This one was a bit like pulling teeth. I had the story and outline prepared, but my girlfriend pointed out an inconsistency in my characters and the whole thing shattered.
I had to rewrite it no less than three times, and I’m still not quite satisfied with it.
Let’s see how things unfold over the next few days shall we?
Be sure to read the first part before diving in!
There was a brief moment of silence as the men considered Bats’s threat. He stared menacingly at each of them, but no one would meet his eye.
Daniel fidgeted in his seat. His lips opened, as if to ask a question, then closed again.
Bats’s face softened, and he grinned in amusement. “What’s on your mind kid?”
“Um… I was just wondering who this Proteus guy is.” answered Daniel in a low voice. “What’s special about him?”
Bats chuckled, and was about to answer, but Sunny beat him to the punch.
“Proteus is a double-crossing thief and a scumbag,” he said. His voice was calm, but the others could sense a clear undercurrent of anger.
“If he can get Sunny riled up, you know he’s bad,” Bats laughed again. He idly twirled his gun as he spoke. “There’s a lot more to it than that. How bout you enlighten the kid, Handsome Dave?”
Handsome Dave obliged, leaning forward with a serious expression as he spoke. “Proteus is a legend. He’s like something out of a storybook, the perfect gentleman thief. He’s Robin Hood and Arsène Lupin and Simon Templar all rolled into one. No one knows what he looks like, no one’s seen his face. He takes credit for his thefts, and sends proof to the press every time he steals something new. Obviously the media loves him, and glorifies him all over the web.”
He leaned forwards, and sneered. “It’s all a fucking lie. He isn’t a gentleman. He’s a greedy, double-crossing scumbag. Sunny knows it. Flippy knows it. And I know it too. There’s a code amongst thieves, kid: you don’t fuck over the people you work with, or you don’t work with anyone ever again. This guy doesn’t give a shit. He shows up, takes your share of the money and disappears.”
His eyes glittered dangerously. “And in my case, he took half my face as well.”
He unconsciously touched the scar on his cheek. His hand followed the line down to his upper lip, sliding across the cleft that split his lip in two uneven parts.
I glance around me at the table, and see the uncertainty on the men’s faces. Five minutes ago, they were all friendly, confident in the trust they shared. Now I look around me and all I see is suspicion.
It’s a bit saddening to see my good work get dismantled so quickly. When I put this crew together, I took my time. There was no rush, I had years to plan this event.
The first rule of finding a team isn’t the diverse skillset. Any idiot can hobble together a makeshift group of work colleagues. No, the true skill lies in finding people who are compatible, personality-wise. The worst thing one can do is put five disagreeable men in the same room for weeks, and have them plan a project together.
You might as well put five tigers in a cage with a single piece of meat and ask them to play nice. Thus I took great pains to ensure that each man not only had the skills necessary to do the job, but the temperament to get along with the others. My ultimate goal was to assemble a team that, when combined, were greater than the sum of their parts.
Flippy is a meticulous, careful planner. His excellent work ethic creates a calming effect around those who are suspicious, namely Sunny. He’s usually a loner, but Flippy convinces him to join our team as our experienced safecracker and glass man. Daniel is an uncertain young hacker, brilliant but lacking confidence in himself. Bats, our brash enforcer, takes Daniel under his wing, and teaches him to trust himself more. This improves Daniel’s skills, and make him cool under fire, while tempering Bats’s abrasive nature. And Handsome Dave… well, he has a catchy name, and we have a history.
Poor Dave. It was an accident, what happened to him.
“How come people still work with this guy?” Daniel asked. “I mean, if he’s such a dirtbag…”
Bats laughed again. “Because no one knows what he fucking looks like, dumbass.”
Daniel nodded in Dave’s direction. “But Dave saw…”
“Handsome Dave,” Sunny interrupted him with a flat stare.
“Right, sorry,” Daniel said. Handsome Dave shrugged in acceptance. “If Handsome Dave saw his face, how could he be here with us?”
Tune in tomorrow for Chapter three!