Shattered

systemcat

Visitor From Another AU
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Chapter 8:​


The knocks on the door came right on schedule Chester noted as he checked his watch, moving down the hallway towards the house's front door. A second set of rappings happened before he could make it to where he had to be and apparently should have been at 7:30am sharp. This set caused aside from waking up the children on the sofa bed, still dressed in most of what they'd been wearing the night before. It him to prompting shouting. "I'm coming, I'm coming!"

Both Lambertons watched puzzled and semi-conscious as Chester opened up the front door to reveal a pair of men neither child knew. The men looked like the type they'd been witness to hanging around ACME's headquarters since the renovations had started. Ivy moving to the northeast side of the sofa bed to put her in optimum viewing range of the men and Chester, minus her having to get up. She saw a company name branded on the dress shirts of the shorter of the two unknowns. It read the word FOX as if it belonged to an acronym. FOX or more formally worded Factored Organized Xenial, a name she'd come to recognize. They were leading the renovations to the local office. But what could their representation be doing here?

"You guys are prompt, somehow I think I've miss noted that about you at the office." Chester stated smiling at them and opening the front door further, to let the men enter. The labeled one entering before his colleague into the living room.

Giving himself a stretch and a yawn he tried to silence as Zack started talking. He was just as curious as Ivy to know what FOX was doing in Chester's house. "It's early, why are you guys here and not at ACME?"

He hadn't looked at the wall clock yet. At least her catching him doing so hadn't happened. Instead she did and a zing of energy overtook her with the sight. It was nearly eight am in her book, both of them had overslept! No question existed how such a thing had happened although it did force her to think more strongly about the use of an alarm clock. Both she and Zack had their own ones until the move to Chester's. They'd failed to grab theirs when picking up some of their things from their old house. Either visiting the place again soon or buying brand new ones was needed in the soon immediate future.

Springing to action to get ready for the bus coming to the street near the driveway. Ivy grabbed for the nearest of her clothes on the floor she could find. While the taller of the two unknown men answered Zack. "You're getting your own room. We're here to start that process."

In a rush to the bathroom, holding her ball of the today's clothes in her arms in an untidy manner against herself. Ivy only took one last look at the guests before she opened the door to the only space privacy was guaranteed to occur. Slamming the door shut behind her once in the small room. She shouted out of it, hoping the men realized she was talking to them. She asked, "I wasn't there when ACME started it's re-model. What do you guys represent from FOX?"

Questions were a guaranteed part of the job coming from clients. Also debates, compromises, and hopefully acceptance of what could be done. Two waking kids a buzz with curiosity. One of them in a panic to get dressed when she almost looked ready to be out the door in a different outfit. Had neither of them known of the house's expansion coming? The younger looking one of the pair wasn't feeling pushed like the older child had. At least he wasn't coming across that way. He was sitting on the sofa bed watching them and it was courtesy dictating one of the representatives, the taller one answered broadly. "I'm a construction consultant."

The construction consultant then hooking a thumb towards his company then continued with. "He's a contractor, kid. We tend not to be involved in later steps of this kind of work."

"She was already well dressed, what?" The contractor asked Chester.

The chief of the San Francisco ACME office already had some idea about the question asked. Cheri had something to do with the appearance of the siblings at the moment. Well Ivy until she had bolted out of sight to change her clothes. What the teenager had been wearing at last seen. Bypassing the question that felt unprofessional coming from the contractor. Chester asked Zack, "I am aware how late you and Ivy got home last night. I was already on high alert if you're wondering. What about the case had Cheri keep you guys out until after 12am?"

Shattered glass, other car damage, accompanied by what could have easily become a crash. Zack now was far from blaming himself on a missed quiz question for what had happened the night before. Chief Cheri also wanted it under wraps what had happened. She had said when he and Ivy were boarding their ride, their cab back to the house. "Don't tell Chester about the car. I can simply say I didn't like it and had it returned for another one. Lying isn't something a good detective does unless undercover. This is happening right under his nose, but he doesn't need to know about it."

She had given both Ivy and himself the blessing of being able to lie about the night before. The near tail end of its interesting part anyway. But Chester had managed to catch the Lambertons entering the house. After being so careful about their entrance. His entry because they were coming back so late. His idea frowned on by Ivy but effective. That of knowing the kitchen window to the house wasn't locked down and easy to rise. He had climbed in through it, fortunately not having his feet enter dirty dish water and china & silverware when encountering the sink below it. To then climb down from the sink to the floor. As he tried not to make a sound making his way into the living room from the kitchen, to open the front door for Ivy.

This whole complex entrance could have been avoided. He knew if a little forethought had happened in advance of him and his sister entering their cab ride home to begin with. Both had forgotten to ask for the house key from Cheri, Chester had entrusted to her. It had not dawned on either of the pair this action had been missed when leaving Chief Cheri's company.

"Classified," was all Zack could think to tell Chester for an answer. The boy didn't want the old man to question him further. Ivy had found a way out of the frying pan about the night before but he couldn't go that route. She had the bathroom currently.

Sniffing himself, he discovered even when Ivy emerged from the bathroom he still couldn't do what she was. His clothes seemed fine as they were. He just needed to put on his shoes that he had kicked off the night before as he's entered the sofa bed. They weren't far from him now, only a yard or so off towards the kitchen area. Not in the direction that had his interest otherwise occupied. The men from FOX, they had his curiosity for what they were starting on his behalf. Chester, he now wasn't paying attention to him but instead to Ivy, still out of sight.

"Ivy, I'm not settling for Zack's answer. What happened last night?" Chester shouted, towards the bathroom.

To be more direct in answering the guardian, Ivy opened up the bathroom door and stepped out of the room she'd been in. Now garbed in the clothes she'd not long ago been holding in a bundle. Her clothes from the day before, being held in a newly formed bundle. She stated, "Cheri will say the same likely, classified."

Seven thirty am was not a normal time for daytime jobs to start. The FOX employees knew this and accepted the fact. Why their work started formally at that time was because when people wanted building work done they normally wanted it done promptly. The faster the start on the day the quicker pleased customers happened. Although in the case of this job, maybe that start to customer interaction time was questionable. The construction consultant again feeling it was his place to speak up knowing his work partner wasn't as eager libbed as him to the new company, asked. "Did we come at a bad time?"

Switching his attention back & forth from the FOX men and pair of siblings. Chester started at first talking to the Lamberton children before his guests, in saying. "I am the chief operator of ACME. Cheri Thigpen can't use the word classified to me over a case."

Then continuing he added, "no, now is fine. This is just a busy moment."

It could be a busier moment Zack thought. Chester was distracted understandably and he could take advantage of that in a good way. Cheri didn't need Chester pressing her for information about the night before outside the investigation. Besides that to the next time the pre-teen hoped to be meeting with the NYC Chief. He wanted his souvenir back from her. Easier to get it back under good social terms. Also what was going on at present? The type of opportunity it presented wasn't to be passed up.

Hoping off the sofa bed and picking up his shoes, Zack then walked over to the men who by now were starting to size up the house's immediate area for measurements. Tapping the man, with his hand free from carrying his shoes. The kid asked the contractor, "can Ivy and me give suggestions about our rooms? I've always had some amazing ideas mo ... I've always had some ideas I was told couldn't be done at our old place."

He'd nearly said the title, the word mom. Rebecca was still a subject in close thought to the boy's thinking. Heck Chester thought, his mom Gloria. She had died years ago but of natural causes. Even though she'd lived a full life, it still choked him up a little thinking about her absence from his life. He'd seen her death coming and had been able to give her a proper farewell. Rebecca, Rebecca had just happened not long ago. Both children hadn't seen her death coming. No one had except maybe Bishop. It couldn't be called a Freudian slip what Zack had just done, it made sense. It also had to be addressed with a kindness he thought proper.

"While I get your lunches ready for school. You guys give these men all the suggestions you'd like to make before you leave for your buses. But the final word on what happens, and Zack this is more directed at you than Ivy. The final word lies with what these professionals and myself believe can happen in reality." As he spoke, the local chief made sure both kids knew he was addressing them.

Making eye contact too, to the pair of FOX workers, a nod came from the contractor to show his understanding. Chester felt satisfied that his words were met correctly, before he headed across the living room into the kitchen area. While the senior ACME employee opened his refrigerator to take stock of what he had. Before feeling some measure of disappointment, causing him to disappear into the back hallway area of the house for it's pantry.

Sitting down his shoes to the floor to then worm his feet into them, minus any hand help to the act. Zack questioned the guests without looking at them. "Would a rocket launcher be out of the question?"

So much for reality being in her kid brother's thinking of the possible. Also so much for his sense of getting ready for school. Ivy had been thinking over the house's possible reimaging since the third day of living in it. She thought she had ideas. Hopefully doable ones and she was about to make sure they were voiced. Until then she'd just have to take care of her shared genes problem.

The FOX workers who hadn't been prepared for the middle schooler's interesting imagination. They watched as the girl in the room dropped her formally worn bundle of clothes to the floor. Grabbed her brother by the shoulders & forcefully walk him over and point him in the direction of a different pile of clothes.

"Really get ready for school. Fresh clothes." She then said to the boy.

Feeling now they could say what they thought of the boy's proposal. First the construction consultant, then the contractor voiced their thoughts. To the pair of siblings while the guessed more logic driven of the two approached them. "I don't have guys who'd know how. I don't think you dad would approve of that."

"No. I haven't seen the full layout of this house, but no."

Taking hold of clothes he knew to be his poking out from underneath the sofa bed. They'd caught the boy's interest in wearing them for the day. If he was lucky, Ivy would fail to notice his selection. He had a feeling his pick hadn't been washed since the move to the house. Although to other thoughts, damn. Zack was sure either Ivy or Chester would have a word with the worker for his word usage. His reasoning to using the word "Dad", the one who had identified himself as a construction consultant thought Chief Chester was his pop. He barely knew his own pop but from what he knew of the man. Zack was grateful Bishop Lamberton wasn't around right now. Chester's idea of hampering the pre-teen's creative efforts were better voiced than how the suggestion would have been handled by his actual dad.

-----
 

systemcat

Visitor From Another AU
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It had gone cold. Carmen had been sitting at the bar style table for so long, thinking over the failure she'd made. She hadn't even thought about her drink cooling in front of her. The matcha tea had been a gift to herself after the first success in the robberies of late. It's special taste now dulled from lack of heat. She thought about what it would take to fix that and the thought saddened her. The Karl's Den Motel room she was in didn't even have a microwave. If she wanted to nuke her drink into being hot again that would either take pouring it back into the coffee maker pot. The room's one luxury or going to the place's front desk and requesting of the motel's check in operator, the use her microwave to heat it up.

Something had gone wrong the night before and no finger could be pointed as a source of blame. Sarah had said nothing to anyone. Even if for once the woman had gained the type of attention she wanted outside what both of them were trying to achieve with VILE. The singer having fans approached her, asking for autographs. To Carmen's knowledge what she'd been told of that event. The music enthusiasts knew nothing of their criminal acts or had reason to suspect them of anything.

Between them both, they'd put aide their solo careers as criminals to work together to not have just self interest in mind. Sarah to prove she was multi-talented beyond what she believed people expected of her. Carmen as to herself, she wanted as much as she could take and she wanted resources at her disposal to do as such. Working together as a team, even with success in their string of heists. VILE still was waiting on them to deliver. What they wanted the women to deliver. It had to be something special and not just a cut from what the ladies had been up to. This whatever as being left unspecified to them.

Using Karl's Den as their hideout for the last few weeks. The fact the motel's better days, whenever those had been. Maybe a few decades back? It's deteriorated state and severe lacking of amenities. The place created an atmosphere that wanted to lean into forced depression the longer one stayed there. Fighting how it reflected on them in their ability to accomplish their goals had turned into a second nature act to the pair. Carmen was having a hard time with that fight right now, with her mystery of the night before. One of the duo's gifts of destruction was left behind when Carmen was waiting to speak to management. That one had been placed underneath the counter by where up front payments were conducted for the club. The second as per normal, was left under a table when Sarah got the thumbs down she could return to perform another night. After the gifts had been gone off in their designed function, only one was discovered again in the raid to rob the place. She had looked everywhere for the missing device. It had been forced matter to give up her search, knowing the police were about to show up at the club. She and Sarah had to drop what they were doing with what they'd grabbed, and scat before a more thorough search could be conducted. Sarah didn't feel stressed by the missing device that could with the right eye be understood as evidence. A reverse in attitude Carmen almost admired. The singer wasn't around in the room then and it was partly the punk's attitude why that was.

When the ladies had returned back to the room in the pre-dawn hours. When sleep was then supposed to occur, the red clad woman wasn't ready yet to turn in. Her partner in crime had made a few attempts to sleep and succeeded eventually. However the punk wasn't sure if her friend had been successful. Awaking around the start of the six'o clock hour, Sarah had found her in her bed with eye lids slitted, staring at the ceiling. Questioning had happened whether or not she'd gotten any sleep and unsatisfactory answers were all Carmen had provided. Just noises out of the woman to show acknowledgement she was being talked to. Sarah knew her partner could get stressed when plans didn't turn out how she wanted them to. That whatever had gone wrong would eat at her until she could find some way to fix it. That's what had made her a good thief. If an attempt to rob some item of interest was thwarted by a means she had not foresaw coming. She'd create a new strategy to try and accomplish her end goal. That normally worked for her. But with VILE keeping tabs on the two of them to judge them over their position in the organization. That made for a new level of thought to Carmen about how well she did her job.

To make her friend feel better Sarah had left the motel room exclaiming she was going to take a jog through Balboa Area and boardwalk. The purpose of the jog to wake her up more and to think about the problem dogging Carmen's mind. Her to think about the problem so the other didn't need to stress about it. They'd made off with a good about of money and they should be counting their graces nothing else bad had happened, the punk had stated.

It was more than a simple jog through the dune vegetation area, Carmen was sure. Although what else was going though the young lady's mind? Carmen realized her brain was too fogged in her own obsessiveness to other details to give Sarah's actions clear thought. Discovering what the singer had been doing beyond her jog happened when the punk returned to their room grinning like a cat that’d just eaten a canary.

Finding Carmen sitting at the room's table, holding her mug, still resting on the table. Her noticing the friend's return to the room with only a glance before returning her attention to the mug. Sarah frowned about the seemingly unchanged mood the fellow VILE agent was in. Walking over to the seated woman, Sarah in a mischievous tone stated and queried. "I've done something to make this morning a good one. Care to know what that is?"

Debating for a moment to drink a gulp of her cold tea. Carmen again paid her friend the attention she deserved then and said, "you found the second Rewind Wrecker?"

Only feeling miffed to a minor degree the woman who acted like her manager hadn't strayed in her thinking yet in the morning. Sarah reached for her back pants pocket to pull out of it the result beyond exercise she'd just gotten from her outing. A rough edged pack of square-shaped newspaper clippings. Using the hand that had grabbed them from the pants pocket. The singer waved them in Carmen's face, before exclaiming. "One coupon from the Written Rail Rider Newspaper, good for one free bagel from Bun Brothers Bakery. Now twenty-two coupons clipped out of the Written Rail Rider. We can get free bagels visiting all the Bun Brothers in the city I think!"

"Legal stealing, I knew I chose right when I picked you for my partner for our little crime wave, Sarah." Carmen voiced as she got up from her seat.

Excited she'd broken her roommate's mood. The singer's idea of free food had worked and with even a definition she hadn't thought to a tribute to the coupons. She had known when pinch ripping them out from the freely distributed publication, what the purpose was behind the offered bagel. It was a sample. Although samples could add up easily to a full meal if treated correctly. She'd done just that with grocery stores in the past on some occasion during their sampling days. Stealing was never a word she had thought to assign her grabs with those outings. Now knowing what she'd been doing, using new definition. Given their shared goal to VILE. Ready to bound out the door again to the motel room. Sarah squealed in excitement, "we're getting bagels!?"

"Your plan worked. No harping on it until after we've gotten all twenty-two of those hole punched buns, ok? I want nothing to jinx this morning." Carmen replied, while grabbing her hat off the coat hook by the door. Minus either lady touching it, the door then started to move inwards into the room swiftly. Action stopping only when the hinges had reached their limit in motion.

It was unexpected and unwelcome, further more an act that would have caused further panic if only the person who'd just intruded on them was a law officer. No uniform was on him. The person looked imposing, possibly threatening and about ten or so years older than either of them. Blocking the doorway to bar their exit, he stated towards Sarah. "You should always be on the lookout for people tailing you Dayglow. You'd be in trouble right now if I were the man I used to be."

They didn't have guns or any sort of weapon on hand, at least a traditionally considered one. The Rewind Wreckers could be used in a defensive way even if they weren't designed for that intent. But none of them were prepped for used right now. No defense existed to either lady at this second but either words or physical assault. Carmen wanted to start with the latter of the options. It didn't air of defensive strategy to it but it was a start to delay. To discovering, the manager asked. "Who are you and why are you here?!"

"Call me Rook. I work for VILE just as you and your friend do. You have nothing to fear from me." The last part of Bishop's statement he didn't feel too keen on enforcing that view of himself. He could tell both women had some sense of fear of him. Good but that wasn't what he had come for from them. The one he'd followed at a distance, she looked angry on top of the fear he sensed in her. Instead of her withdrawing away, backing into the room from near the entrance, she stood her ground.

Feeling she'd been taken advantage of. Sarah demanded of the intruder, "she also asked why you're here?"

"You screw up. She screws up. You're both trying to make names for yourselves. You screw up. Worse yet you want the public limelight," Bishop replied. He'd stay in the frame of the door. These women could wait until he'd crossed the wanted verbal bridge with them. Besides even after he'd met his goal with them. They couldn't make anything of their encounter with him but a score won for him with VILE.

Feeling he must fast approach his point to being in their presence in such a place. Distraught wood paneled walls, curtains stained with liquids he could only guess at. Linens on the beds, likely both had the better sense to sleep on top of for not wanting to catch a venereal disease from previous tenants. Plus at least one roach motel trap visible from his viewpoint, hugging the far wall southwest of him. He felt running over his memories fast, he'd never had to settle for such a place to call home. These women truly needed his guidance to get out of it. Sternly he continued adding, "VILE has already come to recognize me as a valuable asset where as you're practically begging for crumbs of recognition from them."

Pausing to take in how he was now being received by his lesser co-worker agents. Noting both of them still weren't all to pleased by his presence. Bishop further said, "how would you like your status to change. To actually be useful?"

"What would I have to do?" Carmen asked, now starting to lighten up her attitude towards the man using a code name to identify himself.

Most of the VILE agents of high ranking within the organization had code names or nicknames. They were big shots and had their own teams working under them. She envied that kind of ranking. Even though she wished it for herself one day. A code name? She didn't want that. Rook, she'd never heard of him before but that meant nothing. VILE had so many teams in operation; she might never know who headed everyone of them.

One of the ladies had an interest in furthering her career. Hopefully that meant her partner would follow suit to her. Only internally was his delight notable. Without any show of emotion on his face though, Bishop replied. "The ACME Detective Agency has a pair of trainees I see as a possible big problem in the future. I don't need them further complicating my life. They have a pair of old hound dogs around them. One of those in particular is looking out for them and he's on to me somewhat. To you I doubt it even if the kids are starting to catch wind of your few successes."

Stunned at what she thought she was hearing. If she was right in assumption, this way to further get her foot in the door for VILE was asking something of her not only out of her zone of specialty. It also was going out of bounds to her comfort zone of morals which she knew was meager. Her morals if this guess was right. They needing applying to this offer if he answered her next question in with part of her speculation, "kids?"

"Be useful and take care of them for me. Take them out so they're never a bigger problem than they already are," Bishop answered.

The man was the only one good in the room at hiding emotions. Wanted promotion was what kept most Carmen's demeanor cool as a chill ran through her, getting her conformation about the work. Looking over to Sarah, she was handling the information differently on the surface. Eyes downcast towards the ground somewhat, her mouth agape, trying to find words she wasn't voicing. Possibly a good thing unsaid with the fact neither of them was familiar with the man in front of them.

Sarah Nade was brave in her own right outside the guts to take what she wanted with little fear of the law. She could perform on a stage to strangers. From that taking the highs and lows coming from the attention of onlookers she didn't know. Carmen Sandiego knew while she didn't possess the latter of that form of fearlessness. Stealing had it's own stage mask often needing deploying invoking a different type of bravery than that of performing for a knowing audience. The audience subject to a play they weren't aware of. Carmen had to use that tactic talent now, stating. "I don't kill to steal. I am the best thief of the west you will ever meet."

This smile he'd let slip. Bishop was glad to have a subject he was prepared for given voice. An aspect he'd read about in her work file. The eager wanted big time pickpocket, Ms. Sandiego was willing to go the extra mile when offered what she wanted. Now he could make death a more palatable thing for her, adding to what had already been relayed. He said with an offered outwards hand. "How about dealing with ACME is made more worthwhile to you other than getting in better with our bosses? ACME is likely going to sign for a contract soon with a foreign company. They, the company so sum this up, will be providing them a kind of rapid transport only until now dreamt about. Do this and you'd have their miracle of engineering at your disposal and you could claim better than best thief of the west. You could claim best thief in the whole world. Put aside your thought high road actions to what you would normally object to. And I'll make sure you get access to that technology. Now are you interested in the job?"

Taking his hand in a friendly grasp, Carmen felt no need to answer him aloud. Only make him assume her answer through her body language. It was enough for him to have the belief of confirmation.

Two of VILE's rookies ready to take out two of ACME's rookies. He'd have no more blood related to him on his hands. It was the ladies' problem now. All he had to do was deliver on his promise.

Removing his hand from the red clad lady and looking over the pair of agents once more. Bishop then turned around and headed out the doorframe and into the parking lot of the motel. Shouting back to the ladies as he departed, he said. "Good then! I'll be seeing you around!"

Feeling unease about what had just taken place. Carmen shut the door to the room and stared out towards it. She wasn't sure what to say as she ran the new facts through her head as to the position she was in. A plan was starting to form even if she didn't have all it's puzzle pieces figured out yet. Breaking her out of her silent contemplating, Sarah commented and asked. "I don't feel comfortable killing Carmen. Are we really going to go through with it?"

ACME was a name VILE had loathed for so long, she hadn't even read the full history file for on the interactions between the two groups. It was too lengthy and repetitive in mainly defeats but also a few victories. This Rook person for him to be concerned over kids. If two children were too much for him to handle and he needed her and Sarah's help? The fact he was so quick to take two thieves at her word unsaid. He should know better that while she was willing to go the extra mile for VILE to deal with ACME and get a promotion. She had never said she was going to kill. Trust in a thief and get what you deserve. They'd do things her way, not his.

Answering the singer, the manger replied. "No, but that man did just provide us information, Sarah. We are thieves. So why not just steal that travel technology? We don't need help like the type he's offering. We can make our names with VILE minus blood stains."
 

systemcat

Visitor From Another AU
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Chapter 9:​


The first thing that caught Chester's attention in the parking lot for ACME's headquarters was the police car. Second noticed was the navy colored '90 Yugo GV parked beside it. Cop cars were a normal sight on some days in the lot. But the Yugo? It didn't belong to any of the workmen and clients hadn't been stopping by the office since the remodeling had started. Then again a police car here now? That was worth looking into in combo to the other car. Putting aside the thought about unknown company in the building he parked his car in its normal spot.

After stepping out of the vehicle he put his attention to being focused on opening up its rear seat door to his side. The back seat held special cargo, his fax machine and a folder stocked with important papers in it. It was loaded into a box as a safety measure in hoping the box did something to protect the expensive gadget. Also to insure he hoped a good grip on a conforming angled surface. It weighted, he guessed hefting into his arms tightly, maybe forty pounds? At least the trip to the meeting room wasn't a long one.

Getting open the front door while still carrying the box. He'd forgotten the fun of that task while carrying the fax machine. Funny how memory could be on some things he mused. Solving the problem of opening the door. It wasn't a matter of remembering what he'd done the last time. Common sense told him what to do even if it came across as awkward looking to anyone looking on at him. Of him tightening his grip on the box and then carefully lowering himself, his nearest elbow to the door, on to its handle. He got caught in the act and felt good when that happened the surprise didn't have him drop the box.

"I'll get that for you," came from one of the workers. Something not so hands on had to be his job. He wasn't covered in signs labor involving numerous building compounds, paint, saw dust, plaster, or powdered cement. A supervisor was probably his job and the local ACME chief felt ashamed he didn't know his name. As the man then opened the door for him so he'd be sparred the further effort.

A head shake of a nod yes was all Chester could think to do first towards the helper. That wasn't the appropriate response he knew as he turned into the building. To correct the mistake in judgment and to hopefully get an answer about the parking lot. The chief added while walking towards the elevator. "Thank you for that. Say, you wouldn't happen to know anything about the cop car and navy sedan parked by it would you?"

Following the more permanent guest of the building with an easy guess the wanted floor wasn't the basement level. The assumed supervisor from FOX said while pressing the button for the directing up arrow for the elevator. "To my knowledge there isn't some form of a crisis going on. That said, I don't know why the police are here except maybe in connection to that other car you're curious about. I think that one belongs to an employee here. One of yours."

"What does this employee look like?" Chester asked intrigued as he looked up to witness where the lighting notation was for the elevator carriage box just then.

It was at the third floor; with a second later having its signal shine for the building's second floor. A fourth floor existed to the building but like the rest of headquarters, the fourth floor had been largely abandoned since the remodeling had started. Most of the employees had opted upon choice to work from home mainly, only returning to the office when absolutely needed. This fact of the carriage box's position wasn't being noticed by the man as he answered. "Gal who looked about as old as yourself. Poofed hair, dark, business casual look."

A pause didn't happen in thought to voice. When the elevator from it's lit up signal met the first floor and the doors opened up for Chester to enter its carriage box. He stated, "Cheri, she's another chief. She's visiting from an east coast office. Thank you for that."

No workmen were around the indenting nook to the hallway that was the lift lobby on the third floor. Even to be seen in the hallway, Chester didn't spot a one of them but knew they were near by. He could hear them talking and moving around in what was and would be again in time, the building's client wait room. Music could be heard playing softly out of the room as well. A touch that added to the atmosphere, told him this was clearly their time. If he butted into their time, he would just be seen as an unwanted intrusion. Getting open the next door, the meeting room. No help would happen this time and it was solely up to him & the unhelpful cargo taking up his arms.

"Honestly it's only suspicion. But nothing else could have been at fault. Until information to say otherwise is presented, like what the garage has to say about the car. Anything missed in observation last night. Could the trinket stay with us?" Cheri halted in her conversation with the police officers in the meeting room the moment she noticed Chester's careful maneuvering into the shared space.

Seeing her and the officers didn't strike him as anything but stopping her chat on the account of him? Her mention of a garage having something to say about a car. He guessed the Ford she had been driving at last verified notation to her as of last night. This brought up to his mind about the strange entrance at least Zack had made into the house, going back to that evening. Zack was present in the meeting room and so was Ivy. Their schools had no reason to dismiss them early today.

Mysteries piling on top of mysteries at least ACME was the right place for that sort of thing. Making his way over to the New York Chief and the local police officers. Zack had not seemed to have acknowledged Chester's presence in the room yet. The boy facing towards Cheri asked her as the old man approached her, "with me?"

Was that in reference to the trinket Chester guessed? Maybe answers to some mysteries at present could be solved in the place here and now. Getting the pre-teen's attention finally, the San Francisco Chief queried. "What is going on here?"

On alert at realizing some chatter might have been caught between the outside law enforcement, the policemen. Them and the visiting ACME employee. That his caretaker could know something of what happened last night? Zack shot out, "classif -," Chester stopped the boy, interrupting by saying.

"Zack, we did that this morning. I'm asking Cheri now."

The longer her friend wondered about something he wanted to know more on, the more focused he tended to get about it. Cheri knew this about Chester. From what he'd just said to one of the children. That Zack had said a slip in relation to the Ford rental's end with her but didn't want to say anything else about it. Gabriel, the officer who'd been present the night before didn't even acknowledge the questioning look his colleague gave him. While Cheri told Chester, "the officers and I were just discussing the case; the kids and I are on. Remember the investigation started last night?"

"Zack entered the house late last night through the kitchen window. You couldn't have been with them for that sort of thing to have happened. Something not right happened preceding that event and I'd like to know what that was. Does it connect to you now using a different rental? At least I surmise the car out in the parking lot I don't recognize is yours from what one of the workmen seemed to indicate. I'm familiar with all the FOX workers who have been inhabiting this place for a while, what they dive." In the way the main head for ACME delivered his statement, his assumptions, and commenting. He knew his tone of voice was nailing a border level between frustration, anger & concern. In after thought Chester hoped the middle of those wasn't noticed.

Lots of information had been missing in the report made the night before over the incident of the car with blown out windows. Gabriel knew the old lady had to have some reason she wanted things kept quiet from the man who had to have been the one mentioned from the previous night. She at least before he'd shown up, had told him and his partner. She had filled in as many blanks as she could about what had happened with the two children that had been with her. They too had been somewhat vocal about the event information needed to be collected about. This shut up act didn't surprise him now, although his partner. That was a different case. Wayne confused had not been told in advance this Thigpen lady wanted the manner kept quiet.

Turning to face Gabriel in the hopes the man would say what was going on. Disappointment was what he got instead. No form of an answer. Just silence while the woman waged her head no to further indicate her position about buttoned lips.

"Don't think I just missed that," Chester pointed out. This time the only emotional note to his voice he knew was simple mild agitation. He wasn't a fool. Cheri knew he wasn't one and yet she was playing him for one, he felt.

A change in the subject at hand feeling necessary, Cheri pointing at the box being held by Chester. Asked him, "I see you've decided to bring your fax machine back to the office. What prompted that change?"

"This feels like it's becoming an interrogation." The attempt to turn the tide of conversation was failing. Cheri noted this as Chester had spoken his thoughts about his front and center puzzle with all its people pieces present. She wasn't alone though in trying to re-direct attention. Where one Lamberton child had failed in what she considered a feeble try re-focus Chester's mind to another matter. Ivy put herself into the mix of police offices and ACME operatives. Taking hold of the box with the fax machine in it, saying.

"Let me take that. I can hook it up."

Succeeding apparently won with most eyes in the room being on her as the teen placed the fax machine back to where it had been before it's out of office move. Three in the room weren't interested solely in the girl's actions then. Gabriel after reaching into a pants pocket produced from it a collected evidence baggie that had resulted out of the tail end of interactions the night before. Its contents, only one item. The reason Zack had made himself available to view of the familiar officer and his co-worker. Plus his work supervisor to the case he was on, Cheri. His souvenir collected from the club that was guessed to be the source behind a lot of woe, not just from totaling the windows of a rental car.
 

systemcat

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It was offered to the visiting chief to only quickly be handed to the boy. Zack who had also made sure to be vocal in advance of the police's continued presence, he wanted the trinket back. Baggie now in the hands of the middle schooler, with a disinterest in hanging around the adults of the room. He started mentally wandering off into fixated distraction. Not yet removing from the baggie, what he'd been after as he began to eye the thing anew.

The local chief who'd only been paying attention to his office equipment so far as being plugged in again. He'd seen the transaction conducted and wanting to know more about it. Addressing Cheri he said, "that's an evidence collection bag."

His statement hadn't been given as a question but the point of it was clear. An explanation was wanted. She had her own point to make. Hopefully one he'd recognize that would make him back off what she didn't want to tell him about. The baggie's connection to what was puzzling her friend. Speaking in a dominant low tone Cheri replied, "I'm doing exactly what you asked me to. I even pulled them out of school early since I knew it was highly likely my meeting with local law would interfere with their normal time being let out."

"What did you ask her to do? Working on a case was her idea." Zack questioned and stated. He wasn't as far off into his own world that he'd failed to notice what the New Yorker had just said. Her words concerning him in their meaning even if it wasn't apparent to him what that was.

Shooing him away with a hand motion was the only thing Cheri could think to do in snap reaction to the boy's commenting. Zack took the prompt moving off into the meeting room that in the middle of doing so refocused his attention back on to what he'd called glowing gum in the nightclub. The thing looked just as it had the night before. He even made a bet its flat surface still was no longer sticky. To prove himself right to the assumption about the smooth backing, he removed the thing from the bag the police officer had placed it in.

The guess remained right to what the object had presented of it's self earlier. Now though in better light than the dimly lit club or the back seat of the Ford in night driving. Zack could see where a battery compartment was to the object. It unfortunately reminded him of one too many toys he'd owned over the years and some toys he owned as of late. The battery compartment was sealed in place by mini screws. A preventative measure with toys to keep a child from doing something dumb with the toy, like swallowing its needed batteries. He had never been that dumb but the safeguard had prevented him from enjoying playing with his toys numerous times. Annoyance had instilled in him understanding. He knew what to do here minus sucking it up and presenting the thing to an adult with a small screwdriver. He'd find a small screwdriver himself and open the dang mystery trinket on his own.

Ivy while not being an adult just yet. She still wasn't someone he wanted to approach about his dilemma. Besides not wanting to bother his sister, her rifling through her school backpack told him she had things on her mind other than the case they'd both agreed to take on. Old normal habits was his guess as to what she could be up to except it didn't quite add up here. On a regular afternoon if they were in ACME and not there for an official reason, like detective work. That being a new add on. They'd be milling about out of the way of employees or if those employees who knew them well were present. Those ACME representatives would remind them they needed to be doing their homework just then.

Just a few years older then him and enjoying sticking it in his face at any opportunity, he felt. That she was smarter and more responsible than him. Ivy most of the time didn't need an adult prompting her to do her homework. Today they'd both been pulled out of school early. Why that had happened was because Chief Cheri had wanted to make herself available to talk with the police when ever they decided to show up, given the window one of the officers had presented to her the night before. It wasn't just a matter of getting into ACME within that time frame he knew, unsaid. She had wanted to be in the headquarters building before Chester showed up. Best she talk with the police first so as to have her first address things with them.

Another reason they'd been pulled out of school early and this was the reason Cheri was more inclined to bring up as the siblings had asked her about what had driven her actions. It was to give them an early jump on the day on the case. Her claim crime never really rested even if the crimes in the case were taking place at night.

It was true leaving their school day, dropping off in what had been sixth period in both schools at the time of pick up. They had an abnormal amount of homework to deal with. Homework didn't feel right to do just then. Then again he never felt homework was a thing to really do at anytime. Though thinking on what she'd just done regarding their caretaking. Putting Chester hopefully off the scent about questions he had. What could the building's fax machine have to do with he guessed Ivy's school work?

When she had found what she'd been after, a particular paperclip bound set of papers. He still felt on the money had to be homework. He got his mystery solved after watching her get ahold of the room's phone. Dialing a number on it and then after pickup had occurred on the unseen end. Ivy with the phone's receiver held in one hand against her head. Her other hand holding its body. Her taking it over the to fax machine with the papers. Watching her feed the machine the papers once paperclip free. Additionally dialing a number on it and sending forth those papers by fax to a destination certainly he guessed the person on the unseen end of the phone was aware of. She was having Shannon do her homework again.

Shannon had done this before with his sister but never this way. At least he wasn't aware of her ever faxing homework to the friend before. The time Ivy and Shannon had been caught in the act of exchanging homework papers, he knew of. It had taken place in the other girl's home and by her parents in the early stages of a sleepover. The fun night got canceled because of the parental discovery. They hadn't he was sure, had tried to do it since. Ivy not being in the same room as her friend. Oh surely, the teen's parents had no suspicion some kind of game was about right?

He shook his head about Ivy's outspoken to him, moral high ground about herself compared to most of her high school peers. Returning his attention back to the device he was holding and remembering the easy access some in the building probably had to all sorts of screwdrivers. Zack decided he'd better seek them out for help.

"I'm just having a hard time with this form of math. Calculus is not my thing," Ivy said into the phone's receiver. Then after staring at the newly inactive fax machine, she added. "Did the papers come through?"

Off doing his own thing, at least Zack wasn't bothering her. Ivy pleased with that observation watched him further as she awaited Shannon's answer. Her mind changed mental gears though about that satisfaction to her little brother right as her friend came back on the line to give an answer. As the boy was heading out of the room and it was obvious by the friend's voice starting to utter a word, she was about to speak. Ivy interrupted her saying ", god not again, it hasn't even been 24 hours since the last time."

Confusion about the comment ensued through Shannon's mind as she tried to figure out Ivy's words to her. The friend not present with her at least physically. She couldn't see her face just then. Not quite sure what do to after glancing at her parents' home office fax machine. She took a seat on the carpeted floor, back to the wall behind her and questioned to her gripped phone's receiver while fanning herself with the newly printed homework assignment. "What are you talking about?"

"Zack has disappeared again. Hold on," Ivy ended her reply knowing she'd just left her buddy hanging but the matter couldn't be helped. Her brother was a constant chore to look after when in roam, she had to tend to now. The Tetris champ of the two siblings, a fact which amazed her given what she thought of the kid's ability to focus. He'd decided to wander off again. Thankfully this time in beneath 24 hours, not in a business establishment neither was familiar with. Wondering if in fact Zack had ever used the restroom the night before in the club. This thought going through her mind as she approached the room's door. She stopped wondering about his whereabouts right then and private business, as her hand was coming in for a grip on the handle. The reason for stopped train of thought because he'd just re-entered the meeting room.

"Where'd you go this time?!" Ivy snapped at Zack, making him wonder if she had drank anything caffeinated when she'd been at school. Did Mission have soda machines through out its campus?

Pushing pass her and trying to lightly fiddle with his newly acquired but borrowed tool of a screwdriver with miniature head, in one hand. He answered her bluntly, "screwdriver. Needed a flat-head one to open I think this thing's battery box. The workers here have everything."

It looked like it had to be for ultra delicate work, Ivy figured of the screwdriver Zack was holding. What the FOX workmen were doing with it, she couldn't fathom. It could have been being used for the installation of some sort of machine was her only guess. What he held in his other hand that had to have been what he'd been rambling about off and on in her presence since they'd been in the cab the night before. Believing this not truly a firm guess to the thing's identity he was holding that looked to be some sort of device designed to be lit up from its appearance. She asked, "is that the thing you think blew out the windows last night?"

"Uh-huh," Zack answered back. His attention not fully being on Ivy now as he was starting to untighten the device's screws. Her watching him, something he could feel even not looking at her to have conformation of. It was true he thought Cheri wanted them working as a team but his sister being nosey of him trying to open up a battery compartment? That didn't need her supervision. Knowing how to get her to stop it and leave him alone in his task. He spoke up again to add, "so, is Shannon doing your math homework again?"

Flushing in the face at the embarrassment of knowing she'd been caught correctly about what she had been doing between the fax machine and the phone. Ivy snapped, "no!"

Then she ran away back to where she had laid the phone's handset. Pleased with himself for one thing having been accomplished quickly, Zack proceeded to loosen the screws formerly firmly embedded in the trinket. While removing them, elsewhere in the room. Ivy hunched over, bent in towards the table island that housed the office's wiring for easy access. With its press in door panels in their closed positions after the teen had accessed them to re-hook up the fax machine. One of her knees absent-mindedly hit against one of the panels as she spoke into the handset receiver back within her grasp, "hi I'm back."

Relieved whatever Ivy had been up to away from the phone was now over. Shannon stated, "it came through. It just took awhile."

High school students talking of their homework assignments and gabbing of things he couldn't care less about. Zack took this as a sign Ivy probably would ignore him if he took a seat near by to do his next action. Removing the batteries held in the device he'd just opened up. It's battery compartment now exposed. He wasn't too interested in exploring it's inter workings just yet. Best if he was sitting down to take out what looked to be common button batteries. If he was standing while doing the task and they somehow slipped away from him. That would be a bad thing to happen in the meeting room. The place for the most part wasn't in tidy order. Only places in it where Chester had been working at one time and another, only they were clean. Dropped batteries anywhere else in the room, especially given how small these were, at a height. He didn't relish the idea of trying to locate them on the floor in the state it was in.

Unlike the night before, today in ACME's headquarters, Ivy was now completely determined to keep better tabs now on Zack. Yes, nothing bad had happened in the club but with letting out a sigh she thought an answer as to her fixation might be an easy guess to a psychiatrist. She had nearly crashed a car endangering lives and he had been part of that package. She couldn't get over her near failure. Yet Cheri and Chester had faith the siblings could work together on cases. She'd have to get over what had happened and disconnect that from her brother. Her sigh, it wasn't unheard. Shannon had picked up on it.

With an unsure eye watching Zack bunt one hand in hits against the supposed evidence he'd collected, to knock the batteries out of it. The unseen friend knowing Ivy had something on her mind other than what they'd been collaborating about. Shannon chose then to try and discover what exactly was going on, saying. "Come on, I expected to hear the details during lunch or gym class. You've been so down lately without explanation. Ivy, dirt I need it now."

The odd little object that took button batteries to operate. He was now shaking it vigorously in one hand. That done to not gain whatever success he thought he'd have. Staring at the thing anew was now the boy's current activity. Ivy was having a minor mental battle with her focus priorities she knew. Returning to catering her time back to her friend, she replied. "Little distracted right now."

Desk drawers were now being pulled out, rummaged through, and then shoved back in place. What could possibly be being searched for Ivy mused internally watching the boy, as Shannon asked. "The cause of the frown or the smile?"

"The little blond rodent," Ivy answered.

If the two friends had been in the same room Ivy would have seen Shannon's face & body language mounting in frustration. To try and deal with the frustration, the high schooler holding the faxed over homework. Papers she ducked out of sight as her dad decided just then to pass through the room she was in. She said a silent prayer to then switch to verbal speech, talking into the handset, "forget Zack for one moment. I'm sure whatever he's up to its harmless."

"He just rooted through the desk of ACME's lead chief," Ivy replied.

Hearing the reply she'd just gotten, Shannon sucked in her lower lip into an almost puckered position outwardly. Her teeth uncomfortably gouging into the sucked in mouth. It was all she could to do repress different words from coming out of her, she knew she shouldn't utter. Ivy could be yanked away from her distraction; it just took the right words, the right proposal to do it. Putting her mouth back into a more normal state of formation, she said. "When was the last time you hung out with anyone outside school not counting relatives? Ivy, I'm inviting you to The Wharf, all Saturday starting we leave from my place at say nine thirtyish?"

Apparently not satisfied with lack of discovering whatever he'd been trying to locate in the desk. Zack taking a new approach to whatever it was he was after, budded quickly. Ivy knew he wasn't in danger. This wasn't even something she had an obligation to do. Grab him and drag him back into her sights when he'd left them. By now her little attention obsession on him had turned into a complete annoyance. Later she could purge her guilt about what she'd almost done to Cheri's former rental. Before she hung up the phone. Surprised sounding anger went through her voice as she told Shannon her thoughts in toned down words, what she thought of him leaving the room again. "That boy needs a bell around his neck. Shannon, I'll call you back when I get home."

It wasn't storming out of the room but that acted as a close descriptor of Ivy leaving the place. In Cheri's curiosity about what was taking place in the room beyond herself and Chester talking, with cops bemused watching them. She had noticed to some degree what was going on but didn't have the details. Eavesdropping would have been impolite even if it was a common job requirement during investigations. She knew Ivy had been the one most vocal but to someone over the phone, while messing around with the fax machine. Plugging in the tool was a matter seen coming by pronouncement, not the phone call. Zack had spoken with her briefly and he at least she had an idea what he was doing. His job of investigating the trinket device that had caught the attention of both of them. Although why he needed to leave the room twice was a mystery. Ivy dropping what she was up to with the phone and going after him. The children needed tending to, the NYC Chief could feel this in her gut, and she needed to tend to them.

Pursuing the Lamberton children out of the room. She thought it an interesting quirk how she was having motherly instinct drive her to do what she was even if she wasn't a mom. In the past she'd had the instinct kick in when in a similar position. Not a position Chester had thrust upon her as a voluntary job. He'd never done that to her before or anyone else, giving her the type of request he had. What was going on now between herself and the children was new. Years of the instinct sitting in hibernation, it had crept back into her priorities outlook with ease since she'd taken the call days back from the San Francisco Chief to do the request.

Almost out of the room she wondered if Chester too was having a fatherly instinct surface in him. He'd never had that sort of role before in his life that she was aware of. Rebecca's last words to him, what she'd been told they were. The children's biological mom had trusted him. Had he done more with the kids than she was aware of? Chester to what she had observed of him. He had concern for their welfare & the urge to protect them down pat. Supportive, he was helping, he was trying she was sure. However more felt called for and not just expanding the size of his house. Noting not hearing his foot steps behind her, she departed the room to leave him alone.

Whatever the commotion was about, Chester was sure it had to do with the case the trio was on and something about what the evidence bag had contained. Minor drama although not taking place in the field. There it would have made him more wonder what exactly was taking place. Here it gave him a pause from others to get work done. What he'd been intending to do once he'd re-hooked up the fax machine. A job Ivy had taken care of in part.

Only having minor second thoughts about joining the group outside the meeting room. He grabbed out the folder from the box he'd been carting around before Ivy had taken it out of his hands. Such a massive leap in how ACME conducted its business, he didn't open the folder just yet to reveal its contents. He'd already read through them more times than he'd cared to. Looking at the now setup fax machine sitting in its old spot. Noticing papers in its depositing tray, what those papers read. He had a feeling he knew now a factor in the minor drama happening outside the meeting room. He'd have to have a chat with Ivy when both of them were in a better position for it.

-----
 

systemcat

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"What are you after now?! What is so important you're nosing in Chester's desk and I guess out to greet the workers again?!" Ivy shouted at Zack when she got to encountering him in the hallway.

Ready to revisit the workmen on the floor or if necessary pay a visit to the other workmen present on another floor. Zack stopped in his tracks at hearing his sister's snap at him. Unprofessional, he thought. Why if Chief Cheri was present, she'd likely be telling Ivy, to knock it down a notch. Turning to face the teen he said. "Don't have a cow Ivy; I'm just working on the investigation like you should be."

Beyond Ivy, behind her he spotted Chief Cheri, she was present. The old woman was leaning against the door to the meeting room taking in the sight of the siblings. Music he had heard earlier, he knew belonged to the FOX employees was now stopped. Had this interruption from Ivy caused it, with the workers wondering what was going on? They couldn't get that distracted that easily could they? They were a different type of professional he remembered with tasks that could bore them from being so skill sharpened in their minds and repetitive. Of course a pair of kids having a dispute so near by them would cause eager curiosity to manifest. Cheri too was wondering about what was going on but at least she vocalized about it openly to him. "I was wondering what was going on myself too. Don't tell me in your want to investigate; you were planning on returning back to Harbor Moon just now?"

From Ivy, Zack was used to being questioned and lectured. Not normally was this the case from a woman who was almost a grandmother to him, currently also his job supervisor. Making sure not have any bite in his voice compared to the tone he'd given his sister. Zack with his attention going back and forth between what was in his hands and Cheri, replied to her. "New batteries. Ivy, Chief, batteries for this thing."

Proceeding to hold out the suspect case evidence and screwdriver to the NYC Chief, Zack continued. "Headphone earmuffs that I know the FOX workers use to drown out the noise they make. I figure since we suspect the thing caused last night's mishap, then I should better protect my ears."

Taking a chill pill is what Shannon would have been telling her to do now if she was present with Ivy. So many friends of hers needed explanations about her behavior. Zack having just explained his actions helped her. While the visiting ACME employee took her brother's offering into being held. The teen considered apologizing for her earlier outburst, also if she did that. How it affected her set in stone interaction dynamic with him. Forced work partner. If after the case was over they were working on, they had to work together again. She'd be forced to change how she approached dealing with her blood annoyance.

About to deliver an apology then turning back on the thought. Thinking baby steps were a better pace for dealing with Zack. As the chief looked over what she'd accepted in being offered, Ivy commented. "I don't think the workmen normally carry batteries on them."

Remembering the response Enterpass had given her after she'd informed the rental company of how much the damage costs were to her formally rented Ford. Not pleased with knowing what her credit card was going to be charged with but accepting it. Knowing here was a kid who was the root behind what had happened but unintentionally. That here they stood in a building with thousands of dollars invested into it. Cheri said, "and I doubt Chester would be too happy with you making that thing active in here. Unless you want him to bill your allowance for the damages. Are you sure you can get it to sound off again with new batteries?"

Having the trinket device and screwdriver returned to him. Zack fidgeted with the potential evidence, as he answered. "Batteries could be one cause of why I can't get it to work. But another guess. Well it doesn't have any kinds of buttons or switches. I think it works by remote control, but I don't have the remote if there is one to be had."

Motioning her want, Cheri requested Zack make a return deposit to her. He obeyed the request, and then added telling her. "I, once you pointed it out. I don't want to damage this place. I'd now, if I could set it off outside."

It had been an agonizing uneven sound that lacked identification beyond its high frequency tone. Ivy never wanted to hear such a thing again. Working on solving a mystery is almost always an all consuming matter of one's time and brainpower. The words had been uttered by her mom and then with a nod confirmed by her dad. Said to her years back, the girl had never forgotten them. Zack had been present when they had been said. They'd left an impression on him too, she felt. Hearing that sound again in her coming future, the screeching, near ear bleeding experience. Ivy could only comment thinking of that. "Far away from here please. That sound last night is something I hope to never hear in a confined space again."

The device had a thin hairline of a crack around its rim that divided its smooth backing from its unlit, bumpy top half. Cheri spotted it in her close up exam of the thing. Her first thought to investigate the crack lead to poking the screwdriver's useful end into the thing. Failure resulted in the attempt to find a purchase in the crack, with the tool. Second thought in action had her use a finger nail with result but a fruitless one. She should have known better and shaking her head no, pulling it back away from her face. Directing her speech to both children without looking at them, she stated. "It would take a fine eye to do what I see as a maybe solution here. Crack open the casing on its seam. Maybe charged and tinkering with its insides remote operation wouldn't be needed to activate it."

Not again, the thing was too close for comfort within the walls surrounding them. The request had to be made again. Pushed by fear, Ivy added in, "not here."

-----

Inside the meeting room, the chief of the local ACME office was finishing up the business pressing on him the most he could take care of from where he was. Papers having just been faxed off in reply to a company thousands of miles away. Chester hoped he'd done his job correctly on more than one front. That the papers on the other end had in fact made it to their destination and he had agreed to something that wasn't a bomb to ACME financially, that was in fact a good investment. God if he was unsure if papers were now half a world away from where he was. What did that say about confidence in a sense sending people away the same way?

Yes, it wasn't faxing. Not even remotely close. But turning things into a form of energy that's closest descriptor was digital information like what was found in a computer or maybe broadcast to a television screen? It coming back to him one other's group's interest in ACME. HAPPY wanting to partner up with the detective agency. Likely it would be best not to inform the government affiliated organization about what he'd just agreed to. Best they not think ACME dug into what most sane minded people would disregard as lunacy. Chester knew it was better for now at least he not inform them of the investment. If it didn't pan out how it was hoped to.

Removing the papers from the depositing tray to then place them on the table island's surface beside the machine. He reviewed them again but only skimming over their details. Not truly reading them. They'd been such a side focus of him for so long, ever since he'd received them by special signature needed delivery through the USPS. He now needn't even think of them until he was contacted again for things to really get underway. Maybe to feel better faster satisfaction in what he had done. Now that he had helped in upgrading the computers at the office. When hooked up again to being on the information superhighway. Utilizing it for more than making Crime Net a better system than it already was. He could send an email to where the fax had just gone. Talk to the place more easily. Cheri having entered back into the room again with trainees in tow, walking behind her, spoke. "Chester could you help us out with something?"

The evidence and screwdriver changing hands yet again, this time being given to Chester. He briefly noted what was now in his possession. Unsure about what was going on. Cheri's request of him. He asked, "what would that something be?"

Without depriving the friend of what he was holding, Cheri tapped a nail against the uneven surface of the top of the trinket. Then she stated, "prying open the thing safely. Making sure it's not damaged in the process of that. I tried and failed."

It didn't take the San Francisco Chief long to locate the hairline in width crack on the device, the New York Chief had discovered. Starting to make a judgment call on how to wedge in the screwdriver just right. Zack burst out saying, "his vision?"

Rebecca had instilled manners in the boy. So had Leon from what Chester had also observed. Zack knew from misplaced glasses once how dependent the chief was on them to see. The middle schooler should also have more faith in his ability to see even with them on as the senior ACME employee pointed out. "There is nothing wrong with it with my glasses on."

What he was trying to work with he'd seen it briefly before. It had been in an evidence baggie given over by one of the two cops he'd recently dismissed from the room. The poor officers, they had been at a loss of what to do when Cheri had left their presence to go into the hallway. Neither would speak with him even after he pointed out the weight he held tied to ACME with the law. What had the woman said to them or maybe one or both of the kids?

"This thing has something to do with last night?" Had what he'd just said been a question, not really. Chester was sure what he was starting to carefully pry open was connected to the event that should never be spoken of apparently.

Zack felt caught between interests almost turning away from his caregiver, as the man worked away at his task. The pre-teen knew the night before slash former duo of cops in ACME, was a mystery dogging the local chief's mind. He just knew for Ivy's sake it was best not to clear things up. He didn't want to face Chester with his concealed facts and guess. Although maybe he could at least get away with saying his guess because after all wasn't that becoming crystal in the open? His other interest. Soon he'd finally be seeing the innards of his little souvenir. His second curiosity connected to the reveal of the thing's circuitry. It in the end made him face Chester, saying, "maybe evidence."

Maybe evidence, lord the conversation was bordering too close to what had happened to Cheri's former rental. Wanting to change subject matter being talked about. A prefect excuse existed; pleased she had even helped to provide it. The papers he'd been removing from the fax machine's depositing tray when the trio had re-entered the room. Not her homework she was sure. A lump entered her throat with that thought of overlooked mistake. But wanting things to be on a more she hoped pleasant note with Chester, Ivy asked. "What did you just fax off? Why now and not at the house?"

A diversion tactic to switch directions on the conversation. It didn't feel insulting, just disquieting. Chester hoped such a thing wasn't going to become a norm when dealing with Ivy. The girl had rarely employed doing such a thing on him in the past. Caving in now to it felt necessary. Later he'd talk with her about his suspicions. Currently more important things were on his plate and hers, than minor mystery. Pointing to the papers he'd just ran through the fax machine, he replied. "I've had the fax machine at the house since not long into the renovations started happening here. Now the house is about to start having work done on it. But the big reason for returning it here is what I just sent. It was my authorization for the Convenient Conveying Current Carrier Cab to happen for ACME. It's a big leap forward in change for the agency and I felt it best to be formal about where the papers be sent from."

"If Rezeight hasn't already done human guinea pig testing with this transport device. If Zack destroys all the windows in this building. Could he be its first test subject?" Ivy's reply to him. Chester froze up in the action of partially opening the trinket's casing when he'd heard it. A clue creating a clearer picture although still making him wonder more about an event he thought he was piecing together correctly. Zack wasn't the sort of person to randomly damage things normally. Nothing destroyed so far in his house helped emphasize the reverse thought about the kid's personality.

Steamed in being reminded again about what had happened he'd essentially been the root cause of in the case of an insurance claim in the works. Zack countered with, "I already have a place in mind not ACME for messing with the thingy."

"If this C-C-C-C Cab works it would mean you'd have a free ticket to Svalbard," Ivy commented. She was proud of her comeback. Her little brother deserved it and noting the look on his face. His blank un-understanding, expressing mild frustration expression. She'd picked a good one.

He hadn't heard the name before. So foreign, Zack was sure no teacher or peer at school had ever said it to him or him even hearing it in passing. Should he know it? Was it important? Giving Ivy, he was sure just what she wanted, he asked. "Where is that?"

"Fail your geography test?" Ivy's reply, made Zack flush red a little in anger. He didn't know the test result yet. It would be revealed likely tomorrow.

"Thank you Chester. Kids, we can get button batteries for whatever this doohickey is on route to," direct addressing was needed. Cheri said as when she prompted it, Chester handed her back the silver dollar sized device he had just opened the casing it had & screwdriver. Knowing water was coming to a boil with the boy, she then directly continued her speech in meeting the middle schooler's eyes asking, "where?"

"Twin Peaks," Zack's answer had not been said with much enthusiasm. The name had a hollow feel to it. The NYC Chief had never gone there before; she only knew it was considered a tourist destination for fog town. Knowing something had to be underlying the boy's choice in how he'd uttered the name, in silence Cheri asked Chester to explain. Chester feeling it too touchy a thing to speak about but he knew he must. Answered the non-verbal question aloud.

"I'll explain it to you. Just not in the pre-," Ivy cut him off.

After a pause which took the form of a sharp inhale through the nose Ivy, said. "I know, in our presence. We'll get in Cheri's rental and wait for her."

So many memories, it was hard to think about them just then. Later hopefully not as much, Ivy thought knowing her promise to the visiting chief. It was what with good traffic, a fifteen minute drive to The Peaks? She could collect herself in that time to explain things when they made it there. Zack if he wanted to offer up telling Cheri of what the place meant to him, to them. She almost doubted he would even with the gap of time they had until they got to where he wanted to hear the potential evidence shriek into open air. Taking hold of one of the boy's wrists, she started leading him towards the door of the room.

Before leaving the meeting room, stopping in his tracks with his sister respecting the move and stopping her own walk. Zack twisted around backwards just enough to be about to greet the faces of the adults in the room. Wanting to show his forethought in case Cheri thought he'd forgotten the detail, he exclaimed. "I haven't forgotten the noise cancelling muffs. I'll see if I can get them borrowed on the way out."

When the children had left the room, Chester felt it ok then to say what he'd been about to earlier. While it was true Ivy had volunteered to reveal what he was about to. It still felt important he do so. He didn't want Ivy to feel the emotional stress he was sure would surface if she started talking about the place in its connection to the siblings. But him, the outsider, who'd rarely been around for those times. The best he could think to say minus the kids presence was, "Rebecca used to take the children there on little getaway trips. All sorts of family activities but only the three of them. Picnics, you name it."

Rebecca's end, Cheri had not given much thought to Chester's case through out the day. Because of her job with the Lamberton youths, the children were unaware of. Hopefully to remain unaware of considering the slip up Zack had caught earlier. What she was doing with them, its base underlying reason to be. The case had taken a backseat in her mind since she wasn't on it in the same useful sense her old friend was. To discover where it stood for him, she queried. "How is your investigation going?"

ACME's top dog and he wasn't much further into new knowledge of his investigation than when he'd started it. At least the effort given to it so far had been a little fruitful. Cheri as he saw her even without the status branded into her employee record. She as an equal in the agency's lead. Maybe she'd figure something out he hadn't had dawn on him yet. Making circles with a finger, scooting around the top paper he'd just collected from the depositing tray Chester answered. "Tolbert has had no interactions with him lately. Cheri, the man's visit to the Lamberton family home. What in all likelihood he did to the place. How he treated Rebecca, at least what I was witness to of it. It wouldn't surprise me in the least if he had some connection to her decision. But what he could have done to invoke her feeling she had no choice but to do what she did? He is a threat but one lawyers and courts can easily deal with."

She didn't have to think long before replying to Chester. "This could be an easy answer Chess. Bishop either isn't alone or someone worse than him influenced her action and he in his own way got caught in the crossfire aftermath of her absence. Hence to the second, his rampage in the house. Just rage about her death."

Stopping fiddling around with the top most sheet of the papers, Chester considered her words. She'd just presented an ugly possibility he hadn't considered before. Wanting her to know his foremost thoughts about her words, he asked and stated. Before turning his attention to elsewhere in the room, his mind already dividing in thought about what he needed to do. "So someone who isn't emotionally invested in the Lamberton family could be a root cause? What I find disturbing with that hypotheses is a lack of suspects to look into."

Neat and orderly, the filing cabinets against the northern wall felt inviting to tackle. Straight up information on personnel and cases already stashed away, needing his attention. They required minus an active investigation, translation to computer files. In walking over to them, without looking to Cheri, Chester continued. "This work now has double meaning. Putting all the information regarding this ACME office into electronic files for Crime Net. As I do the work I can review Rebecca's history with us over time. ... I'm going to focus in on the last year with her. Maybe those details will shed some light on the suspicions."

Turning to then lean his back against the filing cabinet he'd chosen to walk up to. He added, "keep up being around the kids until I figure this out, ok? And nothing that puts them in harm's way. I also have suspicions about last night in what happened unsaid. The change of cars."

After his string of commenting, Cheri awaited Chester to say more. When nothing came and it was clear he was expecting her to chime in, she commented as she headed towards the door of the meeting room to leave. "A pay phone won't do any good if Twin Peaks is the kind of place I think it is. Leave a message on the machine at my hotel room if I'm not back there by the time you uncover something with luck."

Once his friend had left the room, now leaving Chester alone. Turning to face clerical duty intermixed with investigation. Choosing the order that most made sense to him. Starting with the highest of drawers to the filing cabinet he'd been in front of. He pushed fingers inwards on its light locking mechanism to release hold on its main housing, to get it to slide outwards.

Taking hold of the first of the many folders offered to him, he didn't think of what it held. He'd soon rediscover that. The thought instead passing through his mind that at the same time passed out of his mouth. Words that had been developing in structure as he'd been piecing together observational facts. Without the company he'd just had around him, now felt like the best opportune moment to say what they thought hidden from him. His possible conclusions to the minor mystery and thought result coming. "'A' she wrecked the car. 'B' Ivy wrecked the car. Only one of them can be spoken to."
 

systemcat

Visitor From Another AU
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Chapter 10:​


At least it wasn't one of the tops of the peaks the boy wanted to get to. Cheri thought as pain that had started not long ago in one knee, was intensifying. The pain rarely flared up. It was the result of an injury taken years back done by clumsy mistake. Sports Medicine had helped when the injury had been fresh to her but its pain had been returning randomly ever since. She normally tried to blame the weather for the returns. Today that wouldn't work. Today was sunny with high in sky mackerel clouds scattered about and a comfortable temperature to add to the equation. Weather couldn't be blamed; it was the exercise she was undertaking.

A midway point in between the hills from the lowest point of the Twin Peaks Park to where the roads intersected. That is where she was told she was going with the sibling children in the lead, after they'd left the car. Journeying through the park had been a more eased experience. Compared to on route what they needed to handle before hand. From the workmen at ACME agreeing to lend them sets of noise cancelling earmuffs, to buying the right type of button batteries in a pharmacy. Her taser now with Ivy. A necessity for the coming experimentation probing. All needed materials were gathered, at least the ones of planned importance.

Pain medicine would have been another wise thing to have picked up back at the pharmacy. The New York City Chief knew she couldn't say anything about that one oversight. She being in the lead of their investigation. It would look bad for her to admit to forgetting a need like that. The pain she was having causing her to distance herself behind the children physically. Ivy wasn't blind to what was going on.

Returning down the worn over time nature trampled path the trio had been hiking up. The teen offered a hand to Cheri, asking. "Would you like help? I'm sure the spot he has in mind isn't much further away."

Accepting the offered hand & taking a strong grip of it. Cheri pulled herself forward, with Ivy in a sturdy braced position. Making sure not to waver in her strength. Keeping her support to the supervisor, the high schooler decided then an explanation was due about the coming location of choice, "Zack's choice. It's where he was got stung by a tarantula hawk once. He screamed bloody murder from the event. Once going down back to the car, he apologized to other park goers met along the way, for his screaming. Apparently no one heard him sounding off."

Whatever a tarantula hawk was, Cheri vowed she was going to make use of a biological encyclopedia after she was done with her day, and look it up. Noting Zack in the distance now stopped on the hillside. Remembering Ivy's words, she made a bet she knew what the boy was doing. Scanning the ground. It could have been a combination between ensuring he'd found a good spot to sit down but also a check for eight-legged crawlies. Cheri doubted they left the mind easily stinging a person, no biting. Spiders bit. Ivy had been wording the explanation wrong. Either that or that dive into reading the biological encyclopedia was going to be very insightful.

Once the combination of sight observation and feeling with light patting of the ground to check for coming possible uncomfortables, had met Zack's approval. He sat down on the ground to check down the path he'd just strayed from for the two ladies meant in his company. They weren't too far away from him. Just a few yards distance. Almost taking hold of the earmuffs around his neck to place them on his head, he thought better of the act and stopped himself from the impulse action. True, he was eager to start the work they were there for, however putting on the earmuffs facing the ladies. That could be seen as rude by mistake. The better action, winning out in his judgment. More visible patting of the ground. The pre-teen hoped they'd understand the invitation he was presenting, to sit down with him.

Prompting wasn't needed in Ivy's opinion. She'd just settle in close to Cheri and Zack when the time came to enact their plan of testing. Maybe the thumping against the ground was meant for the visiting chief's sake. He was prodding her to move faster? That wouldn't have been nice; the high schooler knew he had too much respect for their visitor slash supervisor to push her like that. Although Zack doing something she found questionable? That called for a verbal jabbing she was glad to give as she and Cheri closed in on him. "Find any stinging insects before you sat down we should know about?"

Glaring was the only response he could think to give her, and then she decided to pile on to her earlier question. "Cheri wanted to know why you might choose this spot."

Now was not the time to get into a fight. Zack didn't feel in the mood for it. His first job ever, within the first assigned case to it. They were all on the side of a mid-section of hills and he was eager to learn if his hunch was right. Motivated without the urge to speak at a normal volume level, he requested. "Chief Cheri, the batteries and doodad please?"

Whatever the thing's name actually was, hopefully more investigating would uncover that. As to a different investigation, at least Cheri didn't seem interested in prodding more information out of him about what Ivy had just been poking at him for. The old lady only appeared interested in going forward with his request that in it's afterwards of him being handed what he needed. She readied herself with the screwdriver obtained back at ACME's HQ.

Getting to work in the first part of the trouble shooting of the trinket. Step zero was removing the old batteries the thing was meant to use. Step one being fixing in place the batteries purchased on route to the hills, after removing their packaging. Both silver discs fit in just as snuggly as the three of them had suspected they would when the choice had to be made in the store, they'd been purchased from. Guess work to sizing hadn't been permitted in the place. It was a matter of store policy they'd been told. The clerk just as them was just as ignorant about identification to the device as they were. He couldn't tell them with his lack of knowledge what it took. He'd also given warning in the store they couldn't buy, try, and return every size of button battery the place carried. That they must figure it out for themselves and he thought it best they at least buy two different sizes of the things. The duo pick up justifiable the clerk thought and said that if one wasn't what they needed, at least they had the things for use for something else down the road. Keen eyes from Cheri had done right here with loss still occurring. She had still followed the advice the store employee had given. The extra set of batteries at a different size. Those still resided in the chief's pants pocket.

Twisting around the new batteries in their sized to fit housing in the device. The trick didn't do anything to effect the trinket. It had been more trouble shooting; the thought moving the new batteries around would effect a change in the thing. That the idea to what had just been tried, failing. Ivy had voiced in the car she had doubts such a thing would work.

They all knew next what would be the best course of action. The next trick being a more complex one was Cheri's idea. He was just a study brace to hold the souvenir, with his supervisor's idea.

"Taser ready," Cheri ordered to Ivy before putting on her earmuffs and the teen doing the same. Then following unspoken order, Zack putting on his auditory protection. After he'd sat down their manufactured guinea pig for a few seconds, to then go back to holding it.

Removing Cheri's taser from her back pant's pocket. The instrument of defense having entered Ivy's possession right after the rental had been parked in the lot at the base of the two hills. The girl was ready to do the job the chief had given her when the three of them had talked about the possibility of its usage. The gadget carrying a said to be charge of 50,000 volts. That made Cheri think on with it being out in the open again. Perhaps it was best she go over again what the plan was. Safety was paramount here after all when putting aside the theory they were all attempting to discover if it was true or not. Speaking loudly to ensure the children could hear her over the protection the earmuffs afforded them. The NYC Chief proclaimed as she took out the screwdriver Zack had earlier gotten ahold of meant for the trinket's in office trouble shooting. "Gumshoes again I feel I should reiterate the plan here. Ivy I'm going to hold the screwdriver to act like a bridge. Careful, the taser is boosting juice. I want you to have it on its normal setting, keep the activation button pressed until I say otherwise."

To unknowing park goers, the three of them had to be a puzzling scene. Ivy hadn't seen any around them before focusing her sights on the taser and doodad. She also didn't want to peer around to try and confirm the presence of any. Her superior's statement, its odd origin and purpose. She wondered as she held on to the activated power button, pressing the taser against the metal rod of the screwdriver. What did if any park goers were around them. What did they think of the trio huddled around the misshapen mysterious thing, wearing sound protection, one saying a game plan the product of inventive thinking? Would such things as this be a norm of practice in later cases for ACME?

Remembering all of the cases her mom had talked about. The cases she could recall her father having mentioned. Cases others working for ACME had talked about. It was too early into her new career to tell. Investigations for ACME could be everything from the mundane to the highly eccentric. Right now the electric current from the taser she was holding, it was doing its job. Pressed tightly against the screwdriver, the screwdriver only lightly touching the trinket. The potential case evidence thanks to being prodded into a form of activation, started emitting an uneven minor steady noise.

Sound buffering likely was not helping the testing situation. Zack knew he should know better but restraining better judgment for a path unorthodox but thought more helpful. He stopped the ladies in their tracks to the testing, as he removed the earmuffs from their needed placement to around his neck. Stunned expressions were both being worn by sister and superior. Tapping a finger against the side of the trinket, he told them in a loud voice. "Press the screwdriver firmer against it. I know it might not seem sane, no comment Ivy. But the sound seems to be off its hilt, like a tape being played with a bad battery in the player. We got a noise, but I'm curious about it not at its peak but with better reception."

Compliance occurred only after curious looks at the boy were given by both ladies. Cheri renewing her participation in the guesswork, doing as she'd been requested. Ivy joining in when to her judgment it appeared the chief was implementing the suggestion. Wincing at hearing the noise grow in intensity, gold, Zack could tell was being struck by what the taser and screwdriver were doing. The sound being emitted from the device now sounding like an uneven cracking whine, almost like a voice?

Listening carefully and hoping he wasn't damaging his ears in the process. The sound while not exact to what had been heard the night before seemed to be confirming the hunch shared by the group. That the device had been what was behind the horrid sound which had nearly caused a wreck, among minor damage seen & not. Shattering every window of the Ford rental. A voice? A note of observation none had noticed from the device's before cry, Zack felt keen to invest pondering. Creating a tighter grip on the trinket, he turned his hold on it to being one handed. With his other hand he motioned, pantomimed it to try and express, lifting it over & over. His focus on his sister. Ivy concerned, catching on swiftly to the meaning of the gesturing. She changed the power setting on the taser, turning it up to its higher setting.

Said without thought to raise her voice again, because of the sound protection she was wearing. Cheri commented, "tortured animals, banging around in a tool shed would be the only other close compare. That's Sarah Nade's performance from the club."

She'd spoken for the siblings as well. The concert attended last night had been an unforgettable one in a bad sense. Now their attendance had proven it's self more worth it than originally thought. Now beyond when they'd learned Miss. Nade wasn't working alone and that according to Ivy, the musician had spoken of finances improving. That in it's self was easily considered nothing but an innocent fact. But in combination to her having played at every robbed club. Now the discovery of her voice coming out as a distorted projection from Zack's souvenir. Add in when she had spoken to the police officers back at ACME earlier in the day. Then she'd gotten her suspicions confirmed what she didn't have the time to dive into speaking about when the car had its sound induced incident. That the other disturbance not involving a car was in fact a happening at the Harbor Moon. Another robbery. Enough evidence existed now to prove just cause for arrest for a fourth-degree felony charge.

Motioning for Ivy to discontinue her contribution to the trouble shooting experimentation. The teen took Cheri's cue, and then the New Yorker ended the contact she'd been forcing of the screwdriver to the trinket. Zack's ears stopped their pounding and trickling of blood, once the noise was over. Relieved, still gripping the device held. He flopped on to his back and held on high the subject soon to be formally catalogued by ACME records and then for the local police department. He made a bet the SFPD Park Police Station, being nearest to the ACME HQ building. The legal entities having crossed paths so many times due to the short distance they had in the city, to each other. The boy wasn't sure how many times he'd noted the interactions between them. Right now he was just happy they'd done what they'd set out to do and more. Get proof that had earlier only been speculated upon.

"Ready to report back to ACME?" Cheri asked, the children. Ivy nodded as she slipped off from her head the earmuffs she'd been wearing. No reaction from Zack at first. Removing her borrowed earmuffs as well. Cheri reached out and wiggled one of Zack’s shoes to repeat her question again. He answered her lifting his head up only as much needed as to see the old lady.

"A moment please? This is awesome, first case solved in what record time?"

Reverting back into his relaxed posture, Zack with the back of his head against the ground. Started watching a cloud's slow movement across the sky. It annoyed his female company. The visiting chief with decades of experience professional sleuthing under her belt, stated. "The case isn't over. Not until Sarah Nade and possibly her manager Ms. Sandiego are in police custody. Second, what was just concluded upon can't be called a fast open and shut. Those robberies have been confusing the local PD for weeks."

Ivy's donation of words to her brother. More pointed and mean. They did the trick to getting Zack back to attention. Only one name, five syllables were needed, "tarantula hawks."

-----

If the spy agents working for VILE posing as some of the FOX workmen were to be believed. Where Carmen had positioned her extreme escape route was correct. The air mattress by now nearly fully inflated. It was in the correct spot on the ground for herself and co-worker to jump to from the height of three stories up. This jump coming exactly from the meeting room slash folder file records room was said to be. The all important location in the building ACME's detectives and head administration conducted a lot of their business from. Where the prize was the ladies sought after. If the covert infiltrators were correct, things soon hopefully would be going smoothly and the extreme escape route wouldn't be needed at all.

Having reservations about her friend's idea on how they might be leaving the building when that bridge was to be crossed. Thinking about how, what if they'd been feed wrong information by mistake. That betraying the trust of a VILE agent superior to them both. If this Rook guy had it dawn on him, they might not do as requested. Could he have rigged things to go astray for the women? Make sure they get caught and then out of everyone's hair, winding up in serving jail time? Sarah tried to block out the more troublesome of the thoughts she was having. Choosing to instead focus on thoughts closer to known reality, she queried. "You aren't seriously suggesting we leave this way are you?"

Air now held as tightly as it could be packed into the mattress. Carmen closed the rubber cap over the nozzle, the mattress used as its port for air. Sitting in a crouch, staring up at the building looming before her. A place supposedly devoid of 99% of its staff, with only a few FOX employees currently up to their work duties. How many were working for VILE in there, she was unsure. She only knew at least one of them was in there now, the one who she'd spoken with over the phone a couple hours back. Aware from having known the musician as long as she had. What must being going on in her mind unsaid, outside what she had said, Carmen replied. "More ACME employees might be in the building than what we were told to expect. We likely will have to leave in a hurry if discovered and I don't want to take my chances with conventional ways of leaving, too slow."

-----
 

systemcat

Visitor From Another AU
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Trips back and forth to the filing cabinets stopped early on into the task he'd set in front of himself. Of course grabbing out large gatherings of folders was a task in it's self of moving them over to his desk in the meeting room to work. At least their weight wasn't the same as the fax machine when he'd been moving that around earlier in the day. The untranscribed records set to his left side. The freshly computer documented records set to his right side. ACME had staff he was sure that could do this job faster than him but no one rang off the top of his head who that could be. If there was staff who would normally be working in the building if not for the renovations going on. He'd query them once they returned to the formal work environment. The task immediate to him was boring and he wished that wasn't so along with that he was a faster typer. Typing being a task he knew loomed heavy in his future if he got to creating, programming Crime Net's AI representative.

What stopped the feeding of information to computer files being a job to make him feel droop eyed was remembering his last conversation and the kids. Especially the kids because as of yet working on transcribing the files over. So far he'd found nothing linking Rebecca's choice to her past with ACME. Her children, what he'd decided to do with them for the moment. Pawning them off on Cheri to babysit them but then agreeing to let them become detectives working for ACME. What had he done with that second part of decision?

A path for working for ACME. It was not as if they were ignorant of society's evils. They'd been exposed to that sort of information ever since they first were introduced to their parents' workspace, and words were said they had to be educated about. Both children had appeared over time to accept their abnormal education to upbringing. Neither child seemed to have an issue with knowing the foulness lurking in the shadows. Although what did that say about they were raised? What did his rutted in job and lifestyle routine. His outlook to dealing with criminals of all sorts. What did that say to him being comfortable letting two kids into detective work? It was crystal the children entrusted into his care; they wanted to do the work. Bearing in mind he knew he in all his years had never once cared for children outside the help he had provided the Lambertons prior. Thinking deeply on what had been thrust upon him and what he knew had prompted it if however still somewhat of a mystery. An unsettling answer came to him about him rooting through the records. At least the ones focusing more details on to Rebecca's history with ACME beyond what he'd talked about with Cheri, on the case of the woman's demise.

As implausible a thought as it was. A thought which couldn't possibly be correct. What if he was to blame for Rebecca's choice to end herself? It was a possibility that defied logic but having no firm answers as of yet. With no one to point a finger to except possibly Bishop, a man he hadn't seen in years, yet he knew was aware of Rebecca's death. He wanted a finger to point and in not foreseeing what she had been planning. Not being able to prevent it for lack of advance knowledge to choice. Being put into a position he never thought he'd find himself in because of what had happened. He now had the unsound thought what if she ended things because of him? What if he was the cause because he couldn't prevent her death? The more he went around in circles in his thinking about it. The more he felt he could really benefit from setting up an appointment with a psychiatrist.

He'd setup an appointment for that as soon as he could. Further thought made him wonder if the children might be in need of one too. A thought which should have dawned on him earlier. As if their behavior prior to Cheri showing up wasn't a sign they too needed help. At least working with her on a case, they had perked up. Doing detective work had helped them. That's what it seemed. Both children appeared more energized, responsive, and talkative. Chester smiled to himself at those thoughts to the kids. He'd done the right thing letting them take on becoming detectives.

Finishing typing in the last of the text to the last page of a folder he'd been working on. He set it to his right side atop other completed work and immediately grabbed for the next folder to transcribe on his left. Behind him he could hear the door opening to the room. Cheri and the kids, he guessed. Then he was met with surprise when turning around to face who'd entered the room. Not his life long friend. Not the children he now felt better about being their caretaker. Who he saw were a pair of women he'd never met before and how they were dressed. He was sure he would have remembered that if he'd met them at an earlier time.

"Who are you two? Are you seeking ACME's help in case work?" Chester felt those were reasonable things to assume in question of the visitors, minus advance indication why they were present.

They'd met no special acknowledgment from the workers altering the building. That was essentially to be expected considering some worked for VILE. This man sitting at a desk, very busy on its surface with papers, likely work. His look of mild confusion seeing them. Not a FOX worker allied or not with VILE. His air was all wrong for that. Instead he had to be an ACME employee. The thought raised mental alarm bells to go off in both Carmen and Sarah's minds. Prepared with a fabricated identity she'd invented in case such an eventuality did happen when entering ACME. Of them discovering such an obstacle. Carmen hoping the ruse would work, said. "We represent a company with an interest in ACME. What we can do for you, but what we've presented to you is flawed. It's needed back for corrections."

Her statement didn't make sense. Eyeing the folder that's contents he'd faxed to H & Y Rezeight earlier. Chester felt it was flawed to bring up such a thing now. The company had given him plenty of time to make his decision concerning their offered technology. Why approach him now after he'd just finally given his approval? Why come all this way to the United States to say they'd made a mistake? They were a fishy pair especially the woman in the red long coat & hat, the one who'd spoken up so far. Lifting up the only folder on the desk not old ACME records, to show it for the women to see. He replied, "in what sense? I admit the science for it is beyond my understanding. When the proposal was originally said back in H & Y Rezeight's home turf of Elbasan, Albania. When ACME was working on the case involving a sludge of a man who was ripping off in bulk, components used in the manufacturing of solar panels. It was sound and lab tested."

Wavering the folder lightly before settling it back down on to the table, he continued. "Today I even finally gave the authorization for things to start. The fax went out about an hour ago."

"That has information about our transportation I take it?" Carmen asked, now more curious about what it was she and Sarah were about to swipe documents about.

Making sure he kept one hand over the folder with the papers from Rezeight. A precaution the chief only considered founded due to the unease the ladies presented to him. One of them now almost at his location. The one who'd yet to have said anything, in flashy dayglow with black accents. Facing the woman nearer, he asked. "Not to be rude but names please?"

An answer didn't come, at least in the way he was expecting. Names not said, but instead the one in red giving the slightest of nods to the neon clad one. The nearer lady then moved quickly for him. Defensive instinct kicking in fast. ACME's head took tight hold of the folder with Rezeight's documents. His resistance to the intruder upon him was met with a painful grip to his hand with folder clasped in it. In being about to leave his desk, nearly stood up, the tightly held folder in hand to a low level in creating his balance to stand. She'd grabbed that wrist and forced it back to the surface of the furniture, smashing it to the computer's keyboard while doing the act.

Not letting go of the folder, Chester inhaled sharply. The pain hurt but it wasn't enough to make him want to scream. Nothing felt broken. It was the shock, jutting motion and tightness of the grip. She now had his hand pinned against the keyboard, the computer reacting in turn to this. Typing out the letters "ghnjmuy" followed by over thirty letter "n"s and counting. The woman holding him now to a forced position, not only to right hand but as best she could the rest of him to his desk. Her one free hand with effort finally forcing from him what he had tried his best to refuse to release. Catching sight of some of the print to the front page of the paper clipped papers. Sarah got confirmation beyond the man's words; she was in the right about what she'd removed from his possession. Glad she felt fact to goal, she pronounced.

"Carmen, these papers, they look like they talk about some kind of global transportation system setup. What Rook was telling us about."

Rook, thought towards the name as a handle seemed like it should be clicking something together but he wasn't sure what. Right now Chester wanted to take on an immediate problem. The woman holding him at bay. Moments like this was why he thought combat training entering ACME's field work training years back, was a good thing. When it had been proposed, he'd barely given second thought to agreeing it into company policy to make it official. Lowering himself, he bent his knees and kicked out to shortly before one of the woman's own knees, catching her in the upper calf from behind.

The whack of painful disruption caught Sarah off guard. She had only halfway been expecting ACME employees when entering the building. When entering the room, she had not been expecting a man who looked a few times her age, to be an obstacle. His kick had been forceful enough to do intended purpose, loosen her hold on him and break her hold on the folder. Never under estimate the elderly. She'd learned that from her grandparents years ago and forgotten the lesson. Fortunately for her she had backup.

Dashing in towards them at short distance. Carmen intervened with the pair before the ACME employee could take hold of the folder he'd been prizing over all others at the desk. She snatching it up just as he'd been about to regain it, Chester was stunned at the events taking place. His loss of documents from H & Y Rezeight, whatever reason these women had in wanting them, their not present informant. Who was, he added aloud, "Rook?"

Lunging at the lady he'd heard called Carmen, trying to get back the folder she now held. The red clad lady answered while dodging him, "VILE, a team leader I assume by the air he gave. He asked us to do in some children employed by you people although I'm much more interested in the prize he offered for the job instead. Consider yourself lucky where my interests lie."
 

systemcat

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Taken aback and almost falling, a horrifying revelation dawned on him. The safety of the kids, Zack and Ivy. His fear of Bishop coming after them, Bishop. Chester's whole life, his nickname. The nickname that when he was young, he needed to be told it wasn't just a play on his name when he was called Chess. Chess also happened to be a game. The game's ranking of its pieces in play. Pawns to Knights to Bishops to Rooks before King and Queen. Bishop calling himself Rook? The man was sided with VILE? These women were with VILE too he betted. The chief felt sick when thinking on this and about a mistake in building design to its silent alarm. In the lobby at the check-in desk, that's where the silent alarm was. Not in the meeting room where he needed it to be right now.

They had thought lying to him would get them what they wanted. It hadn't worked but they still got what they were after for what reason? Another awful thought hit Chester, this one to explain reason. If VILE could recreate the Carrier Cab technology, what they could get away with. What they could do in racing around the globe without the normal restrictions of physics bogging them down like air, sea, and land vehicles which could be traced. Bad to worse but which was which was debatable. He could lie too; he could try his best to deal with them to prevent fears from becoming fact.

Moving back to his desk of the room. Hitting a shadowy area of it, he was sure neither woman could see his fist at. He then snapped out, "I've just activated an alarm! The police will be here shortly!"

Having spoken with the VILE agents who were spies here, big pay off. Carmen knew the man was lying about what he said. Wanting to rub her knowledge in his face. Sideways gripping the folder on it's closed surface edge, to then with other hand show it's open end towards him. Making a show of dancing up her fingers over it's housed papers. She let them slip one by one down against the folder from her as she stated to then near the end of her words, switch to addressing Sarah. "You don't have a silent alarm installed in here. I haven't even seen you pick up a phone. No cops are coming for us. Come on Sarah, we don't need our emergency exit."

Taking another go at confronting in the lady whom he knew was taunting him. Chester sprung after the red dressed VILE agent again. Only for her friend to act fast and kick him off his balance into a fall which landed him by his target. He wasn't much of a match right now, he could tell. He'd spent too much time dealing with the clerical end of detective work, not enough time in the field. Feeling his hurt side and mentally vowing when this was over. When Cheri had returned to New York. He'd get back into old habits and better to that help along the two fledglings he had recently realized needed the same as himself. Detective work, but to them, lives in more jeopardy if he was correct in his guess, he now dared ask out loud. "Bishop Lamberton am I right?! Your Rook! I'm not going to let you kill those kids!"

Attention caught the pair of women turned to him as they neared the door to the room. A detail to the resident ACME employee now changed. He had a gun in one hand, waving it between them, unsure which to settle aim on. Sarah astounded at the sight, only a little concerned for her safety, asked. "You'd shoot unarmed ladies?!"

Rising up from the floor to standing, the chief in anger. His voice just shy of a growl in return, gun still wavering. Barked, "you'd fight an old man!?"

Fighting the guy lost some of its appeal seemly with the man having mentioned how much older he was than her. Beating him up on any day was fine, so long as the end result was getting what she wanted, which today she'd achieved that goal. But second thoughts to the act in general? That had to be coming from thinking about his questioning. His guess at the true identity of Rook. A man who'd confronted both herself and Sarah, to murder children. Kids who apparently this man was familiar with in the vastness that was the ACME Detective Agency. Carmen knew with the look of panic in his eyes, the expression of desperation on his face. Leaving him with no answers would be torture in its own right if he cared for the kids. But to provide a parting gift, something for him hang on to, to remind him VILE wasn't to be taken lightly. That a brawl wasn't the only way to send him a painful message.

Opening her jacket to one side, a reveal which showed a well prepared for any circumstance, a collection of various to size pockets. Some looking empty, others looking filled. Carmen placing the prized folder in a one of the larger ones and out from another pocket she presented pre-planned pain in case needed. Charged up and waiting for use. Knowing it needed an introduction, she said with it held upturned in one hand. Her other hand producing from yet another of her pocket assemblage, a simple two key operation remote. "I'd rather treat you to a concert."

Mixed feelings coursed through Sarah's mind at her friend's idea of taking action against the ACME employee. The Rewind Wreckers were terrific tools, the distraction and destruction they caused. Although what they used for their sound emission. What she and Carmen had decided to use. A force to make people regret having not hired her for performances. A way to take revenge. Get needed money and try to drawn VILE's attention on to them to further their criminal careers. It was her voice. Her voice from being recorded on stage. The recording receptacle pressed against her throat. Here to a person who'd never attended a concert of hers, she was aware of. This stung her she decided. The musician wondered if the fellow VILE agent understood what she must be feeling.

Ready to say softly to Carmen what she thought of the Wrecker's use now. Sarah got cut off from her immediate line of thinking by interruption of the ACME employee. As the man exclaimed, wide eyed at the sight before him. "I know that device! Zack's device!"

The location of the missing Wrecker. Who was this Zack person? Carmen went pale having it revealed to her, someone who this ACME person knew. This unknown person was connected to him. Sarah was struck by the man's words as well but with added thoughts. The man before them, he was concerned for children. It had been two children Rook had wanted them to kill. Kids connected to ACME. Kids had visited her by the stage the night before and one was a boy. Sarah clapped a hand over her mouth in distressed reaction to the discovery. Carmen's action having not as much dawn on her about the old man's words. The lady in red after only a few seconds pause activated the Rewind Wrecker she held.

What was damaged first came as an unknown factor. All of them reacted at the same time the device had powered up and unleashed its devastation. The VILE agents and ACME chief, instinctively clamping their hands over their ears as windows shattered, as did computer monitors. Chester's glasses, the lens cracking, a strange sound he'd never heard up close before. Damage done to older pairs of glasses, never done while he was still wearing them. Both eyes closed shut from reflex; he opened one to discover the view of cracked glass pane in front of it, while spider webbed it still didn't completely obscure his vision.

It wasn't fair; Sarah kept rolling around those words in variation through her head as the device screeched out a distorted weaponized version of her voice singing. It wasn't right. Star Search be damned for not letting her perform for millions. She was a future star. She could conquer all doubt others had in her. After all she'd made it this far and she had support. Carmen supported her, so did the few other VILE agents she'd had numerous meetings with. This ACME person, he was being introduced to her singing this way. She couldn't stand the thought. But she could do something about it. She could hold her head high and let her talent be judged as it was meant to be. Her voice would be heard right. ACME should know who they were dealing with!

Pain was stopping her from thinking clearly. Carmen knew why she had set off the Wrecker but hadn't thoroughly remembered the consequences the action would have. Removing her hands from her ears and picking up the dropped device responsible for the auditory torment still in active state & it's remote. When she started to stand up again she took note of something she could see but couldn't hear. Sarah singing, at least it looked like she was singing. Her true voice being outshined by the electronic blaring of her recorded one. What could the woman be thinking? What was she thinking, Carmen thought. They needed to leave pronto and she didn't want to repeat the accident from the club the night before, however that had occurred.

In the middle of her singing Rise Above, Carmen made contact with Sarah, placing the active Rewind Wrecker in her hands. The punk either didn't notice the act or cared. Sarah in her mind was playing to a packed crowd with one among the crowd hearing her for the first time. She had to impress just the one, that one mattered as much as the others even if he wasn't on her side. Unsure the neon clad woman had even noticed the gadget being given to her. That made the fellow VILE agent concerned for her attention commitment to the moment. To try and break her of the serenade being delivered vocally. Carmen tugged on her arm but got no visible response from the friend. Music was the only thing in her world it seemed, even ignoring the fact her ears were bleeding.

Turning off the Wrecker was a bad idea. Where as Sarah had enough control over her protective instinct to be able to sing over the device. The old man wasn't as lucky, he could barely stand but he appeared to be overcoming that. He was starting to come for them and at much to Carmen's relief his gun was on the floor where he'd dropped it, when the Wrecker had started to sound off. Did he have handcuffs somewhere on him? He was a form of law enforcement after all; such a thing wouldn't be out of place for him. With the device turned off if she dared to do that, he wouldn't even be partially incapacitated and she'd discover then of he was prepared to deal with her.

Giving one last tug of Sarah to break her from her mind space where ever that was in her thoughts. Carmen had no success and the other woman's song continued on. She'd given it her best shot with the exception of lifting Sarah to carry her off but that felt like too much. Patting the punk on one shoulder, Carmen took her leave of the room leaving Sarah in tears as the Wrecker played out with her along side it, her unaltered voice. What the broadcasting device was playing, a recording she and her friend had made in their room in Karl's Den, earlier that day. Its concert ending once finally grabbed by Chester, then thrown to the floor by him and stomped on.

His acts had only registered part ways in her head when they had happened. The full reality of the moment, reaching her only when she had finished her song. The San Francisco ACME Chief right in front of her, glaring at her, reaching into a rear pants pocket for something. Thought hitting her like a brick she was in trouble. Sarah noticed quickly Carmen was no longer with her. Also Carmen's mundane escape route had just now been swiftly cut off by the man that aside from pulling handcuffs from a rear pocket. With his other hand, he'd pressed that against the room's door to relay to her she wouldn't be using it too to leave.

Only one option presented it's self to her as an escape route because of the blocked door. The window one with the air mattress on the ground by a few floors down, outside. Sarah ran for the windows along the western wall of the meeting room, locating as fast as she could which of them looked out on the right spot down outside. Fear of the fall gripped her even with knowing comfort in cushion form would greet her if she dropped. Watching Carmen appear in a run outside near the mattress and approaching the getaway car. The sight of the other VILE agent slash friend made her feel better about the leap.

Her friend was in trouble. Carmen knew she had tried to help Sarah leave. The attempts had been ignored. She'd done virtually everything she could to help her. So now what? Get back in the building and do what grab her hand to lead the lady away? Sarah wasn't a helpless damsel; she could get herself out of tight spots. But this time didn't look like it was shaping up to be that way.

Hesitancy appeared to have cost her, her freedom now. Carmen's view from afar down below Sarah. At first it seemed fear of the jump, then fear of the broken glass framing the shattered window. Then cautious acceptance followed by a jolting action away from the window. What had happened to the singer, the fellow thief soon found out. With the ACME employee emerging into view, looking down, looking at the second escape route and herself. The sight of him followed up by Sarah holding up her handcuffed hands, crying.

What could be done? What had to be done now? Escape in its first part Carmen thought. Leave the scene, now she was sure cops had to be on their way. Then would come escape in its second half. Not further for herself but a show of her loyalty in friendship to the punk and show of what VILE did beyond what it was famous for. Besides history making heists and other criminal endeavors that were always worthy of adrenaline rush & notoriety with the right sort of wrong people. It always took care of its own. She'd make sure Sarah Nade was a freed song bird as soon as she could cobble together a plan to do it. With luck without the notice of her and friend, not doing in children, ACME had a vested interest in, their mystery man Rook. If he indeed was this Bishop Lamberton person the ACME employee had guessed that might be his identity. Then she had with research if things panned out right. She had the ability to gain some form of leverage over him. To prevent mishaps from happening to herself and musical company.
 

systemcat

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Chapter 11:​


A man on an acoustic guitar with a lady by him, singing in tune to his strumming of its chords. As they played and sang, with guitar case open in the hopes of offered money. Cheri had to ensure Chester as they witnessed the pair; it was a much better performance than the one he'd taken in the other day. He had to take her word for that. What had happened in ACME recently had left him at not being able to hear a thing over the sonic disruption while that had been carried out. It had also taken sometime after it for his hearing to fully return to normal. Not a fun event to have going on in attempting to carry out a conversation with formally arresting police officers. The short lived minor hearing loss understood better by the NYC chief and his young responsibilities when they returned back to the headquarters building.

The street performers weren't bad he figured but he'd heard better. These people in his want to be supportive, he'd at least given a couple dollars to. That is before choosing a table to sit at, at the outside seating to a Wharf restaurant he quickly learned was named "Feelin' Crabby". If the performers took the sit down as a sign of more people to their captive audience, they were mistaken. The sit down had happened since he & Cheri were feeling pain and it was the fastest solution to help them both. They needed to talk and their additional party members could hold tight while that took place.

High school social gossip was what was guessed in part the girls were doing by the water's edge. One topic he knew had already been talked about between Ivy and Shannon when they'd all been in his car on route to the Wharf's outskirts. It's best parking place for knowledgeable locals. The topic of what was going on in Ivy's life, what she'd been so quiet about at school over. Quietness had filled the car when the explanation had been given. The reply it eventually got was a bear hug given by Shannon to Ivy, followed by Ivy thanking and wiping away tears, then Shannon asking Zack if he too wanted a hug. The boy had declined the offer. Interaction with Shannon prior to the car ride had been useful. Putting aside stern requesting she and Ivy never use ACME office equipment to cheat on homework again. When the girl had contacted ACME's HQ back, wondering why Ivy couldn't be reached at the number she knew. Further and to underlying reason, why Ivy had not shown up at her place last Saturday at nine thirty something for a get together. The timing of question had been good. Not intentional the teen bringing up the missed outing to the Wharf solved a recently posed question Cheri had asked him. Where was a nice place she could simply be a tourist at and take things in, before her trip back to New York? He took to the idea of the place considering it was a relatively safe area of the city, giving it his approval, and additionally said the friend could come among too if she wanted to.

To be a nuisance out of boredom, Zack had his activity in action near to the girls as they tried to ignore him. He'd been offered a seat with the two elder detectives as they rested themselves, but he'd declined it. The boy after looking over the restaurant's menu at the offered seat when he was clear from body language and expression he didn't like what he saw. The excuse to stand by the girls, took the form of he wanted to discover up coming plots of homework mischief. That he'd inform the chiefs if he got the dirt he hoped the teens might say. Chester only had it dawn on him after a few minutes thought, an old memory he'd forgotten about. Remembering it, it lent more explanation behind the middle schooler's actions. After Cheri's assurance he was listening to a better concert than what Sarah Nade could provide. He said, "Zack hates fish. The whole menu is seafood except the salads, and he isn't too fond of those either."

"You know that information how?" Cheri asked Chester. Her curiosity raised given how miscellaneous the facts were to her thinking.

Deciding to focus his attention towards the table. Chester recalled how he knew what he knew about the boy and it hurt him. It was only after a few seconds pause he could finally bring himself to say. "A get together with Rebecca and the kids. Back when, back when things were different. We ate at a different restaurant and that evening the kid had decided to be particularly picky. Rebecca always kept snacks in her car after that so if nothing suited her kids' taste when going out, they still ate something."

Adjusting was still taking place. Cheri could tell that from the way Chester had spoken and how he wasn't making eye contact with her. If what he was doing now was admitting emotional difficulty. She hoped he'd made some mental progress since they'd first spoken after Rebecca's death. Putting aside his personal feelings when dealing with unrelated matters was easy. An observation she had made on the children but not realizing it to him at first. She should have remembered it applied to him. The visiting chief would have to force him to confront fully what was taking place even with the quiet resistance being presented. Switching into a more useful gear for a line of conversation. One that would force him to discuss current events outside her soon departure. She asked, "are you sure you're right about the FOX workers? Letting go of all of them?"

He'd been prepared for that question. An answer was easy coming, stating with question. "How else would that Sandiego lady know about the alarm not being in the meeting room? Who else if they or some of them, working for VILE, could have gotten so close to Rebecca without being noticed?"

Breaking off in his speech, Chester again found he had a hard time speaking even with what laid behind the speech had been turning through his head for days. What he was about to say still hit him hard even with time to settle into the reality of his world. Continuing he added, "who else could have been with Rook in ACME? Best play it safe and hire on another company to do the work. Same for my house."

Not saying Bishop Lamberton had been a calculated decision. He'd told Cheri all the details already, well out of earshot of the kids, what had happened in ACME's headquarters. While she and the children had been at Twin Peaks & other places. That a man going by the name Rook had an interest in getting some children murdered who worked for ACME. Bishop already known not to be in sound mind, already aware of Rebecca's departure. That in all likelihood, he was Rook. Chester didn't want by mistake they hear Rook's suspected real name just now. He also knew one day they might discover Rook's identity without him doing a slip of the tongue. If when that day happened, hopefully by then they might be well prepared to deal with the matter emotionally and intellectually. After all being detectives seemed to be good for them and weren't he & Cheri, proof of what outcome that could have?

Figuring out with ease what her friend had just done. Knowing that the trio of children weren't too far away from them. Cheri picked a different matter of current events to talk about, asking. "Have you hired another company already? If so, that only takes care of ACME and your home. I notice you're still wearing your non-prescription glasses because of the sonic attack. Also those computers you had worked on. All their monitor screens?"

"I've hired a company named HMH that stands for Humbly Made Housing. I've already run background checks on all their employees in the San Francisco area. They check out. My glasses, the prescription is being filled as we speak. I'm told pick up isn't too far away now." After taking a breath, Chester then continued. "Monitors are easy to replace, not the more serious components of those machines."

For lack of really being familiar with how computers operated beyond getting them to run programs on floppy disks and special audio cassette tapes. Cheri didn't want to press Chester for what he meant by computers' more serious components. Even with betting him having mentioned earlier, prepping memory whatever that meant with machines, had to be important. Computers being standard in every business office, times were changing. ACME was changing inside it's self with the help of her friend and then she remembered she in fact was playing a role in ACME's future getting something.

Her job at the New York City office was of importance. Not the spearhead of the agency but its closest runner up, then followed by every other office ACME had. Her importance here so far from home, the role she had played in giving the agency's future an addition Chester hadn't thought of at first. To get him to remembering a goal they'd decided to take care of on the outing they were on. A matter they'd decided would be a warm surprise to its recipients. Reaching into her pocketbook, Cheri pulled out her badge identifying her placement in ACME with name, and showed it to him.

Visual prompt immediately had him remember their earlier discussion. Also what was making his wallet more padded than normal in its contents. Grabbing out his wallet, grinning as he did so. He gave a full smile to Cheri before shouting over to the children. "Zack, Ivy come over here please."

A round of glares from restaurant patrons and passersby, cast their way in his direction for the shout. Embarrassed for not knowing why his command deserved such disapproval. As the pair of siblings made their way over to him, he got his answer. Plucking one cord on his guitar loudly, the street performer with lady company, gave him too a blaming stare. His mistake in etiquette seemingly forgotten by the crowd once the kids were upon him and Cheri.

Regaining his pleased expression with the kids before him, he stated. "I have here for both of you something you deserve. The two of you with Cheri, helped present evidence for a case through investigation. You also in that provided conformation the law was correct in the suspicion of a suspect. Who has been found guilty of not only the crimes which had drawn attention to her but also assault and additional assisted theft"

Removing the extra filling to his wallet, presenting a pair of identification badges similar to his and Cheri's. These read in main difference each presenting a different name. Said that Ivy Lamberton and Zack Lamberton were detectives. He turning them over to hands that came out from the children in eagerness, added. "You are now official officially detectives for the ACME Detective Agency."

Beaming at their new symbols of status, labeling them to the world what they were now doing for a living. Ivy after her pause of taking in the sight, speechless. Close to that described her better as she almost squeaked out saying, "thank you!"

Having not said much of anything while he had been watching Ivy and Shannon. Now Zack felt vocal. At first saying his thanks with a nod and a smile, followed by turning to Ivy, saying. "If we can work together once on this, you now know we have to continue it right?"

Understanding his meaning accepting it without thought to give him normal banter. Ivy with one hand holding her badge and her free one extended towards Zack. He picked up on her meaning. As they shook hands, Ivy proceeded to comment. "Of course and with many more cases to come I'm sure. Although in the meantime Carmen Sandiego is still out there and we have to put her where she belongs, in jail."

Breaking the handshake, Zack replied. "With us on her tail she doesn't stand a chance."

-----

So far the whole experience stank in Sarah's opinion. From the brief trial, then the processing, to the accommodations and lastly her normal unchanging outfit for the next few years. All she could think to say towards the California Department of Corrections and Rehabilitation's sense of style politely, was she appreciated her one piece jumpsuit being neon orange. It still needed to be hers though. Making alterations to it she learned fast wasn't an easy task.

When she had come to the decision it needed her touch, she learned quickly the guards thought differently of her request for scissors than how she thought of it. Their universal consensus to answer in short was, "no". Many other cutting tools she learned the guards lumped into the same turn down answering. Routes to customize the appearance of the jumpsuit minus prison staff help, came down to her attempting to rip its sleeves herself. An act she learned in desperation combined with weak strength, she couldn't do. Second, asking her cellmate for help.

The occupant of their cell's lower bunk, a fact Sarah felt grateful for. The woman was large but not in an unhealthy way, just in a taller than her way and sporting muscles, the musician would have a hard time trying to earn for herself. Mostly quiet, not interested generally in interacting with her. Sarah at least for common grounds liked the woman's dyed choice of hair color, green.

More interested in staring off into the space of painted mud color wood, helping separate her bunk area from Sarah's. That factor combined with not being especially social. Had the punk for days debating in her mind, should she be so bold as to ask the woman for help. A trip to the cell's sole mirror above the sink, right by the visible to all toilet. Seeing again how the jumpsuit made her look. An outfit worn by all the prison's inmates without exception, so establishment removing one's sense of individuality. Ending debate, frowning knowing she had no choice, Sarah turned towards where her cellmate was and to help emphasize what she wanted done. An act she was sure the larger woman was already aware of by her failed attempts. She once clearing her throat loudly to get the lady's attention, tugged on one sleeve right below a shoulder, then proceeded to ask. "Eartha if you do me this favor to both sides you can have my desserts for a week. I can't stand this thing's lack of me."

Taking away her focus from the blank view in front of her. Her mind previously having been daydreaming of past events and ones she wished in her future. Eartha then looked at Sarah, now with interest that however gave a skeptical air by facial expression. Changing her position to sitting up in her bed. The larger woman said in a matter of fact way. "Make it your meals meats for a week instead and you got a deal. Protein is better than empty carbs any day."

From what Sarah had eaten so far of the correctional facility's food. Bland, overcooked but normally served cold, foods she almost had to choke down to insure she ate them. The desserts at least providing mild pleasure with some sweet taste, not overwhelming to the pallet. If the brutish looking woman wanted her meat instead, she was just fine with that.

Sitting down taking a seat on the floor in front of Eartha, positioning her back to the cellmate. Sarah answered, "sure thing."

Getting the shoulders of her jumpsuit being altered how they were. She still wearing the outfit at the time of change, halting thoughts started going through her head about that. Exactly what had Eartha done to land herself in jail? Like Sarah was anyone to talk. Then again she wasn't as physically strong as the other lady. Also the cell's lack of privacy, something she still wasn't used to. To that she still felt uncomfortable baring herself in any way publicly that should have been private. The jerking down of the fabric on both sides of her shoulders only took an instant to happen with simultaneously a ripping sound heard not normally welcome in clothes.

Feeling her bare shoulders and seeing her freshly ripped fabric gashes. Total approval so far with more conformation needed. The musician took back to the cell's mirror to examine the changed look from its different perspective. Her new appearance not as conformed as it once was. The best she could hope for at least. It still met her approval, but just to make sure she had the right thing done, Sarah voiced. "Drooping of shoulders, always in style, right?"

No longer in the mood to really pay attention to what her cellmate was doing. Eartha had already by Sarah's question, returned her attention back to the wood over her bunk. Knowing she should say at least something, answered back with what of their latest interaction was most important to her. "Couldn't care less. Hope we get ribs tonight."

Sighing, Sarah wondered if the cellmate she had would be the one she'd be stuck with for the next few years. Would it be rude to ask Eartha how much longer she was in for? The question hopefully held no risk for her unless media was to be believed about weak being easy prey to the stronger in jail. Without meaningful pastime to occupy her thoughts, she tried pushing away that contemplation about social interaction, and to do at least something. Holding back the urge to get into her bunk bed, she sat instead against the opposite wall from the furniture and started combing her fingers through her hair.

The sight was a curious one to the guard who'd come to the cell on purpose, with additionally noticing the punk in act of grooming herself. Torn shoulders to jumpsuit also a curious sight but one with an explanation he thought he already knew. Reasoning behind her grooming he mused was her way to pass the time. All prisoners had their own ways to pass time, usually quietly in their cells. He was just grateful her pastime was quiet from what he knew of her case. Rapping his knuckles against a bar near to the musician, he told her. "Nade, you have a visitor."

Bracing herself against the wall, with one hand she pulled herself up from sitting to move to greet the guard, once he'd opened the jail cell. When she moved through the doorway into the hallway, is when he questioned her about his assumption that didn't involve her hair. Pinching briefly at some of the fabric torn from her jumpsuit, he said. "Trouble in there?"

"My insistence, I think it looks quite good," Sarah replied. His question had been all in well a legitimate deserved concern. But in this circumstance it didn't hold water. She hoped in the future the question never came up again unless she thought of some other reason she'd make strange request of her cellmate's strength in action.

Thinking better of prying into what had taken place, the woman felt prideful about. The guard back on track to his job duly but still baring in mind the damage done to penitentiary owned clothing, stated. "Hands were I can see them and follow the Canary line on floor. It's good you like that because you aren't going to be getting another of those suits for a while."

-----

When the communication station areas came into view and the guard made his pronouncement to Sarah of, "proceed to area number three. You have ten minutes."

She wasn't sure what to do. She'd heard the direction given to her and at first had felt very willing to follow through with it. That is until she sort of saw who sat on the other side of the protective glass, short phone to that side, in the ready for use. The musician had no idea who the person was. The wide brim of their gray hat with yellow band was down obscuring her view of the person's face. A matching gray trench-style coat, clothing them. Should she move forward with this conversation request to an unknown? Then again she thought whoever this was, at least they weren't Eartha. This person wanted to talk, wanted her time.

Path of gab chosen, Sarah sat down at station area number three, and picked up the phone handset on her end to ask to it. Her visual focus however on the unknown, "check check who?"

On the other side of the glass, the response was physical action of the unknown lifting up the brim of the hat, revealing a familiar face when doing so. To keep her friend at bay from blurting out her response at recognition, the familiar person put a finger to her lip, indicating a signal to keep quiet. The tactic worked somewhat. Sarah excited in seeing Carmen again, so much that aside from fighting the urge to shout her name in gleeful shock, she instead stated and questioned. "It's so great to see you here but I thought you wanted to talk?"

Carmen had her own instinct to fight, wanting to lean back in her chair away from the glass pane separating her from Sarah. Better considering where they were, what she had to discuss with the singer. She stay near the glass not that, that made a real change in privacy. She kept her position to ease her mild anxiety considering the place she was in, identity unknown to the establishment's ruling law enforcement personnel everywhere she turned, corners and not. To drive it home to the fellow VILE agent why she'd just made the finger gesture. Carmen replied, "I do it's just here it wouldn't be wise to dress in my standard fashion. Gray isn't my taste, all the better to fool people, eh?"

"I got a cellmate who could help your fashion choice Car - Caroline." Sarah exclaimed, again having pride surge in her about her jumpsuit alteration. Her pride battered down fast by remembering how social Eartha acted, but also Carmen's reply to her. This reply in it's self raising a different but positive emotion, hope.

"Not interested, this is only temporary. Listen I came here with news you're going to like hearing. With others at VILE, we're getting you out."

An exclamation warning shot through Sarah's thoughts as to correct reaction. Poker face the warning shouted at her! Don't reveal to anyone but Carmen, your joy about her news. Keep things low & calm, state and ask. "Thank you unending Caroline. Who else at VILE is helping out and when?"

Considering the gray clad, normally red clad lady had never asked the experienced slash specially recognized VILE agent what difference the spelling was in first name. She figured that mattered little. Her musician friend had seen it as serendipity how it sounded on the surface and had even asked if together they could sing a duet on a stage, when they'd met. The agent had turned down the offer and still managed to make herself useful to help the hopefuls to better ranking, novices. Knowing the impact the VILE agent not present had made. Carmen positive the punk would remember her, in a sly tone, answered. "A night from now and our help is being lead by my other friend named Sarah. The one who made us the Rewind Wreckers."


The End​
 

systemcat

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Eartha Brute was meant to have a different introduction. It wasn't even meant to happen in this story, but I couldn't resist the idea Sarah's strong cellmate be her. Still can see that first direction with her playing out and I am almost sure that story will be in comic form. Heck, I think it will be a short skip forward in time from this story. Using Eartha as an active villain? When you consider the powder keg Bishop is to an idea with him as Rook? Another story has to happen.

When it dawned on me about "Shara" and "Sara" I had to write what I did. I thought it made for a good catch at the end and it also explained away how the Wreckers got made.

 

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