Near the stone harbor,was a small arcade, run by Vile. Not much to look at, but home to quite a few old school arcade, machines, including an older claw. Right now a grey shirt was checking it, sure enough the claw bandit had cleaned them out. This was the second time this week, most of the generic plush were still there, the licensed ones were completely gone. Whoever had done this, was good, really good.
"They struck again?" Came the voice of a newer recruit.
"Yes." Sighed the older one. "The second time this week."
"So what do you think they do with them all?" The younger questioned with a smirk.
"Keep them? Donate some?, how would I know?" The elder one grunted.
"So what are you gonna do about it." Was a snarky answer.
"I am gonna give them a run for their money." Was the reply.
"I think they are gonna, make you eat your words." The new recruit teased.
His current mentor, just shook his head, and placed more plush inside. This time they decided to put in a plush much to large for the claw. It was placed as far back, as it could possibly go. That would probably discourage them, at least they hoped it would. However they were sure others would, try and get it, possibly netting them more revenue. They also put in some , rather flat and not much to them manta ray plush. Just to see if anyone would dare try, to get those as well.
One week later.
They came back a week later, wide eyed they stared. Not only were the manta ray plush gone, so was that really big one in the back. On the machine, was a envelope closed shut with some stickers. Curiously they took it down, inside was a series of photos documenting, the big plush, they had gotten it in three tries. There was also a thank you card, with a coupon for a free coffee. Grumbling, the grunt lumbered off, they were in need of a good drink.
Back at ACME, Kristine was waiting for a friend of hers to arrive. They had made a friendly bet, as to weather or not they could get that big plush out of the claw. Their friend had a few doubts, and had initiated the bet in the first place. Right now, they had a large grin , on their face, how fun it was to take on a challenge. They had not earned the nickname the claw bandit for nothing.
Silence was a thing of weight, it had no form yet could envelop you. It was a stillness that kept you in place, and deafened you. One of the things that could wear you down, no matter how big their resolve. It weighed on her so, yet all it would take to shatter it would be one small word. Yet in all that time, they forgot they even had a voice.
Right now it was settled over her, familiar, and no lighter than the last time she had encountered it. The feeling hung about her, as if suspended on the thinnest of strands. Chains of sorts that were the strongest thing in the world, yet so incredibly frail. It was almost like being in a web of sorts, the strands that held the known universe together. This was the thing that kept her locked in a dark place, a lonesome place.
It appeared before her now, eyes like burning coals, breath like suffocating smoke, fangs like knives. Hovering above them, as they lay in that web, staring at them with such coldness. A being that kept them, powerless, and hopeless. A certain feeling spurred within them, a faint tingle that was like rippling water. Where that drop of resolve had come from who knew.
"No , not today, and not ever again." They spoke to it in harsh whisper.
The creature shuddered, as if it had been stuck, shrinking away from them. The tides had turned, its power was now at an end. Helplessness was the power it had, to bind with doubt. To slowly sap ones resolve to nothing, then feast on the remains.
"You have no power." She poke louder.
The creature froze, and turned to stone, with a crackling sound. Small fracture lines formed, it slowly, ever so slowly crumbled to bits before her. The stands of the web, shattered sending her falling, as if falling into deep water. The slow decent, that ended in softness, and a light, a soft glowing light.
Opening her eyes, she found herself in a unfamiliar room, oh that is right, Carmen had brought her here.
"Oh you are awake." A voice spoke.
"Never again." She hissed half awake.
"Nightmare?" Carmen paused, curious yet alarmed.
"Sort of." Was Invaders reply. "I was in a web of sorts, I had no voice, no power."
"I see." Carmen spoke up.
"I spoke up." Invader said with a shudder. "It turned to stone, shattered, so did its web."
"You have changed." She offered, drawing near.
"Have I?" Invader questioned.
"I have seen you more joyous, bolder, and with new resolve." Carmen answered.
As if to prove that, Invader got closer hugging her one. While not one who showed affection often, they allowed this. When was the last time they surrendered, to something, so simple. What was the last time they had relaxed, to be at such peace? Right here and now, is what they needed, returning the hug, she let her guard down for but a moment.
Her eyes take on a look of steel, the color of ice, the breath of winter. This was the time of year they cherished the most, the time they felt most alive. It was a crisp cold evening, paired with a wind that cut you to the bone. Very few ventured out at this point, fewer even stayed outside for long. How long they had been shoveling who knows, that did not matter. They were at ease, being bundled so tightly, cocooned in many layers. They felt safe, and at one with the icy winter landscape before them. Their scarf had long frozen, now stiffened like an icy wrap. Nearly all of the agents had gone home, safely nuzzled someplace warm.
Most places were shuttered now, making an eerie emptiness to the streets. That made her more at ease, to face the elements in an icy embrace. The world had frozen overnight, transforming the area to a forlorn snowy wonderland. Powdery was the snow, frozen to the point of being sand like. To walk in that, the soft sifting sound of it resonated like a lullaby. They could almost bed down here and now, like a wolf, and dream of crystal plains when the moon rose. With the stars above, looking down on them, in a wordless splendor, oh that would be something to see.
"How long have you been out here?" Came a voice, breaking the silence.
"I will go in when, I am done." They replied not stopping.
"It is too cold, to be out here." Carmen exclaimed, stepping out of the shadows.
"I like the cold, besides I am nearly done." Invader replies calmly.
"It has been exactly eight hours, ten minutes, and twenty eight seconds." Carmen bluntly stated. "The wind chill is minus seventeen." Her breath hanging in icy waifs.
"That long already?" Invader paused leaning on the shovel. "At least we are not in Siberia."
"You really should go inside." Carmen suggested in a firmer tone.
"I am nearly done." Invader countered.
Carmen just sighed quietly, they were a little concerned, it was very easy to slip into hypothermia when it got like this. Once she had caught a henchman just in time, before things got worse for them. Motioning , a second figure stepped in, and picked Invader up.
"Hey." She exclaimed. "I am not done."
"That can wait." Carmen ordered. "We are going inside."
Looking up they saw Eartha, who wore a look of concern, they did not like the cold at all.
"You are like an icicle." They remarked.
"More like a frost fae." Was the reply.
Once inside, Carmen tugged at a scarf to find it frozen solid. Everything else was very stiff, and you could see icy waifs steaming off them. Touching them, they found their skin was a bit cold as well, they were a little pale looking. That was a bit alarming, however, they were still conscious that was a good sign.
"Any numbness? Felling tired?" Carmen asked.
"Not at all." Invader remarked.
"Your body temperature is a little down." Carmen noted. "We are getting you, into warmer clothes."
With that they took her by the arm, and they headed to the laundry room, that would be deserted this time of night. Good there was , plenty of clothes in there, that just came from the dryers. As well as a bunch of warm blankets, perfect. Carmen handed things off, and waited for Invader to return, they were elated they were alright. Perhaps they did not need, to worry as much with them. They then heard an announcement, due to inclement weather, the place was going to shut down for the night.
Normally they did not take anyone to a hideout, much less anyone from Acme. However perhaps they could make an exception this time. There were plenty of safe houses, ordinary places to outsiders. Eartha had walked in, wondering what was taking Carmen so long. Invader showed up, just in time for Eartha to pick her up again.
"I take it I am going with you?" She pondered.
"Well given they are shutting down." Carmen remarked.
They were taken outside where a plow truck was waiting, what better way to deflect attention. Invader was offered the front seat,but insisted on being in the back. There was plenty of room in there, halfway there they fell asleep. Car rides usually made them sleepy, there was just something about the purr of an engine that was soothing. Carmen just smirked, there was no need for extra precautions. Although how was that comfy, leaning forward with their chin on their chest. Arriving at their detestation she woke up, as if they knew the vehicle had stopped. The place was a stone building of sorts, ushered inside a warm fire was going. The smell reminded them of home, an oversized chair sat facing it. As well as a very comfy looking sofa, half awake they climbed on the chair, and fell asleep, curling up under the blankets they had taken with them.
Carmen breathed easy, as a storm started to form outside, it was going to be a long cozy night.
To a Friend.
I think you are wonderful, more than words can say.
A great person to talk to, each and every new born day.
When all the world gets you down, please know I am always around.
I am willing to play the fool, if it shall chase away many a frown.
A ray of sunshine you always are, with such a cheerful stance.
I would have said something sooner, if I gave my heart a chance.
Please pardon my adoration, you doth make happy with a smile.
I am glad to know you now, it was worth it all the while.
You are wonderful, who can chase all the dark clouds away.
With such kind words, that can dispel the darkest rays.
There is a fondness I have for you, that I would not admit.
So here is a poem for you, that I hope you find a perfect fit.
Well once again it was April fools day, this time Invader was pulling all the stops. Both ACME and VILE, were going to be subjected to pranks. Fist off was ACME headquarters, Invader pulled out her list, Eugine was the first one. Sense it was a weekend, they practically had the place to themselves. Wandering into their office, she made the entire thing into a mini airfield, complete with a runway across the desk, and a ton of miniatures. They even did a mini plane crash scene, with a pilot walking away form it for fun.
Next up was Zack, she decided to replace all his technology with really outdated stuff. The computer was replaced with one featuring windows 3.1, and there was even a modem with a floppy disc drive. Just for fun they decided to toss in a VHS player, with a really old but working television set. She then set up a cassette deck player, and added a eight track player to it as well for kicks.
Ivy was on the list as well, they wanted to make their dorm room as girly as possible. That was not too hard, but it was a lot of fun. Eventually they had exchanged her entire wardrobe, with very girly stuff. Then her bed was filled with lots of cute plush. A jewelry box was placed on the desk, full of rings and girly perfume.
Chase was on the list at long last this year. Invader thought that it would be super fun, they decided to gift wrap the entire room, right down to the door itself. Good thing they had stocked up on warping paper, and ribbons. They even decided to cover the walls, and floors for good measure. Gently closing the door they made their way to the next targets room.
Astrid came just after Chase, sense they happened to like narwhals, they decided an ocean theme was best for them. This was done using plush, tissue paper, and a bit of glitter. Eventually the room looked like an ocean, and there were the adorable narwhals everywhere. Some were even wearing hats, she had gotten them form claw machines around the area. That had given them the nickname the claw bandit.
Speaking of that, Julie was next in line, knowing they grew up on a ranch, their dorm was turned into a horse paddock. They used chairs to create some stables, and set several large horse plush in them. A wanted poster with Carmen's picture on it, was hung near the far wall. for good measure they set out some horseshoes. There was even a sheriffs badge waiting for them. A door alarm that sounded like a horse, was set up to go off as soon as the door opened.
Bran was also on that list for some reason, not knowing them too well, they decided to fill the room with boxes. Some were empty, others contained spring loaded glitter bombs. While even more boxes had instructions, in them for a scavenger hunt. Randomly placed in some of them was some tea. As well as some snacks from all around the world , just to be nice.
Lee Jordan was next, just to be super silly, they hung about 100 pinatas from the ceiling. Invader decided to put them at various heights just for kicks. Some were rather typical animal ones, while others were just a crazy mix of things. Inside all of them was candy, some were super hot and spicy ones. This was April fools after all, so there would be pranks.
This year they decided to go easy on the Chief, not knowing how well they would take a joke. They settled on the old, bubble stuff in a pipe prank, a nice classic joke. As well as a whoopee cushion on the chair. They must have some sense of humor, and Invader continued on to the next task.
Ennai had been on the list for some reason or other, they had no idea why. Though one more person would not be harmful. Knowing that they had no idea where her room was, they decided to deck out her motorcycle in streamers. They were the metallic kind, and were made to deploy when the bike got moving fast.
Lucy was on that list, but they were going to go easy on them this year. So they settled on the old bucket above the door prank. Only they filled it with confetti, and some fake spiders. Just a warm up to see how they would react. Hopefully they would take it in stride, and have a good laugh while they were at it.
The next task, was trying to prank some of the members of VILE, that would be a bit difficult but not terribly so. The first Person on that list was Eartha , as much as they liked them pranking would be a fun twist. They took note, they frequently visited a gym. Talking to the owner, the weights were swapped with some foam ones. That would give them quite a surprise. However they were missing them dearly, and hoped this would get their attention.
Kidman was a bit of a toss up, they had so many ideas but knew they really liked birds. Sneaking into the safe house, they made the entire room into an aviary. Well with plush birds, that could make noise. Carmine got in the way, and kept playing with some of them. However they set up a few cages as well, and filled them with parakeet plush. On her bed was placed a life sized macaw plush, that would talk due to a motion sensor.
Finally finished they decided to move further along, until they came to Joe Kerrs room. Having a bit of affection for them, they set up some jester dolls that would parade around, shooting glitter hearts. For now they would be confined to a box, that would be activated on a timer. Then they set up a few confetti, cannons for good measure, they hoped Joe would not be too upset.
Patty was on the prank list as well, and they decided to swap everything with glitter stuff. They had come across some, on her travels, and decided to put them to good use. Her table and chair were replaced with inflatable, glitter furniture. The bed was covered in sheets that had sequins, in it to resemble glitter. At the end of it, everything sparkled, now it was time to get out before getting caught.
Vic the slicks prank this year, was having their wardrobe a complete clash of colors. The louder and more mismatched the better. Invaders favorite part, was swapping the socks out, she had a thing for loud eye burning colors. Clashing patterns were , a favorite of hers and she laughed a but at what she threw together.
Flag was considered too risky, they were not someone to anger, much less annoy. Last time was enough for them, although it would be fun to prank them from afar. So they settled on random noise diodes, that would be fun. One would go off every half hour, but she only placed ten of them. That way they were easy to find, and wreck utterly without hurting anyone.
Invader really wanted to prank Carmen , but that would be nearly impossible. It would be fun just to have her laugh for once, from someone who seemed so serious most of the time. However there was the matter of finding them, and even managing to sneak anything past her. Leaving the area, Invader decided to go to the local gardens for some fresh air. However they utterly forgot about a spring loaded box, full of glitter and confetti.
"Upping our game are we?" A voice called.
"Not really, just adding someone else this year." Invader replied.
"I see, what made you do that." Carmen asked.
"Boredom, challenge, just because,take your pick." Invader replied.
"Never a straight answer." Carmen Mused.
"I must be going and getting ready, to watch things unfold." Invader yawned.
"Very well, till next we meet detective" Carmen called.
"I am hardly one yet." Invader shot back.
With that Carmen decided to open the box, that they had just swiped from invader. There was a sudden shower of glitter and confetti, startling Carmen for a moment.
"I thought you said i was not on the list." Carmen sternly.
"You are not, I would not have the sophistication to prank you." Invader protested.
"Well somehow you managed." Carmen added, shaking confetti out of her hair.
"My box..." Sighed invader. "That was meant for Jade."
"My apologies, consider this mission accomplished." Carmen laughed.
"In that case." Invader laughed, placing a fake praying mantis, on Carmen. "Consider yourself bugged by me, in an affectionate manner."
"You always had,a thing for insects." Carmen noted.
"Happy April fools." Invader replied.
Kristine work up very early it was around three am, and an idea had come to her. Turning on the light she rummaged around till she found a certain box. The box was about the size of a filing cabinet drawer, and was very dusty. Opening it she was delighted to see, that there was some sort of transponder unit. Sadly upon further inspection, the unit appeared to be in disassembled shape. There was one agent who would be more than happy to tinker with it. Along with it was, several smaller units, this must be a portable corridor prototype. However it was not easy to track down Zack at this point, but she decided to drag it to his room later in the morning.
Moving on she came across a second box, that contained details for a place known as vault forty two. The name was not familiar,but it had to hold something. Further reading the papers she came across, some spider drones, and an expanding sticky net. That really intrigued her, and was exactly what she was looking for. This would be a very useful tool for the ACME people, perhaps this would suffice for what she had in mind. However there was the nagging doubt that, she might not be able to use the mini unit to return here. That made her pause for a bit, she would have to tell someone at least, as a back up plan.
Creeping upstairs she checked her schedule, and she had two weeks off, that would be perfect. However, she would have to wait till next week. So many thoughts swirled around her head, though she wondered if this vault would be armed. Though it had been two years now, and the back up generators would only be good for six moths at the most. Perhaps they were truly dead, and who knows if the fire had reached the place. Retreating back to her room, she scribbled a note and lay down to sleep. Letting her mind work out the details of the latest plan.
Everything had come together just as she had planed,it made her smile. Most of the agents were, pleasantly surprised at the mini gift bags. Kristine had also set up a punch bowl with some rainbow sorbet mixed in with sparkling club soda. That made the drink bubbly, but sweet at the same time and was heavenly when chilled. Being here had been quite the experience, however she was getting a bit bored. After her latest adventure, she had been a little shaken but otherwise really thrilled.
Currently she was watching everything go on, she was never one for large crowds. However she did manage to spot a few friends, and hung out with them for a small bit. New years often reminded her of home, and the grand celebrations that were held there. Secretly she hoped, that at this very night she could be there even if for only a moment. On the other hand, she wished to be out there helping these people more. It had been two years now, there was still so much to learn and she had become restless. Evey day had been the same, indeed the latest ordeal had been rocky but she made it though it.
Kristine was secretly proud of making it though, even though some of the people were super scary. However right at this moment she wondered if there was a way to prove herself. Now might not be a good time, but what better way to get them to notice. While she relished the good reviews, a nagging doubt erupted telling her she was not quite ready yet. However she had the next few days off, how hard could it be helping out while being unseen. That meant she would have to stay out of sight, and needed time to gather a few things.
Right now she was on the brink of a very risky idea, and was heavily conflicted. However it was time for sleep, the decision could be made in the morning.
TO BE CONTINUED.......
I just want to say thanks Chase for a IC chat that gave me some ideas for this.
Kristine stood at the door, at long last she had returned and was now hoping Chase was in. She just had a run in with VILE ,that had put her out of it for the past day or so. Somehow she had barely managed to get out of this scrape. Though inwardly, she was still a bit shaken over the whole incident.
"Come in." Came the voice of Chase.
"Good to see you sir." Kristine said in relief.
"I hear you got yourself into a bit of trouble." Said the director.
"You could say that." Kristine replied looking down at the floor, while crossing her arms.
"I am just glad you are alright." Chase replied a bit concerned.
"Do you know anything, about someone named Flag?" Invader inquired.
"No." Was the reply, but inwardly Chase was now very concerned.
Hearing that name made his blood a little cold, but he did not want the one before him to know that. He was a member of VILE, that under no circumstances anyone dared anger. Just hearing that she had gotten tangled up with him was concerning. At least she was now back here unharmed to his knowledge. Though from what he had been told, this might have ended badly. There was also a mention of another person as well whom he did not know much of.
"Would you mind telling me what happened?" He inquired. "Need a glass of water, while we are at it?"
"No I am good. Kristine replied. "Lets just say I got tangled up in a book heist."
That got her a sightly raised eyebrow, then a look of concern.
"I see, please continue." Offered Chase.
"More like the person who originally stole it, dumped it on me, and well I took a few things off it." She replied.
"At least you are alright." Offered Chase.
"I was very afraid, I have no training with you guys yet." Kristine exclaimed. "I could have been seriously hurt."
"You manage to keep your composure, that is a good sign." Reassured Chase. "You were also rather resourceful, and thought quickly on your feet."
"Thanks." She replied settling into a chair.
"Were are they now?" Asked Chase.
"The book? In the hands of VILE,the gems back at the old laboratory." Kristine admitted.
"How did you send them?" Chase inquired.
"With the help of some friends of mine." Kristine replied softly. "You do know about the concept of, artificial life forms."
Chase was familiar with the construct of such an idea, however this greatly concerned him.
"I am host to some." Kristine replied. "I picked them up on my travels."
"You are a host to them." Said Chase not quite believing her just yet.
"Hold on let me see if they are finished with their nap." Kristine instructed while tapping her arm.
A small crystal appeared only it was glowing a soft purple color.
"Well that is good they are a little cranky, but not enough to be mad." She explained.
Soon more crystals were gathered, and transformed themselves into a butterfly shape. The color changed to a soft golden glow, the butterfly flew at chase and landed in front of him. Chase was now pleasantly surprised and was not expecting that.
"How long have you had them?" He Inquired.
"A very long time, the glow means they really like you that is rare." Kristine replied. "You can go ahead and pet them if you like, they wont harm you."
Chase reaches out and touches them, surprisingly they are a little warm but not a hot kind of warm. More of a soft radiating heat, like an electric blanket. He watches as they duplicate themselves, and fly back to Kristine to sink into her arm.
"That is just an empty shell, that is for you to keep." Kristine offered. "Take that as a token, in regards they consider you a friend."
"I have nothing further to offer you." Concluded Chase. "I am glad that things turned out alright."
"Thank you sir." Said Kristine getting up.
"By the way, I would like you to start some training." Chase instructed. "I will let you know."
"Aright, that means a lot." Kristine said leaving the room.
Chase just sat there in deep thought at this new development, perhaps they were right in taking them in.
Note: This takes place just after lost and found, I permission to write a few people in.
Moon child, the same drifted though her head, like leaves down a stream. She finally had a new name, it was one step closer to home. A simple name given to her, by a being known to her as Kidman. Well at least that is what she remembered, for the time being. Though now her friend, was under a different name. Here in the very heart of VILE, hidden away like a treasure, she existed. Right now she was finally awake, after being out for nearly three days, from her last ordeal. However the cold, hissing words of the one called Flag still echoed. Shuddering she could still feel Flags words, falling like a rain of knives.
Somehow they knew Flag was from another world, and they had so many questions about where they came from. In the back of her mind she wondered, if they were trapped here to. However it was very unlikely that ,they would ever get to satisfy the questions that arose. Now she pondered wither or not, her friends were awake and fully rested. Tapping on her arm , a small crystal arose with a soft pink color. That was a rather promising sign, and Kristine smiled softly.
"Sorry to bug you." She whispered. "I wanted to thank you for saving me, and that you are well again."
The crystal then turned a yellow hue, tinged with blue that glowed softly. That was a sign that the latest growth cycle was complete, no wonder she had been out for so long. That was very unusual she was usually awake for those sessions. Despite puzzling her greatly, she took no heed to it. Knowing her friends were well, she gathered the gems and left a note for Kidman. Now all she had to do was leave, and find her way back to headquarters. However there was still the matter, of explaining what had transpired.
Walking out the door she ran into, one of the grunts who gave her a lift to the wharf. Once there she made her way back to headquarters. Breathing a sigh of relief she raced in, and settled into her basement room for a while. Unexpectedly she wound up sleeping for a bit, it was good to be back. Waking up with a start it occurred to her she had to let chase know about her friends. Slowly she made her way up the stairs to his office, and stood before the door gathering herself.
A lounge scene.
I have permission from Natalee to write their person in, this is how Invader started to get her name again. This came out of a IC chat one night and just stuck with me.
It is a quiet time in the lounge, it is deserted except for Invader who is sleeping on a nearby couch. Despite being asleep she clutches the amulet of names, that will reveal whom she is hopefully soon. It was given to her in a dream by the many feathered wind, a creature of her home world. However she was only given the vaguest of instructions, and more riddles about how long it would take her to know her name. There was the remote possibility, that she might never have her true name again. That was a tiny doubt that never made itself herd, though it lingered in the back of her mind.
Derrin enters the room, it has been a long day and she could use a quiet evening. She notices the figure on the sofa curled up in her sleep. They appear to be curled up on exactly one cushion, but don't seem to be cold. Felling sorry for them she rummages around and finds a quit, then drapes it over the sleeping figure. There is not much known about them, as far as ACME is concerned they are a ghost. They exist nowhere, and there is no evidence of them ever being a part of this world. What they do know is that they are from a lab, that no longer exists having been destroyed in a fire.
Ever so slowly they have been warming up to those around them, though a touch of wariness remains. As Derrin watches, the figure in her sleep makes a nest out of the quilt. They can see them slightly moving , though they can't tell if it is a dream or nightmare they are experiencing. At the same time the amulet of names is softly glowing, but it is to faint to be seen by human eyes. A single letter forms within the amulet, though the sleeper has yet to know of it. Eventually the figure burrows into the quit, to the point where you can't tell where the sleeper ends, and the quilt begins.
Watching Derrin seems rather pleased that the figures breathing, is now a much less erratic rate. However they decide to set near them, just in case they wake up and want to talk. From what they have observed they are a rather wary, but kind soul who is finally opened up. Once they have gotten to know someone, they can be quite affectionate. However they don't seem to know when to take it easy, and often push themselves beyond their limits. That often winds up with them sleeping in the oddest places. However they can tell they have a big heart, and have not lost any kindness despite what they have gone through.
Eventually they leave the lunge, not noticing that Invader has woken up, and stares at the amulet. That small random act of kindness has finally activated it. The fear of never knowing her name again, falls from her in a silent whisper. Not knowing whom had done the kind act she writes a letter, thanking them for the small act. With nothing else to do they fold the quit up and put it back to where it came from. Silently they make their way back to the basement and drift off into a peaceful sleep.
Separate names with a comma.