Then – September 2002
“Greetings, Timebender Lass. And welcome to…”
“It's just Timebender, actually.” Shaking her head, Timebender looked around the lab. “Not a bad setup you've got here, doc. What's the Van de Graff generator for, though?”
Thrown off his stride, Spencer Ecchs stroked his goatee thoughtfully. “Nuclear experiments. What do you think? How many uses can you think of for one of those?” He frowned at the hero standing below him on the floor, gesturing at the raised platform that he stood on, which included the massive and complex engine that Timebender had been staring at. “No, scratch that. I'm a little surprised that you even know what a Van de Graff generator is.”
“It's pretty much standard mad scientist apparel.” Timebender shrugged, looking up at her new rival.
“I'm not… I… urg!” Ecchs clenched the railing of his platform. “I'm not a mad scientist, dammit! I'm an evil businessman! Science just happens to be a means to a very profitable end!” He groaned faintly. “Why does everyone assume I'm a mad scientist? It's the beard, isn't it? It's a crazy beard. I'll have to do something about it.”
“I'm pretty sure it's the white lab coat with your name woven into it. But okay, my mistake, you're clearly running a place of business.” Looking around again, Timebender chuckled. “This place is just teeming with people.”
“Give it some time. You don't build a multi-national organization over night, kid.” Ecchs coughed reproachfully. “This is a one-hundred story tall building, which currently has an average of ten people on each floor. You just wait – I'll have those numbers doubled by this time next year.” He cracked his knucles ominously. “Now, are you here to try and stop my first official dark deed, or are you here to crack wise?”
“I was hoping for both, myself.” Ecchs spun in surprise to find a young man standing on the platform behind him, idly pressing keys. He was wearing a red jumpsuit, with a bandana tied around his ragged blond hair. “Let's see, destruct keys, hmm…”
“Hey! That's delicate… get away from that!” Rushing towards him, Ecchs swung a fist, which his opponent sidestepped. Ecchs' outstretched hand slammed into the biometric scanner of the machine, which promptly lit up. The businessman's face went pale, then sharpened. “Ahh, you're the lucky one.”
“One and the same. Pleased to meet you.” Lucky Lad grinned widely, dancing backwards away from the device as it began to emit a stunning array of warning klaxons and whistles. “That doesn't sound so great.”
“No, you little… dammit. My first job, and you've already broken it.” Ecchs sighed theatrically. “Well, I guess I'll just have to have my associates keep you busy while I fix it. Patchwork Champions, meet Nightshade and Phil.”
The door below him hissed open. “Mr. Ladd, you might want to get down there and help, before your partner gets the snot beaten out of her.” Ecchs grinned triumphantly.
Below, Timebender settled into a combat pose. “Oh, we'll just see about that, Ecchs. I'm just full of surprises… the hell?!”
“Hey, sis.” With a fluid motion, Nina Smith tore the door she was stepping through off of its hinges and lobbed it at her sister. With a solid thud, Timebender was knocked sprawling.
Ecchs's grin widened. “Funny. So am I.”
“Alright, folks, let's keep this simple.” Timebender gestured forwards. “All that we know so far is that Ecchs is unveiling his latest scheme in Carter's Grove. Ash, any intel?” Standing on the street near the park in question, Timebender, Lucky, and Ash considered their options.
“Doctor Ecchs appears to have set up a massive structure in the central bandstand, at a distance of 800 metres from the eastern gate to the park. The structure is veiled, and I do not believe I can get close enough to analyse it without his henchmen spotting me.” Ash, on one knee to better chat with his fellow heroes, was simultaneously controlling a half-dozen shrubberies scattered through the park. “He has also brought a number of Ultiminions, but I believe that I can neutralize them.”
“Beautiful. Alright, then, we'll do this by the books. March in and let him gloat at us for a bit, and find out what we need to do to shut this thing down.” Timebender nodded firmly. “Let's do this.”