The Rise to Accolade


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((First published December 2012. This story is based directly on an unpublished journal entry between Carmen Sandiego and Dragon. It can be found here: [LINK]. It is now being posted here for archival purposes.))

Dorfsee Lake, near Felde, Germany
94.7 Kilometers North of Hamburg

Late December rain left the area damp and the deciduous forest on either side of the road saturated with humidity. Chase Devineaux drove a silver Mercedes E240 up a small rise that overlooked lake Dorfsee. In the back seat sat Barbara Rosen, unhappily taking this trip to Germany for the first time in many years, and next to her was ACME's Secretary of the Boards Gunther Metzger. Down below, a cabin of stone, steel, and timber reflected on calm waters.

On the night of November 16, 2009, ACME Germany responded to an incident at this very cabin. When agents arrived, they found the remnants of a dinner party. Guests sat about, waiting to be cleared by authority as local police questioned a small staff of caterers. At the center of attention was a jade Buddha statuette in the study of the cabin's owner, renowned skyscraper architect Walter Taut. On top of this rare piece of history sat a bright red hat complete with the tag of its manufacturer: V.I.L.E.

The party was to unveil this statuette to the German architect's fellow enthusiasts, as reports of the case said, but his party was infiltrated by Carmen Sandiego. Reports also stated that Taut had been disconcerted and confused, angrily yelling at the officers, not about his cabin's security or his botched dinner party, but for his missing Geliebte, a beautiful woman named Morya Gan.

Because nothing was missing, agents had to close the case. The detective agency and the genius architect would not meet again until a series of events beginning late 2010. When ACME finished transferring their analog files to digital format, the Board began considering proposals for a new building project at Head Quarters. Actions were few, but when Tower I was fatefully stolen, the organization narrowed their search for a replacement. By coincidence, Walter Taut's 'Security in Architecture' designs stood out prominently.

ACME's new Director of Operations took rebuilding the tower as his first official task. Now in Germany along with two members of the board, he was here to solidify the deal.

Parking the car on a stony pavement, Chase Devineaux exited to find the architect waiting for him at the cabin's steps. Board Secretary Metzger removed himself from the car, sneezed at the fresh air, and held the car door for Mrs. Rosen.

"Moin," the German greeted, "Schön dich zu sheen." He was a man of roughly 60, with a hearty smile and a slight limp. Eagerly, he shook the hands of each visitor.

"Guten Morgen," Chase replied, "[Thank you for seeing us.]" The Director of Operations was a quieter presence in his calfskin coat and slate colored scarf.

"[It is my pleasure], [come in]"

A lofty living space stretched out before its guests. Wood parquet in herring bone patterns lined complete with borders around the walls, finished with neat adobe-like plaster, which rose to a pitched ceiling of dark oak frames. At a western wall rested the room's focus, a black steel fireplace, its angles reflecting bold lines on the glass doors and windows. Heavy wooden panels separate the living area and private rooms beyond.

"[Let me show you around then we can talk]," Walter Taut pulled a stainless handle and pushed the panels to the side. They glided open with ease in near silence. Chase listened for the soft clicking of wheels against some kind of teethed mechanism.

"[That door has multiple locks]?" he asked.

"[You noticed]," Walter replied, "[This cabin was an experiment, my small showcase of safety features. Once triggered, everything in here goes into lock down. Unbreakable metallic layered glass, ultra-violet intruder marking system, pressure indicators and heat sensors]," he pointed to each of these features as he named them without excessive pride. It reminded Chase of a father showing his son a new tree house -- more excited to see the son's reaction than to boast.

The space they stood in contained a bedroom and adjacent study. Before a wall of books, Devineaux saw a familiar dusty hat covering what looked to be a showcasing display.

"[What is this]?" he asked, attracting the attention of both Barbara Rosen and the Secretary.

"[I have not been to this cabin for some time]," the architect replied, "[The cleaners must have left this, when police did not take it for evidence]."

Walter slowly removed the fedora to reveal the jade Buddha underneath. Chase watched him handling the hat and felt pity without knowing why.

"[Was she here]?" Without detailed knowledge of the case, the Director asked casually.

"[She was]," Taut replied with a solemn smile, "[One month, she was here with me, every day. I taught her my art, showed my designs, I adored her, until the night she disappeared]."

As he told his story, he moved his eyes and hands around the room as if to mould the air into shapes for his audience to see. And for an instant, Chase saw the form of a woman leaning against the glass windows behind the architect; morning rays reflected in her irises. That image disappeared with a light cough from Gunther Metzger.

"[I sat here]," the owner pointed to a sun-bleached chair on a large deck surrounded by still waters, "[Wondering if she was kidnapped, or fell into the lake and drowned, everything to make that month explained]."

"I'm sorry you had that sort of first hand experience with her," Barbara Rosen spoke up dryly. She knew German well, but always preferred English. Chase pondered her statement, unsure if she meant him or the older man. "You said on the phone you had a new design for us?"

Devineaux shrugged with the corners of his mouth and concluded that ACME's only female board member was in business mode, as usual.

"Yes. When I watched the news, and I saw your tower…," the German said in English and walked to a book shelf, pulling out out a file folder, "[that was when I drew this].

"[I go through all my writing, my studies, I change everything]," he explained as he flipped through the pages, "[I rethink security, and wind, and earthquake. I want to give you what I have found, a new purpose].

"[Ah, here]!" Walter Taut removed a semi-transparent skyscraper drawing and placed it on top of a white sheet so his guest can see more clearly.

Scrawled in rough format along with hand written notes, Chase Devineaux saw the first concept of ACME's new building.

"[I will call it]," the German smiled, "Accolade!"

*[Brackets] Translated from German

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