All's Fair, Part One: When The Cat's Away

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(February 11th)


Nightshade drummed her fingers on the surface of Doctor Ecch's opulent mahogany desk. This didn't get much of a reaction from her companions, so she tried it again.

And again.

After about fifteen sets of drumming, Phil finally snapped. “We get it! You're bored with thith.” The creature reared up on his tendrils in order to get enough height to stare her in the face. “It'th not exthactly a picnic for uth, you know.”

“Yeah, it's pretty amazingly boring around here without the doc.” Sighing heavily, Josh leaned back and stared up at the ceiling. “Your move, Phil.”

“Yeah, thure.” Phil turned away from Nightshade, studying the chessboard thoughtfully, then reached down and nudged a piece with one claw. “Check.”

Glancing over, Josh prompty took the offending piece. “Checkmate.”

“Uh…” Phil crossed his arms sulkily. “I'm no good at thith game.” He looked at Nightshade. “You're the vithe-prethident. If you're bored, do thomething.”

“Like what?” While Josh and Phil were sitting on the floor, chessboard sitting between them, Nightshade was slumped against the desk, looking morose. “You remember what happened the last time I tried to take initiative.”

“I don't.” Josh volunteered.

“Giant robot. Lotth of exthplothionth.” Phil considered the last word. “Boomth.”

“I got it. Explosions.” Josh nodded thoughtfully. “I think I remember that. You crushed most of Third Street, right?” When Phil nodded, he frowned, staring upwards again. “Maybe we could pull out one of the doc's old projects and goof around with it. He wouldn't mind.”

“Of course he would mind.” Nightshade said. “He'd be livid. Let's do it.” Standing abruptly, she started for the door. Josh and Phil scrambled to catch up.

Lab 3 was dusty and dark, but its security systems – heavily upgraded after the last few break-ins – were as efficient as ever. Nightshade had to use her keycard, undergo a retina scan, and sing three bars of “Hey Jude” before the automated systems covering the door allowed her to enter. Josh and Phil followed close behind, snickering.

“Shut up. It wasn't my idea.” Nightshade glared back at them.

“I just never knew you had such a… unique alto voice, Nina.” Josh tried to keep his laughter from showing.

“Like a thtrangled cat in urk.” Phil's additional comment was cut off as Nightshade's fist smoothly impacted with his face, causing him to double over and crumple to the ground. She continued grumpily.

“I get it. I can't sing. Deal with it.” Glaring at the others, she stalked ahead. Josh hurried after, as Phil picked himself off the floor.

“Sorry, I didn't mean to insult you or anything. I was just teasing.”

“I don't tease well. Why don't you use that keen wit of yours and find out if any of this junk is still active?” Jaw clenched, Nightshade proceeded to do so. Looking abashed, Josh did the same.

A few minutes later, he was feeling seriously disheartened. “I don't get it. I thought the Doc kept everything charged up just in case.”

“Not since Ada wiped out most of his old work. He's gone for a more 'no one uses this stuff without official permission' route.” Nightshade smiled, some of her humour returning at the thought of screwing with her boss. “Except that I got permission to enter in case he was out of commission. Which he is now, so we're good.”

“How mad is he going to get, exactly?” Josh asked nervously.

“Hopefully mad enough to give us freaking vacations next time.” Ignoring the illogic behind her statement, Nightshade pushed aside an old metal exo-frame. “We need something really showy.”

“Doeth a teleport gun work?”

“A teleport…” Nightshade looked up to where Phil was standing, studying a long triple-barreled device. “What does it teleport?”

“People.” Phil picked up the gun, rubbing at a layer of dust over its label. “It thayth it'th for teleporting people to random thafe locathonth. Thayth do not uthe on heavy materialth or people you want to thee in the nextht hour or tho.”

“Lovely.” Nightshade grinned. “Let's charge the batteries and get to it. How'd you find it?”

“Thatuth bar wath glowing a bit.” Phil managed a monstrous approximation of a smile as the three headed out. “Let'th give it a try.”

As the doors hissed shut, the lab fell silent for a few moments. Then, a quiet figure rose from near the back of the room, wiping her brow. “Honestly.” She murmured. “I was afraid they'd never think of coming down here.” Keying her comm, she spoke into it. “Mayhem, this is Lucy. They have finally taken the bait, and the gun's override is set. When they use it, we can control the endpoint.”

“Excellent.” Lord Mayhem's voice was cheerful. “The relays are in place. Just make sure to trigger the override at the right time.”

“Of course.” Lucy smiled as she snuck back to the air vent she'd used to get into the room. “Wouldn't want them to miss the biggest show of their lives, after all…”


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