Chapter Nineteen | Highway Robbery

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Gideon rode down to the main floor in the proper elevator intended for customers. She could not find a home for her hands that kept them from flying everywhere in a nervous panic. The faux-leather pants were monstrous on multiple levels, not the least of which being they contained no pockets.

"Gideon." Asimov's cool tones interrupted her rampaging thoughts.


Asimov reached down with his non-mechanical hand and took her small furry fingers in his. "Calm down."

Gideon felt the cool pressure of his extremities and breathed a bit easier.

"Gideon," Asimov said, right as the doors were about to open.


Asimov looked down at her, his pale eyes blinking quickly. "Be safe."

Gideon, bit her lip, her fangs peeking out. "You too." She released his hand and moved to a safe distance as he approached the plethora of slot machines.

Gideon snagged a hors d'oeuvre from a passing tray, having to jump to reach it. She shoved it into her mouth in an explosion of crumbs, chewing meaningfully as her eyes darted about. She watched as Asimov picked the machine with which to do his business. He found her in the crowd and gave a knowing smile that barely lifted the corners of his lips. Gideon nodded back and then dashed toward the cage.

The pseudo bank of Calvera Casino was one of its most secure locations. The front was a long counter of dark-stained wood. From its surface, imposing bars of sturdy metal shot up and into the ceiling, too thinly spaced apart for even someone as small as Gideon to pass through. Behind the bars was a layer of plexiglass, broken only by small arches through which tokens and chip cards were exchanged. The back was accessible via a side door that sat perpendicular to the hallway which led toward the kitchens.

Gideon hovered at the edge of the slots, pretending to be interested in a sign next to the cage that detailed the exchange rate and color-coding of the tokens the casino gave out. Each second that passed felt like an eon. She couldn't help the way her eyes kept darting around, searching for Asimov and his glowing chest among the menagerie of other lights and blinking surfaces.

"Can I help you with something?"

Gideon just about jumped out of her skin as the voice of the security guard broke over her.

"W-what?" she squeaked, spinning on her toes to face him. She looked up into his dispassionate stare.

"You've been standing here for quite some time." The guard's hand rested on the handle of his stunstick.

Gideon swallowed hard, meeting his gaze despite the tremble in her knees. "Am I not allowed to stand here?" she asked just loud enough to be heard over the noise of the gambling floor.

The guard shrugged, his hand still fastened to his weapon. "Didn't say that."

Gideon felt her ears flatten. "Sorry." Her voice lowered in pitch. "Should have said, is a Vox not allowed to stand here?"

She saw one of his eyelids twitch. "Didn't say that either."

"No." Gideon shook her head. "But you didn't have to either." she exposed her teeth in what was more snarl than smile and watched his fingers tighten around the handle of his shockstick.

"I should report you," she crossed her arms.

"I'd probably get a raise." The man gave a grin that did not meet his eyes.

Before Gideon could retort a veritable orchestra of sound erupted behind her.

"You win! Jackpot! Money Money Money!"

Over and over and over again mechanical voices and obnoxious carnival music overlapped into a horrific sensory explosion as all of the slot machines began to give winning spins every few seconds. Tokens spilled out onto the floor in waves. Patrons, at first shocked, began to dive for the things, scooping them up in ridiculous hats and folds of clothing.

"Oh for fucks sake--" The guards eyes moved to the scene and then back to Gideon. "Don't move!" He commanded before disappearing into the excited crowd.

"Natch," said Gideon before doing the exact opposite.

As Boss had expected, when the slot machines began to malfunction the blast door over the cage lowered. Presumably, the staff inside were moving into the safe room and locking down. Now it was Gideon's time to shine.

She dashed toward the imposing-looking door that led into the innards of Calvera's cage. There was the keypad, which she knew would require her to submit three separate codes which Boss had paid off a, now-former, Calvera employee for. She imputed these. The pad blinked back at her red. She tried again switching the order of the codes. The red screen flashed dangerously.

"Fuck-fuck-fuck," She whispered. 

If she got this wrong again she would set off a whole other series of alarms. Fingers dancing over the keys she gave one last attempt. The screen flashed green and she let out a happy squeak before slipping through the door and shutting it behind her.

Gideon could still hear the sound of the ruckus outside muffled through the blast wall. The slot machines were still giving out jackpots but they had emptied their bellies of tokens. Shouts of security rounding up the patrons, that had tried to make off with the free loot, came and went. She took a deep breath and moved toward one of the three computers the clerks used to deal out chip cards and exchange tokens. In their haste, one of the staff had forgotten to log out, which saved her a step and time, for which Gideon was grateful.

She move quickly through menus and identity checks searching for the information she needed to get into Calvera's safe. Finally, she reached it. She brought out the small SD card she needed and slipped it into the drive, downloading the information and then tucking it back into the small pocket on her custom belt.

Without another moment of hesitation she bolted for the door, not letting out the breath she had been holding until it clicked shut behind her. With as much forced causal she could muster, she strode to Asimov and leaned up beside him against the wall.

"Success?" he asked softly as the two of them watched the blast door slowly rise back up and the clerks shuffle back into the cage.

Gideon nodded.

"Perfect," Asimov said with a sly smile, ruffling the fur on the top of her head.

"I told you not to do that," she barked with performed annoyance.

Asimov held her indignant stare with a soft expression that looked unfamiliar upon his cold features. Gideon felt her tail fluff out slightly in surprise.

"Let's find the others," he intoned.

"Good idea," Gideon glanced about for the guard that had harassed her but he was nowhere to be found.

"Yoo hoo!" came a familiar voice. Gideon and Asimov looked up. Csy was dangling over the edge of the balcony, waving like a debutant. A motion that looked both horrific and amusing, still disguised as the Baron.

"I'll come down to you," they shouted down. "Tate disappeared."

Gideon lost sight of them as they moved to the elevator.

"Only Csy could lose a person as big a Tate," said Asimov with a dull sigh.

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