Discussion in 'The Studio' started by Joe Kerr, Feb 14, 2015.
Wow that was spectacular.
Chapter 7: Strange waters (part 1)
A scream of frustration filled the air as a series of rapid strikes pummeled a hapless sandbag. Zack observed silently as his sister continued to vent her frustrations on the unlucky punching bag. By his count, it was her third one today; and judging by how violently she was abusing the gym apparatus, number four was probably not far off.
Still, he couldn’t really blame her; Lee, Tanya, his sister and himself were all in need of blowing off some steam. That was why the foursome had entered the gym together and taken to working out with a passion.
The firing range would have been Zack’s first choice but they had all been banned from touching any firearms until the investigation was completed. Said investigation had gone rather poorly today, from their standpoint.
Hours of pointless, and frankly somewhat biased, interviews and multiple lie detector tests later, the exhausted and frustrated quartet had been released on probation. They had been ordered to stay overnight in the ACME dorms and not leave the compound; they were also still suspended, technically.
“I can’t believe this. We pass every single lie detector test and they still don’t believe us.” Ivy’s complaint caused the others to pause what they were doing. Her words had been the first ones uttered, not counting various grunts and screams, since the four agents had entered the gym. Being the only ones there, they had let silence be their music of choice as they worked out their bodies and thoughts.
From his treadmill, Zack shared a look with Tanya who had paused her pedaling; they both shared Ivy’s sentiments. Even Lee had passed all the lie detector tests with flying colours and it was impossible to fool one let alone multiple lie detector tests.
“What really gets on my nerves is that Chase never once put in a word for us; not in front of Rosen, not to any of the agents interviewing us, not one word!” To her credit, the fuming redhead managed to restrained herself from using some more colorful descriptives in her rant.
“You know sis, Chase has never really been one to mix business with pleasure. Maybe he’s just going about this like he would any other issue; you know, stay professional and impartial and all that.”
Seeing her boyfriend trying to put in a few earnest words, Tanya thought it prudent to pipe in also.
“I will second that. In all my years working with Chase as his media liaison, he’s been nothing but a consummate professional. He’s always dealt in facts, never letting emotions cloud his judgment…”
Tanya paused to reach over and give Zack a well deserved slap to the head for his “except when it comes to Carmen” quip.
...I believe it’s just how he does things. Frankly I’d be a little surprised and disappointed if he did show some bias toward us.”
“Besides sis, with Rosen breathing down his neck, we can’t expect much more from him either. His hands are just as tied up as ours. Ow.” Zack finished meekly whilst rubbing his head.
Lee walked over from where he had been bench pressing. “I know it’s not my business but for what it’s worth, Chase has never let pass grudges get in the way of his dealings and interactions with me. He’s probably that way with everyone else too, friend or foe.”
The explanations seemed to placate Ivy temporarily. Just as she was about to further comment, another agent ran into the gym, huffing and puffing away. Apparently, the unlucky chap had been tasked with locating the four and summoning them to a meeting with the Director of Operations.
“Speak of the devil...ow!” Zack’s smart mouth had earned him another slap to the head from the blonde beside him. “Ok, ok, I get it.”
Chase Devineaux strode across the cement floor of the ACME holding cells, his immaculately polished black leather shoes creating light echoing clacks. Stopping in front of a particular cell, he gave a nod to the officers in the room, sending them away. With file in hand, he turned to look at the occupants of the cell.
“You know, Director, when we heard that you wanted to talk to us, we didn’t think it meant being thrown in ACME holding cells.”
Chase raised an eyebrow at the furious redhead from which the comment had emanated. Her blonde companion also voiced her displeasure at their current ‘accommodations’.
“I’m sorry to say, Director, that this is most unacceptable. We have done nothing deserving of such, such, vile treatment. No pun intended.”
Across from the girls in a cell of their own, Lee and Zack also stood up and approached the bars.
“Yeah, come on Chase, I mean, Director. I understand business is business but the charges are bogus and you know it. We passed all the interviews and test too, didn’t we? I know we’re good, but we’re not that good that we would bluff our way through.”
“Your concerns have been duly noted Ivy, Tanya, Zack.” Chase made a point of pausing as he said each name and looking at the person square in the eye.
Turning to the only member of the quartet who had not said anything, Chase cast him a curious glance.
“Aren’t you going to say anything, Lee?”
Lee Jordan just scowled in response.
Chase took one last look around to ensure that no one was around before swiftly pulling out a cloned security card and using it to open the two cells. Before any of the four agents could question his actions, he gave them a signal to keep quiet.
Pulling out a smaller file from his coat, he tossed it to Ivy before talking in a low voice so only the four could hear him.
“I apologise but this was the only place other than Rosen’s office where we could talk undisturbed. If my suspicions are right, my office has already been bugged by our mole. For the record, I never believed that any of you, even you Lee, were responsible.”
Seeing the confused looks in front of him, Chase continued.
“The file I just handed you is a copy of the information we have on what we believe Maelstrom has been up to lately. Given Maelstrom’s penchant for disregarding human life, we need to quickly find him and what remains of the crew of the Calypso.”
The four agents all had grim looks on their faces at the mention of the Calypso and her crew. It was an unwanted reminder of their recent failures, and of how high the stakes were.
“It gets worse, he has another hostage. I just forwarded to Zack’s phone a video I received not too long ago. Maelstrom’s somehow kidnapped Renee and left me a clue to find her. I need you four to solve the clue and stop Maelstrom. Meanwhile, I’ll be here mopping up the mess and clearing your names.”
Like a kid in a classroom, Zack raised his hand. “Uh does this mean our suspension's lifted? Cause we can’t do anything without our badges.”
“Not too mention, our personal effects.” added Lee.
In response, Chase handed his cloned security card to Zack before fishing out a pair of car keys from his coat and tossing them to Tanya.
“Holding box 4 and 5. You’ll need the card to open them. The card should also get you access to the garage. Take the Hummer. I’ve pre-programmed a location into the GPS. An old friend will meet you there. As of now, you four are not only still suspended, you are escaped suspects on the run to clear your name. Failure is not an option. Am I clear?”
As the reality of the situation dawned on the four, a mixture of dismay, fear, panic, determination and sadness crossed their faces.
“Don’t worry. If anyone can pull this off, it’s you four. Just...make sure not to blow up the ship. We don’t need a nuclear explosion to explain away in addition to everything else. By the way, you might want to pick up your stun suits and stun guns before leaving. They may come in handy.”
Giving Chase a thankful albeit sad smile at his attempt to lighten the mood, Ivy gave the others a nod as they prepared to accept their fate.
“Oh wait, Lee, if you would do the honours.” Chase said as he turned around.
Picking up Chase’s implications immediately, Lee walked over and flexed his arms.
“Ready or not Chase, this is gonna hurt you a whole lot more than it’ll hurt me.”
That was the last thing Chase heard before he felt a hard whack to the back of his head, and the darkness enveloping him soon after.
Chapter 7: Strange waters (part 2)
Tanya was tearing the road up in the Hummer whilst Zack and Ivy looked over the file and the video. Lee meanwhile served as her copilot, looking out for traffic.
The ride remained silent and tense with Lee’s occasional guidance and the instruction of the GPS being the only exceptions.
On reaching their destination, the four now ex-agents stepped out of the vehicle and looked around.
“Alameda Naval Air Station? Why would Chase send us here?” Lee wondered aloud as he inspected the area.
“Cool. This is where one of favourite shows sometimes gets filmed.”
“Head in the game, little bro. We’re wanted criminals now, at least until we clear our names.” Ivy chided with a small measure of humour. Any further remarks though were halted when a familiar playful voice called out.
“Well, well, I always knew you’d come over to my side of the law, Detectives. Or is that, ex-detectives now?”
The quartet froze in their steps and turned in unison to the source of the voice.
The scarlet-clad mastermind watched in amusement as a mixture of disbelief, anger, confusion and happiness crossed the four faces in front of her.
The unasked question of “what are you doing here” hung in the air as Carmen mischievously grinned while they appraised the situation.
Finally, it was Zack who broke the silence.
“You’re the ‘old friend’ Chase mentioned, aren’t you?”
Carmen laughed before replying in her usual playful tone ,
“I assure you Zack, Chase was merely being philosophical with the term”
“The enemy of my enemy is my ally…” Tanya wondered aloud.
“Makes sense, you hate Maelstrom just as much as we do, and who better to take in four fugitives than the biggest fugitive in all of ACME?”
Ivy gaped at Lee’s acceptance of the situation and at how Zack and Tanya could come to such ludicrous conclusions.
“Guys, are you crazy? We should be arresting her!”
“On what authority Ivy? Last I heard, you four were escaped prisoners. In ACME’s eyes, you’re just as much a crook as I am. Even if you were to arrest me, ACME would arrest you just the same when you tried to bring me in. It won’t clear your names.”
As much as it galled Ivy to admit it, Carmen was right; they were all wanted by ACME, making them just as much a felon as Carmen.
“Then what will?”
The four former agents looked at each other, silently assessing their situation; working with Carmen was their only real recourse right now, and at least with her they’d be safe from whoever ACME would send after them. Plus, they always did say better the devil you know...
“Fine. We’ll follow your lead for now. But I’m warning you, as soon as we stop Maelstrom, you’re fair game as well”
“I couldn’t ask for anything more, Ivy.”
Turning away, the ever classy thief walked towards one of the old hangers and opened it to reveal one of her signature VILE airships hidden within.
Great, as usual. It's always fun to see Carmen. I look forward to the next installment.
You go Joe!
I am very impressed, and cant wait for the next installment.
Chapter 8: Making headway
“Be careful with that laser! It is a very sensitive piece of equipment.”
Under Maelstrom’s watchful eyes, Jonah and Pearl hooked up the newly ‘acquired’ addition to the Calypso’s main power core and set it in proper position at the helm of the ship.
The madman grinned maliciously. Soon he would have his final revenge.
“Zack, Ivy, do you remember when Maelstrom attempted to thaw out Noah’s ark?”
Carmen’s entry into the ‘war room’ had made all the agents look up from the mess of files and laptops they had been working on.
“Yeah. We remember that incident, Carmen. Why bring it up now? If you’re trying to get us to reminisce over good times, you’re doing a horrible job.”
“Oh nothing of that sort, Ivy. My sources have just informed me that Maelstrom and his crew have stolen a powerful laser from an Australian research institute. One has to wonder if he plans to thaw out another famous ship. And before you ask, it’s on autopilot”.
“Australia? Don’t recall any famous ships being buried there. He’s not after Captain Cook’s treasure, is he, mates?”
“Doy! You need to work on your Australian accent Lee.” groaned Tanya. This naturally earned an indignant ‘hey!” from Lee and a round of laughter from everyone.
“No Lee, I’m afraid it’s not Captain Cook’s treasure he’s after.” Carmen replied after the laughter had ceased.
Zack eyed her suspiciously. “Don’t tell me you….”
“A woman never tells, Zack” Carmen’s signature enigmatic smile put an end to that particular thread of discussion.
“She’s teasing you, little bro. Focus, what could Maelstrom be after? Noah’s Ark again?”
Before Zack could reply, Carmen herself would shoot down that theory.
“Not likely Ivy. He never revisits an old caper; makes a thief too predictable. Also, it’s not like him to go out of the way just for one item. He plans meticulously and doesn’t waste effort; sailing to Australia was undoubtedly part of his plan. It’s probably enroute to his final target.”
“We need to figure out exactly what IT is; it’s the only chance of us getting one step ahead of Maelstrom.” Tanya’s determined sentiments were readily echoed by everyone else.
For a while, only the whirl of the engines could be heard as the unlikely team tried to make sense of every lead. Then, the breakthrough came from a most unexpected source.
“Hey Zack, do you think Maelstrom might try to hook up the laser to the Calypso’s nuclear core?”
“It’s possible. Needs a bit of work but definitely possible. What do you have in mind, Lee?”
“I’m just working an angle here. If I were maelstrom, I’d tinker with that laser and make use of the massive power source I’m sitting on to make it super-charged.” came Lee’s reply.
“Hmm...Maelstrom would need to be really careful though. By my calculations that supercharged laser would let out an enormous amount of heat.” Zack punched a few numbers on his laptop to emphasize the point.
‘Heat...that’s it!!! I believe I know Maelstrom’s end game.” all eyes turned expectantly to Carmen.
“Here’s a hint, detectives. He’s out to thaw something alright, but it’s not a ship; in fact, it’s something we’re all well acquainted with.”
Ivy pondered Carmen’s clue.
“Something they were all familiar with that need thawing, something Australia would be considered enroute to; the only thing that needs a ton of heat to melt there would be...Antarctica!?”
“Well done, Ivy. You’ve figured it out. Antarctica’s the perfect target for him. It uniquely fulfills his thirst for revenge."
Pulling up an image on the screen, she began to elaborate.
"Maelstrom hates me for putting him behind bars, twice. He also hates the world for not recognizing his greatness. Going after Antarctica is revenge against me because it was my previous hideout. He gets to target my old base and have me be the perfect patsy should something go wrong;
It’s revenge against the world because it’ll raise sea levels so much that most of the earth will become an ocean; one that he’ll rule. Everyone will be forced to bow to his greatness then.”
“He’s crazy!!! Hundreds of millions will die!”
“He’s Maelstrom, Tanya. Pretty much par for the course where he’s concerned.” Zack corrected.
Turning to Carmen, he asked the question on everyone’s mind.
“So now we know where he’s going. How do we stop him without causing a nuclear explosion?”
“You’re not listening Zack. I just said it was my previous hideout. ACME may have raided the main compound but the place still holds a few secrets”
Without answering, Carmen reached into her pocket pulled out several badge-like devices and handed them to Tanya and Ivy.
“You have your stun suits, but these might give you an extra edge.”
Zack and Lee were quick to come over and examine these devices, earning an eye roll from all three women.
“Hey Lee, call me crazy but these look like..”
“...EMP bombs.” Lee finished for Zack. Both look at Carmen in wonder.
“How did you develop what scientists around the world have tried to for years without success?”
“I can’t take credit detectives. These are prototypes created by Dr Bellum in response to your STUN suits. They’re designed specifically to take them out though I imagine multiple ones in tandem could also knock out that laser, albeit temporarily.”
Catching the looks the detectives were giving her, Carmen continued playfully.
“What? All’s fair in love and war detectives.”
After a brief pause, she continued in a serious tone.
“Please note that these will only activate when attached to the target; it would be more accurate to call them EMP stickers instead of EMP bombs. One can’t really control bombs and I would much prefer not to risk something being de-powered when it shouldn’t be.”
Images of de-powered hospital equipment, traffic lights and train signals came to mind and every agent involuntarily shuddered. Strange as it may seem, perhaps these devices would be much safer in Carmen’s hands than any other army.
Tanya though was quick to spot a flaw in the plan.
“Say we deactivate the laser and take out your ex-employees. What about rescuing the hostages? Knowing Maelstrom, he’ll put a gun to their heads.”
“Leave it to me. I have a few arrangements on that front.”
Reaching into her other pocket, Carmen pulled out a familiar item and threw it to Lee.
“My glove-o-trix. What?”
“Thought you might like this back, Mr Jordan. You like to tinker, so I’m letting you. Between your tinkering and Zack’s hacking, the two of you should be able to distract Maelstrom long enough.”
“Long enough for what, Carmen?”
Carmen’s smile gave way to a grim expression.
“Long enough for me to take care of Maelstrom.”
Nice! can't wait for the next one,Joe!
It just gets better and better...which is no surprise, really.
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