Descendants 107 – The Baroque Revival – Chapter 04

This entry is part 30 of 39 in the series Current

Renaissance tightened her fist. Myriad wasn’t wrong. Without being able to tell which Myriad was the real person, she couldn’t go all out against them. Her goggles were returning heat signatures from each one of them, so that wasn’t any help.

Only, she’d never entered a fight as Renaissance with the intention to go all out with her physical strength.

You’re making that same mistake,” she said quietly. One hand dipped into the pocket of her kilt. All of the Myriads hesitated, watching that hand. The bottom edges of her ammo magazines had raised patterns and RFID chips in them so that she could tell which was which regardless of whether she had on her gauntlets or barehanded.

It only took a moment to find the one she was looking for and slide open the safety on the side. “You still know nothing about me.” She was in motion, diving to the side as she depressed the tab under the safety and flung the magazine at the closing semi-circle of Myriads.

She hit the ground and rolled to the other side of a car as the magazine detonated all sixteen pellets inside, unleashing a rapidly-expanding cloud of green foam that enveloped the sand clones even as they tried to find cover themselves.

Not wasting any time, Renaissance scuttled around the car and hopped a traffic barrier, crouching in cover. From this vantage, she watched as the limbs of the trapped Myriads disassembled into sand and began reforming into two new clones. Whatever was stuck in the foam, however remained locked in place, presumably mixed with the chemicals.

The dump truck was in view as well. Its gate was open and only a smattering of sand remained in the bed. How much had it carried when it arrived. Based on the assumed mass of each Myriad, Renaissance didn’t see the math being in her favor in a war of attrition.

Her glance strayed back to the truck again. Myriad had to have driven that in or had a clone do so. Her eyes narrowed and she touched the side of her goggles, using the backup controls to change the view from heat vision.

There was a second power source inside along with something emitting a signature similar to magic she’d studied previously.

Before she could act on this, a baton slammed down across her back with a stinging blow. It shattered into a spray of dust. Somewhere in the building, Myriad made a surprised sound.

Holding back a wince from the pain, Renaissance rose from where she was crouched. The Myriad that had snuck up on her stepped back to settle into a combat stance. She just stamped on their foot. Instead of bone, the telltale crunch was like walking on the beach.

Without pause, she delivered a straight punch to the face with all her strength. The clone raise an arm to block. Her fist went through that arm and then the head itself, sending an explosion of sand to burst from the exit wound.

Still think you’re safe?!” she shouted into the expanse of the garage. Turning, she slammed her heel into the traffic barrier she’d concealed herself behind. The concrete cracked and crumbled, revealing the rebar inside. As she strode past, the grabbed the end of one piece. It came free with a chunk of rubble still on one end.

You’re bluffing.” Myriad didn’t sound quite confident in that assertion, but a pair of Myriads armed with swords charged at her from the cover of a nearby car.

That was the problem Renaissance had already deduced: As long as Myriad had sand to use, she could keep sending clones. And even if she could be certain she wasn’t killing the original, any she put down could be reconstituted into more unless she immobilized them chemically. On top of that, Myriad was a skilled fighter, more skilled than she could hope to be. Not only would she be worn down, but she’d be outmatched before that even happened.

Fighting, as it had been from the start, was a losing proposition.

So, as the Myriads came at her, swords held on guard, she broke into a flat out run toward them. And just before coming into range of those blades, she leapt, putting power into it and clearing both them and their wild swings as she sailed overhead.

A chain snaked out as she came down, but e blocked it with the rebar, tangling it. Upon landing, she hauled hard on the captured chain, forcing the Myriad holding it to either let go or find themselves launched in her direction. They chose the former, relinquishing the chain to Renaissance, who immediately whipped it out to her right, low enough to wrap the legs of two more mace-wielding Myriads, sending them crashing to the ground.

Once more reaching into her kilt, she found another magazine, one of a type she didn’t use often.

No sooner had she produced it than another sword pierced through her left thigh. Tunnel vision. She’d taken her mind off her surroundings just for a moment and a Myriad had capitalized on it. All strength left her leg and she crumpled to the concrete. The magazine flew from her grasp, skittering and spinning across the ground.

The Myriad that felled her was joined by another and they both hacked at her in tandem. One sword missed as she rolled, but the other traced a line over her ribs. The ballistic cloth held against the slash where it failed against a narrow stabbing surface. She would have to talk to Laurel about that.

Rising to her knees, Renaissance lashed out, delivering a rabbit punch to one of the Myriad’s midsections; enough that might break a rib, but nothing fatal. Her hand sunk in, compacting sand rather than flesh. With that realization, she delivered an uppercut with the other hand, driving her fist up through the clone’s thigh, through its pelvis and out its lower abdomen.

She rose with the punch, using the explosion of sand from its destruction as cover as she turned and grabbed the other Myriad’s wrist and twisted. Broken wrists never killed anyone. Said wrist came clean off and she responded by punching its helmeted head off.

What are you?!” She bellowed. While scanning the area for more Myriads and absolutely finding them, she found where the magazine had landed; amid the goo formed from a Myriad whose sand had mixed with the pink lubricant.

The good news was that the nanites in her tissue were already healing the wound in her thigh. If she moved, she knew she would still limp at the moment, but at least she could stand. Plus, Myriad had to be convinced now that she was willing to kill and possibly berserk. And she still had her boots

But that was where the good news ended. She was still surrounded, out-numbered and outclassed. Time to get clever one more time.

Once more she reached into her kilt. One hand came up with another magazine, marked with pink stripe indicting lubricant. The other with a handful of round, black spheres the size of ping-pong balls. The latter she gave a squeeze before throwing out in an arc.

Where the spheres landed, they split open, issuing thick, black smoke. It was great cover for when she threw the lubricant magazine and let it detonate.

The moment it went off, she struck out, running full tilt, slowing only to scoop up the fallen mag from its goo pile.

It had taken months of testing coatings, tread patterns and materials, but she’d found a combination that let her keep her footing end on the extremely low friction surface her slick pellets created. This was their first field test and all that work was paying off in spades.

A chain came out of the smoke and slammed into her back. She stumbled, but kept going, eyes on the truck. The safety was already open on the magazine.

A Myriad rose up with a mace. Renaissance sidestepped and let the slick floor send them to the ground when they moved to attack. From the thuds and thumps off in the smoke, other Myriads weren’t doing much better.

But then her luck ran out. Another chain found its mark, wrapping her waist and dragging her to a halt. She started to slip thanks to the sudden change in direction.

Last chance. She pressed the button concealed under the safety and threw the magazine at the cab of the dump truck. Even as she hit the ground, she watched the mag hit the door of the truck, triggering pellets inside.

Each of the pellets inside the explosive magazine only had a detonation force of an eighth of a stick of dynamite, but there were twenty of them. The explosion was so loud and powerful that it was more felt than heard, like a punch to the chest. If she wasn’t already down, it would have put her there.

Neither the truck door nor the cab stood a chance. Whatever the power source Renaissance’s goggles was picking up didn’t either; It disappeared from their sensors instantly.

What was that?” Myriad wasn’t trying to hide her fear anymore. “Did you just throw a grenade? You could have… Jesus, you could have killed me!”

Half a dozen Myriads, including the one holding the chain around Renaissance’s waist emerged from the smoke, walking carefully to avoid slipping. Renaissance rolled onto her knees. Only her boots could get a grip in the pink ooze covering the floor, so she slipped and slid as she did so.

Seizing the chain wrapped around her, she prepared to fight from the ground.

And then a new icon appeared on her goggles’ HUD: ‘Connected to Network’.

A slow smile spread across her face. Observation and hypothesis had born fruit. Whatever had been in the truck was the source of the signal jamming. With that gone, she had her solution.

Myriad was here on her own going counter to some plan that involved sophisticated recon and countermeasures against the team’s usual methods. Her entire plan depended on ambushing and killing a ‘fake’ super-heroine after isolating them. Once the element of surprise was gone; once the rest of the Descendants were alerted…

She reached up to the side of her goggles and used the manual controls to initiate the emergency alert beacon. Seconds later, Turmoil and Codex acknowledged it, followed shortly by Chaos and another visiting hero, the Whitecoat.

There was a strange sound somewhere out beyond the cloud of smoke. It was something between electricity surging and sheet metal being shaken.

Myriad squawked out a surprised sound. “No. Come on, we’ve got time. They c—“ and then the sound came again, cutting her voice off. Almost instantaneously, the Myriad sand clones and their weapons collapsed into mounds of completely inert sand.

For a long moment, Renaissance just sat there, appreciating the silence interrupted only by the crackle of the burning truck cab. “Not so stupid after all, huh?” she muttered bitterly.

With some effort, she got her feet under her and managed to stand. She wanted to check in on Jamie and Meghan, but she’d handed her own palmtop to Meghan and the one belonging to her heroic identity had been integrated into her now-destroyed gauntlets.

Speaking of, she needed to recover the pieces. Bad things could happen if the wrong person got hold of her tech, no matter how damaged, so she started to retrace her steps to find them.

A few minutes into the process of picking up shards of material alongside circuitry and one deadly orihalcite flechette, a breeze swept through the garage, followed by Turmoil’s voice. “Jeez. Looks like I missed something big. You alright?”

Renaissance glanced down at where the nearly debilitating injury to her thigh was now an ugly scar. It would be gone by the end of the day. “She was here to kill me.”

Crossing the intervening space, Turmoil put a hand on her shoulder. “How close did they come?”

Closer than if would have been for Facsimile. Not as close as everyone else.” She frowned, not convinced by that answer. “Actually, I don’t know. I’m not really up for testing the limits of my regeneration.”

Turmoil nodded. “You gonna be okay?”

I’m ready for my session with Dr. Masters now. But… I feel like I should be more freaked out. I think I was too focused on getting out of the situation than being scared. Maybe it’ll hit me later.” She shook her head. “I need to make sure Jamie’s okay—she got stabbed. Can you help me collect all the pieces of my tech?”

Codex is on the way,” he said gently. “Between me and her, we’ve got this. Go find your friend.”

Renaissance nodded. “Thank you. Let Codex know we need to have a meeting after this—all hands on deck. The woman that attacked me mentioned a plot against us—and I believe her because someone teleported in to get her as soon as the alert went out—and that’s after they managed to block our comms.”

Isn’t that not supposed to happen.”

Exactly. That’s why it’s all hands on deck,” she replied, breaking into a jog toward the exit stairs.

***

Elsewhere.

A surging noise filled a room sparsely-decorated living room as an amorphous void expanded from empty air. A figures stepped out; garbed in black, gothic funerary attire, replete with a dark dress with a torn hem, a frock edged in glossy feathers and a headgear that resembled a cross between a veil and a plague doctor’s mask.

One hand, clad in a feather-embroidered opera glove, dragged Myriad through the portal behind them, gripping the bottom of her helmet.

“Get off me! What is wrong with you!” Myriad stumbled away from the other figure. She undid the clasps of the helmet and pulled it off, revealing a pale face with thin lips and a pale blonde hair that fell in short ringlets about her head. “You ruined everything!”

“I ruined everything?” The feathery goth shot back, “You endangered the whole plan to go pick a fight. Why? Because you were bored?”

Myriad rolled her eyes. “Oh right, the ‘plan’. You and your hipster boyfriend and his loser buddy’s great plan. I thought it might be fun, but it’s mostly been sitting around waiting and talking. You know what’s also a plan? They’re public; just walk up and kill them.”

“Just killing them isn’t the point.” the other stood their ground as the portal closed behind them.

“Of course it is! You just added extra steps! This is exactly why your ‘mentor’ if you can call a whiny douche on the internet a ‘mentor’ ended up in jail twice: trying to go for the drama and the message. Here’s a message: being a hero gets you killed. Being a hero gets your girlfriend killed. There you go.”

The other tilted her head. “How did that go again?”

Myriad’s jaw audibly clicked shut and she folded her arms. “How was I supposed to know she’s a… I don’t know what she is. Not magic, didn’t trip theta detectors. She’s some kind of freak!”

The other chuckled. “If only we have done more research on her, huh? That’s why the plan is so slow. We need to be careful. We need to learn everything we can. This is the kind of stuff I shouldn’t have to tell my big sister. Now let’s go over what you did learn…”

To Be Continued…

Series Navigation<< Descendants 107 – The Baroque Revival – Chapter 03Descendants Special #10 – The Weight of Responsibility >>

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, in case this might be published some day:

    but e blocked
    but she blocked

    And she still had her boots
    And she still had her boots.

    indicting lubricant.
    indicating lubricant.

    her footing end on the
    her footing even on the

    if would have been
    it would have been

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