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VII. The bank heist


Lilah appeared on what turned out to be a skywalk inside an enormous building. She was holding her hand in the air, and the box seemed stuck to it. One second later, somehow, Rob and Annelise appeared next to her, their hands in the air, the box stuck between their rings.

“That’s odd,” said Annelise.

Lilah put the box in her jacket pocket and walked a little way away. She looked over the parapet, which was some sort of very attractive wood and rose to waist level. The walkway soared at a level of about twenty stories through a space at least sixty stories high, an atrium big enough to hold several of “the city’s” zigzag buildings. Two walkways below and five or more above crisscrossed the space; several of them branched, but this one was just an impossibly straight bridge across the gulf. The glass surface of the inward-facing flanks of edifice was a pattern of bright windows and the reflective aspects of dark offices. Here and there someone in a lit office gazed out at the atrium, fixing, perhaps, on a black woman in dark clothes gazing off into space on one of the walkways.

Annelise and Rob appeared on either side of her. “Know the place?” asked Annelise.

Lilah took it in again. It did seem sort of familiar. After some seconds she shook her head. “Like so much,” she said. “It’s there, I think it is, I just can’t get to it.”

“Nice wood,” said Rob.

“It’s kaft wood,” said Annelise. “It’s magical. Very expensive.”

They gazed out together. Rob said, “If Lucy passes through this, um, lobby or whatever, we should be able to see her. If we have telescope eyes. I can’t make out anyone down there well enough to recognize them.”

“Okay,” said Annelise. “Let’s think this out. This box thing is going to get us close to one end of her time trace. It shouldn’t be off by more than, I don’t know, a hundred meters, not a kilometer. And it should be about to happen.”

“Or just happened,” said Rob.

“What?” said Lilah.

“What? No, I didn’t see anything, I was just saying.”

They looked at the wall of office windows to their right. In the middle was one gigantic window, five or six stories high and much wider than that, curving gently around a particularly impressive example of a corporate office.

“Immortal Reserve Bank,” said Rob. “Is that a thing?”

“That,” said Lilah, “is the Immortal of Adari. It’s the Immortal Reserve Bank of Adari, but everyone just calls it the Immortal.”

“Yeah,” said Annelise. “They have the most of the money. No, really, they must be majority owners of about five planets including Padva and Olvar in this timestream.”

“Really,” said Lilah. She began walking toward the end of the walkway nearer to the Immortal Bank of Adari. The other two realized she was walking away from them, and walked just a little faster to catch up.

In a minute, Lilah Bay was exiting an exquisite elevator, Rob and Annelise behind her, along with five fairly random customers. Lilah and her comrades slowed down, then stopped on the edge of the vast space of the lobby. They turned to take a gander at that enormous window.

“We need to split up,” said Lilah. “I’m making a bet here. Annelise, you need to keep an eye out for basically everywhere else. Rob, you look great right here, or maybe over by the kiosk, you decide. I’m going to wander over toward the counters.” She turned and walked away, not even asking if they understood. Lilah Bay sauntered ahead, talking to herself. “Could’ve missed her already,” she said to herself. “Have to wait eight hours to try again.”

She turned back toward the window, now forty meters away. Rob was looking quite inconspicuous standing there with his hands in his pockets. Annelise was climbing an open stair to the next walkway up.

Lilah was just figuring out where the bathrooms were when out of the ladies loo came a gorgeous young woman with dark hair and a dark dress. She walked into the focus of the long parabola of customer service counter, placed a large, blue-green, half-egg-shaped crystal on the floor. She stepped back, pulled out her wand and aimed it at the crystal.

“Hey, you can’t do that” was the gist of what half a dozen people said to her. She waved her wand and put four guards to sleep, then she reversed a hold spell on a mere necromantress, and then she put her “stone sleep” on an old wizard. Other spells were flying: she had a partner in crime, a young man with a wand.

When the field was sufficiently clear of resistance, the young woman and her young man aimed their wands at the crystal. Lilah said, “That’s Lucy.”