Destroyer: The Adventures of Remo & Chiun
Dr. Harold W. Smith was a man who loved statistics. By collecting the right data from any given set of facts a wealth of information was to be had. From those numbers, patterns and trends would emerge. It often took a little bit of massaging and great deal of intuition, but eventually, a person could find those trends.
For Smith, number-crunching had become a life-long passion. As
executive director of CURE, he had been doing it for more than 40
years. Luckily for him, he had access to one of the world’s most
powerful computer systems.
It was in the basement of the Folcroft Institute, a mental hospital in
Rye, N.Y., he operated as a cover for his true mission, to seek out and
destroy all threats to America. Of course, he didn’t do this by his own
direction. Many years ago, when Smith was a fresh-faced ivy-league
graduate, he was approached by the President of the United States and
told that he was needed by his country.
Smith took up the challenge. he began his search for a remedy to
America’s ills. That remedy turned out to be CURE. When he first began
his new job, Smith operated discreetly. He remembered the time when his
computers and contacts brought Smith information about a Mafia boss’
plan to ship thousands of leftover automatic weapons from the Vietnam
War to America. In a typical CURE response, Smith fed launch codes to a
ballistic missile inside a British submarine. The missile launched and
sank the weapons-laden ship. America was saved.
Of course, the British navy never figured out what happened. They
blamed the launch on an accidental electrical charge. The Brits had no
clue it was the doing of a gray-faced man sitting at a fancy desk
thousands of miles away. Smith, as usual, had fooled them.
Similar situations played out again and again in the early years of
CURE. Information trickled in about an impending doom and Smith tricked
someone else into reacting to it. But occasionally, the information was
so vague, so seemingly inconsequential that Smith had no one to turn
too for “help.”
That’s when Smith discovered Sinanju, a tiny village in North Korea
that was the home of an ancient line of assassins. The assassins were
open to the highest bidder and eager for long-term contracts. Smith
figured there would be nothing to lose, so he offered quadruple what
the competing bids were, and brought the Reigning Master of Sinanju to
As part of the deal, Smith insisted that an American be trained in the
ways of Sinanju, the martial art named after its birthplace, and that’s
how he got Remo Williams.
With Remo and Reigning Master Chiun, Smith finally had the missing
piece to CURE. He had field operatives. Agents that could explore an
anomaly and expunge it from the American landscape.
The latest anomaly proved especially puzzling.
This was one of those times where he couldn’t just press a button and
clear up a problem. This would require the services of Remo and Chiun.
Smith was looking at a computer-enhanced map that centered itself on
Baltimore, Maryland. Beyond Baltimore, the map spread out into
Delaware, Pennsylvania, New Jersey, Virginia, West Virginia and
Bright red outlines that looped each of the major cities and encircled
a statistical curiosity Smith had uncovered with his computers.
Each outline designated the outer commuter zone for each city. Inside
those circles swam a sea of mostly yellow flags and an occasional blue
The yellow flags illustrated the home addresses of 20- to 38-year-old
men with incomes of $30,000 or more and who had visited a nearby
hospital, complaining of massive bruises, broken bones or tears in
their skin associated with blunt trauma. The blue flags were of those
men who died of similar injuries.
Smith then factored in another subset. This time, he added a category
that pinpointed the addresses of similarly aged men with similar
incomes who committed brazen crimes, ones that were reported as “out of
character” by those who knew them. For this category, he assigned the
Smith hit the enter key and watched the screen get a peppering of
orange flags. More than 90 percent fell inside the red jagged outlines.
Smith toggled his computer screen to another window. This one was of a
similar area, with similar markings, minus the borders showing
commuting distance. With the borders eliminated gone, his criteria for
placement of the yellow and blue flags had changed. Commuting distance
was no longer a factor, but despite that there was decidedly less
yellow, orange and blue flags. Granted there were some, but to Smith,
those marks represented the norm. The flags concentrated near the city
proved his theory.
Some new deadly trend had emerged in America. One of the most
productive segments of the work force had begun to beat itself to death.
Smith didn’t like that idea. It was obvious from the way the pattern
poured across the map, that it was an organized campaign. It sprang up
in Baltimore, then spread to its satellite cities of Towson, Glen
Burnie and the others. It then jumped to Washington, Philadelphia,
Richmond, Harrisburg, Atlantic City and Wilmington. It was growing all
right, and Smith had to stop it.
The break in the case, the one that turned it from a statistical blip
to a case worthy of the practitoners of Sinanju, was the death of Ed
Pittman, a web designer for Parker Paper Clip Company, was an extremely
average guy with a typical Peter Pan-syndrome. He was on sports teams
and had season tickets. But then Ed suddenly and inexplicably went on a
shooting and robbing rampage in downtown Baltimore just two days ago.
His profile — that of a 20 to 40 year old educated man with no real
criminal past — almost precisely matched those of many of the other
victims who dotted the Baltimore area. His death was a bit different,
instead of being beaten to death or jumping out of a moving train like
the other victims had, Pittman was shot to death by the police.
Smith read the newspaper accounts of the incident with interest,
knowing of the bizarre statistics his computer had been churning out.
Using the very same computers, he accessed the Baltimore City Police
Department records, as he had done with hundreds of law enforcement
agencies over the years. Inside those police memorybanks, he found the
officers’ accounts on the incidents.
Most of the reports were the standard “Subject fled southbound on Rte.
43/Liverpool Avenue, Officer 2041 pursued in Car 638” or “Subject
exited overturned truck, began to fire weapon.”
But one, filed by Patrolwoman Josephine Lyons, listed in the report as Officer 3132, claimed to hear Ed Pittman’s dying words.
The report read, “3132 approached suspect. 3132 observed wounds in
suspect’s chest, right arm and neck. Suspect said ‘Brawl Room’ twice
and then became unresponsive.”
Ed Pittman’s dying words brought the case together.
He gave Smith something to work from. Or more accurately, he gave Remo and Chiun something to work from.
Remo had arrived at Folcroft much later in the day than he had
expected. His flight out of Chicago was delayed by rain. The drive from
the airport to Rye was nothing short of awful.
Still though, as the leather-seated sedan rolled into the parking lot of the hospital, Remo found himself in good spirits.
The entire trip back he’d been amused with his purchase at the art
gallery. He knew Chiun would hate it, as he hated most things that
Americans produced. Baseball, apple pie, Davey Crockett. Chiun had not
an ounce of love for any of it. Sure, he didn’t even like the things of
more universal appeal that had sprouted up in America. The kind of
stuff that couldn’t help but be there. He hated American air, American
dirt and American trees. If it wasn’t from Korea, or at the very least
made by people of Korean blood, Chiun was repulsed.
So a piece of American creativity was sure to end up on the trash heap
if Chiun had anything to do with it, but not before Remo had an
opportunity to make him feel bad about it.
Remo parked and reached in the back seat. He had no other baggage from
his trip than the painting. He rarely packed for trips anymore. In
fact, he really didn’t have much to pack.
He always wore the same kinds of clothes — all black and loose
fitting. Any other wardrobe tended to restrict his movement and
interfere with his perfectly regulated breathing.
His sparseness extended into personal effects, too. He had none, not
even the simplest things. As a Sinanju assassin, his mind controlled
his body in ways normal humans could only dream. He had learned how to
regulate the growth of hair on his face, so he never needed to shave.
He no longer sweated unless he wanted to, which made deodorant useless.
He could even choose exactly how his feet struck the ground when he
walked so that the sole of his shoes lasted longer. The ways of Sinanju
were thorough and all-encompassing.
Remo glided up to a side door of the Folcroft building, opened it and
seemed to float down the steps to where he shared quarters with his
Chiun sat quietly on a mat, his legs folded and arms balanced on his
knees. The gold embroidered dragon from his kimono shot vibrant
reflections of sunlight around the room.
Remo walked in smiling, hiding the brown-paper wrapped picture behind him.
“Remo, I heard your big white feet smacking at the pavement since you shut your vehicle door.” Chiun said, not opening his eyes.
“Yeah, well my big white feet do that every once and a while.”
“You are trained to walk as the wind, yet you come thundering like a cow.”
Remo rolled his eyes. “Well to you, that’s what it sounds like to you, but not to anyone else.”
The aged Korean smiled briefly at the compliment. “But perhaps others
were listening. You should consider sawing off your big white feet and
finding a Korean pair as replacements.”
“I offed the art dealer,” Remo said.
“And was this art dealer anything remarkable?”
“Aw no, not at all,” Remo said as he thumped the painting with his
fingers. “A real piece of cake. Fruit cake, mind you, but a breeze
other than that.”
“Good, it pleases me that there is one less pale-skinned moron on this planet,” Chiun sniffed.
“And while I was out there, I bought you something,” Remo said with a goofy smile.
Chiun’s eyes snapped open. “A gift?”
“For you,” Remo said, thrusting the package toward his master.
Chiun sprang up from his mat and he floated over to Remo. His eyes welled as he grasped the package.
“For me?” Chiun managed. “I know you have long felt shame for your
whiteness, and it is good that you now choose to lavish me with gifts.
I shall remember this day in the scrolls.”
“Hey,” Remo smiled, “I try to make it Christmas everyday.”
“Christmas?” Chiun asked and then studied the package. “This is part of that tradition?”
“Suuure,” Remo said reassuringly.
Chiun looked at the package again. His eyes thinned. “Then why isn’t this in the traditional packaging?”
“Packaging? It’s wrapped. What do you expect? It’s the middle of August!” Remo defended.
“If you celebrate your Day of the Unnatural Birth everyday, then you
should be prepared to do so,” Chiun sniffed and pushed the package back
into Remo’s hands. “Now go do it properly.”
“Properly? You can see it’s wrapped!” Remo exclaimed.
“I want the traditional gaudy wrapping associated with the holiday,” Chiun pouted. “But none with that reverse sneak-thief.”
“Reverse sneak-thief?” Remo asked, rubbing his head.
“The obtuse one who tortures innocent hinds.”
“Deer, you oaf. The one who makes the deer fly! The one who’s stupid
enough to break into dwellings and leave things instead of taking
things!” Chiun snapped.
“Santa Claus?” Remo complained. “You’re not going to start this again
are you?” Remo had suffered through Chuin’s anti-Christmas diatribes
more than once.
“Yes, the blubbery one,” Chiun conceded. “I have prayed for years Emperor Smith would send us upon his trail.”
“But he’s not –”
“If you wish to present me with your gift as an apology for your scores
of misdeeds, then I want it wrapped as your tradition suggests.”
“Just open it!” Remo demanded.
“I refuse until it’s properly decorated,” Chiun complained.
“Fine,” Remo said storming out the door. He realized that this wasn’t as much fun as he thought it would be.
Remo burst in and stampeded through the door to Smith’s office.
As usual, Remo had subconsciously avoided every electronic sensor Smith had placed around his office.
“Smitty, he’s driving me nutzo!”
“Remo, I’m glad you’re here,” Smith said, his gray eyes never wavering from his computer screen. “We have a situation.”
Remo opened up one of the closets in Smith’s office. It contained a
vacuum cleaner and bottles upon bottles of cleaning supplies. “Don’t I
know it! Where in world can I find some goddamn wrapping paper?”
“In Baltimore,” Smith continued.
“No that’s too far of a drive,” Remo said as he turned to a cabinet. He
opened it. Inside were the blinking lights of a PC processing tower.
Smith looked up. “Remo, what are you doing?” Remo pulled an artificial
plant from its pot and looked inside. Dust that had collected since the
second Reagan administration wafted from the leaves.
“My kingdom for some wrapping paper!” Remo yelled, shaking his fists at the air.
Smith’s face crinkled. “Remo, we have a situation in Baltimore. I need to activate Chiun and yourself.”
“It can wait,” Remo ordered. “Do you think they might have some in the lobby?”
“Remo, we need to act immediately.”
“Ten minutes,” Remo said through a closing door. “Gimme ten minutes!”
A blue phone in Remo and Chiun’s quarters came alive.
It tootled quietly twice before its annoying tone pulled Chiun from his meditation.
The Master of Sinanju did not like phones. The device was an invention
of the white race and meant to enslave the slack-minded. Even worse,
one could never know who was on the other end.
However, in this case, Chiun knew it was one of two people. Remo, the
shame of Sinanju, or Emperor Smith, absolute Monarch of the United
States of America.
Chiun always referred to Smith this way because for centuries, the
Masters of Sinanju had worked directly for the rulers of the countries
of the world. Following that logic, Smith must be the ruler of this
land, as a Master of Sinanju would never work for a man of a lesser
Chiun decided it was Emperor Smith and rose from his meditation. He
walked out the door of the basement. As he navigated the stairs, not a
single creak or groan came from the floorboards of the aged building.
The whisp-haired Korean was as silent as a winter night.
Two minutes later, Smith was still on the other end of the blue phone,
waiting for Remo to pick up when the Master of Sinanju entered. Smith
settled the receiver back into its cradle.
“Master Chiun, I was just trying to reach Remo,” Smith said.
“Yes, I know. I came to tell you that he was not there,” Chiun said and turned to leave, pleased his message had been delivered.
“Master Chiun, wait. I’m going to send Remo and yourself out to investigate something.”
Chiun wheeled back around. “The Masters of Sinanju are not to be used as a substitute for that dullard, Sherman Holmes.”
“Yes,” Smith said, not bothering to correct the old man. “But I’ll be
doing most of the investigation here. I just need you to collect data
and be ready to strike.”
Remo came back into the office.
“There you are, Little Father. Here’s your gift,” Remo gleamed. He held
out the newly wrapped painting. The artwork had a thick layer of gauze
medical tape strung around it.
“Thank you,” Chiun smiled. “I accept this as your apology for your sun-deprived skin and round, fat eyes.”
Remo smiled back and then turned to Smith. “It’s a gift,” he said,
pointing at the package. “I bought it with the CURE credit card.
Six-thousand buckaroos plus tax.”
Harold Smith grimaced.
Chiun sliced at the the gauze with his razor-sharp fingernails, sending
white fluff floating in the air-conditioned office. They skated around
in the air until they settled on to the icy gray carpet.
Under the gauze, was the brown wrapping. Chiun shot Remo a suspect glance and then tore off the paper.
The Korean flipped the painting right side up, studied it for a second
as horror crossed his face. He wasn’t happy. Instead he let out a
scream that fell just a decibels short of shattering every piece of
glass in Smith’s office.
The painting fell to the floor. Chiun’s knees weakened as he stumbled backward.
Remo caught him as he collapsed.
“Chiun! Little Father!” Remo exclaimed.
Chiun’s eyes flitted open, he saw Remo’s face above him and let out another shriek.
“Get your clumsy hamburger-holders off me!” Chiun screeched as he pulled himself from Remo’s grasp.
“Master Chiun, are you hurt?” Smith asked.
“Do not play the fool with me you pale-skinned Judas!” Chiun screamed. “You know your crime!”
“First off, Judas WAS pale skinned. And second, I have no clue what you’re talkin’ about!”
“That!” Chiun said, pointing a gnarled finger at the painting, “It is
an ancient rune meant to bring death upon the viewer! You, fiend, mean
to expunge me from this world!”
Remo looked at the painting. “It’s just a –”
“LIES!” Chiun howled. “You’re foul scheme is uncovered! This is exactly
how Master Jun was removed by his apprentice, the vile Junju! He killed
Jun with a sorcerous spell and ascended to Reigning Master!”
“I don’t give a flying pig whether I’m a Reigning Master!”
“Master Chiun, I’m sure –” Harold Smith started.
Remo picked up the painting and shoved it into Smith’s view. “Look, Smitty, it’s just a piece of shit slop of paint.”
“No, Emperor! It will bring the gim rapist upon your soul!” Chiun exclaimed and reached a shaking hand toward the painting.
Smith eyed the canvas. The blue wedge reminded him of a stealth bomber
and the yellow blobs a series of flares exploding around it.
“Master Chiun, I think it’s just a sample of modern art,” Smith offered.
“It is a sample of how Remo can take even his most sacred holiday, the
Day of the Unnatural Birth, and twist it for his own conspiracy against
me!” Chiun explained.
“Little Father, we shouldn’t be fighting in front of –” Remo bobbed
his head toward Smith and continued in a low tone, “– the Emperor.”
Chiun’s eyes thinned. He darted them to Smith and then back to Remo.
“Yes, I concur, but Emperor, please forgive me if I keep close watch on
this would-be usurper!”
“Whatever,” Remo said, throwing his hands up. “Smitty, what have you got for us?”
“Yes, uh, we have a situation in Baltimore,” Smith began. “It seems
that a particular subsection of the population is beating itself to
death, how I’m not completely sure.”
“Yeah, so what?” Remo replied.
“This group is comprised entirely of young college-educated males who
work for some of the region’s most prominent employers.” Smith studied
a screen full of names. “They’re accountants, lawyers, salesmen, junior
executives. In the last six months, more than 1,000 have wound up in
the hospital and 62 have been killed. More reports are coming in every
Remo folded his arms. “I say the less yuppies on this Earth, the
better. Anyway, it’s probably just a serial killer or something.”
“No, I don’t think so,” Smith said still studying the list. “Despite
the basic similarities, the victims are too diverse and of those that
weren’t killed, they all offer explanations other than being attacked.
Still, there’s something going on. Something very strange.”
Chiun had yet to blink. His eyes watched Remo’s movement. His ears
tuned to the minute sounds of Remo’s breathing and the grind of his
bones as he shifted in place.
“I want you and Master Chiun to infiltrate Parker Paper Clip
Corporation. There seems to be an inordinate amount of casualties in
that company. Despite the rather pedestrian name, the company has
dozens of subdivisions including office supplies, real estate,
munitions and foodstuffs. You need to find clues,” Smith said, as he
took a drink from a lukewarm cup of water.
“In particular, you need to try to find out about what seems to be the
key clue to this, something called ‘Brawl Room,’” he added.
“Brawl Room?” Remo asked. “What’s a Brawl Room?”
“I’m not sure,” Smith admitted. “But it’s all we have to go on so far.
Additionally, you can obtain the police report from an Officer
Josephine Lyons. She apparently heard the dying words of Edward Michael
Pittman, one of these people I’ve been studying.”
“But really, Smitty, why do we care if a buncha college jerkoffs are beating the pus out of one another?”
“Because, Remo, this phenomenon is spreading. Spreading just like a –”
Smith stopped, his eyes grew wide as he thought. In a frantic, sudden
scramble, he jumped on to a Web site devoted to economics. He zipped
through a few screens and then came to a page offering automated
computer models. He started a model called “Product Dispersement Based
on Word-of-Mouth Sales.”
Remo walked around to see Smith’s computer screen.
The model showed a map of a sample city as its streets began to be
lined with dots. The dots, the screen said, represented the sale of any
hot new product that was purchased by one person who then liked it
enough to recommend it to a friend, who then recommended it to another
and so on.
Remo and Smith watched as the dots filled the city and then jumped to a
suburb, and then another and another. Then the dots shot down a highway
and struck another city, where the whole process started over again and
then leaped to another city.
Smith realized the pattern was nearly identical to the one he had been charting for the last few weeks.
Harold Smith rolled back in his chair, stunned at the find. “It’s spreading — just like a fad!”
What happens next? Read BRAWL ROOM Chapter 4!