Co-Written Let it Begin

Neb

The VILEiest VILE to ever VILE a VILE
AMA
findcarmen.com
Known Aliases
Nebuchadnezzar (Neb) Ullyss (formerly Kid Kidman), Kitty, Seryy Pripyat
Color #
323E4F
Previously!

Written by Kidman, Carmen, and Vic.

One year later

Kidman was on the roof. No one else came up here and it had a wonderful view of the moors. She felt safe here, where she could see everything and no one could see her. There was a time when this base saw more action, years ago. This where she'd trained to go out and pock the walls set by law-enforcement with rainbows, but she had never been able to take that last step. That would mean going....out there.

She squinted into the growing dim. One by one the field lights flickered to life, the halogen hum her friend.

The girl could have been a doctor with the gift she held secret. She could have gone to medical school and learned how the system worked, how chemicals interacted, how polypeptides aligned. She could cure something, forge an antibody from a disease. She could and she should, if only she wasn't so afraid

Kidman looked at the scars on her hands, ghostly lines on ghostly skin. She hadn't thought about her situation much day to day, but lately it had begun to itch in the back of her mind. Something was moving in the wind, and it was gaining on her.

*****

The 'borrowed' Bell 212 painted to match an Italian Police Helicopter was dropped off in Slovenia and exchanged for an Airbus A318. Vic "The Slick" Fumigalli was able to pay for this on credit, since VILE was known for being good on their word. He knew he did a great job, but from the singular look on Carmen's face, he wasn't sure if one mistake was going to spoil this for him.

VILE agents sat dotted about the plane, most were asleep as the bird glided northward. Vic glanced at Carmen. As was usual with most short flights, she was awake.

"Should we talk about this?" Vic said as he stood next to her seat, "You remind me of an angry version of yourself."

"Did you send for a transport to pick up Kidman?" Carmen asked instead, ignoring his inquiry.

‘She's asking about work, that's good.' Vic thought. "Yeahum... got that taken cared of."

"Perfect. And no, this isn't the time to talk. We'll go over everything after we reach the safe house." she replied, dismissing him.

Vic complied and went back to his seat, then stretched himself out and took a nap.


*****


Kidman looked at the letter in hand, then back at her cipher, and the letter again. There was no use checking it a third time. It said what it said, and really, she couldn't be surprised.

It was a long time coming.

The roar of an incoming helicopter sent a wall of wind against her face.

"You been here by yourself this whole time?" The pilot asked as she climbed aboard

"It wasn't always empty, but yes, I suppose I am the last one." Kidman said as she watched her home shrink and fall away below her.

"Why didn't you ask for a new position earlier?"

She had no answer for that, not one she wished to say. "How long until we get there?"

"A few hours."

The girl nodded and let her head fall back against the seat. Now that she was in the air she felt...lighter. Long ago she used to ride in the back of transport choppers as they brought supplies up from the channel. She had planned to learn how to fly one herself, but then...

The grass was bright green below and the sun was hot. People were everywhere, yelling, laughing. There was a crowd, gathered around some beautiful machine. She could barely see her but she could feel her, hear her. Awe, and then, inexplicably, terror.

"She's coming, she's coming!" They cried around her. The noise grew louder, the colours brighter, garish, and the girl grew smaller, grayer. At last she turned to flee, but hands grabbed hold. The light was almost upon her-

"Hey! Wake up! You having a nightmare or something?"

Kidman awoke with a start, her seat belt clenched in her hands. "Oh, I, I'm sorry. I must have fallen... how long was I asleep?"

"The whole trip, but you didn't start fighting 'til now. Don't worry; base is just down there. You'll be off in a few."

"Thank you..." was all she could manage to say.


*****


The A318 eventually landed on a small stretch of old road among former farmland. Those that exited the transport with her scattered as soon as they reached safety. This would strictly be a drop-off; the plane will leave by morning to be exchanged with another source of transport. All VILE members disembarking here would remain at the nearby facility until further notice.

Carmen departed the plane in full regalia, the color-changing Alexandrite gems about her neck alternating between aqua green and violet as they reacted to the varying light sources. A navy blue woven bag was draped over her right shoulder; one of the few indicators that this was present-day. Even the foggy fields around her looked convincingly antiquated. Due to the expedited nature of the retreat from Venice, backup wardrobes had been omitted, and so she now dragged, with some difficulty, the weight of the beaded dress as she maneuvered down the flight of stairs in her laced boots. For the masquerade the thief aimed for authenticity, and while she looked like a queen, she hardly felt like one as she stepped off the perilous metal ramp.

Bright white lamps in the airfield lit a path to the current temporary base of operations; an old compound not far from some marked swamp grounds. Within peripheral vision, Carmen spotted a pale face peering at her.

‘Yes', she recalled, ‘this one.'

She turned towards the girl and smiled warmly.

"Come with me," she called in her calming contralto. Her hand moved out to Kidman with the palm facing downward as if she expected it to be held but continued on ahead, leading the young woman to a private room.


*****


Vic shot a quick glance at Carmen's action and scratched his head instinctively. He couldn't stay long; he had to go visit his Ma soon, but he might as well stay long enough to see what Carmen wanted with this kid.


*****


Kidman gazed numbly at the halos in the mist.

Carmen was coming.

She had hoped that Carmen would have already been there, already involved with something, leaving it to someone else to direct the girl where to eat, where to sleep. She was still just a grunt, she reasoned. There would be no reason for Carmen to address her directly unless it was necessary. A shadow of a thought drifted up to the surface. ‘You're afraid of her.'

She brushed it aside, but still a dual rush of excitement and fear washed over her as the glare of headlights poured down upon the path below. Kidman shrank into a corner as she watched the plane land and the tens of people spill out into the fog.

‘She's not there,' Kidman thought with a clash of relief and disappointment, but the last figure to leave brought her back to full attention.

"Holy..." The words slipped from her lips as Carmen descended the ramp, dressed as royalty. The woman looked her way and the world froze in stark relief.

"Come with me."

‘That voice...' Kidman thought as the woman reached out to her through molasses. Carmen didn't wait. There was no reason for her to wait. She had made a command. There was nothing else but to follow.


*****


The long and dreary hallway echoed with the sound of Carmen's alternating heels, nearly drowning any noise made by her follower. This rhythmic tempo grew louder as they moved deeper into the base, away from the clamour at the entrance. In front of an imposing steel door, the resonance ceased and the air filled with cold silence.

Carmen's voice penetrated the stillness.

"It's too quiet around here." She said as she unlocked the door with a simple key.

Inside, a warmly carpeted hallway extended into a bedroom with antechamber, one promised to VILE's ringleader. Carmen left the door open after walking through, the beat of her shoes now dampened by the softer floor. She pulled her bracelets off as she walked, the left one first, then the right, and discarded each onto the carpet, followed by her earrings and necklace. By the time she reached the large leather chair in the bedroom's sitting area she had left behind a veritable trail of accessories. Last to leave her was the woven sachet, which she placed beside her as she sat down.

The thief exhaled melodiously into the evening as she rested on the furniture. In sharp contrast to the pleasant quietude, her mind was overflowing with thoughts. Everything led to the golden Mask of Helen, and the operation that surrounded it.

Her eyes focused on the pale face in the room with her, and she leaned gently forward to study it further. When she had first discovered a name on her roster that ACME had yet to acquire, she thought it would be to her advantage. Yet seeing the girl now, Carmen realised that she may have been too hasty. Whether or not Kidman would play a role in her new game with ACME would be determined in the next hour, but first, a formal introduction.

"Hello Kidman," she said with a smile. "Do you know who I am?"


*****

Every step had echoed in the girl's mind, like the tick of a clock counting down as she traveled further into the darkness.

The urge to pick up after the woman as she dropped her things was strong but Kidman fought it off. Cleaning was a nervous habit she couldn't indulge at the moment. "Yes...?"

"Very well then, do you know why you're here?"

"In this room? No...n-not at all, no."

Carmen smiled, a glint in her eyes. "Have you seen the news yesterday evening? Particularly one about a new year celebration in Venice?"

Kidman knew she was bombing this interview, but she couldn't think straight under the woman's intensity. "No, I don't generally follow...I'm sorry, was I supposed to?"

Carmen seemed unperturbed. "Ah, no matter. I'll tell you of it. There's a man, Kidman, named Chase Devineaux. Are you familiar with that name?

"Not... so much. I've been rather secluded as of late." Then her attention shifted. "Is he dangerous? To you?"

Carmen laughed at the mention of ‘dangerous'.
"Let's just say he's equivalent to ACME's... lucky charm. He's proven rather... effective. He returned to ACME not long ago, and already it has caused complications for us."


Kidman felt herself relax just a bit. '...her laughter is beautiful....'

"Are you looking to steal him, then?" she asked without thinking.

The woman let it pass. "Ah, no. While that's not often a problem, I foresee a direct setback. We used to be... friends, he and I. I feel he knows me, perhaps a little too much for comfort."

The idea of anyone knowing Carmen well enough to be troublesome bothered her.
"Can anyone really know anyone?" she said, again without thinking. "I'm sorry, it's... been a while since I've been around people."


"Yes..." Returning a kind smile, the woman accepted that apology, "Now, the reason you're here, is that I may need a 'lucky charm' of my own."

"But I... How?"

"Mm, precisely. You're not at all ready."

"I could be." She said with shaky resolve. "What is needed of me?"

Carmen drew a long breath.

"I'm going to be taking ACME Tower... from its foundations." She said solemnly, for the first time solidifying her intentions.

Kidman cocked her head. "But why? Couldn't you just steal its contents?"

"One would think, but I need to get rid of the C-5... among other things."

"For reverse engineering?"

"I don't want the technology this time, I want it gone."

Kidman wanted to ask why again, but decided against it.

"It could take many months," Carmen continued, "but during all this, I want you to complete your exercises."

"Will I be with other people for these exercises?

"Yes, there will be others."

A flash of old memories, happy memories filled the girl's head. The thought of returning to that camaraderie, that atmosphere she had lost so long ago, outweighed the fear she had of being out in the open again.

Carmen recessed further in her chair. "Tomorrow I'm leaving with Vincent and I won't see you until after the tower has been stolen and then returned to ACME, but I'll be following your progress."

"I'll do my best." Kidman said, then she paused. Carmen was right there, in front of her after all these years. "Carmen...I..."

"Yes?"

"Thank you."

The woman was somewhat surprised. "Mm, don't thank me yet. We'll speak more on this when you're ready."

"No, I mean... for what you have given me already. Sanctuary."

Carmen nodded politely as she made a mental note to tell Vincent to keep a watch on all trainees. "I haven't given you anything I wouldn't want for myself."

Kidman wanted to say more, but she knew her nerves wouldn't allow her much more time. "I should... I should go then..."

Carmen studied Kidman again, unsure of what she's seeing, and the girl's mind seemingly filled with astraddled fear. The headache that had plagued the woman all evening returned before she had the chance to note that it was momentarily gone. Carmen briefly closed her eyes as she recoiled with pain. "Yes, and ask someone to bring me water and a some codeine? Please."

Kidman's attention snapped back. "Oh! Are you hurt?"

Carmen laughed listlessly at the oddly hopeful comment. "I've been flying too long, and I need to deal with a lingering headache."

The girl's mind immediately switched into a different state, mapping out how and what would be needed to alleviate the pain. She wanted to heal the woman. She tried to make herself do so, but fear held her still.

The thief noted the girl's hesitation and it occurred to her that she might need to clarify her statement. "Kidman, you may go now."

"Yes! Yes, I'll get that, straight away, yes." Kidman stuttered thankfully. She took one last look at the woman in the chair, wanting to remember her as best she could for the coming months, then bolted from the room.


*****


Vic walked down the hallway from the other side of the facility, a metallic container in hand. As he came up to the door of his boss's den-of-the-day, he saw the kid Carmen had met with run out in the opposite direction. The con man unconsciously scratched his head again as he knocked against the doorframe.

"Can I come in?" he asked, his eyes already far inside to where Carmen rested in the leather armchair. "I got you something to drink."

"Shut the door on your way in." Carmen spoke without looking at him, her concentration remaining upon the task of unlacing the Venetian boots that were suffocating her legs.

Vic stepped in, careful to avoid the abandoned jewellery and stopped at the dividing line between the bedroom and whatever room it was in front. Some V.I.L.E. agent might run in to help Carmen with her shoes, but Vic knew better than that. She was the kind of gal who needed a lot of space. If it wasn't his business to sit next to her; he liked to stay a respectable distance.

Carmen thrust her footwear to the side and gave the con man her attention. "You said you have water?"

Vic entered and handed his leader the stainless steel canteen. "It's elder flower. One o' the doctors said you should have some sugar."

Carmen accepted the vessel and placed it compliantly on the low table next to her ottoman.

Vic paused a moment in thought. "You know, that kid, she entered to be a lackey. You know that, right?"

"I do know," the thief replied, "but people change status all the time. You saw her supervisor's reports? She was doing very well... and then she suddenly stopped."

"So you want me to put 'er back into the fray with the other four noobs?"

"I've spoken to her as motivation; the rest is yours. I want the full report after, then have Rosso recommend one of the four to me."

Vic took note of everything and nodded. The one newbie deemed best suited would get the promotion. He was almost certain it wouldn't be Kidman.

"I got one more thing," he started, "Prospects on a new talent, goes by the name Kerr, when I get more info, I'll set that up and you get to d'cide."

A knocking at the door indicated that the order of painkillers and water had arrived. Vic Fumigalli accepted the delivery.

Carmen imbibed the elderflower drink, its saccharine warmth soothing but acted as an instant reminder that she was tired. She placed the drink down and stood up

"Vincent, I need to sleep. We'll review in the morning."

"Still want the codeine?" Vic asked

"Leave it." She replied with an air of finality. "Goodnight."

To be continued!
 

Chase

Director
AMA
findcarmen.com
Known Aliases
Boss (situational)
Color #
536373
Okay, so... while I know the plans to take ACME Tower I was hatching during the hours that made up this journal entry, I can't help grinning a bit. Had no idea she was that upset about the Mask of Helen.

Also, thank you for returning my Patek Philippe Nautilus, eventually. Much obliged. That thing's a 1976 navy blue classic, hard to find.
 

Patty

Valkyrie
AMA
findcarmen.com
Known Aliases
Patt, Patts, Petite, Amber Cecelia Argos, Valkyrie
Color #
8d8844
I tots love the beginning part where Carmen comes out of that plane!

Due to the expedited nature of the retreat from Venice, backup wardrobes had been omitted, and so she now dragged, with some difficulty, the weight of the beaded dress as she maneuvered down the flight of stairs in her laced boots.
Awesomeness!
 

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