Echoes Long Forgotten, Part Two: Invasion Plan

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Malefico's lobbey was crowded this morning; a slew of deliveries, employees taking a morning coffee break, and security recovering from the latest clash between the Patchwork Champions and Dr Ecchs, this one involving seven spinning globes that spat glue and played calliope music. The cleaning staff was working near the left side of the wall, scrubbing industriously to attempt to clean the mix of glue and brass shards that had coated it, and another group was taking notes on which plants could be saved, and which needed to be replaced. Under the circumstances, the fact that no one noticed the young man slipping in through the front door wasn't much of a surprise.

He appeared to be around twenty years old, with a shock of blond hair that hung down loosely across his back, and a pair of large, round glasses that were losing their tint as the man walked further in from the sun. His light coat was adorned with dozens of pockets, and his shoes were well-scuffed and marked with hints of oil and old scorch marks. He crossed the room deftly, avoiding workers and loungers alike, until he had reached the front desk, where he simply stood expectantly.

Irene, sitting at the desk, glanced over at him and gave him a polite smile. “Good morning, sir, and welcome to Malefico. How may I help you?”

“Um… I'm looking for Dr Spencer Ecchs.” The man smiled nervously, his voice light and airy.

“Mm, I see. And do you have an appointment?”

“Uh… no. But I think he'll see me. I…”

“Oh, no. No one sees the Doctor without an appointment.” Irene frowned thoughtfully. “With one exception, but I don't think you want me calling security. Why don't you call and arrange something with his secretary, and if this is important…”

“It is, actually.” The young man interjected worriedly.

Irene coughed, her smile fixed. “If this is important, I'm sure that the Doctor will see you as soon as his schedule clears.”

“Look, that's very nice, but I actually would prefer to see him now, and I think he'll see me, if you just call up and…”

“I'm sorry, sir, but we really do have rules. If you don't have a personal line to him…”

“I don't, but there's a good reason…”

“Lots of people say that, sir.” Irene smiled again. “Have a nice day.”

“But, I'm actually… oh, hell with it.” The man threw up his arms in frustration, stalking away from the desk. “Only one way to get things done around here, I swear.” He walked out the door, grumbling under his breath, and Irene sighed. After a moment's thought, she thumbed her personal intercom. “Security, a young man was just in here, blond, glasses, lots of pockets. He might try something silly – he wanted to see Doctor Ecchs, but…” She trailed off, looking outside. Standing in front of the sliding doors, the man had pulled a small device out of his pocket and pointed it upwards. In a flash, a grappling line extended and he rocketed upwards. Irene sighed faintly. “But he's in the process of breaking in. You'll see him in a minute, I'm sure.”

The man triggered a second grapple as the first drew him level with the fifth floor. Through the glass, he saw a worker looking over with vague curiousity, and waved cheerily. A moment later, his second grapple hooked something, and he rocketed upwards again. Inside, the worker turned to nudge his companion. “Another breakin, looks like. Bet the alarms go off this time.”

“Bet they don't.” His friend yawned, returning to calculating audit reports.

Meanwhile, Security forces were assembling along the expected path the intruder would be taking. A small crew gathered on the thirtieth floor, with new-model Malefico Gravity Guns ready to capture the intruder – both were set up quickly, their stocks balanced against the hallway and their barrels tilted slightly upwards.. As they saw his shape draw level with the window, they fired, and a pair of heavy purplish pulses launched out, shattering the glass and drawing the invader inwards.

Except that it was obvious something was wrong. Instead of drifting leisurely towards the security detail, the intruder, his hands now having released the grapple guns and working on a small remote control, was rocketing down the corridor towards them. He shot past the shocked security team, rolled to a stop in front of the elevator, waved again, and pressed the 'UP' button. As the team turned to raise their guns, the team leader opening his mouth to order the stranger to stop, he tapped another button on his remote, and the entire security team found themselves pressed to the floor. As the team leader tried to reach his comm, he muttered under his breath, “Damned hijackable gravity guns…”

The intruder hummed softly as he sat in the elevator, watching it tick up numbers. As it suddenly slowed, he grinned and hopped upwards, grabbing the edges of the ceiling hatch with his hands and kicking it open. He swung onto the elevator's roof just as the doors slid soundlessly open and a dozen tear gas grenades arced in. Letting the hatch slip shut, he dropped a small hologram emitter through just as it closed, and the security team below ducked for cover at the sounds of gunfire and the sight of muzzle flares. Before anyone could get the bright idea to drop the elevator, he shimmied up the cable, finding the door he wanted and triggering it open with his remote.

He found himself in the lobby of Dr Ecchs' main office. Josh, sitting by the door, raised an eyebrow. “No appointment?”

“No.” The man brushed dirt off his coat. “Could you tell the Doctor that Bryce is here, please? He really will see me.”

“Of course I will!” As two more elevators opened behind Bryce, unloading a dozen guards from each with guns drawn, Dr Ecchs strode out of his office with a broad grin. “Been watching you on the monitors, kid. Not bad, not bad at all. But you should really watch that elevator trick. Someone – and by someone, I mean you – might get hurt.” He looked over at the security guards. “And you lot are as useless as always. Honestly, I might as well replace you all with desk lamps.” He waved his hand irritably, and the guards put down their guns with various degrees of annoyance. Ecchs turned back to the intruder. “Now. What can I do for my favorite nephew?”

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