Training

Neb

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

Kidman had spent her first night after meeting Carmen hiding out in the swamp, thoroughly panicked.

Going from relative isolation to the den of one of the most powerful, magical people in the world, (where she'd promptly embarrassed herself), was stressful enough. But worse, she didn't know why Carmen had chosen her of all people for an audience to begin with, and that uncertainty soon devolved into anxiety.

Though wet and cold from sitting in the mud, she hadn't known where else to go to be alone. The other members of VILE had all seen Carmen lead her away, and once she'd returned they'd all stared at her, waiting for answers the girl didn't have.

Now, a month later, Kidman still had no answers, but many unsettling theories. There was plenty of time to form them during basic training, but at least her new home felt close enough to her old one for comfort. Another derelict compound cloaked in secrecy, removed from the world yet perpetually watching over it.

Kidman felt about for the tumblers in her practice lock. She could have taken the lock to a quiet place to work, but she made the effort to stay with people. She didn't necessarily talk to them, she just wanted them there, proof of Carmen's power. It was easy to slip back into the background when there were others around. She could be a happy, faceless brick in Carmen's fortress once again.

If Vic would let her.

'He's watching me again. I see him, talking to teacher, glancing at me.'

The girl felt torn. She'd have loved to have met Vic under normal circumstances. The man was a legend, after all; Carmen's right-hand man, but it was because of this that she had reason to worry. He was appraising her for Carmen.

The pick Kidman held jumped from her fingers and hit the floor with a telling 'clink'. Vic looked up and she looked away. Every time he was there she fumbled. It was especially bad if he showed while she was in physical training. Most of her injuries occurred in his presence.

'The things he must tell her.... ' she thought ruefully. "Although if he tells her I'm a failure, perhaps she might forget me.'

A wave of anger washed over her, so fierce it caused her to hunch over in her seat. 'How dare she wish such a thing?' Something inside her raged. 'Pick up the pick and do it again. Do it until you get it right, until you are useful to Carmen. That is why you are here. Don't you dare shirk your responsibilities to the one that keeps you alive.'

Kidman stared at the pick dully, then picked it up with shaking fingers.

She wanted to help Carmen. Carmen was hope, was wonderful. She wanted to protect her, but she doubted she could provide. It was a job that required a stronger person than she was, far better than she was. And yet, Carmen had called for her...

Suddenly the room seemed too noisy.

Kidman spent the rest of the day hiding in an empty room, her mind full of fog.

---

By month two Kidman had an answer, as far as she was concerned. Even though Vic no longer showed up to watch her, it felt as if the trainers came down on her harder than the others she was grouped with. She could swear she was being built up for something, but why build up a grunt? Because they are expendable. She was a leftover, having never existed if records are to be taken literally. She had no real skill-

'Except the one-'

-And no one would miss her if she went missing. She was a pawn, being prepped for sacrifice on the great chess board between law and lawless.

The thought alternately scared and comforted her. She wasn't sure herself what she meant by 'sacrifice' and even if she did have the nerve to ask Carmen, she wasn't there. Not that she'd say.

Kidman picked another lock with ease. She could have tried something harder but again she delayed. The acidic voice of doubt whispered in her ear once again.

'If you're so sure Carmen is going to 'sacrifice' you, why are you still here?'

"Because Carmen is..." She murmured unconsciously in response.

While the girl had little experience with the woman herself, she knew what she symbolized to her. Carmen was a force of nature, a miraculous collection of traits that should not be able to coexist with each other as they did. A beautiful machine that made beautiful tears in the flat wall of life. And yet, all assumed Carmen was strong enough to withstand anything. It would be a lovely fantasy, but she was human, and therefore fragile.

Such a soul... needed to exist, needed to be tended, protected. Must be. Deserved to be.

Kidman put her lock down with an air of conviction.

There was research she needed to do.

---

More time passed.

Kidman sat at the top of a concrete stairway, her head against the wall. It was a grey day, the sort she liked best, when the weather was as pensive as she was. No one bothered her. No one bothered to. The girl had made it very clear that she didn't wish to interact, politely but clearly. She kept her gray hair hidden under her standard issue cap and kept the collar of her standard issue jacket popped up around her face.

Her progress, in terms of training, was average. It was almost purposeful in how average she was.

But then there were the oddities. She spent hours at a time staring at things, as if they were the most fascinating things in the world. Most assumed she had spaced out, but there was a degree of concentration in those blank eyes. One day she was found assembling and disassembling a revolver behind the supply shed. When asked, the girl said nothing, picked up the pieces, and moved somewhere else.

The only thing that was consistent was how often she was found in the computer lab, asking for files. She didn't have a computer of her own and so was dependent on the public machines. Once logged on, she didn't seem to notice anyone else.

Kidman was researching. Everything.

Information on VILE was much more of an oral history, but ACME's history was easy enough to get at. Tale after tale of Carmen's flights of fancy crossed the screen and the girl fell ever more enamored with her. Carmen was so very special, how she planned and by what stars she did so. Kidman also learned more of ACME. Most of it didn't surprise her, but one person held her interest;

Chase Devineaux.

'That's the man she mentioned that night. The lucky charm....'

He had been Carmen's partner....once. Now he held a high position within the agency and was seemingly devoted to locking her precious savior away. That alone made him frightening. She stared at his picture and an intense pair of eyes stared back, promising terrible things. If ACME was the enemy, then this was its face. She had never met an ACME before but already feared them, and not just because they meant imprisonment.

'ACMEs think they can just beat up anyone because they're the Law.' Kidman thought grimly.

There was a certain amount of disposability in the nature of a lackey, but still, it never felt a fair enough fight even for that. VILE couldn't fight back, wouldn't fight back. Wonderful Master did not want it that way, because she was wonderful. Why the ACME's didn't respect that, she didn't know, and it dimmed her view of them significantly. If basic ACME was bad, Chase had to be much worse, but even with this primer, most of her more pressing questions were still left unanswered.

Now Kidman sat outside, dully staring ahead as others passed by. Some waved and she waved back, distantly. There was something else that had recently begun to make itself known in the back of her mind.

'Take ACME tower'

She had looked the tower up. It was a massive structure, a symbolic centerpiece of enemy territory. Carmen was going to take the whole thing. Not just things in it, not just the C-5, which the girl hated anyway, but the whole building. Maybe that was just her style. This was Carmen, after all, but the risk of it, the repercussions of it... Why make that man even angrier? If he gets too angry... But surely Carmen knew ACME's were violent people... Right?

The girl chewed on her lip. She desperately wanted to discuss her concerns, but something told her it was't to be shared. Still, as days went by it weighed her down. What she really wanted to do was to talk to Carmen, but that was an insane thing to even consider, questioning Carmen, her questioning Carmen. Yet if one thing had changed over the course of weeks of research, it was the slow shift in priority from protocol to necessity.

Kidman stood up.

Someone had to question Carmen, someone with nothing to lose and really, nothing to gain. If the woman already intended to sacrifice her of her benefit, the girl figured she could sacrifice herself for the same goal.

‘So, you will allow it?' asked her doubt. ‘Are you ready for what she may hand you?'

‘No....but I want to be.'

---

Things began to change.

Kidman was still quiet and strange, (though seemed less haunted, if by just a hair), that wasn't where the difference lay. Instead it was the abandonment of her self-imposed mediocrity, and her performance suddenly lurched ahead. She wasn't the best by any means, but her nature towards it went from apathetic rote to almost unnerving focus. The need to consume knowledge, all knowledge spread out in all directions. If an odd course of instruction was posted, the girl was the first to sign for it. Nothing was too daunting and it seemed the only thing keeping her from running off the edge was lack of prerequisites needed for the more dangerous courses.

Her heart was beating now. It didn't look like it had; a cold, unfeeling thing. It now supported life, and that life called still more to it. Humanity returned to her, and as it did, so did her perception of Carmen.

Currently Kidman was fiddling with a flight simulator, as she had been for the past eight hours. She didn't have plans to ever fly a helicopter for work purposes. She doubted Carmen would trust a new pilot with one of their few machines. No, she just wanted to know it, to finish what she had started so long ago.

It nagged at her that she should be doing something else, something that would aid The Cause, The Cause being Carmen's safety. But she was aiding that cause. She was fixing something in her head. Her head must be fixed if she was to think clearly during Dire Times. She must learn concentration, she reasoned. That's what Master would want.

She paused.

That was what Master would need.

Kidman didn't talk much, but she had begun to, and a more human version of Carmen was presented to her as she interacted with her fellows. Carmen's triumphs, Carmen's struggles, Carmen's possible fears and difficult past. It was a more tangible layer to a somewhat intangible being, one the girl could identify with.

She was an orphan, like her. Their names were just labels given for the sake of convenience. That lack of grounding, she wondered if it affected Carmen the way it affected her. She wondered if the idea of trust was as foreign to Carmen as it was to her. The idea of safety, of permanence. Kidman's mind began to wander.

'You step into the current and you have to keep running. There's no where to rest that is safe. You went deeper into life, where the current is strong, but with this tower...where are you going, Carmen? What if you get washed away?'

Something on the control panel beeped and Kidman snapped back. Then she sighed heavily.

No one else seemed worried about Carmen's dips into danger. Then again, no one knew about this one, no one so far as she knew. She would have given most anything to have someone to talk to about this.

She felt a new presence and looked up. Vic was there again, asking about her, no doubt.

'But maybe I could talk to you...'

To be continued!
 

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