• [P]rologue

    Oct 31, 2006 9:22 pm

    Red, blue, and white lights flashed, accompanied by screeching sirens and angry shouts. Dirt crunched underfoot as Kevin across the Arizona desert. It would have been a quiet, moonlit night; If not for the police, two young criminals, and a desperate chase across the dry plain. Angelic blonde hair like his could be easily seen in a scene like this, and Kevin knew it. But that didn’t stop him desperately running for his life. Ringing in his ears were the voices of dozens of news anchors reporting Cali Citi and Angelo’s latest heist. Hundreds of reports buzzing through his head. News Specials, articles, even books on him and his partner, but they didn’t block out the familiar voice screaming his name. He stopped abruptly and turned to face the very people he was running from. He saw her. The petite, brown haired girl who had started it all; struggling against restraint by a large police officer.
    If I get caught, don’t stop for me. ‘Cause you can bet I’d leave your sorry behind in the dust.
    That was what she had always told him.
    The officer who seemed to be in charge yelled something Kevin was too out of it to make out, and his silhouette took an alarming stance. Loud, ear throbbing noises filled the dry desert air. They seemed to sound off in an extremely slow sequence, giving Kevin just enough time to count them. One...Two...Three...Four...Five...Six...Six.
    Six points of agony bloomed over his body, blocking out most thought and sense. But something sliced through his fog of pain. A scream. Citi’s scream.

    It’ll snow in the desert the day they catch us!


    [P]art One: The [R]at [R]ace

    Dec 29, 2003 10:31 am Seattle, Washington

    “Out ya go!” Shouted a harsh male voice, heavily weighted by a German accent. Kevin’s face met the cold, dirty Seattle pavement as he flew out the street entrance to Seattle’s Pike Market. Vaguely, he could hear the German man’s mumbling...But something else was holding his attention. It was the clear sound of a young girl laughing. At him from the sound of it.
    Kev pushed himself off the ground to get a look at who ever was so entertained by his face to concrete landing, and found himself face to face with a widely grinning girl. She looked too little to be his age, but then, she could have been small for her age...
    “FAIL!” She shouted in his face, before straightening up and fighting the urge to laugh more. “Pathetic! Honestly!”
    “Pathetic?” He had to wonder what she meant, he’d only been caught once that day, after all.
    “Yes, Pathetic. If it had been me, that guy would still be whistling Dixie and playing Tetris.” She smiled at him. It almost didn’t fit with the tone of her last comment. “I’ve been watching you, though, and you’ve got potential. Not much, but there is some there.”
    “Potential for what?” Kev asked blankly. It wasn’t something he heard often.
    Instead of actually answering him, she turned on her heel and quickly said
    “Follow me, and you’ll find out!”
    And she bolted. Confused, but more curious and intrigued than anything, Kev took off after her. And immediately, he was having second thoughts. Chasing a strange girl down a busy hill didn’t seem like the smartest thing to do, but then, when had he ever been known for his brains? Suddenly, he saw her turn a corner into a narrow alley and trump up a clunky set of fire stairs, headed straight for the roof of the tall, brick building. Kevin pushed after her, not pausing to sooth the sharp pains in his sides and chest.
    He clumsily clambered onto the rain soaked roof, looking ahead to see the strange girl snatch something flexible from a pile of like objects and slide down a clothes line to a lower building.

    Kevin turned to the pile of flexible objects, finding, as he grabbed one, that they seemed to be strips of some wobbly metal wrapped in worn leather-like fabric. He scrambled to the building’s edge, swinging the strip over the clothes line. It looked as if it hadn’t had any clothes on it for a long time. Kev was praying to who ever you please that it held his weight as he stepped over the edge and flew to the lower building. Unsurprisingly, he managed to land on his face as he skidded to a stop at the girl’s feet.
    “Come on now, get up. We’re almost there.” She urged as Kev struggled to his feet. He could really feel those stabs in his sides now. And he probably had scrapes on his face. His legs where the worst, though. They felt like jelly from his trample up those stairs. No wonder he couldn’t land on his feet. But he managed to get up in time to follow her through a door with a faded red paint job, and down into a deep, dark room of the abandoned building. No sooner had their feet touched solid concrete, than someone knocked him onto his back, and a weight settled on his chest.
    “Stamina, pass. Determination, pass. Awareness, FAIL.” The strange girl listed with a sigh and a shake of her head. “We’ll have to work on that.”

    Bright, industrial lamps buzzed to life, flooding the gray concrete room with light. Also illuminated was the widely grinning little boy who had tackled him. Not only him, but at least a dozen other children as well, some Kev’s age, some younger.
    “Who’d you bring, Citi?” Asked the largest boy, moving closer to get a good look at Kevin. He was on of only four boys in the room, excluding Kevin.
    “Wait, Citi? As in Cali Citi?” Kev asked abruptly, sitting bolt upright as the quietly little boy rolled off his chest with muted laughter.
    Cali Citi was a thief of many rumors. He’d heard that Cali Citi was a woman in her twenties. But then, he’d also heard that Cali Citi was a network of multiple people, that she was an alien, a government experiment gone wrong, a lie created by the media, and his favorite, that she was actually man.
    “Yes, that’s me.” She said rather proudly, she seemed to have read his mind. “You can’t believe everything you hear.”
    “So what’s your real name?” Kev asked before he could stop himself. He wanted to know what was really going on with Cali Citi. How could he not take this golden opportunity?
    “I’ll tell you mine if you’ll tell us yours.”
    “Well...” It seemed like a fair trade, but he was feeling subconscious of how ordinary his name was compared to Cali Citi. “I’m Kevin.”
    “Well, I’m Citlalmina.” She smiled an innocent, angelic little girl smile and held a hand out to him. “Welcome to the Rat Race.”
    “Rat Race?” Kev didn’t move to shake her hand. He wanted to know what was going on. But before he had a chance to voice this, Citi spoke up again, as if she had read his mind again.
    “I’m planning one, big, crazy heist. You see, every three years, there is a gathering in one of Arizona’s many deserts. A gathering of the countries wealthiest. Even Bill Gates can’t get away with not going.” She lowered her voice, as if sharing a secret. “ And in three years time, I’ll be attending this gathering. Along with a partner, of course. Security is bound to be tight around their little festival.”
    “So, all these kids are here trying to prove themselves worthy for...” He paused, thinking about how to describe it, “...The mugger’s Mother Load?”
    “Someone strong, and fast, and able to think on their feet!” Piqued up one of the smaller girls. “And even for those who aren’t chosen, we’ll still have gained all this experience. How many can say they’ve worked with Cali Citi?”
    “None, I’d hope.” Citi snapped, “I’d not like it if word of this got out.”
    Kevin could understand their enthusiasm. Cali Citi was a nationally wanted thief. She had pulled off things no full sized criminal had ever even attempted. And street urchins like him and these other children all secretly dreamed of working with someone like her.
    “You’ve come a little late, though.” Citi murmured absently, running her fingers through a blonde section of her hair. “So, what’s your last name?”
    Kev was surprised by the sudden, off-beat question
    “Engle.” He answered blankly, wondering what this was all about.
    “That’s German, right? Or is it Saxon?” She asked, still looking thoughtful.
    The kids scattered around the room seemed just as surprised by the questions as he was.
    “I dunno, but I know it means Angel.” He answered, looking more at the curious faces behind her, than her.
    “Angel...?” She abruptly turned and walked away from him and the rest of the children, the small crowd parting to let her through. Without a single backwards glance, she muttered “Carry on.” Before disappearing down another flight of steps.
    Kevin was about to inquire as to where she was headed, but his mouth snapped shut when he felt a big hand grab his shoulder. He turned quickly, brushing off the strong hand. Now he was face to face with a boy no taller than he, who had his dark brown hair cut short, and looked strong enough to throw Kevin across the room.
    “Welcome.” His voice sounded sincere, even if he was kind of scary looking. “I’m James.”
    “He’s Citi’s other first choice.” A ferrety little girl added, peering out at Kevin from behind the hulking boy.
    “Other?” Kev inquired, looking back and forth between the two, as if expecting an explanation was going to wrestle it’s way free form one of their mouths and start dancing.
    “Cali only questions kids like that if she is seriously considering them.” James supplied, Kev was a little disappointed that this wasn’t a dancing explanation. But it worked just fine. “It seems where two sides of the same coin.”
    Kev couldn’t help but agree with this. While James looked strong, and threatening, he had already proven himself to be fast, agile, and flexible.
    “Well. We’ll see.” Kev smiled slightly. He really hadn’t expected to be on par with any one around here. He was no Cali Citi. But then again, he wasn’t a Scipio either.

    `~ --- ~`

    [P]art Two: [W]e’re Off!

    Jan 5 2004 12:46 pm Seattle, Washington

    The week had dragged by, with the first few days full of running errands for Citi. And it wasn’t a one person thing. Every kid in the group was scuttling around the city, doing this, and that. And the days after that, where all training. If you could call it that. Running around, finding heavy things to carry as they sprinted along a preset course, which changed for everyday of the week. And feeding the animals in their mini menagerie was a full time thieving job as well. They had a couple of kittens, three bunnies, a two pigeons, and a dove. Not to mention their three weirdest pets. A sea horse named Pedro and two Jellyfish that went by Grape and Raspberry, all pilfered from the Seattle aquarium. Before then, Kevin hadn’t even known it was possible to steal fish from an aquarium. Showed how much he knew.

    Kevin could see a crowd of children forming as he scampered up the steps carrying a few newspaper bundles. They had gathered around the Zip line entrance to their building, but none seemed to be going over. Now that he thought of it, he had heard sirens on the way back. Maybe there was a police man down there. That would explain their reluctance to cross. And why they weren’t talking at all.
    Curious as he was, kev shoved his way through the crowd, to see that the zip line had disappeared. No, it was still there. But it had snapped. He could tell by the limp, frayed ends that hung pitifully from their perches. And below that, was a whole knot of cops, and an ambulance. Quickly, Kevin turned to take a head count. Someone had obviously fallen, and he wanted to know who. The only two missing where Citlalmina, and James. And Citi was so small for her age, that she could have ridden a thread to the other side and not so much as frizzle it. He knew it had to have been James. That was it. The clothes line had snapped under James’s weight, and he fell eight stories to the hard concrete below.

    The world on the roof top stood still, and silent. Even after the movement in the alley eight floors down had stopped. Kevin hadn’t even noticed night had fallen until a sudden movement brought him back to earth. Citlalmina had appeared from a near by roof, pulling Batman to the front of Kev’s mind. She was completely silent as she approached the group, who stiffly turned to face her.
    “Move to the other building until you can get the line back up.” She ordered, causing a bit of nervous shifting among the others. But what she said next hit Kev like a ton of cotton candy bricks. “Kevin, lets go.”


    [P]art Three: [A]ngelo! [A]ngelo!

    September 4, 2005 5:58 pm Houston, Texas

    The sun was setting in Houston. Much earlier than Kevin and Citlalmina where used to, of course, having just come down from California.
    Citi lazily followed Kevin through the winding streets of a large Texan neighborhood.
    “This looks like a good place to stay for the night.” Kev murmured, motioning to an abandoned house with a bushy, unkempt yard. There where a few large, beautiful oak trees, though. They might just have been the place’s saving grace.
    She turned to look at Kev, to give him her approval, but she couldn’t find words. He had the weirdest smile on his face, one of those silly ear to ear grins you’d see on the face of a six year old who had caught some tadpoles. But his expression had dropped to a more concerned one as a cool breeze swept past them. The gentle wind loosed leaves from the oaks in every flaming color one could imagine, and blew Kevin’s fair-as-an-Angel hair over his face. It was no wonder they where now Cali Citi and Angelo.
    Citi could remember their first big break in. It had been the home of some wealthy Italian man. The old geezer had woken up and caught a glimpse of them as they escaped. And the next morning, he was all over the News, shouting
    “Angelo, Angelo! I’ve been robbed by an Angel! Praise to Heaven above!”
    This wasn’t rare for them, of course. Kev’s hair was almost white blonde, and so easy to spot at night, that they where almost always seen. And after that first ‘Angel Sighting’ as the press called it, they had been so cracked up by the crazy speculation, that they’d invested in a fairly realistic pair of soft, white, costume Angel wings. Since then, Kevin had worn them to every robbery. They got a kick out of the media every morning after as a result.

    “Well, I’ll take that as a yes.” He muttered, skittering his way over the short wooden fence. Even if Kevin could easily clear it, Citi was still too short, so he always went in first and opened the gate for her. “And we’ll need to go shopping for supplies while we’re here. Do you know what I did with the wig?”


    [P]art four: To [k]ill an [A]ngel

    Oct 31, 2006 9:19 pm Somewhere in the desert

    “Relocated, maybe?” Kevin wondered aloud as he and Citlalmina stood in the darkness of an empty desert.
    “Yeah, they probably wised up and moved the whole thing somewhere else.” Citi muttered bitterly, going stock still to listen to the sound of distant sirens. “And they put a watch on the place!”
    For a long moment, the two thieves stood there, a gentle breeze rustling the snow white feathers of Kev’s fake wings.
    “We should get—“ Before Citi had a chance to finish her sentence, the bright flashing lights and screeches of sirens surrounded the two. Voices hissed over Cruiser loud speakers, but Kevin and Citlalmina where too busy to hear them.
    “RUN!” Citi snapped at Kevin, who had bolted after her as soon as the word was said.
    “It’ll snow in the desert the day they get us!” He shouted to her, determined.
    His words would have made Citi smile, had she not fallen over a large, sand stone, and tumbled to the desert’s dry, cracked ground. Before she could even think to get up, she was being jolted upright and cuffed by a large officer that smelled an awful lot like coffee.
    “Run Kevin!” She cried, sounding slightly hysterical. At least he’ll get away. One of us has to stay free!
    But to her horror, he stopped and turned to see what was happening.
    The loud, horrifying sounds of bullets being fired caused Citi to snap her head to the side. The cop nearest them had fired too many rounds for her to count in such a short time. It was almost as if they’d rehearsed this.
    Citlalmina screamed until her lungs seemed to be screaming back at her as they approached the still form.
    Red flowed over the cursed spot, staining the once pure white feathers of Kevin’s wings. The blood soaked feathers had come loose during the ordeal, and had scattered about the small area, and the moonlight outlining the whole scene in it’s pale glow, made it seem more like the sight of a real fallen angel, than police brutality. Yet it was almost disturbingly beautiful. The last faint flutter of ice blue eyes seemed to draw attention away from the once angelically fair hair.
    Once Citi’s sobs had settled enough for her to be able to talk, she looked up to stare directly into the faces of the two officers who where responsible.
    “You kill an Angel, you go to hell.”