Archived Paradigm Shift

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V.I.L.E.
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0
AMA
findcarmen.com
Color #
808080
[parsehtml]<div><span style="color: #888888;">The Ksar Al Rimal Resort in T&eacute;touan&#160;was a stunning multilevel structure that breathed an air of classic Moroccan architecture while managing keeping up with modern vacation standards. It's individual apartments included balconies and sun terraces that allowed vacationers to enjoy the view of the Rif Mountains and Mediterranean sea in private. A timeshare here also happens to be one of VILE's&#160;local "safe houses."</span></div> <div><span style="color: #888888;"><br /></span></div> <div><span style="color: #888888;">It was the first time that Flag had to himself since just before he, Vic, and a hacker stole the ACME tower and he welcomed the change of pace. Even though the heist had taken less than a week to pull of, it felt like years had gone by since he was in San Francisco. Even the news of the event seemed minimal and distant when compared to that of the regions local turmoil.&#160;</span></div> <div><span style="color: #888888;"><br /></span></div> <div><span style="color: #888888;">While the resort offered incredibly levels of privacy and would probably be able to hide him for months on end, he felt that he needed to get out of Africa.&#160;</span><span style="color: #888888;">With 10 minutes to go before he could move his few clothes to the dryer, he made his way to the little kitchen area counter where a phone book sat.</span></div> <div><span style="color: #888888;"><br /></span></div> <div><span style="color: #888888;">He thumbed through the business section carefully, looking for certain names that would prove bogus to a caller that didn't know certain phrases. Eventually he found one of a tiny boutique about 45 &#160;minutes away by taxi. A tiny voice answered his call in a practice business spiel that started off in English, but then was translated to the local tongue.</span></div> <div><span style="color: #888888;"><br /></span></div> <div><span style="color: #888888;">"I would like to be transfered to the French office please."</span></div> <div><span style="color: #888888;"><br /></span></div> <div><span style="color: #888888;">After holding for a long while he was speaking with someone of whom he had never met, but had worked with on a few "projects."</span></div> <div><span style="color: #888888;"><br /></span></div> <div><span style="color: #888888;">"Hello Sieur. I think it's time we met."</span></div> [/parsehtml]
 

Joe Kerr

VILE Trickster
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6
AMA
findcarmen.com
Known Aliases
Joey, Joseph,
Color #
8a2be2
(OOC: The following has been vetted and approved by Carmen)

The plane crashed.

The text message Joe received had contained only these three poignant words but it was enough to wipe the smile off his face and freeze him in his tracks. Willing his fingers to move, Joe silently texted his reply to the VILE henchmen who had contacted him on his disposable phone.

Hailey?

As Joe waited anxiously for the answer, he pondered the far-reaching implications that the plane crash could have. Hailey Weller was an innocent little girl who had been in the wrong place at the wrong time. No one in VILE or ACME wanted to see her get hurt. If, by some tragic occurrence, she was hurt or worse yet, permanently indisposed, it would be the greatest tragedy in the history of VILE. Joe figured Carmen would probably never forgive herself if Hailey got hurt. Heck, probably no one at VILE would forgive themselves.

To make matters worse, the backlash from the incident could result in a perfect storm that would engulf and irrefutably change the dynamics of the great game forever; it could even put a premature end to VILE if it really got out of hand.

Before Joe could continue with this disturbing line of thought, he was jolted back to reality by the buzzing of his phone, indicating a reply to his message.

She’s safe. Different plane. The one that went down had Vic.

Joe breathed a small sigh of relief that sweet little Hailey was safe. At least that tragedy had been averted. Joe relaxed slightly before the other implications of the message struck him. Vic the Slick had been on the plane that went down.

It wasn’t that Joe didn’t Vic being on the plane instead of Hailey made the news better. It was more of the fact that circumstances were different. Everyone involved in the game, whether VILE or ACME, knew the risks involved with the nature of the game and were fully willing to take them. Hailey knew nothing and should never have been part of the game. Vic, on the other hand, was a veteran of the game. He knew the risks.

That said, the plane crash was still disconcerting. He hoped Vic, and whichever unlucky ACME gumshoes were with him, had somehow survived.

Joe’s mind continued to consider possible courses of action as he continued the text conversation.

The boss?

Off the grid.

Noted. Will return ASAP. Prize in tow. No rash actions.

Understood.

Anne had been observing the whole proceedings with a silent VILE Bot standing by her side. Even though Joe had donned his mask on his return to the plane, Anne could tell that Joe was no longer smiling. She had sensed the tension in the air the moment Joe read the first text message. It had worried her that her normally jovial friend had become so sombre. She knew that the only time Joe acted like he did now was when something extremely serious occurred.

“Joe, what happened? Talk to me, hon.”

“There has been an unfortunate circumstance at work.”

“Joe, I’m so sorry. Was anyone hurt?”

“Details aren’t clear at the moment.”

Joe glanced at Anne’s worried face and softened his tone to put her at ease.

“Don’t worry Anne. It doesn’t concern you. I’m sure no one was seriously hurt in the incident. I do however need to return to ‘corporate HQ’ to settle some matters as soon as possible. Everything will be fine.”

Anne wasn’t buying it but she knew enough to not press Joe for details he didn’t want to share. She moved over to give him a hug and a small peck on the cheek.

“I’m sorry about whatever happened. Look, if you need a friend to talk to, you know where to find me.”

“Anne, you have nothing to be sorry for. You’re a great friend, one of the few I have. I promise the next time I visit, it won’t be on business. Maybe then, I’ll actually get to try that famous fried chicken and collard greens you do so well.”

Anne responded with a warm smile. She was glad that Joe had managed to insert that little moment of levity into the conversation although it was obviously intended for her benefit. She decided to try and lighten the mood a little further with some welcomed news for Joe.

“Sure thing hon. By the way, I have some good news for you.”

“Good. I could use some right now. Let’s hear it, Anne.”

“I managed to get the chip out without much trouble. The Cayman’s still as pristine as when I first started on her. Oh, and I threw in a free engine tune up as well.”

Joe cracked a genuine smile in response. “Thanks Anne, you’re the greatest. I would stay and chat but as you know, I need to go. Take care of yourself.”

“Right back at you, hon. Stay out of jail, you hear me?”

“Don’t worry. I plan to.”

Anne’s only response to that was to laugh heartily as she left the plane. Once he was sure Anne was far enough from the plane to not get hurt from take-off, Joe issued the order to VILE Bot.

"VILE Bot, set a course for headquarters. It’s time to go home!”
 

Chase

Director
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5
AMA
findcarmen.com
Known Aliases
Boss (situational)
Color #
536373
(Chase, Euge, and Mikal are back in San Francisco after this post. It makes no significant progress to time, only clarifies what ACME has been doing in Tunisia.)

----------------

San Francisco, ACME Headquarters

Shortly before taking off from the site of ACME's former tower in Southern Tunisia, a call from Arshraq Jal Darsha* prompted Chase Devineaux to go to Tunis, its capital city.

Officials there arrested two VILE henchmen with recording and radio equipment, and a tape of ACME tower's destruction. In an interrogation session with Chase, the men verified that filming the building was their job, and that they had informed VILE of ACME's actions, but had not yet transferred the video footage. Both remained adamant that their employer, Carmen Sandiego, had left with an earlier caravan. While Mikal suggested they were lying and a different method may be required, the Field Director saw further grilling unnecessary.

Overnight, military staff serviced, cleaned, and refueled the ACME plane at an airbase near Tunis. Chase Devineaux and his two companions, Mikal Darsha and Eugene Grovington stayed at a nearby residence, somewhat away from events unfolding at the city center. They talked, much of the night and early into morning hours. Topics included the tower, VILE, Hailey Weller, the press, and Eleanor Mayhem's video. This conversation continued as the plane rose into the skies and headed westward to California.

Somewhere over northwestern Africa, a decided Devineaux sent instructions to Deric Storm and Calina Corranos in South America to take the VILE agents in custody out of Brazil.

Six hours later, over the Atlantic Ocean, Chase received confirmation that an ACME plane had gone down in Central America. The Field Director immediately relayed this news to Tanya Erzin who, after Chief Weller's press conference, briefly announced it to the media in attendance.

Two hours after that, International Broadcasting Network (IBN) obtained and ran crash footage from local sources in Central America. A few more hours and other news networks began reporting on the same video.

By the time Chase Devineaux arrived in San Francisco, reporters were already waiting inside one of the airfield's hangars. Tanya planned clearly, that the pilot and the Israeli agent would exit through the back, while Chase would don a suit and immediately step into the fray.

"I won't be talking about the plane crash," Chase spoke in a low tone as Tanya adjusted his tie, "Nothing on Eleanor's video either." That was something he had to confront with Mayhem privately.

"That is what I expect too," The PR nodded, "This is only small conference, we have to tell them something or they go mad." She then walked him into the press area, the stark lighting temporarily blinded Devineaux as he entered. Tanya had misused the word 'small', giving the impression of size where she meant time. Despite a scheduled 'quick' press announcement, some reporters had to stand due to limited numbers of chairs.

Was ACME Tower found in once piece? ...plans to restore the building? Will there be a... Where is Carmen Sandiego? ...association with Eleanor Mayhem? How was Hailey Weller rescued? ...your resignation?

Questions blared from a variety of sources as Chase Devineaux sharply scanned for the mouths that matched them should he meet these individuals in person.

"I'm relieved to report that we did find ACME tower," his opening thundered through ACME's Marantz speakers and hushed the journalists, "unfortunately, it was not in perfect condition." Board members, Tanya relayed visually to Chase, were watching him, and he subconsciously cleared his throat, "As a result, we've pushed for a private contract to salvage the building while a new structure will be designed and built to facilitate our functioning offices."

More questions erupted, merging into noise that stopped abruptly as the speaker raised his hand.

"We're not taking questions tonight," after drawing a breath and placing his palm back on the podium, he continued, "ACME does not regret the loss of our tower," Devineaux paused for thought, "but we do regret the action of certain individuals, or group of individuals, that may have caused unnecessary affliction onto others; be it worry, disappointment, or fear."

An unusual silence hummed from the crowd sitting in their steel foldable chairs like hornets awaiting further instruction.

"I invite you to take tonight's news with rational judgment. As far as ACME is concerned, Hailey Weller is safe, we have accomplished our objective," Chase firmly projected, "We will stand again, and we will rebuild."

Compliant murmurs broke through pockets of stillness, "I will refer you to Tantyana Erzin, of the PR Department," the statement ended, "Thank you for your time."

Tanya then took the podium, she was a natural now at debriefing the press and wrapping up conferences, no matter how short. More questions arose on the fallen plane, but the Russian only answered with calculated features, "We'll address that as soon as we have more information."

Not far from the hangar, a few ACME board members were waiting for Chase Devineaux to finish. In a meeting that would take place inside a black limousine, the Field Director was about to receive his new title as Director of Operations.

This, the board deliberated, was a reward that would keep him playing on their side for some time to come.




* Arshraq Jal Darsha is Mikal's brother and a head figure in Sayeret Mat'kal, or the Israeli Special Forces. In "Hiatus," he helped ACME gather satellite feeds from Southern Tunisia and marked VILE's Russian plane.
 

Sarah Nade

Musical Genius
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0
Sao Paulo, Brazil


"How the hell can a drugstore carry only red hair dye..." Sarah grumbled to herself as hands covered with cheap plastic gloves massaged the shade 'Autumn Fireworks' into her scalp. With a steady hand she reached to a bag of disposable eyebrow brushes, removing one only to stick it into her hair, grab some additional color and drag it through her naturally light brown eyebrows.

The last day or so in Brazil had been something of a wash in the ways of work. First it was the spur of the moment 12 hour plane ride as alias 'Hedda Lettiuce' while drunk and then hungover, then the arrival to Sao Paulo's Safehouse which was, even in her humble opinion, a dump. Despite the knowledge of heightened police awareness they hadn't been much to get around.

Sarah had stayed hidden the entire time she'd been in Sao Paulo, staying in the safehouse while sending out informants to bring back information on how things were going. She'd already planned a raid on the jail where Vic was being held - as it was the red tape of the law was on her side and between that and the well greased palms of some of Sao Paulo's finest getting out her co-worker wouldn't have been so much of a big deal. He hadn't even been moved to a high security facility yet.

So why was it that just before she was going to head out to spring him that reports came back that he'd been taken, by ACME, onto a plane which was, last known, headed North? Assuming that it was headed to San Francisco she'd put in a quick call to the law offices of Dewey, Cheetham and Howe. Calling in the lawyers was Sarah's least favorite way to handle things but VILE's legal team, lead by Lee Galese, could have Vic out of handcuffs before their plane even touched ground.

That is, if the plane had made it there. She'd caught news of its crash the moment it hit the lips of the underworld.

The situation Sarah was looking down the barrel of was not something unknown. The last job (the tower) had turned sour, the boss was missing without any word and a cohort was captured. Without marching orders the default plan was to lay low, let the heat die down and wait until either orders came in or she could safely move to another place. She should, in all honestly, just wait for ACME to retrieve their own and their captured, wait until Vic got back to the states and then let Lee Galese and his friends do what they do best.

That said Sarah had been in Vic's place before, a jail cell in Siberia to be exact. When things went south like this thieves had the tendency to think of self preservation first and only but Vic, while she had no deep love for him and was not someone she'd ever trust in a card game, was someone she respected enough not to leave rotting in the Darien Gap.

"We got your plane." a voice called from the bathroom door, the accompanying body of one of the hired henchmen... what was his name... Juan or something... came walking to the doorway. "It'll be ready in an hour, but he says he can only take you to the Colombian edge of it."

"That's fine, I've got a contact up there who can take me in by ATV." Sarah replied, turning her gaze back to the darkened mirror. "We leave for the airfield in 20, make sure you're ready to move."
 

Contessa

Royalty
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AMA
findcarmen.com
Known Aliases
Adrianna Covrenzi, Tessa, Anna, La Contessa Covrenzi
Color #
9C3F84
(Disclaimer: All hunting shall be done only with NPCs, particularly any hunting done with people in animal skin. Despite how it reads, no one was killed in this post, the reader's discretion is advised.)


The whistle of an arrow pierced through the night. In and out of well trimmed hedges, a man dressed as a European roe deer panted breathlessly as he navigated in the darkness. A real deer would have had so much in its favor, the scent of an enemy, near 360 degrees of vision, adroitness and even instinct. This mockery of a chevreuil was doing a terrible job.

Another arrow screeched, this time, landing on the deer's white tail.

The man vocalised a series of high-pitched screams, first at the arrow, then at the rustling of leaves, and finally at the archer who appeared before him.

"Be a dear...," the woman's crystalline sugary voice shattered the faux deer's remaining shreds of pride and it froze, "and try not to scream."

"Oh countess, please countess, no more," said the man disguised as game, "we will never reheat, we will always make a fresh brew."

"Walther," she said with adjoining laughter, "that's all your Countess wishes to hear."

"Truly?"

The huntress retrieved an arrow from her cache, and with an Athene arching of both her bow and eyebrows, she struck another projectile on the deer's rump. In the distance, a clock tower chimed the 11th hour, and in the excitement, Walther fainted.

"Clean this up," instructed Contessa Adrianna Covrenzi to her followers, "and try not to damage the roe skin, I need it still."

* * * * *​

After a thorough shower, the countess sauntered in her robe to her television, which flickered on as it detected her presence. On the news through various pre-recorded channels were talks of ACME and 'Carmen Sandiego.'

"You are darling," Adrianna stretch her words to comment on VILE's latest tower heist, "taking their building like taking the temple from the Mayans."
She forwarded her recordings to the most recent ACME news broadcast showing its dapper Director of Operations speaking inside a hangar.

"Or maybe..." the Countess paused at a particularly good frame and zoomed in, "you like playing with fire." Anything that interested Carmen, she thought, would interest her, and the way this man wasn't 'taking questions' made her want to jab enquiries.
Adrianna angled her head so that she only saw the blurred grey figure on television through thin slits above her nose, "Tempting," she whispered.

"Roberto!" the Countess' request vibrated in her modern day castle.

"He's not here, madame," a servant answered quickly, "Roberto is due to return from the hospital tomorrow."

"And who are you?"

"Thierry, madame"

"Yes, whatever," Adrianna Covrenzi impatiently ordered, "get all my things ready. We're going hunting."
 

Eugene

Airfield Staff
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0
AMA
findcarmen.com
Known Aliases
Euge, Earl Jr.
Color #
003366
Upon arrival, the 777 containing Oxide was marshaled into hanger two. They were met by Tanya before exiting the aircraft, who briefed the Field Director in her usual rapid fire manner before hustling Eugene and Mikal out one of the rear exits, away from the glare of the media. While understanding the logic of this decision, Eugene was undeniably curious about the media's reaction to this latest tidbit, and elected to stick around and watch.

The press conference itself didn't net much in the way of new intel, but watching Chase enter the limousine with a set of board members induced a raised eyebrow, considering the leaked video alleged they wanted Chase's head on a platter. What would happen then? Eugene was the one who suggested the means for this particular project, but none of it could actually happen without the Field Director's sway. Eugene faced a decision; scrub the whole project, or proceed as planned? After a moment at war with himself, he decided to proceed, leaving himself an escape route in case things went south.

Mentally filing away the press circus for further review, Eugene borrowed an airport tug and shot off across the tarmac to his office. Flight operations at ACME's private field had increased twenty-fold since the loss of the C-5 network, and the airport had turned into a nutroll, with aircraft lined up five deep on nearly every taxiway. Eventually Eugene made it to his office, and after some browsing, found the file folder he was looking for. Opening it, he pulled out the preset contingency ACME had compiled in the event of a missing or overdue aircraft and made a copy of the relevant sections, replacing the original in its bright red folder.

After staring at the outline page for a few moments, he attacked the checklist with a marker, blanking out sections they wouldn't need for this particular incident. Finished with that page, he bought the office computer out of sleep mode and drafted a quick technical explanation they could spoon-feed to detail hungry media. "... an incorrectly set oxygen source selector switch lead to a loss of consciousness in the crew. The lack of crew intervention eventually caused the aircraft to impact terrain at cruise power." Satisfied this would keep the public at bay, Eugene sent this over and encrypted back channel to Tanya, along with the newly redacted emergency plan. 'I trust you'll dispense this at the appropriate time, if necessary. Remember, no survivors.'

Eugene set the sterilization program to clear any trace of sent messages, and glanced at his watch before dropping into his seat with a magazine. It would take several more minutes for the worm to scour the network clean of questionable messages.
 

Nevon

ACME
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4
AMA
findcarmen.com
Color #
6a99a6
Nevon couldn't believe what happened. A plane carrying both ACME and VILE agents went down in Central America, and he couldn't get any details at all.

When Deric Storm separated the teams, Chief, Doc Sophie, Nev, and Hailey came back on one plane, and Deric and Cali stayed behind. Nev didn't give it a second thought. Now he wished he could have done something. He tried texting Deric, but there was no response.

Late in the evening, the rookie snuck into the hangar after Mr. G's plane landed to listen to Chase talk to the press. It was so different from what Nevon expected that it almost hurt. The way Chase Devineaux spoke made it feel like he had to choose his words. He didn't talk about the plane at all, and he hurried off, leaving the stage to Tanya.

Nev decided his hero was just as concerned about the plane crash as he was, and was probably discussing it with the board members in that black limo.

On his way back to the dorm he texted Dan: "You awake enough to go grab some slurpees at the quick-e mart?"
 

Neb

The VILEiest VILE to ever VILE a VILE
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2
AMA
findcarmen.com
Known Aliases
Nebuchadnezzar (Neb) Ullyss (formerly Kid Kidman), Kitty, Seryy Pripyat
Color #
323E4F
(The following is a collaborative entry between Kidman and Joe Kerr)

VILE HQ, Antarctica -

When Joe had returned to HQ following the news of the plane crash, the mood was still relatively tense. No news had yet filtered in as to whether the passengers of the ill-fated plane had survived. Many of the henchmen had spent countless hours checking every possible news source and radio frequency to see if any updates could be found. The disappointment of not having any news, coupled with the fatigue and stress of the situation, had created a rather stifling atmosphere of tension around the place. The only silver lining so far was that a contact from the safe house in Brazil had confirmed that Sarah Nade was currently working on finding Vic, or what was left of him.

Since returning, Joe had not had time to enjoy his new ‘prize’. Instead, apart catching up on some sleep and leaving VILE Bot to be recharged and serviced by the HQ technicians, Joe spent the rest of his time trying to reassure the jumpy henchmen and spread a little cheer around the place; he was after all a jester by trade.

Armed with a few whoopee cushions, jokes about ACME and a few feel good stories about Vic (the few that he had actually been told), Joe went around HQ trying his darndest to lighten the mood. It wasn’t that he was making light of the situation, rather, he figured that the least he could do was make sure that morale stayed up and that everyone was in the proper frame of mind. A mind clouded by sadness and fear, Joe reasoned, would not be in prime condition to react efficiently and favourably to any changes in the situation.

She hadn’t been the one Carmen wanted.

Had it been weeks prior, Kidman might have been devastated. Perhaps part of her was, but like most of her emotions now it lay flat under a growing layer of apathy. After all that, Carmen hadn't wanted her. Vic probably told her of her insubordination, of her desperate bid to save them both. To save everything. Not that it mattered now, now that everything is going to hell.

There was a vague relief to fading away in obscurity, if she could have done so in England. She had been sent to Antarctica instead, on one of the longest, dullest trips of her life.
If the situation had been different, she would have found it exciting to watch the Earth’s terrain slowly morph from one climate to the next. She wanted to be excited. She wanted to be worried. She wanted to be anything other than the dullness that filled her, but all she found was the growing grey.

Kidman now sat alone on the floor in a secluded hallway within the Antarctic bunker. She found the base to be not so bad overall, but her present state recast the place as a tomb.

“I can’t even go out on the roof here, unless I wanted to freeze to death…” she murmured gloomily to an expensive pen, then fell into a quiet brood as her thoughts wandered into darker places.

It was just after lunch and Joe was preparing to do another round of ‘cheering up’ in the place when he found her. It had been her sigh that drew Joe to her; this beautiful young child clothed in dull grey hair and the most haunting eyes you ever saw. She seemed out of place in the installation and her presence intrigued Joe. Deciding to remove his mask, he went over to her.

“Hello, my name is Joe. If you haven’t guessed by my get up, I’m the resident jester. And who might you be?”


Kidman looked up to find a man with a mask in his hand standing above her. He seemed a decent enough sort, and oddly put her at ease.

"Jesting? You must feel so out of place now."

Joe smiled warmly at the curious young girl.
"Actually I happen to think my 'gift' has come in quite handy recently"

“You do realize ACME is going to ruin us, yes? And Vic and the pilot and those ACMEs...”

Joe paused slightly before replying.
“Ah yes, the plane. I won't lie. It's an unfortunate incident but I still hold out hope for the best.”

“I tried to stop all this, Joe. I should have done more, but I was... I didn’t understand what was going on at the time, what she was saying. I was too scared, and by the time it set in...”

Kidman looked at the man’s shoes.

Joe lifted the girl’s face and looked into her eyes. He smiled and replied in an assuring a tone as he could muster.

“I don’t know what you think you could have done but you certainly would have not been able to change the boss’s mind on anything. None of us knew the plane was going to crash either. It’s just one of those unexpected hazards of the game I guess.”

Kidman wasn’t used to being touched and pulled back.

“I can agree with the plane, but I feel... This tower heist is a curse on us. She flew too close to the sun. How could Ma- Carmen of all people do something so, so insane?”

“Carmen’s the boss for a reason. We at VILE trust her to know what she’s doing and to know the game better than us. Every plan she concocts, every move she takes, I believe has its carefully calculated risks. I trust that the Tower Heist was no exception. She knew the risks involved, the possible repercussions of such a bold action;she calculated and decided it was an acceptable gamble and so she took it.”

Joe paused thoughtfully before continuing.

“I don’t claim to know all her reasons or possibly agree 100% with everything. However, I trust her. That’s why I work with her, that’s why I’m here. I wouldn’t be here if I didn’t.”

“Yes... that’s what I’m supposed to do, yes? I know it’s almost like a religion here. Master can do no wrong...”

She trailed off in guilt, then looked directly at him.

“But I can’t do that. Even if she fully planned this from every angle, how, how can she account for the logical conclusion that ACME is going to be mad as hell over this? I know Master is Master, but so was Napoleon until Russia. Japan was tearing up the South Pacific until they thought to bomb Pearl Harbour. Even the best planners get tempted by such things. She’s human, you know...”

The girl paused.

“...And I don’t think I’m able to trust.“

“You might be surprised to know that I agree with you. The boss is human and she does make mistakes. What we have in VILE is not a religion by any means. It’s more of a relationship of trust. We’re a family here. If one makes a mistake, we all suffer together. If one succeeds, we all rejoice together. That’s part of the nature of the game.”

Joe stopped to give Kidman a thoughtful look.

“We all knew what we were getting into when joined up. That’s why a situation like this doesn’t faze me. Besides, no matter how mad ACME gets, they’re bound by their own code of ethics and honour just like we are. It prevents either side from going overboard.”

Kidman smiled grimly.

“Their code of ethics, you say? I’ve never had the pleasure of meeting an ACME, but I do know those who have. I’m a grunt, and I lived amongst grunts. I saw the injuries that came back. ACMEs believe that anything they do against us is justified because they are on the ‘right’ side of the law. Don’t think they won’t modify their ethics to suit their needs.”

Her thoughts warred with each other and she closed her eyes against them. Kidman was tired. He could be right, that this was all being played out over her head and she should lie back and wait like the rest, but the girl couldn't handle this slow burning nightmare anymore. It’d been a year now, and it just kept getting worse.

“Carmen...” Kidman murmured absently.

“It’s so dark down here this time of year... Joe, maybe I’m not built for this like you are. My sense of family here fell away long ago, and I was in a state of inertia until she called on me. Why she called on me, I’ll never know. Something about Chase and lucky charms. Then she sent me out to train. It was too late then...”
The girl stopped and stood up, still looking away.

“I don’t feel I have a family here, the way it was. I don’t trust Carmen’s judgment now, no matter how much I’m told otherwise. What purpose I had once has faded, what I had hoped I could be is now irrelevant, and what I am is...”

‘still dangerous.’

Kidman walked off to the side. It was snowing out again. Or not. Often the wind took what was already available and hurled it at the windows as its own. In the darkness it was hard to tell.

“I don’t think I belong here anymore, Joe.”

“You said it yourself, Carmen chose you. In my book, that means you belong.”

Joe walked over to where Kidman was standing and took a moment to take in the beauty of the frigid antarctic weather.

“As to why she chose you, it’s because you’re special. We all are. We each have a talent that makes this team better. Just because you’re not quite ready to play a role in the current phase of the game, it doesn’t mean you aren’t as much a part of the team as we are. The boss sent you to train so that you will be ready when it comes time for you to shine. Don’t give up on yourself so easily. She hasn’t”

Joe turned the mask over in his hand to look at it.

“As far as ACME goes, I don’t pretend to know everything about them or this game. What I do know is that both ACME and VILE have a kind of unwritten agreement that as far as this game goes, we avoid putting anyone in harm’s way, especially the innocent. That’s why you never hear of a VILE or ACME agent shot dead after a botched heist or anything of the like. Of course I wouldn’t put it past ACME to have a few dirty tricks up their sleeve. Given that we do too, it’s only fair I guess.”

Joe let out a chuckle after the last statement as he continued to admire the monotone scenery.

Kidman didn’t really believe him, but part of her didn’t care. It was nice to hear.
“She called on me, yes, but she’s since passed me by. That’s why I’m here. I doubt she would throw me out completely for being ineffective. Master is kind like that.”

Something about the man calmed her. She still felt foggy and dull, but her black thoughts leveled back into grey once more.

‘I might have gone out there if you hadn’t come by...’

“It was a good game, once, but she ended it when she took the tower. I may seem a crazed doomsday lunatic on a street corner, but it will come to pass in some form. I’d rather be wrong. I hope I’m wrong. I would love it to return to the carefree days of cat and mouse, I really would.”

The girl paused. There were no voices shouting in her head for once. It was quiet, mercifully serene.

“I say... Why do you wear a mask?”
 

Bran

ACME
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The rain pounded against the stone wall which made up the foundations of Min y Coed manor. A terrible storm had come to Wales. Lightning streaked across the sky, illuminating the night as thunder rolled to those who could hear it. The droplets of water, pouring from heaven, were like an army, striking the manor. They fought with all their strength, but the stone would not give. It stood its ground.

Bran sat in an old chair at the end of a long wooden table. There was no movement in his body and his mind was deep within the muck of thought. The room, an ancient war-hall, was engulfed in darkness, save for a single candle which battled against the never dying night.

Bran’s thoughts were still reliving the earlier events of the deathly night. The hill, the gravestone, and the chest all teased his mind. What could they mean? Was there someone else present that night? Bran shook himself out of the trance. There were more pressing matters which needed to be addressed.

Bran lifted a glass of wine to his lips, but no liquid met his thirst. Rising from the chair, he walked to the corner of the room where he pulled a long chord that dangled from the ceiling. The sound of a bell echoed throughout the manor. It was an unexpected noise which rattled the very foundations of the mansion. Bran wandered over to the table near the center of the room. Snatching up a bottle of wine, he refreshed his glass with the blessings of the vine.

Soon the sound of footsteps could be heard approaching the room. The huge wooden door swung open, and a man of great stature appeared. His hair was the colour of dirt and his face was littered with many of the same features as Bran himself.

“You rang, sir?”, the newcomer addressed Bran in a burly welsh accent.

“Ah, Bryn, come in”.

The man approached Bran slowly, almost cautiously. “What can I do for you?”

Bran turned to fill his glass again. “I wanted to inform you that our wine supply is running low”. He lifted the bottle for Bryn to see. “It would be a tragedy if it should run out”.

“I will see to it right away”, Bryn answered nervously, glancing around the room.

“Yes... You do that”. Bran slumped back into the chair, and Bryn, sensing that the audience was over, backed out of the room.

“One more thing, Bryn”.

The voice stopped the man in his tracks. “Yes, sir?”

“Tell Vladimir to prepare the Gulfstream. I shall be needing its services very soon”
 

Narrator

Fledgling
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[Sammy]

Somewhere between San Francisco and the Canadian Border - The rain was pounding against her helmet when she received a message on her communicator. Sammy had pulled off to the side of the road and turned off her motorcycle to read the message sent from Headquarters. Opening it she stared at the disturbing message on the screen, unmoving. The bright and bold words screamed out at Sammy, ‘ACME plane crash. Brazil.'

Stomach churning, Sammy hoped that none of the ACME agents had been hurt. She bit her lip and quickly slid her communicator back into her jacket pocket. She turned the ignition back on and pulled back out on the highway, heading for San Francisco faster then she had been before. She needed to get to ACME Headquarters, and fast. Fear gripped her as she sped off down the road, praying and hoping that everything was alright.

***

ACME San Francisco Headquarters -

When Sammy arrived at ACME Headquarters it was complete chaos. She parked her vehicle and went into the building looking for someone who could direct her to the right place.

People she had never seen before brushed passed her in the hallways with papers and communicators in hand. Sammy pulled her helmet off and headed for an empty desk at the end of the hallway. There was a list with a map of the building sitting on the edge of the desk, Sammy picked it up and perused the map. She found the place, to which she was searching, and turned to go that way.

"OOF!" Sammy grunted as someone bumped into her shoulder.

The stranger peered over his glasses at Sammy, "Excuse me miss." She looked at the mess of papers and packages in his arms with raised eyebrows. "Need some help?"

The man looked her up and down suspiciously. Deciding that she wasn't too dangerous a character he smiled at her, "Would you mind? I need an errand run."

"No, I don't mind-" her answer was cut off by the man shoving a package into her arms and saying, "Take these to Chase Devineaux's locker, number 73, quickly! I need to grab something else!" And he ran off without a thank you.

"You're welcome." Sammy grumbled, picking up the map once again in search of Chase Devineaux's locker. Finding locker number 73, she turned and hurried on her way. This was not exactly how she planned to help.

***

She reached locker 73 and opened the slot to slide the package through. Hearing it drop to the bottom she wondered what this Chase Devineaux would think of a random package lying in his locker.

She pulled out her notepad from inside her jacket and grabbed her pen and wrote out a note quickly: Chase Devineaux Package was given to me to deliver. Hope that all is intact. Deliverer: Agent Sammy Regard

She slid the note in the slot and walked out of the locker-room, in search for the stranger that had given her the package earlier.Wonder if he needs me to deliver something else...

(All parties approved.)
 

Agent Z

ACME
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Location: Somewhere In The Air, The World
Time: Only Carmen Knows…

--

The flight had left in the wee hours of the morning, it had no in flight entertainment because the TVs were broken and the food was so lousy that Zack Monaghan didn’t bother touching the tuna paste sandwich. So it was no surprised that Zack’s attire was just screamed comfortable – sweat pants and a hoodie. The very annoyed ACME agent decided to instead absorb himself on his actual phone - it being an iPhone – with some Angry Birds.

The phone that Zack had received the original message had been erased and thrown inside a lake back in Britain. So whatever wildlife was there, whether it be duck or fish, could make any phone call. They would just have to suffer with Rebecca Black’s single if they managed to ever get it working again.

Zack pocketed his phone after losing at the same level twelve times. He closed his eyes and reviewed the message from Oxide earlier in his mind:

“Assemble small team; get to Panama. Further briefing en route.”

The only thought that came to Zack’s mind: What is actually going to happen?

Zack sat like this for a few hours. His attention was only brought back into reality when he realized that there was a voice on the intercom.

“- is arriving now. Vamos a aterrizar en el Aeropuerto Internacional de Tocumen en breve. Por favor, abrocharse el cinturón de seguridad1.”


Zack closed his phone, and buckled up his seatbelt. It was going to be a bumpy landing.

***

Time Lapse: Few hours
Location: Undisclosed ACME Safe House, Panama City, Panama
Time: 3:43pm (Local)

Zack’s phone and ACME communicator were charging on a table near one of the few outlets inside the safe house. Zack himself was sitting on the other side of the table, a hot pasta dish that he had bought from a street vendor on his side and was reading a copy of “To Kill A Mockingbird”.

Zack had packed light for his trip to Panama. He only had a carry on with a few clothes and had already changed the moment he arrived and was sporting the only thing he had shorts: his official blue and white L.E.A.P. Gear given to him by his acquaintance.

Every so often, his blue eyes glanced at the communicator. He had made a call via the Communicator to the head of the ACME Control Team, Russ T. Nale2, and was informed that his next instructions were to reconnect with Deric Storm’s team and bring them to this location. Well, after he ate of course.

He took a bite from his noodle dish and nearly spat it back out.

It was still too hot.


--
Translations
1Spanish: "We will be landing in Tocumen International Airport shortly. Please buckle your seatbelts." (Courtesy of Google Translate).
2 Russ. T. Nale is an NPC.
 

Ivy

Commander
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Known Aliases
Iv', Ives
Color #
008080
(Disclaimer: This is a story-moving post with permission from RP administrators.)

Ivy couldn't sleep. Her mind was on Brazil and the press conference that took place just a few hours before. She tossed over with a moan and glared at her bedside alarm clock. 2:03 a.m. Chase was whisked away so quickly by the board members it was insane. It was like he... oh crud. Ivy mumbled as she remembered something.

She had to deliver the trainee report to the Field Director when he returned, but with all the events surrounding the return of Hailey Weller she had been distracted. Knowing that he would be up early and that she would probably be too tired to see him in the morning, she thought it was best to put it to his locker now. Raking down her messy red hair, the ACME instructor threw herself out of bed and grabbed a pair of jeans from the floor.


# # #


Upon arriving at the staff room, Ivy walked straight to locker #73 and slid the reports in. Her folder seemed to have caught on something and wouldn't go down the slot. Grumbling, she fished through the opening and realized a package was blocking the way. This was a design flaw of the temporary lockers, and a constant source of complaints from academy staff. Attempting to shimmy the parcel out of the slot, Ivy heard an unmistakable ripping of paper and swore out loud. Items from the package fell to the floor, including several letters and a high density SD card.

One of the objects that dropped out was an official-looking note marked highly confidential.

The Note Read:

These have been cleared from Tunis. We have processed the video.

She chewed her lower lip, and looked at the mysterious SD Card. There were no security cameras in the staff locker rooms. There was no one in the building at 2:40 a.m. and Ivy was faced with a professional dilemma.

Taking a breath, she popped the card into her communicator.

A video displayed, first of the desert and then of ACME Tower in the distance. The picture blurred then focused quickly, the operator of the camera must have been at quite a distance, using a very powerful lens. She saw the face of Chase Devineaux, Eugene Grovington, another athletic male in military garb and the man she knew as Khalid Rifai from Venice. Suddenly the screen went white, and the ACME tower seemed to implode on itself. It felt like a second in time... and there was so much destruction. She swore again.
 

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