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I lay in bed with my face buried in the safety and warmth of my tail. Jocelyn’s death had been hard, sure, but it was nothing compared to Kelly’s. She had been the most incredible person, a spark of joy in this shit city, and then those fucking supers had their little brawl had killed that joy. Along with Kelly’s joy went my own. I hadn’t really realised how much she meant to me, how much she had grown on me in the short time we had known each other, until I had seen her lightless eyes.

It was a week since her death and I was still in mourning. I never went to the wake, nor could I face her family, it was too much. I couldn’t find it in me to eat often, and my dreams had turned to nightmares where she died over and over in ever more gruesome ways, each time I was powerless to save her. The dreams and the anguish caused a question to form. It was a simple one... why? What had caused the senseless death of such a beautiful person? Guessing the lock pattern on Charles’ phone and sneaking into my downstairs neighbor’s apartment to steal their wifi password, I had browsed the internet to find those answers.

I was enraged when I found them. The fight had been between a self described superhero named Bastion and the metal giant who called himself Titanic. Titanic had been trying to rob a bank in the most cliche villain move ever, and the situation had escalated out of control when Bastion stepped in to stop him. The fight had raged through the streets where it had found Kelly and I as we were on our way to the game store.

She’d died because Bastion wanted to protect some corporate asshole’s money, causing widespread destruction throughout the nearby streets. Well, we’d see about that. Titanic had been an idiot who lacked finesse, and he’d gotten my friend killed for it. I was going to show both of them who was boss. I’d take on those large corporations, I’d do it better than all the others, and I’d do it in spite of heroes like bastion. I’d force them to look down from their lofty moral high ground, to where the rest of us struggled to survive, and like Kelly, often failed. I would make them all look like a fools.

It wasn’t just Bastion and Titanic though, the streets in the last week had become a warzone, with real life superheroes coming out to stop the wanton chaos caused by other less morally righteous emerged individuals. The damage the fighting was causing as the heroes slowly got things under control was staggering. Bastion was the worst offender, but another heroine people were calling Seraph had caught my eye, a girl with six radiant white wings and the ability to fire explosive beams from her eyes was up there too. Her collateral damage bill was pretty damn high.

The only one who was trying to limit the damage she caused was a heroine named Nightbinder. Her appearance was that of a dark fallen angel, her wings a dark purple colour and her eyes trailing a dark mist, like mascara that was running down her face in three dimensions. She was lucky in that her abilities allowed her to take a more subtle approach to subduing villains, summoning huge chains of dark energy to bind her enemies in place.

All of this happened as my funds dwindled. I didn’t really pay attention to much around me or how much I was spending as I carried the weight of my sadness on my shoulders this past week and I was in trouble because of it. I needed to secure some more funds. Which meant I needed to steal from someone. The idea that I might soon be creeping through some terrible lair of hate or corruption, taking what wasn’t mine and hopefully getting away with it… that idea filled my depressed mind with a little spark of excitement.

What would be my target though? I didn’t want to hit just any random store like a common thug. Maybe I should target someone I don’t like? Time to do some googling about who operates around my area.

I made myself sit up in bed, the first step to achieving something today. The next step was sitting on the edge of the bed, and I slowly did so.

It was almost half an hour before I forced myself into the shower. I washed the last week's worth of grime off myself and then sat in the shower as all my hair and fur dripped dry. I no longer had the benefit of an adorable friend to blow dry my tail. What seemed like hours later I crawled out of the shower, not even bothering to stand up, and began to towel myself dry.

My lethargic and depressed mood made getting ready take forever, but eventually I was ready. I headed out into the city again for the first time in a while.

****



The target I chose was an office for an alt-right political lobbying and activism group that was named “Organisation for a Clean Penrith”. What they really meant was that they wanted the city to be run according to whatever hateful garbage they currently believed in, be it too many gay weddings, or too many African American people, or too many abortions. Very standard stuff, and something I hated. If I was going to cause trouble and steal shit, I may as well target someone who pisses me off.

Over the next few days I tried to case my target. I was a complete amateur, with only knowledge gained from the media I had consumed over my lifetime to guide me, but I did my best to be inconspicuous and gather information.

What I really did was stare at the building in question for many long hours, watching what happened around it. It was a three storey building with a flat roof and a typical aging facade that sported a peeling paint complexion. It was wall to wall with its neighboring buildings and therefore only had the front and the back as entrances. The most notable thing I saw happen was when four thugs escorted a man carrying a briefcase into the building. The thugs left but the man did not.

In the end it was going to be a matter of working my way in there with no real skill in the art and hoping for the best. I needed to practice sneaking and my illusions if I wanted to have a real chance of pulling this off. I was pretty sure I could make an illusion of a person not directly on top of myself, since I had already established I could make something appear anywhere I wanted so that was what I decided to practice first.

It was on the rooftop of the apartment building that I trained myself. I stood around the corner from the door and practiced throwing my illusions. I don’t mean literally throwing of course, I mean summoning a complex illusion that wasn’t where I was. It was… deceptively simple and easy. Everything about my powers seemed to be intuitive on some level. After generally playing around with it a bit, I found I was comfortable with the whole process of making my illusions and I would be able to improvise on the fly later on.

Youtube was my friend for stealth techniques, although I wasn’t sure of the validity behind some of the things people tried to sell as gospel. Nevertheless when one of the residents came up to use the rooftop for some relaxation, I had an opportunity to test the theories. He came up here often as I was practicing over the afternoons. He had longish blond hair that framed a roguish jawline and his dark intelligent eyes scanned the pages of his book with a calm interest. He was charismatic, and more than a bit handsome, which I noted with more than a bit of interest.

I didn’t talk to him, or even let him know I was there at all. He was too good for practicing my abilities. So it was that I spent the days training for my nighttime escapade into the lair of the OCP.

Something I needed to sort out, but probably at a later date, was a disguise. I would, god forbid, need a costume like all the other Emerged playing hero or villain. I refused to wear spandex though! I’d probably go with a hoodie for now, maybe my old favorite big green one and some jeans would do for this heist.

****



I stood in an alleyway across and some ways down the street from the OCP building. The sky was a sullen overcast that threatened rain the same way an elementary schooler threatens to hit you. Perfect weather for being a sneaky tricky fox, taking people’s money and hopefully leaving them none the wiser. I was pretty sure that whoever was left in the building was feeling the late hour of the night, and hopefully wouldn’t be playing their best game tonight.

I looked at my phone. Almost time. I could feel my mind lighting up with excitement as the moment drew near. Obviously any time I set was arbitrary, but I wanted to do this around midnight. Slipping the phone back into my bag and bringing an illusion of pure darkness around me, I took off down the street. Only my eyes were visible through the field of null light as I ran, and I was lucky no one else was around or they would have undoubtedly called the police, or one of those heroes.

Moving up against the wall of the target building, I activated my teleport ability. It took a few tries, but soon I was standing in the lobby, a security guard before me trying to figure out what he was looking at. I rushed him before he reacted, reaching forward to snag the baton from his loose grip. His eyes went wide in fear when the silhouette of a girl before him stole his weapon.

I brought the weapon up and clumsily swung it at his head in a loose arc. Due to the confusing image I was using, he didn’t see it coming in time to stop the blow from putting him on the ground. Sadly, knocking someone out doesn’t work the same way it does in the movies, and I still had to do something about him. I went for the tried and true method, kicking him as hard as my little leg could manage square in the crotch, causing him to cry out in agony.

I quickly covered his mouth with one hand and brought my knife out with the other. Pulling the hand on his mouth back, I punched him as hard as I could in the throat, and then set to work cutting his jacket into a strip I could use as a gag.

When I finished with him, he lay on his face, his own handcuffs keeping his arms restricted and a gag in his mouth. I had to move fast, the other people in the building may have heard his cry. I began to check the lower floor of the building, my heart racing with adrenaline as I did so. At any moment someone could discover me, and the thought was exciting and intoxicating.

The first floor was reasonably empty of cash, and since I had no fence to sell valuables to, I had to make do with just cash. When I got back out into the foyer and found one of the OCP members trying to help the guard, I sent an illusion of myself running forward, baton raised in anger. The worker gave a yell of alarm and drew a pistol from a holster that had been hidden by his jacket. Oh shit.

I dove to the ground as shots rang out, the sounds stark and terrible against the dark silence of the night. It was time to test my illusion abilities. With a surge of mental effort, the walls came alive, writhing with horrific, tormented faces, as though the sounds of the damned were pushing against them from the other side. A bone chilling chorus of wails erupted along with them, and I poured the anguish I felt over Kelly’s death into their cries.

The ungagged security guard screamed and tried to wriggle away from the walls, while the OCP man began to unleash ammunition randomly into the walls with a terrified yell. I ran with a hunch towards the stairs, using the commotion to sneak past. It was a near thing at one point, a stray bullet tearing apart the stair next to me in a hail of flying splinters and protesting timber.

I ran upstairs and hid behind a curtain as more OCP members rushed down into the foyer from upstairs. There was three more in total and I very much hoped they were the only ones left in the building. I needed to begin searching the second floor for cash, but first I stepped back to the top of the stairs and added to the carnage with illusory flames that mimicked the awful writhing of the walls.

I wasn’t sure how long my illusions would hold without my being in direct line of sight, so I began my work. I had better luck up here, while the bottom floor seemed to be storage of documents and a few meeting rooms for public use, the second floor held offices. People seemed to keep a bit of cash stuffed in their desks, and it all disappeared into my bag.

The shooting had stopped, and I could hear raised voices of confusion downstairs. Time to start on the third floor. I definitely did not have enough to cover my expenses for long, there needed to be more upstairs or this whole venture was a waste. The second floor held a large meeting room and a few nicer offices. It was in one of these offices that I found something promising. A safe was stashed in the corner of the biggest office, and I rushed to it with excitement. That is until I realised I had no way to open it.

I gazed at it for a small while before my video game knowledge kicked in and I started rummaging through the desk. I really really hoped the operating procedures of this organisation included changing the passwords and safe combinations every other week. With frantic energy I read every little sticky note while my large fluffy ears heard the OCP people talking to police downstairs.

When I found it, it was by luck. The little sticky note was stuck to the underside of one of the drawers, and my excitable tail had brushed it. When I retrieved it, the numerical code for the safe was written on it in neat handwriting. I rushed to the safe and set to putting the numbers in. Just as I clicked the safe door open, I heard another voice downstairs.

The voice was feminine, powerful, commanding, and resonating with the subtle music of some string instrument I couldn’t name. I actually froze for a moment when I heard it, before feverishly stuffing the cash I found into my bag. There was actually rather a lot of it in there and I grinned in giddy excitement as I cleaned them out. Once I was done with the safe, I rushed to leave the room. Then I slowed to a stop as I saw it.

Sitting on a table that was hidden by the open door was the briefcase I had seen as I cased the building. On a whim I snatched it up as I made my way out of the office, the heft of the thing briefly pulling me to the side. It seemed like an ordinary black leather briefcase on the outside, but the bloody thing was actually made of steel or something judging by the weight. I considered dropping it, but it must have something good in it for them to go to all that trouble in protecting the contents.

I dashed towards the next flight of stairs up, the ones that would take me to the rooftop and my escape plan. I began to take them two at a time before my mind caught up and reminded me I could no longer do that, my legs were much shorter than a few weeks ago.

I shouldered the door open after unlocking it, and stepped out onto the rooftop. I made it halfway across the stretch towards the much taller building next door when a shining figure descended from the sky. She was awe inspiring. Her face held a beauty so pure and whole that my heart leapt and shuddered to look upon her. Her shining golden hair floated lazily on an unfelt breeze, and her eyes glowed with a vibrant inner light. Sprouting from her back were six radiant wings, the feathers rustling audibly in the same unfelt breeze. She wore a tight fitting suit of white leather armour, the joints covered by burnished steel plates.

“You have no right to be here, stealing the property of others, villain,” she said, her voice humming with authority.

“Um, yeah, I know. That’s why I caused all that chaos and snuck in,” I responded matter of factly, a little confused.

She touched down lightly onto the rooftop and took a step forward, “Give back what you have stolen and I will tell the powers of law that you at least came willingly.”

“Uh… I don’t really want to,” I said with a laugh, and activated a teleport.

My teleport took me some ways to the left along the rooftop, but I left behind a black silhouette double of myself, while causing more to spring up at random across the rooftop. Seraph, for that’s who this was, took a step back in alarm as her foe multiplied tenfold before her.

I used all the illusory mouths to speak as one, an eerie chorus of my own voice, “See, I need this to live, unlike you I suspect, judging by your outfit. Is that real leather?”

“Stealing is never the right way, there are always options that do not require the tearing down of others and their lives,” she said, her voice resonating with belief. Ugh.

My only response was a bitter choking laugh and I edged closer to the building next door.

“I see you have problems, turn yourself in and they may be addressed along with your crimes,” she said in an attempt at a soothing voice while she summoned a sword of pure light in her right hand.

“Is that what you heroes do as well? When you fuck up and get people killed? When your wanton disregard for the innocents around you as you bring people like me to justice gets out of hand?” I growled, tears welling in the corners of my eyes.

“It is not on my head that the deaths of those poor souls should lay, but on those like you who cause the chaos in the first place,” Seraph said with a grandiose flourish of her sword, passing it through one of my illusions with brutal speed.

“SHE WAS MY FRIEND, AND YOUR KIND KILLED HER,” I screamed in rage, my illusions flickering as I momentarily lost concentration. The effect created an awful juddering sound to the words and I flinched at the sound of my own emotion delivered in such a way.

She stopped swinging her sword at my outburst, her voice an open expression of shock at the vocal violence I had just wrought on the rooftop. She then slowly turned in my true direction, and I realised she must have heard where I really was during the outburst.

I wasted no more time with emotional outbursts, activating my teleport again and again, creating more illusions of myself as I did so, until I was suddenly inside the building next door. Heavy load in both my arms and my heart, I made good with my escape through the adjacent buildings.

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About the author

QuietValerie

  • New Zealand

Bio: You may also know me as Rosilys Inknose. I no longer post on this website, if you wish to find the continuation of my stories, or just the ones I haven't posted here, you can find me under Quietvalerie on scribblehub and Rosilys Inknose on tgstorytime.

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