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Chapter #16

Declan 1.1 (The Heist)

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“Yah, yah,” Pumba laughed. Then he said, “Let's try da new program on
him, see if he can get to his room without being noticed. It's perfect test.”
Tonto asked, “You sure that's a good idea?”
“Yagh, it'll be fine. He is bonehead first class.”
I didn't know what this program was, but I didn't think I wanted any part
of it. And I didn't think I liked being called a bonehead anymore.
“Yah, it's working good,” Pumba told Tonto, who directed Pumba to walk
me by every crowd on the way to my lovely abode. He’d search the cameras for
any reaction from anybody.
I looked down, and I was completely invisible.
It scared me a little at first. I felt like a science experiment. Then I started
thinking how cool it would be to be invisible whenever I wanted.
I heard them talking about a slight imperfection in the infrared
spectrum. Tonto had cloaked me in a hologram. I was cloaked in a shield of
quantum-def pixels showing the color behind me from every angle. Brilliant.
What a brilliant idea for a program. Imagine what someone could do with such
a thing.
We went through the rear entrance and then into the courtyard over by
the outdoor bar. The tall girl who patted me on the head was there, sitting at a
table with a gnarly looking black eye. I wondered if Tonto would mind if I used
his program to watch her shower. Maybe I could cause the soap to accidentally
fall down and knock off a wet one.
Oh no, that just wouldn't be right, now would it?
Still, my head was swimming with the possibilities of such a program.

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Then I got to feeling sorry for the tall girl. I didn't know that the tray had
hit her in the eye, or that it was that bad. If I had known, I wouldn't have
laughed at her last night.
We went out of our way to the second-story indoor bar. It looked over the
courtyard and swimming pool, and the resort was packed. And there were very
few empty tables anywhere. I could hear people talking about the poker
tournament and the disaster in New York.
Across the room, I saw Professor Swansont having dinner with a lovely
young lady. I pulled on the collar of Pumba's sports jacket and directed him to
walk by their table. I was hoping to hear him talking about the disaster. I
thought his opinion on what really happened might be quite interesting, but all
I heard was mushy, lovey-dovey conversation taking place.
We made our way to the elevator and went back downstairs. I became
completely visible for the short ride, and when I exited, I looked in a mirror on
the adjacent wall. Tonto had decided I needed to look like a short, blond
woman with large breasts, buckteeth, and a horse face.
I looked around at the people in the lobby and wondered how much of
what I saw was actually real.
We made our way across the lobby and to my room down the corridor.
Once inside, Pumba said, “Dat was great! Dis is going to work.”
The disguise disappeared, and me and my tutu reappeared.
“Thanks,” I said. “I didn't know how I was going to get here without being
totally humiliated.”
“Listen,” Pumba said as he sat down at the table by the window. Then he
continued, “I have someting you might be interested in.”
Then there was a knock on the door. Pumba got up and let Tonto in
while I opened the closet door and got some clothes out.
QD asked, “Is there anything I can do for you, O Great Master?”
Tonto heard him and laughed. “Your droid refers to you as ‘O Great

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“Yeah, well, it's a long story,” I replied.
Pumba said, “Listen, O Great One, me and Tonto have plan.”
Tonto pulled up a VeeM and gestured a few icons around. My only good
clothes turned into the exercise outfit that I'd just changed out of.
“Dude!” I yelped.
“Listen,” Pumba said in his funny accent, raising his voice slightly. “We
have proposition for you. Come here and sit down.” He pushed a chair out from
under the table with his foot.
So I sat down and asked, “What?”
I tried to pay attention to this proposition, but there was no denying that
Tonto was an Indian. Look at that long black hair, his chiseled olive face and
skin, the athletic build. His name definitely fit him.
Tonto gave Pumba a serious look, then turned his eyes on me. I looked
back over at Pumba, who said, “Listen, O Great One, we have plan. ’Member
how I tol’ you the real reason Jose has forked tongue? And dat him and Michio
had Tonto use his skills to cheat people out of their winnings?”
“Yah, I tink so,” I answered sarcastically, imitating his accent.
With a devious grin, he lowered his voice and said, “How'd you like to get
back at dem, Coordvagh?”
I was still pretty upset about Michio taking my winnings, so I asked,
“What do I have to do? Wear this ridiculous outfit around the casino and quack
like a duck?”
“Nah, no, nut'n like dat,” Pumba replied. “We going to cloak you and take
da prize money for the big semifinal poker tournament. But we have to do it
“Why tonight?” I complained. “I'm kind of exhausted. It's been a hell of a
day for me.”
Tonto answered in a serious tone, “In about an hour they'll take all the
money out of the vault and wheel it out on a cart so everybody watching the

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tournament on HV and VeeMs can see the grand prize cash. They bring it out
when the final contestants are all at one table.
“I'll grab a hand truck out of the maintenance shop around back while
you and Pumba grab some boxes out of the recycling bin. I'll cloak you and the
equipment, and as you grab the money, it'll disappear and a hologram of it will
reappear, just like that. It'll be great. We'll steal it right in front of everybody,
and nobody will see or suspect a thing until they go to put it away.
“I'll monitor the action from here. Pumba will hang close by to create a
diversion in case anything goes wrong. Easy as pie,” finished Tonto.
“I don't like it. I don't think I want to do this at all,” I told them.
Tonto said, “Well, I hope you like wearing that outfit then, because that's
all anyone around here is ever going to see you in again.”
“Fuck me,” I groaned. “I guess I'm in then, but you think I could get a
bite to eat first and mosey around invisible for a while? This could take some
getting used to.”
Tonto replied, “Sure, just remember you have to be very, very quiet. Just
because nobody can see you doesn't mean they can't hear you. So move slowly
and super quietly. If you cough or sneeze, it'll be over for you.”
I went from tutu to invisible, and I practiced moving things around in the
room and being quiet. My cohorts seemed quite pleased with my sneakiness
and stealthy abilities.
“Go ahead, walk around the resort and practice being invisible for a
while,” Tonto said. But then he warned, “We only have about an hour to get
I roamed around a little bit. Then I decided I should sneak up to Michio
Kaku's penthouse and spy on them. You know, to see if they suspected
anything or not.
Yeah, that might be a good idea. I could check out security central on the
way. Hmm, I didn't really have any idea where that was, though. Guess I'd just
check out Michio's.

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A heist like this really should've been planned a little better. I decided to
take the stairs so I didn't become visible in the elevator, but I became visible in
the stairwell just the same. Oh well, there was nobody around.
As I made my way up to Michio’s apartment, I watched my feet making
depressions in the carpet, and I smiled at the fact that I couldn't see myself
walking down the corridor.
I got up to the door and put my ear up against it. I couldn't really hear
anything going on in there. Hell, come to think of it, I doubted if anyone was
even home. They were surely all at the tournament.
Then the door opened wide, and I jumped back just in time. Bella was
coming out of the door holding a long and skinny canvas bag by its handle.
Huh, I didn't know she was a pool shark. And I slipped quietly into the foyer as
she turned around to lock the door behind her.
Maybe this was a mistake. It was very quiet in the house. The only sound
was some soft music that had just started playing down a hallway. So I crept
down it as quietly as I could to investigate. As I got closer, my loins swelled. I
could hear moaning coming from the bedroom, and when I peeked around the
doorjamb, I saw Cherahontas lying in bed, stark naked, her legs spread and a
vibrator in each hand. In that exact moment, I realized that I was completely
Fuck, something was horribly wrong. I panicked. I swiftly and softly
eased my ass back down the hallway and into the foyer.
Fuck, I was still visible. I quietly unlocked the door and ran down the
corridor to the emergency stairs.
I was once again invisible. Oh fuck, that was close.
I was sure I'd have many wonderful fantasies about this moment in the
future, but, man, that was close.
My heart was racing nine hundred miles an hour as I entered the
stairwell and started running down.

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I had to get back, back to my room to tell the others that this plan was
not going to work. Imagine going through the resort with stacks of cash
popping in and out of visibility. It was just retarded.
We were going to get caught.
I’d die.
I was going to die for sure.
As I was walking across the lobby, I almost ran right into a man in a
sports jacket who was rounding the corner. I froze and then backed up as an
attractive woman in a tan pantsuit approached him.
“Paulina?” he asked.
“Paulina Hill,” she answered. “Do I know you?”
I didn't think I could move without being heard. In fact, I didn't see how
they couldn't hear my breathing or my heart beating so loudly that I was sure
it was about to fly right out of my chest.
Paulina Hill, what the fuck was up with that name? Two Paul Hills, and
now a Paulina Hill all in one day. That couldn't be a coincidence.
Then I heard the man say, “He's here somewhere.”
And the woman replied, “This is the only place he could be.” And they
walked away together.
I knew they were talking about me. I could just feel it. Either the NSA
was rather fond of hiring Paul and Paulina Hills, or it was a codename for field
agent confirmation.
Pretty slick.
I snuck back to my room, completely invisible all the way there.
I got back into the room and told Pumba and Tonto, “No way. I ain’t
doing it. There're voids in the holoprojectors and all kinds of things that can go
wrong. No fucking way.”
Tonto looked me square in the eye and said, “I can solve your problem,

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I said quietly, “Man, you don't know the half of my problems.”
“Coordvagh, your name is Declan?” Pumba asked, and then before
anyone else could answer, he continued, “I like Dubock better.”
“Man,” Tonto said, only he drew it way out, “for just a small portion of
your third, I'm going to fix you up with a new identity. And I'm so good that I'll
even set it up so that you can keep your old name.”
“What are you going to do? Write it on my tombstone?” I replied.
“Yeah,” he answered. “You want to witness your own funeral? As your
third cousin, both named after your great-great-granddad?”
“Dude, you don't know how screwed I am. There's no fixing my
problems,” I said.
“I've hid you this long,” he replied.
A little surprised, and thankful, I answered, “All right, but if we get
caught, I'm throwing you under the bus. And you’ve still gotta fix my problem.”
“Fair enough,” he said. Tonto put his hand out, and we shook on it.
I’m an idiot.
“Let me show you the layout,” Tonto said with great excitement.
Then he pulled up a flat VeeM, extruding it into a three-dimensional
model of the casino.
I was less than excited. What the fuck am I getting myself into?
He played out the whole plan using avatars from The Jetsons. Who
would've guessed it?
Tonto explained, “I put in Q-def holoprojectors almost everywhere shortly
after Jose talked Michio into cheating. They said it was only until they caught
up from the hit they took from the Mind Melders, but they've been caught up
for a while now.”
It'd be awesome to get a new identity and some extra cash, use the bank
robbery money to bail John out. Hopefully there would be something left to
party on. That'd be a dream come true for me.
Almost immediately, my mind filled with doubt.

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Nothing in my life comes easy, or goes smoothly.
The plan seemed easy enough. Tonto went over the route again and
pointed out the voids. The exit was over alumnite flooring. That was good. No
Coordvagh said he’d oil the tires on a bellhop cart, and I suggested he
wipe the tires clean. Then we decided to meet out back by the luge mobile to
give Pumba his part of the cash. After, we’d simply walk the cart over to my
room and hide my loot, and then roll Tonto's haul to his penthouse suite on the
far side of the casino. That was the longest stretch.
The only void of invisibility was out back by the luge mobile and in an
elevator up to the fourth floor. That was where the long corridor that spanned
the casino to the farthest penthouses was.
At that point, me and Pumba would just go our separate ways. We'd just
leave the bellhop cart at Tonto's house, where he could take it back at his
I decided it might be a good idea to bring a sheet to throw over the
money, so I grabbed the sheet off my bed and folded it up. “Well, I guess we're
ready,” I said.
And the words echoed in my head as reality set in.
I am such an an I-D-I-O-T. What the hell have I agreed to do?
What if it worked, though?
He had better be able to get me that identity. I'd do almost anything to
wipe my slate clean and just go home.
Tonto pulled up a VeeM, and we all started watching the tournament.
Then he opened up a multi-VeeM. The top left showed the casino’s main
security room, and arrayed to the right and down were all the camera views,
both in and around the divvy route.
When I saw it, Tonto gave me an evil grin and said, “Easy as pie.”
Fuck, why'd he have to say that?
I crossed my fingers and just hoped for the best.

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Coordvagh said, “I'm going to get da house out of hock, then straight to
Vegas. I'm going double what's left in no time.”
He was nervous, I could tell. We were all nervous.
We sat there and watched the game. It took another half hour to narrow
the tables down to the final three. Professor Swansont was holding his own. He
made it down to the final two tables but got knocked off when he went all in
with aces and eights.
When the tournament wound down to the six final players, they all took
a break as the final table of the Semifinal Poker Tour of the Universe was
getting set up.
The contestants were a mix of personalities that ranged from the quietly
reserved to the very boisterous. Tonto zoomed in on the money when the girls
wheeled it out onto the casino floor, just behind the final table.
He said, “Declan, look. You see the girls left and right? Notice how close
they're standing to the table. You'll have to be very quiet.”
I whispered, “Why don't I just wheel it out on the cart it's already on?”
“Yah, dat's good idea, Coordvagh,” Pumba said.
Tonto agreed and then said, “I'll just stay here in your room, if you don't
I replied, “Yeah, no prob.”
Then he said, “It's go time.”
I took a deep breath after I stood up and looked at Pumba. I let it out
slowly as I walked towards the door.
I looked at Tonto and said, “This is crazy. We’ve got to be nuts.”
Me and Pumba headed down the hallway, smooth as ice all the way down
to the back door of the tournament. We were cloaked in extruded octagon-
shaped illusions joined on one side. I could see Pumba just in front of me.
Everything within the octagons looked almost normal, but everything outside of
the shield had a pinkish hue to it. Things in the distance faded into a darker
hue within the red spectrum.

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I heard Tonto whisper to Pumba over his comband, “There are two
guards, one on each side of the escape door. So be very, very quiet, and put the
pegs down to hold the door open. I'll make 'em appear closed. Don't worry.
Everything's going just fine.”
Pumba squirted a little WD down the doorjamb, hoping to get a little in
the hinges on the other side. When we opened the doors, we saw the models
and the guards watching the match on each side of the money.
In an instant, the octagon shield disappeared, startling me a little bit.
But then I saw the crescent shape of the shield hiding us from the crowd,
cameras, and players. The money was in a nose that stuck out in the middle of
the crescent, between the models and the guards.
I was numb.
Unbelievably, comfortably numb. I didn't know why. Then I had a truly
scary thought—Was I coming to terms with the new chaotic, and hectic,
rhythms of my life?
And I was quite sure there'd be a massive heart attack waiting for me
somewhere down the line, sooner rather than later if I couldn't just adapt,
relax, and ride the storm out.
I slowly and quietly pulled the sheet out from under my arm and laid it
across the money. There was a small brown spot where I'd apparently sharted
getting dressed this morning. I was quite sick. Pumba squeezed a drop of oil on
the four wheels easy and softly, moving left to right, front to back.
Then we waited patiently for someone to lose. We had front row action,
and nobody knew it. The boisterous fellow went all in, and then he went right
out as the only remaining lady in the tournament took his chips. She was very
beautiful, with a kind face and a smile that suggested naughty thoughts. I was
pretty sure I fell in love with her in that very instant.
The crowd clapped for the loser, I guessed because he made it so far in
the tournament.

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It was the moment that Pumba and I were waiting for. We eased the cart
toward the door during the clapping and commotion of the big guy shaking
hands with my future wife, congratulating her for not buying into his bluff.
We pulled the feet up on the door and then raced through the halls in
our octagon cloaks until we arrived in more public passageways. Then it was
up to me to push the money while Pumba staggered around acting drunk,
clearing the broadest path possible—and so as to appear in his natural state.
Just kidding.
I turned the table through the crowd like a master. Easy as pie, as we
passed through the back door and started towards the luge mobile.
I was bursting with joy until I heard the sound of an old-fashioned
shotgun hammer being thumbed back, breaking the silence of the moment.
Fuck, no way.
I turned around, and there was Bella Unitooth holding what looked like a
double-barreled cannon.
“But how?” I accidentally blurted out.
She cackled and replied, “Think Johnny and Stinky were the only ones
watching you? Retard, you saw me with the isopod halo on just the other day.”
Oh fuck.
I should have known.
“Pile the loot in the luge taxi and hand me the keys, funny man,” she
Pumba's eyes were as big as saucers. He was scared to death as he
shakily put all the money in the luge mobile.
Me? I was disappointed, not surprised, and still numb. I didn't get the
feeling that Bella was going to shoot us, as long as we didn't try anything, you
Once all the money was stashed, she took off and left us there, blank
faced and empty handed.
I looked at Pumba and asked, “Now what?”

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He just shook his head, hanging low. Then he lifted it up and said, “Easy
come, easy go.” He shrugged his shoulders.
I grabbed the sheet, and we turned and walked away.
We went back to the room. Tonto said he saw the whole thing. He was
pretty upset. I was just glad we were still alive.
We all pissed and moaned about it for a while, and then we decided to
split up and go our separate ways.
Except me. I was already in my room.
There I sat.