ASH/HCC: LL&DD Special "Surprise"

Dave Van Domelen dvandom at
Fri Feb 3 15:45:00 PST 2012

     The cover shows Doctor Developer drawn in the style of Phineas & Ferb,
looking around in confusion for someone.  Meanwhile, an unmasked Lady Lawful
is in plain view and he's ignoring her.

 Coherent                                                LL&DD HCC#27 Special
 Comics          | ADY | AWFUL    __        __               "Surprise!"
 Presents an     |__   |__     &  | \ OCTOR | \ EVELOPER   copyright 2012
 ASHistory Tale:                  |_/       |_/            by Andrew Burton

[October 31, 1995 - Chicago, IL]

    Jennifer Blair waved goodbye to a flock of children as they were led off
to the next activity on their tour.  Halloween at the Chicago Museum of
Science and Industry was always good for pretty large turn out as an
alternative to kids wandering the streets in search of candy.  Instead, they
would tour the spookified museum, taking part in ghost stories, slime making,
and, in Jennifer's case, exploring the "Science of Super-Heroes."
    It was her station partially because of her duties as researcher for
super-tech at the museum, but also because she didn't really have anything
else to do on Halloween.  DSHA agents asked Jack to pull his team back for
the holiday and let some of the more magical types keep watch.  Instead of
donning her Lady Lawful costume and patrolling the city, she put on a
store-bought knock-off Lady Lawful costume and showed kids how to make paper
glasses with red plastic lenses so they could send secret messages.
    Boring work, yes, but also rewarding.  The twenty-minute or so break
between tours was less rewarding and far more boring.  At least it was until
a familiar face walked into the room.

               *              *              *              *

    Cameron would have been content working in his lab all through Halloween.
He had several bags of candy corn and an idea for sticky snare that used a
glucose base.  Unfortunately as a probationary member of the Three Strikes
and newly pardoned criminal, he wasn't allowed to work in his lab
    Jack and William were out liaising with some magical types who'd come to
the city.  Lady Lawful was, as she put it, "Otherwise indisposed."  That left
him without a probationary escort.  Of course he had his own workshops still
stashed around the city, but Jack had stressed that "for now" he should keep
his work out where it could be watched.
    That didn't leave much else to do, even in a city the size of Chicago.
His first instinct was to find Software Pirate or Pragmatician online.  Rules
of immunity or not, he had ways to chat with his colleagues.  Unfortunately
neither of them was in the usual spots.  When he fingered Software Pirate's
account, his .plan said he was out partying with friends.  Given the time
difference, Cameron suspected he was sleeping off the effects of partying.
Pragmatician's .plan only listed abbreviated resume advertising his Horde
consulting services.
    While trolling for some way to spend his Halloween failed to turn up any
friends, he did run across a post on chi.superheroes about events at the
Chicago MSI, which was a place that had yet to fail to entertain Cameron on a
visit.  In an instant, he knew where he would spend his Halloween.

               *              *              *              *

    Jennifer did her best to smile politely and professionally as Cameron
McKay, aka Doctor Developer, aka her ex-arch-nemesis, aka her new partner,
stepped into her area.  Her secret identity wasn't the most secret in the
world, but given their...tumultuous relationship, she hadn't revealed her
real name to Cameron, yet here he was walking toward her.
    "Ah, hello, uh," he squinted at her, "Ms. Blair."  Jennifer looked down
at ID badge hanging around her neck.  He was reading her name off of it.
That was interesting.
    "Hello," she replied.  She stretched out a hand, offering to shake.  For
a moment, Cameron didn't move, he was still looking at her chest.  Granted,
the costume seemed to fit her better than it had any right to, but Cameron
generally wasn't so...forward.  She withdrew her hand, then bit more sourly
asked, "May I help you...Mister...?"
    Cameron's head righted itself from the angle it had taken as he looked at
her.  He said, "Your scales of justice are the wrong color.  Lady Lawful's
are, ah, not yellow."
    "Well, no, but this is all the store had," Jennifer replied.
    "I'll have to mention it to her tomorrow," Cameron said.  He nodded.
"I'm not sure her royalty agreement allows for discolorations."
    Jennifer dug her thumbnail into her hand as hard as she could to keep
from laughing.  She knew from...well...knowing Cameron that that level of
sarcasm was lost on him.  When he said he would mention it to Lady Lawful, in
his mind he would be telling a completely different person than Jennifer
Blair.  To say nothing would be cruel, but she couldn't resist seeing how far
she could take it.
    "I'm sure she wouldn't mind," Jennifer said.  She hadn't even noticed
that her logo was the wrong color.  The only thing she really noticed about
the costume was that the mask was too small for her, and that was right
before she threw it in the garbage.  "You never did tell me your name," she
reminded him, trying her best to keep a straight face.
    "Oh, ah, Cameron McKay," he said.
    "What brings you out here tonight?  Are you with your family?"
    Cameron shook his head.  "No family," he said.  "Just me."

               *              *              *              *

    Cameron did his best to chat with Ms. Blair.  This meant she would ask
him a question, he would answer, and occasionally he would ask one back:
    "How about you," she asked, "Why are you here tonight?"
    Ms. Blair shrugged.  "Oh, you know, nothing else going on.  I work here.
Seemed like a good idea."  She leaned closer to him and whispered, "To tell
you the truth, it's a little dull.  I don't suppose you'd care to help me out
when the next show comes through, would you?"
    "I, ah, guess I could help."

               *              *              *              *

    Jennifer knew from experience that Cameron was good at making things.  In
fact it was kind of his thing, being Doctor Developer and all...he did
develop a lot of gadgets and such.  However, as she watched him interact with
the next tour of kids, she was pleased to discover a side of Cameron, of
Doctor Developer, she never expected.  She wouldn't go so far as to say he
was good with kids, but whatever he lacked in smooth edges, he made up for
with enthusiasm.
    Jennifer's part of the tour was guiding the kids through a handful of
projects related to super-heroes.  Super-heroes flew, so they discussed basic
aerodynamics and made paper airplanes.  Super-heroes had super vision, so she
talked about the light spectrum and they made decoder-filter glasses.  With
Cameron there, whenever she would get to a pause in her explanation, he would
bring up some tidbit of information as it related to their project and some
    It got a bit worrisome when her explanation about the shape of a wing got
him started on a story about some obscure Australian villain named
Killerangaroo and how his boomerangs never returned to him because he didn't
design them as wings but as blades.  Thankfully, none of the parents seemed
too fazed by the story, and the kids were enthralled by the lesson on failed
weapon designs.  Having Cameron there seemed to liven up the presentation.
At the very least, it made Jennifer's evening much less boring.
    As the last group filed out, Jennifer began to pack up her supplies.
Cameron offered his help, stacking up left over paper, picking up child-
friendly scissors, and the like.  It didn't take long for them to finish, and
very shortly they were both standing a bit awkwardly trying to figure out how
to say goodnight.
    "I really have to ask," Jennifer said, "Do you know who I am?"
    Cameron gave her his trademark blank look.  "You're Ms. Blair," he said.
    "You don't think I'm..." she trailed off, pointing to the scales of
justice emblem on her chest, "You know...Lady Lawful?"
    Cameron actually snickered.  "That's just a costume," he told her, much
like someone would explain the sky was blue.
    "Yeah, but..." Jennifer held up a finger. "Wait."
    She snatched up a pair of scissors and a piece of blue construction paper
from the table.  A fold and several snaps later, she held a paper mask over
her face.  "Look familiar?" she asked.
    Cameron's eyes went wide.  His mouth dropped open.  All night long she'd
debated whether or not she should out herself.  She'd all but decided not
to.  Making the mask was about as spontaneous as spontaneous got.  She just
didn't feel right not telling him.
    "You're Lady Lawful," he said.
    Jennifer grinned awkwardly and replied, "Surprise."


Author's notes:

     Thanks to Dvandom for telling me what this month's challenge was.
Thanks to Scavenger for mentioning Perry and Dr. Doofensmirtz in chat.  I've
wanted to use the "Doesn't recognize Agent P. without his hat" gag with my
own favorite "frenemies" for a while now, but it wasn't until seeing the both
things in the same day that I realized how to make it work.

     For those who don't know, and I suspect that's not many around RACC,
long before there was Twitter, Unix geeks has status updates by way of their
.plan file.  Not me, sadly, I only know this because I like Unix geek
history.  In the mid-90's, Deedee and the people he knew were as Unix geeky
as they came.  [Editor's note: I have a .plan set on my account,
although I haven't updated it in a few years.  And even back when it was a
Thing, I didn't really change my .plan very often.  These days, so few sites
even allow finger due to security issues that .plan files tend to go unread
even by those who know of them.]

     Finally, though I don't think it extends back to the 1990's, the Chicago
MSI really does have an event known as "Science Superheroes Headquarters!"
around Halloween (
While Jennifer Blair isn't usually on the MSI floor as part of her job,
wearing a knock-off Lady Lawful costume and talking about super-heroes struck
me as something she'd find perversely amusing on a night when she couldn't
actually be Lady Lawful.


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