Descendants #102 – Tales of Consequence Chp. 5

This entry is part 4 of 55 in the series Current

The studio audience roared to life as the applause lights went on and a dark red blur appeared from offstage. Really, the sign wasn’t so much an instruction as much as a floodgate, as they were all more than willing to applaud Mayfield’s one and only national late night host.

Said blur resolved into a tall black man in a blood-colored tailored suit with a well-kept goatee and a highly self-assured attitude. “Thanks,” he called out, pointing to various members of the audience in turn and making eye contact. “Thank you. Thank you.” He smiled broadly. “Alright now. Welcome back to Malik Lewis Tonight. Ya’ll know me—name’s on the show. Before I bring out the first guest though? I wanna say somethin’.

“Unless you’ve been under a rock with no wifi and your fingers in your ears this week, we all know the big news. We know who our local heroes are now and my girl Laurel Brant says the age of the Superhero’s started. And for me? I’m damn glad she said it.” He smirked, “’Cause I don’t know about ya’ll, but I’m been sick of this whole ‘prelate’ bullshit since before it began.”

The audience, caught up in how serious he’d been at the start, burst into laughter.

Malik bobbed his head and snickered along as his band leader, Lloyd played a light musical cue. “Actually: do ya’ll know why that is? Apparently back in the day two companies actually copyrighted the word ‘superhero’. They actually took a word and decided they owned it. And is worked. This ain’t like Kleenex or Oreo where they made up they’re own word, this is a word that was already there and they got together than was like ‘oops, this is ours now, ya’ll’. Think about that ya’ll: if you stole a damn sandwich, you’ve go to jail. They straight up stole a a word out the English language and they made millions of dollars for decades, man.

“But yeah, if they got a problem now, they’re gonna have to go after my girl Laurel Brant. And she’s got her money, her dad’s money and damn near every superhero on the planet at her back. Know what I got to say ta them? Good luck.”

The audience applauded energetically at that. Almost to a man or woman, they’d all been more than a little confused as to how the news seemed to skirt using a word that was not only common parlance but the name of a storied genre of film, literature and television to the point that the clunky replacement had entered the popular lexicon.

Malik let them laugh a little longer before launching into his next bit. “But yo: for serious? I got nothin’ but respect for the Descendants. If I could do this,” he blurred and appeared on the other side of the stage, “for more than five seconds at a time before I need a cool down? I might be out there right now kicking bad guys in the be-hind instead of this nice, air conditioned studio pulling down a six digits an epi… ya know what? I’m good how things turned out all things considered.”

Another wave of laughter. He cut into it to continue. “So yeah, this is a big thing, ya’ll. And the day after all this happen, I get a call: The Descendants wanted to give me the first interview. Me? I jumped at it. I wanted to do a special live show, bring the whole team on. Our insurance people took one look and went ‘oh heeeeell no’. They think somebody would attack the studio if they knew the Descendants were here.

“So I said alright. I got ya. I said how ’bout if we do regular tapings and make all next week Descendants week. They were still scared. At that point, I’m thinking we’re gonna lose this. And it’s even worse because Laurel Brant’s been my girl since way before we learned she was a superhero. I was ready to fight for this, ya’ll. No way I’m gonna give this up. So we came to an agreement, we’ve been doing taped interviews all day to air ’em next week.”

The audience started to applaud, but he spoke over them. “But. But I got my sway ’round here still. I said I gotta get something more outta this. What they gave me? They said I could have some of the team on… if they was a surprise.”

This sent a thrill through the crowd, which he rode as he made his announcement. “So I know ya’ll came here expecting Silvio Bartolini, but instead please welcome to Malik Lewis live: Warrick Kaine, JC Slate, Lisa Ortega, Kareem Utt, and my girl: the one and only Laurel Brant.”

Amid raucous applause, the heroes came on stage, waving to the stunned members of the audience who went absolutely nuts upon seeing them. Malik shook each of their hands in turn and directed them to the two couches set up next to his desk.

When it came time for him to greet Laurel, he instead took her hand an kissed it, speaking a much more involved greeting to her than the others. Finally, they were all seated; Laurel nearest the desk, Lisa beside her, then Kareem, JC and Warrick at the end.

Malik took a seat behind his desk, all smiles himself. “Damn, it’s good to have all you folks here tonight. Miss Brant, you know I’ve been tryin’ to get you on the show for a minute now, but at the moment believe it or not, the first question isn’t for you.”

“It is asking me who the hell I am?” JC asked.

That earned a snort from the host. “Ya know what? That’s it exactly. Man, who the hell are you? I mean we all saw the press conference and all you said was that you help out behind the scenes. So let’s be straight on this: We’ve never seen you in costume in public?”

“No costume, no powers, no code name. I’m just… well this guy, ya’ know? Lisa’s boyfriend, War’s best friend. That’s about it.” replied JC, shaking his head. He was well aware that his part in the whole media blitz was as a figurehead. Laurel foresaw the team’s outing as presenting a new rallying point for anti-descendant and just plain anti-powers groups to try to turn superheroism into a point of division, trying to turn those without powers against those with powers.

And though nominally Laurel’s powers didn’t actually help her in direct combat besides aiding in her martial arts training and Tink relied more on her gadgets than her nanite-derived abilities, there were no truly unpowered members of the team. Laurel called that bad optics, and once Kay suggested that she and JC be introduced to the world as sidekicks as a show of solidarity, she’d jumped at the opportunity. Laurel had given him a few talking points to be sure to bring up.

“So…” Malik said slowly, “What is it you do?”

JC shrugged. “Mostly I’m the guy in the chair. Even though Codex and Renaissance both have palmtops as part of their costumes, it’s still pretty hard to look up information and stuff while you’re fighting, so that’s mostly what I do. That’s still really important though. Remember when the golems attacked? I’m the guy that figured out how to kill them.”

Malik’s eyes lit up. “That was you?” JC nodded. “Man, I don’t live far from where all that went down. Looks like I owe you for that.” He leaned over the desk, offering my hand. “Bottom of my heart,” he said, shaking hands with JC, “Thank you.”

Taking the opening, Warrick spoke up. “You’re not the only one who owes him. Last summer? The same guys as attacked us this week actually managed to capture some of us while we were on vacation.” he clapped JC on the shoulder, “Everyone that escaped being captured stormed the place they were holding us. JC? He did it with fireworks.”

Hearing that story made Malik even more engrossed. He looked to JC. “Fireworks? Seriously man? You just ran in shooting guys with fireworks? Now that’s a badass.”

“Thanks,” said JC. “But hey, you know what? My friends needed me, I just grabbed what I had on hand and did what I could.”

“Which was saving our asses,” Warrick pointed out.

Malik grinned, sitting back in his chair. “And—now I gotta remind the audience and the folks at home we’ve already done most of the interviews; with ya’ll, with the rest of the team—so I’ve heard some stuff everyone else is only gonna hear later, but I’m still gonna ask here: You guys are mostly just friends. Like, I know Warrick and Kareem along with Juniper and Cyn who we’re gonna be featuring Monday, you were all caught up in the PT-Double-A thing and that’s how you met, but JC, Lisa… you just ended up becoming friends.”

The couple nodded.

“So if I got this straight, just by luck of the draw, a bunch of superheros just lucked into becoming friends with a guy who can take down these paramilitary assholes with some fireworks, who just happens to be dating a rock star and–” he paused for effect, “a… a… I don’t even know what to call you. I mean this is a big thing right? A couple months ago we just learned dragons and faeries and shit were real then this week we find out that… well let me just come out and say it: you’re magic.”

Lisa forced a chuckle even though she’d been dreading actually discussing the situation. “Yeah. Sorceress. That’s what you can call me. I guess I’m going to have to get used to talking about it. Magic is a thing. It’s been a thing for a couple of years now.”

For a second, Malik started to say something but stopped himself before finally just going with, “I don’t even know where to start. I had a few ideas ’cause like Laurel here we tried to get you on here after your big show and couldn’t. Guess we know why now. But yeah, um… what’s up with magic? We all thought you were a descendant… but then we all also thought you were a blonde.”

“The short answer?” Lisa asked, prompting Malik to nod. “Magic is complicated. I would take up your whole show trying to explain it, so let’s just say ‘yes, I know spells’. They take time and materials to cast, so when you see me casting something in a battle, it’s because I prepared them ahead of time. And yeah, I’m not the only mage out there anymore. Magic went dormant for a long time, but it’s starting to come back.”

“Because of the dragon?”

“No, the dragon got here because Project Tome used science to try to make a gate to its home,” Laurel cut in. “Magic’s return is more like a natural process—a shift in the tides.” General Pratt and the ROCIC hadn’t wanted them revealing the existence of magic at all and demanded the specifics be redacted from all their public discourse along with the fact that literally anyone could use magic circles and rituals. Laurel argued that it was like trying to plug a leak in a damn with their finger, but to no avail.

Malik accepted the explanation and continued with his interview. “So, Lisa. Occult. Can we see a spell?”

She couldn’t help but smile; they’d expected he’d ask. “Sure. I came with a couple things prepared. I’ve got out D-icons, which is how we change our costumes quickly in public, my standard barrier that everyone has seen, I think, and… well something fun I thought you’d appreciate.”

“Girl,” Malik shot her a winning grin. “if you say it’s fun, I believe you. Let’s see the fun one.”

Lisa stood, reaching into a pocket in her dress to extract a tiny hand mirror wrapped with a silver wire that pressed a piece of shed snake’s skin to it. “This is actually a new glamour I’ve been working on. Could you stand up in front of your desk for me?”

He did so, making sure his suit was still straight. “Glamour? Hey, sounds like a kind of magic I know all about.”

“Maybe not this kind of glamour,” Lisa smiled as they both took their places a few strides in front of the desk. “Ready?”

“For some real live magic? Damn, I’ve been ready like… since I was ten. Let’s do this.”

Lisa presented the mirror forcefully toward Malik, putting some of her power into the device. “Quiero ser lo que eres.” A flash of light seemed to emerge from Malik and go into the mirror. A spark then leapt out of the bakc of the mirror, through the snake skin and traveled up Lisa’s arm. In the blink of an eye, Lisa was replaced by a second Malik.”

The host’s eyes widened in shock. “Whoa! That’s—that’s whoa! Look at that handsome man, ya’ll!” He lead the audience in a round of amazed applause.

There’s…” the second Malik said with Lisa’s voice, “…a few bugs to work out.”

Malik, masterfully disguising his shock, “Let me guess: the hair’s not right? Didn’t capture the color of my eyes? Oh, or is it the voice thing?”

Mostly the voice thing,” Lisa/Malik admitted.

Still all smiles, Malik pointed at her with both hands. “Still, gotta give you credit: that magic made you damn handsome. Can I get one of those for when I get old?”

Lisa shook the mirror and a shimmer in the air dissolved the glamour, leaving her looking like her old self. “By that time, I’m sure these’ll be in stores.”

Magic in stores? You see that happening?”

She shrugged. “The world’s changing. Really fast too. I wouldn’t be surprised if magic ends up going the way of cybernetics and descendant powers in ten to twenty years.”

Malik returned to his seat behind the desk. “Lookin’ forward to it.” Politely, he waited for Lisa to be seated as well before looking back to the group. “Now. Someone’s been real quiet. Mr. Utt, what’s goin’ on, man?”

Sitting between Lisa and Laurel, Kareem had been watching the entire show silently. Thoughtfully. “Honestly? I don’t know what to say. Everyone else is more… colorful than I am.”

Come on now, that can’t be true. You’re the mind reader; you don’t just have your own stories, but everyone else’s.” He couldn’t help but notice how Kareem flinched at that. Being less the ‘dig up dirt’ kind of show and more the uplifting entertainment type, he quickly amended. “But let’s hear yours. From the press release we got, you spend seven years stuck outside your body?”

Kareem nodded. “That’s true. Project Tome… experimented with many of its victims. I was one of those. To this day, I don’t know what they did, but it forced my mind into the Astral Plane.”

The Astral Plane?” Malik had gotten a briefing on the whole thing in his crash course on all things Descendants earlier that week, but seeing as the average viewer knew more about quantum physics than astral studies.

Even more than Lisa, Kareem was prepared with an explanation thanks to being the son of the two premier scientists in the field. “The astral plane is a world connected to ours that is affected by the emotions of sapient creatures. Our attachments and memory shape areas of the astral and make them into physical locations. While trapped on the astral by Tome, I managed to develop my power in a direction that allowed me to control the matter of the astral plane.”

Malik’s eyes widened. “When you say ‘control’, you mean like Warrick over there controls metal?” Kareem nodded. “Everything in the world?” Another nod. One other thing they’d agreed to leave out as the existence of astral predators.

At this, Malik turned to the audience. “Well ya’ll. I think we just solved the question of who the strongest Descendants is: brother can control a whole damn world. And on that note, we’ll be right back with more of The Descendants after these messages.”

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.

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One Comment

  1. Typos

    you’ve go to jail.
    you’d go to jail. (Unless this is part of an American dialect perhaps? I’m not as familiar with those as some.)

    “It is asking
    “Is it asking

    she’d jumped at
    he’d jumped at (I think this part of the sentence refers to JC)

    as the existence
    was the existence

    age of the Superhero’s
    age of the Superheroes

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