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Mutants & Masterminds: Future Imperfect - [Fic] Thief-Fu Hustle (Complete)

Rebekka Van der Vyse

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The sun was at its noon-time peak when Felicienne deigned to consider getting out of bed, making a small mew at being alone. It wasn't the intimacy she wanted, but a warm body to curl up to would have been pleasant. It's just, few were willing to keep it at that and no further, one specific convenient blond in particular. Tossing the blankets off, Felicienne sprawled out on her front on her large, plush bed, looking over her luxurious, two-story villa at the Wynn from the high perch of her loft bedroom.

La vie est merveilleuse, she thought idly as she lazily batted at the univeral remote on the floor, turning on the Plasma TV in the living room below her and filling her home with the soft strains of classical music. A glance at her alarm clock - the alarm never having been turned on - revealed that her only class today was in twenty minutes. Possible, but hardly worth the effort. Besides, on the TV, a local personality was talking about the upcoming events coming to the strip and a Chinese Cultural Exhibit at the Bellagio caught her eye. Or more specifically, the seventh century, Tang Dynasty jade sculpture of a dragon did.

With a purring smile, Felicienne slinked out of bed, grasped the glass and steel railing and leapt over it to the floor below with flawless grace and a soundless tread. The jade dragon reminded of the Sung Dynasty silver dragon she and her father had purloined from the Musée Guimet and she decided she wanted this one. She had just the place for it in her private gallery.

Hmm, I am not being sure if my current blueprints for the Bellagio, they are being accurate. Their security, it is quite tight. An excitement built within her breast that never rose for something as mundane as college. She'd need to contact Orphan...


Dressed in figure-hugging, dark Lululemon athletic clothing, head covered in a silk balaclava, Felcienne crawled through the narrow air ducts like a silent shadow. Her nose wrinkled at the smell of smut smearing on her clothes. Despite best efforts, some places just couldn't be cleaned to any decent degree. But sometimes, sacrifices had to be made in the name of idle desires.

A rented penthouse had given her private access to an elevator and more importantly, an elevator shaft, almost an exclusive highway to the bowels of the Bellagio, if one knew how to navigate it. And she most certainly did. It may been a touch... cinematic, but people would be surprised how often it worked. The larger the complex, the larger and more extensive the air ducts were needed to provide proper ventilation and heating/air conditioning, depending on location. Las Vegas had great need for air conditioning.

She crawled through the seemingly endless miles of air duct until she was able to reach a point where she could reach the necessary electrical junction box and tamper with the video cameras in the Fine Art Gallery so she could get a full hour in there without being seen. Skill and mutated genetics were able to make her for all practical purposes, invisible, but the consequences of her actions weren't. She just needed a window of opportunity and now she had it.

Getting to the air vent in the soaring ceiling of the Fine Art Gallery at the Bellagio took her longer than she wanted, but she told herself she still had plenty of time. Her heart was beating rapidly, but she was still calm, as she listened and inhaled, determining if the main show-room was still empty. Las Vegas may have been a city that never slept, but parts of it still did.

Positive the room was empty - and glad for the reliance on electronics more than manpower, she carefully removed the grating on the air vent, her movements sure and smooth. With a fluid stillness that either made her blend in with environment or simply made her eerily easy to overlook - she still wasn't sure how it worked, just knew she possessed a feline's ability to prowl taken to an impossible level - Felicienne poked her head out of the air duct and looked down the thirty feet to the gallery floor, getting a visual appraisal of the place. Still empty of any living soul but her.

She reached into the small pack on her back, pulling out an unmarked aerosol can and released a precisely measured spritz of its contents, and then another. Red beams of light turned visible under the infinitesimal, barely visible particles, Felicienne carefully noting their locations, seeing how far she could get to her goal by crawling along the ceiling and walls. About half-way, it seemed.

With subtly clawed hands and feet, intensely trained skill and a superhuman muscle control, Felicienne made her way across the curved ceiling and down the wall, until she reached the ground behind the display of a terracotta warrior, about forty feet away from the central display with the Tang Dynasty Jade Dragon.

Now, it was simply a matter of spritzing for the beams again and flowing through them. Daunting for someone regulated to human limits, but not for her. She chuckled soundlessly to herself - with the thirty foot ceiling and infra-red beams rarely reaching higher than fifteen feet, she was even able to spring over the majority of them.

She made to the side of the large, reinforced glass display, with slightly more difficult than she was expecting, if she was being honest. One of her landings had been a near thing. But she was in the clear, though she might need to find a roundabout route to make it back to her escape route with the Jade Dragon in her pack. She'd worry about that once she had the Jade Dragon in her hands.

Crouching next to the display, still and invisible, Felicienne began working on disabling the integrated alarm system, not rushing, though she knew her window with the spoofed cameras was closing. Allez, allez, juste deux minutes de plus...

Her head snapped up as her keen hearing heard a soft beep come from a side employee door, only long practice stopping her from setting off the alarm. Still and unnoticed, her head beginning to throb from forcing herself to remain unseen and unheard, Felicienne's large, green eyes widened as she saw a red beam of light still glittering under the last of the particles drifting down suddenly disappear. Her eyes narrowed to emerald slivers as she turned her head and watched the door open and someone stepped through...

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The security guard that walked in was young, female and blonde. Felicienne watched with annoyance as the woman walked over to the case she was trying to break into, whistling to herself. “Nice,” she muttered, and leaned close to peer at the case. Felicienne realized with a jolt of surprise that this woman was acting more like she was casing the joint than guarding it. Before the feline thief could decide what to do, the woman straightened and passed through the glass!

Yesterday, Hong Kong

Lena stood in the beam of light from the room’s single lightbulb and watched Jeng bleed out. “Tick tock,” she said, bopping her head back and forth as she spoke. “Time’s flowing by like the Hwang Ho. And so is your blood.”

“I don’t know!” he shouted, blubbering in Cantonese. “I don’t know where the guns are!” He pulled against the ropes, making the blood flow out of the catheter in his femoral artery faster. The chair was the only seat in the room, though there were several people lounging against walls. They were Lena’s brothers in the Big Circle Gang (Hong Kong Branch). The notorious Triad gang had been expecting a weapon’s shipment of guns and when they hadn’t gotten them, they’d gone back to the seller. Jeng had professed ignorance, but even he knew that was no good.

So they’d brought Lena in: their ‘Golden Sister’. Some people immediately doubted that the small, blonde American girl could be someone to fear. They always quickly learned otherwise. Jeng had already known of her reputation, so he’d nearly pissed himself when he saw her. He had pissed himself when she’d cut open his pants.

“Jeng, you know how this works,” Lena said, also in Cantonese, staring at his battered, swelling face. Her knuckles were crusted in his blood and hers, but her cracked knuckles had healed over already. “You promised merchandise. We don’t have that merchandise. This is not Walmart. We do not stand in line and ask for a refund. We get our merchandise.”

Jeng’s breathing was the only sound for a moment; then he sagged and said, “My brother.”


“Jok-Yu. Hau Jok-Yu.” Jeng’s next breath was a ragged half-sob. He’d just sold his brother to the Triad; it didn’t matter to him that his brother had been the first to sell out. He had still betrayed his blood.

“And why are we looking for him?” Lena asked.

A small whine escaped Jeng’s lips. “He was the one who was delivering.”

“Thank you,” she said, nodding to the Triad who’d installed the catheter. The man, a medical school drop-out, knelt and stemmed the flow of blood, starting to patch Jeng’s leg. She looked at Hung. He was the one who’d called her in and watched her expertise. “All yours.”

“Secure him. Find his brother and bring him here.” The gruff Triad was about as humorless as a heart attack, his face always set in grim lines.

“If you don’t need me, I have a date,” Lena said, starting to turn away. Hung’s grunt brought her back. “The Boss wants you.” He handed her a sticky-note that said the same.

Lena took it, frowning. She had seen the messenger arrive while she’d been working on Jeng, but had been busy. Now, she shrugged and headed for the boss’ office, on the top floor of the warehouse. On the way, she passed the factory floor, where various members of the gang were filing serial numbers off guns, weighing drugs or any other activity required by a healthy criminal organization. At the Boss’ office, she knocked on the door and waited.

After a moment, it opened: He Ka-Ho glared out at her over the nose of his .45. Lena smiled, expecting to be met at the door by an armed boss. Ka-Ho was infamous for his paranoia. But he’d also survived three assassination attempts, so some of it was sheer survival instinct. “Lena,” he grunted, waving her into the room.

“What’s up?” she asked, dropping onto his leather couch.

Ka-Ho circled behind his desk and sat down. “We need you to steal something.”

“Oh?” Lena perked up. This was more her style. She didn’t enjoy beating people up for information; she liked stealing.

Ka-Ho tossed her a folder. Lena opened it up as he said, “We have a buyer for that, problem is that it was sold to the Bellagio in the US before we could get it.”

“That’s in Vegas,” Lena murmured. The picture before her was of a lovely jade dragon. Smiling a little, she pushed the picture aside and began to rifle through the security details. “You’re in luck; I’ve penetrated the Bellagio security before.”

“Good,” Ka-Ho said. “Can you leave tonight?” Lena blinked at him. “The buyer will pay a premium if we can have it to her by Friday.”

“Three days? Pretty tight. I’ll try it,” Lena said, snapping the folder closed. “You’re buying the ticket, right?”

“Get out,” Ka-Ho snorted.

Lena shrugged, her smile pure mischievousness. “Girl’s gotta try, right?”


Lena swiped Roy McIntyre’s card in the door. Getting his card had been easy; Lena had kept tabs on him for a while, ever since he’d betrayed her to the cops the last time she’d tried to rob the Bella. Payback was a bitch, just like Lena. Feeling ridiculously pleased with herself, she passed into the display room. Whistling to herself, she walked over to the case with the statue and leaned down, peering at it. Ah, fuck it.

Going incorporeal always took it out of her. But she’d have some time before the virus really caught up to her, so Lena took a chance. Waltz in, waltz out, be in bed with a Seven-Up by the end of the hour. And Roy McIntyre would have a very, very, very bad morning tomorrow. She was giddy just thinking about it.

Passing through things was weird, like something was pushing lightly against her skin, then under her skin. It was definitely a unique sensation, but the creeping headache marred it as always. She let herself return to the solid state once she’d cleared the glass, being careful not to step on anything else in the display.

A cough shook her frame as she reached for the statue. “Bah,” she grumbled, plucking the figurine off its pedestal. “Stupid virus,” she growled, turning and returning her body and the figurine to the incorporeal state. She walked back through the glass and headed for the door, knowing that alarms had just been tripped. She wasn’t worried; all she had to do was use Roy’s card to rearm the system.

At the door, she went solid again to swipe the security card and punch in his code. Still whistling, she slid the card, pocketed it and started to punch in her numbers.

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Felicienne's head tilted, eyes staring at the blond interloper with sheer surprise as she stepped through the glass, then cocked to the other side with intrigued contemplation as she considered the uses of such an ability. Ce serait très utile.... Finally, her eyes narrowed to mere slits with profound annoyance, barely suppressing a hiss, as this woman - another mutant, no less - nonchalantly stole what she had come to claim herself. It was practically cheating.

Non, non. This will simply not do.

Staying still save for her eyes, Felicienne considered how to reclaim the Jade Dragon. With her keen senses, she could hear the whisper of her clothing rubbing against itself, could detect the scent of her shampoo and of her and surprising number of others whom she must have been associating with most closely. Yet the woman had looked no different when stepping through the glass display as easily as a shaft of light. A quick snatch had no guarantee of not simply passing through her unwanted rival.

Her gaze alternated between the slender blond strutting towards the security door and her own access point in the ceiling when a solution was provided. The woman evidently became solid so she could swipe her purloined security card so she could reset the security measures and unlock the door. It was all the chance she needed, and Felicienne didn't waste it, standing up and dashing after the woman in a low run, her velocity causing her to blur into visibility, though her steps were still soundless.

Lena was halfway through punching in the security code when she felt a sharp tug from the hand holding the Jade Dragon. She looked down to find her hand empty then looked over her shoulder to find another woman standing behind her, a little taller than her and clad in dark, form-fitting athletic wear, face concealed save for a pair of large, jade eyes. And she was holding the Jade Dragon!

"Ah, ah, ah, ma belle. Je suis désolé, mais, this is belonging to me," the woman taunted in a husky, accented alto. Lena could see the impress of Felicienne's lips against her silk balaclava as she blew the blonde a kiss, then waved good-bye. "Au revoir."

Lena tried to snatch the Jade Dragon back, but flowed around her outstretched hand and darted away in a darkly graceful blur. She leapt forty feet to another enclosed display, twisting in mid-air and rebounding off it to reach the air duct grating in the ceiling, smoothly hauling herself inside with one hand. Felicienne poked her head out, gave Lena one more wave, then replaced the grating. It may have wasted a bit of time, but it would help prevent her trail being tracked by the authorities.

Hopefully, the ghost girl, she is not being able to fly, yes? That was a most unwelcome surprise, Felicienne thought as she quickly secured the air duct grate, Sixteen years, and not once am I randomly running into another thief going for the same mark as I. She placed the Jade Dragon in her snug pack, unfortunately, she wouldn't be able to navigate the air ducts with it on her back, they were too low. She barely had room to tie the pack to her foot with a piece of nylon cord saved specifically for the purpose.

That done, Felicienne began crawling through the air ducts back to her rented penthouse suite, an excited smirk hidden behind black silk. Not only had she purloined an inadvertent gift from the Bellagio, she'd taken it back from one who was as good as a ghost.

What fun.

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"Fuck!" Lena snarled as she watched the bitch scamper up the wall with the dragon. She lapsed into Mandarin, listing off vile curses that would have had Mama Wu cringing - were the old dam still alive. As she hurtled verbal recriminations against the brunette humping her way through the vent shaft, Lena pulled out her grappling gun and snapped off a shot. It hooked into the vent and the woman pulled herself up, still muttering invectives against the woman she was following.

Lena didn't bother with the vent covering; with a surge of intention that left her a little dizzy, she passed through the metal like she had the glass. There was the little vixen, scooting through the shaft with a skill that would have impressed Lena had Lena not been so completely irritated with the girl. Lena followed her down the vent, her gray eyes locked on her prize.

The brunette went right and left, then left. Lena was lost simply because she didn't bother keeping track. When you could walk through walls, you didn't worry about directions.

Sooner or later, she'd have her moment. While she was in the vents, there was no room to go solid and grab for it. But once the woman was in the open...

Her moment came when the woman wiggled into an upright vent. This must have been a major one, because there was room for two - if the two were slim enough. Lena materialized just behind the woman as she began to scale the wall. Lena didn't bother with untying the statue; she just dematerialized it with herself. "Thanks for offering to help carry it," Lena giggled, "but I think I'll take it from here!" With an evil giggle, the blonde thief slid into the wall and disappeared.

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"Le petite con, putain de salope!" Felicienne yowled low and sharp, the sound reverberating indistinctly up the vent shaft. Felicienne twisted in the tight confines, making one last grab at the infuriating woman, but it was futile, her hand passing through her as easily as she passed through the wall. Felicienne hissed in frustration, her whimsical thrill turning into something suspiciously like work. But she wasn't willing to give up on what was hers quite yet.

Felicienne swiftly considered her, and the blonde's next move. She most likely would want to leave the grounds immediately. She could travel most of the way down the strip by the underground promenades connecting the majority of the resorts and hotels, but that risked a higher chance of being detected. No, she'd head out as soon as she could for an escape vehicle (or through another mutant method), parked off the grounds, so she wouldn't have to wait for the valet service to bring it around.

Felicienne had the whore's scent, once she got outside of the Bellagio, she'd be able to track her down, preferably before she got to her vehicle. La 'tite blonde would need to move at a casual pace whereas she'd be able move at a considerable pace while still maintaining her prowling stealth, especially if she pushed herself.

Mind made up, Felicienne raced up the air vent like a silent blur, joints beginning to ache. She traversed the elevator shaft, then entered her penthouse room, pausing only long enough to put on her shoes - stylish pair of toning sneakers that matched her athletic clothing - and grab her purse - a contingency for when she came back - and went out onto the balcony. Looking over the side with her sharp, night-penetrating eyes, she was annoyed, but not surprised, at not catching a sight of the theft-thief.

Without further hesitation, Felicienne leapt over the side, falling more than three hundred feet like a shadow through the night, to land with inhuman grace amongst the trees surrounding the pond-side villas. With a straining patience, Felicienne circled around the massive Bellagio complex like an unseen hunter stalking her prey, eyes searching, nose testing the air for a distinctive scent that suggested a blend of distinctive scents.

Felicienne was beginning to worry that her hypothesis was flawed when she caught a whiff of bitchiness and then followed it with rising anticipation. The scent led her south of the Bellagio to the massively sprawling City Center Complex, to an out-of-the-way place hidden in the shadows, next to one of the pylons supporting the elevated tram that connected The Crystals with the Monte Carlo and the Bellagio.

And there was the whore herself, about to straddle a conveniently parked motorcycle, all sleek curves that proclaimed speed and superb handling. And with close access to several routes off the Strip.

"Arrêtez-la," Felicienne demanded in a low hiss, slinking forward with a predatory grace and seemingly poised to pounce. "Alas, I really am needing to insist, that you are returning that to me." She pointed at her bag with the suspicious lump dangling from the blonde's hand, lips curved with an annoyed smirk. "Are you not knowing? Stealing, it is wrong."

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Lena was feeling much better as she found her bike on street parking. She had ditched the bitch and was about to get away with this, so she was pretty damned jolly as she opened the seat compartment and pulled out the silk backpack. Sadly, the statue wouldn’t fit in the compartment.

Pouting a little, Lena dropped the dragon into the pack, then pulled the drawstring tight and looped the straps over her shoulders. She pulled her helmet on with a quick, practiced motion and started to throw her leg over the seat.

"Arrêtez-la," Felicienne demanded in a low hiss, slinking forward with a predatory grace and seemingly poised to pounce. "Alas, I really am needing to insist, that you are returning that to me." She pointed at her bag with the suspicious lump dangling from the blonde's hand, lips curved with an annoyed smirk. "Are you not knowing? Stealing, it is wrong."

Lena froze, then dropped onto the seat, twisting to look at the bitch she thought she’d ditched. “Is it wrong,” Lena said, grinning a little. “And you seemed like such a nice girl.”

The girl held out her hand. “I am waiting,” she said.

“So is that French-French or Canadian-French? Your accent?”

“Pfft! This Canadian-French, it barely qualifies. It is like the Americainnes speaking attempting to speak the English. Je me deviens de la France.” The entire thing was rattled off with a cultural pride that reminded Lena of her long-dead parents. “Like your English. So coarse.”

Lena grinned widely. “Funny, most people find my accent sexy.” Of course, most of the people she met these days was Asian, and they had a thing for blondes. “I kinda like you, so I say this with regret – I really can’t hand over the statue. Besides, I had it first.” She started the bike and put it into gear in a swift, sure motion, then gunned it as the brunette scowled and grabbed at her.

Au revoir, Frenchie! Better luck next time!” With a laugh and a roar of her bike, she was gone in a cloud of exhaust.

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"It is not who is having it first that matters, but she who is having it last- *Kaw-cough-hackph!*" Felicienne went to retort, only to choke on a mouth- and nose-full of exhaust, cloying and pungent to her sharp senses. She was able to open her eyes after the coughing fit in time to see the whore speed around a corner. "C’est vraiment des conneries! C'est le bordel," she cursed, her accent turning her rolling R's into a vicious snarl.

Felicienne raced after the high-pitched hum of the high-end Japanese motorcycle's engine, bent low and running in long, loping strides, prowling after her, unseen through mutant capabilities. But it was immediately apparently that she wouldn't be able to keep up unless she gave the Virus more fodder to chew on. Also, though the irritating blonde was driving with no concern for others on the road, others did drive with concern for her. Unseen, the other drivers had no concern for the woman running amidst them.

With another silent snarl, Felicienne increased her pace while maintaining her ninja-like, feline stalking ability to remain unseen, and jumped up, flipping herself around a streetlight pole, bounding off a window sill and other convenient - and not so convenient - protrusions, until she was paralleling the street along the roof tops. Without have to worry about being run over by an unsuspecting motorist, Felicienne was soon catching up to the distinctive whine of the engine from the motorcycle she sought, and its driver.

Felicienne's head throbbed, chest growing tight as she followed her rival down West Harmon Avenue, the lingering Virus making itself felt. The unnatural leap she made to clear the Las Vegas Freeway made her joints ache and tumbled in a supposedly graceful roll that almost carried over the edge of a roof before regaining her feet and sprinting after the whore.

Finally, she was running above and just ahead of the woman, following her as she made twisting way along smaller streets. She couldn't maintain the pace for long, unless she was willing to let the Virus ravage her, so as soon as she found them on a quiet street, Felicienne made her move and leapt over the street with precise timing...

... Landing right behind the woman on her bike, one arm going over her shoulder, sharp nails prickling her breast, while the other reached for the bag containing the item they both wanted, both of them struggling for possession. Utterly surprised, Lena almost lost control of her bike, swerving wildly, both women's voices rising in scared screeches before Lena was able to bring the motorcycle to a stop.

Both of them panted in silent relief, each maintaining a tight grip on the sack containing the Jade Dragon. Then Felicienne sneezed. Lena looked over her shoulder, seeing a wide-eyed, completely bewildered expression on the bitch's face, that emphatically demanded, What the fuck was that? The last time Lena had seen that exact expression had been on the face of a Siamese Cat one of the Triad members doted over.

"Okay - this, it is not working for me," Felicienne said after giving her head a little shake and clearing her throat of mucus. "We should not be needing to try so hard after getting away clear, with this lovely Tang Dynasty Jade, yes? I am being sure we can come around to a suitable, mutual agreeable arrangement."

Felicienne gave a put-upon sigh, removing her arm from over Lena's shoulder, though not relenting her hold on the Jade Dragon. "Truce?"

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Lena stared into the green eyes of the mutant who was trying to parley with her. To be honest, Lena had no issue with a truce, so long as Lena got what she needed. Her pride demanded that she kept the trophy, but she honestly would have given it up already if she hadn’t been hired for this. Like Felicienne, she was annoyed that this was turning into a pain in the ass. “Truce,” she said, flipping up her visor so that the feline mutant could see one corner of her lips twitching up in a smile.

“Siddown,” she said, sliding forward a little more. “The bike can handle two little bitches like us.”

“Why?” Frenchie asked.

“Because we’re fuckin’ going for pancakes,” Lena said with a grin as she started the bike again. Her maneuvers had killed it, and it took a bit of coaxing to get it going again.

“Pancakes?” Frenchie sounded like she was turning up her nose, but Lena didn’t care. She was going to have a full-blown case of the virus in just a couple of hours, and she was having her damned pancakes before she was too sick to enjoy them.

“You can wait here, if you want,” Lena said.

Those green eyes narrowed in irritation at her, then rolled. “Fine. They will be having meat, no?”

“Yes, IHOP has meat, ya freak,” Lena laughed, throwing the bike into gear and motion in a swift movement. Lena’s driving while being chased wasn’t much different from her pancake-chasing driving. Felicienne was clinging tight to her, her claws scoring Lena’s riding leathers by the time Lena killed the engine in a parking spot. “So, we’ll go in, keep the dragon between us and in sight on the table and talk this out over pancakes and meat, as civilized as Republicans. Sound good?”

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Lena could feel Felicienne's taut, curvaceous figure shift against her back as she slid off the back of the bike with eerie grace, still keeping a possessive hand on the bag containing the Jade Dragon, as did she. Felicienne looked up at the IHOP sign, lips curling with condescension, but she was achy and miserable with the toll the Virus was talking and just wanted to replace the calories from her unwanted exertions while she still had an appetite. Besides, she didn't particularly want to be seen with this petite salope at the restaurants she preferred to frequent.

"Very well," Felicienne agreed with a haughty sigh. "This is being... accpetable." But her lofty coolness was spoiled by a wet cough, her nose scrunching up in distaste. "Come, let us be getting these unfortunate shenanigans settled, yes?"

"Yes," Lena agreed in snarky imitation of the other woman's accent, snickering at her narrow-eyed glare as she paced at the her side, keeping her own hand on the bag as well.

They stepped inside the diner - nearly empty this early in the morning - and found a booth-seat, both of them instinctively gravitating to one near the rear exit. They sat down on opposite sides of the booth, the silk-covered Jade Dragon thumping down solidly between them. Slowly, reluctantly, they pulled their hands away, bodies poised and tensed in case of treachery. After a moment, when it appeared the truce would hold, they relaxed, sharing a tight smile.

A male waiter named Mitch came to take their order, his smile wilting a bit when it seemed the two attractive women were more interested in each other. They only spared him a look when they made their orders, and the predation in them made him swallow and forget about flirting for a tip. Damn dykes, they shouldn't be allowed to be that hot, unless they like dick on the side.

"Hi, I'm Mitch, and I'll be serving you today," he said with forced cheer. "What can I get you fine ladies?"

Felicienne shot him a bland look, then ran a finger down the laminated menu. "I will be wanting the thick-cut ham & eggs, with a side of bacon and a side of sausage, s'il vous plaît," she answered, adding with a dismissive wave, "Oh, and whatever you are having that is passing for the café."

Under the aloof regard from those large, piercing green eyes, Mitch refrained from making a comment about how much the sleek-looking woman was ordering and turned to her companion. "And you, miss?"

"The all-you-can-eat pancakes with eggs over-easy, and keep the coffee comin', toots," Lena told Mitch.

The two women women sat in silence, seizing each other up until the coffee arrived. Felicienne took a sip, huffing with disgruntlement at the taste, then added three milks and three sugars to her cup of coffee to make it somewhat somewhat palatable. At least the searing warmth helped sooth her phlegmy throat.



"How are we deciding who is having the greater need for it?" Felicienne smirked. "Each taking a half, that is not seeming to be a feasible resolution, yes?"

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"Not really," Lena said, twirling her fingers through her blonde hair. The gesture emphasized her youth and innocent appearance - not that Felicienne was falling for it. The girl was a mutant; she could be two or a hundred and two. There was no way to know.

"Here's my deal," Lena said after a moment, deciding to opt for honesty. Honor among thieves might even work. She doubted it, but it depended on the thieves in question. "My employers need me to have this back to Hong Kong in... twenty-six hours. We have a buyer who'll pay handsomely if we have there by the deadline."

She took a sip of coffee and asked, "So what's your story? Why do you need it?"

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Felicienne devoured her steak with quick, delicate bites, interspersed with bacon and sausage. Despite hardly being impressed with the standard fair, she ate heartily, her appetite unimpeded by the rising bout of Virus induced symptoms. The coffee, however, just wouldn't do and she set aside on the end of the table to be ignored.

At the mention of employers and buyers, Felicienne sighed, rolling her eyes with mild condescension. But the blonde seemed straightforward enough, at least, in this regard. "Ah, that is seeming entirely too much like the work for my preferences. For myself, I am seeing it and thinking, 'This, it would be looking merveilleux next to a certain Han Dynasty Chimera, no?'"

Felicienne contemplatively munched on the rest of her bacon, licking her fingers clean with her tongue, then wiping her hands with the napkin. Done to her satisfaction, her arched a graciously relenting brow at her serendipitous companion and nodded at the sack sitting between them.

"I may be willing to relent on my claim... provided I am having something to adequately replace it, yes?"

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Lena bit back a reply of annoyance – why should she have to compensate that tit for anything? Lena had touched the damned thing first and last – it was hers! Still, even someone as greedy and sociopathic as Lena understood that getting what she wanted sometimes meant playing along with others. “Well, I left my ivory dragon in my other suit, but I’m sure we can find something. And if we hunt it down together, I’m sure it will give us no problem.

“So, what can I call ya?” Lena asked. “Black Cat, Catwoman, Jane?”

“Felicienne is fine,” the brunette told her. “You?”

“Lena’s the name,” Lena told her, dropping some more honey in her terrible coffee. The blonde paused, staring at her opponent’s empty plate. “On a side note, you must have terrible cat-farts.”

Green eyes stared at her in outraged shock. “Pardon?!

“What did you cut one here?” Lena asked, then cracked up. “Seriously, animals that eat a lot of meat have horrendous farts. I was merely commenting on that.”

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Those green eyes narrowed dangerously and it occurred to Lena, she had never seen them blink. "That is maybe being true of many animals, but les chats, they are being obligate carnivores. Their metabolisms, it is adapted to processing meat, requires it, in fact. The 'cat-farts'," Felicate said, shuddering at the term, her tongue curdling, "those are happening because people, they are not providing them with a proper diet. Poor quality food with too much of the carbohydrates and the plant-proteins, which they have trouble processing. Les chats, they are needing meat-protein."

Lena rolled her eyes in boredom then smirked when Felicienne sniffed in annoyance. Apparently cat-farts was a touchy subject. One that Felicienne had no intention of returning too.

"As for your proposal, I am seeing much merit in it. One cannot be denying your... intrusive presence." Felicienne looked to the side, musingly tapping her lips, though Lena had the feeling the catty woman was well aware of her every movement. "It is not value I am interested, at least, not for the profit it is bringing me. It is the character of the object that catches my eye." Her lips spread in a slow smirk. "And if I am being honest, perhaps how much it is value by another."

Turning back to Lena, she nodded decisively. "The manager of the Luxor, he is having a statue of Bastet in his private office, from the Egyptian Late Period. It is being quite similar to the Gayer-Anderson Cat, a very choice piece. Further, the manager, he is being the very big asshole. If you are aiding me in procuring it, the Jade Dragon, it is being all yours - no word of this will pass my lips, my word."

Felicienne glanced at the bag sitting between them, drawing Lena's eyes to it. "As for this, what are we to do with it in the mean time? Not that I am not trusting you of course, Lena. But I am not trusting you. I would... prefer it is not in your possession before I am having the Egyptian Bastet in mine. I am sure you are understanding, no?"

Felicienne sat there, poised and still, a small grin gracing her lips, her brow arched as she awaited Lena's response. Her breath was soft and steady, almost audible. Was she purring?

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"Well, that's fine with me, assuming I can make my plane in nine hours," Lena said, shrugging. Stealing something else was merely entertaining, not an inconvenience. However, dealing with this woman was not so convenient. It was tempting to just throw down over the damned statue, but there was no guarantee Lena would win. Nor was there a guarantee she could evade the cops.

"I have a safe at my hotel; I'll tell management that only I'm allowed to retrieve my item and you'll be given the combination so that we both have to be there. We can put it there right now.

"Let's get eight hours of rest and meet at the Luxor. Hopefully by then the virus is done with us and we'll be at full strength for this," Lena said. "How does that sound, wo jian mao?"

Click to reveal..
wo jian mao - my little cat
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Felicienne mulled over Lena's proposal. Trusting her too far would be foolish of course, but she was in no mood to acquire a replacement for the Jade Dragon at the moment either. Some time to recuperate from the ravages of the Virus would be most welcome.

"D'accord, ma belle fantôme," Felicienne said in a low purr, giving Lena a gracious nod, "that is acceptable. We are in agreement."

From the little she had seen, the blonde could only affect full insubstantiality, from what she had observed at the Bellagio. Hopefully, she wouldn't have to worry about her taking off with the item. And if that turned out to be the case, it would be a lesson learned and annoyance earned.

"Shall we?" Felicienne asked, nodding towards the door and tossing several bills on the table, enough to pay for the simple meal twice over.

"Then let's roll, girlfriend," Lena said, linking arms with the taller woman, both of them keeping an hand on the bag hiding a precious piece of Chinese art history. Felicienne stiffened for a moment at the presumptuous and familiar contact, but swiftly relaxed. Besides, other than the Jade Dragon, she was carrying very little of value.

Lena climbed on her motorcycle, offering Felicienne the 'bitch' seat with a smirk then drove them to her hotel room. Felicienne raised a brow in mild surprise. It wasn't ostentatious, but it was very fine indeed. Talking to the manager, their arrangement for the safe and its combination was easily accomplished with no raised eyebrows, other than for simply the sight of the two beautiful women. This was Vegas after all, odd and eccentric deals were almost common place.

Done, Felicienne bid her unwilling accomplice adieu then took the complimentary shuttle service to the Encore, traversing from there to the adjoining Wynn Resort and thence to her room. A nice, long soak in her sumptuous hot-tub, followed by an in-room massage from a very skilled masseuse had her feeling much better, purring drowsily on the massage table. When she finally decided to stir, it was closing in on the time to go.

Dressed in a new set of high-class athletic clothing that could almost double for business-casual - and cost more than many a business suit - Felicienne stopped off at Tableau for a light lunch of delectable seafood. The oysters were very choice, indeed. Then she took a quick, and discreet jaunt, to her hidden den to pick up the info she had on the security and other details needed to nab the Bastet and stored them on a disposable phone, before heading to the Luxor.

Felicienne stepped onto the casino floor several minutes past the scheduled time, nostrils flaring as she tried to discern Lena's scent among sweat, smoke, and desperation hanging in the the air.

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Lena collapsed into bed as soon as she got up to her room. She was so tired and worn out by the virus that sleep, normally something that affected other people, rolled her under immediately. The pretty young blonde slept through the worst of the fever and woke up after four hours to find it had broken. For a long moment, she lay on the bed, burrowed under her blankets. Finally, she stretched and rolled out of bed, grumbling to herself.

A quick shower put her in a better mood; her breakfast improved that more. She went for a swim and got another shower, then started to prepare. It took time to hide the tools of her trade on her person, even with her flexibility and years of experience. By the time she left her room, no one could tell what she was carrying – though many wouldn’t know what her tools were anyway.

The blonde woman strutted into the Luxor, her eyes scanning the crowd for the French pussy. It hadn’t been hard to catch all the kitty references that Felicienne had been tossing at her and so Lena enjoyed making the cat jokes. It gave her something to do when she wasn’t busy. Stopping at the door, Lena looked around the room, her eyes scanning the room. Finally, she started roving the floor, looking for the sleek raven-haired form.

They spotted each other at the same time, walking forward, Felicienne with a feline swagger and Lena with an arrogant strut. The two circled one another, eyes running up and down their bodies. Anyone else would have read it as sexual; it was merely competitive. “Ready for this?” Felicienne purred as they mutually stopped.

“Born ready. What’s the plan?” Lena asked, grinning eagerly.

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"The plan, it is needing two people," Felicienne replied with a slow grin, her own eyes alight with thrill-seeking pleasure. She tossed Lena a prepaid cellphone with just enough computing power to handle the specs she had loaded on it and pulled out a similar one as they mutually moved off into the din of the slot-machines. "One of us, she is needing to go up, and the other, she is needing to go down."

Felix Rapapport, the President and Chief Operations Officer had his office at the top of the Luxor Resort, just below the powerful searchlight capping it. Though there were no cameras inside his office, all the approaches were well covered, it had a dedicated elevator servicing it, and the extensive security measures were routed through a variety of access points, rendering it nearly impossible of deactivating them all without them being noticed.

But there was one way of shutting them all down - at least for a limited amount of time. The main security hub located in the depths of the Luxor. The lower levels were amazingly extensive, forming an inverted, irregular-shaped pyramid that almost matched the pyramid rising about it. The security hub had an override for Felix's offices security - and any other aspect of the Luxor's security save the vaults.

However, the override switch had to be held in position, it couldn't just be flipped and forgotten. Worst, after a short time, the override sent out an alert that is was being used, as well as when the override was flipped back to rest. That could be disabled from a switch located in a safe located in the office. Both switches had to be pressed nearly simultaneously to reset the system.

With the security system deactivated, all they would have to worry about is the elaborate locking mechanism on the Bastet's display case. Which was relatively easy - Felix was an arrogant bastard and liked to fondle his rare - and valuable - antiquities. Once breaching the perimeter of his sanctum sanctorum, Felix indulged himself with the illusion of not needing the security.

Reviewing the specs and their own capabilities, it was decided Felicienne would go up and Lena would head down. Felicienne was more capable at eluding any cameras and had more expertise overcoming locks and safes. Besides, she was the one who wanted the Bastet. Lena would have an easier time navigating the lower levels, able to pass through walls and empty/unused space like a ghost, and had fewer cameras to contend with.

Felicienne would get up to Felix's office from the outside, and wait for Lena to contact her that the override was flipped. Feli would then get inside and crack the safe and hit the Alert-Kill switch. After retrieving the Bastet, she would contact Lena, the would reset the system, then it was up to each of them to make their getaway.

They would meet at Lena's hotel room, retrieve the Jade Dragon, hopefully decide not to betray the other, and settle their accounts.

"Prêt?" Felicienne asked, slipping the phone into the close-fitting sachel slung over her shoulder and sitting tight to her side. She arched her back and rolled her shoulders with eerie, limber grace, shooting Lena a challenging grin. "Then let us be doing this thing."

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“You got it,” Lena said, her lips quirking into a grin. The two women broke off, each heading their own direction. For Lena, it was across the casino, then work her way downstairs and into the basement. It was the least glamorous part of the job but it was also Ms. Pepe’s job so she got to claim the merchandise. Lena wondered if she planned to double-cross her, but at this point, neither could get the Jade Dragon. She might do it out of spite. If she did, she’d learn that Lena had a lot more spite to throw back at her.

Down she went on the elevator, drawing the cloak of invisibility around her. By the time the doors pinged open, she was invisible to normal sight. A shiver ran through her as she staggered to a stop, leaning against the wall. “Fuck,” she whispered as the virus clamped down on her, hard. It took time, too much time, for her to pull it together. Finally, she straightened and staggered onward.

Lena followed the map as Felicienne had laid out. She was already struggling under the effects of the virus so she was hoping that she wouldn’t have to go insubstantial. That also hit her like a sledge hammer, so she was going to avoid it as much as possible. She could feel a shakiness in her legs that told her that she was pushing things – badly.

But Fate wasn’t going to be kind, and Lena found herself cursing as she found the security room was locked tight. She peered in the window, her pretty face settling into a scowl as she saw the two men in the room. Two. Blagh. Fuckin’ virus. Pressing herself against the wall, she considered her options before deciding on a course of action. It wasn’t a wise course, but she’d done dumber.

Lena drew a deep breath and let her body sink into the wall. The pressure of the air became the pressure of the wall, thick and cloying. It would have been easy to panic, but she remained calm and stepped through, looking around the room. Once she’d confirmed that it was two men, she walked over and stood behind them. Silently, she drew her knife and prepared herself.

Her first strike was with her hand; the blonde sapped one guard in the back of the head with the knife handle. His face slammed forward, bouncing off the console and leaving a bloody smear. It wasn’t that hard to kill, and Lena had been taught how to do it easily enough. But even she knew it was really bad policy to just leave bodies lying around. The second guard scrambled to his feet as his companion appeared to have a fit and break his face on the security station. As he leaned over his co-worker, Lena simply sapped him with the handle.

She paused only long enough to make sure that they were both extremely unconscious. Then Lena sat down at the controls and waited for Felicienne to be in place.

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Felicienne watched Lena strut away as she ordered a glass of red wine. Though she was loathed to admit, some of the vintages coming from California were quite choice. She took her time savoring its fine bouquet. After all, while she could have slinked her way up the Luxor, she had another option open to her, a veritable expressway to the top.

With her drink done, Felicienne stalked of the casino floor with a predatory swagger, heading outside into the broiling, dry heat. Fortunately, she had a high tolerance for heat, lips parted for her subtle panting. Though eyes followed the graceful, curvy woman, Felicienne lost them, weaving through the palm trees lining the base of the black glass-sheathed pyramid.

Reaching one of the corners of the Luxor, she wrapped herself in a feline's preternatural stealth, claws extending slightly, and started the sloping side of the pyramid. Though her pace was limited by climbing and remaining unseen and unheard, Felicienne still progressed with remarkable speed, sharp, strong claws and sharp toed shoes finding minute seems and nubs, wiry strength easily supporting her slender, firm figure.

She smirked with exhiliration and the views she caught passing beneath her behind the tinted glass. It was skill and natural skill rather than pure mutant capabilities she was using and the virus felt far away, the sun warm and welcome on her back. Soon, she reached the terrace surrounding Felix's office near the top.

Keen eyes and ears poised, Felicienne made sure the office was empty, then slipped over the side of the balcony, crouching low to hide her silhouette from below. Her ninja-like invisibility was broken by sudden movements or blatant actions, and both might be necessary.

She reaching into her satchel, she pulled out the disposable phone and her thief tools, studying the lock, picturing the steps required to by-pass it once the security systems were done, shaving every bit of time she could. She might have been a solitary woman at heart, but when on a job, you didn't turn on your partner... unless she turned on you first.

Her preparations made, Felicienne texted her accomplice. In position. The reply was swift. Flipped. Go.

Felicienne went, tiny drill whirring softly, providing access for her picks to the interior lock. In an instant, she was through, using a piece of thick wire to prevent the sliding door from fully closing. Then she was bounding across the obscenely large office in long strides, leaping over the equally ostentatious ebony desk and pulling the pompous portrait from the wall, revealing the safe. Felicienne snorted in contempt at the sight of the old school single-dial combination lock. He really is depending on his perimeter security, no?

Slipping on a pair of latex gloves and using a customized laser doppler vibrometer, Felicienne made it through the safe with little difficulty, though needing a fifth and sixth number had stretched her time window perilously thin. She slapped the button located on the back wall of the safe and contacted Lena again. Alert aborted. Retrieving item.

Her gold-flecked-green eyes brightened as she let her gaze fall on the ancient, gilded-ebony statue of Bastet. She padded across the thick-pile, Persian rug, her claw-like nails tapping at the bullet-proof glass of the dedicated display case. Now, she just needed to figure out how to open it - the mechanism would be well concealed, but not unduly difficult to use, not for someone arrogant enough to handle such an antiquity on a whim.

Aha! Two pieces of the elaborate steelwork composing the display integrated into the wall, revealing a pair of keyholes. Careful probing indicated they would have to be opened at the same time, one clock-wise, the other counter-clock-wise. Felcienne's nostrils flared in irritation, and if she sweated nervously, she'd be sweating now. A key-lock, in itself, wasn't terribly difficult to overcome. Bypassing two of them, at the same time, using picks and hooks, was something else.

Ears alert for an expected guest, Felicienne carefully got her picks in place, tumblers on the cusp of turning. She'd get one chance at this, if it messed up, the mechanism would irrevocably freeze in position. She took a deep, steadying breath, then twisted.

With a whispered snickt! the polished steel and glass fronting popped open a sliver. Heart hammering with excitement, reached in and plucked the Bastet from its base, a purring chirp escaping her lips in victory. It is mine! Mine!

Pulling out another item from her satchel, a precisely weighted sack of lead dust, prepared especially for this occasion, an occasion she hadn't expected to come, but still hoped for, Felicienne placed it on the base. Then she closed the fronting, removed her picks and replaced the steelwork covering the keyholes. She had just hung portrait back on the wall, about to contact Lena for the system reset when she heard a sound at the door.

Felicienne just barely had time to hide in a shadowy corner when an harassed-looking executive assistant came in, tossing a file onto the desk and leaving. She didn't raise her eyes or look around at all, and simply left, already muttering into a cellphone.

The feline thief released the breath she was holding, almost lapsing into giggles. That was close, and she did always prefer to avoid any unnecessary violence, when possible. She skipped back to the desk, slipped the file aside, and extended a claw, defacing it the taunt: Bastet thanks you.

Then she levered up the painting hooked on the wall, glanced at the button in the safe, placing a hand poised to push it and called Lena. "Done," there was unmistakable gratification in her husky voice. "Ready to reset and run."

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"Ready here as well, wo jian mao," Lena replied, her voice thick with snot and blood. She heard Felicienne's pause and rasped, "Don't worry about me, Miss Kitty Fru-Fru, just hit the button on three. One... two... three!" Both women hit their buttons together - or at least close enough together. The system was a little forgiving.

"Annnnddd... we're good," Lena sighed, sagging slightly. "Let's get the hell out of here. I'll meet you at the hotel."

"Wei," Felicienne replied. "We will meet there." Smiling, she began her descent from the top.

Lena had a bit more work to get out. She didn't think she could just ease her way back through the walls. It would probably worsen the virus and Lena was sick enough as it was. She had to be on a plane in a few hours; she didn't have time to be ill. "Fuck," she growled as she headed for the door, pausing only to check the camera in the hallway to be sure it was clear.

Still retaining her invisibility, Lena slunk out of the basement. Her only real obstacle was the elevator, where three guards were just hanging out, shooting the shit. Scowling, Lena sank against the wall and waited for them to either use the lift or stop scratching their balls and talking about how hot the chick on American Idol was.

After twenty minutes, one used the elevator to go up to the main floor; Lena stowed away with him. She adroitly slipped in and around him, avoiding him easily. Still pissed and feeling like hell, she got her bike and went to meet Felicienne.

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Though she heard the phlegm and strain in the tiny blonde's voice, Felicienne silently purred in contentment at she padded to the balcony door. She removed the piece of wire that had prevented the door from closing fully - and would have set-off the reset security system - then slid the door closed behind her as she took a deep breath of the Vegas air and stroked the firm bulge of the Bastet statue. The air smelled of city as any city did, overlaid with sand and heat from the surrounding desert. And it smelled of victory.

It is being long since I am pulling a job with a partner. I did not think I missed it, but there is something to having another to share the thrill with. Just... not all the time.

She exhaled, gripped the railing, and with a smooth, flowing motion and an inhuman surge from her muscular legs, Felicienne launched herself through the air, a barely seen blur. With preternatural silence, she landed on the roof of the Mandalay parking complex. A valet parking a Jaguar XJ stared at the woman who appeared from seemingly nowhere and who smirked and blew him a kiss before jumping off the top of the parking complex.

In no particular rush now, Felicienne walked the distance to Lena's hotel, her feline swagger deceptively brisk. She strutted into the hotel, rode up the elevator, rapping rhythmically on the door. A wan-looking Lena answered the door.

"Tut-tut, ma chère, you are having a partner now, yes? You are not needing to run yourself so ragged." Felicienne glided around the scowling woman with a grin and reached the safe, punching in the code using her nails. She pulled out the sack concealing the Jade Dragon, letting it dangle from a pair of fingers. "This, I am believing is yours, no?" Her slipped the satchel with the Bastet from her shoulder to dangle from her other hand. "And this, this is being mine."

Green eyes lazily ran up and down Lena's slender figure, grin widening. "Perhaps, we are doing this again, yes?"

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Lena took the sack with the Jade Dragon and checked it, confirming that the form within was the actual statue. Lena looked up at the woman for a long moment, not sure what to think of her or this mess. Oh, what the hell, you're starting to think now? "Sure, what the fuck?" she said, feeling a grin cross her face. "I usually work alone, but this daring duo shit was fun."

Boldly, she extended her hand. "It was fun, Filly. We should do it again."

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Felicienne eyed the shorter blonde, a tilt to her head suggesting a hint of distaste at touching the virus-stricken thief. After a moment, her slow grin returned as she ran her fingers through her silky black hair then took Lena's hand in a surprisingly strong grip.

"Felicienne," the feline femme corrected primly, though something like a mix between a purr and a chortle rumbled in her throat. "And yes, today, it is turning out to be très amusante. I look for to doing this again, mon fantôme étrangers. Next time, we are meeting at the spa or perhaps a fine restaurant, no?"

Felicienne slinked by Lena, cupping her check in passing. "You are looking quite pale, ma petite. Perhaps, you should be taking a beauty sleep, before you are flying off, playing deliver girl."

Before Lena could slap her hand away, Felicienne darted out of the room, a smokey chuckle trailing after her. In fine spirits, Felicienne swaggered into the lobby and got the concierge to hire her a car to drive her to a random location. From there, she'd sneak off to add the lovely Bastet to her gallery. Ce soir, it is time to celebrate.

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Lena snarled at her back, then grinned. "Heh, she's fun." Still smiling, she grabbed her bags and headed out. She needed to check out and get her flight. Humming to herself, she walked out her door, thumbing open her phone. "Hi, yes, Donovan? Yes, darling, I'm peaches. You?" She giggled. "Oh, you flirt. Say, I'm calling because I need a favor, like you did for me with Yu." She laughed at the response she got back. "No, not Barebacking-Anal-Delight-dot-com. Not this time. Got something for a furry? Something with cats? Felines-in-Heat-dot-com? Purr-fect. Yeah, charge it to this number." She gave him Felicienne's number and hung up with a giggle.

Yeah, she knew that Filly would soon figure out it was a gift from Lena. The blonde smiled as she got on the transport provided by the hotel. She looked forward to whatever Filly did in response - it promised to be pure fun.

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