Morals and Quandaries

Chapter 13

No one spoke as the gang made their way to where the ball was to be held. Everyone had their own reasons, but for the most part they wanted to focus on the impending heist ahead of them.

Bentley was busy concentrating on figuring out a good path for Sly to take to get to the artifact, but considering they didn't have any way to spy on the main ballroom floor, they had to hope that it was sufficiently full.

As for Sly, he couldn't help but be a little nervous, despite the fact that he's been through so many heists in his career. What Bentley was asking for him to do, though, almost felt to the thief like he was leaving his escape up to complete chance.

Sighing to himself, Sly decided to just stare out of the window next to him as he attempted to try and keep his mind off of what was about to happen.

Eventually, the gang managed to make it into the city. However, the streets were just as filled with cars and people as it was in the morning, so their progress was slowed to a crawl.

Glancing up from the monitor, Bentley noticed the crowd of people in front of him and sighed.

"Of course there would be a ton of people now! Can you guys see if there are any ways to get around this crowd?"

Both Sly and Murray did as Bentley asked and scanned around the area. Eventually, Sly managed to spot an opening.

"Hey Murray, take that alleyway over to your right. We should be able to get through there no problem."

Murray quickly glanced over at where Sly was pointing and noticed the empty alleyway.

"You sure, Sly? It doesn't look very big."

"It's big enough. At least I think. Can't really tell from here."

As Sly squinted his eyes in an attempt to get a better idea of the width of the alleyway, Murray decided just to go ahead and go for it, figuring that there probably wouldn't be any better ways to go.

So, reluctantly he turned the van towards the alleyway and drove up as close as he could to the opening. He then rolled down his window and leaned out to get a better look, only to find that there was just enough space for the van to fit through.

Rolling the window back up, Murray turned towards the others.

"It's gonna be a tight fit, but I think we should be able to get through."

Murray faced forwards once more and focused completely on the alleyway in front of him. He lightly pressed down on the accelerator and the van finally entered the alleyway.

As Sly and Bentley watched with bated breath, Murray slowly drove the van, making sure that the van remained driving in a straight line. They did not have any room to maneuver, so he couldn't afford to rest on his laurels.

Eventually, though, Murray finally managed to make it through the alleyway unscathed, and all three of them sighed in relief.

"Great job, Murray." said Bentley, reaching over and patting the hippo on the shoulder.

"Yeah, great job pal. And look, this street's actually somewhat clear!" said Sly.

Instead of replying, Murray continued to drive, as they made their way to the ballroom.

Eventually, the gang finally managed to reach the building where the ball was being held, and they managed to catch a glimpse of the large crowd of people in front of the door before the van turned a corner to head towards where they were going to park.

After Murray finally brought the car to a stop, Bentley turned around to face Sly as the raccoon was getting ready to go.

"You ready to go, Sly?"

"Ready as I'll ever be."

Although Sly made an attempt to sound brave when saying that last sentence, Bentley noticed the nervous look on the master thief's face, and he knew that he had to try to calm Sly down.

"Don't worry too much about it, Sly. You saw the crowds. They were massive! I'm sure you'll be able to disappear into them no problem."

Sly paused for a moment to think about what Bentley said, but he chose not to reply, instead picking up his cane and opening the door next to him.

"I'm gonna call you once I reach the roof next to the target so we can make sure that the mics are working."

Bentley gave Sly a worried look, but he also remained focused on the task ahead of them.

"Good thinking, Sly. I'll be keeping an eye on the proceedings as best as I can."

Sly nodded, hopping out of the van and closing the door behind him.

A few minutes later, Sly had his Binocucom out as he studied the roof of the ballroom. He found that there were the same number of guards on top of the building as there was during his last visit, but the odd thing was that none of them were moving.

A thought ran through Sly's head that he should reconsider going through with this heist, but he chose to ignore it, thinking that as long as the guards weren't moving he would have an easier time getting past them.

So, after quickly checking in with Bentley and notifying him of the situation, Sly hopped off of the roof he was on and made his way through the crowd to the side of the ballroom, climbing up a drainpipe to the roof.

After finally reaching the roof, Sly slowly crept his way towards the skylight that he was supposed to go in, only to nearly run into one of the guards. He temporarily froze, thinking that he was caught, but when he got a closer look, he found something that made his blood run cold.

He quickly reached his hand to his ear and switched his communicator on.

"Bentley, I think there's something wrong. The guards on the roof are dead."

There was silence on the other end.

"Bentley? You there?"

"Yeah Sly, I'm here. I don't like this. I really don't like this…I think we should abort the heist and try something else."

As Sly continued to stare at the lifeless form of one of the guards, a bullet hole right between his eyes, he considered going along with Bentley's wishes and heading back towards the van. However, with the dire straits they were in, he knew that they had to get money as quickly as possible.

"Sorry Bentley, I'm gonna have to risk it. We're really gonna need the money if we're gonna make it any longer."

There was a pause on the other end before Bentley spoke up.

"Be careful, Sly. I don't want to lose you."

Sly couldn't help but get a warm feeling from the sincerity in his friend's voice.

"I don't plan on dying today, pal."

Sly closed the connection on his communicator and headed towards the skylight, opening it up and slipping inside the building.

After landing inside the thankfully empty room, Sly headed towards the door and slowly opened it, peeking through the opening to make sure no one was around, which there wasn't.

Sly fully opened the door and slipped through, sticking to the shadows as he made his way towards the stairs. Surprisingly, he ran into no guards along the way, which Sly initially thought must have meant they were on the other side of the floor, but when he looked over at the other side, there were no guards there either.

"This is way too easy." said Sly to himself, tightly gripping his cane as he kept his guard up.

Sly successfully managed to reach the stairs a few minutes later, making his way downstairs and blending into the crowd. As he looked around the area at all of the guests, he noticed that none of them had hats on. While it was something that would most likely be normal at an event like this, Sly knew that his hat would only lead to him sticking out, so he quickly removed his hat and placed it on a table nearby, hoping that he would remember to go by it on the way out of the building.

Remaining within the crowd, Sly slowly made his way over to where the artifact was kept and found it being displayed prominently on a pedestal, with a glass case around it.

"There it is. Now to wait for a good time to get it out of there." he said to himself as he slipped into a dark corner of the building to wait.

Eventually, the crowd inside the ballroom grew larger, and it began to spill over to where the artifact was. Sly took it as a good time to go for it, and he slipped behind a group of people who were too busy dancing to notice what was going on around them.

Sly dug a lockpick out of his pouch and went to work on unlocking the case, getting in a few minutes later. But, as he went to grab the artifact, he was fully expecting there to be an alarm. Surprisingly, though, there wasn't. This left Sly puzzled for a moment before he heard the 'click' of a gun being pointed right as his head.

"Drop the cane and artifact, now."

Sly immediately recognized the voice, slowly turning around and catching a glimpse of Anton before the gun barrel pressing against his head forced him to turn back around.

Sly had no intention of following through with Anton's orders this time around, as he remembered what nearly happened the last time he and his friends were captured, so he immediately ducked down, sweeping Anton's legs out from under him just as the crazed wolf fired his gun.

As the crowd began to flee in panic from the gunshot, Sly did so as well, shoving his way through the crowd so that he could get some distance before Anton got back up. However, the sheer panic going through Sly's mind at the moment made him completely forget about getting his hat back, as it continued to lie on the table Sly set it on moments ago.

Out in the streets of Italy, Sly continued to weave his way through the fleeing crowd, heading back towards the van. By this time, though, Anton had picked himself up, and he began his chase having a bit of an easier time getting through the crowd than Sly due to his bulk.

As Sly frantically continued to make his way through the crowd, Anton was beginning to catch up, and he pulled out his gun, intending to just shoot Sly and save the theatrics that screwed him over in the past.

Before he could fire, though, Sly disappeared into an alleyway, and Anton swore before giving chase. By the time he reached said alleyway, Sly had already gotten out of it, but Anton knew better than to try and find him again through the large crowds.

Anton dug through his pockets before pulling out a small device and checking it, noticing that there was a small red beeping dot not too far from where he was.

"Oh good, they still haven't figured out how I was tracking them." he said to himself, cracking his knuckles before heading off to where he stashed the car he had stolen to get to Italy.

As for Sly, he finally managed to make it back to the van safely, flinging the door open and almost flying inside.

"We need to leave Italy, now!" he said as he panted in exhaustion.

"What's going on, Sly? I lost you when you went inside." said Bentley, slightly confused.

"I ran into Anton. Nearly got shot."

Bentley and Murray traded nervous looks before the hippo pulled out of the alleyway that they were in, heading back towards the countryside as they prepared to head out towards yet another country.

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