Random Acts of Science III, Part One: Cold Chase

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(January 23rd)

“Th-th-this is crazy.” Shivering heavily, Timebender looked out over the frost-covered city. “Don't they know it's n-not supposed to g-get this cold this f-far south?” She pulled her heavy green coat tighter, practically buzzing in place to keep warm. “I n-need to design a hat for my costume.”

“Yeah, probably.” Lucky's bandana had been replaced by a warm woolen headband, which looped covered both of his ears to tie off at the back in a rough imitation of his usual garb. “I blame Doctor Ecchs.”

“Pretty sure that he doesn't control the weather.” Timebender considered, then amended, “Well, except for that one time. But we'd see something like that around. I mean, the control tower alone was fifteen stories tall.”

I believe this weather to be of natural origin. It is not aiding my servos, however.” Looking about as grumpy as a dispassionate robotic tree could, Ash crouched beside the two, surveying the rooftops. “I also do not detect any sign of Doctor Ecchs.

“Yeah, because he probably had sense enough to stay inside where it's… never mind.” Timebender pointed up and to the right. “There he is.” A small figure was blazing a trail across the sky, trademark rocket boots at full speed as they drew a dark line against the sky.

On cue, the trio's comms came to life. “Good morning, Champions!” The voice of Spencer Ecchs was entirely too cheerful. “I have unleashed my most dastardly scheme yet, and you will soon find yourselves powerless to stop it. Try and catch me – if you dare!”

The comms shut down, and Ecchs rocketed off to the north. Timebender muttered something under her breath, then sighed. “Let's do this.” She sprang into motion, as Ash scooped up Lucky and loped after her, his ninja-fueled prowess the only thing remotely allowing him to keep up.

Several minutes later, the group saw Ecchs starting to touch down. Timebender triangulated thoughtfully. “The First National Bank. Didn't think that sort of heist was the Doc's style.” She shrugged. “Well, at least it'll be warm inside. Let's get the heck over there.”

The comms beeped again. Timebender sighed and triggered hers on. “We know where you are, Doc.”

“Do you? Where, then?”

“At the bank. Seriously, the rocket trails are pretty obvious.”

“Rocket…” Ecchs broke off, then laughed unconvincingly. “Ah, those were merely, um, a decoy! Yes. To lead you astray… anyway, gotta go. Talk to you later.”

As the Champions reached the street leading to the bank, they saw a white Malefico van pull away from the curb at high speed. Timebender clenched her teeth. “Ash, is he in there?”

I'm afraid the van is shielded against detection. However, he is no longer in the bank, so I believe it is likely.

“Lovely.” Timebender triggered the comm. “Ecchs, I am going to knock you senseless.”

“You'll have to catch me first!” The van picked up speed. Groaning, Timebender broke into a jog again.

The trail led them to a grocery store, where the van pulled into a loading dock as they raced down the street towards it. Timebender gestured to the store. “Ash…?”

Shielded in its entirety. We will have to enter.

“I can live with that.” Shivering, Timebender ran for the loading bay. Inside, a group of workers were loading the Malefico van. One of them, noticing the three people approaching, paused to look at them with surprise.

“Hey, it's the Champions! What do you guys want?” Other workers froze, then started to grin and wave at the heroes.

“I want Doctor Ecchs. He came by here.”

“What, the guy in the lab coat? That was Ecchs? For serious?” The man nodded appreciately, then gestured behind him. “Went up to the roof. Got a helipad up there.”

“Oh, for the love of…” Spinning on one heel, Timebender dashed back outside. Sure enough, a helicopter was already flying westwards, towards the industrial district. “Follow that copter!”

Half a city away, in the Malefico building, Ada Byron sighed as she walked through the doors to Spencer Ecchs's office. “Dear, have you seen Josh anywhere? I wanted to ask him to pick up a few floral samples for us.” She paused, looking past Ecchs' desk to the viewscreen behind it, currently displaying a bird's eye view of the city, and the small forms of three superheroes racing down the streets. “Hm.”

“Oh, yes, I've got Josh running a small errand for me.” Spinning his chair, Spencer Ecchs leaned back and grinned smugly. “My most dastardly plan yet.”

Ada looked past him to the screen. “Is that the Champions chasing Josh?”

“Got it in one.”

“Do they know that they're chasing Josh?”

“Not at all.” His smile grew even widen, and Ecchs laughed. “While I relax here in my nicely heated office, they're chasing “me” around the city in the freezing cold. Nightshade and I have a bet going about how long it takes them to realize I'm not even there, and there is no heist today.”

“A bet.” Ada's voice was neutral.

“Yeah, she's down for an hour. I'm guessing two. You want to take a guess?”

Ada considered a moment, and then laughed. Walking around the table, she sat down on Ecch's lap. “Put me down for three hours, honey. This should be fun.”

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