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The Teller

King of Half-Truths
Hey y'all! *crickets* I'm working on a new story for Camp NaNoWriMo, so I decided to put it up here as well to see how people like it. It's all one short story (my set goal is 10,000 words), but I'll divide it up into chunks and put those up in posts. The story is still being written. It's basically about supervillains going about their lives. The first several posts will be about one supervillain in particular, whom you can basically read as a male Catwoman. Let me know what works, what doesn't work, etc. Have fun!

Chicago, 8:00PM. The museum will have been closed for a couple of hours by now and a changing of the security guards will be implemented in an hour. Security will be at its weakest, and I’ll be set to steal the Nano Wrimo Diamond. Simple, right? And if there’s anything else within arm’s reach while I’m there…why not? I’m feeling frisky tonight.

“Mrat.”

“Not now, Lokitty. Daddy’s gotta get you a new diamond encrusted litter box.”

“Mrat. Mrat? Mrat!”

Lokitty mashes his face into my left leg and rubs the right half of his body against it as well. He’s already been fed, so I’m taking it that he just wants undivided love and attention (and scratches) from me right now. He always knows the most inopportune times to do this. I bend down and scratch his right cheek.

“I know,” I say in my patented baby voice, “but some of us have to work for a living. Don’t you want fresh cod shipped straight from Alaska?”

Lokitty chooses not to say anything in return, opting instead to just purr loudly from his short victory. He probably knows that anything he says will just get turned around and used against him. I stand up again and gather my things.

“Now I’ll be gone for a few hours. No parties, m’kay? I don’t want to come home to find loose vixens and cocaine strewn everywhere.”

I grab my keys, open the apartment door, and turn back to him.

“Ciao!”

I close the door before he can escape and lock it. Okay, the hardest part is done and over with. Time for the fun part of work to begin.

First stop is the convenience store a couple blocks away from my apartment. I like to think of it as my own personal “phone booth.” The security cameras haven’t worked since 2002 and the cashier is always too stoned out of his mind to seem to notice that Robin Steele always walks in, but never walks out. The store was located just far enough away from my apartment to not look conspicuous, but close enough that I didn’t have to walk too far without my suit on. I also make sure to look everyone I meet on the sidewalk in the eye, smile and nod or say hello, and chat with any regulars I meet along the way. It always helps to have as many people see Robin in the flesh as possible. If they don’t think I’m some loner freak who’s always holed up in my room all the time and never comes out for anything, then it’s less likely that they’ll think that I’m Disappearance. The psychology of it all is that people are less likely to suspect a supervillain as being someone they know, so it benefits me to be acquainted with as many people in my neighborhood as possible. I’m due for another night of bridge with the crones one building over from mine. Lovely ladies. I think they’d help me conceal a diamond in a cherry pie if I asked them nicely.

I make my way to the store and enter. The cashier is, as usual, behind the counter, jamming out to some tunes on his iPad, head bopping and performing what I’m sure he considers an epic air guitar solo. I’m sure you’ll be heading Lollapalooza any day now. I try not to get too close to him. Not emotionally, I mean, but physically. He constantly reeks of weed and quite honestly? It gives me a major headache whenever I’m around him. He’s probably the only “regular” I see that I try to put some distance between us. I don’t even try to make eye contact or smile or say hi to him. Anyway, he doesn’t see me, nor does he see me make a beeline straight to the men’s bathroom.

In there, I unzip part of my backpack and take out my cosmetics. You would not believe how long it takes to put on your hair and makeup! I’ve thought about stealing from those companies that make it look like flawless skin just “snaps on” over your old skin before, but then I thought about it and realized that they don’t have anything worth stealing to begin with. Most of their money is purely imaginary anyway. So, I forgot about it.

Anyway, I’m shaving, putting some color on the important parts of my face (to make it seem like I’m much paler than I really am), some temporary teeth whitener on that I sure hopes isn’t permanently ruining my teeth, pulling my hair into place, stripping my clothes off, and dousing myself with a powerful and popular cologne. The suit itself with have an entirely different, strong smell, and the two smells shall hopefully cancel each other out in the areas where my skin touches the suit. Even if some superhero gets a whiff of the cologne, it’s the most popular one out there. Any of the thousands of Chicagoans wearing it tonight might be behind that suit. What, are you gonna bring them all in?

Just as a security precaution, I don’t don the mask until I’m out of the bathroom and slip through the maintenance door that leads up to the roof of the building. Don’t need any of the cameras to actually catch my going into the bathroom in my civilian identity and popping out full blown supervillain. Once I’m at the roof, then I put the mask on, adhere on the wig, gather all my necessary tools for tonight from the rest of my backpack, and get ready for work.
 

The Teller

King of Half-Truths
Okay, the Field Museum of Natural History is still several miles away. My gold-bedazzled Lamborghini is still in the shop getting its tired rotated, so I guess cruising down the S. Lake Shore Drive in style is out of the question. Shame. Guess I’m going to have to hoof it the old fashioned way …with a grappling hook. I take that baby out of its holster and fire it at the nearest building ledge, wait for it to connect, pull on the rope to make sure it’s taut, and then I’m swinging like a circus acrobat. A mile or two could be shaved off my travel time if I’m avoiding corners, street lights, traffic, the speeding limit, and the law, and stick to a straight line all the way to the First National Bank of Payday.

As soon as I get to the Lake Michigan dock area, I hear a shot ring out. Sounded like it came from the area where all those storage crates are kept.

“Crazy b itch!” I hear.

Yeah, that about confirms it. I find myself a cozy little spot with a view on top of a particular pile of crates (not the tallest, mind you; I still need another crate behind me to block my appearance from showing up against the night sky in case anyone were to look up), and I hunch down to watch whatever’s about to transpire here in a moment.

A man is running for his life. He looks older, probably in his forties, buzz cut hair, stocky build. Definitely not a supervillain (the lack of a costume gives that away), and definitely not a master genius out for a lakeside stroll (who would choose such an obvious cut and not make any attempts to hide their identity? Not even a hat? Really?). Of course, I wouldn’t need to know any of that info to figure out who this poor sap is. The trademark pumpkin orange scarf clued me in immediately. Jacques Hein, nincompoop for hire. Gave out his real, full name to the criminal underworld and didn’t expect anyone to take advantage of it. Good for small, indirect jobs and that’s about it. I think I had him run out to get me a club sandwich once …and he came back with a hot dog and apple slices. Now he was bleeding all over the floor and limping. Guess that gunshot was aimed for his leg, so whoever it was that was after him didn’t want him dead. Great, now I don’t feel like I have to intervene. What did poor old Jacques do wrong now?

Someone else saunters up to him. I internally wince. Girl was massive, had strapped across her back at least two swords, an axe, a shotgun, a crossbow, and a rapier, a pistol saddled on each leg with a strap, a rather bulky utility belt, no doubt loaded with poisons, flash pellets, daggers, fist cuffs, popcorn chicken, and bandage wraps. Crisscrossed over her chest were indeed daggers and small pouches filled with bullets. I’ve seen her use them before. She had a set of balls on her for being able to wear long, lilac-colored hair like that and still be alive and kicking. Literal kicking. The spikes on her steel-toed boots kind of hinted at that. She was a perfect hunter. I should know. She’s told me several times. She can’t stop saying it, like I’m too old to remember. The various mob families call her the Monster Hunter. She’s their enforcer when they need to send someone to deal with individuals who’ve slighted them somehow. She has a reputation for being rather brutal in her methods.

“A message must be sent,” she says.

“I-I-I don’t even know what I did wrong!” he replies.

“To atone for one’s mistakes, one must acknowledge one has made a mistake,” she says. She loves being cryptic like that. “You, the smelly manchild, have made a grave mistake with your previous employer. The shipment, yes? You did not send the shipment to where it was supposed to go.”

“Th-the ketchup?” he stamm…

The ketchup?

“Yes, the ketchup laced with opium you were supposed to ship to Russia. You ship instead to China. This makes the Morozov family very angry. They send me to send you a message.”

She reaches into one of her utility pouches and brandishes a pair of fist cuffs.

“They tell me to ‘deal with smelly manchild.’ I say okay. You get a wonderful deal, manchild. Fifty percent off. I only break fifty percent of your bones.”

“No! No!!!”

She starts wailing on him, but by that point, I was already considering the case of the drug-enhanced ketchup to be below my time and sneaking away from the future crime scene. He’ll live, and maybe not forget my order next time.
 

The Teller

King of Half-Truths
I swing by the Glocko’s territory. It’s a lovely place, really. Full of gang violence, random shootings, stabbings galore, drug deals every half an hour, a mob mentality that would make Hitler blush, and maybe a pickpocket or two. Really gives off that “white picket fence” mentality, you know? Anyway, I skirt just outside of their territory, oh so helpfully marked by a chain link fence with the barbed wire finish on top, which circles all the way around what they consider to be their turf. The last thing I want tonight is to have to pick a fight with those bozos and make myself late for my appointment. Thankfully, I manage to get by them without incident, and I land on a safe building, getting ready to swing to the next, when I hear the telltale sound of someone performing a superhero landing on a flat roof. I turn around to see who it is I have to fight off this time, and I get a face full of …complications.

“Well well, you look lost, sailor. You need me to point you to the nearest submarine? Or are you looking for irreputable bars overly saturated with women, or men, with loose morals?”

“Wow, judging by the scathing rating of that opener going through the roof, I can’t see any reason to not think you’re up to something, Dee. How has no one caught you without your fetish gear on yet?”

“Aw, Foxy, if this were fetish gear, I think you’d know it,” I replied, gently motioning my hands towards my decidedly not hard crotch.

Blue Fox is perhaps the only other man around here who shares my sense of humor. It’s such a shame that he’s a goody two-shoes who sides with the law. We’d be excellent partners in crime. Well, he’d make it more entertaining at least. Not that I’m complaining about the loads of entertainment he brings me already. Other superheroes are so boring to tussle with, but Foxy? He really reinvigorates the game of cat and mouse.

I notice his eyes veer towards my crotch momentarily when I gesture at them. Another thing that I liked about him- I wouldn’t be surprised if he actually had a thing for me. Always helps with a theft if the mark is infatuated with you. He isn’t so bad on the eyes either, but I can safely say that I certainly don’t have the same feelings for him.

“You just keep living in that circle of denial,” he said.

I put on my most charming smile.

“So what brings you out all the way here, Foxy? Isn’t this past your ‘jurisdiction’? Or did daddy loosen your leash a little?”

That’s right, push his buttons. Poor little Foxy doesn’t like when mean old people like me remind him of his tenure under the tutelage of one of Chicago’s first superheroes, Light Devil. I’ve seen enough battered women around these parts to know an abusive relationship when I see one. Aww, but doesn’t it just make you want to give him a hug?

“You know, I’m sure that would’ve stung harder if you’d made that joke six years ago, when I was still working with him,” he said sternly.

No playful banter in his voice. No bemused look. No feeling of being the superior here. Right where I want him. Now to shift the tone so much as to throw him off balance and skedaddle while he’s left picking up the pieces to his psyche.

“Okay, fine, I get it. We’ve all had our fair share of bad bosses. You think I liked working for that pompous douchebag of a manager at 7-Eleven? Or that one boss I hated at that Wells Fargo. You know, the one over at Westchester? Always smelled of B.O. and peppermints? Had to turn my attention to the pretty diamonds they sometimes took in in order to keep my sanity at that place.”

I put on a face of sudden realization.

“Oh, but this isn’t about me! It’s about you! What I’m saying is that I understand what it’s like living under the shadow of someone more powerful than you, desperate to get out and prove that you’re not as weak as they say you are. I mean, look at me. Self-made millionaire and no one telling me what to do.”

“Except literally every cop in the city, along with most of the superheroes who bother talking to you first before punching. But otherwise a touching story.”

Crap. Did I overdo it with the fake sympathy? I never know how to do those perfectly. I saunter over to the edge of the rooftop, facing away from him so that he doesn’t see anything on my face that would suggest recovering from being exposed like that.

“Don’t sweat the details, Foxy. You know what I’m getting at.”

New plan. I turn to face him again, looking directly into those brown eyes of his. Why didn’t he choose the name Brown Fox when he emancipated himself from Light Devil? It’s always bugged me.

“Don’t think I haven’t noticed the fact that you still haven’t answered my question. What brings Chicago’s most adorable little Cub Scout all the way out to the edges of the lake?”

“Oh, since you asked so nicely, I heard there was a hot dog vendor down here that sells the best Chicago dogs in town. Have you seen him, Dee?”

Dripping with sarcasm. And also presenting me with a new problem. I don’t have time to chat all night with him. A fight would take too long. It would just result with him being slightly out of breath and me slinking away and having to spend the rest of the night hiding from him. I’ll have to play his guessing game and quickly. Get to the point and get him out of my life for one night so that I can steal a priceless jewel and Lokitty doesn’t scratch up the couch.

Okay, let’s see here. Why would Blue Fox be lakeside? Something to do with work, obviously. He’s not in his costume to look good for me. Something, or someone, on a cosmic scale would be too much for him to handle alone, so… somebody with either no powers or very weak powers. And their goons. Goons never have powers themselves. Now who is based around here, who hasn’t been active recently, who is weak enough for someone to send a former sidekick alone to go deal with?

“Let me guess. Ditto Perfect got his hands on some poor sap’s power armor or doohickey, and now you’ve got two flashy supervillains to contend with!”

“Hmm…” he says, crossing his arms and staring at me.

“Oh, like you’ve never heard of a lucky guess before,” I reply.

Ditto Perfect, so endearingly named because he constantly says “Ditto, perfect!” as a response to just about anything, has the nifty super power of copying other people’s personalities and even their powers, so long as he has constant opportunities to touch them. This apparently extends to touching their blood, and guess what supervillain gadgets always have a trace amount of on them? He’s the only one who matches all the qualities Foxy would need to come down here.

“For your sake, Dee, I hope you’re not part of whatever scheme he has going on,” he says, eyeing me down.

I give a small laugh, a genuine one at that.

“Really, Foxy, you put too much faith in the man. You think someone like Ditto Perfect can ‘scheme?’”

He continues to stare at me and I realize what I’ve not done.

“Really? You’re grouping me in with him? I thought you thought I had more class than that!”

He seems to believe that a little more than anything else I’ve said all night.

“You know, I could have somebody else take care of Ditto Perfect instead. The Justice Youth America still need more field experience and, like you said, Ditto Perfect isn’t exactly a criminal mastermind. That leaves me more time to spend with you.”

What.

“I don’t know which shiny rock caught your eye this time, but I don’t see Disappearance hopping across rooftops at night in his criminal outfit just because he wanted some fresh air.”

“It’s Chicago, Foxy. I have to take whatever fresh air I can get.”

He is not pleased.

“Now go be a superhero and stop that walking, talking, cotton candy man while I get back to my business,” I say, tersely.

Silence. Silence is never good. Oh crap, what did I just say? He runs at me. The jig is up. I smile sweetly at him, and then fold myself backwards, right off the edge of the rooftop.

“Auf wiedersehen, Foxy!”

I fall down the next floor and grab the window ledge on the floor after. I open the window and pull myself in.

“Stay where you are, Dee! I don’t want to seriously hurt you!” I hear the big lug call out.

After a quick scan of the unlit room, I run to the other side of it and unlock and open the door. THEN I duck into the open closet and curl myself up as tight as I can, kind of like an armadillo, to make myself look like the owner just threw a balled up pile of dirty laundry into the closet. And then I wait. People tend to look for “people”-shaped objects when looking for someone, not spherical lumps, and definitely not when in a hurry or in the dark. Sure enough, Foxy comes bounding in from outside, sees the opened door, and runs straight for it.

“You can’t run from me, Dee. I know all your tricks.”

You stupid, pretty boy. I hear him run out the door and down the hall. And then stop.

“Ah, s hit.”

Crap, he pieced it together. Now or never! I uncurl and bolt out the closet and out through the window.

“Dee!”

He’s already back in the room. I’m already out the window and up the side of the building, thanks to the adhesives on my gloves. Thanks, Spider-man! As I near the top, I kick my feet outwards and curl backwards, letting go of the building once my momentum’s at a certain angle, giving myself a stylish leap up to the rooftop and a couple seconds shaved off my time. And then I’m sprinting once again, as Foxy is right behind me. Curse that super jump of his.

“But think of the children, Foxy! All those… dockside children… who are orphans… and live right next to Ditto Perfect. …Hey, you can’t DISprove it.”

“You can make more tasteless jokes at MCC.”

Tasteless?!”

I jump off one building and grapple onto the next. I hear a thumping sound and when I arrive at the next building, he’s already there waiting for me. Typical. He goes for the sucker punch technique, but that’s so outdated that my grandpa would’ve considered it an old geezer, and I swiftly bend my torso to the left to dodge it. His fist glides through the air, with the rest of his body following it.

“Whoa!” he said.

For a fraction of a second, his face is close to mine. His hair smells like he used strawberry-scented shampoo this morning. I am suddenly hungry for some strawberries. I kick him away.

“Rude,” I said.

Foxy rubs the place where I kicked him.

“Says the man who probably mugged seven old ladies today alone,” he retorted.

I feign shock.

“Those strong, independent ladies tried to rob me first!”

He recomposes himself and begins a roundhouse kick. I duck backwards to avoid it, but then he abandons the kick, revealing it to be a fake out, and delivers a lower kick to my side. Ouch, motherf ucker! I retaliate by punching the side of his leg, which was the closest piece of him that I could hit at the time. He probably barely felt it. I backflip away from him.

“Resorting to violence so soon? I’m just saying, I’ve probably punched less people in my criminal career than you have.”

“Just shut up and come in quietly.”

“Oh, no. Everyone I’ve talked to says that I’m a screamer.”

I charge at him, causing him to put up a defensive stance, and then I bend backwards, sliding on the concrete on my knees, right between his legs. As soon as I’m behind him, I kick him in the back. Perhaps this pisses him off, because the next thing I know, he turns around, grabs me “delicately” by the arm, and does a full spin revolution before throwing me towards a wall. His aim is (hopefully not intentionally) off, and my body ends up folding around the edge of a corner wall. It hurt like hell, but it also cost him. The price? A lot of distance between the two of us.

“I’ll see you in the Bahamas, Foxy,” I say.

And then I kick myself off the wall, over the edge of the building, land on the side of a building on the opposite side of the street, clinging to it with the adhesive gloves, scamper up to the fourth floor, and punch in a window, shattering it pretty easily. I climb in quickly. It will be a lot harder for a Cub Scout to enter this hole compared to the two story building we were just on.

“Ahhh!” someone screams.

A little old lady is sitting in a rocking chair, pausing in the middle of her intense knitting session to scream at harmless, little ole me.

“Pardonne moi, mademoiselle,” I say gently and with a smile.

And then I run out of the room and out into the hallway. Now then, which way? Up, or down? What would Foxy think I do? Well, he’d assume I’d go up to the roof to grapple away, but THEN he’d assume that I’d assume that he would assume that, and would thus go down the stairs and out the front door, disappearing into some dark alleyway. So, I’M going up to the roof.

I make my way up there and, not seeing his perk butt anywhere, assume that I gave him the slip for now. He’s probably still somewhere in the building, if not combing the streets below. I should probably make my getaway now while the going’s good. I use my grappling gun on the nearest building and start swinging my way to the Field Museum.
 

The Teller

King of Half-Truths
Eventually, I’m standing outside the museum. Well, I’m actually crouching in some bushes nearby, given that those pesky museum developers didn’t think to build any nearby buildings for me to use as a vantage point (besides the Shedd Aquarium and the Adler Planetarium, both just as annoying to scale and/or break into as the museum). How very inconsiderate of them. I do my best to survey the surrounding area from my position. Nobody walking in or out. A majority of the lights turned off. Both good signs that the museum is still closed and not put on high alert. There’s a digital board down the road that displays the time and temperature. I check that out. Perfect. Despite all those dumbass distractions, I’m still on time for the changing of the guards, albeit with less free time to look things over once and plan around any new developments.

I make my way around to the side of the building facing the lake. Thanks to some juicy info I got from a broker, I know the exact place where the motion sensors are. I take out a pair of doodads and place them very carefully on two specific points on the ground. These two beauties block the motion sensor lasers without tripping any alarms, tricking the program into thinking that the laser beam hasn’t been broken. I pass between the devices and carefully remove them. Well, if any alarms have been activated, I wouldn’t know about it until I enter the building. Silent alarms and all that.

I walk over to the side of the building and take out my handy dandy grappling gun, firing it up to the roof. The hook secures itself, I make sure the rope is strong enough to hold my weight, and then I start climbing up the wall. What, did you expect me to just waltz through the front door? I make my way up to the top and scan the area. Good, no guards up here. Now let’s see here …where was the window that leads to the Nano Wrimo Diamond? Three to the right, two down …ah, there it is. I sneak my way towards the lucky window in question. I peer into it. A guard walks past, flashlight in hand, scanning the hallway for troublesome pests. Who would dare enter such a respected establishment, uninvited, during closing hours, with the intent to illegally gain some artifact solely for monetary means? Certainly not I.

The guard goes into the other room. Now’s my chance. I take out the doodads once again and place them on the edges of the window, just in case the window itself is motion sensored. Then I take out a laser pen I had clipped onto my suit collar back at the convenience store, and start slicing a hole into the window. A three by three foot hole should be enough. Before I complete the circle, I place my adhesive hand on the glass and make sure it’s going to stick before closing off the circle, pulling the glass back, and presto! One easy breezy beautiful entrance and escape route. Eh, I’ll duck tape it back together later. No one will ever notice. I peer into the hole and double-check to make sure no guards were nearby. According to my research, the changing of the guards should be happening right about now. For a couple of minutes, no one will be patrolling. The best chance I’ve got at getting in, swiping the diamond, and getting out without being shot full of holes. As it turns out, the guard I saw is standing in the hallway, chatting with a second guard.

“…still think the Nano Wrimo Diamond is just a shiny beacon beckoning that cat burglar to come swipe it. What’s his name, Cataclysm?”

“Nah, I think it was some other cat pun, like Catastrophe.”

They laugh.

“Main Boon. Isle of Manx.”

“Siamese Steal. Bengal Burglar. Savannah Swipe.”

The indignity!

“Toyger Terror. Bombay Boxer. Nebelung Puncture!”

“Rushin’ Blew. Bob Tail. Abyss I. Nyan. Devon Rex.”

“Singapurr. Korat Karat. Bail In Ease.”

“Midnight Minx. Black Cat. Night Panther.”

“Ooh, better not use those! I think you run the risk of a copyright infringement!”

They laugh even more, and then turn to go back to the guard station. And what, exactly, about my suit and stealing diamonds means that I have to have a cat name?! Just because I’m a cat burglar, doesn’t mean I center everything around a cat motif! I should just steal the diamond and get back home before Lokitty decides to poop on my bed again.

I drop down from the window. The diamond will be located a few rooms to the right. I dash to the corner of the entranceway and peer into the next room. As I suspected. A security camera. Time for another gadget. I take out what honestly looks like a toy squirt gun painted black and aim it at the camera and fire. The red light on the security camera turns off, telling me that this scrambler did its job and the camera is now experiencing a bad case of the fits. I run through the room, perform the same trick in the next room, and the next. Finally, I’m at the room housing the Nano Wrimo Diamond. Gadget time. I take out a different device, this one resembling a breath-refresher spray, and spray the immediate area. This makes the motion sensor lasers visible to the naked eye. Time for a show.

I maneuver my way through the laser field, flipping, bending, scooching, sliding, and tiptoeing around lasers with elegance and style. I only sort of wish that I hadn’t disabled the camera so that at least somebody would appreciate my moves. In less than a minute, I’m standing right next to the exceedingly beautiful Nano Wrimo Diamond. It is, of course, encased in glass, but when’s that ever stopped me before? I get out my laser pen again to slice a hole into the glass case.

Suddenly the whole room has been cast in red, and a shrilling siren alarm blares. I look over to the entrance I took in and there he was… a face full of complications... and deliberately stepping on one of the lasers with his big, oafish feet.

“You come here often?” Foxy says.

I guess the anger must have shown on my face, because he then continues with an “Oh, so you CAN play the strong, silent type when the chance presents itself. I didn’t know that. We should really talk one-on-one more often. How about we do that right now, as I’m escorting you to prison?”

I took a moment to recompose myself.

“Offering to walk me home is sweet and all, but isn’t it past your bedtime? You don’t want to be late for kindergarten tomorrow, do you?”

“You know, baby-face jokes are only used when the person saying them is wrinkled and …hey!”

While he was too busy trying to make a witty retort, I start running straight at him. He takes a bracing stance, and I drop to my knees, bending over backwards, going right between his legs. But then he simply catches me by the neck and throws me back into the room.

“You’re not escaping this time, Dee!”

I rub my tender neck.

“So how’d you find me, Foxy? Someone tip you off? Facebook? Or did daddy have to do all the hard work for you?”

“How about ‘the only place in the city that’s holding a big, sparkly diamond?’ Coupled with ‘kleptomaniac with a psychosis that compels him to only steal expensive gems?’ Oh, but let me guess: you’re too special to be soooo easily figured out. Is that it?”

I take off my laser revealer device and throw it at him like it was a live grenade. He puts his hands up to shield himself from it, and by then, I’m performing a leaping kick to his exposed torso. This knocks him back a couple steps, but not enough to get past him.

“Baby, how about we save the hurtful comments until after we’re in bed, hm?”

And with that, our foreplay of violence begins. He brings the punches, I dodge and weave in ways you wouldn’t believe. I deliver some kicks, and besides a requisite “oof,” I doubt he’s actually experiencing any pain from them. Maybe a mild discomfort, like when an arm hair gets caught in fabric and gets ripped off. I hate when that happens. All the while during this fight, the room is painted red and the siren keeps blaring. Foxy isn’t letting me through the doorway, and reinforcements should arrive any minute now. Gotta think fast, Robin.

I throw a punch to his face. He catches my fist. I throw another punch with my other hand. He catches that, too. I put some oomph behind both and try to outpower him. I lean my head in closer. He does the same, probably anticipating a headbutt or, heaven forbid, a bite. I then close the gap between us and kiss him on the lips. In my later defense, he didn’t instinctually pull away either. I slip some tongue in there as well, just to sweeten the deal. To my surprise, he tries to slip his tongue in there as well. Hmhm, so he does have feelings after all. I pull my face back, smiling like a giddy schoolgirl.

And then I knee him in the crotch as hard as I can, and as he’s crumpling onto the floor, grunting in pain, I flip over him and turn around to face his juicy glutes.

“Thanks for the snack attack, Foxy. We should do this again soon.”

And then I run back to where I got into this mess in the first place. By now the guards are arriving on the screen.

“Freeze! Or we’ll shoot!”

“Drop your weapon!”

“Hands behind your head!”

Oh, I put my hands behind my head alright, griping the rope I brought down earlier. Then I flip up and catch the rope with my feet, flip again and catch it with my hands, then with my feet, and finally I’m at the top of the window. The guards are now shooting at me, so I don’t wait around to give them some hilarious doozy of a zinger. I. Am.

OUT. OF. HERE! By the time it takes for Foxy to come up here and try to sniff my tracks, I’ll be long gone. And of course, without a single victory in my hand. Which was …of course…

The plan to get back to my apartment goes with surprisingly little hitch. I get back to my convenience store and undress and soon I am just a faceless mask in a morally depressed crowd. I make my way up to my room, unlock it, and Lokitty pops his head out, trying to squeeze the rest of it through.

“Mrat!”

“It’s good to see you, too, Lokitty,” I coo, squeezing myself through the doorway and quickly locking the door before Lokitty can get out. “I’d better not find any Tide Balls or Elmer’s Glue lying around.”

“Mrat?”

I drop my stuff on the floor.

“What? You want dinner again?”

“Mrat! Mrat! Mrat? Mrat!”

Clearly he does. I turn on the news while preparing yet another fanciful feast for him.

“In other news: the Nano Wrimo Diamond was almost stolen tonight by Chicago’s own cat burglar, Disappearance, but was foiled in his attempts by the heroic actions of Light Devil’s own protégé, Blue Fox. Authorities say that Blue Fox was not able to catch this master thief, so residents are advised to please stay indoors for the rest of the night and do not open your doors or windows for the rest of the night.”

Good. The whole plan is coming together nicely. And now for part three of my devious plan: get a good night’s sleep! I’m going to need it.
 

The Teller

King of Half-Truths
I strut into the Field Museum of Natural History, metal briefcase in one hand and fedora on my head. I’m dressed in my Sunday best and I’ll admit it, I’m feeling a little bit naked without all the makeup on and sporting my real hair for all to see. I do my best not to let my eyes wander all over the place as I make my way up to the receptionist’s desk. A beautiful, long-haired brunette sat there, typing some itinerary on her computer. She looks up to greet me.

“Welcome to the Field Museum. May I assist you?”

I see that her nameplate says Brittany.

“Well good morning to you, Brittany,” I say in my best Cajun accent. “I’m Casey Klozed, the inspector from the United States Jewelry Council? I believe we’ve spoke on the phone before.”

“Oh, yes, Mr. Klozed. I’ll inform Mr. Aguet of your arrival.”

She dials a number on her phone and soon the director of Protection Services comes out to greet me. We shake hands and I reintroduce myself to him, being mindful not to seem like I’m in a hurry. We talk back and forth jovially as we walk back to where the diamond was being held.

“I must admit,” I say, “I’m surprised the diamond is even still here, what with that rascal phantom thief trying to steal it last night.”

“So word about that reached even you?” he inquires.

“Mr. Aguet, it is my job to know the status of all the diamonds I’m put in charge of overseeing. I must say, I am impressed your guards managed to keep him away from the diamond. I heard this little thief of yours has super powers, and I am under the impression that your guard staff do not.”

It is a well known fact that men, just like women, love to be complimented, and telling him that I believe his security force fought off a supervillain all by themselves will no doubt cause him to trust me a little more than a minute ago.

“Well, we are a very prestigious cultural museum that houses many rare and valuable artifacts. We take great pride in our security,” he says.

We come to the room the diamond is in, a different, sealed room than yesterday’s. A middle-aged woman, looking a little rough around the edges and all serious, but otherwise fair looking, stands in front of it.

“This is Diane,” Mr. Aguet says. “She’ll be your guard and supervisor during your stay. Enjoy your visit here, Mr. Klozed.”

“Thank you very much,” I reply.

He walks off. I turn to Diane.

“Charmed to make your acquaintance,” I say, extending a hand for a handshake. “The name’s Casey Klozed.”

She reciprocates the handshake.

“Pleasure to meet you, Mr. Klozed-”

“Oh, uh, please just call me Casey. I let the big wigs call me Mr. Klozed because they’re signing my paychecks, but I much prefer that casual, friendly tone of a first name basis. Makes me seem like a human being and not a cog in the machine.”

Women love a vulnerable man, and especially not stoic, stick in the mud types.

“Sure, Casey,” she says.

More charm will be required.

“I understand security is crucial around here, so let me explain the procedure I will be doing today. To make sure that the diamond is legitimate, I’ll need complete darkness once I’m in the room. Any glare from the overhead lights might cause a clue as to the diamond’s fakeness to be concealed, which I might overlook during my appraisal. All the tools I’ll need are in this briefcase, including micro-flashlights, so that I can control any light glare that might arise.”

I flip the briefcase on its side on one arm and snap it open.

“Inside, you’ll find a manufactured fake diamond. I’ll be using this fake diamond as a reference point.”

I make sure she sees the fake diamond. To anyone untrained, it looks like a diamond should, and no one would be able to tell that it’s a fake. I close the briefcase before she can memorize the details.

“Once I ascertain that the Nano Wrimo Diamond housed here is the real deal, I’ll knock on the door, and you can let me out. If you wish, you may even inspect BOTH diamonds before escorting me out. Did you follow all of that, Diane?”

“Yes, Casey. How long do you anticipate the procedure to take?”

“Oh, considering how precious this diamond is, I’ll be doing a second and third check on it, covering all aspects and dimensions of the diamond, so I expect to take at least 30 minutes.”

“Okay. Whenever you are ready.”

A woman of few words. I know some men who would like that.

She enters a passcode on a lock pad and opens the door. I step through.

“Please kill the lights in exactly five minutes,” I say.

“Okay. Knock when you’re done. If you require any further assistance, please contact me immediately. The door is not soundproof, so I’ll still be able to hear you.”

“Thank you very much, Diane. Your assistance is greatly appreciated.”

The door closes and I have five minutes to act like I’m getting out my appraisal tools, testing and calibrating them, and remove the diamond and place it on a more secure brace of sorts. Five minutes go by and the lights go out.

I simply remove the diamond and switch it with the fake. Job done.

It’s easy for me to make the switch, given that I put in night vision contact lenses that morning before going to “work.” I then turn on one of the flashlights and begin appraising the fake diamond. I have no doubt that the security camera in the room can still see me working, even with as little light as the flashlight gives, so I only had that small moment between the lights going off and me turning a flashlight on to make the switch.

I take the time during my “appraisal” to let my mind wander. This whole plan hinges on the entire museum not knowing how diamond appraisal works, and just trusting a guy to come in and look at a rock long enough to say “Yep, that’s a rock all right.” The fake ID card I made beforehand didn’t even come into play. I almost feel cheated. I sure hope the millions of dollars this diamond will fetch me on the black market will make me feel a little better.

After precisely half an hour of pretending like I’m judging this worthless rock’s sky high value, I place the fake diamond back on the pedestal, pack up my tools, and walk over to the door and knock.

“All finished, Casey?” Diane asks.

“Yes, I’m pleased to say that this museum does indeed have the real Nano Wrimo Diamond in their possession. Thank you for letting the USJC satisfy their concern as to whether the diamond had been replaced with a fake during transport or not. With how easy it is to make carbon copies these days and supervillains running around, you can never be too sure.”

“You’re welcome, Casey.”

“Would you like to see the diamond in my briefcase?”

“I would, in fact.”

I open up the briefcase and show her the real Nano Wrimo Diamond, along with the tools that were still warm from my having used them just minutes ago.

“As you can see, a blemish here, an imperfection there, a slight asymmetry to the whole piece…”

I am banking on the idea that none of them have ever seriously studied how to identify a rare and valuable diamond before.

I close up the briefcase.

“And now you got the rare privilege of seeing a fake diamond up close and personal with your eyes, Diane. Shall we head upstairs?

“Of course, Casey. Mr. Ageut will escort you out the rest of the way.”

We walk back the way we came. Pretty soon, it is the man in charge himself who greets me.

“I trust I’m still in possession of the Nano Wrimo Diamond?”

“Don’t worry yourself over it anymore. I double and triple checked my list. The diamond is indeed real. We at the USJC issue an apology to the Field Museum for confronting to your organization our fear that the diamond might have been stolen at some point during transport. It seems nothing of the sort has been made.”

“Well,” Mr. Aguet, “we appreciate your concern.”

I am already making my way to the front doors to freedom.

“You know how to write your checks, I presume. Now if you’ll excuse me, I always wanted to see the dolphin show at the Aquarium before the crowd gets there.”

And with that, I left the building with a priceless artifact in a suitcase using mostly my true body, no powers, and a bunch of prep work done in the past several weeks …including last night.

Too bad Foxy will never put two and two together. He’s only the city’s second smartest superhero around, and in this city, that meant that he could Velcro his shoes together without assistance. The whole plan was a success. I intentionally go out at night, dressed in my Disappearance costume, get his attention, tussle with him (though I wanted to do that at the museum and not on some rooftops several miles away), “fail” in getting the diamond, and then let him think that that was my only primary plan for that diamond (when in fact, IT was the distraction). Then have the audacity to just stroll in the next day, in my public persona, and just talk my way into being handed the diamond in such a way that they won’t notice the fake for what it is for months on end. Foxy wouldn’t think I’d strike so soon, in the daytime with a lot less theatrics. I want to keep him thinking like that. Makes my job easier. Though I will say, I love both the acquisition of new gems AND the fights on rooftops. And I love doing it with Foxy.

I hail a cab (don’t want anyone else asking about this briefcase) and go back home. Looks like Alaskan cod is back on the menu, Lokitty!
 

The Teller

King of Half-Truths
Hello, wandering spirits! This is a new chapter to the story, taking place either before or after the previous chapters, but not simultaneously! It's kinda unedited, so let me know if anything needs to be changed. Enjoy!

Ugh, this feels like I’m recreating the sloth scene from Zootopia. Why did I do this to myself? International crime lord and dashingly handsome jewel thief over here, and I convince myself that it is the smartest decision to go to the bank to deposit my check during the busiest day, during the busiest hour. It’s like everyone in the neighborhood was threatened at gunpoint to enroll at this specific bank. Was the Bank Mafia also breaking people’s kneecaps if they didn’t go during this time as well?

“Oh hello there Robin. Such a pleasure to see you here.”

I turn around to see Mabel hobbling up to me. Of course, she was surrounded by the Golden Girls as well. They all feed off the same life force, you see. Whether Jessabelle, Annabelle, or Isabelle had any business at this bank, I don’t know, but Mabel certainly did. Apparently was the wiser of the two of us, she had already finished whatever her business was here and was walking towards the door with her brat pack in tow.

“Oh, it’s always a pleasure to see you, Mrs. Cirup.”

“Bah! When are you going to stop acting so senile and start calling me by my name?!”

I laugh politely.

“Well not all of us can act as young and sharp as you, Mrs. Cirup.” I explain.

“Oh you flatterer!” she says, flicking a hand at me.

“When are you going to bring a fine young woman to bridge night?” pipes Annabelle. “We won’t bite…much!”

The girls cackle.

“Only three of us are ex-criminals!” adds Isabelle, causing the girls to laugh even more so.

‘And one a current criminal,’ I think to myself.

“Well, you see…” I respond, acting all flustered.

“We won’t judge if it’s someone new every night,” chimes in Jessabelle. “It’s not like we remember what we ate that morning!”

Cackling.

“Girls, I’m not…” I try to muster.

“Oh don’t say that you can’t find one, Robin!” says Mabel. “What girl wouldn’t want a fine, strapping young man such as yourself? Why, if I was 180 years younger…!”

The cackling continues.

I force myself to think of embarrassing moments to get myself to blush. Hopefully a little sweat might form as well.

“Mabel, I don’t think…”

“Do you need some help, dear?” asks Isabelle. “We can cast our granny net pretty wide, reach a lot of people. Surely we’ll find some sweet young thing…”

“I…don’t think that’ll be necessary.” I stammer.

“Awww, look what a precious red you girls have made him!” Mabel points out helpfully and loudly. “Such a darling boy. Oh, but look at the time! Girls, I think it best we be going. I don’t want to miss Judge Judy! Robin, I’ll expect to see you at bridge night on Thursday.”

“Of course, Mrs. Cirup. Wouldn’t want to miss ladies night for anything.”

“Because if you do, you can expect a whole swarm of spry old ladies banging down your door and dragging you to your doom! Aha ha ha!”

Another polite laugh.

“We wouldn’t want that. I’ll see you all then!”

“Goodbye, sweetie!”

And then they walk off. Mabel’s a sweet old coot, dangerous, too. She and the other old ladies in the neighborhood sort of adopted me a couple years ago. I guess they took a shining to me. I allowed it, of course. What better way to throw off the scent of a master jewel thief than to be associated with a bunch of retired women who zealously guard whomever they see as a grandchild-by-proxy?

The line is moving slightly slower than Mabel sprints with that tennis ball walker of hers. I consider whipping out my phone to play some games on it, but then I remember that I’m a criminally genius master criminal, so of course I forgot to charge it overnight. I have enough to call 911 in case I go into a boredom-induced coma, but that’s about it. Just as I’m about to yell a bomb threat to get everyone moving, a gun goes off in the distance.

“EVERYONE GET DOWN ON THE GROUND!” yells a man in a ski mask.

I instinctively crouch down and start surveying my surroundings. A couple of men. Typical. It’s never women who do these sorts of things. Hollywood has lied to me again. All the men have on ski masks. Really? How unoriginal. At least put a tacky, cumbersome costume on and make stupid jokes based on an incredibly obvious theme. That’s what everybody else does.

Now, everyone else is cowering in terror, but for a seasoned pro like me, I got different things in mind. I don’t know about you, but I’m not feeling like sitting around and waiting for an armed gunman to come waltzing up to me and start demanding orders. So, once I see that all prying eyes are off me, I crawl my way towards a blind spot. Once there, I start making my exit plan. Assuming the stooges haven’t completely surrounded the building, there should be an exit at the back of the bank. Some flipping and flopping, and I should be out the door with none the wiser.

But wait! Now that all the staff are preoccupied with the current robbery taking place, maybe now’s a good time as any to help myself to any precious stones kept locked up in that safe of theirs. Now I don’t want to say that I can do a pretty good imitation of the Grinch’s legendary grin, but I’m pretty sure I just got a wonderful, awful idea.

I peer around the corner. Good, no one’s noticed my absence yet, and the goons haven’t spotted me. The vault is behind me, and the staff is too busy cowering on the floor or handing out free money to the nice men. Time to get to work.

First up, getting into the vault. If I stand up straight, the goons will see me. So, why not just roll to the vault? So I just roll up tightly and somersault as quietly as I can to the vault door. Now, my clothes aren’t going to like this, which is why I tend not to use my power without my special suit on, but when am I going to get such a delicious opportunity like this again? And there goes my dress suit. I can almost hear the rip being born and growing. I sure hope that turquoise turtle I pinched last year can pay for a $150 new suit. However am I to survive in this harsh world?

I tumble to the vault door. Next part of the plan, figuring out how to get in. Looks like this is another one of those password protected doors that’s all the rage these days. So fancy. Much defense. And yet powdering the keypad with some face powder that I had on me reveals all four digits to this top of the line state of defense door. Now, how many times is this door going to forgive me for entering the wrong code. I mean, sixteen times seems appropriate in this situation, don’t you think? Do I have enough time to roughshod this without getting blown to smithereens by these tall, burly men (too cowardly to show their face, by the way)? I look over and see that they’re making their way towards me, robbing every teller along the way. Damn, that’s a no. What-

I snap my head around at the sound of the front door slamming open.

“Stop right there, evil doers!” booms a gallant voice.

Oh great. Ted, better known as Villain Vanquisher, is here to save the day. Just what I need.

“It’s the cape!” one of the goons yells.

I see the goons that were heading towards me turn around and jog back to the entrance. Well, I suppose he is good for something.

“Relinquish your weapons and return your ill-gotten gains to the proper authorities and submit to rehabilitation.”

Does he really think anyone talks like this? I’m hiding from armed thugs and even I want to go up to him and slap him. I start entering in possible passcodes while I still have the chance. Let’s see…1379, 1397, 1739, 1793…

“Aim for the head, you idiots! He’s got some sort of bulletproof vest on!”

“I swear I shot him in the head! I thought he wasn’t immune to bullets!”

“Keep firing! Johnson, try stabbing him!”

“Give yourselves up now, fiends! You won’t win!”

“Just shut up already!”

And it’s not 3791, or 3971. Is it really going to be the very last sequence I think of?

Just then, the glass ceiling shatters. What now?!

“License and registration, boys,” comes a very familiar voice.

I stop what I’m doing and peer around the corner. Sure enough, Voted Chicago’s #1 Boy Scout, Blue Fox, is already on the ground floor and slamming his fist in the face of some poor sap. Before the first guy even has time to crumple to the ground, Foxy’s turned around already and delivering a roundhouse kick to the guy next to him. A third guy runs screaming up to him, ready for a brawl. Foxy ducks beneath a highly telegraphed punch and wastes no time throwing a punch at the man’s stomach. As the man bowed over in pain, Foxy elbows the back of his head and the thug goes down hard. It’s all very fun to watch. I remember the last time Foxy threw me into a wall and attempted to knock me out with a blow to the back of the head.

Focus! Focus, Robin! Now that Foxy’s here, you’ve got to contend with two superheroes, and you’re not exactly looking pretty innocent here yourself. I continue to punch more combinations in. Finally…

“9731…got it!” I whisper to myself.

The vault door unlocks. Now, do I slink in and help myself now, or not risk getting caught by Dudly Do-Right and Foxy? If Foxy catches me in the act, he might piece things together. Adding on to that, he’ll either throw me in jail (not a fun time), or I’ll have to fight my way to freedom, which will undoubtedly reveal my power to him, in which case he will DEFINITELY piece things together. Decisions, decisions…

Ah what the hell? It’s as those whippersnappers say nowadays: you only live once! I pry the door open just a sliver, and I swear to God if another superhero announces himself and joins the fray for a simple five-man robbery…

A body flies through the glass window and slams against the vault door, closing it shut and presumably locking it as well. I don’t make a sound, as used to up-close danger as I am, but maybe I should have, if only to make myself look more like a civilian. I was about to kick the body of the thug out of sheer frustration when I realized what was about to happen.

‘Crap! Based on the velocity of the body flying, only Foxy could’ve thrown him. And that means he’ll check to make sure no one got hurt in the collateral. Time to put on a show.’

I curl up into a ball (though not as literal as I can with the help of my power) and start trembling. I really should have been in theater as a kid, but nooooo, I had to be on the track team. My talent was wasted there. Sure enough, Foxy comes leaping over and sees poor helpless little old me cowering in the corner with such a big, strong, dangerous looking fellow who conveniently doesn’t have his gun on him anymore. Gee, however could that have happened? Silly butterfingers, he must have dropped it along the way. I decide to throw in a good “instinctive” flinch as Foxy came onto the scene, for good measure. Make it seem like I don’t know who to trust. I think about shedding a few tears, but reconsider. That might make it too obvious. I’m not exactly a feminine looking guy, after all.

“Sir, are you going to be alright? I didn’t hurt you with that throw, right? I mean, hurt…physically.”

I look him square in the nipples.

“Y-you’re Blue Fox, right?” I say, remembering to put on a more nasally version of my real voice. “You’re Light Devil’s guy?”

Sorry, Foxy, I just had to. Really! I can see just the slightest hint of a pained reaction in his face before he replaced it with something a little more “talking to a scared hostage while the fighting is still going on.”

“Yeah, I’m his graduated sidekick. You know how much ass we kicked before I looked this sweet? Well, all that’s going towards kicking these guys straight to prison. Literally, if I can help it.”

I look at him with a little more awe than I really would have.

“Uh…y-yeah! Go get them, Blue Fox!”

He beams a smile at me, and just me, and grabs the unconscious thug and leaps back out into the fray. I crawl over to a vantage point to check him out, make sure that he hasn’t suspected a thing, and just to see how the situation is turning out. Crap, the goons were almost all rounded up. If I was gonna steal something priceless today, I had better do it soon! And hope that it’s not priceless! I crawl over to the vault door again and enter the secret passcode. The door recognizes it and unlocks. I open it just a sliver again and wait a moment, listening for any signs of the battle having ended and the heroes making the rounds with the hostages. Much less gun firing. I’m going to have to be quick. I slip in.

Inside there are countless locked doors, all containing something no one’s going to miss. Wouldn’t it be hilarious if I, purely by coincidence, happen to steal something from Mabel or one of the other girls? Knowing her, it would probably be some heavily perfumed china elephant, or something kitschy like that.

I don’t have time to plan this out. I need to just pick one nearest the door, unlock it, and take what’s inside, provided I can smuggle it out without being noticed. I look for one of the smallest compartments nearest me. Box 102, perfect. Small enough to probably only contain some diamonds or fat stacks of paper. I loosen my trusty lockpicking needle from within my sleeve (because you never can know when you’ll need to pick a lock), and get to work.

In one and three quarters of a jiffy, I pick the lock and open the box. Ooh la la, come to papa. I pull out a sparkling diamond necklace. Oh if only I had a special someone to give these to. Oh well, I’m not going to wear them. Guess I’d better “donate” these to the next available buyer. I stash the necklace into my pocket, close the box and lock it, and peek out the vault door. No one’s spotted me just yet, but there’s no sounds of a fight happening. The last goon must’ve been subdued. The do-gooders will be making the rounds any second now. I creep out the door, close it as tenderly as I can, and assume the position. Curled, that is. Seconds later, Ted walks into view, scanning the area for survivors. Damn, I was really hoping Foxy would be the one to find me. Oh well. At least now I can make a clean getaway. I put on a frightened face for show. Ted, of course, falls for it completely.

“Don’t worry, citizen! The robbers have all been apprehended. It is safe to leave now. May I assist you to the door? Do you need a ride back to your residence?”

“Oh thank you for taking care of those awful men!” I say. I can’t help myself from putting on a dramatic act. It’s so easy to do in front of him. “I thought I wasn’t going to make it for awhile back there. I was so scared!”

“Think nothing of it, sir. All I care about is the safety of you and this fair city’s. Now please, follow me to the entrance.”

I stand up and follow him back to the bank’s entrance. The place was a mess. And it was so convenient for me to come here as well. Now I’m going to have to find a new place to scout, and I just don’t want to bother. I make sure to keep up the scared shitless act, darting my eyes here and there, bringing my arms and hands close to my chest, flinching at every noise, all the way through. Then I see Foxy at the door, ushering people out. What a Boy Scout. His eyes greet mine. I hold it for a second, and then consciously make the decision to move them somewhere else. I have to remind myself to continue with the scared act. Don’t let him know, Robin. Don’t even give him a hint. Don’t do it. Now’s not the time to play cat and mouse.

“Hey, sir!” he says.

Now me jumping three feet out of my skin, that wasn’t a conscious decision. How could he piece everything together from just one meaningful glance?!

“You’ll be okay now. I suggest just going home and binging on Netflix for the rest of the day. Sounds like a plan, huh?” he continues.

Crap, which accent did I use for him?!

“U-uh, s-sure! Y-yeah, sounds like a plan!” I squeak, hoping my voice was as nasally as I had made it before.

He smiles at me as I exit the door and I can’t help but to smile back. You poor, simple fool. Thanks for letting me try a sampler from the back vault, Foxy. Bonsoir. I exit the building and immediately make my way back to my place. Time to put my new bling in a safe place and visit a much frequented website. I’m one of their best clients after all.
 

The Teller

King of Half-Truths
Here's the next chapter for you to dissect. This one is done all in dialogue! Nothing outside quotation marks. You'll figure out who is who soon enough. Hope you've been following the chapters thus far. Like with any comic book fan, I'm a real big fan of continuity. Have fun, and please let me know how I'm doing. It's the only way I can get better at making better content. Thanks!

Chicago Wildlife

The Honest Interview

“Are you ready to begin?”

“Yeah yeah, ready when you are, toots.”

“Please, for the remainder of the interview, refer to me as Ms. Pike.”

“Whatever you say, Pike.”

“Very good then. Let us begin. This is Turner Pike, interviewing Mr. Jacques Hein, for the Chicago Tribune. The current date is April first, 20XX. The current time is 4:00PM. Good afternoon, Mr. Hein.”

“How ya doin’, too-, ah, Ms. Pike?”

“Splendid, Mr. Hein. Thank you again for allowing this interview inside your office. I hope you are feeling well today?”

“Couldn’t be better! I got a private interview with a hot piece such as yourself. What more could a man want?”

“Um…I’m glad you feel that way. Let’s begin with a brief introduction of yourself. Your job-”

“So I was born and raised in this fair city of Chicago, around the time when disco was at its best. Shame, you know? Anyway, my mother was too poor to go to the hospital, so she wound up having to give birth to me on my bunk bed. The stain’s still there, I bet!”

“I wasn’t asking about your past-”

“And don’t even ask about my father! The deadbeat left before I was brought dragging and screaming into this world. We had it rough, my mother and I. We had to do some unsavory things just to scrape by. Why, by the time I was sixteen…”

“Please, Mr. Hein! I want to focus on your association with the various super-humans in this city.”

“Ohhhh, you wanna know some juicy tidbits about my friends, do ya?”

“Yes, Mr. Hein. It’s unheard of for someone without any powers such as yourself to be able to make so many connections with the superhero and supervillain community.”

“Ah, what can I say? I’m magnetic! Dames just drape themselves over me. Can’t say I blame them. I mean, look at this! Who wouldn’t want to be close to a fine specimen of a man like me?”

“It…it certainly is a mystery. Moving on, I hear that you’ve had a run in with a foreign assassin at some point?”

“Ugh, that freak? The ***** nearly broke my neck! Ooh, sorry, didn’t mean to startle you there.”

“That’s okay. Can you tell me what happened?”

“Can I?! I’ll tell you the whole story! See, I work with a lot of clients, some of them the sort of unsavory types that I can’t repeat here, you getting me? And one of them, well, let’s just say that they aren’t the kind of people who tend to think clearly when they get mad. Not that I gave them a reason to be mad at me to begin with. Their interpreter just misunderstood what I said. It’s not my fault that the dweeb decided to have a grudge against me. He probably was intimidated by my efficiency. Figured that I would rise above him in ranks within the organization. Take me out early, you getting me?”

“I see.”

“Anyway, he snitches to the head of the household about a certain ‘deal’ I did to a tee, only he says that I messed up by giving the prize to someone else. So the head of the household, completely duped over by this snitch, decides to send some broad from overseas to outfit me in some new cement shoes. The gal’s call name is supposedly ‘Monster Hunter.’ If you ask me, that sounds like the name of someone who’s trying too hard to sound tough. Anyway, I don’t know how she found me, but she somehow managed to track me down to the docks one night. There I was, taking a peaceful stroll along the waters, minding my own business, when this crazy ***** starts attacking me. Now, she’s supposed to be this world-class assassin, right? She had on her several guns, swords, knives, grenades, and a freaking axe!”

“She had all of those weapons on her? I find that hard to believe. The sheer weight of all those weapons alone…”

“Ha ha! Yeah, I bet you would think that. Between you and me, I don’t think she’s even human. More like an ogre, you getting me? She’s jacked up to ****, muscles bulging everywhere, puts my man Schwarzenegger to shame. Ah, and she tries to call ME a ‘monster.’ Ha! A dependable guy like me ain’t even close to some monstrous broad that goes around ironically calling herself a ‘Monster Hunter.’ You getting all this? ‘Cause it looks like you ain’t buying this for a second.”

“I’m recording everything, Mr. Hein. With the various superpowers on display in the city, having super strength isn’t so farfetched. Please continue with your account.”

“Yeah, so I was surprised by this chick in the middle of the night. She said my time was up, and drew a samurai sword. Now, I’m still here and in one piece, talking to you, so obviously I made it out alive. Let me tell you how I did it. So, she swings at me, but I dodge at the last second. Heh, I was a little nimbler back then. You should have seen me in my prime! Like a freaking ninja.”

“You don’t say, Mr. Hein. Please avoid using anymore exaggerations. The readers cannot always tell humor from fact just by reading.”

“What, you don’t think I’m hiding some serious moves behind this Adonis of a body? I’ll have to show you some of my packed-away pecs sometime. Haha! Anyway, I see a lead pipe lying on the ground and pick it up. She starts swinging again and I block the sword with my pipe. So then we both start swinging at each other. Clang! Pow! Just like in the movies. Finally, I smack the sword right out of her hands, and it goes flying! Whoosh! Right into the river.”

“So the sword might be recoverable, if it’s still sitting at the bottom of the riverbed? We might be able to lift some fingerprints off of it if it’s still there.”

“Ah, I wouldn’t know about any of that sciency stuff. Anyway, after that goes flying, she pulled out this high-powered rifle. Now, even I know that a pipe isn’t going to do me much good against a freaking gun, so I look around and see this discarded riot shield. Why was a riot shield left to rot at the docks? Who cares! I grab it and hold it up and she starts firing. Now, I didn’t want to chance it breaking after so many shots, so I think to myself, ‘Hey! How about charging at her and bash her skull in with the shield?’ And I think to myself, ‘Yeah, that does sound like a good idea! I’m glad I thought of it!’ So I do just that. Not the whole ‘bash her skull in with the shield’ thing, but rather just the ‘charging at her’ thing. I manage to knock her back a little and she dropped the rifle in her surprise. After that, it was a grapple to the finish.”

“What do you mean by that?”

“What do you mean, what do I mean?! At close quarters, all an assassin can do is use their fists! That ***** grabbed me, and not in the way that I like, and tried to choke the **** out of me! Well actually, she tried to snap my neck, but hey, you think some poor soul hasn’t tried that on me before? I could see that move coming a mile away, so I did some maneuvering of my own and got her grabby hands safely away from my slender and porcelain neck. Haha!”

“And what happened after that?”

“I did some sweet karate moves and beat my so-called ‘killer’ back into submission!”

“You don’t have to make those karate gestures. The readers can’t see you doing them.”

“Ah, but you can, and can you blame me for wanting to impress such a woman as yourself? Eh?”

“Please continue with your account, Mr. Hein.”

“Sure thing, toots. Now, I kicked her scrawny little ass from here to Milwaukee and back. Course, along the way I accidentally got some bones broken. Must’ve hit her too hard! Haha! Anyway, with her out of the picture, I booked it so that I could call our efficient and not at all corrupt police to come arrest her. From what I’ve heard, she got away before they showed up, so she’s still at large.”

“It sounds like it was an eventful night.”

“Nah, just another typical night for good ole Jacques Hein, consultant to the supers!”

“I see. Thank you for your input, Mr. Hein. I’d like to talk next about someone our male readerships have requested for a long time now. The notoriously hard to get along with holy vigilante, Sister Catherine, aka Sisterly Bond?”

“Gah! Why can’t we ever talk about someone I actually like?!”

“I’m sorry, Mr. Hein. It’s a highly requested topic. We can’t disappoint our readers, especially when we have the chance to talk to someone who’s actually met and worked with Catherine before.”

“Eh heh, she wouldn’t like hearing you refer to her as just ‘Catherine,’ I can tell you that, toots. She’d probably say ‘Oh, I worked hard for the title of Sister! And my slutty superhero name is there for a reason!’ Haha, am I right, or am I right?”

“I…wouldn’t know, Mr. Hein. I never met Sister Catherine before.”

“And if you’re smart, you never will! That witch is bad news, you hear me? Every time I stick my neck out for her, I somehow end up footing the bill, not to mention putting myself at Death’s doorstep.”

“That’s very interesting to hear, Mr. Hein. Could you give us an example?”
“Can I?! Okay, so that loony Trump Card was making a racket. I happen to see it all go down, so I figure ‘Hey! Why not go tell the only mystical gal I know in town about this and get HER to do all the dirty work?’ Not a bad plan, if I do say so myself. Unfortunately, her office/orgy meet-up place is clear on the other side of town. I thought to myself, ‘Why should I waste all my gas driving all the way down there just to get one woman?’ But then I thought, ‘I’d rather be alive and out of gas money than dead and out of ****s to give.’ You know what I’m saying?”

“I-”

“So I make the drive down there and explain the whole thing to her. Heh heh, I’m actually glad that I did. I must’ve interrupted her ‘session’ with at least six different guys! Oh, don’t look so shocked, toots. You report-types do your homework, so you must’ve known what her other profession was. Anyway, little known fact: if it doesn’t have to do with kicking demon butt, her powers are useless. So since the act of actually getting to where Trump Card was doesn’t have to do with said demon butt, she can’t just fly there, so she begs me to drive her there, seeing as how she doesn’t have a car of her own and have you seen the highway at rush hour? Forget about it! I agree to driving her because I’m somewhat of a saint myself. Boy, that was a mistake. She kept whining on and on the whole time, and it was at least a 45 minute drive, even with all the shortcuts I had to take and speed limits I had to ignore. For the safety of the city, of course.”

“Of course, Mr. Hein. Do go on.”

“So we finally get there, ‘there’ being this big junkyard in the middle of nowhere, and crazy old Carde is just chanting spells like no one’s business. And you know Carde, if he’s saying something you don’t understand, then you’re about to be neck-deep in demons. So I tell her, ‘Hey, how’s about doing something about this? That’s why you’re here, ain’t it?’ And she’s like ‘Very well. Pish posh. I act so British so people will think I’m sophisticated.’ So she makes googly eyes at him and he totally falls for it! I turn to the side to bark up my lungs, and then suddenly I hear shooting. So I turn back around and there she is, firing her magic guns at a whole swarm of demons.”

“Where did the demons come from?”

“From Carde, of course! He just opened a few new assholes in the sky and the little turd nuggets came popping out like BB gun bullets. Anyway, she starts blasting them out of the sky, and when she got bored with that, just starts cleaving them with an axe.”

“An axe?”

“Yeah, don’t you know her super powers? Her little breast implants can do anything she wants them to. She wants an axe? She gets an axe! Her more creative uses have been courtesy of MY imaginative suggestions, by the way. So she’s running around, killing demons left and right, and I’m in the back, shouting orders and telling her where demons are coming from. Warning her when one tries to sneak up on her, that sort of thing, you know? So finally she gets rid of them all and corners poor old Carde. Man, you wouldn’t believe the kinds of things that come out of a president’s mouth! He blasts her, she blasts him, I want to make it home in time to cook my kids their dinner, and finally a big explosion happens and he goes down hard. I make a witty comment (I forget what it was at the moment. You’ll have to get back to me later about that) and try to usher Sisterly Bond back into the car because I’m kind of in a hurry, right? But then the freaking bastard gets back up again!”

“So she didn’t kill him.”

“Trust me, toots, she tried. That broad ain’t one of those ‘no-killing’ heroes you hear so much about. But, Trump Card did sell his soul to the devil for dark magic, so it’s actually a lot harder to put him down than you’d think. Anyway, he just makes some vague threats and disappears. You know how villains are. They get beat up, and they try to save face by making an idle threat they know they can’t deliver. So THEN we leave.”

“So she saved the entire city from being overrun by demons. I’d say that qualifies her as a hero.”

“Eh, she definitely gets some sort of sick pleasure out of it. Otherwise, I don’t think she would even do it.”

“If you say so, Mr. Hein. And at that, I’m afraid we’ve run out of time. Thank you again for participating in this interview and sharing your valuable insight. I believe we really shed some light on some of the lesser known figures in the local superhero community today.”

“Yeah, no problem toots, I mean, Ms. Pike. Always wanted a captive audience. It’s about time someone heard what I had to say! I tells ya, no respect these days. It ain’t easy being me, and I should know! I do that gig every day! Ha ha!”

“Ha, yes, I’m sure. This is Ms. Turner Pike, for the Chicago Tribune, stopping the recording now.”

“We good now, toots?”

“Please don’t call me that.”

“Oh right, Turner. We off the air now?”

“In a manner of speaking, yes.”

“Great! You know, there’s plenty more of those titillating stories where that came from. Maybe you’d like a more in-depth interview over dinner? I know a great Italian place across the bridge…”

“I’ll have to decline, Mr. Hein. I’m scheduled for another interview later on, and a rendezvous with my ‘boyfriend.’ Thank you for the offer, though.”

“Bah…you’re missing out. Just give me a call when you change your mind.”

“If that happens, Mr. Hein. Now if you’ll excuse me, I must be going.”

“You know who to call for all the great scoops!”
 
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