Descendants Annual #3

This entry is part 14 of 14 in the series The Descendants Vol 3: A Bright, Bright Summer

“Seems like it’s been forever since I’ve been here.” JC leaned back in his chair while keeping an arm around Lisa. He and Lisa, along with Cyn, Kay and Kareem were sitting in the Dungeon on a lazy Sunday afternoon, sharing a basket of nachos. “I can’t believe how heavy they lay the homework on you senior year.”

“Tell me about it.” Kay agreed. Her hair was striped black and white, giving the impression of a zebra, or referee. “We hardly have time to practice anymore, let alone line up shows. Snackrifice is suffering from senioritis.”

“I’m sure it’ll pick up.” Said Lisa. “I think they like laying it on us early in the year to show us they mean business. But they’ve got to grade all this stuff right? They may not care about our time, but they’re not gonna waste their own with all the busy work we’ve been doing.”

“I think you have too much faith in teachers, Lis.” JC took a sip of his iced latte.

“Don’t worry, Kay,” Cyn grinned, “There’s no way Snackrifice is going to sink with you as the captain. You wouldn’t let that happen. We won’t let that happen.”

“I should hope not.” Kareem added. “I have heard a great deal about your band from Cyn and it would be a shame if I never got a chance to hear you live. You can consider one ticket already sold.”

“Two.” A hand touched Kareem on the shoulder, “Forget me already?” Desiree Sweeney, looked like nothing anyone had seen before, to put it diplomatically.

As a protomorph; a psionic whose physical make-up had been altered when her psionic heritage had manifested, this was to be expected, but that didn’t make the end result any less striking.

Her skin was gray. Not a pale pallor, but a rich, smooth, hairless gray like that of a dolphin or shark. The shark comparison became more apt when she opened her mouth and one could see dual rows of triangular teeth that made her smiles seem like predatory leers.

She made up for this by having the body of a twenty five year old at seventeen with an uncannily perfect symmetry. She dressed to accentuate this and distract from her odd coloration. Her eyes did their part to make up for her oddness too; they were golden colored and when a shadow passed over her face, glowed ever so slightly.

There was something about those eyes, Cyn had concluded with absolutely no evidence, that made guys in particular forget that they were looking at a bald half-shark/half-girl and just see the girl part. Or rather girl parts. At that very moment, Lisa was elbowing JC for staring and Kareem’s full attention was focused on her like a laser beam. She kind of hoped it was something she herself could mimic with creative shape-shifting.

“Of course not, Desiree.” Kareem smiled at the newcomer. “It is just that I was not sure that you would appreciate this kind of music.”

“Everyone can appreciate a good Snackrifice.” Kay declared, banging her head to music only she could hear. “Hey, that’s pretty good. Lisa, write that down, we need to put that on a T-shirt.”

Desiree’s hand remained on Kareem’s shoulder and lightly massaged it. “There’s only one way to know if I like it or not, right?” She smiled, careful not to show her teeth. “Sign me up for the next concert too, Kay.” She heaved a dramatic and obviously fake sigh. “But alas, I’ve come to take Kareem away from you.”

By now, she was rubbing both of Kareem’s shoulders as she leaned down to half whisper. “How does a picnic at Wilson Grove sound? I can order one of those sandwich platters you like from Cal’s.”

Kareem had all but melted from her attentions, as was getting to be the norm of late. “I would like that very much, yes.” He went to stand up, but inclined his head to his friend. “It seems that I am needed elsewhere. I will see you back at Freeland House, Cyn.” He said.

“We won’t wait up.” Cyn said devilishly. She and Kay giggled.

Kareem blushed darkly despite supposing he should be used to Cyn’s constant insinuations. Desiree only made it worse by flashing them a thoroughly predatory smile complete with the teeth to back it up and coupled with a scandalous waggling of her brow.

On the way out, they met Warrick and Tink coming in.

“Sorry to have missed you.” Desiree pouted at Warrick.

The young hero, familiar with both Desiree’s way of talking to males and Tink’s disdain for it, was careful to avoid eye contact. “Hey.” He said offhandedly before focusing his attention on Kareem. “You still want me to help you get started on Deathgate tonight?” It had been his mission to thoroughly corrupt Kareem with his own nerdish hobbies since the other had ‘awakened’ from his extended astral jaunt.

For his part, Kareem was willing to try anything the others offered, having spent so much time only experiencing normal life through the stray thoughts of others. “Most certainly.” He nodded and slipped an arm around Desiree’s shoulder to steer her toward the door. He didn’t want another argument between her and Tink to boil up again. “But for now, we must go. I will see you tonight.”

Only when they were gone did Tink decide to speak. “Please tell me she’s not going to take up gaming with us too?”

Warrick shrugged. “Doubt it. She thinks it’s too geeky.”

Tink furrowed her brow. “So what?”

Warrick threaded his arm in hers and gave her a kiss on the cheek. “Reason number five hundred why I’m glad you’re my girlfriend.”

***

“So how’s the school going?” Ian asked. He and Laurel were on the patio, enjoying the shade of the parasol while Alexis did her daily laps in the pool.

“How do I put this?” Laurel chirped while tapping in the answers to a crossword puzzle she was doing on her computer. “Tiring, yet satisfying. Honestly, some of those kids… they run us ragged sometimes. I can’t imagine what they’ll get up to when I take the freshman class to the zoo for our biology field trip next week.”

“Are they as bad as we were?”

“Not by half.” Laurel laughed. She finished the crossword and went on to sudoku. “Okay, maybe as bad as you were, but even Kura and Warrick’s sister have a way to go before they match Alexis and me.”

Ian grinned and took a sip of his iced tea. “I wonder if our teachers would have characterized us as ‘tiring yet satisfying’.”

“Probably just satisfying. We knew enough not to get caught.”

“Maybe they do too and you’re just noticing out of sheer volume.”

Laurel pretended to shudder at that. “Don’t even think that. With Kura’s powers, evidence wouldn’t even be an issue.”

“I like the kid already.” Ian scrubbed a hand through his hair. “But if they’re that much of a handful, maybe Alexis and I can help you chaperon. We haven’t been to the zoo in any capacity that didn’t involve mutant rhinos… we’ll call it a date.”

“Alexis has to do the team meeting for the other teachers.” Laurel gave him an apologetic look. She finished a third puzzle in as many minutes and closed down her game server, opening up her connection to the digital public domain library in search of new reading material. “We’re trying to coordinate lessons to maximize their impact. But I’m sure the kids would love to have you—or Chaos—along.”

“That works too.” Ian settled his gaze on Alexis. “Unless you expect trouble though, I think I’ll stick with Ian Smythe. Not only because I like being me, but that cape is a bitch to wear if I’m not flying most of the time.”

“Duly noted.” Laurel laughed.

***

The air was surprisingly still for a late summer night on the shores of the Great Salt Lake. Perhaps it was an omen. But if it was, it was one Philip Gold ignored. He had too much on his mind to pay any heed to the weather.

Things like monitoring the security systems of the facility whose wall he was currently crouched next to and giving directions to his sister, Mary Anne who was inside.

“Door.” Mary Anne’s voice came through his earpiece. They kept their communications short and sweet on the off chance that anyone around stumbled upon their frequency and decoded it. He didn’t offer a reply, he just called up the program he had tapping into the master door controls and disabled the pressure and magnetic locks on the laboratory door his sister had come to.

The lab was the target of the night. Neither he nor his sibling knew much if anything about biology, but they did know top of the line security and using that knowledge to send the database of DNA and medical scans to their anonymous client was earning their bread and butter.

While he was at it, Philip disabled the pressure sensors on the floor and tables inside. The facility was impressive in its security measures, but he was better.

At least he thought so. His screen flashed and on the top down schematic of the floor Mary Anne was on, the lab door had closed and locked behind her. He heard her gasp and desperately tap the mic; their signal that she needed help.

Fighting back his panic, Philip brought up his door control program again. Or he tried to at any rate. Instead, a banner ad opened and flashed a demented, goatee sporting smiley face and the words ‘You’ve Been Jack’d!’ in red block letters. The speakers, which he always kept mute, were suddenly active, playing a high pitched gale of obnoxious laughter.

Philip fought to get control back, dumping the entire system to the command line, only to find an ASCII art image of the same malevolent smiley.

He heard something behind him. Whirling, he found a European man with long, dark hair seeming to fade into being just inches from him. With a gasp, he tried to scramble back from him, only to run into something he couldn’t see.

“Welcome to the TOME.” The unseen attacker snickered. He made no move to stop Philip as he decided to take his chances with the man that he could see.

The other man reached out and slapped a hand lightly against his chest. Suddenly, Philip couldn’t move his arms and legs to save his life, which is exactly what he was trying to do. In his earpiece, he heard a hiss, like a gas leak and silence from Mary Anne.

Josiah Colt, also called Avatar gave the man now under the influence of his power a malicious grin. “It so happens that we’re recruiting at the moment. Whether you want in or not.”

***

It was very early morning in a small fishing village on the coast of Peru. The first blush of sunrise was at least half an hour off, but a number of fishermen with an hour or more of sailing to reach choice shoals ahead of them, were working hard to get underway.

One group of fishermen was hauling a newly repaired net to their boat when they spotted something large moving in the shallows near their pier. It was big enough to be a shark, a rarity in the shallows, but if one had been driven right to them by a storm out to sea, it was worth nearly a day’s haul to a tourist if it was mounted and stuffed.

It was their economic duty to catch it.

But before they could even discuss how, the ‘shark’ exploded from the water and onto the pier across from them. It lay there a moment on it’s belly, trying to get its bearings, and it soon became clear to them that this was no shark, but a man.

A man dressed in waterlogged and partially rotten clothes that hung off him in tatters. Through the many holes in his ruined clothing, the fishermen could see amber colored chunks of stone embedded in the bronze skin of his chest, neck and arms.

The shards in his skin didn’t seem to bother him or cause him pain as he slowly made his way to his feet. He tottered as if he hadn’t walked on solid ground in weeks. Like a newborn deer, he was steady enough to walk in moments.

The fishermen quit their confused gaping and agreed to offer the man help and medicine. After all, he had clearly been the victim of some sort of traumatic event at sea and they all knew that the same could happen to them at any time.

Languidly, the stranger stretched cramped limbs. The fishermen froze in their tracks. Each man suddenly knew that this was something beyond their realm. For the stranger from the sea had gills.

***

There was a hospital room in Queen of Angels Hospital in Chicago that no one paid attention to.

True, they tidied it, tended to the patient, administered medication and prescribed treatments. In fact, they did their best work in that room, remembering concepts and techniques they hadn’t used since medical school, or had only seen in passing in journals.

But no one seemed to recall exactly who was in that bed, or how or if her bills were being paid. The visitor registry remained empty and though there was a vague recollection of a Hispanic teenager coming and going on occasion, no one could describe her or her relation to the infirmed.

It was only as she was doing her morning rounds one morning that the orderly assigned to that floor suddenly realized that it had been empty for several days.

End Annual #3

Series Navigation<< Issue #36: Let’s Go

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

Bookmark the permalink.

Comments are closed

  • Descendants Serial is a participant in the Amazon Services LLC Associates Program, an affiliate advertising program designed to provide a means for sites to earn advertising fees by advertising and linking to amazon.com.