How Not to Steal a Piano


You know how sometimes a harebrained scheme comes into your head and you can’t help running with it? Today has been exactly that.

Lily’s distraction proved to be amazingly thorough. Literally every security guard in the building was chasing her, including the ones normally responsible for watching the camera feeds. An idea started to form in my brainmeats, so I took the opportunity to duck out of sight and masc up a little - it’s amazing how much a change of hairstyle and a slight adjustment in vocal tone can do, but I usually carry a binder with me for those little moments where I need a little more… like now. When I was done I found the police arriving and Lily being girl-handled into the back of a paddy wagon. While the security guards were busy with that, I hurried over to the exhibit, presented another of my fake IDs (Stéphane Dubois this time), and started ordering museum staff around as if I owned the place.

The plan was simple enough. They usually are when they’re formed on the spot. I attempted to bluff the staff into believing that I was a representative of the exhibit’s owners, and that there was a clause in the contract stipulated that at the first sign of disturbance the entire exhibit was to be moved off site for safekeeping.

I certainly didn’t expect it to actually work

Pretty soon I had a bunch of staff packing the smaller items for me, a team carefully storing the piano for transportation, and a small crowd of onlookers starting to gather. One guy in particular didn’t really believe me though, and he seemed to be theoretically in charge. He led me down to the loading docks - ostensibly so I could supervise the loading, but mostly so that the exhibit’s transport team could identify me. Thank god I speak French better than the museum guy could understand it - I managed to talk him into vouching for me to get rid of the museum guy, basically by telling him that museum guy thought I was trying to steal everything and I just wanted him to go away so I could leave (which was true) and then offering to pay them a pile of money and treating them to a night out. Museum guy obviously had no idea what we were talking about, because when the driver scanned my ID successfully and said a few positive words in heavily accented English, he returned to the exhibit to direct the packing.

Having convinced the driver I was alright, I handed him a couple of hundred dollars and suggested he and his team go start the party without me. I didn’t really feel like having him realise I’d been full of shit. Was good timing, too - the first load arrived from the exhibit just after they left. Things seemed to accelerate them: stuff kept arriving, and being packed into their transport cases, and then did was ready to be loaded onto trucks but with no drivers I had to move the trucks and open them and everything… and now I realised that getting rid of the drivers may have been a miscalculation. At least I had my special keys, and I could always pick the lock if I had to.

The staff looked a little concerned when I mentioned “keys”. This didn’t entirely register until I got into the truck and found no key switch… In its place was a palm print reader. No apparent override. I may have mangled it a little while trying to bypass it, but you wouldn’t notice unless you looked at it. Oops. I got the truck started, backed it up to the loading dock, and looked for anything that might open the back doors. Nothing. Fucking hell, now I’m going to have to bypass another electronic lock, and this time in front of people. I went around the back of the truck to assess the situation, find an RFID reader instead of another palm reader, and almost breathed a sigh of relief. I can usually unlock these with my phone, given a couple of moments.

I didn’t have a couple of moments, though. My phone rang - it was Morgan. I answered in my rapid-fire French again, hoping that they understood. Of course, they did not. I mentioned to the lead museum guy that it was my boss and he was quite perturbed about the situation, and then wandered around the front of the truck again so I could talk a little more freely.

Morgan: “What’s going on? We showed up and the place is in turmoil! Did our opponents find you?”
Me: “Not exactly… Lily caused a scene, got arrested, and I’m taking advantage of it.”
Morgan: “Shit, I thought we’d had a bad time!”
Me: “We’ll have to catch up later. I’m in loading bay 7 with the piano all packaged up ready for transit and I’m going to need some help. Bring Hana if she’s still with you.”

I walked slowly back to the dock, speaking French to the quiet phone. I made a bit of a scene about the boss being pissed that we were still in the museum, and how I’d had to convince the staff every step of the way to actually move, mostly just buying time until the others showed up. Then I complained about fancy high tech security and the fact that the RFID app on my phone was janky, while loading up the cracking tool.

Before I’d finished, Morgan and Hana dashed through the open doors to the loading dock. A couple of the staff ran over to tell them they couldn’t be here, and I continued to try to crack the reader.

Hana was amazing. I watched her pull a scabbarded katana from her ever-present poster tube and swing it in the direction of the groin of one of the staff, obviously trying to stop them rather than hurt them permanently. Halfway through the swing the sword twisted and came out of the scabbard and Hana pulled the blade up just millimetres short of slicing the guy in half from his balls to his brain. It’s funny how a blade to the balls will make someone stop dead in their tracks. I didn’t quite catch what she said but all of the staff froze.

The senior guy used this distraction to dig out a radio and call for security. I swore and moved to bar the door back to the museum, and it was at this point that he realised that I really was completely full of shit. Morgan came up to keep an eye on him while I busied myself with the RFID lock. It was more complicated than I expected, and I wished aloud that Lily was here so she could do her vanishing act on it.

Of course this was the exact moment she chose to stroll through the roller doors…

Lily: “You started the party without me!”
Me: “Ha ha ha. Get your butt up here and help me with this lock.”
Lily: “… wha?”
Me: “Can you punch it out of existence like you did with that guard?”
Lily: “I can try… won’t last long if I do though.”

I pulled on the door handle as she punched the lock. It disappeared, and the door came open in my hand. We person-handled the piano in, tied it down, and then climbed in the truck - Lily and Morgan in the back with the piano, and Hana up front with me.

We escaped without pursuit. When Lily contacted Freddy’s office to arrange delivery of the piano however, we learned that a traffic helicopter had footage of us leaning but had them lost track of us.

So now we’re hiding in an abandoned-looking building’s loading bay and trying to work out what’s next…