Co-Written Planning Committee

Joe Kerr

VILE Trickster
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Joey, Joseph,
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(co-written with @Carmen and @Acton Roux )

The following events happen 1 month after the events of Ultramarine.

‘I’m late! I’m late! For a very important date!

Flanked by his favourite feline, Joseph Kerr strode briskly through the network of tunnels beneath Stone Harbor. In lieu of his signature mask and costume, the Jester was simply attired in a burgundy turtleneck over black jeans and boots. The look was completed by a black messenger bag slung loosely over his right shoulder and a matching ‘smart watch’ adorning his left wrist.

Navigating the labyrinthian structure with practiced ease, the Jester and cat never broke pace as they weaved through corridors and each other with unusual grace. Climbing a winding flight of stone stairs, the duo finally came to a stop in front of a brick wall.

With the impatient meowing of his companion urging him on, a laughing Joseph Kerr pressed a hidden switch in the ‘wall’ which dutifully slid aside to reveal the backroom of an antique bookstore. Walking through to the main foyer, the Jester was surprised to encounter Acton Roux, entering through the front doors.

"Eh, salut mon ami," the Frenchman raised a brow. He too; was without a mask. The usual drama of the plague doctor was put aside after their adventures under the sea. In truth, ACME's Director had broken the iconic piece beyond normal repair, and Acton had not had the mind to recreate his signature visage.

"You might know where our lady is, ce matin?" The doctor, who was not so much a doctor in this capacity, had learned that his elusive charge cancelled her rendezvous with a specialist minutes ago. It had taken the pulling of several metaphorical strings to bring this specialist to Stone Harbour, and as this was a time-sensitive matter, Acton Roux was miffed.

“As a matter of fact, I’m on my way to a meeting with her,” the somewhat amused Jester gestured toward the old wooden staircase leading to the second floor. “Would you like to join us?

"You are now in charge of security, oui? Of course she would meet with you and not I." Dr. Roux observed casually as he nodded in agreement. "How has the month been for you, my friend?"

“Physically, I think I’m about as recovered as anyone else; mentally though...” Joseph trailed off momentarily and took a deep breath. “...this...position, this task, has been lifeline for me. It’s allowed me an outlet to gather my thoughts, to focus on moving forward and not drown in ‘what-ifs’.”

The Jester smiled wistfully as he continued, “it’s almost as if
she knew....”

"I have yet to categorise all that I have learned from the Devalaya and the events prior to it." Acton admitted, "but I believe we have been all affected. Perhaps her most of all."

"Have you spoken to her, not about the work?"

Joseph frowned slightly, “You know as well as I do that she’s a master of evasion.”

The French doctor agreed also with a grim frown.

A beep from the device on his wrist served to remind Joseph of his prior appointment.

“I apologize Doctor, but I do have a meeting to attend. Would you care to join me? I do believe that we will be discussing something of interest to you.”

"Oui," the Acton motioned to walk in the same direction as his peer, "allons-y."

The morning had been somewhat suffocating. A spring fog settled along the grey shores and the thief felt a sudden longing for some spontaneity.

She cancelled her check-in with the ophthalmologist and did not yet reschedule despite knowing that the doctor was only in Stone Harbour for three days. Wanting to first assure herself that she was caught up with every possible aspect of her organisation, she made a short list. First was security, and she contacted Joseph Kerrigan to bring his report to the library.

Perched on the second floor of an antique bookstore was one of her favourite rooms. A two-storey library hosted floor-to-ceiling mahogany shelves of nothing but books. Leather chairs surrounded two desks. In the far south corner, an iron circular staircase lead to a mezzanine floor and additional bookshelves. The translucent white skylight above served as a source of natural light in the day. During evening hours or days lacking sun, bright LEDs imitate daylight through frosted glass, giving no distinction between which was natural and which was simulated.

Here, it was always day, and its current occupant found herself needing that ‘something bright’ above her.

In a koi-print wrapped dress with sleeves that resembled a kimono, the incognito thief leaned into a library chair and crossed her legs. A pair of white canvas Italian Superga classics peered beneath the silk, and the jumble of knots that made its short laces fell loose as she swung her leg to a soundless rhythm.

Joseph Kerr did an immediate double take at the sight of his employer and friend; no words could explain how amazingly surreal it was to witness her unwind within her sanctum. For as breathtakingly beautiful as the scene was, it was also oddly pure and intimate; so much so that Joseph wondered they were intruding on a personal moment.

Acton followed close behind Joe and greeted with courtesy the woman bathed in light. At times, it was difficult to convey how truly unlucky the rest of the world was, to never see Carmen Sandiego in her element.

Both men came to her in their respective masks, one with an exaggerated grin and the other accented by a sharp metallic beak. It was not until Joseph Kerrigan spoke that the veil lifted and she noted their uncovered faces.

“Good morning, Carmen. On behalf of Acton and myself, I sincerely apologize if we’re interrupting something; I was under the impression that we were to have a meeting, you understand. If you wish, I could return at a more appropriate time?”

"Was I unclear?" Her inquiry, one half-note below mirth, was followed by a smile, "I called for a meeting with only one of you." A glance at the Frenchman revealed playful authority, "Please, gentlemen, sit."

“I apologize for my presumptuousness,” Joseph began as he took the seat to Carmen’s left. “I took the liberty of inviting Acton along for a consultation. The reason for which, I trust, will be self-evident as we progress.”

Uncertain if he was completely welcomed, Acton silently took a chair opposite of the jester.

With a flourish, Joseph removed a highly customized/modified android tablet from the messenger bag. A couple of swipes and a light tap brought up a file simply titled “Changes”.

“Submitted for your reading pleasure,” the Jester smiled while presenting the tablet to Carmen. “I think you’ll find that this folder contains a rather extensive list of improvements to be made to our ‘defenses’.”

She took her time digesting the pages of plans before her. Gradually, she felt as if this was a list of prison security measures and she was its warden.

"While defensive systems for the MAMBA have their place..." Her fingers tapped calmly against the screen.

"I'm not certain any of this is necessary," she highlighted texts in regard to revamping Stone Harbour, "Who would attack a fairground?"

Acton's tussled brows moved lower as he studied his leader's expression. She did not seem dismissive, but rather, genuinely apprehensive. But of what?

“I understand that the measures may seem a little excessive, but to be fair, they weren’t designed with ACME in mind; I was catering to the whims of a more...homicidal adversary,” Joseph unconsciously rubbed his right arm.

“There’s no denying we have many enemies, some of which wouldn’t hesitate to mount a full scale attack on this place if they ever discovered its real identity,” the Jester stood up and gestured at the library.

“Don’t get me wrong, I love this place; I’m eternally grateful you picked it out. However,” he turned back to face Carmen, “this isn’t Antarctica. There will be collateral if, no, when we are attacked.”

Sitting back down, he softened his tone and looked Carmen in the eye, “I know that you care more than you let on, and that you cannot, will not, abide the death of innocents. These measures, extreme as they may seem, are not meant to cause harm, they are meant to prevent it. They were designed to first prevent our discovery, and failing that, to buy us enough time to evacuate everyone and everything, including the townsfolk.”

The leader listened, and at the back of her mind, she wondered if the paramount of safety was prevention. If she was not 'here,' there would be nothing to attack, and nothing to protect. But this point, she would not yet bring up, nor argue.

Scrolling further, she noted the usage of chemicals, "And these... are they safe?"

"I will ensure their safety standards," The Frenchman volunteered, for had seen parts of his peer's hallucinations and shared Joe Kerr's desire to protect what is most precious.

Joseph gave Acton a grateful smile before continuing where the Frenchman had left off. “ While a good number of these are merely souped up versions of things I’ve used in gag bombs, I will admit that there is a fair amount of uncharted territory. This is part of the reason I wanted Acton present for this discussion; between his extensive medical knowledge and my own proficiency in Chemistry, we should be able to properly ascertain both the feasibility and the safety of these suggestions.”

Joseph paused to nod at Roux before turning to face Carmen with a serious expression, “You have my word that we will never implement anything that doesn’t pass our tests. If it would put your mind at ease, you may even have someone audit our research and findings.”

The woman returned her friend's expression with equal gravity, her eyes lifting from the tablet to his.

"I trust you, Joseph," there was nothing further on that note as her hand touched the jester's right arm, "You will choose an audit committee and propose them to me."

Returning her study to the Frenchman at the opposite side of the table, she exhaled softly. "Reschedule my appointment for this afternoon, please."

Acton nodded to her request. While he had no educated guesses on what his leader may be thinking, he noticed a far-away look in her eyes that was unusual for one so often focused.

Something still weighed upon her heart, but she decided it had nothing to do with security measures.

"Shall we reconvene after the first stage is complete?"

For Joseph's document 'Changes':
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Patt, Patts, Petite, Amber Cecelia Argos, Valkyrie
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love this, guys! great choice of meeting location

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