Random Acts of Science III, Part Four: Cold Sweat

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(January 30th)

“How did you remove his boiler?” Shaking her head, Blastwave put down the report she was staring at in bemusement.

“Trade secret. Suffice to say that it took a lot of elbow grease.” Lucky raised his arms and made a muscle dramatically.

“I thought that the Malefico boiler was twenty feet tall, thirty feet wide, and hooked up to two nuclear power stations.”

“Three, actually.” Leaning back in her chair, Timebender smirked. “He's going to have a hell of a time putting it back, and Malefico's going to be shut down for a week or two until he does. Bam, instant heroism on a single counter-heist.”

“So, what comes next?” Stifling a grin, Wave reached over and filed the report, looking back to the two heroes in the room. “I assume that Ecchs won't take this lying down.”

“Probably not. But he's a little tied down. Without Malefico, Ecchs doesn't have a home base. I figure we have a week or so to relax before he puts any revenge strategy into motion.” Lucky said. “After all, no home base means that we can arrest him no problem. What's he going to do, run from hotel to hotel?” He shook his head. “Not his style.”

“That does make sense.” Wave nodded thoughtfully. “Well, since you've got the time off, why don't we take advantage of it and -”

The lights went out.

“Oh, what the hell?” Muttering under her breath, Wave tapped her comm. “Control, this is Agent Blastwave. Why is our power out? We're supposed to have a dedicated line. What? I don't care how much it cost. Damn it, get the backup generators online, then.”

“Trouble?” Lucky asked cheerfully.

“City-wide power outage, apparantly. Some sort of trouble down at the dam.”

Lucky and Amber looked at each other. Then they stood up simultaneously, Amber grabbing her comm. “Ash? Meet us at the dam – looks like we were wrong about Doctor Ecchs.” She looked across the room. “Hey, Wave, um… can I borrow your car?”

The hyrdo-electric dam that provided the city with the vast majority of its power sat on the northwestern outskirts of town, a good half-hour drive from Blastwave's office. By the time that Timebender and Lucky Lad arrived, they had confirmation that Doctor Ecchs had announced another heist in the area. Timebender groused as the car drove up the mountain paths to the dam's top. “Ecchs is certainly working overtime, lately.”

“We're just lucky that way.” Shrugging, Lucky stepped out of the car and looked around.

There appears to be activity inside.” Materializing out of the treeline, a trio of tree-ninja took up positions, one turning to talk to Ash's fellow heroes. “The doors to the plant are not locked, and no electricity is being transmitted out of the plant. It seems that there has been a large-scale diversion that has taken place recently.

“Right. Let's do this.” Timebender burst into motion, and the others followed suit.

The plant was eerily empty, as the group ran towards the generator rooms. It hummed with energy, clearly active despite the quiet. “This is odd.” Lucky shook his head, holding onto Ash's back.

“We'll see in a moment… aha!” Timebender pointed her finger accusingly as the group entered the main generator room. In the middle of the room, Nightshade and Phil stood guard alongside a small army of Ultiminions, arrayed around a circular device that was projecting a strange field of darkness into the air. The generators were spinning at full power, electricity launching up into the field.

“Hey, Amber.” Nightshade waved halfheartedly. “How goes?”

“Quite the setup, Nightshade. What's the plot, and where's the doc?” Timebender's narrowed eyes swept the room, expecting a trap to spring from behind a generator or through one of the room's many doors.

“I can answer that question, Nightshade.” Doctor Ecch's voice blared over the loudspeakers, and a holographic image of his face sprang to life in front of the dark field, flickering as the energy that powered it was siphoned into the darkness. “Welcome, Champions. I'm afraid that you're too late to stop me, this time.”

“Where are you, Ecchs?” Timebender's hands closed into fists. “You can't run away this time.”

“On the contrary, I already have. I just embarked on a nice, long vacation with Ada. It should be fantastic.” Smiling brightly, Ecchs gestured around him. “Can't you tell? I'm speaking to you from my private jet.”

“I, uh, I can only see your face. And your arm just now. But it's gone again.” Lucky said.

“Oh. I see. Well. You'll have to take my word for it, then. But never fear, Champions, I left you something to deal with – a self-replicating energy-draining portal. I think that you will find that it will take the complete shutdown of the power station to accomplish it, followed by at least three days without heat for everyone in Patchwork City. A fitting revenge, wouldn't you say?”

“We'll just see about that, Ecchs.” Timebender gestured to the others. “Take out the Ultiminions first, then we'll deal with the minions!”

“I don't think so, Timebender! We're not leaving until the reaction is stabilized!” Nightshade yelled out defiantly. “You won't reverse this process!”

“Nightshade, zip it.” Ecchs rolled his holographic eyes. “Honestly. Well, whatever. Have fun, and I'll see you in a month or two.” The hologram shut off. A moment later, his voice echoed over the loudspeaker again. “Honestly, Ada, I wonder about that girl sometimes. Giving away that the reaction wasn't self-sustaining yet. At this rate, they'll shut the thing down in time to go home for dinner.”

“Boss…” Nightshade shook her head.

“Oh, well, not my problem. Well, yes, I know that, but it's not like I can affect it now. We'll just have to hope that they don't screw up too badly.”

“Both!” Phil tried to yell into the comm.

“Oh, like I care. Mm, that sounds like a much better plan. Why don't you come over here and…”

“ECCHS!” Everyone in the room yelled at the top of there lungs. There was a short pause.

“Did you hear something? I could have sworn… oh, crap, I left the link on!”

The voice winked out. Nightshade let out a long breath. “Dodged a bullet on that one.”

Timebender nodded, a grossed-out expression on her face. “Nice to know we can agree on something.”

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