Co-written by Joe/'Roux' Maelstrom’s Hideout Undisclosed Location “Arrgh!” Joseph Kerr let out a groan as his eyes took a moment to adjust to the darkness of his cell. Wait, cell? Shaking his head to clear out any remaining grogginess, Joseph let out another groan which echoed around him, just like his previous. Apparently a cell with metal walls and ceiling. Oh joy. Taking a moment to take in the unfamiliar surroundings, the jester observed four small bars in what apparently was the door of the cell; through those bars, air and a miniscule amount of light were filtering in, but the majority of the room was still clothed in darkness. Joseph was able to make out that the ceiling was low, with just enough room for a person of average height to stand, and that the rest of the ‘room’ was bare, save for what looked to be a metal bucket in one corner. “Not even a sink? Somebody apparently has never heard of personal hygiene,” the disgruntled Jester complained aloud, only to regret it when his words echoed loudly through the room. In his attempt to cover his ears, Joseph made a second unwelcome discovery, he was handcuffed. As he experimented with the cold steel binding his wrists together, faint memories began to trickle into his consciousness; waking up on a plane, someone mentioning a zoo, a familiar voice apologizing, a sudden stinging sensation, and then everything fading to black. Gently moving his arms, he felt along the back of his neck and located the point where something had previously pricked him; it was a small wound, a syringe of sorts, perhaps. Amidst his musings, Joseph realized that he’d been lying on a pillow and had a blanket on him. Carefully, he began to examine the blanket and pillow. Expecting cheap polyester variants, he was pleasantly surprised to find that the pillow was soft cotton, whilst the blanket was woven from high quality fleece; an unusual luxury that he was grateful for. Reverently, Joseph continued to inspect the blanket and noticed a familiar scent coming from it. That smells like...baby powder with a hint of...citrus? Starts with a bit of a bite and then end on a note of sweet; Why does it seem...oddly familiar? Delving into his memories, the jester tried to place where he had previously encountered the alluring fragrance, only to open his eyes with a start when he realized the answer. Patty *** The first time he had noticed the scent was when he stood next to her as they took turns to bark orders and direct preparations for the move to Stone Harbour. He had not had a chance to ask about it then, for obvious reasons. Then he had discovered what it was quite by accident; they’d had a secret valentine game and unbeknownst to him, they had drawn each others names. Her room was practically bathed in the fragrance when he’d snuck in to place her present, a pair of glittering stilettos and a single rose, on her dresser. Looking around, he found its source, a small, ornate bottle, sitting innocently on the dresser, its contents engraved in cursive lettering on is surface - ‘Oranges with Amber & Vetiver’. Each time since then, he had observed that when she was in the room, that same fragrance would accompany her; Even in Kamchatka, she had worn that scent, and it had filled the Raven, calming its occupants as they prepared to embark on their mission. He had gone to her room when she was rumoured missing, hoping she had left a letter or some sort of clue; the bottle was no longer on the dresser, but the faint whispers of the scent still lingered in the air, taunting him. Then at last, he had been assaulted by that scent in Harbin once again, when they...when they kissed. The scent had filled his senses as he took in the feel of her soft lips on his; his instincts overruled by the flood of emotions that simple action had unleashed. Then, just when he was ready to reciprocate, she had pulled away. He had watched, helpless, as she used his own weapon against him. She had been the one who captured him. *** A whirlwind of emotions swirled around inside Joseph, bringing with it a storm of questions; Was everything just a game to her? Was the Patty he knew only a facade? If not, why did she turn against him, against their family? On that memory of the rest of VILE also being at Harbin, Joe swore under his breath; Did Patty capture them also? The sound of the cuffs falling from his wrists rung in the cell; like an alarm waking him out of his thoughts. This was another thing that didn’t add up; Patty was well aware that he, like most VILE specialists, were adept at breaking out of handcuffs, so why did she still use them? Joseph shook his head as he stretched his arms and legs; he was literally and figuratively in the dark, and he didn’t like it. *** After that talk with the doctor, Chase was slightly more confident with the impending operation. On his agenda was a visit to the second wing, and another VILE member. The stables area once held animals of the Genus Equus. Sectioned off into large stalls, each were now changed to fit metal containers fashioned into cells. Of course there would be cells, Devineaux thought, the Norwegian was a madman. Opening the blinds to let more light in, he approached the one occupied cell. None of the keys he had fit this lock, and Devineaux raised a brow behind that mask. She didn't give him every key? *** Hearing the jingle of keys in the door, the jester turned toward the entrance and squinted to make out the figure at the bars. “Acton?” *** "C'est moi," he spoke in reply, "How are you doing?" He wasn't sure what the doctor called his jester friend, but he was liable to make do. *** Joseph raised an eyebrow and replied in a harsh whisper. “I’m stuck in a cell, what do you think? No wait, better question, why aren’t you in one? You managed to escape?” *** He paused for a few seconds. Recalling what he knew of the situation, he couldn't betray Patty's confidence. "I cannot say more," his heavy exhale somewhat perceivable through the distorted voice, "Are there other questions you wish to ask?" *** Roux’s reply only served to raise more questions. The jester desperately wanted answers, but he knew from experience not to push. Instead, he chose a different tact. “Ok Acton, what can you tell me? Is Carmen alright?” *** "Carmen escaped," he signaled with a nod, "and I can tell you that you're being held prisoner by Gunnar Maelstrom." *** Gunnar Maelstrom At the mention of the name, the jester’s blood ran cold. He had never had the displeasure of meeting Maelstrom in person, but he was well acquainted with the man’s infamous reputation. His, was not a name to be uttered carelessly; its mere mention a harbinger of ill tidings and anguish. Thankfully, Carmen seemed to have escaped for now. Looking at the masked figure on the other side of the door, Joe whispered back, clearly agitated. “And what of Patty?” *** "She brought you here, monsieur," the mask replied, solemnly. *** Joseph narrowed his eyes at the odd address. “I figured that part out. But have you seen her since? Or is that classified too?” *** "She is well, she told me where your cell was," before he could say anything else, the sound of engines alerted him. Outside, he could see a train of cars coming up the hill towards the facility. That must be Maelstrom, right on cue. "I will be in touch," he tapped the container twice, "I am needed." With that, he turned and left the area.