The Butterfly Dragon II: What Different Eyes See - Act XII - Diplomacy (with corresponding artwork)

 

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 went 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 he 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.


Mr. Sheng
"It looks like the action has already started in our absence. 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. This situation is quickly getting out of hand." Mr. Sheng advised Norler.


"Have they opened fire? 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 need 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 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 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 speak to Special Agent Markus. They'll want to be brought up to date. I'll see if they can spare any manpower to assist the Police. Who are we looking for? Do you have any images? What about the names? Do you have a list yet? Warrants?" Constable Danton inquired.


"We're working on it. This is a delicate matter that requires us to sidestep the regular diplomatic channels seeing as it involves the direct blackmail of a politician. We don't want to alert them that we're onto them prematurely. I'll contact you with that information as soon as I have it." Mr. Sheng finished.


"Right then. I'm on your requests. Contact me on this line if there's any updates." 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: the SY349A. She admitted to herself that she'd actually never tried a costume change in the wild. She imagined that it was probably the stuff of fantasy for many fanboys of Women heroes, though the reality of an impromptu change was actually much more clumsy and whimsical. An argument to which she was clearly giving credence as she quickly tried to don her civilian garments.


She'd gained an 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 before they were thrust back into the show, and here she was, a seasoned fashion designer/superhero trying to change outfits in the rough of a garden. Not just any garden. The Japanese Imperial Garden within which she'd landed after she'd been mistaken by the public as Mothra thanks to her aetherial Butterfly wings. She struggled with her pants, hopping on one leg for a moment 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.


"Not quite as slick as Wonder Woman or Black Widow, but not bad all considered." she remarked playfully as she made her way to the path and in the direction of the entrance to 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 often Doctor Briggs who'd 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 debates, especially in bed. It had led to many romantic evenings between the two and she could very easily keep pace with him. His former coed football coach and wife, Wendy was a life long friend and equal with whom he could discuss even the most complex and convoluted of subjects. Her health conscious intuitive and nurturing nature was a perfect match for Bryce's charm and intellect. At the hotel, Bryce had fallen asleep with her over the phone. She woke up in North American and he in his hotel room in Tokyo, each with their cellular phones on the bed beside them and fully in need of a charge. They'd discussed the topic of Royalty and tradition, each having somewhat different points of view on the subject in much the same way that he and Doctor Briggs had.


"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 construct it, built by soldiers and engineers wearing armour we don't even understand and whose colours we don't fully comprehend." Doctor Briggs said as he attempted to cover Zheng protectively.


"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?" posed Doctor Briggs.


"Dammit! I thought we were past the stage of you proving your masculine intent to protect me, Doctor." Zheng responded.


"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.


Doctor Briggs hand found her back and rubbed her abdomen affectionately and with less overt protectiveness.


"That's better." Zheng calmed with his touch.


Bryce smiled in amusement.


"You know, I've always secretly wished that every world conflict could be resolved the same way." Bryce responded.


"What conflict? We're here cowering from a fictitious creature from the Japanese cinema era of Toho film." Katya interjected.

Katya And Victor Piotr

"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 or I'd say that we have a butterfly in our midst:


Spread wide and far.
The garden petals found.
The Butterfly perched."


Professor Bryce Maxwell

Bryce spoke the words of a haiku he recalled as Heylyn dashed along the path towards the delegation.


The Imperial guards immediately challenged her, beckoning her to raise her arms.


"She's with us, she was separated from us a short time ago before the attack!" Valerie exclaimed.


"Same with me! I got lost!" Monique said running as she approached from the other direction.


The Imperial guards split into two teams, one targeting Heylyn and the other targeting Monique.


"Don't shoot! They're both with us!" Valerie pleaded with the guards.


The Imperial guards lowered their weapons and allowed Heylyn and Monique access to the delegation.


"Am I glad to see you!" Monique smiled giving Heylyn a quick hug.


"Where's Alicia?" Heylyn asked Valerie.


Just as she finished asking the question, Valerie's smart phone came to life. She retrieved it from her purse checking the screen as she answered.


"It's Alicia!" Valerie replied to Heylyn, quickly answering her phone.


"I'm here with your two friends. You know the ones. Where are you!!? " Valerie asked urgently as Heylyn listened in with her heightened senses.


"Glad to hear our two friends are safe. I'm nearby. There appears to be a private military force. They're not wearing any insignias. I'm not sure who they are, but they've setup a blockade to the grounds and the Imperial Palace. Nobody is getting in. Nobody is getting out. The streets are blocked by a large Tokyo Police task force." Alicia advised Valerie.


"We're all under the protection of the Japanese Imperial Guard. We were instructed by the guards not to divulge any tactical information over the phone. We're about a three to five minute sprint from the main gate and bridge. What kind of forces do they have?" Valerie was careful not to reveal their location.


"All of them... I think. There's about a hundred armed men and tanks too. Big ones. Fifteen of them and a few other service vehicles. They look like troop carriers but they've got some big guns on the top. Wait... one of the guns is lining up in the direction of the palace! Get to cover!" Alicia blared into her phone as the automatic grenade launcher began to fire a volley.


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 two billion 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 a 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 speaking though never against themselves. 


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 five 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 him just as his private security force was also under investigation by the United Nations Security Council.


"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.


"Three hundred and fifty million." the Command in Chief responded.


"Will that buy enough support personnel and equipment?" asked Mr. Steadman calmly.


"More than enough. For that price we'll provide ninety-six more armed men and two more attack choppers. We'll need this for tactical support upon pulling out of the region." the Commander In Chief assured Mr. Steadman.

The "New" George Steadman


"Then do it. We'll recoup the cost during our stock purchase. I'll even make our biggest investor pay for it himself." Mr. Steadman said closing his briefcase.


"Very well Sir. The assault on the Imperial Palace is commencing as we speak. Your jet is fueled and awaiting departure at Tokyo International." the Commander In Chief advised Mr. Steadman.



"I'm leaving now. If there are any problems, keep me informed directly. This is the key moment in our entire plan." Mr. Steadman said stepping out of his hotel room and hanging up the phone.


He then retrieved another smart phone from his briefcase. A phone he'd only ever use to speak with one person. He unlocked the phone and hit the speed dial. A moment later the phone was answered by man who spoke firmly.


"It's Steadman. We're going to need an increase in our line of credit." Steadman explained to the man on the other end of the phone.


"Then I guess you'll have it, won't you with so much at stake?" the man replied.


Barrage


"Everyone take cover and keep your heads down!" yelled Valerie as the barrage of grenades impacted.


There was no explosion accompanying their impact but rather, a slight popping noise and then hissing as each of the forty grenades that pocked the garden around them impacted. Each releasing an expanding gas cloud.


The Imperial guards had managed to don their masks just as the barrage around them had arrived. Unfortunately the members of the delegation were not so lucky.


Left to right: Doctor Stephen Briggs and Zheng Ni Wong

Doctor Briggs quickly ripped his jacket off, throwing it over Zheng's head and face.


"Cover your eyes and try not to breathe!" he yelled as the cloud enveloped them.


Victor had done the same thing with Katya and they shared the makeshift mask. Bryce began coughing profusely, struggling to get cover his face with his jacket.


Doctor Tunagi, Lana and Max had huddled together, using a blanket that Lana had brought to cover their heads.


Monique immediately transformed into a light form, rendering her immune to the gas. Valerie fell to the ground coughing profusely as she gasped for air.


Heylyn's wings emerged from her back and began flapping furiously as she attempted to disperse the gas.


The Imperial guards immediately took defense upon Heylyn's revelation of her true identity and leveled their guns at her.

Monique Defleur aka Eclipse

"Don't shoot! We're on your side!" Monique yelled to them as they paused in confusion.


"We're here to protect them and you just like you're protecting us!" Monique explained as Heylyn's wings picked up pace.


The gaseous air began to thin as Heylyn started coughing. Her wings slowed before she fell to the ground, unable to see or breath as her nose and eyes stung. Her lungs felt as if they were on fire and she gasped for air as the others did.


Monique could only watch as the situation unfolded.


One of the guards approached Heylyn, handing her his mask and placing it upon her face. She gasped the clean and filtered air of the mask, quickly rejuvenating due to her heightened abilities as the guard fell to the ground gasping for air.


Heylyn Yates aka Ai Yuanlin Ying aka Butterfly Dragon

Heylyn immediately took to the air, using her tremendous wings to fan the gaseous cloud away from the delegation, guards and the palace out to the pond where it could do no harm.


...


Alicia pocketed her phone and immediately leapt into action. She emerged from the darkness running at full tilt for the back row of Armoured Personnel Carriers, jumping up and onto the one that had just fired. She clasped the body grenade launcher, which was mounted to an automated turret. She wrenched with all of her might ripping it from the turret and its housing. As she did, several of the armed men fired upon her. 


Alicia Westin aka Night Style
She quickly cartwheeled off the top of the APC, leaping to the next one, dodging gunfire as she did. She found purchase of its grenade launcher and did the same thing, tearing it from its turret. She then threw it at the men firing upon her as a round impacted her body from behind. She fell flat on the top of the APC, laying low to avoid any incoming fire. Her shoulder, throbbed in pain as her body began healing.


"I don't think that I can take more than a few of those..." she said to herself as sparked flew from the impacting rounds against the APC's armour.


As she kept herself flat on top of the APC, she noticed an exposed bar code on the top of the APC. As the gunfire continued, she pulled her phone from her belt and scanned the barcode. Her phone's web browser opened to the service repair center for Future Tangent Industries military division. She realized that these were FTI's own private military force. She quickly took several pictures of the barcode so that she'd have the evidence they'd later need in court. She quickly forwarded it to Valerie's and Norler's phone.


...


Norler's phone rang as their jet approached Honshu. He unlocked it, revealing a message that had been sent by Alicia. 


"in battle... luv u... leesha"


The message contained a picture, which he quickly opened.


Upon seeing the barcode, he passed his phone to Mr. Sheng.


Mr. Sheng retrieved his own phone, scanning the barcode image on Norler's, seeing that it opened up a web browser to Future Tangent Industries Military Division web site.


"It would seem that the forces being employed to attack the Imperial Palace are using FTI's own hardware. According to our intelligence, they have no global customers other than their own security firm. Therefore, the force attacking the Palace is Future Tangent Industries' own security force." Mr. Sheng shared with Norler.


"Aren't they an independent company of Future Tangent Industries? FTI tried to sell their military division a decade ago?" Norler confirmed with Sheng.


"It was losing money, but a private investor began funding them eight years ago and using them as soldiers of fortune. They've been involved in a number of regional conflicts both locally and in the Middle East." Mr. Sheng began.


"Mercenaries? Wouldn't something like that generate a lot of bad press for a company like FTI? I mean considering they were a big player in the consumer and industrial equipment market, their name is frequently used in television mass marketing. Being connected to a private military contractor isn't exactly the kind of press they'd want. Especially with them trying to take over the Asian medical market." Norler reasoned.


"Their Private Military Corporation reincorporates under a new name for every one of their contracts in order to avert legal issues with regard to the United Nations and the World Court. That's how they've been able to work both sides of conflicts, including Syria. They've been the subject of an investigation by the United Nations security council for years. However, they've always managed to avert any charges. They must have very powerful allies somewhere pulling strings to protect them." Mr. Sheng alluded.


"This sounds a little too familiar..." Norler said, thinking carefully about the implications.


"We now have important evidence to pursue this matter legally and to bring them to justice. They certainly know that. Whoever is behind this is readying themselves to make an exit before they can be brought to justice. You must always know your enemy and certainly know yourself. In achieving both of those objectives, you'll win every war." Mr. Sheng suggested to Norler.


"The question is do we really know our enemy?" Norler asked Mr. Sheng.


"We are about to find out." Mr. Sheng answered as he picked up his phone and made a call.


"We'll be landing in five minutes. Inform the Japanese Defense Force and have the rest of the UN Security Force on stand by. See you soon." Mr. Sheng spoke and then hung up.



"You'll be accompanying a detachment of the Chinese, South Korean, Taiwanese, Japanese, Canadian, British, Australian and American Armed Forces stationed in Japan. They're going to help you secure the Imperial Palace and protect the delegation. They're a smaller force than the Future Tangent security forces, but they're better equipped and trained. I'll be accompanied by the Combined Intelligence Unit of the Asian Alliance. You've already met some of them. In each delegation you met with, there was a CIU Agent. We've been investigating this for some time. We're going to make a few arrests. Assuming we're successful and make it through the night, we'll see each other again under better circumstances. This war is about to begin..." Mr. Sheng advised Norler.


Norler quickly typed a reply to Alicia's message.


"luv u always... miss u all... here come the cavalry..."


To be continued...


Brian Joseph Johns

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