Echoes Long Forgotten, Part 3: The Twist

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“So then, Uncle Stewart is just furious. He starts hopping around, shaking all the fur off his suit, and screaming about reaping vengeance upon the unwary…”

“Oh, man! I wish I'd been there.” As the door swung open, Ecchs spun in his chair, a grin on his face as he waved cheerfully. “Nightshade! Come here and meet my nephew, Bryce.”

Sitting in a swivel chair that Josh had quickly located and dragged into the room, Bryce turned to face the newcomer, nodding genially. “Good morning, ma'am.”

“Nightshade's fine.” Nightshade glanced up and down at the young man sitting in front of her, then over to her boss, raising an eyebrow. “I didn't know you had family, boss.”

“Of course I have family!” Ecchs rolled his eyes, chuckling indulgently. “I happen to be the youngest of seven siblings, Nightshade. I must have mentioned them.”

“Nope.” Nightshade shrugged easily, grabbing one of the room's chairs and dropping into it.

Ecch's face went flat. “I'm pretty sure I did. We've been working together for four years, it must have come up.”

“Pretty sure I'd remember.” Nightshade yawned.

“I go to a family reunion every year.” Ecchs was starting to look actively annoyed.

“Like I keep track of your many holidays.” Nightshade waved off the comments, looking back at Bryce. “So, nephew, eh? What are you, twenty?”

“Twenty-four.” Bryce smiled faintly. “Just finished my degree. Evil science, as traditional.” He didn't quite glance at his uncle. Ecchs smiled tightly.

“Yep, kid's a real chip off the old block. Going to be a hell of a supervillain some day soon.” Bryce opened his mouth to speak, and Ecchs continued smoothly. “His dad's Harold Ecchs. You must have heard of him.”

“As it turns out, I must not have. Big, is he?”

There was a short pause. Ecchs and Bryce glanced at each other. After a moment, Ecchs spoke, stifling a grin. “Really? I thought everyone had heard of Harold. He certainly thinks so… um… sorry, Bryce. Never mind.”

“It's cool, Uncle Spencer.” Bryce looked over to Nightshade. “Dad and Uncle Spencer don't really get along.”

“Bah, normal sibling affairs, perfectly harmless. Who hasn't tried to kill their siblings at least once?”

“I actually think that I haven't. And I fight my sister, like, every week. Literally.” Nightshade shrugged.

“I'm going to assume that you were agreeing with me, instead of whatever you actually said. Moving on.” Ecchs shook his head quickly. “Bryce is here to see how a real supervillain does things. He's going to be choosing a team, soon…”


“… and for all that Harold does well, he doesn't own a multinational corporation.” Ecchs grinned brightly. “I mean, sure, he might claim that his position at Oxford Anti-University is impressive, but it's not very practical, and Bryce needs some practical advice.”

“That's not actually exactly why I…”

“Not that it really matters, since Bryce got top marks in his theory and did very well on the practicals. No rot in that branch of the family tree, let me tell you!” Nightshade's eyebrows rose as Ecchs burbled happily, glancing over to Bryce. He had a faintly sick expression on his face.

“The thing is…” He tried to interject weakly, rising from his seat. Ecchs interrupted by standing and giving him a firm pat on the back.

“Bryce is, if I might say so, ahead of even me. He's going to go places. I can tell these things. In fact, I would bet…”

“Doc! Shut up a minute!”

Ecchs' mouth snapped shut. He glared at Nightshade. “This had better be important.”

Nightshade ignored him, looking over to Bryce. “You're his family, you must know that's the only way to get him to stop talking.”

“I never had the guts.” Bryce murmured the phrase impressedly. “Uncle Spencer's pretty tough.”

“Well, now he's stopped talking. So what were you trying to say?”

“Well, I… that is… um…” Bryce stammered to a halt. Ecchs and Nightshade shared worried glances.

“This is going to be bad, I just know it.” Ecchs frowned heavily. “What is it, Bryce? Someone dead? Your dad, maybe?” He looked faintly hopeful.

“What? No!” Bryce flushed. “It's just that… well… I don't think I'm going to join a supervillain team, is all.” His face red, he sat back down.

“Not going… you're going solo? No offense, Bryce, but there's talent, and then there's hubris. You're still a little young to forgoe a training period.”

“Ah… the thing is…” Bryce sighed heavily. “I've been taking correspondance courses. I'm not going to be a villain at all. I, uh… I'm going into heroism.”

Ecchs replied elegantly. “Gghk.”

A few moments later, Nightshade stepped over, looking down at Doctor Ecchs. “Hey, Doc? Choke once for okay and twice for call a medic, okay?” She listened closely, then looked over at Bryce. “Y'know, I'm going to call a nurse anyway. Nicely done, though. Never seen anyone actually give someone else a heart attack.”

Bryce nodded morosely. “I'm a natural.”

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