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LSS: The Lifecycle of a Heist



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HarryHardy says...



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Brought To You By:

@Ventomology
@winterwolf0100
@HarryHardy
Stay Safe
The Prince of Darkness

Words are powerful. Don't waste them like I just have.

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HarryHardy says...



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Stay Safe
The Prince of Darkness

Words are powerful. Don't waste them like I just have.

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Fri Feb 04, 2022 8:38 pm
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winterwolf0100 says...



\/Dwyn Souza\/


"Lalala, lies!"

Dwyn Souza paused in the shower, pulling her dry, curly hair back and out of the reach of the hot water. The faint sound of music rang out through her small apartment, bouncing off the small walls and distorting. Dwyn pulled the curtain back to hear what song it was, head tilted to the side in her struggle to hear. She set all her ringtones to different songs so she could know who was calling before looking at a phone-- she had multiple-- and she strained to hear as the water drowned out the music.

"Yeah tell me that you love me! Lalala lies! Look deep into my eyes! Lalala lies!"

The lyrics clicked in Dwyn's brain, and she knew immediately it was Derek. They were friendly, but he never called if it wasn't about business. She turned off the water and reached out for a towel, pulling it around herself. She stepped out of the shower, opening the bathroom door and letting out a puff of steam into her bedroom. Ignoring the trail of water soaking into the carpet in her wake, she walked through the bedroom and out to the small living room that blended into the kitchen. The closer she got, the clearer the words became, no longer blocked by several doors and a steady stream of water.

"Say there's no one else above me! I'm the King of Fools, cause baby you're the Queen of White Lies! You're the Queen, you're the Queen--"

Dwyn grabbed the vibrating flip phone off the table and flipped it open. "Derek," she said nonchalantly, resting the phone on her shoulder and pressing it to her ear as she walked back to the bedroom. "I considered letting your call go to voicemail, the ringtone was nearly to my favorite lyric."

"Very funny," Derek answered dryly, though she could tell that he was just playing the seriousness up. He was probably on the other end giving a stupid smirk.

"Well? What do you want, I was taking a shower," Dwyn said, throwing her towel onto the tiled bathroom floor and riffling through her drawers for underwear and a bra.

"Washing your sins away?" Derek asked.

"You can tell yourself that if it makes you feel better," Dwyn smiled thoughtfully, grabbing a shirt and putting the phone on her bed to pull it over her head before picking the phone back up. "C'mon, seriously. I've got to get a load of stuff to the pawn shop, and it closes in an hour."

"Oh, I think you'll want to hear this," Derek reassured.

"You say that every time you call me," Dwyn pointed out.

"Have I ever been wrong?" She could hear his smirk. After a pause, he continued, "Someone reached out, asked for you specifically."

"Aww, it must drive you crazy knowing people want me more than they want you," Dwyn grinned, tugging on a pair of leggings-- easier said than done, since they kept sticking to her damp legs. "What's the cut?" Dwyn asked, moving into the bathroom for a brush. She didn't have time to wash her hair so she hadn't gotten it wet, but she still wanted to pull it back in a ponytail because of how uncooperative it was being right now. "You know I love playing around, but the sometimes I need a bit more than just a good time," she added, pulling her hair gently away from her face and trying to put it in a ponytail while keeping the phone balanced on her shoulder. It didn't work, and she put down the hair-tie and let go of her hair in frustration.

"Ten million." The flip phone slipped off her shoulder and she barely caught it mid-fall, too shocked for a few seconds to raise it back to her ear, before finally picking the phone back up.

"Merda," she whispered, a wild grin spreading across her face. "Puta merda, tá de brincadeira!?" Her dark wide eyes scanned her own reflection, observing her own surprise before consciously trying to calm her smile. She couldn't get too excited before she even knew it was serious.

"English?" Derek asked teasingly.

"Don't you wish you knew," Dwyn muttered distractedly, smiling widely and mind running kilometers a second. She ran her fingers through her hair, fluffing it up and letting the curls fall back down against her shoulders.

"I'm bringing you a job. Least you could do is let me know what you said when you talk in Brazilian," Derek said.

Dwyn snorted as she walked out of the bathroom and back into the bedroom to hunt for socks. "It's called Portuguese, not Brazilian," she said absent-mindedly, pulling a pair of socks on and opening the top drawer of her dresser.

"Sure," Derek agreed.

"Are you sure you're not making that number up? You didn't, eh... add an extra zero?" She asked. She slid a stolen watch onto her wrist and a few stolen bracelets onto the other. Running her fingertips over the different wallets, she finally grabbed a hand-made leather one she'd taken from a marketplace on one of her family's trips back to Brazil growing up. She transferred her I.D. and pocket money into the wallet before slipping it in a big brown purse that she only specifically remembered stealing because it wasn't nice enough to try to pawn off, so she'd kept it.

"I'm sure of the number," Derek confirmed. "Which pawn shop? I'll meet you there in fifteen. It was in a letter for you."

"The one off Porras Road. You know opening someone else's mail is breaking the law,right?" Dwyn said, sitting on the edge of her bed to pull on a pair of black tennis shoes.

Derek laughed on the other end. "I'll see you soon." He hung up, and Dwyn flipped the phone closed and threw it onto the bed. She stood from her bed and couldn't resist pulling on her leather jacket that she wore everywhere-- it had so many pockets that it made it so easy to take something without people noticing.

She grabbed her personal phone off the dresser and slipped it in the purse, then grabbed her keys and swung them around her finger a few times, grinning. So much money... it made her giddy. She closed the bedroom door and grabbed the big cardboard box off the small kitchen counter, bulging full and barely taped shut. She'd make a thousand or two off this box alone-- jewelry sold so highly, and yet was so easy to take-- and with a possible job? She could cover the next two years of rent at least. Hell, if Derek was right about that number, she'd be set for life. Not that that was why she did it. If it was, she'd move to a bigger apartment, one that didn't have cockroaches everywhere and the occasional rat family. The money made her feel like she'd won a game of monopoly, but the real reward was knowing she could do it-- that she could pull it off, time and time again, and not get caught. It was exhilarating, and with a price tag that big on a job, there was bound to be something huge just waiting to be taken, something hard to get and expensive to come by-- something that would take some real talent to get their hands on.

She couldn't contain her grin as she walked into the hallway, cardboard box in her arms, and locked the door behind her.
And when the day shifts to night,
The wild wolf calls to me,
And I am not afraid.
I fear the darkness far more than I fear his claws


~~~GENDERFLUID, ASEXUAL, OMNIROMANTIC~~~

Pronouns are oVeRrAtEd (they/he/she)
  





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Sat Feb 05, 2022 10:36 am
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HarryHardy says...



\/Luna Lee Taylor\/


Luna hummed a little tune to herself as she clicked away on her computer. Finals had ended just under a week ago and now that she was allowed to waste as much time as she wanted, she was mining her time away on Minecraft. While a lot of people might find it boring to click away at the same thing for hours for some uncertain reward, Luna found this to be relaxing. It was a wonderful way to while away the time when she wanted to just release the stress she'd built up during the past week.

As she mined what must have been stone block number 5000 for the day, she started to notice the durability on her pickaxe dipping ever so slightly into the red side. She was going to have to run away to get that repaired soon. She was just about to sit up in her chair to get her other hand on the keyboard when her phone vibrated from somewhere on her bed.

Mildly annoyed at being interrupted, she proceeded to pause the game before standing up. She did a couple of quick stretches as she let out an involuntary yawn. She must've been sitting there for a bit longer than she'd initially thought.

Pushing her bright blue chair out of the way, she walked the three steps to her bed before letting herself fall into the soft sheets. Inspecting the smell of said sheets, she decided she was going to have to throw these in the laundry soon. She reached for her phone, buried somewhere inside her blanket where she'd fallen asleep with it last night and never bothered to retreat it.

As she pulled the phone out, she saw it was Sadie, one of the few friends she had. Wondering what on Earth could have possessed her to call at this hour, Luna hit the answer button. As she did, she checked the time on her phone, eyes widening slightly as she realized she been playing Minecraft for two hours. Maybe it wasn't so unusual to call at this hour after all.

"Hello,' came Sadie's voice from the other end of the line.

"Hi," said Luna, stifling another yawn as she arranged herself a bit more comfortably on the bed, not caring about the fact that she was currently wearing shoes.

"Are you still asleep?" asked Sadie, sounding just a little bit incredulous.

"Bored. Sort of, but not really," replied Luna, knowing full well that she was making no sense.

"I'm going to pretend I understood that and move on," said Sadie. Luna could almost hear her roll her eyes.

"So what brings you to this..." began Luna, before realizing she didn't really know where she was going with that sentence and trailing off.

"What?" asked Sadie.

"Sorry, was trying to sound dramatic, didn't work. So, how are you doing?"

"Really Lee, small talk."

"My brain doesn't have the required level of activity to do more than this," defended Luna, "So what did you call me about?" She huffed. Talking on the phone was not something she enjoyed in the slightest. She was always anxious for no reason whatsoever.

"Well, as it happens, I have something that might just spike that activity up a bit," said Sadie, all traces of her previous demeanour gone and replaced with what sounded like a spark of excitement. Now that was interesting. Luna considered maybe sitting up to listen to what came next, but decided to hold out in case it didn't turn out to be that interesting.

"And?" she slowly prompted. Something told her this news was going to be interesting, despite her lazy brain's excuses to not stand up straight.

"Remember what you told me last week," began Sadie. Luna didn't like that tone of voice. It sounded like someone who was about beat around the bush for a few hours.

"You do realize who you're talking to, right?" asked Luna. "I must have told you a few million things last week. You have to be a lot more specific."

"It was in the canteen," supplied Sadie.

"The place we tend to talk the most," said Luna. It was her turn to roll her eyes. "I don't see how that is going to make this specific in the slightest."

"It was Wednesday," said Sadie this time. Luna pouted as if Sadie could see it through the screen of her phone. Well she could if she'd activated the video option, but she had nowhere near enough data for that, not with the internet that it took to play for ten hours on her multiplayer server.

"Sadie, Please. Stop torturing me and just get to the point," said Luna, trying to sound assertive, although she was positive it sounded like she was begging.

"Hmm, maybe I'll take pity on you," said Sadie, with a low chuckle. "Okay, so your remember how you mentioned one day that you'd love to have more of a challenge with breaking into things?"

"I'm listening," said Luna, this time sitting up successfully. There were few things that could excite her enough to pull that off, but this was most definitely one of them.

"So I guess someone kind of overheard us talking," said Sadie.

"I don't see how this is headed in a good direction," said Luna. That had to be bad, didn't it. If someone had heard here announce like an idiot to half the canteen that she'd love to have a chance to break into something. It had been a stupid move inspired by one too many heist movies watched the previous weekend when she should've been studying.

"Trust me this is headed in a very good direction," reassured Sadie, "so listen up. One of my friends called. He said he had an opportunity for you."

"I see you're not giving up the whole beating around the bush shtick," said Luna, now starting to genuinely get ever so slightly annoyed.

"Well, I'm not beating around the bush. That's exactly what he said. Apparently someone he knows knows another person who does this thing yada yada, I'll tell you more later, but the gist is that something something heist might be happening, and you totally need to get over here ASAP," said Sadie.

"Right now?" asked Luna, slowly getting to her feet as she took in the genuine excitement in her friend's voice. She'd seen Sadie pull plenty of pranks before, this wasn't that voice. She clearly did think something was going to happen.

"Yes, right now, there's something I need to give you. Just tell your parents you're coming over, you can talk to them about the other arrangements a bit later," said Sadie.

"Wait what, other arrangements?" asked Luna. Her mind was already conjuring up various heist scenarios and she couldn't keep the excitement out of her voice as she considered the kind of situation that might lead to 'other arrangements' as Sadie had put it.

"Just get over here and I'll explain the rest," said Sadie.

"Okay, I'll be there in fifteen," said Luna, now fully active.

"Good. Bye!" said Sadie and the line went dead. For a second Luna stood there frozen as the fact of what might be happening in the next hour or so sunk in. Then she burst into action, shutting down her computer and changing out of the pyjamas she was currently wearing.

It didn't take her long to charge out of her room, fully dressed. Telling her parents where she was going with a quick yell, she charged out the front door. She'd never walked out of the house so quickly before in her life.
Stay Safe
The Prince of Darkness

Words are powerful. Don't waste them like I just have.

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Sun Feb 06, 2022 2:32 am
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Ventomology says...



\/ Conrad Selingren \/


Despite being the one guy in the office on decent terms with his boss, Conrad tried not to get called in to the guy's office too often. Conrad's boss was mean. He grumbled and scowled from nine to five, and on the rare occasion he wasn't grumbling, he was shouting. In summer, he berated the interns for their intern-ey mishaps, and in every other season, he berated Conrad, Conrad's fellow Finance Manager 1s, and all their underlings.

On top of that, his boss's office was uncomfortable. It looked nice on the outside, sure. Conrad had been impressed by the wooden desk and leather chair the first time he stepped inside. But for an office with otherwise homey furniture, it was strangely sterile. The papers on the desk were always neat. The space behind the computer was always free of dust. And despite being married twice and having four children, the only picture the boss had was of himself, fishing, in the arctic. Who fished in the arctic?

Today, however, Conrad's boss was warm and smiley. His glasses gleamed, and his lamp was toned just a little yellow instead of its usual blue. And stranger still, his tie was red instead of black.

A person with greater social awareness might have seen the greed in the boss's eyes, or noted the calculating way he drummed his fingers along his desk. A smarter person might have taken the unusual situation as a sign of something terrible to come.

Unfortunately, Conrad was not that person. He saw his boss smiling and immediately brightened in return.

"Heya!" he said, grinning wide enough to show the broken canine at the side of his smile. "You look happy. Wife treating you good these days? Did you get a promotion?"

The boss's smile dropped only somewhat. "Ahh, Selingren. Never change." He gestured for Conrad to take a seat in one of the very uncomfortable chairs by the desk and steepled his fingers.

"Now then," the boss said, when Conrad lowered himself into the chair, "I did tell you that greater opportunities would arise after you solved that utterly taxing problem I had the other day, did I not?"

Conrad's heart soared. "Am I getting a promotion?"

His boss laughed. Okay, so, no promotion. That was fine. Conrad had only been a Manager 1 for six months, so he had a little ways to go still. Maybe he was getting a bonus?

"No, no," the boss said, as he busied himself with opening a drawer in his desk and fetching the secret keys from the secret compartment inside. "Not a full promotion, necessarily, but an expansion, if you will, of responsibility."

Never one to turn his nose up at the corporate kool-aid, Conrad leaned forward in his chair and nodded. Then he remembered that the boss's chairs had faulty springs, this one in the front. He winced. "What kind of responsibilities?"

"I'll be sending you to another company for a bit." Conrad's boss finished pulling out his keys and started rummaging around elsewhere. "Think of it as a kind of consulting project."

That could be fun. Hopefully the other company wasn't so far, or the assignment so long, that Conrad would have to sublet his apartment though. "What uhhh. What am I going to be doing as a consultant?" he asked.

With an uncharacteristically dramatic flourish, the boss slipped a piece of paper from the most secret compartment of his desk, somewhere in the second or third drawer on the right, and put it on the table for Conrad to read. But before Conrad could even parse together the first sentence, his boss began speaking again.

"Now, I've written this little letter up because I think you'll probably need some help with this one. But officially, you're going to the University of to do a few little guest lectures for their business and accounting programs, and to lend a hand with some financial aid book balancing."

Conrad squinted. "The University of Chicago? The Maroons?"

At this, his boss's excitement finally wore off. "Don't tell me you have a problem with them."

"No, no. Just. I went to IIT, you know, and we're both Div III schools in like the same city so we had kind of like a rivalry thing going on. But uh... I guess I am kinda old for that stuff, huh? I can definitely help them out."

Conrad's boss blinked, unimpressed. "Yes. Well. You're only there officially to help. There are other tasks that are somewhat more sensitive."

"Oh, yeah, totally. What's up?"

The boss grinned once more, wide and toothy and a tiny bit mean. "You're going to help... recover something. Something very, very valuable."

With a gulp, Conrad tried to grin back. This was going to be worse than the tax problem. Hopefully he'd make it out okay.
"I've got dreams like you--no really!--just much less, touchy-feeley.
They mainly happen somewhere warm and sunny
on an island that I own, tanned and rested and alone
surrounded by enormous piles of money." -Flynn Rider, Tangled
  





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Sat Feb 12, 2022 11:03 pm
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winterwolf0100 says...



\/Dwyn Souza\/


Dwyn shifted the cardboard box in her arms as she stepped off the tram and flew down the stairs onto the street level. The energy of Chicago vibrated around her, and she had a slight bounce in her step as she made her way down the road, twisting and turning her way to the edge of downtown towards the pawn shop. Chicago had so many tourists all the time-- the perfect people to steal from, because you'd never see them again. Even if there weren't plenty of tourists (which there were), downtown was always so packed that it wouldn't matter if it was a resident. You weren't going to run into anybody twice in a place as big as Chicago, and even if you did, none of them would remember you if you didn't draw attention to yourself in the first place. And if there was anything Dwyn was good at, it was blending in... when she wanted to, at least.

While her clothes weren't drawing attention to her, her attitude was. Her happiness drew several not-so-subtle glances at the box in her arms, especially when she got to a less crowded part of downtown. A few homeless people tried to approach her, but she side-stepped them easily, keeping the box far out of reach from anybody. She'd pickpocketed for long enough to know not to let the box get near anyone, even if they seemed like they didn't care. Before long, Dwyn was on a near empty section of a street and the pawn shop was in sight. There were more crowds several blocks down, but the only person on the block itself was a tall hispanic man who stood next to the door, baseball cap pulled down low over his face and a black jacket zipped up over his shirt. He seemed to be staring down at his phone, but the dark sunglasses he had on blocked his eyes and made it impossible to tell for certain. Everything about his outfit was low profile, just an average man out to scrounge through a secluded pawn shop, but the limited edition Nikes that he wore worth ten grand told a different story. He looked up as she approached the front door, slipping his phone into an inner pocket in his jacket.

"Derek," Dwyn acknowledged, pulling to a stop in front of the door. He nodded in return, pulling open the door and making the bell sound that there was a customer. He stepped aside and gestured widely with his arm.

"After you," he said, giving her a small but flashy smile that she returned as she stepped inside. The bell rung again as the door shut behind Derek. Dwyn ignored Derek for a minute as she walked to the small dirty counter and set the cardboard box down, resting her elbow against the counter. A short pudgy man, the owner of the store, walked to the counter from the back room, and Dwyn grinned. She knew from previous business that he was white, but in the flickering lighting of the store, it was hard to see much of anything besides the general shape of things, which was how she liked it. It was so much easier to go unrecognized when the lighting did it for you. Not that he didn't recognize her, but if he was asked to identify her in a line-up, he probably couldn't-- and she likely couldn't identify him either. She wondered if the lighting was on purpose, given the nature of some of his business.

"What can I do ya for?" The man grumbled, voice raspy from decades of smoking. Dwyn smiled widely in return.

"How's it been, bud? Just got another load for you." She slid the box his way on the counter. He glanced down at it, seemingly unimpressed.

"Store items, or..."

"Back room stuff," she said casually, tapping her fingers against the counter to the beat of "Queen of Lies." It had been stuck in her head ever since Derek had called her.

The man snickered. "Think you got something that valuable?"

"Oh, more than one. Doesn't your friend still work in jewelry?"

He inclined his head, then pulled the box the rest of the way towards him and opened it up, sifting through it a little before pausing. "And you didn't get any of this nearby, right?"

"Don't worry," she said. "Nobody'll find any lost items here. Besides, that's why I come to you, isn't it? Off the grid, behind the scenes? Sell the stuff on eBay or whatever?"

"Back room is hardly eBay," the man cackled, beginning to cough as his voice rasped. He let out a breath. "Yeah, I'm sure I've got some people who'll pay high money for this. Anything old in here?"

"I don't know, that's your job," Dwyn shrugged.

The man gave her a squinty stare, before he said, "Come back tomorrow, I'll let you know what each item is worth and give you the pay."

"Ah ah ah," Dwyn said, pulling the box back towards her. "I've taken enough from others to recognize it. I'm not leaving this stuff with you out of my sight, you think I'm stupid?"

"I think you're busy," he said, nodding towards Derek and coughing hard into his fisted hand.

"Thought you were trying to quit that," Dwyn noted thoughtfully.

"Quit what?"

"The smoking."

"Wife wants me to," he agreed. "Can't seem to stop. But you're not the one to talk, eh, sticky fingers?" He cackled again, which turned into another fit of coughing. He waved a pudgy hand in dismissive annoyance. "Fine, you can stay here, talk to your friend. But if another customer comes in, I gotta deal with them first, understand?"

"Yep," Dwyn said, drumming out a beat on the counter and turning around towards Derek. "Well? Where's the letter?"

He unzipped his jacket and pulled out an envelope, clearly already torn open.

"You didn't even try to make it look like you didn't open it?" She snorted as she took it from him. "Ai, seu idiota," she muttered under her breath amusedly.

"Now that, I understood," he said, pulling his sunglasses off to reveal his eyes glaring at her.

"Aww, you know you love me," she teased absent-mindedly, more focused on pulling the letter out of the envelope.

"I like the money you make me," he corrected.

"You're still making money off me?" She asked, unfolding the letter before glancing at him.

"I'm your agent, of course I'm making money off you. You think I'd send those jobs your way for free?"

"You would if you loved me," she grinned, before looking down at the letter. "Now shut it, I'm trying to read."

Greetings, friend.

You may have heard of--


"Read it aloud," Derek put in, interrupting her reading.

"You've already read it!" She accused.

"So?"

She growled out a curse and said, "Fine. Just let me read it already."

"Well I'm not stopping you," he said. She stared at him for a solid minute, then rolled her eyes and looked down at the letter again.

"Greetings friend," she began again. "You may have heard of the University of Chicago's new exhibit, an exclusive and limited display of the late Richard Dedd's art collection." Dwyn looked up. "Richard Dedd died? He was that one white dude right?"

"You'll have to be more specific than that. But yeah, Dedd died like a month ago," Derek said. "Ironic, right? Keep reading."

Dwyn scowled but continued. "While there are many valuable and expensive items in the main display, it has come to our attention that there is also a collection of items currently not on display, among which lies a priceless artifact that once belonged to some of the most powerful people in the world. Because Dedd donated all of his collection to the University of Chicago, this item is legally theirs. Rightfully, however, it is ours. Your unique skillset has been brought to our attention, as well as your experience with retrieving items for clients. Our proposal, then, would be the reposession of this item for the reasonable price of ten million U.S. dollars."

"Reasonable price," Derek said nonchalantly. "Very reasonable."

"Shut up!" Dwyn exclaimed, but she was smiling as she continued, "If interested, present yourself at the recent acquisitions exhibit at the University of Chicago Museum of Ancient History at 1100 hours on June 25. Attendance at this venue will indicate your acceptance and will guarantee two million up front, to aid you in your recovery efforts." She paused. "How amateur do they think I am? I don't need to buy anything to steal this!"

"Oh, I'm sure you can find some way to use the money. Maybe you could buy me something nice. My birthday is coming up," Derek smirked.

Dwyn smiled sweetly, then shoved him backwards. "No it's not, you say that every job."

He stumbled and caught himself before he fell. "It really is this time though."

"You're talking by your elbows," Dwyn snorted.

Derek tilted his head. "I don't know what that means, but I'm going to take it as an insult anyway."

"You should," she said. "It's signed Red Shirt. You know a Red?" She paused, then snorted, "or a Shirt?"

"I do now I guess," he said, leaning against the wall. Dwyn glanced back at the man at the counter, nearly finished sorting through the cardboard box, then back at Derek. She folded up the letter and stuck it in her pocket.

"You know, your under cover needs some work. Your shoes give you away immediately."

He shrugged. "I got them legally."

"Not relevant."

"I think it is."

"Well it's not. But even if it was, nobody's going to believe that when you act like a homeless druggy. They'll think you killed someone for them."

"They were compensation for a job, given to me legally. Never said the job was legal."

Dwyn chuckled. "You're so cute."

"That feels patronizing."

"It was." Dwyn looked again at the man at the counter, seeing he'd finished and had written down everything. "Finished?"

"Look over that and pick up the money tomorrow," he grumbled, coughing again and picking up the cardboard box to carry to the back.

"I've got a witness!" Dwyn called after him, going to the counter and picking up the paper. "So if I don't get my money--"

"You're my best supplier," the man replied, walking back out and no longer carrying the box. "I'd be stupid to turn you away."

"Took the words right out of my mouth!" Dwyn beamed, folding the paper up and stuffing it in her pocket with the letter. She turned to Derek. "Let's go!"

He pulled his sunglasses back on. "Where?"

"I'll buy you dinner," Dwyn decided.

"Wow, I must be special if you'd choose to buy something for me instead of stealing it," Derek smirked.

"What can I say?" Dwyn said, opening the door and hearing the bell ring as they both stepped outside back onto the street. She breathed in the cool air, all the noise and stimulation filling her with a giddy energy. "I'm bored."

"Sure that's all?" He said, brushing against her as he came to stand next to her. She snorted.

"Well if you don't want to--" Dwyn started.

"No, no, by all means." He gestured for her to start walking. "After all, I'm the reason you've got two million dollars to burn. It'd be rude if you didn't at least buy me a sandwich."

"Nah, baby," Dwyn said, beginning to walk as a restaurant came to mind. "We're getting Brazilian tonight."
And when the day shifts to night,
The wild wolf calls to me,
And I am not afraid.
I fear the darkness far more than I fear his claws


~~~GENDERFLUID, ASEXUAL, OMNIROMANTIC~~~

Pronouns are oVeRrAtEd (they/he/she)
  





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Sat Feb 12, 2022 11:24 pm
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Ventomology says...



\/ Conrad Selingren \/


Conrad had some reservations about the University of Chicago. The Illinois Institute of Technology might have been private too, but it was the kind of private university that offered second-chance programs and meaningful financial aid. IIT looked like it came out of the fifties and sixties, with the grime to match its age, and the city surrounding it came with all the real-estate-value-dropping accoutrement a reasonably-priced college should have.

The University of Chicago, on the other hand, was fancy.

Conrad had to admit it was pretty - and IIT was too, though Mies Van-Whatever s architecture didn't exactly check his boxes. UC's campus sat like a pretty, Gothic cake on a plate of perfect green grass, bustling with perfect summer students and perfect topiaries and perfect everything.

Conrad liked and hated it all at once.

As he parked his little sedan in the administrative building lot, he tried to psych himself up. He was here to help! He was going to help square away the university's taxes so they could free up more money for aid and send more kids to college, and that was a very noble thing to do. And on top of that, he was going to help someone get their stuff back. When Conrad got back to his own office in a few weeks, he was going to be so high on the feeling of Doing Nice Things that he might not even mind a tiny delay in his next promotion.

He smiled at his own reflection in the driver's side window as he locked his car, then sauntered in to the building, swinging his briefcase like a merry chorus dancer in a play about Wall Street. Not that Conrad knew anything about theatre plays.

The inside of the UC buildings, unfortunately, was about on par with those at IIT. Despite the grand, old-timey exterior, the administrative offices looked like normal offices. A low, tiled ceiling with flickering flourescent light panels hovered over a mottled grey carpet, and the vibe was completed with a roomful of grey cubicles, making the whole place look like a washed-out, grey sandwich.

A woman poked her head over the wall of the nearest cubicle and brightened. "Oh, hi! Are you the guy from Northern Trust?"

Conrad grinned and held out his hand. "Yep, that's me."

The woman met him with an unimpressive handshake before side-stepping out from her cube and gesturing for Conrad to follow.

"Well, my name is Sandra," she started, as she led him through the maze. "You'll be working with Lisa on the books from our History department. They had such a generous donation come in this year, you know, so it's been a bit of a challenge making sure all the 'i's are dotted and 't's crossed for non-profit status. We're still in the process of getting the whole thing evaluated, so having you here will be great help."

Conrad laughed and almost brought his arm up to give Sandra a friendly pat on the shoulder before he remembered that she wasn't one of his hockey bros, and maybe wouldn't withstand his usual force. Her heels were so very tall. "Well, that's what I'm here for. I'll make sure it all evens out. Don't you guys worry."

Lisa turned out to be a tiny woman with a tidy, blonde bun at the top of her head. She glared as Sandra showed Conrad to the cubicle next to hers, and fidgeted with the pens she kept neatly organized in five different cups lining the edge of her desk. She smiled when Sandra made introductions, and then glared again as soon as the other woman turned to leave. Conrad wondered if she could be won over with food, or if he should just keep his head down and never speak to her.

When Sandra finally disappeared entirely, her head slipping below the wall of the front cubicle, Lisa leaned around to hiss at Conrad. "You'd better be more committed than the last guy from Northern Trust."

Conrad was very committed. He made it to work on time every day, and to hockey practice thirty minutes early every week. He was a paragon of committment. Hoping to convey this, he nodded at Lisa, wide-eyed, and waited for her to acknowlege him.

"Showed up for one day, fiddled around with his desk, and then left," she continued. "I don't even know why leadership thinks we need your help."

Blinking, Conrad tried to think of something witty. He'd had a lot of concussions when he was younger though, and wit was hard to come by. "I could bring you coffee?" he offered. It hurt to say. He'd thought himself long past his intern days.

"Pink drink. Soy instead of coconut milk. And extra strawberry puree." Lisa rolled slowly back toward her desk, then shot back out and narrowed her eyes. "And I expect you to be more than just punctual."

If it would ease his workplace relations, Conrad could do almost anything. He offered Lisa a terrified nod, then crept up to his desk and began poking around. There had to be an outlet around here somewhere.

He felt around the gap between his desk and the cubicle, but his fingers only brushed smooth, flat plastic, so he privately mourned his street cred and slid from his chair to the ground. Crouching, Conrad crawled under the desk, eyes peeled for a floor outlet. Then he found one, hidden under the file cabinet in his desk.

Sighing, he made to stand and retrieve his laptop charger, only to bonk his head, hard, on the bottom of his desk. The sound made Lisa snort, and Conrad almost missed the tiny click of a part moving inside the desk. He frowned and backed out, then reached a hand out to the spot where he'd hit his head.

A square-shaped groove hid in the bottom of the desk, and when Conrad jiggled it, a thin layer of wood popped out to reveal the thinnest drawer he had ever seen. This probably had something to do with that other job his boss wanted him to do here. Carefully, Conrad pried the tiny drawer open, and out fell a neat piece of heavy-stock paper in a clean, white envelope.

Conrad reached for his laptop charger and peeled the envelope open. He plugged in and unfolded the letter inside, eyes bulging as he read.

Ten million? And twenty percent of that up front? Just to get some artifact from the newest additions to UC's collection?

He let out a breath, impressed, and slid the opened letter back into the secret drawer. He'd need to be at the Museum of Ancient history tomorrow morning, before lunch break usually began.

So now was the time to start thinking: how would he get past Lisa tomorrow?
"I've got dreams like you--no really!--just much less, touchy-feeley.
They mainly happen somewhere warm and sunny
on an island that I own, tanned and rested and alone
surrounded by enormous piles of money." -Flynn Rider, Tangled
  





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HarryHardy says...



\/Luna Lee Taylor\/


Luna found herself at Sadie's door for what was around the fifth time in her life despite being friends with the girl for close to two years now. Luckily her last visit had been pretty recent so she didn't have to suffer the embarrassment of asking for directions to a house that was barely a fifteen minute walk away.

Now that she was at the door, she paused to take a deep breath. In her excitement at Sadie's hints, Luna had rushed out so fast she hadn't even stopped to think what she was going to say or do. Her parents were also probably very confused at how quickly she'd run away.

Once Luna was sure she was actually ready to face Sadie, a good five minutes later, she rang the doorbell. The door opened almost immediately, making her wonder if Sadie had been camped out by the door waiting for her arrival. If she remembered correctly, Sadie's room was on the third floor of this house which meant she certainly couldn't have made it down that far so quickly. Trying not to feel too guilty about making Sadie wait for five minutes even after she'd arrived, Luna gave her a shy smile and mumbled a "hello" that was lost somewhere in her throat.

"Ah you're here!" Sadie practically squealed as she flung the door open proper and reached out to grab Luna's hand. Before Luna could think of any sort of apology or greeting or probably a combination of both, she was being dragged inside the house, the door slamming shut beside her.

Luna found herself being dragged alone the semi familiar luxurious interior of Sadie's house. Soon she was being pulled into the tiny elevator they had inside the house where Sadie excitedly pressed the button for the third floor.

"I have sooo much to say," she began, "you're not going to believe half of it so I told my friend to come over and give you the letter personally."

"What letter?" managed Luna, just about getting a word in before Sadie could go off on yet another one of her long speeches.

"Did I not tell you about the letter in the call?" asked Sadie, sounding surprised that she'd forget something like that.

"Not that I can recall," said Luna, suddenly doubting her memory. Did she forget? That couldn't be right could it? It had been barely twenty minutes since the phone call. Surely her memory was better than that. She was saved from her thoughts by Sadie continuing.

"Oh I guess I forgot in all the excitement, and trust me, once you hear this full proposal you're going to be forgetting a lot of things in excitement too. This is going to be soo exciting. AHHH." Sadie went slightly red at her sudden scream of excitement. "Sorry, this is just..."

"...really exciting," supplied Luna, her own face lighting up in a smile simply from Sadie's infectious enthusiasm.

"Yes," said Sadie just as the elevator dinged, announcing that they had made it to the third floor.

Once again Luna found herself being dragged off by Sadie. This time it wasn't long before she was going through a large wooden door that for some reason was painted a eye wrenching purple color that Luna could've sworn wasn't there the last time she'd visited. Sadie proceeded to immediately hurl herself in the direction of the large king sized bed in the room, Luna in tow.

Luna ended up awkwardly half landing on the bed while her knees hit the floor with a thud. Surprisingly enough, the very soft carpeted floor meant she barely even felt the impact. She might as well have dive right onto the floor. It was certainly softer than the mattress that she actually slept on.

"What are you doing down there kneeling?" asked Sadie, turning around once she'd curled up onto the bed. "Get up here. I'm not your queen or something."

Luna proceeded to blush bright red as she tried to scramble onto the bed. Doing her best not to reply with a comment on how it was technically Sadie's fault that she was on the floor in the first place Luna managed to get onto the bed, although get into it was a better way of putting considering how it seemed to swallow her up in a black hole of comfort.

"Sorry," muttered Luna finally, once she'd managed to get herself in a somewhat reasonable position facing Sadie. She desperately hoped she wasn't going to accident end up falling asleep in this bed.

"No worries," said Sadie, "okay, so do you want to wait until my friend actually arrives with the letter before I tell you this whole thing, or should I get started on the explanation. He'll take at least another ten or so minutes to arrive, so there's a little bit of time to kill here."

"Ohh...umm" muttered Luna. She did not like having to make decision like this. They were entirely too stressful. "Whatever you think is best." She ended up defaulting to her old favorite answer. Even if it did end up sometimes annoying people, namely her parents when they were trying to get her to chose something, she'd discovered over the years that on most occasions that answer usually worked wonders.

"Okay then," said Sadie," why don't I start this explanation off here. This is going to be a tiny bit of a shock at least when you get the letter, so getting to know something about what you're getting into beforehand is probably a good idea. It isn't the sort of thing you typically get into."

"Okay, now you're just getting back to trying to scare me," said Luna.

"No Lee. Come on. When I have tried to do that?" said Sadie.

"Never, but there's a first for everything," said Luna.

Sadie put a hand on Luna's shoulder. "Not with me." For some reason that proceeded to send a shiver down Luna's spine. Before she could investigate further into that matter, Sadie saved her from potential embarrassment and kept talking.

"Okay, so you know like these escape room things that were super popular not too long ago?" asked Sadie.

"I think they're still kind of popular but yeah," said Luna, "go on." The mere mention of that was enough to get Luna hooked. She had no idea where Sadie could possibly be going with this, but an escape room was certainly something she'd been dying to try her hand at for a while.

"Well, this is sort of like that only its a bit different and a lot more complicated," said Sadie.

"So you got us into an escape room or something?" asked Luna, almost giddy now at the thought.

"Not quite," said Sadie. There was almost a hint of disappointment in her voice somewhere but Sadie hid it well and Luna decided it was best not to question that until Sadie had actually explained herself.

"This is sort of a heist kind of thing, you have to break into this place. Which is I guess the opposite of an escape room, and well you're the only one who actually got invited. My friend is going to bring you this letter. Its that thing I said I'd give you. I was kind of expecting him to show up before you but he got late. Anyway, so that letter is like this really cool formal invite. He showed me kind of what it would look like although the photo wasn't vey clear and he said I should delete it immediately afterwards for some reason. But basically, it looks so legit, could've sworn it was written by some actual criminals hiring you for a heist."

Luna took a moment to take that all in. For starters, it was pretty clear why Sadie seemed so disappointed. It seems like she'd have loved to join on in this too. Luna wondered why her friend would do something like that. She didn't have too much time to dwell on that however because at the mention of heist, her mind was instantly distracted by the sheer possibilities something like that could have.

"Did you fall asleep?" asked Sadie, sitting up slightly from her position in the bed.

"Oh no, just thinking and taking it all in," said Luna, quickly, snapping herself out of the spiral of thoughts she'd gotten temporarily lost in.

"So what do you think of this little opportunity, you gonna take it, you'll have to go a few places and be away from your house for a week or so, but its definitely not something you should miss out on," said Sadie.

"It sounds like you really wanted to go too," Luna said, voice suddenly rather quiet. The mere idea of a heist was enough for her to want to get up and scream "YESSS" to the heavens but that tiny bit of disappointment she'd detected from Sadie was holding her back at the moment.

"Or sweetie, that's fine," said Sadie, voice suddenly a lot softer than it had been all this time. "Am I a little disappointed? Yes. I mean, who wouldn't be. I won't lie to you, but really, I don't mind. This is something you've wanted for a very long time and who knows if you'll get a chance like it ever again. 'sides I'd be hardly any use in solving these things anyway. You're so much smarter at these things."

"Hey, don't put yourself down like that," said Luna, turning to lock eyes with Sadie. "and are you really sure you're fine?"

"Of course Lee," said Sadie. She moved her hand as if she was about to hold her shoulder again but the doorbell proceeded to ring out loud and clear, startling both the girls.

"Well he's here. Why don't we take a look at that letter properly and you can make a choice properly after seeing that?" said Sadie, already clambering off her massive bed.

Luna nodded. That sounded like pretty good idea. At any rate, it would at least manage to delay this decision a little bit longer, and any reason to postpone this current idea seemed like a very good idea in Luna's book at the moment.

Sadie proceeded to rush out of the room just as fast as she'd come in, pulling Luna along just the same. This time, instead of letting herself get pulled along, Luna managed to keep pace with Sadie, racing down alongside her until the two of them were coming to a sliding stop in front of the massive front door.

Luna took a few steps back instinctively as Sadie proceeded to peer through the peephole quickly before proceeding to open the door, although he noted it was a lot less enthusiastic than when Sadie had opened the door for her.

Standing there was a boy, well more like a man, in his early twenties or so. Something about him seemed ever so slightly off but Luna couldn't put a finger down on it.

"Here's the letter," he said rather curtly, shoving a piece of paper that Sadie quickly accepted. "I can't be seen in this area. I have to go. Give me a call later." With that rather cryptic message the young man vanished.

Sadie shut the door quickly and turned to face Luna.

"Is that friend of yours always like that?" asked Luna.

"Well, he was a little weirder than usual, but pretty much yeah," said Sadie." Don't worry about him. Now read this."

Greetings Contestant,

You may have heard of the University of Chicago's new exhibit, an exclusive and limited display of the late Richard Dedd's art collection.

While there are many valuable and expensive items in the main display, it has come to our attention that there is also a collection that is not currently on display, including a priceless artifact of untold power. This artefact belongs to us, even though legally it of course belongs to the University of Chicago. Your mission should you chose to accept it is to retrieve this artefact and in compensation for your troubles, you will receive the reward of ten million dollars.

If you do chose to join this noble quest, present yourself at the recent acquisitions exhibit at the University of Chicago Museum of Ancient History at 1100 hours on June 25. Attendance at this venue will indicate your acceptance.You will be provided two million of the above reward in advance for any and all aid you may need in your mission.

Red Shirt
Stay Safe
The Prince of Darkness

Words are powerful. Don't waste them like I just have.

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Ventomology says...



\/ Conrad Selingren \/


The University of Chicago's ancient history museum sat a little over ten minutes from the administrative offices by foot, so to get there on time, Conrad would need to leave the office and be on his merry way by ten-fifty.

Conrad wasn't much of a planner. But his boss had written up an excellent playbook, and it hadn't failed him yet, so instead of waltzing into the office just before eight with his customary large coffee, he came in with a small, already half-drained from the commute. It felt tiny in his hands, but as long as Conrad committed to the play, everything would turn out fine.

He beamed at Lisa as he sat down, and she glared back.

And now, according to the playbook, it was time to wait.

Conrad figured he'd best do his official job then. He clicked around in his email and found a confirmation for the external evaluation of Richard Dedd's collection, a series of 'Welcome to the University of Chicago!' emails from Sandra, and a list of links with no body text and no subject line from Lisa.

The links led to dropboxes full of documentation, spreadsheets tens of thousands of rows long, and even a full archival database detailing the history of the school's investments. Conrad thought it was kind of fun clicking on them, because sometimes he'd get a nice surprise, like the folder of pre-made excel code, and sometimes he got boring things like scanned financial aid documents from the seventies. The whole thing would have been more efficient if Lisa had just labeled her links though.

At ten-twenty, it was time to implement the next step in the play.

He picked up his tiny coffee and tipped it back, and the last, dense dregs dribbled into his mouth like a malt shake. He shook the cup, almost whacking his own nose with it, and sighed dramatically as he popped off the lid and stared at the sad, thin crescent of brown at the very edges of the cup bottom.

Lisa glanced over and him and curled her lip in disgust.

Well. Some people were just like that. Plastering on his best nervous puppy grin, Conrad shook his empty cup and gestured vaguely at the exit. "I'm gonna pick up a refill at the Starbucks in the student union. Want me to grab you something?"

Despite her suspicion, Lisa apparently couldn't resist a shot at mooching. "Sure," she said, eyes sliding toward Conrad with a sly, calculating glimmer.

Conrad tilted his head and smiled. "Pink drink, right?" he said, remembering their conversation yesterday. "With the soy milk substitution and peach juice at the bottom?"

Lisa narrowed her eyes and nodded.

"Oh, thank goodness I remembered it right!" Conrad waved and backpedalled away from the cubicles. "Be back in ten!"

The students, thankfully, were in class and not in the line at Starbucks, so at ten-thirty exactly, Conrad plopped Lisa's atrocious coffee order on her desk and tried not to meet her death glare as he scrambled back to his own seat. Now for step three.

Conrad's playbook said he was supposed to act a little stupid, which kind of sucked because he actually was decent with accounting, so he fidgeted and sighed and frowned at his computer until ten-forty, when Lisa clicked her tongue at him and started muttering under her breath. He gave her a minute to stew in her apparent frustration before he peeked over the cubicle wall and made his best Tragic Sad Boy face.

"Lisa?" he asked. "Can you help me with something?"

For a split second, her nose scrunched, and her eyebrows pulled in, but she calmed herself before she turned to look. "What." It was not a question.

"I uhh. Was hoping you could help me find the bug in my VBA? It's being funny."

"Microsoft has a bug finder."

"Yeah but it's not helping."

They looked at each other for a long moment, until Conrad's face started to hurt from looking sad and pathetic, but eventually Lisa gave in. She stood so quickly her knees pushed her chair into the walkway behind her, and she grabbed her drink with a slosh of ice, then stomped towards Conrad with furious intent.

And just as she rounded the corner, Conrad scootched his chair out to make room for her.

Her foot collided with one of his wheels. Lisa tipped over, and Conrad squeezed his too-big torso as far back into his chair as it would go, and she fell right into him, pink drink spilling across his shirt and splashing up to his chin. The liquid fizzed for a quiet moment, then seeped into the white button-up and dripped into his skin.

Lisa jerked backward, her face cherry red. Conrad blinked at her, then blinked forlornly at his shirt. He patted his very nice pectorals and winced at the squelch of wet fabric under his fingertips.

"Uhh," he said, suddenly the embodiment of eloquence.

"Oh gross," Lisa said, equally well-spoken.

Gingerly, Conrad pried himself out of his chair. There was pink drink everywhere. He glanced around, wondering where to even start.

"I'll get the desk," Lisa said. She made a shooing motion with her hands and looked down at her empty cup. "You should uh... get cleaned up."

"Yeah," Conrad agreed. "Yep. I will go do that." He shuffled out of his cubicle and grimaced at the sticky feeling of wet shirt, then ran for the bathroom, hardly noticing when Sandra gawked at him.

He had five minutes, and despite the summer heat, the humidity was sure to keep him from drying out. Maybe he should have budgeted for more time.

Conrad had his shirt off the moment he stepped through the men's room door. He checked his watch - thankfully it was still ticking - and thrust the shirt under the faucet.

He rinsed and squeezed and rinsed and squeezed, giving himself a whole two minutes of water time, but the shirt would not turn white. Instead, it turned a pale, streaky pink, and it seemed even a few runs through the laundry machine might not save it. Well, Conrad decided, as he held his shirt under the hand dryer, he could rock pink. He'd worn pink jerseys for breast cancer awareness stuff before, so this was nothing. As long as he acted like nothing was wrong with his weird, streaky shirt, no one would care.

At ten-fifty-one, Conrad buttoned his shirt back up, tried his best to feel okay with the dampness, and raced out across campus to the ancient history museum.
"I've got dreams like you--no really!--just much less, touchy-feeley.
They mainly happen somewhere warm and sunny
on an island that I own, tanned and rested and alone
surrounded by enormous piles of money." -Flynn Rider, Tangled
  





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Sat Feb 19, 2022 6:57 pm
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winterwolf0100 says...



\/Dwyn Souza\/


Dwyn hopped out of the cab at ten-forty, eyes trained on the museum building in front of her. People swarmed all around her, and she paid the cab driver. He was clearly annoyed at the lack of a tip, but Dwyn couldn't care less. She'd only taken the cab anyway because it was quicker than the tram and she wanted to get here early to scope things out. The cab finally drove off, and she was left standing on the edge of the sidewalk, watching the crowds of people entering and exiting the museum.

She pulled her beige sweater tighter around her and rushed towards the building like she was cold. In actuality, she was trying to make her features as least memorable as possible. Her hair was down in front of her face to cover as much as it could, and she'd clipped a set of fake bangs on, along with heavy makeup. She sidestepped families and older people on her way up the steps until she reached one of the doors, pulling it open and stepping inside. She drew her purse farther up her shoulder, letting her eyes wander around. It looked beautiful, in an expensive way, though her mind was more focused on all the money that likely went into building it. She walked towards one of the check-in lines, pulling out a twenty from her pocket. Her purse was zipped so it wasn't clear to anyone besides her, but the only things inside it were tissues to puff it out and give it volume. She'd throw tissues away as she stole things, until she was leaving with a purse full of goodies.

"How can I help you?" The receptionist asked Dwyn as she stepped to the front of the line.

"Just one adult ticket," she said, flashing a soft smile.

"Alright," the receptionist said, typing something into a computer. "And would you be interested in our temporary exhibit, A Life of Dedd? All items were recently donated to the University of Chicago after the death of Richard Dedd."

"Oh!" Dwyn said, feigning interest. "I didn't realize he'd died, how awful!" She paused, then said, "I think I may wait until I can come with my parents. It'll still be here in a few months, right?"

"Actually," the receptionist put in, pushing her glasses up from where they were sliding, "because the exhibit is so new, it's going to be touring the country starting a month from now."

"I thought the items were donated to the museum though," Dwyn said, tilting her head. "Nevermind. How much extra is that ticket?"

"It'll be ten extra dollars."

"Alright," Dwyn said, turning away from her to "dig through her purse" while she pulled out more money from her back pocket. She turned back to her. "Here." She smiled. The receptionist took the money and printed out a ticket, tearing it away and handing it to her.

"Have a nice visit!" The receptionist said.

"Thank you!" Dwyn smiled, walking away. She made sure to follow the signs of suggested exhibit orders, but went through quickly and without really studying any of it. She tried to play the part of "my family was just here, where'd they go?" as she made her way through the museum. The temporary exhibit was towards the end, with a guard in front of the door scanning tickets and letting people in. Dwyn held hers out and went in easily, finally taking the time to be wide-eyed and staring at the art. She bumped into a couple and pulled back.

"I'm so sorry!" She gave an embarrassed smile, and moved several art pieces away before putting on the sunglasses she'd taken from the woman's purse. Her head stayed trained on pieces, but her eyes studied the others in the room, taking in the camera placement, number of guards, and how attentive they were. After taking it into account, she pulled a few tissues from her bag and blew her nose loudly, then went to the nearest trashcan and threw them away. She put the sunglasses into her bag and zipped it up again.

A steady flow of people walking in and out of the room kept the faces constantly changing, and she took the opportunity to blow her nose several more times and line a few pieces of jewelry up her arms. Only a few faces didn't change, but all of them seemed completely engrossed in the art. A group of what looked to be students were sat in front of one 3d object sculpted from metal, sketching it onto pads. A couple in a far corner of the room were standing holding hands as they studied a Babylonian lion statue-- how did this Dedd guy get his hands on one in such good condition?

Then, something hit Dwyn. The pale, black-haired man in the pink shirt had been sitting on the same bench, staring at the same piece of pottery for the past ten minutes. Except he hadn't really been staring. His eyes had continually stared, started to wander, and then been snapped back to the vase, like he didn't want anyone to realize he was looking around. Dwyn walked over towards him and sat down next to him, gazing up at the painting.

"It's so beautiful," she said breathlessly, pulling a few tissues out of her purse and pretending to dry her eyes. "Just so... brilliant. I mean, the backstory alone is enough to make me teary-eyed." She gave a shaky laugh. "Sorry, this piece is just so moving to me." Was she overplaying it? Definitely. But he seemed to buy it.

"Oh, uhh. Yeah. Definitely."

"I mean, I never want to speak ill of the dead, but it's just so odd that someone would keep such a historical piece of art locked up in their home, don't you think? Agh, maybe that's the history nerd in me speaking." She wiped her eyes and reached across him to throw away the tissue into the trashcan, accidentally knocking into him. "I'm sorry for bothering you," she gave a shaky laugh. "Just not used to seeing someone so... business-like in a place like this." His wallet was in his left pocket, the one closest to her. This should be easy.

The man made a strange, panicked expression. "I'm here on my lunch break? I work for the school? Kind of?"

"Oh, no, that was meant to be a compliment!" She responded, widening her eyes and giving a nervous smile. "Sorry, I'm not very good at this. That was supposed to be flirting."

The guy choked. "Oh?" Then he turned even pinker than his shirt and mumbled under his breath. Something about sports?

"I'm sorry, I couldn't hear what you said," Dwyn said, leaning in closer and using the opportunity to slip her hand in his pocket and take his wallet.

"I. Uh. Just." The man buried his face in his hands. "I thought the armor the guys on that vase are wearing looked kinda like a bunch of little hockey rinks. Oh my god this is embarrassing."

"No, I think it does," Dwyn smiled. She stood. "I was going to look around the rest of the temporary exhibit. Want to come?" Walking around with another person would make her especially unnoticable, and as long as he didn't notice his wallet missing in the meantime, she could blend in easier.

The guy stood too, rubbing the back of his neck. "Oh, well. Um, you're really nice and all but I actually think I'm supposed to be meeting someone here? Sorry. Uh."

"No, that's okay. I'll leave you to your meeting then I guess," Dwyn said, turning around and walking into the second room of the temporary exhibit. As soon as she was out of sight, she unzipped her purse and slipped his wallet in. Though his shirt was... pink for some reason, it still looked to be by a nice brand, and she was guessing that he carried some good amounts of cash on him.

The second room was more empty than the first-- maybe because it was a dead end. A few people were scattered around looking at things in pairs or groups. Dwyn made her way to a bench at the end of the room where she could see anyone who entered, and pulled out her personal phone, pretending to mess around on it while keeping her eye on the door. Eleven o'clock exactly-- it was time.
And when the day shifts to night,
The wild wolf calls to me,
And I am not afraid.
I fear the darkness far more than I fear his claws


~~~GENDERFLUID, ASEXUAL, OMNIROMANTIC~~~

Pronouns are oVeRrAtEd (they/he/she)
  





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HarryHardy says...



\/Luna Lee Taylor\/


Luna couldn't help the slight shiver that went up her spine as she finally got within eyesight of the building that she'd been heading towards. It had been quite the rush to actually make it here. She couldn't believe that it had been hardly any time since Sadie had called her up that day talking about something interesting.

Convincing her parents to go off on this little trip had been easy, almost a little too easy. Luna was mildly worried that they'd been somehow trying to get her out of the house. It shouldn't be this easy for her to just go off on a trip that could later lead to something that'd take multiple days, would it? Or at least that's what Sadie had said when Luna had phoned her to let her know that none of the sneaky arguments that Sadie had helped Luna come up with for leaving on this trip had proved to be necessary.

At the thought of Sadie, a second shiver went up her spine, except this one was for an entirely different reason. She still didn't feel good about the fact that she was getting to participate in this whole thing while poor Sadie was left out. Sure, Sadie had come up with five hundred reasons, okay not actually five hundred but it had felt that way, on why she didn't mind not coming on this trip, but at the moment none of those five hundred reasons were doing much to reassure Luna.

Her watch beeped, stirring her from her thoughts. She shook herself from those thoughts. She couldn't let herself dwell too much on this or she was going to end up ruining this whole thing for herself by being late. She'd set the alarm on her watch to let her know where there was five minutes left, so she knew that she was going to have to run, especially since she wasn't entirely sure which part of the museum she should even be running to. Sure, she did know which exhibit she was supposed to be going to, but if her past experience was anything to judge by, one exhibit could cover quite a lot of ground.

With this in mind, she turned to run immediately bumping into someone. Normally she would've stayed to apologize, but today she had a mission in mind, she was not going to be late. With that thought firmly in mind she only mumbled a half audible sorry before she was off sidestepping past a couple and slipping between two others having an argument. She couldn't help the tiny sorry that escaped past her as she did o, coming to a stop in front of the front desk.

Hoping that she hadn't somehow made a grave miscalculation and ended up in the wrong exhibit she swallowed her usual fear of talking to strangers and asked for a ticket, knowing that she didn't have time to do her usual ritual of walking around for a few seconds to get her courage up.

She didn't know if it was her obvious nervousness or if it was the fact that she looked the same age as most of the freshmen around here but the receptionist flashed her a quick smile and offered the ticket to her, telling her to have a nice day. As she payed, Luna managed to just about stutter out a thank you before stumbling her way into the museum.

Finding directions to the exhibit was hard. For one, the signs as colorful as they were, weren't the most numerous. Clearly they expected people who knew how to get around a museum to be walking around this particular one and she was having a bit of a hard time hopping around.

There were plenty of people walking around that she could potentially ask, and she was sure most of them would be pretty happy to point her where she needed to go, but the courage needed to do that was not a luxury she had at the moment.

And so with ever rising panic as her watch beeped once again letting her know there was only minute left, she frantically searched for the exhibit that she was supposed to be meeting whoever it was at.

After one small circuit, she finally managed to find the right sign and made her way in, just as the watch announced that she had officially run out of time. She had no idea where in this exhibit she was supposed to be standing in but considering that the letter hadn't been specific about it either, she assumed being in the general area of this exhibit was probably going to be fine.
Stay Safe
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HarryHardy says...



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Ventomology says...



\/ Conrad Selingren \/


The Richard Dedd collection culminated in a stunningly tall room, split down the middle by a wall of double-paned glass, where museum visitors could watch researchers brush and examine and sort through new acquisitions. The decor and signage, arranged with a kind of stately symmetry that only museums could get away with nowadays, was clearly meant to make this room some kind of climax, but most visitors simply passed through after a quick glance at the empty research room on the other side.

Well, it wasn't empty per say. Ceiling-height shelves cluttered the space beyond the glass, and artifacts burst from the shelves in a strange tetris puzzle of stone and paper and pottery. But without binoculars or the funny glasses people wore at the fancy theater downtown, there was no way to get a good look at anything in there. And the true highlight of this last room, the real day-to-day work of archaeologists and historians, was clearly not taking place right now.

Maybe they were all at lunch. Conrad could use lunch.

At eleven o' clock on the dot, he stepped into the room and dropped onto a bench on the far side, away from the glass. The lady who'd flirted with him was already there, standing right up on the glass, next to some young couple nerding out about something on a shelf closer to the public.

Conrad checked his watch, which read eleven, then checked his phone, which also read eleven, then looked around the room nervously. Were they really all going to meet in public? Usually when Conrad's boss set him up for this type of secret stuff, they met in offices after hours and bars full of sad, intoxicated office folk. And he usually didn't have pink beverages soaked into his shirt.

He watched as his phone ticked to eleven-o-one and peeled the front of his shirt off his chest to fan himself. Man, Chicago was so hot in the summers.

At ten past, after a posse of college students had passed through, notes in hand and harried assistant professor in tow, Conrad wondered if maybe he had gotten the date wrong. He frowned, trying to think back to the letter under his desk, but came up empty. Today wasn't like, a fun date or anything. It wasn't tax day, or a holiday, or the same day of the month as any of those things.

Well, if no one showed, then Conrad would just leave. He could run to a nearby store and buy a cheap dress shirt to replace the mess he had on now, and use that as an excuse for his extra long lunch break.

He looked up to see the same lady, still in the room, this time chatting with the aggrieved assistant professor and pointing animatedly at things on the shelves to ask about them. A young woman, maybe high school, maybe college, ran into the room, out of breath, and stopped to rest her hands on her knees and catch her breath.

Conrad checked his watch again. The young woman collapsed onto the other bench and groaned, silently tapping her phone against her forehead. Maybe she had lost her family and her phone was dead? Maybe Conrad should go help her.

He made to stand when a fourth person caught his eye.

A reedy man in a red knit sweater stepped through the doorway, his face a nondescript mask of pleasant, museum-appropriate interest. And he really did have a nondescript face. When Conrad turned away to see if the kiddo still needed help, he forgot exactly what the red sweater man looked like.

He blinked. That was weird. Conrad might not have been the brightest bulb in the bin, but he wasn't a guy who forgot faces easily. He looked back at the man and studied him closer. There. He had a thin face. He wore nerdy circle glasses with thin, silver frames. The seam where his sleeves met the body of his sweater hung just off his shoulders, slightly too big for his frame. He had flat, brown hair.

Conrad checked to see if the outgoing lady was still around and promptly forgot red shirt's face again.

Wait. He hadn't thought about it right away, but that letter had been signed by a person calling themselves 'Red Shirt'. Was this the guy?

The nice lady ushered the beleaguered assistant professor out the exit and pranced onto her next target. She approached casually, keeping a safe distance for the first few words of the exchange, and then drawing closer and closer, until her arm brushed his arm. The man in the red sweater blushed, so quickly Conrad almost missed it, and then leaned in conspiratorially. His bland museum smile widened just so, and his gaze flitted around the room, settling on the lost girl on the other bench, and then on Conrad.

Red Shirt's hand dropped behind the nice lady's back, not too low, not quite touching, and he gestured toward the exit.

Conrad had to resist the urge to immediately stand up and follow. On the ice and at work, his first instinct was always to just do the thing for people, right when they asked, or to at least add it to a list. But this secret stuff had rules, and he was supposed to act like nothing was out of the ordinary. That was what the playbook said.

He pulled out his phone and scrolled through a webpage without looking at it, trying to bring his natural sense about where people were and where they were going from the ice rink to this moment. The guy in the shirt and the lady with him left. Then the younger girl picked up a call from a friend and also left.

And then, after one last shake of his still-damp shirt, Conrad checked his watch, heaved a dramatic, back-to-the-office sigh, and followed suit.
"I've got dreams like you--no really!--just much less, touchy-feeley.
They mainly happen somewhere warm and sunny
on an island that I own, tanned and rested and alone
surrounded by enormous piles of money." -Flynn Rider, Tangled
  





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HarryHardy says...



\/Luna Lee Taylor\/


Luna circled the exhibit once more for good measure scanning for any sign of someone before deciding to maybe sit down. She wasn't the best when it came to reading people, in fact you could make a pretty convincing argument that she was the worst but no one in the room gave of heist vibes. She had no idea what she meant by that, but somehow she knew that no one here was the correct person. Well she hoped that theory was true anyway, either that or hopefully the person who was meeting them would tactically whisper in her ear somehow or something or maybe a paper plane, no that would be too obvious, wouldn't it?

Luna shook her head to stop the barrage of thoughts in her head. With the way this was going she was going to be full on panicking in the next two minutes and that would not be conducive to a tactical heist meeting. Trying to get her thoughts in order, she looked around the room once again, once again looking for anyone that looked like they could possibly be running a heist.

There were a few people milling about, most of them seemingly very normal. There was only one oddity. A man who looked like he'd lost a fight with a bottle of pink kool aid, either that or this was one of these crazy new fashions she never seemed to know about. Both scenarios were equally likely in this situation.

Looking around for a bit longer she noticed a man walk in wearing a red shirt. For a second her brain immediately suggested this was the guy before she realized there was no way anyone would be that blatant. She did however keep her eye on the man considering he was the only knew person that had so far managed to walk in. It was a good thing she did that since not a minute later the man gave her a very pointed look that Luna just knew had to mean this was the heist guy, either that or he was a creepy guy who ran around giving people weird looks, but she decided to ignore that possibility for the moment.

The man then began to walk out with another woman. That gave Luna pause. Maybe he really was a creepy guy and she'd just walked into the wrong museum somehow, okay, no this definitely was it, maybe she'd read the exhibit sign wrong. That couldn't be right. She'd been in a hurry but she knew how to read a sign. She let out a low groan. Why did she have to be so bad at reading people?

Deciding maybe she'd go with her initial gut feeling after all she slowly got up to follow the man and the woman outside. It wouldn't hurt to check if maybe he was the right person. That woman might be a teammate maybe. She knew these things usually involved teams. With that in mind, Luna strolled out, trying to look as normal as she possibly could.

Once they were outside the man pulled into a slightly more private area and Luna found she was glad she'd followed him outside. It seemed this was the right person and that lady was in fact going to be working with her, well her and apparently Mr. Kool Aid. In hindsight with the way he'd been looking around the room much like her, maybe she should've guessed that.

Luna then did her absolute best not to dance around like an excited schoolgirl, well she was an excited schoolgirl, but that was beside the point, as the man after a bit of cryptic talking began to lead them to some 'place'. She had no idea what it was, but it sounded like it was going to be a cool lair, and that's all she needed to know.
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Sat Feb 26, 2022 4:53 pm
winterwolf0100 says...



\/Dwyn Souza\/


Dwyn didn't think he'd be so literal, but as soon as the man in the red shirt walked in, she could tell he was her guy. He kept glancing around like he was looking at the artwork, but his eyes seemed slightly dazed over, like he wasn't focusing on them. She abandoned the assistant she'd been talking to-- picking the pockets of-- and steered him quickly to the exit before turning around.

"It's been a long time!" She said, flashing a bright smile like she'd gotten a pleasant surprise. "I didn't expect to see you here, how have you been?" She kept her volume just loud enough for a few close people to hear it and sound natural, but she didn't want to yell. She was trying to avoid attention, after all.

"Yes, it has," the man responded quickly, adjusting his glasses slightly as he watched her approach intently.

"Too long," Dwyn said, brushing up against his arm. "Love the red shirt," she murmured quietly, and watched out of the corner of her eye as the man blushed.

"Well, I'm feeling rather hungry. What say we go for a bite to eat?"

"After you," Dwyn said, but the man just smiled slightly, like he was amused.

"Not... quite yet." He leaned in towards her and said quietly, "can't be leaving your teammates stranded behind, can we?"

Dwyn blinked but quickly regained her composure, consciously putting on a mask to anyone watching. "Teammates?" She repeated, drawing back and smiling like they'd just shared a funny joke.

She watched as his eyes casually rested on a young girl who seemed to be scrolling through her phone, though her eyes darted around the room every so often. The man's eyes left her after a few seconds and rested on... the man with the pink shirt that Dwyn had been talking to? She was startled enough that she knew her face revealed something for a few seconds, before she quickly recovered.

"Let's go," the man said, placing his hand behind the small of her back. She walked towards the door, him in tow.

Once they'd exited the temporary exhibit, he pulled her towards a less populated area of the museum, still visible from the doorway, and she finally felt free enough to say, "Don't carry anything with you to museums?"

"Don't worry," he said calmly, his eyes never breaking from watching the traffic of people casually. "You'll get what you need before we part."

"If I didn't, it wouldn't be parting so much as just leaving," Dwyn muttered. Her innocent, go-lucky act was starting to grate on even her nerves, and she didn't like being jerked around like this. "You wanted the best, didn't you? You must know I don't settle for two-star hotels."

"Understandable," he acknowledged, then turned and began walking slowly towards the main entrance to the museum as the other two exited the room one after another. "I promise, your stay will be far more luxurious than a road-side motel. Though you do seem to enjoy spending a night there, from the looks of your purse." He glanced at it, and she knew he must realize she'd spent the entire wait stealing from people.

"It's for the fun, I'd hardly call it spending the night," she snorted. "I vacate long before that."

The man sighed. "Alright, this metaphor is beginning to lose me, but I can guarantee you and your teammates will be satisfied with both the before and after results."

"Yes, my teammates," Dwyn said. "Funny that you didn't mention that in the letter."

"Not a big fan of people?"

"No, I love people, especially Americans. They're fun to mess with and always have easy money. It's more that they don't get along well with me."

The man stopped at the bottom of the museum steps, and the man and girl finally caught up with them.

"Umm...," began the girl, looking everywhere but the person in front of her, "I'm...I'm not exactly sure how this is supposed to work, but shouldn't we go somewhere a bit more private to talk? And why di...never mind."

"Don't worry," the man said. "I have a place in mind. Follow me."

They began to walk after him, and Dwyn took the time to pull off the fake bangs she had clipped on. Something about them was beginning to drive her insane-- probably because she wasn't used to the hair constantly brushing around on her forehead. She didn't pull this pair out very often because they were bangs straight across, and she usually just used clothes to switch up her appearance. The only reason she'd bothered with her face and hair this time was because she knew she'd be going back to the museum soon. Even though they saw hundreds of people each day, she couldn't risk someone recognizing her as the person who had been there only a few days ago.

She stuffed the bangs into her bag, and the man stared at her blatantly as they continued walking. She raised her eyebrows in return, then said, "Que estás a ver?"

"Huh?" He said, seemingly dazed.

"I asked why your shirt is pink," she lied, turning back forwards. For some reason, having to repeat "What are you looking at?" just felt like it lost the punch.

The man made a noise somewhere between a sigh and a chuckle. "I spilled my coworker's drink on myself to get out of the office on time." Then, after reexamining the damage, he shrugged. "I think it looks better than a coffee stain at least."

Dwyn forced a sweet smile and said, "I'm sure it does." This man had never stolen a thing in his life. It made her wonder why he'd even been chosen at all. In fact, she could probably do this job entirely by herself-- that's what she'd been prepared to do. Sure, the first few jobs Derek had brought to her attention had been some team things, but it had quickly become clear that any time she was on a team, they held her back while she simultaneously and spectacularly ruined the mission for everybody by not sticking to the plan. There were just some times when she thought well on her feet and everybody didn't seem to follow her logic. Derek had switched to mainly solo jobs, with a few group offers here and there, but she'd even made a point of turning those down. That was probably why they hadn't mentioned the other people, actually. They knew it would immediately turn her off.

"So Red, mind telling us how much longer until we reach where we're going?" She asked, purposely veering slightly to the left to bump into a woman wearing a gemmed bracelet. "So sorry," she gushed, pulling away from the woman's glare with the bracelet tucked against her arm. She slipped it in her purse without a second thought.

"We'll be going to a reserved restaurant," the man in the red shirt said calmly.

The tall guy checked his pockets and frowned. "Oh, really? Can we swing by my office first then? Think I might've forgotten my wallet." He pulled the pocket lining inside out, swatted a wad of lint to the ground, and frowned harder, trying to remember something.

The man in the red shirt gave Dwyn a meaningful look, like he knew exactly what she'd done. She resisted the urge to grin and slyly pulled out the other man's wallet from her purse. "Oh, I noticed you dropped it! I meant to hand it back to you but I guess I just forgot. Here you go!" She handed it back to him.

"Oh, thanks, bro!" The man said, seeming relieved as he took it back.

"Don't mention it. So Red-- how close are we?"

"Are you always this impatient?"

"Only when I'm in the lobby of a five-star hotel and they're refusing to check me in," she said casually. "There are plenty of hotels around, you know."

"Ah, but none quite as lucrative as ours, wouldn't you agree?" The man said. He pulled to a stop in front of a nondescript building. "We're here."

Dwyn looked it over. There was a sign for a back entrance to some restaurant she'd never heard of, and what looked to be a narrow staircase that led to apartments. "Are we?" Dwyn asked, but it was more a rhetorical question than anything.

He chuckled as they all pulled to a stop, glancing back at them and readjusting his glasses. "Yes," he said calmly, "We are."
And when the day shifts to night,
The wild wolf calls to me,
And I am not afraid.
I fear the darkness far more than I fear his claws


~~~GENDERFLUID, ASEXUAL, OMNIROMANTIC~~~

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