The magnum’s barrel flashed repeatedly with its violent bark disappearing into the silence of the open park. He could feel his heart pounding in his chest, the sweat rolling down his cheek. The snap of a twig swung him about. “Back off!” Three more bursts of gunfire lit up his face. His breath, trying to choke down his the drumming in his ears and focus. “I know you’re there.” He tried to push that cool back to the surface. “Step out and I promise to make it quick.”
A soft echo of laughter caught his ears and he spun toward it. His finger squeezed for the trigger, but the whipping sound was faster as the metal arrowhead lodged into the barrel. The backfire was crippling, and he howled in pain, clutching his bent and bleeding fingers.
“Well, you kind did that to yourself.” The archer stepped into the moonlight, another arrow drawn back on the long wooden bow.
He stumbled backward and the arrow flew sticking inches from where his step landed. “I’m sure you’ll be happy to know that the mayor’s condition is stable. Bullet missed every major organ. Quite impressive, really.” He struggled to pull the rifle from across his back into his good hand just as another arrow cut clean through strap.
He turned and bolted. “Almost got a way too. Cops couldn’t find you. Had no idea where you were. Good position, clean escape.” The next arrow slipped right through the tight his hem of his pants. He tripped and fell hard, his mouth filling with dirt and grass. “Of course I found you.”
“All in all a solid FAIL by League standards, eh?” There was almost a sympathetic smirk on the pink lips below the shadows of her hood. “Good, but not good enough.”
The archer moved closer. The string on the bow creaked as it pulled back in her fingers. “Look, I know he’s in the country.” White eyes appeared in the dark of her hood as she neared the prone man. “So, you might as well tell me where I can find him.”
The would-be killer rolled on his back, trying to crawl away but pinned by the arrow. His eyes flashed from the young girl to the scoped rifle that lay between them. “He’ll kill me…” .
“Didn’t I cover the part where the mayor is stable? Stable means not dead. It means sitting up and feasting on pudding. They’re coming to kill you anyway.” She shook her head, reaching back for another arrow. “Sucks to be you, bud. Your best bet is to tell me where to find him.”
The man on the ground grit his teeth. “You’d like that, wouldn’t you.” He quickly reached into his coat, pulling another handgun. The barrel caught the moonlight as he rose it level on his target with expert precision and speed.
Before his finger could even touch the trigger he felt the sharp teeth on his jugular, tense and waiting. There was a quiet growl in the dog’s throat that pressed teeth on his skin. “Not a good idea. He kinda hates guns.”
“Now…” She crouched over the man, the metal protection over her knee pressing against his chest. Her fingers gently took the pistol from his. “I can offer you more protection than you can get running off on your own.” She tucked the weapon into her belt and leaned in close. This close he could see those white eyes in that strip of black that ran under the hood. “They will hunt you down faster than I did. And I promise you those guys won’t be as full of fail as you were to day.” She smiled. “So, you can sing to me or you might as well go coffin shopping now.”
He was quiet. The sweat running down his brow expressed enough of how heavy the options he was weighing were. “You promise…” His throat jogged as he swallowed.
The girl nodded.
“He’s in New York…” His eyes closed, and his his head fell back into the grass, relenting to his fate.”At the Plaza Hotel in Midtown. I was scheduled to meet him tomorrow night.”
There was a sharp whistle and the dog’s teeth let go. “Thanks.” He never saw the quick fist that cracked him across the jaw, knocking him into unconsciousness.
“Well, Pan?” Artemis massaged her fingers into the dog’s neck. “Looks like I’m going to New York.”She leaned in and whispered. “Don’t tell mom or Connor.”