9:22am, Caligula Hotel, Las Vegas
A knocks is heard outside the door of a quiet hotel room.
“House keeping.” A sultry woman’s voice calls out, with a hint of a french accent. She knocks again, a little louder and more insistent. “Hello sir?”
“Hallo baby. Did you miss me?” a male voice answers from the hall, his words slurring thanks to his alcohol bravado.
The sound of a fist hitting flesh and bone of someone’s face can be heard, followed by the sound of a body hitting the floor and muttering something incomprehensible.
“Asshole.” the woman comments, her french accent gone. A plastic keycard is slipped into the slot. A bolt unlocks and the door opens.
Pry quickly enters and closes the door. The tight, small, and revealing french maid’s outfit she wears being the source of the unwanted attention. She touches her ear, activating a wireless earpiece. “I’m in.”
Outside, the hotel looks like an over-extravagant Greek palace, complete with nude statues, columns, and muscle-bound door men wearing robes, sandals, and not much else. The atmosphere is as decadent as the namesake’s infamous tales.
Across the street, Pry’s Barracuda is parked, with Dane sitting behind the wheel. He holds up a tablet PC, checking the security cameras he hacked into minutes earlier. He brings up the hallway camera outside the room Pry has just entered. It shows a guy in the hall slowly getting to his feet. “Your suitor is a handsome fella.” Dane comments to Pry via the tablet. He watches the guy lean against the wall before throwing-up on himself. “Eww, vomit tie.”
In the room, Pry turns and looks through the peep hole in the door. Once the guy has stumbled off down the hallway, she turns her attention back to the room. “Ok, let’s keep the chatter to– ” .
“Nope!” Dane declares, loudly, cutting Pry off through her earpiece. “I refer to your apology thirty-two days ago.”
“Aw geez.” Pry grumbles.
Dane sits up straight in the car, clearing his throat, as if he’s addressing a court room.
“You’re not gonna– ” Pry begins to say.
“During your apology,” Dane begins, interrupting Pry, “you stated you owed me and Fen for, and I quote ‘my irrational and pissy behavior’, end quote. You made it up to Fen by sitting through every episode of the ‘Littlest Hobo’. You’re making it up to me by letting ME be in charge of this case. Which means I can make pithy, sarcastic, and mocking comments over the earpiece if I want. It also explains your tarty attire.”
Pry looks down at her french maid uniform and sighs, shaking her head.
Dane cocks his left elbow out the car’s window and leans back, smiling triumphantly. “Since our rabbit is staying at the kinkiest hotel in town, an irregular Great Dane in a gimp suit would have garnered the wrong attention. But you in the french maid outfit wouldn’t draw as much attention. ” he pauses thoughtfully, tilting his head in a complimentary way. “By the way, the french accent was a nice touch.”
“French accent? I did not use– ”
“Totally did! Wanna hear it again in instant replay?”
Pry stands motionless, thinking, her puzzled pause growing, until finally, “I did?”
Dane nods with a big smirk on his face.
Another moment or two of silence.
“Are you nodding? Cause I can’t hear you nodding.”
“Yes. Yes I am.”
Pry tries to stifle a grin. “I’m going to our job now. Is that ok, boss, sir?”
Dane has a look of self-importance for a moment, before responding. “Proceed.”
Pry steps away from the door and starts to look around. The curtains are drawn, keeping the room dark. She can make out basic shapes, but nothing more. She reaches into her top and pulls out a small digital video camera with a light. She switches it on and shines it around the room. “Can you see anything?”
Dane focuses his attention on the tablet PC. He opens an app that shows the footage from the digital camera. “Coming in clear. Commence snooping.”
Pry keeps the curtains drawn as she begins to look around the room, using the digital camera like a flashlight. The room isn’t overly expensive for this hotel, but still a decent size. The main room has a sofa and large flat screen. To her left, a bedroom with a king-sized bed and bathroom to the right. She checks out the cabinets in the bathroom, the night stand beside the bed and the dressers, and finds nothing unusual.
“You sure this is the right room?” Pry asks. “This guy doesn’t seem like a hacker-for-hire. I can’t even find a laptop.” She pauses and goes back to the dresser and opens the drawers again. Instead of looking under the clothes, she looks at the clothes. “Hey Dane, check this out. Don’t you have a shirt like this?”
She spreads the shirt out on the bed and aims the digital camera’s light at it. On the front of the shirt has the words ‘Joss Whedon is my Master Now!’ written in the same lettering as used for the Star Wars movie titles.
“Check the other shirts.” Dane asks.
Soon, Pry has a few other shirts spread out over the bed. They all have pictures or sayings from TV shows, movies, or comic books. “This guy is a big geek.” she pauses, thinking. “Dane, if you had this room, and wanted to hide a laptop, where would you put it?”
“Toilet water tank.”
Pry heads back into the bathroom and looks at the toilet water tank. “It’s one of those Euro-flow tanks. It’s too small.”
“Look in the tank.”
Pry lifts the top off the tank and shines the light into it. Inside, a Blackberry Playbook, with keyboard, inside a zip-lock bag. She shakes her head, smirking.
“It’s there isn’t it.”
“Nope.” she lies.
“I know its in there.”
Pry glances at the digital camera that she’s also been using as a flashlight.
“I think that french maid outfit is dulling your– ” Dane begins to say.
“I’ll dull you.” Pry interrupts, snarling, as she reaches in and takes the Playbook out. She opens the zip-lock bag and takes the Playbook out. “Why would a hacker use this old tech?”
“Because they were made to last. Plus, if you get under the hood, you can expand it and make it work wonders.”
“So how come you don’t have one?” Pry asks.
“Just bring it down so I can check it out.” Dane replies, annoyed.
Moments later, Pry walks briskly across the street and gets in the passenger side of her Barracuda. She hands Dane the Playbook, then climbs into the back seat.
“Where you going?” Dane asks absently as he ogles the Playbook.
“Getting out of this frickin’ outfit!”
Dane starts the Playbook, connects the keyboard and starts to work his computer geek mojo. But soon, he finds his mojo severely tested. By the time Pry is changed and sitting back in the front passenger seat, Dane hasn’t gotten as far as he’d hoped.
“Having trouble getting in?” Pry asks.
“This guy’s kung-fu is strong.”
“But yours is stronger, right?”
Dane drops the Playbook onto his lap and throws his head back. “Not here. I need more time, more power, more Red Bull.”
“We don’t have time. The Baker’s source said this guy is in town for two days, then he’s gone. We need to find him before he rabbits, or before someone else snatches him.”
Dane lifts the Playbook up and returns his attention to it. “The only thing I could access is a few basic apps, his address book, and his calendar. All of which aren’t important.”
Pry leans over. “Open his calendar, see if there’s an entry anywhere.”
Dane opens the calendar app. “He has basic things, like when movies open, TV show premieres…” he trails off, flipping through the calendar. He stops. He turns to Pry and smiles.
“What? What!” she asks, curious.
“I know why he’s in town for two days, and I know where.”
Dane shows Pry the Playbook’s calendar. He has the alarm set for 4am, but only for yesterday and today.
“4am? Vegas is open 24/7. Where the hell would he go at four in the morning? Meeting someone for another job? Meeting other hackers?”
“He went to line-up.”
“For the third annual Las Vegas Comic Con.” Dane says, a smile brightening his face. “Since the Black Wave Event, it has become the fourth largest sci-fi, comic book convention in the country, and the most popular, thanks to the city’s lax rules. It’s known as the ‘Mardi Gras of Comic Cons’. Two days of decadent geekdom.” he finishes with an elated sigh. “I’ve been wanting to go since we moved here. And now, we have a legitimate reason to go!”
“Sure. If that geek is there, we’ll bust his– ”
“Whoa!” Dane says, his voiced raised. “Back up the truck Miss Shoots-a-Lot! We can’t go in there, John Woo-style. Security is high! And nasty! And well-paid. And heavily armed. We have to be sneaky, ninja-style.”
Fear begins to rise in Pry’s face. She sits back, shaking her head. “No. No way!”
“Who’s in charge here?” Dane asks, his eyebrow raised, already knowing the answer.
“Aw c’mon!” Pry pleads. “I wore the french maid costume. Isn’t that enough?”
Dane faces forward, turns the key. The car rumbles to life. He smiles, “Nope!”
11:16am, Pry Investigations, Las Vegas
Dane stands outside Pry’s apartment door, wearing a red, studded robe that has more in common with Samurai battle gear. He has black, leather gloves on his hands, with cuffs that reach almost to his elbow. Beneath his robe, brown leather pants and black boots. His head is covered with a grey skull cap, decorated with tattoo-like designs. A thick, fake beard, with braids hangs from each side of his muzzle. The handle of sword peeks over his right shoulder.
“Hurry up, Andy! Time’s a wasting!” Dane calls out eagerly.
“I look ridiculous.” Pry replies from within her apartment.
“Let me be the judge of your ridiculousness.”
The door opens and Pry steps out, wearing a skin-tight, black leather outfit with shoulder and elbow pads and a belt with a gun holster.
“I feel like battle-action Catwoman.” Pry murmurs dejectedly.
“You look awesome!” Dane smiles. “We just have to add the make-up.”
“Make-up?” Pry asks dubiously.
“Well yeah! Look!” Dane shows off his fake beard and skull cap like a gleeful, little kid. “I got my D’Argo gear on! You can’t be Chiana without powder white skin and the wig! We’ll be totally Farscape!”
“You are enjoying this a little too much.” Pry grumbles as she wiggles and shimmies, trying to get comfortable with her outfit. “Isn’t it bad enough that I’m sweating like a whore in church in this costume? By the way, this thing fits way too snug in certain areas, if you know what I mean.”
Dane’s face recoils at the thought of Pry’s areas.
“I’m not adding make-up to the mix.” Pry finishes, crossing her arms. When she does, the leather squeaks. “Ouch.” she whimpers as she uncrosses her arms.
“We don’t have time to get different costumes. Today is the final day of the comic-con! After today, our rabbit will be gone. While other bounty hunters are stopped by security, we can pass through without incident, thanks to my intimate knowledge of science fiction, fantasy and comic books!”
“You mean your uber-geekness.” Pry comments as she leans on the doorway, wiggling her hips, trying to make some adjustments.
“Exactly!” Dane replies enthusiastically. “Get in, get our rabbit, and get out!”
Pry continues to move around, trying to get comfortable as Dane patiently waits for a response. She stops moving and looks up at Dane, very unhappy. She even pouts a bit.
“Well?” Dane asks, like a little kid desperate to get going.
“Weren’t D’Argo and Chiana lovers?” Pry asks.
Dane and Pry looks at each other. Dane thinks while Pry looks at him questioningly.
Dane shudders at the thought that they are portraying lovers.
Dane’s enthusiasm vanishes. “Aw crap.”
“You have a back-up plan?”
Dane pulls the skull cap off his head and nods. He walks to the stairs to head down to his apartment, looking disappointed.
Pry sighs from relief and goes into her apartment. The sound of skin-tight leather being removed from skin is heard, sounding like fat legs getting up off hot leather car seats. “Ouch.”
Pry: 24 Hour Geek Copyrighted © 2013 Mark James MacKinnon. Any use of these characters, without permission, is strictly prohibited. Any similarities to individuals, living or dead, is purely coincidental.