The Clover Tusk Bank was a local bank chain that primarily serviced the Jaws’ Tusk island chain and the Island part of the country Clover. There was the occasional branch office elsewhere in the rest of Clover, which was located on the continent of Brahgegaius, but for the most part, the Clover Tusk Bank chain was something unique to the islands.
Of the main office branch on Spearhead Island, there wasn’t much of importance that they held in their vault. Their raw cash reserves were not as large as other banks elsewhere on the island, and their vault wasn’t very large as some could be either.
Thus, it was to some confusing concern as four costumed people entered the lobby and held up four large magitech rifles.
“EVERYBODY BE GETTING ON YE GROUND!” The male Lycan in the unmodified “Fillipe the Tropical Bird” Costume roared, his gun making a very loud charging sound. “THIS BE A ROBBERY!!!”
Everyone screamed as did as they were told and went for the ground.
“Chery, first off, what did you do to your hair- and second of all, why are you here?” Alec Purchit asked of his sister as the five of them headed towards the student dorms.
“Well, I dyed it. Duh! And I came to visit you. Double duh!!” Chery stuck her tongue out at her brother. “Everyone back home’s going busy with the holidays this year, and since I knew you weren’t going to be coming back this year, cause you didn’t last year, I decided to come visit you!”
“Did you even tell anyone you were coming?” Alec asked.
“I didn’t NOT tell anyone…” Chery trailed off.
“Okay fine I told my friends I was coming, but I didn’t tell anyone from the family,” Chery glanced away.
“Chery, why–?” Alec sighed.
“Have you even been reading my letters?” Chery asked, frowning. “I told you I was coming if you weren’t coming.”
“Of course I read your letters,” Alec countered. “But your last message was just a LITTLE bit confusing.”
“Then you know why I came!” Chery said, exasperated. “And I’m sorry if I was a little bit obscure, but I had to be a bit more discrete with that cause… you now!”
“No, I don’t. Please. Do Inform me of it!” Alec countered.
“Would the Real Bank Manager please stand up?” The female Sylph in a modified “Baxter Bunny” costume- traditionally a male role, though this suit had the misfortune of having had its leggings stripped off and hastily replaced with a color clashing mini skirt- asked of the hostages. “We’d love to have a chat, darling.”
Meanwhile, as the two siblings argued over the previous thing they’d been arguing about, the others continued to talk about their homework assignment.
“So- changing subjects so we can get our homework done today- what binds a ghost?” Elise asked. “If salt kicks it out of a body, what binds it to something? ‘Cause that’s the only thing I can think of to do in this situation.”
“Binding a ghost?” Mikari mused, “Probably we’d just use a binding circle like at a Moon shrine.” Those were rather handy, really.
“So we need to craft a binding circle,” Elise nodded, pounding her right fist into her left hand like a hammer hitting a gavel. “…Is anyone good at rune crafting?”
“Not me,” Mikari shook her head.
“Me…” Olivea sighed. “Ironically, rune chalk is one of the few things I’m not alergic to.”
“Out of curiosity, what else is on that list?” Elise asked.
Olivea took a deep breath, and then recited a rather short list of things she wasn’t allergic to. Mikari and Elise both made note of that list for future reference. Alec, meanwhile, was once more trying to get out of his sister why she’d dyed her hair a cherry red color.
The Manager of the bank opened the vault, and was pulled away by the third member of the group. He was a Male Iconox in the “Maxwell the Bear” costume nodded to their fourth member as she entered the vault. “Cheeky, check the safe for our target.” He ordered. “You know the plan. Burn anything that isn’t what we want.”
“You got it, Sir Barry,” The Pyromander in the heavily mangled Plesio Myne weasel costume cheerfully said with a roll of her shoulders.
“Ice cream is great for all that ails you,” Miri smiled at Shauna as they sat down at a bench with their ice cream cones bought from the store just behind them. Miri was fortunate that it was open still this time of night.
“Thanks for buying this,” The dragon girl smiled, sadly as she looked at her ice cream. “I forgot to get my wallet from my locker…”
“It’s fine,” Miri said. “I know how it gets when something like this happens.” They sat there in silence for a few minutes, eating their ice-cream, then Miri spoke. “So… I have to ask. Did you ever see anybody casing the building over the last week or month?”
“No,” Shauna sighed. “I’ve been thinking and thinking but I can’t remember anyone out of the ordinary.”
“Okay…” Miri nodded. “Can you think of anybody who’d want to take the costumes?”
“Not really,” Shauna shook her head. “They’re just regular old mascot costumes. They’re not even enchanted in any way.” She sighed. “I just don’t get it.”
“I think we have to consider the possibility they were after Mike,” Miri tensely ventured. “Can you think of anybody who might have had it out for him?”
“His family, if they ever found out we were sleeping together? I know some people in his life were giving him grief over his lack of a relationship…” Shauna offered. “But why steal the costumes then?”
“I don’t know,” Miri shook her head. “I really don’t.” All she could do was hope that Mike Flynn survived and could tell them something, anything, about the thieves.
“So, Fauxey, darling,” The Sylph began as she loaded her bag with cash from the registers. “How much money do you think our haul will rake in if we’ve found it here?”
The Lycan grunted, “Bunny, lass, please be kindly keepin’ yer mouth shut in front of the hostages, would ye?”
The so named “Bunnie” scoffed, “Please, darling, I have better common sense than that.”
“IT’S NOT HERE!” Cheeky’s voice echoed out of the vault, a moment later, there was a muted PFOOM, and the building shook as if an explosion rocked it.
“Well, then,” Sir Barry grunted. “You hostages have one choice…” He aimed his gun at the roof and fired a single shot into it.
“RUN YE SCURVY BASTARDS!!!” Fauxey yelled- and the hostages all ran. “RUUUUUNNNN!! AHAHAHAHAAHAHA!!!”
The Surgeon exited the hospital room, and smiled faintly at Detective Kaie. “Detective, Mister Flynn is out of surgery. He’ll make it, we think. He’s sedated and under watch for now, but we expect him to wake up by tomorrow morning.”
“Good,” Kaie nodded. “I’ll let his family know.” He turned towards one of the Hospital’s Guards, “Keep guard. I don’t want those thieves coming back to finish the job.”
“Of course, sir,” The guard nodded.
Kaie headed towards the nearest nurses desk, and asked for an available phone. The nurse directed him towards on at the end of the hall, and so he went to it, and dialed in a familiar number.
Ring Ring. Ring Ring. Ring Ring. ‘Pick up the phone…’ Ring Ri-
_“Hey dad!”_ Kendal’s voice greeted him almost as soon as she picked up the receiver.
“Hey, Kendal,” Kaie smiled. “Just checking in. It’s officially not a murder case right now.”
_“Oh? The guy’s alive?”_ Kendal asked.
“Yeah,” Kaie shook his head. “I’ve got to go inform the girlfriend- Miri suspects somebody from the family set all this up as an attempted murder- but I thought I could check in with you first. We’ll probably all be on our way back tonight.”
_“Mmmh, change ‘probably’ to ‘definitely,’ and it’s a good idea, dad,”_ Kendal’s grimace was audible.
“Why?” Kaie asked, wary of what his daughter was going to say next.
_“Nahgi’s dad skipped town without a word right after his class ended today, and she’s pretty mad he’s not staying for the holidays.”_ Kendal lowered her voice to a conspiratorial whisper, _“I could smell how worked up she is when she dropped by earlier to complain. I’d bet she could probably do with a good massage.”_ A pause. _“Or more than a massage, if you get home early enough~!”_
If there was one downside to his daughter’s fox-type lycanthropy, it was the high pitched sound that tended to slip into her sentences whenever she was referencing his love life. If Kaie had ever wondered if Kendal had hated how he’d moved on and started dating again, the fact that she was now taking extensive glee- like everyone else he know- in ribbing him about it said otherwise.
And so, Kaie’s free left hand met his face, “Damn it, Kendal.”
_“Aren’t you glad I’m taking classes now, and thus, have to spend my nights in actual dorm rooms~?”_ Kendal’s question was less of a question than it was another self-amused jab in his general direction. _“I mean, you get to-”_
“Kendal,” he interrupted, “if, whenever you decide to start dating, and you don’t want me making coy comments about your love life, I’d recommend you stop right now so I can get back to work.”
That just made her laugh. It was a different laugh than he was used to. It was more fox like, and had gradually shifted towards that way over the last few months. _“Pft. As if. Everyone we know takes a bit of perverse glee in ribbing you about it. What makes you think they’re going to go easy on me?”_
“The fact that nobody teases Ayako and Tony?” He offered.
_“Mrh… I guess so.”_ Kendal laughed again, though. _“Anyways, I’ll let you go. See you tonight, I guess!”_
“Probably,” Kaie nodded. “Love you.”
As Kaie hung up the phone, Ayako came running down the hallway, panic clear on her face to anyone who dared try to stop her.
“Detective Kaie!” She called out as she skid to a stop.
“What is it?” he asked of the Lycan girl.
“The thieves… they’re at it again,” Ayako panted out.
“What? Where?” Kaie frowned.
“A Bank! They’re robbing a bank!” Ayako answered.
“How do-?” You know it’s them? He was going to ask.
Ayako’s answer was really the one he should have expected.
“They’re wearing the costumes they stole!”
Nobody had seen the four thieves exit the bank, not even as smoke and flames poured out of the entrance to the by-now evacuated building. And by the time Detective Kaie, Ayako Mayoi, Tony Nori, and Lizzy Smith arrived on the scene, there still had been no sign of them exiting, even after the fire begun to consume the bank building.
The fire department showed up about a minute after the Mystryal Detectives had- the team of Undines working hard to put the fire out as quickly as possible.
“So they burned the vault because there wasn’t anything there they wanted? No cash? Nothing?” Kaie asked of the poor beleaguered manager, who nodded in confirmation. ‘What the hell kind of game are they playing?’ “Thanks for the info,” Kaie said to the manager, then turned back to his team. “So is it possible they’re still in there?”
“They probably had some kind of escape plan,” Lizzy said as she stared at the building.
“I can’t imagine they’d burn themselves alive,” Tony shook his head. “Not with a Pyromander on their team.”
This, at least, had been the greatest boon to their investigation. The mascot costumes, while great at obscuring individual identities, did nothing to obscure the given person’s race, unlike the previous all black outfits they’d worn. It was like they didn’t care, now that they’d gotten their hands on the mascot outfits, about obscuring their identities. But why?
“I just don’t get it,” Ayako frowned. “Why the hell did they go to all this trouble? What could be so worth it to steal four mascot costumes and then break into a bank, just to burn it because something wasn’t there?”
“I suspect we’re not going to find out until they strike out again,” Kaie sighed, shaking his head. “In the meantime, where’d Miri take the girlfriend from Pizza Parlor after they got ice cream? I need to find out if she has Mike’s family’s contact info, as well as tell her that he’s alive.”
“I’ll go find Miri,” Tony offered, “and see where they went?”
“Go,” Kaie nodded. “The rest of us will wait for the fire to be put out and see what’s left of the crime scene.”
The fire had been put out in short order, and once the building deemed safe to enter by the Fire Fighters, Kaie lead his two student interns into the building.
The very first thing that was immediately obvious was that there was a massive circular section of floor that was made out of metal, and stood out in sharp relief to the rest of the scorched, wooden floor that was the rest of the bank lobby’s floor. That, in of itself, was odd. What was odder was the glowing magic rune that had been burnt into its surface by either the fire (Least Likely), or some other magical means (Most Likely).
“…What the hell is this?” Lizzy began. “Just… what the hell, what the fuck, is this!?”
“Lizzy?” Ayako asked, hesitantly, “Is everything okay?”
“There’s a huge fuck ass enchanted rune lying on that stupid piece of metal!!” She pointed at the rune on the metal in the floor that should not have been metal. “THIS RUNE MEANS NOTHING!”
“What do you mean it means nothing?” Kaie asked.
“Exactly that!” Lizzy stomped over to the metal section and kicked at it. “This symbol! Means! “VOID!” Nothing!!! It doesn’t even have a standard use in enchanting! IT’S A FUCKING JOKE!!!”
“Wait, wait, wait,” Ayako began, “you’re telling me they took the time to teleport in a giant metal plate just to leave a joke message??”
“Worse than that,” Kaie headed off Lizzy’s inevitable reply with one of his own, “I think we just found out how they escaped.”
Lizzy opened her mouth, closed it, and then hung her head as she gave out an annoyed groan. “You’re right. You’re absolutely right. They had to get this metal floor from somewhere, and if they could get something in…?”
“They could get themselves out,” Ayako finished with a gulp.
Meanwhile, in the hospital building that Mike Flynn had been taken to, there was a Doctor’s private office with an evidence bag resting on a desk. Inside that bag was a small metal bullet that had yet to be collected by the Mystryal Detectives.
It was the bullet pulled from Mike Flynn’s chest…. and it was glowing.
The doctor sitting at the desk didn’t notice it. If he had, he might have had a chance to escape before he was taken unawares by the events that happened next in a matter of seconds.
A small spark of electricity jumped out of the bullet, striking at a wall. Then another burst out and hit the floor, then another arced out to hit another wall, then more and more and more all within the blink of an eye.
By the time the doctor realized something was going on a heartbeat later, the electricity leaping about had stopped hitting the walls. In fact, the bursts seemed to be getting a feel out for the room the bullet was in. Mapping, as if seeing how big the immediate space in the environment was.
The doctor barely stood from his chair when the arcing electricity began to shift so that it did not hit the solid matter of a wall or a ceiling, but thin air. Again and again until a perfect sphere of space had been marked out and then—
Like glass being broken, a perfect sphere of space was swapped out of the doctor’s office, and was replaced by a section of floor that had clearly come from the bank that had just been robbed. Standing in the center of it all was a Sylph woman wearing a nurses’ uniform. She glanced around, and then smirked.
She exited the doctor’s office with a nonchalant whistle, nobody paid her any mind as she headed down the hallways towards the Intensive Care Unit, the only likely place a person like Mike Flynn could have been kept after suffering such an injury like that.
The Sylph swiped a card at the door lock- it shouldn’t have worked as it wasn’t a standard issue pass card, but the enchantments placed on the card worked their magic and tricked the gate in a split second. The doors opened, and he went inside.
It didn’t take long to find Mike Flynn’s room- even when placed under an alias. The guards gave it away. She simply approached them, bluffed some nonsense thing about checking his vitals, and entered the room.
Once the door was closed behind her, she then drew out a small injection needle containing nothing but air. The Sylph approached the IV Drip supplying Mike Flynn with a pain killing drug, and injected the needle’s contents into the drip’s injection vein.
The Sylph didn’t bother to stay to observe her work’s results, she left, saying that his vitals were somewhat weak and that she was going to find his doctor. The damage was already done in the form of a large air bubble traveling towards Mike’s blood stream.
‘Bunnie’ left the hallway in a hurry, seemingly fitting for a nurse trying to save a patient… However, marching back the way she came, the Sylph’s ice-cold heart was not beating a single time in sympathy for the man she’d just murdered. She might as well have been an Iconox for how chilled her emotions were towards this single act of mercy.
By the time the heart monitor cried out to the nurses, she was half way back to the office she’d left from. By the time she reached the office, the doctors and nurses were just now rushing into Mike Flynn’s room, and the guards realized they’d screwed up.
And as she stood in the center of the misplaced floor, and thumbed a button on a device hidden in her pants pocket, Mike Flynn’s soul would finally be on its way to the Reaper.
The whole room lit up with a burst of electricity from nowhere- and then with a reality wrenching POP, the doctor’s office had been returned to the state it had once been in, save that the doctor who had been at his desk was now lying unconscious at his desk thanks to a stun spell thrown at him.
A minute later, the doctors and nurses who had rushed into Mike Flynn’s room reluctantly called his death at 8:16 P.M., on the night of December Tenth, of the year 1618, After Cataclysm.
Shauna cried in her apartment’s kitchen as Detective Kaie filled her in on Mike Flynn’s doubled down upon murder. By Mizar, did she cry.
Miri felt sorry for the girl. Mike Flynn had survived being shot only to be murdered in the hospital. And as Miri had been there before, emotionally, almost five months ago now, she knew how it hurt. That was what Detective Kaie had told the dragon girl. That it would hurt and keep hurting but eventually one day it wouldn’t, and that she should always hold onto the memories of the time they spent together fondly. Even so, Miri’s hands went down to her stomach.
Why was she at Mystryal? She’d been asking herself for months now. Months and Months and… and…
‘Just this once,’ she thought to herself, ‘I’ll do it for this girl. I’ll figure out why they went to all this trouble.’
Whatever she did after that, well… she’d cross that bridge when she came to it.