Descendants 98 – The Precocious Prodigy Chp.5

This entry is part 33 of 55 in the series Current

“Alice Rankin? My research didn’t turn up anything on her,” Winnie said, looking far more concerned about that fact than she had any right to be. “When did you date her?”

JC laughed, feeling more comfortable now that the young genius wasn’t trying to make him her boyfriend by force. “Never. That’s kind of how crushes work most of the time. I must have had a thing for her most of the school year, but I never got up the nerve to ask her to a dance or hang out or anything.” Anticipating what Winnie was thinking, he added, “And kidnapping was out of the question because—well it’s kidnapping. And wrong.”

Sheepishly, Winnie gave a little nod to indicate she understood. “That seems… less than optimal. If you had feelings for her, then it strikes me as sad that you never gave yourself a chance.”

He shrugged. “That’s also how crushes work out sometimes. Hell, I’m sure Alice never found out about it and I’d put money down on her not sure if she even knows I existed. Don’t be sad though: I had to stay after one day and ended up splitting a pod with a couple of girls in band class. We got to be pretty good friends, the three of us…” A small smile graced his lips as he remembered that time fondly.

“You know, I never even really had what you’d call a crush on Lisa. We were just friends for the last half of the school year and over the summer and then one day Kay couldn’t make it to the movie we were going to see and it was just the two of us. Not like it was the first time, but we just kind of clicked that night—you get what I’m saying?”

Winnie’s face scrunched up as she took time to unpack his unscientific words. “That human attraction is something more complicated than I expected? That it isn’t instantaneous upon initial contact?”

Once again, JC couldn’t help but laugh. “Far be it for me to crush a girl’s dream of love at first sight, but… yeah. I mean you can look at someone and think they’re pretty or hot or handsome, but that doesn’t mean you’ll like their personality or that you’ll get along, right?”

“I suppose not.”

“Right. Now think about tonight: you knew jack about me when first saw me and started to do your research. Hell, did the research even show you something you actually liked about me?”

Winnie opened her mouth, then thought better of it. “It told me that we both liked baseball. But that was the extent of it, yes.”

“Exactly. I could have been a serious asshole or worse. You’ve gotta get to know people first.”

“And I would be able to do that if I spent time with people my own age.” Things were making sense to Winnie now, but that the same time, her own hypotheses and actions were becoming more clear to her as well. She tapped her fingers together again and looked around at her robots. Tears started to sting her eyes. “I’m sorry for what I’ve done to you.”

JC held up a hand. “Hey, I wasn’t hurt, and if I was twelve with an army of robots, I’d be demonstrating poor impulse control too. Probably even poorer.” He pretended to think a moment before saying, “If you want to make it up to me though, how about cooling it with the supervillain stuff at least for a little while.”

The tears threatened to fall more stridently. “But… it’s been my ambition for almost two years! I’ve been fascinated with Maven’s creations—her motivations and tactics. Giving that up would mean that I’ve wasted a significant portion of my life.”

“Well, yeah I guess that’s true—but if you keep this up you’d just be wasting more of that time. Especially in this city? The bad guys never win, okay? They might escape to be a pain another day, but they never actually win. Do you want to spend even more of your life being a perpetual loser like Dr. Perilous?”

“Do you mean Anton Paralus?”

“Is that is real name? The guy that keeps getting out on bond because he hasn’t managed to do any real damage yet?” Winnie nodded. “Then yeah: don’t be like him, okay? Besides, all this villain stuff is going to make it so you don’t have time to actually go out, make friends and eventually find someone you like that likes you back.”

Winnie looked thoughtful, pressing her lips together. “I’ll… have to think about it. Regardless of my choice though, I want to thank you, Jonathan. You’ve given me a great deal to think about.” She stopped tapping her fingers and stared at them for a hesitant second, then she asked, “W-would you mind if I contacted you later?”

Awkward pause. “For advice. Not for a date.”

“You don’t have someone around already to ask about this stuff?”

She shrugged. “My parents always act like I can figure out everything on my own. I don’t wish to mar their expectations of me. Beyond them, I have no siblings who might advise me as you have.”

JC chuckled. “You know, I’m an only child too. My best friend though, he’s got a little sister and I’ve gotta admit, I’ve always kind of been jealous of how they got along. You know what? Sure. You need someone to talk to, you can call me.”

Winnie beamed. “Thank you, Jonathan. I really appreciate it.”

“My friends call me JC,” he pointed out, feeling much better about the situation.

“JC then. Thank you.” Winnie activated the hologram at her wrist again. “but there is one thing… I know you won’t be happy about this, but I hope you’ll forgive me. After all, siblings are known for sometimes doing things that might annoy the other.”

Alarm bells started to go off in the back of his head, but by the time he reacted, the net was already in the air. “What the hell?”

As the robot behind him dragged him struggling and cursing into its torso, Winnie appeared before him, looking both amused and apologetic through the transparent hologram that made up the machine’s remote interface. “Sorry, but since I haven’t decided on whether or not to be a supervillain yet, I find it best to make sure you don’t know where my lair is. I promise to make it up to you! Goodbye!”

Then the robot’s torso closed around him.

***

Following a long and humiliating ride through a maze of maintenance tunnels inside what was effectively a big garbage can, JC found himself dumped out onto the asphalt in an alley.

He cast a reproachful look at the robot as it lowered itself into the steam tunnel access from wince it came. “You suck so much right now, ‘Little Sis’.” The robot raised on arm as if waving shortly before the metal grate of the steam access closed over it.

Whatever feelings he had about the machine and its young mistress were dispelled as his palmtop finally found a connection gain and started chiming its notification sound nonstop as it received a plethora of missed texts and calls.

“What the hell?” he wondered aloud as he picked himself up off the ground, “who would have even missed me in the couple of hours I was gone?” Taking out his device, he brought up his text messaging program.

Today 5:44PM Cynthia MacAllister-Brant: dud! Is happng! thyr cmming bk!

Today 5:52PM Cynthia MacAllister-Brant: jc whr r u?

Today 5:59PM Cynthia MacAllister-Brant: mom sez 1/2hr gt 2 dungeon will pk u up.

Today 6:15PM Cynthia MacAllister-Brant: whr r u?!!!!11

Today 6:23PM Cynthia MacAllister-Brant: c/t w8t 4 u. going. Txt whn bk.

Today 6:42PM Lisa Oretega >>Mi Corazon<<: JC Cyn sz she can’t reach u. Where r u?

Today 6:44PM Warrick Kaine: You thr bro?

It went on like that. And JC had no doubts in his mind that the voicemails would be much the same.

The woman he loved was back. His best friend was back. Had been back for over an hour and a half according to his palmtop’s clock. And they now thought he was missing.

“You really suck, Little Sis,” he muttered. Just as he was bringing up his contacts to call Lisa, the palmtop started ringing, playing the original opening theme to the anime With Seed Proxy Omega. He’d switched Lisa’s ringtone to that just to get a rise out of her the week before she’d disappeared. He almost dropped the phone in his haste to answer it.

“JC?” Lisa’s voice said the moment the call connected.

“H-hey,” was all he could manage before she cut him off.

“Are you okay? No one could get a hold of you and it’s been like an hour. Ms. Brant couldn’t track your palmtop and even a scrying failed.”

He knew enough about magic to realize that wasn’t something unusual even in Mayfield. “I—well I didn’t expect that, but… you know how sometimes you get back from patrol or a mission and all you can say at the time right then is that it’s a long story? I’ve got a long story of my own. But I’m betting it’s not as long as yours. You’re alright, right?”

“Aside from the fact that I’m probably going to go gray by twenty at this pace? Yeah. We’re all good.” She was talking a mile a minute and ad to calm down. “Hold on. I… I can’t even say ‘want’; I need to talk to you more in person right now. Are you somewhere people can see?”

For the first time since being dumped there, JC took in his surroundings. It was an empty alley behind a big, concrete building housing the steam tunnel and a power shed. No windows looked out on it and the street was distant.

“No. I’m in the middle of nowhere. Gimme a sec and I’ll give you my GPS coordinates.”

“No need,” Lisa replied, some of the strain out of her voice. “I’ve learned a lot of tricks on our interstellar road trip and I want to try it out. Hold still and try and focus on me.”

“That’s gonna be easy,” he said lightly.

A light breeze and the scent of ozone surrounded him. A circle of rose-color light appeared on the asphalt at his feet before becoming a pool of the same which he slowly sank into. He’d seen teleportation via the astral before, but this was the first time he ever experienced it.

Seconds later, he emerged from the nether astral portal in the big, round room the Descendants unofficially called the war room. Before he could even get his bearings, Lisa barreled into him, taking him by the shoulders and turning him around so as to get an angle on a tight embrace followed by a deep kiss that made his knees threaten to buckle.

Breaking the kiss, she rested her forehead against his, refusing to relinquish physical contact for anything.

“Oh my god, I though something had happened to you. That I’d gone through everything this past few days only to come back and find you gone.”

JC held her tight, oblivious to everything else around them. “I missed you to. I nearly went nuts worrying about what happened. I mean… I know this kind of thing can happen given—you know—what you do, but…”

“I know,” said Lisa, burying her face in the crook of his neck. “I can’t promise it wouldn’t happen again, but I’m much better prepared to deal with it now.”

“Hell yeah, she is.” Risking a glance over Lisa’s shoulder, JC spied Warrick, Tink and Cyn sitting at the war room table in front of a ruin of takeout containers. “If she wasn’t already, Lis is like the supreme sorceress in the world now.”

Lisa nodded against the side of JC’s face. “And I’m going to focus it all on keeping us safe and together.”

“Speaking of, where is everyone else?” JC asked, maneuvering Lisa over to the bench seating surrounding the main table so they could sit down.

“Mission briefing.” Warrick explained. “Just before we got done in the trippiest observatory in the universe—long story—Ms. Keyes got a request from the ROCIC. Powered mooks hijacked a federal dirigible carrying missiles between air bases and disappeared off the radar.”

“We’re skipping the briefing while the whole mess with my and Lisa’s parents—not to mention that Dana girl’s—is taken care of while doubling as the taskforce looking into what happened to you.” Tink added.

By then Cyn, who had been holding her tongue, simply exploded. “And speaking of—what the hell, man? I can’t raise you on the phone, Lisa can’t find you with her new improved hoo-doo, and then I call Meghan and she’s freaking out because a robot ate you?! Explain. Now.”

JC sighed and reluctantly let go of Lisa. “Like I said: long story. But you guys have to promise not to laugh because as wacky as the whole thing is, you have to remember I both rescued myself and foiled an entire supervillain career before it even started.”

Cyn smirked. “I get the feeling I’m gonna need popcorn for this.”

“It wasn’t something from Faerie was it?” Lisa asked, expression brimming with concern.

“No, but it was short and scary.” JC began the tale, knowing that it didn’t hold a candle to what his friends had gone through, but it was a tale worth telling nonetheless. Was was important was that they were back together. His friends. His heroes.

And even though the world was right on the edge of yet another tectonic shift in the status quo, he was happy to have his own world back together again.

***

And on the other side of the city, a young girl went to sleep secure in the knowledge that she wasn’t alone in the world and with a new dream of a new direction dancing in her head.

End Descendants #98

Series Navigation<< Descendants 98 – The Precocious Prodigy Chp.4Descendants #99 – Huddled Masses Chp.2 >>

About Vaal

Landon Porter is the author of The Descendants and Rune Breaker. Follow him on Twitter @ParadoxOmni or sign up for his newsletter.

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3 Comments

  1. Hello Vaal, I’m new to your Descendants series, new to web series altogether. But this looks like something close to the “WildCard” books and I’m looking forward to reading it. I do have a question about the reading order tho. It does seem to be a little out of date, it stops at #68 while you are into #98. But my question is about the Limited series. Not when I should start them that is in the reading order but how far into each one I should read before going back to the main series, and when would a go back to the Limited stores? I want to keep the timeline as close together as I can.

    • It’d take a bit of time to put that together, but I’ll have an answer for you in blog from soon. LI generally takes place a little bit in the ‘past’ of the main series, so nothing will spoil you.

  2. That last sentence/paragraph is annoyingly Disney-ish.

    Anyway, typos.

    “Is that is
    “Is that his

    from wince it came.
    from whence it came.

    raised on arm as
    raised one arm as

    that wasn’t something unusual
    that was something unusual (I think)

    and ad to calm
    and had to calm

    Was was important
    What was important

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