Descendants #102 – Tales of Consequence Chp. 1

This entry is part 6 of 49 in the series Current

Cynthia MacAl— Cynthia Brant— thrived in a mess. Her room was a chaotic jumble even though she didn’t exactly need clothing to strew about the floor, her class schedule was all over the place by design, and nothing exhilarated her more than how her career as a superhero mean that there was no telling what was coming next. One day she was beating up random thugs, the next she was giving a psychic lobotomy to a parasite world in an alternate reality. It pleased her immensely to lock horns with the chaos of the world an wrestle it into submission.

Which was why she’d been kind of glad when she and her team got outed. Not that she wanted her friends’ family put in danger or anything, nor did she want her home nearly destroyed, but she’d expected the chaos to amp way up after that.

She hadn’t counted on her adoptive mother. Laurel had put the clamps down on all the places where the team was bleeding: putting everyone who still lived at Freeland House up at hotels, putting Lily in charge of fielding all the calls for interviews and scheduling, arranging matters with everyone’s family—she’d been the one to wrestle order into the chaos before Cyn could blink.

A regimented schedule and a city where a lot of criminals had decided to be very very quiet for a bit following Laurel’s speech were stifling for Cyn, so she fell back to something that always left her feeling free: flying.

Specifically, flying on patrol.

It wasn’t her day to go out, but she needed some stress relief, her friends were all busy, and she wasn’t quite ready to talk to Ollie about her real life. He’d called her twelve times in the past two days, but she’d let it go to voice mail.

In a way, she blamed Warrick for that. If it wasn’t for his stupid comics she wouldn’t have considered the possibility that someone would feel betrayed over the fact that their significant other was hiding a heroic secret identity from them. It was obvious to her how important that kind of thing was. Unless you were married or something, that kind of information put a lot of stress on people, and if you broke up… well they could do a lot more damage with that than a sex tape if your enemies were strong enough.

Still, she’d have to talk to Ollie some time. But as much as she hated to admit it, she was afraid.

She was stewing in these thoughts when a gush of wind knocked her off course just as something whipped past her in a black blur. “Wooo!” Shouted a muffled voice she’d come to know and loathe. “Squirrel suits rule!”

Without even thinking, she shifted her nails into claws.

The Sneak Thief.

He was the last person she wanted to see this or any other day. Like a cat chasing a mouse, she instantly gave chase, stooping into a dive to follow.

Just before she was close enough to stretch her arms and grab him, he juked to the right and threw his arms and legs out wide. The flaps on his squirrel suit caught the wind, transforming into an air brake that slowed him and allowed Cyn to flash past him.

Then he matched speed, drawing close so that he was flying above her. “Good morning, Facsimile! How are you this fine day?” he shouted over the roar of the wind.

Normally, she’d try to loop around and catch him. That’s what he expected. What happened instead was a lighting-fast motion where Cyn pulled her wings in tight and rolled in midair, lashing out with an arm that suddenly became a tentacle to wrap her enemy around the waist. In doing so, she crushed the fabric forming the ‘wings’ of his suit to his sides.

Sneak Thief yelped and started to fall. His hands went to his belt, but in his moment of shock Cyn had extruded another arm. Now two hands grasped his wrists, restraining him from reaching for any of his devices.

“Got you, chump.” She growled at him and opened her wings to flip them both back over into a shallow dive toward a nearby rooftop. Just before impact, she threw him to the concrete, but not before grabbing him by the belt with one hand and the strap of his backpack with the other, severing both with her claws.

Sneak Thief hit the roof in a roll, his pack and belt clattering down behind him. When he turned to recover them, however, that’s when Cyn—Facsimile—hit the ground between him and the tools of his trade in a perfect three-point landing, fist cracking the concrete in the process.

Flaring her wings for the intimidation factor, Facsimile straightened up. Her glare pierced him through as surely as her claws. “No more toys. Lets see how good you are without them.” A confident smirk twisted her lips as she pounded her fist into her palm.

“I surrender.” Sneak Thief raised his hands immediately.

Facsimile nearly fell over at that. “Wait. What? You’re not even going to try? Not even a smart remark or something you’ve got in your pockets to try and throw me off?”

He shrugged. “I’m not even here to fight, so why try? You’re the one that went straight to fisticuffs.”

“Because you’re an asshole who take pleasure in screwing with me at every turn. Even when you’re saying you’re being helpful you’re obnoxious. Like that ‘intel’ on Eduardo Vorran? There’s no such guy. It’s all a false front for something. We’ve been on that for months in between all the other complete catastrophes that keep happening with nothing to show for it!”

Sneak Thief kept his hands up. “Not my fault: I just gave you what the boss told me to. My guess is he couldn’t figure it out, so he handed it off to you.”

“And just who is your boss?”

“No idea what his real name is. I get texts with orders, I follow orders, I get a fat stack in my bank account for my plan to retire at twenty-five.” He chuckled softly. “I’m actually a better provider than I’ve been letting on.”

Facsimile blinked. “What.”

“Just getting us back on topic… and hopefully reducing the fallout from what’s about to happen.” Despite wanting beyond anything to not do so, Facsimile flinched and glanced around. “Um… bad choice of words.” His shoulders sank. “Look, Cyn…”

“Okay. You do not get to call me by my name. I don’t care what you’ve heard on the news: you call me Facsimile. Actually…” again, she punched her palm, now starting to advance on him, “…you call me sir.”

“But… you’re a woman.”

“You. Will. Call. Me. Sir.”

Sneak Thief sighed and reached up, grabbing a fist full of his cowl. “Alright, fine. But you can call me…” Like ripping off a band-aid, he pulled the cowl from his head, revealing his face to her. “Ollie.”

Facsimile froze where she stood. Here before her was Oliver Butler, her boyfriend for over a year, now also the Sneak Thief. He nemesis for over a year.

Action before thought. She was moving before she knew it, cannoning into him and tackling him to the ground. “What the hell is this?! All this time? All this time it’s been you doing this to me? Harassing me? Humiliating me? Hurting me? What? Were you with me just so you could laugh behind my back?!”

Ollie looked up at her in a panic that was born from more than just the pain of her clawed hands pinching his skin through his padded suit. “No, of course not! Cyn, I didn’t know you were Facsimile until everyone else found out. That’s what I’ve been trying to call and tell you the past couple of days. I knew you’d be pissed so I decided it couldn’t be put off.”

Facsimile was breathing hard. Damn right she was pissed. All the things the Sneak Thief had done to her: all the pain and humiliation—it had been Ollie the whole time. And to think that she’d been very close to using the ‘L’ word with him.

Pissed didn’t even start to describe it. Which was probably why she continued looking for new reasons to get even more angry.

“Then what was with all the teasing and pulling on my pigtails while I was Facsimile, huh? You were with me at the time and you’re hitting on another woman—even if that other woman was me?”

“I—huh?” Ollie was at a loss for words at that. “You think… you think I was hitting on Facsimile?”

He received a glare for his trouble. “That’s how I flirt.”

“Huh. Point. But that’s not what I was doing.”

“Then what were you doing?”

Ollie relaxed back onto the concrete. “I was doing this before you guys came on the scene. But when you did? I admit I was kind of jealous. I’m… I’m just a normal guy. No powers, just skill. Hell, because what I do’s kind of all the illegal, I can’t even free run or BASE jump as myself anymore. But here you guys were with powers you were just born with out there getting to be amazing in front of everyone without the threat of getting arrested.

“Kind of wanted to prove I was just as if not even more good than you guys at what you do. It took years of planning and a lot of my retirement fund paid to a lot of folks to make all my gear, but when I was finally ready, I decided to pit myself against the most awesome, strongest one of you.”

Facsimile snorted. “Flattering me isn’t going to make me less mad.”

“Yeah, but it’s true. I’ve watched all your fights. Alloy is tough, Zero is crazy powerful with those TK powers she got on top of the cold, and Occult is… weird. But I’ve seen you get a hole blown through you and keep fighting. I’ve seen to hold the Inexorable guy down on your own, even if it was just a short time. You’re the strongest Descendant, at least that’s what I think. And when I picked a fight with you and started to win,”

“Okay, that’s not what happened.”

“I got away, didn’t I?”

Facsimile growled, “A disturbing number of bad guys manage to get away; doesn’t mean they won. Doesn’t mean you won.”

He decided not to laugh at that because it was impossible to tell if she was serious or not. “Well I stood up against you at least. I counted that as a win at least. And I got cocky. It turned into a game seeing how I could take you off your stride pretty quickly. That’s why I was messing with you, not because I was crushing or anything.”

Still looming over him, Facsimile sniffed in annoyance. “Yeah, well you’re still a bad guy. And from what you said, you’ve been a bad guy since before we even met.”

“True,” Ollie was forced to admit, “But I’m just a thief. Maybe a little assault on the side if the job calls for it, but nothing that’d hospitalize someone.”

“I’ve had to rip my skin off because of you.”

“Okay… that’s something I could have done without hearing. And I’m sorry. But most people can’t do that anyway. They just wash the pepper ball off.”

Facsimile tightened her jaw. “You’re getting off topic. My boyfriend is a villain. A super villain. And I’m a superhero. This isn’t going to fly.”

“Hey!” Ollie tried to hold up his hands, but was pinned pretty tightly, “No powers, remember? I’m just a normal criminal. A normal criminal who’s really good at it, yeah, and one who robs only the kind of folks who never report this kind of thing, but still: not super and not a villain. Not once have I had a plot or monologued.”

His response there was a level look. “You just told me you spent at least a year figuring out how to fight me… in a monologue.”

“Okay, but I’m still not super.”

“Whatever,” she growled, fury and frustration mounting. “The point is, you’ve been on the wrong side this whole time, making me look like an idiot, knocking me around…” She was shaking now. “You don’t get it. I’ve wanted to kick the shit out of you—the Sneak Thief—for months now. I was just going to wail on you not five minutes ago because of what you’ve done to me.”

As part of her outburst, she eased up on her grip, allowing him to reach up and try to touch her. “Cyn… I didn’t know it was you. You didn’t know it was me. If I did, I never would have done any of those things to you. Hell, if I didn’t think Facsimile could take it, I wouldn’t have done it at all, I swear.”

At his touch, she leapt back, landing hard on her rump and scuttling back. “Don’t touch me!” Hearing her own shrill voice, she collected herself swiftly. “Not right now, okay?”

“Cyn…”

“You don’t get it. It’s not you. I mean it is you. I’m still just so angry, okay? I want to slap the shit out of you. I want to just punch you until you’ve got a mouth full of bloody Chiclets for what you did.”

Ollie slowly sat up, holding his hands out to the side. “Then do it. Look, I did wrong to you and I deserve it. I’m not going to stop you: one free shot.”

“No!” Facsimile almost screamed, scooting even further away from him. “That’s.. that’s the part you’re not getting okay?” She looked down at her hand, which had clenched into a fist. “This is what my dad did. Well the guy that used to be my dad. And that,” she nodded to Ollie, “was what my old mom did. She let him beat on her. Never argued, never fought back. Because she knew it’d be worse if she didn’t. I wonder if she called it a ‘free shot’ too.”

Back to staring at her fist, she continued, “Then she let him beat on me too. Until La… my real mom taught me how to store it like an eel, I used to be weak to electricity. My old man and brothers would give me static shocks just to see my spasm and fall over. They had a lot of ‘fun’ using my weaknesses against me.”

Ollie just stared. “Just like… oh god, Cyn… I’m so sorry.”

“That’s not the point,” she cut him off. “I know you didn’t know. I know you didn’t mean what you did in that way. The problem is I was mad at Sneak Thief and now I’m mad at you knowing all this… and my first reaction is to hit you. That’s him. That’s… that Sean still there in my blood and in my head and… and it’s really bad. I need to get a handle on this.”

He tried again, moving a bit closer to her. “If there’s anything I can do…”

“Sean got out the other day,” she jumped to another topic without preamble. “When everything went down, him and his buddies—the guys who helped him try to kill me with a giant robot? Yeah, you’ve seen that video—they ‘mysteriously’ disappeared from jail. Sean’s got no filter, no self control… like me. He’s going to come after me again. He’s going to hurt me again. And worst of all, even after I kick his sorry ass again, he’s going to remind me that even though Laurel adopted me and he wants me so little he’s set on killing me, I’m still his daughter. I’ve still got him in me.”

She set her hands in her lap and stared at the roof underneath her. “So that’s what was on my mind when you dropped this on me. I don’t want to be like this, Ollie. I want to be with you and find out all about how you got into this life and for everything to be okay, but everything’s not okay right now. It’s going to take some time to get my head right.”

“Yeah, I understand,” said Ollie. “And listen, if you need someone to talk to…”

“I’ve got people,” she cut him off. “You’re amazing to offer after all this, but I need people who I’m not going to hurt right now. But… will you wait until I’m okay?”

“However long it takes,” he swore.

Facsimile crawled toward him, closing the distance between them until her lips crashed into his in a brief, but passionate kiss. “Thank you.” She pulled away with a longing sigh and stood. “And Ollie?”

“Yeah?” He was unsure if he could stand after all the feeling she’d put into that kiss.

Flexing her wings, she launched into the air. “I love you.”

To Be Continued…

Series Navigation<< Descendants #102 – Tales of Consequence Chp. 3Descendants #101 – The Battle of Freeland House Chp.7 >>

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. That’s good self awareness. Of course there’s a similar relationship between vigilantism and violence in real life… but only in RL.

    Typos

    all the illegal
    all illegal

    seen to hold
    seen you hold

    see my spasm
    see me spasm

    that Sean still there
    that’s Sean still there

    an wrestle it
    and wrestle it

    He nemesis
    Her nemesis

    wail on you
    whale on you

    • Trying to make this whole thing not too heavy because Cyn isn’t that kind of character, but I couldn’t think of any other way she’d react here.

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