40.0 Maelstrom

Fishy, Rose and the Bastard weren’t just children.  They were also criminals.  That’s not such an unusual combination, of course.  When someone pictures petty vandalism, shoplifting and similar mischief, kids are often the first potential culprits to come to mind.  These three were different.

They didn’t steal candy bars and magazines from the corner store.  Okay, sometimes Fishy did, but only if he thought the clerk had been giving him ‘the look.’  He always claimed he hated that look but neither of the other two had a clue what he meant.

Children or not, these three were highly accomplished thieves.

Rose was the brains.  She knew the seven most common lock makers in the country and what type of pick worked best with each of them.  Need to figure out whether interrupting power to a block will shut off those security cameras?  Rose knew.  What sold the best, what was valuable but too hard to fence, how to pick the best targets and what the best time of day to hit, Rose knew it all or knew how to find out.

She also had the habit of going from a shy bookworm with a massive crush on the Bastard to a violent, easily offended tomboy with very little warning.

The Bastard was smart, maybe almost as smart as Rose, but what he really brought to the team was skill.  Some people were quick learners but he was just unreal.  It was like all he had to do was watch someone else pull something off and he could do it just as well the next day.  The only way into an office building is on the roof?  The Bastard spent a couple hours watching Viewtube videos on urban explorers, roof jumpers and stuff.  That safe Rose thought was a Hardaway turns out to actually have a false shell?  The Bastard spends a few minutes cradling up to the custom built thing like a lover and then he’s working the combination like he’d programmed it himself.

He never did explain the nickname.  Occasionally, if they pressed him hard enough, he’d mutter something uncomplimentary about his older brother.

Fishy’s name made a lot more sense once you’d hung around him for awhile.  He’d laugh and joke and smile his ridiculous smile, without so much as a trace of guile or guilt in his bright blue eyes.  Then he’d make an off-hand remark about ‘the look’ everyone was giving him.  Another day, he’d say something about the fox in the sewer that was always insulting him.  It was a little… off, but the other two didn’t care.  That’s just the way Fishy was and he was their friend.  They were a team and that’s all that mattered.

On a different team, probably one older and certainly one that was less dysfunctional, he might’ve been the muscle.  On this one, he was the doer.  When Rose recognized the overly-made up, fat old lady at the salon as the wife of a wealthy energy investor, it was Fishy that got them to steal her cat.  They’d all come out of it with some weird bruises and a ridiculous number of scratches but, in the end, the old lady got her cat back and they got a very generous cash ‘finder’s fee.’

All of this goes to explain why, one sunny afternoon, they were walking down the street dressed in the student’s uniform of an extremely expensive private middle school that none of them had ever set foot in.

Rose had done a few hours of research, gotten pictures of the students that lived in their target building and the typical drop off times.  The Bastard had stayed up all night with some stolen fabric and sewing needles to fake the uniforms.  He’d also picked up some hair dye and scissors to help them look their parts.  Fishy had spent less then three minutes with a screwdriver to make sure the van that should have been dropping off the kids they were impersonating wouldn’t be making its usual rounds.

Changing a flat tire might not take long, not if you know what you’re doing.  Four is a different matter.

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21 comments on “40.0 Maelstrom

  1. I decided not to take a full break for rewrites on Grim Lessons. Instead, I’m taking weekends off. This means there’ll be new updates from me on Mon-Fri followed by silence on Sat and Sun. I’ll use the time I would be writing on those two days to get the e-book ready and, once it’s out, updates will switch to daily.

    Incidentally, this is the first part of the intro for Protean Ethics. Hope you like it.


    • Will the new book continue the peripheral focus on Jenny presented in Book 2, or was that only because of Jason’s relationship with her? I really enjoy any of the bits featuring Jenny or the Monster, and I think it would be a shame if there was none of her scenes in Book 3.


  2. Fishy, Rose and the Bastard were children weren’t just children.
    Fishy, Rose and the Bastard were children, but? weren’t just children.

    Children or no, these three were highly accomplished thieves.
    Children or not, these three were highly accomplished thieves.

    thanks for the new chapter


    • This is a reference but not to Twig. I like Wildbow but I’m waiting for him to finish before I read. Incidentally I’m actually pretty surprised that no one’s spotted it yet. First one who does gets an internet thumbs up from me.


  3. Comment – couldn’t the skin guy have made clones w/ hector’s power before the church people confronted him. Sent the clone away from the city as a survival plan. Maybe he was so psychotic that he never even thought of this idea (that a normal person would do).

    Wonder if skintheif’s powers will impact hector. Allow him to temporarily take on multiple powers?


    • Wouldn’t have worked; Brother Micah was quite sure that Skinthief would die if he killed the original. Hector said that his clones are independent and the original might be dead, but he was straight-up lying. His original is in the life-support pod in his house. The original Skinthief could have slipped away from the city and left a clone behind, though that could have risked alerting someone (notably Hector).


      • yay! i’m glad i brought this up

        im a fan of citadel because its so realistic. should ppl have powers governments would collapse, the world would be chaotic like you described in your work. the dynamics of villains & heroes are very real

        i’m comparing these to other superhero stories like worm & powered & apocalypse now (these works lack the chaotic element, or in the case of apocalypse now, it reverted back to order very quickly


  4. Extremely expensive private school? The van that should be delivering kids had four flats? Another van will be called for — those kids will be expected home at certain times and getting there an hour or more late risks the ire of the parents.


    • i can see a half hour wait occuring without hassel
      kids would just be on their phones
      plus its something thats unexpected
      rich parents don’t really care about spoiled brats
      they have money are expected to be independent on some level


      • Oh no. That sort of nonsense cannot happen. The nanny is already here, ready to go, and you think I’m hoping to pay her for standing around waiting? No. Oh no. Never going to happen. But Becky is going to complain that I told her to start at 2pm, and that since she was here ready to work at two, that she should be paid starting from there instead of from 2:30 when they actually get here. Also I have to tell Becky that Benson is not allowed to have any gluten products because otherwise he’ll lie to her and try to sneak some and then I’ll have to fire Becky or he’ll never learn, and this whole delay is just going to cause me a massive delay and it’s already been five minutes past when they should be here and I suppose it’s time for my third call to that worthless superintendent because obviously someone had to light a fire under his lazy butt or nothing will change and…

        I think you vastly underestimate how willing rich people are to allow a slight deviation in their schedule, especially when that deviation is unplanned, uncoordinated, uncommunicated, and a simple fix (send out another van) is available. Any transportation company worth its salt, especially one that caters to rich people, will have an extra vehicle ready to go just in case one breaks down.


  5. The work referenced is an anime. Naruto.

    Rose is fangirl Sakura.
    Bastard is emo Sasuke.
    Fishy is village pariah Naruto.
    I’m frankly surprised that no one got the Naruto reference. I thought… ah, well.


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