- The Descendants 96 – Kill Hope
- The Descendants 97 – Heir of Hyrilius
- The Descendants 98 – The Precocious Prodigy
- The Descendants 99 – Huddled Masses
- The Descendants 100 – Paradigm Shift
- The Descendants 101 – The Battle of Freeland House
- Descendants Special #9 – Outted
- The Descendants 102 – Tales of Consequence
- The Descendants 103 – VIRAL
- The Descendants 104 – Hardcore Fans
- Descendants #105 – Gal Gallium – Chapter 01
- Descendants #105 – Gal Gallium – Chapter 02
- Descendants #105 – Gal Gallium – Chapter 03
- Descendants #105 – Gal Gallium – Chapter 04
- Descendants #105 – Gal Gallium – Chapter 05
- Descendants #106 – Gal Gallium – Chapter 06
A few moments ago, all he’d felt was pride. After almost two weeks of junior detective work; identifying the two older teens who dealt street chemist drugs a few blocks from his school; tailing them to where they dropped their money and picked up their supply not much farther away behind a restaurant, and from there matching pictures he’d taken of their suppliers to NYC’s public mugshot database; he’d finally gotten video of the dealers picking up a fresh supply and send it off to the NYPD’s public tip site.
He’d tracked down the bad guys and done what he was pretty sure was his civic duty. Never mind that the information attached to those mug shots alleged connections to the Morello crime family—actual factual Italian Mafia. Never mind that he probably should have expected there to be lookouts outside of a mafia front business.
In retrospect, he probably should have minded all that.
But past was past and the present was that said lookout had spotted him and gave a shout that brought two big guys with guns running.
Now here he was: rabbiting down an alley, praying it wasn’t a dead end, and practically feeling his hammering heart striking his adam’s apple with every beat.
He wasn’t built for this kind of thing. Comparatively speaking he was a human noodle whose only exercise came from playing superheroes in the park with his sister. Not a full block had gone by and already his body was begging to stop, rest and catch his breath.
Only the persistent footfalls of men who probably trained in their off time specifically to run down snitches and witnesses kept him moving.
Up ahead, there was a narrow space between two buildings. He figured he could likely fit through there sideways, but it was a long way through and he’d be open to many, many bullets in the time it took to traverse it.
Instead he took a left, finding that this was a much wider alley than the one he’d left. There were dumpsters and space for the trash trucks to roll in and pick them up. Unfortunately, it quickly became clear that the trucks rolled in from the other side. If he’d gone right, he would have made it to the street. But the turn he’d taken ended in the rear of a nightclub abutting the rear of what his nose told him was a Thai restaurant if he ignored everything else his nose was telling him.
Running at full tilt, he slammed into the nightclub’s door. It didn’t budge. On the rebound, he grabbed the handle and pulled. Nothing. He tried the restaurant’s door for the same result.
Somehow, the two goons hadn’t made it to the corner yet, and looking across, he could see the other end of the alley: just one dumpster and then the street. There was a church; its old stone edifice a comfort after the grunge and danger of the alley. Never mind that his view of it was of the low stone wall and wrought iron barred fence surrounding the small graveyard. Even that was reassuring in the moment.
Having only a few seconds of respite from running, he was off again, pelting toward what he hoped was safety.
Back at the intersection, he almost ran into one of the goons as he rounded to corner. “Hey!” The big man barked. “Hey kid! Stop. We just wanna—Joey what the hell, put your damn gun away. We don’t need ta—“
But Warrick was gone. They were probably just trying to slow him down so they could shoot him clean—or trick him into going somewhere were there’d be fewer witnesses.
Seconds later, he reached the street, twisting to get the dumpster between himself and the gunmen. The alley let out along the blank sides of the Thia place and whatever the building on the other side was. The church and its yard took up the whole block on the other side. There appeared, however, to be no witnesses whose presence might deter the mob’s men from shooting him in broad daylight.
As if in answer to his prayers, a car turned the corner from up the street. Unfortunately, he recognized it. It belonged to some high school kids who when to the school across the street from his middle school. They routinely mugged younger kids walking home and Warrick was pretty sure they were in a gang.
Still. Witnesses were witnesses. He slowed to a job, raising his hands. His shout for help was interrupted when he realized just how slow the car was cruising—and the windows on the side facing him rolling down to reveal the boxy forms of submachine guns.
“There he is!” Someone in the car shouted.
Somewhere outside of the part of his brain running on survival instinct, part of Warrick checked off the box confirming they were in a gang. He never expected they worked for the mob though. Maybe movies and TV had led him to expect more of Old Crime than beating up middle schoolers for their palmtops and sneakers.
The rest of him desperately backpedaled. The alley, he knew, wasn’t safe. He’d have to make for the corner, which seemed impossibly far away.
Not a shot had been fired yet, but the world already started going weird for him. His sense were going crazy. He was suddenly aware of a mass behind him; big, rectangular and hollow. It put him in the mind of the sharp tang of biting into a lemon if that lemon were sprinkled lightly with tabasco for some reason. Here and there in the hollowness were tiny islands of sensation; something cool and watery; other things sharp like certain cheeses. The car itself was giving off that spicy citrus sensation in places that Warrick’s sense of space suggested were the engine and axle, and sharpness where anything electronic lay.
None of that made sense, but he couldn’t devote any more time to it. Just as he turned, the first shot rang out.
Then things really went crazy.
Now that he was facing it, he recognized the mass he’d been sensing as the dumpster at the alley’s mouth. For lack of a better word, it deconstructed. Green trademarked paint flaked off, revealing the metal beneath, which twisted and flowed like water. Trach bags, dirty and assorted things Warrick didn’t want to think about hit the ground as the steel that once made up the metal trash receptacle washed toward him like a tsunami at a speed his mind only noticed in hindsight.
It enveloped him, a tide of metal the closed in like an ancient sarcophagus; restricting his vision to a series of narrow slats directly in front of his face. There was the unmistakable sound of jacketed lead striking metal and ricocheting away. It came again and again as the foul-smelling steel settled around Warrick and solidified.
Frozen in his flight by confusion, Warrick turned to stare stupefied as the car rolled passed. The gang members shouted curses and confusion as their clips ran empty with no effect. The driver realized something was very wrong—that the kid they’d been sent to catch (it was his friends who figured killing the witness might earn them points) had transformed into a metal hulk and slammed on the gas.
The wheel screeched, sending up plumes of black smoke. They might have gotten away if the two goons hadn’t broken out of the alley at just the minute.
“Just what the hell do you punks think you’re doing!?” the one who’d spoken before bellowed.
Panic struck Warrick like a lightning bolt. He had no idea how he’d lived, why he now seemed to be wearing armor that reeked of rotten Thai, or anything else. He just wanted to get away. He just wanted to live.
Help. We help. They weren’t words. Just ideas, coming from two places at once that seemed be the back of his head but with voices entirely unlike that of his inner monologue.
Something in the metal armor around his shoulders shifted and jolted him sideways into the wall. Through the grate protecting his face (Maybe it was a visor like a medieval knight?), Warrick watched as a last of metal struck out at the fleeing car. Its leading edge struck a rear tire, severing not only the rubber but the wheel beneath. With a horrible screeching sound, the car span out and hit a traffic light, the occupants shouting and cursing in panic.
They weren’t the only ones. The goon who still hadn’t put his gun away. Stammering a string of expletives, he tried to put it to use.
We protect. You. You we protect. Warrick less heard the strange not-words and more sensed them coming into being as another lash struck out from somewhere in the vicinity of his left shoulder. This one was thicker than the first, more like a sucker-less tentacle. It whipped out faster than the man could aim and fire, taking him in the gut and punting him a good eight feet down the sidewalk where he bounced and rolled like a human football.
The other goon, the one with nominally more sense who had been yelling at everyone, opened his mouth to explain once more, raising his hands to protect himself. The tentacle was possibly a bit more merciful with him, slamming sideways to smack him into the wall behind him where he collapsed into the pile of garbage from the dumpster-turned armor.
Warrick could only stare for a moment. In the space of less than a minute, he’d gone from running for his life to throwing his pursuers into utter chaos.
Slowly, it dawned on him that he’d just conjured bulletproof armor from the dumpster. That he’d called upon the tentacles that now spiraled around him protectively giving him the impression of purring cats. And the weird ‘tastes’ he was getting from objects around him? A new sense.
“Holy shit, I’ve got powers,” he murmured to himself. “I’m a psionic.”
Moments later, his wonder and confusion could no longer serve as distraction enough from his nose and stomach demanding freedom or death from the inhuman reek of his dumpster armor. He fought back the urge to vomit.
He needs to get his priorities in order: 1) flee the scene before the guys in the car got out and shot him some more. 2) figure out how to get out of the armor. 3) shower for the next week.
“Whoa. That was intense.” The composite of Warrick and Cyn put their palms to the sides of their head. “Like I was really there. Also, that is not how you told me it happened. Didn’t you tell me that some kids at school were mad that you narc’d on them for selling drugs and tried to do a driveby?”
“That’s basically what happened.” They were sitting on a stool in the same room where they’d been conducting the tests on the Yellow World object. Lisa was across the room, conferring with Kay and Laurel after her latest battery of tests on them. The Manikin stood across the table from them, staring—ostensibly observing them.
“Except for the mob guys and the chase. Dude, you left out the best parts!”
For a moment, there was quiet in their corner of the room. In fact, it had been quiet for some time. They weren’t conversing out loud anymore.
“Freaky. It’s like with the twins…” They coughed audibly, the sound like something a whale might make more than anything. “Uh, anyway; the whole story is really about how dumb I was back then. A thirteen year old kid with no connections and no powers trying to squeal on the mob? If it wasn’t for my powers, I’d have been dead.”
“But you kicked their asses! That was pretty incredible. I only wish I’d have… ah crap, you can rummage in my head like I just did yours.”
“Trying now to,” Warrick admitted sheepishly. “Not sure what I’m supposed to say. I mean you just thought about your… old family. And Sean.” No one on the team or in their friends group dared call or even think of Sean McAllister was Cyn’s father. “I knew it was bad but…”
“Yeah, moving on.” Cyn had fully experienced Warrick’s origin story, and so could only imagine her friend going through the electric shocks and starvation Sean McAllister and her brothers had put her through.
Warrick cleared their throat again. “Uh… I don’t think it’s a good idea to think too hard about what you don’t want me to get on this end. Brings it right to the surface.” Whatever the connection they were sharing was empathic as well as telepathic. Cyn got a sudden cocktail of awkwardness, pride, and affection coming from her conjoined friend. “Look… I never knew…”
If it were possible for gallium to blush, they would have. “Look, it’s not like that. You were like the first guy I could half-way get along with and you’re not… y’know, ugly and didn’t get all hung up on the albino thing, or get weird about the shapeshifter thing…”
“You can stop now. I get it.”
“Oh thank god. As if things weren’t weird enough sharing a body and having a switched up power set.” Suddenly, they grimaced. “Wait a minute… you didn’t like feel anything? Like anything at all?”
“We live together. All sort of potential awkward—not that this isn’t.” They blinked. “Aw jeez, what am I going to tell Tink? I don’t think she’s into girls or metaphysical threesomes.”
Then they smirked teasingly. “See? This is exactly the situation where shapeshifting would help, not isn’t it?” The smirk faded, “On the other hand, I’m pretty sure copper-top like you no matter what and I’m gonna be honest, that could turn real uncomfortable for me. I don’t hate her, but I don’t want to—
“Gah! Stop thinking about that!” They yelped out loud, causing the conversation at the monitor between Lisa and the others to stop.
“Sorry. I can’t really control it!” Then, rubbing the back of their head with one hand, they waved to their teammates with the other. “Sorry. We’re just…”
“Look. Sitting here with just this mind-meld deal with isn’t good for us. It’s traumatizing. Isn’t there anything else we can do? Training, more tests—painful ones even. Maybe we can go outside and chase penguins.”
“Wrong hemisphere.” Kay said before she could stop herself. “Um… but maybe you can find a pizzly bear to wrestle?”
Laurel chewed her lip thoughtfully. “Right now, we still have to make sure you’re safe to let out of the tower at all. We can’t have you Yellow-infecting the local wildlife.” She watched as the metallic woman drooped visibly upon hearing this. “But… I suppose giving you limited access to a fee other areas of the tower isn’t such a bad idea.”
Turning fully to them, Lisa nodded. “I think so too. Lucky for you, the three of us have been working to make the tower into a fallback base.” A gesture re-enlarged her staff from its keychain size. “Which means, we have a rec room.”
To Be Cotinued…