Kent hunched over the workbench and put the last touches on the device held in place by the clamps. Using special pliers of his own creation, he pressed the top back on the slim, metallic device and sealed it together. From there he spit out the SCUBA respirator and removed the clothespin from his nose. With the device closed up, breathing in the chemical explosive that lined this device was impossible.
“There. All complete. That Bruce guy wants these things tomorrow.”
Standing from the stool, Kent stretched and worked the kinks out of his spine. He groaned a contented sound as he relaxed into his normal posture. He added the last item of three dozen to the box of odd-shaped items at his feet. Kent then moved himself and the full container to the delivery table and taped it shut. He also made sure the mailing address was visible. New York wasn’t that far away, so it should arrive on time, he thought.
“Where is Greg?” This question fell on emptiness as he looked around for his son, who was supposed to be his assistant.
Kent went down the hall, checking various storage rooms. It was the third room that gave him the clue he needed. There was an open slot in the weapons rack in a personal storage room. This could spell trouble for Kent if the weapon was broken. A custom-fitted and weighted bow – not to mention colored in patented dark green – was not a toy.
Kent marched down the hall and flung the large double doors on the far wall open. Inside the expansive experimentation room, he saw Greg running across the floor shooting arrows from the missing bow. The target was a training dummy used for targeting and damage assessment. As Greg approached his target, he slung the bow across his back and pulled two red billy clubs from the belt at his waist and pummeled the mannequin. After a few solid, but poorly executed hits, Greg jumped back and pointed a hand at his target.
This was when he noticed the bracer on Greg’s wrist. It spit out several darts and other projectiles each one going wide of the intended target. From here Greg somersaulted towards a pile of martial art weapons. These weapons had precise measurements that put them out of use for the average human. There were two katana swords, a set of sai, a bo staff, and two pair of nunchaku. The four reptilian looking brothers that always wore backpacks requested these designs.
“GREG!” Kent bellowed as he darted down the stairs towards the boy. “What have I told you about using we make? They are not toys, no matter how much you might want them to be.”
Greg halted in mid action. He dropped a sword and a nunchaku to the ground, causing Kent to wince. Turning, Kent made out the wrap around visor with a single, blood-red line running the length of it.
“Dad, I can explain,” Greg said, as his father reached for him. Greg looked at the pile of equipment and weapons at his feet, the ones attached to his belt, and the box closest to the wall. “OK, I can’t explain. But there is no way these people will notice anything missing. They have lockers and storage rooms full of them.”
“That is not the point, son.” Kent reached forward and clamped a hand on Greg’s shoulder. “They pay us for our work. Not to mention for their anonymity. On top of that, they pay us for our workmanship. They depend on these items to not only save their lives, but the lives of others.”
“Yeah, I get it.” Greg shook his head as he stared at his feet. “It’s just so cool to use their equipment.”
“I know,” Kent grinned. “Trust me. Sometimes I want to get in the floating wheelchair I made for that gentleman who runs a school in New York. And just imagine how cool it would be to fly around a transparent plane.”
“That would be cool.”
“Yes. It would. But we can’t and you know that.”
“Besides.” Kent bent to pick up a piece of equipment. “You can make your own equipment. Just use their ideas and tweak it. You could make it better or even less powerful. Our clients can be particular.”
“I know that. But tweaking, or even copying, isn’t the same.” Greg mimicked his father and gathered the items he acquired. “I mean, sure we can say we made those items. Especially when we see them in the news. But we don’t do the things they do.”
“Exactly. We are meant to be behind the scenes. Now let’s get this stuff picked up and stored away.”
Kent did his best to make sure that each item was undamaged. If there were any, he would have to fix it or make a new one. Greg already volunteered to reload the bracer and rebuild the arrows he shot.
After each item was stored and Greg started on the reloading process, a chime sounded. Kent fished the data pad out of his work vest and looked at the image on it. He saw a man, possibly late thirties, standing at his office door staring at the camera. The man glanced momentarily at the expensive watch on his wrist then shifted his feet.
Kent tapped an icon on the pad as he walked to the customer’s entrance.
“What do you want?” The emphasis told Greg this was a competitor, and he tried to get a peek at the data pad his father held.
“This is embarrassing, but I need some help.” The man held up a gauntlet for the camera. Greg snorted as he saw the item.
“You know I am not obligated to help you. Especially after what you did to me in New York.” Kent shook his head as he tapped the release button on his data pad, which opened the door allowing the visitor to enter.
The man in the custom tailored suit walked to the counter. His head swiveled from left to right as he looked for items on benches or stored on shelves. When his lips twisted, Kent new he had scored a point. The workbenches were vacant, except for the one where Greg was working. Greg knows to pull the guards down to keep prying eyes away from his work, Kent thought.
“Finally. I am in the holy of holies.” The slim man approached the desk. His strong jaw pulsed as he clenched his teeth. His clear eyes stopped scanning and fixed on to Kent.
“You know my fee.” Kent stood close to the counter both hands resting on his hips.
“I do and you know I can pay it.” The visitor placed the gauntlet on the table. “I just need to know that you won’t copy it or make a knock-off.”
Kent made a rude noise. “Take your erector set and get out of my lab.”
“Come on. You have got to be kidding me. I will double your rate.”
Greg stood next to his father and picked up the device. “Triple it and I will fix it for you.”
Kent reached for his son, “Put that down or he might sue you.”
“Yeah, kid. Besides I want pops here to do the work, not an apprentice.” The visitor reached for the metallic glove-like item.
Greg backed up from both men. Rolling the device over, Greg flipped a small tool out of a pocket. A quick pop and a small device was in Greg’s hand. Using another tool, Greg shifted pieces of the device around, then blew on it. As fast as it came out of the gauntlet it was replaced.
“Fixed.” Greg looked at both men. With a smirk and wink, he stuck his left hand into the gauntlet.
“Hey, don’t. Don’t do that.” The well groomed man yelled as he stepped behind the counter and towards Greg. Kent put an interposing arm between the visitor and his son.
“Greg, stop it.” Kent’s eyes widened at the actions of his son.
Greg extended his covered hand, flexed the fingers into a fist then opened them with a snap. Then he rolled his arm over and the palm of the glove glowed with a sphere of electricity and hovered there.
“You fixed it.” The dapper man said, dropping his hands to his side.
“Greg! That was fast.” Kent’s jaws flexed open as he stared at his son.
“At this point, I believe I have a mechanics lean on this device.” Greg nodded towards the visitor. “So if you would be so kind as to authorize triple our rate, you can have your toy back and be on your way.”
With rapid jerky motions, the visitor tapped on the data pad that Kent handed him. “This is highway robbery.” The man winked at Greg.
“Cheaper at twice the price,” Kent said as he took the pad from the man.
With a nod from Kent, Greg tossed the gauntlet back to the visitor.
The man snatched the item, turned on his heels and left.
“See dad.” Greg smiled at his father. “Sometimes it is good to play with the items we work on here.”
“OK, son. Let’s not make this a habit.”