By Way of The Bow

Chapter Three:

Sight Unseen


Disclaimer: Y'all ought to know by now, that what is posted on here is pure fiction. And for that matter, the future content may not be approved by the Comics Code Authority. References to DC comics and all that jazz are copyright DC Comics. Any and all resemblances to real people are "purely coincidental", as they say. Enjoy.

    "Today we're joined by Shooting Star Foundation spokesman, Alexander Jacob Murphy. Hello, Mr. Murphy. Welcome to Good Morning, California." The female host said, politely.

    "Oh, Jake, please. And I'm glad to be here, I've been something of a fan for a couple of years now. It's really a treat to be ON the show, rather than watching it." I said warmly, nodding out at the audience, giving a wry and bemused smile to them. I had decided to disguise myself a bit, at least in voice and mannerisms. I wanted as few people as possible making the connection that the smart, handsome, dark-haired young man giving interviews and being the golden boy of the public's eye by day, was also Star City's blond-haired, heroic mystery man by night. In a very real sense of personal irony, I was becoming a public 'straight man', to Green Arrow's more direct and slightly flippantly colorful way of speaking. I had in essence, taken a page from Zorro's book. 'Make them believe you are a gentleman, and they will take you into their confidence', was my new motto. And from all appearances, it was actually WORKING.

    "Well, maybe we'll ask you to come back one of these days and guest-host." said the anchorwoman's male co-host said jokingly. The audience tittered.

    The show was the local state version of the morning show hosted by Regis Philbin. With all that it implied. Marshall had suggested that I get my feet wet in the public eye, as the brains behind Shooting Star. The renovations on the Tower were nearly done after a record-breaking 3 weeks of round-the-clock work. And I was starting to feel the burn from lighting my own personal candle at both ends. Or was it three or four ends? I'd lost count.

    Foremost on my mind, was of course the superhero bit. Hard not to have it on my mind, it's all anybody who was ANYBODY in town, could seem to talk about. Green Arrow this, and Green Arrow that. You would have thought I was running for public office, the way the press was going full-bore over chronicling my exploits. The unofficial 'ad campaign', seemed to have started with some remarkably insightful articles published by a small-time little thing called "The Star City Voice". And it seemed like no end in sight, to the buzz over it. Even the big three, Leno, Letterman, and O'Brian had caught wind of it and started making potshots at the poor Star City police department.

    The most amusing moment, came when the comics company started complaining over 'copyright infringement'. They swore that if they could find me, they would sue me. I fired off an anonymous response through The Voice, saying: "Funny you should claim copyright infringement. You wrote about a hero who was a modern-day Robin Hood. Which is a story written by somebody ELSE. Get off your damn high horses. If anything, sales have been UP since I popped on the scene. Not that I'd expect a thank you for THAT free publicity. You might as well enjoy the ride, I'm not in it for money. I'm in it for justice. Try and feel good about yourselves, that you've helped create hope, for people you've never even met. I know I do, every day." After that, The Voice started getting MORE calls from the comics people, along with gaggles of fanmail the comics people began forwarding to the paper. Requests to visit people, and so on. Which was about when the Big Three came in on the scene, with such jokes as, "Have you heard what the Star City Police Department may now require their officers to carry? A bow and arrow special." And so on.

    One of the good side-effects of being the face behind Shooting Star, was the perk of practically LIVING in the tower, during the renovations. True, I missed my quaint little apartment with the banging heater and the watchdog on duty who slept pretty much all the time. I'd even considered the idea of an underground access from my apartment to the tower. But such ideas, like anything worthwhile, took time to grow.

    "I don't know about that, Bobby. They might make me replace YOU." I teased back. The audience broke out in loud laughter at that one.

    Bobby's female co-host just rolled her eyes in faux long-suffering. "And the world would heave a welcome sigh of relief." She wise-cracked for the audience's benefit.

    I glanced over and looked at her while the audience ate up the banter. I was surprised to note a kernel of seriousness along with the banter. Hmm... trouble in TV paradise? I wondered.

    The banter went back and forth a bit more, and I eventually was successful in plugging the Shooting Star Foundation. The Foundation, was an impressive project and I was honestly glad to be a part of it. Shortly after Marshall had convinced me that being Green Arrow was worth the effort, he took me to dinner and introduced me to a group of VERY wealthy men and women in the Southern California area. Over dinner, the subject had been brought up about the need for a charitable cause that the Entertainment community could invest in. By the time the week was up, no less than eight people out of the 15 dinner guests had drawn up checks to help fund the idea I had thrown out to the group. The Foundation, was officially formed a few days later, and an official use for the Tower was settled.

    The Foundation, quite simply put, was an organization which was somewhat like F.L.A.G., the Foundation for Law and Government. It pretty much took a life of it's own, honestly. In fact, F.L.A.G. itself was offering time and manpower, to help us get off the ground. Of course, that was one of MY contributions. I got a man named Devon Miles on the phone, and suggested to him that F.L.A.G. built itself up from nothing more than one man's dream. And commented, that it would be a damn shame if it sat by and did flat out nothing, to help another man's dream. Miles said something about my reminding him of an old friend of his, and the next day a woman named Bonnie showed up, with a team of technicians. I was, if anything, suitably impressed with her by the end of the first week. That gal knew EVERYTHING about tech, and I soon found myself nicknaming her "Oracle". We hired her on full-time, and it wasn't long before she was indoctrinated into "the big secret", and she was happily inventing new arrow designs for me that I NEVER would have thought of. She even helped me modify my costume.

    The first surprise, was the watch. Not only was it almost atomic in it's ability to tell time, but the darn thing was also some kind of communicator. The second change, was that I got rid of the mask. In it's place, I now owned a pretty damn good pair of sunglasses. I felt like it was Christmas in July, once she showed me what THAT could do for me. Not only were the lenses in my prescription, but I could wear them both in AND out of costume if I liked. Had some sort of holographic disguise, that made it look like a normal pair of glasses when I wanted it to. What's more, I now could see just about every spectrum of light, energy, and matter. You name it, there's probably a voice-activated setting FOR it. What's more, there was actually a memory inside it. And an infrared sensor to download and upload data from any computer.

    I was stunned, when I gave that puppy a test-drive. First thing I did, was switch to light x-ray mode and spent about two hours of 'supervising' the hunky construction crews working on the Tower. When I discovered the function that allowed the shades to *take pictures* of whatever I was scanning, I swore to myself that if I ever woke up, I'd shoot myself with my own bow. The view was *that good*.

    In fact, I rarely if EVER took off the light x-ray setting, once I'd been introduced to it. Truth be told, that bemused smile on my face as I looked out at some of the audience, WASN'T because of the lame jokes being tossed around. I hated public speaking, and a middle-school drama teacher once told me to imagine my audience naked. Huh. Who knew? Advice that was ahead of it's time.

    I was nonetheless relieved, once my spot to plug the Foundation was done and over with. I hopped in the waiting car for me, and within moments my driver was speeding off towards the Tower.

    One thing I was grateful for with everything, was Marshall's suggestion that I hire a company driver/personal assistant. It was with some dry amusement, that I picked a man who was arguably THE most insane retired cab driver you could find in Queens, New York. Marshall took the first ride with me, and then swore he would never ride with me AGAIN, after the way Benny drove through Star City. I loved it. The man was a holy terror to other drivers, but I felt as if I couldn't be safer, honestly.

    "So how'd it go, boss?" Benny asked once we'd peeled out of the parking area.

    "Ecch. It went." I said as I changed out of the dressier outfit I'd picked to wear on TV, and slipped on a green turtleneck and an old letter jacket I'd kept since high school. I tugged slightly on the shirt to adjust it, as I got comfortable in the rear seat.

    Benny nodded. "Marshall's calling for you." he said.

    I chuckled. "Patch him through."

    Benny pulled up the privacy screen. Moments later, the screen flickered alive and became a video phone.

    "Hey, Jake. Saw the show. What are you TALKING about? You didn't seem nervous out there!"

    I bit back telling him why I didn't get nervous, and got right to the point. "What's the latest in the news, besides what we already know and love?" I asked.

    Marshall tapped some keys on his end, and the screen split to a view of a newspaper. An article was highlighted. "Another missing persons report was filed recently. Some kid named Gregory, last name not publicly released."

    I frowned. "Okay... isn't that the third kid WE know of to vanish off the face of the earth, in two months?" I asked, raising my eyebrows as I paged through the short article.

    Marshall nodded. "Exactly. I just got a call from the boy's foster mother. Apparently, she saw this morning's show and decided to ask the Foundation's help since the police haven't turned up any leads and the police are saying he's a runaway. Mrs. Fenway doesn't agree, obviously."

    "Obviously. All right. I'll check into it, see what the woman has to say. We still on for dinner tonight?" I asked.

    "Unless you've got to 'work late' again." Marshall said with a grin.

    "Coward. You're just hoping to avoid tasting my ten-alarm chili." I said teasingly as the connection closed. I picked up the intercom phone. "Benny? Change of plans. Marshall's sending you an address. I need to go there."


    "Oh, my...." A woman said as she answered the door and saw me standing there. "You're that guy! That guy from the T.V.! Uh... please. Come in, come in! Uh... when the Foundation said they'd be sending someone over, I had no idea that..." she trailed off as I gave her a warm smile.

    "I'd be the guy they sent?" I finished her sentance. "Yeah, we're a little understaffed and I was in the neighborhood, ma'am. So. I understand that one of your foster charges went... missing?"

    "I don't know... I just don't KNOW, Mr. Murphy."

    "Jake, please." I kindly corrected her, trying to put the poor woman at ease under the circumstances.

    "Well, you see... uh... Jake... Greg is a good boy, but the system completely failed him. They shuffled him around, from one bad situation to another. It's like I told the woman on the phone this morning. I can't prove that he didn't run away.... but the police seem to think he did and won't do a single thing to change their minds about it. He's been gone for weeks, and now I think they're going to close the case completely." Mrs. Fenway explained.

    "I assume they checked his room?"

    "Yes," she admitted sadly. "And there were some clothes missing, and some money too. And his laptop computer."

    "Ah..." I nodded, as I listened to the woman. "I can see where the police were heading. With no sign of him in either the hospitals or the morgue... there's really no obvious clues that he DIDN'T run away. If you don't mind, can I take a look into his room myself?"

    "This way, Mr. Murphy..." she said, leading the way upstairs and past a few bedrooms until we came to a closed door which she used a key to unlock. "After the police did a brief search, I decided to lock the room in case he came home. I didn't want any of the other kids in there, they're a curious bunch."

    "So aside from Greg, you, and the police... nobody has come into the room?" I inquired.

    "Nobody. Greg always kept the room locked, and I'm the one with the only key, aside from him. I like to leave the children with a sense that they have their own privacy, when they need it. Their lives until they come here, have pretty much been a matter of public record being shuttled around from one home to another. I only use the key for emergencies like this, when something... happens." she explained, sadly.

    "Astounding. Alright. Mrs. Fenway, would it be acceptable if I had a few moments alone, to look around?"

    She bowed, and opened the door for me. "I'll be right outside the door if you have any questions."

    "Thanks. I'll remember that." I walked inside and left the door open a crack so she could hear me if I needed to ask her anything. The room was comfortable, a typical teenager's room. I was surprised to note that there were posters of boybands on the walls, rather than of Yasmene Bleeth. Aside from that, there were some model airplanes on the shelf, and various other indications that a teenage boy lived there. I felt a minor twinge of familiarity, as if I had somehow stepped backwards in time over ten years and entered a room similar to my own, as a teen.

    "Backstreet Boys, huh?" I called back to Mrs. Fenway.

    "Yes, he said he once met them." She responded, sticking her head back in the door with a faint smile. "Would you like me to put on some tea while you look around? Would only take a moment."

    "Tea sounds perfect. Orange, if you have it." I said, as I gave the room a normal visual once-over. As soon as I heard her footsteps heading away towards the kitchen, I got to work.

    "Hmm... on the surface, things seem alright. I can see where the police have already been, and it doesn't look like they went very far." I remarked into the commlink/recorder. I switched to light x-ray.

    "Interesting.... there seems to be something hidden in a drawer in the desk... oho, clever. False bottom. You would have needed an x-ray to see that one. Hmm... well, looks like the kid's laptop wasn't taken after all. Oracle'll want to get a look into it."

    I glanced down at a notepad on the desk. "Hmm.... what is this?" I switched views to a new frequency. "Ah! Pencil marks. Whatever was on the top sheet of this notepad, was written hard enough to leave impressions. Can't make them out completely, but I'll bet some digital work might reveal more. Not much... but it seems like that kind of day."

    I cocked my head as I noticed some personal items. Mrs. Fenway returned, with the announcement that the tea was ready. "Ah, Mrs. Fenway. Thank you. Well, I've taken up a lot of your time, and I was hoping if you might not mind if the Foundation borrowed a few personal items that I've uncovered. Hairbrush... toothbrush, a disposable camera, some dirty clothes, a pad and pencil... and oh, yes. I believe I found that missing laptop." I said, pulling open the drawer and revealing the laptop hidden in the false bottom. "I'm afraid our staff will probably need to examine the email logs, and such."

    "Oh! How clever!" She remarked, surprised to see it. "I had no idea that false bottom was there! How on earth did you...?"

    I wryly tapped my head. "A little insight in the right place, Mrs. Fenway. My man can come safely collect the items, while we finish up that tea. I have a last couple of questions, to ask before I leave you to the rest of your day."


    The elevator dinged as I made my way into the panoramic room Bonnie had wryly dubbed the "Lair". Bonnie herself was sitting in her chair, already at work at the images I'd sent back on the road. I tugged at my shirt slightly, and came down to get her report.

    "I've gotta say it. You're pretty through, when you check out a scene. How'd you know to find all that?" Oracle asked, without even taking her eyes off her work.

    "I may not be a cop, or even a private detective... but I DO know what it means to be a damn good writer. And my motto is, a writer worth his salt ALWAYS pays attention to the surroundings he's in. Be it on paper or off it." I responded, leaning against the desk. "So, what've you got for me, Bonnie?"

    "I'll give you all the salt you need, Jake. Thanks to you, we now have a picture, fingerprints, DNA, and handwriting samples of that missing kid. It'll take awhile to examine the laptop you brought in, but I've already managed to figure out what the missing piece of notepaper said. It's an address, and a time. Check this out: the date on the note, is right when Greg disappeared."

    I raised an eyebrow and whistled. "Curiouser and curiouser, Alice said. Okay, so there's a chance that wherever he went that night, has a connection to his disappearance."

    "Right. Here's what the pencil impressions said..." She pressed a few buttons and an image appeared on the screen. I blinked.

    "Holy Hannah. I KNOW that place! I was there that night! Or rather, Green Arrow was. Some kind of chop shop in a warehouse, down by the docks. Bunch of guys got busted that night, but I don't remember seeing a kid there."

    "I've placed a call with the local penitentiary. You have an appointment at two, to speak with a prisoner that's being held in custody there. His name is Reynolds, and he used to work for Luthorcorp out in Metropolis, before some big scandal went down and he got fired. There's been a warrant out for his arrest, and the state's dickering on the whole matter of his extradition back to New York state. Attempted murder of a minor." she explained, calling up a prison photo on the screen.

    "Hmm... I've heard of Luthorcorp. It's amazing the company's still in business, Lionel Luthor and business ethics don't exactly sleep in the same bedroom." I remarked drily, vaguely remembering the face on the screen. As I remembered the encounter, my trick arrows made him empty his bladder. I shook my head in amazement. "So... if he's been in hiding all this time, what on Earth could make him turn up here in Star City, and of all things, in a chop shop where some kid may have disappeared?"

    "That's why Marshall pays you to have all the fun." Bonnie joked.

    "Hm. Well, obviously Jake Murphy of the Star Foundation will be calling on Mr. Reynolds about the missing teenager. But I think Green Arrow will ALSO stop by the penitentiary tonight.... to find out more about that warehouse." I remarked thoughtfully, a plan forming in my mind. "I'll need a fake ID, and a copy of the guard duty roster. I think it would be best if I snuck back in after lights out." I shook my head and headed over to the arsenal to pick up my costume and a fresh supply of arrows.


    I was lead down to the visitor's lounge, where I was told to wait while they brought the prisoner in. I spent the waiting time reviewing my homework for the evening. I'd made it a point to download the blueprints and personnel files of the night guard crew. Having a pair of disguised shades that could hold 30,000 jpeg files at one time was quickly becoming worth it's weight in gold in my opinion.

    I stood up as Reynolds was ushered in. The guard announced I had ten minutes.

    "Mr. Reynolds, I'm Mr. Murphy with the Star Foundation for Law and Government." I said by way of introduction.

    "Never heard of it." Reynolds said, guardedly.

    "Yes, I'd imagine so." I remarked dryly. "In either case, I've been assigned to interview you for a study on prisoners in the system. I would like to ask you a few questions, if you don't mind. Nothing major, they're simple yes or no questions that only require your first gut reaction. There's no right or wrong, and we'll probably be done before you know it."

    "Alright, what do you want me to do?" Reynolds asked, looking at me curiously.

    My grandmother was by far, one of the best-informed people I'd ever MET. There wasn't a single thing she didn't seem to know, a single secret that couldn't be kept from her. As a child, I'd thought of her as some sort of mind-reader, or magician. As I got older however, I figured out HER secret. In this case, it was misdirection. She used to play this game, where she'd ask a bunch of innocent-enough questions to get my mind into the frameset of blurting out the first thing that came to it... and by the fourth or fifth question, she'd slip in a trick question. And I would automatically answer it without thinking about it. I'm embarrassed to admit, she caught me every time with that trick. It occurred to me while I had been waiting for Reynolds, since misdirection seemed to be the order of the day, that a similar stunt may give me some answers. After all... you DO attract more flies with honey than with vinegar, as my Grams used to say.

    "Well, have a seat, close your eyes.... and relax. This won't take long...." I began. I then lead him through some relaxation techniques that I had learned several years ago, and began asking questions.

    The first trick question confirmed that a kid named Gregory HAD been there that evening. The second trick question revealed that Reynolds lost sight of him when Green Arrow popped up and started shooting the warehouse up with trick and explosive arrows. Unfortunately, just as I was ready to ask him why Gregory had been there, the guard reappeared and announced that our time was up. I quickly brought Reynolds back and made my polite exit. It only made me all the more interested, in coming back later.


    The guard had been listening in on the conversation, and as soon as Reynolds was returned to his cell, the guard made a phone call. He repeated what had been said, and waited as he got instructions.


    I silently made my way down the hall towards Reynolds' cell. I was dressed as a janitor, wearing my costume underneath the disguise. Apparently the janitorial staff did most of their cleaning duties in the middle of the night while the prisoners slept, after an incident 3 years ago where a prisoner had used a janitor's help to escape.

    According to my calculations, the last guard shift had been approximately fifteen minutes ago and another guard wouldn't be coming down this area again for another 15 or 20 minutes. This gave me plenty of time to try and spook Reynolds into spilling the beans about what he knew.

    I counted cells. Reynolds' was 3 cells ahead of me. I made my way up, pulling my hat out of my pocket as I did. "Holy Hannah!" I hissed as I caught sight of Reynolds' cell.

    It was pretty obvious even without using my shades, that the man was unquestionably dead. There was enough blood on the floor, to go wading in. I thanked my lucky stars, that I had enhanced vision. I turned on the visor. The first thing that caught my interest, was the bullet hole in his stomach. I'd seen someone die like that before, and I winced. A bullet to the stomach, is a PAINFUL way to go. Slow, too. The man was essentially poisoned to death by his own stomach acids. Whoever did it, apparently wanted Reynolds to suffer as he died. The fact that no alarm had been raised made me think that the gun must have had a silencer on it.

    As I glanced up, I received a second shock. On the wall, painted in Reynolds' own blood, was a strange stick-man-like figure design. I immediately began snapping pictures, first of the symbol, then of the rest of the crime scene. Before I'd realized it, fifteen minutes had passed and I heard the keys turning which indicated another guard coming. I finished my scans, and quickly made my way out of there. Although I didn't make sense out of the image on the wall then, I was later to discover that the symbol was a word in another language. The word meant, "hope".


    "Boss...?" A nervous voice said from the doorway.


    The nervous voice gulped. "The job was done just as you said, boss... except for one thing."

    "Yes....?" The man in shadow said, controlling his temper.

    "He was there, boss. The Green Arrow. I don't know how he broke INTO the lockup, but I briefly spotted him leaving on my next round after it was done."

    An inarticulate scream escaped the lips of the man behind the desk. "He was looking for Reynolds?"

    The other voice gulped again. "I think so, boss."

    Momentary silence, then a finger tapped meditatively on the desk. "Leave me."

    The nervous guard fled.

    "Hmm.... first Green Arrow shuts down the warehouse. Then the Star Foundation starts snooping around, making it necessary to eliminate Mr. Reynolds before he talked too much. And now, Green Arrow sticks his masked nose in AGAIN. These meddlers are becoming.... irritating."

    The man picked up a phone. "Lionel. It's me. We have to accelerate the timetable, on the Level Three experiments. That idiot you sent over, Reynolds, almost talked. I've got a costume, AND an outside law enforcement agency breathing down my neck out here thanks to him. I cannot give you the results, if you keep sending me INCOMPETANTS."

    The man lighted a cigar, and took a deep puff as he hung up the phone. "This was so much easier, the first time."

So, the plot thickens! Lionel Luthor is in business with our mystery villian, and they're partners in the enigmatic Level Three experiments! Thoughts and ideas, you guys? Please share them! As always, if you like the tale please leave feedback, at .