Well, the annoying girl from the hotel was right about one thing. We didn’t miss the bank.
It wasn’t huge, but it was certainly big, with marble columns and a Greek-style ceiling making up the entrance. It wasn’t particularly crowded, either, but it was open, and that was the important thing. We should be able to get enough money to last another week or so without any trouble.
Like anything in life is ever that easy.
“Please, just look up Lucius Faber,” Derek begged the teller. “It’s a special account my uncle set up for the family. It just needs a code number.”
“That’s not the way our accounts work,” the young woman insisted firmly. “If you don’t have ID, we might be able to find you through your fingerprints, but a name isn’t enough.”
“I told you, it’s not my account. My uncle set it up—”
“If your uncle set it up, your name should be on the account. Just show me some ID—”
“I’m not on the account. There’s a whole bunch of people he wanted to give access, more than what your bank allows. So he had them set up a unique passcode system—”
“Sir, you’re making no sense. If you don’t have ID, please move out of line.”
Derek looked like he wanted to punch something, so I quickly pushed him out of the way so I could talk to the teller myself. “Hi, I’m Laura.” I glanced at her name tag “Sarah, is it? I understand that this whole situation seems a bit odd. Is your manager in? I’d like to talk to him.”
She frowned, but reached for her phone. You can always trust a bureaucrat to shrug responsibility off to someone else if given the opportunity. “Fine. He’s probably busy, though.”
“That’s fine,” I assured her. “Please tell him to take his time. We’re in no rush.”
“Yes we are!” Robyn cut in. “We haven’t even eaten today!”
I didn’t even look at my old friend, I just gave the teller a pained smile. “…although we would definitely prefer if he could come out before dinner time.”
Her expression softened slightly. “It shouldn’t take too long. An hour, at the most. Just take a seat over there, next to the coffee.”
I bowed slightly. “Thank you very much.”
We did as suggested, with Derek calming down pretty much the second there wasn’t someone immediately in front of him to be mad at. Robyn took longer, pacing in small circles and muttering under her breath, but eventually she got bored with that and sat down as well. Akane, of course, was as silent as a statue.
It took almost half an hour for the bank manager to come out, which was longer than I expected, but still not too bad. He was a well-dressed Caucasian man with a haggard expression on his face, papered over with a hasty customer service smile.
Derek rose to greet him, but I beat him to it, knowing that his blunt approach to diplomacy would do more harm than good here.
“Hi,” I said as I shook the man’s hand. “I’m Laura. We’re having some trouble with a bit of an odd withdrawal. How much did Sarah tell you?”
“Not much,” he admitted. He gestured towards a nearby desk with a computer and some seats. “Why don’t you catch me up real quick, and then I’ll see what I can do for you?”
Derek and I took the chairs in front of the desk, while the manager—Mike, judging by his name tag—sat across from us, in front of the computer. He glanced at Akane, standing a few feet behind Derek exactly like the bodyguard she was, but didn’t say anything. Robyn just stayed in the snack area.
“We’re trying to withdraw cash from an account that doesn’t belong to us,” I explained. “Our names are not on it anywhere, so our ID’s will do no good. The man who created the account wanted to give access to an indefinite number of people, so he set up a system where we could simply give you a code that would allow us access. This is obviously a non-standard set up, so your teller is unaware of it.”
The manager frowned. “You know, that all does sound somewhat familiar, but I’m not sure from what…” He typed at the keyboard for a second. “I’m honestly not even sure how to search for something like that. Do you happen to know what name is on it?”
“Lucius Faber,” I responded promptly.
A little bit more typing. “Oh, this one.” He chuckled. “Yeah, there was a big fuss when it was first made. When was that, ten years ago?”
“I think it would have been four or five.”
He grinned. Ah, that had been a test. “Yeah, that’s right.” His expression became more serious. “Now, I can’t really give you any cash. The system is set up to put the money on a no-fee debit card.”
I nodded. “That makes sense. We’re supposed to pay it back eventually, there’d have to be some way to track expenses besides the honor system.”
“As I understand it, it was insisted on by the people in charge of the bank at the time.” He shrugged. “You’re less likely use anything traceable to buy illegal goods, after all. It made them feel better about…” He trailed off.
“The fact that this is kind of incredibly shady?” I finished for him.
He gave me a pained smile. “Something like that, yes. It is odd, you have to admit. I mean, our bank lets you put up to a hundred people on an account. No one else has ever needed more than a couple dozen. But this guy said it wouldn’t be enough.” He shrugged. “Just kinda weird.”
“It’s an emergency fund,” Derek explained. “For when stupid tourists get robbed and need money, fast.”
Mike raised an eyebrow. “You got robbed?”
I sighed, touching my necklace almost unconsciously. “Something like that.”
“We woke up in the morning and all our cash was gone,” Derek elaborated grumpily. “And we were in a hotel, too. Not like we passed out drunk at some bar.”
The manager rolled with the odd situation without difficulty. “Well, I’m sorry to hear that. Since you’re here, I’m assuming you haven’t had any luck retrieving the money you lost. So why don’t we just get down to brass tacks. How much money did you need?”
I glanced at Derek. He shrugged. I frowned and turned back to the manager. “Well, we lost a little over nine thousand. We probably don’t need all of that, but four or five thousand would be nice, for the sake of safety.”
He just stared at me.
Derek sighed. “Why don’t we skip your shock at whatever it is she just said that’s so weird, and you explain what the problem is?”
Mike coughed. “Yes, well… the account only has eight hundred dollars. And sixty-four cents.”
Now it was our turn to stare.
He quickly continued. “I don’t know how much you need, but if you are careful, that can probably keep you afloat for…” He thought for a moment. “A… month? Maybe? How long were you expecting to need it to last?”
“A week,” Derek grunted. “Maybe two. But that was before we got cut off. Something’s wrong with the satellites, and we can’t call for funds or pickup or anything.”
The manager smiled a little shakily. “Well then. It shouldn’t be too difficult to make it last that long. I mean… I’m not really sure why you had nine thousand dollars cash on you in the first place…”
“Because it seemed easier than dealing with credit cards,” I said with what I felt was admirable calm. All things considered, the chances of an outside city recognizing Domina credit varied somewhere between infinitesimal to none. We should have at least left half the cash in the room, though. Why hadn’t we? “Can you just give us that debit card you mentioned, and we’ll be out of your hair?”
He nodded. “Yes, of course.” He tapped a few more commands into his computer. “I will need you and your husband to sign some forms, but that shouldn’t take too long.”
I kneaded my forehead. “We’re not… fine. Whatever. Do we both need to be here for this?”
“Uh, no, but—”
“Good.” I got up from my chair. “I just need some water. There wasn’t any by the coffee. You got a drinking fountain or something?”
The manager pointed at the line of tellers servicing customers. “Behind the counter. Just tell them I sent you. They’ll give you an escort, of course, but it’s not far—”
“Thank you.” I headed off without another word, and didn’t react when Akane fell into step behind me—presumably at Derek’s unspoken order.
I was going to get a drink. I wasn’t planning on raiding the vault.
But I could understand why he’d assign me a shadow anyway. This day was not going well, and if I was ever in a mood for doing something reckless and stupid, today would be it.
They let the both of us behind the counter without much complaint, and quickly led us to a short drinking fountain next to the employee bathrooms. It was barely even around the corner; I could still see half the tellers. Why did they even bother—
A gunshot split the air.
Shotgun, to be specific. Couldn’t identify the model by sound; probably not a Domina brand. Mid-level gauge, though… ten or twelve, maybe.
Akane had already pulled me down to the ground the second the shot went off, so I couldn’t see what was happening past the counter.
But I could hear it well enough.
“This is a robbery!” a strong, authoritative voice yelled. “No cops, no one tries to play hero, and everyone will make it out of this alive!”
No one try to play the hero?
Yeah, we were all dead.
Behind the Scenes (scene 218)
Timing and coincidence, eh? Scary, how things just seem to line up…