An Example Must Be Made
Stephan Jensen, candidate for the United States Senate,
vice-President of his father’s lumber company, and fair-haired
bearer of the square jaw, stepped onto the platform at exactly 1:35PM. The crowd, group really, there were maybe 100 of them gathered on the grassy spot known to a few as Eakins Oval, applauded for exactly 30 seconds. He smoothed his red tie exactly once. He licked his lips twice, took a half step forward, laid both palms evenly on the podium, and spoke in a low, calm voice. “My friends and fellow citizens, our nation has come to a cross roads and we must decide which path to follow. Some say the way I offer is too difficult. That we should take an easier path. That those who are strong should be required to ease the burden of the weak.”
In the trees, to the north east of the parking lot, a magnifying glass secured, unobtrusively, to the side of a branch, was just starting to catch the afternoon sun in its lens.
Jensen continued methodically,”Behind me stand monuments for 2 of America’s great cultural heroes, fact and fiction.” He did not mention the art museum they adorned, filling the entire background, “George Washington as General of ragtag rebel forces fighting the most powerful military of his time, and Rocky Balboa feeling victorious just training for a title shot which even he did not believe he could win, the odds were so long.” Here Candidate Jensen stood a little straighter,raised his palms to include the group, and raised his volume, just a little.
The sunlight, those waves being cast through the magnifying glass, narrowed and intensified, focused onto a narrow rope laying on the ground. The far end had been staked to the ground with a silver mountain climber’s spike, currently hidden beneath a small pile of leaves. The near end tied to a 1 foot wide, 6 foot long, green and brown, rubber band. The ends of the giant rubber band, in turn, had been staked high on the trunk of 2 trees just a foot in front and to either side, creating a triangular shape, or more specifically, a slingshot. A red balloon sat in its cradle.
“We idolize underdogs,” Jensen raised his left arm in a gesture that both swept towards the monuments and suggested a victory wave, “we see them as heroic figures, those who perservere against the odds. Because we understand that overcoming adversity is what makes a man great.” Cheering and applause continued for a few minutes before he spoke again, returning to his calm tone. “Our opponents try to paint us as heartless, but nobody benefits from the tax man acting as enabler to the codependent among us.” More cheers, “Its not that we don’t care, its that we care enough not to help people hurt themselves. It is time for a massive national intervention before the liberals drag us all down like an alcoholic does to their family.”
The rope burned under the magnified light. As the sun continued on its course, it became more direct on the hidden glass, intensifying the power.
The group had now grown to a throng, bordering on a crowd as more arrived, and they loved the interventionist policy their liberty candidate was putting forward. Amongst the clapping, whistling and “yeah”s, the occasional “amen, brother” could be heard. “This is where it begins, with us, this campaign.” Jensen banged on the podium, exactly twice, “We are the underdogs facing a deeply entrenched challenge. But we shall cross that river, climb those stairs,” He looked up at the heavens and spread his arms, “and be victorious for god and coun-”
Before he could complete his denouement, an object fell from the sky onto his head. Onto his face, actually, and then all over his head, neck,shoulders and chest. At first all he saw was red. Then there was plastic, a popping noise, and warm, sticky, wetness everywhere. It was a red balloon filled with red food coloring and water. He was picking pieces off his black sports jacket and looking around with his oval headed, square jawed, red streaked face for some sort of explanation. The crowd, it had officially become a crowd just in time to bear witness to this spectacle, did not know whether to laugh or run away. So the just stood there, mouths agape. The police broke free of their shock first and rushed onto the stage, pulling Jensen away before a second strike could get him.
After he had been whisked away to his limo, and the press had begun filing their reports, and the crowd had begun calling/texting/emailing/tweeting the world the “news”, there
remained just 1 man on the platform, watching. From behind narrow
black sunglasses, he scanned every face searching for a sign of
guilt, or pride. A grey overcoat hung loosely over the black cargo pants and blood red button down shirt which disguised the athletic build he spent so much time maintaining. He ran his hand over his buzzed hair and scraggly salt and pepper beard, sighed and turned to follow his client. A member of his security team, Ted Hamilton, came towards him, “Mr. Korbach, sir, we found something.”
“What is it Harrison?”
“My nam-, Well, its the launch mechanism, sir, we found it, but you should really see it for yourself.”
And By Day…
Angela stood in the stacks, eyes closed, inhaling the scent of aged paper, cloth wrapped cardboard, and dusty wood like an ephemeral intellectual aphrodisiac. Crossing her feet, right lavender slipper behind the left, she spun about, head tilted back, causing the hem of her lilies on black dress to float in parallel to the ends of her shoulder length blonde hair. Stopping, placing her hand on a book,and opening her eyes, she smiled to find herself holding a copy of “Wicked”.
The familiar jingle of keys loosely hooked to a belt loop
told her Kevin, her manager, was in the next aisle. She sighed,
reverie broken, and returned to the task at hand. A small stack of books had already been piled on the step stool, to be returned to their publisher for destruction. Angela grew morose whenever she thought of these stories, these imagination transmitters, these foundations of the castles of genius, being eradicated by the cold,unwavering march of marketplace forces. Kevin came around the shelving end-cap. His giant chaos of curls poked up randomly from behind the newspaper he was reading. “Hey, boss, did you see this? The Purple Ninja struck again last night.”
“Oh yeah.” She continued to scan the shelves for doomed titles.
“Yeah, says she- whoa!” Kevin, too absorbed in his reality drama to watch where he was going, nearly fell over the stool she had been piling books upon. With all the grace of a marionette, he managed to jump/hop/bounce his lanky 6’2″ form out of the way and avoid collision. Somehow he always reminded Angela of the pipe-cleaner people she made in kindergarten.
“Careful Kevin, objects may be as close as they appear.”
“Funny.” He looked up long enough to give her a smirk of
his narrow lips, cut suddenly into his long thin face. “So anyway, this Purple Ninja chic booby trapped a Senator’s home.”
“She rigged the desk in his home office so petroleum would spray all over who ever opened the drawer.” He grinned again, as if he was somehow in on the joke.
“You keep saying “she”. I thought all they had were some blurry distance shots.”
“Not anymore. Last night’s caper got her caught on high def
security footage.” Kevin held out the paper for her to see. She
turned slowly, nonchalant, held an edge, and looked at the image on the page. It was black and white, grainy, dark, but you could
clearly make out the silhouette of a slender, masked woman running along the ledge of the property wall. Light from a building down the street illuminated the trees behind her. Being bare of leaves, they allowed enough light through to expose the trespasser.
Angela nodded her head, Just a silhouette. “No doubt about it, that’s a woman. I hope her little prank didn’t hurt anyone.”
“Paper says nobody was hurt. Just really pissed. That’s the thing, she never hurts anybody. Just messes with people. This Senator, he’s been taking money from big oil while proposing legislation to reduce their environmental regs. That last guy she hit, by locking him into his house while he slept, he was taking bribes to send kids to privately owned jails. And now, I just saw something on twitter about her hitting that Jensen guy running for Senate with a water balloon! And check this photo out, she’s got a steam powered bike!”
He turned the page and Angela almost grabbed the paper out of his hands. The best security pic she had ever seen; a woman sitting,
slightly hunched, wearing a hood that left only her mouth
uncovered, and body tight clothing clearly of the same color and
cloth, even in the duo tone image. The bike the Purple Ninja sat on was a normal sized girl’s bike, purple of course, but in the front section, usually left open for appropriate leg behavior, sat a large narrow water tank. Underneath the tank lay a battery powered hot plate which boiled the water, kept charged by the spinning of the front wheel. On the front of the tank a thin dehumidifier which pulled water from the air and refilled the tank. On the side where a chain usually would be, a pipe ran down the side, pumping steam across a crank which spun the rear wheel up to 30 miles per hour.
Too bad the pic doesn’t show the purple streamers on the handles. She relaxed, “So, she’s a vigilante prankster in a purple mask?” Angela smirked, just a little.
“Exactly. Which is awesome, and hot.” She tossed the paper back at him, “Sounds juvenile to me.”
“Ah, lighten up. These guys are never held accountable for anything. At least someone is doing something.” Angela just kept working the shelves. Kevin shrugged and went to find somebody else with whom to share his exciting news.
Back At The Office
“This cannot stand.” Stephan Jensen paced his office, wiping at his face with a wet cloth, making it more red from irritation than the little remaining die.
“Yes, Sir.” Avery Korbach, owner/operator of Castle & Keep Security, and a Marine veteran of Gulf War 1, stood at attention
at the edge of the desk. Sunglasses in his pocket, his scarred shut left eye was now clearly visible. With his hazel right eye, he stared forward.
“Don’t just ‘yes, sir’ me. We need a plan.”
“Already in motion, sir.”
“Would you care to enlighten me on the
“As you know, sir, Senator Nelson and Judge Reynolds are
also clients of my firm. As are several other prominent people
concerned about this… person. After the attack on the Judge, I
decided to call in some specialized help. He should be arriving
“What sort of speciality?”
“He hunts people. His name is Kyle Drake, but most people call him Dragon. I served with him. He’s been in Africa and Asia, hiring out to the locals as a bounty hunter. He has a reputation for finding anybody, anywhere, by any means necessary.”
Michael Simmons, professional political aid and amateur philosopher had a thought, “Isn’t that a bit overkill? I mean she hasn’t actually hurt anybody. Now that we have a photo, why not give the cops a chance to catch her the right way.”
“Hasn’t hurt anybody? She ruined the opening day of my campaign! Possibly my entire campaign! Do you have any idea how much money that cost me?”
“Nobody knows better than I, sir, but it was, essentially, a prank. What happens if people find out you hired some third world merc, who calls himself the The Dragon, for Christ sake, and he ends up doing real harm?”
Korbach didn’t like the direction this was going at all, he turned on his heels and faced the little man, “She’s guilty of breaking and entering, vandalism, and assault, at a minimum. Today she built a device using the sun as a timer set exactly for the end of his speech, which was undetectable by our normal screening methods. What if there had been a bio or chemical weapon in that balloon?” He turned back to his client.
“She is clever, industrious, and motivated. Plus she keeps escalating risk,complexity and potential harm of her assaults. She’s a textbook psychopath who could blow at any moment.
“In fact, sir, I also recommend increasing the security detail for you and your family for awhile.”
“I wonder how much that will cost?” Simmons snorted.
“Less than his life.” Korbach stared hard at the little man with his 1 good eye. “Oh, and its just Dragon, not The Dragon.”
There Be Dragons Here
3:30 AM is the best time to drive east on Baltimore Pike if you want to enter Philadelphia unnoticed. Nobody is out except other people who really don’t want to be noticed, and cops sleeping in their patrol cars. Dragon rolled in at steady 90mph on his Black 2009 Indian Chief Motorcycle. Behind him, a flock of UAVs flew in > formation, each tethered wirelessly to the smartphone set into his handlebars. A black WW1 helmet matched his leather bomber jacket and riding pants. His goggles appeared to be simple safety gear, but they allowed vision on a wide spectrum, as well as telescopic focus. He currently drove with his headlights off, and the night-vision settings on. As he drove, the speakers in his helmet replayed his mission debriefing. Dragon was excited to take on an opponent they knew so little about. Hoping this Purple Ninja lived up to the challenge, he began plotting the hunt.