Posted on Wed Feb 14th, 2018 @ 12:57am by Category V: Supervillain Frederick Hollywood
The Villain's Spire
Timeline: The Year of the Apocalypse
It was time to settle on a face that Frederick Hollywood could show the world at large. It could never hurt to have a large multinational corporation at one's disposal either. So Hollywood went about the process of gobbling up a large portion of shares in Sato Corp., enough to get him a decent amount of voting shares. He had made sure to shmooze many of the higher ups, and even offer them large sums of money for their holdings.
The choice in companies was not a coincidence. He had heard the founder was a descendant of his master. The current chairman was Tozo Sato, with whom he had a been having a few dealings after a few lunches here and there and a tour of the robotics facilities. Mostly industrial, but low key, was just what Fred was looking for.
A young woman dressed as a geisha brought by some warm sake in small eggshell cups and a tokkuri or flask. Both had the Sato family crest on them. Frederick thanked her in earnest, which garnered him some strange looks from the other board members, but he didn’t care. Being nice and making people smile was something he lived for. In his mind, if this made them ill at ease, whose fault was that? This meeting had already gone well beyond what he had expected. These guys seemed to argue about everything and describe the most worthless facts in even greater detail than the ones that meant something. He had a mind to back step and blow the building up. Thankfully, when the woman served Tozo, she whispered something in his ear. Tozo excused himself, calling the meeting to a close until next quarter.
This should have been the end of Hollywood’s involvement in Sato Corp. Just a way for him to have some high end civilian credentials. It should have also been a great way for him to launder money and equipment.
Suddenly there was a scream from the hallway. Frederick was first out the door, followed shortly by several other councilmen to see what the fuss was about. The serving woman stood in the hallway pointing into one of the rooms with a looks of sheer terror on her face. “Tozo’s dead!”
The madman was the first to approach the room. Inside was like something out of a Rob Zombie flick. Blood was sprayed all over the walls. What he could only assume was Tozo’s headless body sitting naked on a sauna bench was partially slumped over, still pouring its life's blood down the drain. It was clear to Fred that the blood on the walls was staged. In fact, there was a message that chilled him to the bone. “Miko”.
“Did you know the deceased Tozo Sato personally?” The old heavy set policeman spat. Clearly his blood pressure had seen better days. His blazer was tossed over a crappy aluminum chair. His tie was half undone. His chubby fingers fondled for another cigarette.
Lorde shook his head, pushing his blonde locks out of his hazel eyes. He was only putting up with the questions to keep up the ruse. “I couldn’t say that.” As he answered, it hit him he could have sounded a bit more sincere.
“But, but, we have evidence that you and Tozo have been seen dining together less than a week prior to this incident.” Harada’s meaty hands pounded the desk in front of Frederick, making the madman’s tea bounce up a bit and sloshing some out of the cup. After taking another long drag, he yelled, “Is this true?”
The large blonde man picked up his cup and took a sip. “I think you will also find that I have made several transactions through the Sato Corporation recently. I was simply getting to know a bit about the company I was investing in.”
Just then a familiar face came bursting into the interrogation room. It was the fellow he sat next to in the meeting room. He hadn’t even caught his name. The young man pulled the officer to the side and whispered to him at length. Harada didn’t take whatever he was told well. “They can have my badge if this is how things are going to be.”
That did give Lorde pause. He didn’t want to be the reason this poor guy quit his job. Maybe he could check up on him later. One thing was clear to Fred. Whatever that little guy had said to the cop was a doozy.
In the silver company car, Nikki explained what was going on to Lorde. “You are now the head of Sato Corp. As the largest shareholder and a renowned CEO from China, it was decided that something needed to be done quickly to fill Tozo Sato’s seat on the council.” The young man spoke as though he was reading from some invisible cue card.
Lorde took a deep breath and pulled out a black clove cigarette before speaking. “I hope this is okay. It's been quite a day, you understand. Not something someone like me normally has to deal with. Also, it makes my partnership with Sato Corp. far less silent then I had originally intended.”
“Not to worry, Mister Hollywood. We will make sure your duties are tailored to your needs. In fact, we have a few candidates for assistants lined up.” Nikki’s eyes never left the road.
This piqued Lorde’s interest. He opened his third eye and looked the man over. At first, there was something so subtle about the guy that he couldn’t put his finger on it. So he slowed things down and dug a bit deeper. “You’re a Sato, aren't you?” the large man said with a smile.
The young man swerved the Toyota Camry, almost veering into oncoming traffic. “How do you know that? No one is supposed to know that. I am what you call a bastard, and my mother abandoned me shortly after I was born.” Scared out of his mind, his words still came out measured, like someone talking at a trial.
“Let’s just say you remind me of someone I used to know, Nick. Can I call you Nick?” Lorde lit his smoke, figuring young Nikki was plenty distracted by now.
The lawyer gave him a strange look. In his mind, it was something Americans must be big on. “Sure. Can I ask who I remind you of?”
Lorde nodded. “Of course. Someone I trained with at the Tenshin Shōden Katori Shintō-ryū. Did you ever train there?”
“Yes, I have.” Nikki also knew no white man had ever trained in the secret dojo that he had ever heard of.
“Besides, I think you might give me what the young people call cred. As in, you might be a great buffer between me and the hard liners in case I need to get something done in this town.”
The dark haired man nodded. “Yes, I could see that.” Besides, this could also push him deeper into Sato Corp. himself, perhaps one day gaining enough honor to reveal who his father was. “As the main office is closed for the night, I am going to take you to Tozo’s place, which will be yours to stay at as long as you are in town. After all, you do own most of it.”
“Nice!” Lorde couldn’t help but chuckle a but. “Any idea who might have it out for your old boss like that?”
Nikki shook his head. “Nothing concrete, but he did have a lot of enemies. It could have even been a member of the Yakuza.”
“He owe money to them, or do something to piss them off recently?” Although he might guess at what the young lawyer meant, he wanted to know for sure.
“No, nothing like that, but nothing happens in this town without them, unless it falls beneath their notice.” Of course, Sato had borrowed money, but he had made sure through the years the payments had been made on time.
“Any new business ventures? Like something large enough, dangerous, or maybe revolutionary enough to garner that kind of interested party?” Lorde studied the man more carefully.
Nikki dropped his mile long stare and took a breath. “In the interest of being your assistant, I must say yes. One in particular comes to mind.”
Frederick grew a little impatient. “And?”
The young man started to sweat a bit. “It is an AI project that will rival the Ultron project, both on a military and civilian level.”
Hollywood paused for a moment taking a long drag. “Now that, my boy, is something worth lopping someone's head off for.” After rolling down the window of the sedan, Lorde took another drag off of the smoke and blew it out of the window. “So I might need some information on that project and ones relating to it, you understand.” It wasn’t a question, nor was it meant to be. He needed to know just how far Sato had gotten with this. Did he make promises he couldn’t keep? Or worse yet, was he about to release some kind of mechanical monster on the world? Worse still, maybe some other interest decided they wanted the tech for themselves.
Nikki pulled up in front of a massive high rise. “Well, sir, you are on the penthouse floor.”
“Not coming up, huh?” Frederick smiled, trying to put the man at ease.
Quite the contrary, the young man had never even seen Westerners smile quite that much, and he wondered if this Hollywood was a bit unhinged. “No, no, sir. Big day tomorrow. Let me know when you need a ride.”
Lorde tapped the top of the would-be mid-sized car. “Hey, you have a good night Nick. I might have a nightcap or two before turning in.” Then, as though suddenly remembering something important, “Can you find me a really well made katana and wakizashi?”
“Yes, sir, I can.” Inwardly, Nikki sighed, thinking that his night just got way longer.