“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.”