Descendants 107 – The Baroque Revival – Chapter 03

This entry is part 29 of 39 in the series Current

The moment the Myriads’ stances shifted, Renaissance gestured inside her gauntlets, cycling the grapnel magazines. Her latest design allowed for three different types of ammunition to be stored at once and rotated as needed. The indicator light on the back of the left one went pink, the right green.

The first Myriad that reached her was wielding a truncheon. Renaissance sidestepped them and slammed her right shoulder into the hollow of their armpit. Their feet left the ground in the clash and they went over on their back.

Simultaneously, she fired with her left hand, spattering the ground in an arch with pinkish slime—a compressible formulation of animal birthing agent, one of the most slippery substances available. Three of the Myriads couldn’t check their charges in time and ending up slipping, crashing to the floor. There, more of the slime coasted them, making recovery even more difficult.

Another Myriad leapt over the one Renaissance had tackled, brandishing a knife. The flashing blade clashed with an armored gauntlet, leaving them open to a firm push from Renaissance’s other hand, which sent them sprawling.

Green pellets fired from the right gauntlet. Where they struck the two downed Myriads not covered in slime, they expanded into green foam, which then hardened in place.

There were more closing in and Renaissance didn’t try to meet them. Instead, she jumped over the pink puddle she’d created, putting it between her and the others. Now that they knew she wasn’t going to be bulled down by sheer numbers, it was likely they would start fighting smarter. Given how Myriad had given an apt review of her own fighting skill, a fair fight was not one she was going to win.

Luckily, her Renaissance costume and equipment was all about avoiding fair fights.

Reaching the car she’s hit on her way in, she vaulted over it, then dropped into a roll that carried her under the van.

When she came up, however, she was met with a ringing blow to the chest from a truncheon. The force drove her back several steps from the trio of Myriads that had been lying in wait for her.

You think you’re getting out of here?” Somehow Myriad’s voice didn’t come from any of these either. “There’s dozens of me all over the garage. There’s no way out and you’re not good enough to make one.”

They punctuated this by all three rushing forward as one.

Worst on the team at fighting didn’t mean incompetent by any means. Renaissance dodged two strikes, then went on the offensive, chopping with her armored hand at the wrist of the next attacker. At this point, she didn’t care if she broke some bones in self defense.

She wasn’t prepared for dismemberment. Her gauntlet made contact with its target, but instead of a delicate joint crunching, the whole hand erupted, coming apart in a cloud of grit and dust. The truncheon flew off behind her, itself disintegrating.

How did—Myriad started to screech, but that’s all Renaissance heard. Startled by what just happened, she was in no place to block the next truncheon, which clouted her across the temple, sending her to the ground.

Rolling, she turned a stomp to her ribs into a less damaging one to her hip. The dizziness and ringing clouding her mind cleared quickly and she found herself back under the van.

As myriad as the grains of sand on a beach. It wasn’t a simile, it was an explanation of her powers. She should have expected that from someone so sure of themselves.

Instead of rolling out from under the van on the other side, she got a foot against the front axle and kicked herself out under the rear of it.

A chain immediately lashed the asphalt next to her head, kicking sparks. The lucky miss allowed her to kip up, finding herself confronted by four more Myriads with another three appearing from behind cars to back them up. The tip of the chain left a tiny pile of sand in its wake.

Squaring up for another rush, Renaissance scanned about for other threats and escape routes. There weren’t a lot of cars in this area of the garage. A glimpse of orange traffic cones further down the row explained why. And a dump truck with an open gate parked across five spaces provided another valuable clue.

“Golems?” She wondered aloud, eyes flickering from one enemy to the other.

This seemed to give all the Myriads pause. “What?”

“You’ve studied the team enough,” Renaissance continued, using the time to look for more pieces for a stratagem, “The team’s fought golems before. It makes a lot of sense: duplication takes mass generation, some ability to control the copies, some way to deal with all the sensory input. I’m not saying a descendant can’t have a power like that, but there hasn’t been one recorded yet. So magic’s the obvious answer.”

There was a beat and she thought she might have seen a slight tremor as many knuckles tightened on many weapons. “They’re not golems. They’re something else.” Myriad spoke tersely, sounding offended. “Not all mystic constructs are the same.”

The attack came from two sides at once; chains from the left and right, which she barely dodged. Even in evading them however, she found herself herded toward a pair with knifes. Foam rounds stuck their feet in place as she dive-rolled past them.

She regained her feet and was on the run now.

Her mind raced. The Myriads were magical constructs, not just decoys, but fully combat-ready creatures made of sand. Not only that, but their gear was made of the same thing and didn’t have to be identical. That suggested a very specialized mage in her experience. Someone who was nearby, hiding among her sand clones.

Ducking under a slashing blade from a Myriad diving at her, she flicked on her goggles and switched to infrared vision. That in place, she whirled, striking her latest assailant across the face and dropping them. What she was met with was the glow of more than a dozen warm bodies. She couldn’t stop herself from gasping.

Myriad laughed. Now that she was sure her opponent was using magic, the fact that her voice seemed to come from no where and everywhere were no longer a surprise. “Thought you figured something out, did you?” The confident sneer was back, whatever had bothered her before was gone. “What I make is identical to the real thing until it breaks.”

Two more Myriads, one with a truncheon, the other a knife rushed Renaissance. She blocked the knife, only to take a blow tot he back of the knee that made her go down. She turned this into another roll, trying to get space.

In the process, a chain whipped her back, turning the roll into a crash into the side of a car.

Recovering quickly, Renaissance fired more slime pellets to close off the route behind her. This, however was a miscalculation as two of the chain-wielders leapt over the goop to engage her head on. She reacted by stepping forward and slamming them both out of midair with twin palm strikes.

Another miscalculation. Both airborne bodies collapsed into piles of sand the moment she touched them –and reformed into sets of heavy chains that tangled around her gauntlets.

The other two chain wielders came from the sides, grabbing onto the chains and pulling them taut. These new chains were covered in barbs and hooks that caught in the surfaces of her gauntlets and dug in. Within moments, she was rendered immobile, arms stretched out to the sides. Myriads rushed in, more of them taking hold of the chain the match Renaissance’s strength.

“You’re not as bad at this as I thought,” admitted Myriad. “Nowhere near good, but not as bad.”

“Thanks.” Again, Renaissance wished she had a snappy comeback. In a situation like this, keeping the enemy talking was paramount, but how to do that?”

One of the Myriads stepped forward, sand rising from the ground and fallen, still bodies of other Myriads to form an ax with a heart-shaped blade. It formed slowly, the sand only able to rise from places where it wasn’t sodden with lubricant or stuck in foam.

“Alice in Wonderland?” Renaissance mused, “Off with my head?”

“I’m thinking of sending it to Alloy after the fact.”

“To give him ‘character development’.” the captive heroine observed. “None of this makes sense.”

The ax-wielding Myriad paused. “Oh?” There was a laugh in their voice.

And there it was. A hook. “Yeah,” Renaissance said. As she spoke, she gradually put pressure on her bonds. The many, many Myriads holding onto the chains held strong. The heavy plastic and ceramics that made up her gauntlets creaked as the pressure drove the barbs in deeper into whatever groove and spaces they found. “Either it’s about me and you hate me or it’s about going after Alloy for… what? Idealism? Because you don’t find him interesting? What does ‘character development even mean here?

“No matter, because that’s not the reason either.”

The ax-Myriad tightened its grip on her weapon. “And pray tell; what’s the real reason then?”

Renaissance pulled more firmly on her bonds. The plates of her armor shifted and bent, starting to pinch in on her arms. She locked gazes with the ax-Myriad as best she could, goggles to visor.

“You don’t have one. Not really.” She got what she was looking for with that; a twitch, just a simple sign of a flinch being suppressed. And so she pressed. “All your talking about a big, overarching plan—I believe that, but this wasn’t part of that. You just did a quick bit of recon, rented a dump truck of sand and got some traffic cones. If this was planned out, you would have gotten here much earlier and there wouldn’t be any other cars up here to give me cover.”

“What? Shut up.” The ax-Myriad was visibly shaking now. She took her weapon in both hands, but took an unconscious step back.

Renaissance licked her lips nervously and continued. “You really do hate me thought, don’t you? You think I’m stupid; that I don’t deserve to be on the team.”

Myriad relaxed, more in her element. “Well you’re not wrong there.”

“You’re mad that I got to be a superhero because of tech from Codex?”

“Thank you for confirming that.”

“Including the power suit that gives me my strength?”

“Of course.”

Renaissance shook her head. “You have no idea who I really am then. You hate me so much, you didn’t bother with doing the proper research because you were afraid you might find something that didn’t match what you thought about me.” She raised her chin. “So is it just because you think I’ve got something I don’t deserve? Or are you jealous because you’ve got a crush on Warrick?”

The ax went up with a wordless noise of rage.

This was accompanied by a series of sharp cracks the echoed through the garage like an iceberg breaking from a glacier. Pieces of plastic, metal and ceramic scattered as Renaissance’s left gauntlet was torn apart by the incredible pressure placed on it by its creator’s strength.

Now free, her hand lashed up with blinding speed and caught the descending ax. It stopped dead. With a twist of the wrist, the blade snapped, crumbling to sand in the process.

The former ax-Myriad yelped, leaping back into a rank of others that had assembled behind her. “What the hell? You’re—“

Twisting her body, Renaissance shattered her other gauntlet, freeing herself completely. “Not what you expected? One of the things you need to know before getting into Cambridge is how to overcome confirmation bias. Trying to force an experiment to conform to your expectations results in worthless data.”

She strode forward, eyes on the Myriad that held the ax to her earlier. “And you think I have an ego? I’m not the one that had to be the one to kill me personally. Otherwise, I might have no idea which one was the real you.”

More Myriads stormed in, mobbing her. Now that she knew which one was real, she cut them down with full power punches, exploding them into clouds of sand.

“Not going to lie, I may have bitten off more than I could chew; gotten a little cocky,” Myriad laughed nervously as sand began to swirl. “Maybe I let the others get in my head about how dumb all of you must be for putting your lives on the line for random assholes. I’m just in it for the action, honestly. Taking my shot at you was just a bonus.”

Skipping backward, she conjured a curtain of sand to conceal her.

A scrum had formed around Renaissance, dozens of Myriads leaping on her and grappling rather than trying to use their weapons. Try as they might, they only slowed her down, being thrown off as soon as they could get hold of her.

With a grunt of effort, Renaissance launched all of them off her at once and charged through the obscuring cloud, dropping into a roll as she did. It was a good thing too as a sword slashed overhead as she came out the other side.

Rising to her feet, she found herself confronted by more Myriads, these equipped with medieval-looking shields alongside swords or maces.

“So I underestimated you,” Myriad said, with no indication which one was speaking again. “Let’s reset then. I’m going to make once gamble: you heroes have a code against killing. Let’s see you deal with infinite sand clones without the option of just punching holes in them.”

And with that, they all advanced.

To Be Continued…

Series Navigation<< Descendants 107 – The Baroque Revival – Chapter 02Descendants 107 – The Baroque Revival – Chapter 04 >>Descendants 107 – The Baroque Revival – Chapter 05 >>

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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One Comment

  1. Typos

    the slime coasted them,
    the slime coated them,

    to be bulled down
    (possibly) to be pulled down

    under the van.
    (all the text up to this full stop is in a smaller font than usual)

    tangled around her gauntlets.
    (accidental change back to the smaller font here)

    sharp cracks the echoed
    sharp cracks that echoed

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