=   F.U.C.K. - Fucked Up College Kids - Born Jan. 24th, 1993 - F.U.C.K.   =

                        Honor Among Thieves

        Mark had been with this crew for over a year now. As was custom,
you just didn't ask a lot of questions. He knew very little about the
others in the group, only that once every month they would get together,
run a score, and back to the daily life of each. One of four, yet as
a team they were not to be trifled with. A special task force had
been formed three and a half years ago to try and catch the leader of
this crew. Over the years, members would filter in and out, but one
had stayed in seemingly forever.
        He didn't know much about Jeremy as a person. He could attest
to Jeremy's technical skill when it came to crime. Top of the line entry
guy, good with planning and strategy, equally proficient with explosives,
sharpshooter, electronics, you name it.. Jeremy could do it. Despite
his wide variety of skills, most scores relied on having a well trained
crew that trusted each other, that worked well together. Getting on his
team was more difficult than getting any job or car loan. Very few people
knew about his team, fewer made it on.
        There were maybe five teams across the world of this caliber, and
he was on it. Sometimes it bug him that he couldn't talk about it,
couldn't tell his friends what an honor it was. Funny he should think of
that word, because most criminals were without honor. It was something
that no one could understand unless they were within the criminal element.
Most 'good' people couldn't comprehend the thought of 'honor' and 'thief'
in the same sentence. Yet it was there.. a strict yet unofficial code
many of them lived by. Jeremy demanded it of his team at all costs.

        Conner had been with the team for almost two years from what
he knew. As far as a timeline, he had no idea how long Jeremy was
active before the task force was formed, only events since that.
New to the team was Ben. As was procedure, all members of the crew
had to meet and agree on any new members, but Jeremy had final say.
Ben had come highly recommended from the network, possessed all
the skills needed to fill in the recently retired Lane, and seemed
like a good guy all around. As with most new members, proficiency
was rarely a problem, liking the person was the issue.

        The night had come for their monthly score. The pace Jeremy
kept was beautiful. Instead of going for super high risk, super high
payoff, he used his skill to plan moderate hits. Each month would bring
them money to live six months. This allowed each member to put away
money for a healthy and early retirement. In trade for smaller scores,
the risk was almost non-existent to them. One thing that you never
saw in these groups was the cut this group experienced. It was customary
that a leader take an increased percentage for planning and 'allowing'
others to join in. With Jeremy, it was different. Most hits, he took
a smaller percentage than anyone else, sometimes just enough to live
comfortably until the next score.
        They sat in the basement of some rented house, preparing for
the hours to come. Plans of the building, highlighted routes to take,
backup plans, emergency escape routes, frequencies of police, even
alternate scores nearby if the original couldn't be worked out. Once
everyone had given indication they were ready, they headed out. As
was customary in groups of this nature, an unofficial 'rank' was held
by each member based on time with the group. That put Conner in second,
him in third, and Ben in fourth. Since joining the group, there was
never a time where this came up, but the feeling was always present,
and fully understood.

        Mark sat there with Jeremy on the fire escape, quietly watching
the neighborhood below. The watch showed ten more minutes before they
had to move, giving them both reason to lean back against the wall.
Looking at Jeremy he noticed his ever vigilant eyes scanning the scene
below, a slight smile trying to escape.

        "Can I ask you a question Jeremy?"

        "Of course, what's up?"

        "Well, I was just wondering why you always took a smaller
         cut than the rest of us. I mean, you plan these hits
         with such precision, you catch every little detail, and
         basically provide a fullproof plan. The scores are always
         well worth it financially.. and other team leads out there
         seem to take more in return for that. Why are you different?"

        "Hm.. strange that you are the first to ask. Hell, Conner has
         never put that question to me. Anyway, because of certain
         incidents in my past, I value loyalty more than you know.
         There is a certain honor among thieves that I look for. That
         honor is worth a lot to me, especially in the network now.
         More and more upstarts are in it for all the wrong reasons,
         and would kill their mother to score an extra dollar. That
         is wrong."

        "Yeah, I have run into a couple like that. Didn't like any part
         of them so I always moved on. Dunno what it is about them, but
         I definitely know what you are talking about."

        "As I said, past incident have taught me that honor among thieves
         is foremost in the network, whether people know about it or not.
         Long ago I vowed never to be in the position where I had to deal
         with dishonor like that. So, I struck out on my own, and here
         I am. That is one of the reasons I take my time finding new people
         to hook up with. Just not worth the the time to deal with someone
         like that."

        "Figured it was something like that, but just wanted to see what
         you thought. Thanks Jeremy."


        The watch set them into motion. Mark reached into a bag next to
him and drew out a grappling iron. Out of the corner of his eye he could
see Jeremy nod, triggering his throw. The iron flew out away from the
building, dragging a soft black rope behind it. The graceful arc it formed
took it over a twenty foot alley and onto the far side of the opposite
roof. Pulling it taught, he felt it latch onto the AC unit resting on
stilts. Silently, the two thieves swung out onto the rope and slid
        Jeremy went into action once on the roof. Unpacking various gear,
he set up shop in front of the door that provided roof access. It took
him several minutes to setup a temporary bypass for the alarm, and only
twenty seconds to pick the lock of the door. What was that, five minutes
total to get into the building? With an appreciative smile he patted
Jeremy on the back once and handed him a black duffel bag. Both slipped
into the building, empty bags in hand. He gave a radio check to the other
team and slid down two flights of stairs.
        Twelve minutes, thirty seconds.. to the second, and they were
back on the roof, each with one full bag. Radio check showed the streets
were clear, so they made their escape, cleaning their tracks. When the
police arrived the next day, they would find no signs of forced entry,
no fingerprints, nothing on the cameras in the building, no heat sensors
tripped, motion detectors still armed, and one cabinet completely
empty of its normal contents.

        Profits from that score were nice. They were all amazed at how
much clients were paying for information. This last score was one set
of manuals from the corporate office of Brindel Security Systems, giving
full details of bypassing every alarm they were capable of installing.
It was ironic that Jeremy could already do it, but the client wanted
the complete set of manuals, nothing else.


        The new month had arrived, drawing them all to the rented
basement like moths to the flame. As countless months before, they
planned out the score for that night, drilling the plans into their
head. Once done with the plans, they decided to split up for dinner
before heading on to the site. He and Conner wrapped up and headed
for the door, with plans to hit Arby's. Before he could get out
the door, Jeremy asked him to stay for a minute. Conner continued
outside to wait.

        "Thanks for staying Mark.."

        "No, glad you said something. I had a question about tonight
         but didn't want to bring it up in front of the others."

        "I figured you would wonder, so its better that you ask now
         instead of doubt later."

        "Yeah. Well, obviously I would be better suited on the back
         entrance with you. And, you seem to split the team so that
         you are always with me or Conner.. why Ben?"

        "I guess a test of sorts. I have doubts, and this should
         alleviate those concerns."

        "Gotcha.. see you later"

        Dinner was un-eventful, he and Conner sat in near silence.
Both silently reviewed the plans to make sure everything would be
fine. Even though they rarely teamed up, conversation didn't seem
natural between them, so neither forced the issue. They wrapped it
up and headed out to get ready.

        They were all in place at midnight. Things were going smooth
as usual. Six minutes after the patrol car turned the corner, Jeremy
gave the word that set them into action. He and Conner entered through
the second story side window as planned. Unlike other hits, this one
involved three people doing entry, only one on watch because of the
relaxed environment. Also unusual was the time they spent in the place,
almost three hours.. and the time crawled like never before.


        He and Conner were the first ones back to the basement. It would
be another fifteen minutes before the other two arrived, so they set
down their bags on the table, prepared to view the loot. Instead of
emptying his bag he stepped back a few paces and reached to his back.
It had never been used before, and he was scared of his own actions now,
but it had to be done. While Conner emptied his sack, he screwed the
suppressor onto the end of the .22 and leveled it at his team mate.
        A guttural cough was all it took to make Conner realize something
was amiss. He turned to face his friend, and found a problem.

        "Why Conner?"                                      

        "What the fuck are you talking about?"

        "You know the rules, why steal from the rest of the team?
         From Jeremy?"

        "Man, you have flipped.. what are you talking about

        "Third room on the left, roughly eight thousand dollars
         in the fourth drawer down. I was watching from the door."

        "You must be tripping or something. There was no money.."

        "Last chance. Please.. please don't make me do this..."

        "Fuck you.."

        "Honor among thieves... rule number one. Honor among

        With a look of anguish, he chambered the first round, and
waited five seconds. After no response he held the gun up and fired
once. Conner went reeling back, the force of the bullet strong enough
to knock the other man down. His first and only shot pierced Conner's
heart, killing Conner almost instantly. The shot stunned him.. he had
never shot anyone before. Time escaped him as he stared at the body,
the world around him far away.

        He heard a muffled voice from somewhere. Again. A third time
and he realized it was his name. The fourth time and he snapped
back to this world and looked around. Jeremy stood at the door, his
face featureless. Now that he thought about it, he had just killed
the second, without consulting the first. Without a word, he turned
to face Jeremy, gun still leveled.
        As soon as he realized he was aiming the gun at Jeremy he
pushed it out, bringing no reaction from Jeremy. As he sat there
with arm outstretched, gun leveled, he could barely comprehend
his actions. He let go of the gun, letting it spin around his trigger
finger, and the gun came to a rest barrel down. He nodded once indicating
that Jeremy should take the weapon. As he let go of the gun, his arm
dropped down to his side.

        "I can explain everything Jeremy.."

        "Hmm.. this gun seems light."

        Jeremy pulled the clip out and held it up to the dim light
in the room. It was as he suspected.

        "You only had one shot Mark.."

        "Yes. I never wanted to use it, but I carry the gun for that
         reason specifically. Conner stole from you. From all of us."

        "I know. I saw him do it tonight, as well as times before.."

        "You..you knew?!"

        "I never said who I was testing earlier. Welcome to my
         family... brother."

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