The New Orleans Museum of Art was only one of the many old stately buildings located in New Orleans. With its pale gray stone walls, it looked almost like a ghost building in the bright moonlight of the early November night. The last visitors had long since departed for the day, leaving the building to the mercy of the dark, eerie shadows that enveloped it and the people who crept within the shadows themselves.
Two guards patrolled the museum every night on a regular basis. They, along with the security system put into place by the NOPD, were intended to keep the museum safe and secure from intruders and thieves. Only rarely did amateur thieves attempt to steal anything from the NOMA but they were never successful. Ironically, the legendary Thieves Guild, never bothered infiltrating the NOMA, unless it was a designated job for training. On this particular autumn night, however, they were making an exception.
Purely by chance, the Guild had discovered that hidden inside a priceless Egyptian statue on display at the NOMA was a vital piece of information they needed in their quest to resurrect the Old Kingdom. The Guild patriarch, Remy LeBeau, acting in the best interests of both the thieves and their enemies-turned-allies, the Assassins Guild, decreed that the information had to be stolen out of the museum before it fell into non-Guild hands. So two of the thieves made their way stealthily and silently through the shadows towards the museum.
Each of the two men wore the identical blue, white and red uniforms of the Thieves Guild. The elder of the two had short brown hair, piercing green eyes and chiseled features. He gestured towards the far side of the museum. His partner, a younger man with flaming red hair, bright blue eyes and a quick smile, nodded. He slipped into the shadows, close beside the building and darted in the direction his friend pointed. Around the corner he dropped to his knees and pulled a flashlight out of his utility belt. Using his teeth to hold the light in place, he used a pair of pliers to open a nearly invisible hidden compartment in the wall of the museum.
"Y'know Claude?" He muttered around the flashlight in his mouth. "You'd t'ink dey'd be smarter an' have de security system in a less noticible place."
"Most people don' notice it, Emil. It's only people like you an' me who know it's here." Claude replied, standing guard as Emil tapped on the minature keypad. "Hurry up, would ya?"
"Don' rush genius." Emil chuckled.
"Oh shut up an' do your job, Lapin."
Ten seconds later the security system was shut off on the perimeter of the museum. Emil closed the panel and stood, grinning at his friend. "Dere. Now if we wanted to we could walk in de front door. But of course dat would be jus' a bit too obvious. So..."
"So..." Claude nodded. Both men released their towlines and collapsable grappling hooks from their utility belts and swung them up to a window on the second floor of the museum. Using the towlines in the manner in which they were intended, the two thieves climbed up the side of the building. Claude peeked inside and, upon determining the coast was clear, he pried open the window and lifted it up, allowing himself and Emil to slip inside without setting off any alarms.
They immediately slid into the shadows and froze, listening and looking for the guards. One of the first things young thieves in the Guild are taught is "eyes and ears open." It was a lesson they never forgot.
From the blueprint of the museum Theoren had stolen for them off the internet, they knew the statue they were looking for was in a exhibit room on the first floor of the building, near the middle. It was part of a special display of priceless and rare treasure from acient Egypt that was showing at the museum from October to February.
Emil pointed up at one of the corners near the staircase. Claude glanced and shook his head. Of course. There was a security camera pointed in their direction. Emil crossed his eyes and quickly made his way out of sight of the camera. In a matter of minutes he scrambled it and motioned for Claude to join him.
"It'll only be scrambled for a few seconds, c'mon!" He hissed, his voice barely audible. Claude nodded and quietly sprinted to his side.
"Let's go." Claude whispered. Together, they went down the stairs to the first floor of the museum.
At the bottom of the stairs, Claude tapped Emil's arm. "Guards."
Sure enough, in a traditional glass-walled room with monitors and computers, two security guards were watching not what was going on in the building they were being paid to guard, but rather a rerun of The Jerry Springer Show on cable television.
Emil rolled his eyes. "Typical." He muttered.
"Mm-hmm." Claude pointed at a door on the far side of the room. "Dat's de room we want. C'mon."
Keeping one eye on the guards, they maneuvered around the main room towards their destination. Emil stood watch while Claude picked the lock on the door in ten seconds flat. Before the guards even looked up from the commercial break, the two theives were inside the exhibit room. Almost in perfect unison, the two men pulled what looked like small sunglasses out of their utility belts and put them on. They pushed the small red buttons on the sides of the glasses and instantly, the room lit up with red beams cris-crossing back and forth around the room, protecting the ancient artifacts.
"Houston, we have a problem." Emil cracked. He noted quickly that the camera keeping watch on the room from above the door was constantly moving in a wide arc. Using his watch, he timed how long it took the camera to go from one side of the room to the other and figured out that once the camera was away from the statue they were after, they had twenty seconds to get to the statue, get the scroll of information out of it, put it back in place exactly as they found it and get out again. It was easy enough in theory and in practice. But then, there was the small matter of the laser beams. One false step and they'd set off a very loud alarm.
"Any way you can turn de lasers off?"? Claude whispered.
Emil shrugged and scanned the room again. "Oui." He whispered back, jerking his thumb beside them on the right side of the room. "Control panel."
"How convenient. Get to work."
Emil nodded and walked over to the control panel. He opened it and pulled out a pair of wire cutters from his utility belt. There were three wires in the control panel. Red, blue and green. Learning from past experiences, Emil knew that one of them would cut the power to the lasers, one of them would do nothing and one of them would set off the alarm faster than stepping through one of the lasers. He had a one-in-three chance of being right. He could feel the drops of sweat running down his back beneath his uniform. It wasn't comfortable. He glanced over at Claude.
"What?" Claude whispered.
"I feel like I'm on a bomb squad."
"How many wires?"
"Three. An' you know dis ain' my specialty..."
"So?" Claude asked. "Either guess or call Mercy. It's up to you."
Emil shook his head. "Mercy'd be guessin' too. Dese t'ings ain' all made de same, y'know." He turned back to the control panel with a stifled sigh. He had to guess. In most situations, red was a warning color, a sign to stop, whereas green meant go or proceed. However, Emil knew that wasn't always the case for security systems and bombs. And, occasionally, computer games. Emil remembered playing a game with Remy when they were teenagers where green meant stop and red meant go. Emil shrugged and decided to narrow the odds down some. He crossed the fingers on his left hand and used the wirecutters to cut the blue wire with his right.
"Did anythin' happen?" He asked, letting out a breath he didn't know he was holding.
"Whew." Emil sighed. Now...red or green, stop or go? Which one was it? His hair or Claude's eyes? Eenie meenie miney moe? Oh how professional. Theoren would kill him. Finally...
"Claude what are de primary colors?"
"De primary colors. De three colors dat can be mixed to make any other color in de rainbow. What are dey?"
Claude blinked and looked at Emil like he'd suddenly grown another head. "Uh...blue, red an' yellow. Why?"
"T'ank you." Emil smiled and, crossing his fingers again, snipped the red wire. The red beams disappeared.
"Bingo!" Claude cheered. "Good job."
"You helped." Emil smiled again, his blue eyes twinkling at his friend. He looked up to see where the camera was facing. It was moving back towards the statue. Both men watched it move, sweep over the statue and start back again. "Three...two...one..." Emil whispered. "Now."
On cue the two men slipped over to the statue, Emil keeping a close eye on his watch and the camera while Claude lifted the the statue off the table it rested on, opened it and looked inside.
"Ten seconds..." Emil whispered.
Claude triumphantly pulled a small scroll over paper out of the hollow insides of the statue and handed it to Emil, who tucked i safely inside one of the many pouches on his utility belt while Claude returned the statue. "Four...three...two..."
Before he uttered the word one the two of them slipped to safety out of sight of the camera. They walked to the door and peeked outside. The guards were nowhere to be seen.
"Uh-oh...dey ain' watchin' Jerry anymore..." Claude muttered. "Dey mus' be doin' rounds or somethin'." He poked his head out the door and looked both ways. No guards.
"What d'we do? Make a break for de front door or try to get out de way we came in?" Emil asked.
"Front door is a lot closer, less risk of runnin' into dem on de stairs."
"True..." Emil agreed. "So..."
"Front door it is." They said in unison. Quickly checking to make sure the coast was clear, they made a bolt for the front door. Claude unlocked it and they dashed outside, shutting it behind them.
"How do we lock it?" Claude demanded.
"Easy." Emil pulled a skeleton key out of his utility belt and used it to lock the door.
"Where'd you get dat?"
Emil raised his eyebrows and laughed. "Present from Remy. T'ieves have to be prepared for everythin', remember? Even lockin' doors dey've previously unlocked. Now c'mon, I gotta reset de perimeter security b'fore dey figure out somethin' ain' right."
The two men ran around the building, keeping in the shadows, and Emil once again pried open the panel on the side of the museum. They froze upon hearing voices above them, and then moved further into the shadows, hugging the wall under the window.
"I t'ought you said all de windows were closed." The first voice said.
"Dey were, I swear!" Said the second voice.
"Obviously you were wrong."
"I was not! How could de security system work if one of the windows was open, huh?" The second voice argued indignantly.
Claude glanced at Emil, whose fingers were moving faster than Claude thought possible. He silently willed his friend to move faster.
"Well maybe dere's a short in de system. We'll have to go outside an' check it out." The first voice reiterated.
Below them, Claude and Emil heard the distinct sound of a window being closed and locked. Emil pushed three more buttons and the security system came back on, as signified by the lights on the keypad lighting up in sequence. He looked up at Claude and nodded.
"Let's get out of here b'fore dey make it outside."
Fifteen seconds later, Emil and Claude were darting down a nearby alley and onto a side street, on their way back to the Garden District safehouse of the two Guilds. Meanwhile the two museum guards were looking at the security system, unable to find anything wrong. No malfunction. Emil and Claude had camouflaged their presence perfectly and, like the true professionals they were, had left behind no sign that they'd been there.
Inside the safehouse, Remy and the rest of the thieves and assassins were waiting anxiously for the return of the two. When they returned, Bella Donna, viceroy of the Guilds and matriarch of the assassins, nearly attacked them.
"Dat took entirely too long! Where have you been?!"
Emil and Claude looked at each other, matching grins on their faces. "Only an assassin would consider in-an'-out in less'n ten minutes to be too long." Claude laughed.
"Give me a break. Did you get it or not?" Bella Donna demanded.
"Of course." Emil nodded. "Only an assassin would doubt de abilities of a couple of t'ieves."
"Dat's enough." Remy stated, shaking his head. "Nearly four years of unification an' we still can' stop gripin' at each other. Let's see de scroll."
Emil took the scroll out of his utility belt and handed it to Remy, who opened it, examined it and rolled it back up. "We're gon' need Ministers Tome an' Hoard for dis one. Maybe even someone else. I ain' sure. Suitably, it's written in Egyptian." He looked at Claude and Emil with an apprasing smile. "Good work you two. Okay everyone let's sleep on dis an' go visit Tome an' Hoard in de mornin'."