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Authors: Wendelin Van Draanen

The Greatest Power

BOOK: The Greatest Power
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Also by Wendelin Van Draanen
The Gecko and Sticky: Villain’s Lair

Shredderman: Secret Identity
Shredderman: Attack of the Tagger
Shredderman: Meet the Gecko
Shredderman: Enemy Spy

Sammy Keyes and the Hotel Thief
Sammy Keyes and the Skeleton Man
Sammy Keyes and the Sisters of Mercy
Sammy Keyes and the Runaway Elf
Sammy Keyes and the Curse of Moustache Mary
Sammy Keyes and the Hollywood Mummy
Sammy Keyes and the Search for Snake Eyes
Sammy Keyes and the Art of Deception
Sammy Keyes and the Psycho Kitty Queen
Sammy Keyes and the Dead Giveaway
Sammy Keyes and the Wild Things
Sammy Keyes and the Cold Hard Cash

For the superhero educators in Bakersfield and Lamont,
and for the kids there who reach for the power inside.
You are

A Wicked Stick-’em-Up

Lights Out

A Big, Diabolical Boo-Boo

The Inky, Stinky Sewer System

Sneaky, Creepy Footprints

Screeches in the Light

Monkey Business

Whooshed Away

Flying Monkeys

The Fifth Dimension—Fear

Rattling the Alarm


Escape from Raven Ridge

Topaz Attacks

Footsteps in the Night


The Eldorado

Unsightly Disguise

To the Bank!

Damien’s Diabolical Trap


The Greatest Power of All

A Guide to Spanish and Stickynese Terms

“On the floor, all of you!” the masked man snarled as he fanned a gun back and forth across the crowded bank lobby.

At first, people just stared. From his stocking-squooshed face to his gloves to his pointy-booted feet, the bank robber was dressed in all black, with odd whatsits and doodads and peculiar thingamajigs dangling from a wide black tool belt.

He was a tall man.

A wiry man.

And the gun he held was so strange—a multi-muzzled, peculiar puzzle of a gun.

“NOW!” he screeched at the people in the bank lobby. “Get down or I shoot!”

It may have been a multi-muzzled, peculiar puzzle of a gun, but it was also a try-to-run-and-you’ll-be-one-dead-donkey sort of weapon. So with squeals and cries and disbelieving gasps, everyone inside the bank dropped to the floor.





And as they lay there trembling, they all peeked up at the man and wondered the same thing.

Who was this villain, and what sort of wicked, diabolical device

The “who” part we will get to in a minute.

The “what” part comes first.

To begin with, the wicked, diabolical device was not a traditional gun that shot traditional bullets through a traditional muzzle.

There was, in fact, very little traditional about it.

The handle was a long canister of highly compressed air, and the gun had twelve barrels fanned out in a semi-circular pattern. One simple pull of the trigger would propel five sleep darts through each opening, immediately dispensing (as you may have already calculated)
oversized sleep-inducing needles.

Not that any of the trembling, peeking people sprawled out on the bank-lobby floor cared
this deadly-looking gun worked—they only wished that the man with the tool belt of dangling doodads would not point it at

(A foolish thing to wish, as the gun pointed every which way, all at once.)

They also hoped that the villainous man wouldn’t come toward them, which, in fact, he did not. Instead, he shouted, “Don’t move a muscle!” and darted behind the teller counter, where three clerks had already hit their emergency buttons (to absolutely no avail, as the man with the diabolical
dart gun had already deactivated the alarms with one of his mysterious tool-belt doodads).

“Empty the drawers!” he snarled at the tellers, and produced a black sack of strangely stretchy fabric.

The clerks quivered.

And shivered.

And in the end, they delivered.

Stack after stack of cash was shoved into the strangely stretchy sack. And with each stack, the masked man became more and more agitated.

Amped up.


“Hurry up!” he commanded. “Quit stalling!”

And then, just as the final drawer was being emptied, he saw something red move on the other side of the counter.

“I said DON’T MOVE!” he screeched, catapulting himself onto the counter so that he could wield his gun to and fro, here and there, back and
forth, across both sides of the counter. And he would almost certainly have fled the scene right then if a large ring hadn’t caught his eye.

The ring was on the index finger of a woman lying on the floor beside a boy who had a backpack strapped on over a bright red sweatshirt.

It was a tiger-eye ring.

A large one.

With elaborately scrolled gold holding the tiger-eye firmly to the band.

Now, by tiger-eye, I do not mean the actual eye of a tiger.

The actual eye of a tiger would be squishy and slippery and, in a word, gross.

By tiger-eye, I mean a stone that looks (should you have a good imagination) like the eye of a tiger. This particular tiger-eye was
honey-colored, with a long slice of black running vertically up the middle, and it looked very much like the eye of a tiger.

Now, a tiger-eye is no diamond. It doesn’t glitter or shimmer or refract rays of light. Even when just polished, the stone is, at best, barely shiny. And this particular tiger-eye, although impressive in size, was old and clouded and in dire need of cleaning.

But the squooshy-faced bandit happened to have a weak spot for tiger-eyes.

Especially honey-hued ones with deep black stripes down the middle.

He collected them.


He had, in fact, gone on tiger-eye safaris in Africa, Australia, and (quite foolishly) Arizona but had never seen a specimen as large as the one on this woman’s finger.

And so it was that although the squooshy-faced
bandit had a sack full of cold, hard cash and should have been making a quick getaway, he instead leapt from the counter, wrestled the ring from the woman’s finger, and leapt back onto the counter.

“Stay down, all of you!” he shouted as he added the ring to the sack. And then, although everyone in the bank followed his command, he fired off his multi-muzzled dart gun anyway.

Darts shot through the bank lobby.

, he twisted the compression chamber, reloading the gun, and
Darts shot the tellers and bank manager (who had come out of his office) and loan officers (who’d been cowering by their desks).

And as he reached the end of his dash along the counter,
clack, fwoooosh!
he shot a third batch of darts behind him for good measure.

Before he’d even slipped through the door, everyone in the bank was deeply asleep.

BOOK: The Greatest Power
12.84Mb size Format: txt, pdf, ePub

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