Descendants L.A. #11 – Ensemble (Part 5)

This entry is part 11 of 13 in the series Descendants: LA Volume 1

“You told her!?” Ray’s voice carried throughout the apartment. For everyone but Felix, it was their first indication that he was back from class and that he wasn’t taking Felix’s news with quiet grace.

“Like I have a choice.” Felix defended, scrambling for an explanation. “Do you know how this whole think looks without that one, important little detail? Two girls and three guys living together and talking about how they a;; ‘know exactly how she feels’ and ‘are just looking out for her well being’?

“Dude, seriously? Only three groups talk like that; family, friends who are tight as family, and cults. She was ready to bolt; I had to tell her something and lying at the point seemed a really bad idea. Plus, it’s not like she could stay here and not know—speaking of which, if we want to bring dates home, like ever we need to get your dad to rent us a place somewhere else; this would take way too much explaining and…”

“Felix.” Ray interrupted.


“Good idea, but focus.”

“Right. So anyway, I don’t see what the big deal is. She’s got an NDA with D3I, and all things considered, she’s taking it pretty well.”

“Define pretty well.” Ray set his backpack on the sofa and went into the kitchen, searching for something to drink.

Felix followed him and took a seat at the table. “Pretty well in the sense that while she says she believes me, it’s pretty clear she’s being sarcastic.”

After some rummaging in the fridge, Ray came up with a bottle of water and another of beer. He offered the later to Felix, who shook his head ‘no thanks’. He took both with him to the table and sat down while opening the beer to drink himself.

“Alright, so she doesn’t believe we’re Descendants: LA. Has she met the others?”

Folding his arms on the table, Felix rested his chin on it. “Just ‘Ani. Josh is doing his meditation thing in his room and Lyds went surfing.”

“Without us?” asked Ray.

“I know, right?”

“Sacrilege.” Scoffed Ray, taking a sip of beer.

Felix shrugged. “At least she asked me, but I had to stay and keep an eye on Ramona; couldn’t trust leaving her with ‘Ani.”

“Good point.” Ray slid the half finished beer over to Felix. “I guess I should go talk to her.”

After a quick, mostly for show wipe of the bottle’s mouth with his sleeve, Felix swiftly downed the rest of the beer. “Probably a good idea. I didn’t know how to prove to her who we were exactly, and I didn’t want to do anything drastic without talking to you first.”

“Oh now you want to talk to me about something that might reveal our identity to the world.”

“So you’re going to use that story too?”

Both men looked up to see Ramona standing at the arch leading to the bedrooms. She looked rested, but evidence of her having another transformation episode showed through streaks of white (really transparent) hair around her temples.

Ray stood, but didn’t make a move toward her. “Ramona. I’m glad you’re up. Listen, I know what Felix told you might seem far fetched, maybe a little insane—but think of this logically: someone has to be the civilian identity of Descendants: LA, and…”

The door to the elevator opened and Lydia flew in on her surfboard, which was encased in green energy. She still had her white and blue two-piece bathing suit on from the beach and her hair tied back out of her eyes.

“You guys missed some monster waves out there today! You could just climb up in the tube and ride forever! And everyone was there; Righteous Mike, Betty and Boo, even Scamps… and we have company.” She came to a dead stop in front of Ramona.

Embarrassment painted her features. “And I should have remembered that, because I helped bring you here.” She hastily extended a hand.

“Hi, Lydia Ortiz. Everyone calls me Lyds. You might remember me from the bathroom last night.” She noticed the blank expressions from Felix and Ray. “Oh! And that, with the green light and flying surfboard? It’s for a magic show we put on for the kids on the beach.”

When she looked back at the guys to see how she was doing, Felix had raised a tentative hand.

“She already knows who we are, Lyds.”

Ray elbowed him lightly in the ribs. “Someone already told her. But thanks for providing some much needed proof.”

Ramona hadn’t said anything and from the looks of her, she wasn’t going to for some time yet. Instead, she just stumbled, dreamlike, to the couch and sat down heavily.

“Sorry.” Lydia squeaked and quickly went to sit down next to her. “Kind of a shock, I know.”

After a moment’s thought, Ray went and sat down on the other half of the couch, across from Ramona, as there wasn’t any more room next to her. “So there you have it. We aren’t weird busybodies, or a cult. We’re…”

“Superheroes.” Felix filled in. “Come on, you can say it. Everyone tries to avoid it, but that’s what we are.”

“Right. We’re superheroes and we help people. We hoped to help you. I hoped we could help you.”

Ramona looked up and through the veil of hair falling across her face, he caught a glimpse of that girl he met and liked in the coffee shop. “This isn’t exactly catching me when I fall off a tall building.”

“It usually isn’t.” He said with an expansive hand gesture.

Lydia beamed at Ramona getting her wits about her again. “And it’s kind of nice helping a fellow descendant. You’re kind of one of us, you know? Well one of ‘us’,” She pointed to herself, then Ray, “Because Felix isn’t and Josh and ‘Ani aren’t even—“

“Let’s save that very long discussion for later.” Ray interrupted.

Ramona eyed them both suspiciously. She wanted to know what Lydia had been about to say, but somehow knew that it would sidetrack her from the burning question.

“So what is this really? A recruitment? You want me to do the hero thing too? Because I’d really rather not. You all might like your powers, but there is nothing good that comes from mine.”

“Like I told you before,” said Ray, “There’s no strings attached her. You can stay with us as long as you want have full run of the apartment and D:LA’s generous expense account from D3I, and all we ask is that you take precautions about being seen coming and going, and, of course, to keep our secret.”

“On top of taking your turns with the chores and food runs and stuff like that.” Lydia added. “And I might, on occasion, require a gal pal for shopping, clubbing and general beach bummery. I’ve tried with ‘Ani and it’s not happening. Josh is willing, but it’s kind of awkward trying to pick up guys when you’re already at the club with a cute elf-boy.”

“Elf-boy?” Ramona asked.

“Again: long, confusing and not all that important.” Ray cut her off. “Let’s just say that Josh and Icthiani are from another country and have… cultural issues for the moment.”

“If you expect me to live here, I think it’s pretty important.” Ramona insisted. “I don’t want to accidentally insult them and cause bad blood between us.”

The three friends looked at one another. It hadn’t been that long ago that they were the ones just finding out about the siblings and the many and vast implications that came with them. Those two and their origin wee even more secret than the identities of the rest of the team and the location of the apartment.

It was Felix that finally took a shot at explaining it. He sat down on the coffee table in front of Ramona and clasped his hands together.

“Okay, let’s start with this; have you read any of the ‘weird news’ that pops up every once in a while? Giant, armored groundhogs in Kansas, those black wolf things with tusks they caught in England… stuff like that?” Ramona nodded.

“Good. Because it’s real. They can’t even cover it up anymore—it’s been happening all over and sometimes, people catch them live, so there’s some on display now for everyone to see. The secret part is this: those aren’t mutants. There’s no rogue genetics testing going on, it’s not a bunch of throwbacks from the time of irresponsible nuclear testing—those are animals from another world.”

“The astral plane.” Ramona guessed.

Felix blinked. “You seem to be taking this kinda well considering I just told you we’re being invaded by alien animals.”

“Everyone saw the fight Des… you had with that elephant thing.” Ramona explained. “The portal thing at the end? Some of the news providers are saying that it led to the astral.”

“They’re partly right.” said Ray. “Icthiani opens an astral gate, but with the… um… expert deployment of an explosive charge, it becomes what she calls a ‘fey gate’. It’s a one way connection to the world these things and our friends came from.”

“A place they call Faerie.” Lydia supplied. “Which, by all accounts: not as nice as it sounds.”

“Your friends…” Ramona said as if trying the words on for size. “You’re saying they’re aliens?”

“Not space aliens.” Lydia said quickly.

“Actually, we don’t know that.” Felix stood up from the coffee table. “We don’t know much of anything. It’s not that they’re not willing to talk, it’s just that where we’ve been rocking the science for ten thousand years, from spears to space stations; they’ve been doing it with actual, factual magic.”

Ray sighed. More to explain. “And yes, you will be seeing magic on the daily if you stay. Josh—his real name is Loshuia—is a mystic swordsman and ‘Ani is a sorceress… I guess?”

“The words she uses is sangrelogos.” Felix supplied, somehow failing to bungle the pronunciation. “Which is like both what she is, what her magic’s called and what the power source is called. And don’t ask about that—she hates that.”

“Yes, she is a pain in the ass.” the girl in question glided into the room and into the kitchen. The gliding was entirely literal and likely done specifically so they wouldn’t here her coming down the hall. She was headed toward the refrigerator, but found the bottle of water ray had abandoned earlier and took it for herself.

Felix cleared his throat nervously. “Um, yeah. ‘Ani, this is Ramona. You glared at her earlier.”

The only reply was a noncommittal noise from her, so he tried again. “We were just—“

“Attempting to explain that my brother and I are daoine to this one.” Icthiani opened the bottle and took it to one of the stool at the kitchen counter. “I’ve been privy to the conversation from the moment you called grundlers ‘armored groundhogs’.”

“Hi.” Ramona waved, unsure of what to do in this situation.

Icthiani merely nodded in greeting.

“We’re trying to convince her to stay here with us.” said Lydia hopefully. Only she had the sheer optimism to hope that the daoine maiden would care.

To the surprise of everyone but Ramona, Icthiani slid off the bar stool she’d perched on and stalked over to the group, looking for all the world like some sort of earthbound, predatory bird on the hunt. Tension filled the room as she gently slid Felix aside along the coffee table. She sat beside him in his old place, directly in front of Ramona and leaned forward to stare at her.

“Um… help?” Ramona whispered to Ray.

“I don’t know what I can do.” He admitted.

Icthiani tilted her head.

“You’re pretty much the first person she’s met besides us and the D3I guys that found her and her brother.” Felix said. He hoped that explained what was going on, but even he wasn’t sure. He wasn’t sure of anything with Icthiani.

At length, the daoine noble nodded to herself and leaned back on her hands. “You can stay if you wish.”

“I haven’t made a decision yet.” Ramona said with a daze expression. “What the hell was that about?”

“I was making sure I could live with you.” Icthiani said quickly. “I don’t brook disharmony.”

“You call what we have harmony?” Ray asked.

“Ray!” Lydia chided.

Icthiani shook her head. “He is right. I have been a… pain in the ass. But that doesn’t mean I hate you all.” She looked Ray in the eye. “You gave me the choice of not fighting with you; of just staying here and not helping; not keeping you and your friends alive. I didn’t take that choice. I don’t intend to.”

“See? She loves us.” Lydia smiled. A silent glare from Icthiani was probably the best outcome she could have expected.

Ramona wasn’t paying attention. She waited for Icthiani to stop glaring at Lydia before asking Ray. “Is what she said for real? That she had the choice not to not do the hero thing?”

“Same as Josh.” Ray confirmed. “We three; me, Felix and Lyds—were just setting up here; no costumes, no concepts, just a crazy dream with strong-arm corporate backing; when D3I asked if we could take ‘Ani and Josh in. They were new to… everything, and needed someone to show them around so they didn’t get arrested or worse.”

“This is like a home for wayward weirdos then.” Ramona said, slightly bitter.

“No one said anything about ‘wayward’.” Ray suddenly sounded more firm than when he was chewing Felix out. “This isn’t about being wayward, or unwanted, or lost or troubled or anything you might think we think of you. You’re a nice girl, I know that much, and you’re going through a hard time. I just wanted to be there for you once I heard about that.”

“We did.” Lydia chimed in.

“Yeah.” added Felix.

Icthiani got up and went back to the counter.

“No offense, but it does still sound really weird. You remember that you don’t really know me, right?”

“We didn’t used to know Lyds or Josh either.” Felix pointed out. “Hell, we still don’t know all that much about ‘Ani. Never bothered me at all.”

Ray looked thoughtful for a moment and clasped his hands. “You’re right though. You don’t know us and we don’t know you. There’s not exactly a bond of trust or even familiarity here.”

“Psychology class.” Felix whispered to Lydia, who giggled.

Ignoring them, Ray continued. “But we’d like to know you. Kind of cliché, I know, but there it is. No pressure, but the way I see it, you’ve got a few choices: One, you walk out of here and you never see us again. Two, you leave, but take our number. If you call, we’ll come running. Nothing says you actually have to live with us, but seeing as our home is a secure, secret location, you’ll forgive us for not being able to pop in for a random movie night.”

“Ooo. Let’s do that after dinner.” Lydia said and Felix agreed.

“And three,” Ray managed not to remark, “you give us a week and see how it goes without the door ever closing on one or two.”

Ramona regarded him a moment, a barely-there smile on her face. “At the very least, I believe you.” She clasped her own hands and lowered her eyes.

“Beyond that; last night wasn’t even the worst my powers have acted up. When it starts, it hurts and I’m not to proud to tell you that it’s scary—not just fearing that I might not get back to human, but because I’m scared I’ll get stuck between the two and the pain won’t stop.

“I’ve been alone every time. I’d just curl up and hold in all the screaming and hope it ends soon. Except last night. You actually came for me—both of you. And maybe you didn’t make it stop, but it was better because I wasn’t alone. What you said before, Ray, was absolutely right: I’ll lose my goddamn mind if I have to go through this alone much longer.”

She looked up at them and took a deep breath. “So yeah, I think I’ll stay. At least for a little while.”

Lydia let out a high pitched, gleeful ‘eee’ and hugged her. “This is so great. And you know what? You’re in luck: we’re going to a ball this weekend.”

“Oh no.” Ray groaned. “I forgot to find a way out of that; I was so focused on Ramona.”

“Well no use weaseling out of it this time. Me and Josh even came up with some roughs for formal versions of our uniforms so we can be both heroic and stylish.”

Felix and Ray shared a pained look. They were the ones with bulky, armored costumes and the thought of a ‘formal’ version of those made both of them fidget uncomfortably.

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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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