Chapter 7: The bank heist

VII. The Bank Heist

1.

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.”

2.

The half-egg-shaped blue-green crystal took the energy blasts from the two wands for a couple of seconds, then shattered outward, away from them and toward the counters. Everyone went down and stayed down, most of them knocked unconscious till next week at the earliest. Every seal in the blast zone went down.

Lilah Bay felt the penton pressure of the magical blast wash across her, knocking her flat. She hit her head, but she rolled and rose to kneel. Anyone who had stood nearer the crystal, and basically everyone behind the counters, was sprawled on the floor, unconscious or worse. Lilah looked to her right and saw Rob, backed into the shelter of the kiosk, standing with his wand out.

Lucy and her companion, a young man with beautiful black hair and a goatee, spoke a seven-word spell together: sho tro sek har va kun zer. They tossed another on top of it: they took turns saying paf zon zer ont goth geg, the six-word version of the seal spell. Then they jumped onto the counters and spent thirty seconds bagging up piles of little platinum bars, visible through the faint blur of the seals.

Lilah backed away. Further out, everyone was still slumped on the floor, but a few of them were groaning, and possibly thinking about getting up. Lilah found herself standing near the stair up to the higher walkways. Annelise came running down. She had her wand out. “Lilah, what the?”

“Well,” said Lilah, “we found Lucy.”

By now the two bank robbers were setting off little explosions to blast open the vault doors. They seemed quite clever with their explosive devices: they continued to toss stun grenades at anyone inside their seal who moved. The debris cleared, and they disappeared inside the vault.

“Do you have anything to monitor time travel?” Lilah asked Annelise.

“No,” said Annelise, digging in her bag. “But I think I can get something together. I have an extra crystal.”

“What percent of your possessions are in that bag?”

“Forty,” said Annelise. She pulled out a yellow crystal, shaped like a cuboctahedron.

Lilah was looking out toward the vast window. Rob was making little gestures at her, and she waved her arms out in front of her, nope! Rob melted back into the shadow of the kiosk, and then he disappeared, activating his violet ring’s invisibility property.

She turned back to the scene of the crime just in time to see the cops show up: six hover ships, each with four officers, all armed to the teeth, and each with one wizard, wand at ready. They approached the huge window from outside, managed to get the side port open, and now they came zipping in from the far side of the bank lobby. They dropped to the floor in front of the counters. The wizards made short work of the seal, and then began climbing over the counter.

“Lilah, they jumped,” said Annelise.

“Let’s jump too,” said Lilah. “Hey Rob! Crap. We gotta go, Annie girl.” She held out her hand, and the instant Annelise took her hand, they were back out on the walkway where they had originally appeared.

The power in the bank came back up. Everything appeared to be normal, aside from a dozen or so bodies lying sprawled. The security men moved around in the offices, in the vault, behind the counter, out in the lobby.

It took about ten seconds of this, and then the rules of the universe went crazy for about five seconds. An indescribably strange explosion blew out from the bank vault. Security men were hurled into walls so hard their bodies merged with the material of the wall. Terminals and other magical items all up and down the counters blew up, scattering sparks and bits of marble. That huge, beautiful window, the likes of which may never be seen again, burst outward, its glass billowing out into the atrium air.

The walkway swayed, but maintained its position. Lilah let out a breath.

“I’m fine, thanks for asking,” said Rob. He was about five meters from the two women, down the walkway.

“I’d hoped you got the idea,” said Lilah. “I don’t think anyone survived inside the bank. Do you?”

“And that’s Lucy,” said Rob.

“That’s Lucy,” said Lilah.

“But that’s not Henry,” said Annelise. “That’s for sure.”

3.

Annelise lay on the floor of the walkway on her belly. A meter in front of her sat her crystal gadget. Her ring with its violet gem lay in line with it but much closer to her. She held George’s box in front of her eyes and seemed to be trying to see around it and through the gem and the crystal.

“I can’t see a thing,” she reported.

“You mean you don’t know if you see something, or you know you don’t see something?” asked Lilah.

Annelise adjusted the position of the ring a trifle, then jumped up. Backing away, she set the box on the walkway and aimed her wand at it. Above it, glowing streaks appeared, in different colors: pink, blue, green, red, and a dark grey. The red and the dark grey appeared at a point and then disappeared at a point seven minutes further on, significantly richer. The pink, the green and the blue came a minute earlier and were still here. “Us, in our usual colors,” she explained. “Lucy in red and her friend in grey.”

“Okay, that’s,” said Lilah.

“Um,” said Rob, “we’re kind of in the open here.”

“Oh, we’re just getting started,” said Annelise. She twirled her wand and said six words, and they stepped back: now the last half dozen little time jumps that Lilah and her associates had made were laid out as a curve in 4-space. The city, Olvar in various times, here at this bank: that pink curve bounced all the way back to her jump with Marius to the city the first time, and no further.

“But the red curve,” said Lilah, “it doesn’t go back at all. It’s like she and this grey guy came from nowhere. And went to nowhere.”

“No, they went somewhere,” said Annelise. “See?” Twirl. The outward destinations of time travelers began to show up: again, the pink, green and blue lines did not extend, but the red and grey ones did.

“Can we tell where they went?”

“Hey, uh,” said Rob, “there’s people checking us out.”

“Well,” said Annelise, “if we can get to where they left from, we have a good chance of grabbing onto their trace wake and following them to their next destination.”

“That’s what we want,” said Lilah. “Look. This is a war zone. It’s a lawless area for the next five minutes till the locals get up the gumption to check it out. Let’s not dilly dally.”

“You want to go in there?” asked Annelise.

“Yeah,” said Lilah. “I want to know what the hell she is, and what this Lucy has to do with that other Lucy, or that other other one. You guys got a problem?”

“Got a plan?” asked Rob, fiddling with his wand in his left hand. “Does it include three members of the Arhadi fiscal security services? With wands out?”

“So here’s what we’re going to do,” said Lilah.

“Excuse me,” called one of the security wizards, advancing along the walkway. “I’m going to have to ask you to disarm and identify yourselves.”

“I’m Lilah Bay. I’m with the Violet Council. We all are. We are investigating an incident regarding time travel. There’s no reason we should be in each other’s way.”

“Can you prove you’re with that council or whatever?” asked another of the wizards. Lilah, Rob and Annelise held up their rings.

“They’re attacking,” cried the third wizard, following with trt kar ho nin goth at Lilah Bay. The death spell. Ah, the licorice flavor of it as it washed over her and dissipated harmlessly.

Sek il dak ag ra,” said Lilah, waving her wand across them, and the three security wizards slumped to one side or the other and sank sleeping to the floor of the walkway. “Let’s go,” she said. “Hands?”

“Wait, wait,” said Annelise, still stashing her stuff in her jacket. “Okay. Ready.”

“What’s the plan again?” asked Rob as he took Lilah’s left hand.

In an instant they were behind the counters of the bank. There was debris everywhere, and there were plenty of bodies, some of them clearly dead, such as a gentleman sliced in half at the waist by a giant sliver of the giant window’s glass. The interior walls were all blown out, and the three detectives climbed among mounds of wreckage while Annelise tried to use her ring and the box, to the detriment of her ability to walk on junk piles. The rubble rose five or six meters high in a few places, but the floors above had been blasted away for five floors upward. Nothing was on fire, but most of the surfaces showed signs of heat and force.

“It’s just ahead,” said Annelise. “Right—!”

“There,” said Lilah. “The back vaults.”

They had come to the back of the huge building, where the whole gigantic edifice leaned against a mountain. Here, of course, the most secure vaults of the great bank were carved from the living rock. There were five main vaults, and only one of these had been opened, and it appeared to have been opened with a bang. Far above, the blast had opened a hole to the sky.

There were people in front of the vault, patrolling the rubble. Several began moving toward Lilah and company, wands out. “God damn it,” said Lilah. “Listen, you guys,” she called, “Do you know what was in the vault?”

Two of the wizards threw holds on Lilah and Rob. They both responded with kno eur, and the spells flipped back at their speakers. One of the wizards failed against his own spell; the other resisted hers, but succumbed to Annelise’s three-word sleep spell.

“What is with you people?” Lilah said to the other wizard, a middle-aged woman who looked like a middle-aged woman. “What was in that vault?”

“I can’t tell you,” said the wizard lady, “but it’s not there anymore, and that’s going to be very embarrassing to someone.”

“Lilah,” said Annelise, “we’re close enough to grab their trace.”

“They were outside the vault?” asked Lilah.

“Of course. And they set off the weapon just in front of it, and then they time jumped, and then the weapon went off.”

“And by then they were far away?”

“I have it,” said Annelise. “Ready to go?”

“Sure,” said Rob, putting his ring gem forward. “Tap in.”

Lilah took a breath. “Okay, fine,” she said, putting her ring gem against his and Annelise’s. “Do you have any—?”

4.

“—Idea where we’re going?” Lilah finished.

They found themselves in a stone-walled hallway about four meters wide and high and twenty meters long. The light came from the rooms at either end: one shed a comfortably reddish light, while the other gleamed in the grey of wan daylight. Noise of music and conversation covered a steady undertone of penton static. There was no one in the hall.

Lilah and Rob looked at Annelise. “Um, that way,” said Annelise, starting off toward the red-lit room. When they got there, they found a party going on. The room was a stone chamber at least twenty meters on a side and ten high, lit by four fireplaces and a few floating magical lanterns. The furniture spells had been much used here: the place was crowded with living room sets. The music was a mix of three or four separate sources, live and recorded and magically generated; the drinks (and smokes) were very fashionable and expensive; the art decorating the walls and the sculptures standing here and there were masterpieces. But any wizard would recognize it as a wizard party. They had all been to school with someone who knew the person’s brother. The place was abuzz with commiseration about the quality of cheapo magic rings, and drunken puns involving the names of spells.

“Know anyone?” asked Rob.

“I think I’ve been here before,” said Lilah. “So to speak.”

“Up this way,” said Annelise, leading them down past some sort of string band, into another, wider hallway, past booths of food sellers and into a long gallery with a bar running along one side. The place was without furniture, but was crammed with wizard hipsters. Annelise put her hands out to keep Lilah and Rob back. “Any moment now,” she said, pulling them to the side along the back wall of the gallery.

And then, without fanfare, with no red or grey ribbon floating in from a direction, Lucy and her friend were there, in an empty corner of the room. They kissed, looked around and began to lay down spells of protection and deflection. Satisfied, they came out into the middle of the room and stood there appraising the situation.

“The thing is,” Annelise said quietly, “we don’t know where they go from here. The time traces end here, they don’t go anywhere else.”

“Do they die here?” asked Rob. “Just asking.”

“I don’t think so,” said Annelise. After a moment, Lilah went past them. “Where are you going?” asked Annelise.

“Get yourselves drinks,” said Lilah. “I just have to have a little chat with someone.”

“Hi, you don’t know me, do you? I’m Lilah Bay.”

Lucy and her man friend looked at each other. They were both dressed in dark formal clothes, and they each carried two backpacks. They looked like they were off on holiday.

“Do we know you?” asked Lucy.

The young man shrugged and smiled. “Time travel parties,” he said.

“I know, right?” said Lilah. “This one’s under some freakin’ mountain at the Wall of Time. Great décor.” Half her brain was analyzing his face: had she met him before? “Can I buy you guys a drink?”

“Uh,” said Lucy.

“Listen,” said Lilah, leaning close. “I was in the audience for that little heist you guys pulled off at Adari, at the Immortal. Effective, and oddly subtle considering the explosions. No, I’m not after you, I have no interest in bank heists, I just want to ask some questions.”

“Why do you want to ask questions? Why would we want to answer them?”

“I’m investigating a disappearance,” said Lilah. “I can’t elaborate because I still know basically nothing. You don’t have any reason to answer them. You don’t have any reason to not answer them. I ask, you answer, you go wherever you’re going.”

“All right,” said Lucy, “I’ll give you three.”

Rob and Annelise sat and played checkers over their glasses of red wine, while halfway down the gallery, Lilah and Lucy and her very attractive friend Andre sat on the floor and drank very old cognac.

“Three questions,” said Lilah. “Okay. One. Is your husband Henry of Endweith on Olvar?”

Lucy got a look. “No,” she said. “It’s complicated.”

“How complicated?” asked Lilah, somewhat shocked at Lucy’s reaction.

“I was supposed to marry Henry, he was set to inherit Endweith from his aunt, but then Andre came along. I’m in love with Andre, I was never in love with Henry. You know.”

“I don’t know what I know,” said Lilah. “So Henry of Endweith wanted to marry you, but you chose Andre instead. And a life of crime, or whatever?”

“I made my choice,” said Lucy proudly. Then she smiled like the Sun, gave Andre a sidelong grin, then kissed him with passion.

“Okay,” said Lilah. “Two. You weren’t in it for the money, were you? You were not doing that heist primarily for monetary advantage.”

“We made a pretty penny,” said Lucy, “though time travelers like you can make that much just investing and time jumping. But,” she went on, gazing at the side of Andre’s face. He was gorgeous.

“We didn’t do it for the money,” said Andre.

“We did it,” said Lucy, “to help bring down the economic system. Immortal takes a huge hit, the banks the Councils set up begin to collapse, revolutions result on Groria, on Olvar. It’s happening. The imaginary money of the rich just evaporates. It doesn’t even leave a smell.”

“Oh kay,” said Lilah. “Three. Just curious. Where did you jump into Adari from? Or, when? Where or when?”

“Were we before?” asked Lucy. “We were on Olvar, that’s our headquarters. Come by, we may be fighting the fight, but we do grow good wine.”

“We should go,” said Andre.

“Yes,” said Lucy. “Nice to meet you, Lilah Bay. See you later.”

And then they twisted their time travel rings and disappeared, leaving, literally, no trace.

5.

Lilah found Annelise and Rob sitting with a young-looking wizard with a goatee. The goateed wizard was holding forth about different kinds of pass seal spell; Annelise and Rob looked exactly as if they were trying not to look bored.

“Excuse me,” said Lilah. “I need you two for a quick conference.”

“Oh, thank the Gods, Lilah,” said Annelise as they walked away. “This party sucks.”

“There are parties like this all over the time streams,” said Lilah. “Some are better than others. Still, it’s a draw, knowing you can go somewhere and no one’s going to kill you, no one’s going to attack you, there’s no actual history to alter. This one happens to be right under the Wall of Time, about five km under the Ash Mountains, and, um, I think it has its good points, but you have to actually like other wizards.”

“And you don’t,” said Rob.

“Except for my old colleagues, and maybe you guys. So where does the time trace go? They jumped out of here, what did you see?”

Annelise shook her head. “I checked with my crystal, and yet again, I could not get a trace leaving here. It’s like they just spontaneously ceased to exist.”

“Well, they thought they were going somewhere,” said Lilah. “The gentleman’s name is Andre. He’s basically the same age as her, about twenty, possibly twenty-one. He didn’t talk a lot. He said they weren’t in it for the money, they were blowing up the central pillar of the economic system. This is Adari, in its golden age: they’ve got branches on five hundred worlds. They fly starships to five hundred worlds. These guys are freedom fighters.”

“Or terrorists,” said Annelise. “They’re not from anywhere near this time, or at least she’s not.”

“I had the impression they were both from Olvar,” said Lilah. “They had the same accent. And I thought they knew each other well. There’s something peculiar about their relationship, but I can’t put my finger on it. Oh, and Lucy was supposed to marry Henry, they were in their last year in the Institute, but she fell in love with Andre.” She looked at Annelise. “So what do you want to do?”

“Hey, you guys,” called a woman’s voice from up the next hall. “Ann-ay! Wassup?”

“Oh my goodness,” said Annelise. “It’s Clo. Clo, how’s it going?”

“I’m going back to school,” said the woman. She was little, pale with black hair and a long black dress. “They want me in the third class of the Big School.”

“The what?” asked Lilah.

“Clo, this is Lilah Bay, she’s my boss. Lilah, this is Clodia. I knew her at Shakaran, we worked together, kind of.”

“We worked together,” said Clodia. “I sure learned a lot. Taking it to the next level. Great party, huh? Everyone here is a time traveler.”

“Yeah, I know. So what is this school?”

“Do you know who Photius is? Yeah. He’s starting this school. For time travelers. The first class is just nine wizards. I got accepted in the third class, so that’s how serious this is. What are you guys doing? What’s your job?”

“We’re investigating the disappearance of a universe,” said Lilah. “But right now, we wouldn’t mind hearing about these bank-robbing terrorists we followed to here, who just jumped out but didn’t leave a trace, literally.”

“You mean Andre and Lucy,” said Clodia.

“You know them.”

“I know of them. They’re quite the, uh, bank-robbing terrorists, indeed. Apparently they’re trying to undermine the capitalist militarist system. I mean, Goddess help them, you know what I’m saying? Why? You guys time cops? I’ve heard of you, Lilah Bay.”

“That makes two of us,” said Lilah. “So where did they come from and where did they go?”

“They cover their tracks pretty well,” said Clodia. “I’m sure they’re very thorough.”

“No one is that thorough.” Lilah turned to Rob. “Give me that box. I got memory enough of Andre to get us to him.”

Rob dug the box out of his jacket pocket, and Lilah put it to her head. She held the black box a centimeter from her forehead, and with a slight wince she copied the memory of Andre into the box. She looked around. “Okay. I don’t mean to be rude. Can we all catch up later?”

“I’ll be right here,” said Clodia.

“Okay,” Lilah said as the three of them walked back up the hall. “This time, we chase Andre. We have no idea who he is, or why he’s the way he is. So let’s be ready with some defense.”

“It’s my favorite part of the job so far,” said Rob, pulling out his wand.

6.

The three of them, off in a corner of the party, put their rings together against the box in Lilah’s hand. They pictured the heck out of Andre: the smooth, handsome face, the daring look of doubtlessness, the nicely groomed little beard, the flash in those blue eyes.

He reminded Lilah of Elio, but then again not. They had the same daring doubtlessness, they had the same fine attention to grooming, they had the same dangerous look in their eyes, those pale blue recklessly shallow eyes. But Andre looked like someone who totally believed in his struggle. Elio didn’t believe in any struggle. He believed in going off and returning with great fanfare, but the part in between, where you have to figure out what the right thing to do is and then do it, no matter how difficult: he wasn’t so into that.

She was remembering more and more about him. She felt like that complex of caverns was opening up to her torch. He thought himself a great lover, but after the first few times, he didn’t have anything more to show her: he couldn’t trouble himself to try anything new, since he was already so very wonderful. He considered himself quite the radical revolutionary, but for all his iconoclasm, he kept high the icon of his own genius; it was really his only credo. He was certainly very intelligent and possessed of a powerful magical skill, and he was an avid learner of new spells and methods, but by the halfway point in their relationship, she had surpassed him, and he had never admitted it to himself Elio’s superiority over Lilah was pars per toto of his superiority over the cosmos, and to doubt it would be to doubt himself. And to doubt himself was weakness.

And that, Lilah was fairly sure, he had in common with Andre.

The other two were looking at Lilah. They were still in the stone hall between rooms at the time travelers’ party. “Sorry,” she said. “Miles away.”

“I’d love to know what you think about,” said Annelise, “when you get that look in your eyes.”

“Just remembering,” said Lilah, thinking of the look in Elio’s eyes when she blasted his neat-o white wand and sent him fleeing her wrath, fleeing into the woodwork. She couldn’t help but smile. “I have a lot more of that to do,” she said. “Ready?”

“Sure, boss,” said Rob.

They focused. They focused the heck out of Andre. Take us to Andre!

The three detectives, their rings together, experienced a moment of dizziness, but they held their position. Then they were gone and back again, the jump taking just a little longer than the zero seconds it normally would take. They looked around.

They were back in the lobby of the Immortal Reserve Bank of Adari. The three of them stood together near the a potted plant. About twenty meters away stood Lilah Bay: there were now two nearly identical Lilah Bays in the bank. This one was looking back toward the giant, still-intact window, where Rob stood watching.

Lilah turned to the right. There was the bathroom. The door swung open, and out came Lucy and her friend Andre.

“This is identical to before,” said Lilah, stuffing the box in her pocket. “Let’s back-jump.”

“You’re sure it’s the same?” asked Rob. They watched Lucy and Andre place the crystal and move forward, throwing spells around.

“Exactly the same,” said Lilah, watching the way they aimed their wands at the crystal. “They’re about to blow that thing up.”

“Okay,” said Annelise. She and Rob grabbed Lilah’s hands and Lilah got her ring to take them straight back to where they had been, that stony hall between lame zones of a time travel party.

“Okay, so,” said Lilah, “is that the only Andre we have or did the box get lazy?”

Annelise got her best crystal out of her backpack. It still had metal gadgets bracketing it. She fiddled a little, then looked at Lilah. “Can I borrow that box?” she asked.

“Of course,” said Lilah. She dug it out and handed it to Annelise, then said to Rob, “Any great epiphanies, champ?”

“Sure,” said Rob. “I think we’re too late to save that window.”

“That window is one of the wonders of the cosmos,” said Lilah. “Bloody terrorists. How they love broken glass.” She looked at Annelise. “So?”

“That’s all the time I get?” asked Annelise. “Okay. So yeah. Nothing. It looks like Andre only exists for about half an hour all told. It’s odd.”

“Could they just have hidden their traces somehow?” asked Rob.

“Not from me they couldn’t,” said Annelise. “But the equipment isn’t the best, these aren’t the best conditions, so maybe we just need to go back to the office and see what George and Mr. Marius think.”

“Marius isn’t there,” said Lilah. “He’s off taking care of some other problem with time and space.” She sighed. “But maybe George can come up with something. Otherwise, this seems like a dead end. Which is odd, if you think about that bank attack. Because that sure seems like it should be important, don’t you think?”

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