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Thread: Thief - The Mental Age

  1. #1
    Member
    Registered: Aug 2001
    Location: yo mama

    Thief - The Mental Age

    OK, the story continues. Notes:

    I've started where Seamus Sullivan (Muurgh) left, which means my story overlaps telliamed's.

    Many thanks to Sarah Hard (Catkyn) for some valuable input.
    Last edited by odourpreventer; 1st Dec 2003 at 01:06.

  2. #2
    Member
    Registered: Aug 2001
    Location: yo mama
    First City Tank and Bust

    Dirty pipe
    it trappers grass,
    patched sails
    they trappers wind,
    line and hook
    it trappers fish.

    Sailors is we
    with a yo-ho-ho,
    and forgets us
    we can't swim.


    – Parchment found in glass bottle

    Gary wasn't surprised that the Mechalomaniacs weren't the saints they claimed to be. Of course, he hadn't seen their public agenda, but he seriously doubted it involved attaching house-hold appliances to people and transforming them into something best suited for preparing tennis courts.

    And, Sheriff Trout was Kletus' sock puppet. Well, that's a plot twist and no mistake.

    He slid silently onto the ground outside the bank. So, Gary thought, all I have to do is get into the bank, disable any alarms, find the hall of records and learn the Mechalomaniacs' deposit box number, figure out how to open the bank vault, get into it, and then get out with the recording, all the while finding something for myself and avoiding guards and other security measures. It's almost too easy.

    He was cut short contemplating his illicit shopping list by the arrival of erratic guard voices. He hurried silently the other way.

    "I've heard they're gonna replace all guards at this place with those machine thingys, just to save a couple of bucks," one guard said. Gary hit a dead end. Bugger!

    "Nah, that's stupid. Look a' the big walkers wit' cannons. All that collaterel damage they make. I mean, half th' time they miss and hit som'ting else. Can' be cheap." This voice had the tone you would expect from a man who appreciated the finer things in life, like beer. Gary spotted a window close to the ground and armed himself with his lockpicks.

    "I heard the ones inside don't shoot bombs," the first guard said. "Dunno what, but they just incampa—inpanc—knock out whoever's in the way and then grab them with that big claw."

    "Collateral damage, is that something like collateral thinking?" The third guard decided to join the conversation.

    "That's when you hit someone and someone else gets hurt in the process," the first guard explained matter-of-factly.

    "Like last night, when you thought you've spotted an intruder but it turned out to be Errol?" the third guard said.

    "That was an accident! Could have happened to anyone!"
    "Or when you put an arrow in Garfield's leg—" he continued, oblivious to the sudden drop of metaphorical temperature.

    "Now, look here..."

    "—and he was standing behind you!"

    "...you're not making any friends here, OK!" Click, went the lock. "Ah." went Gary, and silently opened the window.

    "Wha's collaterel thinking?"

    "That's when you're sort of thinking in new ways,' the first guards said, trying to calm down. "Sort of thinking out of the box."

    "Really? Wha' box iz'at?" But Gary had already closed the window and slid out of earshot.

    He jumped off the crate and had a look at the surroundings. Dust, rats and the occasional crate. And no undead so far. Gary didn't have high demands for standards, and a cellar without any undead-infested catacombs was a pleasant cellar indeed.

    He walked for a while, checking darkened rooms and seeing the odd ladder and ramp to ground level, from which he heard unearthly, rhythmic noises, like someone were playing a Depeche Mode record somewhere.

    Eventually, he saw a note on the wall in a long corridor. "WARNING. Maintenance machines active beyond this area. This administration will not take any responsibility whatsoever for damaged property, mutilations, or agonizing demises inflicted upon foolish trespassers." I don't think I'm ready to die screaming just yet, Gary thought. I guess I'd better watch my step.

    He had only watched them for a couple of metres when he stopped. There were voices now, alarmingly familiar.

    "I was forged in the Builder'n Housepainter's image, and I look good. Thanks be to me—I mean Kletus."

    "When I was due forged, Kletus took me away from the foundry mother and said: Who's thy daddy? Want a piece of the cake, then walk in my footprints, kid!"

    "Dost thee want to bash heretics in a fun-loving work environment, please visit thy nearest Mechalomaniac recruitment centre."

    Gary cautiously walked to the end of the corridor and peered around a corner. What he saw shocked him, but only mildly. A flock of those walking contraptions, but smaller, stomped around in a seemingly random order. These lacked what had seemed to be a cannon, instead they had two claws resting at groin height. What those were used for he didn't dare speculate. They also sported a body devoid of wind-up keys.

    Damn, Gary thought. These guys work fast. Or maybe that document I found was an old one. Evidently, it would take some while before these ones ran out of power. He thought of heading back, but then again, what were these guarding?

    An idea popped into his head. What if, the idea said, you'd be able to blind the robots by covering their eyes with, say, some black cloth?

    Jolly good idea! Gary thought, and started tearing his cloak apart.

    Soon enough, a robot passed by his hiding place. He stepped out behind it and quickly slid a piece of cloak, tied into a band, in front of its face. The robot moved on, seemingly unaware of the sabotage. That was easy enough, Gary thought. He failed to notice the fact that the robot failed to start bumping into things.

    A dozen robots and a lot of tearing later, Gary was standing in only his undies and shoes in the middle of a dozen blinded robots. He didn't feel naked, though, since he still had his weapons, quiver, loot sack and utility belt full of mines and potions (and money, in a not too distant future).

    "A task well done, if not by the book," he said to himself, and whipped out his notepad:

    Find new clothes: Not done yet. Might be urgent, for the sake of decency

    Gary stepped around another corner, and froze (He wasn't cold, he just didn't move a muscle). Approaching him was another of those small robots, one he obviously had missed. And to top it off he had just stepped into a spotlight, exposing him like a Calvin Klein model.

    To his great surprise, and relief, the robot just walked past him without offering him a second glance. In fact, it didn't offer him any glance at all. Realisation dawned on him.

    They are blind! he screamed in his mind. That's why they hadn't reacted! Well, that's what you get for being clever. Enraged, he wielded his blackjack and gave the nearest robot a good wallop. The hit reverbated through the room.

    As if on command, all robots stopped dead in their paths and started turning around.

    "I have heard, what's up?" the robots chorused. Gary rushed into a dark corner and waited for the commotion to settle.

    Gary saw the robot with the uncovered face do a couple of pirouettes, its eye alight. Then the light dimmed, and the robot plodded along.

    "I give thanks for my legs, but dang these arms are quite nifty, too." Realisation made an encore.

    They are blind! Essentially anyway. So, he only needed to make sure he didn't collide with any of them and he would be home free. Gary turned around in hope to find the way onwards when he spotted the immobile robots, the bigger variety. They didn't stop by themselves anymore, so how should he proceed to stop them himself? He decided to investigate.

    Gary knew that in this business, curiosity not only kills the cat, but also chops it to bits and buries it in the backyard. But he needed to know how to get the upper hand on these things, and preferrably without losing the hand in the process.

    He snuck up behind one of the stationary robots, removed the "Removing this sticker will void warranty." sticker, unscrew the plate covering the back and was surprised to find—

    "Hamsters! Wasn't expecting that." The bulk contained dozens of small cages, each housing a hamster. The hamsters trotted along in hamster wheels which seemed to be the principal power source, feeding the robot via an intricate set of gears.

    He remembered having a hamster when he was a kid. The Creepers approved of pets, and the more vicious the pet, the better. They believed a good enough karma could tame any animal, no matter how many limbs were lost in the process. Anyway, his hamster had obviously thought it was a piranha and had tried to bite him whenever it could, until that horrible accident with the canvas bag and the mallet.

    I've always known they were inherently evil, Gary thought, looking at the rodents. And now they had their bite of the future. He shuddered and left, wondering how he would be able to demobilize the big robots.

    Walking further, he passed by a door with a note saying "Robot maintenance supplies. Mechalomaniacs only." A smell emanated from the door, reminding Gary of all the organic compounds that could be associated with small, furry animals. He moved on.

  3. #3
    Member
    Registered: Aug 2001
    Location: yo mama
    So this was it, the pot of gold at the end of the rainbow – though Gary had to find a better metaphor. That one didn't really fit the bill.

    The rest of the way here had been uneventful, at least from Gary's point of view. (He was a master thief after all, recent events notwithstanding.) It had been a small effort, avoiding another gun-toting robot, a trap set in the flagstone floor – he had triggered it just to see what happened. It had revealed a stationary cannon with an attitude, just like the ones in the evidence vault – and a personable security camera. And now he had arrived at a small room, barely big enough to contain the machine occupying it. He saw the big pole going up through the ceiling and blocking the even bigger vault door. He had also spotted the six buttons making up the combination lock, but had no idea in what order he should push them. That's why he was presently crawling around the machine, searching on top of it and under it with eyes and hands.

    "Ah!" he said, and got up from his knees. In his hand was a little piece of paper, which he unfolded to reveal a sketch of six buttons and some numbers. It rarely fails, he thought. Never underestimate the power of mediocracy. He walked over to the buttons and pressed them in the order noted on the piece of paper. There was a clanking noise, and the big pole descended.

    "Hey Marnie, you see that?" Gary could hear a guard say through the hole.

    "See what?" another guard answered.

    "The pole blocking the vault door, it went down that hole!" He could hear the guard walking towards afformentioned cavity.

    "And?"

    "Is it supposed to do that?"

    "I dunno. I'm not into that mechanical stuff." The other guard joined the first one.

    Well, why not, Gary thought and wielded his bow.

    "There's a naked guy down there," the first guard said. "Hey you naked guy, what's going on?"

    Gary let go of the string, and heard the guard go "Ow!" as the arrow hit him in the forehead, followed by a hiss, as might be heard when a vial containing compressed gas breaks, followed by two thump's, as might be heard when two unconcious bodies hit a floor. Gary smiled a wicked smile.

    Backtracking his steps was easy enough and soon the robots were but an awkward memory. He spotted the lonely guard walking the cellar on his own. I wonder, Gary thought, his smile still lingering, will guard clothes make me look fat? Suddenly, his mechanical eye turned everything into shades of red. A grid of white lines outlined the guard's torso and he heard the sound of what in another world would had been a camera snapshot. The white lines moved to the guard's hips –

    "Cut it out!" Gary said (but quietly), and blinked hard until his sight turned normal.

  4. #4
    Member
    Registered: Dec 2002
    Yay Mental Age!

  5. #5
    Member
    Registered: Jun 2002
    Location: Looking for my pants
    It's good so far, keep going.

  6. #6
    Member
    Registered: Aug 2001
    Location: yo mama
    He actually enjoyed patrolling the cellar. It was cool and quiet, and annoying colleagues were elsewhere. But having the temper of an ox – and mind, some said – didn't help him from having a strange sensation of paranoia. His horoscope had read "Watch out for half naked men with blackjacks," and though he hadn't made sense of it, it had made him edgy. He felt a rush of anxiety and swivelled around, but the corridor was empty. Relaxing, he turned back. As it turned out, his horoscope was completely accurate. So was Gary.

    Donning the local fashion, Gary wondered whether he would pass as a guard to the security installations in the immediate area. He certainly looked like one, clothes fitting and all. And smelled like one. Phew. He headed up the nearest ramp to make an empirical study.

    It is the same problem everywhere, where electronic – or other near-magical – equipment is concerned: No matter how ingenious the devices, something is bound to go haywire during installation. A VCR might have an untuned RF receiver, a hard drive might have a jumper set to "Master" instead of "Slave", and – in this particular case – a security camera might have a switch set to "Observe thy surroundings" instead of "Ditto, and when thou spot an intruder doth raise thy private little hell." It's annoying, and more often than not confusing.

    So it was, when Gary stepped into the light in front of this particular camera, that nothing exciting happened at all. He smiled smugly (although it wasn't a good smile. He would have to do some more practising in front of his mirror later.) and produced his map, located the records hall, and headed off to the stairs.

    Gary hadn't noticed that something was wrong when he first entered the room. He had walked up the stairs, avoiding one guard and two robots, grabbing a few valuables noone would miss, not as much as he would anyway. He had opened the door to the room leading to the records hall, spotted the camera, the cannon, and the doors to the hall. And then spotted the camera again. Why was its light yellow?

    PADONK

    Before Gary had assembled the wits to react, the cannon had fired. The projectile hit him in the stomach, sending him through the open door and into the hallway.

    He sat up, clutching his stomach, cursing religious fanatics in general and their mechanical offspring in particular. He looked back, afraid of catching another volley, but fortunately he had been flung into a dark patch. He picked up the black ball that had given him a violent belly rub.

    A rubber ball! He bounced it on the floor. Then he heard voices approaching.

    "A misguided fella. What's up?" "Hey! Who's tampering with the equipment?" Gary jumped to his feet. Or at least he tried to, wheezing and coughing. Eventually, he got himself vertical in a rather undignified way and lurched off down a corridor. Turning a corner, he stepped onto a catwalk crossing a brightly lit room.

    CLANG CLANG CLANG

    On the other side of a window to his right he saw another big robot. He tried to hurry to the other side of the room, his eyes on the robot and not where he was heading. Thus, he missed the trap set in the floor in front of him.

    PADONK

    The rubber ball sent Gary sprawling across the room, falling down to the ground floor. He landed hard on the marble tiles, rolled through an archway, and came to rest as a whimpering heap in an unlit corridor.

    With his only movable arm Gary gulped down a health potion (Fresh camomil flavour!). Waiting for the potion to make his arms and legs work again, he made a mental list of all the people he wanted to kill, with his own name on top of the list. However, it was clear from the surrounding noises that there were plenty of both people and robots who thought Gary had not suffered enough. Hands against the wall Gary rose, having to pause on the way. He tried to convince his brain that no, his centre of gravity was not bouncing across the room and yes, he had only five fingers on each hand. He limped off.

    Moments later, Gary stumbled into a hall furnished with a pool and some stairs. He had to concentrate hard on where he was and who he was, and how those two pieces fit together. Therefore, he was caught completely off guard by the guard who walked through a door in the opposite wall.

    "Hey, what happened to you?' the guard said when seeing Gary, who panicked for a moment before remembering that he wore guard clothes.

    "Er—I—was ambushed by some guy and he beat me up!"

    "Oh, I hate when that happens. Say, did you see where he went?"

    "Yes," Gary pointed over the guards shoulder, "He's right there!"

    The guard turned around. "I can't see him!" he said, bewildered.

    "Sorry, my mistake," Gary said as his blackjack landed on the guard's head.
    Last edited by odourpreventer; 1st Dec 2003 at 01:25.

  7. #7
    Member
    Registered: Aug 2001
    Location: yo mama
    Gary sat down in a dark corner on the walkway, panting and looking at the crowded scenery below. He had tried to get away from the hall using the doors on the ground floor, but both routes had ended with Mechalomaniac machinery. Taking the stairs, walking down a dark corridor, rushing past another camera/cannon combo, he had ended up in what apparently was the Guard Room, capital letters and all. Good thing he had such a meticulous map.

    Have people ever gotten lost in this place and starved to death? Gary wondered. Despite his antics in other parts of the building, this room was as quiet as a handful of guards and robots could make it.

    So what now? With the vault on the other side of that wall and the area around the records hall in an uproar, there wasn't much sense in Gary going back. He just had to hope that finding the right box wouldn't take too much time. He stood up.

    Two moss arrows and a rope arrow later, he was standing on the other walkway, right above an aggressive-looking robot and in front of a metal door. He treated it (the door, that is) to his lockpicks.

    "The Builder'n Housepainter's fire fuels me. Yep, there's nothing like that fiery goodness," a lumbering robot greeted Gary behind the opened door. The shock was not as mild this time, but before the perspiration had even begun to trickle down Gary's neck, the robot had turned down the corridor to his left. He remained in the darkness for a while, watching another robot pass by and trying to think happy thoughts. He heard the maddening noises from a camera emanating from the stairs at the other side of the room. There wasn't much choice, was there? He walked out behind a robot and fell into step.

    And finally, he stood before the unblocked vault door. He had left the metallic sentries behind, gone down to the ground floor, and passed by a gallery which had been empty but for a few gilded blessings and now was just empty.

    There were the two guards, sleeping peacefully, and another pesky camera. They littered the place like yesterday's Christmas decorations. With some quick lockpicking work, this one had been easily shut off, by a switch in the closet under the stairs.

    Everything's quiet now, Gary thought, so I guess it's safe to come out of the closet. But he didn't want to leave the guards crumpled on the floor.

    A moment later, while Gary attended to the vault door, they were spooning. (Although feeling slightly embarrassed when waking up, both decided it must have been their mutual feelings causing them to snuggle, and they eventually got married. Love is a wonderful substitute for reason.)

    He, he, now I know I'm a Master Thief! Gary thought, opening the vault door and entering. Too bad nobody appreciates it. Then the Master Thief looked around and saw the cameras, and all the levels, and the countless deposit boxes.

    All this frustration. Gary looked at the faces of the cameras. I wonder if two fire arrows will help ease the strain? He closed the vault door silently. Well, relatively silently.

    Not too soon, one lock yielded to the penetration of the stolen key, revealing the grand prize of the day. Gary flicked a switch on the device. "I still think it's just a guy with…" Gary listened to the end of the recording. There were a few rasping sounds, then a slightly more seductive voice started speaking.

    "…Removed her platemail piece by piece, revealing her big, firm leather pads…" Gary stopped the recording device and looked at the title of the recording. Inexpertedly crossed out with red ink, it read "Friend Talina and the vicar's hammer."

    I guess it might get lonely sometimes, even when you're a Mechalomaniac. The device plus recording disappeared down a pocket, the same way a magician would produce a ten kilo rabbit from nowhere, but in reverse. Being a former Creeper did have its advantages.

    Stepping out of the vault, Gary checked his notepad:

    Find new clothes: Done, though reluctantly
    Get into the bank, etc, etc: Done
    Make a substantial transaction to my own account: Done, except for the "substantial" part
    Find me a new piggy bank: Not done yet

    I should be able to acquire a piggy bank from the reception.
    Gary consulted his map. If they haven't run out of piggies, that is. A guard started to snore.
    Last edited by odourpreventer; 1st Dec 2003 at 01:35.

  8. #8
    Member
    Registered: Aug 2001
    Location: yo mama
    The rumours went wild that night, all of which were later explained to inquisitive guards, however not correctly. There were sounds, whose source noone could locate. Cameras spotted things none of the guards could see. It was like playing a game of hide and seek, but with someone continuously changing all the rules, including those for physical properties. One guard became convinced that the bank had been invaded by poltergeists, and promptly quit to become a priest.

    A war veteran had an episode and mounted a robot, shouting "Hi-oh Silver! Men, to your battle stations!" He soon lost his balance however, fell off his steed and suffered a concussion, to the relief of nearby colleagues who propped him against a potted plant.

    In the meeting hall, someone had a bottle of wine. That someone didn't drink it though, not during work hours.

    In the lobby, all cameras ceased to operate. The patrolling guards didn't know why, but since they had been told the cameras were fail-safe, they concluded – with typical guard logic – that everything was normal.

    Two hours later, a shadow detached itself from the bank walls, feeling very pleased with itself, and already dropping freshly looted coins into its new pink piggy bank.

    End of chapter

  9. #9
    Member
    Registered: Aug 2002
    Oh wow - I thought this series would never be updated. This just made my day! Keep up the good work!

  10. #10
    Member
    Registered: Sep 2003
    Location: Devil's Living Place (= NY)
    I love this fanfiction. There is no argument.
    The idea of Gary(.....) running about in the bank, half-naked, makes me cough blood.
    (I wonder what happened to the guard afterwards, whose uniforms has been stolen the forementioned thief...)

    Update soon!

  11. #11
    Member
    Registered: Apr 2001
    Location: Finland
    So, is this fanfic still alive?
    "A scientific theory is one which can in principle be falsified. The theory has to make strong statements about evidence. If the statements aren't strong, then the theory fits any evidence, and is unfalsifiable. That's bad." - Karl Popper

  12. #12
    Member
    Registered: Apr 2001
    Location: Finland
    ... does not look good...

  13. #13
    Member
    Registered: Aug 2001
    Location: yo mama
    The next chapter is in the works, with the working title "You've got blackmail!" (might change). But as I've been working on a horse farm in Australia, time has been scarce.

  14. #14
    Member
    Registered: Jul 2003
    No, i won't ask why
    The advantage of living on a planet is you always know summers coming. The disadvantage is the scenery never changes.

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