by John Nation
One of the richest men in the world declares war on Sheriff Johnson and the Pack.
|Halfway across the country, Samuel Robinson Sr. sat in his office, admiring the model of the skyscraper he planned to start construction on soon. He considered himself a patient man, but his patience was beginning to wear thin. His boys had been in the ground a week now, and still there was no word from Whitingham.
He stood and moved closer to the model. He ran his hand over it, admiring its feel. His fingers caressed the pointed top. “If only you could be here when it is finished,” he said to his dead sons. “We would have ruled an empire together.” He stepped away from the structure and hurried to his desk. He knew he would have to rule his empire alone.
He pushed the button to summon his secretary. Ten seconds later, Sandra knocked on his door before coming in.
“You called for me?” she asked.
“Yes. Is that private investigator still waiting?”
“Of course, sir. He would never leave until you give him permission to go.”
“Good. Send him in.”
Sandra left, but was back in less than a minute leading a man carrying a thick folder. She opened the door and waved him in before walking away.
Robinson took him to one of his conference rooms, closing the door once they were both inside. He took a seat at the table and pointed to the chair across from him. Once the man was seated, he said, “What have you found out so far, Dennison?” he asked
“Sir, I have dug out everything there is to know about Sheriff Richard Lee Johnson. I know more about him than he knows about himself.”
“Excellent. Tell me his history.”
For thirty minutes, Dennison told all he had discovered about the Sheriff. He told of his childhood, talked about the schools he attended, gave his medical history and detailed the time he had worked as first a deputy and next the Sheriff in Missoula and much other information. Robinson soaked it all in like a sponge absorbing water.
“Until a few years ago, Johnson was only a typical Sheriff, only one of over three thousand that hold the same position around the country,” Dennison said. “That changed in the not too distant past. He was drafted during the Vampire War to the team that ended up winning the battle. Then only a short time back, he rejoined the team again to battle that demon terrorizing the Nevada area.”
“I still say that Nevada demon crap was nothing but a con,” Robinson said. “The government faked it so they could try out new weapons.”
“Yes, sir, it might be. I did not investigate the event closely, only the small part of it the Sheriff was involved in. After it was over, he quickly returned to Missoula. He has not been out of the state since.”
“What of his finances? Does he have a nice home, drive a fancy car, have a wife or mistress or any money problems?”
“His home is nothing special, a standard two bedroom house. He did pay off the mortgage in full a couple of years back. His car is nine years old. He has never been married, but he has been seen many times in the company of several beautiful women. Whether they are mistresses or simply friends I have not yet found out.”
He dug deeper into his folder. “I was unable to get pictures of all the women directly, but I was able to find pictures of two of them from other sources. One is named Sara Archer. She graduated from college there and moved to California for three years to attend flight school.” He removed a yearbook from Sara’s senior year at college and showed Robinson her picture.
“After she received licenses to fly an assortment of aircraft, the biggest being a 787, she returned to Montana where she is employed as a personal pilot to Miranda Skinner.”
“WHO DID YOU SAY?” Robinson shouted as he leaped from his seat.
“Miranda Skinner,” Dennison said again, hoping Robinson did not detect the nervousness that just appeared in his voice. “She was the other one I found a picture of. Three months ago, the local hospital opened a new wing she paid for. There are a couple of pictures of her in the newspaper with the mayor and other town leaders as they inspected the new facility.” He handed the pictures to Robinson. “If you look closely sir, you can see Sheriff Johnson standing in the background in one of them.”
Robinson saw the Sheriff, half hidden by the mayor standing in front of him, but did not pay it a lot of attention. He had dozens of pictures of the Sheriff. His eyes were glued to Miranda Skinner, smiling for the camera as she shook the hand of one of the doctors working at the hospital.
“What else do you have on Skinner,” he asked while sitting back down.
“Hardly anything, sir. You had me investigate the Sheriff. The only data I have on her is where the two of them interact.”
“That will do for a start. Once you leave here, not only will you continue to investigate Johnson, you will also look into this woman. You have the authority to hire as many people as you need to do your surveillance. This is literally a case where money does not matter. I want every scrape of data on both of them. I don’t care how minor it is, if it is out there, find it and bring it to me.”
“I’ll get started at once, sir,” Dennison said. He jumped to his feet, leaving the folder he had brought with him on the table as he left.
Robinson rummaged through the documents, only paying scant attention to them. It took him an hour to come to a conclusion. All this time he believed he was to one going after Skinner. Now he knew it was Skinner going after him. She was power hungry and always wanted more. Those were two characteristics he did not want anyone except for him to have. He saw his sons were lured into a trap. The Sheriff was obviously working for her. The murder of his sons was an attempt to throw him off balance, and for a time it worked. Originally, he only wanted to destroy Skinner financially. Now he would see to it her death was as certain as the murdering Sheriff’s was.
The Assassin was in his home. The home had little furniture. There was a sleeping mat in one corner. The bathroom held a single towel, some shaving equipment, and a bar of soap. The remainder of the home was filled with equipment used in his training and in his work. He was working on his speed at the moment. The machine in front of him would sling out wooden sticks at random and unpredictable times. He had to either block the stick that could come at him anywhere from foot level to crashing down on the top of his head, or else move out of the way. The sticks were hard and they moved fast. A strike from one could easily break a bone or crush his skull.
For forty minutes he stood there, blocking each hit. Before he finished this particular exercise, he turned the dial up. The sticks moved faster and with greater force. One stick shot out at ankle level for his left foot. He lifted his foot and it passed underneath him. At the same time, another flashed out at his chest. He hit the one coming at his chest so hard, the stick broke.
He saw a light on his phone flashing, telling him he had a call. He did not use an answering machine. If someone desired to speak with him, they would do it while he was on the phone. He would answer it later. If someone really wanted him, they would wait.
For another two hours he practiced. Finally he paused to have a cup of tea. He sat on a mat next to the telephone and watched it continue to blink. He sat the cup of tea down and lifted the receiver. “Yes?” was all he said.