[ASH] LL&DD #5 - You Can Go Home

Dave Van Domelen dvandom at haven.eyrie.org
Fri Sep 28 07:02:56 PDT 2007

     The cover shows Lady Lawful and Doctor Developer in close shot, leaning
over a diner table with a stack of blueberry pancakes between them.  Lady
Lawful is holding a forkful of pancake up to Doctor Developer's mouth.  In
the background, framed by the couple, a shadowy figure clenches his fists and

 Coherent                                                  LL&DD #5
 Comics          | ADY | AWFUL    __        __             "You Can Go Home"
 Presents an     |__   |__     &  | \ OCTOR | \ EVELOPER   copyright 2007
 ASHistory Tale:                  |_/       |_/            by Andrew Burton

[September 25, 1996 - Detroit, Michigan]

     After almost five hours sitting on a cramped bus, it felt indescribably
wonderful for Jennifer Blair to step on the sidewalk.  She stretched as far
as her arms would go, and arched her back.  After her stretch, she tucked her
arms together and wrung any lingering kinks from her spine.
     "You don't need have to stop on my account," a coy voice spoke as
Jennifer's stretching drew to a halt.  She smiled to herself, backing up
against the speaker.  Familiar hands reached around her stomach, and Jennifer
reciprocated by reaching behind her back.
     "So, this is Doctor Developer's home town?" she asked.
     "Detroit, Detroit," Cameron McKay, a.k.a. Doctor Developer, replied.
"Although, I might not want to publicize my name too much.  The people who
remember me may or may not have gotten the memo about my, uh, new job.
Either way...."
     Jennifer Blair, the secret identity of the world-renowned Lady Lawful,
untangled herself from Cameron, taking up a position next to him.  "Old
friends or old enemies, Deedee?" she asked.
     Cameron shrugged as they walked along the sidewalk.  "Not really
either," he mused aloud, "mostly ex-bystanders that I'd hate to spook.  I
*was* Detroit's premiere villain for a few years."
     Jennifer smiled and her eyes twinkled.  "Yes, it was a golden age of
peace for the city during your reign of tyranny," she said.  Cameron took in
a breath to argue, but stopped when one of Jennifer's fingers silenced him.
"I'm only teasing," she said, "you don't have to remind me just how evil you
can be."
     "I wouldn't mind showing you some time," Cameron answered back.  "In
fact, since we're in town, I know a place...."  A friendly punch to the side
of his arm quieted him, although it did nothing to quell the grin on his
     "I'm sure," Jennifer replied.
     She paused and looked around the quiet streets.  Detroit lacked the
energy she recognized from her hometown Chicago, but it did have it's own
feel.  It was heavier, more oppressive.  Though not entirely unpleasant, she
was glad they were only visiting for the day.
     "What do you want to do first?" Cameron asked.
     That was a good question.  The day trip to Detroit had been a mix of
business and pleasure.  Business was because Cameron had agreed to loan the
museum back in Chicago a few pieces of his mentor's equipment for their
"Second Age of Heroics" display.  Pleasure because, after having Cameron meet
her parents and returning from the future, Jennifer realized that she had
never experienced any of her fiance's history first-hand.  Between arriving
and heading out that evening, she wanted to see as much of Cameron's old
stomping grounds as possible.
     "If you don't mind," Jennifer said slowly and carefully, "I'd like to
see Tom's grave."  Cameron stiffened a bit at the mention of his mentor,
Tinker Tom.  Jennifer's face softened.  "We don't have to, if you don't
     "No," Cameron shook his head; "I haven't been to visit Tom in a few
years.  That's fine."  He paused for a minute before putting a semi-forced
smile on his face.  "He's not much of a conversationalist these days."

               *              *              *              *

[July 7, 1989 - Wayne County Jail, Detroit]

     "I'm getting you out of here, Tom," Cameron whispered into the telephone
that let him speak to his mentor, Tom, on the other side of the armorglass
partition.  He could already see three design weaknesses in the room's
security, one of which he could exploit with a screwdriver and some vinegar
if he had to.
     Tom frowned at Cameron's words.  "You'll do no such thing, boy," the
older man commanded.  Tom Keating, known to the world as Tinker Tom, glared
at his friend and apprentice through the inch-thick transparent material.
"First of all, these phones are likely tapped, so they'll be expecting it
now."  Cameron's jaw dropped as he realized his mistake.  "Second thing,
you've got better things to do than to risk your freedom to save an old man."
     "But what about our plans, Tom?" Cameron asked.
     Tom smiled warmly at Cameron, thinking back to their big plans.  The
down side to being a super-villain like Tom was that he could never really
lead a normal life.  Things like marriage and children were never a part of
his lifestyle, which meant as he got on up in years, things that became
important, like leaving a legacy, became fanciful dreams.  Cameron had been a
second chance for him.  He wasn't a blood relative, but Tom had been a part
of Cameron's life for almost fifteen years.  When Cameron's father had run
out on the family, Tom stepped in to help as much as Mrs. McKay would
directly allow.  She'd never, ever been too keen on her son hanging around
with a man old enough to be his grandfather, and thankfully she never seemed
to be aware of the fact Tom was a notorious super-villain.
     Tom watched as Cameron grew from being an inquisitive child into a
brilliant adolescent.  It was in those later teen years when they'd started
making their big plans.  Cameron would go on off to college, learn what Tom
couldn't teach him about some of the latest leaps in technology, and when he
came back the two of them would become Detroit's most notorious villains.
Sometimes Tom caught himself believing their big talk as much as Cameron did,
but he always kept himself from buying into it all the way.
     The truth was, Cameron was too bright and had too much potential to slip
down the same path Tom had.  In his day, being a super-villain had been a
game, nothing too serious, no worse than drag racing or friendly extortion
rackets.  Modern criminals were something different; they were crazy
sociopaths who would kill someone as soon as look at them.  Falling in with
such a lot would be a waste of Cameron's life.
     Tom sighed.
     "Forget the big plans, Cameron."
     Tom nodded.  "You told me you got an offer as a research assistant as
soon as you graduated, right?"  Cameron nodded absently.  "Take that.  Do
something respectable, son."  Tom paused to look around.  "Don't end up like
me, an old jail bird, because of something you did when you didn't know
     "But, Tom..."
     "Cameron, promise me," Tom said.  "Promise me you'll do something better
with your life than ending up a has-been villain like me, rotting in jail.
     Cameron wavered for a bit, then slowly and sadly nodded.  "I promise,

               *              *              *              *

[September 25, 1996 - Redford, MI]

     Jennifer had picked up a bouquet of flowers before they took a cab to
National Memorial Gardens cemetery.  It wasn't an overly huge bundle, but it
was pretty and looked right lying in front of Tom's tombstone.  Cameron
couldn't remember if he'd ever put flowers down for Tom or not, which made
Jennifer's bouquet seem all the more fitting.
     "Beloved friend, mentor, super-villain," she read off the granite stone,
"I'm guessing you picked that, Deedee."
     Cameron nodded.  "I couldn't think of anything else...well," he added,
"I was going put 'Fastest villain alive,' but with all the speedsters, I
thought it might lead to vandalism."  He paused.  "I think Tom would have
liked it."
     The two stood together for a moment in silence, looking down at Tom's
     "I broke a promise I made to Tom," Cameron said after a second.  There
was another pause, but he soon continued unprompted.  "I promised him that I
wouldn't be a super-villain.  He wanted me to do something better, and I
promised I would."
     Jennifer wrapped her arm around Cameron and squeezed him.  "You may have
slipped a bit, but you're not a villain any more.  You're one of the bonafide
good guys.  He wanted you to do something better, and you have."
     Cameron nodded.
     "I think he would have been proud of you," she said, "I know I am."

               *              *              *              *

     As super-villains went, Doctor Developer was never going to conquer the
planet, but he'd had enough know-how and connections to keep him fairly well
entrenched as the dominant force in the Motor City in his day.  When he left
Detroit, heading out without any warning to his henchmen or allies, there had
been a power vacuum.  One that many of those always nipping at his heels were
all too happy to fill.
     It took a few months for a new power structure to settle into place, but
when it finally did there was one prevailing rule that everyone from the very
top of the food chain to the very bottom knew by heart: if Doctor Developer
shows up, don't let him out of your sight.
     It was this driving rule that prompted Left Arm Johnson to follow the
familiar looking couple that got off the bus.  That same rule kept him
following them to the flower shop, and finally confirmed what he knew when
they went to visit old Tinker Tom's grave.
     Doctor Developer was back in town.
     Left Arm Johnson considered trying to take him down on his own.  The
cybernetic upgrades recently installed in his signature left arm had the
firepower to snuff the doctor, and such a snuff would certainly help him make
a name for himself.  Unfortunately Doctor Developer wasn't the real problem;
it was the woman with him.  The rumor mill said the former criminal king of
Detroit was now dating Lady Lawful, and as much as Left Arm wished for it,
even with his upgrades he wasn't sure he could take them both out.
     Left Arm ducked behind a tree as the blond set the flowers down on the
grave.  There was a small radiophone built into his hand, one that Left Arm
knew had enough of a signal to reach who he needed to talk to.  After quickly
dialing his contact, Left Arm held his hand up to his head, pinky by his
mouth and pointer in his ear.
     "Yeah, what?" a gruff voice asked.
     Left Arm paused for a second, gathering his courage.
     "Is...Is this Mistah Mekanique?" Left Arm asked.
     "Yeah," the voice replied, "This Left Arm Johnson?"
     Left Arm nodded.  "Yeah, yeah, it is.  Wow, I didn't think you'd..."
     "Left Arm, I didn't give you this number so you could call me up and
shoot the breeze," Mistah Mekanique snapped back, "Either make this worth my
time, or I'll make sure you're known as No Arms."
     "Right, sorry," Left Arm stammered, "I thought you might want to know,"
he paused, "Doctor Developer is back in town."

               *              *              *              *

     The small greasy spoon that Cameron took her to after a short
sightseeing tour of Detroit looked like it had been the inspiration for
almost every small diner set Jennifer could remember seeing in movies.  It
was relatively clean, though a bit faded.  The booths and stools were covered
in either plastic or Naugahyde of a crimson-purple color.  There was even a
jukebox stationed in between the bathroom doors at the opposite end of the
     "When does The Fonz show up?" Jennifer teased, pointing back at jukebox.
     "Who?" Cameron asked, cocking his eyebrows as if he should remember
someone with that name.  "Is he a good guy?  That bunch actually had a bar on
the other side of town.  I can show you..."
     "I'm kidding," Jennifer answered, "he's a TV character."  Cameron
nodded.  "And, no, I want to see *your* old Detroit."
     Cameron's face broke into a grin as he led them both to an empty pair of
stools at the counter.  "Good, because this place has the best blueberry
pancakes on Earth."  Cameron spun around on his stool once he hopped up onto
it, taking in a three hundred and sixty degree view of the diner.  "Man this
place brings back memories."
     "And memories seem to keep finding their way back," the waitress behind
the counter said as Cameron's spin came to a stop.  "I thought that was you,
Doctor Developer.  Been a while."  The waitress was easily in her forties
with hair too red to be natural.  "Hey, Murray, guess who's showed up?"
     "Who is it Janine?" a voice called out from the kitchen.
     A head...Murray, no doubt...popped through the pick-up window that
opened into the kitchen.  Murray was a few years older than Janine and lacked
her red hair.  He lacked much of any hair actually.  When he saw Cameron, his
face brightened as much as Janine's had.
     "Doctor Developer!  How long has it been, Janine?"
     "Two years, I'd say?  Three?" Janine answered.  "Too long!"
     "Yeah, but not so long that I forget.  Blueberry pancakes coming up.
Tall stack."  Murray's head vanished back into the kitchen.
     "You two know Ca...ah, Doctor Developer?" Jennifer asked.  Cameron was
starting to blush from being recognized, which was not only adorable but also
something Jennifer only thought he knew how to do after putting his foot into
his mouth.
     Janine looked around, making sure the diner was still empty.  "We know
Cameron from way back," Janine explained.  "He used to come here with ol'
Tinker Tom when he was yay high."  She leveled her hand out around her waist.
"He's one of our favorites.  Why, if it weren't for Cameron here, this place
would have been trashed years ago."
     Jennifer fixed Cameron with a bemused stare.  
     "What?" Cameron asked, impossibly turning a deeper shade of red.  Janine
chuckled, instinctively knowing both the question and the answer.
     Jennifer smiled as she began to explain, "I'm just trying to imagine the
big bad Doctor Developer going around saving people."
     "You haven't had the pancakes yet."

               *              *              *              *

[January 5, 1992 - Detroit]

     "What are you doing to me, man?" Mistah Mekanique screamed.
     Somehow...someone...someway had snuck up on him and knocked him out.  He
remembered the blow to the back of his head well enough even as the fog of
unconsciousness was clearing.  The fog cleared much faster once he realized
that he was tied down to some kind of metal frame.
     "I don't know who you think you are," Mistah Mekanique growled, "but
when I get out of here, I'm going to pound you into the ground!"  He thrashed
against the bonds, but the best he could manage was to merely slide back and
forth on the frame.  "You're going to regret this!"
     "I doubt it," a calm voice came from somewhere beyond where Mistah
Mekanique could see.
     "I don't!" he shot back.  "I'm the top dog 'round these parts, whoever
you are, you..."
     Before he could finish his sentence, the speaker came into view.  It
wasn't the cart loaded with its own frame, bristling with drill bits that
caught Mistah Mekanique's attention.  What made the threat catch in his
throat was the man pushing the cart.
     "Doctor Developer," Mistah Mekanique whispered.
     He knew the rumors.  People said things about Doctor Developer around
Detroit.  They said he didn't have a Magene, but could use Violation
Technology anyway.  They said he was a serial killer, who got off putting his
enemies in deathtraps and watching them die slow, painful deaths.  Ever since
he showed up on the scene several months back, when he'd begun raiding local
villains' and heroes' stashes, he'd been trouble.
     No one in Detroit was sure who hated him more, the good guys or the bad
guys.  However, at the moment, Mistah Mekanique felt he was in the top
     "That's right," Doctor Developer said in his coldest voice.  He stepped
closer to Mistah Mekanique, letting the bound villain see the portable drill
in his hands.  "I wanted to have a little chat with you."  To punctuate the
sentence, Doctor Developer squeezed the trigger on the drill, causing it to
let out a roaring whine.
     "You son of a...I will ki..." Mistah Mekanique stopped short as the
drill bit pressed up against his throat.
     "You will do exactly as I'm going to tell you," Doctor Developer said
slowly and certainly.  He began to nod slowly, which was cue enough for
Mistah Mekanique to carefully nod along, still mindful of the metal against
his skin.
     "Whatever you say, man," Mistah Mekanique agreed.
     Doctor Developer withdrew the drill and smiled grimly.  "Now, there's a
small diner that you've been shaking down..."

               *              *              *              *

[September 25, 1996 - Detroit]

     It only took one bite of the blueberry pancakes for Jennifer to realize
why Cameron held them in such esteem.  It took three more mouthfuls before
she slowed enough to say as much.  "How are these so good?"  Jennifer managed
to ask in between bites.
     "It's Murray," Cameron explained.  "He's got the Magene.  Everything he
makes is great, but his pancakes are to kill for!"
     Janine returned to the couple, offering to refill their drinks.  "Murray
was going to call the place Super-Cooks when we first opened it, but when we
started getting more and more villains, it seemed better not to draw
attention to the place."
     Jennifer was about to reply to this when the bell on the diner door
jangled, drawing her attention.  She turned just in time to see a tall, dark
man step into the diner, followed by a small posse.  The first man was
dressed in gray coveralls with the letters "MM" embroidered over the heart.
His eyes were covered by black, wraparound sunglasses that looked dark enough
to double as welding goggles.
     Even without the small groan from Cameron, she would have pegged the
newcomer as most likely being a villain.  Jennifer wasn't sure about the
"super" part or not.
     "Hey, Janine," "MM" said as he and his posse moved over to a booth.  He
let his group settle in first.  "Could we get four coffees and menus,
     Janine didn't bat an eyelash at the request, but picked up the steaming
pot and started pouring the coffees.  "Coming right up, Mistah Mekanique,"
Janine replied with a smile.  Jennifer watched the waitress for a moment,
trying to decide if her demeanor was an act or earnest.  After a moment, she
decided it was probably earnest.  If this was a villains' hangout, she was
probably used to a much tougher crowd.
     Jennifer turned back to ask Cameron a question only to have Mistah
Mekanique's voice catch her attention again.  "Doctor Developer?" the villain
called out.  Cameron grunted a reply and nodded back at Mistah Mekanique.
"Boys, boys, it is him."  Mistah Mekanique stepped up and proffered his hand,
his posse watching from behind and over their booth.
     Cameron didn't immediately reciprocate the extended hand.  It took a
nudge from Jennifer before shook hands with Mistah Mekanique.  The handshake
lasted a moment too long, just enough to catch Janine's attention.  "None of
that in here, boys," she cautioned.
     Mistah Mekanique released his grip first, smiling broadly.  "Wouldn't
think of it."  His smile vanished for an instant as he added.  "I've been
warned before."  With those four words spoken, Mistah Mekanique's smile
returned and he took a seat on the stool next to Jennifer.
     Mistah Mekanique extended his hand to Jennifer, and she shook it.  "I
hope this isn't too forward, madam, but are you here with the good Doctor?"
The smoothness of his delivery was paper-thin, barely covering a strong urban
thug accent.
     Jennifer nodded, "I am."
     "Good, good," the new villain nodded.  "We'd heard the good Doctor had a
special someone, but no real details."  Mistah Mekanique looked past Jennifer
and chortled.  "So, did you have to catch this one with a net?"  Mistah
Mekanique asked.  His posse laughed at the barb.
     Before Cameron could reply, Jennifer leaned forward and blocked Mistah
Mekanique's view of her fiance.  "It was knockout gas, actually."  This
caught Mistah Mekanique off guard.  "He caught me with knockout gas," she
said, pausing to reach out and pat Cameron's leg, "but it was the whole
package that kept me around."
     After that, there was a very pregnant pause, which was only broken when
Cameron looked over at Jennifer.  "You ready to go?" he asked abruptly.  "We
need to get back before too late."
     Jennifer leaned over and gave Cameron a peck on the cheek.  "Let me go
freshen up, and I will be."  She slid off her stool and headed for the
ladies' room.
     Just before she disappeared behind the double-hinged door, Mistah
Mekanique let out a wolf-whistle.  "Never thought you'd have something that
fine, pervert," Mistah Mekanique jeered.
     Cameron let out a snort.  "Maybe," he replied, "but at least I know for
sure you never will."  He grinned tightly at Mistah Mekanique.
     "Maybe," Mistah Mekanique shrugged, "just have to see how the day goes.
You made a mistake coming back here.  Detroit is my kingdom now."
     "I didn't 'come back here,'" Cameron corrected the villain, "I'm picking
up some of my stuff and leaving.  You let me pass through, and I let you keep
your throne."
     "I heard you switched sides, but I didn't know you'd gone stupid,"
Mistah Mekanique shot back.  "You know it doesn't work that way for us."
     "It's your call," Cameron said.  As he stood up, Cameron pulled out a
short stack of bills and set them on the counter.  Janine stepped up to
collect on the check as Jennifer emerged from the ladies' room.  "Thanks for
the pancakes, Janine.  Tell Murray I said they were better than I
     "You know I will, honey.  You be careful out there."
     "Thanks, Janine," Jennifer said.  She wrapped her arm around Cameron's
waist.  "It was a treat meeting you, Mister Mechanic.  I'm really getting the
Doctor Developer experience today."



Next Issue:

     Lady Lawful hasn't seen anything yet.  Be here next time for LL&DD #6 to
get the full "Deedee Experience!"


Author's Notes:

     Between the blueberry pancakes and Ebonics-styled misspellings, this
issue is a hardcore homage to Adam Warren's series "Empowered", which has a
new volume coming out next week.  Woot!

Editor's Notes:

     "Murray's head" was a purely coincidental phrasing and not an
intentional reference to actor Murray Head, Andy claims.  :)
     On the other hand, the alliteration is pretty clearly intentional.  Lady
Lawful, Doctor Developer, Tinker Tom, Mistah Mekanique....


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