Vocal Canvases

systemcat

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I gave my comments about this with it's DeviantArt posting. ... If you feel inclined to learn some basic reasoning behind why it was written. Please see check out the link to that page: Vocal Canvases by systemcat on DeviantArt

As mentioned in those comments, this story has a lot of trivia in it. I shared most of that trivia non-CS related with Tenchi in a PM. I'll share it with anyone else who shows an interest in reading what that is.

( God I pray for reviews. I started on this in outline last spring. 😥)

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Prologue

Rupert Scolex had a better office. It had more space. It had more conveniences to it. For example to them, seemingly non-faulty lighting, heating, cooling, and if ever blood on the hands. A sink in one corner hidden by a decorative divider to wash off that blood among other things soiled. Less Renowned thought over that as he tore through drawers in his desk and near by boxes. He was looking for papers he wanted to read & make notes from. For on the paper in front of him and crunch numbers on using the TASMA beside that.

It took five minutes for him to find the sheets he needed. Why his boss thought this type of work was something he was suited to, he felt would forever remain a mystery. He'd rather be carrying out jobs in the field which he considered a better way to earn his keep of the profit. The job of lower order accountant and title of Less Renowned, had been given to him when the more formal move had started into the mountain headquarters. A misstep he thought of his dealing with the boss or one of his co-workers, making sure it happened as punishment he guessed.

Middle aged Mateo Rabkin in his muted purple suit and slightly whitening hair, knew that he shouldn't complain though. Complaining to the boss meant the end to more than just employment. To that he'd just remain quiet. After all if he did his job right things would improve in time. Now unlike just seven years ago. All of Scolex Enterprise's employees lived in the mountain rather than random dwellings in Warland. The mountain now had a slim road winding up it. Most people weren't sleeping on the rock and most importantly indoor plumping with plenty of bathrooms. But a lot remained to be desired. The light flickering over head reminded him of that fact. That and his stone floor bed at night. Most of the hollowed out rooms didn't have electricity yet. Not all wanted levels into the mountain had been excavated and carved out yet. If he figured out what money would help get things wrapped up for good to Scolex's plans, life would be nicer.

As he proceeded to work away at his job to see if that better life was possible. The numbers weren't leaning into that favoring. Scolex Enterprises was behind so greatly in it’s funding, Mateo wasn't sure at that moment what could be done. Just what wasn't being done already by the organization?

They were already for one thing raking in money selling land to the unknowing dingbats that it in truth was government owned. Dingbat farmers that agreed to give a cut of their profit & production which meant produce and meat to Scolex Enterprises, with added money. For another thing they were as well making sure a slim sum of money was being redirected from the US treasury meant for railroad construction & repair. That it was actually sent to Scolex Enterprises instead. Lastly they were also in teams, hustling businesses over protection in Billings, Missoula and Great Falls. Not enough money, something needed to be done. Something grand needed to be done, but what?

At that thought he started thinking of what he'd do if he was still a free range roaming employee of the business again. He'd pull off some amazing heist is what he'd do. A theft to remember but one he'd not get heat from? How could he pull off a crime like that? Mateo groaned with that thought. Likely it was his lack of imagination in that sense is what had made him earn his job and nickname. However even if he couldn't pull off such a job maybe another working for the business could. Crafty, nasty, and slick. He wondered who among his co-workers fit the bill on all three before remembering he'd once dated one who did and she had an equally devious partner. Sadie Louveofran and her sister Viola, they would be very capable of doing such a job.

To get them to do such a thing wouldn't be a hard press to do. To his knowledge they had just as bad a living quarters in the mountain as he did. This assignment happening, he felt grateful was within his job ability. He could force someone beneath himself to do a job if needed. Yes, he still had to answer to Scolex at the end of the day but he did have a little power at his disposal. Wanting to make sure other than the promise the added money they'd bring to the table would help them gain beds to sleep in and other niceties to their room. He made sure under one wing finding his way to them. That as he left his office, he had all his crunched numbers and reports with him. The sisters had to know this was a serious matter.
 

systemcat

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Chapter 1:


The world had seemed such a happy place yesterday. Greg Leeds, a man in his late twenties with reddish brown hair, in a loud colored suit of a teal top & blue pants. Thought that has he tried to remember that fact to dominate his thoughts. The war was now over, the good guys had won the day. He had been beaming sharing that news, breaking into the normal broadcasting day for WGBH - Radio. The world seemed right again until he'd been called with news of one close to him wouldn't be returning to the United States. His bother was so much younger than him. A ten year gap between them. Greg always saw Colby as an innocent needing sheltering beneath him even after he'd announced wanting to join up to serve. Even after he's completed training and was ready to ship out. Greg had prayed with his family and friends, Colby's duties to the military would keep him away from a lot of the action. His bother's life had not worked out that way in the end.

Greg didn't want to go to work just then. He stood outside broadcasting room still trying to take his mind off the awful news. He was trying to picture the wavy blots in the glass of the door's window were in fact shapes he could assign names to. The glass moved away from him. The door has been pushed inwards by his boss. Boe Caster knew what Greg had recently learned. He'd been near by when the phone call had come. He just didn't care how it was emotionally effecting his top reporter. Soon not top reporter if he didn't do his job, Greg guessed.

After entering the room and sitting down in the chair that was his at this moment in the day. He listened closely to the song the station was playing. At it's end he'd have to start reading aloud a sports report one of his co-workers had drafted. Scores along with the most interesting facts of aftermath following the games, the co-worker was sure the listening public would want to know. Normally Keegan would do this broadcast himself but unlike their boss, he was trying to show a little bit of sympathy to Greg. A cashed in of owed favor is how Keegan had worded his reasoning to Greg. Today he'd read the normal news which was the going on activities of New York City and beyond to the rest of the world. While Greg did his job of riling up sports fans with gossip official and unofficial in nature.

With The Andrews Sisters song closing it's tune, Greg turned down the dial of the record player's volume to let the song gently fade out. Clearing his throat before turning on his microphone, he then started reading aloud page one of Keegan's prepared sports report. "Good news Yankee fans, they won but it was a tight win with only one point over the Philly Athletics 7 to 6 score in the end. Our Dodgers also scored a tight win over the Boston Braves at 4 to 3 score in the end."

Normal habit having fully taken hold of the news reporter, Greg lowered his eye sight down a little further on the page ready for. He'd normally be reading a very different form of news, not sports. The reason he was reading the sports news. About to read the outcome to the recent game of the New York Giants against the Philadelphia Phillies. It was his friend's idea a favor to him. He audibly choked up in front of the microphone before saying.

"9 to 0, an amazing win for the Giants who had been playing against," that wasn't how Keegan had worded the report. He was slipping. Before he moved forward just for getting assurance he wasn't totally off his normal game. He quickly realized was pun only his mind got to hear. Greg looked out the normal pane glass window that looked out to the hallway. In deed his guess was right. His friend was there watching him and he couldn't help but notice also. Keegan's face was looking concerned at him.

Moving his focus back to sports news but not with the concentration he should have to it. Greg was ready to read Keegan's work further aloud but decided he'd make this his own show for the moment. Prove to Keegan and Caster and other colleagues at the station, he could handle this day with more emotional grace than what he'd been showing nearly all day. Ever since the phone call he wished he could just forget. Acting, to produce enthusiasm he didn't actually feel. The news reporter bend in towards the microphone saying. "Hey folks lets have fun here. This isn't my normal job but reading over what I have before me. The names on these papers detailing what you want to know. What if the Detroit Tigers were real tigers? Could you picture the result having a run in with the Chicago Cubs? Tigers verses bears? Roooaar!"

Greg didn't hear the click of the door being closed shut after being opened up when Keegan entered the room as the false animal sound hit the microphone. Just after WGBH - Radio listeners got their late afternoon surprise of their sports news taking an interesting turn in being given to them with a hypothetical fictional flair. The news reporter got his surprise of his friend looming over him to one side. Acknowledging Keegan's presence with a smile quickly turning into a grimace. Keegan then showing no emotion made a hooking motion with his thumb backwards, silently telling his friend to get out of the chair he was in.

"Sorry for that everyone. Here at the station we like to change up things every once in a while. Everything is now back to normal. Be right back with you after these commercials." Keegan said to the microphone before hitting the play button on a multi-reel audio wire player for the advertisements to play out. One reel of wire switching to the next with each one played out in full.

Turning his attention back to Greg, who didn't want to look his friend in the face. Keegan told him, "Boe isn't going to get angry at you for this. I got you."

Getting up from the chair he'd taken from Greg, Keegan when over to him and pacing a hand on the man's shoulder, said. “Take a walk. Do something needed. Maybe something you've been putting off. Heck find a story," Keegan knew he should now more carefully choose his wording. Before he continued at said, "find a story in this city that is uplifting. I'm sure there are a few out there."

Words from another who cared for him, helping brighten him up a little. Greg now looked to Keegan's face as the other man added in yet another comment. "This day can't be all up in smoke. Our teams are doing great. I had bet on the Dodgers. Who'd you bet on?"

The news reporter wanted to laugh at the crack but couldn't bring himself to. A light smile was the most he could muster before shaking his head to the motion of no, then saying. "The first thing you said Keegan, I'll do that. Maybe if I'm lucky I'll see something better than sports scores for our guys."

Putting his other hand on Greg's other shoulder, Keegan replied sounding hopeful. "Do you want a beer?"

"The last wire is playing right now. Monster-Malts Mint Crunches is the last for your show's commercial breaks right?" Greg asked, feeling a little unsure about the first part of his statement.

Keegan quickly slipped back to the chair, positioned before the broadcasting room's equipment. The sports reporter had no need to hit any buttons on the multi-reel audio wire player once it was done playing the candy advertisement. The machine was designed to once done playing it's reels, stop and rewind them to be ready to be played again later. As the lady selling the mint crunches said to her unseen audience. About what just a dime could do to help a mouth find minty crunchy sweet satisfaction. "I was serious about the beer. Your place later. I'll bring it. We'll take in Double Trouble Masher Theater. It bugs Boe when we listen to WCSW."

Giving a full smile Greg, replied with "sure Keegan."

The timing had been bad even if Keegan knew he was at fault for bringing up the proposed get together. For when his friend had answered him to only then as quietly as possible leave the room. Reflex had happened when the verbal answer had been given. Not to his friend's words but to hearing the click stop sound of the multi-reel audio wire player. His brain on auto had him turn on the microphone right then. The radio station's listening audience hearing not his words to welcome back the sports show from commercial break, but Greg's instead. Keegan mouthed a curse word realizing this before recovering his professionalism and speaking to his unseen metropolitan listeners. "Back from break now. Guys, I think what happened to the Boston Red Sox today must have been an utter embarrassment to them. They lost with the Washington Senators kicking their behinds 11 to 5. Sure the baseball season for them has been mixed so far. But can they pick up from their spot in the American League from sixth to seventh place before it's all done this coming fall? I'm not a big fan of them but the Senators are less of my cup of tea, you Boston Sox fans."

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Every one that wasn't staff on board the USAT Edgewood had mixed feelings about departing it. They'd been put on board a few days back. A few days before the war ended and the original intend of them being on board the USAT Edgewood was so they could be transported where they were most needed in active duly. When word had come it was high suspect things were coming to a close and favorably in the Allied powers court. That other troops were handling the front lines were this was to take place. That's when the Edgewood had changed course heading for New York City's harbor instead of towards the Norway coastline.

The mixed feeling were at once of grievance for not having been given the chance to help strike the final blow against the Axis powers. Relief for not having to go into another battle. Lastly for when they were returning exactly to the United States. It was late into the sunlit hours of the day. Their families and friends had not been given much notice of their return. Would they be there or be at work or other things demanding their attention at this time? After having been away so long from home. Their want to see their homes again and make the most of their first day back. That couldn't really be done at shortly after 5 pm in the afternoon.

It was only the staff of the ship that thought nothing of these matters. They'd been hauling people and cargo back and forth across the Atlantic for years. Their families were used to them being aboard or at sea, being away. Bernard Powl, an army solider knew to expect no one to greet him when the ship finally became anchored along Staten Island to the Lower Bay's mucky floor. The notice he was sure was too quick for his family to respond to given they lived in Missouri and doubtfully could afford a plane ticket so fast to meet him. But at least he could greet some people now that the ship was docked. It was just a crying shame he didn't actually know them. He only knew of them second hand.

He had a favor to preform to a lost friend. At least a friend he hoped wasn't lost. If in fact Lawrence Benjamin were still alive. Had he really heard a gun fired when leaving? Could these people find him if he were still alive? Were they really that well resourced about what they had at their disposal? That was something Bernard shouldn't have questioned. Lawrence after all claimed he was a member of the pair's staff. Another detective working for the ACME Detective Agency. The two that tied themselves to Lawrence, they'd welcome him back right?

Bernard knew the elderly couple were in for a sore surprise when they finally met him instead of their employee. As he stepped out into the waning sunlight disappearing behind the city's skyscrapers. He thought over their descriptions. Both in their 80's. The man was named Patrick and he stood at six feet two inches. Normally dressed in a relaxed fit dress shirt with pants in need of ironing, in some shade of brown or tan. The woman not his wife, a lady named Jocelyn. Height five feet eight inches, with partially permed hair. Her clothes, a very business looking dress, likely tailored for her or made by her. Lawrence hadn't been sure on that detail although he had revealed some details about the woman that would set her apart easily in a crowd. She was missing half an arm and one foot. Something about a gadget-filled glove to replace her missing hand. What could that look like Bernard wondered as he scanned over the crowd surrounding the ship, ready to greet it's disembarking passengers. Also could he convince them to set him up somewhere until he could make his way home to Missouri?

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Something was wrong here and that made Sadie uneasy. If something didn't go to plan, bad things happened like the police. Not seeing her sister Viola step off the boat with her suitcase. That was not a good sign. Had she been caught by the authorities on route back to the United States? The plan her sis board the military ship instead of a common civilian passenger ship. What better a place for a supposed sheep to hide than among those who looked like wolves but weren't. People that lived by honor and duly.

Not a single woman stepped off the ship as Sadie kept her attention focused on it. Nothing but men among the passengers leaving. Could she had been misinformed that Viola was returning on the Edgewood? Noticing one of the men, but Sadie wanted counted as a kid, looking just out of his teen years. Tall, dark haired with tanned skin, he was looking in every which direction at the crowd of people he was walking down the ramp to be a part of soon. Anyone in her experience and knowledge who acted like that. They had to be tied to something and likely that something was worth her interference. Did he hold some tie to her sister's lack of presence or was he connected to something else of equal value?

Opening a compact mirror to check her appearance before closing it up again, satisfied. She placed it back in her pocketbook before making her way to the ramp, he as nearly down all the way. The man looked to be annoying fellow officers around him. She guessed by his slowness in making his way to the ground. She'd fix their annoyance and she'd get hopefully useful information at near the same time if she made this work right.

The lady's out outstretched hand grabbed his nearest hand to her before he could really process the woman's presence. Bernard had of course seen her as he was making his way down the ramp. She just wasn't worth noting in his opinion. He wasn't blind. He could see she was pretty. But he could also see the woman wasn't about the age of his grandmother and up close appeared to have both her hands. Still in shock he couldn't help but exclaim the name of the woman who he'd been hoping to encounter. "Jocelyn Deyriès?!"

Sadie pulled him in towards her like he was a fish she was reeling in. Her eyes in gaze questioned him first before the she simply said, "huh?"

"You aren't Lawrence." This statement came from someone unseen by Bernard at first until the speaker pushed her way through the crowd.

The woman that had forced her way into the soldier's presence had the company of a man trailing a little behind her. Both looked like the pair described by his friend. Before Bernard decided to address a lady again. Young and holding one of his hands. Or old and looking like she could still be a force to reckoned with akin to a fellow solider. He instead spoke to the man who'd trailed the older woman. "Are you Patrick Gardener?"

"Correct, and who are you? Jocelyn and I were expecting not a stranger off that ship." Patrick asked Bernard, looking from the officer to behind him, then back to him again.

He'd barely had time to open his mouth when the woman still holding his hand answered for him. "Sadie Louveofran, but you can call me Sadie. Who is this Lawrence person? Someone of interest? High interest? I haven't seen mine leave the Edgewood."

The pair of ACME detectives and young solider, flummoxed by Sadie's Behavior said nothing for a few seconds. It was Bernard that finally spoke up to try and shape their conversation into something more sensible in understanding. "I'm Bernard Powl. I'm friends with mister Lawrence Benjamin."

Breaking his eye contact from the elderly pair, Bernard then let lose with his promise. "Lawrence, he asked me to do him a favor last we spoke. He's still in France last that I was aware and that he may be forever. But first what he said. He thinks something called VILE is intermixed with the Nazis. Some woman working for them, with them? He was looking into this. That's what he wanted you guys to know since you're all working for the same company.

Sadie nearly let go of the soldier's hand at hearing his words. The employees for Scolex Enterprises dealt with many unsavory characters regularly. Most which the company employed but Viola sinking so low to work with ones such as the Nazis? The younger sister knew her older sibling had planned to score something quite profitable on her end of the assignment before turning whatever it was over to her. She to do her dirty deeds in getting the ball rolling on one continent. Possibly taking heat in the act if she slipped up. Although even if there was a misstep done by Viola. Sadie knew once the appropriated item of value and her were in the United States. She could take the item from Viola. Viola if caught by trailing law officers. If they pointed a well deserved finger at the one Louveofran that had been in Europe. It wouldn't come across as deserved once the law realized Viola didn't have anything of value with her. Viola, Sadie frowned was many things but a vile woman she was not.
 

systemcat

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Saying the tail end of these thoughts aloud, Sadie further confused those around her. "Viola, I'm sure has her reasons to do what she does. But why she'd want to remain behind in France is a mystery to me."

"You're with VILE?" Jocelyn asked Sadie, as she smoothed one hand over the other.

Bernard guessed right then which of the two hands had to have been the fake one. The one being smoothed over. If Lawrence was to be believed about Deyriès's glove. Was the woman ready to unleash some contraption just then if this talk led into an undesired direction? He felt almost eager to discover if that was true. Even if there was more he needed to relay to the ACME detectives. It wasn't his place to do so at this moment. At this moment, this was Sadie Louveofran’s turn to speak due to the older woman's question to her.

Having other thoughts about the soldier's words. Patrick half to himself voiced them as others departing the Edgewood pushed pass Bernard. "I always figured our guys would get entangled putting a stopper in something being done by the Nazis or IJA, outside army orders. I just didn't think of it extending beyond the war."

"Viola isn't vile, she is my sister! And whatever she is doing with the Nazis I'm sure is justified! You work together, well she also happens to work with me and and!" Sadie had it hit her fast she had made a mistake shouting what she did. All eyes were on her. Not just the representatives from ACME and the solider she was now likely hurting his hand from squeezing it too hard. Others near by were staring at her too.

One in the crowd that didn't appear to have anyone direct in his party. He was smiling broadly at her. It was a grin that spoke of devilish intent and to make matters worse, the man was now heading in her direction. He had spied opportunity as Sadie had but for a different reason. Sadie herself felt in horror at her action but she considered. Did those around her suspect, precisely suspect her of any wrong doing now?

She had picked out her target wisely of those that departed the military transport ship. She just had not predicted the outcome of that pick by any means. What could Viola have gotten herself into? Surely dealing with the Axis powers demanded more than just herself represent Scolex Enterprises overseas? She had to discover more about her missing sister in this entanglement of company.

"You people are working for the mosleyites?! Why the hell are you here and not rotting in a military jail cell somewhere?" That question struck the odd quartet off guard, coming from the man who'd just made his way over to them.

He none of them would have blinked at if they'd met him under different circumstances. Wearing a department store's special deal suit and a hat that likely would see it's end in weeks. The guy came up to Sadie's height of five foot four and his only stand out feature aside from what sounded like unjustified rudeness was at a guess poorly concocted cologne. Maybe coming from the same store as the suit & hat. On top of all that he was wearing a press badge identifying that he worked for the Zebra Ink. Patrick didn't like him simply on the basis of his false accusation, and made that known in his own way. "Sir, you have deeply mistaken our words in ease dropping. Just please leave us be."

The interrupter press agent looked stunned for a moment at the suggestion he leave them before he smiled again. Jocelyn having been in sync with her best friend and work partner for a long while. Felt too, annoyed by the man's presence. "Please drop this matter. It's none of your concern and you have things wrong besides that."

Loudly the man replied, "I thought you guys hated them? God, don't you know how much damage they did to your island?"

It took a lot to ruffle Jocelyn's feathers. Getting a reminder of what her old home of long ago had suffered during the war. She wanted to speak further to the interrupter what she thought of the onslaught England had taken and still what the country could dish out. When Patrick beat her to speaking up next. "Ignore him Jocelyn. Tabloids only print frivolous nonsense remember? This bozo is proof of their style."

The others that were near by and hearing the conversation whether they wanted to or not. None of them seemed to take real now notice about what was transpiring except one. He had come to this fest of joyful reunions hoping the moods of those around him rubbed off on him. A stirring of the kind of crowd driven spirit one normally has grip them at a sports games or other mass gathering of good nature. The first comparison in this spirit of crowd union of mood. He blamed hanging around Keegan for that in on occasion joining him to witness a live game. That and Keegan had been the last person he'd spoken to before leaving WGBH for the day. His friend's pastime. It was influencing him being here. Hearing what these strangers were dealing with. He may have been out of the loop although just hearing this become a news matter? That was worth tuning into in his opinion.

"I'm aiming to change my rag's flights of fancy articles to real stories." The unwanted presence replied to the pair of detectives.

From everything Bernard had been told of who Lawrence worked for outside government service. The tabloid reporter's words were stinging him now. Lawrence was a respectable man that was not only a friend of his but also an officer who could be counted on in the most dire of situations. A lump rose in Bernard's throat as he thought about those facts before he said sharply. "ACME is as clean as a whistle, I know these guys because of one of their employees slash a fellow officer. Back off now or you'll make yourself and your paper look foolish."

What sort of people actually read the Zebra Ink paper, Sadie wondered for a moment as she took in the tabloid's representative standing before her and those with her. At least the man was acting like a good distraction from her verbal blunder over Viola. Hearing the name ACME rang a bell in her mind but she couldn't pin down why. It was almost a common name among various businesses but it's usage here. What connection it had to this couple and missing solider, and that in turn to Viola. Something about the name made that bell turn into an alarm one. One she could brush aside for now.

If they were working for someone other than the police. The FBI, the USMS, or the BSI, they didn't come across as the type. These people while she didn't know what sort of people they were, Sadie felt almost positive they could lead her to her sister. How she wasn't sure and even when discovering what exactly Viola had done in Europe. Whatever her sis had acquired by dealing with Nazis. It's worth at Less Renowned demand to the job had to be nothing less than 10,000 thousand dollars in United States currency. She once reunited, she was sure between both of them, they could pull a thick wool over the eyes of these people if necessary to cover up what had been stolen.

ACME that in the context to the pair who almost looked like a couple. Them standing with the Zebra Ink reporter, and solider with the younger woman. He'd heard of them second hand to news he'd never felt inclined to report on. Too much after the fact in the business of what came after the misery creating news. Death, losses, corruption, and defilement of character. The paper reporter jumping the gun with vicious intent to lambaste them with false narrative. That broke away from what a true reporter should do with their job in being respectable to it's basis of being. He had to stop his attempt to reclaim a better mood to his persona. This bozo as the paper reporter been called, needed to be figuratively shown the door.

"No, I sense a story here." The bozo answered back to Bernard before then turning to face the others with him. Reaching into a pocket lining the inside of his jacket. He produced a small pad of paper with a ringed binding, that in the metal looped wire laid a stubby but well pointed pencil.

Ready to start questioning the quartet over everything he could possibly turn into a front page headline for Zebra Ink. The action got just then delayed. For how long, the fact to that currently felt up in the air if this newcomer to the gathering was to be believed when he said. "They've signed papers that make their story exclusively WGBH - Radio's coming property. Print anything and we sue."

The paper reporter didn't want to back down. What proof existed those words were true. There wasn't proof what the man said was the truth. He didn't listen to WGBH - Radio, that was true. Neither did he much listen to any other radio station for that matter. Even if he did, proof couldn't exist here the newcomer worked for WGBH. Radio was a faceless medium after all. Being defensive minus letting that enter his demeanor or words. Not wanting to give into a possible lie. Zebra Ink's representative replied with, "a cover up then."

Used to in a minor sense being of public concern had over time made Patrick choose his wording wisely. This was done to not only make clients feel better about using ACME for a job. Because foul language rarely made friends. It was also a habit coming from trying to get people see him in a more respectable light. Having been homeless for a lot of his younger years. He in that time knew most above him in society's eyes, viewed vagrants as nothing more than detestable slime. Speaking with uncommon dirty words made people wonder what was actually said. Normally causing them to rethink the quick false judgment of his IQ. In response to the first reporter, his only word for the man was, "goobersmooch."

"In the army we just call people like him dumb asses," came Bernard's reply to the ACME employee.

Of course Patrick thought foul language has just usage on the battlefield when you're daily being shot at. What did come across to the old man with some surprise besides the woman who clearly also was a shock to Lawrence's friend. Was what got said next by the third interloper, the seemingly more upright reporter. "No, a story that will give this touching homecoming today a run for it's money when it airs."

"I’ve heard WGBH is struggling to stay on air. Question to what's happened to all your programs from 7am to 1pm? Dead airtime is what I think. Excuse me while I uncover real facts now, wannabe." Bozo shot back in return.

When the Zebra Ink reporter retorted to the radio reporter's comment. Jocelyn added her two cents into the verbal clash minus words being said. A sideways eye roll to her friend. Patrick she knew was an addict to the daily audio shows he listened to while doing desk work or even relaxing with other media on hand. If WGBH really was nothing but dead air for hours, Patrick would know if that statement was true or false without any form of added investigation. Looking at his face, she could tell he mentally was running over the daily program titles in his mind over which station aired what at what time. He knew the answer but too much of higher importance right now was in discussion than knowing simple fact of broadcasted entertainment.

"Tabloid trash," was the radio reporter's come back.

If both of these men who held virtually the same job idea were animals. Jocelyn would have chalked them up as hissing noisy house cats. Both with arched backs & fur bristled to fullest height, circling each other, waiting for the other to move forward, prompting the second to strike out. God, she thought that was just about to happen now. Not with claws but with a fist. The Zebra reporter was looking like he was about to hit the WGBH representative.

She wasn't the only one ready to take fast action to prevent the blow. Bernard had noticed the body language too. She and he overlapped each other beating the paper reporter to the literal punch. The solider taking hold of the moving fist. The lady detective pointing her right hand towards the ill mannered man. Pointed and pressing down on a knuckle. The action made a disguised cap of a false finger tip open up to reveal a small light bulb. The flash the bulb generated a second more later, temporarily blinded all it could be seen by near to it.

No one had been looking directly at the lady detective's hands or even the one prosthetic hand when the flash of light occurred. The flash wasn't a mystery to her partner, who in response proceeded close his eyes and rub their lids with his left thumb, index and middle finger. Before blinking and giving a sly grin to Jocelyn for her help in trying to defuse what was surely the start to a physical fight between the reporters.

"What was that?! Some form of secret weapon?" Snapped out the Zebra Ink representative, almost sounding panicked as he did so. The question not being said to anyone in particular, while he blinked trying to get back his full vision.

Bozo now a foot away from the radio reporter. Goal accomplished she guessed. Jocelyn stated with a hint of pride in her voice. "A small 500 watt light bulb."

Moving over to him and pulling at his teal jacket to get his attention. In a low voice Patrick told the representative from WGBH. "We need to talk and not here. Anything we say I've noticed this guy is using like fire starter."

The words hadn't been uttered low enough. Hearing the old man say such a thing. He was right. It was a fire starter and him having simply worded his statement that way meant to the paper reporter only one thing. Figurative gold, he wasn't going to give up on getting information out of these people.

Worried about another in his best description, flash bulb happening again. Or for that matter some equally different and temporarily debilitating gadget being fired off again. The Zebra Ink reporter looked at where Jocelyn had her hands. Not near her pockets came a silently answered prayer of his. He couldn't see the flashlight or what else it might have been, bulging in her jacket pockets. Maybe a pocket unnoticed by him to the lady's long skirt?

As he started to examine the long gray fabric with brown trim. It dawned on the paper reporter he was eyeing up the legs of a woman who looked about as old as his grandmother before she'd passed on. This thought forced him out of trying to figure out where the detective might have the flash bulb or other device. It got him to turn his focus on to the younger woman in the party. The one that was defending her sister about being not vile. She was definitely not the sort of dame he'd suspect was resident to a rest home. She was also he noticed, no longer holding the hand of the solider, she'd decided to cling to earlier.

That release of the man's hand, he guessed likely had happened when he was about to hit the radio reporter. When the solider caught his fist and when the flash bulb went off. The solider was starting to walk away with the pair of ACME detectives and radio disgrace. This lady who he was now taking in better than when he'd first noticed her. Her dress ended midway down her calves. In color a deep red, it had a simple styling to it with even pockets he wasn't used to seeing on a dress. He noticed the dress complemented her and went nicely with her brown hair & lighter brown skin. Her face, she looked like she wasn't sure what action to take next. Some sense of panic to her facial features.

He could use her alleged confusion to his advantage. An easy to gain date. Switching tracks to his demeanor for her sake. The Zebra Ink reporter said as an opening to her with his hopes of what might become part of the coming evening. "Hello beautiful doll."

Her attention now drawn to him by his comment to her. She now no longer looked like she wasn't sure what to do with her eyes narrowing and her mouth taking on a soured twisting. Within a heartbeat of surprise to the bozo, she whipped out a switchblade from one of her pockets. Pressing down the knife's button to release out it's blade, she brandished it to him to try and he was sure make a figurative point literal. She then shot at him in words. "I'm with them, so back off unless you want to see this blade a little closer."

Thinking back in thought to the last hostile confrontation he'd just had. The Zebra Ink reporter felt confident he could defuse this situation without a powerful flash bulb going off. Moving closer to her to start to wrap one arm on to her back from off one of her shoulders. Not showing any fear in his voice, he replied. "I won't mention you at all in my story."

The paper reporter caught himself in his instinct kicking in. It was the pain induced urge to scream at what was being done to him. Her tight grip on his right hand had come on suddenly. The knife in her hand not holding his. The movement of her directing it's blade on his palm, cutting through his flesh, marking him with some drawing through the steel. He knew now he'd chosen his words wrong to her, his actions too. He tried his best to withhold the screaming he wanted to let out since he knew it would draw unwanted attention to both of them. He didn't want to explain himself. That he felt might cause her possibly to do worse to him.

When she released his hand finally. He was tearing up and holding his right hand at it's whist to stare at it's palm. The woman had cut the letter ‘s’ into him. A form of shivering babbling was what came out of his mouth instead of the screams he wanted to shout. That was his instinct's best alternate take on the louder cries being suppressed. Daring to look at her again, backing away as he did so. She had one last thing to say to him before leaving his presence. "You write no story at all or you'll be marked in more ways than just this."
 

systemcat

Visitor From Another AU
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Chapter 2:


Shadows cast their long way across the floors and walls of the ACME Detective Agency. At least the one based central to the whole operation. Jocelyn and Patrick's apartment home for the last nearly three decades. The detective agency wasn't an official business but those that worked for it treated it that way. The non-central offices for ACME didn't have permanent stations. Those offices were nothing more than employee self designated work spaces that moved with where they could work from best. A rented office space, an apartment, a home, bar, church, once word had even hit the pair of co-worker friends. That another detective working under them had for a while been using a horse stable.

With a flick of the light switch by the entrance, the long shadows ceased to be in an instant. Chester had turned on the living room's center placed domed light, protruding from the room's ceiling. This was the first time he even had to make use of the key he'd been given to the place. At seeing the room light up, he felt happy this evening so far was turning out in his favor. He just hoped it would stay that way.

Ever since he had formally quit working for PBS, his life had taken interesting turns. Mostly all financial related. ACME had so far been good to him but as far as the agency getting cases that paid his bills. That had forced him out of the apartment he'd been living in for years to then have him favoring a different apartment with a monthly lower rent rate to it. It was smaller and strangely enough in a better neighborhood. The neighborhood at least seemed that way on paper and with passing observation before he'd signed his rental agreement documents to the place. When he moved in it didn't take long to discover why the place had been made available minus it's smaller floor plan. The neighbors above and below him. All of them felt to him like the sort he'd normally be paid to investigate with what he could loudly hear going on with their daily and nightly activities. He'd tried to file a police report once only to have it backfire on to him from the landlord.

"A happy place is a place all mind their own. Otherwise they aren't welcome." Had been what the landlord had told Chester after word had hit the man about the visitation the tenant had prompted from the blue authorities.

When he had received the phone call from a booth on corner of where Mason Ave. and Bedford Ave, met before Midland Field, from Jocelyn. When she had told him business had come up which forced both herself and Patrick away on a trip. That in that matter at least temporarily. Their home would have a guest living in it for a short while before he could make his way back to Missouri. She told him she wanted at least one person living in her home, with the agency, she actually knew. Meaning in request he be that person.

Chester was sure her picking him for this had to do with what she had heard him mention of life back at his apartment. What mystified him about the request, why would she ever in the first place have someone living in her home she didn't completely trust. Her answer had been mentioning the name of a detective he'd never met before but had heard of, a mister Benjamin. That this person knew him. Also she felt better leaving the place in the care of someone she knew for peace of mind. Lastly a long time ago and this was a point she seemingly wanted to press in on him. Patrick had shown similar kindness to her once. That helping a stranger in need while a reward in it's self on the act. Might lead to friendship later on and ACME needed all the friends it could get.

She had also said there was another matter which needed discussion back at her home slash office. Something about bad press, untrue press might happen and good press wanted to help them. Chester wasn't sure at all what that meant but he was sure when she, Patrick and who ever else finally made it to where he was. Coffee was likely needed to help figure things out.

Having made his way into the kitchen of the place while he'd been thinking about what could be happening and what might he soon expect of that. That's when the phone started ringing. The young detective wasn't sure about answering the phone. After all it wasn't his, but he was one of ACME's employees, this was what acted as it's headquarters. He was also expected he assumed to carry out the agency's work while it's lead bosses were gone. Answering the phone, well no one could get on his case for that if he was truly right about his case here.

Picking up the handset to the phone in the office, positioned not far from the kitchen. He answered it, "hello?"

"Do they need extra help? This guest, am I right on the hunch he was on board the Edgewood? P & J were going there to get mister Benjamin." It was Cheri questioning and stating comments on the other end of the line.

"I don't know yet and yes, that's my thought too. One of the other returning soldiers. My guess is this is all a sudden surprise to them." Chester was considering sitting down as he'd started replying to his friend and like how who they referred to as P & J, shortened for Patrick and Jocelyn. He was also a co-worker to Cheri.

Cheri had left the PBS detective agency at about the same time as he had. Although she'd had an easier time adjusting to the income difference. Because she had never officially earned as much as him working for PBS. Also because what helped her budget was being an investigator off the clock helping him on cases. That extra work not always being constant. She'd taken to keeping a habit she'd invested in during the Depression. The noble chipmunk philosophy she called it. Of get a nut. Wait and see if another nut was coming. If no nut was coming, slowly eat the one in your possession. But if you had that one nut and then you got hold of another and another. Pile them up but eat just one at a time because you never knew when the tree was going to come down that gave you all those nuts to begin with. Cheri had kept the same place she had started living in while working for PBS.

When he had received the phone call earlier that requested he come to where he was to keep an eye on things. He'd called her just before leaving his place. They had been planing an evening dinning out together on street gourmet from vendors in the more touristy area of town and if they were lucky. The evening playing their cards right with other friends, they'd be able to catch a Broadway show at a fraction of it's normal cost.

"I'm not sure if I should be jealous or not of their plans to head off to Europe because of Benjamin." He added after finally deciding he needed to stay un-relaxed for the moment of not sitting down. Coffee after all still needed to be made for the true residences of the place and their added company he'd never met before. Chester didn't want to cut off talking to Cheri, but he did feel the need to get back to why he was in the office to begin with. She continued the conversation. A matter he should have foreseen. He was to blame for her understandable curiosity in this.

"Why on earth would they want to go to Europe right now? No wait Benjamin."

She had a real point about travel to Europe given the amount of military destruction the continent had been bombarded with in the last few years. The fact that it was now at peace didn't make it any else an undesirable picnic spot. Places had to rebuilt over there but Cheri was likely right again, as to Benjamin. Neither of them had ever met the man. They only knew of him from first hand accounts from those who'd met him stateside. Fellow co-workers for ACME that he'd worked along side with before he had enlisted into the army.

He couldn't wait for more answers to come about what was taking place with his higher-ups, unknowns, and a co-worker he'd never met before. Not wanting to set aside any mystery was part of why he got into the work he did and why it drove him so. Knowing he had to get on top of what he knew courtesy dictated when his higher-ups returned to their home slash central workspace. Wishing the phone's connection to the wall wasn't hidden from sight. Chester grabbed up the phone's base to tug it a little, checking how taut it's line was. The answer the pull gave made his heart leap into his throat with panic. It disconnected the line. By mistake he'd hung up on her!

Setting the phone's base back down to where it had been. Putting it's handset back in place. Reconnecting it's line. All of that took place as fast as he could do the actions. The act of dialing Cheri's number, to reach back to her only had second thoughts as it was taking place. He was about to create a phone bill for his bosses. Deciding if that was ok or not happened after the fact. He just hoped P & J would be understanding about his reasoning. When she answered the call he'd made to her, their previous line of conversation was then dropped. Her words to him in the easy realization without question the incoming call had to be from him, was, "why did you hang up on me?"

"My fault, my bad. I wanted to find out how far the line went." Was the first thing he could think to say in reply. Although as he'd ended those words to her, he could hear sounds elsewhere from the owned apartment. A door being opened and footsteps of multiple people entering. Higher-ups and the guest. They were here now. He wasn't sure what to do about the nice big boulder that had placed it's self before him and the hard spot he was in. All he could think to do at that moment was answer Cheri further and hope she too had understanding over his action. "A case, I'm sure a case! If at least a suspected one! Highly suspected one! Maybe worse lets hope not! They're here now!"

Holding the handset closer to his left ear, pushing it against his head. He felt impatient for the likely just a few seconds it took for Cheri to come to word her response to him. "Chester, whatever you do tonight, avoid anymore caffeine in your diet ok?"

Relaxing his positioning with the handset against him. Hearing near by from Jocelyn, "Chester, where are you?"

He answered Cheri back with, "I promise I will try to avoid drinking caffeine. But they're here now I think. I just heard Jocelyn. Cheri, I think I need to go now."

Barely a pause happened after Chester had indicated he this time and intentionally, needed to end the conversation. Cheri knew with the new company on his end, attention to that was needed else where. Sounding stern with a touch of concern in her voice, she replied. "Once things settle over there, call me and tell me everything. Bye for now."

"I will, bye." He said before hanging up the phone.

In the living room which to the space being used for business purposes, was used when dealing with ACME's clientele. Currently it was having an uncommon moment of purpose. Jocelyn may have been the first to speak up when entering the area but not the first to enter it. That was bestowed to Bernard, an act she felt right because of all he'd been through. Also things he hadn't spoken of yet she had strong suspicion of by his behavior. Something was up about Benjamin having not been on board the Edgewood with him. She hoped not that the man had died. She knew Patrick had to be sharing the same sentiment as herself about that hunch. Also that they knew without a doubt even upon the coming investigation to if Benjamin had died or not. VILE was up to something over where their lost detective was. Sinister she guessed. The organization's practices of business were never clean, always illegal in some respect.

What Jocelyn wasn't sure on was the young lady of her current company. Sadie had the clear hallmarks about her personality that spoke of paranoid guilty conscience. Further still, what she'd seen on the woman's dark red colored dress. As they were making their way pass Prospect Park towards 600th Clarkson Ave, where they were now. A sign something was being concealed in one of the woman's pockets. It showed as a slight bulge in the spot but what made that intriguing. In silence that curious matter was passed in eyes between herself and partner. Patrick knew too Sadie had recently wiped off fresh blood near the bulging pocket. This lady, both Jocelyn and Patrick felt sure she must think they suspected nothing was up on that front.

A different guest in the living room, having entered the place from the short hallway nearby, connected to the office of the home. Chester coming into view of the party hadn't taken too long from the soft shout the old lady had directed at him. He looked at the group, but mostly towards those he didn't know. He too spoke in silence to the other ACME detectives in the room. His quiet commenting, both his bosses noted wasn't over the blood near Sadie's bulging pocket. It was over simple curiosity for want of better understanding as to who these strangers were.

Patrick took the initiative for at least one introduction, the one that mattered most. At least to the concerned younger detective. Bernard getting guided over to the abode's temporary caretaker happened with sudden forced movement. The old man's left hand square center to his back, flat palmed pushing him forward gently, as the man walked along side him.

"Bernard Powl meet Chester Bumpass, he'll be your host while you're staying here. Patrick said cordially, while waving with his right hand to the still feeling puzzled Chester.

The information given over the phone hadn't been much. All Chester knew about the kid now besides his name which he'd just been informed of. Was that he'd known Benjamin. His connection on United States soil had not been given enough time to prepare for his return. Such as making travel arrangements to greet him once the military ship he'd been traveling on, docked at port. Also that he'd said something about Benjamin that had caused such alarm to the senior employees present for ACME. That with likely less notice Powl had gotten the war was over and the ship he was on wouldn't be docking at Kristiansand in Norway. They would soon instead be heading out of European waters.

In nervous habit Chester then fidgeted with the frame of his glasses by one ear. Wanting a load of information about what was going on. It had to start somewhere beyond his introduction to the solider he'd soon be helping out. Certain things, he was sure he could figure out on his own. The only example his deductive reasoning could currently give him of that was how Powl had handled his active service time overseas. The man couldn't have been put through the ringer as much as the other soldiers who had just served in the war now over. He had to be what? He couldn't have been 18 years old. The kid looked to have at least a little of wear to his demeanor that spoke of military lifestyle acceptance. Maybe 19 or 20 years old, certainly no older than 22.

Returning his thought to ask at least one question for now. What he'd a moment ago, halted on. Directing his focus towards Patrick, the former PBS employee asked, "where in Europe are you and Jocelyn going?"

Motioning politely to Bernard, he wanted to speak alone to Chester. Patrick took their being alone one step further ushering the younger detective into the hallway where it acted as a stone's throw between the kitchen and office room. The old man glancing towards the living room, noting where Sadie was in it or rather not. She wasn't in his line of sight peering into the room south of them. He then in a low voice said. "France, Chester something is going on with VILE. Benjamin might be dead. He was investigating whatever was happening when he disappeared. That young lady in the next room, Sadie. The way she acted when we came to the Edgewood to pick up Benjamin. It basically screamed her sister and likely herself are involved in criminal matters. Jocelyn and I intend to keep an eye on her while we're gone."

Taken a back a little by the shockwave of information he'd just received. Chester quickly absorbed it and while grateful he'd been given the answer he was hoping for and more. What Patrick had just told him raised more questions in his mind about what was going on. On top of another question he'd yet to ask about. Making sure to keep a low voice himself, Chester asked. "You believe Sadie and her sister work for VILE? Also if that's the case I have to ask why I guess take her to France with you? Gathering proof she's on the wrong side? Any of us could easily get her prints right now and have the police check them if she has a record."

"She acted or at least came across like she wasn't aware VILE was an organization when she sang out her sister's innocence at the dock where we met her. She either is working for VILE and is a B grade actress in hiding that fact. She and her sister work independently in criminal matters. Or they work for some other organization or mob, equally loathsome." The senior ACME detective replied, continuing to speak in a low voice.

Wanting to see this suspected criminal again. Without moving a foot from where he was standing. Chester swayed himself to try and see better around Patrick towards the living room. The young lady was still out of view from his standpoint. Returning his focus back to his boss and remembering to keep voice soft, he then asked again. "Why take her with you?"

"She's insisting she discover what fate might have befallen her sister for not greeted her off the Edgewood. Also she seems bent on finding out what has become of her family's heirloom. She wants to get it out of where ever the sister has it. Wants to get it safely stored with the family she has here in the states. That she told us not long after rejoining us as we departed the dock. Chester, yes prints would be a good idea to get off this woman. I'll try and I want you to try and get that done too. I think and I'm sure Jocelyn thinks the same. The blood on her dress has to be from the idiot Zebra reporter that was bothering us." Patrick replied to him moving from soft spoken to almost a whisper by the time he'd ended his words.

Questions still were mounting in his mind about what was taking place. The most unique one was what he then spoke next, forgetting at that moment to keep to low volume. Coming out instead at a normal tone, Chester simply asked, "zebra reporter?"

Zebra reporter, yes the younger detective had reason to be wondering about such a description being used on a person. Perhaps lacking understanding of context played a big role in that. Patrick wondered himself what Chester knew already. It was Jocelyn who'd placed the call to him from the phone booth. He just had not heard what she told him besides the employee had been informed they needed a favor done for them. That had come from Jocelyn right after she'd hung up the phone and stepped out of the booth. Nothing more about the conversation was said after that.

"Zebra Ink reporter. One of them was being a royal pain to us back at the dock," Patrick then cleared up in a low voice.

"I have other questions, Patrick. Bad press, I guess by that Jocelyn meant the Zebra Ink reporter. But good press? And about Sadie, you're just going to roll with her doing whatever it is she plans on? You're going to help her?" Chester asked, returning his voice to being at a lower volume.

"A different reporter, one that has volunteered. He in a sense appointed himself to giving us a better name if the tabloid reporter decides to make good on being an a-hole to us. I think he was only talk to being a white knight to us at first, no real depth to his words. I talked him into following through on those words. Jocelyn and I are paying for him tagging along on this trip too. As far as Sadie goes, if there is any truth to her words, we're doing her a massive favor in letting her tag along as well. She really wants to get in touch with her sister and that heirloom. If she is a low life as we strongly suspect she is. Well, it's a good thing Joce and I have made some establishment of ACME overseas in that area. With luck we might be able to contact them and them in turn will get the local PD on her." Patrick answered in the same tone of voice he'd last used.

Leaving being by the senior detective, Chester went into the kitchen and grabbed a series of five similar mugs from a cabinet drawer, right side under to the room's sink. As he did the next act of pouring water into the reservoir of Patrick's coffee maker. The older man asked him, "you think we all need coffee?"

"I had a feeling before you guys got here it was needed. That and it should prove an easily way to get Sadie's prints, don't you think?" Chester replied, with his voice speaking in a normal sounding tone.

Joining him in the kitchen, Patrick grabbed and then opened up a large tin. It had been sitting out of place since a day before on the table of the room. The reminder tin or mind sharpener tin it was called back and forth in usage. Placed on the table it was used to point out notes left half beneath it, their words meant to be seen, poking out. It was in fact a coffee grounds tin reused over and over. Interesting unintentional favors sometimes came out of it because of that re-usage.

Why it had been placed on the table the day before was it had earlier that day, had a note half poking out from under it. The note's statement was simple, it was a reminder to start heading over to the dock on Staten Island a good forty-five minutes before the USAT Edgewood was due to dock in port. After the tin had been opened up, Patrick rose it up to his nose for a sniff. The interesting act not missing Chester's attention, who'd just grabbed what he assumed was the normal scoop used in the tin. The older detective explained in normal tone, his curious action to the other man as he offered outwards the tin to him to scoop out it's grounds from.

"It smells like Colombian but there could be a dash of Brazilian in there. I refilled it a few days back. Things tend to blend. Also you're right but make sure you keep track of which of those is hers. Those mugs look all nearly the same. We aren't trying for a shell game here."
 

systemcat

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Chapter 3:


"You guys have your own private jet?" Greg asked, as he lunged two suitcases with himself out the doorway to the runway before him of Idlewild Airport. The sight of the aircraft shocked him. He hadn't been expecting the ACME Detective Agency to have the means for such a thing in their budget.

Maybe he'd underestimated the group more than he should have and that's when an explanation in part came to him about what he thought he knew. They seemed small potatoes in the interest of fighting crime since they appeared to not have many people working for them. What the unofficial business had been trying to do the day before was greet back one of their staff that had been fighting in the war. Maybe a lot of their staff had turned army, navy, or air force while the country had needed them to serve a higher calling?

"It's not ours. Neither of us are qualified pilots. However it does greatly help to know people in the right places willing to work for a lowered fee." Jocelyn answered, the radio reporter.

Seeing his struggle with his suitcases, she wanted to help him out but knew she wasn't prepared to do so for more than one reason. The first being if a young man was having a hard time moving his luggage, it was doubtful she could do better being in advanced years of him. Second, if she needed to grab a hold of even one of the cases two handed. Well her special right hand meant for weight baring and stabilization enhancement, it was already packed and on board the plane behind her and Patrick. Patrick spoke up then noticing the other gent's trouble, as he walked over to him to offer help.

"What are you packing in those things? Bowling balls?"

When the old detective was upon his location, Greg noticing his out outstretched hand offering to help. Proceeded to accept the offer and present to the ACME employee, what he considered the lighter of the two suitcases. Patrick after believing himself to have taken a good grip on the handle of the case, tugged at it to release it from the other man's grip. That's when the lighter suitcase fell to the ground and being able to take the surprise of weight with a little forethought. Patrick's body took a sudden jolt to being lowered with it, but not falling himself. A glare at the brown eyed man was Patrick's simple response to him for the mild surprise.

"It's not the clothes or hygiene items or even my Baby Brownie having weight. I strongly strongly suspect it's my wire rolls." Greg replied, to the silent question he was sure he'd been asked on top of the other man's bowling balls comment.

"Wire rolls," Patrick uttered softly to himself before saying to Greg. "That second suitcase is your recorder isn't it?"

"I couldn't do my job without it not unless you guys and WGBH for it's listening base, was fine with just my voice. It will make the report all the more credible if you guys spoke on behalf of what you're doing as well." The reporter said, as with two hands to the handle of the one suitcase still in hand. Hunched over in a slightly awkward looking fast walk, made his way to the short ramp leading into the aircraft.

Setting down the suitcase on the first step of the ramp, Greg turned to look back at the ACME employee still with his other suitcase. Patrick wasn't going to attempt to move it again, having learned his lesson once already. Ready to take back what was his responsibility, Greg jogged back to the detective with his belongings, sitting at just before his feet. As the jog back took place, the reporter thought it important to ask. "I thought you guys were going to have the girl with us? What happened to her? Did she change her mind?"

"She's already on board the plane and last to my knowledge was trying to find out where the staff keeps the cocktail cart reserve." Jocelyn answered back, arms crossed as Greg who now was getting worn out by his own choice in packed belongings. Despite knowing all were essential with the exception of his camera, he was now lightly debating. They were taking their toll on his strength as he repeated his awkward fast walk a second time to the first step of the ramp.

This sapping of his energy hadn't started at just the exit from the inter airport's housing. It had started not long after having been dropped off from his taxi ride to Idlewild. At check in which he wasn't sure exactly among the commercial travel airlines, was the one he was meant to use. Each check in station informed him they had no reserved ticket in his name. None of them he learned also had any recollection of dealing a grouping connected to the ACME Detective Agency. As he'd roamed from one check in spot to the next. That's what had triggered the decline in stored energy from his light breakfast. It was the last check in station with it's staff, that finally knew about what he was talking about. They once explaining what he had to do. They left him to his own devices to continue.

When trying to local terminal zero, where he'd been told to exit to board the plane he was due to be a passenger on. He thought on what he was he was about to embark on. In all the time he'd been a reporter, he'd never traveled even once. At least not outside New York City. WGBH had no reason to ask him to report on news not locally related or of national interest that's effects, the city's residents had something to say on. Keegan while under no job duly obligation, he had always been Greg's helper when needing to haul the wire recorder and non-magnetically imprinted blank wire rolls to job, non-station job sites. Keegan, Greg thought again about this fact. Keegan used to play college football and sometimes in his free time lifted weights to keep in shape. Himself: he had played nothing more physically demanding in sport beyond a summer tennis program, his high school had offered.

Tuckered now and thoughts now on the next few and last steps he'd have to make with his luggage. The radio reporter asked, "that cocktail cart. Any chance of water, plain ice water?"

"I don't think what Ms. Louveofran is looking for, is on board but I'm sure ice water is possible." Jocelyn replied as Patrick walked back to the plane. Soon joining again in company to her once more so they as a trio with their second guest, could board it for flight.

-----

The place had a smell to it Lawrence couldn't completely put a finger on but could take an easy stab at. Most likely what his nose was picking up on was body fluids of many types all mixed together from many people. People had been shoved in and imprisoned in here, before him. There was a strong possibility some of those people had died in here too. Surprisingly the room contained no chains and shackles to hold him to one of the walls, floor, or ceiling. His only restraint contrasted with his environment to a high severity, was a gold-plated thin chain tri-fold restraint, keeping his hands tight together. Also the door to the room that he'd already tested and had even rammed into, it was locked.

For lack of food and water, he was feeling weaker by the day trapped in the place. Opening his eyes for a moment to note something other than the miasma of human waste among other smells of secretions. He looked at his bondage. Surely it wasn't actually gold-plated and merely only looked like gold. Yes, the woman who had put him in here, The Contessa. She was a person of expensive taste and demanded what she dealt with was of exquisite refinement. However taking her extravagant habits so far as the restraint of an ACME detective? Gold at least 24 karat, gold is easy to bend. The chain held it's self well against his attempts to break it outwards. Gold colored paint he suspected lightly, over carbon he suspected highly.

If the evil woman had taken him captive under different circumstances, he was sure he knew what differences would exist in his current predicament. She'd have hired guards to keep watch over him. Something would be placed with him to ensure a swift death.

Her choice here in Dunkirk, France. A concentration camp now abandoned by the Nazis and freed Jewish & FFI prisoners. Because Allied forces had already moved through the area in seeking any remaining captives the place might be holding. Because civilians had been avoiding coming around where he was long before he had even been placed there. The Contessa knew his situation was hopeless of freed escape.

Before things had taken their grim turn with him. When he'd been trying to fight off the team working beneath her. He'd by accident smacked his wrist watch against something hard in the frantic brawl. It was broken because of that hit with it's scattered face and bent hour hand. The only way he could keep track of the time, was the outside world by a slit of a narrow window high over head. When he'd been cast into the room, he'd noticed it then sadly sizing it up. He lost the hope it could be used for escape. Even if he somehow managed to climb up to it, for the helpful fact it didn't have bars in it. That fact didn't help because it looked to be about five inches high by two inches wide. It was a hole to allow fresh air to enter and nothing else. Unless wild life small enough decided to give the thing a go.

Nothing had entered the place to share the space with him. He was grateful for that. But if something was at least of the mammal variety, anything. He was so hungry he didn't care if what crawled in was a rat, mouse or other. He vowed early in his hunger pains, he'd figure out some way to kill it and attempt to prepare it to make it edible. Aside from hearing occasional noises he was convinced came from foxes. He'd only heard one other animal sound and this one he had come to welcome.

At last he knew sunset was at not long before eight pm. Not long into the night that's when the mole crickets started their chirping. He guessed their chirping lasted into at least four hours. So because of them noisily communicated among themselves for hours. He was getting a mild sense of the passage of time. Beyond tracking what he could of the air slit's daylight sunbeam while it lasted. Even that beam of light dulling out at what he guessed late morning for the sun rising too high in the sky to catch the window right. Now it was some point a few hours before dawn he guessed.

Besides freedom, what else he wanted thinking back on. Because he was even willing to eat like an owl now if he could. Now unlike before when he'd been with his troop and they had offered a lunch to him at the time he wasn't prepared to stomach. Now he would eat that spam.

-----

"Eeeissh," was The Contessa only verbal answer to her surroundings as she surveyed the place she had decided to conduct her business from. The place had once been a profitable up scale hotel. That is before a SC50 bomb was dropped on it, damaging the ceiling of the place extensively and caving in at last ten rooms over five floors. She wished she had a better choice for the coming auction but this would have to do. It would just have to do better.

Because of the rumble yet to be completely cleared out, she'd departed from her normal choice of high-heeled shoes for something she considered more sensible to the environment. A pair of medium heeled boots, pointed toe, tight to her body in muted dark pink leather to match her gloves and belt. They helped her with the task just ahead of her. Making her way as fast as she could to the man she'd placed high stock in for her team Scarlet Lily.

Dressed in a more luxurious manner than other henchmen in VILE’s employ. A dress code only reserved for Scarlet Lily team members. Uniforms in color tone matching their team leader’s changing daily dress. But always dulled down into muted pastels so as to not outshine what she wore. Rob Emblind with the shaded lenses of his helmet mask, flipped up for dull lighting. Knew he shouldn't have attempted to tell her not long ago he and those with him on the team, were nearly done their work making the place look presentable. As she crossed from the lobby into what had been the place's bar where he was. She made sure to make a show to him of lifting off her hat. To then shake it to present in falling off the hat's wide-brim and deep yellow dyed cock feathers. That most of the way surrounded a ruby studded button to the hat, making decoration look nearly like a flower. A thick layer of pulverized plaster turned powder, came off in the shake.

Pursing her lips into a sour expression she looked at him with expectation of knowing he'd just seen her little display. He blushed in shame touched with mild terror at his failing to do his job right by her standards. He knew without words what she was telling him and he responded, he hoped correctly as fast as he could. "I'll find better cleaning supplies. If necessary, we'll all except you of course. If necessary we'll all carry out to, out of sight from where coming guests are, fallen structure including dust, Ms. Contessa."

"These candles, there should be more of them and they should match our surroundings. You know the rugs and the drapes." She replied to him after an acknowledging nod, he hoped meant approval to what he said he'd do next.

"I wasn't thinking right, forgive. The candles we're using for lighting now won't be useful tomorrow evening. Forgive, but what if we can't locate purple candles in time? While the local shops we've been able to raid had some candles, well the choices were limited. Birthday small ones, and these ones taken, meant for emergencies." Rob stated in question, as he backed a foot away from her.

Not removing her eyes from him, she removed one of her gloves and held it by the hand still clothed. Giving the removed glove a soft slap pat against her opposite bare fist, she ordered and questioned. "Dye the wax if necessary. Those coming to bid on the paintings know I'm in charge and that means they know to only expect the best presentation. Have you been able to inspect those crates we were able to procure from the Red Cross? Is anything of it worth the palates of who is coming?"

Rob knew the leather glove wasn't anything as harsh to strike someone as a real weapon. That didn't stop memories coming to him fast of the times she'd hit him with it to make her point to him. The first lash he'd gotten from it he knew had been done not to address him fouling up her orders. It had been done to make a psychological impact on him. She had at the time just picked him to be on team Scarlet Lily, just beneath her, and she wanted to show him who was top dog of the team. The slap from the glove hurt for hours and it took hours after the pain had subsided to find out why it had such an effect on him.

When he had decided it was necessary face her again to finally get his orders for their next job for VILE. It was then she had him see the glove again as she let sharp edged semi precious gemstones fall out of it to a table top she was by. Before he could say a word to her. Her words to him were, "you never know and I'll never tell you, got it?"

To her face or even behind her back he would never say the opinion of her that initial slap had given him of her. Of since the hit had been done to establish herself as top dog of the group. That surely made her a bitch.

Trying to repress a yawn and backing up another foot from her, he replied. "We will do our best. As for what we were able to requisition from international aid. Some of it was mundane. Some of it was acceptable. The guests will not been offered the mundane."

Sensing something was likely wrong, and fortunately he hoped not of his making. The Contessa put back on the glove she had until a moment ago, been ready to use against him. He didn't move but was still ready for action against him. Instead what he got was a surprise. She then placed one hand on him to tell him in an even tone. "You haven't had much sleep have you? It is what, nearing four am? Do what I've asked about the cleanliness of this place and the candles. Then you and the rest can sleep after this all is over, ok."

Knowing not to back away yet again as a way to show he acknowledged her order and what it allowed him to do in it's afterwards. Feeling the long night's effects on him again, letting a small yawn escape. Rob gave her a weak salute to then drop it and walk around her & out of her way. If the woman has right about what time she thought it was, he couldn't waste any time on empty moments. Every moment counted and rest was not a thing in her book for the weary.
 

systemcat

Visitor From Another AU
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Chapter 4:


"We are now approaching the Vue du ciel Airport and will be starting our descent at 10,000 feet. Do refasten your seal belts at this time." The plane's pilot announced over the intercom.

When the announcement had come, the small aircraft's non-staff were asleep. This had been encouraged not long into the journey from New York as a way to quickly get used to the timezone change once the plane landed. Everyone came back with ease to consciousness but for one. Patrick was still asleep and even with closed eyes it was easy to tell he was still in slumberland. The light snoring told everyone the easy answer. Jocelyn, she knew what to do about it.

Unbuckled from her seat she got up to stand in front of her friend rather then simply sit beside him. While Sadie simply looked on at the older lady's action. Greg couldn't restrain his thoughts about the woman up & about, and he had to tell her his thoughts. "You guys are used to international travel? The insisted on nap because of jet lag timezone adjustment. He's used to this?"

"Almost as much as I am," The detective answered as she started, grasped in her true hand. She waved a lock of her hair over her friend's mouth and nose.

"We were told not to do that." The reporter said as he was feeling at a lose for words over the ACME employee's actions. Being at a lack for words over anyone's actions was rare for Greg. If this were a common problem he wouldn't have a job. Fortunately for him this if it could be called a professional embarrassment. None of his friends and co-workers were witnessing it. Further more he had not yet even tried using his portable wire recorder yet.

Thinking on that fact of saving face with it tucked away in the cargo hold. Made him wonder when should he start the recording of this journey. Thinking about the cargo hold also made a note to the moment, swing to his attention. Some form of interesting odor. The smell got his mind on to something he hoped was less a worrisome matter than the senior forcing her partner awake for the landing.

"Don't worry, I know what I'm doing." The conscious detective commented before the waking detective, batted away the waving hair in front of him.

Finally having opened his eyes. Greg's thoughts to comment on the side about the unusual smell stopped when the old man said yawning, "France?"

"Almost, we're descending." Jocelyn told him and at the same time pointed to the window nearest him.

Feeling grumpy at himself for stashing his luggage in the rear compartment of the plane. The cargo hold after all being the proper spot for it. Greg looked out at the view, the window just beyond Sadie to his side, provided. If he had his luggage with him or just his Brownie. He could get some photos of the Atlantic now looking a little nearer below the transport than it had been earlier.

The mystery woman as Patrick had called her yesterday, out of Sadie's earshot. The only other person he knew saw the young lady that way was the older one, Jocelyn. He was sure the woman sitting next to him had something going on at hand not being spoken of. The moment they were sharing now made the puzzle of her more interesting. Sadie didn't seem to have any interest in the grand aerial view to her right side. She looked to be taking in the same odd odor he'd detected, although she. She seemed to be making an internal judgment call about it before smiling. Then she unbuckled her seat belt.

Was she planning on getting up herself? Had she brought along a camera too? Getting an answer to that wasn't going to come at any moment. At a guess, the mystery woman's attention was also on what was taking place in front of them. That was when Patrick pointed out. "You could have just shook me a little and told me."

Jocelyn didn't have the time to reply to her co-worker before the on board mystery said her thoughts on his comment. "You're the only one who didn't hear the pilot over the speaker."

"Oh," was all Patrick could think to say in response to her statement. More words rang to mind for another passenger of the flight. The reporter while knowing what was taking place before him and to his right side, mattered. Knew so did what he seemed to be witnessing out the window not far away.

What was taking place outside the window didn't look right. At least not how he thought it should look. Travel by air in what Greg knew about plane flights, was a pretty straight forward deal. Planes to what he knew flew as the crow flies to a destination, a straight path. The only exceptions he knew of to the rule of this were air force conducted strikes & combat flying. Stunt flyers that preformed for shows, purposefully preforming spectacles in the sky for attention and admiration of an awe inspired audience. Lastly farmers lucky enough to own dusters and then he paused on that last one. Corn and other plants for agriculture were normally planted in rows. Crop dusters flew like crows.

This, was he over reacting to the sight? Sure he'd never flown before and didn't want to count himself as a cowardly scaredy-cat. The girl beside him didn't seem concerned in fact as she was getting up from her seat grinning like something wonderful was taking place. Grabbing her by one arm, then trying to address everyone front and present. Greg proclaimed, "Guys, I'm not used to traveling by air at all."

The statement on it's own took no effect on any of them except annoyance from the mystery woman as he gripped her arm. Knowing he had to further state his thoughts, the radio reporter added. "We seem to be circling lower and lower, not in a straight line east for descent. Is it normal to look like we're going to hit the water?"

A reaction did come from the last part of his commenting. Both ACME employees peered out the window nearest to them, on Patrick's left side. Sadie barely turning her head gave the window nearest her a skeptical looking glance. Right before she jerked her arm out of Greg's grasp to then fully move around him and start towards the rear of the plane. Not long after what was either the mystery woman's journey to the restroom or cargo hold. That's when a different reaction occurred from out of sight and shouted from the cockpit. "No one is at the airport and the runway isn't clear. We're making a water landing."

Moving at what felt like a surprisingly fast speed, Sadie made her way back into her seat as quickly as she could. Jocelyn couldn't move as fast or was choosing not to. She looked to be deciding about next action, looking out the window beside Patrick. Her only move, stepping back just a little to make herself fully standing in the aisle between everyone in the cabin.

Older and wiser, those thoughts of overview to his elders seemed to have no place right now. He needed to force common sense into her, he just hoped he was right about what he thought that was. Of before Jocelyn knew it, Greg had unbuckled his seat belt, stood up, taken hold of both the old maid's upper arms, and lastly before getting hit by her with one hand. Sat her back down in her seat with a failed afterwards attempt to buckle her back into it.

"Mister Leeds what is wrong with you!" Jocelyn snapped at Greg in, he guessed was one step shy of being boiling in full blown anger.

In complete shock the lady sitting across from him was baffled by his actions to her. She who claimed to be well traveled and he guessed a massive risk taker. How could she not see their predicament as a cause for worry? Filled with intense anxiety and also surprised the lady's partner wasn't panicked by what was going on either. Greg answered her, shouting and stuttering mildly as he did the act. "Wh - what is wrong?! We're going to crash! That's what's wrong!"

Jocelyn couldn't think of anything to say to help the young male guest in tow with herself & Patrick. If he'd had his recorder with him and turned on going about it's job. She had a feeling that if that were the case, upon returning to New York City. When he'd let his peers at WGBH listen to his recordings, particularly the flight, what was taking place right now. They'd laugh at his reaction. She wasn't concerned. Patrick didn't seem it either. He too knew the pilot only meant what he'd said. Their mystery woman, Sadie? Panicked too, she just wasn't being vocal about it. As Jocelyn buckled her seat belt to try and make him happy. The pilot not having heard the shouting for the reporter, added in his thoughts over the intercom.

"Mister Radio, we aren't about to crash. This is something pilots are taught to do when approaching a coastline and have no where to properly land a plane. We are going to circle down, slowing down. Slowing down so much it will not cause a problem when we hit the water. We will coast gently towards the shore, over the water like a boat. We will stop safely when we're on the shore."

The relief was clear on the faces of both invitations to the flight. Sadie taking in a deep breath before looking to the window beside herself and unbuckling her seat belt again. Greg rolling his eyes before closing them for a moment to only then turn to Sadie and tell her. "If you are going back there for the bathroom. I need that space right after you."

Getting up again from her seat and facing the reporter, Sadie replied to him. "I was heading back to the cargo hold, you can use the bathroom now."

"You brought a camera along too? You're going to get shots of the water you know?" Greg asked her while she made her way into the back of the plane and out of sight.

Rubbing a finger across the underside of his nose, Patrick was thinking. Jocelyn knowing him as well as she did, knew quick thoughts were going through his mind at this moment. He was piecing together thoughts of some relevance. To then turn to Jocelyn, making a face of concern, he said those thoughts aloud. "Haven't you noticed it feels a bit warmer in here than it normally would on any other flight?"

Panic starting to build again, Greg butted into the started chat he knew was meant to only be directed at the lady ACME employee. "It's not normal to have the air a bit warmer? Does that mean something's wrong?"

"I don't think it means anything bad. I think Ms. Louveofran sometime ago turned on the space heater I saw sitting back there earlier. Why, I'm trying to figure that out." Patrick answered with a half formed fist by his mouth. The finger that had been against the underside of his nose, there again unmoving and pointing away from himself to his side.

Oddly grateful to himself for not buckling up his seat beat again after forcing Jocelyn to sit down. Greg still feeling a particular urgency taking place, got up from his seat to start for the restroom not long before the cargo hold in placement. Sadie blocked the aisle between the rows of seats to either of it's sides. Not intentional he was sure, the path was narrow. Although her looking at him, he could tell she was feeling tiffed at him as she held in one hand a jug of fruit juice? It didn't look appealing. It didn't smell that, wait smell? That was the odd smell!

It read 'Grapefruit juice' on it's side and above that showed a picture of the citrus. It's origin he was sure was the small aircraft's supply for the drink cart, she'd called to the lady detective the cocktail cart. That supply is where, no that had to be wrong. The water he'd been given just after entering the plane. It had to have come from a tap he hadn't noticed earlier, either that or, he remembered the bathroom. They wouldn't have used that sink, there had to be another one in the aircraft and he doubted the water had come from a jug similar to the one used for the grapefruit juice. The grapefruit juice which smelled strange and in the near transparent container, was dark. Grapefruit normally didn't have either off putting characteristics to it.

Admittedly the curious sight and smell had the reporter wanting to ask questions. They could wait a tick, because of the jug's holder showing she wasn't entirely tiffed at him, moved into a seating passage temporarily, to let him by. Nature needed to be taken care of first before anything else he knew as he ran towards the bathroom.

Outside the window Patrick observed the shore line off some distance before the plane made another smooth turn away from it. The movement was gentle and wasn't causing him alarm unlike still he guessed the younger man as his nerves still seemed on edge. The old detective rather then take curious amusement in the plane's path down to the water. An act he knew was going to lead to an unorthodox departure from the plane later on land. Not to a tarmac but to a sandy shore instead. In thinking about what the small aircraft's staff would then have to deal with. He thought now to the immediate problem of sorts not far away from him.

Sadie grinning, settling herself back into her seat, eyeing the he knew not grapefruit juice anymore. He had to bring it to light to her, he was sure he knew what was in the jug. Pointing to the jug on her lap. In a tried sounding voice, he realized said he needed to wake up further, he told her. "You're too young to have been ahem active during prohibition. How did you pick up that little talent."

Placing the jug in the empty seat beside her as she re-buckled her seat belt, Sadie answered him. "My parents were very fine teachers."

"Some emergency store of plane fuel correct? That and of course what that jug was meant for." Jocelyn questioned and stated, while Sadie placed the jug in her lap to hold on to it.

From behind her several yards back, sounds entered the cabin of a door opening & closing and a dial-shaped sign being turned to reveal restroom occupancy status. The other guest would soon be returning to his seat. She ignored the sounds, replying to the lady detective. "I suspect it will have quite the kick better than what normal gasoline has. I'll have my own unique souvenir from this trip. The normal brew is called Soolex Lager. I'll call this brew Sadie's Lex Larger Lager."

Fighting the old man was the first thing to ring to mind as Patrick tried to grab the jug away from her. Not much of a fight though. Sadie knew how to restrain herself not feeling up for doing something those around her would consider brutal to the senior. Besides that, he and his known to him company, was her ticket back home when things were over where they were traveling too. Jocelyn even decided she'd try to force the jug away from the young lady was well, getting little success made in her attempt. The female ACME employee's effort in the fight of hands to the jug getting hampered by not only the fact she was still buckled into her seat belt. But also because the mystery woman was becoming more forceful in her fight. Her youth winning out over the elders combating her.

Greg none too concerned, ended the fight, snatching the jug away from all of them. They all looked at him and he was sure he knew what they were all thinking at that moment. Beating them to the question he thought was on their minds, he stated. "It will remain under my seat until we have to leave here. I'm not planning on touching a drop of the stuff."

Turning to face Sadie, the reporter continued his commenting in saying. "You won't be touching a drop of it either."
 

systemcat

Visitor From Another AU
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Chapter 5:


Even being told what to expect by the plane's pilot and the rest of the small aircraft's staff. That hadn't made Greg feel better about them not landing on a designated for such strip of land. At least exiting the aircraft had him and the others on dry land. The tail end of the plane coming out to a couple feet over ocean water from the beach. It made him think about how it was going to be moved to a better place to be able to take off again. Vue du ciel Airport while seemingly abandoned at that moment. He'd been told it's lack of staffing wouldn't cause a big problem. That another airport unofficially recognized was a few miles from the one they should have been able to use. How it existed was insulting to the locals that belonged in the area. They had nothing to do with it's base setup. It had come into being by Axis powers and while the war had been being waged, had been used by their fighter aircraft. The basic airport had been created since bombing had unintentionally destroyed some of the building housing Vue du ciel and it's runway paths.

The plane used to take them here wasn't going to stay in it's location for long. It's co-pilot had called in by ham radio, a request for help verbally directed at any allied military still in the area. An answer had greeted him that was shared to the rest of the staff and passengers. A tank was going to tow it off the beach and to a road wide enough to accommodate it.

In covering all sorts of news for NYC, the reporter had never once heard of such a thing being done before. But the craft's pilot assured him while rare, it had been done a hand full of other times to other aircraft. Just not normally aided by a tank. In those other cases it had been done by trucks designed for hauling portable missile launchers too heavy for any man to undertake the task. Why one of those special trucks wasn't in use for this was misunderstanding over the radio communication. Then followed by acceptance in giving up explaining the moving procedure right.

Normally in those other times a tow chain with hook would be secured to the front set of wheels to the plane's landing gear. To the other end well secured would be the land transport pulling the aircraft to better ground, to a road. The road with luck empty, for the plane’s sake hopefully not encountering any terrestrial based vehicles on short journey. It would then be a runway. A hop up into the air for likely a few minutes to then land at the wanted airport not far away. That couldn't fully happen here.

When the staff had checked on the extra fuel supply only meant to be used for emergencies. Fuel if used today would fund the plane's gas tank long enough for it's trip to the unofficial airport after the tank towing session. They noticed it gone and had been puzzled about what could have happened to it until the jug of put off limits home brew alcohol was pointed out. What was left over from the journey across the Atlantic in the fuel tank wasn't much. Because of that to case, the pilot felt unwilling to try driving the plane to it's next near by location. If what was left in the tank failed to do the job of that simple point A to point B. Then he'd have a very interesting foul mark on his service record. If cars and trucks needed the used road his aircraft got stuck on, he didn't want to think of the number of complains the traffic jam would cause.

Sporting a pained union jack flag on it's gun turret. The tank started to come into view. It had quite a task ahead of it he thought. Not firing on any enemies today, he betted it's crew would not be forgetting this day anytime soon. For lack of extra fuel, now they had to assist the plane for it's full journey to the former Axis governed airport.

Feeling he’d be unheard because of the sound of the rolling tank heading towards the plane. It's pilot now standing in the door hatch, shouted out to everyone not in armored transport. "The contact you guys were expecting to be getting in touch with at Vue du ciel, Mister Cal Cranna. He's going to be meeting you here. He doesn't own a ham but his wife does. She's told him the description of where we are, or where you'll be. I'm riding with the tank once I have this thing in neutral for the tow."

From the edge of the shoreline where sand blended to dirt, mixed with weeds and grass. Jocelyn shouted back to him in query. "How long until he's here?"

"I have no idea, I suspect he'll be here as soon as he can," the pilot answered back before ducking inside the plane again. Then not long after returning back into view. Presenting them without looking to be straining his muscles, luggage Greg felt ashamed at forgetting he'd not removed yet from the aircraft.

Thanking and taking his two suitcases, he felt their weight again, dipping his arms in that reminder of it. How he'd forgotten such essentials he blamed his mind being preoccupied by the plane's approach to landing he'd not foreseen when he'd agreed to the whole event taking place. Herd mentality looked to be governing manners on just beyond the beach. Greg knew he had to join the ACME employees and mystery girl there in the wait for the seniors' associate coming for them. At least the trip had given him a good rest. That rest starting not long after the trip had started out across the Atlantic to having almost crossed it entirely. Feeling refreshed now, at least carrying over his belongings to be sat down with his traveling companions' trip necessities. The reporter didn't feel as exhausted moving them this time as he had back at Idlewild.

A little whimper escaped Sadie as she watched the towline chain getting attached to the plane, on it's axle beam fold and compensating actuator. Those around her guessed they knew the reasoning behind the whimper. Only Patrick said it aloud. "They'll probably dispose of it safely. If you want a drink that badly, ask your sister about one when we meet up with her. I'm sure with how much time she's spend over here she knows of a pub or two or ten."

"We aren't a family of alcoholics. We just happen to enjoy a glass under stressful circumstance," Sadie replied defensively.

Away from it's former passengers, the plane secured by it's tow chain to the tank, started getting moved. A miscalculation of not realizing how eager the tank's driver was to get away from the beach. Had the aircraft's staff almost pushing their pilot off his responsibility, to the ground so he could run to the tank. Fortunately for him it wasn't moving very fast as he reached it. Then proceeded to climb up it's latter to knock on it's entrance hatch to be let inside the armored rover.

The view beyond the beach where they were in looking east didn't provide good scenery to see in coming transportation. When the tank had come to the beach it hadn't greeted the sandy soil by paved road or even a gravel one. It had simply traveled over the unmarked earth towards the plane from a road barely visible off in the distance. Small trees came not long after the beach heading east, followed by tall grasses, a shed for some purpose. Miniature groupings of trees making forests large enough to cover an acre or so each. It was into those tall glasses a short distance where the road could be made out a little. Jocelyn thinking about the scene, wondered how Cal could ever find them unless the plane's pilot had done an incredible job describing their location. Either that or that lonely shed, which looked to be a couple decades old. It could have been a landmark, locals relied upon for various reasons.

Opening a covering of leather on the topside of her right forearm's prosthetic. She looked at the watch embedded into the metal brace, existing one layer before the padded layer of the false body part, touching the stub higher up where her elbow was. The time read what it would have back on the east coast of the United States. Chiding herself for not adjusting it during travel to the right time zone where she was now. Doing a mental calculation of adjustment, fixed the watch to read what time it actually was, eleven o' five am. Cal might be having his lunch right now she thought noting the GMT+2 time.

Closing the covering down over the watch, making sure first the ground didn't look too damp or roughed up. In practiced grace she sat down on it, and noticed her company following her action in suit except for one of them. The radio reporter was in a crouching position opening up his suitcases. When Greg noticed her watching him, he explained. "We have some time to kill here. I figure now is the best time we start my end in this. Interview time Mrs. Deyriès and Mr. Gardener."

Feeling this wasn't her business but feeling very curious. Sadie moved away from the ACME employees ready for the soon flood of questions. She knew once it dawned on her in New York, walking with the detectives back to their place the evening before last. They weren't the sort of people she should ever try to get comfortable around, learning what they did for a living. At the same time they were also her best hope learning why Viola hadn't been on board the Edgewood and hopefully reconnecting with her. Also discovering more about their business could serve her well to relay back to her comrades working for Scolex Enterprises. Knowing your opposition well was the best way to know how to avoid them, she'd learned in the past.

Once checking how charged up the battery was inside the wire recorder. Plus plugging in the microphone to the jack outlet the device had on it's upper left side. Greg was ready to begin his interview. Standard questions he thought, except for maybe the second to last one. Hopefully they'd forgive him for it and wouldn't harp on it because of what had given him the idea to think it up in the first place.

Both representatives of the detective agency looking ready. He flipped the on switch into the powered position on the wire recorder and started his questioning. Holding the microphone near to him as he spoke to then hold it near the pair of seniors when he knew they had to reply.

"Why did you start the ACME Detective Agency?" Greg queried the pair. When noticing it was Patrick ready to open his mouth first, the reporter made sure to take aim right for him.

"At first we were it, there wasn't a name. But in dealing with a case back in '01, Jocelyn and I started to work with another detective. This guy was going at the job solo. Raj Mahal, welcomed our help on the case and in the end when we'd solved it. When we agreed a continuing business partnership was a good idea. He said we should be in the lead since we were used to working together as a team and adding him into that made the work pass by easier in solving the goal at hand. Later in our work and travels we discovered other professional and amateur detectives that wanted to help out and act in a network with us and those others added into our group before hand. After a while we decided it best to call ourselves a detective agency."

The next question feeling like when he'd thought it up earlier, made sense for a follow up to the first. Forcing him to swing his mic between the pair. Both had thoughts they needed to share when Greg simply said in question. "ACME?"

"I just love the name," Patrick answered.

Then Jocelyn followed up her friend's response with, "it also helps give us a first listing when someone is looking to hire us.”

"Why is combating VILE such a focus?" The reaction Greg noticed when he gave the question, surprised him. Jocelyn's face was flushing at it and her partner didn't seem inclined to answer the question. Once figuring out the words she wanted to share, she did so after half a minute had elapsed in silence.

"VILE established it's self as a criminal empire before Patrick and I took to combating them. Any underhanded scheme of a wide spread nature. Robberies of valuables thought untouchable. Killings of innocents. Want of destruction for profit. Torturing families and," Patrick knew he had to intervene on answering this question.

While he hadn't been with Jocelyn first hand. It was what had started her on the path she'd taken, leading her to where she was now. He'd heard her talk of it and quite a few times had comforted her, attempting to ease painful memories to look back on. Taking hold of the reporter's hand holding the microphone, just long enough force the device's aim to himself. Patrick continued to answer saying, "VILE goes beyond what you'd normally think of in criminal activities. Revenge is another reason here. Don't ask further."

He'd had interviews go this way before. A question Greg had guessed harmless in nature acted as anything but, causing emotional distress. The next question he had on his mental list of what to ask. Hopefully it didn't stir up any bad memories for either of them. Frankly he couldn't see how it could. Clearing his throat a little, he asked. "How many are in your employ?"

Aiming his microphone towards the man. The reporter doubted the gentleman’s friend slash work partner was up for answering the question. She was roughing up the ground around her true hand, picking at weeds and what pebbles she could find. She’d then toss them away from herself towards the sand. Patrick after a pause in thought answered. "At last we knew the number was 35 but that could be more, Jocelyn and I certainly hope not less. It's hard for all of us to keep in touch all the time. Those that have worked with us the longest, we establish as Chiefs at their normal work location. We've given them permission to hire in new help minus Jocelyn and mine's consent."

"The war, that's why you aren't sure of the number in part. It's why part of we're here in not far from Dunkirk. To find out if your employee who is also of the United States army, Lawrence Benjamin. If he's alive or not." The question had come spur of the moment since it made sense as a follow up to the last answered. The unsure numbers the agency had to it. That fact had come from one of it's founders. Beyond what he was doing right then and his intent to later do more questioning and covering any action that might occur. Greg wondered did these people need more help then simply a little good press covering them? This was after all only a broadcast segment likely he guessed most of one of the late morning news shows.

Noticing the lady detective was looking more composed. She still wasn't in the mood to answer. She wasn't looking to anyone but the ground before her as Patrick again took the initiative, answering. "That shot Bernard Powl heard as he and the rest of the troop both himself and Benjamin belonged to. Powl had to leave the area with them. That shot could have hit soil for all we know. We are detectives, we will find out what happened and find out what he was investigating involving VILE."

"Why haven't you made the agency an official business yet?" Greg asked, and felt grateful now it wasn't just Patrick ready to give an answer. Jocelyn looked ready to be an active part of the interview again. Looking at him and then his microphone, to indicate she was ready to speak. Once veering the device towards her, she spoke once it had it's place settled.

"Paperwork is not something Patrick and I are much good at. But as a side project, one of our hires back home in New York. We have a detective that used do a lot of the stuff, paper formalities. She's looking into seeing what it would take to get us there."

In silence mouthing it, the radio reporter thanked Jocelyn for chiming in, before moving on to the next question on his established list. Looking at both ACME employees, hoping for a pre-sign of which one was ready to speak up. Greg asked, "besides your employees dealing with matters which keep them out of range for normal correspondence & work. Do you think that will ever be corrected? Tighter restrictions on work rules I mean."

It was Patrick that decided to take up answering the query. Jocelyn nodding lightly in conformation as he spoke. "The only restrictions we ask our employees to abide by are local and international laws. We don't believe the idea of a tight leash is a good idea. But keeping in better contact would be great. If only telephones were as portable in working as that recorder of yours. Then I think we'd be in better touch with knowing what's going on better."
 

systemcat

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"Has anything bad said against you ever been justified?" Right after Greg asked the question, he considered maybe the query was good meat for the interview. But possibly bad for his minuscule relationship with the ACME employees. He'd put it on to his list only because of the Zebra Ink reporter making a pest of himself to them back home. He doubted the paper reporter's verbal attack had been justified but at the same time here he couldn't really leave a stone unturned in the core interview of the events taking place around him. Asking it seemed to have shirred thoughts in the man's mind. Patrick looked like he wasn't sure what to say and was taking to the question with deep thought. Curiosity teasing at his thoughts, the reporter repeated his question again.

Finally Patrick answered the question only after taking on a sheepish expression. In his pause of thought on how to answer thinking over what to say carefully. Noticing not only was the reporter in front of him looking enticed by the withheld knowledge from the interview he wanted to hear. He also noticed his virtually life long friend, mouth open ready to speak and puzzled why he'd not said anything. "Before we founded ACME, and Jocelyn and I started working together. I’d gained a reputation about town, colorful in a bad manner. Nothing breaking the law. Just not seen well in the eyes of some."

Taking the hand nearest to him of Jocelyn's, the old man continued his answer. First looking to her and then to the radio reporter as he spoke. "Mrs. Deyriès has me better than I used to be."

Not the sort of meat the Zebra reporter had been attempting to make. It was still interesting but worthy of further recorded discussion? Greg thought even trough he wanted to know more about the detective's past unrelated to his activities involving ACME. Later he thought, maybe on the trip back to the United States he'd ask minus a mic held in his hand. Hearing a sound in the distance like a truck motor and guessing what it meant. He was grateful his list was nearly completed, talking to the pair. Moving on to the last question, the reporter asked. "Since your first goal which ties to the second interchangeable. Of taking down VILE and trying to put as best a stopper in crime as you can. What do you think your detective agency will do if you ever stop VILE?"

"Continue working, someone will always be in need of our services in investigation and prevention of crime if we can." Jocelyn answered smiling, putting her other hand on top of Patrick's hand holding her false one.

Unmistakably a V8 engine, the truck everyone assumed belonged to the overseas ACME employee, was almost at the party's location. They all had attention turned towards the vehicle, in short time after Jocelyn had answered the last of the interview questions just asked. Speedy reflexes from having done other recordings on outings being disrupted by loud interfering noise. The radio reporter as fast as he could turned off the wire recorder and started packing it up again.

Stopping a few yards away from them, Cal rolled down the truck's driver's side window to greet group. "Flowers, vegetables, herbs and Maschinenmensch! Tell me what brings you here? The description given by your flight transport over the ham didn't say anything other than you had to come here to take care of business."

He wanted to growl at the nickname by loose definition. Yes, Patrick knew he accepted most nicknames thrown on him but the verbal fling Cranna liked using on him? Getting up from the ground and after that offering a hand to Jocelyn to help her get up. He started walking over to the middle-aged man's truck for where Cal was poking out of it. Cal had an interesting history with serving law enforcement.

He had been trained to be an inspector as a first career choice and had kept at the job for a few years before deciding he'd had enough of it. Then when a crime was committed that demanded his attention. His attention being diverted from the job he'd replaced being an inspector for. That being a contractor, frequently doing jobs connected to what he felt he could handle. He'd easily slipped back into his older work mode and felt lucky when working on solving the crime, he'd gotten the company of ACME for it. Now he had both jobs but because of house paint dotted clothes looking dirty. No one thought he looked at home in a Sûreté police station anymore.

What he was wearing today didn't break from the expected, Patrick noticed. Overalls and shirt blotched in white plaster randomly, along with gray paint also marking him, even on his sun tanned skin. The old man wanted to comment to the dark brown haired one. What he thought of his idea of looking professional but instead went with his prepared retort for the loose nickname used on him. Holding on to the diver's side rear view mirror, Patrick stated. "No you're wrong, I'm not a plant, I'm Morpheus."

Opening up the door on the passenger side of the truck, Jocelyn got inside the vehicle and grinned at Cal who couldn't think of a response to her friend's reply. As she settled into her seat and looked behind herself to confirm Sadie and Greg getting into the back of the truck, followed by Patrick. She told Cal, "he'll accept most nicknames just not ones poking fun at his last name being a profession. Call him an eggplant and he'll call himself to you something even more bizarre than that."

Himself checking on the welfare of the rest of the group in the back of the truck. Cal asked, "are you ok with the Maschinenmensch nickname?"

"I don't know what it means but it sounds German. Should I be concerned?" Jocelyn stated and questioned, fearing maybe what she'd been called. Had been something very impolite Cal had heard while his hometown and surrounding communities were Nazi occupied.

"German yes, but I wasn't meaning anything bad by it. It's a name from an old science fiction movie. Mrs. Deyriès, moving on to job matters. I know something is going on deserving ACME's attention. If you enlighten me, we might be able to solve together whatever that is." Cal said, ringing one hand around the steering wheel of the truck as he spoke.

Having heard the cue as he thought of it that said work was being spoken of. Patrick slid open the middle window that helped divide the truck's flatbed from it's driver cabin. Looking to Jocelyn he asked, "do you want the microphone for this or should I tell him the big reason we're here?"

"Microphone?" The duo job working detective didn't know what had prompted the use of the word. Jocelyn replying to the question from her oldest friend, only made Cal wonder further what it was not being spoken of.

"I'll take this one. I think WGBH listeners could use some more information from me. I didn't give them details earlier, I felt best not said for the masses."

He could tell his confused expression was an amusement to ACME's senior staff by their smiles. Neither of them offered an explanation to what was being talked about. Moving pass what was perplexing their local hire in the area. Jocelyn stated to Cal, "just before the war ended, Lawrence Benjamin was around here with his troop. Besides what he was doing for the army, he was also investigating something. Something involving VILE. Patrick and I don't know what that was and Ben's missing. An army friend of his we met back in New York. He thinks Benjamin got shot and might be dead."

Taking his hand off the sheering wheel and leaning back in his seat. Cal let what he'd just been told sink in. In the last few days a lot had been taking place around him and his wife. The movement of military of the bad and the good kind. The Nazis clearing out. The British and American troops making sure the first happened but also tending to locals in need. It took nothing to realize when the US troops had been passing through, that was when Benjamin had gone missing or possibly shortly before that. No where had been safe no long ago and he knew he'd heard gun fire thundering through the land around him as he hid from it in his home. A puzzle place wasn't fitting together right in this and he spoke on it. Also at the same time mentally leaning into the first thought he had about the American troop’s presence even if it didn't make total sense. "Why didn't his friend or anyone from his troop check on him when hearing the gun fire supposedly killing him?"

"The troop had orders to leave the area for a new battle engagement. When their job was done in this area the orders were to board the Edgewood for their next destination. Only he & his friend were lagging behind the rest and Ben felt it was important to follow through with his suspicions. He told them to the friend before leaving the man. Not long after is when the shot was heard. The friend his name is Bernard. He wasn't given a choice about leaving with his troop." Jocelyn stated, what she knew looking downcast for most of her answer.

Poking his tongue against one side of his cheek, Cal thought over the added information. The war hadn't been won yet when his co-worker had supposedly greeted death. Oddly through it might not have been the Nazis who shot the man because the battle being fought was over. If anyone else had shot the gun, it was either an Axis straggler or if Benjamin's thoughts VILE was up to something was right. One of them could have made the shot as well. Then a cold reality dawned on him for learning Ben's fate.

Not saying a word, Cal turned the key in the ignition of his truck to start them all towards the nearest not yet withdrawn troop camp. Hearing the engine roar to life, Patrick made sure he was braced well in the flatbed before querying. "You need to tell us what you're thinking Cal. We aren't mind readers."

Starting to roll forward for the loop back towards the road. Cal relayed, "The good guys, the Brit and Yank troops swept through the area the other day looking for signs of trouble, those in need, and those dead. I'm taking us to the nearest troop camp. They would know if his body was found."

"Patrick and I would like to think Benjamin isn't dead. A thought here, if they didn't find his body, where might the troop have not looked for it?" Jocelyn voiced to Cal as he drove the truck to the start of the road near by.

In the flatbed of the vehicle different reactions were taking place to the conversation they weren't a part of. While both Greg and Sadie aired different levels of discomfort to their ride. Sadie was taking it better acting only a little annoyed by the occasional jolt of a bump created by uneven surfacing in the road. Her stance on what the trio of detectives were talking about looked like indifference to Greg. He saw the chat talking place as interesting and even knowing this reality being spoken of, a Schrodinger's cat of a missing man. Listening to them he couldn't help but nitpick them to Dick Tracy comics in thinking of how the comic was taking detective work wrong in how it relayed it. The ride was a little unsettling to him being used to in general if he needed a ride usually resorting to one from a cab. What made him concerned here was simply the openness of the air moving around him. The discomfort he was now blaming himself for. He should get out more, more than just needed trips through out the city back home, life needs and job needs. The way he'd handled himself on the plane thinking back on that, drove the point further home to him. Just how much traveling did ACME do? At least how much did the unmarried couple do, that had founded the agency?

Thinking on those comfortable with travel, he asked the mystery girl. "You seem ok to this. You've ridden in one of these before?"

"I've been through a lot reporter. I can handle a lot," she answered him, still looking bored.

Only Viola mattered that and of course what her sister had gotten a hold of, whatever that was. The ultimate do-gooders up front. The man who looked to be similar in age to herself. Thank god not into law enforcement too. This wasn't going how she wanted it to. Sadie knew that missing detective had nothing to do with her goal unless. These people from ACME they believed the Nazis or possibly these people they were mainly after, VILE. Did they think either of those groups might have shot their friend? Nothing said so far about employees from Scolex Enterprises. Viola if she had done the act. It didn't totally make sense because she didn't carry a gun. Just a knife like her sister's. The sibling had just as much skill as a thief as her, snagging a gun wasn't a hard task for her. Thinking about how she might know the answer to the missing detective's fate, she smiled to herself.

Catching the reporter sharing at her, she grabbed for a bag of dry cement near to her. Once taking hold of the bag, grabbed the side edging of the flatbed to steady herself as she stood up. Then placed the bag where she'd been sitting only to sit down on it. Taking on the air of a lioness, directing her focus to him, Sadie commented. "I think the man is dead."

"You're a little strange you know that?" Greg told her before turning his attention back to the driver cabin. He couldn't see well into it. Patrick's backside being the cause, but he wanted to hear what was going on. He was ready for a break in the silence of what Jocelyn's question had produced. What sound came next wasn't from what he was attempting to ease drop on discounting the steady sound of the truck's engine. It was the company's mystery lady responding to his comment on her.

"Life in Montana will do that to you."

"Where no one would want to go and already checked on," Cal finally answered. Greg wasn't sure where to be directing his attention. Both the driver's cabin and the girl in the flatbed with him, intrigued him. Because Sadie he was sure was on purpose making herself a mystery. He decided after that thought to only pay attention to the puzzle more interesting of life or death in regards to the missing ACME employee.

From in the driver's cabin but barely because his head only poked in part of the way. Patrick queried, "what kind of place would that be?"

Another long pause happened before Cal could bring himself to answer the question. Thinking of friends he'd lost making him bite the inside of his mouth as a tear started to form out from one eye. As he lead them all pass what had before being bombed, was a store for boating supplies. He said, "the Nazis setup a concentration, a death camp well guarded during the war. It's not far away from here."

Understanding why the subject of the place deserved a moment of silence. Jocelyn waited until the pained emotion on Cal's face stated to pass before she asked. "Which is closer to us from here? The troop camp or the, or the evil?"

Answering faster than he had with the question before the last presented. The contractor swallowed the emotional lump in his throat and told the other detectives. "The evil is closer. Do you want to poke around it first before heading to the troop camp?"

"Yes, I think it's worth a look," Jocelyn replied.
 

systemcat

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Chapter 6:


Moving very little helped his hunger pains. Although them persisting at him had kept him awake most of the night before. Lawrence had only caught he guessed maybe four hours sleep in between bouts of uncomfortable pain not only from his bare floor to rest on, coated in raw concrete. But also from his stomach reminding him of it's need. The fact his mouth was parched didn't help his discomfort either.

Late morning had already passed for the day and just knowing this assumed fact made his fear grow. The day might be shaping up to be like the last few. He felt glad almost he'd forgotten how long the body could go before starvation and dehydration took their toll on him, killing him. Watching the space above him against the wall opposite him. Looking at the faded light the slim window cast into the room, gave him something to focus on besides his fear. In the days he'd been inside the cell, he'd taken up playing an old imagination game he hadn't played in years. That of choosing a random spot. Some spot on a wall, a floor, or a ceiling covered in a texture, best if random to it's appearance. To then create shapes of either people, faces, animals, fantasy beings, or misshapen things needing names. He guessed this mental practice is likely how eons ago people had invented the ideas for shapes governing what the constellations of stars got called.

Looking at the center of the space where well defined light shown in, focusing there. He pictured some form of cloven animal. The whole body of course being a loose interpretation. It to him seemed to be something in the deer family but the head wasn't defining it's self well. Only when he expanded his attention beyond the minimalistic body and skinny legs. Outwardly he could start to see a head again by loose definition. Distorted and large and he decided more horse-like than deer. He tried to picture what the animal would look like moving about. Then he heard real moving about.

The sound of an engine and squeak of breaks needing servicing. Voices, lots of voices. Dropping his game but still keeping his gaze on the same spot he had been, he listened to them with mixed feelings. Hope and fear. If these people worked for VILE maybe they were coming to check in on him, kill him fast rather than slow? If these people were strangers, that presented hope to him of rescue.

One voice a man's sounded vaguely familiar. Another man heard, familiar but he couldn't connect how. The first man seemed like one he knew and had him pondering how that was. His mates in his troop, this person didn't sound like any of them. Then a woman spoke up, an old but alert, determined sounding and foreign accented voice. Mrs. Deyriès, Jocelyn one of his bosses! The unknown voice belonging to the man he thought he should know talked about what he knew of a troop member met elsewhere.

"Help!" Lawrence shouted at the top of his lungs.

Silence before another voice spoke up from out of sight. This one that of an old man given the same qualities of the woman's. Only for him instead of having a British accent, his came from closer to his missed home. Mr. Patrick Gardener's accent was that of a thoroughbred New Yorker. Concerned Patrick called out, "Benjamin?!"

Crying out of joy, the solider slash detective replied. "It's me! Mr. Gardener, help please. I can't free myself."

Thinking they knew from where the shouting had come from, all representatives of the ACME Detective Agency closed in on lone box shape sticking up from the ground by a couple feet. Beyond it not far away stood a gated series of three buildings, the center positioned one being the largest. The box shape's slim cut air hole needed to be investigated and it was Jocelyn who took it upon herself to ask almost at it. "Are you in here?"

Pushing himself up against the wall behind himself until he was standing. Lawrence then walked to the wall opposite from the one he'd been resting against, and faced outwards from it. Not seeing either of his employers' faces. Only their shoes and lower pant legs & deep color stockings. One quote un quote shoe mismatching the other on the lady. A false foot in truth, of bronze overlapping in fitted together segments. The sort of armor craftsmanship one would first think belonged to the bygone time of knights and dames fighting in full adornment of the stuff than just a foot of it, than in modern times.

"I can see your feet," Lawrence shouted in reply. The need to shout coming from emotion not need. He knew that with his colleagues so near by now. Him shouting wasn't actually necessary, but being captive for days. That's what was driving his shouting.

Now his employers crouched down to see him though the window slit. At first their eyes on him. His dirty camo uniform, dried out blood on one arm over his dark skin. Hands bound together by a tri-fold restraint made of a shining yellow metal. Also the note of a beard that showed it had been growing for sometime at an itch or so out from his face. His face filled with a look of expectation and being hopeful. For a second Patrick had a stray question drift into his thoughts about the man's appearance but he shelved it for discussion later. With what he knew of army life second hand. Benjamin sporting a beard, that wasn't allowed right? It wasn't important to talk about right now and besides that. Patrick was sure the bread likely had come by being trapped in the space he was in and not by grooming choice.

Then their eyes focused on the door behind him. Jocelyn spoke as Patrick turned to address something beyond what little Lawrence could see of the outside world. "It takes nothing to state without inspection that door behind you is locked. From what we've seen of the outside to this place. You're in some kind of special placement to this evil facility. Are there people there with you? VILE at a guess? Obstacles getting to you besides that door? I try to always have a lock pick in my right pinky finger."

"Blowing up his cell won't free the man, it will kill him!" The shout came from Patrick and at hearing it, Lawrence felt a sudden pit form in his stomach. Jocelyn looked away from imprisoned employee to see what was going on. Her closest companion, he was turning around their mystery woman to put a hand on her mid-back to force her to start walking back to the truck they'd come in on.

"Some one wants to blow me up?" Lawrence's fear level was high. It had dropped in the last few minutes but now it was back again to where it had been for sometime.

Returning her attention to him, Jocelyn replied. "We have a separate little mystery on our hands that's possibly a criminal. We've been able to handle her so far but back to my questions. VILE henchmen? Ease of access getting to you?"

"I don't think anyone from VILE is still here. Either that or what's beyond this cell still in the complex is incredibly soundproof. I've heard nothing from anyone for days. As far as other barriers, nothing you can't handle." The solider detective answered noticing more concern growing on Jocelyn's face. Unsure what to make of her expression he added, "is that some how bad?"

A flick of a faint smile crossing her mouth, then the senior before him answered. "That isn't bad at all. It's the thought you've been in here for days and I doubt with anything." Softening her expression she then added. "It was one of our locally based detectives that brought Patrick and I here. Mister Cranna, his wife Eleonore, she makes an impressive instant pot coq au vin. How about once we spring you, we go back to their place and get her to make it for you?"

"I don't know what that is but I'm sure it hands down beats the thoughts I've been having for days on a quick meal. No fur I should think." Lawrence told her, beaming with delight.

Jocelyn's expression of looking completely perplexed, appeared as blank faced. She wasn't sure what to say to his of in his way, saying yes. Avoiding talking of asking why he'd think of his food having fur on it. She said to him, "you hold tight. I'm sure beyond my lock pick, more help will be needed. I don't know what good those here can do, not working for ACME. I'm sure they'll assist in any way they can minus explosives. Pat, Cal and I we'll get you out of there asap."

-----

For a short while all important business could wait. Recovery had to start but what that would take at least physically for the now found detective wasn't a hard matter. Cal knew the request of food and water wasn't hard to accommodate. As Eleonore presented some freshly picked & washed green beans to the starved man, on top of the bread and stew he had already woofed down. This co-worker he'd never met before today had good manners in thanking him and his wife for the food and growing count four well sized glasses of water so far. Although thinking about a different aspect of his manners were cause for concern. A thought he was sure was shared by everyone else around him. Only Eleonore had been spared some of the professions coming out of the solider but the wording she'd missed wasn't too different from what she'd heard.

Lawrence Benjamin's mental recovery might be a longer road than the physical one being helped by green beans currently. Leaning on Patrick walking, clearly weak. Cal had heard him thanking the older man and Jocelyn over & over for the recuse as they all made their way over to his truck. Jocelyn had been holding something she pocketed not far from the truck. Jewelry he guessed but of what importance it served, he couldn't guess. He'd only stayed behind with the truck for one reason. An order to. Patrick wanted him to stay behind. Second thoughts about the added company not working for ACME. The man wasn't of concern but the woman? The order had been whispered to the contractor to keep an eye on her and so he'd honored the request by doing it.

In the truck, his supervisors back in the flatbed of it, giving Benjamin the passenger seat up front in the driver's cabin. Driving back home, the solider continued saying his thanks, only now addressing it to him, sometimes mentioning his bosses in the thanks. This thanks in the truck over not only the recuse but also being the one to provide the transportation to his recuse, plus gratefulness to coming food.

Even before Eleonore had provided the man with anything and had only with a smile agreed to help with food & drink. More thanking occurred to her and to everyone else, even the man & woman having nothing to do with the recuse. Cal wondered beyond the trauma the man had suffered because of being held prisoner by VILE. Because he also happened to be an army officer. If a local person like himself who didn't serve in the military had a hard time coping with thinking of what the war had done to people and to the land. What must it do to a solider charged with protecting those people & land effected, and daily had been shot at & had to shoot back. Further still the fear of death with no notice likely, the bringers of it all around him in battle. Benjamin's nerves Cal thought in short terming, had to be shot with all he'd been through.

Added company not in ACME's employ, at least one of them looked happy and antsy about something. While Benjamin finished his green beans to then smile at the empty cup he'd been drinking from. Cal was sure the smile also had a different meaning than just satisfaction of the meal he'd eaten. It was also likely because of the good news he'd been told when on route to the house. That the war was over and the good guys had won. The local employee to ACME watching the man, he'd heard called Leeds was talking in soft toned voice to both of the company's main founders. Patrick and Jocelyn seemed unsure at first about whatever was being spoken about but at tail end of their conversation looked to be agreeing about it. About what he thought until, Leeds approached him to ask. "Your co-worker looks done getting recovered from starvation. Mind if I clear off the table and pull up some chairs?"

"Um, I don't mind you clearing the table. Just remember the sink with the square basin in it is meant for dirty dishes. The chairs? I don't see a problem in that." Cal answered puzzled by the question asked after the statement. Wanting clear up about why a group sit down seemed imminent from a person not connected to ACME. He asked, "what were you guys discussing? I know what the man went through is of top thought but what do you have to do with this?"

"Public record, a curious and informed audience. Excuse me while I go back to your truck and grab my things." Leeds said before making his way out the first of the two entrances leading into the kitchen. To then pass through the vestibule and open the front door to the house to go outside, shutting the door behind himself.

All the contractor could think to do was look at his bosses and their second guest. Asking in silence to them, it was Jocelyn who spoke up to answer with. "Mister Greg Leeds is a radio reporter stateside. We've agreed to let him record our chat with Benjamin about the case he was working on before," she paused glancing at the solider who then nodded for her to continue speaking. "before being captured. We're trying to help our good name back home by giving the general public a better understanding about what we do."

Explanation given, at the same time both Cal and Lawrence wanted to speak up. At first this came out as almost overlapping partial words. Until an order was decided on and the contractor let the solider speak up first, waving one hand at him to relay the thought. Doing an unnecessary task because the reporter had already said he'd do the job. Taking his dirty plate, silverware and glass to the sink with the basin in it. Lawrence commented, "knowing what that man does now. That explains why he's been gnawing at my brain since I first heard him speak. I knew I'd heard his voice before, I just didn't know how. I haven't heard any American radio in years."

Waving a hand to Cal once a small amount of water had been poured into the basin on top of what he'd just deposited into it. Lawrence gave Cal permission to speak. Thinking about how some answers were still needed. After taking his cue from the co-worker. Another look was given in the direction not so much his bosses, whom he was about to be saying his thoughts to. The woman near by them, he'd been told was named Louveofran. She to him just giving an eye roll as he started to say, "like Benjamin, knowing what Leeds does. Now I understand what I couldn't figure out in what you guys were talking to me about. When we were on route to the evil."

When Lawrence made a disgusted face at him for the statement. Cal added, "our slang in the truck for the concentration camp."

The rushed entrance back into the kitchen was a double acted thing for Greg. One, the weight of the sole suitcase he was carrying using one hand. Two, eagerness to start up his work again. The wire roll tucked into his armpit to the arm & hand holding on to the suitcase. A further reason he debated as a third one, as it caused him pain. Having learned his lesson back at the airport not to try and move the suitcase himself. Patrick watched as the reporter carefully hefted up the heavy case on to the table. Seeing a little flaw in the man's logic. As he was verging on dropping the wire roll to the ground from moving the suitcase. The old detective did however intervene on that front, grabbing it before it had fallen more than three inches.

Knowing he'd messed up. Moving the tabs on the suitcase to unlock it, Greg turned away from the carrier for a second to thank Patrick for his catch. Taking out the wire recorder by setting it upright in the suitcase's interior. He for a few seconds paused looking at it in thinking about procedure, then nodded his head yes to himself. The whole sight was a curious matter for Lawrence. He’d had ideas he thought were right until now about how radio stations did recordings. Hoping he wasn't making himself look like a nincompoop, he said. "Off record but that doesn't look like it makes records. How's it work?"

This at least similar, was a question the radio reporter had encountered a few times in the past. Unraveling the cord to the microphone, which was wrapped around the tool. Smiling Greg answered, "we only play music records in the station. Our news reports that aren't live aired and advertisements. They're wire recordings. This big thing before you, it's a wire recorder. I doubt you'd like me to get into the technical aspects to how it works. But to put it short. Wire drawn across a similar head being fed by a varying electric current. That's how the sound is imprinted."

Pulling out a stand built into the wire recorder. It veering off to one side with a mental tube meant to have the recorder's attached microphone sit in it. By the hand grip being nestled down into the hole. Letting the wire poke out by a slim cut running down the length of the tube to a point of two and a half inches. Noting chairs being pulled in towards the table, by the leading detectives for ACME. Greg figured this was their way of saying they were ready now for the questioning. Looking behind himself an act he thanked himself for doing. He noticed one of the pair of seniors had snuck up a chair right behind him to sit in.

Setup and catching sight of the party surrounding him at the table. Also seeing not only their anticipating expressions, but those near by showing interest too. The Crannas and mystery girl. He flipped the on switch to the recorder, powering up the machine from it's battery. Bending into the table to get himself close to the microphone, Greg said, "listeners continuing from the interview you last heard. This is a case in investigation right now. Both Mr. Gardener and Mrs. Deyriès have agreed to let this be recorded for your ears here. But I need to ask one last permission before we start this. Mister Benjamin, do you too, agree to let your words be heard on the airwaves?"

At first nodding his head in approval then realizing the act wasn't being recorded, Lawrence said aloud. "I approve, go ahead."
 

systemcat

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"That's great. Ok guys, while this is taking place I'm going to have the microphone center on the table we're at. Listeners, please forgive changing in sound volume as I won't be moving around my mic, as these guys talk about what is happening." Greg stated, right before sitting down in the seat behind him.

The wire recorder took in silence as the ACME employees sitting around the table let the minor shock of what was taking place, settle into them. This was different from the interview the senior detectives had been given earlier. It was also one of the rare times a friendly grilling was given to another of their own about a case being worked on. Ready to unload what had been on his chest for days, Lawrence was the first to speak. "The battery I was in, we had just had a shoot out with the Germans and had been successful in it. No wounded on our side but the Nazis, they the living ones fled. Except one keeping to the area. I took off after him, gun ready."

Trying to make himself a little more comfortable in his chair, the solider leaned back into it. Seeing a problem in the making, Greg's eyes widened as he then leaned forward to point frantically at the microphone. The relaxed positioning ended then as Lawrence eyed the reporter, nodding to him his understanding. Continuing his story from where he'd left off. Lawrence added. "When I saw the man enter a building half fallen in, looking totaled. I knew something was up and considered returning to the troop to try and get reinforcements but thought again that might be letting him get away. Maybe no one was in there which could cause me additional trouble beyond the Jerry. I kept my distance trailing him before seeing him enter a room where the ceiling was not caved in. He leaned against a wall and even sat in a chair, back and forth for a while. All the while and I didn't see this as important at first. There was something looking sacked together and covered up against the wall he'd been relaxing against. A man sometime into this, entered the room from some entrance way I couldn't see and it took nothing to identify him. He was a henchman for VILE and a finely dressed one at that. You know what that means."

When the last sentence had been spoken, Lawrence had turned his focus away from the microphone to Jocelyn. Without even pausing for more than a few seconds after he had said his last word. She blurted out, "The Scarlet Lily, The Contessa, her team."

Beaming in figuring out what she'd come to the conclusion about, Jocelyn further said. "The golden colored tri-fold! She's the only person who would dare -."

All eyes were on her, and that had been the sign to Jocelyn she needn't speak of what had for days been part of the soldier's daily grief. Patrick's one hand on top the table, fidgeted in motions mainly making a fist. After letting out a rush of air from his nose, he commented. "She doesn't do anything less it's high priced. She isn't the type to raid places that don't look of worth to her standards. That building being half destroyed doesn't sound like it's to her normal of taste."

"What was sacked and covered up. That fits her taste but her use of the Nazi. That's new unless VILE has done that other times we aren't aware of. The Jerry he was responsible for the goods the henchman came for. I think he was a recruit not wanting identification with VILE so the Fricis didn't know he worked for another group. The covered up goods? Well rendered paintings, I'm sure stolen." Lawrence relayed while smoothing a hand over his face. The lack of proper sleep the night before catching up with him.

Noticing a yawn being repressed from the solider, Greg started having second thoughts about what was being recorded. If the poor detective recently rescued was that tired. This recording, for one it would be incredibly insensitive and wrong to not stop the recording to let him rest. Second, it was important what the ACME employees were talking about and he knew they must discuss. However if his bosses were catching his body language, and he was sure they were. Maybe they'd cut him a break for this moment to get shut eye somewhere? The Crannas' couch in their living room perhaps? He'd barely seen it earlier. With the living room being in the middle of what he assumed was a ring shape around the first floor of the house. The room being the larger of the two rooms linked into the kitchen. Seeing the hopefully comfortable resting place hadn't been intentional to the thought of the solider. Just curiosity to see where the second entrance to the kitchen went. That had caused the glance.

The third thought he had about the tiring out man was a selfish one he'd never voice to anyone. Of if Benjamin started tiring out to the point he couldn't repress a yawn and that got recorded. When eventually the wire was played at the radio station. Talk about sending the wrong message to listeners? Exciting isn't it guys? Detective work being done and here's one of them nodding off in front of my microphone. This third reason Greg knew he'd take to his grave.

Pressing in his fingernails to points around the back of his neck to try and fight how worn down he felt. Lawrence said, addressing everyone at the table. "It was my job to shoot him, the Nazi double-dipper. But I knew something big was unfolding that required more of my time and taking out the man would be oddly counterproductive. The Jerry was a puzzle piece in a new unexpected investigation. That's when I went to rejoin my troop. Rejoining them, is when I told my captain, my first job had business here. I needed to tend to it and to satisfy him in reasoning. Told him I was going to keep a suspicious and deserving eye on a member of the Nazi troop we'd just combated. He agreed to let me but grudgingly so."

"He warned me then we'd just gotten orders to board the USAT Edgewood for our next engagement, Kristiansand Norway. I worried about what if I missed the boat. That's when I told Bernard what I was up to. I thought my best friend in the battery should know what was going on too. He followed after me to try and assist until I told him not to." Opening his mouth to continue on with his story. The radio reporter stopped him by putting up a hand and motioning with it he wanted a pause to happen. Obliging the civilian's request he did and Greg commented.

"Wouldn't your friend have been an asset to you investigating the Nazi and the person clearly with VILE?"

Taking down his hand signal, and giving an encouraging nod for Lawrence to speak. Greg's wait for an answer came without pause from the solider. "It wasn't his fight. I knew he'd be needed in Norway same as me, but he didn’t know the job of snooping and uncovering answers. Not an investgator. The man is a great friend but still a pup. I didn't want to add to the list of things that could harm him."

"You don't look shot," when the words left his mouth, he regretted the sound of them. They came out like what he knew would have been the worst act of social etiquette. The third thought he'd had with the repressed yawn. However the question was justified because of how it had been cause for fear, death to the solider. Of they all had the shared thought of Powl's words. He'd heard a gun fired when he was well away from his troop mate, and Benjamin had not made it to the Edgewood.

Putting his head in his hands, Lawrence replied to the comment sounding worn out. "Bernard must have heard it. It wasn't a misfire hitting the ground or anything. Not the goon I'd seen before but another one working for The Scarlet Lily. This one I think The Contessa's bodyguard. He shot a woman who snuck into the room where the paintings were being kept. The woman claimed she owned them and VILE had no right to claim them. That's when the woman pulled a knife out ready to fight. Knives don't help when the opposition has guns."

Sadie had gone pale when the solider brought up the use of a knife for combat. In a mix of emotion she then butted into the conversation asking. "What was the woman's name?"

Everyone took their attention to her because of her interruption to the questioning taking place. If the lady who'd been shot? Jocelyn had sad fear bloom in her gut at the thought. Likely Patrick had the same thought she was sure. In opening up his view from his hands to look at the mystery girl. Lawrence replied, "pretty as heck, similar looking to yourself. She didn't say her name but said she'd been sent to collect her belongings on behalf of another. Some one named Mateo knew she'd win out here, is what she commented to the name. Get back what was hers."

Reactions to what had been said were different among all of them, even the Crannas looking on at Sadie in concern. Sadie didn't say a word, only a small noise. She wasn't sure what to say, she wasn't sure what to do. She felt like she wanted to collapse to the ground in grief & shock. Turning away from the view of the kitchen to face the living room through the second entrance. She gripped the door's frame and started to slide downwards but was caught by Eleonore before she could hit the floor.

ACME's founders present, Jocelyn and Patrick. Shared a look when realizing, that even though the sister's name wasn't said. Whoever this Mateo person was. He was connected to her. The woman shot had to have been Viola. Not even knowing the poor woman at all, Jocelyn shed a tear over the pain of knowing what had happened. As she was also sure the mystery girl was crying in Eleonore's hugging embrace. Patrick with a deadened expression on his face turned to Greg for a moment to see the reporter's reaction. A mix of seeming unsure about turning off his recorder. Plus looking like he wanted to get up from his chair to join Cal's wife and the younger lady he'd traveled with.

When Patrick took in Benjamin's reaction he could tell the man knew not to the fullest extend what was going on here. Puzzled ignorance that yearned for clarification was what shown on the soldier's face. Knowing someone had to ask it. The life long New Yorker decided it was his job to do so, saying, "this lady alive now or no more?"

Repressing another yawn he knew would sound inappropriate. Lawrence straightened in his chair to reply, "no more I'd think. No signs of movement after the shot. Besides that there was no way she could have survived the shot where she took it. I couldn't have checked anyway because by that point they'd beaten the piss out of me and were holding me at bay."

Coming into the kitchen, and opening up a drawer by the one containing sets of silverware. Cal took out a cloth napkin and walked away to bend down to hand it to Sadie, sitting in the entrance way to the living room. After the young woman took it, choking up in grief caused pain. He asked, "don't you normally carry a gun? Couldn't you have prevented her death?"

Lawrence didn't want to speak. This was starting to feel all too personal even if he never knew the woman he'd seen shot. He didn't want to continue and the machine sitting before him, recording all sound taking place. He didn't blame the reporter about his emotions at this moment. He blamed himself. Softly in tone he brought himself to be able to answer. "It was my gun. They figured out I'd been tailing them, spying, and they ambushed me. The Contessa didn't want to have those in her team, dirty themselves as she put it. Killing a person so undeserving of their time, not deserving of the beauty of the stolen paintings. She didn't want to have them soil their weapons so she had her men take mine."

Sadness now had hot anger mixed into it. Everyone was sure the mystery girl had been mad before over the death. Glaring outwards and moving aside Eleonore & Cal. She stood up and turned to face the solider. Balling her fists she shook them and then lunged herself at the officer screaming, starting to hit him. What stopped the assault on the dually employed man. A duo of men getting a hold of her and one woman trying to add herself into the mix of attempted restraint. Greg seeing what was taking place shooting up from his seat to try and hold back the girl, followed by Patrick and Jocelyn.

Another scream came out of Sadie's mouth even as Lawrence stated. "I know it was my gun but it wasn't me. Please understand that."

No more screams came after she'd taken in the soldier's words. Only sobbing happened and the urge to attack him disappeared. When it was realized the young woman no longer wanted to beat the solider, Patrick and Greg released their hold on her. Gripping the edge of the table for a few seconds, she then made her way pass everyone and fully into the living room to carefully take a seat on it's couch. Her grieving turning inaudible after a short while. No one wanted to approach her. Everyone was unsure how that would be best done now.

Taking the microphone out of it's holder stand, Greg drawn out talked into it. "Folks, I think you know why I'm going to cut short this recording. If appropriate more will be said later."

Flicking the wire recorder's power switch to the off position. The reporter didn't feel like packing up his equipment just yet. Glancing at the ACME detectives for a moment to try and relay his understanding. He then looked at the edge of the table, eyes downcast and said. "Talk among yourselves. I don't know what it's like to lose a sister but I know what it's like to lose a brother. I'd going to try and help her. I'm not sure what words will help. But words are what I do, excuse me."

With the radio reporter leaving the kitchen going through the second door out of it to the living room. It was Lawrence that decided to speak up first. "I didn't know."

The elder detectives getting back into the chairs they'd been sitting in until their effort to restrain their mysterious guest occurred. Jocelyn replied not focusing her attention on Lawrence. Instead she found herself doing as her other invitation had just done. Not the lady but the man. Looking on at the table to no one. "I have two last questions for you Ben. What is The Contessa doing with those paintings rightly to the ownership of Ms. Louveofran? Because I swear that battleaxe, there's no way I'll have it pass by. That girl who isn't even a girl. Those painting are more to her ownship now than they were just a short while ago."

"She's planning to auction them off. She might have already done so by this point. I was in that cell for days." Lawrence answered, wishing he knew a for sure answer about the status of the paintings after his forced captivity.

His voice had sounded so drained when he'd given his answer, Jocelyn felt bad about pressing him on for more information but she knew she must. Putting her left hand over on his hands, she bundled together what she hoped were the last things pressing on her thoughts needing answering just then. "Patrick, Cal and I we'll go to where it is we hope you might have figured out is where The Contessa will be selling the paintings?"

It wasn't that he didn't know how to respond to the question. It was just his body forcing his brain into how it felt. The want to shut down and just sleep. After staring out at the now inactive wire recorder for he knew longer than necessary. Lawrence answered, "I tracked her to a hotel out of use with good reason, The Argent Suites. I'm sure that is where the auction was or will be held. It had part of it's roof totaled at some point thanks to the war."

Her attempt at helping the younger woman guest having failed. Eleonore observed the scene taking place in the kitchen. Her solider guest acting much more stable and gracious. The old man, one of her husband's employers doing an act she wasn't sure would be met by approval once discovered by the man trying to help the younger woman. Patrick was packing back into the suitcase it was sitting inside, the wire recorder. The old woman yet another employer, Eleonore could tell was at an impasse with her employee sitting beside her. The problem was clear. While she was much more familiar with how Cal practiced his second job of sorts. Second being since it no longer held the same priority it used to years ago. She knew when an investigation was active it normally held up as a very important matter.

This solider was important to the investigation. He could certainly help in it but he was in no shape to do so and she was ready to take further pity on him. The way Deyriès was talking with him about hotel, she knew it's location too. If it weren't for the fact she was sure the place was no longer in operation, she'd pay for him to have a room in it for rest. Instead because the older lady looked to be making progress learning of how many VILE henchmen were involved with the stolen paintings and Nazis in double employ. Also learning of the art that was stolen having formerly belonged to the dead sister, an inheritance in the family, likely killed during the war. As bad as she knew it was, she looked forward to the living sister in that family present, to be gone.

Considering what was going on. While the solider needed his recovery time. Also while murderers and thieves might still be dealing with stolen art. The rage she'd seen displayed by the younger woman. It was vigilantism she felt was on the horizon with the girl but if these other employees then her husband had something to say on that, she doubted it. From a story she'd been told once by Cal over what he knew of ACME before it had been formed. This partnership of detectives working to bring down VILE had started at it's base in vigilantism activity.

Because of the old lady's progress with the solider. Eleonore figured let him take the living room couch from the girl until he could go with the bunch back over the pond to his home. Let them while they were still in local woods. Take the girl with them to settle the hopefully not yet conducted business involving stolen art, to loathsome rich collectors.

Hearing a yelp of pain from the reporter being hit, she was sure unfairly by the girl. Then seeing the girl stand up from the couch, glaring at everything in her sight. In thinking about how she was nearly surrounded by self-taught and professionally trained gumshoes. Herself having no training in the art what so ever, pride tinged on her at the sight in the living room. She was sure that girl was going to be giving VILE hell soon by what her observations and deductive thoughts told her.
 

systemcat

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Chapter 7


Revenge was the foremost thought on Sadie's mind. Second to that getting what Viola hadn't. The paintings VILE had gotten a hold of by Nazis working second jobs. As those in the truck tried to hold her back, she came close in taking action on another thought. Stabbing the men trying to keep her at bay in the truck bed. The elder was her ride back to the United States when this was all over. Stabbing him would be a mistake. Stabbing the younger man that had dared to try fib he understood what it was like to lose a sibling recently? She then tried to take a swipe at Greg but got her hand caught by the old man.

In noticing what was going on Jocelyn had gotten out of the passenger seat inside the truck's cabin as soon as she could to confront the girl. Cal as well leaving the driver's cabin to bolt outside to get to the mystery girl. Sadie was glaring with pure rage at the pair when they got in front of her outside the truck. Holding out her knife from herself and pointing it from one to the other, but mainly towards Cal. Him not being an ACME employee providing a trip back home. She snapped, "you see it! Those rich people here! The grand cars parked outside the hotel! We're in luck! I'm in luck! They deserve death!"

"And you very much deserve to be locked up in jail if you do what it clearly looks like you want to!" Jocelyn snapped back at Sadie, as she struck the girl's hand with her false one. The knife Sadie had been holding, broken out of her hand with the brute force of the slap. The blade falling to the ground to have it's sight mixed into unkempt tall grass.

Her look continued it's enraged state while Sadie said. "How can you let them get away with what they've done to my family and what belongs to them?!"

Once she had bent down to pick up the knife from the ground and had returned herself to standing again. Holding the handle of the knife in her left hand. Jocelyn replied, "we don't know if the paintings have been sold off yet. Only VILE is to blame for your sister's death. Not these people who might equally be scum. I believe revenge is important too. I know and I'm sure you know. I won't help you back to New York if you kill anyone in that hotel. If you promise not to stab or slash anyone, anyone. Then I'll hand you back your knife, understand?"

Acceptance to submission dulling the look of anger on her face. After a pause of thinking about the offer she'd been presented with. Sadie answered almost growling out the words as she did so. "Fine I won't use the knife on anyone involved in any of this, I swear."

With practiced skill of using the one hand for tasks, Jocelyn without hurting herself, turned the knife's handle around to face Sadie's awaiting grasp to take it from her. Pocketing the knife in her dress. In a sidesaddle type hurdle, keeping her legs together. The mystery girl made her way over the edge of the truck bed, then to the ground. Only with a single miscalculation in the act. It caused the heel to break off one of her shoes. This resulted in a stumble from the younger woman but not a fall.

Glaring about her mistake, looking down at her broken heeled shoe. She proceeded to not only take it off but also her other shoe so as to not have an uneven walk. As she made her way towards the fancy cars parked in the lot of The Argent Suites. Her on lookers thought over how to proceed from that point forward. Only Jocelyn having an added thought the rest didn't. It being wondering but then dismissing if the extra solo shoe she had packed in her suitcase would fit the mystery girl.

Sadie when getting to the fancy cars, didn't waste much time getting to the only revenge on those that might not be deserving of it. She was sure her supervising company would allow her to do. Moving from car to car of the most easily accessible. She deeply ran her knife's blade along their bodies, scraping the machines' paint jobs. To add more insult to injury each time she reached either the front end or rear end of the nearest car. She also made sure to slash the tires of the vehicles across their rubber sides.

Happy with her work seeing the parking lot filled with now less in value luxury vehicles. She smiled, moving to the main entrance of the hotel. Her supervising company not happy as she could tell from even a distance. Their looks relaying the opposite emotion to hers. Even as she yelled to them with her knife held high in the air, acting as if it were a triumphant thing she'd just done. "See not a soul harmed!? Now care to join me in dealing with these killers and thieves!?"

Not hearing the door open behind her. A uniformed member of The Scarlet Lily, took in what he'd been prompted by his supervisor to do. Look into a noisy disturbance. Seeing it, her, he also noticed she had apparently damaged every guests' cars. Even the Delahaye 135m 1938 Roadster he'd on occasion driven his leader in from place to place, when not handled by one of his teammates. Beyond the guests’ cars and the parking lot, a pickup truck parked on the small road leading into the lot. A grouping of people he felt grateful weren't dressed in Sûreté uniforms. But noted were also leaving the company of the truck, heading in the direction of the hotel. One lagging behind the rest, oddly the youngest looking of the bunch.

Shocked it was only now ACME's representatives had finally mustered up the guts to confront the only criminal organization they knew was present. Sadie re-pocketed her knife and turned to face the doorway behind her. To then discover what had truly got them to pick up their pace to the inn. ACME's representation and added in unofficial publicist, were trying to get to her before the person behind her did. They couldn't reach her in time. VILE's staff not even two feet away from her, was quick to grab her and forcefully take her into the building.

The abduction only causing pause for one of the mystery girl's pursuers. The radio reporter wasn't totally sure what to do next. He didn't fight crime. He didn't have any form of weapon on him. Those ahead of him working for ACME. Two of it's senior founders, the woman when she'd started heading away from the truck. He'd seen her reveal from her right hand through it's pointer finger what he was sure was a miniature gun, by removing it's tip to showing the gun's barrel. The old man, Greg had been sure for a while had a gun but his was conventional in design. It had stayed hidden from sight until now, previously holstered by a shoulder leather sewn together rig. The reporter not from observation of police but rather from newspaper photos and news reels shown before movies. He knew firearms sometimes were carried around that way. The ACME employee native to the area. He wasn't armed but that fact didn't seem to be slowing him down in meeting the goal of dealing with what had to be numerous VILE agents in the building.

What could he do to help? These people might need more help and the fact they represented a form of law enforcement. He couldn't just take the local detective's truck to drive away and try to get a hold of the Sûreté. The theft of the truck for a temporary basis he was sure could be forgiven if it was for a good cause. But he knew nothing of Dunkirk's layout except what he'd been driven to of it. He felt like a coward because even the unarmed detective was ready to try his best. Stopping in his tracks, Greg took a step backwards by a foot.

These people were braver than he was. They had done more with their lives then he had. They had decided to fight for a good cause and seemed to think nothing of heading to the next place they needed to be on their journey. He wanted to join them but now wasn't the time at least in the sense he'd be doing anything bold and helpful. They needed someone to tell their story. He'd already taken a first step towards that without true commitment before being talked into following through with it. Although to the commitment he'd made, it was meant to only be one afternoon's airing of news. After that broadcast, NYC might not think at about these protectors. They'd just be 15 minutes of sound not to be heard of again except maybe by those that would mean to harm their image rather than help it. ACME needed representation, a more public face then what it had, and he'd take that if they'd let him have it.

But first he would continue to add to what WGBH was expecting of him. Running back to the truck. He grabbed from it's flatbed, his suitcase with wire recorder inside it. Attempting to ignore it's weight as he carried it with him, now trying to run towards the hotel. His fellow company he noticed was out of sight by this point, likely inside the building he was sure. Their visual absence not discouraging him. He knew he could get this report finished and lucky for him thanks to war damage & what looked to have been someone tidying. He could see low accessible, to open breeze windows to the hotel, he could reach.

-----

"Sold for 26,000 francs! Sir you've just invested in art you'll be praised for long after your gone!" The Contessa announced to the packed conference room with glee. While she picked up the painting that had just been sold.

It's new owner, a finely dressed middle-aged man wearing a homburg hat. Took on visible hesitance before daring to reach out for his new possession. The leader of Scarlet Lily could guess from where it stemmed from and she shook her head in disbelief about it before she told him. "I have no plans to make you gone. You just have to remember to pay me for this, monsieur."

Nodding his head in understanding, he took the presented painting from The Contessa. To then make his way towards those of her team, he and the rest of the auction participants had been told would be handling their financial obligations. Seeing the henchmen standing to either side of the entrance to the room he was in. It surprised his thoughts again how they looked to be a part of the hotel's decor design, their uniforms matching the color scheme of what he'd seen of the building's interior. He'd noted it when entering the hotel and had not thought much of it but that was before he'd really taken in how sharp the place looked. The lady in charge of the whole auction, he was sure she'd handled arranging the presentation he was seeing. Plus the attempted fine hors d'oeuvres being served in the conference room.

This woman from VILE he could tell accepted only life's refined treasures. Because of that he betted even if he were to short change her men. She wouldn't dare have him killed on the spot here. Not when it was even important to her to tastefully hind the hole in the hotel lobby's ceiling and make sure not a speck of dirt showed anywhere he could see. Grabbing out his wallet after setting down his painting against the nearest wall to him. He opened it, starting to count out his owed money. Making sure the henchman before him was noting the amount he had on hand, ready to pay out.

What had disrupted his bidding towards his new prize, shouted again. Only now inside the hotel. He'd known it was a female voice from before but now he could put a face to the disruption. A woman he didn't know fighting against her captor, another member of The Contessa's team. Her latest act beyond yelling in anger, as stomping down on one of the agent's boots. The act hadn't made a difference but to make a point to her that her struggle was useless. He stomped down on one of her feet. One of her bare feet the purchaser noted.

Such a dumb woman he thought as he handed over his money to the VILE operative before him. When he was ready to return to the conference room to retrieve his jacket from the chair he'd draped it over, to mark as his seat. He shouted over to the fighting disturbance, who now was trying not to put pressure on her abused foot. "These are not the sort of people you should try messing with mme. The next time you try to stomp down your foot, they might do more than hit it. They might take it off."

Rushed, the door to the lobby hit it's self against the inside wall of the place as it was flung inwards. Cal was the first to enter the hotel followed by his employers. All of ACME's representation sized up the scene before them as they went further into the lobby. These were unknown people to the VILE agents in their presence, and the man that had just paid for his prize. But even without knowing who they were, the VILE agents felt the trio of new guests likely spelled trouble, so that meant they had to be dealt with. When they left their posts to greet the new company, drawing their guns as they did the act. This didn't escape the attention of The Contessa who was in the process of showing off the next painting of her auction. When she noticed those under her command, leave her presence without her permission.

She knew the shouting disturbance was being handled by the underling she'd sent away to deal with the woman. Could the disturbing person be so much of a hassle she needed more than one henchman to handle her? That couldn't be the case and cursing to herself in a whisper. She placed the painting she'd been holding back to where it had been prompted up to the back of a chair. To then make her way off the elevated platform. To down the center walk way of the conference room, announcing to the crowd as she went by. "Please do not put away your purses and wallets just yet. I will be back shortly."
 

systemcat

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Entering the lobby to see what had made those under her command think they could take action independently of her telling them any thing at all. She saw two of ACME's representation, before the mystery girl that had just broken away from her VILE agent restrainer. A third person, the man who had helped the break away, she hadn't met him before. Although the others she had. Forgetting about her public appearance to her eager to buy merchandise guests. She yelled, "how on earth did you track me here to this place and today of all days!?"

Keeping her loaded pointer finger aimed at The Contessa, Jocelyn answered. "You're a smart woman Caterina Gallo and I sadly know from where your logic stems in thinking we'd not discover what you were up to here. So think about this. Benjamin came to this city not because he had the intent at first to do his job as a detective. It was to do his job as a soldier.

It took only a few seconds for the leader of Scarlet Lily to realize what the lady detective was implying of the man she'd left in an isolation cell. With the assumption his death to come was insured. The fact he'd been wearing an American army camo uniform only now striking her as important. Opening her mouth to speak, she got cut short of the act by a body slam to her side, knocking her down.

Eyes wide at her attacker, The Contessa had more feelings of shock and disbelief go through her. As she really took in the sight of the disturbance looming over her as she picked herself up to standing again. Putting aside the exclamation she had been ready to state. She instead said with a degree of awe, "you look too much like the woman from the other day. You should be dead as well."

No one felt the need to hold Sadie back this time as she went in for the attack. Her hands' fingers posed into an inward bent clawed position, making her nails actually look like they could be dangerous. Her attack was short lived of after she'd taken aim and had struck Gallo's nearest arm. Because after that is when The Contessa struck back in swiping out one of her legs at the other woman in a long side kick. The defensive act got a reaction that caught everyone in the lobby off guard. It being applause of clapping from a few of the auction buying guests standing in the entrance way to the lobby from the conference room.

The guests looked delighted at the sight they'd just seen and always wanting to please those she saw on her level. The Contessa took out her glove she normally reserved for striking Rob with. But as she pulled it out of her pocket, with her other hand, she took hold of the semi precious gemstones she normally held in a different pocket and loaded them into the glove. Seeing what was to come in attack having been witness to the team leader for VILE having done it before in an earlier encounter. Patrick knew he was too far away to make a difference directly so he shouted at Gallo to get her attention. "You dirty filthy sow from a demon's rectum! Your bodyguard killed her sister! What did you think she'd do?! Leave it be?!"

If her eyes could turned red in anger, it wouldn't have been a willed act. It would have been an involuntary one. Patrick's words had the effect he'd wanted on the VILE operative as she threw down her glove, letting the stones inside it clatter out on to the floor. The Contessa snapped out her answer to him with the deepest sounding paced rage in her voice, she knew how to give. "You know me! I am nothing remotely of the sort as I am a kin to royalty, you pitiful beggar!"

Wondering why Cal hadn't joined in what was taking place. Patrick looked around the room to spot the man behind the check-in desk of the lobby. Occupied with, the old man smiled seeing what the younger detective was doing. Then turning his attention back to The Contessa, he replied. "And you know me. I haven't been a beggar in a very long time, so long ago you've only heard it spoken of because you weren't live at the time. Contessa, here is another question for you to think about. You invited these guests here for an auction correct?"

"Yes, so what of that?" The VILE team leader asked.

"How'd you tell them all to come here?" Patrick replied, looking like he was doing a Cheshire cat impression as he spoke the words.

Her animal invoked imagery to reply wasn't to the resemblance of a fictional cat. It was more to an enraged hen with her arms bent out and hands balled, resting on her hips. A hen but one wearing a designer dress suit she felt ashamed of herself for having worn it two days in a row. The result from having worked non-stop to make her event this day a grand one. Still snapping in the tone she'd last used, she said. "I had the phone lines hooked up again at this place! How else would I have?! Go door to door knocking?!"

Hanging up the phone he'd been using at the check-in desk. The contractor having been listening to the conversation he wasn't a part of but knew he'd been linked into. Had him feel the need to shout into the room as he placed himself in better sight of it's other occupants. "The police will be here shortly I told them everything that is going on. To all pointing guns, I suggest you stop that immediately. My lady boss included, the Sûreté have been overworked lately and even friendly foreigners. I don't think they'd appreciate weapons drawn."

Moving away from the check-in desk and making his way over to Sadie. Cal continued his speech while at the same time offering a hand to the mystery girl. "I believe your inherited paintings are in the room The Contessa came out of and some of her guests are watching us from. Would you like an escort to retrieve them, mademoiselle?"

Nodding in agreement, Sadie took Cal's offered hand. Although before starting for the conference room, the native detective felt the need to add, directing his attention towards The Contessa. "Her possessions are in that room correct?"

"What on Earth makes you feel you have the right to call the police?! To steal away the paintings I a have privileged right to!? Who are you to think you are so high a man as to this!?" The leader to The Scarlet Lily snapped in reply with enough venom in her voice to take down an elephant.

Looking like he was paying the VILE agent no mind. Walking with Sadie into the conference room, Cal answered back. "Just a local contractor but also a detective for ACME. I thought me being connected to ACME would have dawned on you at seeing my bosses here."

Now within reach, Sadie grabbed away the painting loosely held by it's new but former owner. The man who'd made the off comment about her foot being removed by VILE if she acted in further aggression. He was too much in shock about the events he was witnessing to take proper action to protect his investment when she pulled it away from him. Her thinking on his comment, decided more action had to be taken here then just claiming her prizes for Scolex Enterprises. Entrusting the painting she'd just taken over to Cal. She stormed up to Gallo and sternly made a request. "Your shoes, they are mine now."

Narrowing her eyes with hate boiling in them, The Contessa, towards what at first was a minor disturbance. Now she knew to be the source of a much larger one. Feeling words to respond to the request being made to her were only needed as a second action. The first part of her reply came as a bare handed slap across Sadie's face, before she added second. "You can't be with ACME I am sure of that. I will hand you nothing. I can have my underlings shoot you and like your sister, throw your body into a ditch by the roadside. VILE will be gone from here before the police arrive. I can't believe you forced me to hit you with my bare hand, you awful woman. I'll need a good scrubbing of it and a manicure because of you."

Growling, Sadie punched the VILE team leader in the gut before forcing her down to the floor. To force the other woman to give up her footwear. Again no one came forward to intervene on the girl's attack but it did cause all concerned working for ACME to think over their sworn job to defend the law and prevent crime. Cal stayed still and watched the act thinking of how in the last few years he'd seen people at war do far worse to each other. That one woman robbing another of her footwear after violated one had been the cause behind a family member's death. At least it was a pale but more clean act than expected and he would let it slide.

Jocelyn and Patrick had exchanged a look between themselves at first taking in the sight of the robbery. Speaking softly Jocelyn commented, "It's wrong but given our suspicions towards her, here shoe theft. She true does act like a criminal. Do you think the Sûreté will care?"

After sighing Patrick answered in the same tone of soft voice. "The virago ordered the death of her sister. I say if the shoes make her feel happy, the police I doubt will fret over it."

Members of The Scarlet Lily being witness to the robbery, Gallo bared her teeth, glaring at them as she picked herself up off the floor. Noticing as she rose, her stockings now had runs in them from the assault she'd just taken. She spat out her disgust at their inaction and what she thought of the imminent jail time to herself and them. They were all supposedly facing. "How could you have let that happen!? We are not leaving here in the law's shackles! We will go now!"

Pleased with her latest nab, Sadie smiled looking at her new pair of medium heeled boots. Ready to say what she thought to the leader of Scarlet Lily, to her words of fleeing capture by the police. Cal beat her to saying thoughts on VILE's wanted escape. "You aren't going anywhere. She made sure of that."

"Any of you! Keys to your automobiles! I must have one of them!" Gallo shouted towards her onlooker auction guests.

Sadie beat the ACME employees to the punch of telling VILE the cold hard truth they had to face. Settling herself on the floor and pulling her new boots on to her feet, she replied. "Your scummy buyers can't help you. I took care of their cars too."

Growing pale in the face with shock, the team leader to Scarlet Lily and a couple members of her team. They raced to the lobby's entrance and out the door to discover if what they had been told was true. When they made it outside they got conformation. Every vehicle in the parking lot had slashed tires. One not in the lot, a pickup truck. The Contessa felt sick to her stomach for even considering it's usage, but sucking it up for not wanting jail time. She thought one must do in desperate times what one must do.

Figuring the truck had to belong to the local ACME employee since she was aware the elderly pair running the agency were Americans, one by birth and the harridan by migration. That neither of them could or even had the means to ship such a thing over the Atlantic. She turned away from facing the parking lot and beyond. Not figuring good odds the contractor would give up his truck to her and her team. She also figured nothing was really stopping her from shooting him to get his keys.

Ready to open up the door to get back inside the building. An unseen and unknown voice interrupted her train of thought, asking. "Care to say a few words directly to my microphone? I'm a little worried that whole event in The Argent Suites didn't get picked up very well."

Gallo only took a moment to locate the man that had just spoken the question. Sitting perched on rumble piled high against the side of the hotel, near a window, was another unknown man. But his accent, he couldn't have been local as it sounded similar to the native New Yorker’s. New Jersey perhaps? Another ACME employee? The Contessa didn't know what he had sitting before him, sticking out from a suitcase however what was attached to it made guessing easy combined with his question to her. Holding a microphone in one hand, the connected device was meant for recording. New anger rising in her at the thought of her failure to conduct a very profitable auction because of the global law enforcing group intervening. She yelled at the new stranger. "Are you employed by ACME as well?!"

Greg didn't want to answer aloud with his first thought to that question. He knew for a fact he wasn't employed by ACME but wanted to be. Knowing what he'd been recording was going to be shared over the airwaves back home. Topped with he was sure Caster would be hearing the broadcast as it played out. The radio reporter didn't feel keen on giving the man advance knowledge of his intent to leave his job. Not just yet. He wanted to clear his idea of new employment with those in charge of the detective agency, first. Feeling this was the best thing he could say, the now truth. Greg answered, "no just a reporter."

Fast smooth movement caused by vehicles at the edge of his vision, catching his attention to looking at the horizon. Greg then added, "it appears the police are now arriving. Do you have any words for WGBH listeners, Ms. Gallo?"

"Rot in hell!" Was all The Contessa could think to say in response, now knowing what had happened had been recorded for an audience.

A come back to her suggestion was easy. Greg doubted the woman had ever stepped foot in such a place given her toff appearance. Minus what he knew had happened to the lower half of her body. Remembering a dark period in his life, he said. "I once lived a month in a tenement building. No thank you again."

Words weren't needed, only an angered glare from The Contessa was enough to tell her underling teammate to her right side, what she expected of him. He nodded his understanding and started to come for the reporter, his leader wanted to directly address. Likely brute force impacted to one or more areas of the reporter's body.
 

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