April 1st. Evening.
She was lying out in a bright orange bikini beside her pool when Eric Dolarand walked out onto the deck and approached her. "President Ko, the phone is for you."
She sighed and pulled off her sunglasses and sat up on one elbow. "I told you, Eric; no calls while I'm tanning. How many…?"
"… It's Mr. Coran Young, President Ko."
She walked into her office through the slide door, wrapping a towel around her waist as she approached her desk chair. She sat in it and reclined, putting her feet up on the desktop before lifting the phone off the base. "This is President Ko."
"I know, Raven, you don't have to remind me," said the voice on the other line.
"Make this quick, kid, I've got business to get done."
"Oh yes, I'm sure catching sun is immense business for you, Raven."
"I'm hanging up now."
"I'll blow the building to smithereens then."
She smirked, "Go ahead and try; it'll all be rebuilt in an hour."
"You want to test that?"
Raven narrowed her eyes and she brushed her blond hair behind her ear. "What do you want, kid? Why did you call?"
"I want to meet in person so we can talk."
"Your type of 'talk', or mine?"
"They both involve guns, so I don't see how that question is even valid in this situation." The boy said, "Can we?"
"Where are you at?"
"Trees outside the front gates."
"Meet me in the lobby outside my office. You should know where that is by now, right?" Raven asked, knowing very well what happened in the lobby… what? Three years ago? Maybe four? It was too long ago…
"How could I forget?"
"I'll be there."
The elevator stopped on the main floor. The steel double-doors hissed open and Raven stepped onto the red carpet floor in a white one-piece business suit. The high-heels of her shoes clicked lightly on the texture; a timid sound compared to Coran's casual stroll in his heavy boots as he walked from the other side of the lobby to meet her.
"I liked the old fountain better," Coran stated plainly as he glanced at the water fountain midway between the two. This time it was a statue of a horse standing amongst a ring of curling waves. The waves were what distributed the fountains of water. Before, it was a statue of possibly fifty giant frogs piled up on each other and spitting the water from their lips.
Raven glanced at the fountain, and then back to Coran. "I rather like it, thank you." She crossed her arms, "Where are your friends? Hiding in the ventilation ducts? Setting up an ambush?"
"They're still where I left them," Coran said abruptly, almost casually.
Raven did not respond to this, "What did you want to talk to me about?"
"I want to call a truce."
This Raven did not expect to hear. She shot him a look so hard and penetrating that Coran took a step backward.
After a moment, she said with a cold voice, "Explain."
"You have my family trapped in a world I've fought to keep from them. My world." Coran said almost immediately. He scuffed his shoes on the red carpeting as he searched for organization to his thoughts. "I want to call a truce between us."
Raven Ko's laughter at this was so pure, Coran's face reddened with embarrassment.
"You want me to just forget everything you've done to me, kid? You're making a fool out of yourself. It's a shame; I was just beginning to find you a worthy adversary, too. Now you really are just a kid to me, Time-keeper."
"Fine then!" Coran exclaimed, throwing out his arms, "I thought we could call everything off! Make new again! But I guess you're right; I am just being foolish!" Tears welled in his eyes and he stormed off, toward the doors at the other end of the similarly-designed lobby.
When his fingertips wrapped around the ring-shaped doorknobs, Raven's voice filled the atmosphere around him. "What would you give to have your family back, Time-keeper?"
Coran did nothing for a long time, his fingers still holding the ring on the door as he breathed long, slow breaths. Only one word stuck in his mind (Anything…), but he knew the risks in that deal. Soon, he turned to her, though he would not look at her beneath the bangs that took him these last six months and two weeks to grow back. Just a week ago, he was sitting in his home, still retired from the team of Time-keepers that he created.
"My team and I have this idea in mind, actually…"
Sky Pierce stepped into the room and said, "Sir?"
"What now, Sky?" He asked from where he sat at his laptop, smoking a cigarette while his fingers lit across the keyboard.
Sky straightened up, "Sir, it's about President Raven Ko's declaration…"
"Can't you see that I'm busy?!" He shouted at Sky, rising from his chair to show his messenger boy the redness of his face. "What the hell is so damn important that you can't possibly keep it to yourself?"
Sky was silent for a moment, but only a moment, not wanting to make him angrier. "Sir, I think you should really listen to your soldiers…"
"Why the hell should I listen to them?"
Sky swallowed hard and straightened his tie, "Well, sir, I hate to be the bearer of bad news, but your soldiers are quitting. It's a slow transition, but the numbers are still going down…"
"They're what?!" He screamed, this time coming around his cluttered desk to approach Sky. He took him by the collar and said, "You'd better tell me a good reason why they're quitting, Sky, or it'll be your life on the line."
"They're quitting because we can't pay them, sir."
"What are you saying, Sky?"
Sky forcefully threw a newspaper into his hands. He looked down at the paper and didn't even need to open the pages. On the front page, there were three large, bold words that made Daniel Halifax's skin pale right away:
Halifax Stock Crashes!
Daniel read the words a hundred times in his mind before numbly retreating to his desk with the paper rested in shaky fingers. After a moment, he began to read the article aloud to no one in particular.
"Company President Daniel Halifax must not have been keeping track of Halifax Industries' income, because in just a week it all came crashing down. Yesterday, at almost exactly noon, their private bank made an emergency call to the company treasurer, Dawn LaVoise, to report the status of their profits.
"'When the bank told me that several thousands of checks had bounced and that our income was in the negatives,' says LaVoise, 'I nearly fainted. I had no idea how much trouble we were in; it all seemed just fine in last week's check-up.'
"Company officials reported that of the thirty-thousand mercenary soldiers in Halifax Industries' impressive personal military branch, only about twenty-thousand are left, with most still in the process of leaving.
"'We're not going to stay with a company like Halifax Industries, no matter how popular they are to the world, if they won't pay us. We're mercenaries, not volunteers.'
"No word has yet been heard from Halifax Industries' President Daniel Halifax about these matters. He refuses interviews with our press, saying always that he is 'too busy for time' with us." Daniel stood from his desk and threw the newspaper aside, screaming, "How?!"
"Sir," Sky said, shaking his head, "we don't know. Everything was in order, like Dawn LaVoise said, but now we're in the red and we're in deep shit."
"No shit we're in deep shit, Sky. You think I don't know that?"
"Get the hell out of my office, Sky. And pack your shit together because you're fired." Daniel said, spinning in his chair to return to his computer. When Sky had left, he lit a cigarette and muttered, "I'll be damned if I let this happen now. Raven's got every missile in her possession pointed at me and I'll be goddamned if I let her kill me."
He tapped a few more keys on his keyboard and the screen opened up a window that read CONFIRM?. Daniel clicked YES and the screen lit up with a full-screen video of the security cameras outside his corporation's bank. The newspaper article read that we hit zero at noon… Daniel thought as he rewound the security tape for this particular camera. He saw hundreds of people enter and leave the bank, but none of them seemed suspicious…
When the camera timer reached noon, he dropped the cigarette from his lips at the sight of something somehow unexpected:
There were Time-keepers entering his base. The two girl Time-keepers, for that matter. They were right there, on his computer screen, waltzing into his bank…
… but they never came out…
April 1st. Noon.
"Hi!" Shana and Morgan Jane greeted simultaneously to the male teller at the Halifax Union Bank. His tag read: Hello! My name is Hank. The two girls held cheery smiles as they lifted and placed two small briefcases onto the counter.
Hank saw their briefcases and he rolled his eyes, "You're making a big mistake."
"That's fantastic, Hank," Morgan said, holding a smile, "but we don't need your opinion again today."
"Yeah," Shana said, holding her smile, too, "So do yourself a favor and make a smile. Pretend we're long-time friends of yours and that you're very happy to see us."
Hank didn't move from where he was behind the bulletproof glass.
"Do it," Morgan said, "or we'll be forced to open these briefcases."
"And you wouldn't want that to happen, Hank." Shana followed, "Because these bulletproof barriers don't mean shit to us today."
Morgan smiled wider, "We've had a very long week."
Hank rolled his eyes and smiled, "Hi! How are you today?"
"Good," Morgan muttered to him, "now step away from the security button. Make it look like you're laughing so hard that you just had to take a step back."
Hank did as he was asked, attracting little attention from his coworkers, with none of the given attention that of suspicion.
"We're going to be making a withdrawal today." Shana said, "And it's going to be our last one, if you get what I'm saying."
"From the Halifax Industries account, I'll assume?" Hank asked, though he already had the account name and number typed into his computer before they could answer.
Shana looked to Morgan, but asked Hank, "Is today the day they get their statement?"
"Yes, we'll be sending them out in about another hour or so."
The sisters grinned wider, "Great."
Hank led the two sisters into the far back of the bank, passing hundred of massive vaults until they reached the greatest of all the containers. It was labeled Halifax Industries, Box #00954536 and its bulk truly was a marvel.
Hank was met by two security guards monitoring the halls. Both were big and cradling rifles, but neither had a similar appearance; one being a tall, black man, and the other being a shorter, equally impressive white man. Neither looked like something you would want to mess with, even on a good day.
The black man was the one to stop the three; specifically Hank, whose chest the man had pressed a palm to. "Where do you think you're going?" He said in a low, intimidating voice. Shana's legs even began to shake at his size.
Hank cleared his throat, "These two nice ladies were sent by President Daniel Halifax to clear out the financial vault."
At this time, the large white guard had met them, and he said, "You're lying."
Morgan and Shana Jane's hearts skipped a beat.
"Yeah," the black man continued, "I've seen you three come back here for the last four days. It's day five now. Fess up, or we'll have to get tough with you."
"I'll have you know," Morgan exclaimed, stepping to the two large men and throwing out her foot before them. "This is a very strenuous process that we are performing here. Our checklist is nineteen pages long and highly demanding of our talents. Furthermore, this particular bank has been sexually harassing my partner and I for the last several days and it's a wonder I – a highly respected official to my company – have not yet sued all your asses for every penny in these vaults here."
For a moment, nobody moved; completely shocked at the anger forging from this woman's lungs. After about a moment of the silence, she finished. "Now then, gentlemen. If you would please move your sorry selves from my presence so that I might finish my business here, it would go highly appreciated."
Another moment passed before the white guard said to the other, "I don't buy it."
The black man nodded, "I don't either." He turned to the three and his face was met by Morgan's fist. He was cast backward and the white guard only had a second to realize what was going on before his rifle was removed from his hands and smacked across his head. Both security guards were knocked unconscious in this moment.
Morgan turned to Hank, who was still in awe, and she said, "Like I said; we've had a really long week."
Shana took Hank by the arm and smiled, "Shall we?"
At the vault, Hank fished out his key and slid it into its proper slot. Then, he typed in the four-digit combination and scanned his fingerprint into the sensor. When all of this was complete, the control pad signaled for him to turn the key and enter.
"You're being so nice to us today, Hank." Shana said cutely, "Thank you so much for your cooperation these last couple days, you know?"
"Yeah, yeah," Hank muttered, "Just don't let them catch you on your way out. I won't be here to take the blame this time around if you get caught."
When the heavy door to the vault opened, Hank held it open for them and turned to leave. "Hank?" Morgan asked and he stopped and turned to her.
"Why did you let us get away with this?"
Hank stopped, staring at the ground as he thought. After a while, he shrugged, "Just show them who's boss, you know?"
Morgan cocked her head, standing in the vault doorway. "So you have something against Halifax Industries, too, then?"
He brushed back his not-short black hair and smirked, "They took some things from me that I can't get back. Some things of value to me, you know?"
Morgan nodded, "I do."
Hank nodded too, lost in thought. "Just don't make me regret this, ok?"
Morgan smiled, "You've got it."
Inside the vault, Shana and Morgan took a lap around the soft white linoleum tile floor, looking up and down the rows of bags loaded with money. "Well," Morgan said, opening her briefcase, "let's get to work then. Leave nothing behind."
Inside the briefcases (the ones they'd so easily convinced Hank to have held guns), there was a tightly-packed potato sack. With their potato sacks, they made haste in loading them up with the very last of Halifax Industry's shares of money.
When all the money in the vault was packed away, the two smiled and clapped hands and exited the vault courteously, taking no mind to the heavy sacks they carried. Just at the doorway to the vault, they lifted a small hatch that led to the sewage pipes beneath the city and they were quick to climb into the shaft and close the hatch behind them. At the end of the piping, they knew, sat Natasha Young's red Ford Sable ("borrowed" by Coran) in the bank parking lot with Coran's golden Labrador retriever sitting in the backseat.