Descendants #105 – Gal Gallium Epilogue

This entry is part 20 of 24 in the series Current

The cool, night air blowing in from Lake Standish caused Cyn’s short, white locks to tickle her forehead and ears as she sat, cross-legged atop the roof of Freeland House. Her eyes were closed and she breathed slowly, listening to the Friday-night parties going on along the lakeshore; a blend of different songs playing; all but the heaviest base making its way across the water.

A soft thump added itself to the noise. Completely expected, though she’d expected his arrival to come a bit later.

Hey, War.” she didn’t open her eyes.

Hey.” He replied, taking a seat next to her. “Figured you’d be up here. We used to do this a lot back in the day.”

Cyn nodded. “Yeah. Used to be your thing. Guess I got it from you.” Without looking, she could tell he nodded at that. From the rasp of metal on roofing, the twins were out as well, trying to make themselves comfortable. After a beat, she added. “You were right back then: helps me think.”

What’re you thinking about?”

At this, she smirked. “Feels weird not to know doesn’t it?”

Kind of. But just from that, I bet I can guess what’s on your mind.”

She raised a pale eyebrow. “Dude, is it not on yours? We just spent almost a week sharing a body—then we like… combined into one person.” Her eyes opened and traveled down to her hands, resting in her lap. “…a real person. I didn’t imagine that right?”

Warrick nodded, a perplexed expression on his face. “Yeah. I remember being Gallium while we were her; not myself in her body. She… was real.”

And she only got to be here for like ten minutes. I know she can’t be around while we’re ourselves but… it’s kind of sad isn’t it? It’s not fair.”

With a sigh, Warrick leaned back on his hands. “The weird thing is, she knew that. She was okay with that as long as she could let us know how this fusion deal worked. Not that it doesn’t make things less fair for her.” He sighed again and leaned his head back to look to the stars. “But the things is… she also didn’t know how she knew all the stuff she told us about how things worked.”

Even though they no longer shared a mental link, Cyn followed his line of thought easily. “She might be legit, but that doesn’t mean the Yellow World might have put that stuff in her head.” This thought made her brow furrow. “But if that’s the case, why not put stuff in our head? I mean her head is our head… heads. Whatever.”

Giving a frustrated grunt, she scrubbed her face with the heels of her hands. “I don’t need any extra mystery crap in my life. With Ollie and now Mom…”



At this, Warrick did a double take. “Laurel? You mean how tired she’s seemed lately?”

Not just tired,” said Cyn. “Stretched. Like super thin. The school, running DRW, coordinating not just the team, but the whole LSI network and then she starts consulting with Liedecker on his election? It’s too much. She’s losing it and I did notice until this fusion thing. You think she wouldn’t have been right there with us otherwise? That she would have taken so long to let your family or Tink know? No. It’s too much for her. Too much.”

She’s been talking faster and louder as she’d gone on, not realizing it until a hand came to rest on her shoulder with a firm but gentle squeeze.

Hey,” Warrick cut her off. “Hey. I get it. I mean now I get it.” He let go of her shoulder, looking a bit guilty as he processed what his best friend had been saying. “We look at her and think, ‘Laurel Brant, she can do anything. She’s a super genius martial artist spell-casting leader of the team’. If someone looked at me like that… it’d be a lot of pressure. I guess we just thought she could handle it because she’s good at it, but you’re right; she’s been off her game lately.”

Cyn flopped back onto the roof. “And it’s getting worse. This road trip for anti-Maeve stuff? Planning all that? IT’s going to mess her up more!”

Looking down at her, Warrick thought for a beat. “What if we do it?”

Do what?” Cyn asked, too upset to pay attention.

The road trip. Searching for artifacts. It doesn’t take a super-genius to follow a map and plan rest stops. A lot of those things weren’t in the US though, so we’ll have to figure that out… but how hard can it be, really?”

Cracking an eyelid, Cyn looked up at him. “Probably a lot harder than we think. Especially now that we’re known superheroes. We can’t go in as tourists or something. We need to be invited.” She blinked as a notion struck her. “DRW. We can do a goodwill tour for Descendants Rights Worldwide. Anti-Braylocke laws in the states, expanded rights outside them. It could work!”

Just happy that his friend was back in better spirits, Warrick nodded. “It can. We just need to pick our team.”

***

Files flickered across twin holographic screens before Simon Talbot’s eyes as he sat behind the desk in his office. With confident flicks of his fingers, he scrolled relentlessly thought pages upon pages of data.

A rhythmic thump interrupted his concentration; rubber on tile; heavy with no attempts at mitigating the amount of force and noise.

He listened to it approach until it was interrupted by the sound of his door swinging open.



Morgan,” said Talbot, peering at the man between his screens.

Morgan Flint remained silhouetted in the doorway; slate gray suit with a cream shirt and wine-colored tie under an old-fashioned dark wool overcoat. He leaned on his cane heavily with both hands. His close-cut beard framed a scowl. His steely eyes flicked to the screens. Despite them being obscured from the back, he could make an educated guess about what they contained.

Talbot. Your budget includes at least a dozen analysts to go over that for you.”

And their work,” Talbot said, returning to perusing the data, “is what I’m looking at. Unfortunately, for all the systems we’ve managed to tap into through our moles in the ROCIC, we don’t know exactly what everything their look-down satellites are scanning for.” He gestured a few more times and brought up a few diagrams and readings. There was a massive spike in… something in Alaska, not far from a Brant Industries site last week. I persisted for five days and just ended now. No idea what it was, but I suspect Brant of having something to do with it.”

Flint didn’t move, but his eyes narrowed. “Do you know how much this fixation of yours with Brant and her little team has cost the Project?”

Do you know how much Laurel Brant has and will cost us if we let this Descendants Rights movement continue? She’s the founder and the poster child. It’s her brain that’s coming up with the means that are making it more and more difficult to acquire specimens each and every year.”

Three Deep facilities lost. Hundreds of other-world specimens. The inugami and barghest programs set back months due to premature deployment. Dozens of researchers, scientists and techs defected to Brother Wright—who you brought in. The artificial life project lost.” With each new item in the list, Flint came forward, his cane thumping on the tiles. “Need I say more?”

Talbot glared up at him. “This project was founded to recover lost psionics and extract the results of the original experiments. That is our purpose, Morgan. That is everything. And to achieve that goal, we do whatever it takes!”

Flint didn’t flinch as Talbot’s volume raised. “And ‘whatever it takes’ has become forming ‘supervillain’ teams, throwing resources down the drain and losing us two and a half billion dollars in the last three years. Psionics were Tome’s origins, yes, but they are the past.”

Seconds ticked by that the two men stared one another down before Flint continued, his voice becoming even and clam. “The future is in other-world resources; in seeking and exploiting the magical phenomenon; in business.”

And did you just come down here to argue our visions for the Project? As far as I’m aware, I’m still Director.” Talbot spat, trying to go back to his work.

A thin, cruel smile spread across Flint’s face. “Ah yes, you are still the Director. Somehow. After your idea to deploy—and then lose—over fifty assets in that ill-fated attempt to leverage the families of Brant’s team, I thought I had enough votes to finally be rid of you. It must be good to have friend in high places—or blackmail in the lower ones.

But the Board is still the Board—and they’re meeting next week to approve exercising their ability to apply financial oversight. Once the motion passes, all spending will require approval from the Board and any spending involving Laurel Brant or the Descendants team… will be prohibited.”

“You can’t do this.” Talbot growled.

Flint smirked and turned, the effort in doing so cause the hidden, live-sustaining apparatus under his clothing to hum louder. “I haven’t. You’ve reached the limit of the what charity nostalgia for the old days will get you, Talbot. For such a failure, you’ve gone a long way on sentimentality and luck.” With more heavy thumps of his cane, he moved toward the door. “I pity you, really. At least if Ravi came for you after he escaped, it would have been quick. Now you’ll rot away slowly under the Board’s thumb. Couldn’t happen to a better man.”

And with that, he was gone, leaving only silence and Talbot’s simmering rage.

A sharp gesture cleared the data from his screens. Another brought up a new one and he placed his palm into the hologram to verify his biometrics. Names, files, requisitions and site data appeared.

The Board met within a week.

He’d have to have everything in place by then.

Series Navigation<< Descendants #105 – Gal Gallium — Chapter 08Descendants 106 – The Away Team – Chapter 01 >>

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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4 Comments

  1. Cool, a mystery and the setup for the next installment.

    Typos

    I did notice
    I didn’t notice

    IT’s going to
    It’s going to

    in the states,
    in the States,

    scrolled relentlessly thought
    scrolled relentlessly through

    exactly what everything
    (either) exactly what
    (or) everything

    live-sustaining
    life-sustaining

  2. Woo! Existential crises and road trips, what’s not to like?

  3. What a Fine Fool

    Foreshadowing of Mechazord-Descendant.

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