Closed Ultramarine

Known Aliases
Joe Kerr
Color #
8a2be2
A low whistle escaped from the jester as his eyes adjusted to the light, revealing Devalaya in all her splendor.

“We are definitely not in Kansas anymore.”

What Joseph had expected was a sunken temple in various states of ruin; what stood before him however, defied expectation.

Firstly, Devalaya was not just a temple, it was a vast metropolis complete with working roads. The city was laid out in a large circle; the larger and more ornate structures being located toward the centre, while the smaller, simpler buildings defined the outer limits.

Throughout the city, intriguing, almost tripod-like spires were positioned at seemingly strategic intervals. The spires each consisted of three twisted metal beams which made up the ‘legs’ of the ‘tripod’ structure. The beams were fused to a smaller metal triangle at the top end and into a grey stone base at the other; each spire also seemed to have some sort of bluish glowing pool in the centre of its base.

The ‘gate’ to the city was essentially a large archway, built from what appeared to be the same metal as the spires. Joseph estimated the archway being about eighty feet high with equally tall statues flanking each side. The statues were humanoid and carved from what appeared to be black or deep-blue coloured stone; the same black stone that seemed to be the construction material of choice in Devalaya. Small effigies of various animals adorned the archway and also some of the more ornate buildings in the city.

From his vantage point, Joseph could just make out similar ‘gates’ at the Eastern and Western edges of the city. Surprisingly, there was also vegetation - unusual looking ferns, some variant of a palm tree, and flowers with an ethereal turquoise-hued aura; all contrasting beautifully with the various ‘stone’ structures.

Briefly, the jester wished he had a better way of scouting the place.

“Note to self, get some drones.”

Slowly, Joseph made his way toward the obsidian road, practiced hands manipulating the crowbar in a fashion not dissimilar to a jester’s staff. Tapping said crowbar on the road resulted in a metallic clang that took the jester by surprise. Crouching down, he gingerly touched the road with a bare hand, pulling back in surprise at the warmth radiating from the ‘dark stone’’.

Moving a little closer, Joseph noted that there were also more of the large humanoid statues peeking out from behind some of the buildings in the town centre. More interestingly, small blue lights dotted every structure, creating a display reminiscent of Las Vegas.

In the city centre was a surreal looking pyramid that towered above everything else; the top of the pyramid seemed to contain some blindingly bright power source which bathed the city and its ‘sky’ in blue illumination. Originating from the pyramid were odd lines that snaked across the entire city, claiming every available surface on every available structure, including the roads, archway and spires.

At almost rhythmic intervals, the pyramid would glow and then pulse a sort of bluish-white energy; the lines acting as conduits, carrying the river of energy out toward archways. Whenever the energy flowed across a set of lines, previously unseen runes would also reveal themselves in the spaces between the lines.

Every once in awhile, a larger pulse of energy would also be released from the pyramid; when this larger wave of power reached the spires, it would cause a large column of light to burst from the pool at the base; each beam of light easily extended to at least three times the height of the archways, creating a most impressive display. The tall beams would only remain for around thirty seconds before fading out until the next large pulse.

The whole spectacle gave the illusion of a brain pulsing with thought, or some sort of breathing pattern, making the city seem alive...possibly even sentient.
 
Color #
351c75
[Co-written: Roux/Joe/Flag/Chase]

The doctor’s eyes studied the the cyan sky, but he couldn’t arrive at any conclusion except that they were somewhere out of known realms.


As he continued to survey the city, one structure in particular seemed to call out to Joseph;

“Um guys, call it a hunch, but I think we should head over there.”

The jester punctuated the last word by pointing with his crowbar, eyes still glued to the central pyramid.


Flag turned toward the jester when he spoke, but he had to walk around the wreckage to see what the man had been pointing at. He subconsciously tensed at the sight and had to calm himself against the pressure on his spine.

The light spire reminded him of a different one that he had visited on his home world and while neither structure bothered him, experiencing yet another parallel between the planets did. If this structure was like the other, it would likely be a gargantuan shrine.

“Have you heard of the vaults…”

The words, belonging to the man he fought in Harbin, forced themselves out of his memory. They were significant now for a few reasons - the first being that the blond had said Carmen was giving their captor what he wanted, which Flag assumed this meant the MAMBA since the man had said as much. Later however, Joe informed him that the two factions were in a high-stakes race for treasure. This he had interpreted as Carmen tricking the madman into agreeing to a gamble he would certainly lose - using the object of his desire to defeat him no less. All of this was inaccurate, which lead Flag to realize something significant.

She understood his message.

The Sivoan glanced at the detective - the only other person who had heard the words spoken. "She found the temple."


Devineaux focused on the dark structure, and his brows lowered at Flag’s words. “She did… but I don’t think anyone expected it to be like this.” What else was to be ‘found’ here, he wondered.

“It is as the myth of Atlantis. There is air, there is water, but where is life?”

“Maybe it’s waiting in the shadows,” instinctively replying to the doctor, Chase glanced into the dark and noted a blinking beacon. Walking towards it, he extended a palm to let red light reflect onto his hand, amplifying its glow, “This didn’t come from the sub.”

Looking over Chase’s shoulder, the Jester’s eyes widened upon seeing the familiar device.

“Technically it did come from a sub, just not ours.”

Before anyone could inquire on his meaning, Joseph turned the blinking canister over and pulled open a secret hatch to reveal three buttons. With a practiced flourish, he hit the buttons in a specific pattern before stepping back.

As the last button was pressed, the blinking red light immediately turned green before fading completely. Without warning, the main body of the canister opened lengthwise to reveal a palm-sized tracker with VILE’s logo on the back.

Gently, the Jester retrieved the tracker and placed it in Devineaux’s hand.

“This is an experimental delivery capsule, designed specifically for…”
Catching himself before he gave too much away to Devineaux, Joseph faked a cough whilst considering his next words.

“Sorry about that. Where was I? Ah yes, this was designed for our new submarine. Carmen must have launched it where she estimated we would ‘land’.”


Devineaux thought the Jester was trying to glaze over something with the cough and ‘new submarine’ narration, but he found himself without resources to counter. Thus, he moved on.

“So it’s for us,” studying the tracker, he handed it to Flag, “Best this stays on your person. Of us four, you need extraction most.” The Sivoan said nothing in reply as he pocketed the device.


The doctor nodded in approval of this decision. He placed a hand to unconsciously adjust his mask, but soon realised he wore no such thing. This notion led to another thought that wandered like floating particles from the grounds before them to the deep ocean high above. He felt euphoric, perhaps even giddy, but the doctor understood the signs and attempted to make sense of it by sharing this with his comrades.

“My friends,” again, hands went to his head, “there my be a lack of oxygen, I am feeling inebriated.”


Again, the detective furled his brows in thought. He was feeling it too. The air was odorless, but there were plenty of other undetectable gases that may cause this reaction. Without proper equipment, it was impossible to tell, “We’re deep under the Indian Ocean,” he suggested, “by some miracle, we’re not crushed under pressure, but this might be the start of some high-pressure neurological syndrome. There’s no avoiding it, just stay mindful.”

Hopefully.

“Let’s…” Chase opened a hand towards what was presumably the temple, the straight path to it somewhat better lit than side alleys, “head there.”
 
Color #
6a99a6
[Co-written: Nevon/Patty/Carmen]

Nevon Blair climbed up a small rise and set himself to look over the ridge at some moving lights. His ears felt weird. Since they descended into the depths, both sides felt like they needed to pop, but won’t. This was annoying, and the first thing he wanted to do was take off his gloves and poke at them. But first, he had a job to do.

Being spotter wasn’t hard, it wasn’t easy either, but he liked the slow pace. It was all quiet until he knelt down to gather some rocks to build a pod for his scope. Suddenly, he heard rustling and felt a rush of air as a foot came inches from his face. Then something pushed him out of the way. Nevon scrambled backwards.

Now that he could better see, what he saw left him more confused. The foot was a right foot that belonged to a blond young woman, her hair tied back and her black clothes was like a wetsuit. Her kick was paused mid-air, held fast by none other than Carmen herself. He had no idea VILE’s ringleader had followed him up here.

The look on the blonde’s face was as shocked as Nevon’s must have been. But it changed fast to a determined scowl when she moved again. She freed herself from the woman’s grip and tried a few times to deliver alternate blows. From Nev’s point of view, it seemed like she had great aim, but she’d somehow miss.

After a few more futile attempts, the younger woman gritted her teeth and said an expletive that went right over Nevon’s head, because his ears suddenly popped.

Agent Blair,” commanded Carmen Sandiego, “head back to the group, please.

Nev didn’t think he should leave Ms. Sandiego with a rogue agent. Part of the task handed to him was to keep members of his party safe, and he wasn’t so dumb as to drop it on order. So he hesitated.

Encouraged by this mini act of defiance from an ACME agent, the Valkyrie stood a little taller, “Are you going to run now?

Carmen nodded, rhetorically. She had no reason to agree or disagree, answering the question would only fan the flame. While she suspected that her young protégé’s disappearance had something to do with people from her past, none of that seemed to matter while they were face-to-face.

Patty,” her voice was neutral, “What have you done?

What—me?” Ever quick to play the blame game, she was surprised at the segue.

How many were in that submarine?

...Four,” came the slow answer.

Do you know if any are alive?

No.”

Then frankly, it’s not me that should be running away.

The blonde didn’t like the way this conversation was going, and in her head, she began making all sorts of verbal accusations to prove her point.

Meanwhile Carmen relaxed her shoulders and extended an open palm, reaching out to the wayward youngster.

That physical offering was a simple gesture, but it hit the Valkyrie like a sack of bricks. Could she still go home after all this?

I didn’t…” she struggled at first, “I didn’t start out wanting anybody killed, I was trying to prevent it,” words were flowing out, each sentence tumbling onto the next, “It wasn’t like I set out to be his Valkyrie. I only wanted to learn something. I wanted to find what I was missing.

She wanted to stop but she could only continue, tussling forward.

I thought if I did this right, if I brought Chase Devineaux in, I’d have a fighting chance,” she thought about how quickly things went downhill, “After Siberia, Maelstrom became more desperate. I thought I could keep myself afloat, but it got out of control. I didn’t know how much he wanted you, how insane he’d be—

Stop,” the dulcet interruption was finite, “No more excuses, Patty. Take my hand, it’ll be fine.

Amber Argos, a.k.a. Patty Larceny, put her hand into that of her former mentor’s… and started to cry. Whether or not this was forgiveness, she wasn’t sure, but it felt genuine. She’d missed this warmth so much, and it was tearing at her when she least expected it.

Nevon stood up, still wide-eyed about the entire incident. He picked up his scope and backpack, and then made his way to the women. By the time he reached them, they were in an embrace, and the ACME agent had all but forgotten the irony that he, Camen, and Patty came into this bubble as three separate teams.

We don’t have much time,” the thief whispered, “If you’re serious about fixing this, you’ll need to follow my lead.

Patty agreed, but it still took her awhile to stop the faucets. When she could see clearly again, she saw Nevon’s face smiling mutely in her direction.

She wanted to tell him to get out of the way, but something stopped her.

Hey,” the blonde blinked passively, “haven’t we met?

Once maybe?” Nevon shrugged, “During some bluemoon?
 

Neb

Elf on the Shelf
Known Aliases
Nebuchadnezzar (Neb) Ullyss (formerly Kid Kidman), Kitty, Seryy Pripyat
Color #
323E4F
Neb herself hadn’t noticed any movement, for almost the entirety of her attention was focused upon the tiny green dot on her screen. The urge to look elsewhere flitted in and out, but she couldn’t bear to lose sight of the dot for a second, the only proof of the three remaining prisoners she had, blinking in and out of existence like the fateful atom in Schrodinger's box.

After a time her eyes began to ache from continuously squinting in the dim light, and she rubbed them to see clearly. Then she rubbed them again. The dot’s location of the map seemed...off.

I’ve been staring at this thing too long, she thought, but the more she studied it, the more it seemed to drift towards the center. She placed a finger over the dot and waited. At first nothing happened, but then, slowly, ever so slowly, the dot crawled out from underneath it.

Neb stopped short and held up the tracker.

“Guys….”
 

Ivy

Commander
Known Aliases
Iv', Ives
Color #
008080
“What’s up?” Ivy asked quickly, noticing the VILE agent’s tone. Following Neb’s eyes to the little lime dot, the commander first saw nothing.

A few blips passed until she could clearly see the target moving down towards them. “Is the connection dropping?”

It would be easy to blame interference problems, but inside this tight little bubble, the signal was strong, “Holy smokes!” the redhead whispered an exclamation and took off her glasses to look at the indicator better, “I think they’re on the move.”
 
Known Aliases
Farmboy, Calamity, Stormblood
Color #
006600
“Dang,” Deric said looking over Ivy’s shoulder at the tracker, “El Jefe’s got more lives than Schrodinger's cat.”

Glancing at the tracker and then at their surroundings, “I think if we go...” Deric said, pointing his STUN rifle, “this way, we might be able to catch up to them the rate they’re going. Shall we?”
 

Eugene

Airfield Staff
Known Aliases
Euge, Earl Jr.
Color #
003366
[Cowritten: Euge/Deric/Kidman]

Euge had remained silent for the expedition thus far, his attention torn too thin by the overwhelming incongruity of their environment, the dizzying array of information flooding the ASP, and the effect of the pressure on his shoulder. The titanium was a souvenir he hadn't had the last time he had made a deep dive, and the sensation which had started out as pins and needles was slowly progressing to a fiery stabbing. Euge paused, and dialed the internal temperature of the ASP as low as it would go before deliberately slowing his breathing. The cold took enough of the edge off for him to think clearly and refocus on the world outside his suit.

Tuning back into the chatter, Euge spared a glance over the women's shoulders at the flickering tracker. Sure enough, it seemed to indicate someone was on the move. It was time to get a better lay of the land. Stepping away from the team, Euge unclipped a canister about the size of a water bottle from his belt and threw it into the air. The drone, armed the moment it detached from the suit, took to the air with a soft buzz and promptly began feeding visible and IR imagery to every STUN and ASP in range. With luck, they would be able to evaluate the survivors in more detail.


Getting the view from the drone Grovington just launched, Deric remarked “Well, maybe we should let Clyde go first so we can hopefully find the best path to El Jefe.”

There was an external monitor on the ACME’s robo suit, and Neb anxiously watched the feed as the drone left their sight. She’d expected a clear view from such a sophisticated-looking piece of equipment, but the video it relayed was, in a word, horrible.

Joe would have something to say about this, she thought with a twinge, but she could still see something through the heavy grain, and the scope of the place surprised her. At last they could see... something moving in the distance. The thing had a heat signature, but that was all she could make out.

“The hell is that?” Neb muttered as she squinted at the monitor.

Then the screen went black.
 

Chase

Director
Known Aliases
Boss (situational)
Color #
536373
[Co-written Chase/Joe Kerr]

In the midnight blue, Chase was tired but not sleepy. Glancing down the ancient empty streets, he pondered what life must have been like here and what languages they spoke. He imagined the wheels of a pushcart and the tinkering of an ox’s bell as hooves tapped in time against a darkened path. That clip-clopping transformed into the beat of Joe Kerr’s crowbar. He seemed unsteady, and Devineaux decided to strike up a conversation.

“Hey, how are you holding up, Kerr?”


It never ceased to amuse Joseph how such seemingly simple questions were actually incredibly complicated to answer.

Physically, the jester was banged up but otherwise fine; a side-effect, he presumed, of the adrenaline coursing through his veins.
Mentally, he was a little on edge, given the situation and their intended destination. Thankfully, the city provided a fascinating distraction for the moment.

Joseph didn’t even dare consider his emotional state at the present; there were too many things to sort through and think about, and now was not the best time for it.

Finally, the Jester answered with what he considered a neutral but acceptable response.

“All things considered? Better than expected. What about you? You look pretty unscathed.”


He considered the word ‘unscathed’, and while it may have started out as a joke some time ago, getting out of things ‘relatively unscathed’ was starting to become synonymous with his persona.

“To be honest, it got close there. I wasn’t sure we’d live,” nervously, he chuckled, “If so, my last words would have been me yelling at you to keep the ballasts stable.”


Joseph chuckled at the rare moment of levity from the ACME Director of Operations.

“That would have been a pretty pathetic choice of last words Devineaux, no offense.”

The Jester glanced back briefly to ensure that the Doctor and the Sivoan were keeping up with their pace before resuming the conversation.

“So...you got a plan or are we winging it?”


The director liked his plans neat and well thought out in advance. But in this situation, he was in no position to plot.

“I trust your boss has a plan, she dropped the tracker, she must be tracking…”

His words sounded off, even to himself.

“Then… we hope she isn’t serious about gambling with a psychopath.”


The irony of Chase’s first four words wasn’t lost on Joseph, but discretion dictated that he held his tongue on the matter; antagonizing Chase was better saved for more neutral grounds.

“I think the term you’re looking for Devineaux, is ‘calculated risk’.”

For a brief moment, the pair walked in amicable silence, observing their surroundings intently.

Eventually, the jester resumed the conversation.

“Hey...uh….I know you and the boss have some history together…”


Still wet with perspiration, a brow raised involuntarily at the mention of ‘history’. Here was the part where he began gathering topics to divert the conversation. Thankfully, Joe continued and Chase needn’t make any denial.

“...but what about Maelstrom? You ever dealt with him before?”

“I had to look him up,” he admitted, “I’d heard of Gunnar Maelstrom, but when… uh…” the pause was to navigate his thoughts, “when she dealt with him, it was a separate case, outside of ACME.”

Now it was Joseph’s turn to raise an eyebrow. “So ACME has never officially dealt with Maelstrom before?”

“Officially, unofficially, it was still an an ACME Detective that put him away.”

The Jester smiled in amusement; there was a good reason Chase had the reputation of being a company man.

“Spare me the corporate spiel, Devineaux; I’m not the press.”


“I’m trained to treat everyone like the press,” that was spoken with mirth, “What about your side, what do you know about Maelstrom?”

The Jester was about to reply candidly but suddenly became mindful of whom he was conversing with. Choosing his words carefully, Joseph responded with a mixture of half-truths.

“Apart from the obvious psychopathic behaviour? Admittedly, not much. There have been...stories passed around but up until now, Carmen was the only one in VILE who had actually met Maelstrom.”


He didn’t like hearing that. Chase hoped that his counterpart had shared more information with her people.

After a thoughtful pause, Joseph voiced out something that had been troubling him once ACME had entered the picture.

“I know full well how ACME likes to deal with the likes of us, but how are you guys going to deal with Maelstrom? Is this going to be another ‘Russia incident’ again?”


In reaction, Devineaux chuckled at ‘the likes of us’.

“You said it yourself, she’s met him… so we let her lay out the plans and follow through if she needs us. And when I say ‘us’ I mostly mean the three you. It’s not likely any part of her plan involves ACME.”


The Jester didn’t buy for one moment that Chase would actually think that Carmen wouldn’t factor ACME into her plan; their intimate knowledge of each other was part of why the duo were such great rivals.

Could it be that Devineaux had detected the half-truths and was now playing mind games?

On a whim, Joseph decided to try a swerve.

“You sound pretty content to follow her orders; ever consider switching sides?”


“You must have misheard me, content has nothing to do with my sense of justice,” he was starting to feel the narcosis, and a slanted joke was due, “For now, I’m looking to bag Maelstrom for attempted murder. Then we, you-me, her-us, won’t have to cross paths again for a while.”

“Well, for all our sakes, I hope you succeed.”

Joseph would have been content to leave it at that had one last thought not occurred to him.

“You’re not...going to make Patty go down with that ship are you?”


Amber Argos was a topic Chase also pondered, “I’m not sure where she stands in all this, she brought us here—drugged you, dragged me—I’ll give her a chance to clarify, but she’ll have to make perfect sense.”

As he said this, he thought Joe’s expression changed, and decided to ask, “What’s your logic?”


Joseph winced slightly at the memory of Patty capturing him, and even more when he recalled the discussion in his ‘cell’. Despite the hurt, he couldn’t bring himself to stay mad with Patty; she was suffering just as much in her own way.

“I...honestly don’t know; I’m not even sure if she herself knows where she stands right now.”

The jester shook his head to indicate that it was not a line of questioning that he wanted to pursue right now.

“That said…”

Joseph stopped moving and, with some effort, looked Chase square in the eyes.

“...she’s still VILE...she’s still family...”

Trailing off his words, Joseph continued the stare-down, trusting Devineaux to understand what had been left unsaid.


The detective exhaled. He drew his next breath fluidly and his steps slowed. In the distant silence, the sound of some dolphin arched high through the air.

“I can’t make any promises when it comes to your dysfunctional ‘family’.”

That sound, he realized, was less like a dolphin and more like the quick whirr of a launched ACME drone. But how?


Turning to face the odd noise, Joseph instinctively reached for a gag bomb, only to groan in frustration upon recalling the absence of his personal effects. Tightening his hands around the crowbar, the Jester glanced sideways and whispered toward the ACME leader.

“Devineaux?”


“Hold up,” he lifted a hand and stood still. The stony ground trembled very slightly—solid rocks were excellent conductors of vibrations—something was approaching.
 

Flag

V.I.L.E.
Color #
808080
Flag had hung back as Joe and the detective took lead on their trek toward the central spire, their conversation loud yet indeterminable in the absolute silence of the underwater necropolis. Occasionally, a full word would escape their conversational bubble and waft toward him like some sort of auditory ghost. The sound blips tried to draw his attention to what was being said, though he tried to remain focused on the strange landscape they were traversing.

“What is all of this?”

The sarcastic query attention snapped Flag's attention forward, where he simply found the duo chatting amongst themselves. Redirecting, he glanced at Acton to find the doctor was silently keeping pace with the rest of them.

Attention back on the landscape, more unaffiliated words drifted back to him and morphed as they reached his ears, while other sounds took on the more familiar terms of his native Ogaitian.


[“First, ancient Earth and now a holy spire…”]

The detective had stopped the groups venture forward and Flag eyeballed the man as he tried to make sense of his words. It wasn't until he felt the rhythmic rumble under his feat that he realized Chase has said nothing about the temple.
 

Neb

Elf on the Shelf
Known Aliases
Nebuchadnezzar (Neb) Ullyss (formerly Kid Kidman), Kitty, Seryy Pripyat
Color #
323E4F
[Co-Written by Chase/Roux/Flag/Joe/Neb]

Neb had already begun to quicken her pace once she saw the dot was moving, but with the disappearance of the drone she lost all patience and broke into a run. The air quality was poor and would have stalled out the average person, but like any sensible thief, she’d trained for endurance and was quickly had the “blob” in sight.

There were two clumps, no, three….four! Four people!

Exertion spurred on the process of nitrogen narcosis in her blood, and euphoria bloomed beneath her excitement as the tallest figure took shape. Suddenly there was no one else.

“FLAG!” she screamed, long and loud as she made a beeline to/towards him, wrapped him up in her arms and crushed him to her chest. “You’re alive!


The adrenaline that had allowed him to walk away from the crash was wearing off; replaced by a sluggishness that only allowed him to register the girl's impact after the fact.

"I am more than aware." Flag replied through clenched teeth, a low tone to his strained voice.


Whilst the sight of Neb giving Flag a crushing bear hug was both amusing and slightly ironic, Joseph Kerr couldn’t help but wince at the volume of the yell that had preceded this event.

Shaking off the slight ringing in his ears, he began to approach the duo, only to tense slightly upon spying a few more figures beginning to approach in the distance.


“Well I wasn’t,” Neb continued at her long-lost companion. “You weren’t in Mael’s vid call and-”

Before she could finish her thought, Neb caught movement out of the corner of her eye.


“Joeeeeeeeeeeeeee!,” the smallest VILE cried as she launched herself at the jester. “Oh Joe, are you okay? I’m sorry I got mad at you, you didn’t know because I didn’t tell you everything, which I can’t, and that’s why I have to look after you better.”

“It’s good to see you too, Neb.”

“What he do to you? How did he get you?”


Even in his slightly hazy state of mind, Joseph knew that Neb wouldn’t take the full truth well, so he settled for deflecting with a combination of humour and half-truths.

“He imprisoned me; would have done more but someone intervened. And as for how he got me, if I knew that he wouldn’t have got me would he?”


“But that doesn’t make any...”

Again she was caught mid-sentence by the sight of another person, and Neb unconsciously touched a mask on her face that wasn’t there.

“Uh, hey,” she greeted Chase uneasily.


Devineaux nodded, confident from the look in her eyes that this one knew him, but at the moment, he couldn’t peg from where.

While he had survived the attack on his apartment all the same without her, of the many things she’d failed to do this time around, not being there for him during that critical moment ranked high on her list of regrets.

Embarrassed by her awkwardness, Neb cleared her throat and gestured towards the remainder of the rescue team coming up behind her. “There’s some ACMEs coming, so you can, uh, be ACME with them.”


She can’t possibly have said ‘ACME’, Chase was certain he misheard.

The VILE paused, then added with a small, genuine smile, “I’m glad you didn’t die.”

Interesting assessment, the detective’s brows lowered, was he supposed to?


At last she turned to the fourth member of the group, but she couldn't place him at all. She’d never seen this dark-haired, blue-eyed man before, but his clothes certainly looked familiar. Neb squinted at the mystery man as she sought to make sense of it through her narcotic haze. “Dr. Roux...is that you?”

The doctor nodded, “Mais oui,” he thought to ask if she was alone, but before he could form the words in English, she continued.

Then she glanced back at the also strangely familiar clothes the ACME director was wearing. “Did you guys switch clothes?”

Devineaux’s eyes followed hers to the doctor, looking decently comfortable in the suit of an American. “We did,” he answered, “but never mind that, do you have a radio, to your boss?”

“Huh? Yeah, if this place will let me radio her. We already lost a drone,” Neb said as she got out her phone.
 
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Neb

Elf on the Shelf
Known Aliases
Nebuchadnezzar (Neb) Ullyss (formerly Kid Kidman), Kitty, Seryy Pripyat
Color #
323E4F
[Co-Written by Chase/Deric/Ivy/Neb/Joe]

Ivy thought to warn the VILE agent when she ran, but as she saw what the girl was running to, she exhaled a mix of anxiety and relief. Signalling to her team that they should quicken their pace, she made a passive 'ya'll know this' announcement on the radio.

"VIP spotted."


“And I’m guessing the other three forms with him are Carmen’s three stooges,” Deric surmised.

Without much sleep prior to the submarine ride, crash, and consequent trek through this unknown universe, Chase was confused at first to see ACME, his ACME, in full regalia and heading towards him. At first, he was sure his mind was under enough pressure for hallucinations, but then a gray-haired female made a friendly lunge towards Flag and that seemed real enough.

"Commander Monaghan...?" Devineaux greeted with a question as they got closer. He chuckled to signal he was happy to see the team, at least he hoped they could tell, because he was. But then...


“Director,” After a proper greeting, the commander walked straight to the ASP, yanked open a panel and pulled down its tow chain. Next she removed a standard handcuff, one side latched easily to the ASP’s tow hook while the other locked around Chase’s wrist. “I hope you don’t mind protocol,” she wasn’t joking.

“Uh, Red,” Deric said, a tone of apprehension in his voice, “you sure that’s the best idea here and now? There’s obviously something hinky about this place and if we need to beat feet, are you sure chaining El Jefe to the Tin Man…”

Devineaux let out a laugh, oddly finding that comment funnier than usual.

Looking at Eugene, Deric said, “No offense, flyboy.”

Looking back at Ivy, he continued, “is a good idea? Besides, Rosen wants him back in one piece. As much as I can’t stand the witch, she has the power and desire to make our lives hell.”

Chase’s eyes shot to Storm as he spoke, “Wait, wh--” So his message was forwarded, just not taken the way he thought.

“Plus,” Deric said, gesturing around, “where is he gonna go?”

Ivy nodded at Deric's question, "Exactly, where is he gonna go?" She took a step towards the Director and waved her hand over his eyes. "His reaction time's slowed, we'll keep the ASP in the middle. When we move back you stay on his left, I'll take the right."

“Okay, right, I’ll stick with Grovington,” Chase was agreeable for now, “but the fact that you’re cuffing me and not…” he looked to the other three that walked with him, “these guys… is a little embarrassing. Can I at least have a drink?”

“Sorry, jefe,” Deric apologized, glancing at the members of VILE nearby. “Like I said, we’ve got orders.” ‘Even if I think those orders are dirty pool,’ he thought while taking position on the left of the Director and the ASP.

Neb paused her struggle with poor reception to take a picture of a handcuffed Chase. Carmen has to see this, she thought with a chuckle.

Joseph had recognized both the Commander and Eugene Grovington from a previous ‘joint operation’ by the two organizations; the duo were among ACME’s finest and would be formidable, albeit tentative, allies against Maelstrom.

Any relief that the Jester might have felt died instantly though, at the sight of cuffs being slapped on Devineaux. Common sense told Joseph that directly questioning their actions would probably result in him getting the same treatment; to that end, he opted to employ some humour.

“Uh...are you going to cuff us too? Do I need to have my lawyer present?”


“Not that I don’t appreciate input from a criminal jester,” Ivy Monaghan remembered this one from a case in deep winter Kamchatka, “but I’m not cuffing wrong-doers yet, just keeping a VIP safe.” That said, she checked her gear, “Let’s move back to extr--”

Loud popping sounds burst through the air followed by the pings of bullets. Naturally, the commander called all unarmored individuals to the center of their formation. SMGs, her sensors identified, validity 76%. Even the computer wasn’t sure of what it heard.

After three seconds of silence, the shots rang again, followed by a human scream.
 
Last edited:

Carmen

Queen of Crime
Color #
850000
[Cowritten: Carmen/Patty/Nevon]

Meanwhile, at the docks...

As the team prepared to investigate the city’s religious centre, its lead reviewed what she knew on paper.

The temple complex comprised of a main structure surrounded by rectangular walls. According to a sonar-scanned 3-dimensional map its largest gopuram, or gate tower, was uncommonly dedicated north; the direction of the Naga and Moon. Hindu temples in Southern India often placed their most elaborate gate for Indra, towards the sunrise. Yet aside from this anomaly its layout were similar to those of religious architecture found in nearby Kerala. Except, of the pillars observable around the docks, no adornment pointed to anything specifically Hindu.

From this distance, the foreboding central structure seemed somewhat more convoluted than previous sonar imagery suggested. Today’s current head explorer, however; believed she studied similar buildings well enough to improvise a path. She planned to find the garbhagriha (or womb-chamber), where she would discover an image of the temple’s deity, and then she would leave. As an unreliable narrator of her own story, she had not decided if she would give in to the temptation of theft.

“We’re ready to fly,” Meiru Basra reported. Carmen affirmed with thanks, but paused abruptly.

Through a blanket cloud of warming engines, distant gunshots popped distinctively.

Oh my god,” Patty had heard the same thing, and suddenly realized the possibility that Odo actually found the ACME team.

What?” Nevon asked, “What was that? My reading isn’t clear.” His STUN suit sensors couldn’t tell him what the weapons might have been because they were too far away.

Judging from the blonde’s reaction, the lead concluded, “Your men?

Yes, but no,” the Valkyrie explained, “I mean, I told them to follow the other team so I could come here, but I didn’t think--” Voices of those present began to weigh in the air. Someone groaned.

You put gunmen on my team??” the ACME agent was angry, surprising even himself.

“What kind of--” Meiru glared.

They were supposed to find Carmen!

Well, she’s here!

“Not entirely smart,” Captain Basra shook her head.

They’re not supposed to be firing at anybody!

She’s not there!” It kicked Nevon in the gut that he could be the sole survivor of this mission, “What if they shot everybody trying to find her?

They’re not-- I don’t know, OK!?

“Now we’ll be stretched thinner,” the doctor nearby commented as he considered his medical gear.

Clearly you don’t know!

You’re worse than I am!

Stop,” the thief had heard enough. A strong desire to be isolated weighed at her words. Following intuition, it was wiser to use flight as backup and escort for the other team than to immediately pursue temple exploration. Nothing was worth more to her.

As she prepared to continue, however; her unspoken wish was granted. The air around her changed within a breath and Carmen was, all at once, alone.
 

Status Updates

Is working on setting up a mini arcade in the secret basement room at ACME headquarters.
is enjoying what's left of the brownies she made late last night to celebrate the Cleveland Browns beating the Denver Broncos. :)
Finish her Christmas shopping just in a nick of time.

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