Glancing at her watch, the woman smiled to herself; according to the luminous dial, it was almost midnight. Time for her to get to work.
She slipped into the shadows of the alley, knowing that they would conceal her, and bent down to pick up the matte black knapsack she'd brought with her. Opening it up, she worked swiftly and smoothly, pulling out various tools and attaching them to her belt. She was going to have to be very careful on this job; the house would undoubtedly have some of the best security she'd come across in a long time.
Luckily, she was very good at what she did.
Half an hour later, the woman carefully removed the circle of glass that she had cut from the pane of a ground floor window and, laying it down gently, reached inside and carefully disabled the alarm system. Slipping the latch, she opened the window and quietly climbed inside.
Flicking on her penlight, the woman took a quick look around. This appeared to be the library, judging from the number of bookshelves around the walls of the room.
Good; that fits in with the plans Basil 'acquired' for me, she thought. And if they're right, it's likely that the rest of the information I got is right as well. Holding the penlight between her teeth for a moment, she placed her knapsack onto the desk right by the window, and headed straight for a painting on the far wall.
Taking a moment to look at it, a faint grin crossed the woman's face. The inhabitants of the house probably thought that it was a genuine Degas. They were wrong. The painting was, to her experienced eyes, unmistakably a forgery.
Placing one hand on the side of the frame, she pushed it aside, revealing a safe.
Talk about cliché, she thought in disgust as she put her hand on the dial and spun it. Everyone in the movies hides their safes behind paintings... Oh well; it certainly makes my job a great deal easier.
Just like the house plans, the information regarding the safe's combination proved correct, and it opened easily. Reaching in, the woman pulled out a brown manila envelope and opened it, shining the beam of the penlight inside.
The emeralds that made up the hilt of the dagger inside the envelope shone with a deep, verdant glow in the light. With a smile, the woman tucked the envelope into her shirt, and then looked into the safe again.
Better take a few other things, she told herself, a grin crossing her face. After all, we don't want them knowing that I was just after the dagger...
As she studied the contents of the safe, the beam of her penlight caught the edge of a leather-bound book in the back of the safe. Feeling curious, and knowing that she had the time to indulge her curiosity - the house's owner wouldn't be back until 3am, leaving her with another 2-1/2 hours to get out - she picked up the book, and brought it fully into the beam of her light.
And stared in dismay at the cover, swallowing nervously.
Oh shit... This isn't good... Okay, old girl, first things first... is this really his? Or did he 'acquire' it like he acquired the dagger? If so, I'd better take it... so I'd better take a look.
Opening the book, she read the cover page, and groaned in dismay.
'Chronicle of Raymond Kilian, Volume LXI, 1997; Watcher: Martin Richardson'
God damn it... Shoving the book back into the safe, the woman grabbed a folder of stock certificates, slammed the safe shut, made sure that the painting was properly positioned; and, grabbing her knapsack, slipped rapidly out the window, closing it behind her and reactivating the alarm system.