When Roman looked over at the guard, he felt like he could hear the beetle speak. Barely more than a whisper, it told him, attack the authority. It wasn't powerful any more. It wasn't insistent. And it certainly wasn't intelligent. But it still gave him its opinion on things.

Roman kicked open the bank door and dove towards the corner, hooking the guard with his cane and tripping him. Then he grabbed the pistol from the man's belt and fired into the ceiling. "Everybody quiet! This won't take long."

Sometimes the beetle was right, but it was coincidence, really.

"Tellers, hands up! Everyone else, on the ground! I'm not after any of your money. Just the bank's." Roman didn't foresee resistance. Guards and toughs were all people used to aura. With a gun to their heads, they all got the sweats. Life was so deliciously fragile these days.

Roman approached the near end of the teller's desk and threw down a grocery bag. "Cash on hand and pass it down. We'll be done in no time, you'll get the day off, and the police will give you all mugs of hot chocolate or something." The man stuffed some loose lien into the bag and gave it to the next woman. Roman strode alongside the desk, keeping pace with the bag. "See how easy this is? No pain, no trouble." It reached the end in under a minute. The tellers behind him had undoubtedly hit some alarms. That was fine. The bag was comfortingly heavy. Not bad for a day's work.

Roman sauntered back to the door, then reached into the bag and tossed a generous handful of lien at the customers in the center of the room. Life was good sometimes, and not just for him! "Enjoy," he recommended, heading out the door.

His ride was waiting on the curb, so Roman opened the door and slipped in. "Hit it."

Nasrin Gulistan accelerated towards the freeway.

Roman leaned in for a kiss. Nasrin was a good driver, not like she'd crash. And she was just so irresistibly cute in that pink top! It was like what she'd been wearing when they'd met, minus the modesty forced upon her by faculty dress codes.

But then, once Roman set his sights on somebody, it was unreasonable to expect them to slip away. His looks, his charm, his incentives... Tenure at Haven hadn't stood a chance. He'd been doing this since before he was able to touch people.

"Good haul?" Nasrin asked.

"Few thousand." Roman grinned. "Tonight will be fun."

The entire world could upend itself around him, but Roman would always land feet-first. Yes, the future was bright indeed. Bright as ever.

ᴡᴏʀᴅs ᴛʜᴀᴛ ᴡᴇ ᴄᴏᴜʟᴅɴ'ᴛ sᴀʏ - ᴇɴᴅ

Thanks to Catlover18 for editing Illumination and the epilogue. Those chapters just kept coming, didn't they? Tireless work, invaluable assistance.

Thanks to Unjax for scattered editing help, Karsus for some planning advice, and Fireavatar for beta reading several chapters.

Thanks to Roosterteeth for making the IP.

And finally, thanks for reading! I had fun making it, so hopefully the feeling is mutual. :)