Descendant 109 – Old Devils – Chapter 01

This entry is part 37 of 39 in the series Current

The creature of darkness and metal towered over Lisa. In the dappled shadow of the jungle, it raised one arm—the right one, which she now saw was significantly longer than the left. Instead of a hand, it ended in a hollow tube, which it steadied with its left hand.

No tay moo ayvaas pahghana.” A voice boiled out from inside its helmet, thick as tar. It was unmistakably a language, but as if spoken from the bottom of a well. Something about it tickled in the back of Lisa’s brain, searching for a place to connect.

An unholy yowl, like an alley cat with a trod on tail echoed from overhead, causing Lisa’s eyes to flicker up into the canopy just in time to see a tangle of vines burst into flames courtesy of lances of ruby light that sheered them away to reveal Icthiani.

Still snarling her frustration, the daoine dropped, landing heavily on all fours on the forest floor, blood staining the soil under one palm while in the other hand, a dagger plunged into the same.

The distraction was just enough time for Lisa to snatch her shrunken staff key chain from her belt and swing it upward, all the while disabling the spell that kept it miniaturized. In the space of an instant, the tiny bauble became six and a half feet of wood and crystal, knocking the long arm of the creature aside.

Fire and smoke belched from the appendage, accompanied by deafening boom that shook the forest around them. Splinters and leaves rained down from where a limb was annihilated by the weapon.

Is this something from Faerie? I don’t recognize it.” Lisa asked, also drawing a rod of segmented, dark metal from her belt. A crackle of midnight blue energy interspersed with dots of void surrounded the head as she readied both it and her staff.

Nor do I,” said Icthiani, straightening and drawing a second dagger. “And if one does not recognize a creature in Faerie, the correct course of action is either flee or destroy it.”

The creature recovered from the recoil of its shot, leveling its weaponized arm again. “Notay rayseestahs. No ayrays oona ameenahzahs parra me.” He spoke again, its town commanding.”

Neither heroine had to discuss their choice between the two options Icthiani posited. The blue crackling energy and a beam of crimson light both impacted its chest, driving it backward until it couldn’t resist the force and was sent tumbling backward over a root.

Aiyudah may!” the thing bellowed, struggling to stand.

Lisa frowned. “That sounds like…”

An alarm.” Icthiani said. “Which means there are others. We should rejoin the group. They are here as well.”

Already backing away from the creature as it tried to regain its feet, Lisa shot a confused look to the daoine. “How do you know?”

Icthiani’s expression turned somehow both sour and embarrassed. “My sangrelogos can detect one my teammates by scent.” She didn’t brook any time to argue, just turned and struck out through the foliage, ignoring the creature was it pulled itself back over the root.

With the choice between following a demonic nose and facing an unknown monster, Lisa chose the former, sending a blast of crackling energy back into the metal-plated monster and knocking it away from the root before hustling after.

***

“Kaydialows Airays too.”

The group formerly in the RV had just made it to shore when something bellowed from the direction of the winged hulk on the water. From around the bend in the water emerged a party of strange beings.

Most were metal covered humanoids with crests formed above their shadowed faces that resembled duck bills and mismatched arms. But the two that led them were something different.

While the sports upper bodies superficially similar to those others, one’s lower body was fully equine; a mix of flesh and metal plates jutting out of random parts. The other might have also been horse-derived, but its body was draped in a curtain of metal that flowed and moved like cloth.

“Airays paygahnose. Mahtah loes.”

The ground-bound creatures stopped moving forward and leveled their arms, revealing them to be hollow tubes.

“Down!” Alloy and Rebound shouted almost as one.

A cacophony of explosions sounded, followed by the staccato sound of impacts against a shimmering azure screen that stretched out across the beach before the group courtesy of Zero. A light hail of misshapen metal pattered down into the send before it.

“Lead?” Alloy asked, raising his head from where he’d ducked.

“I thought they were some kind of Faerie monster,” Teen Machine queried, “But… I’m pretty sure they don’t have guns there.”

Zephyrus nodded, eyes narrowing as he looked over the monsters on the beach. They seemed to be ritualistically gesticulating with their arms. “We do not. Nor do we have creatures such as this. At least not in any region whose inhabitants I’ve studied. Given their metal-clad nature and their speaking a tongue I’m not familiar with, they are either servants of the Errolking… or not of Faerie at all.”

Back up the beach, the two centaur-creatures exchanged quick words with one another, raised arms that extended to lengths greater than their own height and charged.

“Really wish you had worn your mech arms today, buddy,” Facsimile said to Teen Machine.

The cyborg hero grinned at her as the pike-arms of the centaurs struck Zero’s telekinetic shield. They reared, bellowing out overlapping equine screams and what sounded like curses. “I got the next best thing though.” He reached into his breast pocket and pulled out a small plastic case, the kind collectibles were stored in.

Inside was a scale model of a motorcycle.

Facsimile’s eyes widened. She ignored as the centaurs drummed on the shield with their fore-hooves. “Is that…”

“’Ani learned a thing or two from watching Occult and her staff. I’ve got to carry the battery on me because electrical charges don’t mix well with the spell. But ta-dah!” He opened the case and tossed the model out. A flare of light consumed it and it expanded into its full size. “Welcome the newest girl in my life: Thumbelina!”

The bike landed on the sand, balanced on its kickstand. It was light compared to his other vehicles, with a single forward facing gun barrel with a revolver-style drum feeding into it and a set of saddlebags positioned behind the seat.

“Deeos Meeoh!” One of the centaurs shouted and whinnied at the same time. Both backed away shortly before wheeling and riding back to the line of bipedal warriors. “Monstrows! Deespahrah lowscanownays!”

Moments later, deep, booming explosions could be heard and the foliage overhanging the bend along the shore erupted as flaming spheres came from the thing on the water. Three struck the sand, throwing up plumes while five impacted Zero’s shield, causing her to grunt with exertion as flames washed across it.

Five heavy thumps followed.

Alloy leaned closer to the shield, looking at the metal spheres resting in the sand. “These… these are cannon balls.”

“Why were they on fire?” Zero asked, still breathing a little hard from the effort she was putting into her shield.

“No idea, bit now I’m thinking the things the other guy are firing are lead balls—like flintlock ammo.”

Rebound joined Alloy, “This is just getting weirder and weirder. Monsters with built in antique weapons?”

“It goes farther than that,” The others turned to find Lisa and Icthiani emerging from the treeline nearby. Lisa was the one speaking. “I thought I heard one saying ‘help me’ earlier and I know that one just said ‘dios mio’. It’s garbled and it’s a weird dialect, but these guys? Definitely speaking Spanish.”

***

Kareem’s eyes watered. At this point, it was hard to tell what was the greater reason for that: the wind stinging his face as he rode atop Green Boarder’s telekinetic green surf board, or whatever it was that made it difficult if not downright painful to keep his gaze on the place he knew his friends to be.

Or maybe it was the death grip Melissa had around his waist as they knelt on the board in front of Boarder. Callie ran along the ground ahead of them.

The three original Descendants had used their D-icons to transform into their costumes while Boarder remained in her gala variant.

“Look.” Melissa tapped Kareem’s side and pointed with her free hand. Below them, Callie was slowing down. Still over a block away from their destination, she was now moving at a brisk jog and looking confused.

In his mental vision, Kareem saw that sh wasn’t just looking confused; her surface thoughts were bubbling across the edges of the swirling galaxy of her mind, unfocused and failing to connect to one another. As Green Boarder at Melissa’s behest started banking toward her, he reached out.

At his mental touch, the mental defenses he’d helped Callie develop over the past months sprang into place and he felt a shock wave of surprise before she recognized him and lowered them.

Kareem?

Yes. Are you alright? What just happened​?

In the physical world, Callie rested her forehead in her palm and shook her head. It was like… you know when you walk into a room and you forget why you did it?

We are trying to get investigate why the others disappeared, Kareem reminded her as the telekinetic board touched down next to her.

“I know that now,” Callie said aloud for the benefit of the others. Her expression was still a bit hazy and far away. “But I lost track of that for a second. Is something messing with our minds?”

With difficulty, Kareem glanced back down the road toward their destination. “I… I’m not certain. Your mental defenses didn’t trigger until I contacted you. They should have deployed—all of our mental defenses should have at least reacted.”

“Maybe it’s magic,” Boarder suggested, “I mean we came here looking for a magic thing… maybe we found it?”

“Likely,” Kareem admitted. “In any case, we need to find a way to defeat it.”

Melissa found she couldn’t even force herself to look down the street. “I think we already have.” At the questioning looks from the others, she went on. “We can barely look in that direction; Vamanos got disoriented running toward it… but Green Boarder was able to fly us with no issues I could tell.”

The all looked to the sole representative of Descendants LA present. She tossed her blonde locks in a nod. “You’re right. I couldn’t look straight ahead, but I could still keep the board going that way.”

“Maybe because whatever’s trying to keep us out doesn’t understand how your power works,” Callie offered. “Like, they can keep people from looking or walking toward it but they didn’t thing about telekinesis.” Another car drove by, easily navigating through the enforced blind spot. “Or driving. That kind of make sense if this is something from a long time ago.”

Kareem nodded his agreement. “That is a reasonable assumption. Boarder, I think we’ll all have to ride with you the rest of the way.”

The surfing superheroine gave an enthusiastic thumbs up, willing her flying board to widen much like it did when she carried her team on patrol or into battle. “Sure thing. Let’s go!” Then she snorted and look to Callie. “Sorry, kind of biting off your Vamanos thing.”

“Hmm?” the other asked, stepping onto the board.

“Never mind.” With all three out of town heroes aboard, she raised the construct into the sky again and started down the block again. This time, nothing stopped them and they crossed the street without incident.

Melissa grunted, her resumed grip on Kareem tightening. He was about to ask her what was wrong when he felt it too. An intense pressure, like the worst sinus headache he’d ever felt pressed against the inside of his skull. From the groans coming from the others, as well as the wavering of the board as the Boarder’s concentration strained, told him they weren’t alone.

Then, like one’s ears popping on n airplane, they were through and the pain subsided as quickly as it had fallen over them. They world snapped back into focus despite none of them having noticed when it went out of focus in the first place.

Below them, the RV sat, lone and undamaged, but looking through the windows revealed their friends were not on board.

“Where is everyone?” Callie asked.

“Maybe inside the house,” Boarder offered, turning the board in that direction and floating them over the gate.

“That could…” At first, Kareem’s words merely got sidetracked by the trove of strange items piled up on the front yard. Then he was surprised by the presence of someone—a man with dark hair sitting on a rocking chair on the front porch, smoking a cigarette.

But then he got a glimpse of that man’s astral body… and he nearly forgot the concept of speech entirely.

To Be Continued…

Series Navigation<< Descendant 108 – Lost Angels – Chapter 04Descendant 109 – Old Devil – Chapter 02 >>

About Vaal

Landon Porter is the author of The Descendants and Rune Breaker. Follow him on Twitter @ParadoxOmni or sign up for his newsletter. You can also purchase his books from all major platforms from the bookstore
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2 Comments

  1. Mysteries upon mysteries. That’s what you get for messing with power beyond your comprehension I guess.

    Thanks for the chapter!

  2. Typos

    While the sports upper bodies
    While they sported upper bodies
    (Probably)

    can detect one my teammates
    (either)
    can detect my teammates
    (or)
    can detect one of my teammates

    She ignored as the centaurs drummed on the shield
    (either)
    She ignored the centaurs drumming on the shield
    (or)
    She ignored {it, the noise, the distraction} as the centaurs drummed on the shield

    They world snapped back
    The world snapped back

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