It is 1935, between the wars. On Somes Island in Wellington Harbour, the old hospital buildings have been turned into a laboratory where an Auckland inventor called Victor Penny (b. 1900, d. ?) is working on an invention. Day and night, the buildings are guarded by four soldiers with rifles and bayonets. Nobody is allowed to see to Mr Penny. If anyone approaches without identifying themselves, they are to be shot. For six months the inventor works at Somes Island, protected from intrusion, and at the expense of the New Zealand government.
Word has it he is at work on a weapon called the 'Death Ray'. There are really two stories to tell here. The first is the story that the public of New Zealand learned at the time from newspaper reports and word-of-mouth. Because the events were surrounded by secrecy, and because of a lack of understanding of the technology Penny was working on, this story is full of misunderstandings and sensationalism. The second story is the truth behind the events, and may never fully be known.
Victor Penny was a very serious man and intensely patriotic. He was sworn to secrecy over the affair, and took to his grave a good deal of these facts.