- Descendants #101 – The Battle of Freeland House Chp.4
- Descendants #101 – The Battle of Freeland House Chp.3
- Descendants #101 – The Battle of Freeland House Chp.2
- The Descendants #100 – Paradigm Shift pt.3
- Descendants #99 – Huddled Masses Chp. 6
- Descendants #99 – Huddled Masses Chp. 5
- Descendants #99 – Huddled Masses Chp.1
- Descendants 98 – The Precocious Prodigy Chp.2
- Descendants 97 – Heir of Hyrilius Chp. 1
- The Descendants #96 – Kill Hope Chp. 5
- The Descendants #96 – Kill Hope Chp. 1
- The Descendants #96 – Kill Hope Chp. 2
- The Descendants #96 – Kill Hope Chp. 3
- The Descendants #96 – Kill Hope Chp. 4
- The Descendants #96 – Kill Hope Chp. 6
- Descendants 97 – Heir of Hyrilius Chp. 2
- Descendants 97 – Heir of Hyrilius Chp. 3
- Descendants 97 – Heir of Hyrilius Chp. 4
- Descendants 97 – Heir of Hyrilius Chp. 5
- Descendants 98 – The Precocious Prodigy Chp.1
- Descendants 98 – The Precocious Prodigy Chp.3
- Descendants 98 – The Precocious Prodigy Chp.4
- Descendants 98 – The Precocious Prodigy Chp.5
- Descendants #99 – Huddled Masses Chp.2
- Descendants #99 – Huddled Masses Chp. 3
- Descendants #99 – Huddled Masses Chp. 4
- Descendants #99 – Huddled Masses Chp. 7
- The Descendants #100 – Paradigm Shift pt.1
- The Descendants #100 – Paradigm Shift pt.2
- The Descendants #100 – Paradigm Shift pt.4
- The Descendants #100 – Paradigm Shift pt.5
- The Descendants #100 – Paradigm Shift pt.6
- Descendants #101 – The Battle of Freeland House Chp.1
“This is Jennifer Li, NP5 coming to you live from out front of the property known as Freeland House, home of daughter of Brant Industries CEO William Brant, chair of Descendants Rights Worldwide, Headmistress of the Liedecker Institute, and suspected sponsor of the prelate team known as The Descendants where a truly bizarre phenomenon is unfolding. Flashes of light and booming in the sky; witnesses are reporting that it sounds like artillery fire and I’m not one to disagree.”
It was true. Bright flares were overpowering even the light of the sun in the sky above Freeland House, and with each one came a sound like thunder. The air itself seemed to vibrate as the frequency of the flashes slowly picked up speed.
Soon, they were a constant patter that completely drowned out the reporter’s voice.
If anyone at home could read lips, they would have discovered that Jennifer had just received word from the studio that News Provider 5’s war corespondent had identified the sights and sounds she was reporting on: coil-gun rounds striking a standing field.
And the noise inside was even worse.
“She could’ve warned us about this part!” Whitecoat pressed his palms over his ears under his hat. He, Renaissance, Improv, along with Geiger and Kali from the Outliers had emerged from the astral plane on the back deck of Freeland House. He turned to Improv. “Got any earplugs in the ol’ utility belt, big guy?”
The larger man grunted and opened one of the compartments on his belt, extracting three sets. He looked at the other four people and shook his head. “Sorry. Don’t usually work with a team.”
“But you still bought three pairs,” Geiger observed. “You’re one of those crazy prepared survivalist guys aren’t you?”
Improv shrugged. “Prelate in New York. Anything can happen.”
“Then why don’t you have three pairs of earplugs?” Geiger asked Whitecoat.
“Because shut up is why. Okay, Improv; the plugs are yours, so you take one set, one of the Outlier kids gets one, and Alloy’s girlfriend gets one because she’s got a special mission.”
Geiger bristled, “Hey! We aren’t kids. I’m probably only a few years younger than you—if that. Anyway, you three can have them. Mari’s sensitive to vibration all over thanks to the snake body so they won’t help much and I’m fine with the noise.”
“Settles that then.” Said Improv, handing Whitecoat two sets of earplugs.
Whitecoat nodded and turned to Renaissance. It was then that he got an explanation as to why he hadn’t gotten any argument when he referred to her as ‘Alloy’s girlfriend’. Her be-goggled eyes were fixed on the sky.
From the inside, the geodesic dome of standing fields tinted the sky ever so slightly red, and when a coil-gun round hit it, the reverberation in the affected fields made it look like the air was rippling. As the fields degraded, the rippled became more violent.
“Two minutes,” she said, having not heard any of the previous conversation. “If that. You know, before the field fails completely. Let’s move.”
“No sense in seeing what Tome’s got planned for their assault,” Geiger agreed. “After you then. Ready, Mari?”
Mariposa, AKA Kali, nodded, looking utterly excited despite everything they’d been told was on the line. “Let’s do it!”
With that, Renaissance used her strength to force the sliding glass backdoor of Freeland house off its rails and the group entered.
“Well crap,” Facsimile said as she surveyed the area where she’d arrived. Along with Glass, Stunner, Umbrage, and Noah from the Kin, she was quite literally the furthest away from the house they could have appeared: in the woods where the younger Descendants used to train.
“I take it we’re nowhere near any of the objectives.” Umbrage was in the form of a man made of living black flame with two yellow stars for eyes. Or rather, he was projecting that illusion—at least that’s how Facsimile understood his powers worked. His voice was deep and cool, making her wonder if that was an illusion too.
“Not even close,” she admitted. “Alright, so we cut down to the lake shore and make for the boathouse. That’s the closest.”
Stunner raised a hand, which also meant brandishing one of her guns. “Aren’t you supposed to be making straight for the workshop?”
Facsimile spread her hands in a defeated gesture. “That was before teleport screw was declared. Look, we’ll head for the boathouse and if Renaissance isn’t there by the time the bad guys break through, I’ll fly up to the house. Sound like a plan?”
“It’s your house,” said Glass, “We’re just guests.”
“Alright then, guests: let’s get this party started before the crashers arrive… again.”
“So what is it the Mayfield Irregulars do?” Urban Ranger was making small talk as her group as her group, consisting of Leo Freemont and Mark Troy of the Mayfield Irregular, Anura of the Outliers, and Barn Owl made their way up the lengthy set of stairs leading up to the front of Freeland House.
Luckily, they had landed on the landing halfway up.
Unluckily, there were still a lot of stairs.
“To tell the truth, not a whole lot,” admitted Mark. “We’re on call to help if the Vamanos needs our help, but that doesn’t come up much, so we usually just go on patrol with her once or twice a month and that’s it.”
Leo rubbed the top of his recently shaved head. “Her people did buy use these suits in case we wanted to do more serious prelate work though.” Indeed, Vamanos’s ‘people’ (who in this case were entirely embodied in Lily Goldenmeyer) had looked out for Vamanos’s powered friends, setting them up with armored suits and a set of heavy ceramic-plated gloves for Leo. Both suits were no-frills and plain khaki in color, but they were functional and bulletproof, so they were still appreciated.
“And the Outliers?” Urban Ranger glanced in Anura’s direction. The frog woman was having a much easier time of the climb than the rest of them, simply hopping up on landing and waiting for the others to catch up.
Anura crouched on the landing above them and adjusted her goggles. “Right now? We go around helping descendants in Braylocke Law states relocate. We used to play bounty hunter, but it got real clear real quick that we were the bad guys in that situation.”
“No kidding,” said Barn Owl. “I cant believe how many states passed that crap. Never underestimate people’s ability to vote to spite others, I guess. Same reason it took this country til the thirties to get actual health care.” He glared up at the red sky, watching the flashes. “Damn. I wish they’d shut up. Climbing all these stairs is pain enough without that racket.”
“You could fly, you know,” Urban Ranger pointed out.
“And leave you guys behind? Unlikely. I don’t get a chance to team up often and I’m not about to give that up for a little bit of comfort.”
Urban Ranger scoffed. “You are such a prelate nerd, Barn Owl.”
“You haven’t met ‘Coat’s protege formally, have you?”
Above them, outside the standing fields, there was an explosion. Urban Ranger looked up and smirked. “Not yet, but if he’s anything like the rest of his team, or the company they keep, I bet I’ll be impressed.”
A rose-colored pool formed in the corrugated metal floor of an undisclosed location. From it emerged Occult, Darkness, Chaos, Lady D, Rebound, Zephyr, Shade’s Apprentice and Codex.
“Where’s this then?” Shade’s Apprentice asked, looking around at the dark, metallic confines they found themselves in. It looked like the inside of a cargo container packed with auto parts and ammunition.
“This is our insurance policy.” Codex announced. “Just a bit off target, though that’s understandable seeing how difficult it is to teleport to a moving object.”
“Moving object?” asked Lady D. She kept her cloak tightly gathered around her and stuck close to Zephyr.
From above came the creaking groan of metal and a rectangle of light appeared atop a set of metal stairs. Into that light leaned Zero Point. “Ladies and Gentleman, welcome the the new and improved Rook.” He gestured for them to come up and they did, exiting the stairs into a hangar-like structure split between two levels: a flight deck where a control yoke and piloting console were installed along with a huge bank of holographic monitors, and a platform atop which what could only be described as a walking tank was situated inside a cocoon of scaffolding.
Majestrix, wearing her flight suit and goggles, came to stand with her husband. “Our flying base and repair facility—recently outfitted with the same stealth panels Tome uses thanks to a generous salvage allowance by the ROCIC. “We’re currently above the Tome carriers outside Freeland House.”
Chaos pounded one gauntleted fist into his palm. “And we’re going to bring them down; buy time for the teams inside to finish their jobs by disrupting the assault on the standing field generators.”
“But I thought these things were cloaked and stealthed,” ventured Rebound. “How are we supposed to hit what we can’t see?”
“Leave that to me,” Darkness said, stepping forward. “I can mark them. It’s the same trick as throwing flour in the air to spot something invisible only with my black heat particles. Now let’s hurry; the fields won’t hold much longer. Majestrix?”
The older woman nodded sharply and ran back to the console on the flight deck. A set of doors situated above the walking tank—a new configuration of the Queen’s Gambit—rolled open, revealing the evening sky above. “I’ll be right behind you all,” she reported, hurrying back to the group.”
“Great. Then let’s fly.” Chaos called up wind to fill his cape and took flight.
Occult summoned up a horizontal shield and looked to Rebound. “You can ride with me.”
One by one, the heroes took to the air, rising up through the open doors to battle.
Darkness let the charge, pulling down her goggles and switching them to their new setting, one linked into the Barometric Net; a system Brant Industries had developed alongside Dayspring College. The long and short of it was a system that fitted the city’s rooftops with barometric sensors linked to software that aggregated the data from all of them, allowing the system to detect large, unseen objects in the city’s airspace by the chances in air pressure they created while moving.
The new setting on her goggles was an augmented reality display that highlighted the locations of the Tome carriers in red. As soon as it was up and running, she started blasting black heat at the nearest targets, swirls of ebon particles splashing over the cloaked ships and scattering across their hulls.
As soon as the first one was marked, it was struck by a pair of Chaos Novas that shattered its aft stealth panels, rendering the back half of the craft visible. It was then raked by glittering beams of red light directed at it by Lady D. They punched through the hull plating and into the main engine compartment, destroying enough vital components for the vertical lift nacelles to start failing. The carrier began sinking to earth, belching smoke and flames.
The next spat sparks as Rebound, with an assist of a powerful gust of wind from Zephyr launched into the windscreen of the cockpit. Safety glass and plastic exploded where his body channeled all the force back into the point of impact and he passed right through into the cockpit, protected by his powers and uniform.
The pilot and co-pilot only had time to gawk in surprise before two well-placed punches knocked them out. While he wasn’t the pilot Teen Machine was, Rebound knew enough the grab the yoke and turn the craft, directing its coilguns into a neighboring carrier, blowing through its armor and taking out its left lift nacelle, sending it into a spin.
By then, the carriers were starting to notice that attack and at least one turned to bring its weapons to bear on the attacking heroes. It didn’t get the chance to because at that moment, the Queen’s Gambit landed on its back, huge feet cracking the stealth panels there.
With a series of clacks and ratcheting sounds, the ‘mech extended a long barrel on its shoulder and fired a volley of shells into two nearby carriers.
The battle above Freeland House was joined.
While the Tome facilities the Descendants and ROCIC had dealt with before had been covert structures concealed in former mines, decommissioned government sites, and other hidden places. This one didn’t even have a ‘Deep’ designation. Site 22 was essentially a data processing delete run out of a large house in an Indianapolis suburb.
The locals thought the place was just the home of a wealthy resident that had a large on-site staff. The local utilities thought perhaps it belonged to some random crazy trying to mine the latest flash in the pan cryptocurrency considering how much power it burned through.
Whatever the people around it thought, they were in for a surprise when a hole in the sky opened and a platform made of green telekinetic energy lowered an entire team of superheroes onto their doorstep.
“Alright, team. Follow the plan. Room-to-room, use the buddy system,” Alloy reminded them as Isp and Osp gripped the edge of Green Boarder’s platform. He didn’t wait for them to reach the ground before looking over his shoulder to his own designated buddy. “Got a good grip back there?”
Adamantine nodded, her face displaying no emotion. “My grip is secure.” Her hands were locked around a pair of handles Alloy had extruded from the armor on his back. “Shall we knock then?”
“Oh lets.” Alloy glared through his visor at the door in front of him. It wasn’t what it appeared: the wood was painted ceramic sandwiching a three-inch plate of titanium with two-inch bolts locking it into a matching frame under the control of a security panel.
It would take him only a moment to twist the door hard enough to break the ceramic and grant them entry. It was a moment he wasn’t willing to waste—so he had the twins aim five feet higher; at the wall above the door that was just aluminum siding, wood and drywall.
With the strength of the two tentacles combined with the mass of the armored hero and the robotic heroine, those materials were little obstacle to them simply smashing through and landing in a roll.
Inside was a single guard in a bad suit wielding a PSM pistol. He’d been covering the door and was shocked to find the wall exploding, followed by a gold-colored tentacle wrapping his gun, crushing it before advancing up his arm to pull him into range of an angry armored figure.
Alloy had Isp bring the man right up to the point where his visor was actually poking him in the forehead. “I can guarantee Tome isn’t paying you enough for to lie or stall. This place got a delivery of hostages from the raids today—where are they?”
“I-I don’t know!” the man blurted out. “There’s multiple entrances and I just went on shift and hour ago.”
“Then where do you keep things that need to be secured,” Adamantine ventured.
The guard stammered a bit before saying, “The vault’s in the basement—through the server farm. But I don’t know how to open it—none of us do.”
“I think we’ll find a way,” Alloy said before having Isp toss him aside. Vaguely, they could hear rumbles and explosions as the other heroes let themselves in via various other outer walls of the house, starting the room-to-room search.
“Judging by his vital signs, he is telling the truth,” Adamantine said in the lull.
Alloy shook his head. “The truth his bosses tell him. Dollars to donuts, there’s places in this building he doesn’t know exist.” He looked down, something he didn’t actually had to do to cast his metal sense downward, but often did unconsciously anyway and added, “For example: he said ‘basement’ singular. But they’ve got three.”
To Be Continued…