, their porters brought playing cards with them and a card game which many sailors played. These sailors taught the game to the indigenous Japanese many of whom were Burakumin. Before long the Burakumin were using these card games and founding gambling houses where they'd make much money. More than the Burakumin had ever had access. The ruling class tried many times to put a stop to this gambling by outlawing cards with certain pictures on them. The Burakumin would then make new cards with different pictures and the gambling houses would once again thrive. It is interesting to note that the Jesuits brought gambling to the Burakumin, despite the Sinful regard they had for gambling. It was this gambling that likely saved many Burakumin and perhaps was instrumental in overturning how they were regarded by many Japanese, for they'd not disappeared from time and the history books but had survived to achieve their rights as distinct Japanese citizens. Today there is little disregard for them and they enjoy the same rights as all Japanese. How ironic that they were saved by gambling that was brought to them by the spread of Christianity, which at that time regarded gambling as one of the deadly sins." Hiroyuki finished his story.

"I hope that we are not bringing upon ourselves kegare by speaking of this in a Shinto Temple." Zheng said shuddering at the thought.

"I don't think that we are. The kind of demons drawn in by kegare would likely be frightened away by the fact that the Burakumin had ultimately found hope and were liberated." Hiroyuki replied honestly hoping that his words would comfort Zheng.

"Was that a confession my good friend?" Bryce asked Hiroyuki.

"No. That was praise for my country." Hiroyuki smiled.

"It's still early. Where else could we go at this time?" Alicia asked checking her phone.

It was 6:49 PM.

"It's too late to see the Imperial Palace though I suspect that might be on your itinerary with the Japanese Delegation. How about Akihabara?" Hiroyuki suggested.

"I'm sorry... Did you say Akibahara?" Alicia confirmed.

"Close. Akihabara. A shopping district in the downtown core. Very active and probably a place where you can glimpse a range of diversity with regard to Japanese culture and tastes. Look to what we make for export if you'd like to understand how we regard our customers. Look to what we buy if you want to understand us." Hiroyuki explained to Alicia and she nodded in agreement.

"Alright. That sounds good. Valerie?" Alicia asked Valerie who'd been largely silent.

"Shopping? I'm in." Valerie replied enthusiastically.

Doctor Briggs looked to Zheng who nodded.

"Sure, let's go. I've never been to Tokyo but I've certainly heard of Akihabara." Zheng responded alight with a girlish smile.

"I wouldn't miss it for the world." Bryce added.

Hiroyuki was already on the phone to the limousine he'd left back at the Hotel and moments later it arrived to pick them up outside of the Shrine.

The Living George Steadman

George Steadman sat in a quaint Sushi house in downtown Tokyo. He sat back, his legs crossed as he mired over the passersby on the other side of the gallery window of the restaurant. Even at this time in the evening they all walked with purpose. Nobody was stopped anywhere lolly-gagging or moping about. Everyone one had a purpose, like the interconnected pieces of a finely crafted puzzle. Each piece had its place in the midst of complexity. In this sense it was much like his plans and in that sense it is what he really admired.

George Steadman of course was not really the George Steadman. After all the real George Steadman had been pulled out of the bottom of a bay in a city in North America and was now just a slab on a girney in the coroner's keep. Before the deceased George Steadman met his demise, the current George Steadman had been named Garrett Warley or Mr. Warley as many people would refer to him. Oddly enough at that time the real Garrett Warley was stone dead in the unreachable fathoms of an abandoned mine shaft. There his corpse lay perhaps better preserved than it might have been at ground level. Despite clearly being dead, Garrett Warley continued to live on through the life of the former Stephan Smith, whose name he'd bore.

The real Stephan however had been a confident ideas broker and candidate for a prestigious job at one of the Corporate Pharmaceutical giants of the time twenty three years prior. Back around the same time that Heylyn Yates had achieved her Black belt red stripe in Tae Kwon Do and was about to begin training under Sifu Jinn Hua. Alicia Westin at that time was a straight A student who with a children's chemistry kit was exploring the wonders of Genetics in her room. Upon the eve of him finding out about his opportunity, the real Stephan had mysteriously disappeared only to be replaced by the man at the root of all of these murders. Edward Crathbrook. So you could say that all of these men sat at the table in this restaurant in Tokyo under the guise of George Steadman, whose real name was Edward Mathias Crathbrook. The other patrons in the restaurant continued eating their sushi oblivious of the monster that sat amongst them.

It was in that moment of thought the silence was broken by the arrival of a thin framed Japanese man. Much like Edward Crathbrook, he wore an expensive suit and bore a matching briefcase. The man bowed for Edward and Edward considered whether he should stand for this man. After a moment of considering it he stood and bowed.

"Konnichi wa." Edward said without putting any effort into it.

The Japanese man looked to the empty chair at the table and then looked back to Edward.

"Oh, please. Have a seat." Edward gestured towards the chair and they both sat together.

"I take it you are comfortable in this restaurant?" the man asked Edward.

"Yes. Very comfortable. Feels like home." Edward smiled.

"That is why I recommended it. Now if you'd like to get down to our discussion?" the Japanese man insisted.

"A little jumpy about being seen in public are we?" Edward asked the man as he beckoned one of the wait staff.

"Mr. Steadman, I only look to help the people of Japan and the Asian Alliance. I am here because what you offer may bring much in the way of medical treatment to a beleaguered Japan." the man answered sternly.

"Yes, I understand. The Tsunami followed by the failure of the Fukushima Power Plant. Yes there were many casualties from the incident. Such tragedies, but the dead don't weigh on the coffers of the tax payers do they? Its the survivors that do more so than the survived. I assure you that our new facilities on Cora Hau are already producing a new treatment that makes the Tynan solution look like a snake oil remedy, and I can assure you that it is." Edward replied.

"I understand what you have said, but I requested details about this miraculous cure that Future Tangent Industries has discovered. You've provided no such data other than your sales pitch which I've heard many times. There comes a time when the clucking chicken must produce an egg, and I've waited so very long for yours." the Japanese man urged Edward.

"Our statistics and studies are available as I've said to you many times at this web address." Edward handed the man a small card.

The only text upon it was a solitary web address:

The man accepted the card and pulled a small tablet computer from his briefcase. He immediately began typing the address into his web browser and when finished he hit the enter key. There was a pause as the page loaded. It was written in Japanese and worded as follows:

Greetings Councillor Itikara Takahashi,

The data for this miracle treatment is not ready at this time. However, we do have something else that is of equal importance that we thought that should be brought to your attention. You'll quickly understand the significance of this video seeing as you're a married man. It would be most unfortunate if this video ended up in the hands of your wife and two daughters, wouldn't it? Or perhaps as a live stream on a Japanese newscast?

With that in mind, I'm sure that you'll make the right choice in pushing for our product in Japan as you will in signing against the Tynan And Associates proposal for the Asian Alliance. Nobody ever has to know about this video and you can trust us to keep it secret. After all, you never knew it existed until now, didn't you?

Beneath the text a considerably good quality video began playing automatically as the Japanese man's forehead compressed as his hand jumped for the volume control. He looked to Edward fully realizing what a demon the man was. The footage was of himself with a secret mistress he'd taken a year after his marriage. He'd only been with her three times, but as he'd reasoned at the time that was three too many. His conscience had finally caught up with him and he broke ties with his mistress and solidified and saved his marriage. He'd kept the affair a secret and promised himself that he'd never succumb to temptation again. As it turned out it would become his Achilles heel in the hands of a man like Edward Crathbrook.

"I take you that you are pleased with the studies are you Councillor Takahashi?" Edward asked the man.

"This is a serious cri..." the man began.

"...crisis. Yes I know. All the injured who rely on advanced medical treatment to treat radiation burns and Cancer. I'm sure you'll make the right choice for their sake. And yours. In case you don't, I'm sure that the news stations in Japan with find these studies very useful. Please consider that when you go to bed tonight. Let me know your decision in the morning and we'll take it from there." Edward said confidently to Mr. Takahashi.

"You will pay for your treachery Mr. Steadman." Mr. Takahashi responded.

"No. I'll get paid for my treachery Mr. Takahashi. Good day to you." Edward got up and walked out of the restaurant.

Wide Awake

Norler sat up in his bed, still feeling a little dizzy. Several machines around him bleeped and whirred as they monitored his health, fed him nutrients and mild pain killers. His eyes slowly adjusted to the level of light in the room and by the time they did he managed to see the time.

"Eight thirty. I must have slept all day..." Norler said aloud oblivious of the fact that he'd had company in the room.

"You did. Did you know that you mumble when you sleep, Mr. Norler?" asked the man.

Norler turned to his left fighting pain to see that an older well dressed gentleman had seated himself next to the bed.

"No I didn't know. Then again I imagine that you'd probably mumble at night if you had a gaping gunshot wound through your lung." Norler replied sitting back in his bed.

"Yes, I probably would. You've shown great determination to survive such a challenge to your health. Something you will need in the days ahead." the man advised.

"Perhaps from your point of view. My chi, life force and the great balance of things. You speak like you know the future. Are you one of the Doctors around here or a Fortune Teller?" Norler asked somewhat sarcastically.

"It is a way of life here that we're born into and one to which we grow accustomed. I've lived through two cultural revolutions Mr. Norler and seen much in my day. Though I've never studied medicine I do have an appreciable... experience with the essence of being. With our life force, chi and the so called great balance as much as it is the late evening here I can assure that it is the early morning on the other side of the globe from us. Our day has ended and theirs is just beginning. Let me say that politics and legal matters are the to which garden I tend." the man answered Norler's query somewhat cryptically.

"You must be a member of the party then?" Norler asked a little more withdrawn and hesitant.

"No, I am not though I have been offered a position there upon for the last ten years in a row." the man answered curtly.

"And what would say is the balance there?" Norler asked prying further in hopes of understanding this man.

"They trust me to be a part of the administration of this country and its people. What I can do both for my country and its people is better served from outside of the party. I have no quarrels with them nor am I anti-authoritarian. You'll find that I might be of some use to one who finds himself in a position much like your own." the man replied.

"And what position is that? Enlighten me?" Norler leaned forward slightly very much interested in what the man had to say.

"Well, you've come to our country as part of a delegation with the goal of convincing several key voters in the Asian Alliance to rescind their vote against the presence of western values and culture when it comes to Eastern medicine and policy invading and possibly replacing Asian culture with its near diametrical opposite of the west. You've been betrayed by the very competitors of western systems in such a way that have put you both in grave danger of harm and incarceration. The latter of which could be as much as twenty five years to life. After all that was considered a terrorist act that took place just outside one of the most treasured and sacred remnants of our heritage. The Forbidden City. Despite the fact that you are under our care, you do realize that you are scheduled to stand before the Courts and will fight for your freedom. Your charges are serious as is the evidence against you and possibly other executives at your company." the man explained Norler's situation with a focused calm that made Norler slightly anxious.

"Yes. I am aware of this. I thought the Doctors did not want us to discuss this until after I'd healed." Norler asked perhaps even trying to implore the man to leave.

"True. They are compassionate as they are of a doctoring nature. Of western training and influence and certainly professionals. We could do it that way and you'd surely fail before the Courts. If you cannot stand up for yourself when you're weakened, then a weak defense you'll have when you're strong. You are growing weaker in spirit while your body grows stronger. If left much longer this will leave you with little energy for what is to come. We must up until that point guide your will of being into oneness with your body. If we do not, then you may have another twenty five years here in one of the Provincial Prisons to practice this on your own time." the man advised him.

Norler remained silent while he considered what the man had said. He imagined himself in twenty years from now in a cement walled room, a long beard and the glint in his eyes that had been his optimism, his essence: entirely gone. He imagined Alicia petitioning through all of the diplomatic channels of the west for his release. Her despair as time slipped by and until the hourglass was beyond the point of balance. The sand remaining far less than the sand that had fallen through to the bottom. Until there was.


"I understand that you now bare a great weight upon your shoulders in addition to that imposed by your body's recovery. You will first have to decide whether you give up or whether you overcome this challenge to your freedom. Are you innocent of the crimes for which you have been charged? Then surely there must be details that you can gather and have ready for our next meeting. We have to build your case as much as we have to awaken your spirit and your will after this trauma. Ultimately this challenge is yours to decide. I will leave you to contemplate what I have said." the man stood and approached the door, tapping it twice. A moment later a magnetic lock disengaged making an exclamation of Norler's position. The man left and the door closed behind him. The magnetic lock once again engaged with a loud clack and then there was silence.

Norler lay back down and fell into a troubled sleep.

Another Island Away

Heylyn stood before the mirror painting her face methodically as she'd done many times before. To her it had never become routine for it was merely just another medium of her self expression. Her artistic side manifesting to perhaps become a rendition of her own sense of self caricature. She painted herself partly out of regimen but mostly as a medium of her own self expression. She purposely put nuances upon the porcelain of her skin directing the corners of her eyes and the shape of her cheeks to her will in such a way of which only the right man might be aware. Perhaps her own private fantasy but more so her own practical art. Perhaps as much of which any man who'd decipher her allure might be worthy. Regimen rarely represented as much as the imagination conspired to conceive and as much, her facial paint held her secrets.

Heylyn wore her Butterfly Dragon costume under a light outfit that she could discard easily if needed. This day would certainly require these measures. Most of the night had been quiet and she did not dream. Weltherwithsp had once again remained remarkably silent which had both concerned and puzzled her. The ancient dragon had failed to show up in her dreams bringing with it the field of her childhood imagination. Instead of being startled she thought that perhaps it was a sign that they were on the right path. Sometimes no news was good news and Weltherwithsp's silence may have been such a case.

Monique had awoken to see Heylyn was already up and ready for the day. Their accommodations were modest and certainly practical but also sufficient. They were built to house the worker colony that populated the island of Cora Hau. After Heylyn and Monique and the other potential investor's business was done here these units would be occupied by more workers or remain reserved for guests to the island's facilities. This day would be a difficult one for it required them to make their incursion into the local data store and find the information which they sought. Any information about the person who bore the identity of George Steadman. Any information offering insight to the interests involving the Japanese House Of Councillors and any alleged connection with Future Tangent Industries. Finally any information regarding the involvement of Future Tangent Industries in the attack on the Forbidden City. Vital information that would be required in order to secure Norler's freedom or at the very least to be presented in the Chinese court hearings with regard to Norler's case.

Heylyn had gotten up early enough to get herself ready knowing there'd be conflict between her and Monique if they had to fight for the bathroom. Monique got herself out of bed and and stumbled to the bathroom.

"Good morning to you!" Heylyn said to her happily.

"Grrrrr." Monique replied.

"Didn't sleep?" asked Heylyn.

"Yes I did. A little too well. It was kind of like sleeping in a hotel that was built yesterday. This apartment has that new car kind of smell. Like I was the first person to sleep in that bed and on that mattress. Great for sleep but not so great for when its time to wake up." Monique replied groggily closing the bathroom door behind her.

"Do you want a coffee or latte?" Heylyn raised her voice to ensure she'd be heard by Monique.

"Latte. Thank you." Monique yelled from inside the bathroom.

"Make you sure you wear your special outfit today." Heylyn reminded Monique once again raising her voice to be heard.

"I know. I've already got today's outfit picked." Monique yelled as she stepped into the shower.

An hour and a half later and they were both ready and out the door of their temporary apartment on the island and off to the complex where they'd be receiving their next tour. Into the very infrastructure and command center of the Future Tangent Industries Cora Hau complex.

They met up with the other investors in one of the meeting rooms, which had been set with catering and a continental breakfast. The rest of the room was filled with tables, one of which Heylyn and Monique occupied while waiting for the tour director to begin the day's itinerary.


Inside the Cora Hau Security Center a notification arrived via one of the security workstations addressed from the facilities integrated Intelligence Unit. The adaptive recognition software utilized by the security unit had arrived at a match for two of the potential investors.

"I think you'd better have a look at this, Sir. Seems that the ARU found a match for two of our guests. Its a pretty wide spectrum but it gives us something to go on." the security operator addressed his supervisor.

The supervisor came over to the workstation and examined the screen.

"That's over a hundred and fifty matches potential matches for identity. Can we filter that?" asked the security supervisor.

"Already have Sir. I filtered on net worth of more than five million, that's based upon Future Tangent's earlier statistic that all of the investors visiting are over the ten million mark in terms of net worth. That reduced the list down to seven for the Chinese lady and five for the French lady." the security operator replied.

"Well see if we can get a location on the others. We can assume from that those unaccounted for are candidates for their identities." the security supervisor suggested.

"Already tried that. These people are worth a lot and their locations seem to be quite well protected, though one of the identities is listed as being in Toronto, Ontario, Canada right now running West Meet East International. A Global Fashion Company. That would be Heylyn Yates." the security operator responded.

"I guess that means that we can take her off the list. Keep an eye on the rest. Let me know if anything comes up." the security supervisor told the security operator.


The infamous Mr. Rourke approached the from of the room as one of his security team caught up with him. Heylyn observed them speaking for a moment noticing the security associate gesturing in their direction.

"Don't ask me how I know, but I get a funny feeling that someone is talking about us." Monique responded observing the same thing.

"I'd say they are. They just fell for one of our safety measures. Before we left for Cora Hau, I told Kori Jonglyu back at the West Meet East studio to dress like me for the next two weeks and to take my calls directly. When she gets dolled up, she's a dead ringer for me. A bit younger but still difficult to tell. So I'm guessing their security team fell for it. So they still don't have any idea who we are." Heylyn assured Monique.

"Won't that be just as risky as being identified?" asked Monique.

"Not really. If they'd positively identified us, they'd be watching us like hawks. They'd have linked us with the Treadwater incident which would have set off all sorts of red flags in their security systems. So long as we're an if rather than otherwise, we should be alright." Heylyn said confidently.

"Makes sense. So we can assume their interest in us is more just admiration than anything?" Monique asked somewhat playfully.

"The cards are in our hand. We could certainly play it that way. We'll have to be very careful when we make our move today." Heylyn smiled.

"That's what has got me nervous. I'm a model. I'm not so good at doing low key." Monique responded a little bit flustered.

Mr Rourke dismissed the security associate and continued to the front of the room where he addressed the investors.

"I hope that you all had a good sleep last night. We're really enjoying this South Pacific weather. Its actually quite an irony as this part of the ocean is the brewing grounds for some of the worst storms, typhoons and hurricanes in the eastern hemisphere of the world. It would seem an irony to which the name Pacific does not apply? Suffice it to say that the weather here at the Cora Hau facility is an average of 26 Celsius, that's about 80 Fahrenheit and receives approximately 1800 millimeters of rain per year. That's roughly a fifty-fifty ratio of dry to rainy days. What that translates to is a 365 day potential of productivity and throughput for the facility based upon the shift work of our work force, securing the Future Tangent Industries facility on Cora Hau as a solid investment with solid returns." the day started with Mr. Rourke's impeccable delivery designed to the investor's pumped about the day's tour.

Mr. Rourke was graced with an applause from the room which was intended both for him and the facility. In his defense, he could not have known of the misappropriation of company resources in order to corner the Asian medical market in the face efforts by one of its biggest competitors, Tynan And Associates.

Nor would he have known that just three hours before he'd received the security brief, that George Steadman had issued a special order to some of the security operatives to lock down the data facility despite the day's tour. After all, too much was riding on this data and even the man who had become George Steadman recognized that it was potentially the lynch pin to his entire plan. He'd nearly leveled the play field of problems, dealing with them in the harshest ways imaginable. He'd buried his tracks behind him leaving a wake of identities and their bodies as fish food in the limestone rich basins of the lakes where he'd disposed of them. What the fish left behind, the limestone would devour shortly thereafter leaving no evidence.

If Mr. Rourke had known of Mr. Steadman's plans, he may have fled. Attempted to contact the authorities and notify them of the malice that had befallen his company of employ. That was precisely why Mr. Steadman had secretly ordered the security detail to keep eyes upon him and his tour. George was a keen judge of character and he'd identified that their key Public Relations man for the Cora Hau facility might be a problem if he was to become aware of his plan. Too many people were so close to the deal of a lifetime. That one payoff that ensures both financial freedom and the power of capital for the rest of one's life and possibly for many generations thereafter.

With so many people depending upon George's plan, he'd had a small army of co-conspirators who'd nearly go to his lengths to ensure the success of his plan. Two of these men were senior officials on the security unit of the Cora Hau facility, and they considered keeping a close eye on this situation as key to their share of the deal. A deal for which they'd kill to protect. These were two senior authorities who'd ordered their corresponding security teams in the data center to pack fire arms and live ammunition rather than the standard issue tazers. In this deal, they clearly meant business.

Heylyn and Monique listened to Mr. Rourke as he riled up the investors getting them ready for the tour and more importantly, to relieve them of their investment capital without ever knowing that he was a key part of this entire plan. Like clockwork, the investors rose from their chairs enthusiastic about the day's tour and their potential for ROI (Return On Investment), which in their language was the bottom line. Mr. Rourke was kept in the dark about his part because George had known that he'd needed Mr. Rourke to be sincere, and that it was impossible to be as much when one knew too many details that contradicted the very concepts of sincerity itself. Mr. Rourke led the investors obliviously into the tour, with only two Women standing between the success of George's plan and the fall of Tynan And Associate's Asian Universal Treatment Fund.


Many miles north east of Cora Hau in downtown Tokyo, Hiroyuki led the Western Delegation into one of Tokyo's treasures: Akihabara. This was the where to be market for many of the technically and artistically minded shoppers in Tokyo as well as one of its biggest tourist draws next to the Emperor's Palace of course. It was the hang out for geeks, technology nerds, cosplayers, artists and the many philosophers throughout Tokyo and Japan itself. Even at this time in the evening it was packed with a colourful variety of shoppers wearing a diverse representation of fashion from the traditional to the formal and the downright outrageous. Some wore stern and emotionless faces walking in straight lines to their destinations, while others wore smiles, skipping from store to store as if following the curves of a woman's body.

"This is incredible! I've never seen anything like this!" Alicia said admiring the lights, colours and smiles.

"I went to Mardi Gras once when I was a kid, but this... this is something else altogether." Valerie agreed with Alicia looking around in amazement.

"My Uncle used to come here when I was young. He'd always bring a figure or comic book back for me. One of the characters in the comic put a spark in my head about becoming a scientist. I wanted to be a mad scientist! Make my own Woman! My dream girl! That was back when I was first starting to get interesting in girls. I was young." Victor responded looking around seeing images that drew him back to his adolescence.

"And look at what you got!" Katya looked over to her husband.

"Yes. I ended up with another mad scientist and fan of Japanese art. And she ended up making me! Ha! Life's ironies can be... how you say? Like comics sometimes?" Victor pulled Katya closer.

"What does Akihabara mean, Hiroyuki?" asked Zheng as she held onto Doctor Briggs' hand.

"How I should answer?" Hiroyuki thought aloud taking a moment to think.

A few seconds later he continued.

"Akihabara is short for autumn field of the leaves. Actually the word is short for Akibagahara. It literally means a Fire God. It was named after a Shinto temple that was a fire fighting shrine built in the late eighteen hundreds. After fire the plants grow. It makes the soil good to grow. But fire is dangerous and many people died in the fire. So like many things in Japan, the bad fire needs not to be stopped but controlled so nobody gets hurt. The fire makes the ground good for growing things. So Akihabara is the field and plants that grow out of the ground after a bad fire. Very healthy and good." Hiroyuki explained as best he could for his guests.

"There's a lot of people here too. Young and old. In the West you'd find mostly the young in shopping malls of course depending upon the area, the number of schools et cetera." Valerie commented observantly in response to Hiroyuki's explanation.

"Japan is very different from other places. Many things do not get talked about, as there is a lot of pressure not to talk about some things. The reason is mostly Honour which is like a family health. Embarrassment. Some things private. That result in artistic culture that needs to speak about things that people cannot always. Akihabara became very popular for arts and crafts first. Some of the people who make the art start drawing stories with pictures. Many people liked to read these stories. Sometimes they talk about things that people don't talk about and it became a way of speaking to each other without having to say anything out loud." Hiroyuki once again explained letting the delegation into an understanding not possessed of many.

"I agree with that statement. My parents never talked to me about sex. There was never a time when they explained it to me or my brother Boris. I learned about what it was from some comics that my Uncle brought back from Japan. Not just what is was, but being responsible with it. Irresponsible with it and certainly that it could be fun. I guess my point is that these comics taught me something that my parents were too embarrassed to discuss with me. It was our little secret. My Uncle and I. When I did finally meet my sweetheart in my second year of University, I was not too scared when we were close to each other one night. I guess because I knew about it through another medium." Victor said speaking of course about some of the very comics that had originated in Japan.

Hiroyuki's face turned towards a shade of red and he lowered his head.

"I am sorry that our comics brought you disgrace." Hiroyuki kept his head lowered.

"No! No! You're getting me wrong! I am thanking you! Without those comics I never would have understood a very important part about growing up and just because my parents were too embarrassed to talk about it! Maybe finding out that way was better in a way! After all, I didn't read about it and then go out and find a girl right away to... you know? I had the respect for it and for the girls because I knew. Better to know than not to know and to know when the time is right." Victor assured Hiroyuki who slowly raised his head.

"I see. Then I say thank you but you do not need to talk to me about this. It is good that you said thank you for it. I am grateful and honoured." Hiroyuki replied and Victor all at once understood.

"So Akihabara is a place where artists could draw the things that people might never talk about?" Bryce asked Hiroyuki.

"Precisely. Perhaps in Japan when such a time comes, the students and kids learn from other kids that comics and cartoons teach them. It is much different than in the West but we don't talk about it. The West is very different and sometimes very closed minded. It puts pressures on people to talk about things that should not be talked about publicly, and to remain silent on things that should be talked about. Maybe the people aren't bad for talking, but the people are bad for making the pressure? I mean if you really like something and it is special, would you not keep it hidden only between the people it involves? So why in the West do the people make pressure to talk about the treasures hidden between two people? Because they don't want other people's secret treasures to be better than their secret treasures. So they try to break other people's secret treasures by making lots of pressure for people to unburden themselves from that pressure. If they don't unburden themselves then they will blow up like a bomb. Do you see?" Hiroyuki responded.

"I agree with what you're saying but part of that is about growing up in the West. It is important to treasure the moments between yourself and someone else that are between you and personal. Some people in the West are very competitive to break other people's cherished moments and their corresponding secrecy. I guess like taking other people's treasures so that only theirs remain secret. In the West it is a bit of a measure of the bias or even the bond that you have in favour of another person. Some people take it a little too far in trying to break those bonds where they shouldn't. Sometimes those secrets are part of what bonds two people in marriage. Secrets are not always about shame or wrong doing. They can be about golden moments between people." Zheng spoke trying to put her finger on their topic with her point of view.

"I'm also seeing a lot of technology here. How did that come to be?" Alicia asked purposely trying to diffuse some of the intensity of the conversation.

"Japan's technology movement arrived with solid state circuitry. It really allowed us to miniaturize electronics meaning we could bring innovative consumer and business products to the marketplace in ways that the rest of the world had not explored as viable markets. Young people had become interested in technology early on and making wearable technology and video based products has been a part of Japanese trends from early on. Because of the draw to Akihabara, which often found young people who loved the comics and the older people who loved the arts and crafts, it was natural that technology used Akihabara as an early market ground at first with audio and visual products. Later when computers and gaming systems arrived, the integration of the existing art mediums into computer graphics was clear. That led to the development of many products based around the Japanese comics and art work and there was no better place to market these products in Akihabara which already had a huge market for them." Hiroyuki stopped in front of one store front that offered a hand held video gaming system with a holographic display.

"You see that technology is growing very fast here and this technology has become the new paper like that the comics themselves used to be published upon. In much the same way that young people used to learn by reading the things that people don't talk about, this generation learns about them by this new technological medium. Videos. Games. Whats more is that it grows with people in age as they grow older. So really the market stays with them for life we're finding. Not a replacement for a healthy social life, but Japanese work is long and the work force is dedicated, sometimes even sleeping at a work job then continuing to work the next day. So for these people, this is their social life because they don't have enough time to invest in developing interpersonal relationships. In the West you are experiencing the beginnings of the same thing because of the people making the pressure on other people to talk about things that they shouldn't and to hide the things that they should talk about. This is making the next generation into a generation that hides in technology while other people take over the social life and interpersonal world. In Japan we believe that you can have both. Be technological and computer social while also being interpersonal and in person social. When you make people afraid to come outside you have big problems coming. People making the problems won't know that until it is too late." there was a long pause as Hiroyuki considered what he had said.

"Yes. That is what I mean." he finished.

"Not to turn this into a conflict, but in the West we do have education classes for the youth involving subjects that parents often don't talk about. That's certainly something important that benefits all of society." Bryce offered.

"This is true and certainly something that should be the same all over the world. In places where things are not discussed openly, a culture of art or communication usually evolves around teaching those things in some way. In Japan there is art and technology that speaks that language for us. So sex education takes on a much different approach here than in the West. This is not the West or the East. It is the West and the East. I'm sure that when you were in China, that someone explained the difference involved in that concept?" Hiroyuki looked at Bryce skeptically.

"We're all in agreement with what you just said Hiroyuki. The importance is the difference between the term OR and the term AND. Some people tend to confuse the two especially where they think duality is prevalent. We mean no disrespect or ignorance of your cultural philosophy at all." Alicia spoke flashing Bryce a stern look.

"It is alright Alicia. No harm done. I believe that what Mr. Maxwell was saying is true and a good example of how to deal with things that aren't always spoken about openly in society because ignoring them leads to much bigger social problems later. The solution that evolved here let us retain our privacy and the treasures of our time with people special in our lives. You do know that Japan has a much different philosophy when it comes to mature sexuality. Again we do not discuss these things openly, but there are places in Japan where a couple can go for just that. A place to be with one another. It is much different than the West and it doesn't cheapen the value of any gender on a sexual basis. The place where you share those secrets is with your partner. Maybe some people in West want to know those secret treasures of others? That is too bad. That is all I'm saying. Much different here. Some people like to play in ways that are embarrassing to discuss or might bring dishonour and disgrace to them if they became public knowledge. In the West do you have respect for a lady's reputation? Here in Japan Women aren't disgraced by their sexual habits because we do not discuss them openly to the public. They are treasures between those involved. We do not look down upon Women even knowing if they are sexually active. It is much different here in that regard too." Hiroyuki pursued perhaps intending a little bit of friendly competition.

"I can agree in some senses with what you're saying. I mean in the West a Man is often regarded in high esteem for his sexual exploits being regarded as a stud which carries a much different stigma than the term applied to sexually active Women which is often the term slut. The term slut in terms of its stigma is a degrading term. So if a Woman's reputation is scarred by public knowledge of the fact that they're sexually active, they could end up labeled a slut. If the same thing happens to a Man, they are regarded as a stud. That's a big difference in regard to the social esteem of one's sexual activity." Valerie jumped into the conversation.

"Here a Woman is neither degraded, though she might be revered by a Male who is not familiar with interpersonal sexuality. That is because she can be a guide or teacher to such a Male and this is cherished in such a time that could be potentially awkward for Men as it could be for Women. Therefore this stigma as you've explained does not exist in Japan. At least not in the same way. A Woman is not rejected for having knowledge of sexuality and a Man is not embarrassed or disgraced for having none. There are likely Men in every culture who would much rather have a Woman that knows nothing of sex or has retained her virginity but in Japan that does not disgrace her for not having it. Some cultures and beliefs follow the idea that a Woman's sexuality should be reserved until the Man that she marries. That idea makes all sexually active Women into sexual cattle in a way because they are discarded as marriage prospects and can therefore never settle down." a self confident smile stretched across Hiroyuki's face smelling of national pride.

"I agree with your point about discarding Women just because they've had a bit of sexual experience. That's certainly wrong but that pressure more results from the cultural eidos where virgin marriages are espoused, forgive the pun. As far as Women being considered lesser because of their sexual prowess or experience, I'd beg to differ especially in the West. After all, in popular culture there have been books and films that illustrate that point quite well. Take the movie The Graduate, Anne Bancroft and Dustin Hoffman. It's about that very topic. A younger Man with an older more sexually experienced Woman, who guides him into his Manhood like a rite of passage and he is able to become the Man that is future fiance needs him to be. Sure, the older more experienced Woman and the younger Man don't end up together in the end, but it certainly elevates the role of Mentor to its heights. Another such film is Bull Durham with Susan Sarandon, Kevin Costner and Tim Robbins. Its about a up and coming star baseball pitcher who is being moulded for the big leagues by a minor league team. This moulding involves the responsibilities of a sexually experienced mistress who has taken up making this man ready for the big leagues. This film is a bit different from The Graduate in that if focuses more upon the Mentors than the Mentored. Kevin Costner and Susan Sarandon having readied this young Man for the big leagues end up falling for one another. Not to mention it has perhaps one of the greatest lines in a film from Kevin Costner when he's trying to explain to Susan that he loves her. So that's two very well presented cases where Women in society who have been sexually active aren't discarded or regarded as lesser than any of Women kind. Those movies did a lot for the liberation of Women, not the mention of older, more experienced Women and how they're perceived by society. Even in the West." Bryce replied folding his hands across his chest in the name of his national pride.

"Perhaps the two of you are at an impasse?" Katya looked at the two men each in turn.

Hiroyuki's smile grew and he broke down laughing extending his hand to Bryce.

Bryce kept his smile modestly covert for a moment before bowing low to Hiroyuki. When he was back up, he extended his hand shaking it firmly.

"Uhhh... Valerie. Could you strike that entire conversation from the audio log later?" Alicia asked.

"Why is that? I thought that it was pretty good." Valerie replied craning her head to one side.

"Well, there's just some treasures that are better left as secrets between those who shared them." Alicia winked at Valerie and then around to the other delegates.

Everyone, including Hiroyuki nodded in agreement and shared a smile between each other.

In A Covert Fashion

The facility tour had just left the administration building and was on their way to the production facility on Cora Hau. The investors had been impressed with the operation from a management and finances perspective and were now being treated to the bread and butter of the operation. The product itself and what the Cora Hau facility was all about.

The tour bus pulled out of the administration building's parking area and out towards the main factory with the correct headcount for the bus. After all, they didn't want to leave any of the investors behind. Heylyn and Monique had managed to be a part of the head count, while avoiding entry to the tour bus itself through the clever use of distraction.

They'd use their time during the tour of the administration building to devise their plan for the layout of the building was not available to them prior. They initially had no idea where the data center was located or which of the management work stations would allow them sufficient privileges to access and search the data effectively in such a short time. Monique had observed that the system's security was two fold. That the data security required sufficient user privilege to read the data and higher level to alter it. Any of their transactions upon the data, both reading and writing would be logged and later traceable by the Server Administrators but Monique assumed that by that time it would already be too late for them. After all, it was hard copies of the data that were important as it would provide the key to piecing together what exactly Future Tangent Industries was up to and more importantly, their involvement in the incursion into the Forbidden City in Beijing.

During the tour Heylyn and Monique had managed to get a pair of digital badge cards for themselves identifying them as generic contract personnel. The identification would give them entry to the administration building and likely allow them access to at least some of it. Whether it would get them close to where they needed to be was another question all together.

They sat on a bench by an elaborate found outside the administration building watching as the tour bus pulled out. As soon as it was far enough away, they casually stood and headed towards the front doors. They'd pinned their digital badges to the breast of their outfits just as every other contractor had placed them. As the approached the door the magnetic locks disengaged for them having read their cards from a nearby RFID scanner. They proceeded into the building and made their way towards the elevators.

"You do realize that as soon as I get you logged into the system from one of the manager's workstations on the tenth floor that I'm going to have less than twenty seconds to make it to the admin terminal on the third floor for this to work?" Monique reminded Heylyn.

"That shouldn't be a problem for you?" Heylyn said encouragingly to Monique perhaps trying to provoke her into outdoing herself.

"That's assuming of course that there's windows to the outside of the building in that office and at least one more leading to the admin stations on the third floor." Monique said beginning to doubt herself and the plan.

"I'm sure you'll find a way with your unique abilities. Besides. You have no choice. We have to do this and get it done. The entire delegation and Norler's freedom depends upon it." Heylyn asserted reminding Monique of her importance.

"Could you add just a little bit more pressure?" Monique replied sarcastically.

The elevator quickly arrived, a few people stepping out. Heylyn and Monique followed three other people into the elevator. When they hit the button for the tenth floor, the elevator's computer sqawked at them displaying ACCESS PROHIBITED on the LCD touchscreen.

"Are you contractors?" asked one of the Male passengers on the elevator.

"Yes. As a matter of fact we are. We're here working on some of the fiber optic data feeds for the data center. We're supposed to test a connection on the tenth floor." Monique quickly bluffed.

"Ahhhh. That's probably it. Most of the contractor badges only allow access to the ninth floor. There is a work around though. Go to the ninth floor and ask the guys in the shipping and receiving area to bring you up to the tenth floor on the shipping elevator." the man suggested sincerely and perhaps a little flirtatiously.

"That seems like a lot of trouble just to test one of the connections." Heylyn interrupted sounding a little put off.

"Hey, it's that or you spend the next three hours trying to get clearance down in security." the man replied.

"Thank you. I think I like your suggestion better." Monique winked at the man seductively.

"Alright. I guess we'll give that a try." Heylyn purposely sounded disappointed pressing the ninth floor button.

The elevator doors closed and it quickly accelerated up to the ninth floor where it let Monique and Heylyn off. Monique blew a kiss to the man as she left.

"I think you're overdoing it a little." Heylyn commented.

"Well we're nine floors closer to our goal than we were a few minutes ago, aren't we?" Monique shot back.

"That we are. Now we just have to find the shipping and receiving elevators." Heylyn looked around trying to find a directory.

Monique looked up and noticed a convex mirror located at one end of the hall near the ceiling. It had been strategically placed both as a mounting for a hidden security camera behind the one way glass that made up the mirror and so that contractors bringing heavy loads into the building could see around corners to ensure there were no accidents.

"I'd put my money on it that if we back track and follow those mirrors, that we'll find the shipping elevators." Monique observed astutely.

Heylyn thought about it for a moment and then agreed.

"I think that I'll just tag along as an observer. You're doing fine." Heylyn smiled patting her on the back.

They began their search for the shipping elevators following the curved mirrors eventually arriving at a pair of two way shipping doors. The magnetic lock disengaged upon reading their RFID tags and they proceeded through the doors.

The shipping and receiving area even on the ninth floor was considerably large. They'd designed the building so that each floor could handle a large amount of throughput in terms of IT equipment and furniture, which was often cycled between floors to correspond to meetings and events within the building.

There were a few packing skids close to the walls while the path to the elevators themselves remained free of any blockage. They quickly pressed the elevator button and waited. A few moments later and the heavy door opened revealing a solitary elevator operator. An older man in his mid to late fifties who'd obviously inherited this position of light duty as he progressed towards his retirement.

"What can I do for you?" he asked Heylyn and Monique politely.

"We're here for to do some work on the fiber optics. We need access to the tenth floor temporarily to test one of the connections up there. We were advised to see you." Heylyn followed Monique's plan as closely as she could recall.

There was an awkward moment of silence.

"Oh. I see, you have contractor badges. Next time, phone your contact on the tenth floor and have them meet you. That is the policy when this happens, but I'll let you up there once." the man spoke softly.

"Thank you." Monique said to the man.

"Besides, you remind me of my daughter. She's very beautiful." the man said to Monique.

Monique and Heylyn shuffled onto the elevator and the man closed the door behind them. A moment later they thanked the man and made their way into a busy hall on the tenth floor.

"Must be break time. Reminds me of West Meet East back home." Heylyn said as they passed the catering and cafeteria room.

"Yeah. I miss home. I could use one of Jeanette's pastries right now." Monique could smell the baked goods as they passed the door.

"Couldn't have been better timing. That means while we're getting into the system, everyone else will be on break." Heylyn continued walking towards the end of the hall to the management area.

As they were about to open the door to the management area, a voice addressed them from behind.

"Excuse me. Do I know you? What are you doing up here?" a man asked them.

"Ohhh. Hi. We're contractors here to do the fiber optics. We're actually working on the data center but we need to test a connection up here. It will only take a minute." Monique tried to handle the situation.

"Maybe I should accompany you? Just for the sake of policy?" the man fixed his tie.

"We've been in here before. I mean we did the fiber optics for the entire building. We know our way around. But thank you for the offer. That's very kind of you. Besides, I work much faster without somebody watching over my shoulder." Monique said once again turning up the charm.

"Alright. I'll be in the cafeteria if you need me." the man replied watching both Monique and Heylyn as they left.

"That was close." Heylyn said wiping her forehead.

"There it is over there." Monique pointed to the office they needed to get into.

"Alright, let's get this done." Heylyn followed Monique over to the closed office door.

Heylyn knocked first waiting for a reply beyond. When nobody answered she twisted the doorknob and entered.

The office had little clutter aside from a multitude of post it notes with lined the large LCD monitor of the management workstation.

"Alright. Do your thing." Heylyn stepped aside as Monique sat in the big chair and used the mouse to open up the administrative console.

Once the console was onscreen she began typing frantically. A list of server names appeared along with their corresponding addresses. She looked through a list of port numbers trying to find a particular port used commonly by data servers.

"There it is." she spoke aloud.

"You lost me from the point you opened the console." Heylyn replied.

"That's the data server. I'm just trying to get in now. When I finish typing and the successful login message appears, I'm going to move quick. When I'm gone you'll have to wait ten seconds before you have access to the data system. From that point, I'll guide you through my phone. Are you ready?" Monique asked Heylyn.

"As I'll ever be." Heylyn assured Monique.

"Ok. Here goes." Monique responded as she began typing once again.

As the login accepted message appeared, Monique instantaneously transformed into a streak of light with a tremendous flash and thunderclap nearly blinding and deafening Heylyn.

Monique was instantly out the window and flying down towards the third floor. She circled the building several times looking for the best point of entry. When she'd found it, her light form passed through the window and into another office where she instantly turned back to her natural form once again with a bright flash and thunderclap.

She looked around the office realizing that she had come in through the wrong window. She did not have enough time to traverse the exterior of the building again looking for an entry point. Instead she stepped out of the office and into an open area of work stations. Everyone was still away from their desks during the break leaving her ample space to do what she needed to do.

She looked for a security camera for she'd need one to try something that she'd never tried before. When she had looked for the admin work station she'd need to access to override the limits on the account Heylyn would be using to search the data, she'd found that the same room was also host to an array of security monitors.

She theorized that she might be able to get there by an innovative means which she wasted no time attempting. She instantly turned back into a light form and flew at blinding speeds towards the security camera. Her light form passed through the lens and into the circuitry of the camera. The information which had been contained in her light form was now encoded in electrical form.

For her the sensation was very strange and surreal. She somehow had omnipresent awareness, feeling the tickle of electrons and the magnetic field itself as she flew through the wires and through another converter. This time she was re-encoded back into light and was traveling through the fiber optic system itself towards the admin office and the security monitors. When she'd arrived at the office she was encoded for a last time into electrical data and then back into light as she escaped through the security monitor array.

She instantly transformed back into herself and fell to the floor gasping at the experience. On the floor she'd noticed that six seconds had passed since she'd left Heylyn in the manager's office.

She struggled to her feet and found her way to the admin workstation's keyboard. She began typing frantically and a moment later she was browsing the account list. When she found the account through which Heylyn was accessing the data systems, she elevated it giving it complete unrestricted access.

She immediately grabbed her phone from a belt pouch she'd worn under her blouse and dialed Heylyn's cellular number. As soon as her call was answered she spoke.

"I'm in. You're in." Monique spoke slightly out of breath.

"You're early by two seconds." Heylyn replied as she began her searches of the database.

"I guess I should have stopped for a break maybe?" Monique responded coyly.

"No. That's perfect." Heylyn assured her.

"Can I have a raise?" Monique asked.

"You've still got three months before your next review. Ask me then." Heylyn replied professionally.

"Hurry. We've only got another seven minutes before they'll be back from break." Monique scolded Heylyn.

"Already on it." Heylyn assured her.

Heylyn first searched for the name George Steadman. The results contained a series of employee records, division transfers and communications records. She further filtered the results by the term Forbidden City and Beijing. The results were further reduced to five records of communication and two travel records.

"I think that I've got something here." Heylyn spoke as she downloaded the corresponding data to her phone.

"One of them is encrypted. Can you get me by that?" Heylyn asked.

"I'll give it a try but it might require some help from Tynan." Monique told her.

Heylyn continued starting a completely new search. She searched George Steadman and Japan. The results this time included a series of communications addressed to Itikara Takahashi. There was also a record of a private web server being hosted on this island with contents addressed to the same Itikara Takahashi.

"Take a look at this while I download this list:" Heylyn fed the address to Monique.

Heylyn waited for her download to finish as Monique used the local web browser to observe the contents of the web address.

"You're not going to believe this. It's Treadwater Island all over again. This appears to be a blackmail video. I assume that's Mr. Takahashi and he's getting busy with a younger lady. Maybe his mistress?" Monique advised Heylyn.

"Get all the data from the web server including the video. We're done here. We need to check out this data and get to Tokyo. I'm packing it in now." Heylyn stood up after she'd logged off of the computer.


In a small building just across from the Cora Hau Administration building, a man sat in front of a pair of large lcd monitors wearing an elaborate headset and microphone. He observed a spreadsheet like list of names and corresponding numbers. Beside it on the other monitor, an oscilloscope like readout displayed a complex waveform associated with the audio channel being heard by the operator.

The man watched the screen with the waveform carefully as the source of the audio was triangulated from a series of cellular towers erected by Future Tangent Industries to protect their precious properties. A moment no longer than 1.57 seconds later, a small window superimposed itself over the waveform readout. It described a location in latitude and longitude as well as a small map indicating that the source of the cellular communications had come from the Administration building itself.

The computer operater turned immediately to his supervisor across from him who was at that moment involved in a very serious game of Solitaire.

"Sir. I've got a suspicious signal." the operator spoke just as he switched over to eavesdropping mode.

"So? There's a thousand employees in this place making calls all day to their banks, their families and what not. What do you think you're going to find?" the supervisor obviously bored by the operator's claims.

"No Sir. This is serious! Its coming from within the Administration building. They're talking about accessing locked files on the server!" the operator pleaded with the supervisor as he listened in on Heylyn's and Monique's final words during their mission.

There was a pause as the Supervisor stepped away from his game of Solitaire and over the operator's computer.

"Let me see what you've got." the Supervisor said as he looked at the operator's screen.

"Holy sh..." he immediately responded typing a few keys on the operators keyboard.

"This is coming from the Cora Hau Manager's desk!" the Supervisor responded.

"I tried to tell you Sir!" the operator replied but the Supervisor was already responding to the first security emergency they'd experienced on Cora Hau.

"I need all security teams in the Administration building to proceed up to the tenth floor right now! I want the building locked of and a perimeter closed around the entire building at a distance of fifty meters. Call in the auxiliary teams and check the ID badges of EVERYONE leaving the building! Now GO!" the Supervisor shouted quickly running over to his computer and shutting down his game of Solitaire.


Heylyn stepped out of the Manager's office and walked quickly towards the door through which she'd entered the Management Offices of Cora Hau.

"Are you there?" Heylyn spoke into her headset addressing Monique.

"I'm just on my way out. I got everything and tried to cover our tracks." Monique replied.

"Good to know. Look, something wrong. It's after break and nobody is back at their desk. It looks like the open office area is empty. If we've been found out, we'll go to our second plan. Copy?" Heylyn confirmed with Monique.

"Na! They didn't find us! We're too... Wait! There's a security outside my door. Copy! Copy! Gotta go!" Monique exclaimed as she focused her energy inward.

There was an immediate flash in the room as she turned into a bright streak of light. Just as she'd done before she headed for the lense of the security camera however when she'd arrived the CCD did not convert her form to electrtical impulses for it was dead.

Security was now operating on the so called hidden and secure surveillance system.

"Bad timing." Monique responded though Heylyn could not hear her communications while she was in light form.


Heylyn proceeded through the door and towards the shipping and receiving elevator hoping that she could escape through Shipping and Receiving. The hall that had once been filled with break time patrons was completely empty causing Heylyn much concern.

As she approached the catering she grabbed the doorknob and turned it breaking the lock.

"It was locked? This is more serious than I thought." she said aloud.

She stepped into the lunch and catering room closing the door behind her. She then turned to see that the room was eerily silent except for the breathing and whimpering of fifteen or so people who were huddled in a corner and attempting to hide behind their tables. They tried to remain hidden from her view.

"It's alright. I'm not going to hurt you. Not any of you. I promise." Heylyn responded shocked to see all of these people so scared of her.

None of them replied to her more relieved to be alive at that point.

Behind her the catering room door was slammed open by the pressure of a precise hammer strike to the latch by one of the security elites.

Heylyn turned to meet a threesome of armoured men who leveled their tasers at her.

"Halt! Hands in the air! NOW!" they shouted.

Heylyn's heightened senses immediately took over and she observed what most people would overlook and much faster.

She'd noticed that the security specialist on the left was particularly excited, making him susceptible to the anticipation of conflict. For a good ten seconds he'd be running on fight or flight psychology forgetting his training altogether. She immediately recognized that he was the one to watch but not only for her own protection but for his protection and that of the people in the catering room.

Her Butterfly wings first shot out from her back then folded protectively sealing the door and then around her just as the security elite had prematurely fired his taser at one of the break time patrons.

Heylyn's response was immediate as she flew into action against the new threat. The taser projectile hit her seemingly immaterial wing only to bounce to the floor harmlessly as she took to the air.

The other two security specialists fired their tasers upon a non-existent target which was now above their heads and finally behind them. The tasers hit the far wall embedding part way into the drywall.

"Sorry gentlemen but this must be done." Heylyn exclaimed from just behind them as she brought their heads together enough to render them unconsciousness without serious harm.


When the door opened enough Monique quickly flew through it seeking cover. She was not certain that she hadn't been sighted by the men and maintained her light form. The armed men stumbled as they searched the server operator's station quizzically.

Monique stayed near the phosphorescent lights that illuminated the open office space near the server operator's office realizing that her luminous form would draw attention.

Another security team slowly closed upon the server operator's office as she watched from the safety of the illumination from one of the office ballasts on the ceiling.

"There's nobody in here..." the roaming security specialist reported back.

"She was just there! You saw it on the cameras dammit! Do a search of the Office or it will be my ass!" the Supervisor blared over their comm units.

"There's a light source over there Sir!" one of the security associates responded.

"That's just the office lighting! Keep your eyes open dammit!" the squad leader replied.

Monique tried to reduce her luminescence only to change colour from a bright white light to a momentarily pale pink then back again to brightness.

One of the security team looked up to the ballast examining the fixture closely.

"Lighting must be on the fritz again." he commented as he squinted from the sudden brightness.

For a moment he could have sworn that he saw a lady's face. He closed his eyes and her visage floated across his eyelids gradually disappearing.

"Not only that but I'm seeing things..." he commented as his radio headset blared.

"You've got a situation. We've been advised by Corporate headquarters that we may have been infiltrated by the anomalies. We've got orders from Mr. Streadman that you're to use any force necessary to apprehend any trespassers. Bring them to the security brig." the communications officer spoke excitedly.

"Will do. You get that Reg?" asked the security specialist.

"I sure did Garret. Let's see if we can't track them down. Switching to small arms, non-lethal rounds." Reg replied as he holstered his taser and drew his 9mm from the holster while Garret did the same.

They'd been equipped with high velocity elastiplast ballistic putty ammunition. The rounds were basically made of a rubber-like compound that would not piece skin, though it could potentially break bones or render a target unconscious.

Monique looked to the security camera wondering if she could make before they fired upon her. Their ammunition would pass harmlessly through her but if it hit the camera as she entered into it, she had no idea what could happen if she was only able to partly pass through the CCD and digital to analog converter of the circuit.

Her decision was made for her as the lights in the building went out. She saw the power light on the camera go out and the server workstation go into hibernation mode.

Someone had cut the power and now she was the only source of lighting in the room.

"Do you see what I'm seeing?" asked Reg who looked upon the form of a beautiful Woman who lay on the ceiling ballast.

"Freeze! Don't move or we'll shoot!" Garret yelled at the apparition.


"Stay here. You'll be fine. They're not harmed and they'll be awake soon." Heylyn advised the catering room patrons of the state of the security specialists she'd incapacitated.

They remained in their cover as she laid the unconscious body of the last guard on the floor when the lights went out completely.

Her senses quickly adjusted.

"I don't know if you can hear this! They must have cut the power. That means no elevators. They're definitely onto us!" Heylyn spoke into her headset but received no confirmation.

She headed out the catering room door looking for an office window through which she could escape realizing that she'd have to go back to the office she'd used to receive the data from Monique. She quickly made her way down the hall and through the door at the end. She entered into the open office space and through the maze of cubicles towards the windows which were the only source of light in the room. When she arrived she inspected the scene outside.

A series of emergency vehicles had pulled up to the front of the building while three or four security vans had setup ambush points at all of the exits.

"M, I don't know if you can hear me but we have to fall back to the alternate plan to evacuate the island. Forget the room and our belongings there. We'll have to get back to our meeting point on our own. I'll meet you there. You'll get there long before I do. Stay out of sight." Heylyn made one last broadcast as she removed her headset placing it with her phone in one of her belt pouches.

She stepped back from the window as her skin took on a shiny and scaly tone. It had hardened to become as dragon scale as she flew full force at the window. The glass exploded as she impacted and she immediately veered towards the ground ahead of the falling glass. Her glowing wings spread stretching far and wide shielding the onlookers from the thick glass debris she'd thrown during her escape. The shards impacted her wings narrowly missing a few of the onlookers who watched in amazement and the glass rolled off her wings harmlessly to the ground. She picked up speed veering towards the sky as many of the island's residents began snapping pictures of her with their smart phones. She sped towards the island coastline and northward in the direction of Honshu and Tokyo harbour some twenty two hundred kilometers away.


Monique remained in place wondering how to deal with this situation. She was in the sub basement in the server room which was completely sealed off from the floors above except through the elevators. She was pinned to the ceiling her form very obvious to two completely terrified security specialists who'd used every ounce of restraint to keep themselves from firing upon her.

She could not speak with them in light form though she could gesture with her hands and hope they understood. She tried extending her hands slowly in front of her in their direction from the ceiling. One of them screamed immediately pulling the trigger. The round passed through her hitting the metal ballast of the lighting and rebounded off the far wall ricocheting off the computer monitor.

A hundredth of a second after the round had hit the monitor Monique transformed into a voluminous cloud of blackness disappearing in the darkness.

Garret struggled with his flashlight pulling it from his belt and leveling it towards the point on the ceiling where she'd been. She was no longer there. Reg meanwhile turned frantically trying to find her using what little light Garret's flashlight provided. Something caught his attention out of the corner just outside of the server room door.

"There! I think that's her!..." Reg jumped upon seeing her shadowy form slipping by them and out the door.

Garret spun with his 9mm and his flashlight catching Monique in shadow form as she moved quickly towards the elevator.

Reg ran out the door firing at her several times. The rounds once again passed through her harmlessly bouncing off the walls or embedding themselves in the drywall. They trailed her as quickly as they could as she approached the shipping elevator.

With no power the elevator would be a no go. In her current form she could not pass through the elevator door or interact with anything she might have needed to manipulate physically in order to escape. That left her with no choice but to attempt to incapacitate the guards so she could make her escape.

As they followed her into the shipping elevator area, she flew upwards into the shadows towards the ceiling where she watched them from above.

"We lost her!" Reg panicked.

"We didn't lose her. There's nowhere to go from here. The elevators are locked. It's protocol when there's a power outage. An air seal on the elevator ceiling opens and a air duct normally magnetically ceiled by the power also opens just in case anyone is trapped in the elevator. So they don't suffocate." Garret advised Reg perhaps trying to calm him.

"She's a freakin' ghost! I'm telling you she got out of here already! How long to you think we'll be trapped down here now!" Reg started to break under the pressure of what he'd witnessed thus far.

"She's one of the anomalies. That's all. Just chemistry and science. We've got all we need to deal with her." Garret assured Reg.

"If she's still here, I say we use lethal ammo. She's not human. She's a monster! I've never seen anything like that! That's like those ghost hunter shows! Like a monster!" Reg said reaching into his belt for his jacketed hollow point clips of ammunition.

Just as his hand found one, both Reg and Garret were suddenly blinded by the brightest flash they'd ever seen. It had been like their training and one particular exercise where they had to train for the use of flashbangs. Non-lethal concussion grenades that both stunned and blinded their victims. During their training program, they'd been exposed to just such a grenade so they'd know what it was like. It was part of the training. When the concussion and the flash had hit them in the shipping area near the elevator, it had hit them about ten times harder than what they'd experienced with their training and certainly far more than they could have been ready for.

Reg fell to the floor unable to see, gasping for air, his retina's temporarily flash burned. Garret had somehow miraculously ended up in a partial shadow, leaving one of his eyes completely unharmed while the other was temporarily blinded.

He swung his gun around just in time to catch the form of the beautiful lady who'd so easily incapacitated them both. Garret fired at point blank as Monique's fist landed solidly with Garret's jaw.

Garret hit the floor first, now seeing stars in addition to his temporary blindness. He felt an immense pain on the left of his jaw socket somewhat like a jaw cramp. His hand clamped reflexively on the trigger of his gun and fired another rubber round at the cement wall of the receiving area. It bounced off the wall rebounding directly back at him. It impacted just above the right ear rending Garret unconscious.

Monique fell to her knees gasping for air as the non-lethal round had hit her squarely in the solar plexus. She felt her consciousness as it attempted to escape her. As she gasped her last breath she forced herself to transform into light and at once her pain was relieved and her need for breath postponed.

She reached for her wound examining what she could as she got up from the floor. Her light form seemed completely uniform in colour and texture indicating to her that the injury was only superficial though she still felt dizzy from the initial shock and impact.

She stumbled towards the elevator door realizing that she'd need to return to her physical form in order to get the elevator doors open.

"They said there's an air vent on the ceiling of the elevator and a magnetically sealed air duct at the top of the elevator shaft. I guess that's my exit. Let's hope I don't pass out when I return to..." Monique thought to herself as she returned to physical form.

She gasped once again struggling for air finally able to force a full breath. She leaned against the elevator door for balance until she was able to stand. Reg groaned a feet feet away possibly regaining his consciousness.

Monique braced her foot against the elevator door and the door frame, attempting to push it open with her legs. She pressed with all of her might as the door slowly slid open revealing the blackness of the elevator shaft. Somewhere up above her the elevator had stopped on one of the floors. She transformed back into her light form and flew up the shaft, around the elevator and out through the air duct that Garret had mentioned. A moment later and she was free flying into the eleven o'clock sunshine and on her way to Tokyo harbour.

The entire trip took her less than five seconds while it would take Heylyn two hours at her full flight speed.

Norler's Discovery

Norler lay quietly in bed remaining as still as his nerves would allow him. He'd been waiting already for three hours motionless and in the dark for his quarry though it still eluded him. It had been an exercise in futility for someone like Norler for laying idle for so long was beyond him. He needed to be doing something. Not just anything but something of purpose. This seemed selfish to him for the only purpose for this current endeavor was to find an answer. Depending upon what that answer may be would deem it worthy of the effort or selfish and perhaps even paranoid.

For most of the three hours that had passed, he'd considered the words of the old man who'd come to visit him. A seemingly philanthropic Chinese advocate. One with enough ties to the ruling party perhaps to keep his eye on the pulse of this situation, though he seemed to have little interest in the intrigue of political influence. It was as if he had given Norler the map to a physical place. An absolute destination despite the outcome of the court proceedings. It was as if the path was already determined and that Norler was being pruned to follow it. To become healthy and strong enough to want it and perhaps to earn it. Success or failure. Innocence or guilt. Freedom or imprisonment. Perhaps they were both the same thing regardless of the outcome.

One outcome that had held Norler's interest was the fact that his recovery had been quick and even described as miraculous though he'd originally attributed it to the professional healthcare he'd received while here in Beijing. A hospital with Western trained Doctors who possessed extensive knowledge of Traditional Chinese Medicine who seemed to practice both forms of medicine. A representative example of that for which he'd been striving. Essentially what the delegation was about, despite the fact that it was about making sure that ground breaking medication was available to all despite social status or income level.

Norler had been both skeptical and intrigued by the progress of his own treatment. It was not often that a man with a large calibre rifle wound to his lung would heal so quickly and readily as to be on his feet within a week after having reparative surgery. He would still experience pains in his chest occasionally but over a short period of time they'd diminished from the point of futility to mild nuisance. What was it that they were up to and what secrets did the Chinese treatment hold?

On that thought, Norler heard the magnetic latch on the door to his room unlock as his quarry entered. The morning Nurse Lei Ma Chan entered as quietly as she could. She carried the change for Norler's intravenous medicine, an ongoing part of his treatment and one that was changed daily in the early morning. She meticulously closed the valves and took the old treatment from the intravenous stand and replaced it with the new bag and fluid. Norler remained still as she did waiting for the last moment to appear to awaken.

She stepped back momentarily startled to see him up this early. Norler feigned a morning yawn stretching his arms wide.

"Good morning." he said to her politely putting the charm on thick.

"Ne hao." she nodded to him regaining her courage.

"What is in this cocktail you've been feeding me every morning since I've returned from surgery?" Norler asked Nurse Lei Ma.

"Nutrients. Medicine. Chinese herbs." she replied in the best English that she could muster.

"By medicine, what do you mean? Like pharmacology? Or is it more Traditional Chinese Medicine?" Norler asked her.

She suddenly seemed uncomfortable by his questions and quickly finished up.

"It is medicine you need to get better. Be a good man and go to sleepy." she responded to him somewhat scolding him.

"I'm just curious. I feel so good that I'd like to know how you did it." Norler spoke trying to ease her nervousness.

"You need to sleepy." she ignored his charm and scolded him before turning to back to the door.

A moment later the door closed and locked behind her and Norler smiled that his effort was not in vain. He lifted his covers to retrieve the sheet he'd pulled from her clipboard. It contained a list of her rounds and the medicine and treatments that had been prescribed to him thus far, though all of it was written in Simplified Chinese and possibly in some form of short hand.

He took out his cellular phone and took a picture of the entire sheet, front and back making sure that he'd gotten the entire image. He then casually dropped the sheet to the floor beside the bed just in case Nurse Lei Ma came back looking for it.

He then dialed Alicia's number. A moment later it rang as he waited for her to answer.

"Guess who?" Norler said to her cheerfully.

"Hmmm. Let me see. Is it my favourite hospital patient?" Alicia answered in a chipper voice and only slightly groggy.

"You mean you have more than one?" Norler reponded playfully.

"I sure do. He's really sexy and I talk to him every day." Alicia replied coyly and seductively.

"Oh really? And who is this man?" Norler said playing along sounding somewhat concerned.

"Oh his name is Walton. Walton Norler." she replied.

"That guy? He's a real hot shot that one. Did you know that you have impeccable taste in men?" Norler said confidently.

"Not nearly as impeccable as your taste in Women." Alicia replied.

"Woman." Norler corrected her.

"So how are you feeling today?" Alicia asked him.

"Great. I've been sleeping a lot but recently I got onto solving a little mystery." Norler baited her.

"Oh? And what mystery is that?" she asked poised on the brink of insatiable curiosity.

"The mystery of what they've been feeding me on my lunch menu here. Its the most wonderful food. You know, I really think that its their secret recipe if you know what I mean." Norler tried to communicate with her in their lover's language of intuition.

"So their food is that good huh? I'd have to see the menu of course to know what you're talking about. If you send me one, I could find out for you?" Alicia replied immediately in tune with him.

"You know, I could do just that. I've got an image on my phone. Its the sixth item on the list. When I get out of here, that's the first meal that I want us to have together." Norler insisted.

"Send away..." Alicia instructed him as she waited to receive the image.

Norler browsed through his images until he found the Nurse's rounds list. He then proceeded to send it front and back to Alicia who a moment later received it.

"Alright. Its a date. You and I. A bottle of champagne. A candle light dinner. Who knows where that could lead..." Alicia assured Norler whose imagination ignited with possibilities.

"So how are things going in Tokyo?" Norler asked trying to cool things down.

"We had a little tour thanks to Hiroyuki, one of Heylyn's strategic business partners. He's from a cosmetics company here. A very knowledgeable man and quite hospitable." Alicia told him.

"That's good to hear. Spending a bit of time to get used to the cultural distinction between China, Korea and Japan will go a long ways to building this bridge you know. Have you met the Japanese delegation?" Norler asked her.

"Not yet. We're scheduled to meet for late lunch today. Our first meeting and talk will take place at the Imperial Palace Gardens. I only wish that Monique and Heylyn could be here for it. They had pressing business elsewhere." Alicia said sounding a little bit despondent.

"I'm sure they'll be back to contribute to the delegation and perhaps enjoy some of Japan. When I get out of here, and this is all done, we'll see a bit more of China, Korea and Japan together. Maybe even a trip to down under too." Norler pictured the two of them enjoying the sun together and found hope and motivation within.

"I know we will. I'll tell you how the meeting went tonight. I'll let you know what's on that menu too. Love you..." Alicia said to him stifling a tear.

"I love you too. Miss you so much... Bye honey." Norler struggled keeping his emotions in check.

"Speak soon." Alicia's voice remained fresh on his ears for the whole day.

A Monster Revealed

Alicia was ready to leave her hotel room for the scheduled delegation lunch when her smart phone rang. She pulled the phone out of her purse and answered.

"Hello?" Alicia answered cheerfully.

"Alicia? It's me, Monique." Monique sounded out of breath.

"Where are you?!" Alicia asked suddenly shocked to be hearing from Monique.

She had been expecting that her and Heylyn would have at least taken a few more days.

"I'm at the Tokyo harbour near the north central port. Just a bit of a distance from what looks like the Port Authority building. I got here a few minutes ago. Took me a while to find a safe place to turn back into myself." Monique told Alicia who listened in amazement.

"Is everything alright? Are you ok? Where's Heylyn?" Alicia asked suddenly concerned.

"We got separated. We managed to get the data or at least what we assume to be the data. We've got to go over it. We found one thing that could influence the outcome of this whole situation. Do you have a minute?" Monique clarified with Alicia.

"Of course I do. I'm going to meet you. Do you think that you're safe there?" Alicia asked Monique.

"I should be. I have to wait here until Heylyn arrives. We pre-agreed to this area. There's actually a little Noodle and Fish bar a block west from me. I think its called Oki Hara Noodles. Before you leave to meet me, check this out on your web browser:" Monique read from her arm where she'd scrawled the web server address Heylyn had given her while they went over the records at the Cora Hau facility.

"Alright. I'm leaving now. I'll meet you very soon." Alicia assured Monique.

"You're not going to travel as your stylish alter ego if you know what I mean?" Monique asked surprised the Alicia might take such a risk.

"No. Not unless I have to and if I do, I'll be very discreet." Alicia replied hanging up the phone.

Monique looked around first, jumping as the air horn from one of the cargo freighters sounded in the harbour. She then started casually towards Oki Hara Noodles.

Back in her hotel room, Alicia pulled her tablet computer from her briefcase and quickly typed in the address Monique had given her. A moment later the web page had loaded with the grim message and threat that had been directed towards Itikara Takahashi,  the Japanese politician. She scrolled down further to the video window and pressed play horrified by what she'd see. It all became very clear to her now.

"So they're blackmailing one of the policy makers here to affect our chances at the Asian Alliance vote." Alicia spoke aloud amazed at the implications of this newly discovered information.

She quickly attempted to download the page, which was prohibited by the server. She then sat down and spent fifteen minutes writing javascript code that would allow her to circumvent the server side security and download the web files through TCP on an alternate web port. Eighteen minutes later and she had the contents of their entire web server on her tablet with security logs as well.

"This should help us get you out Norler." she whispered to herself as she picked up her phone once again and dialed.

"Valerie speaking." Valerie answered phone from inside of a luxury taxi.

"Its Alicia. You're going to have to take the delegation meeting yourself. I'm going to be late. Something very important came up." Alicia told her.

"Heylyn?" Valerie asked suddenly very serious.

"Close. Monique. She just got back. I'm going to meet her. The situation has changed substantially. We're still going to need to win the trust of the delegates and that's a lot of weight resting on your shoulders. I know, but I trust you." Alicia assured Valerie trying to appeal to her professionalism and sense of confidence.

"Are you out of your mind? We need their support! We need you there. They'll take this as an insult. I did my homework you know. They take appointments and schedules very seriously. Not only that but you're leaving it in my lap to clean it up?" Valerie said shocked that Alicia would do that to the delegation.

"I know how this must sound and I'm aware of the implications but this has to be done. We'll meet you at the Imperial Gardens. We're depending upon you. Norler's depending upon us. So are the people of East Asia. This could lead open the door to world wide universal health care and right now there's a monster trying to stop this. Please trust me. Bryce Maxwell is one of the world's most renowned physicists and musicians and a celebrity one at that. Doctor Stephen Briggs is the American expert on Asian culture and history and was an advisor to two Presidents. Zheng Ni Wong is a Master's degree Mathematician and Biologist with ties to both China and Japan. She helped design the Virtual Body Project, a biological simulation of the entire human body with a simplified model of the brain and the nervous system, both female and male. Victor and Katya Piotr are both Doctors and expert biology researchers from in their field from Russia. They developed a treatment that is the only known treatment for carbapenem-resistant Enterobacteriaceae, completely antibiotic resistant bacteria. They know the region well. You're the Corporate Analyst who won over Bay Street, tearing it away from the strangle hold of Torman's criminal racket." Alicia tried to give her the best pep talk that she could muster.

"...with a little help from Norler. I mean the Bay Street thing." Valerie reminded Alicia.

"No. Even Norler told me that was your baby. They saw Norler as the new fangled softy coming home to ruin business. To get them all doing Yoga at lunch and eating Tofu and rice cakes for dinner. You restored their faith and showed them that things could change for the better with a Woman leading the business data analyst front and that they didn't have to give up the ways they'd become accustomed to. So give yourself a little credit." Valerie almost heard Alicia's smile on the other end of the phone.

"...hey. I like Yoga. And Tofu." Valerie replied.

"So do I. So go get 'em. I've got to go and so do you. I'll meet you at the Imperial Gardens." Alicia hung up before Valerie could change her mind.

The Steadman Breach

George Steadman sat at an empty table just having finished a small brunch. He read a copy of Financier Weekly and a few of the other business dailies very much satisfied at how things were winding up. It had taken him a long time to put this ploy together and he was on the brink of its fruition. If he played his cards right, he would soon become the richest man in the world, bringing a handful of specially selected members of his team with him. The rest he could later dispose of at his leisure with the kind of resources he would possess. For now however he must play the part and remain modest and covert. Perhaps unassuming to the rest of the world and the Tokyo Hotel in whose restaurant he sat.

There was an electronic chirping noise from the inside pocket of his suit jacket. He casually folded his newspaper placing it upon the small stack of dailies on the table beside him. He then reached into his jacket pocket retrieving his phone.

"You'd better have a good reason for calling." he answered.

"Sir. There's been a breach." his contact advised him manically on the other end of the connection.

"So? That's a networking problem. It happens all the time nowadays. Have Public Relations draw up an apology letter to any of our affected..." Mr. Steadman began as he was interrupted.

"No Sir. Not that kind of a breach. I mean our private drive on the server. It has been breached." his contact spoke sounding completely drained.

There was a pause as Mr. Steadman evaluated the breadth of what he'd just heard.

"Who knows about this?" Mr. Steadman asked.

"Just you and the rest of the insiders. Cora Hau is under the impression that it was Corporate Espionage or Hacktivists." his contact advised him.

"Do we know who?" Mr. Steadman asked.

"You're not going to believe this but we think that it was one of the anomalies from Treadwater." his contact told him.

"Which one?" Mr. Steadman asked very seriously.

"The Butterfly one. We have security pictures and a whole load of confiscated smart phone images taken at the Cora Hau site." his contact adised.

"How long ago?" Mr. Steadman continued his interrogation.

"A little more than an hour ago. She's heading for Tokyo. We intercepted their cellular phone communications. She advised one of her associates that they would meet in Tokyo. We figure that its likely they'll meet at the harbour." his security contact gave him the critical intel he'd collected thus far.

"Alright. Keep this a secret and don't let anyone else from Corporate know about this. We'll go ahead with the transfer. You didn't screw that up too did you?" Mr Steadman leaned forward a frown compressing his face.

"No Sir. They all signed on except for four of them. Two opted out and the other two were a no show at the signing." the security specialist said with relief.

"That's good to hear my boy. Alright. Go ahead with the plan. The Japanese House Of Councillors Cora Hau proposal will pass when they vote upon it today. I've been assured by my contact. By tomorrow when the central banks close we'll all be very, very, very rich men. You handled the situation very well. We'll talk again tomorrow unless anything else comes up. Understand?" Mr. Steadman said calmly.

"Understood Sir." the security specialist responded as Mr. Steadman hung up and immediately began dialing another number.

A moment later another voice answered on the other end of his call.

"You have reached the English line of Mr. Itikara Takahashi, Honourable member of the House Of Councillors Of Japan. How may I help you?" a friendly female voice answered with a strong Japanese accent.

"Please get Mr. Takahashi on the phone. Tell him it is an urgent call from Mr. George Steadman." Mr. Steadman said confidently.

"Please hold." the reply came.

After a moment of uncomfortable silence Mr. Takahashi answered.

"Mr. Takahashi speaking. How may I help you?" Mr. Takahashi spoke as if there were no stress between himself and the man pulling his puppet strings.

"Good to speak to you Mr. Takahashi. I'm going to need the cooperation of the Japanese authorities on an issue as we've recently had a breech at the Cora Hau facility. This breech could affect your proposal. Do you think that you could help to ensure that the perpetrators are brought to Justice before a Japanese court?" Mr. Steadman insisted.

"I will give you all of the assistance required to apprehend the perpetrators of this travesty against your fine company Mr. Steadman. You can expect the full cooperation of the Japanese authorities." Mr. Takahashi agreed.

"Excellent. I will have our security team send your Police service all of the intel regarding the suspects being sought. With your help we will bring them to Justice and prevent any embarrassment that this occurrence might bring our two countries." Mr. Steadman smirked obviously referring to the damning video they had of Mr. Takahashi and his mistress of years ago.

"Will that be all Mr. Steadman?" Mr Takahashi asked feeling the burning sting of an ulcer in his gut.

"Yes. Thank you for being so cooperative Mr. Takahashi." Mr. Steadman said with the edge of sarcasm in his voice.

He then hung up and started considering how he would dispose of his insiders one at a time after their plan had successfully executed by tomorrow evening.

Imperial Garden

Valerie stepped out of the luxury taxi which one of Werner's associates had arranged for her. She'd missed her ride with the other delegates and had hoped that everyone had made it on this important occasion as the last destination and meeting of their journey. She was still somewhat flustered by the fact that Alicia could leave her with such a responsibility. She reasoned to herself that if it was so important, why could Alicia not have dealt with this herself. They were a team and they needed Alicia for this occasion.

She'd walked up a series of steps and down a long walk way of interlocked brick which was framed on either with beautiful Cherry Blossom Trees. Each brick on this path as legend held it was hand carved by the most skilled stone carvers, and no two were alike. This was done so as to ensure that any malicious spirits (of which historic Japan believed there were many) would get lost along the path should they be seeking turmoil against the Imperial Japanese Dynasty. She marveled at the fragrance as she walked the path oblivious to the fact that everyone who passed through this portion of their walk to the Imperial Garden was watched very closely by the Imperial Guard from one of their many vantage points. On the one hand, the beauty and vibrant pastel colours surrounding her and on the other, sudden death should she take action the Imperial Guard deemed as an attack upon the Emperor or Japan herself.

Valerie found her way to the end of the brick path and she stood before the entrance to the Imperial Garden. One of the Imperial Guards asked her for her proof of admittance which she fished out of her purse promptly. The Guard bowed for her and ushered her into the Garden area which was still a great distance from the Imperial Palace itself. Not to mention a river moat separated the these lands from the palace itself. Valerie wondered if between the Emperor's duty's if he might venture to the windows with his Wife to admire their surroundings.

"The pretty bird gets the cage." Hiroyuki spoke addressing her from behind as he caught up with her.

"Oh? Konnichiwa." Valerie bowed for Hiroyuki who returned the greeting several times.

"I am glad to see that you made it. I came to ensure that you did not get lost. Perhaps this is a good omen?" Hiroyuki confirmed with Valerie.

"To tell you the truth you're arrival was impeccably timed. Alicia is going to be running late. Something very pressing came up to which she needed to attend. I'm covering for her as best I can but I'd appreciate any help you could give our delegation." Valerie pleaded the situation to Hiroyuki who considered the weight that had been placed upon her.

"Alicia obviously has a great deal of trust in you. If I were in the same position, I would certainly feel honoured being given that kind of responsibility and trust by someone such as Doctor Westin." Hiroyuki diverged to another point of view that Valerie had taken for granted.

"I suppose you're right. Maybe I just like to revel and thrive in the pressure. So what did you mean by that statement. The pretty bird gets the cage?" Valerie asked him as they continued walking towards the meeting point.

"Technically it is not a Japanese saying. It comes from a Chinese philosopher. Possibly Confucius though I'm hard pressed to recall. I saw you looking to the Imperial Palace. Most would consider at that point the life of the Emperor or any Royalty for that matter. Perhaps even the states-persons of any country. Your favourite scientists. Your favourite movie stars. To be an icon or celebrity in all of the different forms in which it may come. To be the center of attention is to be caged by it in a matter of speaking. Freedom for such persons becomes very differently defined than it is for those of a more inconspicuous existence." Hiroyuki explained to her.

"So we're learning, but I can't possibly imagine what it must be for someone who is part of a legacy that extends for centuries into the past." Valerie offered.

"Likely it has many pressures, for one in such a position must be governed by the impression of what tradition means to the people. The value that people place upon tradition is represented by our Emperor and the throne, right back to the birth of Honshu and Japan itself. How many lands in our world place regard upon their origins that far back? How many can relate with the legend and myth of the beginnings of their very people? There's a difference between what it means to be proud of the history of your people versus hubris. To defy the idea of a God or Goddess. To defy nature herself. To cast aside the other nations of the world as mere beasts. That is the difference between being in touch with your own history versus feeling a sense of privilege that results from hubris with regard to your origins. The Emperor must represent the dignity of our history and our people, while ensuring that Japan is never consumed by the malicious and consuming nature of hubris. Not only that, but being an icon there are many who seek to use the power of that symbol for their own dark purposes. The Emperor is and has likely been embattled many times by different circles seeking to usurp that power for their own. In World War II it was the blood thirsty Generals, those consumed by hubris and who were far removed from the honour of a true warrior. A true warrior is one whose heart protects the innocence around them rather than one who crushes the world seeking absolute rule." Hiroyuki pondered his statement for a moment.

"...the cage is made up of people who seek to misuse the power of the iconified for the purpose of conquest. They form the bars of such a cage. Icons such as the Emperor have few they can confide in and truly trust who'd understand that aspect of their being. For them they must possess insight and patience beyond what many are capable and the courage to stand and speak when none are aligned with their point of view. To be the heart and mind of people and perhaps in that sense, all people. The world is changing a great deal and as it does, people grasp for something that connects them. Something that quells that hidden loneliness of being. A sense of belonging to something greater than themselves alone. Perhaps we are seeing the birth of a merging of traditions? Where the traditions of the world become as one. Where religion and science have a respected place in our progress. Where the individual and the group are valued parts of the whole and none the lesser. As our traditions are consumed they become a part of the tradition of the whole and hopefully none are lost. A difficult transition for human kind wouldn't you say? Perhaps if we ever have to answer the question of who we are to another species that originates from another planet, it is best that we regard ourselves as part of the Earth's whole, rather than one small part of it without relinquishing any one of our individual traditions? That is the importance of our tradition and the future." Hiroyuki's voice decrescendoed and as he finished speaking Valerie saw the glory of the Imperial Garden around them.

"I hope that I didn't miss anything." Bryce approached bowing for Valerie and Hiroyuki.

"I'll say, I can almost taste the ambiance of your conversation." Zheng bowed for them.

"Valerie and I were just discussing a little bit of history." Hiroyuki assured them.

"Well I hope that you saved some good tidbits for us. From the way this delegation has been going I'd hate to be the one whose missed any of our conversations. Let's face it, I want to have some inspiring points of view from this trip to share when I get back to the lecture circuit." Doctor Briggs announced.

"We discussed aspects of the Imperial Dynasty. A little bit about the nature of the lives of those who live before the public eye. Perhaps a bit about the nature of conflict and the war itself and why tradition is important in the modern age." Hiroyuki summarized.

"Well being an American I have a point of view with regard to Japan and the war." Doctor Briggs reminded them.

"We discussed the true nature of a warrior being the protector of innocence rather than the conqueror seeking to sublimate the populations of the world into their power." Hiroyuki proposed to the historian Doctor Briggs.

"I concur with what you're saying. I don't believe that the Japanese Emperor was responsible for the war effort knowing what I know about the situation and history itself. Likely he was cornered between Generals seeking to leverage the opportunity the war in Europe had provided for their own gain and out of urgency seeing as America ceased providing Japan with oil exports under the pressure of ensuring their own oil reserves. A volatile situation for certain. Likely the populace, the Japanese enlisted men and the Emperor were guided into a war of atrocity under the coercion of the Generals who failed your proposal of what makes a true warrior. One who protects rather than conquers." Doctor Briggs agreed giving his approval.

"Well said Doctor Briggs. As a Canadian myself and knowing what I know about what transpired from a good history Professor at the Canadian Military University in Ottawa, the Americans who made the decision to drop the Atomic bomb went through a rigorous process to select their targets in order to save as many lives and as many of Japan's ancient temples and historical monuments as possible. The alternative would have been a Marine invasion of Japan which would have cost the lives of an estimated three to four million people without the use of America's newly acquired Nuclear arsenal. He said the blood of lost lives rested solely upon the Upper regimens of the Japanese Military at that point in time. It was the last attempt of an old order to regain power and to use the Emperor as a puppet for the purposes of their conquest. That is what happens when a true warrior loses touch with their sense of virtue. It took many lives and years for their Military Leadership to regain the honour they'd lost by their betrayal of the people. Many of the Generals implied in the war crimes chose Hara-Kiri over the court room to decide their fate. Not to retain their honour as warriors but to escape their fate as the dishonoured. That is how it was told to me." Bryce spoke perhaps trying to break the tension and heal the scars those wounds incurred so long ago.

"Retrospect unfortunately quite often suffers from the myopia of immediacy. It is a great tragedy when two people must come to such bloodshed as a price to their resolve. At least we have reached a common understanding and with that knowledge we may move forward together." Hiroyuki answered.

"With dignity and honour." Doctor Briggs spoke understanding what that meant to the Japanese tradition.

"As long as we make what we understand available to the greater public. You know, through a popular medium? I mean I believe we want the ground broken here to be part of the aether and common knowledge?" Bryce suggested.

"Come on. You're not going to tell me that you actually entertain the Aetheric interpretation of Quantum Dynamics are you?" Zheng challenged him perhaps more so for the point of banter and keeping their minds sharp.

"My Dear Zheng, it pays to consider insightful work done with regard to the explanation of reality and that includes the Aether. I mean really that work was done as an explanation for the medium of Quantum Causality before the concept of the Planck scale was even considered. I regard the Aether as an early insight into Quantum Electrical Fields. Before you have the math of how any particular system works, it is philosophy and nature that gives us the clues intuitively via Synchronicity and thanks to the observations of C.G. Jung. That is precisely what Doctor Sylvia Upadhaya would spend countless hours of her time trying to convince me. It took a long time for me to honestly consider what Sylvia had been trying to explain. I mean in the world of Quantum physics, as soon as you go off on a tangent that appears anything like pseudo science or philosophy, you're ridiculed for quackery. Some of my colleagues have even been quite mean when it comes to that aspect unfortunately but perhaps its for the better in the sense that it is a test of the staying power of any theory. If it can survive an onslaught of scrutiny, then perhaps it is worth consideration and resources to explore. Many String theorists have been through the mill with regard to scrutiny and mostly because it seemingly borders on mysticism and quackery as some refer to it. Unfortunately while so many were bashing the theory they never noticed that some great physicists had managed to work universal symmetry into one of the branches of String Theory, including a theory of gravity. That's pretty much the Holy Grail for theoretical physics. I consider the Aether to be just another step along the way to forming a palatable theory of Quantum Gravity and Quantum Electrical Fields although String Theory may be the bridge for both to formalize a description of gravity. An understanding of the Aether was one of the steps to get there." Bryce made his point.

"Alright. Just checking. I wanted to make sure that you were on your toes after all." Zheng offered him.

"My Dear, if I were any more on my toes, I'd be wearing Prada." Bryce joked.

"I didn't know you had Prada in your wardrobe?" Doctor Briggs remarked somewhat sarcastically.

"Well the truth is that I don't. I'd have to borrow from my wife of course and I'm certain that she'd be quite amused by that prospect." Bryce replied.

"Amusement in this place of Zen and Shinto beauty?" a Man extended his hand to Bryce, as several others pursued his curiosity.

Bryce stood fast for a moment and then extended his hand shaking the hand of the younger man who'd approached him. Bryce looked upon him, amused perhaps waiting for this Man's courage to overcome his preconceived notions of Bryce's iconification.

"Professor Bryce Maxwell?" the man queried Bryce.

"Call me Bryce. Please." Bryce's face compressed to a forced smile.

"See?" the man looked over to a long haired blond lady who'd just arrived.

The lady upon seeing Bryce began to blush profusely.

"He's just a Man." the other young man spoke addressing her.

"Yes. Somewhat like yourself, though you're just at that point before you arrive at your best years." Bryce replied.

"My best years are the present and always." the young man shot back fearlessly.

"You're not just saying that because it sounds good, are you?" Zheng queried the young man who seemed defensive at her appraisal.

"Speaking honestly I'd have to say no. That would imply that I'm beholden to ego and quite simply put, I'm not. Much like time itself. Therefore the best time is always the present." the young man replied unfazed.

"You must be Max Danford. I've heard quite a bit about you." Bryce addressed him.

Bryce had not been lying. Max was a Philosophy student who'd progressed through academics to become a brilliant if not arrogant philosopher. He was one of the few students of aboriginal origins who'd managed to make their way into the schooling system successfully and into academia.

Many of the aboriginal population of Australia who'd pursued education had opted for the practical path of applied sciences rarely delving or questioning their instructors. Max on the other hand had been a problem for the educational institution from the first days of his education. From that very time, he'd kept them on their toes with questions that seemed well beyond his years. For his courage he'd been rewarded with the reputation of an idol. The kind of Man who sought the minds of Women, while many of them had sought his heart. During his first five years of education at the University of Sydney he'd nearly been ejected from the philosophy program five times. Twice for debating his Professors during class or lecture and three times for his own display of thought provoking protest. He'd become the wonderful publicity stunt that Australian tourism loved and the Education system hated. Since graduating from his initial program at the age of twenty four he`d become somewhat of a legend around his campus.

He continued his education not being frightened by the intimidation of the system. He sought to take his Bachelor`s Degree in Philosophy to as Master`s Degree while earning his effectively earning placement as a Professor. What better way to set an example and become a beacon for his aboriginal sisters and brothers, not to mention all students in the Sydney educational system. He`d become the subject of adoration of many students, who regarded him as their idol and hero much like Bryce Maxwell had become, pursuing both Quantum Physics and Music as his career path, confronting the physics institution before him.

"Quite honestly Professor Maxwell, I`m struggling with that. I mean becoming an icon for others. In both academia and in the sciences." Max Danford responded humbly.

"Well the only advice that I can offer you Max is not to take yourself too seriously while hoping that others do. Be sincere. Always and you`ll understand why that`s being fair to everyone." Bryce explained.

There was an awkward moment of silence as the two delegations realized they'd awkwardly found one another.

"Professor Maxwell, this is Professor Lana Tibees. You`d probably like her seeing as she`s a specialist in Physics and Complexity theory." Max spoke playfully of his colleague.

"Complexity theory? Perhaps I might be one of her fans. I mean I've read her paper on complex systems in terms of mathematics and how they correlate to biological systems on a per neuron basis." Bryce replied.

"You read my paper?" Lana asked of Bryce somewhat amazed.

"More than once. Get over it. Get by the illusion of iconification." asked Bryce being Canadian.

"Well it appears that you are the Western delegation of which we`ve heard so much?" asked another person who`d just arrived perhaps trying to keep up with Max and Lana in the midst of the Imperial Garden.

"You're hogging the spotlight Bryce. You too Doctor Briggs. Let us all take part in this delegation will you?" Katya stepped forward pulling her husband by his hand.

"This is the problem with becoming iconified in any field as I've been trying to say. In academia icons become both the spokespersons for education and the destroyer of innovation and independent thought." Victor responded.

"I can only assure you that I think independently. I'm in perfect control of my own faculties." replied Maki Ono.

"Professor Ono? Maki Ono? It is so good to see you again. I mean we only saw each other sixteen hours ago at a gig didn't we? That was a great gig by the way. After all, you're an accomplished guitarist not to mention an innovator in the science of emergent systems." Bryce responded.

"Well it seems that some of us have already met but I'd suggest we formally introduce ourselves to each other so that nobody is left out." Valerie interrupted impatiently and somewhat flustered wresting control of the delegation from Bryce.

Max and Maki both stepped forward to do the honours for their delegation while Valerie and Bryce represented the Western delegation.

A beautiful tiny Japanese Woman stepped forward from behind Max and Maki.

"Doctor Sune Tunagi is a specialist at the University of Tokyo Cancer Unit. She's also a spokesperson for the United Nations Foundation." Maki introduced the Woman who'd just stepped forward as she bowed for the Western delegation.

The present members of the Western delegation returned her gesture and greeting. Max spoke taking the proverbial podium from Maki.

"...and our next contestant is the glamourous and exciting Professor Lana Tibees, a lady in the cutting edge field of Biophysics." Max clapped his hands for her perhaps impersonating a game show or beauty pageant host.

Lana nodded her head first and then bowed, suddenly remembering that they were in Japan. Another lady stepped forward not waiting for her introduction likely to avoid embarrassment at the hands of their would be spokespersons.

"The man behind me here is Doctor Bernard Astoria, a specialist in computational biology and reknowned consultant in the field. I'm Doctor Rose Bautista and I'm currently heading the Department Of Medicine at the Manila General Hospital." Rose introduced her associate and herself.

"It is an honour to meet you all for this meeting and delegation. Even the more humorous of you which certainly underlines the reason that so many talented comedians are currently unemployed. Perhaps you should consider a change of career and make room for them in the work place. I'm certain that they would take such matters more seriously and reserve the application of humour more appropriately and strategically." Bryce spoke for Valerie, easing her tension considerably though she retained her current stature.

"You know, coming from anyone else and I'd have eaten them alive. In your case Professor Maxwell I'll consider your point. That's certainly one of the benefits of being a respected icon. When you put your foot down people tend to take you seriously. I concede but I'll remind you that I meant nothing but respect and honour for my colleagues." Max responded to Bryce's suggestion.

There was a moment of awkward tension that summarily passed in the beauty of the Imperial Gardens. Valerie broke the silence, introducing the members of the Western delegation in turn before beginning their meeting. Together as one group they began to stroll enjoying the scenery around them.

"You know why we're here already as I'm sure that you've been briefed by your respective Governments. The nature of this meeting and the purpose for us coming here, to Japan and greater Southeast Asia is to urge you and hopefully to win your support in calling for a new vote with regard to the consideration of the Medicinal Fund Proposal submitted to the Asian Alliance by Tynan And Associates. Unfortunately thanks to circumstances beyond our control, both Alicia Westin and Walton Norler will not be here for this meeting. I am sorry if that causes any problems but I can assure you that they are both here in spirit and would have been here if not for those circumstances." Valerie spoke professionally beginning the proceedings.

"We're certainly in complete understanding of why you're here. We were briefed both by our respective Governments and yesterday by representatives of the Asian Alliance. I can't speak for all of us, but my biggest point of contention with your proposal and your efforts to have the outcome of a prior vote turned over is related to the fact that proposal came from a corporation. Not only that but one of the biggest in the world of medicine and research. It is my opinion and belief that the results of the prior vote were in order to protect Asia from the infiltration of its medicine by a western corporation more so than anything." Rose addressed Valerie voicing her concerns.

"Look. You have to understand our point of view. This proposal was put forth by Tynan as Rose already point out. We're not against corporations or business at all seeing as most of our research funding comes from big business. Without it we wouldn't have a voice at all and you'd be speaking to different people right now. Beneath this though there's an underlying problem and that's related both to culture and branding as far as I can see it. When the first proposal arrived and I was asked to speculate on the possible ramifications if the vote had passed, I cited that if a Western corporation or any corporation for that matter had managed to put itself behind such a proposal and then to benefit financially from it, we'd see the beginning of an era where our most cherished ideals would become brands and symbols for the purposes of selling products or services. The general public would eventually become blind to issues requiring their consideration and instead follow trends according to brand identification which of course would be controlled by corporations. Tynan's proposal represents the beginning of that possibility. I could for that reason not have advised for a yes vote on that issue. In fact I oppose it completely and publicly as you probably already know." Max spoke firmly about an issue to which he'd prior given much consideration.

"I have to say that I agree with Max on that point and not because the media believes him to be, and I quote, a philosophical hunk. I mean most of the Cancer research that benefits our unit is funded by corporations whose interest lay in that field. We both benefit from that relationship for the simple reason that it puts Cancer treatments and cures as a possibility in the near future. The problem with the proposal is that it puts a brand directly on that issue despite the fact that the proposal is social in nature. What's next beyond that possibility? The corporate branding of the vote?" Sune added to Max's argument.

"We know that you've had a great deal of success with the prior delegations representing Southeast Asia and for this very reason, we are the last line of defense protecting the Asian Alliance from such a future. If there's any good reason for your seeking to overturn the prior vote, we're the ones that you want to convince and no less than the other delegates you've already charmed with Bryce's presence on your delegation. An obvious move to utilize his credentials and nearly cult like following for the purposes of this vote." Doctor Astoria backed up his colleagues.

Valerie looked to Bryce. He returned her glance with a tilted head and an elevated eye brow. They both at that moment wished for Alicia's presence.

Hunting Heylyn

Heylyn approached the coastline of Honshu flying as fast as she could. Her arms had become numbed by the temperature despite the warmth of the Pacific summer air. Her aetherial butterfly wings were tucked tightly to her body making her appear more like a jet than a butterfly.

Miraculously she'd managed to line herself up with Honshu by dead reckoning alone, slowly correcting her course as she approached Tokyo harbour and her pre-agreed upon meeting point with Monique. She hadn't considered how she was going to approach the harbour without being seen though she's already been spotted by numerous sea going vessels that had radioed back to Tokyo about the presence of a large bird flying at supersonic speeds. Some of the sailors had even managed to snap pictures of her flight. She'd already become a sensation on various conspiracy media outlets, where she had been identified as being a UFO, an alien or a part of a secret Government research program. Little did they know that if they'd known the truth, it would have been stranger than any of those explanations perhaps making them the more reasonable of the two.

She tried not to think about that challenge instead focusing herself upon arriving safely. She'd become worried that she might have reached the limits of her abilities, especially with regard to flight. After all, there were inevitably limits to how the SY349 could have affected her or altered her DNA. Heylyn was once again forced to think within her limits, a feeling she'd not confronted since becoming the Butterfly Dragon in the first place and prior to that moment, during her youth in helping Alicia to overcome her self consciousness.

Heylyn quickly descended turning towards the inlet of Tokyo harbour, gradually slowing her speed. Her wings intuitively spread to make up for the loss of speed. After all, altitude and velocity were interchangeable as she'd learned quickly as a result of her avian abilities. Her wings steadied as her descent slowed bringing her into the vision of onlookers on the pier as she approached.

The first person to notice her approach immediately thought back to his childhood. Watching Toho movies until the sun rose during sleep-overs allowed by his parents. He immediately thought of King Ghidorah first though eventually settling upon the idea that he'd seen Mothra. In fact he began screaming that very name at the top of his breath, pointing towards Heylyn's outline against the horizon. Others upon seeing what he'd indicated began following him heralding the outbreak of a contagious social disease, screaming much the same. Some screaming Mothra. Others screaming Rodan and King Ghidorah. The remainder just screaming.

Her wings expanded to their full breadth as she slowed for her landing upon the peer. Her legs strained having been extended for nearly two hours much like a full body plank. Despite her exquisite shape she was at the very limits of her health and body. As she landed her left leg buckled, her knee folding uncontrollably and she tumbled to the concrete rolling several times. Several moments passed as she didn't move. She slowly fell into the daze of unconsciousness from exhaustion and was greeted by an old friend and enemy simultaneously.

"Tired and mired though none the less sired. Perhaps even admired but not fired." the long and snake-like Dragon spoke, his wings folding and wrapping his abdomen much like Heylyn's had a moment ago, disappearing completely from view.

"Just leave me alone. I need this moment. I just flew over a thousand kilometers." Heylyn pleaded with the serpent.

"Two thousand in fact. Probably closer to three but I'm no cartographer in so far as geography is concerned. Navigation and elation holds closer relation to my adoration with regard to intellectual and spiritual revelation and is certainly my sensation. True, your wings have long been in gyration in order to maintain your elevation. That is probably the best explanation for your current expiration." Weltherwithsp responded.

"You did that on purpose." Heylyn responded to Weltherwithsp's rhyme.

"No. It was an emanation." Weltherwithsp replied somewhat playfully.

"Let me sleep." Heylyn responded as her consciousness demanded recuperation.

"I can't. If I did then I'd be responsible for the greatest tragedy during my watch. I could explain butterfly, but it would take the entirety of the existence of your universe to do so and when you'd heard my answer, you'd inevitably ask me what we were talking about in the first place. So trust me when I say that you must find motivation in yourself to keep going. The delegation depends upon it. Norler depends upon it. Monique depends upon it. Alicia depends upon it. Much of the balance depends upon it. Our little conversations depend upon it." Weltherwithsp addressed her from her dream state.

"If you use one more word with an ION ending again, I'll turn you into a line of dragon skin purses for my fall summer fashion line." Heylyn reacted.

"For my sake I hope that was sarcasm rather than any other kind of chasm?" Weltherwithsp replied attempting to keep their interaction alive and Heylyn conscious.

"You're safe. Chasm doesn't have ION in it." Heylyn replied steadily healing thanks to the SY349 and her own respect for her body.

"You should know that your friends are close by though your mortal enemy has utilized your most recent escapades to the benefit of his accolades. You are being hunted thanks to the tirade of your enemy made. Perhaps now would be a good time to play..." Weltherwithsp started as Heylyn interrupted.

"If you say charades, you're a purse." Heylyn responded sarcastically.

"...Spades?" Weltherwithsp did not even hesitate finishing the sentence.

"Thank you. I misinterpreted you. You really bring out the best in me good friend. I'll always appreciate you and care for you. Spades is a card game. Much like another card game called Hearts. I was thinking the falsehood of impersonation through the social game Charades and you were alluding to the heart by association with the game Spades. I've learned much not to mention, I've gained some much needed rest." Heylyn replied.

"Actually I meant Parade..." Weltherwithsp responded covering its prior tracks.

"As in a Parade moves...  I'll get moving... thanks." Heylyn awoke and struggled to her feet as the first Police care pulled up.

One of the Japanese Officers stepped from the car using the door as a shield and brandishing a megaphone.

[Please! Remain where you are and you will not get hurt.]
"お願いします! あなたはどこにいても傷つけません。" the officer spoke into the megaphone.

Heylyn got to her feet still in her full body Butterfly Dragon suit. Miraculously she'd healed a great deal and felt much better than she had only moments ago despite lying on the warm afternoon pavement of the pier.

[What did I do? I'm a Chinese nationalist attending a cosplay convention here in Tokyo. I am not doing any trouble.]
"我做了什麼? 我是在東京參加角色扮演大會的中國民族主義者。 我沒有遇到任何麻煩。" Heylyn replied responding in her best Pinyin Chinese, throwing her parents' GuangZhou dialect into the fold.

The Police officer looked to her turning to his partner for a translation. The officer's partner grabbed the megaphone taking the place of the prior officer.

[We do not accept cosplay on the pier or harbour. You are hiding Mothra or a Mothra-like person. You need to come with us legally.]
"私たちは埠頭または港にコスプレを受け入れていません。 あなたはモスラやモスラのような人を隠しています。 あなたは合法的に私達と一緒に来る必要があります。" the officer replied into the megaphone.

Heylyn struggled to understand their reply quickly reaching the limits of her knowledge of the Japanese language. The situation was quickly getting out of hand as another police car arrived pulling in behind the other one on the pier.

A voice blared through on the police radio, barely legible to Heylyn though she'd managed to pick up the fact that a giant butterfly-like girl was being sought for questioning with regard to corporate espionage. Heylyn suddenly realized that she'd been compromised. At that moment the dragon within her came to life

"Alright. Mothra it is." Heylyn said as she leapt into the air.

Her wings once again emerged from her back before the terrified officers. Their first reaction upon seeing her take to the skies was to run for their lives. Initially they bumped into one another trying to make it back to the other end of the pier and closer to the mainland. As Heylyn gained altitude they quickly caught themselves and returned to their duty. One of them drew his standard issue .38 calibre revolver and began firing at what he deemed to be Mothra in the flesh.

Heylyn's skin immediately transformed, becoming metallic and scaly. As the other officers joined the first in opening fire, two or three of the rounds fired impacted her body shattering painfully though harmlessly. She continued straight up towards the dwindling cloud cover that hovered above the harbour flying as fast as she could.

The officers ceased their firing eventually losing sight of their quarry instead radioing in the details to their headquarters of their encounter with the Mothra girl.


Monique upon hearing the blaring sirens stepped out of the Oki Hara Noodle stop. Many police cars had pulled out speeding towards the west pier. Monique searched the skies for anything remotely resembling a giant butterfly but finding nothing even remotely close.

"I guess they found her. Come on Alicia! Where are you!" Monique thought aloud just as a blonde haired Woman turned the corner nearly walking into Monique.

"Hope I didn't keep you waiting. We've got to get the rest of that data to the authorities. Especially to the Chinese inquest into the Forbidden City incident." Alicia didn't waste any time with pleasantries.

"She's the one with the rest of the data that we need. We had to do it that way. I was the only one who knew how to get into the server. It was hard wired access to a specific machine in their building and that was the only one through which we could access that data and copy it in the first place. In other words, she has that data. I don't. Speaking of authorities, I think they found Heylyn." Monique said referring to the multitude of police cars that were converging upon the west pier.

"Did you two have another backup plan and meeting place?" Alicia asked Monique looking around at the police cars.

"No. We didn't think that we'd need two backup plans. I'd be willing to bet that she'll try to make it to the hotel though she'll avoid that until she can make it there without being caught." Monique assured Alicia.

"There's a lot of heat on her. What happened?" Alicia pressed Monique for answers.

"One of the alarms went off during our infiltration of their server. We had to split up and make it back to the mainland separately. I managed to get out of the building, only having to take out a few of their security personnel. Heylyn must have been cornered and exited through a window where she would have been spotted. There were a lot of people outside of the building when I left. If she did fly out of the window, she'd have been spotted." Monique recalled the details of their incursion two hours earlier.

"So whoever set up that blackmail server must have found out that their database had been compromised. This is beginning to sound more and more like Mr. Zek and Treadwater Island all over again. They probably used blackmail to pressure that politician to call for the authorities to apprehend Heylyn. We can only hope that they haven't connected the Butterfly Dragon to Heylyn's identity. We'll have to assume that her identity has not been compromised. That means we'll have to go back and wait for her at the hotel." Alicia organized their plans in her head while timing everything that would need to happen in order to obtain Norler's freedom.

"I think that we should spend some effort trying to find her. If she's got all of this data and with the Police on her tail, I think that she's going to try to contact the Councillor Itikara Takahashi directly." Monique suggested.

Alicia considered their options and how they could best help Heylyn's situation.

"We could contact him ourselves directly and arrange to meet with him. It's still the early afternoon and the House Of Councillors may have already adjourned for the day." Alicia presented the idea to Monique.

"But if this blackmail data about him could harm him, if we meet with him it may create unnecessary attention for both him and us." Monique responded, feeling the adrenaline flowing through her body as Police sirens could still be heard around them.

"We have to try. We have a better chance of getting close to him than Heylyn does and certainly without drawing nearly as much attention. We'll have to remain low key. Heylyn and Mr. Takahashi are depending upon us." Alicia agreed upon a plan of action.

"Alright. Lets go." Monique opened the door to the Oki Hara Noodle Bar and yelled towards the Noodle chef.

"Arigatō!" Monique waved to the Noodle chef who returned the gesture with a bow.

Alicia and Monique left together, first looking for a taxi to get them to the Japanese House Of Councillors and Mr. Takahashi's Office.

Mothra Unleashed

It did not take long for the press to find out about the incident at the Tokyo harbour. A few of the more technically astute investigative journalists eventually pieced it together with the footage of the Butterfly Dragon in flight before a crowd of people on the island of Cora Hau. As soon as that connection had been made, the press for these two events skyrocketed and Japan was now the center of media attention around the world.

For many of the Japanese, seeing this footage and the accompanying dash cam footage from Police cars that had attempted to apprehend the Butterfly Dragon at Tokyo harbour had brought them to their childhood where they remembered being terrified and amazed by a variety of giant monsters that had attempted to level Tokyo. For many of them, this confirmed the Government conspiracy that the movies were attempts to hide the truth, and that these monsters were very real.

As those elements clashed amongst the press and the public, the news had taken hold of the world's attention. All eyes were no focused upon Japan and specifically Tokyo where apparently the monster Mothra had been sighted. It was an inside joke that likely would have made even Heylyn herself giggle at its absurdity. Instead, the people of Japan were now terrified of her as the Butterfly Dragon thanks to this association with a monster of the Japanese film mythos.

She had taken herself to an altitude just above the cloud cover of the city and was considering her options. She had no idea about how military equipment worked and if they could track her on radar. If they sent up a jet fighter to intercept her, could the fighter use its missile guidance systems to take her down? She was clearly in a serious situation, having most of the resources of a society like Japan focused upon taking her down.

She had realized during her flight from Cora Hau, that if their mission had been compromised that the perpetrator behind the attack on the Forbidden City and the blackmail of the Japanese Councillor would have the upper hand. Likely that person had used that advantage to put the Japanese Policing resources onto her right now.

Ultimately she had to get out of the sky and back onto the ground undetected, but with much of Tokyo on full alert not to mention the millions of citizens with camera enabled smart phones, she was at an impasse. She knew one thing for certain and that was that she had to act soon before she lost the advantage of being able to blend into the crowd. If she'd landed in a rural area outside of Tokyo and got spotted, she would not have the benefit of the crowd in which to blend herself. If she descended above Tokyo itself, she would draw attention to where ever she'd chosen to land. The clothing that she wore was still clean and she had another outfit in her back pack, which also contained the basic amenities she'd need to clean herself up. She considered this when she suddenly had an idea.

Heylyn proceeded through the cloud cover until she was directly over the Imperial Palace and gardens. They were only occupied tourists, sightseers and the Imperial Guard detachment, not to mention that it was heavily forested in parts which would give her ample time to change outfits and blend in. Ultimately she decided that was her plan of action. Once blended she could find Councillor Takahashi safely and liberate him from the malice of their perpetrator.

She tightened her butterfly wings pulling them in closer to her body, both to make herself appear smaller and less conspicuous and to allow her the kind of acceleration she would need to achieve in order to be visible in the air for the least amount of time. She tightened up and began her accelerating descent towards the Imperial Gardens.


A few blocks from the entrance to the Imperial Gardens, a man sat in a car watching the skies. He happened to look north across towards the Gardens and the defensive moat when he spotted what appeared to be a large bird. It was only a spec in the distance but as it descended he could clearly make out the shape of a human body.

"Mr. Steadman, I've found your quarry. Proceeding to intercept." the professional hitman spoke into his headset.

"Excellent. If you achieve this hit, you'll become a national hero of Japan and be able to retire from your hazardous career. In style. When you do, be sure not to do anything with her body. Let the Police find her. She has a very damning cache of data in her possession. She`ll wind up with the blame for our infractions. We'll do the rest to ensure that's how it is interpreted by the Police and public once we know who she is. Her real identity. Did I make myself clear?" Mr. Steadman addressed the specialist he'd hired for this difficult job.

"Very clear. I'm to engage and incapacitate the target, but not to search or close distance to the target once they're dispatched." the hitman replied.

"Make me proud." Mr. Steadman ordered.

The hitman's car pulled out and towards the Imperial Gardens. If he'd timed his approach correctly he'd arrive their and be into the Gardens a minute before Mothra would reach the surface.

Norler's Miracle

Norler sat in bed reading a Chinese classic that had been brought to him by his mysterious legal advisor. He'd suggested it as a means of understanding the passion of the early struggle to unify China under one rule. It would help him if he needed to stand before the courts or answer to a tribunal formed by the Asian Alliance.

In the ten hours since speaking with Alicia, his health had improved noticeably. The scar from his chest wound was nearly gone and there was no evidence of the Chinese surgery. In fact Norler himself felt better than he'd ever felt in his life. He'd initially been told that his healing process would take as long as six months to a year, and that he'd be confined to his bed for most of that time. He was nearly completely healed in under ten days since the attempt on his life had taken place. He'd known that something was not right and perhaps when the mystery of what was in his intravenous formula was revealed he might have a better grasp on things. Perhaps that would push the court proceeding forward in time rather than having to wait another two months for his initial hearings.

He turned the page just as his phone rang. He retrieved it from his bedside table knowing that his calls were likely being wire tapped.

"Norler speaking." he answered.

"Hi honey, its Alicia. I'm on my way to the Japanese House Of Councillors. I just got a reply about the lab reports for what is in your intravenous treatment and you're going to be startled by this. Forty five percent of it is common nutrients and a glucose solution. That's fairly standard. Another twenty percent is made up of a variety of anti-oxidants likely related to a Chinese herbal solution. One of their Doctors using their diagnosis probably made a recommended treatment recipe which was then broken down for inclusion in your intravenous. Its the last ingredient that is startling seeing as there is nowhere to get it in Asia as we're currently in the process of fighting for its acceptance here..." Alicia paused.

"What? You mean the formula?" Norler responded very startled.

"Yes. The SY349B. The same radiological markers and chemical makeup. Everything down to its temporal entanglement behavior. Its our formula and I have no idea how it ended up in your treatment." Alicia answered honestly.

"Then who does? You're telling me that someone doped my intravenous with the SY349B and it wasn't you? How can I believe that Alicia. I mean that makes perfect sense, but to tell the truth I'd have thought that you would have considered the implications before using the formula on me! What about the other people in this hospital and the others in China who could benefit from it? What about those people in the Asian Alliance? Don't you understand this? We can't allow ourselves to benefit from our own advances while a guest in the home of another if they've not accepted our advances for their own use. So while I healed in less than two weeks, another five hundred people hospitalized here that could have benefited from the treatment are sick or dying." Norler was very serious about the matter.

It offended him that someone would do something of that audacity in order to save him while compromising the integrity of everything for which Alicia and himself stood.

"Honey, you understand. Its either all of us, or none of us. That's what this is about. That's what health care across the board means. Globally. So while I'm sitting in a bed in China under their care, and being given medicine that none of the Chinese citizens or nationalists have access to, I'm living and their dying." Norler became frustrated and unsure of where or how to deal with this.

"Norler, I can only assure you that I had nothing to do with this! I love you and I don't want to lose you, but I'd never compromise that by undermining what we're about at our very core. Someone did this and we both know that China does not have access to this treatment nor are they engaged in any deals that allow them access to it. They might have reverse engineered the formula. There's plenty of sources for the SY349B in North America though applying the correct variety of wavelengths of radioactivity in their correct order is akin to breaking a cryptographic cypher. The odds of correctly identifying that sequence of wavelengths and in the correct order is in the order of ten to the power of six hundred and three to one. Even with the best computers on the planet it would still take longer than the predicted lifespan of the universe to figure it out. So they could not have reverse engineered it." Alicia told him backing up what she said with her years of training and knowledge.

"So how was Mr. Zek planning to reverse engineer the formula if it cannot be done." Norler challenged her assumption.

"He likely didn't reverse engineer the formula at all. In fact, he could have been bamboozled by the people who sold him the chemical engineering device. He never used the formula. In fact Torman was the only one with the formula. So everyone they used it upon was created from that supply alone. Mr. Zek's neutralizer field could eradicate any of the effects of the formula, but we overcame that weakness with the SY349B, as it only worked on the first generation A series. So chances are that Mr. Zek's machine didn't work. That's why it was so expensive to start producing the SY349B for general consumption and treatment. The equipment needed for mass production was unequivocally expensive by comparison to other pharmaceutical production facilities. So your initial outlay was massive compared to that of other companies and startups. We're the only ones producing it currently." Alicia defended her prior statement.

There was a clacking sound as the magnetic lock on the door to Norler's room was released. A second later and the door opened. Two armed guards preceded one of Norler's Doctors and Norler's mysterious legal advisor.

"Just a second honey, I've got visitors." Norler asked Alicia to wait for him.

"You may both hear what we need to say to you Mr. Norler. Press the button on the left of the phone to engage the speaker phone mode." the Doctor addressed Norler.

"Honey? Are you there?" Alicia's voice came through on the phone's external speaker.

"I'm here Alicia. We've got you on speaker phone. Apparently the Doctor and my legal advisor have something to tell us." Norler informed Alicia who sat in the taxi listening.

"Yes Mr. Norler, you are correct that your calls are wire tapped. We heard about your discovery of moments earlier and we thought that now is the time to let you in on our secret. The truth is that Chinese Intelligence had been investigating Future Tangent Industries for some time since their acquisition of Cora Hau. It seems that some of their dealings are in violation of trade laws though we've narrowed the wrong doers down to a variety of people within the company. We cannot blame everyone who works for the company for the illegal actions of the few. Too many jobs are at stake as are the livelihoods of many people. Those who have been taking part in this wrong doing will be brought to justice." The Doctor began until the legal advisor continued.

"Your near fatal injury at the Forbidden City was a grave underestimation of the reach and resources of those tied to Future Tangent Industries criminal activities on our part. It could have been averted but we had only assumed them to be active in only financial crimes to do with trade and the markets. It turns out that they also are involved in some intrigue and assassinations as well. You were an intended target of one such attempt and fortunately that attempt was thwarted by the combined efforts of both of our peoples. In order to further our investigation and without compromising the identities of our assets, we had to put the charges upon you. That way we could keep you close so that you did not accidentally and unknowingly blow our whole operation which would benefit the vote for the acceptance of the Medical Treatment Fund of the entirety of the Asian Alliance essentially becoming of the many steps already taken for progress towards Global Universal Health Care. My name by the way is Zhōudào Shēng. I've long been an advisor for the Chinese Government with regard to issues affecting China's place in the world and securing its peaceful coexistence with its neighbours." Mr Shēng advised Norler who uncertain about how he should feel.

"That doesn't answer how the SY349B formula ended up in his intravenous feed." Alicia queried them through the speaker phone.

The Doctor stepped forward to answer.

"When we initially found out about your crisis your situation was much worse. The nature of your injuries would have certainly resulted in your death and that would have been a great loss not to mention that it would have exacerbated the situation by completely opening up the work that you'd accomplished with regard to the Medical Treatment Fund to the benefit of the criminal elements of Future Tangent Industries. That is what we're speculating the real goal is and so we needed you to live." the Doctor said somewhat morosely.

"Well thanks, I appreciate that." Norler spoke with the sting of sarcasm.

"That still doesn't answer us. How did you get the SY349B?" Alicia pressed them.

"We entered into a side deal with someone that you know quite well. Helmut Werner. He agreed to provide us with the SY349B for your treatment and Chinese research interests in exchange for a yes vote to the Medical Treatment Fund. In exchange we agreed to share research data with regard to our attempts to understand the aspects of the formula that have confounded your best scientists. Namely how the formula can be affected by what its applied to and how what it is applied to relies upon the subjective interpretation of the patient which your scientists have related to the placebo effect. Chinese Tradition Medicine has long dealt with aspects that Western medicine has not taken into consideration just as Western medicine has benefited Chinese medicine in ways not taken into consideration by our medical experts. We stand to benefit from this relationship as do you." the Doctor explained.

"Mr. Norler, the concept of balance is of extreme importance to our people and our cultural history. We spend every day walking the tightrope between two extremes and learning to balance between them in a way that leaves no vulnerability due to any extreme having precedence." Sheng adived Norler and Alicia.

"But how could you live without bias? Don't you feel love for the world? The tragedy of the needless loss of life? Those are aspects of our being that define us and move us to action." Alicia replied to Sheng's statement.

"You misunderstand that concept Alicia as many do. In fact, the way is not a thing or a place that can be defined so easily. Every attempt to understand it obscures it further while seeking to ignore it brings one closer to it. It defies logic. Chasing a concept such as any duality for the purposes of managing it brings us closer to chaos while allowing for the natural way of things with regard to our dealings with other people within the protection of rights brings us closer to order. Trying consciously to define and manage any concept in such a way takes us further from understanding and closer to regimented thinking whereby we become predictable all of the time. Being predictable all of the time is a lack of mind and consciousness. So chasing any concept for the purposes of consistency and control actual is the same as giving up our minds and thought. Defining two extremes and then chasing them and reeling them in when they are too big, and expanding upon them with they are too close to the center. Chasing that idea like you have any control over it or understanding of it relieves you of the greatest gift you've ever had. Your life and consciousness. I cannot think of a worse plight to any God or the Universe than that despite what you may believe. In this case of the medicines of the West and the treatments of the East, we've had our senses upon very different aspects of our being from the beginning. It is harmonious that one day that understanding will become one which itself will become one side of another concept that will follow it that we likely do not currently understand. Stuggling to chase it or avoid it is irrelevant. It is inevitability. So long as we nurture our ability to think and be mindful, will we be a guide ti our own universe. So please do not be too hard on Helmut Werner or us for that matter. You are now in on the secret. We need to work together to stop what is about to happen." Mr Sheng lectured them both quietly.

"And what is that?" Norler asked.

"Your friend. The Butterfly is about to be assassinated with all of the evidence that we need to break this case against the correct people at Future Tangent Industries. She'll end up with the blame for the entire thing as the real criminals will rewrite her history to place her in responsibility for the whole thing. The only thing that they need is to find out her identity. Once that happens, she will be done for unless we can stop this." Mr Sheng told them.

"We're on our way to see Itikara Takahashi. We've got evidence suggesting that he is being puppeteered by someone at Future Tangent Industries. They've got a closed web site setup with a compromising video of him with a mistress from years ago. They've been using threats of making that video available publicly in order to use him for their plans. My Butterfly friend as you put it, is being hunted by the Japanese Police. We guess that whoever is behind all of this asked him to use the Japanese authorities to hunt her. Now you're saying she's also the target of a professional hit?" Alicia shared her information hoping for some direction in exchange.

"We just received intelligence that your Butterfly friend had been sighted at the Imperial Gardens. May I suggest that we'll call for an emergency meeting with Itikara Takahashi through the Chinese Embassy in Tokyo and have it take place in the Imperial Gardens. We'll send an undercover team there to assist your Butterfly friend and protect Itikara Takahashi while we brief him on the situation. Once we've got his trust, he can use his influence to call off the Police and assist us in bringing the real criminals to justice." Mr. Sheng explained his plan.

"The delegates are meeting as we speak at the Imeperial Gardens. They're also in danger!" Alicia shot back.

"Then get there as soon as you can to warn them. We'll contact The Imperial Guard for their assistance in this matter as well. We've got your number. We'll contact you with further information should the need arise." Mr. Sheng directed the Doctor to examine and debrief Norler.

He would be coming with them to Japan aboard one of China's fastest and most advanced passenger jets.

Progressive Digression

Valerie struggled with the challenge that this meeting had presented their delegation. Alicia, the real expert for the SY349B was not present to speak of it or to draw the curiosity of her colleagues about its qualities or effectiveness. In fact to Valerie the formula had been nothing less like a magical potion or elixir. She had little understanding of the science behind the SY349B and here she was on the front lines of progress promoting it to another culture on their ground and in the absence of its creator.

Bryce was the closest bet with regard to understanding its nature enough to be able to discuss it with these Doctors and Professors of Medicine and the Sciences. On this occasion though he seemed to have withdrawn somewhat perhaps hoping for the input of his colleagues. Valerie sometimes had glimpses of the strained efforts of these scientists to obtain the spotlight if not for a moment to voice what they'd seen from their corner of the sciences, and perhaps to earn the public's attention, the accolades of their peers or funding or all at once.

Valerie considered whether that was the real issue. After all, human kind had overcome many near global catastrophes in its past and most of them had been related to disease rather than war and conflict. Perhaps there was something more to this issue than conflict or disagreement. At least in terms of this particular discussion. Prior to their trip, they'd undergone the playing of many scenarios involving hypothetical disagreements or stand offs between delegations or the individual representatives themselves. In a sense training each other for the better understanding of possibility with regard to the issues the SY349 presented that did not border on science but rather social comprehension and understanding.

Valeria had never been a scientist nor scientific for that matter. In fact, her major had been in Business and Statistical Analysis. Her social focus was on the interpersonal relations between people doing business. It was that simple and as much, as she'd so fathomed. She struggled to get around the technical issues which involved the SY349 despite the fact that it was in and very much a part of her being. After all, if she so wanted she could have hefted any of neighbouring five ton sculptures through the air easily herself. Almost no effort at all to her gargantuan strength.

She reasoned to herself that the problem was not so much having abilities or being capable. It was about understanding when and where to apply them. This did not so much apply to her superhuman abilities as it did her business, interpersonal and life skills. She was always had been a very confident Woman until she'd been lured in by Torman's guile. With him it was different. The older and confident man who'd come up from the hood bringing with him an air of danger, all of which she'd found enticing upon first meeting him. Even after his passing at Treatwater Island, it had taken her a long time to get him out of her system. To reestablish her sense of self and independence, all the while her former business associates would treat her with dismay. Regarding her as Torman's understudy and never recognizing the fact that she'd been a success long before she'd met him. More importantly, she'd lived on and rebuilt her career sticking to her core values first.

This was why she'd been considered for the role of Project Manager for the Western Delegation. It was even Helmut Werner himself who'd suggested the role for her to Walton Norler. Norler had been hesitant at first, not really understanding her at that point. It wasn't until a consultation with Alicia and Heylyn that he'd agreed to the proposal at all. Alicia had pushed the point to Norler until he'd finally given in. She deserved her chance to prove herself after all though using this historic delegation as a venue for character reference was highly risky. In the end she'd won them all over, proving herself with flying colours. She become one of the greatest assets of the delegation.

Now in the midst of much disapproval by the Eastern representatives in Tokyo, she had to overcome their defensive stance as being the last line of protection for the Asian Alliance. They truly believed that they were keeping Western interests from invading and changing the region beyond what its rich tradition would allow.

"There have been a great many advances for us here in the Cancer research unit in Tokyo. For instance are working on a method using both Immune Cells and Stem Cells to incubate healthy, Cancer free cells that we reintroduce to the patient's body. The Immune Cells having been genetically modified recognize Cancerous cells, fighting them as they would any other virus. Shortly after which we introduce the Stem Cells that which replace the consumed Cancerous cells as healthy cells beginning a healthy, Cancer free generation of mitosis. I am quite hesitant to introduce this concept or possibility of a specialized RNA that is able to reference its host genome across multiple 'possibilities' or 'dimensions' thanks to the SY349 and its Quantum Mechanical properties. This reminds me of the first snake oil salesmen that arrived in Japan aboard Galleons in the eighteen hundreds, trying to sell their wonder cures and tinctures. To bridge the long withstanding trade gap and to prey upon what they believed to be the ignorance of a country of native savages." Doctor Tunagi spoke as she walked.

"Doctor Tunagi. Victor and I had worked with Phages for years during the early days of research upon these cellular scavengers which are harvested from human and animal feces and refuse. They are quite unique little creatures and certainly to many Westerners at the time regarded much the same way as how you say? Snaky oil? We were often laughed at in many science circles until we were allowed to present our findings at a Medical Conference In Europe. We came equipped with our research, data and even our snaky oil for a live demonstration, which we applied our refined phages to a particularly Antibiotic resistant strain of bacteria known as Staphylococcus aureus. Using our refined phages, my Husband and I were able to demonstrate that they were effective treatment against this bacteria, even while operating within the human body. It wasn't until this demonstration that our work was taken seriously by the West or for that matter, at all in the medical world. All this despite being regarded as snaky oil. Perhaps you will consider?" Doctor Katya Piotr responded to Doctor Tunagi's accusations.

"Look, I don't think that Doctor Tunagi is so much talking about actual snake oil or other seemingly hokey medicines so much as she's speaking metaphorically about the Western attitude of showing up to save an inferior culture from their own backwards ways and to liberate them with Western technology and ideals. She like many people on this delegation believe that tradition is what's at stake here which in essence can be the defining core of a people or culture. Your miracle medicine is just another step to take that away and to replace that tradition with Western values." Max Danford addressed the Western delegation as a whole just as they passed into the Cherry blossom orchard.

Both delegations momentarily stopped to admire the scenery around them. The pinkish and reddish hues of row upon row of Cherry blossom trees. The trees and their root systems had been carefully trimmed and maintained. The roots themselves were hidden beneath interlocking stone work with openings allowing each tree to introduce itself and its magnificent foliage to the passersby. They marveled at the spectacle for a few more moments before their conversation and perhaps debate continued. It was Doctor Briggs who broke the silence.

"A beautiful scene for sure. An aspect and symbol of Japan, these trees and this style of garden which has been a part of it since 1968. One that will certainly remain as such just as Buckingham Palace will always be a part of British tradition and heritage. When we were in Seoul, South Korea, Zheng and I had taken notice of how Korean tradition had intermingled with modernism, showing a little bit of its western investment and influence while certainly not losing itself or its traditional compass whatsoever. Seoul has western influenced infrastructure, but its own cultural tradition and flavour remains strong and prevalent throughout the entirety of the city. South Korea has not lost itself in the growth of trade between itself and the West, if anything it has helped to define that difference and significance as a member of the Asian Alliance, with its own distinct heritage apart from its closest neighbours; China, Japan and Viet Nam all of whom many would wrongly assume have a more pronounced cultural brand. So western cooperation did not change South Korea for the worse at all nor did South Korea lose its identity or heritage in the process. I wish that Doctor Chul or Professor Iseul were here themselves to speak on this matter. Perhaps you'd be willing to reconsider your stance on this issue after considering my point." Doctor Briggs presented his informed perspective on the issue of cultural heritage in the East.

"I as a resident of Tokyo myself must side with the view point of the Western delegation. I believe that this stance that you're taking is harmful not only for Japan, but for much of Asia. We as are the West are very much a part of this world. It would benefit us greatly to allow for us to close the gaps between us by business, scientific and medical cooperation. Most certainly upon the grounds of human rights, one of which I believe is the right to health. I believe that taking the stance that you're protecting the Asian Alliance from the greedy virtues of the West is misleading. Japanese culture and tradition has persevered through bigger challenges." Hiroyuki added backing up Doctor Briggs.

"I must admit, I'd hoped for a much different discussion having arrived here and finding out who was on the Eastern itinerary. Why have we not spoken about Emergence and Adaption Professor Ono? Lana, I can't believe that you're standing for this. I had so hoped to have a discussion on Biophysics, something very close to my heart as a Quantum Physicist myself. Doctor Astoria, you and Zheng would have had a field day talking about computational biology and simulation but instead we've squandered our time arguing over semantics and politics that are better left for our representatives and elected officials. We're scientists after all. Philosophers. Lovers of the world and universe, so much so that our very profession is in praise of it by seeking to further understand it. If we're going to argue or debate, then let us debate about the science of this issue. Endorse or don't endorse the vote based upon your professional opinions, not your subjective ones. The SY349 and making modern medical treatments available around the world through this Medical Fund deserves at least that much." Bryce suggested.

"I'd really hoped that Alicia could have been here to make this sell to all of you herself. She isn't and I'm not about to let this fall apart on the last leg of this tour of the Far East. What we're here to discuss has nothing to do with cultural misappropriation or the eradication of tradition or heritage. We're talking about human lives here, and it it is irrelevant where those lives started for those lives have the same right to have access to every possible means that would protect their health and well being to lead healthy and natural lives. That's what both of our delegations are about. This isn't about creating a fervor around which you can sell another book timed for release around the height of this issue Professor Danford and photo ops with your screaming fans. This is about lives, and we're here because we care about yours and those of your children. We wanted this to be the day that you could look back upon and realize that you'd made a big difference in the world. You'd used the power of the understanding that your education had allowed you to make the right decision in the face of policy makers who rely upon your opinion to make these policies in the first place. If Alicia was here, she could have discussed the science of this with any of you and with all of her heart in it. She's not so you're going to have to make this decision on the basis of how many lives will be lost if you don't go with this proposed fund. We're not here selling snake oil. We're here to save lives." Valerie spoke firmly and confidently, her voice piecing the foliage around them.

"I honestly say that I'd have to agree with you Miss Aspen." Professor Tibees replied.

"Valerie is fine..." Valerie responded cordially.

"Valerie. I believe that you are using this issue as a catapult, Max. I for one would prefer it if you would not patronize us into this rebellion. I think that what Valerie is saying; what the Western delegation is saying is sincere and the data backs it up. They've passed my rigorous standards. Please consider this when you evaluate your own stance." Lana responded in a timid yet confident voice.

"Lana, you know what happened in the Forbidden City. You saw the news yourself. We're talking the interests of a Western global conglomeration of corporations who wish to replace the Eastern medical institution with their own. Don't buy into it..." Max began as a chorus of voices throughout the garden could be heard screaming.

"Mothra!" one of the voices cleared yelled as many of the passersby in the garden began to run.

Some of them pointed upwards towards the sky. Bryce noticed one pointing and craned his neck in the direction to see a large bird, or insect falling towards the Garden at incredible speed. Suddenly a pair of wings erupted from its center spreading to a breadth of at least forty feet across. The screams crescendo-ed as the wings spread slowing the descent of this creature. Valerie looked up to see Heylyn descending gracefully into the Gardens a distance away.

"Oh no." Valerie spoke in utter disbelief that this was happening during their meeting.

A moment later a group of Imperial guards arrived surrounding the delegation.

"Miss Valerie. We have been sent to you in order to protect you and your delegations until a contingent force arrives." the Chief Guard spoke.

"Contingent? What contingent?" Valerie asked the guard.

"That is all that I can say. Please do not go with the Police. Even if they arrest you. You and your delegations are both under the protection of the Emperor of Japan until further notice." the Imperial guard advised them.

Valerie looked to Bryce, who nodded in agreement.

"Alright. What do we need to do?" Valerie asked.

"Please sit down and remain low. We will cordon off this section and keep you protected. Do not leave this area." the guards surrounded them covering all entrances and exits from the orchard while the delegations sought cover behind some of the metal benches setup throughout the orchard.

Butterfly In The Garden

Heylyn wings had stretched to such a huge size to slow her descent that she was clearly visible throughout the Garden. Inside the Palace in fact, protective measures were being taken for the Emperor and Empress. Had Heylyn known this she might have found a little solace in the humor of the situation but instead she descended quietly into the Gardens landing solidly on her feet as her wings disappeared into her back.

She was truly exhausted not having fully rested after her two hour flight from Cora Hau only having recharged momentarily on a Tokyo Harbour pier before being chased off by the Police. She come to the Garden hoping to unite with the delegates anonymously for none of them would know her as the Butterfly lady except for Valerie and the rest of the Western delegation. After all, they'd witnessed her in action in the Forbidden City and she'd known they'd likely spied her descent into the Garden. It was only a matter of finding them.

Her senses were suddenly on full alert as something did not seem quite right. She realized just as the first report rang out the air breaking the momentary silence that she was being hunted. She round flew by her head missing by mere centimeters as her skin instantaneously transformed to a shiny metallic dragon scale. She looked around the Garden hoping for any signs of her pursuer as another shot rang out. This time the shot impacted her left shoulder spinning her around completely and throwing her onto her back.

She gasped in pain realizing that the shot had nearly pierced her dragon scales. She quickly rolled over and flipped over her head onto her feet.

"He's got a sniper scope. He's doing this safely from a distance. Weltherwithsp, can you help?" she asked.

"I thought you'd never ask for such a task 'pon which I may bask." the dragon's voice broke the air and at once her line of sight was removed from her own body.

Suddenly she was looking at herself from a distance. A tiny set of crosshairs slowly followed her body trying to stead themselves long enough to bite her like a blood thirsty mosquito. She took a moment to measure up the direction from which she was looking at herself in relation to her current orientation just as a shot was fired.

Time suddenly seemed to slow to a crawl as her viewpoint followed the projectile itself speeding towards her body. She twisted just in time just as the round drove itself into the ground a few feet from her.

Knowing the attackers direction, she leapt into the air speeding towards the location on her newly emerged wings. Upon seeing his quarry advancing the gunman dropped from the tree upon which he'd perched himself onto the brush below and hurried away from his prior vantage point just as Heylyn impacted the tree.

She rolled to the ground spinning quickly looking for her quarry for she was not the hunter. She noticed her former attacker as he leveled a large handgun in her direction from less twenty feet away. The round fired as her wing enveloped her body absorbing the energy of the impact and falling helplessly to the Garden grounds. He quickly emptied the entire magazine hoping that the cumulative damage would eventually penetrate her protection. It didn't.

As soon as he'd stopped firing she advanced upon he and he took up a defensive stance.

"I've heard you're the dragon karate girl, aren't you." the man asked Heylyn.

"Close, but not quite." she replied as her wings collapsed into her back.

She took up her own stance which was one he'd not seen before.

He approached with an attack trying for her seemingly exposed ribs and left knee. It was a ploy to lure his first attack and he'd bought into it. She caught his arm continuing with his own force allowing his energy to complete itself as she tugged him to the ground over her left leg. Her free hand locked his elbow painfully close to the point of over extension.

"Who sent you! Who are you working for!" she yelled asking him.

He replied spitting on her boots.

She applied pressure to his fully extended elbow and he screamed.

"Future! I'm working for Future dammit!" he cried.

"Future who?" she pressed a little harder and he screamed again.

"Future Tangent Industries!" her responded spitting on her boots again.

"Don't play cute with me. Who in Future Tangent?" she asked him pressing just a little bit harder than last time.

"Arrrrrrrgh! ... Mister... Mister... Steadman. Mister George Steadman. You're the anomaly." he replied relieved as she eased the pressure on his elbow.

"What anomaly?" she continued her questioning.

"From Treadwater Island. I... I... I don't know. He's got some data from a guy named Zek. You're big news on the dark web. A lot of people want to buy your tech. Whatever made you that way..." he responded again sweat dripping from his nose to the ground.

"Made me what way?" asked Heylyn.

"Like Mothra lady. Into a freak!" he spit on her boots again.

She dragged him over to one of the metal benches, folding it like tin foil around his body tightly.

"Don't go away." she asked him politely as she continued through the Gardens.

Brute Force

The Police had cordoned off the streets outside of the Japanese Imperial Palace. They were not to under any circumstances step onto the property while on duty. Officers could only use the Public Gardens while off duty, for their authority was not recognized within the grounds of the Palace itself. The Palace for all intense matters was almost a country unto its own.

The Superintendent himself had overseen the operation upon the first reports of the unidentified flying object that resembled a large winged insect. It had already become infamously known as Mothra throughout the media giving authorities less control over the situation as it developed. The Chief Superintendent had made it very clear that he'd wanted this thing apprehended and brought to justice. When the Superintendent asked what justice that might be, the Chief Superintendent responded that this was a matter being handled directly by Councillor Itikara Takahashi and related to a national defense program. In fact, the Chief Superintendent had made it clear to give complete access to Future Tangent Security Services and to brief them upon their arrival.

When asked about whether the Future Tangent Security Services would be given access to the Palace grounds, the Chief side-stepped the question effectively leaving the entirety of responsibility in the hands of the Superintendent. The Superintendent was a particularly sharp individual and had recognized that something was not right with this assignment. He instantly recognized that he and his Officers were possibly being used as scapegoats. If any of his Officers stepped onto the Palace property, their would be a national incident resulting in their firing and subsequent and shaming throughout Japanese society. They would become an international embarrassment and likely be treated as mura hachibu. The outcasts of society without honour or shame.

If on the other hand Future Tangent Security Services gained entrance to the Palace grounds, he and his Officers would be scalded much the same for not defending the Imperial grounds from incursion by unauthorized individuals and foreigners not to mention. His Chief Superintendent had left this decision in his hands knowing of this conundrum, and likely to avoid the same conundrum himself. Perhaps he and his Officers were being sacrificed to protect Japan herself. Surely he would not let it come to this. He intended to ensure that neither his Officers nor Future Tangent Security Services would be allowed access to the Imperial Palace or its grounds unless by direct order from the Chief Superintendent. In such a case, the it could only mean that the Chief Superintendent had gone through the correct diplomatic channels and had received permission through the National Police Agency who would have only been authorized by the Emperor himself. As he pondered these possibilities the Future Tangent armoured personnel carriers pulled into the section that they had previously cordoned.

Several platoons of heavily armed men jumped out of the backs of the carriers and took cover behind their vehicles. The Security chief jumped down from his Commander's seat in the carrier and lit a cigarette.

"Howdy? Who might be the Superintendent around here?" he said addressing a handful of Japanese Officers that stood before him.

"I'm Superintendent Mako Tutsubi. I have been informed by my superior that you will be given access to our operation here. We will brief you about the situation though none of us are to step onto the grounds of the Imperial Palace until I have the go ahead from my superiors." the Superintendent told him firmly in broken English.

"I'm sorry. That won't do. We'll be needing access to the Imperial grounds immediately." the Security Chief said addressing the Superintendent.


Alicia and Monique stepped out of the taxi a few blocks down from the section that had been cordoned by the Police. Alicia quickly paid the driver and the two of them made their way by foot towards the Police blockade.

"They've already got the place closed up! How are we going to get in?" Monique asked Alicia.

"I think that you already know the answer to that question, though keep in mind that we're unlawfully gaining entry to the Imperial Palace grounds. If we can't do this without being seen, we'll cause an international incident and should our identities be found, the entire delegation is done." Alicia told Monique grimly.

"I could get in there without being seen. Maybe I could find the delegation or Heylyn before the Police do?" Monique suggested as they jogged towards the blockade.

"You might have to. I can't get in there myself unless I swim the moat or sneak in through the main entrance. We need that data for the criminal case against them. If they get to Heylyn first, we're done. It seems that Councillor Itikara Takahashi is being blackmailed and puppeteered by our primary suspect. I wouldn't be surprised if they'll be looking directly for The Eclipse or Night Style as well. If they knew about the Butterfly Dragon, then we'll likely be on their list as well assuming they got their data from the Treadwater incident." Alicia said to Monique completely unstressed by their run.

"They've got Valerie in there. If anything goes down she could certainly help protect them." Monique reminded Alicia who had forgotten about Valerie's alter ego, Valkyra.

"Alright. Here's what we're going to have to do. You're going to get over to them and assist them in any way you can. If you find the delegation first, then inform them of the situation I told you about in the taxi and then search for Heylyn in the Gardens." Alicia told Monique who smirked.

"What about you? What are you going to do?" Monique asked Alicia.

"I'm going to get to the blockade and prevent them from attempting to make an entrance." Alicia said stepping between stopped cars as she got closer to the blockade.

"Alright. I'll call you when I'm in and let you know who I find first." Monique replied as she stepped over to the side of the road.

"See you in a bit!" Alicia said optimistically.

"You bet!" Monique replied.

Monique found a tree surrounded by a few bushes where she might be able to transform without drawing any attention. She stepped over the road barrier and onto the other side of the road shoulder. She quickly tried dipping in behind the tree finding that she had to squat to effectively hide behind the bushes. She noticed a couple of drivers watching her so she stood and addressed them.

"Do you mind? Little girls room? You know?" she tried to use hand gestures and symbols to communicate.

The drivers gawked at her completely without the faintest idea what she was talking about.

"Tinkle tinkle?" she responded gesturing with her hands to indicate rainfall.

"Ahhhh! I understand!" one of the drivers nodded and yelled out his window in Japanese to the other motorists.

"彼女はバスルームに行く必要があります。 見ないでください!" he screamed.

Monique blew him a kiss and stepped behind the tree and bushes. A moment later she was gone in a flash of light and circling the Imperial Palace looking for her targets.


"You cannot have access to the Imperial Palace under any circumstances." Superintendent Tutsubi exclaimed to the Security Chief.

"We've got authorization from Councillor Itikara Takahashi himself. You are in possession of our property and we're going to get it one way or another unless you want to create an international incident?" the Security Chief replied.

"Do not make me repeat myself... I did not get your name?" the Superintendent responded.

"You can call me Chief Ruthers Superintendent and yes, me and my troops are going in there with or without your permission.

"役員。 武器を持って警備員を標的にしてください。 私が言っていない限り発射しないでください。" the Superintendent yelled to his Officers.

The Police retrieved their .38 Calibre revolvers from their holsters. A few pulled shotguns from their trunks and took cover behind the doors of their squad cars.

"Men! Take up arms! If any of these Cops fire on you I want you to level them. Gunner? That means you too. Don't worry, air cavalry is on the way." the Security Chief yelled his orders and no time was lost.

The superior armaments of the Security force became apparent immediately. Each of the Security team members was armed with a grenade launcher endowed assault rifle and ballistic armour. The 20mm cannons on the personnel carriers suddenly came to life and whirred as they turned aiming towards the Squad cars.

As the last of the turrets finished lining up, a large gunship helicopter could be seen approaching the scene.

"This is FTI Air Cavalry. We advise that you do not hinder our troops in any way from their orders. There is something that belongs to us on that property and we're going to leave with it." the voice blared on the loudspeakers of the helicopter as the gunship lined up the Superintendent's Command vehicle.

The Security Chief ordered two platoons onto the Imperial grounds.

"You have twenty minutes to retrieve the package and return. If you're not back by then, the cavalry is leaving without you." The Security Chief advised his men.

With that the two teams jogged along the main causeway over the moat and onto the Imperial Palace grounds. As they approached one of the platoon commanders shouted.

"Biggs. Neutralize those cameras!" the big man shouted.

"Hua!" responded one of the Security Team who dropped to one knee and leveled his assault rifle as he aimed. He pulled the second trigger and a high velocity grenade erupted from the launcher. It clipped the wall of the Imperial Palace, sticking to it. A few moments later it exploded in bright flash. All electronics in a radius of ten meters of the burst had been obliterated.

The two platoons continued their trek across the causeway and past the first set of walls where a section of the Imperial Guard was prepared to meet them.

Norler, Sheng And Diplomacy

Mr. Sheng sat in the front cabin with Norler and a few other Diplomatic officials. Norler looked down at the clouds underset by the cold blue ocean below then, which flew past at supersonic speed. He anticipated seeing Alicia and ran over their meeting in his head a few times before concentrating on the delegation. He surmised that there would be a lot of explaining ahead and certainly that he'd have to make up for his absence. He admired his colleagues on the Western delegation for their perseverance and dedication to this mission. Most of all he admired the incredible weight and responsibility that Alicia must have shouldered in his absence.

The phone beside Mr. Sheng rang once before Mr. Sheng picked it up and held it to his face. He spoke for several minutes in Mandarin keeping the whole of the conversation from Norler's ears. Finally he had put the phone down on the receiver and turned to address Norler.

"It looks like the action has already started without us. I just received word that there is a standoff between Police and a private security force just outside of the Imperial Palace. It would seem that the Police are heavily outgunned in this situation and thanks to traffic there appears no means of getting effective support to them. It appears that this situation is getting out of hand." Mr. Sheng advised Norler.

"Are they firing on each other? Are there any injuries or fatalities?" Norler asked frantically.

"Not so far. We're going to need some help on this. The Japanese Councillor responsible for mainland defense has commandeered an advanced transport and attack helicopter which will rendezvous with us at Tokyo International Airport. I'll need to make some calls to get additional help as well and to avoid a potentially devastating international incident." Mr Sheng notified Norler.

"Who else is involved in this investigation and operation?" Norler asked as Mr. Sheng picked up the phone and spoke.

"This is Mr. Sheng speaking. May I have Special Constable Danton." there was a moment's pause.

"Constable Danton, we're on our way to Tokyo International Airport and should arrive within the next half hour. We're going to your help and this is going above and beyond your post at the Canadian Embassy. We've been privy to data retrieved by an allied asset that indicates that there are several employees of Future Tangent Industries that are behind the attack on the Forbidden City as well as several murders and the blackmail of a Japanese politician whose strings are being pulled as we speak. Based upon yours and the American Embassy's proximity to the Imperial Palace, we're asking for your support officially with a standoff that is in progress right now outside of the Imperial gates. You would be directly assisting the Japanese Police and would not be in violation of existing treaties so long as you act in their interests." Mr. Sheng paused listening for a response.

"Thank you for the update though you could have called a little bit earlier with this information." Constable Danton replied.

"We are in the process of extrapolating it as we speak. I have an international team of investigators going over it in Hong Kong. I will keep you informed." Mr. Sheng advised.

"This could be a little bit difficult as we're in the middle of a troop rotation. I have four Officers that I can spare for this operation and a platoon of service men. I'll contact the American Embassy and Special Agent Markus and bring them up to date. I'll see if they can spare any manpower to assist the Police. What about the names? Do you have a list yet? Warrants?" Constable Danton inquired.

"We're working on it. I'll contact you with that information as soon as I have it." Mr. Sheng finished.

"Right then. I'm on your requests." Constable Danton hung up.

"It would seem that we'll have some assistance on the scene before we get there. That should keep this from boiling over onto the international front. As far as any possible incursion to the Imperial Palace, that could potentially be fatal to our diplomatic relations." Mr. Sheng told Norler.

"Well then lets get there already!" Norler demanded.

"Patience. We're flying at mach one point seven five. We'll be there in about twenty minutes." Mr. Sheng said calmly.

"They might not have twenty minutes!" Norler exclaimed.

Garden Haiku

Heylyn struggled to pull her outfit on over her Butterfly Dragon armour. She`d actually worn the lighter version of her suit which allowed her much more freedom of movement at the cost of protection. It fit her sleek body comfortably and perhaps more so than her original suit, the one with which she`d actually become the Butterfly Dragon with the help of Alicia`s secret formula. She admitted to herself that she`d actually never tried doing a costume change in a bush and had gained an imediately heightened respect for the models she`d employed over the years at her fashion shows. They`d managed to quickly change with the help of a team backstage in less than ten seconds and here she was. A seasoned fashion designer, albeit a Woman who'd taken it upon herself to use her abilities as a superhero, trying to change outfits in the rough of a garden. Not just any garden. The Japanese Imperial Garden after she'd been mistaken by the public as Mothra thanks to her aetherial Butterfly wings. She stood, hopping on one leg for a moment getting her pants snug before she'd managed to steady herself.

She threw her top on over the armour and upon doing so completely appeared as a tourist, albeit a tourist with a sense of fashion and a budget for as much.

"Take that Superman." she remarked aloud somewhat sarcastically as she made her way in the direction of the entrance of the Imperial Garden.


The Imperial Guards appeared as magnificent warriors, much like their counterparts at Buckingham Palace, the Grand Palace in Bangkok, the House Of Salman and the Royal Palaces of King Hussein though in the world there were certainly many who`d held contention with the concept of Royalty. Many had been oppressed through despotic regimes who`d laid claim to the rule through religious or blood heritage, averting democratic process in favour of superstition or the mysticism of which the populace was indoctrinated. Bryce and Doctor Briggs had both considered this contention many times over though it was ofter Doctor Briggs who`d often contend with it, consulting some of the authoritarian leaders of the world with regard to their Imperial neighbours.

Bryce on the other hand had considered the concept as part of his daily regimen. He`d taken it upon himself to learn something new every day. Not just a fact, or trivia but an entire subject even if it wasn't his area of expertise. He'd made it a competitive game between himself and his wife, who'd thoroughly enjoyed their competitive banter, especially in bed. It had led to many romantic evenings between the two and she could very easily keep pace with even someone of his renown. Much like his coed football coach, Wendy, his wife was a life long friend and equal with whom he could discuss even the most complex and convoluted of subjects. Despite his immense intellect she`d somehow always manage to remain a mystery to him just as he had her equally adept intelligence and intuition.

"You know Bryce, I've been thinking. This situation just seems a little circumspect don't you think? I mean here we are in the most incredible lavish garden that has likely existed on this hemisphere of the globe for some time aside from the Forbidden City and the Gyeongbokgung. The Korean Imperial Palace. They had a dynasty too and managed the resources of the East. We're in it hiding and perhaps without understanding why or even understanding what it took to make it by soldiers wearing armour we don`t even understand and whose colours we don't comprehend." Doctor Briggs said covering Zheng from any possible threat he could.

"You're squashing me, please. I'm not a porcelain doll! I love your attention but I'm not as fragile as you think!" Zheng responded sliding out from Doctor Brigg's protection.

"Fragile? Who said anything about fragile? Fragility has to earn the motives for its own protection and justify as much. Would you protect a fragile murderer?" posed Doctor Briggs.

"Dammit! I'm not a murderer!" Zheng responded.

"I'll say but that's no reason to attack me for my protective nature." Doctor Briggs responded.

"Nor is your protective nature a justification to assume that Women need the kind of protection you're attempting to offer." Zheng shot back.

"It wasn't a gesture. It was the real thing." Doctor Briggs exclaimed.

"Well dammit, just hold me until I say don't!" Zheng snuggled up to Doctor Briggs.

Bryce looked on in sheer puzzlement.

"You know, I've always secretly wished that every conflict could be resolved the same way." Bryce responded to what he'd witnessed.

"What conflict? We're here cowering from a fictitious creature from Japanese cinema during the era of Toho film." Katya interjected.

"I'm telling you I saw it with my own two eyes! It was a giant moth!" Victor exclaimed.

"Victor, you know who that was. Don't play coy with me!" Katya scolded her husband.

"My dear, I was only playing along. What good would it do if I didn't?" Victor assured her.

"Well are my eyes deceiving me:

Spread wide and far. 
Two wings stare back. 
The Butterfly perched."

Bryce spoke in spontaneous haiku.

The Imperial guards immediately beckoned her to raise her arms.

"She's with us, she was separated from us a short time ago before the attack!" Valerie exlaimed.

The Imperial guards lowered their weapons and allowed Heylyn access to the delegation.

"Where's Alicia?" Heylyn asked.

"We're not quite sure." Valerie answered.

"The Imperial gardens have been breeched by a hostile force. We urge you to remain in cover." one of the guards spoke in plain English.

Heylyn ran back into the gardens screaming before she disappeared. Valerie watched doing much the same following Heylyn as she did. The guards began to give pursuit before their leader ordered them to hold their position.

"We must protect the delegation here. Once we've laid down a defensive perimeter and identified our enemies, we'll retrieve them." the leader ordered.


"Spppsst! Over here!" Heylyn gestured to Valerie.

"So what's the play?" Valerie asked as she slid into the bush beside Heylyn.

"We make our way around to the front entrance and try to cut off the incursion before it hits the guards or the delegates. You take the North I'll take the South. You do have your outfit don't you." Heylyn proposed.

"I'm wearing it underneath." Valerie confirmed as she shed her outer clothing to reveal her costume.

"Alright, lets do it!" Heylyn suggested.

"Yes, lets." Valkyra answered.

The Last Option

Steadman had readied a suitcase with minimal provisions and supplies for his flight from Japan. He'd arranged for the transfer of investor money to a private account that would make the purchase of Future Tangent Industries Stocks, once the news of the failed Tynan delegation had made it to the marketplace. By that time the entire Asian Alliance and market would be open to Future Tangent Industries whose shares would skyrocket as a result. Steadman would then use the five hundred million in investor money to purchase stocks at their lower value just before, making everyone on his team the owners of the company and the richest people on this side of the globe.

He'd designed this plan from the beginning, ten years back. From the point at which he'd taken over the identity of the first Future Tangent Employee and risen through the ranks to the Executive and upper Management branch. He`d first initiated the security services to his plan, buying them out one at a time. The security services after all were a completely independent military organization unto themselves, for hire by any nation willing to pay for their services. They`d been deployed in Afghanistan, Iraq and had even more recently operated in Syria for both sides operationally. It made no difference as to where the money came from, the United Nations or the Syrian Government.

Thanks to George`s plan, they were currently focusing on reacquiring an asset from the Japanese Imperial Palace at great expense and perhaps one of the greatest deployments of private military manpower since Iraq. They had deployed two motorized platoons and heavy air cavalry by way of an advanced attack chopper on Japanese soil. Steadman himself had blackmailed Japanese Councilor Itikara Takahashi, using him to employ the Tokyo Police in their ploy, which had recently backfired unbeknownst to Mr. Steadman. In fact Mr. Steadman`s phone had rung in accordance with this very topic.

"Steadman here." Mr. Steadman answered somewhat impatiently.

"Mr. Steadman, we're going to be in need of more manpower and ordinance here to protect the package." responded the Commander in Chief of Security.

"How much?" Mr Steadman asked blandly.

"About fifty million should do." the Command in Chief responded.

"Will that buy enough support personnel and equipment?" asked Mr. Steadman.

"More than enough. For that price we'll provide ninety-six armed men and two more attack choppers." the Commander In Chief assured Mr. Steadman.

"Then do it. We'll recoup the cost during our stock purchase." Mr. Steadman said closing his briefcase.

"Very well Sir. Your jet is fueled and awaiting departure at Tokyo International." the Commander In Chief advised Mr. Steadman.

"Good. I'm leaving now. I could use the holiday." Mr. Steadman said stepping out of his hotel room and hanging up the phone.

For Honour

The men of the Tokyo Police force waited for the signal to fire upon those making their incursion onto the Japanese Imperial Palace with fear and doubt. They were almost in disbelief that the Superintendent had waiting this long before responding to the incursion. The truth was that the burden of this decision was far too much for anyone. He finally conceded to the pressure and decided that if he was to fall, it would be in defending the Japanese tradition and honour.

"隨意拍攝!" the Superintendent shouted.

The breadth of the front line officers opened fire on the platoon advancing upon the Imperial Palace. Their pistols were of little consequence to the body armour of the platoon as were the shotguns employed by the Police. They did however slow the progress of the platoon considerably.

Just as one of the Armoured Personnel carriers was about to open fire with its 20mm cannon, something jumped up onto the APC and pushed its 20mm cannon around the face the platoon rather than the Police. It was Alicia. The 20mm cannon pounded the area beside the platoon just barely missing them digging open several holes in the outer wall.

The remaining soldiers poured out of the back of one of the APCs making their way to cover seeking to clear Alicia from the top of the APC. They fired upon her only to miss her as she leapt from the top of the vehicle landing directly between them. She quickly swept their legs out from under them, forcing three of them to the pavement. The remaining one had managed to level his assault rifle upon her. She caught the barrel just before he fired, pushing it up and to the side. The first shot ricocheted off the APCs armour before she ripped the firearm from his hands and broke it in two.

The Police Superintendent gave the go ahead to advance to the Imperial Gardens entrance and to proceed no further. Several pairs of Officers moved tactically between vehicles towards the causeway just outside of the entrance through which the Future Tangent security forces had just breached.

"We'll remain here as human shields to keep the APCs from advancing onto the Imperial grounds." the Superintendent advised his team.

By the time the advance had finished, the entrance to the Imperial grounds was covered by twenty Officers and another fifteen who'd remained at their squad cars.

The security forces' attach chopper suddenly turned upon the Officers outside of the Imperial entrance and opened fire. The Officers fled for cover behind the walls or any outcropping which might protect them from the chopper's high velocity cannon. The walls were shredded by the rounds as bits of concrete and stone flew from the wall.

Some of the remaining Officers opened fire on the chopper attempting to give their fellow Officers an opening to escape from the onslaught. The chopper ceased firing as it veered turning towards the new threat.

"Take cover!" yelled one of the Officers as the barrage of rounds impacted his car quickly turning it to Swiss cheese.

The 20mm Cannon on the APC once again opened fire this time upon the Officers near the entrance. Alicia who'd huckered herself tight against the top of the APC looking for a hatch through which to find entry returned to the cannon and once again attempted to redirect it. This time towards the chopper itself. The cannon groaned as it was wrenched upwards to its maximum inclination of 45 degrees. Rounds impacted the heavy army of the attack chopper causing it enough damage to withdraw from its attack. The pilot struggled to keep the chopper level and in the air.

The three security force members that Alicia had left on the ground had gotten to their feet, retrieving their weapons in the process. One of them spied Alicia atop of the APC and fired upon her.

She`d momentarily sensed her predicament attempting to dodge just a little bit too late. A round from the security rifle impacted her left arm just below the shoulder. She rolled off the APC onto the ground on the opposite side from the security force member that had shot her.

The Officers whose lives had been saved by Alicia's retaliation against the chopper took up position shouting at the three remaining security force members.

"Drop your weapons and raise your hands above your head! Now! Do it!" yelled one of the Officers.

One of the security team turned and fired upon the Officer as the other Officers opened fire upon him. Several shots impacted the security team member bringing him to the ground. The remaining two dropped their weapons and raised their hands as four Officers approached and put them in hand cuffs.

"We need medical immediately to the front entrance of the Imperial Palace. Probably a medical chopper seeing as traffic is impassible at this time. Some service vehicles might be able to make it here by traveling up the north west shoulder of the road. Also we have a hostile attack chopper operating in the area. We do not know its current status or location though it did flee in the direction of the Imperial Gardens." the Superintendent radioed to the Tokyo station.

Despite the search efforts of the remaining Officers, Alicia had made it to her feet and managed to disappear into the day.

"No sign of the mysterious blond lady..." one of the Officers advised his fellow Officers.

"All Officers be advised to check your fire. We have civilians in the immediate area. I repeat, check your fire!" the Superintendent ordered his Officers.

"We've still got a couple of operators in these APCs and we can't get into them. We're going to need some specialists here assuming they don't just drive off." one of the Officers noted aloud.


The advancing team that had already incurred onto the Imperial grounds had found their way towards the garden in the direction of the last sighting of their target. The man in the lead moved forward tactically keeping his eyes out for the Imperial Guard. He'd known that they were some of the best trained soldiers that the Japanese had to offer because he was no ordinary security team member but a mercenary himself. He'd traveled a long and painful road before finally becoming a soldier of fortune himself. He'd tell others that he was in it for the money, but really it was the challenge and competition that kept him going and as one of the highest paid.

This situation was different in many ways from his prior jobs and contracts. For one, he was hunting a quarry that was of a unique nature to any other he`d sought. It was in one of the most highly protected public grounds on the planet at this moment, defended by some of the most highly trained soldiers there were. He`d agreed with his employer that they could pull off the whole operation for less than one hundred million, including the rental of men and equipment. That had recently gone up to one hundred and fifty million and was possibly on its way to two hundred.

His employers did not seem concerned with money but were more interested in results. They`d certainly been successful with their incursion to the Forbidden City though the assassination attempt upon Walton Norler had failed. They had succeeded in pinning the whole incursion attempt onto him and his company, damaging their chances of any success with the Medical Fund for the SY349 treatment. In fact, Norler was imprisoned in China awaiting trial for his part in the ploy.

Future Tangent Industries was now in a key position to take over from Tynan And Associate`s loss. They could come in looking like the star of the show, restoring the faith of the Asian Alliance in Western corporations, technology and medicine. Tynan would spend decades repairing its public image and likely in the process have dumped their entire management team and board or directors in the scandal. The motive for it all would only become apparent after the success of this last operation he`d been acquired to complete. Capture the Butterfly Dragon anomaly and claim the SY349 as their invention, sneaking it out of the hands of Tynan And Associates and Alicia Westin herself.

As they'd advanced he'd suddenly noticed an intense and purposeful silence. He hand signaled his team to take to the ground and find cover. He'd anticipated that they'd likely have an ambush waiting knowing the entire layout for the Imperial grounds, he'd planned his incursion around this information. As he crawled ever so slowly along the shoulder of the garden path he neared an intersection where he spied a small group of Imperial guards who'd setup waiting for their prey.

The team leader once again hand signaled his team breaking them into two squads. One would cover a frontal attack waiting for the other squad to open fire once having flanked the guards. A minute later they lay still watching the guards' ambush point as the flanking squad opened fire. The guards were taken by surprise some of which quickly turned to return fire upon their open flank. The others realizing how they'd been played opened fire along their frontal observation point.

The incurring security team members returned their hostile fire at the Imperial guards pinning them.

There was a thirty second period which saw bursts of fire between the three groups, the frontal assault squad of the security team, the flanking squad and the pinned Imperial guards.


"There's been an awful lot of gunfire out there. Do you think the Police know we're in here?" Max Danford asked aloud shuddering in fear.

"Of course they do. The Imperial guard are here protecting us. Any moment they'll burst in here and we'll be safe again." Lana spoke somewhat invigorated by the excitement.

"They aren't allowed on the Imperial grounds unless they are off duty and here as visitors to the Gardens. This for all intense purposes is like another country or embassy. It will take some time before they negotiate passage onto the grounds. Until then, we're in the hands of the Imperial guard." Doctor Tunagi spoke keeping her head low as she did.

"Do Imperial guards have helicopters?" asked Doctor Astoria, one of the Filipino representatives of the Japanese delegation.

"No. Uhhh. Yes and no. They have transport helicopters to take the Emperor to and from the Airport or other places in Japan. Nothing else though." Doctor Briggs answered.

"Then I guess that's not an Imperial chopper, is it?" Doctor Astoria pointed upwards and to the south at a chopper which struggled to stay in the air and was rapidly descending into the Gardens.

"This certainly seems to be getting more and more complicated by the moment." Bryce responded in a sarcastically optimistic tone.

"You think that's bad. I just got a text from a friend who's watching this on television. She says they have tanks outside of the Palace that have opened fire on the Police." Doctor Maki Ono passed her smart phone to Zheng who eyed it frantically.

The present members of the Imperial Guard suddenly disappeared. Some of them had repositioned themselves, blending into the surrounding garden foliage while others had relocated tactically to oppose the oncoming threat.

Bryce watched them as they left thinning themselves out to deal with the oncoming threat.

He`d held his tongue sparing the nerves and concern of his peers as he`d realized that they were being flanked by the enemy.

Instead he encouraged his peers to remain as close to the ground as possible. After all, there was no loss of honour in preserving one`s life for the benefit of others. They huddled closer to one another and to the fertile dirt of the gardens. The blossoms remained poised and defiant of any threat to their loving posture. The flowering buds outnumbered the attackers by far and many, perhaps giving strength to the Guard themselves.


The attack chopper quickly set down in the garden, finding a place of solitude that had been evacuated by the palace guard. Perhaps even in anticipation of their arrival though more so for the safety of the guests of the Palace Gardens.

The pilot and gunner emerged from the emergency landing each in turn, examining their surrounds before proceeding forward. They'd regarded their surroundings much like an Astronaut may have regarded an alien biosphere. Full to the brim of nature's wonders, life of which they failed to comprehend nor understand. Perhaps insomuch they were alien to the thousands of species of plant the Emperor had preserved for the public's admiration. They were warriors from a different time emerging from their siege artillery in much the same way the flightless siege towers may have opened doors for attackers seeking purchase of Edo Castle, the Emperor's foundation until the present day for Honshu and all of Japan.

The pilot immediately activated his transponder as did the weapons tech as they found the solid foundation of the ground.

"We've taken ground just inside the Imperial Gardens, about six hundred meters east of point Chiyoda." the pilot announced to an unseen audience through his headset.

"Sir, we've got an unknown bogie headed our way!" the gunner followed spying the sky.

The pilot followed the gunner's line of site observing a dark greyish streak descending from the sky directly towards their point of impact.

Upon it's arrival upon the ground there was a tremendous and blinding flash. It was as if the big bang had ignited upon the faces of the downed helicopter crew who'd observed its arrival. The pilot fell to his knees clasping frantically at his eyes while the gunner rolled around on the ground trying to reduce the pain he'd felt within his retinas.

"Look, this doesn't have to end like it always does, with you guys blinded for two years recovering in a hospital. You can just give up now and we can bring the real bad guys to justice. Whadda ya say?" Monique announced as she'd exposed them to some of what the Eclipse had to offer.

She held her place for a moment as they writhed in pain. For a moment she'd pitied them, believing herself to be a monster who'd subjected the grown men to the death and punishment they'd dealt out to others only moments before.

"We were sent to recover you! Help you!" responded the pilot as he wiped furiously at his eyes trying to relieve them of some unseen horror.

"Don't fall for it." Heylyn responded as she approached Monique.

"Yay! The Butterfly is here! So you guys just better give up now and..." Monique began as she took form gradually fading from her illuminated presence.

The chopper upon which they'd arrived suddenly levitated upon Valkyra's hand as she hefted the beast upwards with one arm.

"Listen to the Butterfly. These guys are working against us. Not for us." Valkyra responded.

"You're company assets to the guys we work for. If we catch you, we're set up for life. If we don't, we're done for. I'll take what's behind door number one." the gunner responded struggling with his momentary blindness before getting to his feet.

"Then I'd suggest that you think of the long term..." Heylyn said as she flew from Monique's side landing upon them simultaneously pressing them both to the ground with her outstretched aetherial wings.

"So long butterfly!" the gunner yelled revealing to her a handful of grenade pins.

She immediately and instinctively recognized them as the pins from the grenades that had adorned his combat webbing. She winced waiting for their inevitable eruptive power.


Bryce had rolled over twice. Once protecting Rose Bautista and then again the other way rolling over onto Sune Tunagi who was opposite him and Doctor Briggs.

"Something occurred to me!" Doctor Lana Tibees exclaimed as she dodged the incoming barrage of machine gun fire from the unknown assailants.

"You've got my ears. Not literally. I hope..." Bryce responded covering her.

"They've been firing from one direction. I think that its a coincidence that we happen to be in their line of fire." she responded to Bryce.

"Perhaps an unfortunate coincidence wouldn't you agree?" he responded covering both Doctor Briggs and Zheng.

"We're in their line of fire!" Katya replied.

"No, we're a part of their line of fire. They planned this tactic. They're just unfortunate or we're fortunate." Lana exclaimed.

"Or both?" Bryce posed.

"Look Bryce. I'd really like to hear what Lana has to say if it will buy us another few seconds of life." Doctor Briggs responded.

"We're definitely on the same wavelength Doctor Briggs, I mean I have a Wife at..." Bryce replied.

"Precisely! Wavelength is the key!" Lana shouted as she heard their banter.

"Ok. What about wavelength?" asked Zheng who completely understood the concept.

"Well its not so much a question of length as it is of amplitude." Lana replied.

"I'm going to assume you mean that in a very clinical sense." posed Doctor Briggs.

"My mind isn't exactly on that subject right now. Is that all that you Americans think about?" Lana responded to Doctor Briggs.

"That and football." Zheng quipped at Doctor Briggs.

"Yes and a healthy diet of bipartisanship." Doctor Briggs responded.

"I'll take the plea that I'm innocent on the grounds that I'm Canadian, though lets forget about our divisions right now and take a North American approach where we're here to work with our Eastern allies. What is it you're suggesting Lana?" Bryce posed.

"There's no casualties amongst us so we're obviously not the targets. I mean between here and where it sounds like the gunfire is originating, it isn't that far. And from the frequency of fire and their hit ratio which is currently zero, I'd say that we're not their targets and likely they're not even aware of us in this location." Lana explained.

"We should withdraw further into the garden if that's the case." Katya urged them.

"I have to say that I'm with my wife on this one." Victor rubbed his wife's back.

"Hiroyuki wasted no time signalling to one of the Imperial Guards that they intended to move further into the gardens. The Guard nodded in agreement.

The two delegations kept their heads low as they progressed further into the garden not knowing that they were headed into the worst of the fray. The second Future Tangent Security Assault Chopper had crossed the northern moat and was just cresting the Edo Castle wall. Another two armoured personnel carriers followed taking a route to the front of the Imperial grounds to reinforce their position against the Tokyo Police force.


George Steadman's limousine pulled up directly onto the tarmac of the Tokyo International Airport onto one of the private bays not seeing that at another one of the bays a conspicuously advanced looking jet had pulled in. Had he have taken a moment to observe he may have noticed the Chinese markings on the jet and the fact that an American Oshkosh Joint Light Tactical Vehicle had pulled in beside it.

Two men waited by the stairs to the Future Tangent jet.

"She's fuelled and ready to go Mr. Steadman. I hear there's great fishing where you're headed." one of the men addressed Steadman.

"We need to leave immediately." Steadman responded as he approached the jet.

Steadman picked up his pace as another Oshkosh pulled up beside his own jet.

"Freeze! Hands above your head! All of you! Now! DO IT!" a voice yelled from the side of the tactical vehicle.

Steadman dropped his briefcase and raised his hands as they'd instructed, nodding towards one of the men by his jet. The man pulled a small SMG from inside of his jacket and leveled it ready to fire.

"Last warning! We will take you down! Drop the weapon!" the voice by the Oshkosh picked up a sudden fury and presence as Steadman's man lowered the weapon.

"Now lay down on your front with your hands above your head and faces away from us! Do it!" the voice ordered them.

They all proceeded to follow the instructions except for Steadman.

"This is illegal what you're doing. If you shoot me you'll be tried for attempted murder in a Japanese court. If you arrest me, I'll be free within the hour and you'll all be out of a job." Steadman said calmly.

"No they won't. You've a lot to answer for." Norler spoke as he approached flanked by several Officers loaned by the Canadian and American Embassies who accompanied four Officers of the Japanese National Police.

"Walton Norler? Is that you? I'd heard that you were in China. In jail from what I understood. What brings you here?" Steadman asked.

"You. Your monstrous actions. Your immense greed for money and power. All at the cost of innocent human life. Not only that, but you led the company that employed you down that same path with you. I have to believe that if your fellow employees had known you the way that we've recently become familiar with you, that they'd have turned you over to the authorities long ago and many needless deaths may have been averted." Norler continued his approach as the Officers broke formation and began hand cuffing the others.

Another group boarded Steadman's jet searching for and arresting any crew and personnel.

"Whatever case you've imagined against me won't stand. There are Japanese Councillors who will not stand for it. I was working with Japanese Police to uncover a plot set about by Tynan And Associates that you yourself had come to personally oversee." Steadman answered confidently.

"I'm afraid that is incorrect Mr. Steadman, or should I say Corson Bentner? I believe that's what your parents named you isn't it?" Zhōudào Shēng took place beside Norler.

"Nonsense. I've never heard that name in my life." Steadman lied.

"We know about your little web site. The one you made for Councillor Itikara Takahashi. The Japanese Councillor that you've been blackmailing. The servers are under our control now as is the content of those servers." Shēng added to the list of accusations.

"It would seem that you've been taking lessons from the Alomera Zek incident. Good thing we found you before you'd had a chance to build a similar blackmail network to his. Nobody in the Japanese Council will be coming to your rescue. They're free from your clutches just as are all of your victims." Norler informed Steadman.

"You're going to have to prove all of that in a court of law Mr. Norler. I've got very good lawyers and not to mention a very loyal staff at Future Tangent Industries." Steadman replied calmly and very much with a poker face.

"We've already been contacted by several executives at Future Tangent Industries. It seems that they're aware of your embezzling of investor money from the Cora Hau facility. That coincides with files and records that we have as evidence of your own private little slush fund. You'd been taking the investment money and buying up shares in Future Tangent under an alias. It seems that once you'd done away with the Tynan And Associates Asian Alliance Medical Fund proposal that the stock prices of Future Tangent would have gone through the roof based upon the fact that the Cora Hau facility would be the sole producer of Western medical technology and pharmacology for all of the Far East including Australia. You could then charge whatever the market would support for your medicine prices and those who could not afford it would have no such medicine available to them. You'd be rich beyond imagination while so many would have suffered as a result of your gains. People like you disgust me. Not only that, but you give business and commerce a bad name." Norler scoffed at Steadman.

"Your statements are allegations this point. I am still innocent in the eyes of the law. I expect to be treated as such." Steadman attempted to make a grab for power one last time.

"Mr. Steadman. We're working with Canadian and American officials to resolve this problem with Future Tangent Industries. They've severed all ties with you Mr. Steadman. Don't think that the corrupt authorities that you had in your pocket will be able to protect you. They're being apprehended as we speak. Off the record Mr. Steadman, I suspect that there will be no fishing in prison, but you might make a fine wife for one of the inmates." Shēng addressed Steadman one last time as the Officers pushed Steadman to the concrete, cuffing him and escorting him to one of the Oshkosh's where a Japanese Officer with an interpreter informed him of his rights.

He would hear his rights twice more that evening while on the property of the Canadian Embassy and then on to the American Embassy each where further charges were delivered to him.

"We must make our way to the Imperial Palace and quickly if we are to save the delegations from Steadman's malice." Shēng urged Norler.

"We'll meet you there. We've got a Blackhawk LZ downwind of here that's going to take us and the Canadian Officers to the scene pronto." one of the Marine Officers advised Shēng.

"Let's go then. We've got some lives to save on all side of the fence on this one." Norler advised as they headed for the heavy Chopper.

If he'd understood how much Alicia may have needed him, he might have pushed more so than his confidence allowed...


Alicia in her Night Style form had pressed herself over the Imperial wall and beyond the courtyard through the hidden garden. She hid her form decisively amongst the floral fauna watching as the Imperial Guard held their position against the rogue Future Tangent Security forces assault. From what she could spy there were still seven or eight well armed rogue security agents keeping the guards pinned.

The rogue security agents were the best that Future Tangent had to offer. An elite private army available for purchase to the highest bidders. When they weren't on operations they did the bidding of Future Tangent officials. Acting as bodyguards or security detail for their lavish events.

The Imperial Guard too were well trained and equipped, but they were the regular force detail, who'd lacked the specialized training of the Future Tangent security forces. They did their best to hold their ground while another contingent force was still arming and preparing in the Imperial Armory.

Alicia had arrived a few moments to late to miss the three security agents that had moved along the flank of their Imperial Guard rivals towards the people they were protecting. The East and West delegations who were pinned down in one of the adjacent gardens, keeping cover in the brush.

The gunfire which had been nearly constant from the beginning of the battle had been reduced to the occasional burst, sounding off about every half minute. Enough for each side to be reminded to keep their cover and not to attempt any movement.

A few moments of silence had passed since the last shots fired when an eerie feeling of horror passed over Alicia. She'd suddenly noticed that the area the rogue security agents had taken up had a variety of exit points, each with good cover. One of them leading directly into the neighbouring gardens.

"Cover me!" she yelled, startling one of the Imperial Guard, turned to find the voice he'd just heard.

Alicia leapt over a small stone wall running as quickly as she could towards one of the interior gardens. It was then that through her enhanced vision that the first of the delegation members came into view. She saw them through the brush laying on the ground, covering one another. Just to the other side of a wall of shrubbery three of the rogue security agents were just shy of spotting the delegation.

"I'm over here!" she yelled as she charged for them hoping to distract them.

One of them turned and fired upon her as she advanced while the others continued towards their quarry.

The assault rifle erupted, its muzzle a flowering star pattern of fire and spent powder complimenting the gardens around it. Alicia quickly and intuitively leapt into the air just barely avoiding the first volley of rounds, one ripping through her trench coat. She cartwheeled in mid air reaching downwards while inverted to grab at the breech housing of her assailant's rifle. Hanging on to it her momentum carried her over his shoulder and behind him as he still struggled to brandish his fire arm. By the time she'd landed facing his back, the rifle was spent, its magazine exhausted. Alicia grabbed the other end of the rifle breaking it in half across his face. He fell to the ground barely conscious.

By the time she'd turned to deal with the other two, one of them was already facing her with a hostage. She immediately recognized it as Katya. The muzzle of his pistol pressed firmly into the side of her head.

"Even you're not that fast wonder girl. Besides, my partner here has another one. He'll remain out of sight until you help the associate you so rudely disarmed to his feet." the security agent advised her.

Alicia evaluated her chances realizing that they were in a stalemate. Might be able to save one of the hostages but not both. One death on her poor choice would be one too many.

She turned and offered a hand to the man she'd just felled. He accepted it, spitting at the ground beside her as he stood.

"You're not from around here, are you?" he asked her though the only reply he got was silence.

"Banston, have we got any of those special hog ties? You know, the ones that Steadman ordered for us to deal with these anomalies?" yelled the man she'd just helped to his feet.

"I believe that we do but they're with the Chief. Let's secure the rest of the hostages and then introduce ourselves to the Imperial Guard. Perhaps we might find a turn in their hostility, perhaps becoming hospitality. Then we can reunite with the Chief and make our way to the Chopper with this package at least. She's gotta be worth something. In the mean time lets have that mask of her's." Banston drew up a quick plan.

"You heard him. Take off the mask or one of these people bites the dust." the rogue security agent grabbed Katya closer to himself squeezing the trigger of his pistol ever so slightly.

Alicia frowned and reluctantly pulled her mask from her face revealing her identity to the Eastern delegation. Lana and Matt looked upon her in disbelief. Doctor Sune Tunagi immediately recognized her face as that of the lady who'd been one of the founding members of the Western Delegation. Doctor Bautista too looked on amazed by what had been revealed.

"So you're Doctor Alicia Westin. You must feel right at home to be reunited with your delegation. Its like a big family gathering? Enjoy it while you can Doctor Westin because I have a feeling that you're about to become Future Tangent's guinea pig." Banston eyed her piercingly.

Alicia seemed unphased by the turn of events, instead keeping careful watch over the situation looking for any opening that was presented to her. If she had a good chance to incapacitate her captors without death to any of the hostages, she'd take it.

The other two men fished the remaining delegation members at gun point out into the open.

"I take it that you aren't the catering?" Bryce asked his captors with his hands up in the air.

"The only catering we're doing is with your potential for freedom or death in the near future." Banston answered.

"No. They're definitely the coat check boys." responded Doctor Briggs following Bryce's lead.

"Banston. You want that I should make an example of these two first?" asked one of the security forces.

"No. Not yet. Save the example making for when we introduce ourselves to the Imperial Guard just in case they don't want to play ball. They'll gamble with their own lives even to the point of death. Its in their history and blood. They won't gamble with the lives of foreign civilians. No honor in that." Banston replied.

"Ha! Know thy enemy." replied Stacy, one of the other rogue security team members.

"Better than thine own friend." finished Gerrick the last of the three rogue security who'd procured the hostages.

"That and treaties signed post World War II would create a legal situation. We can use that to our advantage and get out of here alive." Banston told his crew as they rounded up the last of their hostages at gun point.

"I think that you underestimate your enemies. I mean you're dealing with a people who've perfected the art of war and training through nearly five hundred years of feudal conflict." Doctor Briggs reminded them perhaps attempting to keep them distracted.

"Look, the American war machine ploughed through this warrior society like nothing back in World War II. America has lost its back bone. We need to be sure they know who's boss. Forget walking softly and carrying a big stick. Walk softly when you're sneaking up on your enemy to cut their throat. Once they're bleeding profusely, that's when you pull out the big stick and finish them." Banston shot back at Doctor Briggs.

"That sounds more like penis envy than anything. You're an embarrassment to Americans. People like you and that think like you. You disgust me and I'll not have you as the ambassador for my country or its people. In case you don't know, I'm American." Doctor Briggs replied sharply.

"Then why don't you use that two hundred thousand dollar education and salary as weapon to benefit Americans instead of for peddling your pansy attitude to the world and your friends." Banston turned to Doctor Briggs seriously angered.

"I love Pansies myself. There's actually many of them growing in this garden. Viola Tricolour Melanium. Wonderful colours and a distinct pattern of petals. I actually have a variety of them growing in my own garden at..." Bryce replied covering for his friend and colleague.

"Enough! Keep it quiet! Enjoy your minutes because they could be your last! When we present ourselves and you as our hostages, we will have zero tolerance. If you screw up, you're dead. We only need to keep one of you alive to have a ticket out of here. As simple as that. Stacy, keep an eye on the blonde. Stick close to her with your hostage. You're taking point with the Russian lady and Doctor Westin. If they move out of turn, they're dead. Both at once. Simple as that!" Banston ordered them.

There were no protests to Banston's demands. Instead there was an uneasy silence.

"Good. Professor Ono? You're going to act as translator for me. When I address the Imperial Guard, you're going to translate everything I say into Japanese. If you step out of line, I'll know immediately. You're not the only one who understands Japanese. Got it?" Banston shot a cold look at Professor Ono.

"Yes. I've got it." Professor Ono replied hesitantly.

No Prisoners, No Honour!

"Western Diplomacy is the most wonderful tool we've ever wielded in dismantling Eastern culture. The value of the individual versus that of the whole. Mao Tse Tung exploited that idea to its fullest! I say we should have kept going after we took out the Japanese. We could have grabbed China back then." Banston proceeded onwards towards the point of conflict between the Imperial guard and the FTI security forces.

There was a pause in the exchange of gunfire that Banston used to make his presence known.

"Alright! Listen up! I'm addressing the Imperial Guard. I have all of the delegates as prisoners. Both the Westerners and the Easterners. Stand down now or I'll kill them." Banston yelled his demands.

"Kare wa inperiaru gādo ni taisho shite imasu. Kare wa watashitachi zen'in ga shūjin to shite daihyō o tsutomete imasu. Seiyō hito to tōyō hito no ryōhō. Shita ni tatsu ka, kare wa sorera o korosudeshou." Professor Ono spoke with the projection and volume he'd learned delivering many lectures.

There was an awkward silence once again.

"Well? Show yourselves!" Banston ordered.

"Kare wa anata ga jibun o me ni mieru yō ni shitai" Professor Ono echoed.

A moment later the Imperial guard rose from their positions, remaining tactically spread out in order to retain their advantage as a threat. Some kept their firearms trained on Banston while others covered other potential threats.

"Why don't we tell them to drop their weapons?" Gerrick asked.

"They won't. Its a standoff. They'd take the chance of killing us first before they'd drop their weapons. If we make that demand of them, we'll be dead. That's why they're remaining spread out. If we start picking them off, they'll return to cover and shoot us to kill. We have to retreat to the helicopter LZ. From there we'll head to the airport and catch a private jet that Steadman arranged for us. We'll keep at least one hostage for the whole trip." Banston replied coldly.

"The helicopter's not going anywhere. Nor are you." a female voice spoke from behind them somewhere in the garden.

Banston turned looking for the source of the voice.

"Do I know you? You must be one of the delegates that we missed. You're putting your peers in grave danger. Step out of the garden or I'll kill one of them right now." Banston yelled towards the mysterious voice.

"How are you going to kill them without your guns?" the mysterious voice replied.

The blinding light hit them first followed shortly thereafter by the sonic shockwave. Something flew past them at incredible speed, relieving each of the hostage takers of their firearms. The sonic boom that had knocked them to their feet moments earlier took form a short distance behind the Imperial Guard, a pile of assault rifles and SMGs at her feet.

"Howdy boys. Lets play fair this time." Monique said playfully addressing the hostage takers wearing her Eclipse outfit.

One of the Imperial Guards turned and trained his firearm on Monique. She smiled and shrugged for the guard.

"Uhhhh. I'm on your side. Uhhhh Butterfly!? I know that you're Chinese, but can you speak Japanese and tell them I'm a friend?!! Gotta go!" Monique asked aloud before she disappeared speeding off into the air away from the Imperial Guard.

Gerrick was on his feet and had Katya by the neck.

"I'll snack her neck like a twig if you don't stand down!" Gerrick yelled as the other hostage takers got to their feet, pulling sidearms and combat knives from their belts.

Gerrick felt a sudden pain in his now broken right hand. A star shaped shuriken stuck out of his hand. He screamed in pain as he backed away from Katya.

Another one of the hostage takers screamed, dropping his hand gun as a blade pierced his arm, a long chain attached to it pulling him to the ground.

Heylyn emerged from the garden quickly striking one of the hostage takers from behind, immediately winding him. He dropped his firearm and struggled on the ground for his breath.

The delegate hostages had scattered seeking cover, that is all but one. Alicia stayed to cover the retreat of the others disarming two of them of their combat knives while incapacitating them.

As one of the hostage takers leveled his handgun to fire a shot at Bryce Maxwell's head, Valerie Aspen reached forth from behind the hostage taker, folding his arm downwards towards his foot as he pulled the trigger. He hopped in pain falling over onto his back having shot himself in his own foot.

Valerie too stepped out leaping over one of the hedgerows and landing directly in the midst of the hostage takers.

"It seems we have some unfinished business here in which to attend?" she asked them sardonically.

"I'd like you to meet a few of my more traditional friends. I had time to put the word out with local Dojos, Dojangs and Temples before I left to visit Cora Hau. You've already met the Ninjas. The one with the blade in his arm is just getting acquainted with one of the Shaolin weapons from a real Shaolin Priest. Our other guests here are going to teach you about Karate, Aikido, Taekwondo, Kung Fu, Wing Chun, Kenjutsu, Muay Thai, Kali, Kenpo and Kendo to name a few of the different martial arts whose origins predate most of us here by in the neighbourhood of a thousand years. For the loud mouth there, I've got a real treat in store. It takes more than just being able to point a gun at someone that you can barely see though there are many great warriors in the Armed Forces who know their gun craft, but they too follow a code of honour. You're about to get a taste of the honour of tradition in Martial Arts. Perhaps by that point you'll understand what makes a true warrior. A true warrior gets to know their opponent by the very act of combat. It is much like a conversation. By the end of such a conversation you will either respect one another, or have disdain for the values of the other. Today we're truly going to get to know one another as Sun Zi Bing Fa said. And in the words of Morihei Ueshiba, all things return to their form. It will be our pleasure to truly see you for what you are." Heylyn announced to the hostage takers.

Another group of people stepped forward from the garden, a mixture of Women and Men each clad in their own GiHakama or silk as the case was. The hostage takers backed into a circle readying themselves to defend against their attackers.

One of the Imperial Guards handed his firearm to a fellow guard and also approached the hostage takers.

He used his thumb to point to himself and spoke one word.

"Samurai! Family history!" he approached the hostage takers.

"Moshi watashi ga kareradattara, watashi wa sore ga daikirai da." Professor Ono said aloud from the vantage point of cover.

"What did he just say?" asked Lana.

"My Japanese is a little rusty but I think he said that he'd hate to be them right now." Zheng responded.

"That's exactly what he said." Bryce agreed.

"Then I guess I love being us right about now." Lana replied.

"I agree. I do science, not fighting. Let all people excel at what they're good. It is a shame for Doctors to bear the weight of the injured though." Doctor Tunagi covered her eyes at the approaching doom of the hostage takers.

"As Winston Churchill said: We sleep safely at night because rough men stand ready to visit violence on those who would harm us." responded Doctor Briggs.

"That is not the weight of the Doctors. That is the bad choices of those who would initiate violence in the absence of justice." Doctor Bautista addressed Doctor Tunagi's point.

"True. I think it was Patton who said: better to live for something that to die for nothing." Bryce added.

"I suggest that we take this one step at a time. I mean we were hostages only moments ago. We've been graced with our lives but we're still not out of this. Our protectors are at grave risk despite the overwhelming odds against their opponents." Katya said as Victor wiped clean a bruise on her forehead.

"My dear, I am very grateful that you are alive and well and with all of us who've somehow miraculously averted harm throughout this journey. We can only hope that what we've experienced and contributed to this cause will bring us to our goal." Victor smiled uneasily still tending to his wife.

"The Fund? Has this mess changed that? Are we looking at the demise of all we've journeyed here to achieve? Only time will tell..." Zheng asked of them all.

Banston watched in horror as the traditional warriors closed in on them failing to see what lay in wait for him alone. In the end, he did not see the serpent until it was already upon him, and with that the Dragon Weltherwithsp consumed his vision and introduced to the limits of his own views.

The helicopter arrived finding an landing zone with the assistance of the Imperial Guard. It hovered slowly descending, its lights illuminating the final stand of the corrupted wing of the Future Tangent Industries Private Security Team.

By the time the helicopter had landed most of the conflict had already ended with the final capture of the hostage takers, averting further senseless violence in favour of justice and change.

Norler stepped out of the helicopter first offering a hand to Mr. Sheng, who did not acknowledge.

Instead he said: "Time is short. Go get her and value every moment." as he found himself on firm ground.

Norler turned and upon seeing Alicia he ran for her as she did for him. They found each other at the mid point and embraced, their lips reaching each others' before their arms.

"Steadman?" Alicia asked him.

"Done. He's in custody." Norler responded.

"Looks like I missed alot. Must have been one heck of a meeting." Norler smiled, kissing Alicia's top lip.

"Naaaaawww. You didn't miss a thing. In fact we're just getting the meeting wrapped up." Alicia laughed.

"Great! So where are the refreshments?" Norler asked her playfully.

"They're being served back at my place in the hotel. The problem is that we only have on spot on reservation." Alicia toyed with him.

"Must be one heck of a lucky guy." Norler feigned jealousy.

"He certainly is going to be." Alicia responded seductively as their lips locked again.

They remained wrapped around one another as the remainder of Steadman's plot unraveled around them.


Banston would awaken in the Tokyo General hospital twelve hours later under the watch of the Tokyo Police. He'd muttered words about Dragons and flying butterflies. He'd muttered words about Samurai warriors and Ninjas all out to get him. When the justice attaché from Canadian and American embassies came to get him he screamed, for they too were warriors for a new kind of peace. Much like George Steadman, he would stand trial for the crimes against humanity. Crimes in the name of their unfair market share tactics. Without compassion or honour.

Foyer Of The Asian Alliance

The news for the prior two weeks had been alight with the Future Tangent Industries fiasco. One by one the participating board members had been arrested, to join Steadman at the upcoming hearing and trial. The company itself in the meantime took measures to recover from the scandal, appointing new board members and setting up an oversight committee and full time Ombudsman that would ensure that no such fiasco ever befell the company again.

Surprisingly the steps taken in the first few days reduced the damage done to their stock value as investors speculated that they were still in a good position for the Asian Medical Market. The Cora Hau facility had been brought under scrutiny during the investigation and had as a result more than half of their managerial and security staff replaced. By the time of the Asian Alliance's vote many investors were banking on Future Tangent Industries becoming a regional provider of modern medicine, perhaps following Tynan Research And Associates' example.

The membership of the entire Western delegation including Helmut Werner, Chairman Of The Board for Tynan Research had been flown to GuangZhou, China, where the Asian Alliance would meet and vote on the future of the Medical Monetary Fund and the SY349 subsidy proposed by Tynan Research And Associates. The representation for each of the member states of the Asian Alliance would also be present for the hearing and the final vote. The outcome of that vote still very much depending upon the outcome of the hearing.

The meeting hall had been setup in advance with the Asian Alliance bringing in a real time translator team as well as a variety of presentation technologies to meet the requirements of the attendees. As well, security officials would be present from each of the twenty member states and six guest states attending the hearings and subsequent vote.

As ten o'clock GuangZhou time approached the foyer began to fill with dignitaries and representatives from around the world. The press too attended, having their own section from where they could listen to the proceedings while the photographers and videographers were given access to various points in the meeting hall from where they could capture key moments as footage for news reels and photos for print and web.

"I can't believe that we made it. Am I dreaming?" Alicia said shaking her head in disbelief.

"No honey. Are we dreaming." Norler said beside her in the limousine as he leaned over to kiss her forehead.

He'd wanted to kiss to her lips knowing that despite the fact that it smudge her lipstick she'd not mind one bit. She had never been the kind of Woman who prioritized her makeup more so than her affection for her lover. Despite how she appeared to her the moment was still a moment.

She'd sensed his sudden onset of amorousness suddenly realizing that they were both upon the climax of their life's dreams.

"Will it be all downhill from here?" she asked him, turning her head to meet his eyes.

"For a bit. Maybe. This is just the beginning." Norler assured her firming his hand to hers.

She leaned over resting her head on his shoulder as the limousine waited in line for access to the drop off point.

Heylyn had already arrived with Valerie, Monique and Bryce somewhat low key. They had chartered a bus to bring them to a much less crowded access point from where were able to make their way in towards the foyer and the morning beverages.

"So this is our big day!" Monique said enthusiastically sounding more like a young school girl.

"This was the end goal of our trip with the delegation." Valerie agreed treating the situation somewhat more seriously.

"Alicia said she'd be here already. I don't see her." Heylyn said tipping herself up on her toes in attempt to see over the heads of the patrons in the crowded foyer.

"Its beginning to feel more like a Wedding than a hearing." Bryce said observing the three ladies around him.

"I'm glad you chose Wedding rather than Funeral." Valerie shot back at Bryce sarcastically.

"So am I." her replied unfazed.

"Heylyn!" Katya yelled from a short distance.

Heylyn looked in Katya's direction to see her accompanied by Zheng, Victor and Doctor Briggs.

"Katya!" Heylyn yelled back quickly dashing to unite the two groups.

When they met up Bryce addressed Doctor Briggs.

"Did you bring the ring?" he said expectantly causing Zheng to burst out giggling.

"We were thinking the same thing..." she replied catching her breath.

"So how have you all been since we last met?" asked Doctor Briggs.

"Busy." replied Valerie.

"Yeah. Just fine and busy. How about you?" Heylyn agreed.

"The same. I've been fielding questions from the press for the last couple of weeks. Zheng was appointed the Director of Research at her research placement." Doctor Briggs answered.

"Congratulations!" Heylyn offered Zheng a hug as the others closed in for the same.

"How about you Katya? Victor?" asked Bryce.

"It would seem that our research caught the attention of some very interested parties in the field of Phages, though I'm not at liberty to discuss any details. It is good though. Very good." Victor struggled to hide his growing smile.

"Yes. We've been contacted about our research and are negotiating a funding agreement with a third party. It is very good and will give us access to resources that only a few weeks ago we could have only dreamed of." Katya replied only slightly better than Victor at concealing her joy.

"What's Heylyn got her sleeve these days?" Zheng asked.

"Just working on a winter line of sport clothing. Had a show last week that went pretty good..." Heylyn replied remaining curt on the subject.

"She's just covering for me. During the middle of the show I had a..." Monique began.

"Ohhhhh... We heard about this on the news or Entertainment Nightly I think... That was you?" asked Katya.

"Yeah. That was me." Monique responded nonchalantly to her audience.

"I mean how did you keep your cool? I can't imagine. I wouldn't even want to go out in public!" Zheng asked her.

"I guess wardrobe failures aren't that bad. I felt pretty embarrassed at the time. Especially with a room full of photographers snapping a picture of my..." she cut herself off.

"Tattoos. She has a few tattoos in hidden parts." Heylyn covered for her.

"You know what they say. The alluring thing about Women isn't only what you see. In fact, its mostly what you don't see." Bryce said trying to cover for Monique.

"Awww! That is sooo sweet. I'll bet you keep your wife charmed as much." Monique hugged Bryce.

"My Wife, Wendy's pretty sharp and knows me pretty good. Lets just say that we keep each other well tamed and on our toes." Bryce replied returning Monique's hug.

"I may not be a genius but I really think that we should continue this conversation over Latté?" Monique suggested.

"That sounds pretty darn ingenious to me." Zheng agreed.

"I'll second that." Valerie showed her approval.

They made their way to the caterer and lined up buffet style for their morning drinks and then returned to their corner in wait for the other delegates.

It wasn't long after that they were joined first by Helmut Werner and then Alicia and Norler.

"How is everyone this morning?" Werner asked addressing the delegation.

"I'm a little nervous myself. It's kind of like closing a big deal. Everything we've done so far has led up to this point and no matter how good the sell, there's always unknown details." Valerie pointed out.

"That's pretty common in your former line of work. Maybe you could share a few coping strategies?" Alicia asked Valerie.

"There's nothing that I could tell that would help. Just stand in front of your efforts and believe in them. Believe in your clients too. After all its in their hands." Valerie suggested taking a sip of her Jasmine Latté.

"We'll be asked to speak on some of the difficult issues with regard to the fund proposal. We've got to be prepared. We'll need the dedication and expertise of everyone on our team today." Norler reminded everyone.

Norler turned to Werner privately.

"May I have a minute with you?" he asked the older man.

"Certainly, though don't you think that it would be better to have this discussion after the hearing?" Werner suggested seeing Norler tension growing.

"Consider this a premature indication of what's to come. You have the answers to a lot of questions I've been uncovering over the last two weeks." Norler spoke firmly attempting to pressure the more experienced man.

"I authorized what I had to in order to save you." Werner advised Norler though his eyes wavered twice during his reply.

"You jeopardized the entirety of the work we'd done up until that point by trying to create an inner rivalry within the Asian Alliance. You wanted them to fight over access to the SY349. In order to do so you used my injury to play favourites. That could have backfired and destroyed all of our hard work. Our dreams of seeing this through." Norler observed.

"I did what was necessary. There are details that you do not know at this time and may not know for some time yet. Your condition was critical. Even the with the SY349 on its own your healing would have taken weeks longer than it did." Werner stretched the limits of what he was allowed to reveal.

"Are you saying that I wasn't healed by the SY349? If not, then what? How the hell did I walk out of that Military Prison Infirmary in Beijing only a week after being shot twice in the same lung." Norler grilled Werner.

"This conversation is better left for another time. We're here for a different reason. Now you're being the saboteur of your own efforts. Let it go for now. We'll finish this conversation back on our turf. You may be Tynan's poster boy Norler, but you're not entirely in charge. That's a trust and a vote given you with every decision you propose. Don't go burning down your own house. You're playing at a whole different level now. If you thought businessmen like Torman or Steadman were the worst of their kind, you have no idea of the viper pit into which you've recently graduated. Fall in line now or get bitten." Werner ordered Norler.

Norler was about to begin his retort when Alicia tugged his dress coat from behind.

"The other delegation members are arriving honey. We neeeed you." Alicia said playfully unaware of the severity of Norler's and Werner's conversation.

"We'll discuss this later Werner." Norler recovered his composure and turned to Alicia.

"You remember Doctors Bodhi and Choudhuri don't you?" Alicia introduced them once again.

"A pleasure to see you again Walton. I am so relieved to hear of your recovery. We were worried sick about you back home." Doctor Bodhi accepted Norler's hand as she smiled.

"Its good to see. Thank you for your concern. I feel much better thanks in large part to the efforts of Eastern and Western Medicine working together. Perhaps I'll serve as proof of concept and justification for this proposal." Norler took his angst with Werner and the lie he'd perpetrated and repackaged it to benefit today's vote.

Ultimately it still tasted like dung in his mouth to twist the truth like that seeing as Sri Lanka and Bangladesh, the two countries from where these medical experts hailed did not receive access to the SY349 as China had. In truth they'd not known the full details of his recovery and the press had known nothing either, instead reporting that the injuries were not as serious as initially thought.

"Well put Mr. Norler. Its an attitude like yours that will win this vote." Professor Mattu arrived offering Norler his hand.

"Thank you so much for your extra work in helping the authorities to investigate. Norler might have ended up dead without your efforts. I hope that you've no scars from the attack upon you?" Alicia stepped towards and gave him a hug.

"It was my duty and no, I didn't end up with any scars thankfully though my wife and kids now refer to me as Ek Tha Tiger after a popular spy movie in India." Professor Mattu joked.

Two more people joined their ever growing circle. They approached Alicia and Professor Mattu waiting for an ample moment in which to speak.

"Doctor Westin. How good it is to see you! After all of the news we'd heard about the delegation it is a wonder that you're with us here today!" Professor Dara Sangsorn addressed Alicia, clearly overjoyed to see her again.

"Thank you and it is good to see you Professor Sangsorn. I'm hoping that our night at the Octagon didn't leave you wary of informal dinners with Canadians?" Alicia joked.

"...I heard that... Don't forget us Americans... There's nothing like Asian hospitality!" Doctor Briggs shot out from a few steps away drawing a laugh from everyone who overheard.

"Except maybe North Americans' capacity for a good time. Is that even politically correct?" Valerie asked in retort to Doctor Briggs' comment.

"I believe it is, unless we're going to start limiting the expression of regional clichés." Doctor Nera Zo Pau of the Jakarta State Hospital responded from beside Professor Sangsorn.

"It is certainly responsible to do so in the presence of those who are apt to believe them. We're people. There is no one rule that can encompass any quality describing us all except that rule itself. We're all different. Suffice it to say that the regional tourist brand is alive and well as long as we remember that idea and to respect it." Bryce added.

"Oh Bryce, you did have to go and ruin a great battle of regional memes." Zheng directed her response to him bringing with it another round of chuckles.

"Doctor Pau. Good to see you again. I take it you made it to your lecture the following day after our evening at the Octogon?" Norler asked her in concern.

"Yes, just barely. It actually went over very well, thank you. A few challenging questions from some of my peers, but I think that my point was well received. I am hoping that more Doctors start discussing the issue of the cookie cutter approach to clinical medicine in favour of a more personal experience. I think that patients appreciate the sincerity rather than being handed a generic environment and experience and that adds up to a better response to therapy and treatment." Doctor Pau responded appreciatively.

"A good observation. I wish I had been able to attend. It sounds like some clinics in my own city could benefit from your observations and this growing attitude." Doctor Singh joined their conversation.

"Good to see you again Doctor Singh." Norler shook hands with the Doctor.

"It is ironic when mass production faces off against the individually crafted, it always seems to return to an issue of balance. Keeping the benefits of each approach so as to maximize what they have to offer in balance. In the fashion industry I run into that quite often. Especially when a design starts out crafted by one person especially for another person. It fits the model perfectly. A garment producer buys the line and wants to mass produce it. We are then forced to approach a design that will fit the masses losing the advantages of designing it for each individual in favour of a generic design that will fit more people, though not as well as the original. This is important as this issue keeps many tailors working as skilled professionals despite the changes that we've seen to the employment market. Tailors offer services that allow generic designs to once again become specifically tailored to the individual. I imagine that this observation applies to many different subjects in medicine as well?" Heylyn asked the Doctors around her.

"More than most know. I mean considering that every artificial organ that reaches the body of a recipient is specially crafted for them alone, as is the chemistry and blood science involved in order to deal with the body's natural rejection mechanism. All of that factors into medical treatment. The economic forces demand that we move towards a mass produced approach which cuts costs considerably as we're able to package the expertise of orthopedic surgeons and transplant design technicians into a mass formula, rather than handling each case on a per requirement basis. In doing so we lose the advantage of specifically customized transplant organs. In the medical industry there's areas where there is no room for such a trade off." Doctor Choudhuri replied to Heylyn's observation.

"That's similar to what my husband and I face in working with a genetic approach to the issue of modifying phages. We're trying to create a tailor made phage genome for targeting as generic a group of bacteria as possible so that one strain of phages is effective against many strains of bacteria. The pressures of genetic evolution oppose very much the generic solution and this is precisely why phages are such a unique solution as they seem to overcome this obstacle by the means of their metabolizing the bacteria they target. The problem is being able to parameterize groups of genes that affect these properties of the phage in such a way to end up with useful changes to the phage genome that accomplish our goal for changing it in the first place. Changes to a targeted genome group suddenly involve other genes which require us to take a hindsight approach to our research. In order to develop for phage related treatment, we have to work backwards from a genetic line, maybe five generations in order to know fully which genes are expressed through the qualities we're seeking." Katya recognized and applied their topic to the field both her husband Victor and herself had been working with for nearly two decades.

"I'd have to ask myself just how many of science's greatest challenges have been overcome in the foyer or lobby of conventions around the world?" Bryce asked rhetorically.

"Very true. Perhaps the place where the real scientific work begins." Victor added.

"I say, that every time we get together to speak of these things, something good is bound to come of it." Bryce replied.

"So long as someone takes the ball and starts implementing these 'ideas'. Its not difficult to imagine your years as a freshman Bryce. Its no wonder you majored in theoretical physics. You imagine your incredulous solutions and then leave the design and implementation challenges in the hands of the Engineering graduates. How typical!" Doctor Tanner spoke aloud purposely attempting to embarrass Bryce.

"Its been a while, Nelson." Bryce smiled accepting the handshake of the Man by whom he'd been interjected.

"Good to see you again Doctor Tanner. We were at the Looking Glass Lounge the last time we saw you." Alicia reminded those who were absent.

"We're certainly a long way from Toronto here in GuangZhou. Perhaps there's a similar nest to the Looking Glass Lounge here." Bryce replied.

"I have to tell you the truth that I'm not surprised to see either of you here. I wasn't certain that I'd be adjudicating for the Western nations present at this hearing and vote but I have to admit I'm not in the least bit surprised." Doctor Tanner smiled generously upon seeing his colleagues.

"Adjudicating? You're presenting here?" Alicia confirmed with Doctor Tanner.

"That's right. Odd story too. Not just two weeks after our little outing to the Looking Glass Lounge, I was reassigned from my research post at McGill to an expert panel investigating the possible dangers of the SY349 formula. A think tank ultimately realized by Tynan And Associates to explore every possible avenue of their new born baby, the SY349. So a couple years on and some pretty amazing and bizarre discoveries later, here I am doing a presentation at a hearing of the Western delegation's proposal for a Monetary Fund that encompasses member states of the United Nations and the Asian Alliance. Apparently the Asian Alliance wasn't as easy to sway by Tynan And Associates as were the other nations, so we had to go to some pretty extreme lengths to get them on-board. The thing is, that the nations of Asia have always had a similar paradigm for their practice of medicine and that it is cohesive with the treatment and healing process of the SY349. In fact we at the think tank have been very curious to see what might come of the SY349 being in the hands of Asian Traditional Medicine." Doctor Tanner explained.

"The end result of their practice of medicine is no different than that of the West." Zheng spoke.

"They're very different though in practice but as you said, to the same ends. There has been some crossover throughout history as well but neither paradigm took over from the other. Most Western medicine prior to Louis Pasteur's discovery of germs and the process of Pasteurization was generally limited to different forms of invasive surgery that had been developed since the times of Ancient Greece by physicians like Hippocrates. Most Western medicine is very objective and good at dealing with cause and effect by relating the functioning of the human body to the modularity of the different systems within. Respiratory system, circulatory system, endocrine system etc while each system has different parts responsible for the healthy functioning of that system. Eastern Medicine had taken a very different approach more closely tied with their understanding of the human body, nature and often their religion. That's one of the reasons why so many different forms of medicine originating from the East were considered quackery by many Western physicians until fairly recently. Concepts like body energy, Chi and Prana have been found to be directly correlated scientifically with the human nervous system. We're only arriving at the point where we're able to measure the human bio-field effectively enough to validate many different forms of Eastern medicine that have effectively treated many illnesses for a thousand or more years. The reason we're seeing a renewed evaluation of these forms of treatment is because the ones that have survived the test of time seem to work very well with many forms of Western treatment, almost as if they were destined to walk hand in hand." Doctor Briggs explained as he eyed Zheng seductively.

"With peer review on both sides of that proverbial fence." Doctor Tanner insisted.

"Of course." Doctor Choudhuri replied with equally pragmatic tenure.

"I am very much in anticipation of your presentation Doctor Tanner." Professor Bai Huang He interjected the conversation.

"Doctor Tanner, meet Professor Bai Huang He of the Peking University International Hospital. Professor Huang He oversees the medical program and deals with some of the issues related to the interrelationship of Eastern and Western medicine." Alicia introduced the Professor.

"Pleased to meet you Professor Huang He. I hope that I pronounced that right?" Doctor Tanner confirmed.

"Perfectly, thank you. I've been following some of your recent work. When is the publication ban going to be lifted with regard to your findings?" asked Professor Huang He.

"After today's vote though many of our findings have made their way into the presentation. I'm not sure is Tynan intended for this to be a sales pitch or not. They certainly took a chance by hiring a team of skeptics like us to be key presenters here at what will determine the fate of the SY349 in Asia." Doctor Tanner said taking a drink of his orange juice.

"Speaking of, are there any plans to market under a different name. I mean you've been using SY349 for some time which I assume to be the name under which the treatment was patented. Any plans for a better name?" Professor Huang He inquired.

Norler overheard the question and looked to Alicia momentarily and quizzically.

"Do you want to take that one honey?" Norler asked her.

"Sure. The truth is that we've been using the patent name as the product name for some time though the question was brought to our attention by the marketing department. We advised that we'd make a decision on a final marketing name once we had a decision with regard to the Asian Alliance's vote, as that will have impact upon the name. Our marketing advisors have taken that into consideration and this will affect the final product name, though the product will remain a controlled substance under the Health Act. In other jurisdictions that of course is dependent upon the approval process though the majority of North America, South America and Europe have already approved under their equivalent laws. With the approval vote by the Asian Alliance, the treatment will be funded throughout most of the world and available in Asia and Oceania." Alicia answered as best as she could.

Norler caught Werner's eye momentarily giving him suspicion that something was abreast. Werner looked away quickly turning his back to Norler, perhaps attempting to be intimidating as if Norler were treading on dangerous ground. Norler felt a strange sense of déjà vu suddenly recalling his many tense dealings with Grier Torman, a former board member with whom Norler had fought numerous times to keep the board away from the criminal agenda Torman had planned for Tynan and Associates. Torman had been assassinated during the investigation of Treadwater Island by former industrialist Alomera Zek, who'd ordered his hit in the midst of the crisis. Werner had been a loyal Chairman of the company and an asset for the time of his membership to the board. In fact Norler's relationship with Werner had been more akin to that of a Father/Son relationship with Werner bringing his worldliness and financial expertise to bare upon Tynan's competition, leveraging its strengths to grow their market share. This was the first sign of a shark member of the board Norler had seen from Werner.

"Alicia honey, could I speak with you for a moment?" Norler asked politely.

"Excuse me for a moment Professor... What is it?" Alicia said excusing herself from Professor Huang He, asking Norler with a look of sudden concern on her face.

"We need to talk privately." Norler asked.

"I'm in the middle of face time for the SY349. Can it wait?" Alicia asked him turning her head to the side.

"Just step over her for a moment with me." Norler urged her and they stepped over to an unoccupied section of the foyer floor.

"I need to ask you a favour. I need to keep an eye on Werner." Norler asked Alicia.

"No problem. I'll ask Heylyn to stay close. She's attentive. If anyone tries to hurt him she'll..." Alicia began when Norler interrupted her.

"No. That's not what I meant. I mean I need someone to watch him. Keep an eye on him. See who he speaks with and what he does during the presentations and hearings before the vote." Norler asked her.

Alicia looked puzzled cocking her head slightly.

"Its serious honey. Be on guard. I can't say more. So can you do it?" Norler confirmed with her.

"Ok. I'll ask Monique. I don't think Werner would suspect Monique. She's pretty good at playing ditzy and unaware not to mention she's sharp as a whip when she needs to be. Is that all?" Alicia said confidently feeling very much like the problem solver that she was.

"...Yes. That should do. There's something up. There's not enough time to explain not to mention we're in earshot of others to whom this might be kind of sensitive. Just keep yourself on Alert. You know. Keep that Night Style close by. Thanks honey." Norler thanked her kissing her forehead.

"Alright. Let's get back to being the face of Tynan and the SY349. We've only got another fifteen minutes out here before they open the doors to the meeting room. We should get in as much PR as we can before then." Alicia advised him.

"You're right. I'm on it. I'll see you in a bit." Norler nodded and smiled.

"Before they open the doors... Out here." Alicia pointed to a spot on the floor to which Norler nodded again in acknowledgement as he headed back into the public relations fray of the foyer.

Hearing And Vote

Doctor Tanner's presentation went over without a hitch, presenting the findings of their group which they'd nicknamed the SK349 which was an anagram for skeptics. Their nickname very much reflected Doctor Tanner's team approach to unraveling the effectiveness of the SY349 though much to their chagrin, they were unable to find any linch pin that would undo the formula's effectiveness in their tests and data. In fact the talk backed the upcoming vote very soundly and went over well with the attendees despite the Future Tangent Industries fiasco.

Doctor Tanner ended his presentation by inviting Professor Bryce Maxwell to the stage to address the Asian Alliance directly and to explain the nature of Doctor Tanner's findings with regard to how integration with Eastern medicine might progress the benefits of the treatment.

Bryce took to the stage stepping up from his seat in the audience and receiving the lapel microphone handed to him by a stage hand. He clipped it to his tie and paused, clasping his hands together and smiling at the audience.

"Thank you Doctor Tanner. Thank you too as well for being present for what I'm going explain and have many times at lectures in many Universities in both the East and the West, from my neck of the woods so to speak. Given the nature of the treatment which by Western standards of medicine is very unorthodox I never would have expected to see this treatment actually work. After all it is so counterintuitive to the methods brought forth to the medical tradition by Hippocrates himself, after which the most famous of medical oaths is sworn in the duty of the medical profession. I mean the nature of the treatment approaches the grounds of what many Scientists and Doctors would certainly label as snake oil remedy or medical quackery. In fact Doctor Tanner himself actually referred to the SY349 as the latter the first time he'd heard tell of it and its unique properties." Bryce paused looking intensely to his audience before proceeding.

"Then one night at the Looking Glass Lounge in Toronto, Ontario, Canada, I met with some of the my peers of the scientific community including Doctor Alicia Westin, Mathematician Zheng Ni Wong, Doctor Katya Piotr and her husband Doctor Victor Piotr where I introduced them to the world of Quantum Physics and even M-Theory better known as String theory by my peers. If you ever happen to be in Toronto, I'd highly recommend the Looking Glass for both their cuisine and atmosphere which is perfect for innovative conversation as it was that night for all in attendance. If you're very lucky you might catch me playing my seasonal gig there on a fourteen foot Yamaha Grand Piano. I take requests. And tips, to cover the inadequacies of a Physicist's salary..." Bryce paused as the audience broke out in laughter.

"There with the help of Doctor Westin, we taught our peers that the word uncertainty is the most applicable noun to describe Quantum Physics for which it labels Heisenberg's Uncertainty Principle, one of the many components of the field. It describes the fact that one cannot simultaneously know both the position and momentum of a particle. If you make a measurement about the properties of a particle, pick any one of the two properties, but never both. Its a limitation of our ability to peer into the nature of the particles that define the matter that make up our reality. Our bizarre reality. Particles in this case in fact aren't even tangent themselves. They're somewhere between being a physical thing and a wave form representing probability. So they're not even tangible except in mathematics. We can only ever be sure of their velocity or their position. Not both simultaneously. Hence uncertainty." Bryce explained to his captive audience.

"Another bizarre property of the world of Quantum Physics is the two slit experiment which exposes the fact that these particles behave both as individual specs of matter and as waveforms representing probability of their distribution through each slit. In such experiments they are noted with qualities like self-interference. That is when observed, these individual particles defy our common sense and appear to take both paths simultaneously even interfering with themselves, hence the wave particle duality. These two qualities seem to have humbled science in the face of giants like Einstein and Bohr to such a degree that we became uncertain of what we actually knew about the universe once again in the aftermath of Schrodinger's equation. Scientists at that time were faced with a choice not dissimilar to the very fact that by making an observation, one affects that which they observe. That's essentially what Schrodinger's equation describes. The act of observing is not the passive act we'd thought it to be. Our observations affect the unfolding of reality." Bryce once again paused.

"So what do we do? Do we run around everywhere with our eyes closed so as not to inadvertently affect the unfolding of our shared reality? We were faced with a conundrum that brought all of science to its knees once again, just after we'd managed to get off of them. In fact Einstein and Bohr were so much at odds with these findings that they held a private meeting to discuss the future of Physics and our understanding of reality. A very famous meeting. In one camp, we hand Einstein who believed the inherent nature of the universe to be deterministic and ultimately mappable to phenomenon easily described by mathematics via relativity. A universe where the observer was as much a part of the forces around them but ultimately had no ability to holistically affect their surroundings in a way that broke the rules of determinism. That is, we were once again back in the same pastures where Newton's Principles of mechanics dominated the universe as a giant billiards game where given sufficient parameters, one could predict the final outcome and energy of any system. In such a universe we are all hostages in the hands of the forces of physics at the smallest levels to the biggest. We have no free will. Our entire life path could theoretically be mapped out if we had enough data about the matter and its current energy locally. We could with one hundred percent certainty predict your future perhaps with a remainder representing the degree of probability which would be a product of the accuracy of the parameterization of local matter and energy. We'd essentially be spoiler dodging the outcomes of our own lives." Bryce once again drew a round of laughter.

[Warning: I'm still fact checking this aspect of Bryce's speech. I suspect that much of it is accurate though Godel's demon and the Boltzmann equation's presence isn't fully related yet to the context of his speech.]

"The other camp held a much different point of view and one with which Niels Bohr sided that proclaimed and was proven by Schrodinger that we are able to affect the interactions of particles at their most fundamental level simply by the act of observation. A unique property of perception? cognition? Perhaps but first, lets proceed to investigate this further. Bohr felt that Schrodinger's equation proved that we have ultimate say on the unfolding of our reality. How or where this say was manifested is unknown because every experiment designed to isolate it further complicated it. In fact so much so that many were convinced that there was a demon running around in the midst of the fabric of reality keeping the inner workings of how the universe operates in this manner hidden and consistently so. The fact that observation has a clear effect upon the unfolding of reality on the other hand was a clear sign to Bohr that consciousness was in fact a key element in the later stages of the development of the universe. That the universe ultimately itself would slowly progress towards self awareness." Bryce paused for a moment pacing the stage.

"Quack. Quack. Might have been the response of some scientists, both from that era and even now. A clear harbinger that we'd now gone of the scientific deep end and were in the territory of reknown quackery." Bryce allowed for the laughter to subside.

"Regardless, Bohr held tight to his views and philosophy bringing about the idea that the nature of the universe was to become more and more conscious. Observation was a key element in the nature of his universe and this was supported by the fact that observation had a clear impact upon the collapse of the wave function. If a tree falls in a completely depopulated forest, does it make a sound? According to Schrodinger it does, but only when someone is there to observe it. If the observation is made after the event, then somehow the matter and energy involved in the event backwards writes itself to be consistent with having been observed. Its like the universe procrastinates the details until there is a measurement made of the event. That's a thought experiment by the way. I prefer it over the one Schrodinger used. I mean I like Cats." Bryce smiled once again drawing another chuckle from the audience.

"I hope that none of you out there get the impression that you can somehow rewrite history simply by keeping it secret, eliminating all actual witnesses to it that are able to verify it and at some point in the future providing an alternate version which at that moment becomes the point of observation, hence rewriting history to match the present observation. I can see some scheming eyes out there amongst some of you. Perhaps you had a fender bender in the past that grossly affected your insurance payments? Maybe you had money down on the outcome of a horse race whose results you'd like to change? Suffice it to say that you'll be disappointed to know that the universe apparently doesn't work that way. No, you'll have to do it the long way and hope to outlive everyone else that remembers the original history before you can apply yours. Assuming you live that long." once again the audience broke out in laughter.

"Einstein and Bohr both having a deep respect for each other held to their views on the matter, each pursuing the answers behind their specific beliefs on the matter yet neither were able to integrate a theory of gravity with Quantum Mechanics. None the less this led to the development of the Copenhagen Interpretation of Quantum Mechanics. It really was developed as a means to apply a formal treaty to the conundrum of wave-particle duality brought about by classical physics. As it turns out, just like language our mathematical descriptions actually affect how we're capable of conceiving of the universe and its qualities. Hence a modern means was developed to deal with ambiguous ideas like fundamental matter being both a particle and a wave form representing the distribution of the probability of its location but never committing itself to any one distinct location depending upon how you look at it." Bryce paused mulling over the ground they'd covered.

"That brings us to the SY349 and its upcoming role in the meeting of two medicines. One from the West, the best that our science has been able to produce for the treatment of degenerative disease. One from the East, which has been in use for perhaps a thousand, maybe two thousand or more years that describes the human body as a vessel for the passage of some form of universal energy which uses our nervous system as its core means of transmission. This is illustrated in many Eastern techniques of healing which have up until recently been looked upon as quackery themselves. You could say that they share a common history with that of Quantum Physics and M-Theory, yet all of them have been able to prove their merit again and again. For instance the meridians and dantians of Clinical Acupuncture directly correlate with the nerve ending points of the nervous system. In fact most if not all Traditional Chinese Medicine is founded upon these ideas. An understanding that the energetic body, is composed of our nervous system which essentially acts as a conduit for the distribution of this energy throughout our body. Quackery? Maybe fifty to a hundred years ago some Western scientists may have looked at Traditional Chinese Medicine as such, not having had a full understanding of the nervous system and its functioning. It turns out that China did alright with their understanding of the nervous system by way of their description by energy points, meridans and dantians enough so to treat many illnesses at their core. I mean these nerve endings in many cases lead directly to the organs they're used to treat and provided a non-invasive means of treatment in the case of many maladies. As Western science grew to understand Eastern medicine it became clear that it was a realistic method of treatment for many illnesses. The distinction in the West then became focused on accreditation. I mean TCM is a serious form of treatment and just like Western medical practice, you don't want someone who isn't formally trained and evaluated by their peers practicing medicine upon the populace especially where lives on are the line. Let that be our distinction for the boundaries of quackery, not the means of treatment itself. Kind of like our formalist approach to solving the problem of wave-particle duality that we achieved not by throwing out all of the physics we'd developed in attempt to explain our universe deterministically. Perhaps so as to apply that knowledge immediately putting it to work for us. Rather we changed the way that we describe the phenomenon that we observed hence changing our understanding of the problem." there was another momentary pause as Bryce drank from a cup of water left for him at the podium on the other side of the stage.

"With the SY349 we were have a unique approach to treatment this is very difficult to understand let alone describe. I certainly wouldn't want to be on their marketing team because for all intense purposes with the SY349 we have another exposition of how the fundamental nature of our universe can be made to work for us even when we barely understand it. Let me once again begin by describing the SY349 treatment process so you yourselves can see just how bizarre this treatment really is. First, a patient is diagnosed by a qualified Physician who evaluates through the use of other qualified specialists that they have stage two GBM, Glioblastoma multiforme. A form of the most common type of malignant brain tumor which as it happens is directly treatable by the SY349 and was one of the first forms of Cancer it targeted. So the Physician proscribes the SY349 treatment and the patient is required to make three appointments. One to evaluate how the SY349 will be applied. Another to apply it, and one more to follow up the progress of the treatment." Bryce explained.

"The patient, Bob shows up for his first appointment. His X-rays and MRI scans are examined closely to determine the best method of treatment. They decide that Bob is going to wear a special necklace which will be the anchor for the treatment. This special necklace is designed with an artistic aesthetic in mind, one that is shaped and shaded in such a way to be conducive to the healing process. Hold your thoughts on quackery a moment please. A group of necklaces is designed by a specialist with one of the necklaces being chosen by the patient. The chosen necklace has the SY349A formula applied to it. That formula is a spray on liquid catalyst and radioactive isotype that is completely harmless to all organic life. It might mess with your smartphone reception... just kidding. So that spray is applied to the necklace whose visual symbolic qualities play an important role in the healing process. It is one of the few treatments that we've managed to research to the point where we have a pretty good understanding of how symbolic aesthetic plays a role in the healing process in conjunction with the SY349. To put it mildly, how looks and is perceived by the patient is one of the most important factors in the effectiveness of the treatment. In other words, the patient is much like the observer in the collapse of the wave function though there is no real relation in that regard. Its the SY349B portion of the treatment that really has the magic stuff in it. The patient is given the SY349B which is ingested in the form of a pill. This pill contains a specially targeted marker that finds its way through the body's metabolic and circulatory process to the affected area of the body and ultimately the tumor. In some very rare cases, the SY349B will first attach itself to other cells nearby the tumor which are likely to have traits related to the Cancer but in 99% of all cases it will go directly to the tumor. From there it gets really bizarre. The formula affects the process of mitosis, which most of you will remember from school as being the means by which cells in the body reproduce. They subdivide and become two. Those two subdivide and become four and so on. It works great for living things and has for a very very long time. Unfortunately it works great for Cancer too because Cancer attacks healthy cells and injects its own instructions into the genome of the host cell in order to make copies of itself. So essentially it turns the body's own cells into mutant cells whose functioning affects the body adversely, in many cases until the death of the host body. The way the SY349 deals with this is strange but I'll describe in terms of physics and what sounds like science fiction so that the concept is fairly easy to grasp, though at the core it is as tricky and counterintuitive as wave-particle duality. The SY349B reacts to the SY349A as the SY349A is a radioactive isotope and the SY349B is radioactive though once again completely harmless to all organic life. The interaction of the isotope with the SY349B results in an effect that opens a pocket universe within the cell membrane and specifically within the proteins that make up the DNA itself. This pocket universe contains every non-malleable version of that same DNA with the most successful versions of the DNA accessible to the RNA messenger which is responsible for building new copies of the host DNA in offspring cells. The RNA references the DNA contained in the pocket universe rather than the originally infected DNA hence reverting the cell back to its original healthy state both before and after the existence of the Cancer simultaneously. The DNA copy chosen from the pocket universe is determined by the artistic shaping of the necklace that has been infused with the SY349A. Therefore the treatment depends very much on the artistic qualities of the necklace itself, and upon the wearer's perception of its aesthetic qualities. Its nothing so simple as to say that it depends upon the wearer to be positive in order to cause healing, because as we determined at our dinner at the Looking Glass Lounge, that to do so puts an incredible weight and responsibility upon the patient, not to mention the possibility of self blame if the process fails. The only time that people proclaim that positivity versus negativity works, is when they are ungrateful for the fact that their arrival upon good fortune was at least fifty percent not their doing. It was sheer good fortune in much the same way that someone who dies of Cancer is not to blame for dying as a result of negative thoughts or feelings. Sometimes its easy for us to take credit where good fortune had half a hand in one's achievement. We all do it from time to time. Its called hubris. Keep in mind that the flip side of that coin is that you're putting the blame onto the ill for their own misfortune. At least take the time to recognize that, and if you don't that's quackery and perhaps of the most selfish kind. The kind whereby one would believe that their own fortune rests in their hands when they are successful and therefore that the unfortunate are to blame for their own misfortune. A certain way of condemning the ill to die while landing the blame for failure to survive solely in their lap. No, instead the SY349 plays upon the patient's own perception of aesthetic. What they find to be stunning or attractive in terms of artistic quality. That has a direct effect upon how the SY349A interacts with the SY349B within the cell and which copy of the nearly infinite copies of DNA the RNA messenger chooses to complete cellular mitosis. And yes, it works whether the patient is under great stress and duress or of the best and most positive attitude. A good attitude will definitely help the patient to feel better, but it is never the blame of the patient when their treatment doesn't work and with the SY349 insofar as GBM is concerned, it works 99% of the time in the first treatment and similarly for every treatment cycle attempt thereafter. So if lawyers didn't caution otherwise, we could claim that the SY349 will always eventually work. For one in one hundred patients it doesn't work the first time, but after that shot they can try again within two months for the same odds and keep doing so until it works." Bryce paused as the audience applauded and waited for the fervor to die down before continuing.

"That brings me to the point of this talk which is how will this work in the Far East of Asia where a similar mentality in medicine has been present for a long time. Much the same that we've found it to be effective in places where aesthetic is of high value and in high demand. That is, thanks to this quality of the SY349 the healing potential is seemingly limitless though it will take years to find treatments for every degenerative disease by studying the effectiveness of the relationship between aesthetic and the potential for which DNA copy the RNA messenger will choose. With results like we have so far with GBM, this is an extremely promising treatment and has many opportunities for the future of medicine. We're curious to see how the Asian Alliance will utilize this potential in ways that we in the West may have missed. Thank you very much." Bryce bowed for the audience who stood and applauded.

Eventually when the applause died down Helmut Werner took to the stage in a timely manner giving a face to the miracle cure and to Tynan And Associates, perhaps once again thinking about Public Relations more so than tenure.

"Thank you. Thanks Doctor Tanner and Professor Maxwell for that talk on the SY349. I think that best sums up Tynan And Associates dedication to medical advancement both in the West from where he hail, to the East which we have come to offer our best. We see Asia as the next great market in medical science and this fund will certainly open the door to many medical wonders to come with our allies in Asia." Werner looked around the room as someone from the audience spoke up.

"And you planned to include all of Asia did you?" Mr Sheng addressed Werner.

Werner squinted looking to the source of the voice in the audience. Upon recognizing Sheng he spoke.

"Ladies and Gentlemen, Mr. Zhōudào Shēng."Werner clapped as Sheng remained standing in the audience.

"And your question was?" Werner queried the man.

"You claimed that you intended all of Asia to be a part of this vision you have for a medical utopia." Sheng clarified with Werner.

"Why yes. Of course we did. That is the purpose of this meeting. To bring everyone on board as partners." Werner agreed.

"Then why did you enter into an agreement with us in China whereby we would receive the SY349 exclusively ahead of the vote." Sheng revealed.

"Its starting. Let's get to Sheng. Now." Norler turned to Alicia in the chair beside him as he stood, grabbing her hand.

"I have to admit I did not see this coming." Alicia said as she stood and followed Norler.

"Heylyn!?" Alicia signaled her friend a few chairs beside her.

"I'm on it." Heylyn said as she too got to her feet making her way towards the stage.

"I'm sorry Mr. Sheng? I don't believe that we cut any such deal. In fact if you have possession of the SY349 that would be in violation of United Nations Espionage Act, of which Canada is a member state. I recall no such deal." Werner smiled professionally.

"We foresaw this possibility with your deal and given the nature of your deal, we made preparations for this eventuality. After all, who could trust one who would make a deal to poison one of their own country members and a fellow board member of the company for which they both are employed but a scoundrel?" Mr. Sheng announced.

"Mr. Sheng, what are you talking about?" Werner asked uneasily.

"You. You made a deal with us to poison Norler. To heal him first but that he should be dead by the time of the Asian Alliance vote. You gave us the SY349 ahead of schedule which would have happened legally in the month after a yes vote by the Asian Alliance." Mr Sheng explained to the audience.

"Mr. Sheng I do believe that you are deluded, perhaps age has taken the best of your sanity?" Werner defended himself once again.

"That's why you were so blatantly cold to me earlier. You'd expected me to be dead by this time." Norler announced having arrived by Mr. Sheng's side with Alicia.

"Security! Security! Apprehend that man on the charges of corporate espionage and violation of the United Nations Espionage Act immediately!" Werner yelled pointing to Mr. Sheng.

"That will not be necessary. We are witnesses in favour of Mr. Sheng's accusations." Professor Choudhuri of Bangladesh stood from the audience.

"As are we." Professor Dara Sangsorn of Bangkok, Thailand stood backing up her peer.

"That also includes us as well. I stand behind my peers in defense against these accusations." Doctor Kyung Chul of South Korea stood as well.

"I'm with you as well." Professor Maki Ono stood bowing for Alicia, Mr. Sheng and Norler.

"You know, despite the fact that Bryce can be a real jerk sometimes, I'm with you." Professor Max Danford of the Univeristy of Perth in Australia stood.

"I will always stand with my friend and allies." Doctor Maeya Dharmaprana of New Delhi, India stood to support them too.

"As do I. I support them and will act as a witness in their favour." Doctor Waitak Te Hong of Tatung University, Taiwan joined them.

"I've been with the Western Delegation since their arrival in Tokyo. They are my allies and my friends. They have my support." Hiroyuki Hori stood and bowed.

"This is a matter for the courts! We should cease this immediately so that the vote may proceed legally!" Werner demanded of those confronting him.

"Mr. Werner, we accepted your deal secretly as part of a counter espionage operation conducted jointly with Canadian and American Intelligence in cooperation with the Chinese Ambassador to Japan, and the Asian Alliance. You have been under investigation for some time for your dealings with former Future Tangent Industries executive George Steadman.  It appears that you were hedging the bet. That if the Asian Alliance vote had not passed, you would have closed a private deal with China and Future Tangent Industries under the guidance of George Steadman to produce the SY349 at the Cora Hau facility even after his arrest. You were playing both sides the whole time. That is why we shared the SY349 sample you gave us with the member states of the Asian Alliance." Mr. Sheng announced.

Several security team members arrived by Mr. Sheng, Norler and Alicia.

"Mr. Norler, we're sorry we're going to have to ask you to stand down." one of them advised him.

"He's a crook. You're not going to let him get away with this!" Alicia demanded of the security.

"This is a legal matter now. I'm afraid that you'll have to answer in a court of law." Werner gestured for the security to apprehend them.

"Funny, I was just going to say the same thing." Norler said as he stepped in front of Alicia and Mr. Sheng.

"That would be our signal Monique!" Heylyn announced through her headset.

"I'm beginning the presentation now!" Monique replied over her earpiece.

At once the room dimmed and the projection screen dropped from the ceiling. A moment later the projector lit the screen depicting a dinner meeting between Werner and Steadman. Their voices could be heard.

"...we've projected that in all likelihood North Korea and China are most likely to veto the proposal leaving both of our companies with a big hole in the medical market." Werner said to Steadman.

"We're working on a side deal to produce our line of pharmaceuticals for Japan. Perhaps we could come to some sort of an agreement in order to see that the SY349 gets its rightful place in one of the private markets. China maybe? I mean our Cora Hau facility would be capable of mass production to meet the inevitable demand for your miracle cure." Steadman offered Werner.

"I'd like to go one further. I think that Tynan needs a new face to lead its future. I'd like to be that face. I'd also like to offer Norler an early retirement, an offer that I think China would be willing to make possible while he's in their custody." Werner suggested.

"My deal was to turn around the Cora Hau investment money and reinvest it in Future Tangent Industries assuming that Tyan had lost the Asian Alliance vote. That investment would skyrocket seeing as Cora Hau would be the only medical supplier in the entire region. I think that we could come to an arrangement and provide facilities for the production of the SY349 privately to the Chinese market. Make a few dollars ourselves in the process especially with Norler retired." Steadman made his own counter offer.

The screen went blank for a moment and a picture of Werner filled the screen, the underlying audio taken from a private phone conversation between himself and Mr. Sheng.

"...Sheng, we're looking to help Norler find an early retirement. I have to be honest that I didn't think that he was going to make it after the shooting attempt in the Lost City. I'd like to ensure his retirement and in exchange I'd be willing to give the Chinese access to the SY349. Something to which none of the other Asian Alliance members has access. Imagine what you could do with that head start not to mention, if the vote doesn't go through, China could corner the entire Asian medical market with our help. All you'd have to do is to help Norler's retirement come a little bit earlier than expected. Say just before the Alliance vote." Werner's suddenly voice cut out.

"That's all I've got here Butterfly." Monique addressed Heylyn through her headset.

"Thanks. That was perfect!" Heylyn announced as she took to the stage to confront Werner.

Werner pulled a small handgun from inside of his suit, aiming in the direction of Alicia, Norler and Mr. Sheng. As he pulled the trigger Norler caught sight of his firearm and dove protectively between Alicia, Mr. Sheng and Werner's gun. They heard the firearm's report throughout the meeting room though there was no sound or sign of its impact. Norler was still on his feet and miraculously nobody was hit. Werner didn't have time to take another shot before Heylyn was upon him. She quickly disarmed him, crushing the firearm with one hand while putting Werner to the floor with the other.

"No more guns for you." Heylyn said to him throwing the pieces of his firearm to the stage.

The security team by that time had made their way to the stage to apprehend Werner.

A moment later a swarm of Chinese Police Officers poured into the meeting room quickly turning it into a crime scene.

"I guess its finally over." Norler said in disbelief.

"What about the vote?" Alicia asked looking to both Norler and Mr. Sheng.

"We anticipated a scene like this and certainly we're glad nobody was hurt. You can be assured that the vote will take place this afternoon, after the Police have finished collective evidence and questioning witnesses. With good fortune you should be able to rest easy tonight." Mr. Sheng told assured them.

"Sheng. Thanks. For everything you did." Norler held out his hand.

Sheng accepted it, shaking it firmly.

"We helped each other and averted a much greater disaster. I must leave you now and get back to my duties. We will speak again in the future no matter the outcome of the vote." Mr Sheng nodded to them each and walked towards the conglomeration of Police officials.

Valerie, Monique, Heyln, Alicia, Zheng, Katya, Victor, Bryce, Doctor Briggs and Norler answered the Police questions once again on the familiar ground they'd experienced at the Lost City.

Mr. Sheng once again approached the group addressing them all.

"One last thing. If you do decide to return to my country of China, make sure that you don't bring trouble again." Mr Sheng implored them to the laughter of the Police surrounding him.

No Place Like Home

It had been five months since the vote. Alicia and Norler had once again adjusted to their home life and were becoming accustomed to one another once again as the tides of domestication took hold in their lives. It was one such evening they sat on the couch together each with a glass of gin infused spritzers to sip as they listened to music together playing a game of Mahjong together. They'd received the Mahjong set as an anonymous gift though they both suspected Sheng.

"I don't know if I can ever get used to life again." Norler said to Alicia.

"Care to elaborate?" Alicia asked him sipping her spritzer.

"Well, I mean after the Lost City. I was so close to dying and yet, thanks to the SY349 I didn't." Norler spoke trying to find a match for the Mahjong piece he'd pulled.

"You mean Serenity." Alicia corrected him.

"I'm sorry. Thanks to Serenity I didn't die." Norler corrected himself.

"I knew what you meant. Continue..." Alicia said pinching him.

"I mean I was so close, and then it was like I've never been more alive. Even before that." Norler tried to explain his feelings to her.

"How so?" Alicia asked trying not to steer his answers but rather leaving them for him to find on his own.

"Its like I can't tell if it was the SY... oops Serenity that changed me or if it was the experience we had in the East. I feel very different." he did his best to explain to her and she reached in order to understand him.

"Maybe it was a bit of both..." Alicia suggested quickly finding a match for her piece and continuing her turn.

"Maybe. Maybe it was the whole thing. The whole journey. Starting from the little lab down on Front Street. Where we first met. Then nurturing your idea... and watching it grow. Watching it become what it is today. Then taking that idea and working with you and your fellow research associates and bringing it to the world. Almost like a..." Norler couldn't finish his sentence.

They sat silently for a moment, the tension in the room thickening ever so slightly.

"You were going to say it." Alicia told him rather than ask.

"What? Say what? Business?" he covered.

"No. Something else. You're thinking about something else. Something we've never spoken about." Alicia found a match for another piece and then another leaving her ever so close to victory.

"Maybe I was. That doesn't mean that I..." Norler once again found himself stumbling.

"That you want to try? You didn't even ask me how I feel about this." Alicia passed her turn and Norler examined his options.

"We haven't even clarified that we're talking about the same thing." Norler pointed out.

"Are you saying that we are so out of touch with each other that we need to say it?" Alicia held her tone somewhere in the middle leaving Norler no option but to be sincere.

"No. I don't think that we do... need to say it. I mean... I remember after the shot and before I fell unconscious, thinking about you. Thinking about us. Then the lights went out. And I saw a child. A little girl. She looked like you. She had your eyes. Your nose and lips. Your hair. I kept thinking that I needed to see you. To be with you. Like we had to find you. Together. I think that she was our child." Norler explained to Alicia.

"You said it." Alicia smiled a tear coming to her eye.

"I guess I did." Norler agreed.

"Does that mean...?" Alicia asked him leaning in a little closer to him.

"Yes. It does." Norler said closing the distance to her lips.


Heylyn landed atop her favourite perch on the Commerce Court Tower, looking down on the Yonge Street from its ledge. Her wings folded back up disappearing into her body and she sat staring at the lights below. A moment later Monique landed beside her admiring the same night view in the warm summer sky.

"Its a nice night." Heylyn said to her, still captivated by the view.

"See? Aren't you glad that I suggested a patrol?" Monique dimmed herself in order to avoid blinding Heylyn.

"Yes, I am. You do have your good days." Heylyn admitted.

"Well it sure beats sitting around at home doing nothing. Kind of like taking a midnight stroll don't you think?" Monique suggested.

"I wasn't sitting around at home. I was working. On a new line for Winter." Heylyn corrected her.

"Still haven't seen Weltherwithsp eh?" Monique asked her with a sound of concern in her voice.

"No. Not a thing since Edo Castle. Its like that Dragon dropped right off the map. That's the longest span that I haven't seen it since my childhood." Heylyn explained getting comfortable on the ledge.

Monique dropped to her bottom letting her legs dangle over the edge of the tower beside her.

"Maybe Walter Wisp decided to take a vacation. You know?" Monique suggested.

"It doesn't feel right. It would have warned me. For certain. Its something else. There's so much to this mystery that its mind boggling at times." Heylyn replied.

"I'm sure with Walter being a fifteen hundred year old Dragon that time is probably a lot different to it. This is probably like a few minutes on Walter's scale." Monique suggested.

"Well its not exactly good manners to make a girl wait." Heylyn replied.

"And what's that supposed to mean? Are you hot on Walter now?" Monique joked.

"Weltherwithsp? No. Not in that way. I mean I'm attached to it. Like its a part of my psyche. Its like having a part of your mind take a vacation from you. I feel like I'm not whole. Like I'm missing something." Heylyn told her other best friend.

"Maybe its time you started looking for someone else. You can't live in heartbreak forever. Brad's been gone for almost fifteen years. I mean you're walking right into the spinster cliché, head on." Monique pried Heylyn's sense of humour once again.

"Why, because I use a sewing machine? Hardly. I've just never hit it off with anyone since Brad and I don't want to. I think we should change the topic." Heylyn responded defensively.

"Fine. Well maybe you could help me get fixed up with someone special?" Monique came back.

"I don't think that you need help in that department. Especially not from a spinster like me. Besides don't you have a boyfriend?" Heylyn asked her.

"You mean Jason? We're not an item. At least not yet. He's... I'm not sure if he's my type." Monique replied very obviously loving that the conversation was now about her.

"You mean that the groans and laughter I heard coming from your condo unit the other night weren't about affection?" Heylyn asked Monique in sheer disbelief.

"We were just having a pillow fight. Honest." Monique said with a mischievous smile on her face.

Heylyn heard the gunshots first. She immediately dropped from the ledge her wings extending from her back as she soared into flight, Monique not far behind her. They flew downwards towards the source witnessing muzzle flashes as a few more shots were fired. By the time they'd landed in Court Square, a tiny city park there were no signs of violence.

"They're gone?" Monique said as she searched area.

"Over here." Heylyn gestured to Monique.

"That's a body. He's dead though no signs of a gunshot wound on him." Monique backed away tripping over another body making her scream.

Heylyn quickly jumped over the Monique's location.

"Another one. He's dead too. They were the ones firing the guns. Its their guns." Heylyn remarked examining the other body.

"Here's body number three. I think he's dead too. He's got something on his face. Stuck to his forehead." Monique gestured to Heylyn having found a third body.

Heylyn went over to the third body examining Monique's find.

"It's a Sigil. Chinese too. These are used in Taoist magic. I can't read the symbols. They're pre-traditional Chinese symbols." Heylyn pulled her phone from her belt pouch and took a photo of the Sigil stuck to the dead man's face.

"Why not take it?" Monique asked her.

"This is a crime scene. We can't touch anything. The Police will be..." as Heylyn finished her words she was interrupted.

"Police! Don't move! Hands in the air!" an Officer on foot patrol with his gun drawn appeared from the street beside his partner.

Monique immediately transformed herself to a bright flash of light, blinding them as Heylyn took to flight. Monique followed her into the air keeping pace with her.

"Stealth back to my condo. We'll take the long way just in case we have spotters." Heylyn yelled to Monique.

"Sure thing boss! See ya there!" Monique transformed herself to a shadow and sped towards Heylyn's condo balcony on the Queen's Quay.

She waited there for another five minutes before Heylyn arrived, landing on the balcony beside her. Downtown streets were littered with Officers hunting them both.

"I hope they didn't get a good look at us." Monique broke the silence of the night air.

"That's what the masks are for." Heylyn reminded her.

"Great, so they'll be looking for two gorgeous Women in masks now. That'll make things easier on us." Monique said sarcastically as Heylyn unlocked her condo door.

As they entered the condo her land line phone from the kitchen. Heylyn dashed through the unit to her kitchen and grabbed the phone.

"Are you two alright?" it was Valerie.

"Yes. We're alright." Heylyn replied easing her mask from her face.

"You're all over the news by the way. Something about a murder. You wouldn't happen to know anything about that would you?" Valerie asked Heylyn with a similar edge of sarcasm to that just presented by Monique.

"Well I'd have to say yes, but it wasn't us. The assailant fled the scene before we got there." Heylyn told her.

"At least your alright. I just wanted to check. Its been so long since you two made the news. They seem to have a pretty good description of you not to mention that they claimed to be looking for a Chinese assailant. Male or female." Valerie advised her as she removed her boots and sat on the couch rubbing her feet.

"One of the victims had a Chinese Sigil on his face. That's how they came to that conclusion. They didn't see my face." Heylyn assured her.

"You'd better make sure Alicia knows the details too so she knows how to cover for you. I've gotta go. If you need any help, call. Give Monique a hug for me. Bye for now." Valerie said her goodbyes.

"Bye. Thanks for your concern." Heylyn turned the phone off and grabbed the television remote, turning it on.

"Valerie says hi. Sends her love." Heylyn told Monique.

"Be right back." Monique grabbed a housecoat from Heylyn's closet to wear back to her own neighbouring condo unit. A few moments later she returned having removed her Eclipse suit now just wearing the housecoat.

She sat down on the couch beside Heylyn turning her attention to the news.

"They've got a pretty good description of us. We're going to have to lay low for the time being. If we really need to suit up, we'll use our alternate suits. We'll also have to make sure we're rarely in the same place together at work, so nobody recognizes us together." Heylyn told her.

"Sure thing boss. What about the real suspect. What have we got to go on?" Monique asked her.

"Nothing for now. I'm going to have to visit Chinatown incognito. I know a specialist in Taoist Magic there. I'll try looking it up on an online translator at the Univeristy Of Beijing." Heylyn told Monique as she opened her laptop on the coffee table and subsequently the web browser.

A few moments later she was on the translation site for the Beijing Archaeological Society at the University of Beijing. She found the symbols by a basic search and pieced them together to form the pictogram she'd seen. The search engine came to life and returned the results a moment later sending chills down her spine.

The results simply said two words:

Dragon Butterfly

To be continued in The Butterfly Dragon III: Dragon Butterfly. Please note that the upcoming version of Dragon Butterfly is completely new and will use little if any material from the original first draft.

I am Brian Joseph Johns and this is

Please Show Your Support

If you'd like to give something back for my efforts in writing these free to read stories which do take considerable time and energy from my life, please show your support by donating to one or more of the following charities.

If you are a reader of The Butterfly Dragon: Heroes Of Our Own stories and books which includes this story that you are or have read please donate to one (or more) of the following if it is within your financial capacity to do so:

The Princess Margaret Foundation (Cancer Research), The Cancer Research Institute (Cancer Research), The Reeve Foundation (Research Cures For Paralysis), The ALS Society Of BC (Lou Gehrig's Disease) and Muscular Dystrophy Canada (Muscular Degeneration).

If you are a reader of A Lady's Prerogative stories and books:

The United Nations FoundationThe United Way and The Humane Society International for reasons that go well beyond saying and whose efforts are represented in one way or another through my writings. Also you might consider donating to the David Suzuki Foundation for the protection of the environment and delicate ecosystems.

If you liked this book then consider this:

"You know, science, music and writing are all alike. You just need a little heart for them and there's a something in there somewhere that can really make a difference for many."

"If I had a million dollars, I'd play music until it was all gone."

"As long as I'm your Father, you'll live in a house with a roof above your head, a room of your own and with food in the fridge."

"If any time, no matter how late it is or how stoned or drunk you think that you might be or what the weather is. If you need a ride you can always call me and no matter what the conditions, I`ll come and get you any of you and each and every one nor will I hold it against you in the future."

David Schindler (my Dad) all written to his sons and posted on the wall at home when I was younger,  Professional Composer/Arranger, Juno Co-Nominee and real life renaissance man (my biggest inspiration for Bryce Maxwell). My Mother and Father fostered my early interest in the Sciences with my Father even introducing me to String Theory and the competition between it and Quantum Physics at a young age. My parents used to wake us (my brother(s) and I) up after seeing a movie at the theatre just to tell us about it. He gave me my first OMNI magazine on Christmas as well when I was young introducing me to many ideas that would influence my life.


When I or my Brother were children, we never went without Halloween costumes and that's because not only was my Mother a Juno Nominated vocalist. She was a seamstress that had designed her own stage costumes. I kid you not, but I'd recon that Cosplay was invented or at the very least, innovated by my Mother. Before I was fourteen I'd been Spiderman, Superman, Lizardman (Spiderman's enemy in an incredible costume!) while my brother had been Luke Skywalker (complete with 1977 pre-cosplay lightsaber), Han Solo all in custom designed costumes. 

Perhaps the biggest inspiration for the character of the Butterfly Dragon and Heylyn Yates.

Inspirational fan of Jane Robert's the Seth Material, which deals heavily in channeling which is closely related to the existence and concept of Weltherwithsp, the Dragon of the Butterfly Dragon.

Rita Marie Johns (my Mother) Juno Nominated Singer, Songwriter, Seamstress/Designer all while raising two sons. My Mother introduced me to the concepts that most inspired my ideas of Heylyn Yates as well as the core of the Sanctum in A Lady's Prerogative. My Father being as intelligent as he is certainly demanded a partner that could keep up with him and surpass him at times. My Mother has both of those qualities in abundance, possessing a seeming limitless intuiting and capacity for learning. Combining her qualities with some of the most inspiring qualities of my close friends while growing up begat Heylyn Yates and the Butterfly Dragon. A Lady's Prerogative arose from the concept I had when I was at least 9 years old that most Witches are good. So I wrote stories about good Witches who helped people. Later in life the whole concept revolved around ideas that my Mother had explored and then explained to me later in life (not relating to actual Witchcraft) encompassing the philosophies of many cultures around the world.


"Life. It finds a way. It Overcomes."

Jeff Goldblum in Stephen Spielberg's and Michael Crighton's Jurassic Park (All three Bryce Alumni)


"Never has there been one possessed of complete sincerity who did not move others. Never has there been one who had not sincerity who was able to move others."



“As a woman in science, I sincerely hope that my receiving a Nobel Prize will send a message to young women everywhere that the doors are open to them and that they should follow their dreams.”

Linda B. Buck


"Our greatest glory is not in never falling, but in rising every time we fall."



"Fashion is what you're offered four times a year by designers. And style is what you choose."
Lauren Hutton


"The dress must follow the body of a woman, not the body following the shape of the dress."

Hubert de Givenchy


"In order to be irreplaceable one must always be different." 

Coco Chanel

"Another world is not only possible, she is on her way. On a quiet day I can hear her breathing."


"Clothes mean nothing until someone lives in them."

Marc Jacobs


"Women? I like them. I don't understand them, but I like them."

Sean Connery


"It's the human body that is the art. What I design is like gift wrapping for the body. I'm sure that there's as many Women and Men who enjoy taking it off of their partners as much as they enjoy putting it on themselves."

Heylyn Yates (Ai Yuanlin Ying) - Fashion Designer


"The walls of history are lined with the merits of the partnership between Women and between Men. Cleopatra and Marc Antony. Penelope and Odysseus. Josephine and Napoleon. Shah Jahan and Mumtaz Mahal. Marie Curie and Pierre Curie. Queen Victoria and Prince Albert. Amelia Earhart and George Putnam. Gracie Allen and George Burns. Gertrude Stein and Alice B. Toklas. George Tokei and Brad Altman. They're all living proof of it. So let's get something going here."

Professor Bryce Maxwell - Introduction of his lecture: Great Partnerships In Science And History


“The road to health is paved with good intestines!”

Sherry A. Rogers


"You should never let your fears prevent you from doing what you know is right."

Aung San Suu Kyi


"I take tips from Canada on a lot of things."

Barrack Obama


"I'd hate to be the peer of the scientist who'd have supported limiting the procreation rights of Mr. Hawking's mother." 

Professor Bryce Maxwell - On eugenics


"Let's not just do business. Let's do business the right way: responsibly."

Walton Norler - CEO Tynan And Associates


"If a caterpillar can undergo a metamorphosis at the cellular level to become a completely different creature; a butterfly, then science with dedication can overcome cancer and most if not all disease."

Doctor Alicia Westin


The Butterfly Dragon is a series of books and stories about Alicia Westin, Heylyn Yates, Valerie Aspen, Monique Defleur and Walton Norler.

Alicia Westin is a Quantum Biologist and Biochemical Engineer whose research work in her field results in the discovery of a miracle cure for many degenerative diseases and even Cancer itself. Her first batch of the initial formula gives her super powers.

Later when it is discovered the same formula is stolen by a corporate spy and traitor, she and her friends team up to investigate and hunt down the thieves of this formula with the help of many Women and Men.

There is much more to their opening story than just this as the book is very thematic taking on issues such as bullying, self confidence and self esteem, perseverance, overcoming obstacles and empowering one's self through their determination and their friends. For more information see the rest of this blog.

Copyright © 2016 Brian Joseph Johns

It is written by Brian Joseph Johns from 200 Sherbourne Street in apartment 701 in Toronto, Ontario, Canada.

Please Direct All Business Inquiries To:
Brian Joseph Johns
200 Sherbourne Street Apt 701
Toronto, Ontario
Canada M5A 3Z5

416-203-0928 (Landline)

Credits And Gratitude

I'll try to include as much descriptive artwork or renderings of the scenes depicted throughout the story.

The story will be produced in several installments.

I`d like to thank Ai MeiWilmap's Digital CreationsGhastly and Kozaburo for their contribution to the art work here as well as Daz 3DNewtek's Lightwave 3D for the 3D modeling and animation software.

I'd like to thank Adobe for Photoshop and Google Blogger for the web space which is perfect for projects of this nature which will be expanding onto its own server over the next few months.

Thanks of course to Microsoft for Windows, which has been my operating system of preference for many years. I'd like to thank Apple Inc. for iTunes and the Mac I'll get sometime in the next few years (on sale).

I'd also like to thank Bruce Richardson, Phil Thomson and Dylan McIsaac of Videolink Inc, Toronto's official Newtek Dealer for Lightwave 3D, Tricaster and Non-Linear Video Editing and VFX Suites. I'd also like very much to thank Lillian Fries and Elaine Richardson.

Other commercial artists whose work appears here: Dogz and Inlite Studio.

The inspirations for my characters are numerous but I'll thank a few here: Richard Feynman, Leonard Susskind, Brian Green, Michio Kaku, Dr. Chien-Shiung Wu, Dr. Rosalind Franklin, Dr. Elizabeth Blackburn, Niels Bohr, Dr. Deepak Chopra, Carl Sagan and Anne Druyan, TVO and PBSNational Geographic and my family and friends. After all, I likely wouldn't be half as interested in what I am without many of them. Also I'd very much like to thank the creative members of the Youtube ASMR community.

Finally I'd like to thank the world traditional and modern Martial Arts community for making characters like Ai Yuanlin Ying (Heylyn Yates) possible. After all, she bares the namesake of the story for she's the Butterfly Dragon. I'd like to see a world where we all sprout the wings of true confidence, integrity, compassion and gratitude.

I'd also like to thank the inspirations in my life, both those that I've known personally and those who've inspired me from afar. May the years ahead of you be far better than the years behind you.

Most of all I'd like to thank my Parents. The people who wrote me.

Author's Note: Give credit where credit is due.

Octave Bar Bangkok, Thailand and Marriott are trademarks of Marriott Hospitality Inc.

The Song "Nurse, You Healed My Heart" is by Bryce Maxwell, Wade Sunny and Brian Joseph Johns and dedicated to Nurses around the world.

IBM® is a registered trademark of International Business Machines.

Bibliography and Videography

This is the bibliography section. Many of the entries here provided some insight or explain the principles that I'd already researched many years ago (from the age of fourteen) when I'd began questioning the nature of existence. In publishing these entries I am not saying that I concur or that I don't concur with all of the beliefs discussed here but they do show up in one form or another within the context of this story. My beliefs are my own as are yours. The preceding story merely presents a point of view for consideration which is all that we can really ask of any art form. Here are some sources of information with regard to the topics discussed and some (not all) are sources of information that I've used in learning about these topics.

As far as Quantum Mechanics is concerned, it combines two of the most attractive qualities of any field of study in the form of mathematics and philosophy into the concept of an abstraction to describe reality both objectively and subjectively. To describe something as much by what it is not as what it is and this is certainly the case of with Quantum Mechanics and String Theory, which both abstract matter as both infinite points and probabilities simultaneously. Somehow groping with the fact that for the most part what we call solid reality is in fact mostly empty space and energy which corresponds at higher scales to solid matter. Often for theorists looking for real world practical applications of Quantum Mechanics, they've seen this nature as a mixed benefit/bane if you will. It draws many to the proverbial flame, some seeking a determinate set of answers while others are drawn to this abstract nature that often finds itself mixed with mysticism, a quality that many physicists would rather avoid. Perhaps the most intriguing of physicists have managed to maintain the determinate mathematical qualities of Quantum Mechanics while building upon the abstract nature of reality and its relationship as a bridge between the worlds of objectivism and subjectivism. A difficult line for anyone to walk especially in a world that wants us to be one or the other. Perhaps that is what is the way. Not just to be as a result of the fact that you can think, but to think as a result of the fact that you are. Your thoughts on this matter are what really counts for it does affect how you perceive the world around you and as such, has an effect upon the determination of reality itself as per the collapse of the wave function. That effect results from the observer and according to experimentation to isolate and discern the nature of observation selection effects in Quantum Mechanics, the observer does have an effect upon what they observe that is not already entangled with another observer. The question is does observation create or affect entanglement and if not, how do two particles become entangled?

I remember reading about Quantum Physics and it's spiritual offspring, String Theory in the now defunct OMNI magazine as a youth as far back as 1981. Perhaps one of the most important things that I and my friend Scott Maple used to read as growing boys as it offered as much science speculation as it did hard facts and great articles coming from some of the most prolific scientists and writers of our time. OMNI's was the science publication renaissance of my time long before the net was popular. At that point it was mostly a text based mail (email) and network file system (ftp and archie for search) for the Military and Academics. This was certainly the future that was to come. It is a shame that the mystery and wonder that magazine had raised has still to this day never been filled though there are certainly some contenders mixing wonderful cover art with science and speculation. I'm sure it spawned the X-Files generation as much as it was following in the footsteps of Isaac Asimov, Harlan Ellison, Robert A. Heinlein, Spider Robinson, Steven King (yes his short stories appeared in Omni) and Stanley Kubrick while inspiring the footsteps of the Wachowski Brothers and many great writers, philosophers and scientists alike.

Holistic Healing
National Geographic December 2016 Issue Print Edition

Ancient History
Ancient History Of Greece - Wikipedia
Hippocrates - Wikipedia
Map Of Ancient Greece

Ayurveda And Near Eastern (India, Malaysia, Sri Lanka, Bangladesh) Philosophies
Ayurveda - Art of Being
Ancient Wisdom In Modern Times - Deepak Chopra and Sadhguru, moderated by Ms. Chandrika Tandon

Recombinational repair of double stranded breaks

Cancer Treatment
Immunotherapy Treatment - Princess Margaret Cancer Foundation

Medical Treatment And Practice - World Wide
World Health Organization - Web site
United Nations - Web site
Unicef - Web site
Doctors Without Borders - Web site
Medical Support in Laos - Koby Shimada c/o YouTube
Lao NEWS on LNTV - LNTV English News

Motivational Doc - The best self help videos on the internet as prescribed by Dr. Alan Mandell, D.C. A source I've turned to often finding some of the most helpful immediate treatments and information regarding medicine and self help.

Copenhagen Principle - Wikipedia
Many Worlds Of The Quantum Universe - PBS Space Time YouTube
Wave - Particle Duality Of Matter - MIT Open Courseware YouTube Channel
This Is A Butterfly - Smarter Every Day YouTube Channel
D-Wave - Company that designs and builds the first and most powerful Quantum Computers
Nick Bostrom - Must see and read. I've been reading Mr. Bostrom's work since 2000.
VSauce - YouTube Channel and personal favorite
Science Learning Hub - Titanium Extraction And Applications

Toronto Talent
Agnes Zee

Traditional Chinese Medicine

Ontario College Of TCM

Yin Yang House - A Resource For Accupuncture

China Highlights - Chinese Medical Cuisine/Food Therapy

The Lotus Institute - A training and information resource for many different approaches to treatment encompassing a widely East Asian regimen of medical treatments on its Youtube presence.

Traditional Martial Arts

Aikido Tendokai

Aikido is often labeled as a martial art without modern application in the ever popular world of MMA. A statement which I find to be ignorant if not misleading though we will take it in a constructive context for the purposes of this paragraph about Aikido. I would also like to add that I am in no way trying to sell myself as being a martial arts or wizard, having had marginal training myself in four different martial arts and having let my physique take second place to my cerebellum in recent years and since turning fifty in November though I haven't graduated to becoming an armchair martial artist (yet). I am speaking from the point of view of a student who has tried a few different martial arts from the age of nine forward never really perfecting any to the point of expertise. What I have to say here about Aikido could easily be applied to any martial arts one would find in China, Vietnam, India, Malaysia, Indonesia and Korea as much as it would to those found in Japan and even the European dark ages. It applies as much to Shaolin Kung Fu as it does to Tae Kwon Do, Krav Maga and Kali.

As a part-time practitioner and former student of Aikido I have developed an (informed) opinion about it's application and its instruction and looked into its history in order to put these statements into perpective.

Aiki-jutsu as it was known during the Feudal Era of Japan was one of several forms of martial arts that made up the original Bujutsu and curriculum under which the original Samurai were trained. Many were in the training of the use of weapons with others focusing on unarmed combat. Some worked better while wearing armour while others were better applied without. Some schools were very applicable to very specific tactics to deal with situations often faced during battle, such as the effective use of pole arms during a Cavalry charge while others were geared to one on one combat and effectively dispatching your opponent as quickly as possible so as to be able to move onto the next opponent during battle.

Remember that each of these forms and techniques were developed not only by practice in a Dojo perhaps as part of Kumite or open sparring, but in warfare where the practitioner's life was at stake. So the better technique had a tendency to survive and get taught to the next generation of students and so on. That means that if it exists as a school today, that it does because its instructors lived long enough to pass it on to students who also survived and started their own schools. Those who didn't survive, the techniques and the teachings of their teachers were lost to annals of time most often on the battlefield. Remember that these schools were tested through approximately five hundred (500) years of warfare. Mixed Martial Arts has been around for all of but the blink of an eye in comparison and there are restrictions in the arena that prevent fatalities, unlike a battlefield in 1300 AD Japan or any time during the Three Kingdoms era in China, for example where in an average day one could find themselves easily disemboweled if not properly trained and ready in one of these schools of combat training.

Each of these martial arts were part of a thorough curriculum taught to each Samurai who were required to be experts in nearly each of them and masters in one or more of them. So for us to single out one of these martial arts 900 years after the beginning of the Feudal Era of Japan and to claim it to be useless is somewhat of an ignorant statement as its very existence is proof enough of its utility in battlefield warfare against armed and unarmed opponents.

Even further, to once again single one of these martial arts out as being useless in a combat situation or for anything else other than exercise is equally ignorant. That is literally kicking any Samurai that has existed in their well armoured groin. Consider that the Japanese during the Feudal Era considered a warrior to be like constructing a table. Tables need three or more legs to be most effective. Each of the original Bujutsu is in fact a leg on this table, and if you were to remove one leg because of its perceived ineffectiveness, you would in fact no longer have the Bujutsu as much as you'd no longer have a table. With many schools and techniques taught in the original Bujutsu warriors of that era in Japan were incredibly effective and well rounded combatants with mastery in two or three key areas. That is compounded by the fact that the most effective schools as part of the training survived. They didn't just survive. They survived almost 600 years of battlefield warfare without the benefit of modern medicine.

So I ask that when you consider whether Aikido is useful or not in a given situation, to take these facts into consideration though remember that Aikido or Aiki-jutsu is one of the legs of the table, not the whole table. This same attitude could apply to any school of martial arts in existence today, not just those taught in Japan though the Japanese martial arts are certainly amongst the most tried and tested in history. For anyone training there is more to martial arts than just learning how to smite an opponent and this is the core essence of training in the first place. You will as a prospective student of Aikido come away from the experience with confidence, skill, experience, health and a difference in attitude perhaps in how best to deal with conflict in the first place. Perhaps that is what makes a true warrior in the first place.

Toronto Shaolin Temple

World Shotokan Karate

Eagle Tae Kwon Do

Kennedy Tactical Concepts

Traditional Korean Medicine

Wikipedia - Korean Traditional Medicine

National Museum Of Korea (Reference)
National Museum Of Korea:Life In Korea by Kara Ritchhart

Miss Mina - YouTube East Asia travel vblog. Excellent vblog.

Opening Tao
Dancing Wu Li Masters - Gary Zukav (A book mixing Taoist principles with the Copenhagen interpretation of Quantum Mechanics)

History And Knowledge
The CIA World Fact Book
The Summons Of The Soul and Songs Of The South
Curiosity Stream (A great source of knowledge and education, it's the Netflix of Science!)
Beyond Science - A great science news and speculation magazine and channel very much in the spirit of OMNI magazine. Very interesting information filled bite sized posts just about every day.

None of the points of view presented in this story represent in any way any other real world entity that is mentioned in the story or outside of it.

Copyright © 2016, 2017 Brian Joseph Johns