Descendants #101 – The Battle of Freeland House Chp.4

This entry is part 10 of 49 in the series Current

The gunfire started up outside just as Improv was passing through the mirror gate and while Kali was waiting her turn to go through with her own bin.

“What’s that?” she asked, looking around in a mild panic.

“Freeland House’s automated defenses,” Barn Owl replied, extending his high-tech wings. “The bad guys must have reached the grounds.”

Mark chewed his bottom lip and did his best to square up his shoulders, though he fear made itself obvious in his voice. “They’re coming now? For real? And the ones guarding the way out are us?”

Urban Ranger was quick to put a steadying hand on his shoulder. “Relax. You wouldn’t have been sent in at all if Codex and the rest of us didn’t believe you could handle it. Just be on your guard and be ready to fight.”

“Besides,” added Barn Owl, “You’ve got us veterans here to back you up.” No sooner were the words out of his mouth than a resounding thump sounded and he pitched forward. Urban Ranger took her compound bow off her back and extended it, drawing and nocking an arrow in the same motion.

“Ahh!” She hissed as something struck the knuckled of the hand holding her bow, making her drop it. This was followed by a blow to the chin that sent her reeling.

Mark backed away from the chaos and let out a terrified squawk. “Holy shit, what’s going on here?!”

A laugh came from thin air. “Well I was sent in ahead to disable the power to the defenses, but took the opportunity to disable the ‘veterans’ at the same time.”

Not a lot was known about Mark Troy, even though thanks to his affiliation with Vamanos, he’d given more interviews than most of the Descendants. One of the things that he consciously left out of those interviews was that sometimes, under great stress, he lost control of his powers.

Like when an invisible assailant came out of nowhere and took down two far more capable heroes.

The only warning was a deep, angry rumble in his gut before he belched up a cloud of thick, odoriferous stench that tinted the air green—droplets of which clung to a humanoid form standing over Urban Ranger.

Said form doubled over, gagging. “Ugh! What is this? What’s wrong with you?! How can—” He looked down to see that the green film from the stinking cloud was visible on his hands. “Oh shi—” Freemont’s fist struck him in the temple hard enough to knock him back hard against the wall.

Still gagging, the Tome Enforcer, White Shadow collapsed onto his knees. Before he could do anything else, Kali’s muscular tail came down like a hammer. The force proved to be too much for the floorboards, which gave out with a groan and caved in, dumping both Kali and White Shadow into the darkness below.

“What the…” Freemont starred at the hole.

“They never said anything about a basement,” added Mark.

Anura, who hadn’t had time to say anything or react during the whole incident leapt to the ragged edge of the hole, peering down. “Forget about that! Mari? Are you okay down there?”

“I’m okay!” Kali called back up, “The invisible guy broke my fall!”

“That is not on the floor plan Codex gave us,” Barn Owl said, slowly sitting up. He crawled over to the hole and shouted down. “Hold on! I’ll have you back up in just a second!”

“Wait a minute. Listen,” Mark said, cocking his head. “The gunfire’s stopped outside.”

Suddenly feeling wide awake from his formerly groggy state, Barn Owl kipped up, using his wings to force himself to standing. “Not good. That means they’re coming.” Reaching up, he drew two long, metal feathers from his wing joints, brandishing them like hunting knives.

“Be on you guard,” added Urban Ranger, retrieving her bow, but remaining in a kneeling stance. She pulled the bow to full draw and swept the likely ingresses.

Less than a minute later, one of the front windows exploded inward as the huge, round planter from the front walk came through it. The thing had been uprooted, concealed weaponry and all and frozen in three inches of frost. It landed on the pool table, whose legs gave in and snapped immediately.

“Here they come!” Anura announced aggressively, leaping toward the first figure who came through the hole made by the incoming planter.

***

“From the woods!” Umbrage’s form was already changing as he pointed toward a pack of almost half a dozen inugami sprinting ahead of two squads of Moraeu Corps soldiers. The whirl of shadows that were his body rolled in upon themselves as his powers read the fears of his nearest foes and he became them. Instead of an human blot of darkness, he became a thin, wiry human with black-framed glasses and a lab coat, holding an over-sized cattle prod.

Facsimile gave him a long, questioning look.

“The greatest fear of their monsters. Seems they were raised in a lab. Harshly.”

“Any chance you can turn into something actually scary?” she asked him.

Umbrage smiled, the light of the setting sun reflecting off his glasses and making his eyes disappear. “Oh, you’d be surprised are the level of terror the canine mind can experience. But just I’ve got years of Chicagoland night terrors in my repertoire, so let’s mix and match.”

With that, his body swole and expanded, severe, blistering burns appearing all over his skin as the lab coat, shirt and slack he wore became tattered and what flesh remained turned an unhealthy, waxy yellow. His ears grew long and sharp while his jaw distended into a slathering muzzle. The cattle prod grew spikes and sprouted Jacob’s Ladders that arced and spat—then the business end became a chainsaw with jagged teeth. The noise is made carried far out across the lake as the new nightmare charged.

The inugami pack scattered, unwilling to engage the exaggerated version of their worst nightmares. He continued on into the midst of the Moraeus, swinging the chain-prod with wild abandon. Panic fire filled the air and several went down in their own crossfire. None of them noticed that the ‘monster’ attacking them wasn’t doing any damage on its own.

Meanwhile, the inugami homed in on the least dangerous target: Facsimile.

She obliged them by squaring up and extending her orihalcite claws. “Yeah, yeah. Bark all you want. None of you are gonna last long.”

What she didn’t expect was for the pack members to howl as one, unleashing sonic attacks that made her convulse and her body try and change shape in spite of itself. Letting out a low groan, she staggered. “Forgot you could do that…” she croaked as the sonic attack-equipped inugami surged forth.

Somewhere, someone was playing loud rock music. Some part of her mind, the kind that had time to think about such things, wondered which of their neighbors along the lake shore decided that after seeing a gigantic superhero battle in the sky, it was time to a cook out.

The pack leader reached her and bore her to the ground, locking its jaws around her head. She rewarded it with a pair of orihalcite claws in the throat, raking them all the way down to its belly, spilling hot blood and worse. Mustering her strength, she threw it off, only for another to pounce on her, latching onto her arm. The rest of the pack prepared to join in…

When a train, blaring that rock song Facsimile’d been hearing, hit them… well like a freight train. A locomotive and three cars reduced four of Tome’s prime fighting beasts to red pudding and broken orihalcite armor as they dug a fifty-foot furrow in the ground across the Freeland House back yard.

Then in a flash of golden light, they disassembled into what appeared to be glowing musical notes and staffs before exploding into showers of glittering sparks. In their place, right where the the middle two cars had been, stood a woman.

She was dressed like someone had sent out invitations to a costume party reading ‘come as the very concept of chaos’. Six-inch black platform boots with shark mouths and eyes painted on them that laced up to her thighs. Leather pants with a codpiece that might well have been a chrome-plated armadillo. A belly cut jay-blue tank top with covered in glitter. A leather jacket that was more made of sewn on patches than actual cow hide. A set of shoulder pads, one of which looked like a golden rhino horn, which supported a cape made of beads, which when taken together resembled the pattern on a peacock’s feathers.

Her face was painted white and in a pattern of black dots, she’d drawn an astronomically accurate rendition of the entire Milky Way galaxy as seen from the outside it. And on top of all that, her hair was down to her waist in a riot of different blondes, blacks and reds none of which were naturally occurring.

In her hands as a jet black guitar with a sunburst in gold on the body.

“Ladies and gentlemen, the much delayed debut you didn’t know you were waiting for. Presenting the destined to be fan favorite heroine in the entire Descendants Universe! They could have called me Diva! They could have called me Rock Star! But there’s only one thing anyone can really call me: exactly what I am: Three Chords and the Truth!” She turned and winked at Facsimile, who had all but forgotten the inugami chewing on her arm. “But you can call me Chords for short because not only is that a mouthful, but a pain to type!”

With a flourish, she gripped the neck of her guitar and swung it around. In the process, it become a literal golden ax with guitar strings running from head to haft. Using only one hand, she brought it down with all her strength, beheading the offending monster in one blow.

Facsimile could only blink in confusion for a second. “That… is probably the least likely thing I’ve seen. And that’s saying something.”

“You think that was weird? I hitched a ride here with a teenager riding a giant wolf and her orangutan buddy riding a rhino.” Chords shouldered her ax. “They’re fighting more of these furry fetish guys out front.” Swiftly switching topics, she offered a hand. “but I figured you might need some help out here, Beautiful. By the way? Love the gold. You pull it off. And not many women can rock the bald chick thing, but you have the perfect head shape for it. Is that natural or shapeshifted?”

“…What? Look, we’ve got an army of bad guys heading our way and—”

Chords cut her off, pressing a finger to her lips. “And I am trying to get in some quality flirting with you before they get here. I’m brand new to the hero thing, so I’m not sure if I can keep up the A material in the heat of battle.”

Facsimile gave her a flat stare. “Okay. Look. I’ve already got a dude that like to pull my pig tails when we fight on top of having a boyfriend, so this? Not happening. Also did I mention the army of supervillains?”

“Ah. Say no more,” Chords waved her off. “Just put in a good word with Renaissance for me.”

“Also taken.”

“Huh. Darkness?”

“Same.”

“Occult?”

“Taken too. And also—villains!”

“Fine,” huffed Chords, “Just give my regards to any of the available ladies on the team… and maybe if Renaissance has any sisters? Heroes are supposed to go for redheads after all. Even if I’d honestly prefer brunette, I’ve got tropes to maintain. What’re ya gonna do? But if you’re so worried about those dime store bad guys…”

She swung her guitar around into proper playing position, during which it became a Gibson Flying V made of steel with bright green strings. “… let’s follow up the Ozzy from earlier with a little Dragon Force. Let’s see how they like having to fight Through Fire and Flames!” She started playing a frenetic, driving tune; her lone guitar somehow providing all its own back-up music as well. The yard between the battered squads of Moreau Corps explodes into a chaos of flame jets and random explosions.

“Whoa.” Facsimile murmured, staring at the new heroine and her insane power.

***

Alloy was about to respond to the soldier’s boast when he felt a firm tap on his shoulder. “Allow me to try my hand at the trash talk this time.”

“Okay?”

“Excellent.” Adamantine stepped out from behind Alloy, making her presence clear to the surrounding soldiers. “You say we will be judged on who will ask for mercy in the next few minutes. However, my calculations suggest that this is a dangerously inaccurate statement. In reality, the outcome of this fight will be decided in thirty-eight point zero five seconds.

“This is because your plasma lances are Advantech Military Technologies Model Number F-037. That particular model has experienced previous recall notices regarding the retention bracket keeping the gas canister in place. One in every one hundred thousand units has experienced the canister becoming unseated during operation. This is important because people tend to believe all androids are hyper-logical beings who are incapable of stalling for time while silently using the comm system to alert a heavy-hitter to a dire situation. And as it turns out, this took forty-three seconds for Zero to arrive. You may now beg for mercy.”

There was a beat as the soldiers caught up on what she was saying. By that time it was too late. A pair of three foot thick walls of ice filled the corridor on either side of the pair of heroes as Zero floated down through the hall.

“Sorry it took me so long, I was questioning some of the techs.” Zero landed next to the other two, watching carefully as red flashes indicated where the plasma lances were tying to punch through her ice.

“Not a problem. Adamantine was just abusing robot stereotypes in the media. Any usable intel?” Zero shook her head sadly.

Adamantine ducked her head. “Thank you. And while I was spouting all that technobabble, I was also using my voice as rudimentary sonar: there are no unarmored humanoids on this floor. We should go down further.”

“Next sub-basement it is,” Alloy confirmed, “Z, mind making an ice ramp down so our speedsters can check out this level just in case?”

“On it.” Zero said and immediately set to work.

Isp and Osp began cutting into the floor. “By the way,” Adamantine said before they dropped tot he next level, “It’s android stereotypes, not robot. An android is a type of robot, but not all robots are androids. Please respect the difference. I take care to use ‘descendant’ instead of ‘psionic’ after all.”

“Uh… seriously?”

“No. I’m still practicing banter distractions. They seem to be incredibly effective.”

To Be Continued…

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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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3 Comments

  1. Three Chords and the Truth is the best hero just because of the Rock/Music based powers. Add the completely over the top costume? Eeeeeeeeeeeeeee!!

  2. Typos

    he fear made
    the fear made

    the knuckled of
    the knuckles of

    Freemont starred
    Freemont stared

    “Be on you guard,”
    “Be on your guard,”

    surprised are the level
    surprised at the level

    But just I’ve got
    But I’ve just got

    his body swole
    his body swelled

    The noise is made
    The noise made

    from the outside it.
    either
    from outside it.
    or
    from the outside of it.

    reds none of which
    reds, none of which

    In her hands as
    In her hands was

    time to a cook out.
    time for a cook out.

    that like to
    that likes to

    explodes into a chaos
    exploded into a chaos

    tot he
    to the

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