Chapter 11, Part 3

No sooner had she finished speaking than there was a knock on the door. “Come in!” she called. The door opened, and Mikaelo entered, carrying a large sack, followed by two of his team members, also carrying large sacks. “Things went well, I presume?”

“Very,” Mikaelo grinned, as he plopped his sack right on the middle of Alessandra’s desk.

“Any troubles?” Alessandra asked, as she opened the sack and began examining the jewels inside.

“Not a soul knew we were there,” Mikaelo said confidently. Even though Alessandra hadn’t felt comfortable making Mikaelo a Clan Leader, she had felt as if she needed to do something to thank him for his support, so she had made him a Team Leader. He and his team had quickly distinguished themselves as one of the most productive teams in the clan, which further bolstered Alessandra’s reputation as a good Clan Master.

“Nor will they, until the next time they count the jewels in the vault,” said one of Mikaelo’s team members, a dark-haired young man with a scar down one side of his face. His name was Nieorath. “We were like ghosts.”

“Too bad,” said the other member of Mikaelo’s team who had accompanied him into Alessandra’s study. This was none other than Fergen, former member of Kraylea’s team. Alessandra had not returned Kraylea to his position as a Team Leader, even though it had been somewhat unfair for him to have been demoted in the first place. Kraylea had been a decent Team Leader, but Alessandra didn’t quite trust him, and she was content to leave him in his place as a grunt.

Fergen, on the other hand, was another who Alessandra believed was destined for greater things. She would have made a good Clan Leader, as she was strong, loyal, and smart, but Alessandra wasn’t quite sure that she trusted her that much. Plus, she did have a tendency to be lazy. Not on a job, when it counted, but Alessandra had quickly learned that giving Fergen important chores around the clanhouse was a mistake. The chores that Fergen excelled at were ones that didn’t have to be done in a timely manner. That, and training recruits in fighting skills. She loved doing that.

“What a boring job,” Fergen grunted as she dumped her sack of treasure on the table. “I miss being on Kraylea’s team. We got into fights all time back then.”

“Yeah, well, you’re supposed to be a thief, not a brawler,” Meela said dryly. “If you like beating people up so badly, why aren’t you a mercenary?”

“Cause I was scrawny when I was a kid,” Fergen said with a snort. “Besides, the mercenary clans don’t like taking girls. Think they’re wimps.”

“Obviously they’ve never met you,” Alessandra said, arching an eyebrow.

“Well, that just makes it more fun to kill ‘em,” Fergen replied, cracking her knuckles loudly. “Besides, it’s easier to kill people when you’re a thief. When you’re a mercenary, your enemies are always trying to hide from you. When you’re a thief, your enemies are all out in the open. Makes things much easier.”

“I’ll never understand your mindset, Fergen,” said Meela, shaking her head, “but I’m sure glad you’re in our clan.”

“I’m glad she’s on my team!” Mikaelo interjected. “Unlike her, I prefer missions that are as quiet as a whisper, but things don’t always go smoothly, and she’s great to have around whenever that happens.”

“Hey, just point me in the right direction and let me go,” Fergen said with a grin. “I’ll take out anybody in my path.”

“You’re a pretty good bypasser too,” Mikaelo added.

“You’re kidding, right?” Fergen said dryly.

“Not at all!” Mikaelo exclaimed. “You’re the one who got us into the vault, after all.”

“Mikaelo, I smashed the lock with my fist,” Fergen replied, her tone even drier than before. “That’s hardly the mark of a good bypasser.”

“You did a better job than Nieorath here,” Mikaelo chuckled.

“Hey, that was the most complex lock I’ve ever seen,” Nieorath said defensively. “How was I supposed to know it was also the most fragile?”

“Most fragile, my ass!” Fergen shouted. “These fists can crush anything! Like your face!”

“Okay, okay, calm down,” said Meela, standing up and making a calming gesture with her hands. “Fergen, nobody doubts the potency of your fists. Nieorath, just be glad the lock was bypassed. And Mikaelo, good job tonight.”

“Thanks, Clan Leader,” Mikaelo said, saluting.

“Go get some rest, everyone,” Meela said in dismissal. Fergen and Nieorath saluted immediately and left, but Mikaelo hesitated.

“Actually, Clan Leader, may I speak to the Clan Master in private for a moment?” he asked. Meela looked at Alessandra with one eyebrow raised in question, and Alessandra nodded.

“Very well,” Meela said to Mikaelo. “Clan Master, I still have something else I need to discuss with you, so I’ll be back in fifteen minutes. If that’s alright with you?” Alessandra nodded again, and Meela saluted and left.

“What is it, Mikaelo?” Alessandra said.

“Two things, actually,” Mikaelo replied. “First of all, Nieorath really is a terrible bypasser. I didn’t want to put him on the spot right in front of everybody, but that lock really wasn’t that difficult. I could have bypassed it, and that’s not even my specialty.”

“I see,” Alessandra said. “So what do you think I should do?”

“I think he’d be a good decoyer,” Mikaelo replied. “I already have a good decoyer, but maybe you can assign him to a team that doesn’t have one and see what happens.”

“I’ll look over the team rosters and see what I can do,” Alessandra said. “You’ll need a new bypasser, though.”

“Don’t worry about,” Mikaelo shrugged. “I’m a decent bypasser, and my second is even better. We’ll manage for now. If worst comes to worst, I’ll just have Fergen smash all the security consoles.”

“You do know that that usually won’t work, right?” Alessandra said dryly.

“Yeah, yeah,” Mikaelo smiled.

“So what’s the other thing?” Alessandra asked.

To be continued…

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