- Descendants L.A. #1 – Debut pt.1
- Descendants L.A. #2 – Debut pt.2
- Descendants L.A. #3 – Debut pt.3
- Descendants L.A. #4 – Above the Line pt. 1
- Descendants L.A. #5 – Above the Line pt. 2
- Descendants L.A. #6 – Above the Line pt. 3
- Descendants L.A. #7 – Ensemble (Part 1)
- Descendants L.A. #8 – Ensemble (Part 2)
- Descendants L.A. #9 – Ensemble (Part 3)
- Descendants L.A. #10 – Ensemble (Part 4)
- Descendants L.A. #11 – Ensemble (Part 5)
- Descendants L.A. #12 – Gala Event (Part 1)
- Descendants L.A. Annual #1 – Gala Event (Part 2)
“Why are you giggling?” Ray glared at Lydia as he held to door to the La Brea West commuter pod station open for her. “This is a serious situation.
Lydia, who was in her sleeping attire of a t-shirt and pajama pants, tried to wipe the grin off her face. “I know it’s serious, but it’s kind of adorable that you came and woke me up because you’re scared to go in the ladies’ room.”
“I’m not scared.” He said a bit too quickly. “I’m just not looking to get arrested for being a pervert.”
“Scared.” Lydia snickered.
Ray ignored her, looking around the station. Aside from the security guard and on call maintenance worker at the semi-circular desk at the far end of the station, they were the only ones there. It wasn’t a big station by any means; it only had three pod platforms, each with a pod docked and open for the next passenger. The vending machines, selling snacks, drinks and case fare cards hummed, a sound that was usually masked by the noise of commuters, which mixed with the clomp of his shoes and the slap of Lydia’s flip-flops.
Before he knew it, they were standing in front of the brightly lit alcove where the bathroom entrances were semi-hidden from the main bod of the station. He turned to his long time friend.
“Lyds, just do this for me, please?”
“I don’t even know this girl.” Lydia pointed out without giving any indication that she wouldn’t go through with it. “I’m warning you right now that she might not listen to me.”
“Can you try please? For me?”
Lydia stifled a laugh. “You can’t do a sad puppy-dog face. You have no sad puppy-dog face, you know that? It just looks like you’re eyelids are melting.” She patted him on the shoulder and stepped into the alcove. “But I did come all the way out here, so I might as well try.”
Just before she disappeared through the bathroom door, she called over her shoulder. “Don’t worry, I’ll defend your honor by saving you the need to sully your reputation by stepping into the mythic realms of the ladies’ room uninvited!”
Lydia was still giggling to herself as she stepped into the bathroom. A cleaning drone was following its track up one wall, extending whirring brushes to the sides as it went. It being the middle of the night, the room wasn’t seeing much use, but the little machine had its schedule to keep and the fact that the bathroom was already spotless was immaterial to its mission.
After pausing to collect herself from her mirth, she looked around. There wasn’t anyone in the room proper. That left the stalls, so she started to walk slowly down the row.
No answer. Of course there was no answer, whoever it was expected Ray to be the one coming to get them, not some random girl. “Um… Ray sent me.” That didn’t sound particularly like a glowing statement about Ray. “He thought you might be comfortable talking to another woman. But don’t worry, he didn’t tell me anything you might have told him in confidence.”
There. Someone groaned behind the second to last door on the row. With a moment’s hesitation, Lydia knocked on it. “Hello? Ramona?”
She stopped and listened. It wasn’t a groan, it was talking. Very low, very hoarse talking that she couldn’t make out.
“Okay. Um…” Lydia took a step back. Ramona hadn’t told Ray what the problem was, meaning she didn’t know either. That felt like a pretty damn important thing to be leaving out. “I’m really sorry about this, but I can’t hear you, so I’m going to open the door and… well I’m sorry if that’s the wrong move.”
Predictably, the door was locked. Behind it, the woman she dearly hoped was Ramona continued to try talking, making harsher and more bizarre sounds. At one point, she thought she made out ‘hurts’, which didn’t bode well.
“And now I have to apologize to the station’s maintenance guy.” Lydia muttered unhappily. Dropping to a knee, she fixed the lock in her vision, especially the tiny gap where the bolt slid home.
Small things were never her area of expertise. At times, her telekinesis seemed to her more like a big, green sheet of stuff that she produced and shaped to her needs. She didn’t lift things so much as shovel them around. But it was telekinesis, and if she concentrated very, very hard…
Something cracked loudly inside the door as the bolt was forced back into the mechanism. Someone with more delicate TK, or even a modicum of patience might have been able to just make the mechanism turn. But Lydia was neither.
With a quick prayer that the security guard didn’t hear that, she got to her feet and pushed the door open.
“Oh. Whoa.” Not the most delicate way to put it, but she hadn’t been at all prepared for what she saw.
Ramona Getty hugged herself as she huddled in the stall, shivering sporadically. Her hair looked like it had gone white, but as Lydia watched, she realized that it only looked that way because each strand as clear. Her hair wasn’t the only thing affected either; one eye and the orbit around it had become crystalline and flawlessly clear, patches of her skin has as well, along with her lips and teeth.
When she bought her hand up to hide what was happening to her face, it only revealed that they same process was happening there was well.
Time finally returned to normal for Lydia, who realized that she’d been staring. “What’s happening? Can I help?” She asked belatedly.
“Can’t…” Ramona wheezed. Her windpipe and part of her lungs had become glass, and in the transition between carbon based and silicon based, everything had problems working properly. “Can’t stop it…”
Waving vaguely to her side drew Lydia’s attention to what looked like a tin of mints scattered on the floor of the stall. The ‘mints’ were shiny and black, the size of a nickel, and the tin bore the D3I Pharmaceutical logo with a handwritten label reading ‘P#X-585’.
Lydia knelt to pick on pill up. “What’s this?”
Another rattling noise came from Ramona’s throat and Lydia actually saw the glass portions of her body overtaking formally flesh portions.
“Pills.” Ramona managed. “Not… working. I can’t stop it. Trying, but I can’t.” A tear emerged from her untransformed eye and ran down her face.
“Oh my god…” Lydia got to her feet and looked to the bathroom door. “Ray! Ray, you’ve got to come in here. Now!”
“He’s here?” whispered Ramona, the strange noises dying away in her chest as the conversion in her throat became total.
“Yeah, he’s… he just sent me in because—Ray! Now!”
Ray came through the door still watching to see if the other people in the station noticed, but when he saw the panic on Lydia’s face, he ran over. From there, it didn’t take him long to assess the situation and get down on one knee beside Ramona. “It’s her power. She can switch between normal and being more or less made of glass. D3I’s been giving her pills for it fix some problems she’s had with the change, but it looks like they’re not cutting it anymore.”
Ramona looked at him through her semi-transparent hair. He shook his head to keep her from wasting break on asking how he knew that.
“I can explain all that later, but right now, let’s just say I’m your guardian angel. Now just nod ‘yes’ or ‘no’, okay? Are you trying to turn back?”
She shook her head.
“Then you’re trying to hold the change back.”
She nodded vigorously.
Ray blew out a troubled breath. “That’s why it’s so bad. You can’t do that. I hate to tell you this, but you have to let it happen, Ramona. You’ve got to change, or it’s going to hurt and you’re still going to change.”
This time, she shook her head violently. “No.” She said laboriously. “I don’t want to be… that. What if…”
Gripping her by the shoulders, Ray steadied her. “You’ll come back to normal from this. You have to trust me. We’ll get you the best help possible. But right now, you’re hurting yourself for no good reason. Ramona,I need you to stop fighting it and change. Please.”
One more tear rolled down her face. She wanted to keep fighting, to defy this thing that was corrupting her life and making her something she wasn’t. But it did hurt, and she was tired. She’d been fighting it for an hour before she called Ray.
As the teardrop rolled, the duck it came from grew transparent, along with the rest of the eye, spreading down the unmarred portions of her cheek. Her entire body became clear, flawless glass with no sign of bone, nor muscle, nor organ within.
Having surrendered her humanity, she became dead weight in Ray’s hands, head slumping. She was sobbing, but no tears came because she didn’t have any.
“It’s okay.” Still holding her by the shoulders, Ray repeated the words softly, over and over until she stopped shaking as much. Ever so slowly, he shifted her so he could see her face. Up close, he could see slight variations in the surface of the glass; like different levels of frosting, that revealed a clear delineation in her eyes of iris and pupil.
She still breathed, he could feel it, though he didn’t understand where the air was going if she was, as she appeared to be, made of a single, mostly transparent piece.
“Can you talk?” he asked gently.
Ramona drew another breath and her voice came out different, with a more musical tone. “Yeah.”
“Good. That’ll make this easier. This is all up to you, alright? We can take you home if you want, but I think the best thing we can do is to take you with us.” He looked her in the eye and hoped she could see his sincerity. “I swear to you that you’ll be safe, that we’ll take care of you and that you can leave whenever you want. But it’s up to you.”
Drained in every sense of the word, Ramona closed her eyes. Somehow, despite her eyelids being just as clear as the rest of her, it had the desired effect. “I… god. I don’t know you. Either of you.”
“I know.” said Ray. “And it’s a big order to ask you to trust us. Remember though; you called me for help. This is me trying to help.”
“I know.” she echoed. “So let’s go.”
Ramona woke up to mild panic. She was not in her room at the campus apartments. The one she found herself in was unfamiliar and looked vaguely staged. Except for the bed, disturbed by the necessity of her sleeping in it, nothing there looked like it had much human contact at all.
The nightstand had a lamp, an empty vase and a charging pad, all three arranged meticulously. Directly across from her, there was a blue plush loveseat with red sating throw pillows, also placed like someone was expecting company. Turning her head, she found a desk with a monitor, keyboard and a stationary kit with paper, pen, pencils, and sticky-notes, all looking as if they were fresh out of the box. There was no window, but the overhead light was tinted to look like daylight.
Thought the closet bathroom doors were closed, she suspected that they would also look like they were prepped for a magazine layout.
Yawning in spite of herself, she sat up, noticing that she was still in her clothes, which was a good sign. More importantly, when she raised her hand to brush her hair out of the way, the hair was no loner transparent and neither was her hand.
Now that she was awake, the sounds of arguing drifted in from the hallway.
“–unacceptable. This is not an issue of looks and it insults me both to insist that it is and that I require technological ‘correction’. A humorless, female voice was saying.
“It wasn’t my idea, okay? Ray’s dad figured that might be the reason you didn’t want to go out in public.” A male voice, one Ramona recognized, replied.
“I don’t go out in public, because I do not like your peoples’ idea of ‘public’.” scoffed the woman. “There are billions of you and you all seem to wish to be in the same place at the same time. There were no crowds so large in my father’s capital that required so many people touching.”
“As a rule, we don’t touch.” the man said, “… except on the subway, but you don’t need to go on that.”
“I don’t need to go anywhere. Food, water, entertainment all come to me here.”
The man sighed. “Fine, but you’re missing out on a lot of fun. And food. You think coffee’s good? You should try chocolate mousse. But we’ll talk about that later, right now, I’ve got to check on New Girl.” With that, the door opened and Ramona finally placed the voice.
“You’re one of the guys that came to talk to Ray yesterday.” she said, her voice hoarse.
Felix smiled. “Yeah, I stick in people’s minds.” As he walked in, Ramona caught a glimpse of a tall, red skinned woman peeking around the corner; not in a shy way, but in much the same way an army scout might if they weren’t good at avoiding detection.
“That’s ‘Ani.” Felix said, knowing what Ramona was looking at without turning to follow her gaze. “Don’t expect her to give you a ‘hello’ hug.”
As he spoke, he went into the bathroom (which did indeed look just as prepared as the bedroom) and came back with a glass of water. “So how are you feeling?”
Ramona took the glass and drank it down. Even the sting in her parched throat was welcome. “Better than last night. Did he tell you…”
“Yeah. It was kind of hard not to notice.” Felix pointed out. “Ray’s in class right now, by the way, so I’m your nurse. Need anything? It’s a little late for breakfast, but all I know how to make from scratch is eggs.”
“No thanks.” Ramona shook her head and sat up on the edge of the bed. “I feel like I should go to class, or maybe call D3I and tell them what happened. If the pills aren’t working anymore…”
“Already taken clear of.” said Felix cheerfully. “And if you really want to go to class, I can give you a ride.”
“What? You think you’re a prisoner here? Ray told me about what’s going on; about your powers and how the folks at D3I wanted him to talk to you and help you deal with what’s going on. Ray decided talk isn’t enough and I agree.”
He went over and sat on the love seat. “I know how you feel. Most of me is machine and sometimes you get stuck wondering just how human you are anymore, right?”
Ramona stared at him a moment before nodding.
“Yeah, well that’s why I think you should be here with us. If it wasn’t for Ray and Lyds, I don’t know how I would have turned out.” He smiled fondly. “And believe me, everyone here understands at least some of what you’re going through.”
Turning to look at the room again, Ramona frowned. “Like I told Ray before; I hardly know any of you. I can’t… just magically trust you. Especially when I woke up in a room straight out of a furniture store and everyone talking about how they understand me and how I’m free– it feels kind of cultish.”
Felix’s eyes widened. “Wha—oh… Ya know, it kind of does, doesn’t it? All the rooms came like this, but I figured it was like when you move into a dorm room and there’s already stuff in there you can use.” He held up his hands as he got back to the point. “But seriously not a cult. We’re more… um…”
“You don’t have a better explanation do you?”
A conflicted look came over his face. “No! In fact, it’s the best explanation. But I’m not sure if I’m supposed to tell you, and if I do, Ray might yell at me.”
“You’re not helping your case.”
Felix groaned. “Screw it. Do you have a non-disclosure contract with D3I?”
“That’ll have to do. Okay, here goes: I’m Teen Machine, that’s Lady D and Ray is Rebound. We’re not just some weirdos living together; we’re Descendants: LA.”
To Be Continued…