- 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)
“Hold me back, boys, I think that’s Tyrone Calloway over there.” Lydia said as they entered the ballroom at M. Carey Memorial Hall.
She wore a green dress, belted with a hunter green leather belt. It was slit to the hip on both sides to show off emerald stockings. Her high heeled boots and full length opera gloves matched the belt. Over her face, she wore the same half-mask that she wore in costume, along with a long, blonde wig that matched the color of her usual one, except this one was styled in an elegant flip that partly covered one eye.
“Why hold you back?” asked Felix beside her. Lydia and Josh’s concept for his ‘formal’ attire was particularly creative. A charcoal gray sport coat and matching slacks were fitted over his usual breastplate and prosthetics, but for the occasion, the casing for those had been swapped out for gleaming silver with green accents at the joints. In place of his usual full helmet, they had a luchador style mask made with a similar pattern.
“What do you mean?” asked Lydia.
“Think about it: To everyone here except the D3I bigwigs, you aren’t you, you’re the Green Boarder. You can mingle and flirt as much as you want with no chance of embarrassment or repercussions. Not only that, but while we’re just normal people in real life, tonight, we’re equals with everybody here. When are we gonna get a chance like this again?”
Lydia looked at him sideways. “You’re going to hit on Jennifer Kinney from Malady Place, aren’t you?”
“Oh absolutely.” He nodded. “And look, Serenity Reynolds. Oh yes, tonight will be beautiful.”
Ray maneuvered himself in between them. His was a finely tailored white suit with a red shirt and tie underneath that reflected the colors of his uniform. He also wore white gloves and dress shoes. Instead of a mask like Felix’s he wore a full, red cowl that covered everything but his eyes and tucked under the collar of his shirt. Dark glasses completed the look, which did surprisingly well at reflecting his costume, albeit with the colors reversed.
“You two behave.” He warned. “You do realize that whatever we do here tonight will be in the tabloids tomorrow, right?”
Lydia elbowed him playfully in the ribs. “Oh, Rebound, dear, you make that sound like a bad thing.”
“It is a bad thing.” groaned Ray.
“She’s got a point.” said Felix, also teasing, “You’re the one that doesn’t care what people might think, right? Fighting the good fight is what we’re here for, not the popularity polls that I’m doing so much better than you in. Based on that, who cares what the tabloids say?”
“Exactly.” laughed Lydia. “Now if you excuse me, Tyrone awaits.”
She made a false move as if to go over to him, but Ray grabbed her elbow to stop her. “Is there any way I can stick by my principles and not leave myself open to embarrassment?”
Lydia giggled and patted the hand on her arm. “We’re just having fun with you. Neither of us is going to do anything to wreck D:LA’s rep.”
“I will not answer any of your questions.” came Icthiani’s harsh voice from behind them.
“Her on the other hand…”
Icthiani wasn’t by her nature the most cheerful daoine in either her own world or on Earth, and the day she was having was doing nothing to improve that.
She’d spent the last week secure in the knowledge that when the others went to what she was certain would be a display of frippery and uselessness identical to the balls she’d left behind. Even with Lydia flitting about and fussing over getting her just the right dress and doing her hair, it had been made clear to her that the ball was a strictly voluntary exercise.
And if not for her brother, that would have been true. Contrary to Ray’s promise that no one would be forced to attend, Loshuia had come to her room the night before and informed her that Ray’s decree did not include her. Once again, he held the shameful secret about her sangrelogos over her head to make her compliant.
As always, he said it was for her own good and the good of the team. She didn’t doubt her brother, but she did disagree that those were good enough reasons to do it. Healthy or not, she felt comfortable and safe in the confines of the apartment and had grown to tolerate the company that could be had there. The same could not be said for the world of Mankind at large.
Ray, despite not knowing the circumstances of her apparent change of heart, had shown her a kindness in allowing her to wear her ‘Lady Demon’ cloak over the dress Lydia picked out for her. She held it tight around her and kept the hood up as she glared at the throng of people that descended on she, Loshuia and the girl called Ramona.
Columnists, bloggers and society reporters they called themselves. They had fallen on the three of them as soon as it became clear that they were the three members of the group most out of place there by their body language. Getting commentary or even a full interview from the ‘shy’ or ‘reclusive’ members of the team was worth more to them than hearing more from the professional sounding leader or the two most charismatic members.
More than half a dozen mouths asked a gross of questions faster than they could even be heard, much less considered. That, and they were too close. Daoine, especially High Soder such as she and her brother, weren’t used to being crowded.
Icthiani glanced at Loshuia to her right. His formal wear was little more than his normal Zephyrus costume, only done in higher quality (and less bulletproof) materials, plus a full length cape, minus his sword. He was just as overwhelmed as she was, but met the press of questioners with a smile. In the middle of it all, he even had his hand on Ramona’s arm, keeping her from bolting.
Her teeth ground a little. She loved her brother, but it annoyed her that her younger sibling looked so comfortable even when he wasn’t. It seemed like he became ‘Josh’ overnight, adapting where she fought anything of the like tooth and nail.
“Lady D! Lady D!” A short, plump woman with thin, blonde hair was suddenly shouting almost directly in her face. Icthiani recoiled, which apparently translated to cheerfully asking her to continue. “My readers want to know: is your skin naturally red, or do you dye it?”
The question made Icthiani’s stomach lurch. No doubt, the woman was close enough to see that the ‘red’ that tinted her skin was really minute script: her sangrelogos. Not that the other woman would know what it meant, but drawing attention to her shame while she was already feeling like she’d been left to fend for herself in the strange world of Mankind.
As usual, she didn’t handle it well.
Curling her lip so the bothersome person got a good view of sharp teeth, she spoke coldly and with force. “I will not answer any of your questions.”
But the annoying ‘blogger’ didn’t take the hint. It was possible that she worked with protomorphs far stranger than a daoine every day. Whatever the reason, she just giggled. “Oh, don’t be so upset, it’s just a fun question my readers thought might be good to break the ice. I’m Bella Meyers, I write the LA Sleuth’s fame and beauty blog.”
Icthiani’s eyes narrowed. What would it take to be rid of this woman. “As far as I’m concerned, all of your readers can—“
“Oh, you won’t get anything good out of her just yet.” Icthiani blinked as her diminutive tormentor was gently but firmly moved aside to make room for Felix. He looked down at the blogger and shrugged as if out of ideas. “I’m really sorry about this, but you see, she’s hypoglycemic; if she lets her blood sugar drop too far, she starts acting irrational—hurtful even.”
He flashed Mrs. Meyers the best smile he could in the luchador mask. “It’s under control usually, but today, with the fittings and the hair and the make-up—you can see how she never got a chance to eat.”
Turning to Icthiani, he offered her his crooked arm in a gentlemanly fashion. “Come on, Lady D, I’ll help you over to the buffet line. Excuse us.” He said the last part with a polite nod in Bella’s direction.
Icthiani regarded his arm with her typical suspicion, but it was a way out and she would have reached into the stingers of one of the valley thorns that decorated her father’s gardens if it got her out of that situation. She held her questions until she was certain that her interrogator was out of earshot.
“What is ‘hypoglycemic’?” Back home, in her father’s court, any word that she didn’t understand usually turned out to be an insult, but even she couldn’t suspect Felix of such a thing. He wasn’t the type.
“To tell you the truth, I don’t know. It’s like a condition some people get that makes them act irrational when their blood sugar drops…” He remembered who he was talking to, “And that didn’t help at all. Luckily, she probably knows as much as me about it, so we’re cool.”
Just as he told the blogger, Felix led her to the buffet line. The tables there were covered with food, from fresh fruits and vegetables and delicate pastries, to thick cuts of meat being cooked or sliced to order right there. The latter graced the majority of Icthiani’s plate, as daoine were only omnivorous when they had to be or when their meat came cooked with other food.
Then Felix led her to a table off to the side of the party.
“See? It’s not so bad.” He leaned back in the seat beside her and began using a tool built into his hand to peel an apple.
Icthiani sheered her way through a ham slice with a multitude of sharp teeth. “I still don’t like being out in your world. Everything is wrong—the looks, the feels, the smells…” Her eyes darted around the room and fixed on the giant, holographic chandelier that hung over the dance floor. “And your technology; magic without magic. It’s wrong.”
Even a mouthful of apple couldn’t stop Felix from laughing and it took a while for him to choke down the morsel to talk. “Hey, I’m sixty percent technology and I don’t feel ‘wrong’. Remember, I wouldn’t even be here without it.”
Recalling the story of his origin, she looked away, but she still felt the presence of his beaming face nonetheless. It seemed that nothing could dampen his cheerfulness.
“But yeah, I get it. You aren’t used to all this and you don’t want to get used to it.” He said astutely. “You and Zephyrus must really miss home, huh?”
She considered. There wasn’t a lot to miss. Her training in the Sanguine Halls had come to a disastrous end and if she had survived the consequences of that, she was the first scion of the family, destined to take on her father’s office when he died. It wasn’t an enviable position; High Soder nobility with any land or titles were targets of assassination, attempted coups, and any means necessary being bought to bear in order to ruin their reputation. Some thrived in it, she wouldn’t have.
Evidently, she’d spent quite some time thinking about it, because she looked up to see Felix staring expectantly.
When she didn’t reply, he took it upon himself to do so for her. “You didn’t have to come tonight, you know?”
“So I was told.” He didn’t pick up on the bitterness in her voice because she always sounded a little bitter.
As expected, Felix took something different away from that than its true meaning. “No, it’s true. If Rebound had his way, none of us would be here. You didn’t have to come—but just so you know, we’re all glad you did.”
She paused, a crab puff almost to her lips, and gave him an incredulous look. “There’s nothing to be glad for. I’m sitting out of the way, eating. I do this all the time at home.”
To her bafflement, a prideful grin crossed his face. “’Home’, huh? But no, I don’t think you get it, ‘Ani. You’re here. You left the apartment and you came out to do something with us. It means a lot, especially to GB.” Since they were supposed to be going codenames only for the night, Felix and Lydia were calling one another ‘GB’ and ‘TM’.
“I know it annoyed you, but…” He shrugged, “It just made her really happy.”
That hadn’t escaped Icthiani’s notice, though she just ascribed Lydia’s good mood to getting to dress her up and do her hair like the women her age did on TV. But Felix was right; for Lydia, it was about quality time with a friend; doing something for a friend.
Everyone seemed to think this was something good for her. She still didn’t see it.
“It was pointless.” She said, but without hostility. “No one will even see the dress, or my hair.”
Felix was carving slivers off the peeled apple and eating them. “Not the point and you know it, ‘Ani.” He teased. Then his face took on a semi-serious cast; it seemed a near impossibility for him to be completely serious for very long.
“I don’t know how it is where you’re from; neither you or Josh seem to like talking about it past the general stuff, but here, this is just how friends are.” Icthiani started to interrupt, but he waved her off. “Yeah, you’re going to say you don’t have friends, but you do. Whether you like it or not.”
That stopped her from eating. Would she still have them if they knew the truth? If they were In Faerie, the answer would be a firm ‘no’. But they weren’t and she didn’t know how things worked there.
Felix took her silence to be for other reasons than the truth and smiled at her, which looked strange beneath his mask. “Even if you are a pain in the ass.”
She smirked at that, but didn’t reply.
For his part, Felix accepted that; he hadn’t expected warm fuzzies. Polishing off his apple, he took another look at his fellow guests. His eye fell on one in particular. “Dude, it’s her. She’s really here.”
Icthiani tried to divine who he was looking at, but then scolded herself. Of course, she wouldn’t recognize anyone anyway.
There was no need to ask; give Felix enough time and he would carry a conversation all by himself. “Aretha Divine,” He said dreamily. The woman in question was a woman of average height and mahogany complexion. She was dressed in an elegant white and orange gown and had her hair pinned up with silver chopsticks.
“I’ve never heard that name.” Icthiani scowled at him for assuming she knew the name.
He smiled at her again, more goofily this time because he was so smitten with seeing Aretha. “That’s because you don’t go out to the movies. She’s amazing. I used to know her; back when she was Samantha Powell. We’re not that far apart age-wise and we spent time hanging out on the studio lot before…”
His expression became conflicted. “I’d really like to go talk to her. Sucks that it’s as Teen Machine, but I don’t have much of a choice; we’re not in the same circles anymore. Would you mind?” He was already starting to stand.
Icthiani’s eyebrow arched. “I never asked you to sit with me in the first place.”
“I know, but it doesn’t seem right to leave you alone when you didn’t want to be here in the first place. Tell you what; I’ll just be ten minutes. Then right back here.” He couldn’t stop glancing back at Aretha.
Crossing her arms, Icthiani sat back in her chair. “I am not a child or invalid that needs to be watched at all times. I am capable of eating without assistance.”
Felix frowned. “That’s not what I—“
“Go.” She said hotly.
With one, last apologetic look, he went.
Icthiani continued to glare at his back as he went. Was that what friends were on Earth? Those who pity you for being different?
Her skin felt hot and a subtle itch started at the tips of her fingers and a mild, throb in her eyes.
There was a silver vase of flowers on the table. She caught it up and checked her reflection in it. Having a sangrelogos let her tap into heightened senses, which she used to observe closer than any of her companions could. The Blood Words covered every part of her; nearly microscopic script that dyed everything about her red from her skin, to her hair to her eyes.