Countdown, Part Three: New Problems

Previous Page
(July 16th)

“Ester, hi!” Doctor Ecchs smiled vaguely at his oldest sister, glancing down at a computer screen underneath the video monitor that she was calling on. “Look, it’s great to hear from you, but this isn’t really…”

“Busy, Spencer?” Ester interrupted. Like her siblings, she had blond hair – in her case, piled up in a beehive hairstyle which, along with her dress, was centuries out of date. Ecchs noted to himself that she didn’t seem very happy with him.

“Little bit.” He admitted, trying not to sound embarrassed. “There were some jailbreaks a couple of weeks ago. You may have heard. Thirty or forty Antiheroes are now running around in a focused group, firebombing my subsidiaries, running away before Psiborg can catch up.” He smiled wryly. “I think it might have made a news show here or there.”

Ester didn’t smile back. “And so you’re mobilizing your trees to fight them? Honestly, Spencer. I realize that we’re family, and what belongs to one of us belongs to all of us, but I really have to protest.”

Ecchs blinked. As Ester opened her mouth to continue, he raised a hand. “Woah, woah. Back up a step. I’ve got so many irons in the fire right now I’m losing track. You don’t own any of my trees.”

“No.” Ester said firmly. “I own my trees. The Black Forest, if you recall. Otto bought it as an anniversary present because we had our honeymoon there.”

“Right, right, your duchy’s back lot.” Ecchs nodded, looking over and pulling up some files. “And, what? Ash strolled through and took a few of them for his drones? I thought I put it on the Do Not Eat list, but I might have forgotten…”

“A few?!” Ester’s nostrils flared, and Ecchs took a half-step away from the screen on the off chance that she had invented a way to slap him through it. “Spencer, there are over five hundred square miles of forest gone. It was only that low because my gunships arrived and chased the little bastards off!”

“Five hundred…” Ecchs gaped at the screen. “No, no. Are you sure it was Ash?”

“I don’t know, maybe it was a different tree ninja zombie robot.” Ester said sarcastically. “Listen, Spencer. I know that you’re busy, and you rule the world now, and it’s always hard to keep track of zombies, but… keep your hands off my things!”

“I’m really sorry.” Ecchs said slowly. “Some emergency program must have triggered. I’ll look into it, and replace the trees. Scout’s honor.”

Ester took a deep breath, and nodded. “Thank you, Spencer. I’m sorry about yelling, but…”

“No, I understand. I’d be pretty pissed if someone took a bite out of the Malefico building.” Ecchs reassured her. “Talk to you later.”

He cut the call, and sat in his chair for several seconds, staring off into space. Then he looked over to the potted plant sitting by his desk, recovered from Malefico when he’d left. “Ash? Any emergencies in the Germany region you didn’t mention to me?”

No, Doctor Ecchs.” Two brown eyes opened in the plant’s trunk, as leaves shaped themselves to give them a clear view. “I was listening to the conversation, and have checked. I have very few drones currently operating in Northern Europe. It’s been quite quiet since Interpol’s failed attempt to locate us.” The bush paused, accessing information, and then added, “However, Duchess Ecchs appears to be correct. There is a large swath of forest missing, and all signs point to zombification, including rotted roots and a few spare parts left behind.

Ecchs frowned again, steepling his fingers. “Alright, Ash. Let’s try this another way. Have you lost control over any of your relays?”

I do not believe so.” Ash said slowly. After a moment, he added, “Although…

“Although?” Ecchs asked dangerously.

Attacking relays has been a standard tactic of both the Liberation forces and the Antiheroes. Many of my relays have been taken off-line before being able to call for backup or report their locations. I have simply been listing them as destroyed.” Ash admitted. “If one of them actually went rogue, I do not know if I could tell the difference.

“No, no.” Ecchs muttered. Bringing up his screen, he started punching in numbers. “They can’t go rogue. I fixed it so they can’t, and someone would have to hack my program in order to make them.” He frowned at his screen. “Let’s see. Satellite plantlife imagery, cross-reference with carbon absorption, which your drones do not, remove identified sources, and…”

He broke off. “ohboy.” He said faintly.

Is there a problem, Doctor?

“I, uh… I have to go and talk to Ada.” Ecchs mumbled. “I’ll be right back.”

He found her in her lab, tinkering with her latest biological creature. “Honey, I… is that a zombie squid-bear?”

“Squidibear, yes.” Doctor Byron smiled up from the monstrosity, face smeared with squid ink. “Coming along very well, I think.”

“It’s kind of… big.” Spencer said, looking from right to left. In fact, the creature took up most of the lab. A massive, stitched-together bear’s head and legs sat on the torso of a giant squid, thirty feet across, with its tentacles lying across the lab, flopped over consoles and across power couplings. A moment later, he shook his head. “Sorry. Got distracted. Very nice. Um… funny question.”

Ada stopped working. She looked up slowly. “Go on.” She said carefully.

“Let’s just say, entirely hypothetically of course, that there were a very faint possibility that I had accidentally set in motion a chain of events that would inexorably lead to the extinction of humanity, along with all life on Earth.” Ecchs said faintly. “Would you still love me?”

Next Page

Unless otherwise stated, the content of this page is licensed under Creative Commons Attribution-ShareAlike 3.0 License