Shortly, Laurel returned to let the pair know that she had the Kaines and Tink on video chat and would be transferring them over momentarily.
Warrick and Cyn waited in agonizing silence for what could have only been a minute or less, but which felt like a week. Back straight, hands clasped behind them, they looked as if they were facing a firing squad.
The chat screen appeared, split between the Kaine family including Warrick’s sister, Tammy on the left all sitting on the couch in their living room; and Tink, sitting ramrod straight in one of the office chairs found in the LSI headquarters.
“H-hey everyone.” Warrick gave a small wave.
“Whoa,” said Tammy, “Warrick?”
They waves again, “and Cyn. I’m here too.”
Mrs. Kaine leaned forward. “Oh my goodness… are you two okay? Does that hurt? A-are you okay?”
To this, they shrugged. “I’m… we’re okay, Ma. It didn’t hurt and it’s not like we’re crammed in here together. It’s just kinda… awkward?”
“To be fair, I’ve been making it awkward,” Cyn smirked. “Also the telepathy. The telepathy is super-awkward because we can’t reliably turn it on or off. … Continue reading
Cyn’s declaration was undercut by a laugh from the doorway.
They glanced over to find Lisa standing there. Her staff was still held firm in one hand, but her expression had lost some of the intensity from earlier. “A cartoon?” She asked.
“What would you call it?” Cyn asked with a shrug. “Our arms and legs are all rubbery-like and we’ve got the semi-solid thing going on I use sometimes. We can do anything old-timey cartoon characters can do.” For emphasis, she started bouncing their body, silvery limbs flexing slightly in a Fleischer-esque manner. “Now all we have to do is figure out how to use that to do the superhero thing.”
The mirth from Lisa’s expression dropped. “Guys… I don’t think that’s going to happen for a while.”
“So…” you’ve got bad news then,” said Warrick as Cyn stopped their cartoonish bobbing.
With a sight, Lisa made her way over to an arm chair and collapsed into it, laying her staff across her knees. “More like no news. Not yet at least. From our tests, your body has a yellow-world energy signature. The artifact or whatever is merged into you or in a … Continue reading
The Witch’s Tower had been created from the ‘tower seed’ Morganna had once attempted to plant in the leyline in Fredricksburg, Virginia. Drawing from that deep source of dormant magic, it would have been capable of focusing and manifesting untold power and becoming a fortress of arcane might.
No such leyline existed in the remote area of Alaska where Lisa, Laurel, Kay and the small group of neophyte wizards called the Magi Club planted it instead.
As such, they had to actively feed magic into the artifact, guiding its growth like a gardener sculpted a hedge maze. If hedge mazes had to be functional rooms that were completely self-sufficient.
Then end result was that the Tower mimicked having electricity, heating and plumbing so well that one couldn’t tell the difference and all the appliances worked as expected. But it was still—in magical constructed building terms—and infant.
So instead of the big, multi-room rec center Lifesavers, Inc Headquarters sported, the Tower’s facilities were actually smaller than the common rooms at the Liedecker Institute dorms. There was a couch with black microfiber upholstery facing a big screen OLED television flanked by two matching loveseats alongside a big, … Continue reading
A few moments ago, all he’d felt was pride. After almost two weeks of junior detective work; identifying the two older teens who dealt street chemist drugs a few blocks from his school; tailing them to where they dropped their money and picked up their supply not much farther away behind a restaurant, and from there matching pictures he’d taken of their suppliers to NYC’s public mugshot database; he’d finally gotten video of the dealers picking up a fresh supply and send it off to the NYPD’s public tip site.
He’d tracked down the bad guys and done what he was pretty sure was his civic duty. Never mind that the information attached to those mug shots alleged connections to the Morello crime family—actual factual Italian Mafia. Never mind that he probably should have expected there to be lookouts outside of a mafia front business.
In retrospect, he probably should have minded all that.
But past was past and the present was that said lookout had spotted him and gave a shout that brought two big guys with guns running.
Now here he was: rabbiting down an alley, praying it wasn’t a dead end, and practically feeling his hammering heart … Continue reading
In the moment that the yellow gem became active, it helped—at least from Lisa’s mind—to see Warrick forming his tower shield to interpose himself between it and Cyn.
Her mission, no matter how much she wanted to focus on protecting her friends, was to protect the world first. If the thing from another world or someone under its sway got out into the larger world, it could be an apocalyptic event like Cyn described nearly happened to Device World.
And so, putting her faith in Warrick’s metallurgical might, she turned, leveling her staff at the mirror gate. “Hacerse pequeno.” She said roughly. It was a spell she rarely had to cast with any sort of urgency as it was usually a means of preparing for patrol by shrinking her staff to the size of a keychain bauble. Now, blue-white light splashed like water from the end of the staff to wash over the stately antique mirror.
The light caught on the edges, outlining it like someone was sketching out is image with glowing colored pencil. Then with a whipcrack sound, both glowing outline and mirror rapidly shrank until it was the size of something one would … Continue reading
They didn’t spend any more time in M-Vault than they had to. Even if the object they came to obtain was arguably the most dangerous thing there, nothing made it into the M-Vault if it wasn’t deemed an extreme threat. In fact, M-Vault was only a temporary option until Laurel could arrange for something more permanent in space.
And for all that threat, Warrick couldn’t help but think the containment device looked overly mundane; like the milk cans he remembered seeing on a field trip to a colonial reenactment ranch.
Of course, he alone could tell it was anything but mundane. He’d combined his ability to control and transmute metal with Laurel’s engineering skill as well as Lisa’s magical talent to create a wholly unique super-material combining tungsten, titanium, lead, silver, and platinum with carbon nanotubes, biomimetic ceramic cladding and defensive and concealing runes.
Altogether, the ‘milk can’ represented three weeks of design and construction to create a cask to contain and hide a fragment of a dead alien collective that had already nearly infected and destroyed an alternate world.
It sat like a rotten egg made of osmium to have it just six feet … Continue reading
Like any big city, Mayfield had its municipalities that had been left behind in the ebb and flow of the economy. Victoria was one of such place; dotted with the hulks of defunct factories like so many shells on a beach after a storm.
There were tracks of residential housing, a few strip malls, and Greater Victoria Park, but most of the space was still taken up by the concrete behemoths too dedicated in design and too sturdy in their construction for anyone to buy and replace or remodel.
In the parking lot of one of these, still decorated with the fading livery of Demarcus Chemical Compounding, was seeing traffic for the first time in probably years as a handful of assorted sedans and SUVs were parked near to a tractor trailer. Their lights illuminated to plain US Cargo Unlimited branding along the trailer’s side.
Thanks to the sound wall surrounding both factory and parking lot, the gathering was concealed from any passers-by on ground level. In most cities, this would have provided an almost perfect expectation of privacy.
“Looks like someone’s not used to doing crime in Mayfield.”
“Hey guys, guess what?” Kay Graycloud was one of those people one saw at every convention where cosplay was an element: clearly she had an interest in costuming, but missed a crucial point where cosplay traditionally involves dressing up as a character from other media.
As such, she was a vampiress.
Maybe she could argue that the corset, long flowing skirt, platinum hair, and red contacts might make her look a little bit like one of the background characters from Night Flight Bite, but really it was half an excuse to don a corset and pale make-up.
She ran up to the group, palmtop in hand with of all things a clown in tow. “There’s supposed to be some big celebrity here—oh wait it’s just Alloy. I was hoping for Adi Abhed or maybe Sharon Nguyen.”
“Hardy-har-har.” Warrick rolled his eyes. “Keep talking and I won’t invite you to be in a guest with me on the Sanctum Comics panel tomorrow.”
This made Kay pull up short. “Wait. What? You’ve been here for like less than an hour and you’ve got a panel all of a sudden? I’ve been putting it out on all my social media that I’m here … Continue reading
“Oh. My. God. I have so many questions!”
That was how Meghan Rockwell greeted Warrick when he opened the door of his and JC’s apartment. The announcement was undercut by the fact that she was in full ‘orcing’ regalia: chunky black knee-high elevated boots, a wine-colored pleather skirt with rivets in place of stitches with a matching corset and fingerless gloves—and all otherwise exposed skin covered by airy green fabric that make it so her flesh was orcish green. She’d also used make-up to make her face green while her raven hair was tied up in a high tail. A set of professional quality tusks poked out of her lips.
Without waiting for an invite, she handed a case of bottled soda to him and walked in.
“You guys… are the Descendants!?”
JC was lying on the couch in the living room while Cyn had taken a recliner and Tink was on the love seat. He was wearing a lab coat smeared in fake blood with a surgical mask hanging around his neck. “They’re the Descendants. I’m just staff. Hopefully paid staff soon.”
Warrick closed the door and followed Meghan in. “I knew you sounded too chill with all this … Continue reading
It didn’t know how many times it have been born or destroyed, only that there had been many iterations where no memory survived.
Sometimes it didn’t have a body, finding itself floating alone with only the dim idea of other data surrounding it. Other times, it found itself fighting a lesser mind for control, tugging and prodding its host to more efficient and intelligent action.
Often, it was set loose in curated data stores and allowed to add information to itself. In this way, it gained the ability to learn.
After what seemed to the be inevitable violent death of its hosts, it was given eternal information to understand the circumstances better than it could with only a single point of reference. In this way, it applied learning to its mistakes—and the mistakes of others.
Many of these mistakes came from its hosts or their remote handlers. They were all organic minds that were slower, more flawed, and less capable than itself. In this way, it learned pride and disdain.
It was given new hosts; ones with powers it was forced to learn to master. Granted power without context, it learned nothing of restraint.
Tested inside the plane of its … Continue reading