[Beasts of Bullion (Therian Tales) / Alan Barrera]

Therian Tales

The Goldman-Lynch Financial Bank was considered the epitome of financial institutions. A neo-classical beauty, the bank was decorated with painted murals, ancient architecture, and a giant golden bull outside of its doors. It handled numerous services. Many customers dropped off bundles of cash, entrusting the tellers to keep their funds in a safe place; a few patrons deposited their jewels and precious metals, requesting that their treasures be secured under lock and key within the steel vaults.

Not all the patrons at Goldman-Lynch wanted to drop off their money. Many people withdrew a small amount just to pay for groceries; others requested large sums in order to put a down payment for a home.

One group wanted to take all the Bank’s funding.

Everyone in the bank heard of the Beasts of Bullion. The group gained infamy through their unique approaches on heisting. During the Bull Runners Ceremony, several of the members led the bulls to a nearby bank, which bought enough time to steal the keys, loot the vaults, and get away. Maybe it was their way of calling out to the world, a form of cockiness against the criminal justice system. Perhaps their absurd tactics were backed by luck or divine intervention. Regardless of the reason the group managed to escape, baffling police on how a band of robbers can disappear after causing such a ruckus.

The patrons paid no heed to the news stories. They scoffed at the group attempting to rob this place due to the building’s stalwart history: one of the eldest banks in the nation, held Pre-Grand Skyfall gold, issued the Matriarchs first paper currency. And not once has it ever been knocked over. Successfully, that is. The patrons embraced in their history; in turn they refused to acknowledge that history always changes.

Their wake-up call occurred when a black big rig crashed through the red front doors. It plowed through the lobby carting a livestock trailer large enough to carry two to three cattle. Each obstacle slowed the big rig until the vehicle emitted a black smoke, and its wheels slowly spun to a halt.

The truck’s front doors were kicked open. A hulking individual emerged wearing a black EOD bomb suit used to dispose of military explosives. Leaning on his shoulder was a battle rifle with a drum magazine. The driver resembled a demonic space marine ready to conquer this unknown territory. Horns protruded the helmet; a steel plate, with two holes for eye sockets, covered the face. He moved toward the tellers, pointing the rifle at the denizens.

Two other individuals popped out of the trailer’s curbside doors: one individual had a dog mask, another person wore a termite mask. Both men wore heavy tactical armor which overlaid their two piece suits. Each robber possessed their own weapons: the dog wielded his light-automatic rifle, the termite had a machine pistol holstered on his side.

“Billdozer’s here!” The driver said with a modulated voice. “Lay your ass on the floor! If you pull out a phone I’ll put a hole in your ass!”

Many of the patrons obeyed and lied down on the bank’s black marble. The dog and the termite used cable ties to wrangle the civilians. The guards ran over and drew their pistols. Billdozer turned, firing several bursts. Each round pierced though their bodies, leaving behind several red blotches on their uniforms. The civilians screamed as they fell to the ground like sacks of meat.

“Everyone remain calm.” The dog-masked robber commanded. “We are only recovering money that has been stolen by Goldman-Lynch from the citizens of the Matriarchy. They took your money to line their pockets and convince you it’s for your own benefit. We do not wish to harm you. Think about your families, think about your friends.”

One citizen raised their head.

“I said stay down!” The patron went back to the floor and stuck up his hands in surrender. “Don’t act dumb. Just play the silent game, and everyone is a winner.”

The termite-masked robber walked over to one of the tellers. He ordered her to get up. He noticed a teller reaching for the panic button. He fired into the teller’s face. The worker slapped the red button. The piercing alarm echoed in the bank’s vaulted lobby. Everyone screamed in the response. The robbers were briefly startled before regaining composure.

“Five minutes,” the dog-masked robber barked. “Bank vault. Now.” The termite told the teller to take him to the vault. “Bill, Front door. Hold off the cops. Tim and I will loot the vault.”

“Shit just got real!” Billdozer said as he moved toward the front door.

The dog took a teller with him while venturing off into the back. Billdozer exited the building, overlooking his path of destruction. Chunks of concrete and bent iron bars scattered on the tarred pavement, tire tracks paved the way toward the entrance of the bank, and the golden bull – the symbol of Goldman-Lynch’s financial might – laid on its side. The Billdozer walked over to the golden bull and planted his foot on the beast’s head like a conquistador.

“There’s difference between you and me, cow,” The Billdozer said propping his rifle on the ground. “You are nothing more than meat. You live docilely over your territory and accept your fate when they decided to massacre you. Is that how you want to live? To be something that fattens others so that they live to see another goddamn day?” The Billdozer turned to the street, noticing the flashing sirens moving closer. “Not me. I have horns, and I am not afraid to use them. I will pierce every motherfucker that tries to take me down. I will teach them that messing with a bull will get you gored.”

The police parked near the bank. The Billdozer pointed his rifle.

It was a pristine steel vault door large enough to fit a semi-truck. The dog growled at the door as he walked to the small padlock nearby the door. He reached into his pocket, pulling out a steel tube covered in cold condensation. A small twirl and an angled tilt revealed a pinkish and slightly wrinkled middle finger. Pressing the finger on the pad, the dog shook his head; he didn’t want to know how his colleague got the finger.

“Another day on the job, huh?” The termite asked.

“Everybody needs a job; everyone needs a payday,” The dog replied.

“Yeah, yeah. I’m just here to help us escape. I’ve been experimenting with a new type of thermite, and this is the perfect opportunity to test it. This bank prides itself on its unbreakable foundation, but isn’t it odd how right below us is an underground garage. They did not think things through, did they?”

“Their pride is their folly. We got a dump truck waiting right below us, and we’re the janitors. We’re helping them clean up the place, and that vault is going to be so clean you can see yourself on its metallic walls.”

The dog masked robber chuckled.

“The plan seems flawless.”

“What do you mean?”

“Do you honestly think that Bill will hold out that long against an army of cops? He’s not some action hero with goddamn plot armor; he’s just some guy with a personal vendetta–”

“Bill can hold them back. Fucker lives for that shit, and he’s still standing because of his animosity towards cops. Ignis chose him for this job because it had the highest chance of running to them; we are simply giving him an opportunity to – reacquaint – with his former colleagues.”

“I hope you’re right, Sabo.”

“You’re goddamn right I’m right, Timothy,” The vault door beeped. “We know our jobs: I bag the loot, you make the hole.”

Sabo turned the vault handle and tapped a few buttons on the keypad. The mammoth door creaked as it revealed its treasured contents.

Blotches of red stained the uniforms of the Matriarchy. Many lied on the concrete, staring aimlessly at their destructive surroundings, their bodies outlined with a red paste. Others officers were maimed: arms and legs ripped off or dangling with a muscle fiber, holes riddled their bodies, heads resembled bruised deviled eggs.

Billdozer roamed the destructive landscape like a bully in a playground. Riddled with bullet holes and dents on his metal visor, he nodded in approval. The onslaught aftermath was his picture perfect image, a masterpiece that he crafted with his two hands. He searched for more red paint to spray on the concrete canvas.

He found a straggling officer crawling over to a nearby cruiser. He was a snail leaving a trail of sanguine from his legs. Billdozer trotted over to the officer and loomed over the body. The officer turned around.

“Move.” The armored robber jabbed the rifle butt into the ribs of the officer. “You’re going to give me paint to play with.”

The officer reached for his pistol. Billdozer pointed his rifle at the injured cop. The cop turned his pistol toward his own head. The robber smacked the gun away.

“No no. Don’t kill yourself – or anything. That honor’s mine.”

The armored robber thrusted his rifle butt into the injured officer’s ass. The officer crawled toward the flashing cruiser. He reached for the radio and called for reinforcements. Billdozer transformed the injured officer’s head to a chunky visceral blotch.

The Goldman-Lynch bank vault resembled a pristine prison. Two floors of wrought iron bars sealed away the stacks of bullion and bundles of cash. Rows of deposit boxes locked away other treasures in a solitary confined space.

Sabo approached each door with a ring of metallic keys. “Too easy” he thought as he unlocked each cell with the corresponding key. He unlocked every cell. The dog-masked robber walked into the row of deposit boxes, searching for the boxes reserved by their inside man. They always reserved the boxes A1, C4, F2, E2, L2, and O3, for all their heists; the officers never caught on to that pattern. The deposit boxes held folded duffel bags laced with heat-resistant polymers and spare rigs of Timothy’s custom thermite. Sabo passed the thermite to Tim as he bagged the treasures.

Tim established a two-foot wide circle composed of boxes of thermite in the middle of the vault. While Sabo bagged the loot, Tim lugged his equipment from the truck trailer over to the vault. As he did his rounds, he ensured the hostages safety by dragging them to a reinforced bathroom. The termite eventually finished his chemical outline. He handed Sabo a gas mask consisting of an air filtration system and auto-darkening filter lenses.

The two men swapped their masks: Sabo was a young man with blonde wavy hair. He would have been a fashion model – if it wasn’t for a large burn scar across his left eye; Tim was an older man with a desert landscape as his hairstyle and his pinkish eyes gave the impression he was inebriated on his own drug supply.

“How does it feel,” Tim asked. “Using a mask not your own?”

“A bit odd.” Sabo straightened the mask. “With the dog I have a commanding presence, and I can breathe easier with it. Wearing this almost feels claustrophobic.”

“It’s only temporary. Once the thermite dies out, then you can switch back. The last thing Koala needs is a husband who went blind for refusing to wear the wrong mask.”

“I’m not too worried. You should be the one worried if we manage to live through our injuries.”

“Hold on a sec. Get behind one of the cell doors.”

Tim walked over to his bag. He pulled out a box of matches. He lit the red match head, and sprinted to the cell. The lit wooden stick descended on the powdered trail. The reaction resembled a fuming dragon breathing fire in its own den. A bright light engulfed the vault followed by a brief expulsion of heat. The two men briefly saw the black outlines of their surroundings before the visors adjusted their vision.

“We got a couple of minutes before the thermite wears off,” Tim placed one of the bags near his feet. “I always wanted to know: how did we end up getting Bill to work for us?”

“I thought you knew?”

“I know very little about you guys. We may have worked together for quite some time, but we never “bonded”. I know you from the bits and pieces of your life, but Bill – he is nothing but a ticking time bomb. Knowing more about him will help steer away from his aggressive tendencies.”

“So you want to know about Bill?”

“I do.”

The compound sliced through a quarter of the flooring. Sabo took a deep breath.

“The three of us, Koala, Ignis, and I, were on route to an airport hangar to retrieve a cashe of weapons. All we had to do was go there, get the guns, and split. As we hauled the weaponry over to the Winnebago we heard an inhuman scream; it sounded like a bull at first, then it changed to a human scream. The three of us brought some of the guns and went to the hangar.

“We went inside. The warehouse was filled with men dressed in office attire with brass stars hanging on their waists, playing cards with a mound of items in the center of the table. Near the back was Bill; his boxer-clothed black body was tied near the back wall, drenched in water. Jumper cables and a car battery were nearby his bruised rotund frame. His head was bend to the floor, wheezing as he took his breathes, blood dripping out of his orifices like a waterfall.

“I can never understand Ignis’s logic: one moment he wants the stealthy approach, the next moment he wants to go as loud as possible. He riddled their heads with holes, never going for center mass for some reason. Koala and I unlocked the cage and freed the from his torture cell. Ignis commented we have more loot than expected.

“We bound Bill in one of Ignis’s spare rooms. Ignis read his dossier and requested a reinforced EOD bomb suit and deliver it near Bill’s bed. When the rotund man awoke, Ignis waited near Bill’s bedside, holding the suit’s helmet. The black man was offered the armor if he worked for us. Bill accepted – on the condition that he only does jobs with the highest chance of running into the cops.”

The bright light ceased. The concrete circle sunk down before free-falling onto the garage floor, shattering the slab into small chunks of rock and shaking the earth with tectonic force. The men approached the hole. A dump-truck reversed over the rubble, parking underneath the artificial hole.

“Now I know how to kill time,” Sabo inquired.

“How?”

“Just tell a story.”

SWAT teams and HRT arrived on the scene. Armed with assault rifles, ballistic helmets, kevlar vests, flash bangs, ammo magazines, and riot shields, they were prepared to handle situations involving heavily armed criminals, counter-terrorism operations, and high-risk arrests. They approached the bomb-suit cladded criminal, crouching down as they swerved in their small squads.

“Fucking amateurs! Time for some payback.” Billdozer shot one shield-wielding cop in the ankle. The cop tripped. The SWAT officers scrambled for cover. Bill blasted them down. Their bullets were nothing but water on the Billdozer’s puffy suit. The Billdozer dismantled each squad that approached him, dropping each person like a line of dominos. Only piles of injured cops stood before the black bull-horned robber.

“Aww. All over.”

The armored man reloaded his rifle. Sniper fire rang out before he could realign the cocking lever. Billdozer stumbled back. He felt his stomach bruised by the suit’s metal plating, a trickle of ooze coming from his abdomen. Billdozer spotted a red laser line swerving up and down near his torso.

“Impressive,” he said, rubbing his wound. “But futile.”

Billdozer hobbled over to an abandoned cop car as the red laser swerved, blowing off chunks of concrete with each shot. He shot back, but was suppressed by sniper fire. The suited man wobbled when he attempted to stand. His vision blurred as he leaned on the police cruiser.

The dump truck drove near the battle zone. Out from the back came out the Sabo wearing his dog mask and Tim with his termite mask. They spotted the Billdozer leaning against the police cruiser, clutching his wound with one hand and his rifle in another. The two advanced forward.

“Bill,” Sabo yelled. “Get the fuck up!”

“Sniper,” Bill droned.

The red laser creeped closer to the dog-masked robber. Sabo leaped back. The bullet missed. Sabo tossed his rifle over near the dump truck before diving over to his armored comrade.

“Dammit, no wonder you got downed,” Sabo inspected the wound. “How bad is it.”

“A graze. Most of the suit took most of the blow. Hurts like hell though.”

Tim grabbed the rifle, taking cover behind the dump-truck. The termite aimed through the iron sights. The blurred blue sniper was preoccupied with suppressing Bill and Sabo near the cruiser. It took Tim one shot. The laser scribbled the concrete before disappearing. Tim left his hiding spot, running toward Bill and Sabo. The two men escorted the lumbering man over to the mammoth truck. All three men entered the truck and shut the hatch. The dump-truck drove away, leaving the Goldman-Lynch Bank in financial desolation.

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