Descendants #105 – Gal Gallium – Chapter 07

This entry is part 2 of 24 in the series Current

Cyn’s declaration was undercut by a laugh from the doorway.

They glanced over to find Lisa standing there. Her staff was still held firm in one hand, but her expression had lost some of the intensity from earlier. “A cartoon?” She asked.

What would you call it?” Cyn asked with a shrug. “Our arms and legs are all rubbery-like and we’ve got the semi-solid thing going on I use sometimes. We can do anything old-timey cartoon characters can do.” For emphasis, she started bouncing their body, silvery limbs flexing slightly in a Fleischer-esque manner. “Now all we have to do is figure out how to use that to do the superhero thing.”

The mirth from Lisa’s expression dropped. “Guys… I don’t think that’s going to happen for a while.”

So…” you’ve got bad news then,” said Warrick as Cyn stopped their cartoonish bobbing.

With a sight, Lisa made her way over to an arm chair and collapsed into it, laying her staff across her knees. “More like no news. Not yet at least. From our tests, your body has a yellow-world energy signature. The artifact or whatever is merged into you or in a pocket dimension linked to you—something like that. It’s there, but we can’t pin it down.”

The Gallium body’s shoulders slumped and they went to sit on the end of the couch. “So we’re in quarantine until you know for sure it’s not contagious like it was on Device World or waiting to jump to another host or something. I get that. We can’t put other people in danger just because we want to prove we’re still heroes.”

Yeah, that’d be kind of the opposite. Not that it doesn’t still suck.”

Lisa nodded. “We’re looking to analyze the magic the artifact is using. See if we can figure out exactly what it’s doing or at least disrupt it to get you guys back to normal.”

About that…” said Warrick, and then explained his theory about fusion.

The team’s premier magic user nodded along with the explanation all the way until the end. “That kind of makes sense. Warpstar never seemed to keep hold of the powers he took between encounters. But we don’t know if that’s because of a time limit or if they fade with use. It won’t hurt sciencing it.”

Cyn put their finger to their lips. “Yeah, but how to science? None of the rooms here are big enough—or probably sturdy enough for us to bounce around in to try to blow off energy.”

Leave that to me,” said Lisa. “At the very least we’re going to be here a few days while Laurel and Kay monitor you and make sure I’m not also being effected. More than enough time to knock together a training room in the Tower.”

By then, she had sank further back into the couch, the events of the day finally settling in on her. Fighting it, she kept her focus on her fused friends. “How are you two doing though This… can’t be easy.”

It’s… a lot,” said Warrick. “Which probably helps. If it was just turning into a lady, or just sharing a body, or just having our powers screwed with, there’d be one big thing to focus on, but then the mind-meld thing and Yellow World plague threat… it’s hard to focus on one existential dread, know what I mean? Plus, I’m in good company.”

I was already dealing with shit,” added Cyn. “This is at least interesting shit. There’s a lot I’m not okay with about all this, but I’ve literally been in worse situations or know people who have been. At least the weird critter in my head this time is my friend and most of the weirdness is ‘nerd’.” Again, they shrugged.

But… and I promise this isn’t the little yellow jackass trying to get out of here… how long are we going to be in here? I’m going to be missing from some of my summer classes and War… what about the Kaines? What about Co… Tink?”

Lisa frowned. “Hadn’t thought about that. I mean the team is going to know about all of this so Tink’s not an issue, but your professors? Warrick’s family? Laurel has to have thought about that, right?”

Miss Brant’s been kinda preoccupied ever since they got back from Pittsburg,” Warrick thought aloud, their body wincing with Cyn’s reaction to the observation. “I think the whole ‘Fallen Angel’ deal might have shook her as much as Miss Keyes. Certainly can’t be Talbot’s dickishness—if what happened with Armigal didn’t do it, nothing could have.”

Their head tilted in consideration. “I dunno. To be honest, I don’t think they’re telling us everything that happened out there. Alexis suddenly had a doctor’s appointment right after and Mom herself set up one with Masters.”

Lisa made a non-committal noise. “We’re all supposed to have a session with her every month.”

I know, but it’s not like we always do though. I already know I’ve got more issues than a videogame on release day. Telling some government weirdo isn’t going to change that.”

It might help,” Lisa offered. “I mean, normal people go to psychiatrists for all sorts of things. Our lives are a thousand times more complex… and traumatizing. For what it’s worth I think my sessions have helped.”

Same,” agree Warrick.

The fused heroes’ eyes narrowed. “What do you need therapy for?” She resisted the urge and growing instinct to check manually.

Just in general. I mean there’s some stuff I don’t like talking to you guys about because it’s awkward or something I just don’t want to bring up. But I can with Ms. Masters.”

There was a pause as Cyn worked even harder not to catch the surface thoughts currently open to her. It wasn’t entirely her fault that she caught bits and pieces. Seeking to avoid getting everything, she steered the subject back on track. “Anyway, as much as she says it’s important for all of us to do a couple of hours with Masters a month, she usually does hers at the last minute. So her going twice in the same month? It’s suspicious.”

Something unsaid passed between them that Lisa couldn’t hear.

No, not that kind of suspicious. It’s just… well Mom isn’t just my legal mom, she’s Team Mom. You don’t think that if something happened on a mission that was bad enough for her to seek professional help that she might hide that from us to protect us?”

She grunted in annoyance. “Anyway, back on topic, we can’t leave, but we do need to make sure the right people know what happened.”

And how to explain this,” Warrick added. “I don’t think ‘we messed with a thing we all knew was dangerous and ended up doing a fusion dance’ is the best way to do that. Also not: ‘Hey Tammy, didn’t you always want a big sister?’”

They shrugged. “Is it really any worse than the other news they’ve had in the past few years? ‘Hey, your son wasn’t really in a secret program to develop his powers for the good of the country—he was actually kidnapped to be a tissue farm for a sociopathic secret megacorp!’ ‘Oh wait, now he’s back—one year younger than he should be and also a superhero!’ ‘Him and some of his superfriends fell into another dimension… or planet or something with fairies and an abominable snowman as a landlord.’ Trust me, they can handle it.”

When you put it that way…”

We can set up a video call in the morning,” Lisa said, stifling a yawn. “Right now, I’ve run myself dry on magic setting up spells to monitor and analyze what’s going on with you. I kinda just need to rest.

The merged heroes nodded. “Right. It’s way too early for us though. Mind if we watch television until we falls asleep”

Lisa nodded, settling back into the chair. It was telling that she still held on to her staff.

***

As it turned out, Warrick and Cyn as Gallium didn’t need to sleep anymore. So while Lisa got some much-needed rest, the two of them had to find other ways of occupying themselves.

So… are you just… like a robot?”

The Manikin stared blankly back at the fused heroes. “I do not know what a ‘robot’ is.”

They blinked back. “Makes sense. Let me put it this way: do you just follow orders or do you have your own thoughts. I never thought to ask before.” They were perched on a folding table in the middle of the Tower’s main room, not far from where the now-empty containment vessel lay.

The two are not mutually exclusive. I exist to serve the Heir of Hyrilius and have been given the power of reason that I might learn and devise the best means of doing so even if the Heir may not always agreed. I cannot, however circumvent the Heir, only guide and serve.”

So yeah, she’s a robot, Cyn. Even sounds like Hyrilius thought up the Three Rules before Asimov.” Both Cyn and the Manikin were about to asked what that meant when the big screen flickered on.

Laurel still wasn’t looking necessarily well, but she looked in slightly better spirits when her face appeared on the screen. “Oh. Good morning. How are you two feeling?”

I could complain. Like a lot,” said Cyn, “But we’re good. Lis’ is still asleep in the other room—want us to go get her.”

Not yet. I was actually going to ask for Wa… the both of you. Just wanted to let you know that Myself, Kay and the Magi Club are on the case trying to reverse this. The good news is we’ve been monitoring background magic and known frequencies the Yellow World artifacts emit and things have been steady since the original event. At the very least, nothing is fluctuating.”

The pair furrowed their shared brow. “Is that really good though? Wouldn’t a decrease be better?”

Not if it’s a countdown.”

Laurel shook her head, “The point is, we aren’t sure what anything means right now, but no change also means no negative change.”

So much for a time limit then,” said Warrick.

Not necessarily. It might be steady until the moment the effect collapses,” Laurel pointed out. “Out next step is going to be Lisa performing a few diagnostic rituals to see if there’s some sort of recognizable spell structure we can counter, undermine or deconstruct.”

The pair nodded. “Actually, we were talking and we might be able to run it out of energy. I eventually get to where I need to eat when I overdo it with the shapeshifting, and this blob of tin can’t eat, so maybe if we run down the batteries…”

Another nod. “Lisa said she’d set up a training room in here so we can try it.”

Laurel smiled, and not the tired, trying-to-be-optimistic smile she’d had on her face earlier. “That’s a really good idea. Something kept Warpstar from using powers continuously and indefinitely—if we can exploit that, then we might just have our solution. In the meantime, I wanted to talk to you about something…”

Good news or bad news?”

Really a point of view,” Laurel explained, “We’ve already let the rest of the team know roughly what happened and that you two and Lisa are in quarantine until we’re satisfied that the artifact is neither influencing you nor the world around you.”

There as a metallic smirk. “Ah. But you want to ask War how he wants to break it to his family?”

Very perceptive,” Laurel said, not bothering to conceal her pride in her adoptive daughter. “Warrick?”

Immediately, they started combing their fingers through their hair. “Yeah… we did talk about this. I guess rip the Band-Aid off, right? Call’em up, explain something freaky happened and then… let them see, I guess?”

Laurel seemed to relax slightly. “That was going to be my suggestion. Your parents are more adaptable than most when it comes to the day to day lives of superheroes. They’re not the Chamberlains, but then, the Chamberlains actually are superheroes. I’ll set things up and be back with you.”

Uh,” Cyn interrupted, “before you go… how are the others taking it? I mean the heavy hitters of the team being sidelined—and also Warrick?” Impossibly, for a brief moment, their eyes reshaped as if glaring at themselves.

As well as can be expected. They all wish you well and are standing by if there’s anything they can do. JC and Kareem are actually here at HQ helping the Magi Club scour the digi-Books. Tink is also here. She actually mirror-gated in last night. She’s trying to get some background on possible other Yellow World object we just haven’t identified.”

Her expression softened. “She wanted to go to the Tower to see you. It took a lot of argument to explain that she’s more useful here—and her nanites are much better off outside of the Yellow World’s control.”

The image of what the Yellow World entity (entities?) could or would do with access to such technology made them shiver. “I never thought about that,” said Warrick, voice tinged with horror.

Neither did she,” said Laurel, “but that’s a worst case scenario. The artifact that merged the two of you was already markedly different from say, Mad-Mad’s. The frequency its energy was emitted at resembled brain waves, specifically delta and theta. Yours are more like Warpstar’s which emitted the energy in something more similar to steady radiation. My working theory is that this artifact and the Warpstar gems are a dead or at least dormant form, incapable of independent thought, but still possessing properties inherent to the Yellow World.”

They slipped off the table and started pacing the lab. “So there’s a chance we’re not infected or infectious or something like that?”

A chance,” Laurel agreed, “But not one that’s going to shorten your quarantine any.”

Nah, I get that. I was just thinking about Lisa being stuck in here with the chance of us going baddie. But yeah, thanks for everything you’re doing Miss Brant.”

Laurel smiled gently once again. “Any time. Now give me a moment and I’ll get you in touch with some people who I’m sure will be anxious to see you.”

As she faded from the scree, they groaned. “Yeah… probably not ‘see’.”

Then they snorted. “What? Except for being boring silver instead of gold, we look great. Not as good as normal me, but hey—who can?”

To Be Cotinued…

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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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2 Comments

  1. Typos, you knew this was coming…

    may not always agreed.
    may not always agree.

    about to asked
    about to ask

    we falls asleep”
    we fall asleep.”

    possible other Yellow World object
    (either) possible other Yellow World objects
    (or) a possible other Yellow World object

  2. Thanks for the chapter! I’m enjoying where this is going.

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