Tides of Deception

Discussion in 'The Studio' started by Joe Kerr, Feb 14, 2015.

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  1. Joe Kerr

    Joe Kerr V.I.L.E. Agent

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    Content Warning:
    • This thread's content is intended for mature audiences. Readers' discretion is advised.
    (Hi everyone, this is a fanfiction combining elements of the 'Where in the World' and 'Where on Earth' canons as well as some TECs flair. Canon characters from both universes will be featured in some capacity. Hope you like.

    Note: Updates may be slow coming)



    Chapter 1: A storm is a-brewing



    Maelstrom.

    The word has often conjured images of the most malevolent ocean storms and gigantic, fast spinning currents; an unearthly and terrifying sight, almost as if it were a portal to hell. For sailors, it is the pure, unadulterated wrath of the seas; the embodiment of death and destruction shrouded in a watery cloak.

    The Greeks called it Charybdis, daughter of Poseidon and Gaia; a hideous monster with an unquenchable thirst for the sea. Some nowadays call it a whirlpool, but that name does it no justice.

    ‘Whirlpool’ sounds whimsical, fun and mischievous. It is synonymous now with shiny washing machines and luxury hot tubs. But the name Maelstrom brings forth no such pleasant images. The very word itself is violent and chaotic, evoking fear, dread, respect and awe.

    It is unstoppable, unyielding and without remorse.

    Maelstrom.

    Chase Devineaux’s lips contorted into a grimace, having been burnt by the accursed word which had proceeded from them. Cold blue eyes stared across into an even colder pair of grey ones as the poignancy of that word hung in the air.

    In deafening silence, the ACME Director of Operations locked horns with the Chairman of the ACME Board of Directors; between them a battlefield of redacted documents and pictures that were never meant to see the light of day.

    Minute upon minute ticked by, punctuated with seemingly telepathic dialogue; nearly imperceptible movements on otherwise statuesque faces conveying an unspoken code.

    With almost choreographed movements, the combatants settled back in their respective chairs, eyes still in unbroken deadlock.

    Expert hands, as if by memory, poured out two identical glasses of Bourbon on the rocks. The gentleman extending one to the lady across from him; the offer of a peace agreement implied. The lady paused, considering her options, before finally consigning to the treaty; war was always such a tiresome affair.

    “He’s still in custody...” she started.

    “...For the time being,” came his immediate retort.

    “Security has been tripled,” she offered after another sip of amber liquid.

    “That won’t stop him,” he replied, unaware that he’d just lost.

    The ghost of a smile played on Barbara Rosen’s lips as she sprung her trap.

    “It’s not meant to. That would be your job.”

    Although he replied not a word, inwardly Chase Devineaux seethed and berated himself for falling for such an obvious ploy. More alcohol would be needed now.

    “Your enthusiasm is duly noted, Director.” Rosen remarked in a remarkably even tone. Like the cat toying with it’s prey, she took perverse pleasure in his discomfort, subtle as it was.

    In an effort to salvage what dignity he could, Chase straightened out the documents and photographs on his desk, returning the ones marked as ‘top secret’ to her. He then stood up and offered to show her to the door.

    “I’ll set my best agents on it.”

    “Good.”

    As she was about to turn the handle to the heavy wooden door, Rosen stopped and turned around to face it’s owner one more time.

    “Director, regarding that other matter, you WILL handle it according to my instructions, am I understood?”

    “Perfectly, Madame Chairman.”

    Satisfied, Barbara Rosen spun on her heels and marched out the door, slamming it shut behind her.

    Blaming his lack of inebriation for his earlier indiscretion, Chase fell back into his chair and poured himself another shot of Bourbon.

    Whilst the last drops played on his tongue, Chase closed his eyes and plotted his next course of action; computations and strategies flowed back and forth as he considered his options. Finally settling on a plan, he summoned his personal secretary, Renee St Clair.

    “I need Lee Jordan, Tanya Erzin, and the Monaghan siblings in my office, now.”


    ---
     
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  2. Jade

    Jade Writer

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    Excellent opening there,Joe I've figure this place after the last episode of Where on Earth is Carmen Sandiego? and After Lee Jordan return to ACME am I right?
     
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  3. Ivy

    Ivy Commander

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    Very well written. Waiting on your next chapter!
     
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  4. Invader

    Invader Writer

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    I am quite impressed with this one, well done, and I can hardly wait till the next chapter.
     
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  5. Joe Kerr

    Joe Kerr V.I.L.E. Agent

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    Chapter 2: Storm Warning


    “This is a joke, right?”

    The incredulity in the tone of the question perfectly reflected the disbelief in the minds of the four young ACME agents in the room.

    Chase Devineaux maintained his trademark impassive stare as the foursome standing before him awaited his sage reply. He would not disappoint.

    “Have you ever known me to crack a joke, Zack?”

    The four realized that they really should have known better; Chase Devineaux does not tell jokes, ever.

    It was one of those unchangeable laws that held the fabric of time and space together, a universal axiom of truth fundamental to the existence of all things. There was even a legend passed down among ACME agents that the day Chase told a joke was the day the world would end.

    Looking at the file laid before them, the gravity of the situation started to slowly sink into Lee Jordan, Tanya Erzin, Ivy Monaghan and Zack Monaghan.

    According to ACME intelligence, recent activity in the criminal underworld indicated that Dr Gunnar Maelstrom was about to make a second comeback. ACME higher-ups had taken this very seriously and were pressing for immediate action to eliminate this possibility.

    “Zack, I remember your Zack Attack 3000 security system quite well. I trust you have the bugs fixed?”

    The question snapped not only Zack but the rest of the foursome from their introspection.

    “Yes sir. Of course.”

    Behind her brother’s back, Ivy rolled her eyes. The last time Zack was parading this system around, he had gotten a big head about it and become horribly obnoxious. It had taken Carmen Sandiego herself to teach Zack humility after a very special series of thefts.

    To be fair to her brother though, he had since developed less showy, more reliable variants used by various museums and other organisations worldwide.

    “Very good, Zack. I want you to secure Folsom State Prison with it ASAP. Ivy, I want you to back him up. The two of you are to do whatever you can to ensure Maelstrom does not escape again.”

    The siblings shared a brief look between them before replying in unison “Yes Sir!”

    Tanya let a small smile show on her porcelain features; it was always nice to see the two siblings getting along. She had worked with the duo on multiple occasions in the past and had developed a mutual and longstanding friendship with them; she had also started dating Zack after her permanent relocation to ACME San Francisco.

    “Director, what is my role? Do you need me to control the media regarding this situation?”

    “Tanya, I need you to pull double duty for me. As media liaison, you are to make sure word of this does not leak out to the press in any way, shape or form.”

    The young Russian-American nodded her head firmly; she had expected as much and already made plans as such.

    “Secondly, I need you back in the field. You were and still are one of my, no, ACME’s best agents. You and Lee Jordan are to secure this ship, the Calypso.”

    Chase pulled out a mini-folder showing details of the new high-tech research vessel. Equipped with its own nuclear-powered engine, the ship almost never needed to refuel. It also came complete with the latest in ice-breaking technology, four twin-turbine engines, and a state-of-the-art onboard research laboratory.

    “This ship was designed and constructed to be the sleekest, toughest and fastest research vessel ever created. With Maelstrom’s old ship having been sunk last year, it is more than likely that if he escapes, he’ll be going after the Calypso as a replacement.”

    Jordan, who up to this point had been brooding quietly, looked over to note that both blondes in the room were looking at him dubiously. It was no secret that despite all his efforts to redeem himself, he still wasn’t fully trusted by many in the organisation; not that he could blame them.

    He turned to address his mission partner with as much sincerity and tact as he could muster. “Look Tanya, I know that you don’t have much reason to trust me but I promise you, I’ll have your back on this. I’m not the same guy from all those years ago. I was young and stupid then.”

    Lee was briefly interrupted by a groan from Zack who had just been slapped on the back of his head by Ivy for mumbling something that sounded like ‘no kidding.’ Sparing Ivy a thankful smile, Lee turned his attention back to Tanya.

    “Point is, I’ve learnt my lesson and I’m loyal to ACME now. You may not believe me but I’ll keep working my butt off to prove it to you and everyone else.”

    Chase observed in silent agreement. He himself had some misgivings about Lee but the man had worked his way back to being a top agent and was by all accounts, a reformed citizen. Even if he did not trust the guy fully, Lee was still a useful asset to the group and the mission.

    Whatever Tanya had in mind was left unsaid as Chase decided to order the four out of his office. He had more pressing matters to attend to, and so did they.

    ---

    Elsewhere in a certain quaint English town, in a recently refurbished old theatre complex, a very similar briefing had just concluded as well.

    Carmen had relayed instructions to her crew via encrypted text. In her instructions, she had mentioned the very real possibility of Maelstrom’s return and had ordered preparations for the worst. Her directives were simple and to the point, stay out of ACME’s way, lay low, and prepare all bases and safe houses for possible attacks.

    The younger VILE Henchmen might not have known who Maelstrom was but the senior VILE members, including Vic the Slick and Patty Larceny were well acquainted with the danger the deranged scientist-thief posed to them.

    After dismissing the troops, Vic sought to have a word with Patty. He had noticed that she had been uncharacteristically quiet and devoid of her usual bubbliness during the briefing. Ten minutes later, he found the young woman sitting on a bench looking at out at sea.

    “Er...you ok there uh, Pats? I noticed yous was a little grim during the meeting. Can’t says I blame you though”

    Patty smiled a little at Vic’s antics. She knew that he only pulled out the bad gangster accents for special occasions, and that this one was just for her.

    “Thanks Vic. It’s just, I’m worried about her, that’s all.”

    “You and me both, Kid. You and me both.”

    The duo sat in quiet companionship on the bench for a few minutes more before Vic pointed out the dark clouds gathering over the harbour.

    “Kid, I think we better hightail it back to the theatre. Looks like a storm is about to hit.”

    ---
     
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  6. Zack

    Zack Agent

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    I was mentioned! Like this story, man. I'm following it on bated breath.
     
  7. Joe Kerr

    Joe Kerr V.I.L.E. Agent

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    Chapter 3: When it rains…

    A flashing red light accompanied by blaring sirens never heralded good things. However, such an occurrence inside a prison was ten times worse.

    Shouts of “Lockdown!” echoed throughout the control room as wardens scrambled to account for all the prisoners; all the while, no one thought to deactivate the obnoxiously loud klaxon punctuating every panic-filled moment throughout the establishment.

    Zack Monaghan typed away furiously at his keyboard, bringing up various screens of information and upteempth camera displays. Meanwhile, his sister Ivy had her hands full coordinating the wardens who, at the moment, were doing a fairly good imitation of the keystone cops.

    Finally, Zack’s agile fingers hit a final key, turning off the deafening noise that had been hampering everyone’s efforts.

    With enough quiet to now think clearly, the siblings made short work of their respective tasks; Zack had managed to check through all sensors and pinpoint the trigger whilst Ivy and the wardens had made sure all prisoners were accounted for.

    “Phew, for a moment there I thought that Maelstrom had escaped. Guess it was just a false alarm.” the elder Monaghan sibling sighed in relief as she watched her brother reset the system;

    “Still, who’d have thought a few rats could cause so much mayhem?” The redhead laughed as she observed her brother shiver; Zack’s little phobias never ceased to be a source of amusement for her.

    Still, Zack did have reason to hate these particular ones after today. The sneaky rodents had gnawed into a bunch of cables, setting the alarms off and getting themselves fried in the process.

    While the reset time counted down, Zack swung his chair around to confront his sister; something about the situation still didn’t sit right with him.

    “Hey Sis, I don’t know about you but years of chasing Carmen has thought me not to ignore weird coincidences.”

    Ivy’ sobered immediately as she started to catch her brother’s train of thought. “Go on.”

    “The rats did damage a camera cable too, right? That’s what ultimately tripped the alarm. What if this was part of Maelstrom’s plan? Last time he escaped, he also used this sort of misdirection.”

    The siblings shared a brief look, communicating with the silent telepathy that only siblings can. Immediately, they bolted to the control screen and brought up the video footage archives. They zoomed in on the camera facing the cell of one Dr Gunnar Maelstrom.

    The siblings watched intently as footage of the nefarious scientist pacing about his cell played in double time before suddenly turning into static. A minute of sped up time later, the footage kicked back on to show Maelstrom still in his cell, gazing intently at the camera.

    Suddenly, a sickening feeling welled up within Ivy. Something on the screens had caught her eye, something that everybody, including herself, had previously overlooked.

    “Zack, wait. Enlarge that video showing Maelstrom in his cell now.”

    Trusting his sister’s instincts, Zack ceased his work and obliged. “What’s up, sis?”

    “I’m not quite sure yet, little bro.” Ivy replied whilst watching the video

    “Now, bring up a video of Maelstrom in his cell from before and after the damage to the camera cables.”

    Zack did as told and then stepped back to stand by his sister; the images of Maelstrom seemingly mocking them as they tried to figure out what was now disturbing them both.

    Then, at once, the siblings spotted it and an overwhelming sense of dread now prevailed.

    “Is it just me or did Maelstrom just grow a couple of inches shorter after the camera damage, sis?”

    “I see it too, little bro; and I don’t like it one bit. You stay here whilst I go and check on our resident psychopath.”

    Nodding quickly, Zack quickly went back to his chair and started typing furiously, checking and double checking every scan and sensor in the last hour. Meanwhile, flanked by two wardens, Ivy Monaghan made a beeline for Maelstrom’s cell.

    On reaching her destination, Ivy swore under her breath. Up close, it was obvious that the person in the cell was not Maelstrom. However, in the chaos of the lockdown, no one had really thought to look at the prisoners closely.

    The man in the cell wore a silicon rubber mask that was a decent likeness of Maelstrom; however, he could not hide the fact that he was a good three inches shorter and a lot scrawnier than the real deal.

    “Who are you and where’s the real Maelstrom?” demanded the now extremely irate ACME Agent.

    “Forgotten me so soon, my dear?” the imposter mocked, safe behind the bars of ‘his’ cell.

    Immediately Ivy froze. That voice, it was a little too familiar. It belonged to someone whom she and her brother had encountered on countless occasions; a someone who was a master of deception and disguise.

    “Frank M. Poster! What? Why? You work for Carmen!”

    Grinning, Frank pulled off his mask to show Ivy that she had been correct in her guess.

    “Congratulations detective, sharp as always; and by that I mean that you and your dear little brother are still dull as a quantum physics lecture.”

    Frank’s grin grew even bigger at the redhead’s outrage. He continued after giving a moment for the wardens to hold her back.

    “To answer your questions, detective. I used to work for Carmen. I now work for a higher power, a man who will regain his throne as the world’s greatest thief, leaving Carmen in the dust; a man, who as we speak, is on his way out of this infernal hell hole.”

    Eyes widening at that last statement, Ivy ran at full speed back to the control room, radioing her brother enroute to enforce another lockdown. Unfortunately, due to the reset still being in progress, Zack could not reactivate the lockdown status.

    The siblings groaned in anger and frustration as they could only observe a laundry truck drive out of the prison, presumably with Maelstrom on board. As if to add insult to injury, the reset timer expired a mere second later, announcing ‘system reset complete’ to an exasperated pair of siblings.

    If Ivy was royally pissed, then Zack was doubly so. Maelstrom had humiliated him by exploiting the one flaw in his system, the reset - there was a mandatory cool down time during which the system was vulnerable. Somehow, Maelstrom had discovered this little oversight and used it to his fullest advantage. Yet again, his system had failed him.

    Zack felt a hand on his shoulder and glanced up to see his sister offering him a sympathetic look.

    “It’s OK little bro. We’ll get him back. And by then, you’ll have perfected the system. Third time’s the charm right?”

    Zack nodded meekly before pulling out his ACME Communicator. He was not looking forward to explaining this debacle to Chase; but first, there was something else that needed to be done. Grimacing, he typed a simple two word message to Tanya and Lee,

    Code Red

    ---
     
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  8. Jade

    Jade Writer

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    Eek! I hope the next part of the story well...Nevermind! It's your story! None of my business...so good luck!
     
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  9. Julie Justice

    Julie Justice Agent

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    This is a great story, as usual, Joe. And actually, I just watched the second part of the Malestrom/Retribution ep. of WoEiCS? half an hour ago. ;)
     
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  10. Zack

    Zack Agent

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    Totally following along. Thing you nailed the Zack/Ivy dialogues, man!
     
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  11. Joe Kerr

    Joe Kerr V.I.L.E. Agent

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    Chapter 4: ...it pours!

    Code Red

    The words flashed ominously on the ACME Communicator; words that had been pre-agreed to imply the worst - Maelstrom’s successful escape.

    Tanya and Lee shared an uneasy look; if it were possible, the temperature around them might have just dropped a further ten degrees.

    The intrepid duo were on deck aboard the Calypso, which, Chase Devineaux had, apparently neglected to mention, was currently stationed off the coast of Alaska. It was fortunate though that both agents were well-acquainted with the cold - she, due to her years growing up with harsh Russian winters, and him due to his time with VILE and it’s Antarctic base.

    With the blisteringly cold winds howling around them, the duo pulled out their weapons for a quick check.

    Tanya looked over her ACME S.T.U.N. pistol as only a seasoned pro could; Many a foe had underestimated her in the past only to find out the hard way that she was a markswoman of the finest caliber.

    The blonde looked approvingly at the weapon in her hand; it was perfectly weighted with its indestructible polycarbonate casing. It’s sleek design meant that it was a dream to handle and best of all, it was capable of taking down an elephant without dealing lethal damage. The perfect flagship weapon for ACME.

    Looking over at her partner for the mission, Tanya noticed he was doing the same; his weapon though similar to hers bore some striking differences.

    For one, her weapon was matt grey in tone with turquoise highlights, matching the ACME S.T.U.N suit that they were both wearing; his weapon however, was jet black with neon orange highlights.

    Aesthetical differences aside, his variant of the STUN pistol also sported modified targeting and reloading mechanisms. If how he handled the weapon was an indication, Lee’s gun was also a fair bit heavier than her standard issue one.

    “I modified it myself” Lee explained. He had noticed his companion’s inquisitive gaze and wanted to ease the tension.

    “Since young, I’ve always had a thing for tinkering with devices. It’s a trait that has never really left me. Whether I was in ACME or VILE, I always tinkered with whatever found its way into my hand. There was even one time that I made my own version of Carmen’s all-in-one theft bracelet; I called it my glove-o-trix.”

    Noticing Tanya’s raised brows, Lee quickly added “Of course, I got rid of that thing after rejoining ACME and the side of good. I just tinker with various STUN stuff every now and then. And yes, Chase knows. He allows me to do so under certain supervision.”

    Nodding, Tanya turned to survey her surroundings; her partner followed suit. Tanya was grateful for Lee’s attempts to break the ice and open up to her, but the cynical side of her still found it hard to trust him.

    Before either agent could attempt to continue their tentative conversation, they were interrupted by the arrival of the captain. The elderly gent flashed them a congenial smile before turning to Tanya, the only one of the duo that spoke his native tongue.

    Giving Lee a meek smile in apology, Tanya turned her attention to the captain as they started an animated conversation. Lee shook his head in amusement as fluent strings of Russian started spilling out at a rapid-fire rate.

    Since he did not understand a whit of what was being said, Lee opted to focus his attention on keeping watch instead. As his trained eyes scanned the horizon, he saw a black dot in the distance rapidly approaching. Blinking and clearing his vision, he looked again; two more dots had come alongside it.

    It took a few seconds before Lee realized that those weren’t dots but fast-moving speedboats instead. Eyes widening at the implications, he called out to his partner.

    “Hate to cut this short, but I think we’re about to get some unwanted company.”

    Tanya did a quick mental calculation: there wouldn’t be enough time to haul anchor and get the engines up to full throttle. With outrunning not an option, the agents prepared themselves for a fight.

    Getting into defensive position alongside her partner, Tanya yelled for the captain to get below deck. Moving faster than a man his age should, the captain hurried to rejoin his crew, the door to the lower decks bolting shut behind him.

    The ACME duo tensed as the speedboats came closer into view; each boat held five armed henchmen, each clad in tactical assault attire.

    As the lead boat of the three drew near, one of the henchmen on it fired a smoke grenade onto the Calypso. Lee and Tanya dodged the blast as a sea of artificial fog masked the ship. Under cover of the smoke, the other two boats also drew near and unloaded their crew onto the Calypso.

    Without warning, the pirates were suddenly on board the Calypso and a gunfight ensued. Given the numbers disadvantage, both agents spent much of their time dodging gunfire and retaliating where they could. During the ruckus, neither agent noticed a fourth speed boat stealthily pull up beside the Calypso.

    Providing cover for each other, the agents took turns weaving through the group of pirates, taking them out one by one with tactical precision.

    “Nice shooting. Never realized you were such a good shot.” Lee complimented as he took another would-be buccaneer down.

    “Thank you. You’re not bad yourself.” Tanya joked in return as she incapacitated another foe.

    “I hate to cut this love-fest short, but I think you’ve done enough. Drop your weapons.” a gruff voice sneered. The smoke cleared to reveal two short but stocky individuals dressed in something similar to STUN suits; Lee recognized both instantly.

    “Pearl Diver and Jonah Fark! You’re two of Carmen’s nautical henchmen. Why are you here? What does she want in all of this?”

    “Ah Judas, I mean Jordan. Sorry, slip of the tongue there. How are you doing?” jeered the woman now identified as Pearl Diver.

    “I believe he asked you a question. Why are you here?” Tanya reiterated coldly; her weapon poised to fire at a moment’s notice.

    “Don’t bother Princess, it won’t do you any good.” Pearl cackled in response.

    Nodding at each other, both ACME agents swerved suddenly and fired off their STUN guns; neither Jonah nor Pearl made any effort to evade. Lee and Tanya watched in surprise and horror as their shots bounced harmlessly off their foes’ armour.

    Seeing the agents’ disbelief, Jonah let out a cruel laugh and walked towards the stunned agents.

    “What’s wrong? Expected us to be on the floor, riving in pain? Lemme let you in on a little secret. See this armour we’ve got on? It’s an improved version of what you’re wearing; it makes us immune to your pathetic weapons. It also has the added benefit…”

    Without warning, Jonah swung a right hook that sent Lee flying across the deck.

    “...of increasing our strength as well.”

    Before Tanya could check if Lee was alright, Pearl had walked up to her and given her a right hook as well.

    “Not so tough now are you, ACME brats? Now that we’re working for Maelstrom, the kid gloves have come off.”

    Lee gave Tanya a silent signal as they both got into a fighting stance, their guns now forgotten.

    “Seeing as I’m a nice guy,” Jonah sneered, “I’m giving you two options. One, surrender to us now and join the rest of the crew as hostages. Two, abandon the crew and jump out of the ship now. This is the only mercy I’m giving you. Choose wisely.”

    Lee’s fist tightened as he shared a look with Tanya.

    “My name is Lee Jordan. I have been many things in the past but I have never been and will never be a coward. If I have to go down, I’ll do so fighting till the end. So to answer your question, I choose option...THREE”

    Relying on superior quickness and agility, Lee and Tanya rushed their foes, catching them by surprise. Using their momentum and well-placed leverage, the ACME duo managed to knock their counterparts down, disarming them in the process.

    All four individuals were now devoid of weapons; it would come down to a fist fight. Suddenly, the ACME duo were getting more confident.

    “Tanya, I’ll take them high and you take them low” Lee whispered. The Russian gave a subtle nod as she sized up her foe.”

    What followed next was an exchange of fists, kicks and submission holds. The ex-VILE henchmen were stronger but against the skill of well-trained ACME fighters, strength alone was not enough. With quickness and well-placed strikes, the ACME duo had their adversaries on the ropes.

    “Have you had enough? Or should we end this now?” Tanya taunted, hoping to goad the notoriously short-tempered Pearl into making a reckless mistake.

    Pearl growled in frustration and glanced to where her weapon lay on the deck; a move that did not go unnoticed by the males of either side. Lee and Jonah sized each other up, taking their positions alongside their partners.

    Before either side could make a move, they were interrupted by the door to the lower deck opening. To Tanya and Lee’s dismay, the captain was being dragged out at gunpoint by his first mate.

    It all clicked for the ACME agents at that point. The first mate had given their position away, that’s how Maelstrom’s crew knew where to ambush the ship.

    The traitorous first mate barked a command at the agents in Russian; Lee looked over to Tanya who translated for him.

    “He says you and I are to surrender and get off the ship or he kills the captain.”

    Lee and Tanya both knew that they had lost at this point. It was one thing to gamble their own lives in fighting the crooks; it was an entirely different matter to gamble an innocent victim’s life.

    Hands raised in surrender, the agents were led over the the side of the ship where Pearl and Jonah unceremoniously threw them overboard into the frigid waters. The hapless captain followed soon after.

    “Next time, there won’t be any spare speed boats in the water for you to swim to. Now get lost, brats!”

    Tanya and Lee gritted their teeth at Pearl’s insult as they helped the captain into the speedboat. Both agents swore silently that they would not lose the next time.
     
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  12. Jade

    Jade Writer

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    That's a relief...for now!
     
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  13. Ivy

    Ivy Commander

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    Commander
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    San Francisco, CA
    Color #:
    008080
    I like the back and forth between Tanya and Lee. Nice to see the S.T.U.N. systems making a cameo too.
     
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  14. Joe Kerr

    Joe Kerr V.I.L.E. Agent

    Messages:
    99
    Gender:
    Male
    Occupation:
    VILE Agent, Part-Time Security Consultant
    Location:
    Tivoli Gardens, Denmark
    Color #:
    8a2be2
    Chapter 5: Tumultuous waves

    Over in not-so-jolly old England, the rain fell in sheets, beating mercilessly off the stone walls of the recently restored theatre. Within the establishment, its residents were a blur of activity.

    The Contessa and Sara Nade had both returned in the past six hours and gotten down to work immediately. Sara had started by first helping Vic check on all the VILE safe houses and HQ branches, temporarily shutting down most of them as per Carmen’s orders.

    Patty Larceny, meanwhile, had taken to monitoring the various communication channels and decoding the various messages that flowed back and forth on VILE’s intelligence network. News of certain defections had filtered through to HQ; to say the least, it was not received very well.

    Vic stepped back to catch a breather as The Contessa could be heard yelling about some incompetent seamstress. He chuckled and wondered which unlucky henchmen had been on the end of her wrath. The grunts really should have known better; given recent events, everyone was on a short fuse, some shorter than others.

    Despite this, Vic was grateful to have her back in the fold. Contessa may not have always gotten along with the rest of the crew, but she was surprisingly among the more loyal members of the family and could be counted on to helping out in any way she could.

    Currently, the wealthy heiress had taken a shine to producing costumes and sets for the theatre and was now working with Sara Nade to prepare the henchmen for the theatre’s upcoming production - The Tempest.

    The irony of the choice was not lost on Vic; and yet, he had chosen it for just such a reason. Carmen herself did not touch the running of the theatre; she didn’t have the time. She had entrusted the job to Vic who had initially taken it on with some trepidation.

    After getting the hang of things though, Vic had started to make some bold decisions regarding what plays the theatre would stage. He usually would pick something that was a sly nod to whatever heist Carmen herself was busy planning or pulling off; at other times, the choice of play was something that he knew would appeal to her wry sense of humour.

    It was a gamble really, but Vic wanted to do what he could to bring a smile to her face; more than anyone at VILE, she needed a regular dose of humour. Vic’s thoughts were broken off by Patty tugging his arm.

    “Vic, help me out with this. I don’t know if I decrypted it wrong. It’s from Carmen but that’s about all I could make out.”

    The conman smiled as he took the message and tried to decipher it; he instantly realized what the problem was.

    “You decrypted it correctly, Patts. It’s just that it isn’t in English. This is Romanian. I recognise a few words here and there but not enough to translate this for you.”

    “Perhaps I can be of some assistance,” offered Sara Bellum who had just walked in. The usually flamboyant scientist was noticeably much more muted.

    Vic gratefully passed the message to her; if there was one VILE agent in the entire establishment who could read this, other than Carmen, it would be the eccentric Dr Bellum. No one, save for Carmen, really knew which country Sara actually hailed from; she was well versed in most Eastern European languages and did not possess an accent that would have been distinctive of any country in particular.

    It didn’t take very long for Sara to translate the message. In a somber voice, she read aloud:

    He is that curling serpent that in ocean is.
    Sea-fright he is, and the shadow under the earth.


    As she finished reading, Sara looked over to Vic who had gone four shades paler than usual; being well-versed in Carmen’s word games, he had recognized the passage from which this verse was taken almost immediately. Taking a deep breath, he whispered one word to the astonishment of those around him, “Leviathan”.

    ---

    Shame, humiliation, bewilderment, flabbergasted, flummoxed, distraught. Such words were usually not associated with ACME’s finest but today, it seemed to fit.

    Zack, Ivy, Lee and Tanya stood crestfallen in front of the ACME Director of Operations as they did their debriefings. To make their already dour moods even worse, each team of agents had had to submit a written copy of their mission report, in triplicate.

    With his legendary poker face on, Chase Devineaux speed-read through the various mission reports. Meanwhile, the agents took turns giving him abridged oral versions of their report while trying to gauge his reaction; a task that they soon realized was an exercise in futility.

    Behind the mask, Chase Devineaux was deeply concerned; glaring details in each report played repeatedly in his mind. Like a broken record, things that could not be reconciled.

    In each case, Maelstrom’s goal had been accomplished with help from ex-VILE henchmen now pledging allegiance to him. He had also somehow gained access to inside information; information that proved vital to the downfall of both missions.

    Finally, Chase Devineaux looked up from the reports and addressed his agents. “Are you all completely sure that you did not leave anything out of your reports, willfully or otherwise?”

    “Yes sir!” four voices replied in unison.

    For a moment, silence reigned in the office; the only movement among the agents in the room was the involuntary blinking of their eyelids. The four agents glanced nervously as the Director of Operations wordlessly reached for the phone on his desk. The click of the phone buttons echoed deafeningly throughout the room.

    The silence was shattered as Chase Devineaux started the fateful conversation.

    “Madame Director, this is Chase Devineaux. Regarding that matter you mentioned, I regret to say it is as you feared; no, actually, it’s worse.”

    The four agents across the table looked nervously at each other as Chase listened to Rosen’s reply. He had not put this call on speaker so they had no way of knowing what direction this conversation was taking; although from their perspective, it looked to be heading south, fast.

    Silently, they prayed that this particular phone call did not concern them and/or would not end the way they feared it would.

    Their hopes were dashed when Chase replied to Rosen and uttered words that could and would give any ACME Agent nightmares for years to come.

    “Yes Madam Director. We’ll come up to your office right away. Thank you.”

    As Chase put the phone down, Zack, Ivy, Lee and Tanya looked at each other with one thought in their minds…

    “We’re screwed!”
     
  15. Jade

    Jade Writer

    Messages:
    345
    Gender:
    Female
    Occupation:
    Free agent and amateur detective
    Location:
    a small town in east Tennessee
    Color #:
    0099FF
    Yikes! Good so far!...*gulped*:eek:
     
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  16. Ivy

    Ivy Commander

    Messages:
    130
    Gender:
    Female
    Occupation:
    Commander
    Location:
    San Francisco, CA
    Color #:
    008080
    I'm enjoying all the cameos from various characters, the VILE side especially.
     
  17. Invader

    Invader Writer

    Messages:
    268
    Gender:
    Female
    Occupation:
    Janitor
    Location:
    Off the radar for now
    Color #:
    0000FF
    I really have been enjoying this one, and the suspense is perfect.
     
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  18. Joe Kerr

    Joe Kerr V.I.L.E. Agent

    Messages:
    99
    Gender:
    Male
    Occupation:
    VILE Agent, Part-Time Security Consultant
    Location:
    Tivoli Gardens, Denmark
    Color #:
    8a2be2
    (apologies for the long hiatus. Writer's Block is a killer. I've got some inspiration again. Hopefully the momentum continues. - Joe)

    Chapter 6: Nature of the storm

    Barbara Rosen cut an imposing figure in her 5 ft 8, 230lb frame. Decked out in a no-nonsense, no-frills business suit with her black tresses tied up in a bun, she glared at the agents before her through ebony rimmed spectacles. With a glare that could curdle milk, she appraised each agent thoroughly.

    Briefly, Zack wondered what sort of top-secret technology ACME had used in order to create windows and mirrors that did not shatter under her piercing gaze. He also wondered how Chase Devineaux managed to coolly stare back at her without so much as a single flinch; perhaps there was some truth to the cyborg rumours.

    Whatever respite Zack may have found in his brief moment of levity was quickly forgotten as Rosen began to address the agents.

    “What I am about to tell you is top-secret and off the record. Am I clear?”

    The four petrified agents in front of her could only nod in reply; behind them Chase Devineaux observed passively, seemingly unfazed by the potential demise of his four prized agents.

    Throwing a few files on her desk toward the agents, Rosen continued her diatribe.

    “I regret to tell you that unfortunately, your missions were merely the latest in a string of failed missions. Each time, the missions failed due to the crook in question somehow staying one step ahead of us.

    Now, if the crook in question was a certain infamous scarlet thief,” she paused to glance at Chase who maintained his impassive facade.

    “We wouldn’t have that big of an issue. However, when it is her bumbling henchmen that do so, and with what appears to be access to inside information, that’s a whole other story.”

    Opening the first file on her desk, she continued.

    “In addition to all of those petty thefts, Frank M. Poster was broken out of jail three months ago. Whoever was responsible chose the perfect moment to do so - every available field agent was busy chasing down Carmen on the other side of the globe at the time.

    With the C5 no longer operational, there was no way for us to get on his trail on time, let alone stop him. Similar occurrences ensued in the following weeks, resulting in Pearl Diver and Jonah Fark being freed from custody as well.

    Given that they were Carmen’s henchmen, and that she was always the convenient distraction, we attributed the events to being part of whatever master plan she had hatched. However, when she failed to involve these henchmen in her subsequent heists, certain suspicions started to get piqued.”

    She paused to direct her gaze at Chase, who up till this point had been silent. Comprehending the non-verbal command, he left his perch of the back wall and strolled over with a graceful suavity that just seemed to ooze from him.

    “When I personally pursued her a month ago, I briefly questioned her about the prison breaks; she denied any involvement in the matter. From what I could gather, she wasn’t too pleased about the incidents either.”

    Every agent in the room tossed a suspicious look his way; there had long been rumours of a special relationship between Chase and Carmen. The former, seemingly oblivious to the gazes, continued on.

    “Given that Carmen has a policy of never lying to us, I had no reason to doubt her. As your mission reports will now show, she was obviously telling the truth; apparently Maelstrom had found someone to coordinate the jailbreaks on his behalf. And yes, Carmen got away...again.”

    His obligatory portion done with, Chase deferred back to Rosen with a simple glance. Resisting the urge to roll her eyes, Rosen opened the next couple of files for the agents in front of her.

    “A little over a month and a half ago, we received a security alert from the ACME Mainframe. A security update patch had enabled the system to detect a previously unknown variant of Trojan hiding in the archives. Cyber division was unable to pinpoint the exact amount of time for which the Trojan had been previously active; they were, however, able to trace the entry point of the Trojan to one user account - Zack Monaghan.”

    As predicted, her last words sent the four agents into a tizzy of outrage and confusion. It didn’t take long for the younger Monaghan to explode into claims of innocence.

    “Whoa! Hang on a minute there! Rewind and freeze! I’m innocent! I didn’t do anything! Ivy, Tanya, you gotta believe me. I wouldn’t do such a thing.”

    Zack would have gone on but a light bulb suddenly clicked.

    “The STUN suits! That’s why Maelstrom’s henchmen had STUN suits. The hacker was working for Maelstrom. Wait...you think I”M working for Maelstrom?!”

    Ivy, Tanya, and surprisingly even Lee were about to jump to Zack’s defence when they were cut off by the eerily calm yet decisive voice of the Director of Operations.

    “We’re not accusing anyone of anything, yet. What is for sure is that all signs point to the presence of a mole in ACME; and he or she is working for Maelstrom.”

    Any some what calmed tempers soon flared up again when Rosen carried on where she had left off.

    “Having gone through all the evidence, we have come to one unfortunate conclusion: As of this very moment, the four of you are our best suspects.”

    Chase and Rosen stood back and listened to the barrage of protests that flew their way; all four agents vehemently protesting their innocence.

    “This is ridiculous. My brother and I helped put Maelstrom away last time he escaped. Why would I help that madman?”

    “I’m a computer genius; I wouldn’t have used my own account if it were me and I would certainly never get caught. Uh, not that I did it of course.”

    “Why the hell does everyone suspect me? Sure I was a traitor once, but I learnt my lesson. Besides, Chase has me on a short leash; You really think I could pull this off with him watching me 24/7?”

    The only member of the quartet who uttered not a word was Tanya; but it was evident to all present that she was silently fuming at the absurd allegations. The barrage of protests going on around her only served to further fuel her anger; it did not go unnoticed by Chase that her clenched fists were turning paler than usual.

    “ENOUGH!” Every agent froze. In the frenzy of emotions, they had all forgotten whose office they were in. Being on bad terms with the ACME Chairwoman was a really, really bad thing; being on bad terms with her AND getting her riled up was tantamount to a death sentence.

    Rosen fixed a steely gaze onto Chase who calmly supplied an explanation.

    “The reason you are our best suspects should be obvious to all of you. Zack and Ivy are, according to legal papers, the heirs to VILE. The two of you are have also been known to work with Carmen on several different occasions, even helping her escape on one or two of them. Also, it was Zack’s user account, and Ivy, you are close enough to your brother to easily figure out his password.”

    Chase fixed his own medusa-like gaze on the sibling duo, seemingly daring them to protest. Wisely, they kept quiet. Nodding, Chase turned to the other blonde in the room.

    “Tanya, you are our PR and therefore have high level clearance to almost every ACME department. Being that you are mostly independent, it is also easy for you to have your activities go unnoticed and/or untraced. You are also dating Zack, making you able to guess his password just as easily as Ivy would be.”

    To her credit, the Russian bit down her tongue and simply stared quietly in defiance.Every eye in the room now turned to Lee.

    “Lee, you know better than anyone what you’re capable of if you put your mind to it. You have betrayed us before as well, so that would put you pretty high on the suspect list.

    Yes, I have you on a short leash, but that doesn’t mean you couldn’t have found a way to do things without me knowing. Despite you would have others believe, you are also pretty proficient at computers, yourself.”

    “What Director Devineaux here is trying to say,” Rosen interrupted, “is that there are perfectly valid reasons why we suspect each of you. No formal accusations and charges are being made at the moment but there will be a formal and thorough investigation starting tomorrow.

    In light of that, your four are hereby suspended from active duty until this whole mess clears up. Report back at 0800 hours tomorrow for a series of interviews and lie detector tests. Failure to turn up will be taken as an admission of guilt.”

    ---

    Aboard the Calypso, a certain insane scientist stepped off a chopper and was greeted by Pearl, Jonah and the former first mate of the ship.

    “Well done, my agents. Soon, the world will once again bow before the name Maelstrom!”
     
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  19. Jade

    Jade Writer

    Messages:
    345
    Gender:
    Female
    Occupation:
    Free agent and amateur detective
    Location:
    a small town in east Tennessee
    Color #:
    0099FF
    I know how you feel Joe and believe me my latest story well...a very long hiatus I'm not making up just keep on waiting as of now I have to write the next story on paper and pen before I blogged again that's what I do when there's no update whatsoever.;)
     
  20. Julie Justice

    Julie Justice Agent

    Messages:
    296
    Gender:
    Female
    Occupation:
    ACME Detecive
    Location:
    San Francisco
    Color #:
    White
    Awesome, as usual, Joe...and well worth the wait!! ;)
     
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: Maelstrom

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