Friday, 29 September 2017

The Miskin Legacy - Generation Seven, Part Three: The Napoleon (and Josephine) of Crime

Nicolette's words turned out to be most prophetic. 

As the months rolled on, the Magpie League - with Midas' skills and planning abilities working beautifully alongside Nicolette's - pulled off bigger and bigger heists... taking on greater targets, and stealing more and more swag. 

Willow Creek, Oasis Valley and Magnolia Promenade all experienced the greatest crime wave they had known in their collective histories -  and yet, the police remained completely baffled. These criminals were far too clever to be caught.

As for the public... as wrong as they knew it was, they couldn't help but root for the Magpies. It was somewhat thrilling to see how they continued to outsmart the authorities after each daring escapade. They were admirable in other ways, too. Shortly after each robbery, large, untraceable donations would be given to good causes - often simply through vast bags of money just dumped on their doorstep. Schools had been built. Hospitals had new wards. The homeless and hungry were clothed and fed. 

Besides, they knew all too well that the people the Magpies targeted were no angels. They had no concern for the common man. They were those who mistreated their workers, who were driven by greed - the corrupt and the detestable. All the Magpies were doing were redistributing their ill-gotten gains to those who truly needed them... just like Robin Hood. 

Yes, they were thieves -  but they had honour.

Of course, running a criminal operation carried a hefty price tag... so the Magpies had to skim a little of the cream of the top of their income in order to continue their "good" work. After much discussion with Midas, a figure of 15% was agreed upon. This may not have seemed like much, but within weeks of Midas joining them, the Magpies were reeling in some very big fishes indeed. Even after giving away the majority of the money, they weren't short of cash themselves. In fact, in a turn of events that was almost ironic, they themselves became some of the richest people in the city... the indisputable royalty of crime.

As the police found themselves powerless to stop these "benevolent" burglars, they decided to bring in the big guns. A few phone calls and private meetings later, the incredible case of the Magpie League was passed on to the Secret Service. It would undoubtedly be a career-changing assignment for any agent able to crack it, and some of the Service's best operatives were soon vying for the opportunity. 

In the end, it was given to a relative newcomer who had shown great promise... someone who had the skills and intellect to match wits with the Magpies.

Agent Marius Miskin.


In his office at Intelligence Services HQ, Marius sat reviewing his notes about the Magpie League, browsing the digital archives for any updates. The only evidence that the police and Secret Service had in connection with the League so far were witness statements and general rumour and hearsay. The group had continued to elude their best surveillance efforts. They had nothing conclusive or concrete: no CCTV footage, no fingerprints, and no forensic evidence.

In short – no leads.

Groaning, Marius sank back in his chair, rolling his eyes in frustration. 
He felt a tap on his shoulder, and turned to see his secretary hovering at his side. She had brought him a cup of coffee and a biscuit.


"Thought you could use these, Agent Miskin," she said warmly.

Marius took them from her, smiling gratefully.

"Thank you, Miss Malone."

""Jenny". Please.”

Marius’ smile became a grin. 


Jenny Malone was a lovely woman. The fluffy jumpers she wore reminded Marius of a bunny rabbit, and at first glance, she seemed very sweet and innocent. She had supposedly worked in libraries before joining the Service, which came of little surprise to Agent Miskin. However, he’d learnt from experience that her cuddly exterior hid a clever, quick-thinking mind.

Marius had no doubt that, with the right training, Jenny would have been a fantastic agent. Her angelic demeanour and appearance would have falsely made her seem like an easy target – something she’d be able to use to her advantage. Instead, the higher-ups in Administration had decided she was too valuable to spare. Her knowledge of the filing and record systems – which still left Marius in a muddle to this day – would have turned Dewey himself green with envy.

Marius felt bad that Jenny had been denied such a great opportunity, but at the same time, he was secretly grateful that she was here. Her advice had proved invaluable to him during his early cases. She made great coffee. And there was something about her smile that just warmed his heart…

How’s the investigation going?” Jenny said suddenly, derailing Marius’ train of thought.

It’s not going anywhere,” Marius muttered in reply. “These criminals are just running rings around us, leaving no trace. It’s so frustrating. My first major case, and it looks like a dead end.”

He paused as he bit into the biscuit thoughtfully, giving a little hum of satisfaction. 

"This is really good," he told Jenny. "Did you make this?"

"I wish!" Jenny giggled. "I get them from this little café near my house. Its name is... something "Sugar"".

"Brown Sugar?"

"Yes! You know it?"

"My brother owns it. You should have said something sooner - I could have gotten you a discount!"

He took another bite as he pondered his situation.

"I must have read the case files at least 50 times," he grumbled, "but there's nothing I can see that I could use to catch these fiends. All the same - I can't shake the feeling that I'm missing something. Like there's a clue here somewhere, right under my nose..."

As he finished off the biscuit, he brushed the crumbs off his jacket, and took a sip of his coffee.

"I just don't know what to do," he confided to Jenny. "I mean, without any evidence, how will I ever crack this case?"

"Well," Jenny began, "if you want my advice…"

"It's always welcome."

"It seems to me that, sooner or later, these bird-brains are going to get a bit too big for their boots. You know… cocky. Arrogant. They’ll overestimate their abilities. They’ll make mistakes. It’s just a matter of time."

"You really think so?"

"Absolutely. Besides… can you really hope for anything else right now?"

"It… it doesn’t look like it."

"All you need to do is wait it out. Sooner or later, they’ll slip up. And when they do, you’ll nail them."

Marius considered this, and nodded. 

"You're right. Thanks, Jenny."

"Anytime, Agent Miskin."
As Jenny walked back to her desk, Marius drained the dregs of his coffee cup and reviewed his notes yet again - scanning every line and image carefully for anything of use. After reading for a minute or so, he had a thought, and turned towards Jenny, who was now busying herself with some typing.

"Hey, Jenny?"
"Since I’ll probably be waiting for a while…"


"… would you like to have lunch with me while I’m at it?"

Jenny’s eyes widened in surprise.

"Agent Miskin…" she stammered, stunned, but flattered. "I… I don’t know…"

"Just a quick bite to eat in the canteen,” Marius hastily added, getting up and approaching her. “My treat. Besides, it’s about time you took a break."

Jenny blushed, and smiled.

"I’d… I’d like that. Thank you, Agent Miskin."

"Call me "Marius"," the spy replied, leading her out into the corridor.

Theo Creswell stood in the centre of the freshly-painted room, looking around in awe at its new appearance as his hands rested on his large, round stomach. He found himself smiling at the scattered fluffy toys and the etched wall murals.. and as his eyes fell on the cot that was resting against one wall, he felt the baby - no, the thing - he was carrying give him a little kick.

It hadn't been his idea to convert the box room into a nursery. He had no intention of keeping the bab - thing after all. Minerva and Gabriel had done all the work, and had led him into the room as a surprise after he came home from his shift at the lab one day. 

It soon transpired that Michael had performed a test run to Sixam in his father's rocket, and realised it needed a few upgrades to make the journey as swift and comfortable as possible. With a baby on board, he was eager to avoid a rough ride. However, the modifications would take time, and with Theo now in the ninth and final month of his pregnancy, he admitted that the rocket might not be ready before the birth. As such, the ba - thing - would need to stay with Theo for a little while longer, and his friends wanted to make sure, as always, that he had everything he required.


As Theo picked up a toy ladybird, passing it back and forth between his hands idly, he dropped it with a sharp gasp as he felt another stronger kick coming from inside him. He hands rushed to his stomach as he crumpled up in pain... and as he straightened himself up, he found himself chuckling and stroking his bump tenderly.

"Fidgety little thing, aren't you?" he whispered.

Wait. No. What was he doing?

Tears sprang to Theo's eyes... which he wiped away hastily with the back of his hand. As quickly as he could, given his condition, he made his way into the kitchen, and grabbed a large glass of milk from the fridge - chugging it down hurriedly in a vain effort to distract himself.

He was starting to bond with this bab... thing. He couldn't let that happen.

Minerva, who was reading a book as she sat on the sofa, looked up as she heard the fridge being pulled open. Gabriel was out getting groceries: after seeing Theo chugging down a full pint of milk, she made a mental note to text her new boyfriend and ask him to buy more. Concerned, she put the book down, and approached Theo.

"Are you OK?" she asked gently.

"What?" Theo replied in an innocent tone. "Oh, yes, I'm fine - I'm just - ow!"

He lost his footing as pain shot through him again. It was so strong this time, it left him winded. Minerva immediately leaned forward and grasped his shoulders, helping him steady himself.

"Sorry," Theo told her breathlessly, his hands once again returning to his bump. "It's the ba... the you-know-what. It's kicking really hard today."

"Maybe you should lie down for a bit?" Minerva suggested. "See if that helps?"

"Perhaps you're right," Theo replied. "If you need me, I'll be in my - "

Before he could even finish the sentence, his face fell as he felt a sudden flow of water gush out from between his legs. As both he and Minerva looked down at his soaked jeans and the puddle on the kitchen floor, his face grew chalk-white as he realised what this meant.

"Minerva..." he whispered hoarsely, terrified.

"Sshh!" Minerva said softly, taking hold of his hands. "It's OK, Theo. It's all going to be OK. I'll phone Gabriel. You call the hospital."

"Don't leave me," Theo begged, squeezing Minerva's hands tightly. "Promise you won't leave me."

"I won't leave you, Theo. I promise. And Gabriel will be with us too. But right now, you need to call the hospital."

Theo nodded. With a trembling hand, he reached into his pocket, took out his mobile phone, and dialled the emergency number.

"Hello? Please... please... I... I need an ambulance..."

He fell to his knees, screaming, as the first overwhelming contraction rippled through him. He would experience many more before the day was out.

Now that they were moving up in the world, the Magpie League decided to have a change of scenery. That old, miserable warehouse was no longer a suitable headquarters for a criminal gang of their calibre. Given that they had never yet performed a robbery in the neighbouring town of Windenburg, and had no plans to in the near future, it seemed like as good a place as any to set up shop away from the authorities' prying eyes. 

A quick bit of location scouting came up with a clear winner: an old mansion on an isolated island in the middle of Windenberg Lake. A place that offered both privacy, and the chance for the Magpies to experience the life of luxury. Mitch snapped it up with some of their spare profits, and it became the group's favourite place to retire to after a crime spree. Occasionally, they headed there for extended breaks, too, and treated it as something of a holiday home - which Mitch hid from his brother by claiming he was going away to baked goods conventions.

The Thacker brothers - who had grown up in a poor household, and neither of whom had ever held conventional employment - quickly developed a taste for the good life, and spent most of their free time lounging around by the pool.

As for the workaholics Midas and Nicolette, they stayed focused, and spent several hours each day preparing and planning future heists, often discussing business in one of the upstairs bedrooms. 

One evening, after a long day of looking over store floor plans and skimming gossip magazines to find potential targets, Nicolette stepped out onto the balcony for some fresh air. Midas, who was also in need of a break, swiftly joined her - and the pair stood side by side, admiring the view in the dying evening light.

"I'm glad we found this place," Nicolette said to Midas. "It really is beautiful here."

Grinning, Midas turned to his companion, taking hold of her hand.

"Not as beautiful as you," he whispered in response.

Nicolette tutted.

"Oh, come off it, Midas!"

"No," Midas replied, pulling her closer towards him. "I really mean it."

Tenderly, he placed two fingers under her chin, lifting her face up to look into his.

"Nicolette," he began, "Nimue. Every day, I thank God that I chose to steal from that idiot Rockwell. If I hadn't, then I never would have met you... and I never would have felt the happiness I feel right now."

"It is nice to be rich," Nicolette said hurriedly. "We'll never have to worry about money again, and we're still helping those who need it."

"I don't mean the money."

Nicolette stared at him, confused.

"Then... then what do you mean?"

Slowly, Midas wrapped his arms around her in an affectionate embrace.

"I mean you, my sweet," he continued. "Never in my life have I met someone so beautiful, so clever, so talented. I know we've stolen so many things over the last few months.. but I can name one important thing that you've definitely taken from me."


"My heart."

In one rapid movement, Midas shot forward, and expressed his love with a kiss.

Nicolette, shocked, pulled away from Midas, backing away towards the balcony. As Midas, concerned, moved towards her again, his hand outstretched in a worried gesture, she motioned for him to stop, forcing herself to look him in the eye.

"Wait," she cried.

Midas stopped instantly.

"Before we go any further," she pressed, "there's something I need to know. Who loves who? Does Midas love Nicolette, or does Mitch love Nimue?"

Midas, amused by this query, found himself chuckling.

"Does it really matter?" he asked lightheartedly.

"Yes," Nicolette replied, her tone far more severe. "It does matter. A lot."

Instantly, Midas pulled Nicolette into his arms - holding her tightly as he leaned forward to whisper in her ear.

"Both love both," he told her. "Ever so much."

Nicolette's heart overflowed with joy at this reply. As she returned Midas' embrace, she whispered back to him lovingly and lustfully.

"We both love you both too. And we want you."

Their mouths met again as they hungrily explored one another's bodies... Nicolette pulling Midas off of the balcony and back into the bedroom.

On the other side of the house, the Thackers were spending the evening sat on their own balcony - playing a friendly game of poker. As Clyde was about to claim the pot with a royal flush, their ears pricked up as unmistakable sounds began to travel from their companions' place of meeting and through the mansion halls.

Stifling a laugh, Clyde shook his head, and looked at his brother as he revealed his hand.

"See? I told you they'd get together. That's ten simoleons you owe me."

Mo simply chuckled in response as they played on. Mo won a hand, then Clyde won the next... but as Mo watched his brother pull the money on the table towards him, he couldn't help but notice a sadness in his eyes.

"You OK, bruv?" he asked.

Clyde, sighing, put down his cards.

"Mo," he began, "do you think Nicolette is beautiful?"

"Wouldn't know," Mo replied matter-of-factly. "I'm not into girls."

"Oh, yeah, I know that," Clyde replied. "I meant in, you know, a subjective way."

Mo just looked at him blankly. Clyde groaned.

"Look, put it another way," he muttered. "Midas. Do you think 'e's 'andsome?"

Mo grinned.

"Oh yeah, not 'alf," he laughed. "I wouldn't mind being in that room down the 'all with 'im - "

"All right, all right, point taken," Clyde said, cutting him off before he could say any more.

"That said," Mo added, picking up a new hand of cards, "I do like me a guy with smarts."

Half-heartedly, Clyde refilled his own hand.

"So..." he continued, "you think 'e's 'andsomer than me, then?"

Mo might not have been a genius, but he knew a loaded question when he heard one. He didn't like to lie... but, like crime, he had learnt that it was sometimes necessary.

"Course not, 'bro!" he told Clyde optimistically. "No-one's 'andsomer than you!"

"So, you... you think I'll find someone someday?"

"Course you will," Mo said. "'Ere's 'oping I do, too. I want the full package, I do. 'Ouse, 'usband and kids. What about you, 'bro?"

Clyde hesitated.

"I... I don't know what I want."

But he did. He just couldn't say it. He wanted the woman he had loved since the moment he first saw her. He wanted the woman who was currently in the arms of another man.. a man whom, he knew, despite his brother's well-meant lies, was smarter, better-looking and more talented than himself.

Clyde wanted Nicolette.

Sighing, he examined his fresh hand of cards. He had plenty of diamonds, but no hearts. How very fitting.

"I'll fold," he muttered, laying his cards down, and leaving the table.

Meanwhile, the King and Queen of Crime slept undisturbed in their palace chamber... their bodies entwined like their dreams and souls.

Tuesday, 26 September 2017

The Miskin Legacy - Generation Seven, Part Two: Five for Silver, Six for Gold

The following Friday morning, Mitch had his hands full dealing the patrons at the Brown Sugar Café. After spending a good fifteen minutes serving everyone in the coffee queue, whipping up the mix for a sponge cake and shoving it in the oven, he stopped to catch his breath and make himself an espresso.

As he was about to take his first sip, he froze as his eyes fell on two ladies chatting at a table near the window.

One of them looked very familiar.

"Oh, crumbs!" Mitch thought to himself, instinctively trying to hide his face. "If she recognises me, I'm done for!"

He could already feel his heart beating rapidly... but when the lady broke off from her chat to look up at him, it started dancing a fandango. Strangely, Mitch had a feeling that it wasn't just out of fear.

"Excuse me!" the lady said to him. "Could you come here for a minute?"

Mitch hurriedly fixed a warm smile onto his face and made his way over. In his head, he was walking to his own funeral.

"Yes? Can I help you?"

Thankfully, his real voice was nothing like the noble, rich tones he donned as Midas. The lady simply smiled at him.

"I was just wondering if I could get a refill of this coffee?" she asked politely.

"Thank you, Lord!" Mitch thought... but he said, "Sure thing," and picked up her cup. As he did so, the lady leaned towards him, taking a closer look at his name badge.

"Many thanks... Mitch," she told him.

"You're welcome, Miss."



"My name is Nimue."

"Oh... that's a pretty name."

"Thanks. It's from Arthurian legend."

As Mitch went to refill Nimue's cup, she turned back towards her friend.

"I'm just so glad you're all right," her companion said to her. "You must have been so terrified during that robbery."

"I'll admit, it was scary," Nimue replied, "but still... it was nice to see Rockwell get his just desserts. He's always treated me like crap. And apparently, the thief gave most of the money he stole to the children's hospital. They need it more than Rockwell ever did."

"Ah, yes... the gentleman thief. What was he like?"

Nimue blushed.

"Actually, he was sort of charming. He spoke to me like a human being: treated me politely. I mean, he had a gun and everything, but after a while, I felt safe - as if I knew he wasn't going to hurt anyone, and he didn't. And I'll admit it: he was handsome."

She giggled.

"Maybe even... sexy."

Both of their heads bolted upwards as they heard the sound of smashing china. Mitch, who was back at the coffee machine, looked at them as he giggled nervously, and reached for another cup.

"Sorry!" he called. "Butterfingers! I'll make you a fresh one."

"No problem."

As hastily as he could, Mitch made the coffee, took it over to Nimue, then scurried back to the bar, grabbed his own espresso, and went to sit in the corner, embarrassed. His heart was still beating like a jackhammer. As he climbed onto a stool, he drew a deep breath, desperate to calm himself down.

He needed some sort of distraction. A patron had left the morning paper on the stool beside his. He seized it, and threw it open on a random page... spotting an article in the bottom-left corner as he did so.

Mitch was puzzled. This has nothing to do with him... or rather, with Midas. He'd been at home last night watching a football game with Marius. His twin had recently started working for the Secret Service - a job he couldn't discuss much, but one that kept him very busy - and as such, they seldom spent any quality time together, and made the most of it when they could. 

What the hell was this "Magpie League"? Well, whoever they were, they were clearly trying to move in on Midas' turf... and he had no intention of dealing with rivals.

Scowling, Mitch tossed the paper aside, drained the dregs of his coffee, and headed back to the counter to check on his baking cake. Nimue, he noticed, was now gone - a fact that made him feel relieved... and yet, rather disappointed.


After meeting Theo at the alien support group, Minerva and Gabriel made sure that they talked with him and visited him regularly - just to make sure he was all right. Sadly, the majority of the time, he wasn't. It was clear that he was still somewhat in denial about being pregnant with an alien child. (Then again, it wasn't the easiest thing in the world for a man to deal with.)  

When the tiniest hint of a baby bump began to show, fear and realisation flooded through Theo's veins. All at once, he found himself unable to cope with what was happening.

Although a plan was now in place, Theo couldn't help but feel depressed about the situation he'd found himself in. He would call in work sick, and spent most of his time lounging about the house or hiding away in his room - lacking the energy or will to do anything.


Fearing for his safety, Minerva and Gabriel basically moved into Theo's house as the weeks went by. For both his sake and the baby's, they made sure he ate well, slept well, and kept him company - having cheery conversations to try and keep his spirits up. It soon became apparent that discussing the pregnancy or the abduction was strictly off-limits: it simply sent Theo spiralling back into anguish.

One evening, after Theo had turned in for the night, the pair found themselves sat on the living room sofa together - worn out after a day of chores and care-giving. After several days spent working alongside each other, and depending on one another for moral support, the two aliens had grown quite close, and were fast becoming good friends. 

They worked well together. Minerva was best at dealing with the emotional issues, and helped Theo open up about how he was feeling, whilst Gabriel focused on more practical tasks like shopping and cooking. He made meals for all three of them - and whilst he was no Mitch, Minerva had to admit that he could rustle up some good grub. The couple also shared intellectual interests, and each of them appreciated having a kindred spirit who understood what it was like to be alienated - quite literally - from those around you.

Clearing his throat, Gabriel decided to strike up a conversation.

"Theo seemed a bit better today," he said.

"Hmm. Maybe. A little, at least," Minerva replied. "He actually left his bedroom today, and he even laughed at a joke I made. I guess that's progress."

She sighed.

"Still... I worry about him."

Slowly and cautiously, Gabriel placed his arm around Minerva's shoulder in a comforting gesture. He feared that his companion might be offended and push him away - but instead was delighted when she shuffled closer towards him.

"You're a good person, Minerva," he told her.

"Thanks. So are you."

Suddenly, she pulled away, and began scratching fiercely at her arms. Concerned by her hasty movement, Gabriel leaned towards her, instinctively reaching out a helping hand.

"What's wrong?" he asked.

"Oh, it's nothing," Minerva answered. "Sorry - I didn't mean to push you away. It's just... this disguise. It really irritates me after I've been wearing it all day."

Gabriel nodded understandingly.

"I know exactly what you mean," he muttered, pulling at his shirt collar. "Mine can be stifling at times."

As he spoke, he had a brainwave, and turned to Minerva with a mischievous smirk.

"You know," he whispered alluringly, "I don't think Theo's going to get up again now. We're in here alone... just the two of us. Maybe we could both slip into something more... comfortable?"

Minerva turned towards him, stunned at first... but then grinned eagerly.

"Let's do it."


Thus, both aliens breathed a massive sigh of relief as they allowed their disguises to melt away - revealing their true selves to one another.

"That's so much better," Minerva called out.

"I second that," Gabriel chuckled back.

Then, he stopped and sat bolt upright, looking Minerva up and down carefully with a stunned look. Minerva noticed this, and stared at him quizzically.

"What is it?" she asked, alarmed.

"I... I just don't believe it..." Gabriel breathed.

"Believe what?" 

Gabriel smiled softly, once again wrapping his arm around her. 

"You're even more beautiful without the disguise."

Minerva turned away, blushing - but Gabriel gently cupped her cheek and pulled her back to face him. Moving ever closer, the couple found themselves looking deeply into one another's ebony eyes, until finally... their lips met.




After a few moments of sheer bliss, Minerva pulled away sharply as she heard the sound of sobbing coming from the nearby bedroom. Sighing, she re-disguised herself.

"Theo's awake," she whispered. "A nightmare, no doubt. I'd best go and talk to him."

"That would be best," Gabriel replied.

As Minerva rose from the sofa, she felt Gabriel gently pulling her back, squeezing her hand tightly.

"Don't stay away too long," he told her.

He raised her hand to his lips, kissing it chivalrously. Minerva reached down to tenderly stroke his hair, smiling.

"I'll be back in a minute," she told Gabriel lovingly... before leaving the man who loved her in order to be with the man who needed her.

Three weeks after the Rockwell's robbery, Midas broke into a downtown luxury apartment, scouting the place for valuables. Normally, he allowed himself more of a cooldown time between crimes, but with that birdbrained Magpie League hot on his heels, he was determined to stay ahead of the competition.

The apartment was owned by a famous fashion model - known for her selfish, prima donna behaviour - and as one might expect, there were treasures tucked away everywhere. Midas carefully inspected every nook, cranny and hidey-hole he could think of... keen to swipe anything and everything he could. The model had recently been on the front cover of several magazines, and he was concerned that seeing her so prominently might give the Magpies ideas. 

(After all, that's where he'd got it from.)

Whilst helping himself to some vintage cognac from a globe-shaped minibar, Midas suddenly heard the door being opened. Whirling himself round in a panic, he reached for his gun and aimed for the unseen intruder.

"Shoot and you're a dead man!"

Someone flicked a switch, filling the room with light - causing Mitch to be greeted by the sight of three people: a skinny fellow in a flat cap, a mountain of flesh in an ill-fitting suit... and the indisputable star of the show, a very glamorous looking-lady in a sun hat and white mink coat, dripping with jewels.

A lady with a very familiar face.


The lady smirked deviously.

"Call me "Nicolette"," she said.

As Midas lowered his gun, she outstretched her arms in a gesture of greeting.

"You have the rare pleasure, sir," she continued, "of meeting the Magpie League."

Midas glared at her, shocked... and angry.

"What the hell are you doing here?" he growled.

"I have a proposition for you, Midas," Nicolette replied. "But before we get to that... perhaps we could help you lighten your load?"


An hour or so later, after he and the Magpies had cleaned out the celebrity's apartment - agreeing, after much debate, to split the spoils 50/50 - Midas found himself sitting at Nicolette's desk. They were in a small but well-decorated office in an old warehouse in the middle of the city. This, he was told, was the Magpie League's base of operations... the hideout of a criminal gang run by the woman before him, Ms. Nicolette Duboir.

Before getting down to business, Nicolette introduced Midas to her two associates.

Unlike the Miskin twins, who were divided in their moral destinies, both of the Thacker brothers had found themselves on the wrong side of the law by the time they had entered their adult years. 

The elder of the pair was a sly conman and cat burglar known as Sneaky Clyde. His thin and wiry frame enabled him to squeeze through small gaps, meaning there was very little beyond his reach. Strangely charismatic, he also had the gift of the gab, and a good excuse for any occasion - which he'd used to get the gang out of hot water more than once.

Clyde's younger brother, Moses, had been nicknamed "Big Mo"... and with good reason. He was a giant of a man - not only in height, but also in weight, strength and sheer bulk. He could easily hold his own in a fight, and only a true lunatic would dare to pick one with him in the first place. His role was to protect the gang during their heists, and deal with any troublemakers that reared their heads. 

Deep down, Mo was a good-natured, friendly fellow with a loving heart, whose criminal acts didn't always rest easily on his conscience. However, he had learnt that crime could provide someone with a decent way of life, and he was fiercely loyal to his brother - following him wherever he led, and doing whatever he told him to do.

"Like I told you, 'guv," Clyde said to Midas, "Mo's a bit dumb, but 'e 'as 'is uses."

"I ain't dumb!" Mo protested.

"All right," Clyde said, "what's the square root of 36?"

A long silence followed. Mo's mouth could be seen moving as he attempted to perform the calculation in his mind, but soon enough, he hung his head, too embarrassed to say anything further.

"See?" Clyde continued. "Not the sharpest knife in the drawer, are you, Mo? Even a kid could tell you it's 4."

Over at the desk, Midas and Nicolette exchanged glances.

Nicolette had become a thief for one simple thing - the thrill. The constant dread of getting caught, living life on the edge, knowing you could hit it big or lose everything in an instant... it filled her with adrenaline, and she loved every minute of it. Then again, she was a tad materialistic, and did appreciate the finer things of life - which she could now acquire very easily, lawfully or otherwise. 

The brains of the outfit, she had the logic and the know-how to plan efficient, rewarding heists. Combined with Clyde's skills and Mo's muscle, the trio had formed a winning team... the renowned Magpie League.

Born Nimue Davis, Nicolette had originally got the job at Rockwell's under her real name in order to scout the place out as a potential target... with the unfavourable attitude of her new employer only fuelling her desire further.  However, before she could put any plans in place, someone had beaten her to it.

And she'd been impressed.

"That's why we want you in the Magpie League," she told her guest. "Trust me... pulling off a job like that single-handed was no mean feat, especially without attacking anyone. Bravo, Midas... or should I say, Mitch Miskin?"

Midas' eyes widened.

"Oh, please," Nicolette giggled, seeing his surprise. "If you think I didn't recognise you at the café, then you're a fool. I know full well who you are... but still, you know who I am, too, so we're square. I'm glad you bought my play-acting - my panic during the robbery, and so forth... "

"Absolutely," Midas thought to himself. "You should be in movies. You'd sweep the awards."

"... but the truth is, I think you've really got something. You're the ultimate gentleman thief: you use charm to get what you want, and you have bags of it. Women will just fall heads over heels for you."

"Damn right," Clyde piped up. "Hell - even Nicolette wants you."

Nicolette shot Clyde a cold glance that could kill at a thousand yards.

"What?" he cried. "You told me so yourself. One too many post-heist Margaritas last Friday."

Mo chuckled at the memory. Rolling her eyes, Nicolette returned to the matter at hand.

"I'd much rather have you with us than as our competition," she added. "Birds of a feather flock together, after all. So, what do you say? Care to join us?"

Midas considered the offer carefully.

"I have some demands," he told Nicolette flatly.

"Name them."

"First - we only rob people who deserve it. Rich snobs, corrupt businesspeople... those who haven't worked for their wealth, who don't appreciate it, or who've abused others to get it. No poor families or easy targets."

"Agreed. It's more fun if they're getting what's coming to them."

"Second - at least some of the money goes to help the less fortunate. Sure, we can keep some for expenses, and whatnot... but if we're doing this, then others should feel the benefits. Besides - it's good karma."

Nicolette had to smile.

"Fine," she replied. "If the greedy bastards won't help those in need, we'll make them help. Plus, having the public on your side never hurt anyone."

Rising from her seat, Nicolette turned towards all three gentlemen, oozing both control and confidence.

"Our meeting is concluded," she said brightly.

"Thank God for that," Clyde groaned, jumping to his feet. "Off down the pub now, are we, Boss? Mine's a pint if you're buyin'."

He swaggered towards the door, with Mo closely following like a loyal hound. As Midas got up, Nicolette sidled up to him.. and slipped her arm through his, like an old friend. As the gentleman thief looked at her, the glamorous lady flashed him her most winning smile.

"This," she whispered softly, "could be the beginning of a great partnership."



The chapter title is a reference to the nursery rhyme "One for Sorrow" - which relates to magpies.

Nicolette's general style was inspired by Stephanie St. Clair.

Lincoln Broadsheet is a reference to a console/handheld Sims 2/Urbz character.