Descendants #101 – The Battle of Freeland House Chp.5

This entry is part 10 of 55 in the series Current

Anura launched herself at the first thing to come through the hole in the wall, lashing out with her tongue and wrapping around their upper arm. Before she could pull her enemy down, she started screaming.

The assailant, a man whose exposed pale blue skin was covered shifting plates of ice, reached up and carefully unwrapped the frog-woman’s tongue from his arm. “It’s a good thing you have this condom… thing on here,” he commented, sounding frustrated but like he was trying to be amiable. “Otherwise, that could have done a lot of damage. Ever stick your tongue to a flagpole in the winter?”

The defenders of Freeland House replied in the form of a arrow that struck him in the chest and exploded into expanding foam—only it didn’t expand too far before freezing over. The man, Shiver, smashed the foam off with his free arm before casually flicking Anura’s tongue away.

“I don’t suppose Zero is here to explain to me how to get her powers under control.”

Barn Own stepped up to cover Anura retreating with her hurt tongue. “Let’s skip the crazy talk. You’re in the house of some friends of mine. Get. Out.”

“Oh, how I wish I could. But we’ve got our reasons for this. Sorry.” His back back stiffened as a black and green blur tore through a window and knocked Barn Owl to the ground, planting a knee in the man’s solar plexus in the process.

The newly-arrived Beowulf grabbed Barn Owl by the collar and slammed his head against the floor for good measure. “Maybe you’ve got time to talk, but I’ve got someone counting on me.” Convinced that Barn Owl was down for the count, he leapt at the nearest target, which happened to be Urban Ranger.

Dodging his first claw swipe, the Ranger stepped into his guard and sent a punch into his arm pit. When he flinched from that, she pounded into his ribs with the hand holding her bow, using its reinforced set of sights to deliver more concentrated blows.

Before Beowulf could deal with the close-in fight, however, Freemont joined the fray, catching him with a brutal clothesline that leveled him, making him land awkwardly on his wings. “Kali! One coming down to you!” was all he heard before a steel-toed boot caught him in the ribs and Beowulf found himself falling much farther than he thought he’d be on the bottom floor of a two-story house.

Instead of the hard ground, however, he hit something soft—which then wrapped him in bonds as hard as concrete. “Gotcha!” said a sweet feminine voice next to his ear as what he was now assuming to be arms tightened around him.

Back up top, Shiver took Freemont’s distraction with making sure Beowulf was dealt with to point his palm at him. A ring of ice and frost grew into being around the strongman’s arms, pinning them in place. His other palm caused a block of the same to cover Freemont’s feet.

He didn’t get a chance to do more, as the steel cap of Improv’s Big Stick struck him in the temple. Two inches of ice armor cracked in a spider-web pattern, sparing him a concussion or worse, but still making him stagger. The cap retracted back to the tip of the Big Stick on the end of a steel cable as Improv charged in, swinging for Shiver’s head again.

Struggling through the dizzy feeling of having had his bell rung, Shiver still had the wherewithal to ice the floor. It was a good strategy that managed to surprise many of his sparring partners in training, including even Beowulf. Improv, however was the Man Who Is Always Prepared, and his boots wear able to easily grip the ice and he came right across it. Only by ducking low did Shiver manage to avoid taking a knockout blow, catching it on his shoulder instead.

Improv drew back for another swing when streak of blue struck him in his armored chest. It didn’t win through, but the crackling taser round sticking in his armor was enough to distract him—as were the dozen or so Moreau Corps soldiers that poured into the room through the thoroughly violated walls.

The leader, standing at least seven feet tall, had on a re-breather and high tech goggles, but no helmet, a fact that showed off that the vast majority of his Moreau serum was from ursine stock. “Headquarters doesn’t know which of these is a descendants or not, so tasers and tranqs for the lot of them. And don’t be afraid to knock ’em out the old-fashioned way.”

His squad roared their agreement, but he’d given up the element of surprise to relay his instructions, allowing the defenders to make their moves.

Anura bounded into their midst, leaping to a handstand that left her legs free to kick two Moreau Corps soldiers, slamming one into a wall an sending the other back through the breech he’d come in from. Urban Ranger fired foam arrows into their midst, alternated with taser-tipped and net-deploying versions as well.

Shiver on the other hand, managed to shake off his disorientation and freeze Improv’s feet to the floor. Then he turned his attention to Urban Ranger, covering her bow’s grip and sights in ice, making it impossible to fire as well as freezing her hand to it.

Biting back a curse, Urban fell into a defensive combat stance. “Everyone get back! We need to make a fighting retreat! Troy, give us some cover. Anura, help Freemont and Improv get free!”

Standing up straight, Shiver drew on his powers to increase the thickness of his ice armor, adding spikes to his forearms, shoulders and head. “Maybe I don’t have someone to fight for, Beowulf. But I’ve still got plenty of reason to do the job right.”

***

Burning chaos had taken over the open lawn along the lake shore from the boathouse to the woods. Inugami and Moreau Corps soldiers both in normal tactical gear and in powered armor suits were trying to charge, but were instead forced to dodge as jets of flame, randomly erupting fireballs, and autonomous incendiary clouds that roamed there.

“Okay.” Facsimile was suddenly realizing exactly how most people felt watching her use her own powers. “Look. Just what the hell are your powers anyway?”

Chords took a break from the swift and frenetic guitar playing to throw a toothy grin over her shoulder. “What’s it look like Goldielocks? May power? Is the power of ROCK! Also a little reality warping thanks to the backing by a couple of gods. I do that too. But mostly Rock.”

“Wait. What? Did you just say ‘a couple of go—”

“Check this out!” Chords cut her off, those words commanding her absolute attention as they were almost a reliable herald of something dangerous and foolhardy as ‘hold my beer’. Facsimile was an expert at that; she’d said it dozens of times before doing something dangerous and foolhardy.

With a determined look on her face, Chords played a single, deep and discordant progression. A glimmering gold musical staff covered with notes unspooled from the neck of her guitar, curling into the air like smoke before tangling in the air and taking form.

A figure; nine feet tall and covered head to toe in black metal formed and fell to earth a few dozen yards away from the pair. The impact shook the earth.

Chords gestured to the giant as it rose and turned to face the Tome forces navigating the field of flames. “He. Is. Iron Man! Go get ’em big guy!” In response, the iron monster let out a low groan and started to march forward. Every step of those heavy, leaden boots made the ground tremble, swiftly garnering the attention of the Moreau soldiers and filling their hearts with dread. Waded into battle, reaching down to swat away any foes that closed with it.

One particularly unlucky inugami was sent flying in a high arc out over Lake Standish to splash down into the water far off shore.

“Um…” Chords muttered, watching the carnage. “Gently go get ’em, big guy. Not supposed to kill the non-monsters. Or dogs usually. Kinda weird that we’re allowed to just off dogs right and left when you think about it.”

“You do get that the inugami are monsters, right?” Facsimile asked, stepping up beside the reality-warping rock star. “Like the name inugami literally means it’s like a dog that’s been turned into some kind of slavering hate-ghost. Alloy’s got this whole story he tells about them.”

“Yeah, yeah. I get that. But the whole monster dogs thing? Kinda weird.”

Facsimile started to shrug, but then shook her head. “Wait! You can’t distract me like that! What do you mean you’re backed by gods?! We’ve met a lot of jackasses who claim they’re a god or have the power of one, and it never ends well.”

“Eh.” Chords just shrugged. “no worries there. I just got a couple of party favors from them. Now lets—” she was cut off by a horrible, grating groan from the iron man. The pair turned to find that the conjured creature had been cut from clavicle to hip, its metal body nearly split in half but still standing. A huge metal cleaver, buried in the wound, withdrew from the wound before a piston, almost as large, slammed into it, bowling it over.

Its fall revealed a figure in silver armor, suspended in the air by more than a dozen spidery mechanical legs.

“Metal X.” Facsimile ground out, eyes narrowing.

Chords just started laughing. “The guy who got beaten by mean words and common sense last time he showed up?”

“How did…” Facsimile didn’t finish because out of the tumult of the firestorm stepped Wartorn—and Chords’s laughter intensified so much that she doubled over.

“And Wartorn? Oh man, we got the loser brigade this time.” She stopped playing and the fallen remains of the iron man exploded into its component staves and musical notes. The fires went out as well, catching the rest of the Tome assault group in the midst of trying to avoid something that wasn’t there.

It also revealed something else: a tyrannosaurus rex menacing a group of Moreau Corps soldiers in powered armor. Though they pours ammo and plasma lance fire into the thing, it shrugged the attacks off and advanced toward them until they broke ranks and fled back up the lake shore.

Chords stood up straight, wiping a tear from her eye and grinning like a madwoman. “But hell, I’m a team player. And there’s plenty of other people waiting to kick some B-list villain ass.” As if on cue, a gigantic black wolf carrying astride a rider in chain mail with four metallic tentacles emerging from their back stormed down from the Freeland House parking lot, cutting off the retreat of the armored soldiers.

A pair of mechanical tentacles struck out, taking one of them by an arm and a leg to bash them into one of their squad-mates in a clatter of ceramics and plastic cracking and grinding against one another. The wolf followed up by barreling into another, catching them up in its jaws and worrying them like a chew toy.

There was a mighty bellow and from another part of the parking lot, another armored squad tried to scrambled down to the lake shore only to be bowled over by a charging rhino in barding being ridden by an orangutan. The Ape Knight Lucian and his Squire, The Damsel had arrived.

Letting her guitar hang by its strap, Chords cracked her knuckles. “Whelp, looks like it’s time for me to be a good little bard and play support.” She glanced aside at Facsimile. “Keep in mind how good a team player I’m being, will ya? The end goal of all this is me getting into the Descendants and having a chance to work with my dream girl, after all.”

Once again, Facsimile’s eyes narrowed. “And just which one of us is your ‘dream girl’ anyway?”

For just a moment, the ever-confident smirk on Chords’s face fell away into a look of embarrassment and self-consciousness. “Oh. Um… actually I have no idea except for the fact that she’s not Renaissance. I know her civvie form, but not her… y’know… super identity. Probably not you ’cause you don’t talk like her, but then I don’t talk like me when I’m powered up so…”

“You and me? We’re gonna have a long talk after this.” Facsimile said, deadpan.

Chords wagged a finger at her. “You haven’t dealt with many Sixth Ranger situations, have you? After this, I’m going to vanish into the night until The Descendants need me again.”

Facsimile folded her arms. “You mean like Zero. Or Occult? Or Vamanos? Yeah, I know what ‘Sixth Ranger’ means—my best friend is King Nerd after all—and we’ve had more of those than—hold on.” She touched her comm. “You guys are ready to head up to the house?”

She looked up the hill to the back door of the house. “Good. The way’s clear. Me, Umbrage and some special guest stars are going to provide cover.” She looked toward her new ‘friend’. “Three Chords? Ready to prove you’re a team player?”

The rocker raised her guitar gleefully. “You know it Gold Star.” She started grinding out a powerful bass line that quickly escalated into a rapid-fire lick. Notes flew from the vibrating strings, streaking out toward Ape Knight, Umbrage, The Damsel, and Facsimile. When they made contact, a golden aura surrounded them, accompanied by a surge of strength and energy.

“Wait,” Urban Ranger’s voice came over the comm. “The house is under attack right now. Those furry soldier guys, a dragon man and an ice guy. We’re trying to get out of here.”

“Just hold on for a few more seconds,” a new voice said—Codex. “I’ll be there to back you up. Facsimile? Send you group up the hill on my mark.”

***

Four flashes of golden metal and a section of wall fell in with a crash and an explosion of concrete dust. A series of bursts lit up the room as Adamantine opened fire on the soldiers standing guard in the third sub-level’s security room.

They fell like wheat before a thresher.

“Clear,” Adamantine announced as the last soldier fell, twitching from the electrical bursts she’d hit them with. Striding over to the security console, she extended a data spike from her fist and plugged in.

“This is too easy,” Alloy said, looking over the fallen. “Aside from the guys on the first sub-level, none of these guys have powers at all. Not even powered armor. Plus this place isn’t hardened—not against me; not against anyone with powers.”

“Agreed.” Adamantine said. “Resistance has been numerous enough to suggest there is something here to defend, but Project Tome hasn’t placed any actual resources of value as part of the defense. However, the others have gotten admissions from the staff here that the hostages did arrive here. Were those admissions fabricated?”

Alloy frowned beneath his visor. “Maybe, maybe not. But we have to figure it out soon. This isn’t a situation where we can waste time.”

For a time, Adamantine was silent. Then she cocked her head to the side. “Shipping manifests.”

“Huh?”

“I’m finding shipping manifests on the facility’s intranet. This was one of the facilities were kidnapped students were held while the Academy was in operation. But this building has no loading dock to transfer the stasis pods.”

Under his visor, Alloy closed his eyes and concentrated on his metal sense. “Oh son of a bitch. No loading dock above ground. There’s a tunnel off the east wing of this place. Bored into the bedrock with minimal metal in it, but I can sense the void where there’s nothing but air and no minerals at all.”

Adamantine disconnected herself from the computer. “Then we have to move quickly. IF they’ve been moved from here, every moment we lose is one that lets them get further away and more difficult to locate.” Crossing over to the armored hero, she placed her hand on his shoulder. “Don’t worry. I understand how important these people are to your friends and yourself. Once we get back into range for a satellite uplink, I’ll check local air traffic. We can also send the speedsters to find out where the tunnel ends. From there, I should be able to calculate a route.”

After a beat of silence, Alloy nodded. “Thank you. You’re a good partner, you know that?”

“Perhaps when this is over I should approach the New York prelates to collaborate. But for now, we have people to save. Let’s go.”

To Be Continued…

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Landon Porter is the author of The Descendants and Rune Breaker. Follow him on Twitter @ParadoxOmni or sign up for his newsletter.

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One Comment

  1. This is your regular typo check signing in.

    covered shifting plates
    covered with shifting plates

    Shiver took Freemont’s distraction
    Shiver took advantage of Freemont’s distraction (maybe)

    boots wear able
    boots were able

    when streak of blue
    when a streak of blue

    May power?
    My power?

    they pours ammo
    they poured ammo

    wolf carrying astride a rider
    wolf carrying a rider astride

    Send you group
    Send your group

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