Thieves of Tomorrow
Thieves of Tomorrow
My name is McCuller, Stan McCuller. All my life I have been bullied and ridiculed. Everywhere I looked, I was known to all as a joke, a fool. When I was in high school, nobody would want to go out with me or be friends with me. I didn’t know if it was my personality or looks that told them that I was the one to tease. The one thing I do remember is that there was this one guy, “Billy the Goat”. He always wore a goatee on his face and he was always plotting against me. I had always wanted to get back at him, but for some reason, I couldn’t.
That was all in the past. It has been one month since I joined the Thieves of Tomorrow, a secret organization dedicated to screwing up the lives of others, and I mean that literally. Vladimir Kreblopsky, the boss, had started the organization when the Soviet Union collapsed, since weapons became easy to get. Him and his organization are now known throughout the world for their tricks and sneakiness to steal the world’s most valuable items. Ever since 2005, they have focused around creating new weapons and technologies. I had to go through a lot of training to join the organization, and was it hard! I ranked above all the other recruits throughout the training; they looked up to me like I was an idol. For once in my life, I was important. My confidence and strength grew each day, yet the memories of my past still haunted me. When I finished my training, I knew everything there was to being a thief, all the skill and wit involved. Today was the day when I finished my hard training and moved on to the major leagues. Today I would get my first assignment.
Jon, a senior member of TOT and my trainer, was my partner during this assignment. He was18 years old like me, yet he acted like a 30-year-old. He was the famous “sneaker thief” which I had always heard about at school. I had once heard that he strangled a man over a few dollars, but I never dared to ask if this was true.
The assignment that we had received was to steal the world’s largest cubic zirconium. It was found underwater several years ago, yet it has been on display at the Royal Ontario Museum ever since. When I was younger, I would always go see the exhibit, and I would always be amazed by it. Boy, do I miss those times.
“Anybody in there?” Jon yelled into my ear. I had been daydreaming for 20 minutes, and I was bumping into every tree on the block.
“Huh?” I mumbled. My head was throbbing, and there were bruises all over it.
“Are you okay? You sure you know what you’re doing?” Jon asked me.
“Yeah, I’m okay. Let’s get this over with.” I responded.
We quietly walked up to the ROM, being cautious of the security around the building. We walked up to a giant electric fence that was surging with electricity. There was no way around it. On top of the building was a giant metal pole with a huge silver ball. I knew about these types of things; they were Ball Lightning Stations that also powered the electric fence. If one of its bolts hit you, you’d be dead in an instant.
“Now you see it…” Jon whispered to me as he typed on his laptop.
KABOOM! The Ball Lightning Station exploded in a fury of flames and sparks. It fell to the ground and exploded in flames. At that moment, the electric fence turned itself off. Guards began to rush to the scene.
“…And now you don’t.”
We went around the guards to the back of the building. I clipped a hole in the now useless electric fence, and we crawled onto the premises. Jon began to type on his laptop again.
“How were you able to destroy that Ball Lightning Station?” I asked him quietly.
“I sent a self-destruct command to the station, and KABOOM!” he responded, “It takes a genius to know how to do that.”
“Do you need help opening that door? It seems like the so-called genius can’t open it.” I said to him rudely.
“Shut up.” He responded angrily. “Just plant a bomb on the door. Let’s see if we can blast it open.”
I wasted no time in planting the bomb on the door. I set it for 5 seconds and ran as fast as I could for cover.
“3, 2, 1…” I counted down.
BOOM! The door was blasted into smithereens!
We walked through the door and into the storage room. We tiptoed around the corner and into the Hall of Wonders. Right in the center of the room was the world’s largest cubic zirconium. We were careful not to walk right up to it, since we knew that laser traps were around us everywhere. We crawled like a snake up to the case containing the cubic zirconium and began to drill a hole from under the case.
“Have you ever done this before?” I asked, trying not to set off the noise sensors that surrounded us.
“Yeah, many times,” he responded, “but I was always caught in the process and would always forget to bring the item with me. Boy, was I an idiot.”
We had finally drilled through the case. I took a plastic doll from my backpack and held it in my hands.
“When I count to three, I’ll take the cubic zirconium and you’ll replace it with the doll. We don’t want to set off any pressure sensors. 1, 2…” He counted.
I was filled with tension and fright. All the memories that haunted me for so many years came into my head and distracted me from my work. I couldn’t even hear what Jon was saying.
“THREE!” Jon yelled. He removed the cubic zirconium, but since my mind was distracted, all the alarms and sirens went off. The noise was horrible! All the lights turned on and all the doors began to close.
“Uh-oh…” I yelled over the sirens.
“Uh-oh isn’t going to get us out of this mess. Come on!” He yelled to me as he ran to the blasted door.
We ran as fast as we could through the door. We could already see through the windows the police cars pulling up to the building. Hordes of S.W.A.T. officials piled out of nearby trucks and surrounded the building. By the time we went through the fence, seven of the S.W.A.T. officers surrounded us, guns pointing at our heads.
“Don’t move or we’ll shoot! We know you’re TOT scum!” The lead officer yelled.
“What do we do?” I whispered to Jon. He didn’t respond, but handed behind my back a controller with a giant blue button with the word, “GO” on it.
“What are you doing? Hand over everything you’ve got this instant!” Another officer yelled.
“Sorry, we can’t. Bye!” Jon said as he pressed the blue button. I did the same, and in a matter of seconds, we were engulfed in a blue light. We were then sent to the Thieves of Tomorrow headquarters, all in a matter of seconds. The boss stood in front of us with an impatient look on his face.
“So, did you get it?” he asked in a dark, cold voice.
“Well, as a matter of fact…” I began.
“…We were able to retrieve it.” Jon interrupted. He then took the cubic zirconium out of his backpack, good as new.
“Good, good.” Vladimir said with a greedy smile. “Were there any problems?” I was worried that Jon would tell about my mistake and that I would get fired.
“No, no problems at all. Everything went fine, right Stan?” he asked me with a wink.
I was shocked at what Jon said, but I had to continue the charade. “Yep. Everything went A-OK.” I responded
“Good. You boys enjoy the night. You deserve it.” The boss said and walked away, always having his eye on the cubic zirconium.
Jon then pushed me aside into a corner and held me up by my shirt. “If you ever, ever make a mistake like that again, I’ll make it my personal mission to get you not only fired, but arrested and put in jail.” He yelled into my ear. He then walked away, cool as a cucumber.
I wanted to yell back to him that I was only a rookie, but after what he told me, I didn’t even have the guts to.
The boss called everyone but the scientists to his main chamber, a giant desk with many chairs surrounding it. We each took a chair, but before I could sit down, five non-members of TOT entered through the doors. Thanks to the holograms and force fields that TOT invented, we could see them, but they couldn’t see us. I then began to take my seat again, but I instantly noticed a young teenager with blonde hair at the front of the crowd. I couldn’t describe how beautiful she was, but believe me, she was very beautiful.
“Here come the new recruits now. Guards, please disable the holograms and force fields surrounding us to let our guests in.” Vladimir said into the microphone beside his desk. The guards immediately obeyed his orders, and before you could say, “I didn’t do it”, all the holograms and force fields turned off. The guests walked up to Vladimir and presented their resumes.
“There’s no need for those. Ladies and gentlemen of TOT, I would like you to meet the new members of TOT. Please introduce yourselves.”
“Katherine Jones, daughter of Hank Jones, who is the creator of the Ball Lightning Station, sir.” So she was the girl I had noticed earlier.
“Jeffery Anjae, son of Richard Anjae, who found the world’s largest cubic zirconium, sir.” It’s amazing how small things link together so well.
The rest of the guests introduced themselves. Vladimir then walked up to Jon and me and put his hands on our shoulders. He then said aloud, “These boys will be your new trainers. They will decide if you’re worthy of being in this organization. You shall always refer to them as sir. Got that?”
“Sir yes sir!” All the rookies yelled out.
“Good. You are all dismissed.” He said in a formal manner.
We all left the main chamber, but before I could go to my quarters, Katherine walked up to me and looked me straight in the eye.
“So you’re going to be my trainer after all.” She told me quietly. “Looks like you and me are going to be good friends.” She then ran off to join the other rookies.
“Maybe, just maybe.” I whispered to myself as I walked off to my quarters.
Jon and me trained the rookies for one month straight, just as Jon had done for me. We made them go through obstacle courses, memorize certain hacking techniques, and most importantly, put them through simulations three times a day. They all performed beyond our expectations, but the ones who did the best were Katherine and Jeff. Katherine was able to complete all the simulations perfectly; thanks to her reflexes, she couldn’t even be detected an inch away. However, she didn’t do too well with hacking. Jeff didn’t do too well in the simulations, but was a whiz when hacking, which is how he gained the nickname, “Hackman.” Each day, my liking towards Katherine grew stronger and stronger, but I would never dare to tell anyone about this. It seemed that my memories of being bullied had faded away, but I never knew for sure. We never had to make anyone quit, and by the time training was completed, the rookies looked as if they were ready for anything. Unfortunately, all was not well with Vladimir.
“What do you think the boss wanted to talk to us about?” Katherine asked me as we walked to the main chamber.
“I don’t know, but he sounded pretty serious about it.” I responded.
“I hope it has nothing to do with me. If he starts asking me for the plans to the Ball Lightning Station, I don't know what to say.” She said in a worried voice.
“Say anything you want to say.” I reassured her, “Just don’t say anything that will get you fired.”
At that moment, Jeff walked by and joined our discussion.
“Has anybody figured out why the boss called us down to his main chamber? I’ve been racking my brain at it all day and couldn’t figure it out. It is not as if we broke any rules, did we?” Jeff said aloud, trying to hide his fear.
“There have been some rumors going around,” I said to Katherine and Jeff, “but I guess we’ll just have to wait and see.”
I couldn’t figure out why Jeff was so worried about getting in trouble, but I passed it off as rookie fear as I walked along.
“I have some very depressing news about TOT, ladies and gentlemen.” Vladimir said softly.
“What is it? Spies? Military? Money?” Katherine kept on asking. Man, was she curious.
“Worse. People are starting to forget our organization, our wonderful organization. We haven’t had a successful mission in the past month, and I must say I am very disappointed in this. We must get people to tremble at our name. We must remain known throughout the entire planet!” He yelled aloud as we raised our fists in agreement.
“But how?” Jon asked aloud. “What will make people remember?”
“A nuke.” Vladimir said coldly. “That’s what will make them remember.”
“What? You can’t be serious!” Katherine yelled straight at Vladimir. Vladimir’s face turned as hard as stone.
“We are going to steal that nuke, and you are going to help me, along with Jon, Jeff, and Stan. If you do not wish to steal the nuke, you can always be turned over to the police, or better yet killed.” Vladimir said to Katherine in a dragon-like state. Katherine immediately shut her mouth.
The boss began to give orders for the rookies to manage communications and our rendezvous. We were going to steal the prototype M-120, a nuke designed for destroying an entire planet. Worst of all, we were going to steal it from NATO, one of the most powerful organizations on this planet. I tried to reassure Katherine about the plan, but I could sense that she was scared as hell about stealing a nuke and handing it to Vladimir. I didn’t know who to side with for this. All I could do was prey that the nuke wouldn’t go off once me and my friends held it in our hands.
Me, Jeff, Jon and Katherine had to go on a two-hour plane ride in order to get to New York, where NATO was located. We had to fly in coach in order to avert attention from ourselves. With all the noise around us, we were willing to sit in the cargo hold. When we arrived at New York, I felt like a child all over again, wanting to se everything and everyone. I tried to remind myself to snap out of it, but fortunately, Jon was successful in accomplishing that.
We only had eight hours before the nuke would be shipped to Washington, so we had to work fast. Vladimir had previously of a rendezvous at the Twin Towers; I had never traveled to the USA, so I was clueless about where we had to go. Jeff, on the other hand, was able to take us to the Twin Towers easily. It was as if he had lived in New York all his life. Jeff then took us to a nearby alley, where a man with a dark black coat and sunglasses stood in the shadows.
“What do you want? I’m busy.” The person said as he looked straight into our eyes.
“Me and my friends are from TOT. You have what we want.” Jeff said in a formal voice.
“Yeah, yeah, I’ve got what you want. Four perfect NATO IDs. First, where’s my money?” He said with a greedy look on his face.
“Stan, hand him the money.” Jeff said to me with a serious look. I couldn’t believe what I was hearing! Jeff was a lower rank than I was, but was ordering me! I didn’t know what to say to Jeff, but before I could, the mysterious man held up a silver metal knife.
“I’m waiting.” The person said quietly as he played with the knife in his hands.
I immediately handed the mysterious man the money, and the man handed us the IDs without a word. He walked into the shadows and disappeared.
I wanted to talk to Jeff about what happened, but now was definitely not the time. We had a job to do and a nuke to steal.
We walked up to the NATO building, unaware of the dangers ahead of us. Since Vladimir wouldn’t lend us money, we had to use all of our salaries just for a few suits and a dress for Katherine (she looked great in a suit). We had all our tools a plastic-covered suitcase to prevent detection, which meant we had to leave our weapons behind. We were all nervous about the operation, but none of us dared to show it. Finally, after a few hours of preparation, we entered the building.
“Welcome to NATO. Identification please.” The huge, bald guard said with his head and gun held high. We all flashed our IDs before him.
“Strange.” He said to himself. “Your names are not in the records.” I gulped nervously. Had our cover been blown this quickly?
“That’s strange.” I managed to say, “I thought that they had put our names in the records already.” Jon, Katherine and Jeff nodded in agreement.
“Oh, I see. You guys are new here. Well, nobody’s perfect.” He said before letting us pass. I looked back at him, and noticed the goatee on his face. Could it really be him, Billy the Goat?
“Sir?” I asked politely. “My name is Stan McCuller. You look very similar to someone I knew a long time ago, someone by the name of Billy Seltz.”
“That’s me. Ah, now I remember. We were in high school together. I can’t really remember what happened between us.” Billy said with a smile, “Man, Shane, I never knew that you joined NATO. Congratulations.”
“Thanks. I’m not so sure myself about what we did in high school.” I said, trying to not remind him of what he had done to me.
“Can I tell you a secret?” he whispered in my ear.
“What is it?” I said while making sure no one was looking.
“I have not always been strong and tough. I remember that when I came to high school, I was tricked and used as a scapegoat every single day. When you came to high school, I didn’t know if I should be friends with you or stick with the new friends that have accepted me.” He said, trying to hide his shame.
I was shocked to hear what Billy had just said! I never knew that he wanted to be friends with me after all. He was just trying to stay popular. Maybe joining TOT wasn’t the right thing to do. Maybe…
“Come on! We’re not going to wait for you forever!” Jeff yelled out to me.
“I’m coming, I’m coming.” I yelled back. I turned to Billy.
“Well, goodbye.” I said as I ran off with my friends, never looking back at Billy.
All four of us climbed into a nearby vent, slowly and carefully. Everywhere you looked there were cobwebs and dust balls. We all needed masks in order to breathe.
“I’m going to stay here and tell you where to move in the vents.” Jon said as he began typing on his laptop. “Remember, once you’re near the nuke…”
“We know. Place the beacon on the nuke so it can be teleported back to HQ. Got it.” Katherine said as she began crawling on her knees through the vent. Jeff and I followed her. We listened carefully to Jon’s instructions while keeping an eye on what was ahead of us.
“Turn left. Go past that air vent and keep going straight until I tell you to stop.” Jon said as he watched for any unknown movement.
“Jeff, ever since you joined TOT, I’ve been trying to figure out what kind of person you are.” I whispered to Jeff so Katherine wouldn’t hear.
“If you really want to know, I have been living in the USA most of my life before moving to Canada. My life was terrible before I joined TOT. I-I don’t want to talk about it, OK?” Jeff said sadly before he continued moving.
Even though I didn’t know what Jeff’s problem was, I could sense that Jeff was very sad, even if he didn’t show it. Before I could do anything, I could hear Jon yelling in my headset.
“Didn’t you hear me?” Jon was yelling to the point of deafness, “You were supposed to stop a few minutes ago. Wait, I was wrong. NOW you should stop.”
We all stopped crawling. Katherine took a drill from the suitcase and began drilling a hole in the vent. In a few minutes, a giant metal hole fell to the ground, making a loud sound that echoed in the room below us. Fortunately, no one was in the room.
We all climbed out of the dusty vent and into a white padded room with light shining from the middle. The nuke was nowhere to be seen.
“Are you sure this is the place?” I said to Jon in my headset.
“Positive. In fact, you’re standing on it right now.” He responded as I stepped into the light.
“Wait a second…” I said to myself as I put my hand over the light. “Katherine, hand me a drill.” Katherine did as I said. I began to drill through the lighted floor, but suddenly, Billy came into the room through a secret doorway. It was a trap! Before Billy could do anything, the whole room around us turned dark and in the center was the M-120, glowing with radiation. Katherine immediately began to set up the teleportation module on the nuke.
“Stan? What are you doing here?” he said as he moved his hand toward his gun.
I didn’t know what to do. I had been able to smuggle a weapon into NATO without anyone knowing. I could just kill him now and run away. On the other hand, Billy had, in a way, apologized for what he had done to me. Should I run, or should I let him arrest me?
“You know what you have to do.” Billy said as he lowered his head.
I pointed my gun at him, finger on the trigger. I closed my eyes, held my breath, and pulled the trigger. The bullet hit Billy straight in the head, powerful and swift. Billy collapsed to the floor, motionless. I forced myself to look at his corpse, but when I saw him, all the memories of being ridiculed came back, stronger than ever. I froze on the spot, not hearing all the sirens and lights going off around us. Even when I was being teleported out of the building, I could still feel the memories swarming my head. There was one memory that I had not known of: the memory of refusing to join a game when asked to join. That memory disappeared along the other memories as me and my team was sent back to headquarters.
Vladimir eyed the nuke as if it were pure gold, amazed at the capabilities of the weapon. He didn’t give Jon, Jeff, Katherine or me any acknowledgement; he just kept his eye on the nuke. In his left hand he held the cubic zirconium that Jon and me had retrieved for him.
“There is no purpose in living on this planet any longer. We are no longer remembered. It’s time for the world to pay for what they have brought into this universe: death.” Vladimir yelled aloud as he threw the cubic zirconium on the floor, shattering it into pieces.
“Don’t you dare fire that nuke while we surround it.” Threatened Katherine, as she looked Vladimir straight in the eye. I was surprised that she would do the same mistake twice!
“Or what? There is nothing you can do to stop me! I am invincible!” he said as he turned on the nuke. Vladimir had a sniper rifle behind his back, while I had a measly PP7 in my pocket. All I could do was watch.
Katherine lunged at Vladimir, fists waving by her side. I tried to yell out to her, but it was too late. Vladimir shot all his bullets at Katherine, and within seconds, Katherine dropped to the floor, still as a rock. Vladimir set the detonator on the nuke for 30 seconds, holding his gun like a bat. He was crazy! Worst of all, he killed a team member!
“NO!!!!” I yelled as I ran towards Vladimir. I took my gun out of my pocket and began firing at him. He hit me with his gun, but before I fell to the ground, I took one last shot at Vladimir. The bullet hit him straight in the stomach, and he fell to the ground, hand at his chest. Blood began to seep from his stomach, and within minutes, he was dead.
I used all my strength to get up on my feet. Everyone was trying to disarm the nuke. 10 seconds were left on the detonator.
“Jon! Get over here!” I yelled. Jon came to the nuke instantly. I tried calling Jeff over, but he was busy talking on a microphone for some reason.
“It doesn’t take a genius…” Jon whispered.
“To disarm a nuke.” I said as Jon ripped off the detonator. The nuke immediately fell apart into pieces, and a load of gases came out of the debris. We both turned our heads towards Katherine.
“I’m sorry.” Jon said as he patted me on the back. “I truly am…”
The ground began to rumble, and immediately 100 S.W.A.T officers came into the headquarters, guns pointed at everyone except Jon, Jeff, and me.
“Take these people out of here.” Jeff yelled as he walked towards Jon and me. He flashed a police badge at our faces and shook our hands.
“You’re probably wondering who I am.” Jeff said, “I’m actually an undercover agent named Jerry Lopow. I have been trying to search for TOT for years, but had never been successful, not until now.”
“Why didn’t you arrest us?” I said as I looked back at Katherine.
“I needed you to lead me to your boss. I didn’t arrest Jon because he disarmed the nuke. Because of this, I’m going to let you both go free.” Jerry said as he turned towards Katherine. “If there’s anything I can do for Katherine…”
“Just give her an honorable funeral, that’s all.” I said as I walked towards the exit.
“Stan, you forgot something.” He said as he threw me a Medal of Honor. I didn’t say anything to Jerry. I simply exited the headquarters, never to see it again.
It has been 5 years since I joined Thieves of Tomorrow. I never married and never had children. I went to college to get a degree in medicine and got a job as a physician. Each day, I go to visit Katherine’s grave and lay a rose next to the tombstone. The memories of being teased disappeared, but in the end, I was a changed man.