A Tale of Two Thieves: Part I

April 23, 2016:

Two thieves decide to knock-off the same jewellery-store on the same night, with disastrous results…

Huntingdon Jewellers, New York

Characters

NPCs: None.

Mentions:

Plot:

Mood Music: [*\# None.]


Fade In…


Huntingdon Jewellers has known a modest, healthy career-lifespan since first opening back in 1948. The decent-sized shop is located within a mall in midtown New York, on the sixth floor up and overlooking a balcony (from which one can see most of the floors below).

It is 02:34 in the morning.

The mall is closed, the lights are out (but for a number of emergency-lamps) and the only movement in the mall belongs to the security guards patrolling each floor. The alarms are on, the doors are locked and the jewels are safe.

More or less.

Jack Russell — A.K.A. the Werewolf By Night — perches on a railing the next floor up (7th) in human form, watching the security patrols with keen, golden eyes. Getting into Huntingdon's shouldn't be too hard, and there's one particular gem inside calling to him…


Malls are a nice place. They're such a convenient packing of useful things that it's hard to walk away with only one. For that reason, Jack isn't the only person for the security guards to watch for tonight. Moving by a very different route, a young woman sheathed completely in black is sliding silently through the air ducts between floors, squeezed but not crushed as the passageway necks towards an end point. Her orange eyes look down with cat-eye slits through a vent as she watches and listens for a patrol. Unconsciously, she lifts a hand to her mouth and bites it while she waits.


Russell's nostrils flare. He grimaces.

One of the security guards hasn't showered in 24 hours.

Another security guard didn't wash his hands after using the bathroom.

The scented oils in a nearby store are making Russ's eyes water.

And… there's a cat loose somewhere in the mall. No matter.

Quietly 'shifting into something more lupine, the wolfman waits for the nearest guard to disappear around a corner, while the security cameras on this portion of the mall are also turned away… then with a faint grunt, he launches himself across the open space — from his perch on the 7th floor, and into the jewellers on the 6th.

If anyone saw anything, it would only be a dark streak in an already shadowed room. No human would be able to make the approach chosen by the wolfman — not unaided.

Meanwhile, a security guard walks by the air ducts where the other thief is hiding. She (the guard) pauses outside, flashlight panning back and forth — completely unaware of the danger.

Her radio buzzes loudly, and she picks it up to talk into it.

How anyone ever makes sense of what comes through those radios is anyone's guess…


The cat in the ceiling - ceiling cat if you will - bites hard enough to faintly draw blood as she watches and waits. It adds a faint accent to her scent that the duct has blown in a confusing mist across half of the floor. She doesn't really smell like a cat at all, just… wet and a little bit like sea water. The tell-tale body odors from sweat, oils, and dead skin simply aren't there. Quietly evaporating in the breeze behind her, the trail of water droplets she's left behind give a clue to why.

Slipping past the vent, the thief makes her way further down the duct to try her luck on the very end. She releases her hand long enough to tuck it down the front of her jacket and squeeze what she's found so far; it's a deceptively small bottle that might rattle if it weren't so well stuffed with cotton.


There is just so little finesse about the wolfman's means of getting into the jewellers: a claw to the alarm panel, another claw to a door lock. It does well for speed — but sooner or later, someone is going to notice his 'handiwork'.

More guards continue on their respective routes in the mall outside, causing Russell to practically plaster himself to a wall, right by an air duct. He has no such means to mask his scent, so 'odour of dog' wafts up into the ducts quite powerfully.

With a garnish of cigarette-smell.

Russ grins to himself, scanning the room. This is the widest gap between patrols across this section of the mall — it's now or never. He makes his way past some of the displays, looking for something in particular.


As Russ walks on, two orange cat-eyes peek out to watch him and then the air duct disgorges its contents in a black mass as dark as the void. The dark fabric of a gi jacket too thin for any martial art slips between the slats and a bodysuit follows, flowing like water through the narrow opening and then expanding out to human form as it reaches the open air. The ninja drops upside-down to the floor, suspended by her belt until she can set her feet quietly onto the floor.

She's small for whoever she is, and smaller in a stealthy crouch. The cat-eyed ninja sweeps her head around to scan the room as she slips behind a display case towards the back. It takes a moment to retie her belt and straighten the jacket.


The wolfman's eyes flash while he bends over a cabinet, using some rather delicate tools from a belt around his waist. For now, his hands appear human, while the rest of him is decidedly… not. It does not take long to get the cabinet door unlocked, and the werewolf begins depositing specific gems into his belt.

A 'meow' from outside draws the thief's attention as a stray cat runs across the mall floor… followed by a security guard doing his best to catch it.

Russell freezes.

A moment later, the perception of heat in the room causes him to slowly turn around, peering with his lupine vision through the shadows at… another thief?! Russell mutters a curse — in Romani — and flexes his now-clawed hands.

"I got here first," he growls in the back of his throat at the other intruder. Outside, the cat runs back across the floor… followed by the guard, bent forward and still trying to lay his hands upon it.


The thief in black slips out from behind the display once it's clear she's been spotted. She looks up into the werewolf's amber glare and raises a single finger before the mask hiding her face. Her head turns quickly to watch the guard pass, it seems more wary of them than of Russ, then she lowers her hand and makes a dusting gesture in Russ' direction.


Russell responds to the 'dusting' gesture by tucking in his chin and glowering at the other thief from beneath his furry eyebrows. Still watching her, he reaches into the cabinet again for more gems — this time not bothering to check which ones he has grabbed — and starts to put them into his beltpouch.

With his other hand, he points a single claw at Nerina and follows up with a 'get out of here' gesture. A second later, he looks past her at the closed grate and asks:

"Mary, mother of God (in Romani), how the hell didja get in here?! (in English)"

The cat outside the jewellers stops for a while, turns to look inside the store…and hisses (likely at Russell).


The hem of her jacket swishes as the ninja approaches Russ and a scent begins to fill his nose. The hint of blood becomes stronger and a trickle of human odors finally join in. She's young, if he can tell, with the smells that come with nubile age whether she likes them or not.

As she reaches within arm's length, the slender girl - or young woman - doesn't blink and her eyelids rest at a neutral, almost bored level as two little oranges scan blankly up the werewolf's bare chest. Her hand comes back up to touch a finger to her lips again, only for her head to whip around a second time at the hissing cat. Without a second thought, the ninja side-steps around Russ' clawed arm to place herself in his shadow and hide from the true feline.


"Hey, wha — !?"

Russell is never going to understand women. Ever. For an instant he had been sure this other thief — his competition after all — was about to attack him. The fact that she steps around him, to hide from the cat on the floor outside, surprises the wolfman into… just standing there.

"GOTCHA!"

The exclamation belongs to the security guard (slightly overweight, sweat-stained and a trifle dishevelled) who has just nabbed the stray cat. Of course, his glee is short-lived as the kitty struggles a bit, never taking its eyes off the jewellery store (or the figures within it).

"Wallace, this is Ford," says the guard into his radio while trying to manage a kitty that just does not want to be held at this moment. "I got that dang cat, but — Jesus, it's nuts!! …No, I ain' checked fer no collar yet! I'm tryin' ta — no, no, stop it or I'll break yer scrawny neck! — no, not YOU, the cat!"

The feline hisses again at the jewellers, and slowly the guard begins to realise that he is not the real source of the animal's discomfort. Inside, Russell growls.

"Had ta be me…" he mutters to himself, and he makes a quick attempt at grabbing 'the competition' to likely push her further into view and maybe distract the guard from himself…


While Russell is blocking the view, Nerina's hand slips into the cabinet he was cleaning out and takes itself a handful of jewels. Her breathing becomes more noticeable to the wolf-man's ears, suppressed as it is but deep and long to force in oxygen. The small ninja moves easily when pushed by the werewolf's large claw but not before tucking away her small gain. Such as they are, her all-black appearance makes a noticeable contrast against Russell's duster.

"You are bahd at 'quiet'," she mutters with a heavy slavic accent.


The light of the torch pans across the jewellers from left to right, slowly illuminating display after display, cabinet after cabinet, the cashier's desk, the wolfman, the ninja, another display, then —

The light stops for a second, the cat (held by the guard) struggles and hisses again, and the flashlight doubles back to where the wolfman and the ninja should be.

'Should be', because the wolfman sort of ducks while at the same time taking hold of Nerina's waist in order to lift her up a trifle higher… When the light passes over them again, it just might find that the ninja has grown several inches in height — and a pair of hairy, clawed hands around her waist.

Accessories, no doubt.

"Uhh…" murmurs the guard. "Wallace, I think I got somethin' here…"


The werewolf's claws click together around the narrow and tapered waist that they grab and the little ninja lifts almost too easily before Russ' strength. Her body is rigid with startled tension beneath his paws and, for a moment, she holds her hand over her face to present a completely black, almost lamp post-like figure in front of the wolf-man's much broader body.

Crouched behind her, Russ also receives a rush of the girl's scent off the jacket and bodysuit that she's been marinating in. The smell of blood is stronger now, and a hint of sea salt would be noticeable if it weren't overpowered by the cues that she is VERY VERY FEMALE.


Russell's nostrils flare.

He is not used to scents this strong — the seasalt is a particular curiosity, of course, and lacks the artificial flavour of a perfume or aftershave lotion.

The blood… is a worry.

Saliva drips from the wolfman's mouth, pooling on the carpet beneath him as he tries to hide behind a too-small cabinet, and the strange girl he is hoping the guard will notice (before noticing him). The blood-scent is making him hungry…

Ford (the guard) halts the light right over the cabinet with the ninja-in-black behind it, and squints into the gloom. Even with the light it is hard for him to make anything out clearly, and he is continually distracted by the cat — and the fact that his radio keeps 'talking' with the voice of Wallace, the female security guard one floor up.

Russell's stomach growls. Loudly.

"I think I…" murmurs Ford. "Is that…? Wallace, I really reckon I — YEOW!!"

The cat swipes at the guard's neck, causing him to drop the flashlight AND the feline (the latter of which scampers across the floor as fast as it can go). The flashlight rolls on the ground toward the edge of the walkway and the six-floor drop beyond it.

The guard goes for the torch.

Russell lets go of Nerina and picks up the cabinet instead. "Gotta make an exit, pup," he tells her and prepares to throw the cabinet at the glass windows protecting the jewellers from… things such as this.


The ninja begins to squirm and knocks her heel against the werewolf's chest until she's dropped. She hunches forward slightly and sets a hand on her stomach as her breathing gets a note heavier while she watches Russ lift an entire cabinet. Her frown puts a nice wrinkle in the fabric of her face-mask.

Waiting for Russ to make an exit for himself, Nerina chooses not to be left behind and leaps for the wolf-man's back just before he follows the cabinet, wrapping her arms and legs around his midsection to secure her grip.


*CrAsH!!*

While Security Guard Ford is bent over, butt-crack on display, trying to pick up the flashlight before it falls to certain death — a cabinet of metal and wood, and containing some remaining jewellery, smashes gloriously through the window of Huntingdon Jewellers…

…over the guard's head (and butt-crack)…

…over the walkway… and down six floors to the bottom.

Followed shortly thereafter by a werewolf — with a ninja clinging to his back. "Oh… my… God…" Ford exclaims to no one in particular. He has forgotten his radio, and fumbles madly with the flashlight to try and catch SOME glimpse of whom and what just… flew out of the jewellers.

"Going down, Shinobi!" the werewolf growls at his 'passenger' as the air rushes past them. Considering this fact, and that the words are more growled than spoken, it is quite likely that none of them make any sense.

The werewolf lands smartly on the ground floor in the centre of what appears to be a lingerie section — knocking racks over either side. Fortunately, his legs are strong enough to absorb the shock without breaking any of his limbs — or Nerina's.

"Ground Floor: Women's Wear," Russ barks with a wolfish grin — and dashes for the exit.


TO BE CONTINUED…

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