Random Acts of Science III, Part Three: Best Served Cold

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Nadia looked up from her book as the front door slammed shut. Carefully setting it aside, she watched as Amber stormed into the room, with Lucky trailing behind her. “You look annoyed. He wasn't there?”

“He. Wasn't. There.” Gritting her teeth, Amber stalked to the chair next to the couch and dropped heavily into it. “He sent a robot duplicate to announce, and I quote, that the Mayor is a stinkypants. At length.” She sighed, shaking her head. “Which I don't disagree with, but you know. It started running when we moved in, we spent two hours chasing it… stupid robot.”

Nadia nodded sympathetically. “Sounds like Ecchs is cruising for a reprisal strike.”

“We can't do that, Nadia. It's against the rules.” Lucky reminded her.

“Not if he launches five heists in a year without leaving his office.”

“He didn't.” Amber glared at the television as though sheer annoyance might turn it on. “He has very carefully gone outside for three of the last seven pranks he's pulled. That leaves him at four heists, and you can bet he's gotten bored with the concept. The cold snap is supposed to start warming again in about three days, and that'll be the end of it for another year.” She sank further into her chair, pulling a blanket around her. “I'm just glad that it… will be… over… why are you grinning like that?” She looked at Nadia worriedly. “Seriously, stop it. You're starting to freak me out.”

“I know something you've forgotten.” Nadia's grin threatened to split her cheeks.

Amber refused to be baited. “That's nice. What?”

Nadia's grin remained in place. “Okay, so remember last year, when Doctor Ecchs accidentally froze himself in time, and you had to go and get him out?”


“And remember how, at first, when she still thought she could get him out herself, Doctor Byron pretended that everything was okay?”

Amber's eyes narrowed. “Yes…” Then she blinked, realizing where Nadia was going just as she got there.

“And remember how she launced a heist while Doctor Ecchs was still technically inside Malefico?”

“Oh my god.” Lucky and Amber shared shocked looks. “No one ever told him, did they?”

“It was probably in a report.” Nadia leaned back on the couch smugly. “Bet he didn't read it.”

“Which means… we've got a free reprisal.” Lucky laughed. “We can hit Malefico whenever we want.”

“Well, in the next two weeks. Then that one expires.” Nadia said.

“We won't need two weeks.” Timebender's grin was diabolical. “I have a plan.”

“Good morning, Nightshade. Anything interesting happen while I was asleep?” Yawning, Doctor Ecchs wandered into the local testing lab. Nightshade sighed heavily.

“You shouldn't take naps during the day, boss. Bad for your health. But no. The Champions caught the bot and went home a few hours ago. It was worth watching.” She chuckled, and then shivered. “Is it cold in here, or is it just me?”

“No, it's definitely a bit chilly.” Ecchs tapped his wristwatch, bringing up its comm function. “Maintenance, turn the heat up about three degrees.” Without waiting for a reply, he cut the channel. “I swear, they can't do anything right these days.”

“So, what's our next plan? I figure we can get one more in before it warms up a bit.”

“I expect so. I'll have a talk with Ferris, he was working on something. Walk with me.”

As they walked down the corridor and entered the vast spaces of the expansive Lab 1, Ecchs frowned. “It is not getting warmer. In fact, it's getting colder. I think I can see my breath.” Testing, he blew out heavily. “There! I saw it! Maintenance!”

“Ah, yes, Doctor Ecchs?” The voice was tremulous.

“What the hell is going on down there?”

“Well, ah… it's a bit of a funny story, really…”

“What kind of funny? 'Ha-hah' funny, or 'maintenance officers getting fired out of a cannon towards Poland' funny?”

“Uh… just… funny.” The man on the other end gulped audibly. “See… you know how we ran all of our heating off your BoilerTron X3?”


“Yeah. That's the funny part. It's… um… it's not there anymore. There's just a paper note. We, uh, we just noticed when we tried to adjust the heating and there was no response.”

“Mm-hm.” Ecchs's voice was almost as frigid as the room was slowly becoming. “And what does this note say?”

“It just says, 'Ask your henchmen about the Purple Carrotteers.' Signed the Patchwork Champions.”

Ecchs cut the connection, and rounded on Nightshade, who was looking queasy. “Purple Carrotteers.”

Nightshade smiled nervously. “It was just a little heist. Totally slipped our minds. You weren't around, so… guess they remembered it?”

“And now my boiler's gone.”

“And now your boiler's gone, yeah. Sorry.”

“I live in this building, Nightshade.”

“Guess you'll need to get a hotel room for a bit.” Nightshade shrugged helplessly. Ecchs clenched his hands into fists.

“Well played, Champions. Well played.”

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