- 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
The Witch’s Tower had been created from the ‘tower seed’ Morganna had once attempted to plant in the leyline in Fredricksburg, Virginia. Drawing from that deep source of dormant magic, it would have been capable of focusing and manifesting untold power and becoming a fortress of arcane might.
No such leyline existed in the remote area of Alaska where Lisa, Laurel, Kay and the small group of neophyte wizards called the Magi Club planted it instead.
As such, they had to actively feed magic into the artifact, guiding its growth like a gardener sculpted a hedge maze. If hedge mazes had to be functional rooms that were completely self-sufficient.
Then end result was that the Tower mimicked having electricity, heating and plumbing so well that one couldn’t tell the difference and all the appliances worked as expected. But it was still—in magical constructed building terms—and infant.
So instead of the big, multi-room rec center Lifesavers, Inc Headquarters sported, the Tower’s facilities were actually smaller than the common rooms at the Liedecker Institute dorms. There was a couch with black microfiber upholstery facing a big screen OLED television flanked by two matching loveseats alongside a big, low glass coffee table. A pair of leather armchairs faced each other over a small table in the corner. Behind the couch was a pool table (thanks to Ian having gotten almost everyone at Freeland House into the game).
Off to one side was an almost sarcastically small kitchen: a counter with a combination rehydration oven and microwave, an electric kettle, sink and refrigerator. The room simply hadn’t grown large enough to fit more and no one had as yet needed to stay long enough to need to do any serious cooking.
This continued to be the case even after the Tower had taken on its first resident/residents for reasons that didn’t become apparent until about two hours in.
Lisa had returned to the main room to confer with Laurel and Kay, leaving Warrick and Cyn to try and distract themselves with videogames.
As another rush of minibosses in Heartslayer: Legend Chronicle became a cloud of digital gore under the gentle ministrations of a newly created Glass Tempest wizard/fighter, silvery fingers suddenly paused in their frenetic mashing of keys and a brow raised.
“What time is it?”
“I don’t really think it matters. We’re not going anywhere.” Their fingers resumed working the game’s controls. Onscreen, their character threw a glass dagger into the air, which exploded into molten shards to pierce every nearby enemy.
“I get that, but like how long has it been?”
They paused the game and checked the in-game clock. It said half-past five. “We got here around 3, shit got crazy… that took like forty-five minutes, so a couple of hours?”
Their eyes took on a glazed quality that was difficult to fully pinpoint with silver-sheened eyes. “I haven’t eaten anything since I hopped stopped by Burger Builders on the way over. And those donuts when we first came into HQ.” Trepidation once more played over their face.
“War? I’m… not hungry. Like not even a little. I haven’t been not hungry since—damn, my old parents were so shitty even before my powers I don’t think I’ve ever been not hungry.”
Wisely, Warrick decided not to bring up a field trip to Hershey, Pennsylvania she’d gone on in eighth grade, shortly after her powers kicked in. Through some surreptitious stretching while in the vat room, she’d added fifty pounds to her biomass and inadvertently learned how to make her body denser to hide it.
“Are… you okay? I’m not sure how you’re feeling right now…”
They scrubbed a hand through their ‘hair’ which took on the form of individual strands to slip through their fingers only long enough for them to complete the gesture. “I dunno. Like, I always wondered what it’d be like to be full—but I don’t think this is it. It’s more like there’s nothing there—like when a guy hits on you and you’re not into him. I don’t think we need to eat food when we’re like this. And now that I think about it, we’re totally metal all the way through, right?”
She didn’t wait for an answer because she picked it up from her friend’s head. “I don’t think we can eat food!”
Without a second thought, they sprang from the couch and rushed for the kitchenette. At the Institute, there would have been fruit on the counter in a bowl, but no one was expecting to use the place for a while, so instead, there was a box of fruit and grain bars.
Fumbling open both box and wrapper, they took a bite and swallowed. Then shuddered.
“Oh god. Is this what it feels like when to store something in your body?” Warrick asked as they doubled over. “It’s like having something caught in the back of your throat, only it’s your whole chest.”
“I’ve got tricks for that. Hold on.” Their eyes screwed up tight and they concentrated. The metallic fluid that made up their body shifted, squeezing the offending bite of food into a ball, then forming a barrier made of itself around it. The gut-wrenching sensation faded.
Looking disgusted, they shoved their hand into where their sternum would be and pulled out the piece of the nutrition bar.
“That… also felt so many kinds of wrong.”
“You get used to that one. Well I did when I could decide what nerves were where. Do we even have nerves right now?” She again didn’t wait for an answer before looking lamentably upon the mangled morsel. “I couldn’t even taste it…”
Flinging the mess way into the sink, they balled up their fists and pressed them to their temples. “Oh god, I can’t have food? It sucks enough that I can’t get drunk or high, but I can’t even taste food? This sucks! We need to find a way out of this!”
“I know. I was just… trying not to think about it. I mean lots of other descendants go through this every day when they first get their powers right?”
They folded their arms petulantly, “But they just lose like… human stuff. We lost powers, War. My shapeshifting, you metal sense… and don’t think I can’t tell you’re worrying about what happened to the twins in all this.”
Beginning to pace, Cyn continued, “We can’t even be heroes anymore with these stupid new powers!”
Giving voice to the idea struck both of them harder than Cyn expected, and given that they were now privy to one another’s thoughts, it was even more amplified still. They dropped heavily into an arm chair and were quiet for the next several minutes, listening to each other’s anxieties and being both relieved and annoyed that their shared body couldn’t cry.
At length, Cyn spoke. “This is all my fault. If I hadn’t tried to make that joke about ‘the power of two’, we’d just be starting at a dumb rock while Lisa did her magic. I-I’m sorry.”
The burden of her guilt rolled over both of them in a wave. The disappearance of Isp and Osp, the myriads ways the fusion could affect Warrick’s relationship with Tink, how even if they got cleared to leave quarantine, they couldn’t be a superhero with no powers…”
After a few tentative pulses, the guilt was opposed by a wave of comfort and optimism that turned a fair portion of said guilt into confusion.
“Hey,” Warrick remarked, “It worked. Looks like our telepathy thing does work like Kareem’s.”
“Okay…” Cyn replied uneasily, “But what’ve you got to feel good about in all this? You friend’s idiocy just ruined your life and now you’ve got to live with her and her screwed up brain.”
Warrick mentally grunted. “Hey. First of all, my best friend. Granted, I never put ‘fusion dance’ on the list, because that’s more anime that superhero, but if I had expected something like this might happen, I wouldn’t have picked anyone else, okay?”
Being tapped into his mind, she knew the honesty of that claim, but that didn’t make it make any more sense. She didn’t have to say as such for the same reason.
Warrick just scoffed. “It’s because you’re my best friend, Cyn. I’d be way less okay with anyone else being in my head, and I know I wouldn’t be able to work together half as well with them either to figure things out.” He let his resolution flood out as he stiffened their jaw. “And that’s what we’re gonna do: either find a way out of this, or find a way to deal with it.”
Despite herself, Cyn felt a little of his emotions becoming contagious. “Jeez, you sound pretty sure of yourself.”
“Sure of us,” he clarified. “We started this whole thing, remember? LifeSavers, Inc? The two of us pretty much got the ball rolling on superheroes being mainstream. And if we give up just because of something like this… then we don’t even deserve to call ourselves heroes.”
They rolled their eyes. “Drama. I didn’t say I was giving up,” Cyn said haughtily, “Just that I feel bad for causing all this.” They pursed their lips. “So find a way out or deal with it, yeah? Which do we try first?”
For a moment, they looked down, considering their clenched metal fist. “Maybe both.” Sensing Cyn’s forming question, Warrick continued, “So on a show when people fuse, it either ends after a certain time period, when they run out of energy, or when they get knocked out.”
“So we grab a two-by-four and wang ourselves in the head and everything’s okay again?”
“Probably not. This body is liquid metal of some kind. If we don’t eat, we probably don’t have a lot of the other biological functions that would let us get knocked out. And it’s been hours so far and we haven’t split yet, so the time limit’s probably not a thing…”
They nodded sagely as Cyn pounded one of their fists into a palm. “So it’s run out of energy then. Do we do laps or something?”
“Maybe,” Warrick allowed, “but it’s more likely we need to run out of whatever fuels the powers we got from the fusion. In shows like Magnificent Warrior Escalation: Sequence R, the fusion only ends if you push your power all the way to your limits.”
Their eyes narrowed. “So we’re going to have to learn our powers?”
“We were going to have to anyway; I mean if we don’t un-fuse, I’m not going to stop being a hero and I don’t think you want that either.”
Cyn bobbed their head. “Right. So first thing’s first: we’re still a shapeshifter of some kind, just not the awesome kind I am. We’re kind of a blog girl like Glass with those guys out in LA that stole our name. That and… why are you thinking about old movies?”
The smirk that came to their face as they once again studied their fist was all Warrick’s. “Because it’s a classic and it’s a place to start: Advanced prototype. Made of mimetic polyalloy. Liquid metal.” The limb started to shift, losing the shape of a hand as it formed a rigid structure similar to a crowbar only much larger.
Cyn hadn’t seen the movie, but Warrick had, so at the speed of thought, she had too. “Okay, that would be sweet, but we already know we can’t change color or look like anything that’s not a ball of robot snot in fun shapes.”
At the loss of concentration, their hand returned to normal. “Okay, yeah. But we can do basic shapes, flatten out, go fully liquid… That’s a start.”
Without his notice, their arm lost a bit of solidity, flopping and wiggling in exaggerated motions. “Huh.” Cyn said, doing the same with their other arm so that both limbs were held out to their sides, undulating like waves. Then one arm tied itself into a knot.
“Dude…” Cyn said in a hushed voice, this time out loud in the empty room. “I think you had the right idea thinking about what our powers are like, but you just had the wrong movie.”
Unknotting their hand, she then stretched it across the room to grab the fruit and grain bar they’d realized they couldn’t eat earlier and moved it to the trash. A grin split their face. “We are not a machine,” She said aloud, aping an Austrian accent she’d picked up pillaging Warrick’s pop culture memory. “We are… a cartoon.”
To Be Cotinued…