Echoes Long Forgotten, Part Nine: Taunting Calls

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(September 24th)

“Ah, hello, Jason. How are you doing?”

“Ecchs.” The Witch Doctor's eyes narrowed across the giant video screen. “What the hell do you want?”

Dr Ecchs leaned back in his desk, looking up at the screen with a smile. “Oh, just calling to… is that a new lab? Very nice. Clean. I approve.”

“I don't need your patronizing attitude, Ecchs.” Jason frowned down at his old partner.

“Nobody needs that. He gives it away for free.” Everyone glanced over at Nightshade, who shrugged. “What? It's true.”

“Yes, thank you, Nightshade. You always stand up for me. More or less.” Glancing back to the screen, Ecchs smiled again. “I was just wondering how you were doing, Jason. You haven't tried to conquer me since before the Antiheroes invaded.”

“Contrary to your beliefs, Ecchs, the world does not revolve around you.” Rolling his eyes, Jason shifted away from the screen for a moment, waving a screwdriver at the monitor as he returned. “I have been busy reforming my empire. You are very, very far down my list of priorities. Was that the only reason you decided to bother me?”

“Temper, temper, Jason. As it happened, I did have a few reasons. Wanted to check in on Kaniessa, for one. Is she eating her broccoli?” Ecchs smiled widely.

“You can tell that goddamn bastard I'll shove his broccoli up his…” The yelled voice cut off abruptly as Jason hurriedly pressed a button. He regarded Ecchs coolly.

“Kaniessa is doing quite well. And I'm going to be blocking this number in the future. You are not worth the time…” Jason's finger moved towards his videoscreen's power button, and Ecchs casually added one last phrase.

“Oh, and I wanted to show you to my nephew.”

The finger stopped. “Excuse me?”

“You know, give him an idea of what you were like.” Ecchs gestured to his nephew. “Say hello, Bryce.”

“Hello, Witch Doctor.” Bryce waved vaguely.

“I was just explaining to Bryce about how many villains had been coming out of the woodwork lately, and I realized you'd stayed under your rock this time around. And then we started talking about you, and one thing led to another.” He grinned. “But hey, we're taking up your valueless time, and I'm sure you don't get a lot of that these days, so I'll just show him how a real villain operates instead. Have a good day.”

“Oh, come on!” Jason rolled his eyes, sitting back in his chair. “Do you actually think that transparant ploy is going to work on me? You can't trick me into doing your work fighting the Champions for you.”

“Don't have to.” Ecchs's smile grew. “Because you know it's true. You're afraid to go up against the Champions. You've been beaten so many times, you don't have any villainy left in you.”

“That's bull.” But Jason didn't move to cut the connection.

Ecchs was grinning widely. “Prove me wrong. I've almost never pulled off a full scheme against these guys. You wouldn't last five minutes.”

“I would devastate them.” Jason paused. “If I wanted to. Which I do not.”

“You talk a lot, but all I hear is clucking.” Everyone in the room turned to look at Ecchs in surprise and confusion, and he rolled his hand encouragingly. “Clucking? Like a chicken?” He sighed. “Never mind. Turns of phrase are lost on you plebes. The point is, you're afraid to be proven wrong. Again.” He smiled broadly. “I'm not worried about you upstaging me, Jason. I just like to laugh at your constant failures. Cheers!” He clicked off the message, and turned to the shocked expressions on the faces around him. “I give it a few hours before he cracks.”

On the other side of the connection, Jason cut the connection, seething. “That miserable, good-for-nothing, pathetic excuse for a…”

“He's playing you, man. He knows you'll bite.” The voice drawled from one corner of the room, well out of video range.

“Oh, I will 'bite', indeed. And my venom will choke him.” The Witch Doctor smiled cruelly. “I will give him the display he wants. It will serve as an excellent distraction. And then, when they think me defeated and slinking home, our true assault will begin. And when their precious town is burning to ash, we will see who Spencer thinks is superior.” He turned to his companion. “Do you think you will be ready in three days' time.”

“Hey, I'm ready whenever you want.” Leaning against the wall, Don flexed his newly-constructed Dragonfly armour, and smiled in return. “I'm going to enjoy getting a little revenge.”

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