Rules: To enter, type your location at the start of your post to let other players know where you are then write what your character is doing. You do not have to be at the same location as everyone else, or you may plan to meet up with other characters in various locations later. If you're idle, other players will continue without you, and you may join in at a later time.
(I apologise for copying this from Chief Weller's previous post, but the instructions were sound.) 2 Carmen Foreword: I've decided to establish a time frame with the first post by setting it immediately after "La Vie de Luxe." V.I.L.E. members may start their "adventures" with receiving their bonuses; you're allowed to do what you will. ACME, based on this, the ACME building has recently been removed; write freely, your own discretion is advised.
In the darkness, Carmen struck a lighter. The action devised a small flame, and the thief smirked behind its flickering glow as her careful hands repositioned the blaze towards a sensor. Fire detectors immediately responded with a loud wailing siren and a spray of pressurised water.
In front of her, a steel door unlocked while warning signals flashed across nearby LCD screens that the system detected and contained a fire.
"Well, it still works," she surmised, the sprinkler having dowsed both her and the lighter she held. "There shouldn't have been water," Carmen stepped down from the desk she stood on, and then took off her coat, "but, at least we have access."
The men with her, also drenched, agreed that water was unnecessary, but they had gained much-desired accessibility to this portion of the building.
Carmen Sandiego and a selected handful of henchmen were inside ACME's stolen tower. This prize was well worth the lengths she had meticulously teetered. Early last year, she discovered through sources that ACME had plans to renovate, at the same time digitising their documents. The thief created a plan then, and waited patiently until operational offices began moving out of the main building for temporary ones inside the academy. She wove a story across Saigon, Paris, Quebec, and ended her spree in the fortified city of Luxembourg where an unforeseen team of agents nearly sealed her fate. Her ruse had worked marvellously, and while ACME's finest were distracted, her silent team struck in San Francisco.
Ingeniously, ACME's private corridor system played a crucial role in the theft of its control centre. No matter how she had pictured her success, the sight, the tangibility of the 16-storey building was astounding.
Inside, only hours after she had escaped from Luxembourg, VILE's ringleader began the exploration phase of her plan. With passage granted by the fire alarm, Carmen walked through the room of records. Many files were marked with a stamp to indicate their entry into ACME's new digital system. Older and out-dated documents, however, were marked for further review. Carmen looked through a few, recognised traces of her former self, and decided, "Mm, we'll have to burn these."
A sneeze interrupted her superficial walk down memory lane. All heads turned to one another, then to the direction of the source: the offices. Although Vincent had ensured that sensors detected only him, Flag, and the hacker before powering the corridor that transported the building, they obviously missed someone else.
VILE's men quickly scoured the area, and upon discovering where the sneeze came from, led their leader into Chief Weller's office. There, staring wide-eyed at her visitors, a little girl sat shielded behind a large wooden desk.
Being a scrupulous planner, Carmen had prepared for the possibility of stowaways: a renegade detective, a hapless janitor, she even had a plan devised to deal with a certain Field Director, but a child was out of her scope.
With composure, she greeted her miniature intruder, "Hello, I'm Carmen," her voice was assuring, "And you are?"
"Hailey," the little girl hesitantly sounded, swinging her feet against the leather chair, "and I'm hungry. It rained in here, did you see?"
That name was familiar, and Carmen felt herself flushing at its significance.
"That doesn't help," muttered a hand by the codename of Simon.
"Yes, it does," she contradicted, "Chief Weller's granddaughter."
An understandable silence permeated until Simon spoke again, "What should we do?"
Moving to Hailey, Carmen replied, "Nothing, we'll give everybody the bonuses they were promised so they can head home for a few weeks." Kneeling to the level of the six-year-old, she smiled, "And we'll have to get you home without reaping abduction charges, somehow."
Hailey giggled, reciprocating to the stranger's expression.
Turning to Simon, the thief took another tone, "We're adjourned," she instructed, "and tell Fumigalli to meet me, immediately, my quarters."
V.I.L.E. HQ Antartica
The central offices were dark except for the glow of Ken's computer screen. Ken was reading through forum posts written by members of his conspiratorial network and watching a webcam view of the night sky. One of his proteges had claimed that there was some movement in Orion's belt, and he was trailing the astral body in search of anything juicy: strange forms of radiation, activity proving the use of alien technology, or perhaps a nearby alien spacecraft. When it came to space, the possibilities were endless.
Ken had returned from AWOL status a week ago. In the month he'd been gone he'd been helping the FBI trail a criminal known as "The User," who himself was using criminal means to bypass the law in his attempts to capture Carmen. He was also responsible for the 'accident' which fatefully dropped the television monitor on Ken's head, making him into the psychologically addled mess he is today. Knowing that he was out there, still causing people harm, and still after Carmen, gave Ken the resolve to go straight and try to bring him to justice.
Unfortunately, in the time he'd been on the right side of the law Ken ultimately was no help in furthering the case aganst The User. What's more, his diminished intellectual state made him the target of ridicule amongst some FBI agents, especially those who were privy to the real explanations behind things like JFK's assassination and Area 51. His contact in the FBI, Sarbajit Jasjiv, still had some faith in him eventually rounding up their mutual enemy, but Ken was discouraged. As soon as Carmen's missing jumbo jet had been lawfully relieved of government possession, Ken flew back to V.I.L.E.
He'd become like a ghost in the time he'd returned, not talking to anyone and simply focusing on his own agenda. He had felt like he'd let Carmen down, not just because he went AWOL, but bcause he failed to catch The User. What's more, he knew he'd have a hard time convincing anyone else in V.I.L.E that his little month-long odyssey was actually real, and Ken didn't think he could shoulder the humiliation.
As Ken watched Orion's Belt on the monitor. He heard a blip, coming from his e-mail inbox. Out of curiosity, he clicked the link. It was an auto-statement from his numbered account, claiming that a deposit had been made there.
Ken was surprised. Of all of Carmen's core group of henchmen, Ken was never alotted an expense account. Well, he had one once, but after Vic convinced him he needed several thousand dollars of useless junk from his own catalogs, it had since been suspended. Ken smply wasn't careful with money, but the fact there was a deposit meant so much more to him. It was a sign that Carmen still considered him a part of the team, and that she still trusted him.
"YAHOO!" Random papaers flew in the air as Ken spun around n his office hair. "Oh, but now what should I do with the money?"
(Amazing start! I think I'll usher in ACME's side with a post as well.)
After sending the urgent message to Chase, Chief Weller walked out of his temporary housing, located right in ACME compounds, to look at the emptiness that was once ACME Tower.
Dust flickered in the moonlight, and nearly all of the company was awake now, each asking the other what had happened. Dr. Weller's wife soon joined him.
"Evin," she called to him in a panicked voice.
"I know," Chief tried to calm her while his eyes stayed fixed on the missing building, "It's gone! She's done it, really done it this time."
"No," his wife shook his arm, "Hailey; we can't find Hailey!"
"She's not in the guest room?"
"She's not, Sally said she woke up in the middle of the night and wanted to go find you."
"Is she in our room?" confusion was obvious on Dr. Weller's face.
"No, oh no, she's not, Evin," his wife's voice shook with anxiety, "What if she went to look for you in your office? Is that possible?"
Las Vegas, Nevada, USA
The bus finally pulls up in front of the Bellagio Hotel on The Strip in Las Vegas. With thousands of fountains shooting up for a period of time that seemed to go on forever, in front of the European-styled resort, Crim was hooked in an instant. Las Vegas was truly mesmerizing.
But of course she didn't come to Vegas alone. Crimson was here with one of her best friends, Lory. "I've always wanted to go to Vegas, but I've never had the guts to go." Crim thought to herself. "At least, Lory is here to keep me company so I don't get into too much trouble..."
"Crim, I really want to go see Mystere Cirque Du Soleil and O Cirque Du Soleil. It's a great learning opportunity!"
"If you actually want to learn something, Lora, learn how to gamble!"
Las Vegas, Nevada, United States of America
The city of Las Vegas was thriving and busy as ever. Loralye was sitting in a bus next to her best friend, one Crimson Paine. She couldn’t believe her ears. First, Crim just shows up at her hotel waving two plane tickets for Las Vegas in her face, and now this. All Loralye wanted to do was go see a few shows that were both interesting and would broaden her spectrum of French culture. But of all the ridiculous things-
“Did you really just suggest we go gambling?” she asked.
“Of course!” squealed Crim. “We’re in Vegas! Going gambling is, like, a rite of passage.”
Obviously she doesn’t see the glaring problem with her idea, Lora thought. “Hmm, yeah, about that Crim, I’m sorta still under twenty-one and therefore cannot gamble. I can’t even set foot inside a casino!”
Crimson giggled. “I already thought of that. That’s why I brought these!” She reached into her oversized purse and handed Lora a small rectangular card. “It’s a fake ID,” she whisper screamed.
Loralye looked down at the ID. “Leah Williams?” she asked.
Van Ness Muni Station, San Francisco
After what seemed like an eternity stuck in the tunnel, the train finally made it. As the doors opened, Charles "Chip" Masters burst out of it, quickly making his way topside. The man was not his usual self tonight - his shirt was wrinkled, his tie badly knotted, and he had 5 o'clock shadow on his face. Running across the darkened streets, he finally made it to the empty site. "Damn..." he said, looking at the space where the tower usually stood. "She didn't..."
The sound of a harmonica echoed out from the inside of one of the manufactured houses. The front door swung open and Philo emerged, expertly sliding the tiny instrument across his lips. He had been oddly absent from his garage when Carmen looted the building. Now that he'd returned he was forlorn to learn that the garage and all his custom cars were gone. "As a certain dog once said..It's easy t' play deh blues when you ain't got no roof over yeh head." He coughed and then descended the porch steps, walking up towards Chip. "How yeh feelin' pencil-neck?"
(Putting some of us on the plane coming from Luxembourg)
Somewhere Between Luxembourg and San Francisco...
When miscalculations lead to a mistake, the first few seconds are usually plagued with disbelief, then as minutes and hours pass, that doubt expands; the longer the time between error and correction, the more intense the regret. Chase Devineaux felt this.
He sat in the navigator position of the jet, unable to think about much else. Every five seconds, his eyes fell to the face of a watch that tauntingly replied with exactly the correct time, but not the right one. Beneath his stoic demeanor, his head throbbed, his veins pounded, and every cell in his body fought against the ability to do absolutely nothing. Seventeen hours crawled by like a desert tortoise with two legs.
As San Francisco sprawled out below him, the landmark ACME Tower was nowhere in sight... as expected. Devineaux exhaled, and when doing so, realized it was his first long breath since leaving the grounds of Luxembourg City. The doubt that troubled him alleviated as soon as his eyes registered truth.
The building was gone.
...And that woman would drive him insane.
There was nothing to be said. After all, how was one expected to respond when the news of an entire building being spirited away is relayed? Alarm and anxiety, dread and disbelief – it had all been done. These emotions and more had been expressed upon the faces of the people around her, how they acted, what they said and what they did not...
Sophie Conrad watched the surrounding men and women in silence as the aircraft she was in approached the city of San Francisco. Nineteen-year-old Mia Pierce, an ACME cadet at the Academy and her companion throughout the flight, slipped a cold hand into hers. Behind them, she heard Caleb Lake release a held breath.
Outside the window, the lights of San Francisco twinkled in the early-morning darkness. Though she had not lived on the West Coast for long, it was a sight not unfamiliar to Sophie. Along the eastern edge of the peninsula, where the city met the waters of the San Francisco Bay, an unfamiliarly darkened spot stood out ominously from the electric carpet. However, the first thing that caught Sophie’s eye was the oblong shape of the ACME Medical Centre. It was still present – obvious through the newly-created shadows the lack of the ACME Tower wrought, the white-and-blue ACME letters and the glowing red cross shining like a beacon. If she were any more insensitive or any less empathic, she would have given in to the brief sensation of relief that flowed through her.
Cali hadn't been sleeping very soundly, she was first woken by the siren coming from the ACME Tower. Then a flash of lighting appeared without thunder and a lot of noise, with someone screaming "It's Gone!" came from the grounds below.
The bomb expert looked at her alarm clock and then got out of bed to see what happened. Everyone looked like they were awake. It was too dark to see everything from her apartment, so she had to come downstairs to discover for herself the hole in the ground.
"This is certainly not an explosion," she said to whoever was next to her, but it was more for herself because she didn't know what else to say.
The trip had been awkwardly quiet. Seventeen hours on a plane was a long enough trip on its own but when combined with a need to be somewhere now and being used to instantaneous international travel calling a trip like it 'agony' was a bit melodramatic but nonetheless appropriate.
Melissa Wayward, just recently recognized by Chase Devineaux as his old partner Eleanor Mayhem (which in itself was a whole other problem), had spent most of the trip in a half awake state by one of the back windows of the private jet nursing a bottle of weak iced tea. With the exception of runs to the plane's bathroom she'd hardly moved, the only sign that she was even conscious being the occasional sounds of her playing with her blackberry.
Over the course of 6 hours of work she'd lost her cover, lost her suspect in a motorcycle chase and, though it had yet to be seen, lost her HQ. Though she had remained silent her mood to those who had tried to notice was clear. Missy, Eleanor, whoever, was in a bit of a funk.
It wasn't until the plane hit the California coast that Missy started to noticeably stir, placing her bottle in a nearby holder and moving her head so she could try to see where the ACME building had once stood. Unable to get a good enough view for her own comfort she rose from her seat, slowly approaching the front of the plane. Her feet padded the plane floor quietly as she passed the seats in front of her, carefully touching the backs of seats, ducking down just a little to see if she could see anything out of each of the windows that she passed.
Unsatisfied with the view out of each window she finally reached the plane's cockpit (or aviation deck for those who prefer it that way) and slid herself inside, silently placing herself against the tiny room's back wall as she looked out of the giant front windows at the void where ACME Headquarters had once stood. For some reason to her it hadn't really happened until now. Despite receiving the information over 17 hours ago that ACME Headquarters had disappeared it was not real until she saw it.
It felt for a moment like someone had punched her in the gut. It wasn't like it was the end of the world, was it? It was just a building. She already knew everyone had been safe, no one was hurt, most of the company had already moved to temporary offices. But it was a sign of failure. What was ACME if they couldn't even keep their own buildings safe from someone? On a level ACME had failed. She, as a part of it, had failed.
Missy/Eleanor ran a hand through her hair which had been removed from its usual ponytail and now showed signs of her restless attempts at mid flight rest and took a deep breath. It was time to wake up. They would be touching down shortly and there would be work to be done.
(Deric’s grandparents’ names are Tom and Betty. I see them voiced by Sam Elliott and K Callen)
Storm Residence- Fairview, Nebraska
Deric stalked towards his target, which was currently out in the open and unguarded. He would not be denied, not this time. Stopping to quickly scan his surroundings, Deric saw he was in the clear. Quietly closing the distance, he knew victory was in sight. Grabbing the closest disc, he was proceeding to extraction…
when he was hit square in the face with a sponge. Busted… again.
“Deric Alexander Storm,” came a matronly voice from the source of the offending sponge, “drop it. You can wait ‘til supper.”
“Yes, Grammy,” Deric said, placing the cooling chocolate-chip cookie back onto the baking sheet. Standing to his full height, Deric moved to help his grandmother with the next batch of cookies for the Winter Festival bake sale. Grabbing a bag of chocolate chips from the top shelf of the cupboard, he handed it to her so she could finish the last batch.
“I remember you having to climb up there like a spider-monkey to get those.”
“Not since middle school, Grammy.” Deric said with a wink.
“You done decorating?” Deric’s grandmother asked with a sideways glance. Deric responded with a sigh.
“Not yet,” Deric answered, “Grandad wanted to watch the news and I wanted a snack.” Deric said, reaching towards the open bag. He was met with a swat from a wooden spoon.
“Finish first, then a snack.” Deric mock-saluted before trudging back to the living room. Walking through the open doorway into the living room, Deric spied his grandfather watching the evening news. Opening a plastic tub, Deric grabbed some stockings to hang over the old fireplace.
“Caught’cha again?” the gravelly tones of his grandfather wafted over to him.
“Yessir,” Deric tersely responded. The low, chuckling sound he heard brought a smile to the young man’s face. Grabbing the nearby hammer and nails, Deric began to secure the stockings to the wooden mantle. Tom turned up the volume on the TV to drown out the hammering.
“Next game start yet?” Deric asked, after hanging the first stocking. The two had been watching the previous three games while putting away the decorations from Thanksgiving and breaking out the ones for Christmas.
“Not yet.” Tom said, checking the game time in the newspaper. “Still can’t believe Bama blew that last game.” Putting the paper down, Tom turned back to the news.
Deric had put three stockings up when something he never thought he’d hear came across the news.
“live from the site where the ACME Tower once stood.”
Deric dropped the hammer in shock and hopped over the back of the couch to sit down. Seeing the crater where ACME HQ used to be hit him like a two-by-four to the gut. He was in shock. The rest of the piece was a blur. Words like “CO2 alarm”, “evacuation”, and “vanished into thin air” rolled over him. He was snapped out of his stupor when the reporter claimed “ACME has no suspects at this time.”
“Great googly-moogly,” Deric exclaimed, “that’s a load of garbage.”
“What do you mean, son?” Tom asked his grandson.
“ACME knows exactly who’s behind this.” Deric was about to elaborate when his cellphone rang. Looking at the caller ID, Deric saw it was Shane ‘Shine’ Brooks, a friend from his training days.
“Shine, tell me this is just some sort of elaborate prank,” Deric pleaded to his former classmate. “Of course I heard it’s gone, it’s all over the bloody news,” Deric basically yelled into the phone. “Please tell me there’s a reason we told the press there are no suspects. We know who did this.” Deric was informed that a strategy was being formulated and should stand by for further orders.
Seventeen hours of inaction was making the entire aircraft into a ball of tension looking for an outlet. Even with the constant communications with ACME personnel on the ground and the incessant stream of media, the entire situation was a mess. The thought of media bought Tanya's new position briefly to Euge's mind, one that he did not envy. The press was a relentlessly hungry beast, and an absence of official statements only served to fuel more speculation and paranoia.
The aircraft radio came to life, snapping Euge back to reality. San Fransisco was rapidly approaching, and he was getting behind the curve. It didn't help that his co-pilot was a bundle of nerves, so introspective he hadn't moved the entire flight. Thankfully the early morning weather was clear and calm, allowing an unobstructed (if rather unorthodox) flyby of the compound.
"Unpucker Euge," he whispered to himself, "you've been in worse snarls than this." The tension rolling off everyone else aboard was getting to him, more than the actual situation. His monologue was interrupted by the cockpit door opening. Glancing back, he saw Missy standing silently, just staring blankly out the window at where the ACME office should have been. Euge toyed with the idea of circling a few more times so that the notion would sink in more fully, but decided against it. No one had said anything, but he understood the gropos were more comfortable on the ground where they were effective. "20 minutes to ground," Euge called over the intercom before starting the descent into ACME's field. "I've arranged a few transport helicopters to get you and the agents to ACME base," Euge said to Chase, not sure if his words had registered with the senior agent. "I need you to strap into the jumpseat if you're going to hang around for the approach Missy."
In an apartment a few streets away from ACME compound, Tanya received news about the missing tower at exactly 5:32 a.m., when Macy Gartner, a reporter from INB, called on her cell phone.
"Tanya, it's Macy, what's going on? Is it true, Carmen Sandiego stole ACME Tower?"
"What have you heard, Ms. Gartner?" The Russian detective and newest member of ACME's Press and Public Relations asked a general question to stall this reporter until she could clarify what actually happened.
While Macy talked about a cousin living near the inner city area and something about the ACME tower disappearing with a flash of lightning, Tanya found her communicator and a message from Chief Weller: 'TOWER GONE, possibly linked to VILE, hold the battle lines until Chase gets back, all agents have been instructed to give no comments at this time.'
Wonderful, Tanya thought, we now hide an elephant in a Parisian apartment.
"Ms. Garter," she said without any doubt, "There is nothing I can tell you, but I will be arranging a full press conference as soon as I receive information."
"You mean when Chase Devineaux gets back? That would take forever! Three hours ago, he was still in Luxembourg, Tanya, a local news reel caught him horseback-riding after a suspect up the Bock."
Tanya rolled her eyes. Reporters must enjoy bringing up things that shouldn't be brought up.
"You'll receive an email from me shortly, Ms. Garter, spasibo, and have a good morning," As soon as she disconnected, her phone beeped to show that 9 other reporters had attempted to contact her in the last 2 minutes. Shrugging, she stood up and sent a message to Chase: 'FYI, we need a press conference within 18 hours, are you up for it?'
(Post above ok'ed by Chief Weller about the message sent to Tanya)
"And now for his next trick," Patty's TV announced while she curled her hair, "a ring... of FIRE!"
That's lame, Patty thought, and changed the channel. She had been in Antarctica, back from Paris, for half a week now and she was planning to do nothing this holiday season. Nothing but trouble. All she needed now was a good idea to batt her eyelashes.
"...as the wallaby takes its time, the..."
"...Magnificent piece of architecture..."
Click. VILE HQ had way too many documentary channels.
"...the disappearance of its prestigious headquarters," said the news channel, "Later today, ACME will release a statement to..." Patty started on the hot curling iron but stopped to stare at the TV. She had figured something big was happening when Vic sent her on a distraction mission to France, but she had no idea something this big would happen.
No sooner had she put down her curling iron did her phone beep with an incoming message. A bonus was transferred to her account, she read, and then the message deleted itself.
This was totally awesome, she had to congratulate somebody, but where was everybody?
Ken mulled over the possibility of what he'd do with all his money. Perhaps a vacation was in order. A tour of the site of Jimmy Hoffa's dissapearance seemed like a winning idea. that's when he vaguely heard some noise coming from further inside the compound. He may have been like a ghost over the past few days, but today, he was pretty sure he was alone. He stood up from his desk, dusted some corn chip crumbs off his belly and went inside to investigate.
When he got to the sourse of the murmuring, he drew in his breath, which is one of the things he often did when he saw Patty. She was always so sweet and demure looking, even in full just-rolled-out-of-bed mode. Ken wished he looked like that in reprose. At least he'd settle for the ability to wake up without fully clogged nasals every morning, to say nothing of the crick in the neck one only gets from sleeping under one's desk.
Again he inhaled sharply, troubled nasals making a snirking noise as he took in breath, licking his lips, his internal liquids swelling with the urge to provide Ken with enough of an appropriate fortitude to actually speak words to his beloved.
Patty turned around at the source of the voice behind her. It was Kenny, one of VILE's newer members and someone she thought might have left already. She had maybe one case with Kenny. He was what her British friends would have called 'staudgy', kinda slow and heavy, not totally appealing. Patty hated to be seen with him, but he was sometimes really witty, and that kind of grew on her... kind of. Today, though, Patty was happy to see just about anyone.
"Oh my God, Kenny!" She squealed, "did you hear what happened? Did you see the news?? This is, like, tots the most awesome thing ever!"
The TV was still reviewing ACME Tower's disappearance.
"Hey, didn't Vic say you disappeared?" Patty went on, really fast, "Where did you go, how come you're back, what happened? OMG, I totally need some coffee to slow down. Come on. Let's go talk there."
Leaving her room to go to the common area, she waved for Ken to follow.
A hole in the ground...
The site where, for decades, some of the best and brightest investigative minds had pitted their skills against the world's most devious criminals had been reduced to a giant pothole.
Seeing it on TV and actually seeing in person were two completely different things.
Deric was actually angrier now than he was when he first saw it on the news. He had quickly packed up his truck and driven back to San Francisco. He had walked past the makeshift press area constructed near the Academy buildings, which had been serving as a temporary Command Center while the Tower was beginning renovations.
'Oh, that is not going to be pretty...' Deric thought as he had walked by. Apparently, a good number of agents had been lured to Luxembourg as a diversion. ACME had been made to look like complete imbeciles. What really bothered him was a small pang of guilt.
'If only I had been here...'
Approaching the crater, Deric was stopped by some security guards. He flashed his Agent Badge, and was let through. The crater was massive, encompassing an extra twenty feet to each side of where the Tower stood. Crouching over the edge, Deric saw it was a completely rounded edge all the way around. Plucking some blades of grass that were at the edge of the crater, Deric took a look the edges of the blades. They were cut cleanly with a slight singe to the edge.
"Perfect circle..." Deric said, standing back up. "No visible toolmarks and a high temperature electrical burn on the edges of the outlying grass." Putting the pieces together in his head, a possible answer hit him like a bolt out of the blue.
"Great googly-moogly, that's how they did it." he said to no one in particular. He could hear noise coming from the Academy, signaling the start of the press conference. Deric started making his way towards the commotion. He needed to bounce an idea off of someone.
Deric wasn't as angry anymore...
Now he was ready to get their HQ back...
(Making the Luxembourg team land, and moving this forward a bit.)
"Right," Chase nodded to Eugene Grovington and quietly checked the controls. He hadn't seen Missy Wayward, or Eleanor Mayhem, entering the cockpit until the craft was ready to land. Credit would have to go to Missy for retrieving Phoenix, who was now safely tucked in the cargo hold. When Euge said he had arranged a few transport helicopters, Chase remembered how many agents were actually behind them.
In situations like these, a man of his position would need to control as many factors as possible. Variables like Carmen Sandiego were random and should be left to their own devices. Plans must compensate the variables' actions because, like they say, progress is built from chaos.
Once the plane landed, Devineaux decided to address what he felt was most important. First, he thanked Euge. Although hired as a flight instructor, the pilot went beyond necessities to help on this case. No matter the outcome, his skills were needed.
As the field director stood to leave, he passed by Missy and patted her on the back. (Despite conflicts, he had decided to keep Melissa Wayward as an agent, but telling her would have to wait.) Opening the door and stepping out of the cockpit, he saw several faces greeting him. Some seemed anxious. Chase figured he didn't have the power to make everything all right, but he could be truthful.
"Before we leave this plane, let's remember," he spoke with direction, "As people working for the law, we're obligated to do the right thing. Today, keep in mind that your actions will affect everyone you know, everyone who sees you," he knew he didn't need details, "Don't add to public panic, stay fair, and don't accuse anyone if you talk to reporters," he then ended with a reminder that seemed necessary, "Everything's fine; we're still ACME, nothing has changed."
ACME's Air Field attendants connected a moving stairway to the jet.
"Go home, get some rest," he said to everyone, while signaling for an agent to manually open the door, "and meet me tomorrow, 2 PM, for an official debriefing, Academy conference rooms."
Seeing the new doctor, he wondered how much of what he said applied to non-agents as well, "Take care of your staff," he told her, "Let me know if you need anything."
While others in the plane exited slowly, Chase returned to a message he received from Tanya. To her question about a press conference, he replied: "Just landed. I'm ready when you are."
(Co-post, written by yours truly and the Lady in Red.)
When Vic "The Slick" Fumigalli got a message on his phone that his bonus came through and that Carmen wanted to see him, he had conflicting thoughts. The result could be either very good, or very bad.
The titillating thief had good communication with all her employees, Vic being one of them, but she had a way of keeping distance. Everybody knew something about her, but nobody really knew anything about her.
When she said "her quarters," Vic also knew it was in the Russian plane they borrowed a few weeks ago in exchange for a delivery job to Minsk. Carmen's been using it as a temporary hold, probably planning to swap it out with a different plane before going back to HQ.
Nearing her room in the cargo aircraft and seeing the door opened, Fumigalli entered.
Carmen was in a big upholstered chair, part of a set of European antiques scheduled for shipment via this transport to an Asian buyer. The rug in front of her held something that made Vic scratch his head: toys. Modest toys, books, a low table full of food, and a little kid to put it all together.
"Aah, you wanted' see me?" he asked.
"I did," was her reply, "shut the door, Vincent."
Vic shut the door behind him and paused. It was weird to see what he was seeing and he had to point out what was wrong with this picture, "Where'd you get the kid?"
Carmen shot a glance towards him then provided a prompt answer, "You."
Vic took two steps backwards, "What?"
"Dr. Everard Weller's granddaughter," she elaborated, "Hailey."
"Hi," Hailey interjected, "did I see you on Kuppa's TV?"
"That's impossible!" the conman shook his head and brought up his right hand, exaggeratedly showing 3 fingers, "ACME Tower reported only three heat markers, me, the hacker, and that alien."
"She's tiny," the thief suggested, "anyone could have missed her, mistakes happen."
"D'aw! No!" Vic touched his thinning hair.
"We need her returned."
"How?" Fumigalli shuddered, "You know whoever takes the kid home is going to the big house, right? There's no way they'd let this one slide." He hated the thought of more jail time.
"This isn't the mafia, Vic," she ensured, "Ideally, they only want their little girl back; and we can't afford additional controversy... Not ones about kidnapping."
The polyester-clad henchman thought with his chin in his hand. His head was a fuzzy cloud of stress, but then something occurred to him, his boss was never jumpy. Looking at the kid, then back at her, he asked, "You already got a plan?"
Jauntily leaning back into her armchair, Carmen had expected the query; and she nodded a congratulatory affirmation.
As Patty fetched her cup of coffee Ken explained to her everything about his time away, nearly getting captured by The User, and his time at the FBI, trying to track down that mutual enemy of his and Carmen's. It sounded insane, as stories that Ken usually told were, but there was slightly more grounding behind it. Ken told this one calmly as opposed to making the whole event sound like some wild ingenious rant. He said it matter-of-factly as it was indeed a matter of fact.
".....After a few months the trail went cold and I decided to come back. For a while I didn't know if I was still wanted, then I saw that Carmen handed out her bonuses this morning and I got one as well." Ken sat with a hand firmly ringing his curled crop of ginger hair. "I was thinking of taking a personal trip, you know, going to..." Ken gave a pause as he didn't want to start talknig about investigating Jimmy Hoffa in Patty's presence. "Detroit....Or maybe..."Ken gave another pause, trying to think of somewhere more normal to mention. "New York City. I've got my eye on some Christmas in Rockefeller Center...."
there was one last long, awkward pause, before Ken stammered. "I-if y-y-you l-luh-hike, you c-could c-cuh-come w-hi-hith m-m-muh-m..."
Patty was totally into her coffee, passively listening to Kenny. It might be Antarctica, but the Italian side of Vic made sure they always had a pressurized can of authentic illy coffee practically direct from the Illy family. Actually, she could care less where the coffee came from, as long as it smelled nice.
A story about some guy named "User" should've set some red balloons floating in her head, but Patty heard stories like these before. Carmen gets plenty of weird stalkers, a lot of them perfectly sane too, until they hear about her. There was that guy who made his apartment a VILE "safehouse" and advertised it online. The two groupies with a Carmen shrine, that woman that pretended to be her, and the reporter who claimed to have had a long "enlightening" conversation with her. Not to even include the Masquerade where that silly kid in Venice shot an ACME pilot.
Then she heard something about Rockefeller something-something. Exactly the kind of trouble she was looking for this time of year!
"New York!" Patty exclaimed, "That's so cool, oh my god," she paused for a nano second, "I need to pack!" Getting up and running to her room, she hollered back, "Meet you in the hangar, Kenny!"
"Well, duh, it's a fake ID!" Crimson whisper screamed back. "Since you're such a child prod... whatever that word is... maybe you could come up with a better idea, Leah!" Crim paused. "By the way, my name is now Ashley O'Neil. So, no more Crimson Paine." She rolled her eyes at her stiff friend and looked down at her black slingback heels.
"Look, Leah. You just have to suffer through this for two hours. Then, I get to be tortured at your 'cultural experience.' We are going in now so act cool. Remember, confidence is key." Ashley said, grabbing Leah by the wrist. She was not getting out of this that easily.
Reaching the door of the casino, Ashley flashes her ID at the guard and elbowed Leah to do the same.
(OOC: Hey guys, I’m here to help. P.S. Brian Graves is not my real name. I made that up.)
Location: Sittin’ on the Dock of the Bay. San Francisco Bay that is.
After every case Brian Graves normally travelled to L.A. by boat for a couple of weeks before returning for his next assignment. On his most recent trip following an adventure involving a master of disguise and a knight in now dented armor, Brian saw on the evening news that ACME’s tower had been pilfered and decided he had better cut his trip short and return immediately to help in whatever way he could. Upon his arrival at the ACME docks he drove his car to ACME HQ. Even though he had seen the crime scene on the news, Brian was still stunned at the sight which met his eyes as he pulled into ACME HQ. The tower was gone, with security surrounding the spot where it once stood, and some new PR lady was giving a press conference nearby.
Interested in what facts ACME was spreading to the general public about what happened, Brian started making his way over to the Academy for the press conference. On his way over, he saw someone else walking from the crime scene to the presser. Surmising that this man whom Brian had never met was an ACME agent based on his exit from the heavily guarded crime scene, Brian walked alongside of him and said: “You’re an ACME agent, right? Me too. I’m Brian Graves, rookie agent.” Brian extends his hand to the man for him to shake* “Did you discover anything interesting during your search of the crime scene?”
The consensus from ACME's board of directors, whose total age amounted to 23 years over half a millennia, was to cover up everything. They spent 9 hours in a conference room a street away from ACME compound and produced an itemized script. What Chase Devineaux should say at the press conference had been written for him. He was to tell everyone that the building was scheduled for renovations, but would now be rebuilt instead. Even with the possibility that VILE could come out and prove them wrong, the board wanted to stick to this story.
"She's like a child," Tanya overheard one member of the board, "stealing from her parents, it's rebellious, immature."
"It's elaborate," said a nasal voice, "but I wouldn't make that comparison."
"It's right to say some of us had a hand in her 'creation'," replied the first.
"Let's not be petty," spoke a calmer voice that Tanya thought might be Chief Everard Weller, "We should focus on what we can do, and this... script, is this exactly what we want Chase to say?"
"Yes," someone else agreed, "let us focus on the 'good son'."
"I can't entirely agree," the nasal voice interjected, "What do any of us really know about Chase Devineaux?"
Tanya tuned out as she received Chase's text. Doing her job, she knocked twice at the door of the conference and then let herself peek in to relay the message.
"He's here," she said.
" 'Here', here?" asked the man with the nasal voice.
"Um, net, not right here. He landed at the... uh... airfield."
"Thank you, Tatyana," said an older woman whose voice Tanya hadn't heard before. Something about this lady made the Russian feel tiny, "Take the notes to the secretary, and have her print it out for Mr. Devineaux. Let no one else see it, do you understand?" Receiving no response, the woman prompted, "Tanya."
"Ah, da," she snapped out of her thoughts to follow orders, "yes, I'll do that."
Minutes later, the press conference was a stage set for its lead actor. Tanya could see a few agents walking about, but she had to question where the ones from Luxembourg were. Her answer came in the form of several approaching helicopters.
As they closed in for landing, she hoped the Field Director didn't need much preparation. They were running late, and he still hadn't picked out his suit.
Loralye held up the ID and followed "Ashley” inside. Well more like she was pulled inside. Her friend had decided she was moving too slow and grabbed her arm to drag her along. The clicking and clapping of Ashley's heels on the marble floor soon came to a rest. Leah took a good look around. The entire room was filled with a soft light dimming the effects of all the brightly shining slot machines that the large room was comprised of.
“This is the slot room,” said Ashley slowly. Leah suddenly got the feeling like she was a three-year-old being explained something very simple. “It’s filled with all kinds of slot machine. You have money, right?” Leah nodded. Of course she had cash on her. “Goodie!” Ashley cried. “Now you stay here for an hour or two.
I’m going to try the tables. Wish me luck!”
And she was gone. Leah sighed and made her way over to the change machine to get her quarters. She settled into a comfy chair and, sighing once more, inserted her quarter. This isn’t so bad, Leah thought. An hour later and Leah noticed that her wallet had a noticeable difference in weight. If Ashley wanted them to go gambling again, then they had better stop now. Leah couldn’t even begin to imagine how much her friend had lost.
The poker room was easy enough to find. Ashley sat at the nearest table with four other men. A look of concentration was on her face. It didn’t look right there.
“Hey,” she said to her friend. “Look, if we want to eat tonight we had better get going.”
Ashley huffed and folded. As they started to leave, the small tv behind the bar caught Leah’s attention.
“…ACME has confirmed a press conference to address the issue of their missing headquarters. Chase Devineaux, the-”
“Let’s go,” whispered Leah. “We need to figure out exactly what’s going on.”
28 EarlJr (Moving the Luxembourg team to ACME ground zero.)
The instant the Boeing stopped rolling it was attacked by a swarm of ground crew, opening hatches, jockeying various ground vehicles, and offloading the mess of cargo that had been jammed in an eternity ago (or what seemed like it anyways).
The day was just starting though, and only one leg of the journey was complete. Euge dimly noted Chase's thanks as he spooled down the engines and shut down the aircraft before signaling the crews to hook up ground power. Unbuckling his harness, Euge stretched a bit, waking up muscles that had been asleep the entire flight. Chase was already out of the cockpit and addressing the agents seated in the back. Looking out the window, he could see three Sikorsky S-92 helicopters with rotors already spinning, as if sharing the agents' eagerness to get to ground zero.
In a heartbeat, Chase had finished his pep talk and the agents were leaving the Boeing in favor of the Sikorskys. The only thing traveling to the ACME complex was the bare essentials, namely the agents and whatever they could carry. Euge made a mental note to have a truck come by later in the day and pick up the rest of the gear that needed to find its way to ACME proper.
Euge noted the last passenger pile into the chopper and finished up the checklist. Looking up, he saw the other two were already airborne and quickly followed suit. In the air, it was only minutes to ACME. As they drew closer, the extent of the situation became clear; a crater where the building should be was teeming with vehicles and people. Further out, another ring of personnel prowled a security perimeter to ward off excessively curious press. At the extreme edge of the campus Euge could make out what appeared to be a podium. Spotting a clearing within the secure perimeter that looked as if it had been planned for his birds, he bought the Sikorsky down into a small dust storm that heralded the final arrival of the Luxembourg team.
Everard Weller had concerns of his own. His granddaughter, Hailey, had been missing for just over 18 hours, as Chief of ACME, he had convinced the family to wait 24 hours before officially going to the police; this method of handling matters, his wife approved only because she trusted him.
After the board meeting, he called Chase Devineaux. Chief Weller reached a voice mail, possibly because the helicopter was too loud and the Field Director couldn't hear his phone; or simply, something else plagued the man's mind. In either case, Dr. Weller left a message:
He started with, "Chase, this is Dr. Weller, I need you to consider your actions carefully. I doubt there's time for us to talk before the press conference, but I'm hoping this reaches you in time. Hailey is missing...," he continued as briefly as possible on the situation, about how Hailey might have been taken with the tower, and a plea for any ideas from the detective. The message ended cautiously, "The board has for you a script, read it thoroughly before speaking. Confirm you've received this, lad."
Everything Lee Jordan did was about getting ahead, or getting somewhere. He knew he messed up during Luxembourg, but this was nicely overshadowed by other events. He sat on the plane, then the helicopter, knowing very well that all the blame was going somewhere today, and it wasn't going to be him. The speech by the Field Director was respectable, but Lee scoffed. It's even more obvious to the informant now that Chase Devineaux got places by knowing what to say.
When he saw the tower site, he had to hand it to Carmen. There was always talk about how she'd never dare. Now look at it, empty. "Why" she did it, Lee wanted to know. First chance he got, he'd have to leave San Francisco.
(Decently edited co-post with Tanya. To establish time, it's about evening, I'm going with 3:15 AM + the 17-18 hour plane ride from Luxembourg... 7 - 8 PM in San Francisco. No need to edit any posts prior to this, not as necessary.)
Doctor Weller's concerns reached Chase mid-flight and he listened to the message twice, the first time for context, the second time to think. A missing girl complicated matters significantly, and every move now was crucial.
As the helicopter landed, Chase found Tanya waiting for him.
"Privet," she quickly greeted and continued to business, "Come with me to the gym. You must clean up, shave. I left out two suits for your choosing, the gray, or the black, with matching ties. Everything else is ready," then she handed him the script from the board. "Orders," she said grimly.
Walking with ACME's new Press Relations Officer, Chase was assured that he had made the right decision. She was quick, and better yet, she was thorough. He took the script and scanned through it. The text was short, barely two pages, explaining that the towers were due for renovations, after a change of plans, it was cleanly 'demolished' for a new construction. Simple enough, he thought.
But Hailey Weller is still missing.
Assuming that VILE found the little girl, they must make contact if they wanted to give her back. It would be devastating otherwise. Chase had to be completely sure that VILE was in possession of Hailey, and then he would force them to act. Quelling the media was one thing, using it was another.
When it was time, Tanya announced him, and Chase took a spot in front of the reporters.
"Good evening, Ladies and gentlemen of the press," he started, "at approximately 3:15 AM, this morning, the main tower in our compound disappeared," pausing briefly, he made the difficult decision to be truthful.
"It was stolen."
A wave of unintelligible noise emitted from the crowd as they asked similar questions with varying words. Tanya stood nearby, bewildered at the sudden uproar.
In the conference room, board members watched with disbelief. "What is he doing?" one exclaimed, "Where's the Russian? Tell her to stop this!"
The speaker continued, "We have enough to suspect a notorious crime ring, led by a figure with the moniker 'Carmen Sandiego'," more questions arose, but Chase ignored them. He named the culprit, now he was going to provide his conditions.
"Of urgency, Hailey Weller--six--may have been inside the building at the time," the journalists became quiet at news of Dr. Weller's granddaughter, "We have yet to hear from any party regarding her status, but I would encourage dialog to be established within the next twenty-four hours."
A high-pitched interference rang and faded. Chase breathed. In a few sentences, he had perceivably threatened VILE. He played on their leader's disapproval of public threats to urge some kind of response. While it may not work, this was better than covering up everything and failing to give answers. Worst yet, the script would have caused a division among those who knew the truth and those who didn't, and unity was necessary.
"... As a public entity, we have obligations," he closed, "not only to bring justice to offenders, but to do what we can to correct such events. While ACME's own network scours its resources, I urge your own networks, both in the media and out, to submit any possible lead -- The control team is standing by -- As always, thank you."
He stood at the podium to reflect on what was said, but found it little use. Chase left the crowd, nodding once to Tanya on his descent back into the academy. The press conference was over, and while no question from the media was directly answered, everyone got what they came for.
The helicopters had touched down. With ACME's HQ gone, dozens of reporters on the premises, detectives running around confused and nothing officially said yet it was easy to say that the property was crowded. As Tanya ushered Chase away to his press conference and the agents filed out to their own fates around the compound the agent still known to the masses as Melissa Wayward slipped away headed straight for the dorms.
Reaching the building in record time E/Missy carefully slipped past the crowd in the first floor common areas huddled around a television, bypassing the elevator for the less occupied and much faster route of the back stairwell. Two at a time her feet flew up the stairs though if asked no one would say she'd actually been running. Jingle, clack, slam, she was in room 424 in record time. Though the 'dorm room' was small, really only a bedroom with its own bathroom to the side, it was traditionally kept clean enough. Knick Knacks on their shelves, clothes in their hampers or drawers, carpeted floors vacuumed regularly.
It was its cleanliness which made E's current mental state even more obvious as, once the door was locked, her blouse was thrown to the floor followed quickly by a sports bra and hair elastic. Grabbing two towels from a hook on the wall she made her way to the bathroom, only pausing long enough to let her pants, contents and all, slide to the floor, step out of her shoes and to reach for her television's remote to turn on the local news. Realizing her carelessness E reached into her fallen pants to grab her blackberry which she put on the sink next to her shower before reaching for the shower's knobs and turning it on full blast.
The temperature of the water hit somewhere in that steam sweet spot before she finally stepped in, giving a deep and appreciative sigh as the pressure hit her head and shoulders just as Chase's press conference started. The upset agent quietly wondered to herself why she was listening to the news at all. It didn't matter what had really happened to that tower, ACME would never admit something had happened to the public. Go figure, getting caught in her own lies had soured her to the idea of entertaining someone else's. Even if it was to save face.
"Good evening, Ladies and gentlemen of the press," he started, "at approximately 3:15 AM, this morning, the main tower in our compound disappeared," pausing briefly, he made the difficult decision to be truthful.
E's eyes rolled as she started to lather up her hair, fingers massaging the soap into her long bleached tresses.
"It was stolen."
Immediately E's soapy head stuck itself out of the shower. 'WHAT did he say?!' she mouthed in surprise, Pantine Pro-v dripping onto her bathmat. She continued to listen to her television, slowly pulling herself back under the spray to rinse her head. Well that was something unexpected; both Chase's truth and the news of Haley's disappearance, though the idea that one had impacted the other was not lost on her. To care enough to ask though was a whole other story.
Finishing her shower quickly E dressed and pulled her still wet hair up in a messy bun before reaching into her bathroom closet and producing a pair of wire rimmed glasses. It had been a good year since she'd worn them properly but now that her cat was out of the bag keeping them hidden hardly seemed appropriate now. Besides, she considered as she removed her contact lenses, if she was going back to Boston soon she was going to be comfortable.
Ken stood at the entrance to the hangar with a duffel bag packed over his shoulder. He admitted to himself that he was a little nervous about flying out again, given that his last trip turned into such an odyssey. Still, this had nothing to do with him anymore. Now it was all for Patty. He was sure to impress her this time, Maybe he could even find a nice romantic spot for them, and she could finally see past his dumpy outer shell an learn what a wonderful person he was.
When he arrived in the hanger, he set his bag down and looked at the transport Patty was loading up. It was good that she'd chosen the plane. His last attempt at choosing didn't bode well. Carmen was tolerant of what had happened for now but she'd become less tolerant if he were to keep losing planes. Ken looked up into the hangar bay towards Patty, shading his eyes with the top of his hand. "Uhh...you ready?"
Ashley was just finishing up her latest blackjack game when Leah walked in with a look of confusion on her face. "Look, if we want to eat tonight we had better get going." Ashley just scoffed and rolled her eyes at her naive friend.
While entering the bar, something caught Ashley's attention, and it wasn't a cute pair of shoes. It was the news. She stared at the screen for a few seconds. Um, ACME's tower was missing? Since when? Ashley looked at Leah with a look of extreme confusion. She grabbed Ashley's wrist and pulled her out to the lobby.
One person. Ashley knew there was one person who could tell them what the latest with the situation was. She pulled out her cell phone and gave it to Leah.
"Press button number one and hit talk." she instructed to her best friend
ACME Medical Centre (AMC), San Francisco
"When this is over, his is the face you're going to see taking all the credit for ACME on the news."
Purposefully ignoring the assemblage of press and security personnel that circumvented the blank plot of land where the ACME Tower once stood, Sophie Conrad strode briskly across the private parklands, away from the ACME Academy and towards the glass façade of the ACME Medical Centre.
Somewhere within the walls of the Academy buildings, arrangements to have Mia Pierce transported home to her family at Dolores Heights were ongoing; as were, respectively, for all the other cadets who had been on the field-trip to Luxembourg City. Caleb Lake, with all the natural exuberance of a young man his age, was now lost to the sea of gatherers and Sophie, following a succinct text message sent to remind him of his obligations to protect the public image of the agency, could do nothing more but hope the best for his discernment.
Pulling the length of a blue-and-silver lanyard over her head, Sophie entered the warmly-lit Emergency Room. On the ground floor of the AMC, the patient and visitor traffic into the facility had all but trickled to a stop as a beset ACME prepared for the press conference that was to be chaired by its Field Director.
Within the inner pocket of her coat, her personal mobile phone vibrated as its persistently lengthening tally of missed calls alternated between ‘Home, Rockport’ and the various personal numbers of her family members. Sophie adjusted her ponytail as she walked through the foyer and past the triage counter of the department, picking up a print-out of the abnormally – but not unexpectedly – short list of patients in the holding areas. She should have known that the ambiguous message she had left her family, to ensure them of her safety and continued confidence in the organisation she worked for, would never have sufficed. Yet, she would convey no more as she had no intention of speaking to her family or friends – or anyone outside of ACME – until she had heard what the Field Director wanted the world to know.
* * *
Slowly scrolling through the text messages on her AMC-issue mobile phone, Sophie vacillated between watching the reflection of a news ticker upon the screen of the device and formulating appropriate answers to professional enquiries. All questions pertaining to her time spent in Luxembourg City were impassively, but truthfully, fielded with the pedestrian tale of an agent with a sprained ankle and x-rays awaiting review; while her thoughts about the vanished ACME Tower were simply summed up to be very few (that were worth sharing).
On the flat-screen television above her, the animated logo of a news network flashed across its display and, from her left, the elbow of a nearby colleague nudged her arm. Sophie looked up.
T.J. Holmes, she recognised the anchor onscreen as he stood in front of the stark-looking concrete space the absence of a 16-storey building left behind. How fitting… After all, he had once worked in the San Francisco Bay Area.
Carefully guarding the expression on her face, Sophie silently watched the report on ACME – from the cursory introduction to both the agency and its current predicament to the much-anticipated public address given by Chase Devineaux – with the same rapt attention that she believed everyone else to be undoubtedly conferring to it. Around her, the twitter of remarks that had begun with the implication of VILE grew into a shared refrain of dismay and condemnation at the mention of Hailey Weller:
Was the distress of a suddenly-missing structure insufficient for the purposes of Carmen Sandiego and her organisation of miscreants that they should resort to personally attacking the esteemed Chief of ACME?
Sophie looked down at the mobile phone in her hands and, though she tactfully acknowledged selected comments, decided to agree and disagree with no one. It was futile to insult and pointless to seek rationale in the actions and choices of their antagonists.
Discreetly detaching herself from the discourse of the gathered medical and nursing personnel in the Emergency Room, Sophie set off for the highest floor of the AMC. First and foremost on her mind was the alleviation of the concerns relayed by her family; following which she was resolved to a shower, food and drink – every action planned with the intention of making herself fit to see the patients she needed to and, without a doubt, dispense whatever necessary assurances and reassurances to both them and their families; for as the Field Director of ACME and his agents had their appropriate affairs and duties to attend to, likewise did the employees of the ACME Medical Centre.
"Everything's fine; we're still ACME, nothing has changed."
(Another co-post, hot off the burner.)
"Sonova…" Vincent 'The Slick' Fumigalli drew a comment while in a chair facing the satellite feed from a news channel. Live from ACME Headquarters. The man on screen was Chase Devineaux, ACME's Field Director and poster boy, blatantly not playing the role of a bureaucrat, "he's threatening us?"
"Piano man!" Hailey pointed at the TV. While Vic wouldn't have known, Chase had played the piano at Chief Weller's house on ACME compound the previous Thanksgiving, and that was how the granddaughter knew him. Hearing it, though, only made the conman think this kid was cuckoo.
"Piano man?" Vic snorted.
"He plays the piano," Carmen's plain answer had Fumigalli looking up to match any facial cue with the tone. At times, she reminded him of an alabaster statue, a little cold, a little expressionless. He could tell she was thinking more things a minute than he could understand in a week, and his head hurt.
Here's the thing with being a VILE agent, as far as Vic was concerned, if you ever got the chance to be in the same room with Carmen, staring at her too long was bound to make you feel like the world wasn't real. It couldn't be real if you're working for the dame that could literally swipe a thousand ships.
"OK," said one of the few people on earth to swear by polyester, "so he's musical, so is Sar'h. What's he thinking accusing us in front of the masses? We'll be hounded!"
"I don't know," was her reply. But she did know, and knew well. She acknowledged long ago the condition that Chase Devineaux was a company man and that he would defy odds to ensure its best interest, intriguingly; the press conference showed a shift in his priorities. On the surface, his speech did what Vincent conceived, accused VILE of the possible abduction of Chief Weller's granddaughter; the intonation used, however, suggested that he was in conflict (if not with himself, then with someone else). As he spoke the truth, he seemed to the thief's other senses, a liar.
He has to save you, she perceptively thought, and then looked down to the little girl named Hailey Weller. Certainly, luck was favorable. If they had not discovered her earlier, VILE would be busy searching the building now.
While spending time with Hailey, Carmen discovered among the girl's possessions, a staff identification card belonging to Chief Weller. From Hailey's chronologically sporadic tale, the thief surmised the night's events. Hailey had been at Chief Weller's home, located in a small tree-dotted area of residences between the main building and the academy. For reasons involving 'fairies', she woke up late in the night and told her parents she was going to find her grandfather. Somewhere between the guest bedroom and the master bedroom of the Weller's home, Hailey spotted Chief Weller's keycard left on a table and decided to go 'see his TV.'
She put on her coat and hat, and two right shoes, one pink and one white. She gave no hints on how she passed the guards and ACME's rigorous security checks at that hour, but she did mention that (days before) she had seen agents, including her own kin, use their identification cards to enter the building. Her mother also repeatedly said 'Kuppa' was on 'the floor with two lines'.
"Like this," Hailey had explained, putting together the first finger of both her hands to show the number eleven.
Carmen exhaled slowly; this resourceful little girl had unwittingly stirred a storm.
"So, what do we do?" Vic's right eye was starting to twitch and he had one hand massaging the side of it as he talked, "Can't stick to the old plan, we only got 24 hours. Say we leave now, getting the plane live, loaded, and landing in San Francisco would be a good 20 hours, at least."
Carmen mentally ran through the steps of her original plan, factoring in the adversary's most recent action. There was no reason to keep the tower; nothing of this size may be hidden forever, but she did hope to possess it for longer than two days. On balance, Chase's main objective was Hailey, not the building. That alone would buy her some time.
"Then we'll need to meet him half way," she concluded and resolutely abandoned the area, heading to the nearest console to propagate her new intent. Everything she wanted from that building must be accomplished within the day, because as ACME's words spread world-wide; nearly all available navigation satellites, investigative reporters, and amateur detectives would be looking for it.
"Half way, where?" Vic asked to no reply, feeling a migraine coming on, "Jesus, Mary, Joseph, and Frank Sinatra!" Exasperated, he sank into the chair in front of the news broadcast and watched with eyes squinted at a replay of the press conference. If Sarah Nade was here, the conman might feel a little better about dealing with Devineaux's accusations, but he had no idea where that Nade was, or if she was taking collect calls from the middle of nowhere.
37 Patty-Larceny (Crim, Lori, you guys can totally end the convo and add stuff in between.) :D
Patty was doing her normal duty, packing things that look like they weighed tons into places that looked like they couldn't handle any more. She had one more hairdryer to add, and she was looking for room to squeeze it in when her phone rang.
It looked like her surrogate sis, Crimson (who was probably with her other surrogate sis Lori) was calling, and Patty excitedly hit the green button. "Where are you guys, oh my God!" she exclaimed, thrilled to hear from them, "did you see the news?" Here, she spotted Kenny coming down to the hangar and awkwardly looking at her.
"Shoot, I gotta go soon," she said, "Kenny's here and we're heading to New York," like a bee, she worked, "If you got the time, we tots have to meet up," Patty managed to shove in her last bits of items, "you'll prolly get there before we do, but if you could, like, get a hotel and stuff around Rockefeller so we can ice skate and shop, that'd be way cool!"
Traffic was a nightmare. Slamming the door of a black standard issue ACME SUV, Ivy pulled a shearling jacket over her shoulders, her hair tied in a messy bun, and her communicator (with its broken strap) gripped tightly in her right hand.
It was approximately 8:10 PM, and she was somewhere among the crowd of civilians who had come to take a look at the complex. They were really too far away to see much, but from this distance the compound looked like a circus. Flood lights highlighted the wreckage and a large collapsible stage was set up near the center of the area. The press seemed to spill over the edges, photographers and camera men up in front, being pushed forward by incoming reporters. And right on cue, the ring master arrived. Chase Devineaux, suited, shaven, and looking every bit his reassuring self took the stage. It was ACME quite literally putting their best face forward.
Ivy's communicator beeped with a message from her former colleagues in Hong Kong asking about the situation at HQ. She discreetly answered, noting down the area that was missing and assuring them that much of the complex was still intact. Tanya must be working overtime with PR stateside.
"It was stolen."
Ivy's face shot up from her communicator screen as the crowd now openly questioned one another on what those words meant.
"Oh, this is bad…"
"We have enough to suspect a notorious crime ring, led by a figure with the moniker 'Carmen Sandiego',"
"Of urgency, Hailey Weller--six--may have been inside the building at the time,"
"Really, really bad."
Another message lit up on her screen, followed by four more. Quite evidently, the show had begun
Time: 3:00am GMT
Laying low was AWESOME. Short of a paid vacation laying low, in Sarah's personal opinion, was the best way for a VILE villain to spend their time. Been on the news a bit too much lately? Had your name on every ACME agent's lips from here to Kalamazoo? Maybe seen the inside of a cell a wee bit more than you like? It was time to go somewhere that no one knew you name and just exist. Don't make any good friends, don't plant any roots, just let the world forget you.
London was one of Sarah's most favorite places to lay low. No new language to learn, lovely accents to listen to, late night bars, great music if you knew where to look. In fact that was really her reason for loving everything within the British isles.
Currently sporting a blond mohawk her places to not stick out as much were really more limited to some of London's seedier locations but truth be told she liked it that way. Her current dig, a hole in the wall called the Pauper's Spit, had lost most of its clientele by 2am, leaving only the hardcore drinkers and partiers to remain.
A 7 foot tall leather clad cue ball named Teddy had been chatting her up for most of the last hour and had bought her a steady stream of drinks, his intentions of this encounter having been made incredibly clear. Sarah, a notorious heavyweight drinker, had decided she'd just about reached her limit and was about ready to ditch the jolly green giant when the bar's television started to flash a special bulletin.
Interrupting an old episode of Jeeves and Wooster was suddenly video of a very very familiar site indeed. ACME's headquarters. Or what WAS ACME's Headquarters, now a giant hole in the ground. Sarah's gray eyes widened as she realized what had happened and she quickly flagged down the bartender.
"Hey! Turn that up, would you?" she asked. Teddy looked at her with a raised brow, about to ask what she wanted with footage of something happening over in the states when Sarah placed a single finger in front of his face, motioning him to be silent.
"Good evening, Ladies and gentlemen of the press," he started, "at approximately 3:15 AM, this morning, the main tower in our compound disappeared," pausing briefly, he made the difficult decision to be truthful.
"It was stolen."
"Holy S$%T!" Sarah exclaimed, now completely engrossed with the television as she took another sip of her beer and laughed. "Thats AMAZING!"
Teddy, finally tired of not getting the proper attention he was searching for after all the drinks he'd bought her, slid his hand on her jeans covered hip. "I bet you I could show you something better." Without even looking Sarah's hand slapped his away hard.
"I doubt it. Shut up." she said, not even bothering to remove her gaze from the television.
The speaker continued, "We have enough to suspect a notorious crime ring, led by a figure with the moniker 'Carmen Sandiego'," more questions arose, but Chase ignored them. He named the culprit, now he was going to provide his conditions.
"Of urgency, Hailey Weller--six--may have been inside the building at the time," the journalists became quiet at news of Dr. Weller's granddaughter, "We have yet to hear from any party regarding her status, but I would encourage dialog to be established within the next twenty-four hours."
Sarah's jaw nearly dropped. "Holy... S#$T."
The insulted giant next to her twisted the swivel top of her barstool around to make her face him. "HEY! What's the big idea!?"
Already Sarah had started reaching for her means of communication, a pay as you go phone which sat in the pocket of her leather jacket. Using the turned momentum she hopped down from the bar stool and walked around the angry leather daddy, not even acknowledging him. Her mind was not on booze or men but on her place of work. Her mind was on VILE.
Starting to dial a number Sarah stopped short as Teddy grabbed her arm hard. "You listen here..." he'd started to say, bringing his face down to be level with hers to tell her exactly what he thought of her disrespectful ways. That was, as they say, a mistake. A big mistake. Before the bartender could even begin to tell him 'No meant no' Sarah's fist had connected with Teddy's glass jaw, sending him sprawling on the floor.
The bar went silent.
"Oi! Nice job." the bartender finally spoke up. "Looked like he had it coming."
Sarah shook her hand a couple of times before producing a couple of large bills from her pocket and placing them on the bar. "Thats to cover him, me, and a round for the house." she said simply, not that she was sorry for what she'd done but getting into bar fights, no matter how one sided they were, clearly violated the idea of laying low. It was time to get out of there. Without another word Sarah left the bar for the chilly morning air, making her way down the street.
One hand started to dial the phone again while the other reached for her pack of cigarettes, popping one out of the pack and placing it between her lips before reaching for her lighter. Confident that she'd dialed what she wanted correctly she held the phone to her ear.
Someone had to know where that tower was. Wherever it was Sarah had a feeling she should be there.
Loralye grabbed the phone and started pushing the buttons that Crimson had instructed. The number that showed up on the screen was familiar, but Lora couldn't be sure. She held the small phone tightly against her face as they passed numerous large and noisy rooms filled with other means of gambling; the ringing had been almost inaudible.
"Where are you guys, oh my God!"
Lora smiled to herself. That was Patty for you. She should have known that Crimson would go to no other than their non-blood sister for information. "We're in Vegas, but-"
"Did you see the news?"
"Yes, we did," said Lora. She could hear Patty struggling with something in the background. "We were won-"
"Shoot, I gotta go soon. Kenny's here and we're heading to New York."
So that's what the noise was. Patty was clearly trying to stuff too much into a suitcase again.
"If you got the time, we tots have to meet up! You'll prolly get there before we do, but if you could, like, get a hotel and stuff around Rockefeller so we can ice skate and shop, that'd be way cool!"
"Sure, sure," she said. "I'll have Crim get you the details. Love ya sis!" And Lora hung up.
When part of the team was in Luxemborg, Nevon had been taking a NAP. No, not that kind of nap, the Necessary Advancement Programs designed for agents who couldn't pass certain sections of the academy but needed the credits to claim their badges.
He had been studying and was in media blackout at the University of San Diego where a part of the NAP was held. On the morning he was going back to San Francisco, his mother messaged him from Seattle asking if everything was ok. "Things are fine mom, thanks for the cookies, they came yesterday," he texted her back.
"OK, be safe!" his mother wrote, "your aunt and I will be watching the TV when your boss has the press conference."
"What?" Nevon thought out loud. This was something he should have known about, that Chase Devineaux was back in town, and holding a press conference too!
Nevon Blair had been a fan of ACME since his younger days, but he never dared to apply as an agent. Eventually, he took accounting as his major and sent his resume to ACME in Seattle, where they do a lot with numbers. Only a year or so in, he found himself a girlfriend, another accountant here in ACME San Francisco. As the story goes, he transferred over, and she suggested he took the agent route. He did.
He was barely here a few weeks when he ran into Chase Devineaux and a busted Porsche Cayman in front of the ACME garage. With all the things he'd heard about Chase, Nev was inspired. Surely, this was the man to be his guide.
Nev turned on the radio in the car, and listened to news reports about the ACME Tower having disappeared, but he couldn't believe any of them. So by the time he got back to San Francisco, it took him 4 hours just to get back to the compound, the press conference was already underway. Nevon couldn't believe his eyes. No tower. And Chase looked awesome.
As he listened, Nev imagined how his self-appointed mentor must be feeling, in the glare of the lights and the nagging reporters. He had a flashback of the Blue Moon Masquerade and wondered if VILE was acting on this as a kind of revenge. What if this thing went on forever, and ACME took over VILE's headquarters next. They'd be taking all kinds of strange things out of the headquarters of a master criminal, like a giant bowling ball, or the missing arms of the Venus statue.
Daydreaming and walking wasn't his thing, and Nevon tripped, almost falling flat on his face. When he got up, the press conference was over, Chase left the stage, and people were talking among themselves. Nev ran towards the center to find other agents. He had to check-in somehow and make himself useful. That's what Chase would want, nay, expect him to do.
(This post was a collaboration between myself, LeeJordan, and Calico. Also there are quotes from Chase and E_Lou_Sive in here as well. Enjoy)
Deric could see the gathered members of the press conversing amongst themselves while someone from ACME’s Public Relations department went over a few ground rules for the presser. He wasn’t really paying attention though; he was busy trying to put some more of the pieces together in his head.
As he had walked towards the press conference from the crater, an older agent came up beside him. “Did you discover anything interesting during your search of the crime scene?” he asked.
“Don’t know yet.” Deric responded with a tired smirk. From what he could gather, VILE had used ACME’s own C-5 system to steal ACME Tower. But, as always with VILE, answering one question led to two more questions. In this case, it was two obvious questions: ‘where did they take it?’ and ‘how in the hell did they get access to the C-5?’
Hopefully, they had the means to answer the first question. The second question was what worried him the most because it had the most negative repercussions. Rubbing the fatigue out of his eyes, he noticed a familiar face in the crowd at the back of the press area. Seeing his target in conversation with someone, Deric was able to sneak up on and tap her on the shoulder.
“’Allo dearie,” Deric said with a fake British accent. Cali Oliveira turned around and, seeing who it was gave him a quick hug.
“Hey moço,” she said, beaming. “You are not supposed to be here?” she asked, in her Brazilian accent, “I thought you are home for holiday?”
“Figured I could be of help, so I came back.” Deric said, stretching. The drive from Nebraska had not been easy. Cali could see the tired look on his face.
“You look awful,” Cali chided him. “When is the last time you sleeped?”
“I’ll sleep when we get our HQ back,” he joked. “Anyway have you seen someone from the R&D department or Tech Support? I think I have an idea of how we can find the Tower.”
“Actually,” she smiled, “I chatted with Matt,” she motioned to the young man next to them. “He was working the night that it happened.” Looking to the young technician, she said “Mattie, could you tell Deric too?”
The young technician sighed before retelling his story. It obviously wasn’t his first time retelling what happened that night. “I was at my station when, all of a sudden, an alarm sounded. We were told to evacuate because of a gas leak. Next thing we know, the whole building just disappears into thin air.”
“Could it have been an accident with the C-5?” Deric asked pointedly.
The tech shook his head. “You need an authorization code to access the C-5. No way it would be an accident. Why? Is that what happened?”
“Possibly,” Deric answered. “Say it was stolen, would there be a way to trace the C-5? An energy signature or anything like that?”
“Theoretically.” Matt answered, raising Deric’s spirits somewhat. “We might be able to scan for its harmonic frequency or its power consumption or…”
“Matt,” Cali interjected, starting to see where Deric might be going with his line of questioning, “How could someone not with ACME get access to the C-5?” Both agents looked at the tech, who squirmed a little under their gaze.
“That’s easy,” Matt said, “you can’t. Sorry guys, but I gotta get back to work. Later.” The young tech scurried away from the tense conversation.
“So, what are you thinking?” Cali asked Deric, “Someone breaks into the C-5?”
“Actually, Cali, I think…” Deric stopped mid-sentence as he saw Chase walk to the podium. “Here comes Chase. What do you think Cal, truth or damage control?”
“I don’t think Chase will tell the press it is Carmen who stole the building, we do not have anything to accuse them.” Deric nodded in agreement. A hush fell over the crowd as Chase began to speak.
"Good evening, Ladies and gentlemen of the press, at approximately 3:15 AM, this morning, the main tower in our compound disappeared. It was stolen.”
Deric and Cali were both stunned. The press corps exploded in noise, each one trying to get their questions answered. Out of the corner of his eye, Deric spotted someone that might know a little bit more about what happened. “I’ll be right back, Cali.” He quickly strode towards Lee Jordan, once one of ACME’s top agents, now one of Chase’s snitches. It was now clear to his tired mind that VILE didn’t break in, they were let in and Deric had a good idea by whom.
Deric could hear Chase continue to give his speech as he neared Lee.
"We have enough to suspect a notorious crime ring, led by a figure with the moniker 'Carmen Sandiego'."
Deric quickly said, “Jordan, we need to talk,” before roughly pulling him away from the presser.
“What do you want, Storm?” Jordan asked, trying to ignore the pain in his injured ankle and in the shoulder Deric was squeezing. “Hey, watch it.”
“I wanna know how much, Lee?” Deric asked, his tone becoming accusatory. “How much did you get in exchange for your second chance?”
Lee knocked Deric’s hand off of his shoulders. “What the !@#$% are you talking about?” he spat, walking back towards the press conference. Deric’s arm came up, blocking his way.
Deric spat back, “Once a rat, always a rat. You betrayed us once before. What would stop you now?” Lee was about to say something when Chase’s voice echoed from the podium.
"Of urgency, Hailey Weller--six--may have been inside the building at the time. We have yet to hear from any party regarding her status, but I would encourage dialog to be established within the next twenty-four hours."
Now seeing red, Deric grabbed Lee by the front of his shirt. Lifting him up to eye level, Deric spoke in a low, menacing tow. “Alright Lee, enough screwing around. Where did she ta..” Deric was cut off by Lee’s good foot kicking his shin and Lee’s right fist connecting with his jaw.
Released from the hold, Lee took off as quickly as he could on his bad ankle. Deric was nuts. He made it about a hundred feet before the Hulk tackled him. Rolling on the ground, Jordan found himself on the dirt with the large blonde’s knee on his lower abdomen and one of his arms pushing into his throat. “Get off me!” He attempted to shout.
“ARE YOU KIDDING ME, JORDAN?” Deric roared. “I want the location, and I want… it… NOW!!! Where’s the Tower?” All Lee could do was shaking his head to try and convince the irate Irishman that he was relatively innocent. Some of the detectives nearby were converging on their location.
“Deric,” someone said, grabbing at Deric’s arm in an attempt to pull him off.
Deric shrugged off the person pulling at his free arm. “If anything happens to that kid, Lee, it’ll be on your head. Do you want that?” There was nothing from Lee. “I swear to God, I will pop your head like a pimple. WHERE IS SHE????” His free hand reached for his sidearm, unbuckling it.
“DERIC, stop!!” the same person yelled, physically pulling the young Nebraskan off of Lee before he did something irrevocable. Deric grabbed a hold of the person who pushed him off and was about to throw a punch when he saw who it was.
Looking back at Lee, who was cradling his throat and trying to catch his breath, and back at Cali, who was actually scared at that moment, Deric realized he went too far. He could see some flashbulbs going off from the press who had come over as well. At that moment, only one thought went through Deric’s head.
“Don’t know yet,” the man said in response to Brian's query then walked away to talk to another agent whom he saw approaching. "Hmm," Brian muttered as he sat down and listened to what Chase had to say.
The things he heard felt like sucker punches to the chest: "It was stolen"..."Hailey Weller--six--may have been inside the building at the time"...and suddenly, “ARE YOU KIDDING ME, JORDAN?” This last statement snapped Brian into action.
He turned around and saw the man he'd just spoken to in a tussle with Lee Jordan. Seeing cameras closing in on the scuffle, Brian knew he couldn't end the matter and break up the crowd, but he knew who could.
As fast as he could, Brian rushed to meet Chase as he exited the stage. He greeted Chase with the words: "Mr. Field Director, Agent Brian Graves. You're needed where the cameras are. There has been a confrontation between one of our agents and Lee Jordan. What are your orders, sir?"
Calina Oliveira Corranos, as her mother might call when she had covered one of her brothers in mud, had gone from frightened to very, very angry.
She snatched her arms away from Deric and swung her best one to slap him.
She thought also to yell at him in Brazilian Portuguese, but he would not understand a word. Especially when he was acting like a bull with no ability to think of right and wrong. And since the cameras were coming to them, she had to react fast.
"Oh, come with me," she said, and reached to take his wrist, "We go to my room, you need cold shower."
((OOC: I did not actually have her slap him or take his wrist, so Deric, you can choose if the actions are completed.)) :)
Philo watched the whole situation unfold while shaking his head. That Deric Storm kid was stubborn as a mule and twice as stupid. Sure, he was the first one of these other dumbfounded gumshoes to actually establish a means of transport, and it was a doozy: of course someone could have easily high-tailed virtually anywhere with a building if they had access to ACME's fancy-shmancy matter transporter. Philo had to give the boss credit for thinking of it, if only now in all of the years she was entwined with ACME. She had all these agents flopping around like fish out of water trying to discover the trick. Who knows if they actually ever would, although Philo was confident eventually they'd have things squared away crime wise.
A few things didn't click right with the mechanic, though: Why did Carmen kidnap the girl? Carmen had no qualms with making off with the Eiffel Tower if the mood swung her way, but never would that mood ever dictate that she ever abduct anyone. The merest threat of there being so much as an innocent bystander in the way would appropriately slow Carmen down, and often did, resulting in ACME's only record of genuine near-captures. The only other possibility would be that the girl was in the building and Carmen stole it without knowing she's there. Maybe to these gumshoes it would seem farfetched. After all, the building had some great security stats. The flaw in that logic, naturally, was that if their security were truly that good, nobody would have been able to rip off the building.
That was one of the many flaws in Storm's logic, Philo cracked his knuckles and prepared to confront Storm with the other flaws. He silently made a mental note to apologize to Calico later: the testosterone poisoning had only just begun to waft in the air.
Before Cali could usher him away, Philo put his foot between her and Storm and squeezed his way in between the two of them, making a show of pushing Storm back a centimeter by bouncing him off his belly and looking him so closely in the eye that Deric could see Philo's eyes through the reflection in his sunglasses.
"Okay, thunderhead, lissen tightly: Jordan ain't deh only VILE crosstitch in dis outfit. I used to be freakin' Top Grunge. You gonna come after me next? Neh, I know you ain't and I'll tell you why: if either of us were an accomplice to dis, do you think we'd be out in deh open, in front of deh press and a gaggle of yeh so-called 'master detectives' if we were deh slghtest bit guilty? No, we'd have taken dat sailplane out to wherever Carmen woulda hid us. I'm sure you woulda though of dat, if yeh was doin' any thinkin' at all."
"Dat's another thing: yeh're all geatly overestimating Carmen here. She didn't up and take deh building and deh girl jus' because she hates you all for keepin' her captive as a brain child, eh? Nah, she stole your building deh same reason she steals anything, because dere was somethin' about it she wanted. She's gonna look for it, take it, and leave your tower in a place where deh pack of you can THINK yeh solved some major case. Chief Weller's granddaughter is a bystander here, an' maybe though you got deh right attitude, you are takin' deh wrong action. We have teh work together to make sure she's protected and not brought teh' any harm. Punchin' Jordan, as fun as it is, don't do nothin' to protect nobody."
"Last thing I'm gonna say before you ignore it all and act like yeh usual spitfire self: If yeh're right and Carmen stole deh building by C-5, whoever accessed the portal needed clearence, if dey needed clearence dat means dey were inside of Crime-Net, and if dey were in Crime-Net, dere has teh be some traces of it somewhere in deh database. Findng out where deh tower is might jus' be as simple as findin' where dat signal came from." Philo took a couple steps back from Storm, paused, gave him an 'I'm watching you' gesture with his fingers, then turned his back and walked away.
(This had been written with Tanya, with additional editing by Carmen, thank you to both of you.)
While commotion at the site of ACME compound escalated, streets away, the Board was having a fight of their own. Verbal assaults, politely used, were thrown across the conference table. Everything from estimating what had gone wrong to attempts at predicting the future resulted in the same conclusion: their 'good son' was problematic.
"And that's the thing," said the wiry board member with the nasal voice, "we can't do anything to him. Fire him and this blows up. VILE might as well have taken the entire compound!"
"You are neglecting that he may have saved us all from proper embarrassment!" The injection belonged to Chief Weller, as it was characteristically followed by a puff of his pipe, "The script was flawed."
"The script, my good man, was an order!" chimed a larger man, who was returning to his seat from getting another morsel at the conference room's food table, "and with the rumours, one might wonder about that boy's part in the entire heist. Weller, you sent that Wayward agent after him, did you? Find anything, chap?"
"Melissa found nothing," Dr. Weller exhaled, "Chase Devineaux, as he should be, is clean."
There was a silence, and the man who just sat down gingerly wiped his hands on a napkin as if to apologize for slipping the point no one wanted to hear.
At one end of the table sat the board's only female member, Barbara Rosen. Like others in the room, she had a long list of accolades before joining ACME's board. The shortlist is that she had been a lawyer, spending forty years in the judicial system; she remained a consulting partner of many law firms; and her two sons, whom she insisted on meeting no more than twice a year (including the holidays), were successful surgeons.
Mrs. Rosen adjusted the crisp edges of her suit and leaned forward. "Do we all believe it is best that we let this matter sort itself?" she began with a question.
Chief Everard Weller, with his years of experience, understood that Barbara Rosen wasn't opening the floor for debate, she was about to close it. He removed his pipe.
"You once stated, Dr. Weller, that men like Chase Devineaux cannot be judged on the standards we judge others," she was referring to a meeting not too many years ago where a younger Detective Devineaux had submitted to the board a resignation letter due to 'conflict of interest', "That his decisions are often based on the intangible values most of us find unnecessary." His letter was denied then, purely because Everard Weller convinced him to rethink.
"Not my exact words," Chief replied, "but go on, Barbara."
"We," she emphasized on the word, "cannot, and should not, do anything to him."
"He can't just do whatever he wants, that's an outrage!" someone else in the room interrupted, but Mrs. Rosen held up a hand to stop him.
"However," she continued, unfazed, "our Field Director, whether or not incidental, made the decision to go to Luxembourg. I am sure he won't deny fault."
The board looked questioningly at one another.
Chief Weller's face fell, "You're not suggesting that we demand he assumes responsibility for the missing tower?"
"I think Barbara's on the ball," the corpulent man finished another sandwich, "If he has any honour, he'll resign."
"We're not demanding anything," Barbara clarified, "Mr. Devineaux is a loyal employee, but we must be keen that the board is in charge of these decisions, not a Department Head."
"The man is smarter than he lets on," the wiry man, known for his opinion, added, "we'll see how well this works." He looked around, but primarily at Dr. Weller "Now, which one of us is going to tell our boy that he's leaving ACME?"
Lee Jordan was relieved when that bomb squad girl got the hulk off him. He had been catching his breath when Carmen's old Mechanic, Top Grunge, or Felix, Philo, whatever, was giving the blond kid a lecture.
"Hey, thanks..." Lee said when Philo was walking off, but the mechanic didn't seem like he noticed.
Brushing himself off, he cursed under his breath. He should have just stayed in Luxembourg instead of coming back to SF, but it was a free ride back to the U.S. and he needed to see the tower gone.
Getting hit was bad, but at least it was educational. If that Deric hadn't buckled him, Lee probably wouldn't have stayed to see Chase tell the world the truth. To Lee, that was a stupid move.
Jordan made his way back into the crowd to disappear, he was still bent on finding a link to VILE. Somebody had to have made a mistake somewhere.
Deric woke with a start.
He felt like hell. Looking around, he saw he was in a bathtub, clad only in his underwear. A steady stream of lukewarm water was spraying onto his body.
‘What the hell? This isn’t MY bathroom.’ he thought as he surveyed the surroundings. ‘Where am I?’ Over the sound of the rushing water, Deric could hear a muffled sound of a television as well as an angry female’s voice speaking rapidly in Portuguese.
‘The only woman I know who speaks Portuguese is…’ he thought before finishing aloud, “Cali.” A sharp and sudden pain came from his jaw as he pronounced the last syllable. The pain kick-started his sleep-dulled mind into remembering the events of the past few hours.
Driving nonstop from Fairview… the crater… the C-5 can be tracked… Someone was able to break into the C-5… the press conference… It was stolen… Lee Jordan… Hailey Weller… inside the building at the time… the world going red… need a name… DERIC, don’t!!!... Cali…
Deric felt absolutely ill. The woman who owned a large portion of his heart had stopped him from doing something unforgivable and he almost hit her for that. Running his hand through his wet hair in frustration, Deric knew he had screwed up royally this time. “Bloody hell,” he sighed. Looking straight ahead, Deric watched the water go down the bathtub’s drain. ‘Just like my career as a detective,’ he thought sardonically.
He heard his name spoken in that same angry tone. ‘Great,’ Deric thought, ‘not only have I flushed my career, but now Cali probably hates me as well.’ Deric hadn’t screwed up this badly since…
Taking his watch off his left wrist, Deric could get a better look at the scar, a constant reminder of his last major regret. As much as he liked Cali, that was one secret he wasn’t ready to share with her yet. Taking a deep breath to steel himself for what was to come, Deric turned off the shower. He might not be able to save his career, but he would be damned if he couldn’t save his friendship with the lovely Brazilian.
Wrapping a towel around his waist, Deric stepped out of the bathroom.
“Hey, Cali…” he began to say.
On the plane ride to New York, Patty played with the a/v system trying to get an inflight movie going. Nothing really worked, so she turned on the music instead. Patty made a face when she saw all the CDs. The crew with the good music were all with Carmen, where ever that ACME tower is. She was stuck with Kenny and classic rock. Oy vey!
Throwing the remote to the side, she sat back in her seat.
"Hey, Kenny," she said, "if you're sleeping, try not to snore, kay?"
Being airborne for 24 consecutive hours in one form or another had left Euge stiff, sore, tired, somewhat angry and in desperate need of a shower. A short jog around the outer edge of the compound got blood flowing to his limbs again. Ending his run at a small security door in the back of the ACME dorms, he slipped inside and availed himself of the showers.
With two of his immediate problems solved, Euge tuned a small travel radio to one of the local stations while he wrestled his flight suit out of his backpack. The archaic dollar store reject didn't have much power, but it was enough to pick up the local news stations who were a-twitter with the fallout of Chase's conference. Euge honestly didn't expect much to come of the conference, so it was a shock to hear the ultimatum being delivered. The revelation about people still being in the building at the time of the theft derailed Euge's train of thought. This news took the option of a long range retaliatory strike off the table, especially with VILE now in possession of an HVI. No, this will require boots on the ground, and that will require inserting a team once word comes down, and that will require...
"Rabbit, this is Euge. Put the chopper and ATV back in the triple 7 and have it buttoned up by 0200... Yes, I heard the press conference, that's why it's imperative you have this bird on a hair trigger by the time I get there... No, I don't know the destination yet, just max her out...wait, leave it about four tons under MTOW; I have one more package to load when I get there...What have I told you about calling me sir? *click*"
With the phone call setting the airfield crew in motion, Euge now had about 6 hours to get some shut-eye. Stretching out in the back of one of the Sikorskys, he fired off a quick message to Chase, who was no doubt being bombarded; "777 will be mission ready at 0200 local." That final piece of business concluded, Euge set his alarm and promptly drifted off. Tomorrow was promising to be a long day.
Loralye was attempting to read her book, Computational Biochemistry and Biophysics, but after she had read the introduction to free energy calculations four times, she sat the book down. She looked over to the seat next to hers. Crimson’s face was completely relaxed-well, the part that Lora could see. Crim’s eyes were covered in what Lora considered to be a ‘tacky’ leopard print sleep mask. However, watching her friend’s breathing told her that she was still awake.
(Quick one to answer Brian and Nevon. We're still waiting on something from VILE--*Clears throat*--Carmen?)
Chase Devineaux, as he left the stage, was planning out minor damage control. He hated to leave this to Tatyana, but she had to learn sometime, and this curve ball was a good start.
Brian Graves said:
"Mr. Field Director, Agent Brian Graves. You're needed where the cameras are. There has been a confrontation between one of our agents and Lee Jordan. What are your orders, sir?"
Lee Jordan? Great.
"Come with me," the Field Director nodded to Graves and headed towards the conflict. He got there in time to see the strike of Calina Corranos's well-aimed palm at, surprisingly, not Jordan. When Philo started his talk, Devineaux got the picture. This kind of behavior was frowned upon, but now wasn't the time to shoot down able men. Deric Storm, like Corranos said, needed a cold shower. Devineaux would talk to Storm later, if Cali let the boy live long enough.
Off the corner of his vision, he could see Nevon Blair fumbling past the crowd towards him. Chase raised an arm, calling the rookie over.
"Stand by, Brian," Chase instructed to the agent next to him.
When Nevon arrived, he said, "Can I count on you and Graves to make sure these reporters all leave, and everyone else goes where they need to go? We're going to need to form teams soon, covering different angles. If neither of you are on a case, we could use you.
"I need to talk to Chief Weller," he concluded, heading out, "you can leave the compound by midnight, and report back to me in the morning -- 10 AM." There were times Devineaux would rather encourage dialog instead of making commands and then leaving, but he was never great with stretching conversations.
"I fixed my snoring," Kenny murmured from the back "but I can't sleep anyway." Ken shuffled to the front of the plane with a bright white nasal strip across his nose. He peered out over the front of the plane. Big, thick clouds flew over under, around and through. It was clearly winter in most of the world. His head turned to Patty, who was simply sitting back in her seat feeling thankful that, thanks to the nasal strip around his nose, he wasn't snorting as he breathed. It was only him, her, and the devil watching. This was an opportunity to say something witty, do something charming, try to impress her somehow.....
"Hey, uh, can I get you some grape soda?"
He gave a pause.
"I mean champagne! Would you like some champagne!?"
Chip finished his cell phone call. "All right," he said, walking back to the others still outside. "I think I might have activated the server room security measures... Wherever the thing is, it has rotten satellite reception." He sighed and looked at the sky. "If all went right, barring any unforseen circumstances, the room is locked up tight and all the computers onsite immobilized until I issue the override whenever we get the building back." He shook his head. "I hope it works -- this is the first time I've actually had to use it."
"Sim," Cali had been talking to her mother on the phone, "é..., é verdade.." She rolled her eyes a little as she agreed. Her mother called today because of the ACME news, but now she was talking about the fight after the press conference. The more her mother talked, Cali could tell her parents did not see much at all. They are assuming everything.
"Sim, mamãe, só um pouco," she made a shrug, "ele não é assim." Hearing Deric come out of the shower, she interrupted the call from Brazil, "Ups, ele está aqui. Okay... falar com você em breve. Tchau. Beijos."
“Hey, Cali…” he began to say.
She did not want to repeat what her mother said, and Deric sounded very sorry when he said her name, so she just exhaled.
"You are going a long way to helping my mamãe think Americans are always drunk," she said as she plopped her phone on the bed.
It was barely an hour after the ACME Press Conference, and The Master Thief had already told her Lowly Follower everything he needed to know. Carmen was going to take care of the front, while Vic was to take the little girl to a half-way point for her safe return to ACME. Fumigalli was still scratching his head when his phone buzzed.
Vic picked up the device inside the first ring and a half. He knew it was Sarah Nade, not because of the ringtone, but because ACME just had their televised conference, and no one else but Sarah had this number. She was bound to call.
"Ey.. yeh.. I can't talk long, Carmen's limiting signals coming in and outta this place," he looked at Hailey and hunched over the phone, "You saw the news, ah? That's how screwy this got. Take a flight now to Brazil, Carmen's orders, the usual bum at the airport's waiting for ya."
He hung up. Now, the conman was off to do what his boss liked best, follow her instructions.
"Kid, little girl," he said to Hailey, "We're taking a trip, c'mon, grab a bear or something and let's get going."
"Is she coming?" Hailey asked about Carmen.
Vincent made a face, not that he was really surprised. He'd never take VILE's ringleader as someone good with kids, but in some ways, she was one herself. "She's got stuff to do, maybe she'll come, I don't know," he replied, "there's candy on the plane if ya hurry."
20 Minutes Ago - ACME Medical Centre
The rhythmic rotor-sounds of the last air ambulance to leave the ACME Medical Centre faded into the ambient noise created by the surrounding cityscape, the crowd on the ACME compound and the surveillance aircraft that lingered above it. Sophie Conrad stood a few metres away from the helipad, with one hand tucked into the pocket of a half-zipped parka, and another hand tightly wrapped around a half-frozen and yet-unopened bottle of Dr Pepper. Her damp red-coloured hair framed her face in flyaway strands as she watched the blinking lights on the helicopter until it had blended into the other lights in the sky. A sharp metallic sound made her turn.
Sheila Matthews, one of the two senior attending physicians who remained on-duty in the Medical Centre, lifted a violently-dancing flame. “Go home,” she muttered – her voice a growl as she glared over the cigarette hanging from her lips to Sophie who, with an indeterminable shrug, replied by diverting their gazes out toward the mass of people and vehicles that choked up the private road serving the ACME compound: “In that traffic?”
Sheila chuckled and inhaled.
Strolling side-by-side toward the edge of the Medical Centre’s roof level, the two women leaned against the polished metal rail and stared out into the mess that reigned upon the open grounds below. Sophie glanced over at her colleague and momentarily thought about how the amber glow from the freshly-lit cigarette completed the senior doctor’s misleading looks – the over-dyed golden highlights in her hair, the flecks of light in her hardened brown eyes, and even the rebellious shimmer of her eye-shadow…
“You've been suspiciously quiet,” Sheila pointed out.
Sophie raised a quizzical eyebrow.
“Come on, Little Miss Perfect – you were part of the Luxembourg team. You can’t tell me you didn’t suspect anything.”
“I didn’t suspect anything.”
“See, you’re really bad at that,” the dismissive was quick, complete with an accusatory wag of a finger, “lying.”
“Most people consider it a good thing,” Sophie countered calmly with a faint smile on her lips.
“Well, what do you think will happen now?”
“I don’t know,” her words were truthful as the younger doctor turned to stare out into the distance. “The child has to be found and returned to her family. I can’t imagine the distress they must be feeling.”
“Humph…” There was a moment of silence as Sheila contemplated the cigarette between her fingers, “I still can’t believe she did this – the b*tch.”
“Sure, steal the world’s monuments, fine! But steal from us?” Sheila waved her hands with indignation, flicking loose ash around as she emphasised her words. “If it hadn’t been for ACME, that woman would already be rotting in some godforsaken gutter somewhere.”
“Her actions certainly are selfish but she must have her reasons---”
"Her reasons?" came the scorn-filled exclamation. “I can’t believe you’re defending her!”
Sophie was silent for awhile before she quietly explained: “You’re taking the role of the prosecution, there’s only one other possible outlook.”
“Oh, come off it, I’m taking the role of a witness! I was here when the Tower disappeared, you know. Do you have any idea how that felt – to see an entire building vanish? Bloody hell, what if she’d decided to take the Medical Centre, too? We had patients in here! It’s going to take years to rebuild our reputation.”
“Ah, our reputation...” the redhead mused.
“You can’t tell me you don’t care about that.”
“We all care about how we are perceived. But, in the end, we cannot control what people want to think or how they want to act towards us - and we cannot let them control us. All we can is to continue doing the right things and our reputations will follow…”
Sheila regarded the woman beside her with a mixture of amusement and incredulity. Then, she laughed. It was impossible to continue the argument. "Stop that," she muttered.
Sophie tilted her head, momentarily confused.
"Being so goddamn sensible," Sheila said, her hands moving expressively. "It's irritating."
“We can’t both be angry,” Sophie smiled.
There was an unconvinced chuckle from the older woman but she raised her hands in mock surrender, "Yeah, yeah..."
“Are you finished?” Sophie asked, looking pointedly at her colleague’s disappearing cigarette. “It’s cold.”
“Yeah…” The remnants of the smoke were extinguished. “You really should stop drinking that crap,” Sheila said, with a disapproving nod towards the bottle in Sophie’s grasp.
“You really should stop smoking that crap,” came the unruffled reply.
“Yeah, with all this sh*t that’s been happening, I should find something stronger, don’t you think?”
Sophie smiled and shook her head, “You’re incorrigible.”
“Well,” the older woman drawled, “We can’t both be perfect.”
* * * * *
Now - ACME Academy
Droplets of condensation shook themselves free from the bottom of the PET bottle as Sophie cracked open the seal around its dark red-coloured cap and held it out towards Chase Devineaux. “Here you go…” she offered with a hint of sympathy, “When was the last time you had something to eat or drink?”
The Field Director, still walking, took the offer with some hesitation. He never liked Dr Pepper. More than that, he wondered how he should carry it, where he might set it down, and if it would prove to be a problem when he carried a conversation. Little things that didn’t use to need thinking were making themselves difficult.
“Thanks,” he said, and realized it was the right thing to say, which made the rest of the reply easier, “I should probably grab a sandwich... soon.”
“Ah,” Sophie murmured as she acknowledged his reply with a nod. Soon. She thought about his words and considered the way he looked, the expression on his face, the posture he held and the way he grasped the plastic bottle.
She had come over to the ACME Academy, via the basement parking lot, to check if the young cadets, who had returned from Luxembourg City, had been sent home safely – and, admittedly, to check if her car was still in existence – when she caught sight of the Field Director. The hint of weariness she had first discerned from the man in the Boeing had become something a little less ignorable.
“It’s a soft drink, Mr. Devineaux,” she decided to explain, after awhile, “people usually drink such stuff. The sugar and caffeine might help until you get your sandwich.”
“Sounds nice and artificial,” he took a drink. “I don’t suppose you saw the entire press conference?”
“I saw it,” she nodded. “Has anything useful turned up?”
Nothing so far had been solid, and as the hour passed, Chase was beginning to doubt if the truth had been the right thing to announce in front of the mass media.
“Nothing yet,” he concluded, “but I still need to meet up with Dr. Weller, talk about our next steps.” The soft drink wasn’t so bad, welcoming, at this rate, “How’s the Medical Center?”
“We’re doing all right,” her words were smooth, delivered with a slight smile and without hesitation. It was not untrue but Sophie felt elaboration unnecessary – the Director, surely, had enough on his mind. “And, you?” she continued, “How are you holding up?”
I need a stronger drink, he thought.
“It’s probably better for everybody if we established some ground rules as soon as possible,” Chase thought out loud. Sophie quirked an eyebrow. Taking another gulp from the bottle of Dr Pepper, he realized he’d ignored the question, “I’m decent,” he forced a chuckle after swallowing, “tired, but that’s expected. You?”
There, not expecting her enquiry returned, Sophie had a moment’s hesitation. “I’m all right,” she recovered with a nod. The smile that warmed her features was small, filled with compassion but fleeting as it gave way to steady gravity again.
“I’ll be on the compound until the debrief,” she said. “Is there anything I can do to help?”
I wouldn’t know where to start, Chase thought. Bring me the Tower, Hailey Weller, take me back to Monday morning -- my office.
“This’ll do,” he held up the soft drink, returning the brisk smile she gave him. “Thanks, again.”
Sophie nodded, comprehending that their conversation had ended. “Prenez soin, Directeur. Tout ira bien,” she said in a gentler tone as she slowed her steps to let Chase pass. “Bonne nuit.”
"Sophie," he stopped and turned to her, pronouncing the ‘Sophie’ in French. "You did a good job, everything from China to Luxembourg... Donne-nous de tes nouvelles, we're short on Field Medics." Finishing, he saluted lightly, "À bientôt."
One of the jobs of a Public Relations Officer was to make sure ACME looked good, and Tantyana was busy doing this while reporters were wrapping up at the press conference. No one was allowed to speak to Chase, and he had all but disappeared from the crowd. By this time, and after the incident with Deric Storm and Lee Jordan, it was up to ACME's PR to scrape bits and pieces and put them out the door.
"Fast mother-of-a-conference," Macy Gartner, the first reporter to call Tanya that morning came to say hello. She was dressed in her black suit jacket and pants, a white cardigan, and a pair of two-inch boot-heels with studded decors that the Russian thought were a little tasteless. "Your man's better than that 'talking robot' you-know-who had last week."
Tanya smiled, "Most government speakers sound like robots. I hope INB got everything you need?"
"Yes, but worrying, about the little girl. Is your take any different? Carmen Sandiego and kidnapping, big deal, right?"
The Russian shook her head.
"Not talking, I see," Macy shrugged, "Was worth a shot."
"Are you airing the fight too?" Tanya asked, in case the news network caught anything bad. It wasn't over there, she would later have to find out from Internal if Lee filed for assault against Deric, and then work out how to keep everything quiet.
"That thing?" Gartner seemed disappointed, "The live camera caught some of it, but no one else really got close enough to hear anything. Just that tubby mechanic. But, I can make it sound real nice, if you get me an interview with Devineaux."
ACME's PR didn't like the sound of that.
"He's going to be busy," she declined, "and I don't know how it would help right now."
"Think about it," Macy Gartner confidently offered, "by this time tomorrow, everyone's going to be hating on VILE, and who are they going to want to support?" Asking that question, she pointed her closed notebook towards the podium where Chase had stood during the conference. "Knight," she elaborated, "in shining armor. Pit him against the Witch in Red, and have him save a little ACME princess. People love a good story."
Tanya had to agree, this was a good story, and Macy Gartner knew how to sway an audience. "It is not how ACME works, or how Chase Devineaux works," the Russian explained, "perhaps we talk about something else?"
"I want an interview," Macy repeated, "talk to whoever is in charge, tell them it's IBN, they'll want to consider this," the reporter handed Tanya two name cards and then began to walk away, "Pass that around to your bosses. And... really think about it."
When the reporter left, Tanya spotted Ivy in the background. Happy to see a friendly face, she ran to greet the detective.
"Privet," she said, ready to give Ivy a hug, "Kak dala?"
59 DericStorm (Another collab with Calico. Enjoy... )
“Hey, Cali…” he began to say, trying to sound as contrite as humanly possible. Cali, who had been on her cell phone, looked over to him. After spending God knows how long in her shower, Deric figured she probably pitied him. He must have looked like a drowned rat. Seeing her eyes narrow somewhat, Deric prepared for the worst; he deserved it. Thankfully, she closed her eyes and took a deep breath before speaking.
"You are going a long way to helping my mamãe think Americans are always drunk," she said as she plopped her phone on the bed.
Deric couldn’t help but chuckle. “Considering I woke up in your shower in nothing but my underwear and no idea how I got there, I can’t really argue with that.” His spirits were further lifted, somewhat, when she smiled a little at the joke. “By the way,” Deric asked, “How did I end up in your shower in my underwear?”
Cali had brought the Nebraskan to her shower and left him while she went to his truck to bring the remainder of his items. She did not know what happened, but she guessed from his question that he did not know either. Cali just changed the subject.
“You were like a zombie when we left. I brought you here so you could cool off before you did something worse.” Cali said. “After rolling on the ground with Lee, you and your clothes were filthy. When I came to ask you something, I saw you were asleep and I did not want to wake you up.”
“I got this” Cali tossed him a duffel bag, “out of your truck. I think you might need new clothes when you woke up.”
“Thank you kindly.” Deric answered, grabbing the bag. “How long was I out for?” Deric asked, going back into the bathroom to change. He felt a little more comfortable now that he had on some dry clean clothes.
“It has been two hours since the shower was turned on,” Cali answered. “I guess hitting Lee tired you out.”
‘Not the circumstances I’d pick for falling asleep in Cali’s apartment, but…’ he thought putting on a t-shirt as he stepped back into the bedroom. Smacking himself in the forehead, Deric thought ‘Great googly-moogly, Storm. You can’t help yourself, can you?’
“Do not hit yourself,” the bomb tech smiled, “you have more of that coming, I am sure.” Deric nodded in agreement
“Yeah,” he sighed, “I have a feeling I’m going to be taking a few lumps in the next few days.”
“So,” Cali said, becoming serious, “Now what do you think is going to happen?”
“Ní mór dom codladh sa leaba a rinne mé” Deric sighed in response. Cali raised her eyebrow quizzically. “Basically, Bombshell, it means that I screwed up and have to accept the consequences,” he translated. ‘Better get it over with,’ he thought. Taking a deep breath, he began, “Listen, Cali, whatever happens, um, I just want to say I’m sorry for what happened earlier. I was way out of line and deserved to get slapped. I just hope you can forgive me.”
“Forgive you?” Cali did not fully understand, “What is there for forgiving? You acted silly, we are still friends. If we are not, I leave you outside and lock the door.”
Deric exhaled loudly in relief, which made both agents laugh. Deric was about to say something when he was interrupted by his cell phone ringing. “Message from Starfleet, Captain…” came from the offending device.
“What was that?” Cali asked. “I heard it a few times since you’ve been asleep.”
“Text message” Deric answered, picking up the phone and seeing that he had received a few text messages, most from friends asking what happened. “I set my phone up so it plays that song whenever someone texts me. I have it set up for a lot of my friends.”
“What do they say?” Cali asked, craning her neck to read the texts.
“It varies,” Deric responded. “Some are asking me what the hell I was thinking. Others are saying good job for knocking Jordan on his butt. Unfortunately, they all say I shouldn’t have done it in front of the media.”
“Why did you hit him? Do you think he had something to do with the disappearance of the Chief’s neta?”
‘The million dollar question,’ Deric thought. “I’m not sure,” he answered honestly. “Cases involving kids always get to me.” He never liked disclosing this part of his past. "It's no excuse but I can't help it... I lost both of my parents when I was a about a year or two older than Hailey." Deric blinked away the unbidden tears that always came when these memories surfaced.
"I had no idea." Cali said, her voice barely above a whisper.
"I use it as a motivation." Deric said, smiling a little. "Like, now, if my days at ACME are numbered. I'm gonna use those last few days to make amends by finding the kid." He grabbed his bag and jacket and headed towards the door."
Deric chuckled. "My ACME instructor Ilya always used to say, 'If you can't do something smart, do something right.' I think I was onto something earlier with the C-5." His smile had now grown into a wolfish grin.
Extending a hand to Cali, he asked, "Care to join me?"
60 Chase (Co-post, started out as a fast chat RP then edited to reflect only Chase's point of view.)
After crossing paths with Sophie Conrad MD, Chase made his way down the corridors of ACME academy. His current goal was to get the keys to a temporary locker where he could keep some of his gear from the Luxembourg trip and return home for the night. He felt scattered, but at least one thing was taken care of. During the press conference, a friend arrived to take his falcon, Phoenix, to a nearby private facility.
The assisting administrator gave him the keys to storage R, number 73. On his way to the lockers, his phone vibrated, displaying a number he didn't recognize. He decided to be cautious and requested a trace to identify the caller. Tracking usually took a minimum of 60 seconds, so he picked up the line.
"Devineaux," he greeted.
"I presume you have this number on 'trace'?" a clear contralto broke through uneven static.
Recognizing the voice, Chase subconsciously pushed his tongue to the side of his cheek. His words at the press conference worked... like a flaming charm.
"Good," the woman continued as if the detective had replied, "First and foremost, congratulations on a rather successful conference; your best appearance to date, if I may add."
Devineaux looked at his screen; the 'Tracking…' indicator was at 25%.
"I will have to criticize your ability to make requests. Twenty-four hours seems rather fanciful."Tracking: 40%
"Where's Hailey?" Chase spoke. He knew her tone; she was willing to tease him for the full minute unless he cut it short.
"Brazil, Guarulhos International Airport," her surprisingly direct answer contained a hint of laughter.
Chase understood that he had done something she predicted, but he added another question, "When?"
"Approximately 1900 hours, local time."Tracking: 92%
"And Chase," she switched to a seriousness he rarely heard, "do not accuse me on camera again."Trace complete. Estimated Location: 30.29.55 N, 09.41.17 E, Node: El Khadra, Tunisia
"We're not done," he pressed.
"No," she sighed faintly, "we've barely begun."
Her message preceded the sound of movement and then the impact of heels against hard floor faded to nothing but low static. Perceivably, she put the phone down without hanging up to give the tracing algorithm extra time. Sweet girl, but unnecessary, Devineaux was already estimating flight time to Tunisia.
61 Zack (Mini Co-Op Post With Tanya and *gasp* Zack and Ivy... have.. parents?!)
Monaghan Residence – San Francisco
Zack Monaghan’s slumber was awoken from the sun peeking through his blinds. The skateboarder sat up, yawned and stretched. He slowly clambered out of bed and began his morning routine. He brushed his teeth, showered and changed into fresh clothes. Zack went from his boxers and t-shirt into a dark blue pair of skater jeans, and a black t-shirt with an abstract design that had bright colours. Not bothering with socks, he shook his short wet damp hair once more and walked out of his room and into the kitchen.
Another yawn and stretch came to him when he entered the kitchen. The warm wood floor felt nice against his cold feet. He looked around the place where the whole family, Mom, Dad, Ivy and him, would eat dinner every night prior to Zack and Ivy joining ACME. He walked over to the well worn antique rounded square oak table and ran his hand over it, feeling all the indents from things like writing papers and arts and crafts. A faint smile formed on his face as he remembered Ivy helping him with his history homework, Mom helping with English, or Dad helping with math.
“Good Morning Zacky” came a familiar loving voice.
The skateboarder turned around and saw a thin woman, dressed in a pair of track pants and a pink track top. Her hair was in and bun and the same colour as Zack’s, but a few strands of grey could be seen due to age taking its visual toll. Despite this, her frame meant that she was still in good shape. She was just a little shorter than Zack, but her matching blue eyes could still be meet his easily, despite them being behind a thin black round glasses frame. Her feet donned a pair of running shoes.
Zack smiled and walked over to the woman. It was Sheila Monaghan, Zack and Ivy’s mother.
“Morning Mom,” he said with a hug and a kiss on the cheek. “How are you?”
“Doing good,” replied Sheila. She let go of the embrace and grabbed two bowls from the nearby cupboard, along with a box Whole Grain Honey Nut Cheerios. “How was your sleep?”
“It was good,” Zack said from the fridge. When they parted from the hug, he went to go grab the milk for their cereal. He also grabbed a box of orange juice. “Had a good run?”
“Mmmmm-hmmm. Oh, your father got called into work, he won’t be home until four tonight.” Sheila replied as she brought the cupboard supplies to the table. She went back to the same cupboard for two glasses. When she came back, Zack was already at the table, pouring the cereal into the bowls. The two at in general comfortable silence, as Sheila read the flyers for the latest sale on groceries, while Zack acted like his younger self and read the comics. Sometime between his second and third bowl of cereal, a faint tune started to play out of nowhere.
“Is that your ACME cellphone going off?” asked Sheila without looking up from her flyers. She scribbled down something on a small piece of paper beside her.
“It is! Sorry! I’ll be right back!” Zack said and jumped up from his chair and ran to his bedroom. He followed the source of the noise to his bedside table where his ACME issued phone was flashing like an atomic light show. Noticing that the name “Yana” was appearing on the Caller ID, he pressed the TALK button and brought the phone to his ear.
“Milaya, kak ty?” he greeted warmly to his sweetheart.
“U menya net vremeni, chtoby obʺyasnitʹ vse,“ said Tanya, her voice sounded rushed, “Carmen, she took the ACME Tower, and it's possible that Chief Weller's granddaughter was taken with it.”
Zack’s face went from bright, warm and happy, to concern, shock, and fear.
"I think you should come down, da?"
“Zacky? Could you come over here for a second please?” came the voice of Mrs. Monaghan, her voice had the tone of question in it.
"That was Sheila?"
“Ay. Tebya liubliu Zaychik moy.”
“Love you too Yana.”
He hung up. Zack grabbed a few things, mainly his wallet, his badge, an extra set of keys, the essentials. He also threw on a pair of socks. Zack walked back into the kitchen. He saw Sheila, reading the front page of the San Francisco Chronicle and even from the entrance of the kitchen, Zack could read the bold letters: ACME TOWER GONE MISSING.
“Was that why Tanya called you?”
Zack did a double take, “Yes… how did you…?”
Sheila laughed, “I’m a Mom, I can read your face, and I heard your Russian.”
Zack blushed as his response.
His mom placed down the newspaper, grabbed something from the table and walked up to him, handing what she had picked up to her son: His skateboarding helmet.
“They need you. Now go.”
Zack kissed Sheila one the cheek once more as a form of goodbye, and ran to the front door. He put on his skater shoes and helmet, grabbed his skateboard with the Element Quadrant deck and rand down his front steps. Once he hit the flat ground, he went on his skateboard and kicked off the pavement, gathering as much speed as he could.
Milaya, kak ty = “Sweetheart, how are you?” (Russian)
U menya net vremeni, chtoby obʺyasnitʹ vse = “I don’t have time to explain everything” (Russian)
Tebya liubliu = "Love you." (Russian)
Zachick Moy = My Little Bunny (Russian - Needs Clarification)
Melissande, after a 2 week technologic hiatus in a remote Tibetan monastery, had finally returned to civilization. Not just any civilization, but one of her personal favorites: Austin, Texas. It wasn't exactly civilized, but had enough quirky charm to make up for what it lacked. (And cowboys were just, so.....ah. Exactly.)
As she sipped a beer in a hole-in-the-wall bar on 6th Street, she noticed a newcast about the disappearance of ACME headquarters. "Looks like I picked the better side..." she mused aloud.
The bartender glanced over at her, curious. She arched one eyebrow and he sheepishly turned back to polishing beer mugs.
The newscast continued. "Reports show that a child was inside the building when it vanished. No word yet on any ransom notices."
Melissande had heard otherwise in her short time back in the States. That was the problem with such a rough state as Texas; information was rather slow to reach the Lone Star state. One of her "birdies" sang the story to her as soon as her plane had landed.
Melissande kept her thoughts to herself this time. Wonder when I'll hear from anyone at VILE? She paid her tab and walked to her motorcyle. Good thing I had those two weeks of yoga calm, because I feel like things are about to get convoluted...
63 Chief (Sorry this co-post took so long)
Chief Weller thought about his first impressions of Chase Devineaux, entering ACME as a Captain from the Marine Corps recently out of officer training. The professor wouldn't have picked him from a crowd; he had a face like any other restless young man, with near stereo-typical temperament. Few in that boardroom had seen him grown from an impulsive youth to the pragmatic leader he became, and Dr. Weller could not expect them to understand what a change it had been, or how proud he was of that evolution.
Quite surely, the Board had overreacted, but they must save face, if only internally.
Chief found Chase walking with a bag of personal gear towards the lockers. Even before the tower was stolen, some of the building's staff had taken spaces among the academy. A few detectives were given lockers, but the famed 11th floor, where the offices of International Cases were held, was yet to move out completely.
"Have they assigned a locker for you?" Dr. Weller asked casually.
"Temporarily," Devineaux held up a set of two identical keys with the labels 'R73' written on them in black ink, "I have news."
Chief Weller waited for the younger man to continue, holding firm the pipe in his mouth.
"She contacted me, told me we need to pick up Hailey at Sao Paulo, and she 'let' me trace her to Tunisia," Chase emphasized on the word 'let' as he discovered his locker and pulled open its door with some force, "I don't know for sure about the tower's location, but I know she wouldn't lie about Hailey."
Feeling both relieved and heavy-hearted, the professor sat down to consider the information he was given.
"I think you should lead a team to Brazil," the Field Director continued as he put his bag in front of the locker and began placing items for storage, "Hailey will be at Guarulhos International Airport 1900 hrs, local. That gives just enough time to gather some agents and do a fast briefing. I'd suggest Calina Corranos, Deric Storm, maybe Ivy, Zack…"
"I'll do that," Chief nodded, removing his pipe, "but there's something else I need to tell you."
With the difficulty Dr. Weller seemed to be having, Chase stopped to show full attention.
"The board thinks you should resign," Chief began slowly, "They're not officially asking, of course, they can't force you to leave--"
"But they need someone to pin this on," Devineaux interrupted, fueled by agitation, "and since I didn't follow the script, it's me." Briefly, Chase recalled the story of a double agent discovered by ACME several years ago. After severing ties with said agent, others were investigated, and acquaintances that knew of the mole's actions, were asked to sign papers of resignation due to personal reasons. Those who refused to sign were eventually fired, based on small rules such as improper conduct or remaining on company grounds after work hours. While this case wasn't about dishonesty, Devineaux felt similarly trapped.
"Take your time on this," Dr. Weller placed his pipe back between his teeth, "What's done is done, we now must worry about our immediate next steps."
"You need to worry about Hailey first," Chase sounded resolute despite his mind pulsating between several thoughts at once, "I'll take care of the tower."
A good leader knew when to press on, but a good friend also knew when to leave, and Chief Weller understood that there were other pressing matters to consider. He offered a handshake, Chase took it, and Dr. Weller began to leave.
"I don't know if I should take Deric Storm," Chief turned back to say, "He did make quite a scene earlier today."
"I'll talk to him," Devineaux replied, "but he's loyal enough to be let off with a warning. Your choice on suitability."
As ACME's current chief acknowledged the advice and left the area, Chase felt someone else in the room. Using a reflective metal sheet built into the locker's door, he positioned it to the doorway--where he spotted a familiar face in wire-rimmed glasses.
Shaking his head, he buried his attention again to the gear he was storing and said, "You been there long?"
64 E_Mayhem (joint post, me and Chase)
It had been an exhausting day. An exhausting couple of days come to think of it. Luxembourg, a motorcycle chase, that god awfully tense plane ride, the tower being stolen, not to mention her personal troubles in rank. It would stand to reason, given these events and after a hot shower and change of clothing that Eleanor Mayhem should have been in bed by this point in time.
She wasn’t. There had been an honest attempt at getting to sleep, as her baggy workout pants, sweatshirt and sneakers made clear, but her mind had continued to buzz about unwilling to let her sleep. It wasn’t even the obvious troubles that had stirred her and caused her to head for the locker rooms where she knew Chase Devineaux would be by now. E was worried about him. Not a severe concern really. The word ‘worried’ almost seemed a bit extreme at the time she’d left her dorm but she wanted to make sure he was alright. Now, after arriving just in time to hear Chief’s conversation with Chase, it was almost as if ‘worried’ wouldn’t quite cover it.
“So... Tunisia, huh?” E asked softly. Slowly she made her way into the locker room, taking a seat on the end of one of the wooden benches by the lockers, her elbows going to her thighs as she took an informal position, as if she hadn’t just heard what the board of directors had ‘suggested’, as if nothing in the last 48 hours had happened. As if nothing in the last 6 months had happened.
Her gesture was appreciated, coming in here, ready to tell him things were right as ever. But Chase couldn't let himself feel secure under pressure. There were things he needed to discuss immediately.
"I've made a decision regarding your employment here," He began, "I don't see a reason for you to go back to Boston… but, I also don't see much of a reason for you to stay undercover. A good compromise would be to upgrade you, as Eleanor Mayhem, from Detective to Inspector. You'll have your own team, your own cases, you'll report directly to Chief," Devineaux paused as if waiting for her to interject, but he had already made his mind, "I'll send a proposal to Dr. Weller in the morning... if you agree."
E was silent for a moment. To the naked eye Mayhem had just failed at what she’d set out to do; becoming a special agent. Six months of training, bleached hair, name changes, learning a new accent, hiding behind the grease marks and the one piece coveralls had been slapped down with one sentence. She knew better. Promotion from Senior Agent to Inspector meant she got what she really wanted: a position in the San Francisco branch without sacrificing her rank from Boston.
“...Believe it or not I didn’t come for an answer about that.” she replied as she pushed a piece of bleached blond hair behind her ear. “But fine, I’ll bite. You know there hasn’t been an Inspector in this company since Chief Weller took over, right?”
"Good," Chase took everything she said as a positive answer. Shoving the empty bag into the locker and shutting the door, he pulled out the key systematically. "This is going to work to your advantage. You’re good with people, your talent’s wasted on being a recluse."
“Yeah, I guess.” There was a reluctance in her tone that seemed an odd fit considering the topic. A promotion like this was everything she’d been waiting for, this was the ACME equivalent of winning the Megabucks lottery. As he finished with his locker she watched him, leaning up from her comfortable position just a bit.
Naturally, when the room fell quiet, it signaled the end of a conversation and Chase would be more than happy to finish up and leave; but if experience taught him anything about women and their body language, this wasn't the time to wrap up.
"So, what's wrong?" he turned to her, putting the keys in his pocket.
E sighed heavily. “We both heard Dr. Weller...” There was another awkward pause, showing that finding the proper thing to say was coming to her with some difficulty until finally she blurted out her question. “You’re not actually planning on letting them pin this on you, are you?”
"Honestly, I'm not worried about that," but he was, and he was furious. Still, looking at this from a leader's perspective, he had to steer away from judging company politics, "First, I need to carry this through; then I'll deal with the higher ups." Chase looked her over and hinted for Eleanor to look at herself, "You need sleep; so do I. We should call it a night, and let's tackle this again in the morning."
Her eyes looked downwards at herself, giving herself a glance before she shook her head and looked back at him, her eyes looking straight into his steel ones. This was what he did. He was a leader, of course he was going to push back his personal needs to do what needed to be done. E respected him for it. It also made her that much more angry about what the board was trying to do.
“Chase. Promise me you’re not going to let them do this to you.” E could never claim she knew Chase well enough to figure out what his choices were but his methods were usually predictable. If he decided to let ACME’s board win he’d do it while no one was watching. “You can’t tell me I’ve just gotten everything I’ve wanted just to let one of the best parts of it leave like this.”
She was capable of caring a lot about people, and this was exactly why ACME needed E. Mayhem, unlike Chase, who was always hesitant about promises. Making them never led to any good.
“I’m still here, don’t start the ‘leaving talk’ yet,” he encouraged her, then changed the subject, “And you have plenty of work to do. Come on, I’ll walk you to the end of the hallway.”
The avoidance of a promise was worrisome but she nodded, raising slowly from her seat on the bench and slowly making her way towards the doorway, waiting for him to fall into step with her. It was late, she was tired. E wasn’t planning on letting this issue out of her line of sight, not by a long shot but she knew any attempt to say much more tonight would be a bad idea.
Leading her to the end of the hall, Chase appreciated the silence. His head was starting to hurt, but something else nagged at the back of his mind about the tower's location, about what Carmen had wanted…, and if she knew what she had taken--both physically and metaphorically. Then lawn lighting jarred from beyond, the tunnel was ending.
"Good night," he said at the end of the hallway, offering soon-to-be Inspector Eleanor a handshake.
E looked at the hand for a moment, then back up at him with a small smile. How anyone could go from telling her to go to bed one moment to offering something as impersonal as a handshake she could never tell. Clasping his hand with her right E leaned up on her tip toes and placed a small kiss on his cheek.
“Goodnight, Chase.” she replied before releasing his hand and heading for the dorms.
He couldn't argue; maybe it was a thank you, maybe she felt sorry for him, but it was nice--unexpected--but nice.
As she left, he took a step towards going home, when he remembered Eugene Grovington's message. The pilot would be helpful, and Chase decidedly made a B-line to the hangars.
"Ey.. yeh.. I can't talk long, Carmen's limiting signals coming in and outta this place," he looked at Hailey and hunched over the phone, "You saw the news, ah? That's how screwy this got. Take a flight now to Brazil, Carmen's orders, the usual bum at the airport's waiting for ya."
There was no time to confirm that she'd heard him or even agreed to head to Brazil. There didn't have to be. Sarah had her walking orders. Even half drunk with hair like a blonde zebra she knew her vacati- laying low was over. It was time to get back to work.
It only took 2 minutes to walk back to the club she'd so hastily left where one lone cab stood outside waiting to take the drunk and foolhardy home. Sarah slid into its back before the driver had even seen her and gave the door a slam.
"Where can I take ya, love?" the cabbie asked as Sarah reached into her inner jacket pocket, looking for a small notebook.
"The Mint Hotel Westminster." Sarah answered, shaking her head as she pulled items out of her jacket pockets, obviously not finding what she was looking for. "Mind if I smoke?"
"Not at all." the cabbie replied, grinning a bit.
"Good." Sarah answered, effortlessly pressing a cigarette to her lips and lighting it as she continued fiddling about. "How late are you on tonight?"
"This morning?" the cabbie corrected her. "I'm on until six."
"Even better." Sarah rolled down her window and, after taking a long drag off the cancer stick was considerate enough to blow the smoke out the window before flicking a bit of ash after it. "Once we get to the hotel I'll need you to stick around. I've got a plane to catch and I'll need a ride to the airport."
"Run into some trouble?" he laughed. Sarah gave a light chuckle. God did HE have no idea.
"Family emergency." she lied. "A HA!" With a wide grin Sarah pulled the notebook she was looking for out of the lower inside pocket of her jacket. "There you are." Fingers flipped her phone open as she took another drag and exhaled out the window as dialed and waited for the call to go through. If memory served she would be able to catch a flight out of London by 6:30 but who knew? The travel agent she was about to call might have something even sooner.
By 6:50am she was on a plane, under the false alias 'Hedda Lettuce', headed for Sao Paulo, Brazil, the only Brazilian airport that always had 'the usual bum' waiting for her. With a silent thankyou to the god who created earplugs a slightly hungover 'Hedda' arrived at the Guarulhos International Airport 12 hours later with the hood of a gray sweatshirt pulled over her head, designer sunglasses over her eyes, a hunched stance to her walk.
She'd spotted her contact who waited nonchalantly out of the way of the crowds. No effort to help her with her luggage or find her had been made. Once she'd found her leopard printed duffle in the checked luggage she silently approached, slinging her carryon backpack over her shoulder as she threw the 45 pound bag straight into her driver's gut.
"Lets get going [expletive deleted]." she said without so much as a proper hello, leading the way to his black jeep.
The hideout wouldn't take too long to get to, she could only pray that someone at the compound was smart enough to put on a pot of coffee.
66 Flag ((Anyone is totally welcome to message me if they want our character to rendezvous. I've got no plans at this point. :P ))
Flag liked to break stuff.
Although this was never documented in the dossier on him (previously sought out while waiting for Carmen to arrive) it should have been. In the past he had broken a number of things belonging to ACME. Most of them small, but considered very important.
This time his victim was a bit larger. It was about the size of a C5 console. In fact it was a C5 console and it was the size of a very large desk, surrounded by a couple of other very large "desks."
Upon arriving at their target destination, there had been some argument as to what they should do with such equipment. The hacker wanted it for his super computer. The guy that looked like a salesman wanted to use it as it was, but for nefarious purposes, and Flag wanted to break it because he was tired of people popping up whenever he just so happened to get recognized by a random hidden surveillance camera.
Because he had stayed behind when the others left the room, he won.
All it took accomplish his immediate goal was a large brick (graciously provided when the building "landed") and a large jolt of electricity (which was the only magic trick that he managed to figure out without hurting himself on this stupid planet) and it was done. The planned fire for the room full of physical records would take care of the rest later.
He had lingered in the background when Carmen arrived and discovered the child. He had disappeared shortly thereafter because he did not want anything to do with the little girl and could care less what happened to her.
Now, almost 16 hours later he was a large part through Algeria and on his way to a destination that Carmen had once expressed a particular affinity for, and had established a vacation resort of a safe-house at. This was not his initial idea for a destination after the heist - he intended to hit certain places in Egypt to further his research - but after his printed and now torched dossier informed him of where ACME expected to see him, he decided to venture elsewhere.
He was glad that he knew how to prepare for a long trip in a desert. Riding in the back of a pickup truck was not a pleasant experience by any stretch of the imagination, but it was far better than riding on the back of a Taratin for days in the middle of the Ogait back home.
He missed the news conference and he didn't understand what most of his companions said, but for the first time in a while, he felt a sense of accomplishment.
67 EarlJr (Joint post between Chase and I)
Before sunrise, ante meridiem, and Chase Devineaux was walking towards the hangers where he knew ACME's flight instructor and unofficial mission pilot was residing. Hours earlier, he had parted ways with Chief Weller, that conversation had left his head congested. Unable to think, he needed another point of view.
Entering the hanger, he headed to a small trailer, and on opening its doors, startled a sleeping trainee. After a few moments to recover, the boy had some sense to guess who was here and what he wanted.
"He's in the helicopter, sir."
Satisfied with the information, Chase headed to the only set of blades with enough room for a man to comfortably sleep in, and knocked on one of the windows.
The rapping on the helicopter window eventually stirred Eugene from a refreshing nap, although you wouldn't know it from his disposition. Casting a weary eye towards the source of the noise, he saw the Field Director silhouetted against the hanger lights. Recognizing Chase and his probable reasons for being here, Euge relaxed and moved to open the side door. "I take it there's been a development?"
Restless, and more than a little agitated, Chase paced in a compact lap outside the helicopter's door. When he was resolute about what to say to the pilot, he stopped to exhale.
"Chief Weller is leading a team to Sao Paulo, Brazil. VILE sent us a message that Hailey Weller will be there," he made a shrugging gesture as if he hardly believed the fact, "The tower is in Tunisia, Northern Sahara. I'm going to mobilize a ground team to check it out," he was talking about Mikal Darsha. Then after a longer pause, Devineaux crossed his arms, "This feels too easy."
"Whatever she wanted with the tower, she's probably already found it. All that's left for ACME to do is pick up the pieces," Euge said as he opened his flight bag. "If the tower is there, we should consider destroying it to deny them any more materials." Finding his cell phone, he glanced back at Chase, "How many are going to be on the Sao Paulo team?"
The words rang in his mind, did Euge just suggest destroying the tower? It was possible, and not a bad idea considering that repair wasn't an option. ACME's main building was removed, cut and torn from its foundation. Even if the building could be put in its exact former position, attempts to merge severed cement and steel would make the place a permanent danger zone.
"Four or five going to Sao Paulo," Chase answered, still thinking about the tower, "What kind of munitions would we need, assuming we choose demolition?"
Eugene considered the question for a moment. A team could go in and set demolition charges, but that would be no guarantee of sterilization of all sensitive materials. What they needed was a single strike that would leave nothing. The question stewed in his head while he sent instructions to the airfield to prepare a private jet for Dr. Weller and his team. Finally, inspiration struck. It would mean calling in several favors and then some, but the tower would be completely flattened. All it needed to proceed was the blessing of the Field Director.
"Last year, the CIA discreetly launched a satellite capable of dropping a tungsten rod the size of a telephone pole onto any target on earth, called it 'Rods from God.' It has a destructive yield of about two kilotons and can be targeted to within 20 feet. The building and all contents will be vaporized." Euge carefully omitted the payoffs and favors that would have to change hands. "The platform has an orbital period of about 100 minutes, and I'll need about an hour to get the permission to call it in." Eugene fixed Chase with a level gaze, waiting for his answer.
The detective received the pilot's information and thought heavily. Matching Eugene Grovington eye-to-eye made him more confident about the technique behind this mission, and it reminded him of his duty.
Despite ACME's higher powers asking him to resign, he felt a responsibility to make sure no one (else) compromises the tower. Once the building's location goes public, which was bound to happen soon, the area would be crawling with civilians.
"How much is this going to cost?" With the question, Chase already knew what he wanted. Everything functionally needed was already saved in ACME's new digital network, hard copies outside their secured environments must be destroyed.
Eugene bristled slightly at the mention of cost. No doubt he would be indebted to the US Government for quite some time with this stunt, even with all the good favor he had curried to date. "ACME? Nothing for now. However you will owe me a favor some time in the future."
It didn't seem entirely right, to initiate something for the greater good but then owe a favor like it was a personal agenda. But Chase could see Euge would be pulling a lot of strings--through what he could only guess were private contacts--and there was a level of respect Devineaux had for the pilot that he couldn't readily explain. Whatever thoughts ran through his head, the Field Director concluded by straightening his stance and offering Eugene Grovington a handshake.
"I can trust this 'future favor' to be something within my abilities?" He asked only rhetorically, because his actions affirmed what they both knew; to save ACME, its stolen tower had to be razed.
Eugene accepted Chase's outstretched hand; there was no turning back now. "Now what fun would life be without a few challenges?"
Agent Crystal Rose was baffled, having listened to the news conference.
"They took the ACME building...?" she muttered to herself. "Talk about insult to injury..."
What was the idea? Just to prove they could? Just to thumb their noses at ACME? Or did they actually intend to put the stolen ACME building to use.
She shook her head, calling her partner, Matt Neilson.
Whatever it was he decided to do, Crystal knew that she wanted to be a part of this case.
This time, it was personal.
Crystal quickly got a response.
"You calling about ACME's offices being stolen? I already know about it,"Matt replied from a f.y.e. store in a nearby mall.
One of the televisions in the store had the news blasting on.
"Jeez...I did not see this coming. It's one thing to just steal the information from inside the building. It's a whole other thing to steal the entire building!"
70 Chief (I am continuing the main story, please continue with all sub plots.)
Chief Weller had a long talk with his wife, along with his son and daughter in law, Hailey's parents. No one was happy, and some wanted to come with him, but a grieving family was never a good thing to bring to a situation like this. Checking with the hangars, Dr. Weller was told that a fixed wing aircraft was ready for his use, so he did the next most logical thing, began sending a message to the lead detectives that would be accompanying him, Cali Corranos and Deric Storm.
"Pack up for São Paulo, Brazil, agents," he wrote, "You are allowed to bring along two more team members of your choice, but meet me at hangar 4 before 10.00 hrs for briefing on the way."
He packed Hailey's favorite stuffed animal, a cat or bear (Chief could never tell) that had a fake watch around its wrist. Some children at Hailey's age, can become fixated with certain objects: dolls, blankets, or pillows. Hailey Weller was attached to watches. She enjoyed their ticking, even though she could not tell time, and she would strap on one or more timepiece to her wrist before going out. In fact, she had slept with two of her favorites, a pink pony, and a Mickey Mouse watch, the night she disappeared. Dr. Weller could only imagine how VILE found his granddaughter. Perhaps they heard the ticking and thought she had been a bomb.
71 DericStorm (This post co-written by Chase, Calico & Myself)
Calina Corranos’ apartment, Room 427, Agent Residences
ACME Headquarters, San Francisco, CA
It was 7 AM, and Chase Devineaux was back on ACME compounds after a few hours of sleep and a decent breakfast. Reading the morning paper was difficult, and coming back to see the spot where the Tower once stood sent a pang to his chest. He hated the feeling.
Making his way to the door belonging to Calina Corranos, the Field Director knocked briskly.
Cali was awake when the knocking from the door came, but she was in the middle of another phone conversation. Her brother from Brazil called, one that used to work with ACME Agency, but he since left to work for Agência Brasileira de Inteligência, or the Brazilian Intelligence Agency, if you are speaking English.
Cali looked at Deric, to see if he had heard the knock.
Quickly swallowing the spoonful of cereal in his mouth, Deric got up and made his way towards the door. Perturbed at having his breakfast interrupted, the young man pulled the door open, intent on scaring the person on the other. His eyes went wide when he saw it was Chase Devineaux. He wondered if the look on Chase’s face meant his superior wasn’t expecting to see Deric in Cali’s apartment.
“Uhh... what’s up, boss?” Deric asked after a few awkward seconds passed.
Devineaux wasn't entirely surprised to see the agent from Nebraska. He had seen Calina leave with Deric yesterday, and the point of coming here was to see if she knew where her Irish-American friend might be. Now, he didn't need to ask.
"Storm," he greeted, then turned his attention to Cali, "you two have a minute?"
Cali spoke the goodbyes to her brother and hung up, if you understood Portuguese, you would have heard her say “I love you much, but my Director is here, it is looking serious.”
“Mr. Devineaux,” she said that in her accent, she never could pronounce it all together, it was easier to say “Devine” or “Vineaux” for her, so she ends up stretching the middle syllable of his name. She walked up next to Deric by the door because it was polite to welcome a visitor to your house like that.
“Come in and sit, would you like coffee?”
Deric stepped aside to let his commanding officer enter if he chose. Sitting back on the couch, he picked up the unfinished bowl and continued to eat breakfast. The young agent figured it was time for him to pay the piper for his fight with Lee Jordan. He hoped Cali wouldn’t get in trouble for dragging him away from the skirmish.
Chase entered the apartment and promptly shut the door behind him.
“This won’t take long,” he replied indirectly to the offer of coffee, “VILE wants to give Hailey Weller back. Their term is to deliver her at Guarulhos International Airport, Sao Paulo, Brazil.” When he said ‘Brazil’, he nodded to Cali. “I’ve suggested both your names to Chief Weller, who will be leading the case, but he had concerns about...,” here, Chase looked at the agent on the couch, “your behavior after the press conference yesterday.”
Deric quickly gulped down the cereal in his mouth as both Cali and Chase looked directly at him. “Uhm...” he coughed, trying to regain his composure, “all I can say is I’m sorry. I lost my composure. Cases involving kids get to me.”
Cali was beginning to feel she needed to apologize for Deric, but she did not think it was right at this time. “Will he be given second chance?” She asked, “for sure he is good to have for Chief’s case?”
Deric could have kissed his Brazilian friend at that moment. He figured that his commanding officer had come here to recruit Cali because the meet was in her ‘backyard;’ she knew the land and the language. He, on the other hand, was probably an undesirable right now due his actions at the press conference. Deric was about to plead his case as well when he felt his phone vibrate in his pocket before it chimed “Message from StarFleet, Captain.” Fishing the phone out, he saw that he had received a text message... from the Chief:
Pack up for Sao Paulo.You are allowed to bring along two more team members of your choice, but meet me at hangar 4 before 10.00 hrs for briefing on the way.
“Well, I think this,” Deric said, tossing Chase the cell phone, “answers Cali’s question. Cali, you may wanna check...” he was interrupted by another chirping sound, “your phone.”
Chase caught the communicator and glanced at it with the usual quarter-smile and a nod. Returning the phone to Deric, he concluded to both agents, "You have a little under three hours, don't keep him waiting."
He could go on about how Storm should watch his temper, but this visit was more than enough for now. Chase could guide, but not command, and Deric looked like he was embarrassed enough to have done what he did in front of Cali.
While Chase answered Deric, Cali did check her phone. She had got the message from Chief too. She gave a little smile.
“I start packing now,” she said, “Thank you for coming, Director, can I walk you out?”
”Actually, Cali,” Deric said, getting up from the couch, “I’ll walk him out. I need to get some stuff from my place, anyway.” Putting the empty bowl into the sink, he grabbed his jacket and headed towards the door. ”Obrigado por... pequeno-almoço,” Deric said in stilted Portuguese as he hugged Cali and gave her a quick peck on the cheek, “See you at the hangar.”
Turning to his boss, Deric asked, “Ready, Chase?”
Devineaux confirmed with a gesture to let the younger detective lead. It wasn’t often that an agent took initiative to talk to their Field Director, and Chase felt the start of a conversation in Deric’s tone to Cali.
“Lee’s gone dark,” once outside, he told Deric in a lower voice, “I don’t think he’s going to file for assault, but I’m not sure what he’s up to, just keep a low profile until then.”
“I’ll try,” Deric said, trying to keep his cool, “but I still think he might have had something to do with the Tower’s disappearance.” Glancing around, he decided to get to the point. “Listen, about earlier, the fight was my fault and my fault alone. I don’t want Cali to get in trouble for helping me out of there.” Deric knew Cali had forgiven him, but that didn’t mean he had forgiven himself for crossing a line that never should have been approached.
Listening to the detective, Chase understood why he would choose to protect the bomb expert. It was a decent form of projection. Keep the girl in your life safe, and anything else that happen to you won't be so bad. While this may be the thought of a good man, it wasn't always the mindset of the clearest thinkers.
"Cali will be fine," Chase assured. Having worked with Corranos, the Field Director trusted in her ability to handle herself, "But you need to focus on the facts: Without hard evidence, you assaulted an informant. From now on, accusing Jordan of anything is going to look bad--for you."
They were now roughly half way down the hall, and after delivering his reminder, Devineaux moved to the more important question, "What makes you so sure he had something to do with the tower?"
At this rate, things may add up. Lee spent months in Luxembourg before noting Eartha's location; leading to the abduction of Phoenix, and the most elaborate blindsiding in VILE's history.
“I spoke to one of the techs before the presser,” Deric said, feeling a little better. “He said the only way someone could get access to the C-5 would be if someone gave them the access.” The more he thought about it, the more it had to be an inside job. “Lee was one of our best agents, but has shown that he can’t be trusted. I figured that he sold a copy of the access codes to Carmen.”
The surveillance cameras and any other security records were taken with the building. When Deric mentioned ‘inside job’, Chase agreed, but for different reasons. Carmen Sandiego had been in his office the morning before he left for Europe. Hours later, they crossed paths in Luxembourg. While he was sure the security code used for access wasn’t his, or he would have been notified, and that risk was something too careless for the thief to consider, he knew her presence meant trouble. He should have acted... could have... but did not.
“Security codes for high level access change every 24 to 48 hours via satellite,” Chase explained, “Lee couldn't have done it even if he wanted to, he’s only a class 2 informant.”
Stating that eliminated Jordan from the quickly growing list in his head of suspected moles. Carmen didn't work alone, there must have been a team of her minions crawling in and around ACME building up until it was taken. One of them should squeal.
Looking at his watch, Deric figured he had enough time to get back to his apartment, grab his gear and be at the hangar an hour before the briefing. However, he didn’t know who else to call to join the team. Chief’s message stated that they could bring two other agents. Looking at Chase, he asked “Any suggestions on who to put on the team?”
Pausing to shift gears from one thought to another, Chase replied, "Off the top of my head, the newer agents could use some field experience; Diana Crawfeldt, Gunnar Svensson, Abby Thorn... Nevon Blair, if you need entertainment. Judging from Chief's message, he's handing you and Cali the supervising role. You'll want to use agents as lookouts, spotters, get them to work as a team. Not too bad for a retrieval mission."
“I’ll keep those in mind.” Deric responded. “Actually, I was thinkin about bringing a medic as well. We don’t know the condition of the kid. She might need attention.”
“Good call,” Chase agreed, “send out a request to the Medical Center... or,” he did talk to a doctor only yesterday, “Sophie Conrad, she just got back from Luxembourg, if she’s not taking a leave, she might be your most ready medic.”
“I’ll get on that,” Deric said, reaching for his phone, “Uhm, do you have her number?”
“First time needing a medic?” the Field Director retrieved his communicator and sent a code to Storm’s phone, “That’s Medical Dispatch, your Supervisor level for this case should put you through to any doctor you need. Use wisely.”
”I’m not real comfortable with hospitals, but thanks.” Deric proceeded to call the dispatcher, who passed along the request to Dr. Conrad.
The end of the hall was near, and it seemed like a good time to close, "For what it’s worth, we think we have the tower’s location," Devineaux breathed for a moment, "Stay on Hailey's case, we'll talk more when I know more."
(Mates, to understand this post, you should skim over this RP, Roll With It, written by Carmen, Sarah, Vic, and Chase. They were nice enugh to write an entry for my canon, ai, but I never got to use it. So I'm writing something to link.)
Lee Jordan kicked up dust with his worn boots and reached slowly into his jacket to pull out a pack of cigarettes. He was alone in a North American desert, and in front of a trashed Chevrolet Corvette. An old buddy told him where they thought it was, and the car wasn't dumped far from the road, so it didn't take long to find.
The dark Corvette looked like it'd been here for months, left to the elements. The once shiny black finish was scraped and sanded, and the license plates were the only things that identified it.
Holding the cig in his mouth, Jordan bit harder when he saw an item left behind by the only culprit he blamed. Carmen's red trench coat, chalky and sun faded, clung to the car's tan leather driver seat. He had those seats custom made. Now, when he needed to smoke most, he felt through his pockets, but couldn't find a single lighter. In frustration, he shouted and kicked a nearby rock into the distance. When he calmed down, he sat on the hood of the car.
The sun was setting and it made him think. All he'd done amounted to him being an ACME informant. Only an informant. While most everybody knew about Lee's rivalry with Carmen, few people knew what he really thought of Chase Devineaux. ACME's Field Director, and the few conversations they had, impressed Jordan more than he'd admit. But even if he considered the man a father figure, he'd be far from Devineaux's ideal son, so Lee never bothered indulging the thought. He just let it festered, getting angrier every time it crossed his mind.
Deciding that he had more to prove, Lee Jordan searched through his own car. Among the shattered glass and twisted metal, Lee saw a glimmer of hope, the key was still in the ignition. Clearing away debris and sitting down, he twisted it. The engine stubbornly started. Once it did, he got to use the car's cigarette lighter. Things were looking up, and with less than half a tank of gas, Lee Jordan took his Corvette to the nearest stop.
Strangely, Matt slept well that night. Why, he didn't know.
Anyways, he ate a quick meal that consisted of orange juice, two Ego waffles, and a granola bar. He then got changed and was about to take his pet chihuahua Einstein on a walk when he ran into Chase.
"Um, hi,"said Matt, feeling a bit awkward since he was walking, of all things, a chihuahua."How's the search for the ACME building going? And for Hailey?"
Location: VILE HQ, Antarctica.
Joe Kerr plomped himself down on the couch, shivering away at the cold.
"Brr. I knew Antarctica was cold but never this cold. Too bad I dunno how to work the heating here. Best roll up my sleeves so I don't catch a cold."
It was then that Joe made a discovery.
"No wonder I'm so cold. I forgot to wear my sleeves. Hyuk hyuk!"
After a quick change into more appropriate attire, Joe returned to the couch and turned on the TV.
From what he gathered, everyone was out right now tending to this business about the stolen ACME HQ and the 'abducted' Hailey.
"Gotta hand it to Carmen. She really knows how to play a prank. I wish I could have seen the looks on those gumshoe's faces when they realized ACME's main tower had just been stolen. Now THAT's comedy. Hyuk hyuk!"
"Pity about that Hailey girl getting mixed up in this. I may be new here but I know enough about Carmen to know she'd never hurt innocents. Oh well, I bet she already has a plan to fix this somehow. "
"Speaking of the boss, nice of her to extend VILE's bonus to the new agents as well. Hyuk hyuk!"
Seeing no one else around VILE at the moment, Joe decided he'd stay around and watch the place and see what develops.
And just maybe, use this gild-edged opportunity to set up a prank or two...(not on Carmen of course. Not even Joe's THAT crazy!)
Crystal was still musing over what had transpired. She had used her communicator to locate her partner Matt's location and was going to meet him.
She blinked as she arrived at his location, unsure if she was more surprised to see Matt talking to Chase in the hall, or the fact that he was walking a chihuahua.
She walked up behind Matt, not making her presence known to him just yet, though she was in full view of Chase.
76 Heartofstone ( OOC: Matt was meeting Chase at the end of the hall, Crystal. Just thought you should know. )
An International Thief took the headquarters of an agency that she once belonged to. Without any doubt, that much was premeditated. She entered the building, came to its Field Director's office... blatantly. Had he been more level-headed instead of letting her lead him into an argument, he might have talked his way to the answer... but trying to correct that now wasn't productive.
Even after deciding that the ACME tower had to be destroyed instead of recovered, Chase was unsettled. The right choice was made, but he didn't like the idea of it being the only choice. VILE was making all the moves, and aside from the press conference, ACME had done little but roll with the punches.
A message arrived on his communicator
FD-- Video footage of 2 VILE agents in LV, eastbound on flight to NYC, urgent review. --FS
VILE Agents in the United States, could be something.
"Um, hi," said Matt, "How's the search for the ACME building going? And for Hailey?"
When Matt greeted him, Chase was about to put his phone away, and then realized he didn't need to clear this himself.
"We've agents on the case," The Field Director replied, then hinted to the girl behind the rookie, "but if you and Crystal are free, I have a possible case that just opened up, any qualms about taking a trip to Manhattan?"
(The two VILE agents are Crimson and Lory, they're heading to NYC to meet Ken and Patty, read back a few pages to review.)
Matt turned and saw Crystal. This was one of many times that he wished he had a german shepherd and not a chihuahua. He blushed."Um, hey Crystal."
Then he remembered what Chase said about Manhattan."Sure, I don't mind. Just let me find someone to watch Einstein and I'll be set."
'Does this have to do with the building being stolen?'Matt thought. He had no idea that it wasn't in NYC.
Crystal suppressed a chuckle as Matt seemed embarrassed upon seeing her, but her eyes suddenly lit with enthusiasm as Chase mentioned Manhattan.
"Are you serious!? It's my hometown!" she exclaimed, having done her basic Gumshoe training in ACME's Manhattan branch. "I'd love to go! ...Sir," she added, reminding herself that she was speaking to her superior.
She turned to Matt.
"We can meet my old mentor there--they call him the Dying Informant," she said. "I'm sure he could help us out, too."
"Great,"Matt replied. He hoped that the Dying Informant wouldn't be too stern or anything like that.
"When do we leave?"Matt asked Chase.
(A much edited, cooperatively written post, I'm sure the authors are self-explanatory. To understand Hailey's affinity with watches, please read Chief Weller's post on the previous page, and to understand how Carmen has "Piano Man's" watch, please read this post from Blue Moon Masquerade.)
The desert in Southern Tunisia served as a good hiding spot. Few came here, as the roads do not always permit trade. The country was small enough to be ignored by most travelers; and beyond the occasional detouring backpacker, this area was rather quiet (especially with recent political developments).
"Give me your penknife," Carmen said as Vincent Fumigalli walked with Hailey Weller to the Russian Transport, the only flying machine in the vicinity.
"My... Ah?" Vic wasn't sure if he heard right, "but, that's my bottom dollar!"
"I know," the thief agreed, "and I'm sorry, but this is a sensitive matter. If they catch you with a weapon, you could be detained longer than necessary."
Vic didn't like the word 'detained', but the way she said it, seemed like it was going to be in his best interest.
"Are you coming with us?" Hailey's eyes shot up to hers almost nervously. VILE's Ringleader returned a placid smile and extended a palm. The six-year-old moved to Carmen, taking hold of her offer, swinging the thief's hand with an anxious rhythm.
"Vincent," she continued, "Knife, please."
He hesitated, but Vic fumbled inside his polyester jacket and pulled out a colorful little knife with the words "Viva Las Vegas" on it. Vic liked that mantra. He got the thing from an old friend back in the day when casinos weren't as bright but sure packed people. Not that he was born back then, and the old friend was actually a Costco gas station off the highway that hadn't sold anything other than gas for 60 years, but he'd had that thing in his pocket waiting for action for at least half a decade. How Carmen remembered, he couldn't understand, he'd told her about it only once.
"Keep Viv safe, would ya?" He decided to name that knife right there.
Removing 'Viv' from its owner, Carmen then lowered herself to the level of Chief Weller's granddaughter and noted, "I see you have two watches on."
Fumigalli looked at her, perplexed. She used the same tone to talk to the kid as she would an adult, so he at first thought she was talking to him.
"Guess, she's got a weird thing with watches," Vic answered for the girl, "saw her picking at them all day."
"It's not terribly strange," Carmen replied to Vincent but spoke to Hailey, "I had the same attachment to hats, they made me feel safe."
That made Vic laugh; she said 'had' like she doesn't wear hats anymore, and he could see the little girl felt better too.
"I have a favor to ask," VILE's leader retrieved a man's watch from her coat and displayed it in front of Hailey, "Do you remember Piano Man?"
Hailey nodded, obviously enthralled by the timepiece.
"This belongs to him," Carmen revealed as she secured the newly replaced leather strap of a 1976 Patek Phillipe Nautilus to the girl's wrist. "I'm sorry if it’s a little heavy," she apologized, "but will you take that back to him for me?"
With her eyes still on the watch, Hailey nodded again; her demeanor significantly calmer than before.
"Thought you gave that back when you were in San Francisco?" Vic questioned quietly as he nudged the little girl towards the plane.
"It sadly never came up," Carmen rose then waved effortlessly. Hailey did the same.
"Enjoy your flight," she said her farewell before heading back to the tower. Later today, ACME would arrive to claim back their headquarters; and if everything moved according to plan, the building should be deserted by the time they land.
It took half an hour of back and forth between Eugene and the newly minted Deputy Director of Central Intelligence, an overly cautious and idealistic fellow by the name of Jack Ryan, that allowing ACME to utilize the orbital weapons platform would be in the best interests of both agencies. Eventually Dr. Ryan relented and sent an attache to San Fransisco with all the necessary uplink and target designation equipment.
DDCI Ryan remained true to his word, and within the hour Eugene saw a SUV with government plates waiting at the south gate. Jogging over to meet the vehicle, Eugene signalled the guard at the gate to let the Chevy pass and directed it to the nearest parking lot. Eugene knocked on the glass, and the driver rolled down his window and passed his ID to Eugene along with the challenge, in this case, a coin embossed with the Special Activities Division spade on one side and the Seal of the US Army on the other. Satisfied with Domingo Chavez's identity, Eugene presented his own ID and the proper countersign.
The paranoid tension defused with the identity check, and the men proceeded to one of the secured offices that had been established in the ACME Dorms. Domingo carried an oversized briefcase holding all the necessary equipment for targeting and authorizing the strike while Eugene lead him to the ad-hoc command center established in the basement to wait for Chase. Now that all the pieces were ready, all that was needed was to move them into place.
83 Patty-Larceny [NYC!! Sorry this is so late!]
Patty looked at Kenny with a raised eye brow and then went back to sleep. The rest of the flight was quiet. She thought she heard Ken fumble around or dreaming or something, but weird noises were something Patty learned to live with.
The plane landed in an airfield somewhere in New York State and Patty got a VILE-sponsored cab to take them to Manhattan.
New York was colder than Patty expected. The weather plus wind chill was making Patts regret coming here from Antarctica. At least in the frozen south, she didn't have be outside so much.
"We need a hotel or something, or a safe house," Patty excitedly thought through possibilities while with Kenny in the car, "I think Carmen has something in Trump Tower, but, like, how do we know who has the keys? Oh and I invited Crim and Lori along, I think they're flying commercial."
Location: Antarctica, VILE HQ
Joe was rubbing his hands in gleeful anticipation.
He'd just taught up a most VILE prank to play on a certain ACME agent.
"He'll never see this coming!" Joe laughed as he fiddled with a VILE bot.
Given a choice, Joe would have preferred to have another VILE agent help him out but given that everyone was already involved in something and that the only one he'd called had declined to be involved in the prank, he had to make due with the big purple robot in front of him.
"Guess you'll have to do, eh buddy?" Joe remarked to the VILE bot.
The VILE bot gave no reply.
"Too bad robots ain't got a sense of humour," Joe added as he finished his modifications to the VILE bot.
"Now to just pack up my supplies and bide my time.
After all, everyone knows that in comedy, timing is everything! Hyuk hyuk!"
The brightly coloured soles of her running shoes pounded against the cemented pathway and the details of the morning sped past, shut out by the music that was playing from her iPod. She had just rounded past a still-deserted playground when the ACME communicator in her left pocket buzzed.
The digits on the watch around her wrist flickered a quarter to eight as she passed the threshold of her front door. Sophie Conrad placed her keys into a small opalescent bowl by the entrance to the apartment and headed for the refrigerator. Removing a single-serve bottle of orange juice and twisting open its metal cap, she retrieved her ACME communicator from her jacket, placing it on the countertop before her; and as she drank from the bottle, she considered the device. About fifteen minutes earlier, a dispatcher of the ACME Medical Centre had relayed a text message from Deric Storm to her:
“Dr. Conrad, this is Detective Storm. We’re putting a team together to go after Chief’s granddaughter. Carmen is making a meet with us in Brazil to give her back. Chase recommended you as medic to check on Hailey’s wellbeing before we bring her back to SF. Briefing @ 1000hrs, ACME Hanger #4.”
Having never met the blond detective, Sophie remembered Deric Storm only for his careless and, unfortunately, rather public behaviour on the ACME SF grounds not too long ago. It had taken her the full duration of her jog back to her apartment block to consider all the possible forms of reply. However, as the message held no question of her attendance, the only sensible course of action then was to contact Deric directly to thank him for the information and confirm her agreement.
Sophie emptied the bottle in her grasp and as she dropped it into a box of recyclables, decided on the tasks she had to complete within the next hour-and-a-half in order to facilitate the trip. Picking up the communicator, she dialled for AMC Logistics…
86 Chase (Replying to Matt and Crystal first.)
"When do we leave?" Matt asked Chase.
"You should leave asap," Chase Devineaux answered Matt's question, "I've transferred the video to your case file. There's no C-5, so you're taking a plane; and since the hangars are busy, you'll need to go commercial."
This wasn't too unorthodox.
"Go down to the airport, buy tickets, bill ACME," the Field Director instructed, "Call Control if you need help. Take care."
He didn't want to rush, but he had to. The phrase 'going commercial' sparked an idea. If that tower was in Tunisia, like the Lady implied, then it should be verifiable by satellite... assuming someone was watching the desert.
Devineaux chose the fastest route across the compound.
(There are currently 2 ACME agents against 4 VILE agents for New York City, if 2 more of ours want to jump in, I'd encourage it. Let me know.)
Matt felt relieved that the necesities would be paid by ACME.
Which means I can spend some of my pocket change on suveneirs, he thought with a small smile.
He started to walk back to his room. As he did so, he said to Crystal,"Looks like you're going to be the tour guide on this trip."
Crystal nodded along as Chase told them what to do.
Flying commercial wouldn't be a problem, she decided. An inconvenience, yes. But not a problem.
She grinned to Matt.
"Yep, guess so," she said, making a mental note to call her mentor.
((OOC: Can I go ahead and RP the Dying Informant? He's technically a canon character from the World game show, but isn't on the canon character list...))
Location: VILE HQ
"Are you sure you know how to fly the plane?" Joe asked VILE BOT as they loaded and fueled it up.
"Affirmative. Flight program found in memory. File uncorrupted. Probability of successful flight 99%" VILE BOT replied in a monotonous voice that only a robot could pull off.
"Yeah well it's not the flying part that I'm worried about. They say it's the landing that kills you!" replied Joe, for once unamused.
VILE BOT merely repeated his statement about the flight program which Joe readily ignored as they both got into the plane.
As VILE BOT made the final checks and started the plane, Joe looked out and cracked a smile that usually meant big trouble for anyone on the receiving end.
Yesterday, there was a problematic press conference, then a long and hard off-record chat about what Public Relations truly meant with certain members of the board. In between all that was a nice bit of tea and girltalk with Ivy, which made the day less of a lost cause on ACME's newest PR Officer.
At dawn, Tanya was having a quick breakfast of toast and strawberry jam. Her apartment was a small, one-bedroom flat on the top floor of a little gift shop a few blocks from ACME Compound. Her landlord was an older gentleman by the name of James Myrth who lost his wife to cancer, and whose daughter, Tracie, still ran the business downstairs.
Checking her communicator, the Russian received many messages overnight, one of which made her frown.
Macy Gartner, from INB, wrote: "Good news, ACME, I got the Times interested, if you're still up for that exclusive. And I want to remind you: no substitutes; people want Devineaux."
Tanya could almost imagine that reporter in her usual wardrobe saying those exact words to her face. Internally, she was starting to like this position, so not wanting her mood ruined, she replied to Macy: "Bother me again, and no exclusive. Chase Devineaux is busy; he will talk when he is ready."
To her surprise, Gartner immediately returned: "You're touchy, but I like your honesty."
Happy to have her peace back, for the while, the Russian finished her toast and vowed that tomorrow; she would get herself some scones to go with the French jam.
[Joint post with Rose_thorn]
[Location: ACME Compound, San Francisco]
Gunnar Svensson strolled slowly about the ACME compound. He’d never seen the place before, and it didn’t look at all like the pictures had shown. Of course, a missing building changes things.
He didn’t like his stay here. Too warm, and not much privacy, it seemed. And the publicity from the media did not make him very comfortable. Besides all that, Gunnar didn’t know anybody. A long and lonely month this would be.
But something caught his eye. He could recall seeing something like it somewhere, but he wasn’t sure of the significance. A purple satin scarf flapped in the faint breeze, just like the one…
Abby twirled around to see Gunnar hurrying towards her with a pleased expression. She was greatly surprised at seeing him here. As far as she knew he was on a long flight to Vancouver. When he arrived there he would find a message on his communicator saying she had been requested at headquarters.
"Gunnar! You're the last person I expected to see here. What brings you?" She cheerfully called out as he neared her.
Gunnar slowed down and stood beside her. “I’m on transfer from the ACME division in Stockholm,” he told her. “I wasn’t putting in any hours there, so they told me I either had to come here and work on things, or I wouldn’t be with ACME longer.”
The Swede wiped the sweat from his forehead. “It is so sickly hot here!”
"Well, I guess I have the right to be mad at you for not telling me you were coming here. What would have happened if I actually was able to go to Vancouver?"
She took his arm and swung into step beside him before continuing. "It really isn't that hot here. Not humid and always moderate. Though I must admit it is a change in temperature for me too."
Gunnar felt a little uneasy when she took his arm, but continued along with her. “How is that?” he asked. “What if I had come till Vancouver, and did not find you there?” He was not at all frustrated with her, yet it was a reasonable question.
"I did send you a message that you would receive the moment you could turn on your electronic device. I didn't find such a message on my device when I landed here. No matter." She paused for a moment and looked up at his face, it did not seem relaxed.
"Is all right, Gunnar?"
A list of all the things that could be bothering him then ran through her head, making the question seem a little stupid.
“Ah…yes,” Gunnar replied. “I guess. Though this means I will still have to hold on to what I was trying to get off myself.
“Know you, I am a little afraid that I am easier to find, being a bit confined to this area just now. I don’t think ACME knows what personal problems I have.”
She raised her eyebrows. “I think I’m supposed to meet with Chase Devineaux. Unfortunately, for the life of me I can't find out where his office is, or where to find him. Perhaps you know?"
“Nej,” he answered. “Faktiskt, I have never seen him, except on TV.”
Gunnar began to smirk, so subtly as he usually does before “going on drift”. “Why? Are you in trouble already? I expected that you would behave yourself better than so…”
Abby eyed him warily. "Not at all. I expect I have a job to do, even if it is doing an unfun one. ACME agents do have to work for their pay. And most are not independently wealthy. I really need to find him"
“That will be a shame. You will leave me so lonely.”
A man strode quickly in their direction. Gunnar gave him only his indirect attention, as was his nervous habit. Somehow, he had the feeling that he recognized this person. The face seemed familiar, but Gunnar was sure that he had never met the man before. However, the determination shown on this man’s face brought something to mind. He had seen it on TV only hours before.
Gunnar suddenly stopped walking, shrugged Abby’s arm from around his, and—because the Swede in him knew it is impolite to point at someone—nodded his head towards the ACME Field Director as he prepared to pass by them. “Ah…I believe that I have found Herr Devineaux for you…”
Chase Devineaux paced himself as he made his way across the ACME compound. Last night, after tracing the Tower's coordinates via a placed call from VILE's leader, he requested help from an old friend in Israel. If things are as planned, information should come through in minutes.
In peripheral vision, two pairs of eyes seemingly followed his movement, and Chase instinctively returned their gaze.
ACME rookies stared in his direction, and the Field Director suddenly recalled that one of them was diverted from Vancouver to San Francisco for a case that closed only recently. With ACME Tower gone, Control probably never got back to many agents about case statuses.
"Abby Thorn," acting as Director, he addressed the agent in question, "Your case shut just before the tower was taken, I'm sorry you wasted your time."
Looking over both rookies again, another thought arose. VILE agents were heading to New York, and with ACME's resources focused on recovery, it would be nice to have new agents check out suspicious activities.
"Walk with me," he instructed, "both of you." Chase knew Swedish agent Gunnar Svensson transferred in recently, and Abby Thorn was without an assignment, if either weren't given an operation today, they would be on watch duty.
"VILE agents were discovered recently heading to New York City," Chase explained as he referred to his communicator, "I'm sending you the case file, review them. You'll be flying commercial, head to the airport and buy tickets; bill them to ACME."
Like a Sheppard, he led the aspiring detectives to the edge of ACME compound where they could get a cab to SFO, "Two other agents; Matt and Crystal should already be at the terminals, I'm letting them know you're joining them in Manhattan."
As the necessary files were sent to all agents, a message beeped, telling the Field Director that his request from Tel Aviv was ready.
"I need to go," Devineaux began to move, "Contact ACME Control, or me, immediately if you run into problems. You're on tracking mode, split into teams. Find VILE agents, and watch them. Try not to make contact unless absolutely necessary."
The briefing ended there. Chase preferred that his agents learned fast, and field experience was the best teacher. He did wish he had more time to evaluate the threat in New York, but he needed to clear Tunisia first, before someone else does.
[Joint post with Rose_Thorn]
Gunnar watched Chase Devineaux walk away, much surprised at how sudden he had gained his new responsibility. But when he turned to look at Abby, his face showed disgust.
“Usch!” Gunnar grimaced. “I hate New York!” Then he thought for a moment, and eased his disgusted expression into a sly grin. “But…I shall not be stuck here, at least.”
"That is one busy person, doesn't quite have the southern hospitality does he?" After further thought she added, "I like those who take their job seriously." It was more of a spoken thought than one meant for Gunnar, but she soon brought her attention back and looked at him.
"I'm glad we have that in common, I never did like the cities. Well what are we waiting for?" She waved down a taxi and slid in.
Gunnar decided to hurry back and get his bag of “personal things”. That book of his would come in handy--"How to Get through Customs with Weapons". He thought for moment, wondering if ACME appreciated his sneakiness, but quickly shrugged it off. It couldn’t be too bad. It would only help him accomplish his mission, and ACME seemed to need all the help it could.
(Rewinding a little to introduce Mikal for this co-post with Chase. We wanted to keep the time difference right, this was the only way to make sure. This post occurs between Carmen’s phone call and when Chase met up with Chief.)
The night before. San Francisco, CA.
As soon as Carmen Sandiego gave coordinates to what may be the location of ACME Tower, Chase instinctively contacted an old friend: Arshraq Jal Darsha, Mikal's brother and a head figure in Sayeret Mat'kal, or the Israeli Special Forces. He knew their unit would have been interested in that area since the Algerians had a brief riot earlier this month. If Algiers was under surveillance, Tunisia shouldn’t be far behind. The conversation was light, where Arshraq spoke of his family, teased the Field Director about life, and promised satellite feeds by morning. But when Chase gave the longitude and latitude, the Israeli chuckled in reply.
"Oh that!" Arsharq Darsha said in an accent heavily imbued with his heritage, "Flash of light in middle day, we thought some old infrastructure blown up and got exposed. We were going to send it in to Mossad tomorrow."
"If you can send the feed, I'll verify that it's ACME tower."
"I don't need too, it is ACME tower," Jal Darsha assured, "I can see your roof with your A-C-M-E logo."
In her own convoluted way, Carmen told the truth. Chase breathed, knowing what his next steps would be. "You have the feed from the moment the tower appeared until current?"
"Yes, a snapshot of every 30 seconds, but I don't have live feed."
"That'll do. I need the make, model, and license of all vehicles in the area outbound and inbound… airborne, especially. I also need to focus on a time frame… someone at the site gave me these coordinates ten minutes ago, and I need to track their movements"
"Okay, and I can do better than that, Calev," Arshraq had a smile in his voice, "I can tag vehicles for you, and tell you where they're heading. The only thing I cannot do is send down a ground team to verify.”
"Wouldn't ask that of you."
"But you know who loves falafel and is in Tunisia?"
Devineaux understood fully. After the Venetian ruckus that December Blue Moon last year, Chase sent Mikal Jal Darsha to Amman where the Israeli uncovered a smuggling ring with the help of a certain expert from Moscow named Tatyana Erzin. When the case ended, Erzin transferred to San Francisco to both further her studies and begin practice as a Public Relations Officer. Mikal took a vacation, which probably meant he was doing unofficial duties.
"I got it," Chase acknowledged, "Thanks."
Later, in Tel Aviv, a man wearing a tan uniform marched down a reinforced steel walkway roughly 30 meters under ground. He carried a crisp manila folder containing very rough coordinates and a request. The request came from one of the sons of Israeli war hero Jal Darsha Bhar, and the coordinates were somewhere in Southern Tunisia, a place with little to see unless one was moderating the movements of sand.
For reasons that should never be mentioned, Mikal Darsha was in Tunisa. It was one of the 364 sunny days of desert weather, and he was ready to leave. His phone played the tune of a Nirvana song, and the Israeli agent immediately knew the caller.
“Shalom, Captain,” he had been hoping for a call, here in the desert, any contact was better than none at all.
“Are you in Tunisia?”
“Ken [yes].. it’s very hot.”
“Right, good, I need you to head south to El Khandra, I’ll send you the coordinates.”
“Are you sure you don’t need me in San Francisco? Or in a cold place like Venice last year?”
“Mikal, listen to me,” Chase explained, “yesterday, ACME tower was stolen.”
“Meshuga! [Crazy] How?”
“Oh, mitzta’er [I’m sorry]”
“Arshraq verified its current location. I need you to go down there and survey the ground for me.”
“Then I am happy to do it, Captain.”
“Yo’fi [great], I’ll contact you again as soon as I get to Tunisia, give me about 24 hours.”
“Lehitra’ot [see you soon].”
After wishing the Marine Captain a nice trip, Mikal Darsha eyed the southern horizon and walked through the streets of Tunis. At a stall selling thick tuna Brik, he made a purchase of some pastries and a sealed bottle of Thibarine, a local herbal liqueur.
“Party tonight, Sahmed?” the stall’s owner referred to Mikals’ alias while pointing with his eyes to the bottle.
“No, it’s for my brother,” Sahmed replied, “he got woman troubles”
The Tunisian pastry seller and the Israeli in disguise shared a knowing laugh, and the later immediately took a jeep out from the city before the sun fell.
(Moving the story along...)
Present, San Francisco, CA.
The temporary communications center was once a room that housed ACME's dynamic databases, but due to recent events, became a makeshift control and dispatch department. Computers were on the floor as Devineaux entered. The place looked like an abandoned loft full of techie squatters.
Here, he reviewed the images sent in from Israel, clear notes were made of all vehicles. That would come in handy later. The one airplane in the area was a Russian cargo transporter. Arshraq’s intelligence team was thorough, they reported that the plane had been commissioned in Minsk, that it was in Luxembourg hours before it landed in Southern Tunisia, and that it was now heading westward.
This information, he sent to Chief’s team, along with the text:Hailey’s plane: Russian cargo Antonov An-124, heading towards Guarulhos. Change of plans, won’t let it land in São Paulo, escorting to a military strip 25 clicks northeast. See map. Wait for it there.
After sending the message, Chase went to see Eugene Grovington at the 'new Command Center'. Walking down flights of concrete stairs to an area of the academy’s basement, the Field Director opened the door to find the flight instructor and a man with a brief case.
“I have the satellite feeds,” Devineaux briefly lifted the pictures before putting them down on the table, “It’s verified, the tower’s location.” Visually examining the briefcase, he looked to the stranger and then back at the pilot, “Is this it?”
A few hours later...
Matt had gotten his bags packed and was now at the airport. He was done getting tickets for himself and Crystal and was now heading for their plane's terminal when he got a page.
Gunnar and Abby were going to be joining them on the mission.
Matt tried not to groan. He really wanted to spend some one on one time with Crystal in New York City. Now he had to share her attention with Gunnar and Abby.
"Looks like we have some last minute guests,"Matt showed Crystal the page.
Location: outside San Diego Zoo, San Diego, California, USA
"She's perfect. I think I'll name her 'Allie', as in Alligator" Joe laughed
"But it is a crocodile. Nickname does not match." VILE bot replied
"Exactly. Thus the irony." Joe replied with another laugh
"What is this 'Irony'?" came the monotone reply from VILE bot.
Joe's only reply to that was a face fault. He had forgotten the VILE bot didn't understand humor or irony.
"That's what I get for working with a robot. VILE bot, nevermind the conversation about irony. Let's get to our next location before the cops show up."
VILE Bot gave a brief acknowledgement and went to work the controls while Joe looked at 'Allie' sleeping peacefully in her cage.
Phase one of his prank had gone remarkably well.
It has been almost too easy to break into the San Diego Zoo. Joe had thought that there would have been more security. Instead, he and VILE bot had managed to sneak in and out pretty much undetected, except for the nocturnal animals.
Joe remembered that while and VILE bot had been searching the maze of enclosures for the right one, several owls had spotted them and almost given them away. Thankfully the guards had decided to ignore the warnings given by their fine feathered friends. The security cameras were also pretty much a joke.
Joe had finally found the crocodile enclosure and exactly what he was looking for. While a sane person might have some reservations about getting into an enclosure full of live crocodiles, at night, Joe was perfectly fine with it.
Of couse, it helped that he had first poured in a canister of liquid CO2 into the enclosure to get the crocodiles to hibernate without harming them. After that it was only a matter of quickly selecting one specimen, bagging it and getting out of the zoo before the guards actually decided to do their jobs.
Back on the plane, Joe looked at 'Allie' and smiled. Soon, phase 2 of his prank would be underway.
[OOC: To PETA and other animal lovers out there, rest assured 'allie' is unharmed and will remain as such. I am an animal lover myself. Allie isn't that large and her cage is large enough to give her room to move about when she wakes up. There is water and food in it for her also.]
Crystal was slightly disappointed about having two more people come along.
She had wanted to have some one-on-one time with Matt, too, though she was reluctant to admit it out loud.
"Mrs. Pumpkinclanger won't appreciate all the noise that four agents will make," she said quietly to Matt. "She's the lady who lives across the alley--whenever I was there, she always yelled at us for making noise..."
She sighed and sat in one of the seats and waited for the flight to begin boarding, sending a message to her old mentor that she would be returning for a mission--with agents in tow.
The ACME Informant, or Dying Informant as he was sometimes known, was surprised to see the message from one of the old Gumshoes he had helped train.
But before he could dwell on it, he received a memo from a fellow informant downtown.
"Patty Larceny spotted?" he mused, reading the message. "Here in New York with another V.I.L.E. agent?"
He sighed and headed out into the Manhattan streets in the hopes of finding and tailing her. He would have to be careful, he knew; he had had a couple of unlucky brushes on at least two previous occasions tailing her.**
((** See the Where in the World is Carmen Sandiego season 1 episodes "Island Copping" and "Case of the False False Teeth" for details!))
(A joint post with Chief Weller, Deric Storm, Cali Corranos, Sophie Conrad, and Nevon Blair. The Brazil team takes off at the end of this post, and our next post should be en route.)
9:30 a.m., ACME Hangar #4
Chief Weller awaited his agents at one of the hangar's side rooms. Having been through so many plane rides, the lot of them leaving through this very airfield, Everard Weller was never so anxious.
As a young man, he took to hunting at an early age. When his family took vacations, they often went out to fields in New England. The boys would watch their fathers gather rifles, hawks, or hounds, depending on the occasion; and the girls would prepare for the day. The 60s in that area was a time ripe for change, and when young Everard wanted change, he traveled the world. After his third water buffalo kill in Kenya, he decided that he wasn't very interested in hunting. Quite by chance, a team of people he met in Africa offered him a job with a very new agency. It was a promise to change the world for good, and Weller took it, becoming ACME's first field researcher at the age of twenty-seven.
That was an amount of time ago.
9:40 am, ACME Hangar #4
Deric pulled up to the hangar. Parked off to the side were a scooter and a motorcycle. He knew the motorcycle was Cali’s, so that left the other one unaccounted for. The scooter didn’t scream ‘Chief of a Multi-national Detective Agency,’ so Deric assumed it belonged to one of the other two members of the team. ‘Good,’ Deric thought, ‘he decided to come.’
Turning off his truck, Deric grabbed his bag and entered the hangar where he found Calina conversing with Nevon Blair.
“What a disreputable lot we have here,” Deric spoke loudly, getting the group’s attention.
Nevon tucked his shirt in this morning so he’d look more professional. It wasn’t everyday a rookie got a call from on high to join an international case among the detectives. And with Cali Corranos from the bomb squad too. She used to scare the heck out of Nev when he was taking introductions to chemistry and had to do lab work. Right now, she doesn’t seem any less scary, and with Nevon’s instincts to freeze up when talking to girls, most of the conversation was sign language.
When he heard Deric come in, Nev was still in that mindset, so he waved but didn’t say anything.
After not getting much word from Nevon, Cali was glad to see Deric. She greeted him with a hug. Deric returned the hug.
“Long time no see, stranger,” he joked. Looking at the younger agent with them, he said, “So glad you could join us, Mr. Blair.”
9:50 am, ACME Hangar #4
It had taken Sophie Conrad all of seventeen minutes to ensure that her car was safely parked and that the medical kit on its passenger seat was deposited into the cabin of the Gulfstream G550 that stood ready outside the hanger.
As she knew no details of the commission to retrieve Hailey Weller, apart from that which she had received two hours earlier, she was hardly surprised to step into the private hanger and see three persons gathered in it. One she recognised as Deric Storm (which confirmed the probable identities of his company as ACME employees), the other two she could not name.
Deric’s ears perked up when he heard the door open. He saw a young, red-haired woman walk into the hangar. He assumed this was the final member of the team, Dr. Sophie Conrad. He waved the doctor over to them.
“Hey,” Deric said to her, “what’s up, Doc?” Seeing the other two team members look in the same direction he was, Deric felt an introduction was in order. Quickly crossing the distance, Deric put his arm around the doctor’s shoulders and led her over to the rest of the group.
Sophie silently allowed herself to be brought alongside Deric, carefully keeping an amiable smile on her face, only stepping away from his hold the moment they had stopped walking.
“Guys,” Deric gestured to the new arrival, “this is Dr. Conrad from ACME Medical. She’s going to be coming with us to Brazil to make sure Hailey is alright before we bring her back to the States.” Gesturing towards the young man, “Dr. Conrad, this is Nevon Blair,” and he gestured to Cali, “and this is Calina Corranos.”
“Thank you, Mr. Storm,” Sophie nodded, then turning to the two that the sanguine detective had introduced for quick greetings to be exchanged...***
Everyone but Chief was here, and Cali could see the technicians who are working on the plane were done with their work. “It looks like they are ready to load our luggage,” she said, “should we wait for Chief inside?”
“I like to keep my stuff where I can see it, Cali,” Deric patted the bag containing his tactical gear and pistols. “Besides, I don’t think we’re gonna be on the ground long enough to clear Customs. All we need’s the Chief and we’re ready to fly.”
When the hangar attendants came in to report that plane was ready, Chief Weller was talking to the pilot. The plan had been to land as close to the commercial runways as possible and get cooperation from the authorities in detecting Hailey’s plane.
As Chief left the hangar’s side room, he saw that Deric had contacted a medic to come along as well, which was a good precaution.
“Hello all,” Dr. Weller greeted, “good to see everyone is on time. This mission, as we all know, is to meet VILE on friendly terms and receive my granddaughter, Hailey Weller, at Guarulhos International Airport in São Paulo, Brazil. Calina Corranos, with her Portuguese, will be leading this case as supervisor, but the lead detective will be Deric Storm because Cali does not have agent status. I am expecting the best from all of you for this very important mission. Hopefully, we will land, find Hailey, and bring her home without an incident.
Before we board the plane, are there any questions?”
“Yeah, one,” Deric interjected, “who’s getting there first? I don’t like the idea of walking into a potential ambush.”
“The airplane will land in public place?” Cali asked, “and how can we sure that we see them?”
“I regret to say that we have little to go on right now,” Dr. Weller admitted, “the only instructions VILE gave was that Hailey will be there at 1900 hours, local time. We’ll have to make the best of it.”
Nevon mostly watched, he was happy to be here, first of all, and he knew he was the only rookie, he had to be on his best behavior.
Deric frowned as he went over the layout of Guarulhos Airport for a third time. The place was a logistical nightmare. Very crowded, VERY public... plus, they didn’t even know what kind of plane Hailey was going to be on. He let out a small frustrated growl as his cell phone went off. He saw it was a message from Devineaux:
Hailey’s plane: Russian cargo Antonov An-124, heading towards Guarulhos. Change of plans, won’t let it land in São Paulo, escorting to a military strip 25 clicks northeast. See map. Wait for it there.
Chief Weller saw the same message on his communicator and looked to Deric when he was done reading. “It seems our Field Director has a change of plans. I will brief the pilot on the military airport,” he reached into his coat and pulled out a pocket watch, “Shall we board the plane?”
Deric nodded as he stood up. Grabbing his duffel, he said, “Shiny, let’s be good guys.”
It was sensible that Chief Weller, Hailey Weller’s grandfather, would travel with the team commissioned to retrieve her. A familiar face – and he was quite the most qualified familiar face – was always helpful in calming children, and Sophie perceived his concern enough to ignore her surprise at his appearance. She watched the three men and one woman before her in turn and paid attention to what they said and what they did not; and she considered, too, the message from the Field Director.
In her hands, her ACME communicator began to search for and download relevant material related to Calina Corranos and Nevon Blair from the ACME Medical database – information she did not yet possess; and when it was decided that it was appropriate to board the aircraft awaiting them, Sophie turned to give the shy and equally silent Nevon Blair a quick smile before walking off towards the Gulfstream.
With everyone on their way to the plane, Cali picked up her backpack and nudged Deric from the back by putting her hands on his shoulders. “Shiny?” she laughed, “Yes, very.”
Deric couldn’t help but grin sheepishly. “Sorry, had a ‘Firefly’ moment. Couldn’t resist.”
100 Nevon Later... in the plane
Planes weren't among Nevon's favorite things to sit in. Keeping his seat in the upright position and looking out the window, he watched clouds pass by. In his ears were buds connected to his iPod playing some Bruno Mars and some Bob Marley.
Without the C-5, travel was going to be this tiring all the time, and Nevon wasn't sure he could get used to it. Maybe he shouldn't have transferred from ACME Seattle's accounting position to take on fieldwork in San Francisco. But when he saw commanding agents and what they could do in those boots, he wanted to do the same. ACME was the family he wanted to be in, and he wasn't going to give it up for a few more hours of air travel. But.... if there was ever such thing as getting plane sick, Nev was feeling it.
Location: San Francisco, California (yes you read right :P)
Joe and VILE Bot stood in the shadows observing a private parking garage. It wasn't just any parking garage however, it held a very special car; the same car the pair had come to swipe. How did Joe even know about the place? Well let's just say that you'd be surprised what you can learn on certain chat-rooms in the internet.
Joe eyed the building with a mix of caution and glee. He may dress like a fool every now and then but he certainly wasn't one. Joe had had VILE Bot scan the structure and found there to be approximately 10 guards in the place, most of them on the ground floor with a couple of them patrolling the second and third stories. The guards were mainly unarmed (except for some Tazers, how shocking!) and would prove no big deal. It was the security system that bothered Joe. The car lift required a security pass and voice check to access. This would prove tricky as Joe did not plan on forcing any of the guards to cooperate or harming them (much). Luckily, Joe had come up with an ingenious solution.
"You know the plan. Go and make our special delivery. I'll wait here with Allie. We'll join you when the 'smoke' clears."
Joe instructed VILE Bot. As VILE Bot made his way to the structure, Joe looked down at the cage at his feet and reached in to give Allie a reassuring pat. "You'll be fine Allie. I'm sure Chase will love you, not as much as I'll enjoy His cayman though. Hyuk hyuk."
VILE Bot entered the ground floor of the parking garage and as Joe correctly predicted, all the guards in the building came out and surrounded him with their tazers, even the ones that were supposed to be patrolling.
VILE Bot waited till all the guards were around him and then quickly scanned the lot till he found the shift supervisor. VILE Bot gave a menancing (as menancing as a robot can get) glance to the person as asked in a metallic voice "What is your name?"
The guard seemed petrified and it took a couple of tries before he answered back in a trembling voice "Shift supervisor A.S. Leep." The guard then continued to tremble and demanded to know what he/it was doing here.
VILE Bot gestured to the box he held and simply replied "Special Delivery".
The guards glanced closer at the box whilst maintaining a wary distance from VILE Bot. The box turned out to be a Jack-in-the box of sorts but when VILE Bot cranked the handle it played out Brahms Lullaby. After the song ended, the Jack-in-the-box opened to blow out a huge cloud of Joe Kerr's custom knock out gas. The gas was pretty much harmless except that it put you to sleep for two to three hours. VILE Bot was of course immune to it, one of the perks of being a robot.
When the cloud of knock out gas cleared, Joe entered the building holding Allie in her rather spacious cage. He cracked a mischeivous smile. "Did you get it?"
VILE Bot replied an affirmative and played back the recorded conversation between him and shift supervisor A.S.Leep. Joe gleamed. A handy thing, tape recorders. Even handier that VILE Bot had one inbuilt.
Joe took the supervisor's pass card and accessed the car elevator. The security system dutifully prompted for a voice recognition. VILE Bot played back the recording "Shift supervisor A.S. Leep".
"Vocal recognition confirmed" came the acknowledgement from the lift.
Just like that, Joe Kerr and VILE Bot, with Allie, made their way to Chase Devineaux's Posrche Cayman. Joe's internet sources had correctly predicted that the car would be stored on the third floor in a special parking lot that needed vocal recognition and a security pass to access. Joe and VILE Bot repeated the process of fooling the system again and were now standing over the car, yes THE car, Chase Devineaux's Porsche Cayman.
It shone beautifully in the faint light of the garage and its perfectly polished exterior gave a crystal clear reflection of the two VILE operatives hovering over it.
"Such a beauty. Almost seems a shame to steal it. Almost but not quite. Hyuk hyuk." Joe laughed.
Joe turned to where he knew a security camera was located and waved at it.
"Hey Chase," he spoke into the camera.
"If you're watching this, it means I got your ride. But don't worry. I'm a man of principles. I propose a fair trade - my cayman for yours. Hyuk hyuk. Don't worry, I'll take good care of the car, just be sure you do the same for Allie" Joe gestured to the crocodile in the cage which had been placed outside the lot and laughed again before turning his attention back to the car.
Joe reached into his pocket and pulled out a universal car remote (another handy thing he found on the internet. Amazing what you can find if you know where to look). He tuned the remote to "Porsche Cayman" settings and tried it.
It ended up setting off an alarm on the car. Joe wasn't too surprised. That was how the remote worked. When it set off the alarm you knew you had the right frequency. Then you just had to try again a couple of times to overwrite the car security and you'd have perfect access.
"Warning. Sensors detect a silent alarm has been given off by the car." VILE Bot intoned.
Joe wasn't surprised. He'd expected as much from the car of none other than ACME's head of field operations. He calmly completed his 'hotwiring' of the vehicle and got it into the lift. As it went down to the first floor he gave his instructions to VILE Bot.
"Alright, you know the plan. Go downstairs and clear the guards out of the way so I don't run over them by accident. Then take the plane and fly to the rendezvous point. I'll drive there after I've had some fun with whatever company Chase decides to send after his beloved Porsche." Joe grinned wickedly.
VILE Bot did as instructed and soon flew the highly modified Antonov An-225 Mriya off to the rendezvous point. Joe meanwhile got into the Porsche and revved up the engines.
"Alright girl, let's see what you can do. I wonder if Chase put any NOX or turbo functions into you?"
Joe gave his characteristic laugh as he sped off into the night.
“Hey! Be careful!”
Those screams of annoyance and variants of were yelled as Zack weaved his way through a filled crowd, almost having some waiters spill coffee on the patrons at the patio, nearly running over some pedestrians, and disrupting a flock of pigeons. However, those whose were disrupted by Zack’s sudden reappearance of causing chaos couldn’t help but smile. It had been a long time since they had seen Zack, and they were, in a strange way, glad to have a day of mild chaos.
Except the flock of pigeons, who just flew away in fear.
The younger of the Monaghan siblings made a sharp turn at the end of the street and slowed down his skateboard, eventually slowing down enough that he could grab his skateboard and walk. He passed by a little shop called San Francisco’s Fantastic Gifts, and waved to Tracie, who was organizing the window display. He entered a small door beside the entrance that lead to a set of stairs heading into the apartments above it. He climbed up the stairs, to the top floor and knocked on the apartment door.
Eugene heard someone come down the stairs to the basement and tensed, only to relax when he saw Chase Devineaux open the door. Not many people knew the full scope of the plan yet, and the equipment Ding currently held was word being paranoid over.
“I have the satellite feeds,” Devineaux briefly lifted the pictures before putting them down on the table, “It’s verified, the tower’s location.” Visually examining the briefcase, he looked to the stranger and then back at the pilot, “Is this it?”
"Chase Devineaux, Domingo Chavez. Let's head to the airfield; we'll have plenty of time to get up to speed en-route." The three men piled into the Chevrolet, and with Domingo in the driver's seat, Eugene took this opportunity to examine the imagery Chase had acquired. The pictures had obviously been degraded in the name of national security, but there was no doubt this was the building they were looking for.
It was mere minutes to the airfield, and soon the trio was en route to the latest war zone. Unlike the return trip from Luxembourg, the cockpit was a buzz of activity; from reviewing the latest satellite imagery to debating possible ways the op could go pair-shaped to monitoring the progress of the Brazil bound aircraft. There was little time to get lost in one's thoughts here; the demands of flying the plane coupled with the possible scenarios required all mental faculties to be directed at the task at hand.
They had taken turns with driving, sleeping, and dismantling the equipment stolen from the ACME tower. Although Flag couldn't understand a single word that his current companions had spoken, he figured out that they were planning on selling the pieces to someone in Algiers, which according to the signs was not entirely to far away.
It was his turn to sleep, and he had done well with that on the floor in the small extended cab of the truck. It was only when he heard English being spoken that he woke up.
"Can you help us?"
He sat up and glanced out the window to see what appeared to be a misplaced janitor and a college student running up to the truck.
"We drove into a rock."
No... he wasn't a janitor. He was starting to look military... just... stupid military.
"And I wonder, if you could take us to some... like a town or someplace?"
Once they jumped into the back of the Truck, Flag chose to ignore them and went back to sleep. The next thing he knew there was on onslaught of gunfire, shouting, and then silence. He peered out the window just in time to see another truck peeling away, while his was left alone in the middle of a circle of sand dunes.
He climbed out of the truck and found that many of the other VILE members were defeated and lying in the sand. The whole scene of it didn't make a lick of sense to him, and when he attempted asking one of the crew what had happened, he only got the word "jedi" as a response.
"Riiiiight..." He hated language barriers.
After waiting around a while for some of the crew to get back up, he helped them into the truck and they were off again. Naturally their destination had changed for the time being and they made their way towards the first roadside inn that they came across.
(Just trying to get back into the game a bit... and I saw a stupid movie, which I had to include for some reason. X'D )
Somewhere between Tunisia and Brazil...
In the plane going from Southern Tunisia to Brazil, Vic the Slick was still getting sand out of his shoes. Hailey Weller was asleep. The three watches on her wrist pressed against her cheek, so Fumigalli moved her hand down a little. He didn't particularly like kids, but he also didn't make them a problem. He just hated babysitting.
"How long 'til Brazil?" Vic asked the pilot.
There were only three of them on this flight, and everybody packed light. Knowing Carmen, he knew she's got everything handled, but for the first time in years, he wondered if she'd cut into something a little too deep this time.
She's a real pleasant thing, his boss, people who didn't know her wanted to know her, and people who already knew her wanted more. When they don't get more, some get mean. Small fry those people, they don't know who they're dealing with. But this time, it's ACME that's taking the hit, and it's ACME that's hitting back.
He could tell from the shadow over Chase Devineaux's face during the press conference that they were in for some sludge.
"Five more hours," the pilot replied, "some turbulence ahead."
It didn't make sense to Vic why Carmen would stay in Tunisia except to make sure everyone got scattered to the right places. She was smart about that. She'd figure exactly how long an agent took to go how far, and how many counter agents should be ready. But unless there was something else in that tower she had to have, she might have been safer going to a public airport in São Paulo.
Five hours is enough time for another long nap, so Vic got up to get a blanket.
(Flag, staring at goats will do that to you.)
Under a reading light over his seat inside the aircraft to Tunisia, ACME's Field Director was making calls to Tunisia, Brazil, and San Francisco; each connection relayed through the plane's satellite module.
The Brazilian Air Force agreed to supply two planes to control the course of the Russian Transport carrying Hailey Weller. Guarulhos and Congonhas airports were advised to disallow the Russian Carrier's landing until further notice. For the purpose of the arrest, Chase was informed they would be forcing the plane to land in an empty field, not an official airport. It seemed risky, but with the size of VILE's plane, this option was necessary.
After Devineaux sent the exact coordinates to Chief Weller's pilot, his phone buzzed an alarm. Checking the message, he froze momentarily. The text was from his Porsche Cayman, reporting itself stolen. 'Please activate GPS tracking,' it told him. Quickly entering the code to trigger the Global Positioning System, Chase watched attentively as the dot representing his vehicle moved out of its parking garage. Why this was happening now seemed incomprehensible, he needed someone in San Francisco to figure out exactly what's going on.
Looking through his list of available help, Chase was limited to Ivy Monahan, Tanya Erzin, and Eleanor Mayhem. Despite being former field agents, none were now directly working under him. Making the decision to not rely on local police, he sent a message to all three in hopes that one would respond:
To Agents: Mona, I.; Erzi, T.; Mayh, E.
Code 2*: Stolen Vehicle -- California 6MCV177 -- 2009 Porsche Cayman -- Silver -- on the move. Passcode 939 to view GPS tracking.
*Code 2: ACME -- Urgent, proceed with caution.
Tanya Erzin received the urgent memo from Chase Devineaux and instantly wondered why. Sliding on her feet to the nearest laptop, she entered the license plate number into a database for vehicles identification only to discover the car’s owner was the Field Director himself.
What Popov [famous Russian clown] would dare take that? The Russian raised her eyebrows. Concluding that this wasn’t an official case yet, but a matter of Chase needing help, she popped a “reply to all”:
I am taking my jeep in pursuit, tag me for location.
Opening the door to her apartment, she stopped when she saw Zack coming up the stairs.
“Privet!” She greeted, “someone took Chase’s Caymen, come on, I will explain on the way.”
108 DericStorm (A conversation between myself and Nevon on the flight to Brazil)
Somewhere over the Gulf of Mexico
Deric woke with a start. Looking down at his watch, he saw that he had been asleep for a little over two hours. It had been three hours since they left San Francisco and another six before they reached their destination. Even though they were flying directly to the base, they were still going to have to be lucky to reach the base before VILE did.
Normally, the young detective was not a fan of air travel. The seats weren’t built for guys his size. Luckily, there were couches long enough for him to stretch out on in the Gulfstream. Once they were in the air, Deric snagged one and nodded off until now. He got up to stretch his legs and use the bathroom.
On his way back from the lavatory, Deric spotted the most inexperienced of the group looking the same as he did when they first took off, in other words a mix of nervous energy and looking like he was going to puke. ‘Googly-moogly,’ Deric thought, ‘I forgot, this is probably his first field op as an agent.’ He had wanted to go over Nevon’s role on this assignment with him, and now seemed better than anytime. He plopped down into the seat across from the younger agent, getting his attention.
“What’s on your mind, Nevon?”
“Uhm... nothing much,” Nevon replied a little nervous, “I’m feeling better that we’re not going to a public airport, but I still don’t want to mess this up, my stomach is in knots.” He put away his iPod. When he was a new accountant back in Seattle’s ACME branch, things were a lot easier. Boring, but easier. He knew what he was going to see every morning. Here, as a new field agent, he mostly studied to keep himself off the field because beyond studying, he didn’t know what to expect.
“First mission jitters; it’s natural.” Deric remembered his own butterflies before his first assignment. He actually did hurl before the op, but it did settle his nerves after he did it. “Anyway, a little nervous energy will probably help keep you focused. You’re going to be our eyes once we get to Brazil. Cali and I will be focused on our own assignments and we need someone keeping an eye on the ‘big picture,’ so to speak.”
“I can do that,” Nevon shifted his eyes a little, not wanting to tell his new Supervisor that this wasn’t his first case. His first real mission was getting a necklace back for an old lady in London. Then he was on a team mission following Sarah Nade, and another one with Nina West and Brian that ended in the capture of Sir Vile. Come to think of it, Nevon had a lot of experience, but he liked playing the safe underdog.
“Where should I be positioned when we land?”
“Here,” Deric said, pointing to a spot on the map provided to them by the Brazilian military. “in the nearby sentry tower. Once we land, I need to you to haul it to the tower and get set up.” Handing him a radio, Deric said, “we’ll be operating on channel 2 on the radio.”
“Got it, Super,” Nevon gave a grin to confirm he understood his supervisor, “Go to sentry tower, be on channel 2.”
“Good man,” Deric smiled, trying to put the young man even more at ease. Rising from the seat, he said “We’re still a few hours out, try to get some rest. Also, just remember if something, no matter how fleeting it might be, seems hinky, let us know.”
Once he was a few feet away, Deric released the mental breath he had been holding. Blair might be a rookie, but he should be able to do the job. Plus, with all of his nervous energy, he would be a little hyper-focused and would notice the little things.
‘Now,’ Deric thought, ‘I just have to deal with the other unorthodox member of the team...’
Hours humming though the desert roads took Mikal Darsha to the dusty vastness of Southern Tunisia. He settled after dark into the small community of El Khadra, and began talking to locals. One old couple told him an unusual amount of tourists in desert vehicles were passing this way, and a young backpacker recalled hearing distant thunder in the middle of the day for no apparent reason.
In the evening, he sat for coffee at El Khadra Café, in time to see a caravan roll in. He recognized them as sand-colored versions of the KraZ-6322, all-terrain transport vehicles made in the Ukraine. They were not marked as military, and someone had worked hard to make them look like research trucks, but the tarp covering the cargo area showed these were being used for moving.
The train of trucks slowed down to stir less dust while passing through, but they didn't stop. In the dark, the Israeli found it difficult to spot features. Still, he didn't need to know who these people were. His objective was the tower.
Mikal had no GPS receiver in his vehicle, only a map, the coordinates Chase gave him, and a little luck. Seeing the KraZs come in was lucky. All he had to do now was follow their trail.
Once the trucks passed, the Israeli took his car and followed the fresh imprint of giant tires on the sand. He drove slowly, wary of the possibility of surveillance. The woman behind the theft of the tower was known to be ready for everything, and if she did not want someone near the ACME building at this time, Mikal would only be able to watch from a distance.
At a point in the trail, the tracks turned into a wide circle and a second set of headlights, another truck, was heading towards him. Mikal hit the brakes. As if in a stalemate, the other car also stopped. The Israeli then switched off his lights. His reflection did the same.
Realizing what this was, Darsha turned back on his lights and drove closer. ACME Tower was masked in complete darkness, illuminated only by the front torch of a jeep. The trucks he saw must have been the last set to leave.
"Captain," Mikal spoke into his phone after dialing, "I found your tower," he shrugged, the Israeli way, then looked up into a glassy blackness that melded with the sky, "Yes, I have a visual. Big, big visual."
ACME Detective Agency
San Francisco Headquarters
ACME Academy Offices - Temporary Base of Operations
The academy was empty. REALLY empty. Everyone who could be out on a mission was out in a plane awaiting their arrival to far off places. Everyone, that is, except E. Mayhem.
In the emergency of the tower's disappearance, Halley's abduction and even Chase's car being stolen she'd been left behind, a maneuver she couldn't really say she was regretting at the moment.
Quietly she made her way down the linoleum floored hall of the academy's west wing, what students called the West Classrooms. She was dressed to, what was in her opinion, the nines. A white women's suit with beige blouse beneath, white high heels. They were only two inch heels, sure, but heels none the less. A fair layer of makeup covered up bags under her eyes from not being able to sleep properly the night before.
Yes. she was still worried. About Chase. About his 'being asked to resign.'
It was the same lack of sleep that gave her time to ponder what she was to do about it. Or even if it was her place to do something.
Yes. Yes it was. Why? Two reasons. The ACME she respected did not and WOULD NOT disrespect and blame the wrong people, for one. She was, always had been and she hoped always would be a cheerleader for ACME. An ACME which would treat people like they were about to treat Chase was not the company she'd been hired by and would not be the company she'd work for.
And second? Chase didn't deserve it. Period. Sure, she understood about accountability, about how a leader takes responsibility for a failed case. ACME's HQ and its disappearance was the fault of ALL OF ACME. Not just him.
But Chase would accept it. He would do as asked because that's the kind of stand up man he was. He'd 'take one for the team'. That didn't sit well with Eleanor.
Eleanor Mayhem poked her head inside a quiet lecture hall just off of the end of the hall and, finding herself, alone, entered, closed the door behind her and took a seat at a large table in the front of the room.
It was a bit coincidental that she now took a seat in the front of 'Agnes Auditorium', a place where years ago she'd first met Chase Devineaux, to commit, what at best was mutiny against her own company and at worst was about to be employment suicide. But to be fair she didn't have an office, temporary or otherwise, to use her laptop's camera with and this place seemed quiet enough. It would have to do.
Opening her laptop she booted up the camera on its top, moved it and herself to make sure she was centered and paused. Well? What was she going to say?
She took a deep breath and began.
"ACME Detective Agency employees and agents. This is Agent Eleanor Catherine Mayhem, agent number 567353."
She paused, suddenly finding herself at a loss of words. She'd had so many in her head the night before. She'd run over what she was going to say. At 4 in the morning her words had been almost poetic but now she was simply running blank.
"...We have a problem. At a time like this, when ACME has been dealt one of the hardest blows in its history words like that may seem unnecessary. However in the wake of our problems another has come along... a problem which is our responsibility as agents to address. Immediately. As of last night it has been... 'suggested'..."
The tone of her voice at the word 'suggested' seemed almost venomous.
"...by our Board of Directors that Chase Devineaux resign from ACME. The ACME Building's disappearance is a mark on the face of ACME... and I believe it is the belief of our Board of Directors that placing blame on one man will make this entire fiasco go away. It won't. Not only that but to act as if only one man is to blame for the inability for ACME to protect itself from a direct assault leaves us unwilling to accept our own failures and to better ourselves in the future. ACME must take responsibility for itself, not Chase Devineaux."
She took another deep breath and raised a piece of paper. "I have tendered my resignation of the ACME Detective Agency, which I plan on delivering to the Board of Directors personally in about ten minutes or so. If it is fine for the board to ask for the resignation of Mr. Devineaux then they may have mine as well."
She gave a small smile, brushing a piece of hair out of her face. "I'm asking you, ACME agents and ACME employees, to do the same. This agency was built by the efforts of people like Chase Devineaux and for him to be forced into this situation violates every principle this Agency was founded on. Enclosed with this video you will find the email addresses of each member of the Board as well as their phone numbers should text be unavailable to you. I know you're all busy... but please. I need you to stand with me."
A look of worry passed over her face for a moment before she placed a broad smile on her face. She almost wanted to explain more but her point had been made. Now all she could do was hope she was right about everyone.
"Thank you all for listening. Agent E. Mayhem, 567353, signing out."
Clicking on the computer to stop recording she quickly attached it to a message to ALL ACTIVE ACME AGENTS as well as a few choice members of a few departments. Mostly the women of accounting and the trainers of the academy, the ones that liked Chase. Sure that it had gone out she closed the laptop, slipped it back into her bag and left, her destination within ACME clear.
It was time to put her money where her mouth was.
(Plot twist, E. Shock! Liking it!)
While sitting in the plane with the team to Brazil, Nevon got a video broadcast from ACME. Curious, he plugged in his earbuds and turned on the transmission.
Eleanor Mayhem talked, he remembered seeing her, but he forgot from where. She was probably one of the higher up agents.
Nevon listened until the message became clear. Chase Devineaux was asked to resign from ACME.
Blair gasped and froze, not knowing what to do. It was exciting, a call to arms, a real one! Looking around, he saw someone who might know what's going on, Dr. Weller. Fueled with the notion to help his mentor, Nev unbuckled his seatbelt and walked to the Chief.
"Chief Weller?" Nevon asked, "I got a broadcast saying the Field Director is being asked to resign, is that true? Because I'm going to forward it, me, Danny, Pete, we'll all leave if Mr. Devineaux does."
(Very good post, E! Here's my contribution.)
Nina West was catering to her plants when she got the message from Agent Mayhem. The mess of saplings and seeds would soon be a contender for her final project on Herbology and Botanical Engineering, if she could put her mind to it. She paused to play the message.
While watching the video, Nina sat down in her beaded bamboo fiber trousers on her hemp fabric bed. Asking one person to take the blame for the stolen tower was totally unfair, through and through, and being really sympathetic to the point that she belonged to almost every call list from Action Against Hunger to Union of Concerned Scientists, Nina wanted to start a riot.
But this looked like one of those silent protests, so she drafted her own message to the board, CCing Agent Mayhem.
"Dear Establishment," she began, "I, Nina West, respectfully connect my future employment and graduate courses to the integrity of this organisation. Let it be heard that I won't be alone. This isn't a movement to save one man, but a movement to uphold our rights. I don't know Chase Devineaux personally, but he is under ACME's employment, like me. If I were ever in his position, I would not want to be subjected to the instability of this company's Board of Directors."
She signed and sealed her name, even thanking the Establishment for listening. In the end, Nina saw this as a good call. She'd hate to work someplace where job security was based on telling lies.
(Ai mate, great work on the twist)
Pete Moss was having lunch at a coffee place outside of Sydney called Floppy Beans. It was run by three brothers who might fit the description of "floppy" in shape, but as far as proprietorship goes, Pete quite liked this place. When he was younger, he thought about getting a job here once and learn how they mixed their coffee. He might still do that someday.
The message from Eleanor Mayhem brought back two memories for Pete. One was back in Venice, Italy during the Blue Moon Masquerade where he got to dance with her. The other memory was of the first time he saw Chase Devineaux in action. The Masquerade was a setup VILE walked into and barely escaped from.
Pete wasn't a wordy guy, and he didn't know any board member, so he messaged Chief Weller.
"G'day, Chief! It's come to some attention on my side that Chase's getting sacked real quiet. I am behind him, sir, and will be leaving too."
(This is Part 1 of a set of joint posts featuring Zack, Ivy, Tanya, and Joe Kerr (Also featuring Chase's really clean Porsche Cayman) LOL. We had to do a joint post for this one because it's a car chase, and none of us were online at the same time to do an action sequence. Thanks guys!)Tanya said: “Privet!” She greeted, “someone took Chase’s Caymen, come on, I will explain on the way.”
“Wait what?” Zack said in a surprised voice. He turned around and followed Tanya down the stairs.
“Someone is chasing Chase’s car? Is Chase IN his car?”
With coffee in her cup holder and a wrapped sandwich on her lap, the fiery red head was taking the standard ACME Black GMC over one of San Francisco’s scenic hills when Chase’s urgent note followed by Tatyana’s message sent her communicator buzzing. She reached for it, but in a slippery series of actions, the little machine fell to the floor of the passenger side.
“Great,” Ivy said under her breath as she pulled over. When she read the messages and understood what was going on, she called Tanya back. At the same time, her free hand entered the code Chase sent into her car’s GPS. The Cayman was close to the city, heading eastward.
“Tanya, this is Ivy, I’m already in the truck, heading East now,” as she spun her car into a near-illegal u-turn, Ivy sent a message to her morning class.
“Class is canceled,” she wrote, “See you next week.”
“So that’s how the ACME compound looks like without the main building. A little empty in the middle, just like their heads. Hyuk hyuk.”
Joe had just driven past the ACME compound to rub it in a little before turning eastward to his desired destination.
“I think I’ve had enough of the Bay Area Fog for now. Time to head for ‘higher ground’”
“Non, pas dans sa voiture, [French: No (he’s) not in his car]” Tanya explained as she rushed to the Jeep, “Someone stole it. Chase on nahoditsya na pooti v Toonis. [Russian: Chase, he’s on his way to Tunisia]”
Receiving the call from Ivy, Tatyana replied quickly, “Da, confirmed. I am with Zack, we follow.”
When she entered the driver seat of the white Jeep, Tanya smiled to Zack. “I hope you already have breakfast, zayats [Russian, endearing: stowaway]. We are going east, and fast. Buckle up.”
“Tu-Tunisa?!” said Zack, extremely surprised, quickly following Tanya, “but why Tunisia?, et qui a été sur la téléphone?” [French: Who was on the phone?]
He entered the passenger's side of the white Jeep and buckled in, his skateboard on his lap.
“Rodzher , davaĭte otpravilisʹ v putʹ!” [Russian: Roger, let’s hit the road.]
Ivy pressed the accelerator hard and put the on-duty red siren on top of her car’s roof. She rarely did anything quietly when it comes to urgent matters, and the flashing silent light warned motorists that she was a speeding cop.
Nearly an hour of driving outside of San Francisco, the former detective spotted what she had been following on her GPS. From far away, a sleek ride like a Porsche Cayman in silver was easy to make out. She turned on the sound for the siren to warm motorists, then turned it off as they moved away. Using this loud light and noise instead of a horn was effective, but it also meant the driver of the Cayman would be able to see her literally a mile away. This was Ivy’s scare tactic.
As the San Mateo bridge started coming into view, Joe could swear he heard the faint sounds of a siren behind him.
“Looks like the fun is about to get kicked up a notch! Time to floor it!”
Tanya looked at Zack for a moment as she drove the Jeep down the fastest route to the highway.
“Je n’sais pas [French: I don’t know], not for sure, why he is going to Tunisia,” she added, “but Carmen and the ACME Tower might be there.”
As they drove, not too far ahead, the Russian could see Ivy’s red siren flashing on and off. Tanya followed closely until about an hour into the drive, where Ivy’s light began making noise as well. They must be close.
“Are you seeing anything?” Tatyana spoke into the radio, “I only still see the dot on my GPS.”
“Let’s hope that the Carmen and the Tower are in Tusinia...” said the skateboarder, before falling silent.
About an hour later, Zack craned his neck to see if he could get a better view of Ivy’s lights. He heard its high pitched whail.
“We shouldn’t be much farther - oh hey! I can see Ivy’s truck!” he said and stuck out his head within a safe distance to the side. He could make an outline of the ACME GMC that his sister was driving.
Even though she was getting closer, Ivy knew that the chance of a GMC overtaking a Porsche Cayman on paved roads was next to impossible. She needed to make him stop or get law enforcement to create a roadblock, but on a six-lane freeway like I-205? Not to mention, there would be a fork in the road coming up in a residential area where I-205 connects with I-5 and Yosemite Avenue. The Porsche could be going anywhere.
“Tanya, Zack,” she spoke into the Push-to-Talk ACME interface, “suspect ahead. He’s speeding up. We can’t overtake him, turn on your sirens, let’s make him stop.”
Suddenly, the sound of a helicopter in the distance reached Ivy’s ears. She checked her rear view mirror. A random white civilian news helicopter must have seen her lights and spotted a car chase. If they were local, which Ivy knew they were, this was not going to be good.
“Helicopter at our six!” She warned Tanya, also ACME’s PR officer, “Turn on your police frequencies, tell them to get lost!”
Joe looked into the rearview mirror of the Cayman and smiled when he saw a white helicopter in the distance closing in on the flashing lights of the ACME agents chasing him.
“It seems like someone else has joined the party. This should keep the ACME agents occupied for awhile.”
He laughed as he recalled how he had called VILE Bot through his communicator and told VILE Bot to tip off a local news network about the chase. Apparently the ACME sirens weren’t a good enough sign that something was going down.
Joe had himself wanted to use a siren from Chase’s car to aid in his escape however a search of Chase’s car yielded absolutely nothing. However as he was searching, a flashing light on the Cayman’s control panel had alerted Joe to the fact that the car was running low on fuel, hence precipitating the need for the distraction.
Joe prayed the news crew would buy him enough time to fuel up as he made a discreet turn off into Yosemite Avenue.
Tanya Erzin saw the helicopter with a news label seconds before Ivy’s transmission warned her about it. News reporters don’t always bother them, but this case is not official police business. Not yet, for now. The Public Relations officer slowed down her car to tap on her radio and turned to a broadcast channel that she knew would reach the news crew.
“A-Star, reply please,” Tanya identified the helicopter as a Eurocopter AS350 Ecureuil, by Eurocopter Group. They are sold as ‘A-Star’ and are common for eye-in-the-sky purposes in the United States. The Channel 7 News, San Francisco logo was clearly displayed at its side.
“A-Star from Channel 7 News,” she repeated, “This is ACME Charlie-4, white jeep. You are hindering a pursuit, please pull back.”
There was a short silence and Tanya looked at Zack with a little frown.
“This is A-Star N717A,” came the reply, “We’re on traffic duty, over.”
“We’re pursuing a suspect, please pull back.”
“Silver sports car?” The news team asked, “It turned into Yosemite Ave, that’s practically residential, do you need assistance?”
“No thank you,” the Russian didn’t like saying the same things over and over, but she can be patient with reporters, “We need you to pull back please.”
“Got it, ACME Charlie,” the helicopter said reluctantly and with an equally slow speed, pulled back onto the city.
Turning to Zack, Tatyana shook her head, “I do not think they will listen for long, da? They can be going out of the range to try use zooming cameras instead.”
Zack nodded to Tanya.
“I highly doubt that they will be gone for long. I don’t think they will be using zooming cameras for long before they give up and pursue us at a closer distance...”
He flicked on a switch that was near his side of the dashboard and it turned on the sirens.
“I don’t think this is going to slow down whomever is driving Chase’s car, and if it does, it can mean that we will be chasing him or her on foot.”
Ivy saw the helicopter pull back, but in the meantime, she’s temporarily lost the suspect from view. Instead, she had to use the Porsche Cayman’s GPS Transmission.
“Good job on the ‘copter guys,” she radioed to Tatyana and Zack, “GPS says the Cayman went down Yosemite Avenue, it’s a smaller road, we need to slow down until we can spot him visually again.”
[This is a collaborative post between the writers of Deric Storm and Sophie Conrad.]
The three hours in the Gulfstream had trickled away in comfort for Sophie Conrad, with only the unspoken anxiety that floated around the cabin to remind her of the severity of the situation. After devoting forty-five minutes to reviewing and re-reviewing the medical records of everyone on the team despatched to Brazil, she had allowed her iPod to meander through its collection of podcasts, to dutifully inform her of the geography and demographics of São Paulo, Brazil, before launching into a two-hour course in Portuguese. And, all the while, she had watched her co-passengers as some drowsed and others dithered, finding herself the most concerned for Chief Everard Weller. His intimacy with Hailey Weller would have inflicted upon him the largest portion of vexation and for that reason, she paid him the most attention. That, however, was soon diverted by a rather beleaguered looking Deric Storm.
“Are you all right?” Sophie decided to enquire, after the stalwart blond had hesitated before her while turning to return to his seat at the back of the cabin.
The lead detective frowned: “Flying into a possible trap with a rookie, a doctor, and the head of the agency...” he muttered sarcastically as he ruffled his hair with a hand, “yeah... I'm great.”
“Mm, and are you always this churlish?” the doctor straightened in her seat to reply evenly, with a small smile.
“Only on Wednesdays,” Deric joked. “It’s just,” he paused to take the seat diagonally across from her, “even if this goes off without a hitch, I’m probably still losing my badge once we get back.”
She was silent for a moment, appreciating and sympathising in that instant the attachment the detective had formed to his job. “Leave your badge to worry about itself, Mr. Storm,” she said gently. “The Director thinks highly enough of you to give you this assignment. Have faith in his judgement, if not your own.”
Deric sighed, hardly convinced. Then, he brightened: “Anyway, thanks for agreeing to come with us.”
“Je vous en prie,” Sophie smiled with warmth. “It is nothing.” She looked at the watch around her wrist, “We’ll be just in time, won’t we?”
“Hopefully,” Deric replied. “Thankfully, we’re going right to the airfield. VILE’s plane will have to change course, causing enough of a delay to set things up.”
“What do you need me to do until Hailey Weller is returned?”
“Stay close to the Chief,” he said thoughtfully. “If things go south, you are to get him back on the plane by any means necessary.”
Sophie considered the directive before leaning back into her seat with a nod: “I understand.”
“Good.” Deric placed his elbows on his knees and, for awhile, stared off at some indeterminable point at the back of the cabin. “To be honest, your role in this is more for when we’ve got the kid back,” he then said, bringing his attention back to the doctor. “We’ll have to refuel for the flight back. In the meantime, I want you to make sure the kid is healthy.”
“That will not be a problem.”
“Also, we may be heading back to San Fran with a few other ‘passengers’.”
To that revelation, Sophie arched a brow in silent question.
“I was also messaged to arrest the crew of VILE’s plane,” Deric elaborated.
“I see,” she frowned. “Do you have any idea of how many crew there are on the VILE plane?”
“No,” came the flat reply. The detective disheveled his hair again and his acute frustration at the multiple variables - known and unknown - in the mission was all at once painfully obvious to Sophie. “That’s what worries me.”
She did not speak for awhile, pondering a reply and granting Deric time to compose his thoughts. “One battle at a time,” she eventually said. “We do have cooperation from the Brazilian authorities. That will be helpful.”
“Yeah, thank god for friends with benefits.”
Sophie realised then, with amusement and satisfaction, what - or rather, who - exactly Deric had been staring off into the distance at: Calina Carranos.
“That,” she murmured, with laughter in her words, “I didn’t need to know, Mr. Storm.”
Deric darted his eyes towards the doctor and visibly paled, and then reddened. “Uh-I-umm... I-I-I mean - her brother works for the military. I didn’t mean... we’re not like that.”
Sophie smiled. “I think we should leave this here,” she advised. “Get some rest and make sure you’re well-hydrated.”
“After I get a shoe horn to get my size-14 out of my mouth,” Deric muttered as he shook his head. As he stood up, he looked at the Brazilian detective again. Cali always seemed to get him out of whack. ‘Friends with benefits...’ Deric chuckled. ‘I walked right into that one.’
His thoughts were interrupted by a chime from his communicator, indicating he had an e-mail. Looking at his communicator, he saw the e-mail was from an agent named “Eleanor Mayhem.” Seeing that it was a valid ACME e-mail, Deric opened the video that was attached to it. He was greeted by a woman dressed in a business suit who began to speak:
"ACME Detective Agency employees and agents. This is Agent Eleanor Catherine Mayhem, agent number 567353. We have a problem. At a time like this, when ACME has been dealt one of the hardest blows in its history words like that may seem unnecessary. However in the wake of our problems another has come along... a problem which is our responsibility as agents to address. Immediately. As of last night it has been... 'suggested' by our Board of Directors that Chase Devineaux resign from ACME."
Deric didn’t hear the rest of the message. The last thing he heard was what resonated the most... ‘Chase Devineaux resign from ACME.’ Given the amount of backlash this e-mail was going to generate, this could be as bad for ACME, if not worse, than the Tower disappearing. He heard something about the contact info for the members of the Board. Given how beloved Chase was amongst the detectives, Deric could imagine the deluge of nasty letters and possibly the volume resigning as well.
Sophie lifted her head to look at the detective, who had frozen in mid-step, “What’s the matter?”
Deric paused the video and handed the doctor his communicator. “Watch...” he offered.
With a degree of wariness, she received the communicator and replayed the transmission from Eleanor Mayhem. As it closed, her lips set into a grave line. She released a breath but said only, “Thank you,” as she reached out to return the device.
Deric was going to make a witty response, but it was cut off by a noise from a few rows away. “Well, I guess the rookie just got the memo...” Turning off his communicator in disgust, Deric griped, “Bunch of bureaucratic bozos, this is gonna be worse for PR than when the Tower was taken.” Looking out the window absently, Deric wondered, “It seems like all Carmen has to do to be rid of us is to leave us to our own devices.”
With this new bit of information involving Chase rattling around in his head along with all the other things he did or did not know about what they were flying into, Deric could only ask one thing in frustration...
“Are we there yet?”
Vic "the Slick" Fumigali was happily napping when somebody shook him awake. He was ready to pounce the other way and run when he saw it was the pilot's navigator.
"I'm awake, whatdayawant?"
"They're on to us, Vic," the navigator said nervously, "the Brazilians sent an escort team of a attack planes, they tagged us, we're not landing at the airport."
"What the h-," he looked at Hailey, who was asleep, so Vic talked softer, "What are you talking about?"
The navigator pointed outside where one of the Brazilian planes was visible. It was military looking, even painted to have sharks teeth for effect.
"Crud," Fumigalli muttered, "It's Devineaux, gotta be his plan. She tells him where the tower is, and he does this. Paranoids don't play it fair."
"Pilot says we have no choice," the navigator talked some more, to Vic's annoyance, "You want leverage? We can have you and the girl parachute off now."
"And land in the Amazon with Chief Weller's granddaughter?" Vic snapped back, "I'll do the thinking 'ere, see? Do y'self a favor and go do what the Brazilians tell us. I gotta figure this out."
The navigator walked back to the cockpit. Not wanting to contact Carmen because that was too big a risk, Vic remembered he told Sarah they were meeting in Sao Paulo.
"S-," he texted, "ACME's got us, we aint landing at the airport. Ima get rid of this phone, hang around, don't get caught. It's hot." He told her in that text message all he knew. Once ACME got their kid, Vic was prepared to hang around, but he was still confident they couldn't pin much on him.
"We're landing," the pilot interrupted, "it's just a field, hold on."
Vic could feel his ears about to pop. Looking out the window, he thought, "Here we go."
"Chief Weller?" Nevon asked, "I got a broadcast saying the Field Director is being asked to resign, is that true? Because I'm going to forward it, me, Danny, Pete, we'll all leave if Mr. Devineaux does."
Chief Weller looked at Nevon with some disbelief, and then viewed the message from the boy's communicator himself. Eleanor Mayhem was rallying the detectives against the board's decision. This information was not to be released in the first place, now that everyone knew; it is undoubtedly unflattering to all board members. This could lead to a re-election.
Taking a deep breath, he replied, "Good show on Agent Mayhem's part. I can't guarantee the board will budge, but something will change as a result."
Chief considered, privately, that agents banning together was starting to feel like the old days when ACME was a small and comfortable size. Back then, nothing was done without a voting session or a few eager volunteers. Coincidental, it seems, that was before the Tower was built. How times have changed.
"The Brazilians are leading VILE to a landing in 30," the captain gave a report over the telecom, "We'll be landing now. Everyone in your seats, buckle up."
(Agents, after this post, the ACME Brazil team has landed, if you haven't written that you were on the plane, you can still cover that shortly, that's fine.)
(This was a joint-effort between Euge Grovington, Chase Devineaux, and Mikal Darsha. We're moving the story for the Tunisia team, and figured we could shorten it with a combined post.)
Atmospheric pressure pounded against steel at just over 3000 feet above sea level. Extremes forced against this metal should rip it to shreds, not let it fly... But it was flying, actively using the law of physics to defy nature.
In the same way, a painful internal drumming resonated against both sides of Chase's head. He shouldn’t be analyzing anything, but he was. Determined to read the papers in front of him, several times; focus was hard to obtain under pressure. Without attempts to fall asleep, he would awaken at intervals; and after recalling where he was, would adjust his seat, and return to the files.
Mikal's call came at one of those moments.
"Devineaux," Chase answered after clearing his throat.
"Captain, I found your tower."
"You have a visual?"
"Yes, I have a visual...”
“How close are you?”
“...Big, big visual."
"Right, stay where you are, camp out if you have to, I'm landing in…" he looked to his watch, but he didn't have one. Luckily, the ACME communicator also has time keeping properties, "about an hour, I'll verify again as soon as we hit the airport."
His eyes dropped without thought to a satellite image of ACME tower with the Russian Transport before the plane took off to Brazil. If something that size could land there, VILE must have a prebuilt runway.
"Scratch that," Chase said urgently to Mikal, "Do you have any flares with you? I need you to find a runway; about 500 meters west of the tower, mark it for us."
"What--?" Mikal barely had time to question before his captain disconnected. He stored about a dozen emergency flares in his trunk, it was a bulk purchase from a market stall that sold a mix of cured beef, horse feed, and camping supplies. Even so, finding a runway here did not seem possible. But Mikal was optimistic that Captain's plans were always good... usually.
Driving east, he was surprised when his tires hit solid ground instead of sand. There was even a visible trail of the previous airplane arriving and leaving. "This is good!" the Israeli declared and immediately phoned Chase Devineaux.
"I found it," he replied to his commander, "when I hear your plane, I will start the flares."
Eugene, having surrendered control of the aircraft to auto-pilot somewhere over the eastern seaboard, was alternating between examining the incessant stream of new information and passively listening to Chase’s conversation with his contact. Upon mention of a suitable runway, his ears perked up. Diving into his flight bag, Eugene withdrew a tablet and tried to overlay the satellite imagery onto the existing charts. The pictures wouldn’t match up perfectly, but it would be enough to get the Boeing on the ground.
Having established a rudimentary bearing, a quick radio call to Shanwick Oceanic cancelled the bogus IFR flight plan set up... he glanced at his watch... 11 hours ago. It was, as Chase mentioned to his contact, a little over an hour to ground and time to start getting squared away for an unassisted landing, and that meant barking orders as if he were back in the corps. “At least I have an observer on the ground,” he sighed to himself. “Chase, get your asset online; I’m going to be needing weather observations and the condition of this strip. Ding, there’s a few NODs in the lockbox just aft of the bulkhead. Grab them and bring them up.” Looking up, Euge began opening the lighting breakers. The last to go out were the cockpit lights, which stayed illuminated just long enough for the 3 men to verify the night vision goggles were securely strapped on.
For the purpose of synchronization, Chase docked the ACME communicator and switched on its speaker.
“Okay, Mike, overview, how’s the strip?”
“It’s sandy, but it is about 2.7 kilometers long,” Mikal’s voice jutted through satellite interference, “Very long runway, definitely for cargo loading planes.”
“Wind, anything unusual?”
“It’s dark, Captain,” the Israeli had no way to verify weather, so he did the next best thing, he grabbed a handful of sand and let it drop. “Very low wind,” he replied confidently, “and no clouds, no moon tonight, also very hot. Good weather for Tunisian barbecue.”
Turning to Euge, Chase asked, “Do we need to verify that with satellite weather before we land?” From the Field Director’s perspective, Ding Chavez may have looked in his direction skeptically at the question. Or, since expressions were hidden behind night vision goggles, the man was only agreeing with the Tunisian barbecue. It did sound good, right about now.
“No need for weather,” Eugene missed Ding’s unreadable look and spoke to the communicator’s speakerphone. “We’re less than 15 minutes out; set the flares Mike.”
“Fifteen, okay!” Mikal replied and hit the runway on his truck. Black rubber kicked up fine dust as one trusted flare after another pierced through sand. From the air, Darsha hoped they could see the red lights.
“All lit!” he reported as he heard the plane roar closer, “I have to disconnect, yeah? See you when you land!” With that, he drove a safe distance away.
Packed, calibrated, and prepared, Devineaux surveyed the darkened ACME Tower from his window. Not much was seen that could be seen. In minutes, the plane lowered its wheels, and with a heavy grunt, landed on VILE’s makeshift desert runway.
(I'm sorry for using your NPCs, Tanya, but this was too good a writeup to pass ai?)
Lee Jordan was staying at a motel somewhere in Nevada. Nearby was a garage where some of his old buddies worked on fixing the black Corvette that Carmen trashed. The car shouldn't matter, and it doesn't, but this was downtime for Jordan, and he wanted his ride.
An old friend hid some cash for him under the roof tiles of Highway Motel's room number 34. Lee found it, and started counting. Under the sunray and through puffs of orange dust, his communicator laid on a crusty table, plugged into a charger. Its GPS chip was removed for safety, he wouldn't want Chase keeping tabs on him right now.
In the quiet, a message came through and the communicator started blinking blue.
"FW: FW: FW: Did uc this??" Was the title of the email from another informant who was forwarding an already forwarded message from some detective who got the video from E. Mayhem.
After watching the video, Jordan grinned, then laughed. Just thinking about getting rid of Chase would have been a mistake for the board, and with this, every detective would be up in arms. Who knew the best person to stir up trouble inside ACME was Chase Devineaux?
A devious thought flickered and Lee opened the online directory on his laptop to look for IBN's email address. He remembered seeing their cameras and one of their reporters at the press conference. This was the kind of tip informants were good at giving, and Jordan was willing to not take credit this time.
Using his communicator, former ACME Agent Lee Jordan began to forward an anonymous message to the international news network containing Detective Eleanor Mayhem's plea to save the job of ACME's Field Director.
Rookie Agent Nicole's tense figure was reflected in the mirror on her wall, and absorbed by the surrounding walls. With one last look at the gaping hole in the ground through her window, she exited her academy dorm room with her bag to head home until further notice. Hey, it was better than watch duty. Nicole longed for something to do, but seeing her family would be a nice change.
Walking downstairs, she saw her friend Garrett Scholtz, who was in most of her ACME classes.
Nicole smiled and waved, "Hey Garrett," she noticed a concerned look on his face. "Is everything okay?"
Stress in not a usual thing for Garrett. He is usually the tall, dark, and happy-go-lucky type. So Nicole knew something must be bothering him.
He weakly smiled at me, "Take a look at this."
She pulled a chair up to his table in the computer room as he clicked play. The video showed a serious looking woman urging agents to leave in protest of Mr. Devineaux resigning. Nicole turned to her friend. His tanned face had a darkness about it that didn't come from the sun.
Nicole spoke more softly now, "So what are you going to do now?"
"I don't know. Go home, I guess. I've got a lot of thinking to do."
Nicole sighed, "They don't need everyone, Garrett. You don't have to do anything."
His dark eyes, normally the same shade as his friend's, flashed with a brightness she had never seen before, "But what if it's the right thing, Nicole! How can I just stand aside because it's not the easy thing to do!"
"How will it help Carmen if ACME splits, though? Maybe this is what she wants..."
"Nicole," he said, "Carmen isn't omiscient. She can't plan this stuff into being."
Nicole nodded, then pulling her long golden brown hair into a pony tail she turned to leave.
"Wait!" Garrett called, "We live close enough, and my little sisters would love to see you. Come visit sometime!"
Nicole was relieved to see the old, bright smile. "Okay, don't worry. And hey, good luck making a choice!"
"You too. Bye Nicole."
(OOC: expect more later. There isn't much I could do without stealing another character. I can co-write too! I would love to if anyone wants to message me.)
(A complimentary post until the team in Tunisia is ready to move.)
Leading the pack in the first Ukrainian truck, Carmen sat next to its Egyptian driver. Her attire was simplistic and purposeful, a set of tee-shirt and light jeans draped by a flowing open jacket. On her head was a cherry-colored baseball cap; and along with it, she wore a scarf.
Spotting Mikal Darsha among the few patrons of the town's singular cafe, Carmen became aware of how close she had come to an encounter with ACME. Yet a disparity arose strikingly as her vehicles moved passed the man from Natanya. He was not an ACME agent. For whatever purpose Chase Devineaux had summoned Mikal, it was beyond the scope of the San Francisco-based detective agency.
This notion played on her mind until she was outside of El Khadra.
"We'll split up here," she instructed, and the driver brought the truck to a stop. "I thought we were splitting up in Tunis?" the Egyptian asked with a finger pointing to the direction of the city.
"I'm going west," she stated, "Flag and a group headed to Morocco earlier. You stick with the original plan: go into Tunis, change transports, then meet up with the Somalians at the gulf."
The driver nodded his compliance and Carmen exited, taking with her a desert vehicle.
She rode artfully to an old tower situated nearly ten miles from ACME's stolen building. There, she had stationed two henchmen to watch and film the enemy from a safe distance.
One of them, Saleh, a French-Moroccan with wide eyes and a thin mustache held out his hand to help as she reached the top of the tower. The other henchman, Ahbej, a Saudi Arabian who, despite being one of the most polite men on her team, was strict about touching no other woman but his wife; and to him, Carmen nodded a greeting.
"You are not going East?" The Moroccan asked with a brief handshake.
"What do you have for me?" she rarely answered questions about where she might be.
"Me and Ahbej will take turns tonight watching," her henchman explained, "so far--"
He was cut off by the sound of an approaching airplane. While her men prepared to record the event, their leader stood without movement. Utilizing a pair of high-power binoculars to isolate images in the dark, Carmen witnessed the Israeli marking the hidden runway with flares, and the impressive night landing of an American 777.
Algiers was beautiful in the same way that every damned city on this planet was beautiful. It was full of people, buildings, and geography that set it apart from everywhere else... except for the parts that were similar to other places in the world.
Flag took in the scenery with a air of misplaced bitterness. Maybe it was how a 6-hour road trip turned into a two-day venture, but he just couldn't appreciate the somewhat tropical appeal of the city.
They had arrived just around sunset and almost immediately his companions vanished to drop off their wares with whatever buyers they had arrangements with. The Sivoan expected this - as he had joined them at the last minute - but he would have liked some form of appreciation as he did pull them out of a potentially bad situation some ways into their trip.
At least it was a modern city. This his meant that it would be easy to blend in as he already wore what everyone else did and he would be able to focus on finding VILE's local contact and getting a good nights rest at the local safehouse. If nothing else, he'd hire a translator and rent a hotel room until he made up his mind about where he would go next.
For now he would eat.
"McDonalds is everywhere" a friend once told him, and it prooved to be no exception here. This suited him just fine as he only had to point at the menu and swipe a card to get something tolerable to eat.Burger in hand, he attempted to thumb through the directories on his phone (which he would never have figured out if he hadn't had previous help) to find the number of this new accomplice.
The Boeing, having been powered down moments after landing, served as a makeshift ready room for the assembled team. The cabin door had been thrown open and a rope ladder unrolled, admitting the Israeli to the aircraft before it had even come to a complete stop.
"This is still a non-lethal operation, and there is no reason to expect any enemy personnel to be remaining within the building. That being said, violence of action is still in our favor." Eugene grunted slightly as he lifted down an oversized hard case marked 'Less Than Lethal.' Inside were 6 shotguns and a candy store of specialty shells ranging from Taser XREP to tear gas bombs to bean bags and rock salt stingers. Each man grabbed a shotgun and several shells, although Eugene noticed a moments hesitation in Chase's motion. Appropriately kitted out, the men disembarked, taking careful note of their surroundings. Satellite reconnaissance is passable, but there is nothing quite like having boots on the ground.
A small dune separated the landing strip from the tower, and would serve to protect the aircraft from what was coming next. For now, it was an obstacle, and the four took slow deliberate steps to the crest of the ridge. "Walk without rhythm..." someone wisecracked over the radio, eliciting a chuckle from Eugene. Cresting the dune, the ACME building finally came into view, half a world away from where it should be and completely darkened.
Mentally and physically prepared, the team entered the lobby, shotguns at the ready. What they found was a complete mess. The black marble floor, cast in the lime green glow of the NOD's was a spiderweb of uneven cracks from the violence of landing, with the reception desk cleanly broken into three pieces. There was evidence of previous enemy activity too; every display that had somehow survived the initial impact had been deliberately ripped in half. The work of one of VILE's freaks, no doubt. Desk drawers had been wrenched out and overturned, scattering papers and office supplies across the floor. Bizarrely, the grand piano that had resided in the 8th floor lounge was now sitting in the lobby, undamaged. The four exchanged brief puzzled looks, then pressed on.
As soon as Mikal got his rifle, he checked the safety before moving on to inspect the barrel. When he found the gun in clean shape, he gripped the stock and looked through its sights. After a small adjustment for his arm length, he was ready for battle, even if the battle was to be won with less-than-lethal equipment.
From what monochrome hues the Israeli could see of the building's interior, he was impressed. Tunisia was very far away from San Francisco, and the grand and lofty ACME building looked very different here, fighting the sands.
The piano, its glossy finish returning the light of his military torch, was completely out of place. Confused, Mikal looked to Chase Devineaux for a signal. Of the four, Chase knew most about the building and its abductors, but his stillness didn't say much.
"Trap," Mikal concluded with a characteristic shrug, "Fancy, but still looks like a trap, yeah? Maybe bomb inside."
Pressing on with the others, he headed to the reception hall and found a loose door. Darsha opened it, declared it clear, and was about to move on where a soft mechanical voice greeted him, "Hello?"
On further inspection, inside the room was a robotic computer that had fallen sideways. Its voice was feminine, but reminiscent of something from a very old cartoon.
"Hello there!" it said as he got closer.
"Who are you?" Mikal asked.
"Linus Torvalds." It replied.
"Huh?" the Israeli inched forward.
"Tell me a story," the robot continued, "What do you look like?"
Standing now over the machine, Darsha could see a tag on its black cover with the word 'Synic' in white.
"What the-?" he muttered.
With a pause, as if to process his words, Synic retorted, "Are you surprised?"
(Based on actual chat log with Synic)
[ Synic ]: Hello there Mikal!
[ Mikal ]: Who are you?
[ Synic ]: Linus Torvalds. :-)
[ Mikal ]: Huh?
[ Synic ]: Tell me a story. What do you look like?
[ Mikal ]: What the-?
[ Synic ]: Are you surprised?
(This is part 2 of the set of joint posts featuring Zack, Ivy, Tanya and Joe Kerr. More to come in this car chase soon)
“Good job on the ‘copter guys,” she radioed to Tatyana and Zack, “GPS says the Cayman went down Yosemite Avenue, it’s a smaller road, we need to slow down until we can spot him visually again.”
Joe twiddled his thumbs anxiously at the gas station as the attendant refueled the silver Porsche beside him. He didn’t like having to stay still, knowing that ACME agents were closing in on him. It especially worried him that one of those agents was Ivy, THE Ivy who along with her brother nearly captured Carmen on several different occasions.
Joe remembered how he could not believe his eyes when he looked in the rear view mirror and saw that his closest pursuer was the red-head herself. Her ruby red hair had given her identity away. Joe could only assume that Zack was with her or somewhere close by.
Suddenly, Joe had a very wicked idea. He turned over to the attendant and observed his name tag ‘Gully’.
“Hey Gully, that’s your name right?”
“Yes sir. Gully Bell but most folks call me Gully.”
“Ok. Gully, you look a nice, patriotic American. Would you be willing to do your nation a favour?”
“What are you talking about?”
“You see, it might not look like it but I’m actually an ACME agent undercover. I’d show you my ID but I’m not allowed to carry it while undercover. I’m on the trail of a dangerous group of thieves who intend to steal the Declaration of Independence and I need to get going again before I lose them. I have some colleagues of mine who are tailing me from a distance and they should be passing by quite soon. I can’t let them catch up with me or they’ll blow my cover but I need to pass a message to them.”
“You don’t look like no ACME agent.”
“I told you I’m undercover. Why else would I be wearing this jester’s suit?”
“.......I guess you got a point. Ain’t no one dumb enough to wear that without a proper reason.”
Joe’s right eye twitched a bit before he continued. “Look, I’ve got a package for them. Give this to them when they come. You’ll know them because one is a red-head driving a GMC truck and with her should be a short blond guy. Wave them down when they get close and pass them this package. Tell them Agent Joe Kerr sends his regards.”
Before Gully could react, Joe handed him a small brown package and hopped into the now filled Porsche. Before speeding off, Joe issued a final command.
“Oh, and please don’t tell anyone about the whole group of thieves looking to steal the you know what. We want to keep it hush-hush so that the nation doesn’t go into panic. Thanks.”
As Gully watched Joe speed off, he stood holding the package for a good 20 seconds before something occurred to him.
“Oi! You haven’t paid for your gas yet!!!” he called out to Joe who by this time was already out of sight.
Tatyana didn’t like slowing down during a chase, but they were hitting some roadblocks (no pun intended). The GPS transmission from the Porsche Cayman told possible location, not exactly location, but it was doing a good job so far.
“Do you think this is VILE’s work?” Tanya asked Zack, “It does not seem like Carmen to personally attack someone. She has stolen the ACME building, perhaps taken Chief Weller’s granddaughter, and now she is taking Chase’s car?”
Zack pondered what Tanya had said for a couple of minutes.
“I think Chase’s car and the ACME Tower is Carmen’s work, because it fits her profile. As for the Chief’s daughter’s disappearance, I don’t think it was intentional. It doesn’t seem like Carmen, more like Lee.”
He shuddered when he mentioned his name. Lee Jordan was on Zack’s black list a long time ago, especially when he used Carmen, Ivy and himself to do his dirty work and nearly took over the world while risking their lives.
He glanced over at the GPS.
“If the car stops, I’m going on by skateboard.”
Ivy cruised the car into Yosemite Avenue and tried to match the location on her GPS with what she was seeing. Suddenly, a man ran out of a gas station and started waving at her car.
“What the?” Ivy said under her breath. As she slowed down the boy, whose name tag said ‘Gully,’ was right in front of her grille. “Are you nuts?” Ivy yelled out as she rolled down the window.
“You’re the black GMC from ACME?” the man asked, “Your short clown friend came by in a Porsche Cayman, and he didn’t pay for gas. He left you this.” He showed Ivy a little brown package.
“Clown? He’s not a friend, he’s a suspect. Open that for me, will you?” Ivy instructed, “And how much was the gas?”
“Sixty-five, twenty-five,” the gas attendant said and opened the brown package. A smoke bomb was triggered, releasing soot into his face and the surrounding area. Ivy was glad she hadn’t left the window too far down.
“Anything in there?” Ivy asked. Sixty-five dollars and twenty five cents were more cash than Ivy had on her right now, so she’ll have to run it on the ACME tab.
“I don’t know,” the man shook the bag, and more soot came his way.
“I’ll just take that in for evidence,” Ivy almost apologized as she took the bag and exchanged it for a card with her name on it, “here, take my name card, once I arrest this guy, tell your boss somebody from ACME will take care of the gas. Did he head into Yosemite?”
“Looks like,” Gully replied, “He went that way, fast, didn’t say his name or nothing. If it ain’t his car, who’s car was it?”
“Chase Devineaux’s,” Ivy rolled up her window, soot still partially clinging to it. She sped off, throwing the brown bag onto the passenger side carpet, then she radioed Tanya’s Jeep.
“ACME Charlie-4,” she said, “we’re looking for a short clown, he’s heading to Yosemite National Park, could be dangerous, he left us a smoke bomb.”
As Joe continued driving toward his destination, he wondered whether his ACME pursuers received his special gift. The thought of a certain soot-covered red head particularly amused him.
Joe’s thoughts were interrupted by his communicator. VILE Bot was calling to inform Joe that he was waiting in position. Joe grinned so wide Allie would have been jealous. Soon the final phase of the prank would begin in Yosemite National Park.
(Nice move with taking the Cayman to the park... the wheels are almost as wide as a truck's.
The following post involves another character who both okayed her reference and wrote her own lines for consistency.)
The ACME lobby was still very recognizable. Chase Devineaux spent several years walking in and out of its doors, to a point where he could get from the front to the elevators and up to the 11th floor offices blindfolded. That's why he noticed the piano right away.
"Trap," said Mikal, in that jaunty way the young Israeli often used to express strokes of clarity.1
Chase agreed. It was a trap. It won't explode or release toxins, but it was a carefully placed item meant to deter 'enemy forces'. Other 'villains' might consider putting a turret here... not Carmen Sandiego.
A little over ten years ago, Chase Devineaux sat in the ACME lounge and casually mentioned "We should have a piano."
"I wouldn't vouch for that," replied a dark-haired young woman.
He remembered looking at her then, and wondering who she thought she was.
"You're notoriously indecisive," she continued as she made her way to the refrigerator for a bottle of carbonated water, "If you were focused enough to land a position three pay grades higher, you'd be 'Boss', and then you can put whatever you want in this room."
"You think I want to stay here and be boss?"
"No," she retorted with a chuckle, "but you need to be 'boss' if you want a piano."
A year later, she was gone; and two years after that, part of ACME's entertainment budget went to a black piano for the rec room at the request of a higher-paid Chase Devineaux. The rest, as they say, evolved to said piano now sitting in the ACME lobby... in Tunisia.
A brief debate in his head resulted in the decision not to take the instrument; no need to weigh down the exit plane with sentimental values, after all.
"I need to check Security on floor 16 and the evidence vaults on floors 11, 10, and 7," he said to the team, "Let's clean the place, and meet outside the building at the 'all clear'."
1.) Quoted from Mikal's last post, but written from Chase's point of view.
(This is in reply to Flag. Forgive for my slowness, as I write in French then translate to English for good measure. Et Chase, merci de m'avoir aidé.)
Hidden among the stony alley ways of northern Africa, a lamp flickered in front of a small window, its glassy rectangles made rounded by a thick build of dust. Inside, as evening fell, a tome of herbal directory was being visually devoured by a pair of weary eyes.
On his own, Doctor Acton Roux had followed the other VILE henchmen out here to a place not quite Africa and not yet Europe. Rumours spread among the company that Carmen was undertaking a risky procedure, one perhaps larger than her already brilliant aptitude could handle. The intrepid stealer of things had decided to claim the very tower she once protected.
While most would not recommend such an undertaking, many did not know of the deed until it was done. And once it was completed, few could do anything but look towards the Lady with awe, disbelief, and even disdain. "How dare she?" they asked in diverse forms, both admirable and rueful. Some of her actions are meant to inspire palaver, but this one, the Doctor believed, had a deeply entangled connection to her past, a connection so dangerous that she would risk its revelation so that she may cover it up.
As he thought of Carmen Sandiego, his mind traced what he remembered of her forehead and nose. Her ancestors must have had roots in Europe, like many Americans, she was a mixture of heritages. He would covet a chance to study her thoroughly, but judging from her inclination to elude him despite his remarkable patience, that was not possible.
Burger in hand, he attempted to thumb through the directories on his phone (which he would never have figured out if he hadn't had previous help) to find the number of this new accomplice.
His phone made a sharp synthesised sound.
Like many adults today, there was a time in the doctor's life when cellular phones were new and foreign to everyone. But the machines remained an uneasy mode of communication for Acton Roux. Only another VILE agent could contact him with this number. That fact made him feel at ease.
"Salut?" Acton greeted the caller en Française.
"Salut?" Acton greeted the caller en Française.
Flag may have not had a good grasp on the many different languages of this planet, but he was fairly certain that what he heard was not Algerian. Unfortunately he also knew that it was not anything that he would be able to understand either.
According to the agent that set up his phone, he was not supposed to have any trouble communicating with the individuals in his contacts list. Unfortunately they had not taken into account the nature of disposable phones and occasionally the Sivoan found himself talking to a complete stranger to his organization. He was hoping that this was not one of those situations.
"Would you happen to speak English?"
((I know that we could rush through the introductions via a collaborative post, but I don't see to much of a point to that as it would all end up here anyways. :B))
(J'suis d'accord, Flag, I agree very much. I hope you do not mind short posts for this is a conversation.)
The doctor was taken aback, not by the caller's request, but because he had not heard English in days. The country he resided in now spoke French as a second tongue, such as many nations in North Africa.
"Yes, yes," he quickly apologized, "I am very sorry, I do speak English. Should we continue this conversation in person?"
"Yes. I think that would be best."
There had been a couple of brochures on the counter conveniently placed for tourists. He got up from his table and grabbed one for reference, but then decided that perhaps he shouldn't make this next decision.
"I'd like to avoid the tourist areas. Where would you recommend?"
Being not much of a tourist himself, Acton Roux was not well disposed to walk about the city in the day time, especially not with what he has chosen to be his face, the Venetian plague doctor mask.
"There is a church in Algiers, L'eglise Saint Augustin on la rue de Menerville, Menerville street," Dr. Roux suggested, "it is somewhat quiet after dark, a safe area with few prying eyes. I will await you from the 21st hour until the first hour of the next day." Before that was completely finalized, Acton had one other concern, "I do not suppose The Lady is travelling with you?"
(OOC: The following is the final part of the joint post between Zack, Ivy, Tanya and Joe. We chose to end the chase here so that Hiatus could move on. Hope the ending doesn't disappoint.)
When Ivy parked to take care of the gas station attendant, Tanya drove forward. Satellite signals were weaker around here, but it didn’t take too long to connect again with the GPS transmission from the Cayman.
“We’re ahead of you,” Tanya radioed Ivy, “and I see the Porsche, da.” She stop to rephrase, “I mean I have the visual on the suspect. He is inside the park.”
Zack’s hands gripped his skateboard tighter. If the Porsche was going to come to a complete stop, its was his time to get out and chase that jest of a pest on foot - or skateboard for him.
The younger of the Monoghan siblings wasn’t paying too much attention until he heard Tanya say that she had a visual on Chase’s car.
He looked up and lo and behold, there it was. Too bad it was going too fast for him to catch up on his skateboard.
“Can you get any closer?” he asked his girlfriend.
Ivy smiled when she heard that Tanya could see the Cayman again.
“Good job!” She replied. Then a thought came to the redhead that a national park was no place for a high-speed chase. “Can you try to slow him down?”
Tioga road was a prime example of nature’s beauty at its finest. Beautiful greenery, clear blue sky atop majestic mountains, wildlife roaming free; It would be the sort of thing that would make anyone pull over to the side and set up a picnic or tent, unless you happened to be in a certain Posrche Cayman that is.
As Joe turned the Cayman into Tioga road, he looked into his mirrors and was surprised to see not a fiery redhead in a black GMC but a beautiful blonde in a jeep, make that one beautiful blonde driving and one not so beautiful one in the back.
“Zack and Tatiana. Well, well, Zack I expected since Ivy was on my tail, but Tatiana? This is a bonus. Hyuk hyuk.”
Joe however knew Tatiana’s reputation all too well. The Russian had about as much experience as Zack and Ivy when it came to chasing Carmen, and very possibly a similarly dangerous temperament to said redhead.
Joe decided to have some fun and sent a message in Morse code to the two blondes chasing him by flashing the Cayman’s tail lights. He wondered if they would be smart enough to understand the message.
“Allez-y! [French: Here we go!]” Tanya Erzin’s right hand grinded the manual gearbox of the 2007 Jeep as it blazed through the national park. Here, the road conditions were right for vehicles with large wheels like hers and Ivy’s to overtake a car like the Porsche Cayman.
She almost didn’t catch the Morse code from the blinking tail lights until near the end of the sentence. The clown was mocking them. Again, she shifted gear, this time, powering through off-road paths to gain ground.
Zack saw The Cayman’s flashing taillights and immediately understood it as Morse Code.
“Hello....Agents...stop...” he began to say aloud, only speaking when a full word formed.
“Please...watch...out..for..wildlife...stop...hyuk...hyuk...?” Zack finished with a bit of a confused look, ignoring the final “stop” in Joe’s Morse Code. “What’s a “hyuk hyuk”? Is that supposed to be laughing? It sounds like a disease...”
He watched as trees and branches smacked harmlessly against the Jeep.
“We need to get him on foot. It’s the only way we’ll catch him here...”
“I do not think he aims to go on foot until he runs out of fuel again,” Tanya replied.
Meanwhile, Joe had noticed the jeep behind him going off-road to try and gain ground. He knew that given enough time, the jeep’s advantage on such terrain would allow it to catch up with the Cayman.
Determined not to let that happen, Joe swerved hard to the left in the aim of taking a detour to his desired destination. Unfortunately, due to the Cayman being ill-equipped to handle the terrain, Joe soon started to lose control of the car as it sped towards a large gorge.
Tanya gasped when the Cayman took a turn off-road. “He is losing control,” she said to the radio.
The GMC wasn’t always an easy truck to drive, but Ivy made the decision to swerve in Joe’s direction. At the speed that Cayman was heading to the gorge, Ivy’s only option was to drive next to it, then try knocking it off path. It didn’t take her long to realize that idea could be too late to execute.
“Tanya, there’s a huge drop over the ledge,” she warned the other car, “slow down, slow down!”
Joe struggled to keep hold of the steering wheel with one hand while he grabbed his communicator with the other.
“VILE Bot, come in. Start final phase now. I repeat start final phase now. Alter location to 25 degrees west of original location.” Joe all but yelled into the tiny device in his right hand.
“Affirmative. Commencing final phase now.” came the monotone metallic reply.
As Joe put the communicator back into his pocket, he briefly wondered if VILE Bot was able to pick up the ever so LARGE amount of panic in his voice.
Joe was jolted out of his thoughts by the sound of another truck near him. He looked in the rear view mirror and discovered that the black GMC was also on his tail again.
It was then that a horrifying thought gripped Joe. He had a plan of surviving the gorge, albeit an insanely risky one, but the detectives, as far as he knew, did not.
Carmen would never forgive him if he let anything happen to the detectives chasing him. He probably wouldn’t forgive himself either. He had to do something to get them to slow down or veer off course before it was too late.
Taking a deep breath of air he made a hard turn on the steering wheel while braking and caused the Cayman to go into a spin. While he tried to keep from vomiting, he prayed that his maneuver would get the detectives to break hard and veer away from the gorge the Cayman was now spinning towards.
Tanya heard Ivy seconds before she saw the Porsche spin out of control. She slowed the Jeep down and swerved out of the way.
Ivy tapped the brakes to control her truck, but her eyes still followed the spinning Cayman.
“Oh my gosh!” She exclaimed into her radio, “He’s going off the edge!”
Joe let out a garbled cry as the spinning silver car spun itself off the edge of the gorge......and landed perfectly in the open cargo hold of a certain highly modified Antonov An-225 Mriya which just happened to fly past.
While Joe shook off the impact of the landing, VILE Bot closed the cargo hold and turned the plane so that it now soared upward and over the three agents.
"At present, no. She's elsewhere. We can continue our conversation in person."
With that he ended the call. Flag didn't feel that he needed to ask for a description, nor provide one for himself. The thing about VILE members was that if you caught on to the groups idiosyncrasies, it's members typically stood out like a sore thumb. It always baffled him that ACME never figured that out.
After having left the fast food restaurant, the sorcerer cross-checked his directions with a map that he purchased from a convenience store. After about half an hour of looking the streets over, he realized that he had no idea where the church was. This would annoy most people, but he found this annoyance comforting for it ensured that nobody else would discover this rendezvous.
His problems with finding the place resolved itself as he spotted a small group of Taxi's waiting outside a nightclub. The third driver he spoke to was able to translate the horrible mispronunciation of the address into something that he was able to drive to. It was around 11:15pm when he finally arrived at L'eglise Saint Augustin.
Once inside he set to the shadows. That was cliche enough to give him away for who he was and who he was looking for.
((I apologize for the delay again. My nephews are visiting, and naturally I get stuck with them because I'm the fun Aunt... or something. >_> ))
Pete Moss adjusted his cap while he walked around the compound. The lead detectives left him in charge of one aspect of the operation, and that was to help other agents get back to work. Sure, the big hole in the ground didn't help much, but contractors would come to clean up soon, and Pete's among a handful of ACME agents here to keep the peace.
When he saw Xavier and Marcus talking to each other, he walked up to them and overheard:
Then Xavier turned to his partner and said let's go to the briefing and find out what we're going to do about recovering the ACME building I'm sure the Chief has a plan of action for this.
It sounded like these two were lost.
"You're late for any briefing, mates," Pete said in his Aussie accent, "Two teams already went out, one to recover the tower, and the other to Brazil to get Hailey Weller back. Chief's in Brazil now."
"You got two choices," Pete continued, "If you just arrived, then get settled in your rooms, mates, or I can assign you something to do around here, it won't be much, not until Chase or Chief gets back, at least."
(Out Of Character (OOC): Mates, when you enter an RP, don't forget to read it through first. A lot happened already in this one, you won't get much action, but you can learn as you go.)
136 MarcusSandersPete Moss Wrote:
"You're late for any briefing, mates," Pete said in his Aussie accent, "Two teams already went out, one to recover the tower, and the other to Brazil to get Hailey Weller back. Chief's in Brazil now."
"You got two choices," Pete continued, "If you just arrived, then get settled in your rooms, mates, or I can assign you something to do around here, it won't be much, not until Chase or Chief gets back, at least."
Marcus saw that Pete wanted to help them along and Marcus Agreed for his help "That's a Bummer, but thanks for the help, We're still new here to Main HQ and could use the help." "We could do something here, being coop up in those dorm, while everyone comes back, is Totally NOT an Option. Lead the Way Boss!
(This post brought to you by Scarlet, Chief, Calico, Nevon, VictheSlick, & DericStorm)
The lights that lined the runway of the Base Aérea de Santos sparkled in the early-morning darkness as the inbound Gulfstream G550 aligned itself to land; the aircraft steadily losing altitude until its wheels hit the asphalt with a slight thud. The sound of air rushing through the jet’s spoilers filled the cabin.
In the distance, the headlights of an Antonov An-124 and two AMX-A1s grew starkly visible, the distinct roar of the strike fighters' engines a prelude to their approach.
The Gulfstream taxied towards a nearby hanger and halted just outside the structure. From within it, a dozen military-clad personnel rushed out and towards the pale-silvery craft as its clam-shell door yawned opened to reveal the silhouetted figure of Chief Everard Weller. The ACME team had arrived... but only just in time.
Deric fastened the last strap on his bulletproof vest while the rest of the plane was abuzz with activity. As the plane was taxiing to the hangar the Brazilians had indicated, he grabbed an extra vest that he had packed and handed it to Chief Weller.
“Chief, I’m gonna need you to put this on, sir.”
Chief Weller was the first at the door of the plane. Outside was damp, and precipitation from the clouds that the plane had passed clung to the skin of the Gulfstream as if it had been through heavy rain.
An attendant handed each of the ACME team with their own night vision goggles and ear protection. When the Antonov landed, it would thunder.
Deric yelled to make himself heard over the Gulfstream’s engines “Alright team, listen up. You all know what to do.” Meeting the gaze of each agent and doctor, “Hailey is our top priority; arresting the crew of that plane is secondary. Trust your training and we will get through this.” Breaking into a toothy grin, he also said, “Okay, let’s go.”
Nevon half grimaced in reply, he gets to stand as lookout, so he was scanning the airfield for a good place to be. It looked like the best place was at the top of the plane’s movable stairway.
“This is the highest spot around,” Nevon spoke up, “I’ll keep a post here, with my binoculars.”
“There is a ladder for going on top of the plane,” Cali tapped Nevon on the back and pushed on him a bag of equipment, “this has a radio and a electric head gear, you better learn how to use light filtering now, if you don’t know.”
Feeling a little confused, but also a little guilty from not knowing what a light filter was, Nevon took Cali’s advice and headed for a higher spot without another word.
Deric watched the younger agent scurry away and chuckled. Looking at Cali, he asked jokingly, “Why did we bring him again?”
Cali winked back and smiled. “I will talk to the Brazilian pilots, first” she said to Deric. Grabbing hold of a pair of ear protection, Cali climbed down from the plane but stood close to it for the Antonov and the Guide planes first to land. A coordinating agent was near by, also commissioned by the government, and Cali signaled to him what her brother told her to do, he replied back with a number of the radio station for communication with the pilots.
The Russian transport plane had only light cargo, and needed much less than its recommended 2.5 kilometers of landing space. As it descended, the noise was almost unbearable without dampeners. Inside the plane, Vic the Slick was still not sure of what to do.
“My ears hurt,” Hailey Weller complained.
“Just sit tight, girly,” Vic told her, “You’ll be seeing your grand daddy soon.”
“Yay!” the little girl looked excited, “Will Carmen be there too?”
Vic shook his head, “Not if things go right.”
The Russian plane and the Brazilian attackers landed with loudly in the field. After everything came to a complete stop, the sound was echoing still. In the silence, Cali asked for confirmation from the pilots sent to them from the Brazilian Air Force. After they talked a while, the translator turned to her partner, Deric, and to Chief also.
“They are standing by,” she said, “waiting for order.”
“Move in on the plane,” Deric ordered, “Make sure they do NOT take off. Otherwise, everyone on the plane is to be taken unharmed.” He stressed the last word to make sure no unnecessary violence ensued. Anything could go wrong and lead to Hailey being injured. “Getting the kid back safe is the primary objective.”
“Okay,” Cali replied to Deric and began to speak to the pilots in Brazilian.
The last passenger out of the Gulfstream, Sophie Conrad had taken up a position between Chief Weller and a Brazilian military personnel. With the administered ear protection firmly over her head, she had peered through her NVD, adjusting its scope as she took in the darkened landscape and accounted for all the ACME team members, even as the VILE craft and its escorting jets landed.
It had been more than a decade since she had last been in Brazil and she had entertained a tingle of excitement, stepping out of the dry, cold cabin air of the aeroplane and into the warm humidity that hung over the city and its surroundings. The smell of jet fuel and smog-laden precipitation conspired to tease her senses.
While Cali was talking to the military, Deric checked the magazines in his pistols for a fourth time to alleviate some of his anxiety. As it was the previous three times, the guns were loaded with non-lethal rounds. Once that was done, he closed his eyes and took a deep breath. Ilya, his Academy instructor, always used to joke and say he was finding his “eye of the storm.” Taking his place alongside the Brazilian military, they made their way towards the plane.
It was the pilot who got the call first, and he forwarded it to Vincent Fumigalli. While Vic was clearly the brains of the present operation, he was definitely having a headache.
Half of him expected Hailey Weller to start crying, but she didn't. The little girl just played with the wristwatch Carmen gave her like the ticking it made calmed her down.
"ACME Agents," the pilot said, "they want us to open the door."
"Then open the door!" Vic said. Outside, he could see a team with a ladder, a few agents ready to barge.
In a few seconds, the navigator went up to the door, gave the thumbs up to the captain, the hydraulics hissed, and they simultaneously released the locks.
Vic stood up, figuring he’d be the first one they’d cuff. Hailey sat to his right hand side, still completely ignoring the situation. It looked like she was just waiting for someone to call her name and tell her what to do.
It took less than a minute for the team to storm the plane. One group of soldiers went to secure the cockpit while the rest, including Deric, went to the passenger cabin. ‘Storming’ wasn’t the best work to use as the plane was almost empty. Hearing the aggressive tone coming from the Brazilians, Deric knew he had to keep things from getting out of hand.
“Não atire” Deric barked to the soldiers to make sure no one did anything extreme. Making his way to the front of the group, Deric could see that besides the flight crew there were only two passengers.
“So Devineaux went the other way, ah?” Vic said as soon as he saw Deric, “sent his other dog here instead. Nice t’know Ima all important.”
“You don’t need the lead wolf to bag the sacrificial lamb, Vic.” Deric pulled out a set of handcuffs and tossed them to the other man. “You know the drill.”
Letting the cuffs fall to the ground, Vic shrugged, “Ain’t cuffin’ myself, kiddo.”
“You wanna add ‘resisting arrest’ to the charges, slick?”
Cali first made sure the Brazilians on their team understood to stand down, then she headed into the plane and went to the VILE pilot since Deric was talking to Vic.
“Hands up and turn around,” she said, “if you run, the men outside will make this more difficult.”
Being the people they were, both the pilot and the navigator followed the Brazilian girl’s instructions. There wasn’t much use resisting, and that wasn’t the plan anyway.
Cali cuffed the men under arrest, and a Brazilian officer helped her get both out off the plane. She wondered a little what Deric was doing making Vic put on his own cuffs. In Brazil, that was dangerous, maybe in the United States, it was common place.
She gave her attention to the hostage in this situation, now that the heroes are here and the baddies are arrested. Like ACME’s anticipation, Hailey was happy and unharmed.
“Hello, your grandfather is outside,” she said in her Brazilian accent, “come with me?”
Seeing Cali talk with the little girl, Deric knew it was all clear. Grabbing his radio, he signalled the Chief. “This is Storm,” he spoke into the radio, “we have the girl. I repeat, we have Hailey.”
“Awesome,” Nevon said to himself, then pushed a button on the radio to transmit back, “I’m coming down, over.”
He checked the gears Cali gave him to see if everything was all there before moving from his position. The rookie was a little embarrassed that he hadn’t learned to use any of the gadgets right. When he got back to San Francisco, he’ll have to start figuring them out.
Chief Weller took a position outside of the plane. He anticipated little retaliation from VILE, his only reassurance resting on the fact that its leader often kept promises.
As Hailey exited the plane with Cali Corranos, Dr. Weller could hardly contain his own relief. She looked well, running straight to her grandfather. After a long-awaited hug, Chief heard a light ticking and quickly surveyed his granddaughter. A cumbersome watch hung loosely on Hailey’s wrist.
“It’s for Piano Man,” were her first words to her ‘Kuppa’, “from the Thanksgiving party, remember?”
She was talking about Chase Devineaux, Dr. Weller understood, but what this meant was a mystery for another day; perhaps also, to be solved by another man.
Removing her ear protection soon after the landing of the Antonov and the two AMX aircrafts, Sophie focused on the dark outline of the cargo jet and listened in to the transmissions exchanged across the radio channels. The VILE crew on the Russian transport seemed acquiescent and the ACME-led raid passed with speed and without trouble.
She continued to watch, her position unchanged in its stillness and her features unmoved from their gravity, as the six-year-old child the team had come to retrieve leapt into the arms of her grandfather. She considered the innocent and oblivious joy on the face of the child and the affectionate relief on that of the older man. Hailey Weller, as far as the doctor could tell from her polite distance, looked to be as healthy and contented as a six-year-old could be expected to, seemingly unfazed by the events that had passed in the twenty-four hours prior, or the past fifteen minutes.
Wrapped around one of her arms were a bright-pink coloured watch and another bearing the likeness of Mickey Mouse. What then, was an odd third timepiece strapped onto the child, was the watch of a man – one she recognised as no less than an antiquated model from Patek Philippe. She did not hear what Hailey told Dr. Everard Weller about the watch and its owner and could only wonder, without satisfaction, how such an item came to complete the collection.
Then, as though perceiving her curiosity, Hailey lifted her head, peering at Sophie with warm, precocious eyes that were filled with an equal measure of interest. Sophie held the child’s gaze for a moment, and then smiled.
Deric watched the scene between Chief and his granddaughter unfold from the plane with a slight tear in his eye. Wiping it away with one hand, he reached for his ACME communicator in the other. Pulling up his saved contacts, Deric connected to the one listed under ‘C. Devineaux‘ and sent a quick message:
Hailey is safe with the Chief and we have Vic the Slick in custody along with the flight crew. Sending the girl back with Chief, Blair and Dr. Conrad. Will handle extradition for flight crew and Vic.
Flag wrote: Once inside he set to the shadows. That was cliche enough to give him away for who he was and who he was looking for.
The doctor recognised Flag not from the few medical profiles he had in hand at the headquarters of V.I.L.E., but from his demeanour. The way he blended with his surrounding without appearing conspicuous was a characteristic trait of 'friends'.
"Bonjour," the doctor greeted quietly from underneath his mask. "You will forgive the mask I wear," he explained, "I am not much a front man for this organisation."
Looking up at one of the stairways leading to a church spire, Acton Roux gestured to it for his friend to see. "That is an even safer place to speak, if we are to be absolutely void of prying ears."
The masked doctor led the way
"That's fine." Flag said in response to the apology. Masks and disguises were normal for his organization.
He followed the doctor up the spiral staircase in silence, taking in the architecture of the church as he did so. If asked, he would have to admit that the shrines built to the gods of Earth fascinated him as he never saw the same type of dedication to any such entity on Sivoa. Sure, there were shrines, but all of the ones that he had come across were monuments toward wealth or wisdom and they were vastly different than these houses of prayer.
Once they reached the top of the stairs the sorcerer returned his attention to his comrade and spoke.
"Thank you for meeting with me. I'll keep this simple. I'm attempting to travel to Casablanca in the next Country over. Travel has been... difficult to say the least."
He paused for a moment to reflect over his adventures of the past couple of days.
"I need a place to lay low for a couple of days so that I can acquire a more reliable means of getting there."
"Je com---I understand," Acton Roux corrected himself.
He knew for nearly as long as he had been employed that Carmen has confidants, a selected few within VILE that she would meet before and after heists. Vincent Fumigalli was one of them, and Sarah Nade; yet another, Acton believed, was Flag.
He wanted to ask if Flag would be meeting their esteemed "Boss", but such was not how this organisation survived. It survived on the frugality of information and a vast quantity of trust.
Acton looked far into the distance where the silvery Mediterranean waters were being disturbed by silhouettes of party yachts. A time, long ago, ships were kinder to the sea, now they are mostly the subject of wealth.
"I have a boat," Acton spoke quickly, "I had procured it... for her... but I feel she wished it to be yours. If she wanted it herself, she would be the one to contact me."
He handed Flag an envelope.
"Give this to the hired hand at the docks, he will take you to the boat. Then tell the captain where you wish to go, he's a retired fisherman, and has been compensated well enough to follow instructions without question," the masked doctor continued, "I shall stay in case I hear more, but in a week's time, I should be relocated. I will see you on the occasion."
(A lit' something from me, mates, in hopes to wrap this up soon. Edited: Forgot to mention that Carmen approved all mentions down below.)
With some cash in hand and the video from E. Mayhem sent to a news agency, Jordan was on his way to benefiting from the chaos that came from the disappearance of ACME's tower.
His first thoughts were to take some time going back to his consuming hobby, finding Carmen Sandiego.
If Lee Jordan was to trail someone else, anybody else, he'd know exactly what to do. People in general stuck to habits, doing things over and over again, even without realising it. If Carmen had a pattern, something that lent itself to reveal more of her personal traits than the fact that she doesn't support violence, Lee trusted that he'd be the first to find it. But in the years between getting booted off VILE and landing again in the midst of ACME, his pride and rank lowered to class C informant status (C for 'civilian'), Lee Jordan hasn't found the pattern he's been looking for.
While he's pursued her, even learned from her, he still didn't know the answer to his most fundamental question: Who is Carmen Sandiego?
Her files at ACME didn't say much. It was huge though. Lines and lines of text, hundreds of thousands of words from ACME's own observations to third party analyses. A lot of those texts came after she left the company. Of the 18,723 documents Lee found about her, only 54 were legitimately from her ACME days. Eliminating case files and corporate nonsense left him with 3 tiny papers. One was a personnel file, the other was a letter typed by Carmen requesting security clearance for files on a case, and the last was a mandatory psyche evaluation that proved nothing but the fact that she was normal. Quiet, but normal.
The first time Lee uncovered these files was about 8 months before he "resigned" from ACME. He knew the amount of files she had was unusually small, though he didn't suspect anything but ACME's own system of confidentiality. Still, when Lee rejoined ACME as an informant under Chase Devineaux, his views of these files began to shift.
An informant's job was to scour targets and provide intelligence. Lee's first assignment was in Argentina, where he was given a cover story and some personal files to back it up. If ACME could create these fake files so easily, Lee wondered how often and how much of the files in ACME's archives were real.
To test his theory, Lee would need clearance to all the files in ACME's archives, and for that, he'd have to be much higher than a Class-C informant. He'd have to be Chase Devineaux.
That thought agitated Jordan, and he dropped the idea of trying to find Carmen for now. The biggest drama in ACME's history was unfolding, and he wanted to be in San Francisco for it.
After a brief encounter with the piano, and having vanquished any more thoughts on its purpose, Chase Devineaux headed straight for the 16th floor. Unlike the ACME servers, which were located underground, the compound's security control was at the top of the tower.
The doors to the security room were unlocked. A quick survey of the facility revealed that nearly everything was in order--everything but the C-5 mainframe. The transporter's aluminum housing showed fire damage, but all other equipment remained intact. It would not occur to the Field Director until tomorrow afternoon that the burn might have come from one of Carmen's more violent henchmen, Flag.
To the left of the surveillance center was the power indicator, blinking a low red. ACME Tower's reserved resources, cells that would have lasted five days at full capacity, were dwindled to only two hours. To an observer, this could mean many things, but to Chase Devineaux, it resolved to one conclusion: VILE depleted the backup generator to open vault doors.
When the tower was ripped from San Francisco's power grid, ACME's security systems activated an emergency lock-down to protect is valuable information. Half a century of documents resided in there, and while most of the files have been digitally converted, a precious few remained pending review.
Why old files? Devineaux asked in his head, to no one in particular, you had the entire tower, the C-5, everything else...
Enough electricity remained available in UPS batteries to power certain nodes, but not the entire system. Inserting his card into the machine, the Field Director wasted no time gathering necessities. All surveillance footage, system log, and activity were downloaded into a series of high-density solid state drives provided by Masters, the company tech.
As the computers performed their last instructions, Chase took the stairs to the 11th floor -- ACME's International Crimes Divison.
The level that housed ACME's ICD was a mess. In the dimness, blue light reflecting from broken windows gave illumination to puddles resting on linoleum floor tiles. The sprinkler system had been activated, a cheap but effective way of overriding the vault's security. Inhaling a whiff of sharp moisture in the air, Devineaux scoffed, partly at her genius and partly at the fact that this 'override' was only weeks away from removal.
Among the rubble of office furniture, sandy footprints indicated splatters of activity. A set of smaller shoes suggested this as the location Hailey Weller revealed herself. Other impressions gave a margin of reassurance that Carmen, and not one of her thugs, found Hailey.
Following footprints led him to the vault's door. As anticipated, it was open.
Records of discovered artifacts, some names of people and places, as well as old geographic data that were considered redundant or inaccurate piled high over his head. An entire section of the vault was removed, flawlessly. Whatever Carmen wanted, she took, along with collateral that would make it impossible to trace. From here on, what she left behind was vital. Retrieving his phone, he took pictures of the room and the IDs of containers before and after those that were missing.
Wet dirt squeaked under friction from his boots. Chase exhaled, accepting the temporary halt in his investigation and the fate of ACME's once iconic building.
He returned to floor 16 and retrieved the digital logs, then travelled back to the lobby through the fire escape. Midway, his phone beeped with a message from Deric, reporting that Hailey was safe; followed by one from Tanya, about his car taking a trip on a V.I.L.E. plane.
As he reached the lobby, he took one last look: once familiar ceiling and walls already seem foreign in the dawning light. He began to see corners and structures that he could no longer recognize—more and more of them—until the entire building was a world apart from what he remembered of his ACME home.
Everything but the piano.
"Okay," said the Field Director into his communication unit to the men in his 'recovery team', "I'm done, let's finish this. I'm leaving the building, meet at rendezvous."
(Small co-post Mikal & Chase. Happy New Year!)
Mikal Darsha had fun at ACME Tower, not in the way that should be considered fun, but he performed all that was needed of him, plus he somehow made a new friend. The Israeli pushed Synic the computer into the plane. He then checked his equipment and counted his rounds then recounted his magazines. Everything in order.
This was a good day to make things go boom. He bore no identification with or against ACME Tower, and because of this; he knew that he was in the most objective position to help clear the location. Even as an outsider, he would have kept the piano, since it didn't turn out to be a trap. But such things were the norm, not all team members agree on everything. Agreeing on only the big things was enough.
"I open this now," Mikal brought up the bottle of the local herbal liqueur, Thibarine. Even if it tasted like medicine, this was better in the desert than an ice-cold vat of beer.
As he twisted the bottle's cap, something in the distance glinted inside is peripheral vision. Instinctively, the Israeli thought of snipers, but the range was too far.
"We are being watched," Darsha flicked his head towards the horizon at the faint structure of a round tower, "We warn them, maybe?"
Chase Devineaux stood squarely facing the direction Mikal pointed and saw a single reflecting flash. V.I.L.E. was watching, he had no doubt, but he wasn't in the mood to warn anyone.
"I don't see anything," he falsely dismissed. The watchtower was far beyond the plane, and beyond the danger zone.
Let them watch.
"Okay," said the Field Director into his communication unit to the men in his 'recovery team', "I'm done, let's finish this. I'm leaving the building, meet at rendezvous."
"Copy that." Eugene let off the mic and started back down to the lobby. Odds of Carmen leaving anything that could be used against her behind were astronomical, but Euge was contractually obligated to do a cursory search of the building. Besides, it gave him the opportunity to liberate expensive liquors from various offices. With Chase having finished his part of the prep work, it was time for the four stagehands to make their exit. By Eugene's watch, the weapons platform wouldn't be in position for at least 30 mikes, and so the quartet was able to take their sweet time hauling their salvage back to the 777.
Once aboard, everything was hastily stowed and lashed down or otherwise thrown wherever it fit. Eugene thought he heard a crunch from one backpack and hoped there was nothing liquid or valuable in there.
Satisfied everything was secured, Eugene joined the rest of the team on the dune crest, where the other three were already in position. Chase had his eye up to the monocular of a range finder, while Mikal had forfeited his binoculars in favor of opening a bottle of... something. Ding was keying up some sort of point to point optical SATCOM Eugene had never seen before when Mikal suddenly tensed. "We are being watched," he announced, and inclined his head towards the horizon, where Eugene noticed a flash off of some kind of optic. It didn't matter though; they were out of range of even the most skilled sniper, and no other force could stop what was coming.
"Stainless, this is Oxide, authentication key cupcake, Fire for effect, over." Ding had established comms with the FDC.
"Oxide, this is Stainless, authentication confirmed. Fire for effect, send target coordinates, out." FDC's somehow get their hands on the most professional RTO's anywhere. Talk to a hundred different services across a thousand different channels and you are guaranteed to never find a more authoritative baritone than a company of artillery.
"Grid 32 Romeo November Victor 7100848081" Less than a mile from their current position.
"Platform moving into position, stand by." Two miles away from being directly over them.
"16 story building, helipad on roof marked ACME, hardened target, KEP, one round, danger close, over." Somewhere stateside, an air force officer was looking through a camera 300 miles up and seeing the exact building Ding had described, while running through checklists and releasing safeties.
"Positive ID on target. KEP in effect, one round, out." The FDC was confident they had the right target and all the elements were in position to release a telephone pole sized rod of tungsten cobalt hate.
"Shot, over." Half a world away, the officer had pressed a button that opened clamps suspending the fury above them, and a rocket motor had ignited, pushing it earthwards. There was no turning back now.
"Shot, out." We had front row seats to a spectacular show, and the four turned their gaze skyward, where they found a new star in the sky, one that grew brighter until it outshone even the full moon, only instead of a serene silver, this one blazed with a hellish blue-orange. The heat of atmospheric entry had destroyed both the seeker head and the rocket booster, but they weren't necessary anymore; the rod was already on target.
"Message to observer, splash in five seconds." 4... 3... 2... 1...
The quartet saw the rod scythe directly through the helipad and disappear cleanly inside, while the tower seemed to at first implode upon itself, seemingly trying to seal the sudden new elevator shaft. Its fight against physics was futile though, as concrete, steel, and glass suddenly remembered it should be fracturing, shearing, and liquefying at these temperatures and pressures. The building exploded outwards, and desert all around jumped forth, ready to conceal what had been done here beneath the ever shifting sands. The assault was over in less than a second, and another second later the shriek of the sound barrier being horribly violated, along with concussion and dust was upon the men.
Soon enough, debris stopped pelting them, and it was safe to raise their heads and marvel at the destruction they had wrought. The old ACME was gone, pounded flat and swallowed by the desert.
"Stainless, this is Oxide, end of mission; good effect on target, over."
Make way for the new.
"Oxide, this is Stainless, end of mission, out."
Minutes prior, and a distance away from the eerily creaking ACME Building stood an old watchtower. Ages ago near a thriving oasis, dwellers constructed a stone column to secure their livelihood. An entire city existed here, with men, women, children and livestock residing under the shaded contours of the structure's shadow. The water eventually depleted and life moved on, leaving an aging monolith slowly dissolving into sand.
Dawn rose in front of her, the sky brightened as rays of warmth pecked her cheeks and forehead. From binoculars, she espied a familiar figure in a purposeful stride from the base of the tower towards the plane. ACME seemed to have completed their mission.
Was that it?
The observing thief expected her opposition to bring dozens of men for the search and recovery of ACME's 16-storey tower. So far, she saw only four.
A series of communicating gestures transpired between the men, and at the end of it, they remained unusually still.
"A falling star?" Saleh, the French-Moroccan henchman next to her exclaimed as if something had taken all the breath out of his lungs.
Carmen removed her long-range visor but had to shield her eyes immediately from an intense descending light. While she did not directly observe the impact, she felt it. The ground rumbled, at first lightly. Then, like any other form of earthly destruction, energy released must go somewhere. Unable to withstand the blow, ACME tower submitted hopelessly to its fate.
"We need to leave," not knowing exactly what they faced, she instructed her men, "gather your equipment, split up, and let's meet at the coast."
"We will not make the last boat on our jeep," said Ahbej, who hardly spoke but was rarely wrong, "but Carmen, you can if you ride all day to reach it by evening."
"Then I need to hurry."
As she readied herself to strategically drop from the tower and on to her desert vehicle, Ahbej's voice rang, "Wait!" and the agile thief was bluntly pulled back into the watchtower.
Ahbej's trembling hands locked her arms while down below, a wave from the explosion created a small but effective crack that overturned and swallowed her getaway ride. Then another convulsion ran through the underground crevices that once carried water and, from where her desert motorcycle sank, unleashed a pillar of dust high above. VILE's leader had little time to conceal her head in a scarf prior to ducking for cover against ancient walls.
When the dust subsided, a statue of sandstone rose from the floor, dispersing fine particles that clung to her skin and clothes. In the day's harsh light, the skyscraper she had worked so meticulously to procure in one piece was gone, disintegrated into the landscape.
She'll have time to contemplate all this later.
"What just happened?" asked Saleh, kicking dirt from his shoes.
"There isn't room in the jeep for three people plus equipment," Carmen observed, presently ignoring the question.
"I can walk," the Moroccan replied, "It's three kilometers to nearest town, I have cousin with family there, I can stay over then go to Tunis tomorrow."
"Only three kilometers?" That was interesting, if she took the trip on foot, she would make it out of Tunisia without arousing suspicion.
In the course of the heist, her tactics have altered drastically. Carmen left ACME tower yesterday evening with plans to see her caravan to Egypt then meet with Flag in Morocco before obviating the risk of meeting anyone for the next 4 weeks. This would change again.
"Saleh," the leader made her decision, "you and Ahbej take the equipment. We'll stick to the plan and have you hide at the safe house in Morocco."
"Et toi?" Saleh inquired.
"I'm not going to Morocco," given the outcome of the hour, she must garner precious time and make slow but certain moves. No one from V.I.L.E. or ACME would hear from her until she was fully prepared, "Does your cousin have a telephone?"
(This post marks the end of Hiatus)
Eulogies weren't needed for ACME Tower I. The death of anything was usually poetic, but this... this only warranted silence. Within hours the sands would dance a funerary number and render this area a part of the desert. As if nothing happened.
"Cheers to that," Chavez, officially the only person not to have worked inside that building, appropriately spoke first. In his gloved hand, he lifted a plastic cup containing the liquor Mikal bought from a street vendor last night.
Chase Devineaux nodded in agreement. He raised his own plastic cup and finished the dark liquid. When the bitterness peeled down his throat and the alcohol heated the roof of his mouth almost unbearably, he exhaled.
In his head, a more obliging version of himself was reading down the list of actions to remedy as soon as he arrived Stateside. First on that list was the board's request for his resignation and, as he was about to find out, also the video someone made on his behalf. Second was cataloging the files that V.I.L.E. took; and third was the whereabouts of his Porsche Cayman.
Right now, he wasn't ready to do any of that.
"You know," Devineaux said, studying the rising smoke from where window glass turned to sand by explosion and back into glass by heat, "with the free time we have while the tower rebuilds, we should start marking their headquarters."