Finally, Marty had found him.
After all the searching, it was Unicorn - Dr Dynamo's teammate from the Cosmic Knights - who had provided the answer. Marty had checked the Orlando hospital written on the card Unicorn had passed to him and discovered someone on the patient list with the same name as Dr Dynamo's secret identity. It had been a long shot - surely there were dozens of men called Robert Hammond in the state of Florida alone - but, nevertheless, he'd whizzed northwards to check it out.
He hadn't been expecting to meet an old guy in his 80s.
"Hullo Marty. You found me at last, eh?" the frail old man wheezed, as he lay almost hidden within crisp white sheets on the hospital bed. Wires and tubes were festooned about the man, whilst some sort of monitor beeped occasionally next to the bed.
"Doc? Isthatyou?Itcantbeyou!" Kid Kinetic babbled, excitement and suspicion colouring his lightning quick words. He glared at the man in the bed who, to Marty, looked like he was close to the end of his life.
"Kid, kid. Slow down. *cough* I can't tell what you're saying", the old man stuttered, shuffling a little in an attempt to sit up.
Marty squeezed his eyes shut and, with effort, tried to calm down.
"Sorry. It's just I can't believe it's you Doc. Was this what Entropy did to ya? Turned you into an old man?!" This time Marty spoke at a more normal pace, though his words were still a little rushed.
Finally managing to sit up a little, the old man replied with a sad sort of smile.
"Yeah, it's me - in the flesh. Well, what's left of it. And Entropy was sort of responsible for my predicament but not in the way you think". Dr Dynamo stopped for a moment to catch his breath before continuing. "It's a long story".
Kid Kinetic stood there, tapping his foot, waiting for Dr Dynamo - also known as Bob Hammond to those few who knew his secret identity - to continue. The old man rolled his eyes and took a rattling deep breath.
"Ok, ok. Just give me a moment, it's been a long time", he replied, closing his eyes.
For a moment, Marty thought his old mentor had fallen asleep. However, a second or two later the man in the bed opened his eyes, nodded, coughed weakly and continued. He spoke slowly, his rasping voice strained and peppered with coughs.
"When the villain you know as Entropy and I fought towards the end of last year, the clash somehow ripped a hole in space-time creating a temporal bridge between now and then..."
Dr Dynamo glanced up at Marty and saw the look of confusion on the teen's face. He sighed.
"During the fight, Entropy's chaotic power threw us both back in time. Back to November 1961. I appeared there first, closely followed by Entropy. Our arrival did something though. *cough* Caused some sort of energy fluctuation that rippled outwards".
Dr Dynamo's cough got the better of him at that moment and he paused to let his wheezing, rasping chest settle before continuing.
"Anyway, when we reappeared in '61, we were both disorientated and not sure where or when we were. All we knew was that we were fighting, trying to stop one another. So we continued to fight. *cough* Eventually I halted his attack, although it took a lot of my power. *cough* But just as I hit Entropy with a electro-bolt that should have rendered him unconscious, Entropy disappeared. Though that wouldn't be the last I saw of him".
Again, the old man's cough resurfaced. He struggled to reach for a glass of water on the bedside table, until Marty zipped around the other side of the bed and handed it to him. Dr Dynamo took a sip from the glass before carrying on.
"*cough* Thanks kid. Now, where was I? Oh yeah. Entropy had disappeared again, leaving me there in Miami at the start of the '60s. I soon learned what had happened to me and where, or more importantly when, I was. I also discovered something that really shook me up. *cough* Before my arrival there had never been any other person with cosmic powers. I was the first".
"What do you mean, you were the first?" Kid Kinetic interrupted. "Cosmics have been around for ages!"
"Nah, kid. Read your history books", Dr Dynamo admonished. "Cosmics didn't start appearing until the end of 1961. It was my arrival that started it off, you see? The influx of tachyon particles caused a chrono-atomic reaction that, in turn, released a wave of exotic cosmic rays. *cough* These rays mutated the DNA in some people causing the birth of the Cosmic Age. Entropy and I caused all the cosmic powers".
"You sure, doc? Really?! Wow, that'ssoawesome". Kid Kinetic zipped around the bed, his arms waving in the air as he went. Dr Dynamo simply took another sip of water and sighed.
"Yeah, well. Whatever it was, there was nothing I could do about it. I was stuck in the '60s with no way back. *cough* So I had to live my life as best I could. First, I helped the fledgling cosmics come to terms with their new, and sometimes bizarre, abilities. Then later, I helped set up the first iteration of the Cosmic Knights. All the while I had to get a job, find somewhere to live, and try to adjust to being fifty years in the past".
"So that's it? That's why you're so old?" Marty stopped zooming around and actually stood still for a moment, a look of astonishment on his face.
"It is, kid, yeah", Dr Dynamo rasped. "But there's more and this is important, Marty. Y'see, like I said earlier, that wasn't the last we saw of Entropy. Around 12 years later in 1973, he reappeared in Miami. *cough* He was bigger this time, about twice the size of a regular person, and his chaos energy had mutated him. He went rampaging through downtown Miami causing lots of weird things to happen and, unfortunately killed a couple of people - including the Arachnid's girlfriend. Eventually we stopped him but he went and disappeared on us again *cough*".
He took another glug of water to help his cough and then put the glass back down on the nearby table, his boney hands shaking as he did. When he spoke again, Marty noticed that his mentor seemed somewhat more agitated; worry and concern was etched across his grey, wrinkled face.
"He reappeared in 1986 and, again, his arrival caused a crisis", Dr Dynamo continued. "This time he'd grown even taller; he was now around 50 feet in height, perhaps more. And, he was meaner and more powerful. Like before, a bunch of us tried to stop him but all that happened was that he vanished again. Though not before we'd all caused a lot of damage and quite a few deaths".
Dr Dynamo paused thinking for a moment back to those darker days.
"That event led the way for the Cosmic Powers Registration Act. The government had seen how much damage cosmics could do and so wanted to curtail, or at least control, our actions. Although in hindsight it seemed somewhat harsh, I could understand why they did it. They feared us and what we could do. That's when I retired for good *cough, cough*".
The old man shook his head and slumped a little in his bed. He turned his steel blue eyes away from the past and stared towards Kid Kinetic.
"You know of the last time he reappeared", Dr Dynamo finally stated, somewhat enigmatically.
"What do you mean? A couple of years ago when he broke out of the Cube!?" Marty asked, puzzled, trying to look away from the other man's cold gaze.
"No, kid. I mean back in 1999. Of course, then everyone called him Monstro..." Dr Dynamo explained, his voice trailing off into another fit of coughing.
"What the...?!?" Marty exclaimed. He'd heard of Monstro - everyone had heard of Monstro. He'd been the biggest threat cosmics had ever faced. And here was his mentor saying Entropy and Monstro were one and the same. "Monstro was Entropy!? Entropy is Monstro? How the...? Are you serious?"
"Deadly serious, kid" Dr Dynamo replied, his voice low. "The latest time Entropy reappeared, he was so powerful and so crazy that he caused the wholesale destruction of Miami. *cough* Millenia was built in it's place with help from the cosmics, like the Professor. But that won't help next time. Each time Entropy reappears, he gets exponentially larger and more powerful. Next time... *cough* well, he'll cause the destruction of most of America, I'm sure of it. Tens of millions will die!"
Dr Dynamo lifted his frail hand and suddenly gripped Kid Kinetic's arm. Although the retired cosmic hero was old and weak, Marty could feel the tingle of electricity from the fingers that dug into his arm. Dr Dynamo glared at his sidekick, his eyes wide and his voice shaking with fear.
"I've been doing the calculations, kid, analysing when he arrived the last three times. If I'm right, I reckon we've only got a couple of months. Kid, you've got to warn the Knights. Tell them to build up their strength and prepare".
"Tell them... Entropy, Monstro, whatever you want to call him... is returning and he's going to destroy us all!"