*4*

Pen had heard about the state of the police in Las Vegas, which was often referred to as ‘laughable’. Most of those people don’t live in the city. If they did, they’d see the difficulty the officers have trying to maintain order when mobsters and the criminals control everything. The average American wouldn’t know this because all the tourism ads show is the adult fun and excitement one could have, all to the beat of a classic rock tune, one that must have cost the mob bosses millions to secure. Well, if they could buy Sinatra’s friendship, they could buy Led Zeppelin too.
Knowing the hardship the police are having makes Pen almost feel bad about taking a uniform and walking into the precinct unnoticed. He walks past the front desk and along a forest of cubicles, his eyes darting around to see if there are any directions to where he’s heading. Asking directions wouldn’t be smart.
He stops at an intersection. Fortunately, on the wall is a sign with directions, one points to the right. It reads ‘computer archives’.
“Bingo.” Pen whispers as he turns right.
Not far down is the door. He opens it and goes inside. Immediately, he thinks the sign should be changed to ‘file cabinet room’. They line each side of the room, and are even lined up to make more aisles. But in the center of the room is a lone computer that is already outdated.
“It’ll do.” he comments as he goes over and sits down.
The password is still keyed in, thankfully. He opens the data base and enters the name ‘Andreas Pry’. A handful of entries appear, all to do with bounties she brought in. He tries to dig for more personal information, but finds only professional.
He stops, shaking his head. “Pen, you’re a bloody berk.” He enters a search for Pry Investigations.
A list of information comes, including an address and a video file. He jots down the address, then opens the video file. He watches aerial footage of Pry and Dane’s shoot-out with Mr. Goldman in a deserted part of Las Vegas. A small smirk turns his lips as he marvels at her skills and toughness. He glances down at the time code and realizes it is the night she called him.
Curiosity and instinct spark in his mind. He opens another window to access police files from that night. It gives the name of the people involved, including the agent in charge, Benson, and the woman and boy Pry was protecting, Maria and Michael Torres.
“Where are you know?” he murmurs as he accesses the internet. He searches for information on Torres and Benson, but finds nothing. But he does stumble across a story he heard briefly the other night. It tells of an unidentified woman and boy, possibly homeless, squatting in an abandoned farm house in Virginia, near Washington DC.
“Ah no.” he whispers. He goes to the F.B.I. website and uses a little trick his friends taught him. Soon, he’s in, but instead of raising flags looking for Benson, he accesses property owned by the feds. The abandoned farm house is on the list.
He quickly leaves the federal site and looks up Virginia, local news coverage of the fire. He watches footage that shows firefighters and local officers beyond the police, behind the reporter. Mingling among them are two men in suits, Feds. He listens to the report, but he’s heard enough official fabricated bullshit to know this story is just that.
He closes the internet connection and slumps back the chair. The only image up is a still from the video footage up. He looks at the image of Pry, shaking his head, a deep sadness in his eyes. “Yer luck hasn’t changed, Andi.”
Footsteps in the hallway pull him out of his thoughts. He closes the video footage, rises and heads for the door. He exits and walks past a cop with a helicopter helmet. Behind him is a self-important man in a typical federal agent suit. But he knows this man, and he is anything but typical.
Pen purposefully bumps into him. “Sorry mate.” he nods, tipping his cap before continuing down the hallway.
“Who was that, Fields?” he hears the agent ask, but he doesn’t hear the rest, once he turns the corner. He knows they’ll tangle soon, but now isn’t time, especially when he’s without his equipment.

***

The lone street light across from Pry Investigations is the only one that still works on this block. It casts a meager glow on the front offices and apartments above. The empty building behind the street light is usually nothing but vacant darkness. But tonight, a dim, yellow flickering glow dances in the few remaining window panes.
Inside, Pen stands beside a small fire in a cut-down steel drum. Around him are his custom plastic cases. All are open as he suits up, becoming the vigilante known as Iron Bow.
His boots and pants are top-of-the-line, custom-made, and have a dull grey, faded black appearance to them. His battle vest is tight, heavy-duty, yet flexible via anatomically-matched horizontal plates front and back, all covered with thin, cloth-like material that has the same dull black shimmer as his boots and pants.
He picks up his dull grey-faded black quiver, puts his arms through loops at the top corners, and drops it onto back. It is just as wide as his back, but molded to fit snug. Small magnets at the bottom of his vest and quiver ensure it stays in place. Sticking up from the top are hundreds of nocks, but no visible fletchings. A shallow pocket and magnets also hold two, slim, foot-long cases to his thighs, each containing extra arrow shafts.
He pulls on two long gloves that match the rest of his suit. Each gloves reaches just above his elbow. He attaches a small wire from the top of his shoulder to the sleeve of each glove. He clips on long, narrow, arrowhead-shaped gauntlets onto the outside of the forearm. At each point is a small hole no bigger than dart-head.
He picks up a skull cap and pulls it over his head, adjusting it to fit above his ears and eyebrows. The skull cap looks more like a wig, as it is covered in thick shock of black, fibrous hair. At the moment, they flop down over his eyes and ears.
The final touch is a pair of black, wrap-around shades with earpieces on the ends. Once in place, the suit activates.
In the silence of the abandoned building, the hum of the micro-computer’s hard drive at the bottom of the quiver can be heard starting up. The black hair on the skull cap flashes blue for a split-second before rising up, looking like something from a CG Japanese Anime. The blue flash also ripples over his entire suit. The dull grey-faded black of his boots, pants, vest, quiver, and gloves seems to come to life, with a shimmer of dark blue. The only evidence of color is a wedge-shape on his chest, tapering down to his waist, the arrow gauntlets on his forearms, his glasses, and his quiver, all of which become a deep, cobalt blue.
When he picks up the three-foot long length of iron with the custom grip in the center, it too changes color, from a dull, iron grey to a deep cobalt blue. Although he calls it ‘equipment’, the way he handles the iron indicates it is more like an extension of him.
He holds the iron in front of him, like a bow and says, “Recurve.”
From the spheres on each end, two minute darts, the size of pins, launch at each other, trailing a white line a smoke. When they connect, a minute blue spark is seen as something within the smoke solidifies, creating a super-strong, fine wire. The ends of the cobalt blue length of iron extend out, forming the shape of a Recurve bow, with the round balls at each end bending away from him. The thin wire stretches, singing as it becomes taut, making it even harder to see.
But he can, thanks to his wrap-around glasses. In fact, they allow him to see whatever he needs, which at this point is in the dark. The room looks as clear as day, with a green tinge. The newly-formed bowstring is easily visible.
He turns back into the building and looks down a hallway. Three doors are already open.
“Narrow point.” he whispers.
As he reaches over his shoulder for an arrow, the glove that covers the index and middle finger of his right hand open, with the pieces sliding to the base of his fingers, exposing the top two thirds.
He grabs the arrow by the nock and draws it. As it comes out, the fletching snap out. The point is long, narrow and sharp. He sets the arrow, pulls back on the bowstring, and releases.
All of this happens in the blink of an eye.
He fires two more times.
Three metallic pings are heard after each shot.
“Zoom.” he asks.
His glasses zoom in on each of the doors opening into the hallway, particularly, the doorknobs. All have arrows shot through the center of them.
He smiles. “Stand– .” he begins to say.
A twang-sound, like a guitar string being plunked, is heard as the bowstring snaps and fades into white smoke. The bow shrinks back to its three-foot size.
As he heads down the hallway to retrieve his arrows, he mutters to himself, “I miss the voice commands.” But he has to admit, the cerebral link through the skull cap is quicker.
Once he pulls the arrows free, he returns to his indoor campfire, and re-inserts the arrow heads and shaft back into his quiver. After a quick meal, he walks towards the front windows.
The street below are deserted, but if he was right about who he saw at the precinct, it’ll only be a matter of time before he shows up.
“Stealth.” he orders.
A small, antenna-sized arm comes out of his glasses just above his nose, bring with it a thin, triangle-shaped piece of black shimmering, cloth-like material. The tip of the arm reaches down and stops just below his chin. The cloth effectively covers his face from his cheekbones to just past his chin. The same kind of material runs along the wire from the top of his shoulder to the end of his long gloves, covering his bare bicep.
Any cobalt blue parts of his suit fades to a dark grey-black.
His suit melds with the shadows and darkness, making him virtually invisible.
He waits there to see which ghost from his past will arrive first.

Pry: The Ghosts of Promises Past: Iron Bow 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.

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