Echoes Long Forgotten, Part Five: Unexpected News

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“Champions residence, Amber speaking.”

“Greetings, Timebender. This is Doctor Ecchs on the line.”

Amber sighed heavily, putting a hand over the phone. “Scrabble game's on hold, guys. It's the Doc.”

“Aw, man.” Nadia pushed back her chair, looking over the table in front of them. She sighed heavily. “Every time I start winning…” She hushed quickly as Amber removed her hand, moving for the hall phone to listen in. Across the room, Lucky and Jim were already hovering over the backup phone.

“Good morning, Doctor.”

“I trust you are having a quiet day, my honoured enemies? Nothing important on your plates, as it were?”

“Of course not. You hadn't called yet.” Amber smiled cheerfully, although she knew Ecchs couldn't see her. “So, what's the scheme today? Zombie goldfish? Maybe some burrowing robot gophers?”

“Gophers are so 2003, Timebender. Try to keep up.” Ecchs' voice was equally cheery. “Actually, as it happens, there's no scheme today. Got something else I'd like to ask. Think you guys could come down for an hour or two?”

Amber frowned. “What's this about, Ecchs?”

“Oh, you know. This and that. It's an official invitation, though. No trap.”

“Like I'm worried about your traps.” Amber smirked, then sobered. “Seriously, Doc. What is this about?”

“Look, I realize this is weird. But I'm not very good at… um… asking for favours. I'd rather not do it over the phone. Okay?”

“I think we can probably make it down, I suppose.”

“Your graciousness defies logic. I'll see you in an hour.” There was a short pause on the other line. “And thank you.”

The line clicked silent, and the four heroes looked at each other, Nadia leaning in from the hall doorway. Lucky shook his head. “Has Ecchs ever asked us for a favour before?”

“I can't remember him doing that, no. Ultimatums, sure. The occasional lure. And Ada asked us for help with that whole time-twisting thing. But Ecchs hates to ask for help.” Amber set down the phone gradually, looking over at the others. “Which means, chances are it's on the level.”

“I agree. It doesn't seem like his style to go for that kind of trick, and it's against the rules besides.” Jim smiled, walking over to the hall. “Let's go see what he wants.”

“Sure. Sounds like it could be fun for a bit, anyway.” Setting her phone back, Nadia grabbed her coat. “After all, we don't have anywhere important to be.”

The doorbell rang.

“Son of a… every time.” Nadia muttered under her breath. Lucky smiled, walking past her to the door. He glanced through the peephole, then stepped back and opened the door.

“Danielle! You almost missed us. We were just heading down to Malefico.”

Agent Moonbeam, in full official dress, glanced past Lucky at the other three in the hallway. “Is it official business?”

“Not sure. Ecchs has a favour to ask, or something.” Lucky shrugged.

“It can wait. We need to talk.”

“I dunno. The Doc seemed kind of insistent.” Nadia pursed her lips. “Is this critical?”

“Would I be here if it wasn't?”

“Well, you didn't call us first, so… yeah.” Nadia shrugged.

“I did call. You were on the phone.” Danielle didn't smile.

“Oh.” Nadia's face fell. “Okay, that does sound serious.”

“It is. Donald Parker has broken out of prison. We suspect involvement by renegade superhuman forces.”

For a moment, Lucky and Amber glanced at each other in confusion, then they turned to look at Nadia, who was staring in shock. She whispered faintly. “Don?”

Amber turned to the hall. “I'll call Ecchs and tell him we'll be late.”

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