Vic has proposed that we separate different locations into chapters. The main Luxe RP will be limited to ACME Headquarters, Luxembourg, and (for all intents and purposes) wherever Carmen Sandiego is standing. Current chapters or sub-chapters relating to this RP are:
La Vie de Luxe (Open)
Type: Free-form site-wide Role Playing Game
This is a site-wide free-form role playing session, it will end when it wants to end. Anyone may join in, there are no restrictions. Yes, all detectives currently on a case may join too.
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.
Because this game started with the mention of Luxembourg, the title is "La Vie de Luxe", but as players, feel free to start anywhere in the world.
ACME Headquarters, San Francisco
El Halcon Verde was preparing himself for this case the way he prepared for his numerous wrestling matches: He already made quick work of all the high-tech weight and aerobics machines in ACME Weight Room Net, and was now doing one-handed push ups across the center of the floor. "I shall not fail in my test...I will always bring los criminales to justicia..." He repeated under his breath while he switched hands.
Luxembourg, near Am Tunnel
Yesterday morning, Eartha Brute was enjoying one of her favorite pastimes, bending metal bars into pretzels. After only about fifty bars, she got an assignment from Carmen, telling her to go to Luxembourg. Eartha was big and when she traveled, people noticed, so the muscle-woman slowly figured that Carmen needed her to lift something, or act as a distraction to those pesky ACME agents.
The Grand Duchy of Luxembourg was a nice place and Eartha found herself fitting in better than she thought. Except for her green hair, nearly everyone here was about her height.
She put a little down payment on an apartment there, like Carmen told her to, so she'd look like a local. The place she picked was near the Am Tunnel, which was a nice contemporary art gallery. There was a place nearby she could exercise while she waited for more instructions from her boss, and that was all Eartha really needed. Art was for buffoons who could see things that weren't there, and, Eartha proudly told herself, she wasn't a poser. That night, she wrote so in her diary.
ACME Headquarters, San Francisco, CA
Chief foresaw this as a busy week from the quiet Monday morning that just passed. Cases were popping up faster than any other week in quite a while. Things were moving well too. A new instructor has allowed for advancement in flight courses and additional professional upgrades to the existing air fields.
Through Melissa Wayward, Chief discovered things were just as busy in the Special Operations section. Ever since Chase Devineaux returned to ACME and accepted the responsibility to head S.O., Chief Weller had concerns about whether the Agent's head or heart was in the right place. Some men are simply too reclusive. Chase had no extended family to speak of, and rarely talked of anything outside the company. If Chase wasn't the very best suited for this job, Chief might have asked the board for an extended background check. Asking for a check now would have seemed offensive.
Chief Weller sat in his office, scanning through reports with a smile on his face. Today, his son, daughter in law, and his granddaughter were visiting. His wife, Mrs. Geraldine Weller, should be on her way back from the airport with that package of joy now.
5 Carmen Undisclosed Location
Carmen, exhibiting a modest white blouse and caramel-hued skirt, walked into an enclosed space in her wraparound platform sandals. Shades of gray muted the relatively lofty area and she felt, without a doubt, unwelcomed. The space was masculine and discreet, but so noncommittal that it seemed almost Machiavellian. Carmen paused to catch her breath. Simply strolling in amidst daylight was close to complete foolishness, and her heart raced much faster than her calm demeanor would suggest.
The only sign of life in the room, a winged pet, watched her eagerly from its corner. It seemed happy to see a visitor but remained cautious, Carmen was sure, in respect to its owner. Poor bird, she thought, he doesn't let anyone else feed you, does he? The intruder turned to study her surroundings then waited with subdued patience, ultimately sinking into a dark, modern throne that presided over trifle bureaucracy. Acting victorious, she took the liberty of taking over objects belonging to the 'enemy', making quick work of a rather mundane Rubix's puzzle cube.
[OOC: Co-written with Carmen, immediately follows 'El Halcon Unpacks']
ACME Headquarters, San Francisco, California
Steadily making his way up to the corner office after excusing himself from breakfast, Chase Devineaux thought about Luxembourg. The decision to send out an S.O. Trainee in response to an informant's message sounded convincingly like protocol, he liked that. Despite the informant being Lee Jordan, Chase was confident that things would go smoothly.
Entering his workspace, what greeted him was odd -- a woman in his chair.
At first glance, Chase recalled that Chief's family was visiting and some may be wandering about. It would explain why she looked familiar; but as he opened his mouth to ask if she thought this office was someone else's, their eyes met, and he realized that she was far from lost.
Whatever question he had evaporated, and Devineaux shut the door behind him.
"Do you live here now?" Carmen commented, putting away the puzzle cube.
Chase's hungry falcon and the clothes he wore hinted of an overnight rendezvous with work and an early morning shower at the building's gym. A sense of pride at her ability to deduct all that sparked a momentary smile.
He saw no need to answer her question. Seeing her outside the usual coat and hat, Chase recalled parts of her features that he had forgotten.
When they first met, she was lanky and boyish, attractively witty but crude. Later in the years, she deserted her jeans for skirts -- admittedly, those were some of the best memories Chase had of her. She grew up, and despite being demanding, she had an appealing way of approaching everything. Her years among other children in orphanages must have made her sociable. As an only child, Chase never quite understood childhood hierarchy, and spent much of his younger days mimicking his father. Carmen opened his eyes, and he wondered if that was enough of a reason to let her sit in his armchair.
"Speechless?" she playfully hinted at his silence, "I wasn't here long."
"You can't be here," He said, decidedly, "A meeting in the desert, and now this..."
"What are you afraid of?"
He shook his head, and then breathed, letting her continue.
"I'm not here for much, Chase," she flatly stated, "My Knight, perhaps."
"Wrong office," he countered, "you'll get him when Chief's department is done."
"That could take months, and you have the authority to give exemption." Carmen remembered what Sarah Nade told her. The interrogator for Sarah's case was Chase Devineaux, who evidently granted the detainee an early release for cooperation. In immediate retrospect, Carmen wished she had not mentioned Sir Vile; that only deviated from the point.
"This isn't yours anymore; you can't ask for favors," by 'this' Chase meant ACME, "playing with fire doesn't magically make things go your way."
She wanted to yell at him for making assumptions, but it was useless to argue.
Not long ago, Carmen asked Chase to find Lee Jordan. Weeks later, she discovered from sources in Hong Kong that Lee was now an ACME informant. From her perspective, Chase not only kept his word, but also sagaciously placed Lee where the threat was least pestilent. Her unfeigned reason for coming here was to thank him for that, but now, she questioned it. He was naturally chivalrous.
The former agent had seen, even through times of uncertainty, that his moral compass had an incorruptible way of pointing true north. In his eyes, helping her might have been merely the right thing to do. If that was so, then he was right. She should leave, but should she also thank him?
"Your informant in Luxembourg," she restarted the conversation in a calmer tone, "I know who he is."
Right, Chase thought, expecting a full lecture on judging character, I brought Jordan back to ACME. He inadvertently hired Lee Jordan, nothing he was particularly proud of, but nothing he would hide if asked. Things had been circumstantial, and he was doing his best keeping the punk from destructive behavior.
"I didn't hire him on character," Chase took a seat on the office couch, feeling somewhat defensive. She was sitting; he might as well do the same, "Don't confuse me for something I'm not."
Carmen was certainly not confused, but thanking a man who didn't care for gratitude would be extraneous. Talking to Chase, apparently, was a waste of time. After a moment of infuriating silence, she stood from the chair to leave.
"Hold it," Chase was on his feet, "I'll walk you out." While he couldn't pinpoint her motives, he knew it was safer for both ACME and the infamous Carmen Sandiego if he made sure she left the building.
"Don't." She snapped at him a serrated look. "I know my way around."
She's angry again, Chase realized with a taint of bitterness, and he let her go. "You can't have everything," the agent added as an afterthought.
"That...," she rejoined when she was half way out of the door, "and you can't save it all."
Exiting, the thief walked towards what was now Chief Everard Weller's office. Even when she knew him as Doctor Weller, before he became chief, Carmen liked his style of teaching. He was patient, and always a good sport. From the hall, she saw him in his element: humming a tune in a bright office with his pipe at hand, and breezing through reports.
"Good morning, Dr. Weller," She greeted in passing.
From there, she made her way to the underground parking, where a car awaited. The ACME lobby should now be full of detectives, leaving out the front door, while titillating, would be ludicrous.
[OOC: Well done you two! You had quite a bit to cover, but focusing on the views of two people that ultimately lead to a misunderstanding gets a "hat's off!" from me!]
Carmen said: "Good morning, Dr. Weller," She greeted in passing.
"Good morning to you!" Chief Weller promptly replied to the voice. It struck him as familiar and he peered down the hall. The woman walking away was lovely, and the direction she came from, Chase's office, suggested she was in Special Operations.
Chief Weller expressed approval and returned to his work. Those Special Operatives, they grow up so fast.
Near Am Tunnel, City of Luxembourg, Luxembourg
Lee Jordan, the best at everything, was hanging around near Am Tunnle. He isn't too happy as an ACME Informant. This position would do, though, until he could build trust. That's the good stuff, isn't it? Trust. After all that drama going from ACME to VILE then out on his own, Lee settled on starting over.. but not completely honestly.
Some months ago, he did his research and heard Chase Devineaux was in Canada for some conference, Lee didn't pay attention on what it was, but Chase was key to get Lee back on his feet. He introduced himself to Mr. Grand-and-mighty Devineaux and convinced the man to hire him as an informant. Now he's backed by ACME, and back where he started, running after Carmen. Being low on the food chain didn't bother Lee one bit. It was all part of the master plan.
Carmen told Lee a story once of the Orloff diamond, and how it started out being being a diamond eye of a Hindu idol. A French soldier, according to legend, heard about the diamond from locals and was determined to seize it, but no Christian was allowed far inside the pagoda. He first converted to local religion and little by little, gained the confidence of the Brahmins until they appointed him guardian of the inner shrine where the statue was kept. Taking advantage of a stormy night, he stole the diamond from the statue's eyesocket. That kind of patience takes years, and Lee was willing to wait for his diamond too.
In Luxembourg, Lee thought he was on Carmen's trail, and was disapointed when he instead spotted Eartha Brute. As soon as Eartha put a down payment on an apartment, Lee knew it was going to be big, and like the good informant he was pretending to be, he messaged his boss. Chase had better find him soon, Lee was starting to run out of resources already, and Eartha's gym routine was boring him.
ACME Headquarters, San Francisco
A moment later, El Halcon strode into the office. He was wearing his fedora in trenchcoat, ready to travel as incognito as a masked wrestler possibly could. "Buenas Tardes, Senor Weller....eh, Chief-f." That was going to take some getting used to. "I am ready for my assignment. What exotic location deserves this humble crime figter's presence?"
Silence settled in, seconds after Carmen left, and Chase started to wonder if he did anything wrong. Before he could go into details about what he should have changed, Phoenix, also a witness to what happened, flapped his wings. That's right, you're hungry, Chase thought, and I need to send 'Missy' her objective.
From his handheld, he requested a file on Lee Jordan and typed the following to Trainee Melissa Wayward:Objective: Locate target (file attached), then immediately report to me. Do not make contact.
"Want to come with me to Luxembourg?" Chase picked up and wore a falconry glove then extended his arm. The bird glided on. Yeah, figured you would... But first, Chase slightly condemned his own frame of mind, we need to go free a knight.
11 Chief El Halcon Said:
"Buenas Tardes, Senor Weller....eh, Chief-f." That was going to take some getting used to. "I am ready for my assignment. What exotic location deserves this humble crime fighter's presence?"
"Indeed, I was expecting you," Chief said, handing El Halcon his official ACME Handheld Communicator, the language was set to Spanish. "When you are ready, go ahead and access the C-5 corridor to Luxembourg. Eartha Brute, the suspect in question, was spotted there, but you'll need to be discreet, no crime has been committed yet."
"If you need anything, just hold the 'dial' button for three seconds," Chief Weller instructed, "there should always be someone on call in our department. Good luck."
"Come on, 'Mr. D'..." Missy grumbled under her breath as she waited for a message with her instructions to come through her ACME email which was conveniently enough accessible through her blackberry. To her knowledge the ACME Head of Special Operations was much more punctual than this with his messages. When he said he'd send her mission information in 20 minutes it usually meant it would be there at 19:58. However at the moment it was 5 minutes past the due time. Eventually, after taking the chance to double check her foundation her blackberry gave a vibrate and she pulled it out to take a quick glance as she exited her room.
Objective: Locate target (file attached), then immediately report to me. Do not make contact.
"Right. Easy training observation..." Missy said to herself, having known she would most likely not be doing anything particularly interesting this time around. "Predictable." Pulling her wrist closer to her mouth she pressed a button on its face.
"Agent Melissa Wayward requesting C-5 to..." she looked at the message again. "Luxembourg in Luxembourg please."
After a few noises and shifts in the air a large glowing portal opened and Missy took a step in, as opposed to waiting for it to suck her in. Accepting the portal always made arrival on the other side a little easier.
Landing on her feet in a bit of a jog to keep up with the pace she was launched out of the C-5 with Missy stopped and took a look around. Mmmmmm, Luxembourg. She'd never gotten the chance to come here before and by the looks of things she was regretting that fact. Bringing her blackberry up to her face again Missy started to scroll over the file of the man she'd been sent to find.
Taking a seat on a nearby park bench Missy read up on her detainee, giving a light snort as she read first his ACME Detective accomplishments and then his accomplishments as a thief. 'Another detective turned thief.' she thought to herself. 'Must be a popular career path.' Picking herself up from her seat finally and sending the image of her man to her wrist communicator Missy took off to look for the suspect.
"He's only one man in a city of thousands. Sounds like fair enough odds to me." she muttered to herself, starting to browse the selection of men visible for the one she was looking for.
El Halcon C-5ed in a moment later. He pulled his usual disguise tight over him, wondering if it'd be sufficient. Rembering the Chief's advie even he wondered how well a masked wrestler in a trenchcoat could be discreet. Also, he wondered why he needed a spanish translating device. As a native of Mexico, he believed he spoke spanish pretty well. He'd just need to remember to use his european spanish verb-modifiers.
"I come on boat from San Francisco." He greeted Missy, remembering a phrase from the ACME code book that was part of his training. Even to Missy his actions must have seemed to be totally rookie.
Eugene Grovington half leaned against the desk in front of his class, who were listening to his lecture with varying degrees of alertness. The period was almost over, and everyone, including the instructor, was anxious to finish. "Alright class; be ready for your exam next week. I'll see you then." Euge had spotted Chase Devineaux slip into the classroom moments earlier, and used this opportunity to excuse the class early.
The class filed out of the room with very few noting the famed detective standing in the back. Eugene gathered some papers from his desk and gestured for Chase to join him in his office down the hall. Eugene had been hearing rumors about activity in Luxembourg, and suspected Chase's appearance here and now had something to do with it.
Montreal, Quebec, Canada
Vic the Slick scratched his scalp through the gel-hardened hair on his head. He had been following Carmen's directions for 12 hours straight. Now he was in Notre Dame des Neiges cemetery in Montreal, looking for a bronze statue called L'ange à l'aile brisée by some guy named Alfred Laliberté. Carmen said it wouldn't be too hard to find since most of the bronze statues by Alfred Laliberté had already been stolen and probably melted down by petty thieves for cash. Vic tends to agree with petty thieves, cash was always better to have in the hand than two statues in a bush, whatever the saying was.
When he finally found it, the Angel with the Broken Wing, he was surprised to find that he sort of liked it. Vic put a hand to his chin thoughtfully. It's a male angel with an arm outstretched to the sky. The rest of the body looked like he was falling, but his face looked like he didn't need any help. Vic could see why Carmen might want to save this thing, take it before some jerk melts it for money. With a digital camera, Vic took a snapshot of the bronze statue and the surrounding area. Then he marked it on his map so he could come back with a team at night.
((This post occurs after Sir Vile's release -- highly recommended reading.))
Office of Eugene Grovington, ACME Academy, San Francisco, California
Eugene Grovington, from what Devineaux could tell, had the sort of calm mannerism that came with most talented pilots. At only 30, an age where most pilots are at the height of their careers, Grovington looked like he was ready to settle down, teaching classes at ACME Academy. Chase was skeptical of the pilot's true intentions. Devineaux once taught at the academy as cover for less plausible positions. To this extent, 'it takes one to know one'. This was also why Chase Devineaux decided Eugene was dependable, and why he wouldn't mind owing the flyboy a favor.
The detective doesn't like to mark himself as man with preferences, but there were certain things he would rather do without. One such thing was the C-5 corridor.
"I need help, Euge," he stated as soon as the office door shut, "I'm heading to Luxembourg. I'd take airline, but the falcon's going to be a problem. Anything you can do for me?"
Eugene paused for a split second when he heard Chase's request. That cinched it: there was something big going down. Euge quickly regained his composure and sat down at his desk. He was itching to ask what was going on, but held his tongue. One of his cardinal rules was to never ask his employer's business.
No, Eugene would find out some other way.
"I can have a 777 on the tarmac and ready to depart in two hours. I'm sure Chief Weller will want to allocate some resources to support the agents already on site." Eugene glanced up at Chase, who nodded his approval and left the office.
"You caught all that?" Eugene seemed to speak to the empty room. "Yes. Blancher will be bringing it in. ETA 30 minutes." IRIS replied. 30 minutes with nothing to do but grade homework.
[OOC: Anyone that wants to can catch this flight out. No layovers!]
Exiting Euge's office, Devineaux thought about the necessities of a 777, but he was content to leave the thinking to experts. He set his watch - two hours until departure. Everything, plus the falcon, was ready to go, but the 120 minutes would give him enough time to recheck his plans.
* * *
Ivy Monaghan's current location, The ACME Martial Arts training facility
Chase arrived and placed himself at the door, barring exit to the training area where Ivy frequented. She said so this morning that she would be here.
"Got a minute?" He spoke with urgency.
[[Written with Chase via Site Chat and then edited.]]
Having just dismissed her class, Ivy was surprised to see Chase Devineaux at the doorway of the training room. She hadn't even changed out of the Judogi uniform and he already seemed like he had work for her to do.
"If this is about Nevon, I've already told him not to lurk around the front of your office." Ivy said as she started to clear the foam mats.
"It's not about--" He paused, "Wait, Nevon Blair?--Nevermind--That's not why I'm here." Chase glanced outside to make sure Ivy's students were far out of earshot, then he shut the door. "Has Chief Weller ever talked to you about me?"
Ivy raised an eyebrow. She had originally taken his actions as an indication that something serious was going on, but she choked back a laugh at the question about Chief Weller.
"Sure, Mr. Devineaux... you're the number one topic in our staff meetings." Ivy crossed her arms and shifted her weight, "But really... what is this about?"
"Nothing." Earlier today, Chase suspected Special Operations Trainee Melissa Wayward of being someone other than the statement on her files. After some searching, he found that it was Chief Weller who instated her training. He couldn't understand why this sort of thing had to be kept from him, but he wasn't sure if he could afford a lengthy explanation about one of his operatives to someone outside the department.
Perhaps it was the hour pause after Chase said that it was 'nothing' but Ivy was starting to get impatient. She moved her hands in a circle away from her as if to gesture him to talk. "Okay... I thought I was the sarcastic one. Does this 'nothing' have to do with you and Chief and the dynamics of ACME's very cohesive work environment?"
"Has he ever said anything along the line of not trusting me?"
"No." Ivy replied definitively. "Chase, did you do something to make him not trust you?"
Carmen Sandiego was in my office this morning... "No," Devineaux shrugged, "that's why I'm asking. He hasn't mentioned... anything? Asked a few unusual questions, maybe?"
Ivy rolled her eyes. She started formulating a question that might make his answers easier but stopped before speaking, leaving her index finger pointed in his direction. Then smiled and went back to rolling up another foam mat. "I don't know what you do in special ops, but you're not getting information out of me without giving due reason."
Chase looked at his watch--90 minutes until departure--and locked his tongue to the inside of his cheek before deciding to continue. "What if I told you that I think Chief is having me under surveillance?"
"I honestly wouldn't be very surprised, Chase. We're all under surveillance to a certain extent here... and you carry more of a risk than any of us."
"Well... where do I start? You've probably had the most face time logged with ACME's greatest enemy, Carmen Sandiego... and it doesn't take a genius to see that those encounters weren't always unpleasant."
When does it take a genius to do anything? Chase thought with some bitterness. "You're suggesting I leave it?"
"I'm saying... if you don't have anything to hide, then this wouldn't be a problem."
"Right, it's not a problem."
"Right. Chief is just looking out for you... well, for all of us. You know he'd never do anything if it wasn't in the path of his moral compass."
It was true, and Chase nodded. He recomposed himself, shaking off whatever was left of the thought for now. "Thanks, I needed that rational angle."
"No problem. You know that's what we do here."
"Yeah, I get it."
"Hand me the last set of mats on your way out?"
Chase Devineaux did as he was asked then said his farewell. He checked his watch again--a little over an hour to spare before Luxembourg.
El Halcon said:
"I come on boat from San Francisco."
Turning to look at the source of the voice Missy nearly slapped her forehead. A Mexican wrestler in an ill fitting trench coat and his bright green mask on still. Among thoughts of 'Well now I'll blend in... everyone's got a luchador following them around here' Missy smiled.
"Must have been a long trip." she replied, still keeping her eyes peeled for her wanted suspect. Convinced he probably wouldn't be around this area Missy turned back to El Halcon, encouraging him to walk with her leisurely as they talked. "We've got to get you to invest in a few men's suits. Those would probably help hide that muscular frame." Knowing enough about Mexican wrestling she knew asking him to remove the mask for cases would probably be futile. And get her a lecture she was not in the mood for at the moment.
Stepping around a few tourists and native speakers Missy continued to glance between the El Halcon, the people around them and occasionally the picture in her wrist communicator.
"So... what did they send YOU here for?"
'Pleaase don't tell me you're my backup... this Jordan guy is 120 wet, I hardly think I'd need backup to take HIM out...'
"It is my first mission. Listen, I know this case may be of....sensitive nature," El Halcon tugged on his trenchoat collar as he spoke. "If it suits you, you may help me better to blend in any way you like, or we may split up. No esta un razon we should both be so obvious." El Halcon put a hand over his chin. "I understand our target may not be so easy to subdue, so I suppose that is why I'm here." He put his fists together. "If el ladrino wants to get tough, I can be tough right back."
(Spanish: There is no reason, The thief. (masculine))
Eartha didn't take many tours around Luxembourg, but in the morning, she made it a point to powerwalk down streets with names she liked. Stopping by a local market on Grand-Rue, she spotted a Luchador and his side kick. He was dressed like he wanted to not be seen, but that bright green mask caught her attention. Bright green was one of her most favorite colors!
Carmen said not to talk to people, so Eartha was going to walk away. But a LUCHADOR, in Luxembourg! There has to be a show somewhere she doesn't know about. Walking closer, she heard the side kick speak English.
"Hullo!" She greeted with a wave, "Where is a Luchador and his sidekick going today?"
Lee Jordan was following Eartha Brute's day to day routine. Now he was on Grand-Rue pretending to be checking out some plants in a streetside shop while the suspect powerwalked. Just when he thought it was getting even more boring, Eartha suddenly got into a conversation with some people from a traveling circus. From where Lee was standing, it looked like maybe a venetian clown and his manager. Lee moved to another shop a little closer to hear what they might be saying.
"I understand our target may not be so easy to subdue, so I suppose that is why I'm here." He put his fists together. "If el ladrino wants to get tough, I can be tough right back."
Missy's nose wrinkled a little. "I don't know if you've seen this guy... he's not exactly the kind of man you need to body slam..." she said softly, about to say more when a large and imposing figure approached them.
"Hullo!" She greeted with a wave, "Where is a Luchador and his sidekick going today?"
An immediate statement of being no one's sidekick was on the tip of Missy's tongue when her eyes took in the full view of the woman who'd spoken. THAT was Eartha Brute. One of Carmen's finest. And strongest. THAT would be the kind of person someone like a Luchador would need to be present to chase after. Right. Good. But she'd spotted them. Right. Not good.
Not missing a beat Missy turned to El Halcon and gave him a slap across the chest (which, thanks to his well built pectoral muscles was the equivilant of slapping a brick wall).
"Are you happy? You can't even go on vacation without someone noticing you..." Missy said, withdrawing her hand to give it a shake. Ow. Turning to Eartha she gave a smile. "It seems you have spotted us... or him." Motioning towards the man in the trenchcoat. It would be bad to introduce him by his real name, wouldn't it? Uh oh. "May I present... El Maestro del Absurdo of Mexico City."
The tone she used was a bit grand, the type of flare one might use to present a celebrity or someone who thought themselves one.
As her eyes looked towards the muscled woman she spotted, not far behind her, the man SHE'D been looking for. Lee Jordan.
ACME Headquarters, San Francisco, CA
Back at Headquarters, Chief Weller's family arrived midmorning just as he received a request to allocate resources for a Luxembourg trip. This was allowed, given that Eugene Grovington was going to fly the plane and Chase Devineaux backed the request.
"Kuppa!" A little girl in bright blue called to her grandfather. Geraldine Weller, her grandmother, followed with watchful eyes. Mrs. Weller explained that their children were unpacking at home, leaving Hailey to visit for the day.
"Hailey," Chief put his granddaughter on his lap with a cheerful grunt, "my you've grown!" He turned to his wife and began talking about plans for the week. Chief was free because, as of yesterday, the ACME database became completely digital. New documents would either be written directly on the computer and saved, or scanned in. Field photographers were already sending their pictures online. Things were much easier.
"What's that?" Hailey asked, pointing at the screen at a series of pictures.
"That's the informant reports," Chief said, "when they find something suspicious, they send a brief report. Sometimes, they have pictures.
"This is a picture of Vic the Slick," Chief continued to narrate for his granddaughter, "It says he's been spotted in Montreal, so I put this..." he dragged the picture into a folder, "into 'watch', because no crime has been committed yet. Most of the time, I don't have to do much, we have a department called 'Control' that takes care of these things."
"Can we go now?" Hailey, at 4 years old, was easily bored.
"Okay, let's go," Chief Weller turned off his computer, "Lunch for you first, then a little ice cream during tea time."
Eugene Grovington was laying in the cavernous intake of the 777 and dozing off. He had completed his walk around moments ago and didn't want to waste what was left of this beautiful day sleeping inside, and the curved aluminum panel was a perfect place to relax.
Everything was ready for flight, sans passengers. Various items that were too large or unwieldy to send through the C5 were crammed aboard; small vehicles, portable labs, and other odds and ends were now neatly stacked and secured.
Thanks to the excess cargo, Euge couldn't load enough fuel for a direct flight. The obvious solution was to land at a midpoint and refuel, but everyone who had an interest in this flight also wished for it to get to Luxembourg as fast as possible, himself included. Therefore, Euge had arranged for a refueling aircraft to meet them halfway. It meant cashing in some favors and minor modifications to the aircraft, but it was a small price to pay.
ACME Airfield, Near San Francisco, California
Chase Devineaux arrived with his falcon securely perched in a stainless steel travel cage covered by dark leather. The bird, despite being born in captivity, had an aggressive tendency. Anything to lower its stress level was preferred.
"Looks like we're packed," Chase referred to the stacks of cargo in the plane and he systematically reviewed the belts and buckles that secured every item along with the birdcage. For the Marine Captain, conducting final checks were natural, in the same way that he preferred his boots clean at the start of every case.
Sporadically, other agents arrived. Some came as part of their required experience while others heard about Luxembourg and wanted to hitch a ride. As passengers buckled in and Devineaux's watch beeped to signify departure time, he took the position of co-pilot. Entering the cockpit, he found it spacious and similar to that of a Boeing 747 he once observed years ago.
"You don't mind?" He asked but already began strapping himself into the seat next to Eugene Grovington. The flight to Luxembourg would be long, and this was a good way to watch and learn from an experienced pilot. A heavy jet, like this one, left little room for amateurs. The Field Director studied the pedestal then the overhead panels. If memory serves, there was also an overhead crew rest area on standard 777s. This flight, unfortunately, would have no flight attendants to facilitate.
"I don't take you for a commercial pilot," he finally stated what was on his mind, "Where did you learn to fly a jetliner this size?"
((I'm leaving room for detectives to write that they were on this flight, if you'd like to join this as another wide opening.))
As the passengers trickled aboard, Eugene climbed out of the intake and headed up to the cockpit. The few agents that were already aboard had yet to stow their bags, causing the main cabin to be a flurry of activity. He made his way through the chaos and into the cockpit. Sitting down, he pulled out an erasable marker and began to sketch his flight profile out on the side window. Technology such as electronic flight bags and digital charts were great, but the less he had to look down, the better. Thank St. Joseph of Cupertino for heads up displays!
Euge was focused on writing, and almost didn't notice when Chase entered the cockpit. Eugene continued writing as he watched Chase sit down on his abridged startup checklist and strap himself in. To be frank, Eugene enjoyed flying solo. An empty cockpit made it easier to enforce sterile cockpit procedures. "However," he thought to himself, "Chase is a fellow marine, so he at least knows what he is doing. And right now he is sitting on my checklist!" Eugene shook his head slightly to clear it and finished up his sketch just as Chase spoke.Chase said: "I don't take you for a commercial pilot," he finally stated what was on his mind, "Where did you learn to fly a jetliner this size?"
"I finished up my aerospace engineering degree shortly after I left the corps and got a job as a test pilot. Part of that involved working with the FAA to set type rating rules for new aircraft." Eugene began to power on the aircraft as he spoke. "Could you hand me the checklist that you're sitting on? Also, if you've got any gear, I recommend you toss it up in the crew area."
The engines were spooling up now, and the ground crews swooped in to remove wheel chocks and guide him onto the taxiway. Everybody was settled in for the flight, and in short order they were airborne. "Ladies and gentlemen, I hope you've bought a good book and a snack, because flight time to Findel Airport is a little over 8 hours." Eugene laughed a little at the groan from the back. It would be a quiet 8 hours for them; the cockpit was a hum of noise from Euge, ATC, and the refueling aircraft, call sign CAMEL HUMP, that was waiting for them somewhere between Canada and Greenland.
City of Luxembourg, Luxembourg
El Halcon wrinkled his nose. 'El Maestro de Absurdo?' If this wasn't a cover he'd take serious objection to that. He straightened himself up though and cleared his throat. "Si, as you may well know, it is against the honorable code of lucha to remove your mask. I hoped I would not cause such attention to be drawn to me and my assistant as we took some well deserved time off." El Halcon raised his fedora in greeting. "Well, we would love to stay and chat but we must be going. We're late for a tour of the Jean Duke Museum of Art."
[Co-written by Chase and Euge. This post covers the takeoff from ACME Airfield to the landing Luxembourg. All agents on the plane will be at destination after this post -- ask if you need any help, thanks!]"Right," the detective acknowledged and handed Euge the requested checklist. Looking passively at what was written, he surmised that the pilot was thorough. Coupled with a slight compulsiveness towards his profession, Euge was likely to survive a host of scenarios from what Chase could tell.
When in the field, Chase made sure those with him ate something every 4 hours, and sure enough, 4 hours into the flight, Field Director Chase Devineaux got up to check on the passengers. Most were asleep while others were utilizing the entertainment function of their ACME Handhelds to full capacity. There was plane food in the back, neatly packaged and placed in containers. Chase called a few volunteers and had them pass the meal around, instructing that the same gumshoes later made sure garbage went into sealed bags. This wasn't Air France, and cold burgers with moderate water were better than nothing.
He brought a set up to Euge in the deck, "All-American cheese burger?"
"Mmm, processed mystery meat. Thanks." Euge grabbed the trey and water bottle out of Chase’s hand without taking his eyes off the controls. The radio crackled with the sounds of a Bronx accented woman; "Camel Hump clear. Have a good flight." The tanker had disengaged just as Chase entered the cockpit, ending the most difficult leg of the flight. Euge devoured the meal without looking down, set the autopilot and headed to the lavatory. Backed by IRIS, the aircraft could handle itself for the 45 seconds he would be up.
Euge returned to his seat, noting Chase idly cycling through the different modes on the MFD. All of Eugene’s contacts were able to tell him who was in Luxembourg, but were at a loss as to why. "The equipment we're bringing in seems overkill for a normal theft. You anticipating trouble?" Euge reminded himself that this wasn't one of his regular jobs, and it was safe to talk to the customer.
"I... anticipate," Chase said listlessly, a possible Carmen heist with Eartha Brute in place was rarely normal. "Special Operations doesn't respond to VILE cases unless a good informant pegs it 'important'--otherwise, it's Chief Weller's responsibility." That was true, but it felt like a lie. Something happened over the past few weeks that made VILE cases harder to ignore.
Euge raised an eyebrow at Chase's evasive answer, but said nothing. The intelligence gathering line surpassed generic and fell squarely into the useless category. Euge didn't push the matter though; he knew from past experience that forcing answers out of people made for uncomfortable trips. Euge briefly recalled a run when he was young and idealistic where he had asked too many questions about the cargo. He came out of that encounter alive, but it had taken years to undo the damage to his reputation.
Since then, the only questions Euge asked were ones that would allow him to get the cargo from point A to point B with a minimum of fuss. If the news tomorrow speculated on how terrorists obtained surface to surface missiles or how political prisoners would suddenly escape to a friendly country half a world away, Eugene didn't even bat an eyelid as he changed the channel. Some would call it jaded, others outright heartless. Euge left the speculation up to others. He was fully aware of the repercussions of his jobs. The ones who condemned and vilified him had no real power beyond idle threats, while he was out there changing the world. Maybe for better, maybe for worse, but undeniably different.
"What are your plans after dropping us off?" Devineaux was quick to change subject. Cabin crew usually got time off between flights, but Euge was alone, leaving him around the airport hotel didn't seem like gratitude.
"It's going to take a while to offload the cargo and get it distributed. The helicopter was the last item in, so it will probably be ready to fly by the time everything else is unloaded. Whatever is going to happen, I'm banking on it happening within the city proper." Findel airport was just east of Luxembourg, so Euge would be, at most, 5 minutes flying time out from any hotspot.
ACME’s MD530 looked unremarkable, but it hid tools that most police departments could only dream about. A camera and spotlight were mounted in a turret on the aircraft, giving it day and night tracking ability. With infrared filters in place, the targets wouldn't even know they were lit up. The four seat helicopter could also carry several more passengers short distances on benches attached outside the cabin, giving agents the ability to hop from rooftop to rooftop. A well drilled crew could cordon off several city blocks in a matter of minutes.
"I'll make sure you're covered after this," Chase referred to funds, "whatever Chief is paying you to be Academy Staff, he should boost, since you're doubling as mission pilot too."
Euge didn't respond. He was a partial owner of this aircraft, and ACME was paying fuel, landing fees, and assorted taxes. Eugene's home life wasn't extravagant enough to demand a large paycheck either.
The hours after were quiet, and at some point, all the detectives at the back were fast asleep. Devineaux reviewed maps of Luxembourg, keeping his communicator nearby to receive a message from his current scout, Missy Wayward.
Slowly, the ocean turned to land and after several more hours, if Chase Devineaux had bothered to notice, the bright lights of Europe flickered into view.
Euge had been steadily bleeding off altitude and airspeed as he roughly followed the French-Belgium border towards Findel airport and circled the city while waiting for traffic ahead of him to use the single runway. In short order it was his turn to land, and the clear morning twilight made for an easy touch down.
ACME Luxembourg had, at Eugene's request, rented a hanger for this operation. While too small for the 777, it would serve nicely as a loading/unloading facility and a shelter for the helicopter. He taxied the jumbo to a rest in front of the nondescript building and signaled the ground crew to move in.
Euge took the time during unloading to make use of the crew rest area. Soon enough, his skills would be required again. In the meantime, he was content to let the front line agents do what they did best.
City of Luxembourg, Luxembourgel-halcon-verde said:
El Halcon wrinkled his nose. 'El Maestro de Absurdo?' If this wasn't a cover he'd take serious objection to that. He straightened himself up though and cleared his throat. "Si, as you may well know, it is against the honorable code of lucha to remove your mask. I hoped I would not cause such attention to be drawn to me and my assistant as we took some well deserved time off." El Halcon raised his fedora in greeting. "Well, we would love to stay and chat but we must be going. We're late for a tour of the Jean Duke Museum of Art."
"Oh too bad,"Eartha looked disappointed. Not that El Maestro de Absurdo had a tour to go to, but the assistant mentioned he was on vacation. That meant no wrestling event in Luxembourg. She hadn't seen a live match in such a long time, Eartha had the urge to sit ringside right now and stuff herself with peanuts and molasses cookies, roaring for her favorites.
"Well, pleased to meet you both," she grinned with both her eyes squinted and strongly shook their hands. Eartha had never 'offered' a handshake, she just shook whenever she thought was a good time. "Have a good time on vacation!" Then, reminded of food, she began to powerwalk to the next available snacks stand.
Lee had to duck fast when Eartha turned around. Something about the way that woman introduced the wrestler tipped the informant as strange. What would a Mexican Luchador be doing on vacation in Luxembourg? Why would he have an American manager? And what kind of name was Master of the Absurd? Intead of following Eartha, Lee already knew she was going to be around Am Tunnel, he watched these two.
El Halcon gave a soft sigh as Eartha walked away. "She was very interesting, and quite beautiful as well. I should have perhaps asked more about her: where she was staying..." El Halcon shook his head. "No. I cannot let such flowery ideas obstruct my mission." He turned to Missy. "Okay, where will we begin to search for this agente de VILE?"
Acting like she'd received a call Missy pulled the blackberry from her hip, opening a message to 'Mr. D' as she watched the giant woman leave and listened to El Halcon's lovesick prattling.ACME Message System
"She was very interesting, and quite beautiful as well. I should have perhaps asked more about her: where she was staying... Okay, where will we begin to search for this agente de VILE?"
Aware that her target, Lee Jordan, was still around and had not actually followed Eartha away she took El Halcon by the arm, leading him away from the area and more specifically using the hulking frame of the luchador to help block any lip reading or watching of her typing. "Your potential girlfriend is one of VILE's top agents. Eartha Brute." Missy said bluntly as she typed out her message to her boss. "And we've got someone following us."
Finishing her message Missy hit the send button and put away her blackberry.
"So... where to now, Absurdo?"
To: Chase Devineaux From: Melissa Wayward
Found the subject. Presence of Luchador has brought his attention, he's following me. Requesting further orders.
Eartha Brute has been spotted in the area, around the AM Tunnel.
El Halcon huffed. "Will you stop calling me that?" He looked out in the distance where Eartha retreated. "Eartha Brute...You didn't tell me she was a woman." His eyes narrowed. "well ella es un criminale, verdad. She must be taken in. But first we must deal with our follower." El Halcon stretched his neck up and turned it about as Missy sent her message, intent on protecting her while trying to catch sight of the perpetrator.
Devineaux saw the message on his communicator and promptly put it away. He took a breath before reading it again. Eartha Brute in the area... if he was paying attention he would have known that sooner, but no, not with his head submerged in a barrel of petty thoughts. Worse was the fact that these bits of emotional uselessness were being interjected by the image of yet another thing he could do nothing about -- her.
If you saw me now, you'd tell me I think too much, he thought, friend, if we were somewhere else, someplace else, it might have been easier. He stood up and Phoenix the falcon, free from its cage and hood, flew ahead in reaction to its master.
Pulling out the communicator again, he turned on the GPS locator. On Missy's communicator, Chase was now a blue dot, and to him, she was orange with Phoenix a blinking green. Typing, he replied:
'WW -- I'm near, 15 minutes to your six.'
"Euge," he called back to the pilot, "I'm heading to the center of town, keep your GPS online."
"Standing by," Euge replied. He had transited the helicopter to a pad within the city where he was closer to the action and was keeping close watch on the agents' current position. He watched as Chase and Phoenix converged on Missy's tag, and his hand twitched near the collective. It would take him less than a minute to spool up, and he was just a few miles down the road from the agents.
Euge forced himself to relax. The ground pounders would call him in if they needed him. In the meantime, he could spend time catching up on his reading.
'WW -- I'm near, 15 minutes to your six.'
Missy read the order quickly and gave a slight nod to herself. Her hand started to put the blackberry away when she paused and brought it back to her line of sight, her face turning a shade paler than before. He'd called her WW. In her past life, her former identity Chase Devineaux had given her a pet name. Wonder Woman. She in turn had called him Batman. It was something small, office chatter really but seeing the initials there in place of MW had made her stomach knot.
Melissa put the blackberry away quickly. No. No no, she was getting ahead of herself. Maybe he used that nickname on other people, maybe it was a typo... this was not the time to worry about things that she was probably being paranoid about.
"Jordan's at your 8... calm down, he hasn't done anything yet." she told the luchador softly. "Devineaux is on his way, Jordan needs to be kept in sight until he gets here... so let him follow. Then we'll deal with Eartha."
El Halcon gave a slight nod and widened his stance a bit, making himself look more relaxed. He crossed his arms and looked about nervously, wondering if it were more prudent to stand in place or move if they were being followed.
Lee kept an eye on the two, nothing too easy to notice. The more he thought about it, the more he could see it wasn't likely that girl was who she's pretending to be. Eartha probably saw them as strange too, but she was too dumb to put it all together.
Then, overhead, he saw something that really doesn't belong, Chase's falcon. Yes! Lee was happy, now he can get out of here. Changing the way he was standing, Lee started to look around the streets for Chase Devineaux.
Exactly fifteen minutes after he messaged Melissa Wayward, Chase caught up with his operative. Seeing the wrestler with her was unexpected, but logical. Chief must have sent an agent in response to the informant report on Eartha Brute. Not far from them, he could see Lee Jordan. Good, a decent assembly was underway.
"Missy," he greeted briefly, then gave his attention to the Luchador, "You're sent by Chief? Looks like I'll be your Field Director for now."
Glancing in Jordan's direction, he took a breath and nodded, signalling the informant to come closer.
"While this is usually done before the fieldwork," he continued, "let me introduce you to our current informant... Lee Jordan."
((Moving Lee up, mate.))
Lee Jordan wasn't that surprised. If he was, he sure wasn't going to show it. Walking up to Chase, he nodded to the guy in the green mask and the girl.
"Nice meeting some agents. Finally."
Missy's eyebrow raised in slight displeasure as Lee Jordan was introduced as an ACME informant. Not only was she sent to simply watch someone but watch someone who was in no way shape or form even someone who was a threat or someone that would have to be arrested. Feeling her face start to pucker and a tell tale sarcastic tone about to come from her lips Missy shook it off and smiled instead.
"Nice to meet you, Lee." she said calmly, giving a tilt of her head towards his direction before looking to Devineaux.
As expected any sort of tell tale sign about Devineaux and his feelings, thoughts or otherwise were hidden behind steel eyes and a stone face. She was still wondering about that text but, she thought to herself, that would have to wait.
(Slight god-moding here approved, thanks!)
Chase nodded in Lee's direction soon after Missy spoke. "Jordan, got a safe place we can talk?" Informants consistently knew locations where briefings were optimal, "Start walking, take us there."
Before they moved, Devineaux took a hold of Missy Wayward's arm. "One moment?" He said, indicating to both the masked luchador and to ACME's second-most infamous turncoat that he needed to speak with his agent alone, "Debriefing."
Pulling her far enough away, the Field Director started in a composed, deep tone, "I'm going to talk, Eleanor. I suggest you stay calm, listen, and play along." He was expressionless, "There's a discrepancy we're both aware of, I won't ask you why, not yet, but I suspect Chief Weller put you up to this so I won't hold you completely liable." Sensing her sudden felled disposition, he breathed slowly, almost apologetically. He'd give her chances to argue, but now was hardly the place.
"Don't look distressed, give me a nod, and a firm smile, then let's go back to the group. We'll clear this up later," Chase let her go, and with a gentler voice said, "Got it?"
Lee knows good places, and he was liking this, that Chase's trusting enough to let him choose. He started walking to one of them.
"There's some place just down the street, yeah, you sould tell me before there were going to be four of us," he complained then said sarcasticly, "More's the merrier!"
He didn't wait for Missy and Chase during their conversation, she's a new agent and agents get instructions all the time in 5 seconds or less. They'll catch up with him and the clown soon.
"El Halcon, that's a stage name? You've something like 'John' I can use?"
In hindsight the WW should have been enough of a clue. She should have seen it coming. Some time down the road, when reflected upon, this entire experience would be looked upon with a chuckle over tea sometime. That didn't help right now though. Missy stood in silence for a moment as she took in the sentences thrown at her in rapid succession.
"I'm going to talk, Eleanor. I suggest you stay calm, listen, and play along. There's a discrepancy we're both aware of, I won't ask you why, not yet, but I suspect Chief Weller put you up to this so I won't hold you completely liable."
Despite the lack of physicality present Missy felt like she'd taken a sucker punch to the gut. Her mouth was left nearly slack jawed as she repeated such a simple string of sentences in her mind. Eleanor. Oh god he knew. It wasn't like she hadn't been planning on telling him, it wasn't like he would NEVER know but he wasn't supposed to know yet. But he did. He did NOW. This was... horrible. This was beyond horrible. This was absolute defeat.
Before her mouth could even catch up with any form of reply her eyes had given her and her sudden feelings of failure away.
"Don't look distressed, give me a nod, and a firm smile, then let's go back to the group. We'll clear this up later,"
Whats worse than being told that you've failed by the person you're supposed to keep hidden from? For Missy it was the inability to say a word in response. By the time she'd finally found her words she'd been silenced, an act which left words merely buzzing in her mind. A mixed collection of anger and apologies, surprise and disappointment left locked within. She looked at him for a moment, the look of hurt turning itself into an accusatory stare. Not at his discovery but of telling her now. When she couldn't rightly defend the choices she'd made or explain why. Did he even know that her Special Operations Agent certification was riding on his not knowing who she was?
Missy's eyes glanced over at Lee and El Halcon for a moment before returning to Chase. She let out a heated breath and as she took it back in slapped on a smile.
"Yeah." she answered, the tone betraying the grin she'd started to wear. "I've got it." Turning herself away from the Special Operations Director she headed back to the other two.
El Halcon hooked his arms around Missy and Lee's shoulders and gave a hard chortle. "The party is assembled. Now all we need is to apprehend the already identified culprit. Forward into the fray go we stalwart investigators to quell the rime though it means certain danger to us all! Viva la victoria!"
[OOC: Joint post from Carmen and Eartha. The red spinel pen mentioned in here is the same one in "On Angels and Dragon" written by Carmen, Vic, and Dragon.]
Near Am Tunnel, Luxembourg
Minutes after Eugene Grovington unloaded the Boeing along with the rest of ACME, Carmen and her team landed in a rented field outside the city. Using a red Ducati Multistrada 1100, she wounded her way through the streets of Luxembourg and to Eartha's temporary apartment. No one was home, but entry was easily obtainable. After the long flight, she was tired and uncomfortable, and needed an immediate remedy to both afflictions.
At about the same time Eartha Brute began speaking to who she would come to know as 'El Maestro del Absurdo', Radio Luxembourg broadcasted its 'Classics' hour, and Carmen finished her bath. Soon, she was on her laptop, looking through a list of 103 locations spanning 38 countries.
Eartha, thinking about that masked luchador, returned home to find it exactly as she left it, except with her boss inside.
"Oo no, you shouldn't be here!" Eartha said with surprise.
"I have a team on location nearby, but they need time to setup," Carmen replied without lifting her eyes from the screen, "The entire trip was a meeting." Here, she redistributed her plans and turned off the computer, "I need sleep."
"Okay," Eartha wasn't sure if that was an order or what, but she started looking to make sure no one suspicious was around. Near Carmen's discarded red coat, a black pen with a red gem on it was on the floor. The large woman picked it up and untwisted the cap to look inside. It was finely crafted with engravings in gold, and Eartha gasped a little.
"You may keep that," Carmen spoke as soon as she noticed her friend's interest in the object. "It's a red spinel Mont Blanc, just don't forget to refill the ink."
"Oo I couldn't!" Eartha said reluctantly, this was so pretty, and she liked to write.
"It's yours," Carmen insisted while rummaging through Eartha's little-used bed full of stuffed bears. "Eartha, where are your pillows?"
"I don't sleep on this bed, it's too small," Eartha pointed to the linen closet, "I have a big roll-out mattress with pillows in there. Here, I'll get them for you."
"Nevermind," mildly irritated, Carmen decided on using one of the bears as a substitute headrest.
As she drifted, a shadow against the window's light curtains roused her awake. Refocusing, she could see the sleek form of a falcon. A jolt of recognition heightened her senses and she sat up, pulling the curtains aside for a clearer view of the bird on Eartha's faux balcony. The falcon looked at her, exchanging one eye at a time in her direction as if to say hello. Around one of its legs was a long, pin-like ACME GPS transmitter.
"Eartha," Carmen slowly spoke, there was no breath of a doubt to the raptor's identity. It found her, and unless something was done, its master would soon follow. "Quickly, grab me a towel..."
Lee sneered a bit being armlocked by the clown. He hated this kind of comaraderie it's so genuine and heroic, it made him sick in the stomach. Leading the team to a small oneroom apartment above a local tea and coffee shop called "Joli", Lee showed them the map he had on the wall about where Eartha was spotted. He had papers on VILE's activities in the area, including any suspicious activities that might not be linked to VILE at all. He also had some photographs he took of Eartha talking to people, along with the dates and notes at the back.
"She's near Am Tunnel," Lee said showing the file with Eartha's profile, "Bought an apartment, put a down payment and everything, think she's using a different name." He passed around all he had so the other agents can have a look. "Sorry about the mess in this place, I got it cheap, shop downstairs makes it hard to find."
That went well, of all the possible outcomes Devineaux projected in his head, this was the most favorable. Despite, he did not feel any lighter. Perhaps a wiser man would cut discrepancies at the bud and cancel Melissa Wayward's advancement into Special Operations. That could make things easier, but any thought on future actions vanished when he saw Jordan's choice of a 'safe house'.
As soon as they entered the establishment, Chase shook his head. In the spirit of 'hiding in plain sight', renting space above a café might seem smart, but it was next to negligence. Coffee shops were public places where anyone from anywhere could sit, blend in with the crowd, and observe your entry and exit at almost any time of day.
You're lucky this is a low-level case, Devineaux thought as he listened to Lee Jordan's explanation, if I had sent you to Amman, you'd be in trouble. Placing his communicator on the table as he reviewed the files, he noticed Phoenix's dot in a stationary position. Good bird, stick around, I'll be there soon. A few seconds later, the green dot changed into a red zero with a bar across it and disappeared. Checking again, the location was only streets away from Am Tunnel.
"Where is Eartha's apartment?" Chase asked, putting a mark on his falcon's last known location, then showing Lee the screen, "Somewhere there?"
The abrupt disappearance of Phoenix's signal attracted Euge's full attention, and he began spooling up the chopper in response. In the 20 seconds it took for the turbine to get to full speed, Euge sent a text message to Chase:
"Lost Phoenix tracker signal. Mobilizing to investigate. May be able to get camera fix on last known location. Orders?"
The communicator indicated a successful transmission, and Euge hastily stowed it before lifting off. The lack of helicopter traffic around Am Tunnel meant he would have to move carefully to avoid arousing suspicion, and lingering in one spot or circling like a vulture at low altitude would attract too much attention. The only option left was to climb and hope the uplink from the high zoom camera would be enough for Chase to work with.
Euge bought the helicopter into a high hover just outside visual range and waited for Chase's reply. No sense in blowing his cover without accomplishing something.
Lee Jordan looked at the mark on Chase's communicator with both eyebrows raised. It's exactly where he marked Eartha's apartment too. At the same time, a message from Euge saying "Lost Phoenix tracker signal. Mobil..." partially showed up at the bottom of the screen. So that's what happened...
"Yeah," Lee nodded, looking hard at Chase's face for a reaction, "around there." He didn't take Phoenix, but giving the man the bad news felt good anyway, Lee didn't know why. "Gotta be more of VILE there to take out Phoenix, Eartha wouldn't see a falcon and think enemy."
((LOL, mate! Lee wouldn't survive 3 days doing what Mikal does, ai?))
Jordan was right on Eartha's inability to identify the bird as a threat. Whoever took Phoenix knew it belonged to ACME and caution was necessary. Chase thought to tackle this alone... it would be easier. He looked to Missy. While attempting to decide whether he should trust her, the glance reminded him of something she once said... about teamwork.
Might as well...
"Right, this is now a search mission. Euge, take the skies, don't get spotted. Jordan, you're coming with me," that decision was easy, "Verde, Wayward, I'll need you watching exits. I'm guessing Eartha will want to leave the city if she knows we're here," he looked to the Luchador, "You take the out-bound," then to Missy, he nodded, "that makes you in-bound."
Marking the locations on the communicator's map, he continued, "I'll know when you're in position, no one acts until I say so. Any questions before we head out?"
"I'll know when you're in position, no one acts until I say so. Any questions before we head out?"
Yeah, Missy thought to herself, how long do I get to pack my things before you kick my ass all the way back to Boston.
"None here." she replied calmly though the pitch of her tone showed a sort of annoyance that she was sure none of the new cadets would catch. Her left hand reached into her inner jacket pocket, producing a small pair of binoculars and an ear piece. Placing the binoculars into the outside jacket pocket she carefully fixed the ear piece and covered it with a bit of hair as her other hand reached for her communicator, syncing it up.
"Channel's on. Call if you see anything."
With that she turned to leave.
Thats right, she told herself. Savor the moment... its the closest you'll ever come to being an agent.
((OOC: Mates, I'm writing that El Halcon and Missy are in position to move us on, if that's wrong, say so ai? Many thanks!))
Lee Jordan got up and gathered his things as soon as the instruction was said. No use for more talk, he figured.
Leading the team out the door, he got them promptly to Am Tunnel and to the street and apartment in question. Lee could see a helicopter nearby, nice and quiet, ACME's getting good. Lee had a motor bike parked near the area and he showed that to the team too, so they'd know that he had the speed if something was needed.
"There's the apartment," Lee pointed for Chase to see. "It's on the third floor. Eartha likes stairs."
Lee looked at the communicator and saw that both El Halcon and Missy were in position, "So?" he asked Chase, "what now?"
Luxembourg, near Am Tunnel, a few minutes earlier...
In the time that it took certain members of ACME to move from "Joli Café" in central Luxembourg to Eartha Brute's inconspicuous third floor flat near Am Tunnel in Gare Distict, Radio Luxembourg played half way through their 'Classics' hour, and a V.I.L.E. henchman arrived at the apartment with a cage to transport the falcon. As he left, Carmen picked up a very subtle pulsating sound. First believing it to be motor from a passing car, she glanced outside to find the streets bare.
"Eartha, turn off the radio," she spoke urgently. The sound was almost inaudible, but years of practice granted her the ability to confirm its source. Someone was scouting the area, hovering... a helicopter.
Within an instant, Carmen flowed, like water. They found out about the bird much quicker than she would like, but this was not the time to dwell on missed steps. Whether or not she had taken Phoenix, the plan was botched, and Chase was bound to cross paths with her ultimately. Readying herself to leave, she gave instructions to the only other person in the premise.
"Eartha, go," she was firm, "leave town, head southeast, I'll have someone meet up with you." Without looking directly at her friend, she raised her voice, "Now, please."
Eartha didn't quite understand what Carmen was doing until she was told to head out. Head out? Leave the apartment? But why?
None of her questions were answered as she packed to run. There wasn't much in the apartment she needed, and everything else could be left. Eartha took one last look at Carmen then went down the stairs, taking the south emergency exit and started heading out of town. First, she needed to get to the train station, which was practically next to Am Tunnel.
Dressed warmly in her black riding clothes and boots, Carmen glanced at the digital alarm clock next to the bed, then once again outside the window. Her Ducati remained in an alley nearby, and further down the street, she could see people going about their daily chores.
After a moment of silence to plan her route, she turned up the television, and then sanguinely walked out the door to the north exit and her motorcycle. Unlike Eartha, she would be heading towards the fire, drilling into the stony heart of Luxembourg.
[[ACME, Eartha and I have completed our brief bridge, it is now your move.]]
(OOC: got permission to move people in and out of the apartment building. Thanks everyone!)Chase said: Euge, take the skies, don't get spotted.
"Easier said than done," Euge thought to himself. The tightly packed buildings meant he would constantly have to circle in order to cover all the exits and alleyways, which reduced his chances of not being spotted. Whoever took the bird probably knew ACME was coming anyways, so stealth was already out the window.
Euge's train of thought was interrupted by a small vehicle stopping in front of the apartment building. The sole occupant entered the building carrying a large covered cage. They emerged less than a minute later still carrying the cage, and turned to leave town. Euge forwarded the imagery to the agents along with the direction the vehicle was travelling, but kept the camera trained on the building.
Watching the apartment paid off. Euge had circled around to the back of the building and saw a figure climbing out onto the fire escape. The build topped with green hair meant only one thing: Eartha. Euge watched as she made her way through the alley and on to the main road before turning towards Am Tunnel, or possibly the train station to get out of the city. Euge alerted the ground pounders to Eartha's presence and movements, and continued to watch the building.
"Come on, there has to be more," Euge hissed to himself. Sure enough, a woman in black riding leathers emerged from a side door moments after Lee and Chase had walked in the front. Helmet tucked under her arm, she strode briskly up the block and ducked into an alley out of his field of view. Her timing was too convenient, and Euge tagged her as a 'person of interest' and moved up to see where she had disappeared to.
((Heh, person of interest is putting it mildly when it comes to Carmen))
((Taking us ahead in Luxembourg while the Blue Moon Masquerade continues. All players mentioned below gave permission for this post.))
Heading inside the apartment building with Lee behind him, Chase played it by the book, revealing his badge then asking nicely at the front desk for the keys to apartment 34. The receptionist cooperated. As they closed in on Eartha's door, the sound of laugher from a TV blared from the other side. The Special Agent knocked first, and when there was no answer, he used the key card.
On first impression, the light fruity scent of a woman's perfume merged with the smell of toffee and chocolate that floated in from the dessert shop outside. Much of the place was empty and free of clutter. Devineaux turned off the television, making an inspection in the silence. The bed had been disturbed, and the stuffed bears on top of it were tussled; the closet was empty, with drawers opened and hangers lying about. Someone left in a hurry.
The sound of a motorcycle starting alerted Chase to the window. A rider dressed in black took a red Ducati out of an alley near the apartment and sped down the street towards the city. A mild rush raised his temperature as he eyed the vehicle's coincidental exit.
"It's the Ducati," he said clearly into the communicator as he quickly wound his way out of the building, "follow that red bike!"
As Chase Devineaux looked through Eartha's apartment and saw things, Lee saw an empty room. He didn't notice anything out of the ordinary except for the closet and the TV being on loud.
Just when he was about to say something like I'll go check the perimetres, Chase alerted him to the motorcycle. Running down after his boss, Lee didn't wait for anybody's orders. He rushed a block down where he had his Suzuki kept for trailing Eartha around the city. Lee knew he was only an informant, he couldn't make this arrest even if he begged, but he was betting that a motorcycle race through Luxembourg was a one time only experience even ACME's best agents would kill for.
Zeroing in on his target, Lee blindly followed the red bike. It was only a Ducati, and his ride had the bigger engine. All he needed was a good stretch of road and it would be his.
Missy stood in her recon location, one foot placed up on a low sitting brick wall as she held a pair of binoculars in her hands. Placing the magnifiers to her eyes she gave a long and low sigh. Well this was a fine mess she'd gotten herself into. It may have seemed like she was dwelling on something she shouldn't be at a time like this but what else could she do?
Watching the traffic with a half attentive stare she watched as someone dressed in black drove by on a red motorcycle mere seconds before hearing Chase's voice yell on her ear piece.
"It's the Ducati," he said clearly into the communicator as he quickly wound his way out of the building, "follow that red bike!"
Giving a light curse Missy threw her binoculars into her pocket and looked around. Following the red bike was easier said than done. They'd all arrived by C-5 except for Lee Jordan who, unbeknownst to her was already starting to follow the suspect. Her gaze looked about frantically until she lay her eyes on a pair of motorcycle cops with, thank god, their motorcycles on hand. Running full tilt at them Missy stopped just in front of their bikes, pulling out her badge.
"Agent Melissa Wayward, ACME Detective Agency. I need to borrow your bike."
(OOC: As promised, this is an instalment from me. For those involved in this scene, please notify Chase should you have questions. I won't be available this weekend.)
Thus, it happened that the infamous Carmen Sandiego, even under rather rigorous cover, once again became the rabbit in a dog race. She pondered the irony, if briefly; since she captured an enemy falcon only moments ago.
Her first pursuer, an ill-tempered young man in swarthy leather, rammed his larger Suzuki motorcycle forward as if expecting her to surrender from fright. Fear, unfortunately for him, was her fuel.
An imaginary topographical map of Luxembourg appeared vividly in Carmen's mind as she chose her next destination. With her smaller engine, she must out-maneuver him through winding streets; should she make the mistake of wider roads, she would be handicapped.
Choosing a sparsely populated side street with the intent to lose a tail, Carmen diverted her route.
With the wellbeing of his falcon, Phoenix, still fresh on his mind, Chase Devineaux eyed the direction of the red Ducati and quickly referenced the overhead map from Euge's image feed. That helicopter was a good call, and by far the best investment on this case.
From the screen of his communicator, the field director could see Lee Jordan closing in on the target. Then the Ducati did something unexpected: it strung through alleyways. Chase summed that whoever was driving the Italian motorcycle knew the streets of Luxembourg by heart. Lucky for ACME, eyes were everywhere. Ahead of the Ducati was a wide area and Devineaux saw a chance for Jordan to force the smaller bike on to a stretch of highway.
"Jordan," Chase instructed over the communications link, "there's a long road north/northeast, push the target up there, and use your speed."
((I hope that nobody minds me just jumping in. This post is a little offset time-wise from the latest ones as like... it wouldn't be possible for some of the people mentioned to be where they are otherwise. :P ))
Laying low for a good long while was probably one of the best decisions that he could ever have made. Virtually all memory of what he did had faded from people's minds as more "pressing" matters drove them forward. Even those that were directly involved seemed to have considered the events of a couple of years ago as nothing more than a dream.
This was good.
For the last couple of weeks, Flag had been hovering around the observation decks and public rooftops of San Francisco blending into with the summer tourist crowd as best as he could. Long silver hair never really did help with this, but his newly adopted attire of ragged denim seemed to lend itself towards the idea that he was a member of some independent grunge-metal cover band, which was an effect that he didn't mind.
To add to the tourist effect, he had a camera with him - a nice Canon EOS Rebel - which he pulled out often to take pictures of what seemed like the San Fransisco skyline. However, had anyone paid the least bit of attention to his camera, they would have realized that his only target of attention was the large ACME complex that sat in the middle of his city tour.
In one of the rooms of this building (probably shoved in a filing cabinet somewhere ) was the last shred of evidence relating to an incredibly heinous crime committed against the scientific community - a theft of knowledge. He doubted that anyone working there now remembered this fact as it slipped their minds, but he needed to obtain that small stack of paperwork so that it would forever be nothing more than a tease of the mind.
He knew from experience that someone with a facial profile like his was not easily able to enter the ACME complex without the unwanted assistance of armed escort. This was why, a couple of days ago, he found himself laughing heartily at his employer walking in and out of the main office building without issue. It was a wonder what a mere change of clothes could do!
Ultimately this was his idea as well. He would rob a janitor of his uniform and badge, then waltz on in to take over the poor man's job until he found his target. However, unlike Carmen, he had to wait for certain variables such shift changes amongst the guards and maintenance crew as well as wait for his paid informant to give him a general idea where forgotten and seemingly unimportant files were archived.
His informant was over an hour late. This would have normally annoyed Flag, but he was distracted by the fact that there seemed to be a lot of activity gong on within the observed complex. Eventually a certain Field Director that he rather disliked came running out of the office with a handful of agents and disappeared somewhere.
"Well... That changes things." He whispered under his breath as he finally got up from the table, leaving his tab and tip on the table.
Before long he was speaking into a pre-paid phone that he picked up from a small shop somewhere and called the student that he had been waiting on.
"Dude, I don't know what's happening but there's no way that I'm going to miss it!"
The line went dead. About ten minutes later there was another call.
"Never mind. They won't let me come with them. What was it that you needed?
"What?! But you haven't..."
The line went dead again, but this time it was Flag's doing. He didn't really want to bother with the kid anymore as he currently had enough information to make due with. The evening maintenance guys came in at 7 and his biggest worry was out on a mission.
Why else would a dumb student detective be so excited?
((ooc: Still in Luxembourg, if I'm writing this wrong, tell? Thx.))
Lee Jordan was close, so close he could have reached for that Ducati, but he lost the distance again when it swerved into winding roads.
"Argh!" He shouted, trying to keep his balance and gain on the red motorcycle again.
Chase said: "Jordan," Chase instructed over the communications link, "there's a long road north/northeast, push the target up there, and use your speed."
Lee couldn't see what Chase saw, and it wasn't easy for him to trust a commander. Looking harder, he could see through spaces of buildings to fast moving cars out on the highway. Revving his engine, he followed Chase's instructions and tried to force his target to go north.
The journey to Luxembourg City via the 777 had been flawless with its smooth take-off and landing, with nary a mid-flight bump to disturb the peace in the cabin full of ACME Agents and equipment. Sophie Conrad had divided the twelve hours of flight time between a copy of the latest National Geographic, a draft for a research paper, and a short nap. Tucked away in a corner seat that she had purposefully picked out, she received no interruptions – other than from an enthusiastic youth from the Academy offering her a bottle of water, for which she was not ungrateful for.
The capital of Luxembourg was one of the richest cities in the world and a great banking centre. She had been here before, on the account of her father’s business, only once, when she was sixteen and had loved it. The chance to fly in with ACME to offer medical support was one that required very little deliberation.
While the ACME Field Director rendezvoused with his on-site agents, Sophie rented a black and silver-coloured Smart Fortwo and began to head into the city centre. The ACME-issue communication device sat on the seat beside her, its screen showing the GPS map that dotted out the various locations of the ground crew. Next to the communications device, her own touch tablet expanded the same map to a more easily readable A4-size. Relays from the ad-hoc control centre at the airfield kept her up to speed with the events – from the apparent kidnapping of Phoenix and the ensuing chase of an unidentified motorcyclist.
Phoenix was well-loved enough within ACME. It did not take much to fall in love with the beautiful bird. The creature’s greatest advantage and disadvantage, however, was one and the same – its owner.
Directed by the in-vehicle GPS system, Sophie drove at a leisurely speed, taking care to blend into the city traffic but circumventing at selected intersections to keep an appropriate distance from the ACME Agents. Her intention was simple: unless explicitly ordered to or under the duress of medical requirements, she would stay out of all the affairs of the detectives. The rented car was a convenient assurance that she remained only a five to ten-minute drive away from any of the mobile ground crew. It also allowed her a much treasured opportunity to see the city.
As she glimpsed the passing sights, both to orientate herself to the capital and take in its elegance both modern and historical, she caught sight of the helicopter the resourceful Eugene Grovington was piloting and smiled, more with relief that she was not required to enter the confines of the craft than any familiarity its fly-past offered.
The low rumble of the Smart Fortwo, the lovely Maya blue of the afternoon sky, and the nostalgia evoked by the French road signs had become a comforting medley, offering Sophie emotions that greatly contrasted that which she knew must be felt a very few streets away.
68 Carmen ((A progressive reply to Mr. Jordan.))
The Ducati sensed from the sound of its pursuer's revving engine that Lee Jordan was attempting to rear her out of the alleys. Carmen imagined that action working, had she been a girl of twelve and the Italian two-wheeler a European bicycle. Under her helmet, she smirked and made a small vow to find herself time for a leisurely bike ride. For now, should any high-speed chasing were to occur; they must be on her terms.
Veering dangerously along paths no wider than a horse cart, the red Ducati declared its independence with low-pitched accelerations. She navigated along a steep slope and slid into one of the many valleys that cleaved through the city of Luxembourg. Among the brush and stones, both motorcycles would struggle, but Lee's Suzuki and its bulkier frame was certainly at a disadvantage. Carmen counted on the informant behind her neglecting this tedious fact.
Lee followed the red motorcycle as much as he could. He was losing ground fast. At the entrance to the valley, he looked around to see if Missy or Chase was nearby. If he stopped longer, he could probably get some support or another good advice, but he wasn't good at doing that. He went into the valley like it was his only choice.
The valley was a forest, full of bushes, gravel, and trees. The trail the henchman on the Ducati was making made it only a little easier for him to steer through. Under the shadows of the trees, Lee for a second thought, what if he was actually chasing Carmen and not some VILE henchman? The idea made more and more sense until he convinced himself that he had to be her. If it was Carmen, he had to get her now, when the helicopter's view was still blocked by the trees above.
Carmen, after having baited her temporary rival, was in no hurry to leave the valley. She took the motorcycles along an old foot trail that proved rather scenic, had it not been for the roar of automobiles crossing the Adolphe Bridge high overhead, connecting Avenue de la Liberté in Gare District to Boulevard Royal in Ville Haute.
Traversing her way around minor obstacles, the thief knew the area rather well. She had scouted the city night and day prior to this and several other heists. Experience informed that beyond the next ridge was an area dotted with puddles, after which laid a significantly wide gap into a shallow, albeit slippery, stream.
Playing her role, she slowed down for Lee to catch up. When he appeared at a good distance, she revved across the ridge and splashed through the pools, mixing water and dirt until she reached the stream. To avoid the algae-coated stones, she made a sharp turn to the left then negotiated a natural bridge to the other side.
Lee was consumed by the idea of getting Carmen, he was already thinking about what to say to her, what she would say, and how he was going to do all of this in front of the boss, Chase Devineaux. He saw the Ducati slow down and took the chance, speeding faster to close the gap between them.
He followed her through the puddles, these were in a more flat area of the woods, so his motorcycle had the speed advantage again. But all of a sudden, the stream came out of nowhere! His wet wheels slid when he tried to brake, and he swirled in a circle when he hit the water. He tried to speed through the stream, but the rocks under made his wheels spin with no traction, and both he and the bike fell sideways, with his left leg trapped underneath.
Lee shouted angry words, but he was stuck under the weight of his Suzuki. The bike was getting all wet from the water, and he hated the idea of having to fix this baby.
The Ducati's rider spent very little time evaluating the situation. Her first enemy was down, and she was in the clear, giving her no reason to loiter. Taking the path that would lead to Boulevard Royal, she kept constant vigil on everything around her. As she perceived, at least one agent, with the advantage of a helicopter and a very tact handler, was still in pursuit.
She hoped Eartha had made it out of the city by now to relay a message to the rest of her Luxembourg team. Carmen, however, had no plans of leaving the city of Luxembourg. Her role was to ensure, for now, that no one from ACME left either.
Lee came to accept that he needed help when he couldn't see or hear the Ducati any more.
Taking out his communicator, he said, "Hey, I'm stuck... in the valley under some bridge here... She went towards Ville Haute. I think. Can somebody hurry up and come get me?"
"Hey, I'm stuck... in the valley under some bridge here... She went towards Ville Haute. I think. Can somebody hurry up and come get me?"
"I'm on the bridge en route to Villa Haute." Missy chimed back into her wired mouthpiece, trying to report in over the sound of the YamahaFJR1300 she was weaving between cars with only moderate success. She raised her head a bit higher as she neared the end of the bridge and started to enter the area in question, eyes peeled for the woman in black on the red Ducati.
"I'd love to know who decided to trade the BMWs Europeans had in their police forces with Yamahas... I feel like I'm going to break this thing." she mused softly, her paused bike now holding up the traffic behind her as she still looked for the figure.
Finally spotting her target Missy lowered herself to her handlebars again, her hands twisting the accelerator.
"Target spotted... in pursuit."
Chase wasn't surprised when Lee Jordan failed to maneuver the smaller Ducati out of the side streets and onto paved roads. Despite Jordan having been a former agent, he wasn't one now for a good reason. Lee was somehow only capable of making irrational decisions.
Lee said: "Hey, I'm stuck... in the valley under some bridge here..."
Of course you're stuck, Chase thought, you went down there with a Suzuki Bandit.
Lee said: "She went towards Ville Haute. I think."
Lee said: "Can somebody hurry up and come get me?"
"Yeah," Chase breathed, connecting to the on-site doctor, "Sofie, if you're around, head to the valley under Pont Adolphe. Agent Jordan's location is marked on your overhead map. It's a small trail, be careful."
Missy said: "I'm on the bridge en route to Ville Haute."
Ducatis were fast, manageable, and extremely versatile motorcycles; perfect in a city straddled over several valleys and outcrops. Whoever was riding that thing wasn't planning to stay on the roads.
With the ACME communicator, Chase drew an imaginary path from Am Tunnel in Gare to Ville Haute -- passed Pont Adolphe and the Pétrusse -- the most logical direction after that was the city center, or further north-west into Limpertsberg.
Missy said: "Target spotted... in pursuit."
"Missy," he instructed, "head down Boulevard Royal and cut her off before she takes a side road towards the Center. If you make her go north, Euge can get better visual."
At about this time, two Luxembourg Police officers arrived in response to ACME's initial request. They had worked with the company before.
"Pourrait-on fermer les routes?" one asked with a margin of German in his French.
"Pas besoin," Chase replied, "We're not chasing a murderer, and I only need this one for questioning." Now that Lee was down, and El Halcon had gone after Eartha, Devineaux acted as Missy's backup by default. "What's the best way to get around the city center from here?"
"Down Avenue de la Gare, si vous voulez, a tunnel goes straight north. And if you no want the circulation [traffic]," The officer pointed to his left, "there is l'écurie de la Gendarmerie here, take a horse, you get anywhere in Luxembourg five minutes or less."
Horse..., Chase considered, he hadn't been on anything equestrian since he was 19, but a Gendarmerie-trained horse could also take him all the way up to The Bock and areas of Grund district much easier than any motorcycle. Without hesitation, he nodded in agreement.
Somewhere in San Francisco:
Vic "The Slick" Fumigalli got news from Eartha Brute all the way somewhere outside of Luxembourg City that the team in San Francisco was ready and waiting for him. All other plans, she said, were cancelled.
Being the nervous man that he was, Vic told Dragon, then his tag-along partner, to go low, and if possible, come for a meet up later. For now, he was rushing to California.
As soon as he landed, the grifter went to the luggage claim and found a briefcase with his fake name and registration number. VILE's lackeys were good at little details, he didn't have to pack a thing. Inside the case was a smart phone, two temporary SIM cards, and a micro SD card with what Vic figured everything he'd need for this mission. Under all that electronic was some cold, hard cash, and a debit cash card with a note that said, "10+90K. Use wisely. --CS"
The cash made him feel better, but Vic wasn't anything like Carmen when it came to teasing the enemy. He hated being close to the eagle's den, if ACME could be compared to an eagle, and he preferred to be as safe and hidden away as possible. Like always, he was already fidgety.
He turned on the phone and the first message that popped up was "Partner with Flag." Lucky for Vic, this Flag was in the mobile's list of contacts. So, he sent a text.
"It's Vince, in town, text me with a time and place, let's kick this thing started."
As the events between the yet-unidentified Carmen Sandiego and the determined Lee Jordan unfolded, Sophie Conrad cruised down Rue de Chimay heading towards Avenue Marie-Thérèse, the grand steeples of Notre Dame in sight. To make the ACME communicator easier to read, she had perched it onto the dashboard before her.
The request to pick up Lee Jordan surprised Sophie even as she knew it to be completely rational. Everyone else was concentrated on chasing the unidentified motorcyclist and she was the least involved member of ACME proximally available. Keeping one hand on the steering wheel of the Smart Fortwo, she used her other hand to fiddle with the communication device.
Her acknowledgement was crisp: “Je l’comprends, M. Devineaux.”
Somewhere at the back of her mind, a thought disturbed her. Everyone else was concentrated on chasing the unidentified motorcyclist. Was there something else they were missing? Remembering, very briefly, a ruse expounded in the Thirty-Six Stratagems, Sophie frowned.
Make a sound in the east, then strike in the west.
However, as she negotiated another junction, Sophie very quickly pushed her worries away. The over-analysis of events occurring a few streets away was not what she was here for and it was certainly not in her job description to interfere with the doings of the ACME detectives already on the ground.
Finding Lee on the communicator, she continued, “Hang in there, Mr. Jordan.”
The historical Adolphe Bridge spanned the valley of Pétrusse at a height of forty-two metres. When it was erected in the very-early 1900s, it was a wonder for the sheer size of its stone arches. As she turned onto the historical site, Sophie pondered how she might enter the valley below. Then, she grinned as the cheerful blue of a vel’oh! station came into sight a short distance away.
After having slid the Smart smoothly into a parking space near the southern end of the bridge, where it met the Boulevard de la Pétrusse, Sophie took a few moments to gather her belongings.
Extracting a small black-coloured duffle bag from the luggage compartment of the city car, she stuffed her passport, the ACME communicator and her ACME ID into one of its side pockets. The touch tablet was shut down and slipped under the passenger seat.
Procuring a bicycle from the vel’oh! terminal was a breeze and it was only a bit over ten minutes after first receiving the order to pick up Lee Jordan that Sophie found herself deftly manoeuvring her way down towards the Pétrusse viaduct. She was in no hurry. Hurrying distracted her and would attract unwanted attention.
In the basket at the front of the bicycle, the black-coloured duffle sat. On an inconspicuous corner of the nylon bag, in gold embroidery, was a two-inches tall caduceus – the only indicator of the duffle’s contents.
As Lee had not sounded in need of medical attention, she had been initially hesitant to carry the kit out of the Smart. Then, she remembered the smiling hulk of a man who had walked into her consult in the Emergency Department of MassGen, a little more than two years ago. He had perched himself onto a chair before her and had cheerfully chatted for a full five minutes. When she lifted his shirt to examine him, she found a blade embedded six inches deep into his abdomen.
Having memorised Lee’s location, Sophie made her way calmly and carefully towards the demarcated spot without having to refer back to her communicator. She found the man damp and annoyed, stuck under the impatient rumble of his Suzuki, and recognised him from the photograph in his ACME file.
Swinging off the seat of her bicycle, she smiled at him and did a quick and surreptitious visual assessment of him and his environment.
“Hello, I'm Sophie Conrad - from the ACME Medical Centre. Are you all right?”
Then, she bent over and turned off the engine of the motorcycle that had him pinned.
“Come on, Mr. Jordan, give me a boost,” she said as she gripped the handlebars of the two-wheeler with both hands and pulled it off the man and into an upright position.
The grunge band look certainly had it's advantages in a facility where student reigned supreme. This is of course was referring to the smaller building that housed the ACME students in their respective dormitories. He didn't yet dare make his way toward the complex proper, where everyone was expected to either be in uniform or in business attire.
His purpose for choosing this building was because the maintenance staff for the ACME complex had an on-call office located here for the overnight hours, when any number of things could lead to emergency repairs. Previous investigations revealed that this was locked and unobserved during the daylight hours.
As he made his way to the small office, he remembered his now ex-informant commenting on how "cruddy" the lock on the door was. His explanation for that was "Prolly because nobody cares about a janitors office." This statement was probably why Flag was rather surprised to find not only the door unlocked, but that the room was occupied.
The young couple screamed at him about his intrusion as they dove behind the desk. A moment later they ran out of the room past him, leaving a rather confused Flag standing in the doorway. This momentary lack of action on his part could have been devastating in any other situation, but not one bit of attention was paid towards the recent commotion. A fact that he decided to take mental note of as he kick-started his senses and and locked the door behind him.
Before he even bothered to look for keys or a uniform in the small, windowless room, he sifted through the paperwork that was stacked on the desk. The first big problem with pretending to be member of the maintenance staff was the staff itself. If he didn't have the right lies prepared his cover would be blown the moment that he came upon another janitor, which was a distinct possibility for a company this size.
This short investigation revealed that a gentleman by the name of "Renard" was to be transferring from another district in about a week. This information was good enough for Flag. He would pretend to be the new employee and would explain that the moving process (which the paperwork said was the holdup) went a lot quicker than he expected. The only person that he would have to worry about running into was the supervisor that would approve such a schedule change.
Now that the easy part was over he searched for a set of keys. After about an 35 minutes of sifting through drawers, he found a single key that opened a lock-box at the back of the room. This in turn revealed three sets of keys, which would unlock all of the storage closets and classrooms in the complex. He couldn't find anything that would grant him access to anything with a higher security level, but he wasn't going to complain.
The last thing that he would have searched for was obviously not going to be found from the beginning. As soon as the young lovers left the room he could see that the maintenance staff was responsible for washing it's own clothes and thus there were no uniforms or lockers in the room. This meant that he would have to hit the uniform store - an establishment that he only knew of because he overheard the complaints of two medical students at a restaurant - to pick one up.
Afters snagging Renard's patch from the cork-board by the door, Flag left the tiny office and made his way back towards to public entrance of the ACME complex. It was at this point that he felt the phone go off in his pocket. In a move that made him look more like a student with a day off, he pulled the device out and read the text now displayed on it:
"It's Vince, in town, text me with a time and place, let's kick this thing started."
Rounding the corner that separated ACME from the street he paused to text back a response and remembered how much he hated doing this supposedly simple act. He'd press some buttons and then a word that he didn't want would insert itself automatically onto the screen. He would then attempt to delete it, but because he couldn't remember what served as the "backspace" button, he would accidentally shut off the text application. Eventually he just gave up and called, leaving a voice mail when "Vince" didn't answer (or maybe he did answer. Flag didn't really care).
"Banner Uniform Center. One Hour."
He clicked the phone shut and crammed it in his pocket. He hated these devices, but they came in handy more often than he wanted to admit. At least this time around he didn't have to use it to try and find a map to his destination. His casual act of sight-seeing had already informed him of where it was. The only concern that he had at this point was if he would recognize his newly acquired accomplice.
The remainder of the Ducati's trip through Pétrusse valley was rather pleasant, but too quiet. At intervals, the hum of that irksome helicopter acted as reminder that hunters awaited her exit beyond the trees. The pilot was good, she noted, as he made efforts to be less detectable. Impressive were ACME's upgrades since the return of their Field Director, this only made her plans all the sweeter.
As she severed her way through the woods and into the district of Ville Haute, the rider veered up to a busy road, only to discover that a speeding police motorcycle had her targeted. The standard-issued Yamaha carried a woman who was either an out-of-uniform Luxembourg officer, or an ACME agent. Carmen preferred the later, as the former would merely waste her time.
"Gresser," she called the codename of her closest backup, "As-tu le faucon?"
After a buzz and a click, Gresser replied, "Aa... oui, et dans une cage, pourquoi?"
"Bien," she playfully replied, "Suivez-moi." Her henchman's new task was to follow with Chase's abducted bird safely in its cage, and to watch for her signal.
Lee Jordan didn't hear the "hang in there, Mr. Jordan" that the doctor sent to him. Instead, after transmitting his statement, the agent's communicator slipped off his wet hands and fell into the stream. It slipped under the rear wheel of the motorcycle and got caught, and it was probably in pieces by now. Lee had been about to tell the team he thought the Ducati was Carmen Sandiego, and then this doctor showed up.
Sophie said: “Hello, I'm Sophie Conrad - from the ACME Medical Centre. Are you all right? ... Come on, Mr. Jordan, give me a boost.”
Lee grumbled and helped her get the Suzuki off him. "Be careful," he said, "this thing's going to cost me."
When he tried to get up, it hurt, and Lee started cursing... a lot. The rocks were slippery, and the weight of the motorcycle had scraped his left leg. Probably nothing bad at all from a medical view point, but that didn't stop Lee from making a big deal.
"What took you so long?" He took it out on the doctor, "I can't put any weight on this leg. And you brought a bike?"
Fumigalli was a good Fixer. Fixers were people that got things, set up things, "fixed" things so that the rest of the team can function. He was the guy people went to with a shady "shopping list" of equipment for a heist, and he was the guy with most of the contacts.
Vic got Flag's message and set his watch. One hour.
During the first 15 minutes, he spent looking through the SD card the VILE mission team arranged. The money he got from Carmen, he knew would have to be answered for. They weren't for fun spending, they were for tidbits that he'd have to manipulate for this thing. It was also plenty, for a guy with a name like Vic the Slick.
After memorizing all the instructions, the conman started looking up old friends in the area. Some were also "fixers", that were going get him everything else he needed, while others were "insiders" and "friends of friends" willing to help.
The next few minutes were spent calling and arranging to see who can do what, and the rest of the hour was Vic distributing his funds. The conman arrived on time at the Banner Uniform Center ready to support his new partner, Flag. This was the second partner Carmen had set him up with, in two days. The first was Dragon, a wild girl with fangs and claws.
He texted Flag: "At BUC, wearing orange leather hat."
Sophie arched a brow but said nothing as Lee spluttered from profanity to condemnation. In this manner, she continued to consider him, even when he lapsed into silence, and allowed that silence to grow into discomfort. From the bridge above, the sound of moving traffic flooded the environment, dulled only by the tree canopy. She pondered the irony of his latter words. He, too, had brought a bike (albeit a decently motorised model) – and if his current temper was any reflection of his riding, she understood, with some sympathy, why he had landed up in his current state.
Then, with perfect calmness, she said: “Why don’t you take a seat on that boulder over there---” she nodded towards a large rock less than two metres away and offered Lee a hand “---and let me have a look at your leg?”
Lee sneered, hobbling to the stone with Sophie's help. Unlike a few other agents, he didn't mind doctors, medics, and hospitals so much. They were always good for something, and he kind of liked the attention. But this case was different. He could have been chasing Carmen.
"Can you hurry up?" He asked when he remembered that he was after Carmen and Chase should know, "That woman, the unidentified motorcyclist, I think it's Carmen Sandiego. We have to tell Chase so he can get more agents on this."
"Missy," he instructed, "head down Boulevard Royal and cut her off before she takes a side road towards the Center. If you make her go north, Euge can get better visual."
"I hear you." she muttered in a positive tone as she concentrated on the roads ahead of her, swerving between two cars as Missy's eyes took in the location. The centre of the city was to the east; if she were the woman in black instead of the ACME agent on the Yamaha that would be where she'd want to be headed. Meaning that, logically, now was not the time to give her the chance to do so.
With a hearty rev of her engine the motorcycle lunged forward, quickly making up space and time lost by not being on the thief's rear since the chase started. After a number of loud honks from the cars she was now eagerly cutting off she turned on the motorcycle's police lights, hoping not only that they might deter people from trying to, you know, drive on the roads. Or at least in roads she was currently occupying.
So focused was she on the red motorcycle in front of her Missy was a bit slower to notice the second motorcycle joining the first.
"She's not alone." Missy reported over her microphone. "I think she's got a backup..."
The Gendarmerie did not give Chase much of a choice as to what he would ride. From a stable of primarily show horses, the equestrian handler brought out a gray Percheron. Known for its calm demeanor, this breed excelled worldwide, and in cities such as Luxembourg, their quickness made them more versatile than any motorized vehicle.
"Une percheon, c'est un étalon," said the Gendarmerie's stableman, "Son nom 'Normandie'. Il sait la ville, il va vous emmener partout. You can ride?"
Devineaux nodded. He was fine with a French Percheron, gladly accepting it. His only other choice was the even larger Ardennes Luxembourg, and he had no experience with those.
"Les commandes sont en français?" Chase asked to make sure it was all right to instruct the horse in French.
"A droite, a gauche, reste, seulement en français!" the handler listed a few simple commands and proceeded to tell the American to only use French.
"Merci beaucoup," he thanked the handler and mounted the horse named Normandy, just in time to hear Missy's transmission that the red Ducati might have backup.
"Focus on the Ducati, Melissa," he assured the pursuing agent, "I have you covered."
Taking the horse far and fast, Chase looked for a short cut to meet up with the suspects. The stableman told Devineaux that Normandy knew this city well, but the field director wondered how this was going to work... seeing as 'Normandy' was -- essentially -- just a horse.
Flag's reputation with the racketeers was not that much different than Vic's in the sense that he was the type that "got things done". His reputation however, followed more along the lines of that of a hit-man (even though that was not his job title). Vic might have known this from his various connections had Flag ever given his name out to any of them. He was only refereed to as "The Silverskin" by the members of the non-VILE underground (a title derived from a fictional character that the Sivoan had only minor similarities with). What Vic might find to his distaste, if he paid really close attention, is that this VILE agent had a minor resemblance in eyes and teeth to the one he worked with in Montreal.
He was standing by the hats, already with a jumpsuit in hand when he received the text message.
He texted Flag: "At BUC, wearing orange leather hat."
The Sivoan looked up and cast his gaze over the low-lying racks of the store and spotted the offensively dressed individual and frowned slightly. He then backpedaled and grabbed another jumpsuit and hat before making his way over to Vic and attempted to speak in a casual tone.
"I found em. Let's check out and then get something to eat."
It would have been a brainless activity for either of them to steal the uniforms, but Flag felt that this wasn't the point where they wanted to draw any kind attention to themselves and paid simply with cash - two more customer's that the cashier would never remember upon checking out of work for the day.
Once they were outside, Flag gestured towards an empty restaurant which he somehow had a key for.
"We can talk in there."
Vincent Fumigalli followed his new partner into the restaurant and put his briefcase down, sitting with a nervous look, glancing around the place to make sure they weren't being watched. When he was sure they were clear, he got started.
"You know Carmen wants something, right? Something big?" he said to the alien. Carmen warned Vic earlier about Flag, the way she warned him about Dragon. He never understood if she was attracted to strange humanoid things or if they were attracted to her, but the way she treated them like normal people, and the way she convinced all of VILE to do the same, was something he learned to like.
"They're already in Luxembourg, she and the main team," Fumigalli went on. VILE was after a historical building of significant importance. It was a huge undertaking that took nearly a year of advance planning. Vic figured Flag knew some of this by now and was already doing the inside work. "I came from Quebec," he explained, "got the angel safe and sound, and everyone else's got their list done, so it's up to us for the crunch."
Vic was sent to Quebec to get an Angel statue, Patty Larceny had been sent to Notre Dame de Paris to get the Gargoyle Little Dido from its roof, and all other VILE agents were dispatched to various locations to snatch something as memento. The last location on Carmen's list, was Notre Dame de Luxembourg
"Tell me what you got so far?" the conman asked.
(Co-written; edited by me. My many gratitudes, Josh.)
With Lee Jordan perched safely on a boulder, ascertaining that his greatest suffering was a sprained ankle became a straight-forward task for Sophie Conrad – the joint had already begun to swell. Firmly ignoring his statements about who he thought he had been pursuing and instructing him to stay still, she returned to the vel’oh! bicycle and fetched her duffle bag, from which she retrieved a blue-coloured gel-pack. She broke the plastic seal that separated the two compartments in the gel-pack, initiating a rapid chemical reaction that caused the contents of the pack to freeze.
“I don’t think you’ve broken any bones,” she explained as she waited for the pack in her hands to completely ice over, “but it appears you’ve sprained your ankle. So…” she bent over to place the now-frigid gel-pack onto Lee’s ankle, “here, hold it… and try not to move your leg too much.”
As the chill from the pack permeated his ankle, Lee Jordan made a face. He hated the feel of cold things on painful things; yet, he obeyed the doctor, sensible enough to know that he was out of options.
“This sucks,” he complained, “I was so close!”
“I’m sure the Field Director and his agents know what they’re doing,” Sophie said gently as she extracted her communications device from the duffle bag at her side.
But, Lee had stopped listening to the doctor. Instead, he was now watching her handle the communications device with vested interest, wondering if it could connect to Chase Devineaux.
“You’re going to the hospital for an x-ray – just to be sure,” Sophie continued. As certain as she was that Lee had only a minor sprain that could be completely treated outside of a medical institution, she knew that ACME would require more hard evidence than what her own experience could purport. A clean x-ray film should satisfy.
Caleb Lake was a final-year medical student at the UCSF and had written a very convincing letter to the ACME Medical Centre, seeking a three-month internship at the facility. He had proven adept and enthusiastic, even though the upper echelons had failed to agree on whether Caleb wanted more to be a detective or a doctor. Nearing the end of his stint now, his presence here in Luxembourg would signal his first and final involvement in an ACME mission as a medical student. Stationing him at the Clinique Sainte-Thérèse, Sophie hoped that the trip would commit him to a decision about his future in ACME – if there was to be any.
With Sainte-Thérèse barely five minutes away, Sophie stepped away from Lee to contact Caleb. She exposited, speedily, the situation with Lee’s ankle and by the time their short conversation was complete, a quick ride from the Pétrusse to the hospital had already been despatched.
“Is that an agent-class device?” Lee asked, pointing to the communications device, “or can you only contact the command?”
He was dying to tell Chase about who he thought was riding on the Ducati and had thought his chances dashed when his communicator was destroyed by his little mishap. Now, another opportunity had presented itself, barely a few feet away, and Lee was not going to miss it.
Sophie lifted her eyes from the communications device, terminating the connection she had with Caleb as she did so: “I can contact anyone on the ground.” And, probably in the air, if she could figure out how to fully manipulate the device...
The reaction that followed was stunning.
Dropping the cold-pack, Lee leapt to his feet and lunged for the device with unadulterated eagerness.
Surprised, Sophie took a reflexive step backwards – “Qu'est-ce---” – and regarded the man with shock on her features. “What are you doing?” she demanded.
With the communications device now rendered out of reach by a woman who could move faster than he had, Lee could only wobble on one leg and wince, mild foolishness colouring his face. He looked from Sophie to the device with sincere contrition and solicitation, “May I use it?”
Sophie did not answer immediately. She frowned with blatant annoyance and picked up the fallen cold-pack. “Sit down,” she instructed as she returned the pack to Lee and made sure he placed it back onto his foot.
“You could have just asked.” She handed the ACME communications device over.
Lee took the device silently, looking boyishly sheepish. Then, he dialled a link to Chase Devineaux.
“Sir, this is Jordan,” he said when he got through, “I got a look at her – the Ducati’s rider,” his words started to tumble out, “I think it’s Carmen Sandiego!
89 Carmen ((Well done on the above co-post, Scarlet, you're rather promising as an editor.))
The henchman following Carmen's Ducati was significantly slower on his blue BMW. He was riding a larger bike for the sake of the captured falcon. Birds of prey were prone to stress, and while she only wanted to take the GPS transmitter attached to Phoenix's leg, the falcon was now very necessary to what she hoped to accomplish in Luxembourg.
Carmen turned her head to watch the woman on the police Yamaha; from the way the agent worked to stay parallel to her, VILE's leader guessed what her new enemy planned to do.
"Elle fait de nous diriger vers le nord!" Gresser, the trailing henchman, stated the obvious that ACME was forcing them northward. The thief gave a nod of approval, guarding the hectic city centre was exactly what Carmen would have done, had she been pursuing herself.
"Tell me what you got so far?" the conman asked.
Flag reached into the bag of stuff that they had purchased from the uniform store and threw one of the two suits onto the table in front of Vic.
After setting his own jumpsuit down, he walked over to a cabinet above the bar and popped a door open, which he then propped carefully on the handle ofthe door located next to it. The missing hing of the door, the generally unkempt look of the place, and the fact that they were inside it at all made apparent that the restaurant was condemned. VILE's connections had procured a key for the small structure and Flag had been using it as a place to rest during his "tour" of the city. He even had papers claiming ownership of the place, which had already coated themselves in dust as they lie on the bars surface.
The alien returned to Vic and unrolled a few sets of blue prints, which he had been able to procure from public records once upon a time. The alien had circled a number of points on the architectural map and made some small notes. He pointed at one in particular that was circled in red ink.
"As you know we're going to need to obtain a few small pieces of equipment, which are most likely distributed from our target destination. We could get them from some of the staff, but that would rapidly lead to detection... " He glance up at Vic, "Are you prepared for that scenario?"
Before he could receive an answer, he rolled aside the top blueprint and spoke about the second page.
"Since the last time I was were there, they've switched to manual security and approval codes, which makes thing significantly harder than just getting myself arrested and beating people up... hence the uniforms."
Flag then pointed to a blue circle.
"This maintenance shed is our entry point. It connects to a emergency stairwell, a service elevator, and the parking garage. Since Carmen had expressed that she has no interest in the parking garage, we can set up the hand-helds there we get them. As long as someone stays with the ummm... what's the word? Console?... We will have no problems with this."
He flashed his sunset-colored eyes upwards from the papers to Vic. "I was hoping that you would do that part since I'm not so good with complex machines."
While Chase Devineaux had little problem commanding Normandy on paved roads, when the path became smaller, things got difficult. He concentrated, negotiating the animal through obstacles; but the horse, chewing on its mouthpiece, acted as if it already knew the way. During one brief rider-horse conflict, Chase pulled a little too hard and Normandy stopped only to continue again without further action. Devineaux realized this was what the stableman meant by 'the horse knows this city'.
Lee Jordan's report came through via Sophie Conrad's communicator, indicating that the doctor had reached her objective. When the informant enunciated 'Carmen Sandiego', Devineaux suddenly had an important decision to make. He could make this an official V.I.L.E. case and call in Chief Weller to record the sighting, or he could claim jurisdiction since his operatives are first on the scene. With a few seconds to think this over, Chase decidedly answered Lee first.
"That's only partial identification, Jordan," he explained, "I'll need more than an 'I think' to go on."
By the end of that transmission, Devineaux concluded that this would logically have to be his case; throwing it to Chief Weller would take days. Logging his ID to ACME Control, he requested all files related to V.I.L.E.'s recent activities. While that tedious transfer took place, he checked the video feed from Eugene Grovington and continued on horseback towards the location of Agent Wayward.
"Euge, we're forcing the Ducati north," he sent to the helicopter, "keep supporting Missy, she's on to something."
Sitting still, in the figurative sense, was something Euge had not done for quite some time. Most of his career had been spent moving goods, not watching. The change in pace was nice, listening to radio chatter and knowing he was not the one being hunted. The balance would be swinging back soon enough, he supposed.
"Euge, we're forcing the Ducati north," he sent to the helicopter, "keep supporting Missy, she's on to something."
"Affirmative." was the crisp reply. Before the operative had finished speaking, the helicopter was translating to the north, pilot hoping he wasn't overshooting his target. The thick woods precluded even the most advanced airborne sensors from locating anyone in the area without some sort of assistance. That assistance came in the form of Missy's communicator acting as a beacon for all operatives in the area.
Suddenly, another problem cropped up, one that Euge had been anticipating for the duration of the persuit: fuel. Leaving the field agents without air support was not an appealing option, but there was no other choice. Euge keyed the mike, "All elements, this is Euge. Bingo fuel status in 15 minutes. Be advised no air support will be available after that time."
Lee Jordan frowned when he heard Chase's acknowledgement. "Did you hear that?" he asked Sophie, who was probably close enough to hear the speaker anyway, "It's another report he doesn't care about."
The intern that Sophie talked to was on his way, but Lee wasn't in a hurry anymore. Maybe he was wrong, maybe that wasn't Carmen Sandiego. But Eartha Brute was here, right here, the chances can't be that far off. If he was in Chase's position, he'd order all the roads closed, bring the city to a standstill until he could force her to surrender. Devineaux shouldn't have all that power if he was going to do nothing with it.
Then the helicopter broadcasted that in 15 minutes, it needed fuel. That meant, in 15 minutes, if they don't get Carmen, this race was over.
"He doesn't know what he's doing," Lee commented out loud about Chase, "he's self-righteous, that's all he is."
Sophie Conrad, through the articles accessed from the ACME Library and the unabashed chatter that occasionally circulated the Medical Centre’s cafeteria, was not completely immune to the mention of the name ‘Carmen Sandiego’. When she had first heard Lee Jordan mention the infamous thief, she did wonder what the woman might have been doing in Luxembourg. As far as she knew from the very-brief despatch instructions the Medical Centre had provided, ACME had sent a team here to track down a certain ‘Eartha Brute’.
But, things are never as they appear.
That thought renewed repressed worries that she felt her role could never allow to be voiced. Perhaps, she mused to herself, she was in the wrong department of ACME.
“He didn’t reject your report,” Sophie reminded Lee gently. She regarded him thoughtfully, considering all he had said and deliberating an appropriate reply. She was in no position to defend nor desert the Field Director; and, in all honesty, Lee’s comment about the Director’s self-righteousness had almost succeeded in tempting a smile from her – had she not been so determined to remain neutral.
“How would you have replied, Mr. Jordan?” Sophie asked, instead. “What would you have done, had you been in his position?”
Vic grinned to his new partner, "I'm prepared for just 'bout anything," he said, "part of working with VILE, ah?" With that, he looked through the plans and the circles, trying to understand them better.
"I'm no hacker," he answered to what Flag said about him manning the console, "but I know a good one, leave all the soft stuff to me, you get us in."
While he talked, he took a few pictures of the plans on the phone VILE provided. Flag was doing great as an insider, Vic was impressed, but he was going to have to ask Carmen sometime about where she found her "aliens". He looked at the uniforms and figured he'd look just fine in these, as long as he stayed away from thorough security checks.
"Carmen gave us a start-up of 10K cash, and 90K in a checking account," Vic went on, "I getta do the accounting, so anything you need, just say it."
He then sent an instruction of what he needed by text to a friend. This "friend" should reply with a quote and more information on how that console was going to get hacked.
"We should get going, ah?" Vic looked at his watch, "The boss's all set up, she's gonna be waiting on us. Have ya talked to her recent?"
"Focus on the Ducati, Melissa," he assured the pursuing agent, "I have you covered."
“I got a look at her – the Ducati’s rider... I think it’s Carmen Sandiego!”
"Euge, we're forcing the Ducati north... keep supporting Missy, she's on to something."
"Affirmative."It had taken a bit of maneuvering, a couple of less than comfortable calls and more throttle pounding than most would prefer but the orange and black police yamaha was now running parrelel to the Ducati. Missy's concentration was centered on the road and the red motorcycle in her sight.
"Still on he-" she had begun reporting when from her left the BMW cut straight in front of her heading east down one of the side streets she had been passing. Instinctively screeching to a halt, the bike turned a bit sideways and she slid a few feet before coming to a complete stop. Taking a deep breath Missy watched as the Ducati carrying her subject drove out of sight and, if she had to guess, towards the city's center now that no one was there to protect it.
Turning her head away from the main road she looked down the side road she'd stopped dead in front of, watching as the BMW which had nearly caused an accident seconds ago was slowly making its way away through more crowded areas. One would have to wonder later if it was the sudden burst of anger at losing her subject that caused the clarity of mind to notice a cage attachment on the back of the BMW escaping. A cage attachment about the size of, say, a large bird of prey.
"Hey guys... lost the Ducati. I think I've found something else." she said clearly into her mouthpiece as she gave the throttle a hearty twist, then added with a lightly snarky tone, "Only partial identification, of course, but 'I think' is going to have to do for now."
[Friendly OOC Post from Will the Admin]
As there are now 5 pages dedicated to Luxembourg, I would like to remind all players of a rule in the Addendum Chief Weller posted on the main page:
"The main Luxe RP will be limited to ACME Headquarters, Luxembourg, and (for all intents and purposes) wherever Carmen Sandiego is standing."
Also, because this is an RP with significant age, it is highly recommended that you read this RP thoroughly before joining. Please understand that irrelevant posts may be ignored (this is not a rule, but a freedom of choice given to all players).
Please contact your group administrators (Carmen, Chief, or Chase) for more details. Thank you for reading!
[End of OOC message]
((I apologize for the lag in response. I just started my maternity leave and it's been rather tough to prepare for. ))
Flag had backed away from the table when Vic started snapping pictures of the blue prints, using the opportunity to un-braid his long silver hair so that a few short minutes later he could cram virtually all but some of it up under the uniform cap. At one point he undid the clasp that had pinned his elven-like felinoid ears against the back of his head so that he could also tuck them up under what strands remained.
With some slouching, the end result of his disguise was that of an old man who apparently was unable to retire and took up simple janitorial work.
"Use the cash on the hacker, " He paused to affix the stolen name patch to the front of his uniform "A third of whatever you agree upon up front, the rest we'll deliver after the heist."
He paused to consider the rest of the money that was in the checking account. Occasionally it occurred to him that VILE shouldn't have access to this kind of wealth as the criminal organization had a tendency to steal absolutely ridiculous things - like their current target. There was not a sole on the black market that would purchase anything from them because of high profile issues that ultimately ended in a lack of permanence. Flag looked at Vic "the Slick," understanding that there was a deeper, darker side of VILE that may actually be hidden even Carmen herself. How else would could they fund themselves?
"Likely, we won't need anything more for the rest of the mission. I do however, wish to be compensated ten grand when all is said and done."
Overall this was not a large amount to ask for and Flag did not go into detail as to why he would ask for so little. Curiously enough, he also did not answer Vic's question as to when he spoke with their employer last.
"Get your disguise on. We've not much time before the shift change."
"Still on he-Hey guys... lost the Ducati. I think I've found something else. Only partial identification, of course, but 'I think' is going to have to do for now."
Missy had lost the alleged thief, leaving Euge as the sole persuer. The outcome was inevitable. If the biker didn't lose Euge in the city center, he would have to break off in less than five minutes anyways to return to the airport. ACME had lost this one. Euge dropped a GPS tag noting his last contact with the target before radioing back. "This is Euge. Fuel status is bingo plus two. Breaking off pursuit and returning to base. Sorry guys." Hope you're having better luck down there, he added mentally, and swung the helicopter back around towards the airport.
((OOC: Ladies and gentlemen, we've established some concept of time throughout this game, but I would like to clarify. Flag and Vincent are in San Francisco, the time for them is evening. In Luxembourg, we are in the morning hours. To sum, three in the morning for San Francisco is noon in Luxembourg. Since ACME landed during morning twilight, Chase has suggested that it is now 9 a.m. in Luxembourg, giving us approximately three game-hours until the climax. Mm, having established that, let us move on.))
The thief on her red Ducati had just purchased valuable time using a very expensive commodity, the field director's abducted falcon. Both bird and BMW successfully distracted the only ACME agent keeping Carmen from the heart of Luxembourg, a place that not only contained her target, but one that would provide significant cover.
Without any hesitation, she veered straight into the city centre. It was now late enough in the morning hours for the commute to shield her.
The BMW, fitted with a metal cage, was still a match to the police Yamaha carrying ACME Agent Melissa Wayward. Somewhat easily, it led the agent through roads and alleyways. Its driver, 'Gresser', was a young architect and part time student at Université du Luxembourg. He understood the streets and was a member of VILE only when Carmen had business in the city.
Choosing a busy spot in one of Luxembourg's classical neighbourhoods, Gresser stopped to park the blue motorcycle perpendicular to a decorated wall and left the keys; he then ran on foot into the nearest opened shop.
Carmen looked to the skies and found, to her expectation, that the helicopter was no longer in pursuit. The clock on her wristband warned that time was running out. Her San Francisco team required darkness for their part of the operation, and with the time differences, she would have to acquire her target at exactly noon in Luxembourg... in broad daylight.
It was, in two understated words, rather audacious.
((Morning is good in Luxembourg mate, much better we got that established.))
Lee Jordan glanced back at Sophie Conrad and wondered what she wanted to get out of asking him those questions. He thought about not saying anything, but then again, she definitely didn't sound like she was taking sides.
"I'd probably trust my own agents a little more," he answered, "But hey, don't matter what I think. When this is over, his is the face you're going to see taking all the credit for ACME on the news."
"I was in VILE once, and he's got me keeping tabs on VILE agents like that's all I can do."
Missy said: "Hey guys... lost the Ducati. I think I've found something else." she said clearly into her mouthpiece as she gave the throttle a hearty twist, then added with a lightly snarky tone, "Only partial identification, of course, but 'I think' is going to have to do for now."Lee laughed, that little jab at Chase from Missy made him feel better for missing a lot of the game. At least she was on his side, even if it wasn't direct. Then the helicopter a few minutes later reported that it was out for fuel. Well, they tried. Lee shrugged.
"Have you done a lot of cases with ACME?" he asked the medic, "You don't look familiar at all."
((OOC: Evening in San Francisco, got it. We’re workin towards 3 am, like you said.))
“10 grand, all yours,” he said, “I guess you hadn’t talked to Carmen recent or she’d arrange it already. I’m getting about the same myself.”
Vic followed his partner’s instructions and put on the uniform, hiding his face under a cap. He was a human and needed less disguise than the alien, a fact that he didn’t notice until tonight.
While Vic was gathering his things, a message popped up from his hacker, it said: “I want 50, transferred, Pick me up at the church.”
The conman, knowing he wasn’t here to keep any secrets, showed the message to Flag.
“Do we need an extra uniform?” he asked, “or can we shove him into a trash can and bring him in?”
The trash can comment made Flag smile a bit and shake his head. He liked the idea of throwing a pampas kid into a trash can, but realized that it was not practical. Three janitors running around in a rush wasn't exactly practical either.
"Actually, he should be fine in whatever he's wearing. could provide a further sense of authenticity for us."
While Vic was talking Flag had packed a bucket, containing the required spray bottle and a towel in addition to a few other things that they might be able to use. He also tossed Vic a set of what, upon further inspection, appeared to be a set of "bump keys." After that Flag grabbed a steel-handled mop and made his way out the door.
Chase hardly heard Missy's report about losing the Ducati and finding something 'partial' to pursue. On his communicator was a list sent by Chief Weller of stolen items so far linked to VILE.
A bronze statue, The Angel with the Broken Wing, was taken from Notre Dame des Neiges cemetery in Montreal, Canada by Vincent Fumigalli. Some blonde took the stone gargoyle 'Little Dedo' from Notre Dame de Paris... and at least a dozen churches worldwide were missing the cross at their spire; all of them with the title of 'Notre Dame'. ACME Control was still processing new thefts and sending agents as necessary.
Making the connection wasn't difficult, but it felt empty to think Carmen Sandiego would go through all this trouble -- a crime spree across the globe -- only to make her next target extremely obvious. The case was practically rookie-level if all she wanted was Notre Dame de Luxembourg.
Euge's notification that the Ducati was officially lost came through and the field director decided to continue... even if it made little sense given VILE's past methods.
Looking at the last aerial map feed from the helicopter, Chase saw an opportunity to better guard Notre Dame de Luxembourg. The Bock Casemates in Grund was a hilltop position with full view of the city once used to defend Luxembourg from invaders. With Euge's helicopter in that position, they would be seconds from an airdrop on to the cathedral.
"Right, everybody finish what you're doing and regroup at The Bock. Euge, see if you can't find a good spot for the helicopter above the Casemates -- overlooking Notre Dame de Luxembourg," Devineaux voiced his commands as he changed directions, turning Normandy towards the cliffs, "We need to strategize."
((Co-post by Scarlet and Lee))
With gravity, Sophie listened to Lee’s opinion of the Field Director. She knew neither men well enough to either agree or disagree with any of their opinions of each other and she was never one to encourage dissent - though, opinions, as they were, were always worth a listen to.
When Lee addressed her again, asking about what she supposed could be described as her length of service in ACME, she smiled: “This is my first case with ACME.”
Lee smiled back, since his return to ACME, he hadn't dealt with many people who didn't know his past mistakes. Chase was one of those people, but for what ever reason, the Field Director must have read Lee Jordan's files. Lee was the kind that believed his files made him, instead of depending on second chances or changing his behaviour. Why bother changing if people already had their minds set?
"Welcome to the agency then," he said and stood up on one leg, "I don't think I need an x-ray, seriously, but you'd know best, doc. You're a real doc, right? Not just a Para?"
Sophie stood up immediately after Lee, instinctively reaching out a hand in case he should lose his balance. However, he appeared to do well on one leg.
“Thank you,” she said as she let her arm fall slack beside her. She laughed: “Yes, I am a real doctor...” Whatever that meant...
“Well, you may not think you need an x-ray, but I’m sure ACME needs one,” she smiled and shrugged, “and we both know what the Director thinks about thinking.”
"I never know what the Director thinks," Lee joked, "nobody knows anything about that guy."
Sophie carefully nodded to that comment but made no other reply to it. A movement across the stream caught her attention. “Here comes your ride,” Sophie nodded towards the three uniformed men who were approaching them. Two of them carried a stretcher between them, and, in front of the party, an energetic blond-haired young man came jogging over.
“All right,” Sophie turned to Lee, “there’s Caleb.” She waved and smiled at the young man as he greeted her with gusto. “He’s ACME and he’ll be your company to the hospital....”
Lee made a hop to the stretcher. Nothing bothered him about being carried around, or it didn't this time because he was thinking about his position. Being an informant gave him nothing. Should he have caught up with Carmen today, he'd have to wait until a real agent arrived at the scene. Chase was his only way in, and Lee was now willing to negotiate.
Sophie exchanged jovial greetings with the French-speaking paramedics and condensed her diagnoses of Lee into one sentence. The uniformed men then turned their attention to Lee, strapping him safely onto the stretcher. Before they could leave with their charge, however, Sophie stepped up beside the ACME informant.
“I’ll meet you at the hospital and...” she gave a quick glance to the Suzuki that still stood in the stream, remembering how she had first met Lee and his passionate concern for his two-wheelie, “I’ll arrange for your motorcycle to be picked up, okay?”
She paused for awhile and was almost going to give the all-right for Caleb and the paramedics to leave with Lee when something occurred to her. She frowned.
“Don’t take the Field Director’s words to heart, Mr. Jordan,” she finally said. “His intentions are good - even if his methods are debatable. He does care and he wouldn’t have had you here if he didn’t, at least, trust you.”
Lee Jordan listened to Sophie's words and immediately formed an opinion about the doctor. She was probably like the rest of them. Everybody and their siblings at ACME had told Lee about Chase Devineaux. The TV was exaggerating everything too, all that Chase might be missing was a shiny halo and he'd be Archangel Michael himself.
Lee shrugged. "Thanks, doc," he muttered as the stretcher took him away to the hospital nearby. To Lee, Chase doesn’t care about anyone, and it’s a mistake to think he isn’t pretending. The guy’s an intelligence officer, he’d do anything, and to anyone, if it makes him look good.
"Right, everybody finish what you're doing and regroup at The Bock. Euge, see if you can't find a good spot for the helicopter above the Casemates -- overlooking Notre Dame de Luxembourg. We need to strategize."
The change of plans had Euge at a disadvantage, as he usually knew exactly where he was going and the best route there. Slowing the forward speed of the chopper, he called up the tac-map on the communicator, now serving as the 5th MFD in the cockpit. Thankfully, Chase had marked the rally point on the Casemates, about two minutes away from his current position.
Swinging the helicopter back around, Euge radioed for the watch officer at the airfield and had her send the fuel truck to the meeting point Chase had designated. Hovering slightly above treetop level, Euge spotted what looked like a vehicular pull-off on top of the walls and set the chopper down. The position would allow him to be on top of almost any location in the city center in less than a minute. Turbines winding down, Euge checked the communicator; most of the operatives and the fuel truck were several minutes out. Euge drafted a quick text, "Chase, I'm groundside less than 30 feet from the rally point." and sent it off. Euge suspected what Chase had in mind, and began pulling the appropriate gear from the bins while he waited for the party to arrive.
Flag said: "Actually, he should be fine in whatever he's wearing. could provide a further sense of authenticity for us."
Vic grinned as he took the 'bump keys' and joked about the hacker, "He can fake looking like an ACME agent, got a baby face an' all."
When he was ready, he checked everything again, and looked at himself on the reflection on the glass to make sure he looked and acted like a janitor. Of all the times he's played janitor for a heist, this was going to be his best performance ever. They were going into ACME building, there won't be second chances.
"You lead," Vince said with security, "I'm going to the church down the block to pick up this kid, where do we meet after?"
((OOC: Sorry for being late, ah? Computer completely busted, spilled coffee on a Mac.))
Was asked to write the first of 4 posts that's going to end this here RP, so everybody play along, ah? If it's all botched up, and I need to fix, msg me.
Vic picked up the hacker, then the trio (Vic, Flag, and the hired hacker) made it up to ACME's Dome, the security area on the 16th floor. Here, layers of encryption made hacking in virtually impossible, but this step was already taken care of. Earlier today, when Carmen Sandiego waltzed into the ACME building and sat in Chase Devineaux's office for a little chat, she had done plenty of ground work on site. The security card of an employee was swiped, modified, then granted additional clearance all within the time required. If they did not use this card today, right now, the employee would report it missing by the morning, and all modifications would be reset.
First step, the card worked, identified them as Mitch Balley, one of Chase Devineaux's security dogs. It gave them basic access to the network. Mitch's "contact phone number" was switched to Vic's phone by VILE's tech guys hours ago when Carmen gave them the card, so his mobile blinked to show an SMS confirming the security password.
"So far so sweet," Vic muttered as he put in the security password. There was bound to be some personnel still working in the ACME control center, those would have to be taken out "without injury" like Carmen said. So far, that's been the hardest of her instructions to work around.
As soon as the password worked, Vic signaled to Flag. The alien's job was to make sure sensors were working around the corners of the building that they planned to steal by C-5-ing it to a different location. Sounds like a big plan, ah? Impossible, even.
Then Vic put on a gas mask for the next part of the plan, taking out ACME control. A huge bit of carbon dioxide against the gas sensor valve should do the trick.
A chemical alarm went off, signalling everyone to evacuate floors 16 and 15 for possible CO2 leakage. Both Vic and the hacker hid as personnel left the control room, leisurely. "It's probably a surprise drill," he heard one of them say to another.
When Vic and the hacker got access of the control room, he hit the announcer button. With a synthesizer in front of his mouth to disguise his voice, he asked ACME employees to leave the building.
"This is ACME Control to all remaining personnel," said a nasal, high-pitched female voice from the central speakers, "there is a minor gas leak in sectors 12 and 16, please evacuate the building immediately."
Then the hacker busily punched away at the keys. Soon, they were going to make this place sing.
It was 3:10 A.M. and few people were in the building, but this was the easiest way to get rid of witnesses and extra baggage. At about 3:20 A.M., Flag came into the security room indicating that the sensors were all a-go. Then the hacker hooted, showing that he was ready. Vic did a scan of the security cameras and heat sensors. Except for the three people in the control room, not a soul was inside the 16-and-a-half-story tower.
It was time to do some damage. He pulled out his phone and connected via a PTT system, "Truffles to Wraith," Vic reported to his leader, "ready for the rain!"
(Thank you for your post, Vic, my contribution follows.)
By the time her subordinate was ready for her command, Carmen had reached the famous Bock of Luxembourg. The Ducati Multistrata easily provided quick escort, but as she rose among the stonework, the motorcycle's volume increasingly resonated against the walls. To not attract attention, she parked the bike, removed her helmet, and wound her way up the casemates on foot.
In the stillness, the impact of a horse's hooves echoed hauntingly. Her instincts labeled the intruding noise as a threat. Because no city officer or tourist would ride up to the Bock alone at this speed, the rider was clearly someone with purpose; presumably an ACME Agent. This could only mean the enemy had deducted her plans to take Notre Dame de Luxembourg too soon for her liking. She would decide later if this was a good challenge or a minor setback, but she preferred to be optimistic.
Navigating quickly through the stone vaults, the thief dodged both the horse and its rider by climbing to a level above. They would pass her Ducati soon, and without time to discard of evidence, Carmen reviewed her limited options. The vantage point she thought to secure was now a surveying position for ACME's malicious helicopter. Her remaining exit was the fabled Melusina's chambers and the River Alzette below. Should that be barred, she would have to call in her own helicopter and pray for the best, or face the anonymous horse and rider in an altercation that should end with a hasty retreat to her abandoned Ducati.
Vincent's voice crackled in her ear and she tapped the radio, broadcasting a message to both her team in San Francisco and the one in Notre Dame de Luxembourg; "We're ready. Start."
Outside, a construction team situated near the cathedral began to drill loudly. That should be sufficient distraction for ACME; while to Melusina's chambers, rushed Carmen Sandiego.
Unpublished ending to La Vie de Luxe. This was supposed to go right after Weller’s post, but after some debating, we decided it was better to cut it off and leave the escape event open-ended. Someone correct me if I remember wrong.
Cowritten & Edited by Chase/Carmen
As he took ‘Normandie’ up the casements, he passed the discarded Ducati. Like fuel to a fire, it made him push the horse faster. Towards certain heights, his heart pounded when he saw a lithe figure inside a bend, overlooking the river below.
He stopped the percheron, but she noticed him long before he reacted.
Their eyes met, and he knew she would jump.
“Wait,” he began to dismount, “please.”
She hesitated at a moment known for fatality in pauses, but his ‘please’ was an alluring offset.
With adrenaline already coursing through her veins, she pulled herself to the rider and before his stance was stabilised, took his lips into hers.
Her kiss was gravity, Chase tumbled slightly from the horse and that only served to her advantage. One of his hands still held the reins while the other sought balance, but she held both down with nothing more than a light touch.
When the lull ended, he breathed her sigh, standing now on solid stone. To Carmen, this was an ephemeral lapse and she took two steps away from him with every move he made towards her, gaining ground before he came to his senses.
His communicator made a buzz, and she bounded away.
She heard his voice, deep and angered, as she leapt from the framed window to the cold water below.
Chief Weller received the notification that something was amiss when a message popped up on his communication device that ACME had a CO2 leak. It was 3 a.m., and certainly no time to be up and about, so he first ignored it. Soon, a telephone call from one of the control center personnel asked if there was indeed a drill this morning.
Having forgotten that Chase Devineaux had taken leave to Luxembourg along with Eugene Grovington, the flight instructor, Sophie Conrad, from the ACME Medical Center, and a few other ACME detectives, Chief Weller sent a message to the only man he thought would know about this.
"Chase, ACME control is forced out of their stations. Please tell your officers to head back inside, and in the future, please announce your plans... and try not to conduct tests in the dead of night...."
While writing the message, Dr. Weller received another urgent call from an ACME Personnel. When he picked up, among background screaming, he heard:
"Chief Weller!! You have got to come down here!! It's the ACME Tower, my God, the entire building, it's gone!!"
(I hope that doesn't sound rushed, *puffs pipe*)