Fight 15-I

FLINT

Too Much Too Soon.

A delayed hush washed across the room, as people began to notice our presence. The others, all eight of them, were spread out through the crowd, and little circles of space began to form in the crowds around them. The six or so other people at the counter began sidling away from me, as inconspicuously as they could.

Now, you're probably thinking, “Flint, what the fuck is this plan supposed to be? You walk into a bank literally in the basement of people who want to lock you up and throw away the key, obviously dressed like a super, with a bag of stolen money, and then what?” To which I reply: you've basically got the gist of it, yeah. Obviously, there's more to it than that, but… well, you'll have to wait and see.

The clerk (are the people who work at banks called clerks? I think they are) was staring down at me with a mix of confusion and fear. I guess the broad smile wasn't having exactly the disarming effect I'd hoped. Probably because he couldn't see my eyes. I turned it down a couple of notches.

“Hey, relax,” I said up to the cashier, surprisingly loud in the silence that had fallen over the room. “We're not here to rob you or anything. I mean, do we look stupid to you?” He actually opened his mouth to reply. “No, don't answer that. That goes the same for the rest of you,” I called out, turning to address the rest of the room. While I'd been facing the desk, the pockets of space around the others had expanded, and we were now essentially standing out in the open, a ragged circle of civilians hovering just in front of the pillars that lined either side of the room. Not the best situation, tactically speaking, but that wasn't the concern right now. I also noted multiple black bulbs on the ceiling in various discreet places: security cameras, more subtle than the swivel-mounted ones that sat near the door. Tide had done some research, and the fact that I could see a little glint of glare from one meant that it was pointed at me. The others would be watching the rest of the Outliers, and the swivels were still scanning the doorways. Someone thought we were a distraction, apparently. Sorry, bud, but we're the main event.

“None of you are going to come to harm,” I continued. “Well, from us. I can't stop you from hurting each other.” The complete lack of noise was deafening. “Nothing? Gee, tough crowd. At least you're not throwing fruit. But yeah, just chill, people. We’ll be out of your hair in a sec.” It actually seemed to work, sort of. A murmur spread through the crowd, a brief ripple of noise, but no-one started screaming or running away. And, of course, now that the people weren’t on the cusp of breaking down, out came the phones. Dozens of little cameras, filming our - my - every move. Which I’d ordinarily hate, but right now, that was fine. Great, even.

“So!” I clapped my hands together, spinning back to the clerk. The gloves muted the sound slightly, but he still flinched. “Oh come on, man, relax! We haven’t got all day, and it’s gonna take forever if you’re being like that all the time.”

“What’s going to take forever?” he asked nervously. The name badge pinned to his shirt identified him as Neil, and I scrutinized him. Yeah, he looked like a Neil.

“Well, Neil, my friends and I are here to perform a very important piece of civic duty.” I grinned, and kicked the bag beside me. “Is this where we return lost property?”

He didn’t seem to know how to respond to that, but that was okay. He was essentially a prop anyway, I didn’t need him to actually do anything. I leaned casually against the desk, facing outwards and scanning my gaze across the crowd. “I’m gonna assume at least one of you is livestreaming this, because… well, come on. Hello, America!” I gave a little wave. “You’ll excuse me if I don’t look at you, because I’ve got far too many options to just guess. My name’s Skew. You almost certainly haven’t heard of me, but that’s okay, I won’t be offended. Now, if you’ve been watching the news lately, you’ve probably heard about the whole shebang that’s been going down in our lovely little city lately. You know, that whole thing, with the biggest robbery in our short history. What was it…” I clicked my fingers a few times. “$20 million in untraceable bearer bonds? Yeah, that was it. Awful lot of money, innit? Not a ridiculous amount, but still a lot. So how many of you noticed that in all that time of media coverage, no one actually mentioned where it came from?” I gave that a moment to sink in. “Now, that’s pretty strange if you ask me. Well, not really, because I do know where it came from, but you get the idea. The thing is, the Tower and the police are going all over the news, pointing fingers and raising a ruckus, and very carefully avoiding revealing the origins of all that money. And me and my friends here, we didn’t think that was right.” I bent over and unzipped the bag, presenting its contents to the cameras. There was a collective gasp. “Ta daaa. All 20 million, all in one neat package.” Without looking back, I dumped the duffel onto the counter. “Here you go.”

If showing the contents had gotten a reaction, then this was another level. I saw people openly gaping at me. “Yes, despite the very snazzy outfits, we’re not the bad guys. We,” and I made a broad sweeping gesture, “are the Outliers. And I’d like to especially stress that, despite what you may have heard on the news, we did not steal that money. We merely repatriated it from the rather nasty people who did. And now we’re returning it, like the good citizens we are.” I tilted my head back at Neil, and winked. “Any questions?”

“I have one,” interrupted an unfamiliar voice from my right. Parting the crowd, stalking towards us, were the New Chicago Guardians, in all their finery. Comet walked at their head, gaze fixed on me. “In what possible world did you think this was a good idea?”

I grinned right back at her and said nothing. Everything was going (and I love that I finally get to say this) all according to plan.

Mwa. Ha. Ha.

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