Mara’s face momentarily broke into a smile even as she felt Paku wince in her mind.
“Why must there always be an explosion?” He complained.
“It’s the simplest and fastest way of getting in,” she replied as she skirted some rubble littering the hall.
“Yes, but it’s also the noisiest and it always alerts security. You’re perfectly capable of getting in and out without being detected, so why make it that much harder for yourself?”
“C’mon, Paku, you know I work better under pressure,” she said playfully.
“Well one of these days you’re going to get yourself caught.”
“Not if my lookout does his job and warns me if anyone is coming.”
“Yes, yes,” said Paku lazily. “The alarms are going off, but it will take them some minutes before they can get through the safety measures you re-engaged once you were past them.”
Mara stepped into the brightly lit room with stainless steel walls. It was little more than an oversized vault used to safeguard a single item; the Rose of St. Petersburg. It was the largest flawless pink diamond in the world.
“They’ve gotten past the infrared detectors,” Paku informed her.
There was an unmarked grey case sitting on a table in the middle of the room. Mara went over and undid the latches. Inside, nestled in folds of black velvet, was a blush colored jewel the size of a golf ball.
Plucking the gem from the dark material she gripped it between her thumb and forefinger and held it up to the light. It glittered and sparkled prettily.
“Pretty bauble,” she murmured, “too bad it’s pink.”
“I hate to interrupt,” drawled Paku, “but you’re about to receive some visitors whom I doubt will be very happy to see you.”
Mara made a few adjustments to the grey case and prepared to make her escape.
Three burly guards in dark suits ran into the vault room and looked around, guns drawn. They didn’t see anyone, and the case was still sitting on the table.
One of them went over, unlatched it, and briefly looked inside.
“The diamond’s still here,” he said, sounding confused.
“Close it back up and take it to the boss. Whoever broke in might have replaced it with a fake, though for our sakes I sure as hell hope not. He’ll know for sure. Meanwhile Cranston and I will keep looking for the intruder.”
The guard did as he was told and exited the room, taking the case with him and trying not to think about what would happen to him if the diamond really had been stolen.
He was walking out to the car when he heard a strange noise from within the case. He stopped and slowly brought it up to his ear, listening. After a few seconds, it came again. A faint scratching sound. Uneasily, he put the case on the trunk of the car and opened it a crack. Nothing happened. He opened it further, and everything was as it had been before. His ponderous brows furrowed in confusion over dull hazel eyes. He’d heard something, he was sure of it.
Back in the steel room, the guard called Cranston suddenly bent down and picked something up off the floor. He straightened up, holding a ragged piece of black fabric in his hands. He showed it to his associate.
“Whaddya make of this?” He asked.
The other man looked at it for a moment, then shrugged.
Extending a digit, the man poked at the cloth protecting the gem and it squirmed beneath his finger. Surprised, he took several steps back. To his complete and utter astonishment, a large black cat unfolded itself from the case. It had been curled up inside. With dismay the man saw that the creature was holding the pink diamond in its mouth.
“Nice kitty,” he said, creeping towards it. “Good kitty, stay right there.” He slowly reached into his shoulder holster and withdrew his gun. “Nice kitty cat.”
The cat rolled its eyes – cats don’t roll their eyes, he thought – and sprang off the car onto the ground then took off like a shot.
He brought his gun around and took aim, but the feline had already disappeared into the darkness. He put his gun back into the holster and wondered miserably how he was going to explain what happened.
The black cat came to a stop in an alley several blocks away. It gently dropped the diamond onto an old newspaper lying on the ground and then changed back into its natural form.
“You know, I think you’re more attractive as a cat,” mused Paku from a fire escape above Mara’s head. The small dragon was lounging on the metal grating with his tail hanging over the edge, twitching back and forth.
“Perhaps,” said Mara, retrieving the bundle of clothing she’d hidden behind a dumpster several hours earlier, “but our mind link only works when I’m in human form. If I stayed a cat we wouldn’t be able to have any more of the conversations that I so dearly cherish.”
She dressed quickly and soon resembled her normal self; a young woman of medium height and athletic build with striking blue eyes and dark hair cut short. Her clothing reflected her preferred manner of dress – a dark red PVC camisole-style top that bared her lean midriff, tight-fitting black bondage pants, heavy black boots, and spiked leather cuffs around each wrist and a matching choker around her neck. The only drawback to being able to shapeshift was that it didn’t extend to clothing.
She also recovered her staff, which was made of a material that wasn’t metal but was harder than steel or titanium, yet light enough that she could wield it without ever becoming tired. It was the only weapon she carried, but its uses were many and varied.
She picked up the diamond and held it in the palm of her hand. It had been stolen three weeks ago while on loan to a museum for a special exhibition. Mara, who worked under the title of ‘Reacquisition Specialist’, had been contracted to find it and steal it back.
Paku left his perch and flew down to her, settling himself on her shoulders like some sort of reptilian stole. He was roughly the size of a housecat, not as tall but longer and more sinuous. His scales were scarlet in color and slightly iridescent, and his eyes were yellow with slit pupils. His razor-sharp claws were black and so were his leathery membranous wings. His full name was actually Pakuzashiintalamo’ret, which in the Tongue of Dragons meant ‘Little Spark Riding On The Wind’. Mara called him Paku for short. They communicated telepathically and she’d gotten more than one strange look for laughing out loud at something he’d said.
“Here,” she said, “make yourself useful and carry this. Just don’t swallow it.”
He obligingly opened his mouth and she placed the jewel on his tongue between rows of needle sharp teeth.
She caught a trace of displeasure coming from the small dragon.
“What?” She asked.
“It’s got cat hair on it,” he grumped.
This was actually inspired by one of those meme things I filled out a while ago called 'Generate Your Anime Style'. I forget who wrote it, but it's somewhere in my LJ (the recent page, considering how much I update). Perhaps someone will fill it out themselves, be inspired, and actually reply! Wouldn't that be a hoot!