- 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)
The Fayth Building, Beverly Hills, home to the Fayth Talent Agency.
Every day, Hollywood hopefuls passed through its doors hoping to get their one chance to show the world just what they were capable of and maybe, if they were very fortunate, take their first step on the path to fame and fortune.
What they and the vast majority of the agency’s fifty employees didn’t know was that there was a section of the top two floors that was inexpressible from any of the public floors. Nor did they know that the spacious underground parking garage had a second level that was more than a mere garage.
The Fayth Talent Agency had neighbors, building-mates, and they were none the wiser.
The elevator doors whispered open in a spacious sunken living room. It didn’t really matter that it whispered, though, because the elevator’s occupants were making enough noise to drown them out even if they had groaned like straining and rusty iron.
“–So badass!” Teen Machine was saying to Zephyrus as they stepped out of the confined space, followed shortly by Rebound and the Boarder. “You were like swish, swish, swish and that elephant thing just went flying! Josh, you have got to teach me how to go all mystic swordsman on dudes!”
Josh. Loshuia insisted that he and Icthiani assuming more contemporary names would make assimilation easier. Ray—Rebound had insisted that it wasn’t strictly necessary, as humans, especially Los Angelenos often had exotic names, sometimes names that weren’t really names at all.
Still, Loshuia persisted and with Felix; Teen Machine’s help, had settled on ‘Joshua’, which was reasonably close to his real name. Icthiani had fought the notion but at least didn’t respond in an overly negative way to ‘Ani’.
“I can show you some, but to master anything more than, say a refreshing breeze takes years of dedication and the teachings of a Master of the art.” Josh said, taking his hood down and worked on the clasp to his cloak. His long hair was solidly black and his skin was pale, right on the very edge of human shades. If it was only that, he might have passed for human, but his long, pointed ears, steel gray eyes, and rather pronounced canines, both upper and lower, gave away his heritage.
It could have been worse. Other species of daoine (or as humans insisted on calling them, ‘elves’), from other continents in Faerie, had mouths full of cruel, sharp teeth and solid black eyes without even sclerae present.
Lydia, The Green Boarder, pulled off the blonde wig and let her mass of much darker blonde curls tumble free. “If you’re not a master at the wind-sword thing, I’d be scared to even meet someone who is.”
Behind her, Ray nodded before pulling off his helmet. He was dark skinned with a short, controlled haircut. At the moment, he was squinting, because without the helmet, he needed glasses. “You definitely made the best showing of all of us out there. You’re a natural, Josh.”
Josh bowed his head at the praise. “Thank you. But I wasn’t the one that knocked it down.”
“And did you see the car thing?!” Felix asked. He had the visor pushed up on his forehead now. Half-Egyptian, Half-Korean, her had all the traits of the former and none of the latter. He and his father looked like strangers. “That was so shiny! And Lyds with the TK snowplow. That was brilliant!”
“Couldn’t have done it without the flash-bang to the face you gave him.” Lydia went to high five him only for both of them to be reminded that his arm currently terminated in a hanging length of cable.
“Oh yeah… better switch out arms, huh?” Felix said, embarrassed. “I need to get out of this armor anyway.” He retreated to the door at the back of the living room. It was the only personal room that opened directly on the living room. No one else had wanted it, given the high traffic, lack of windows, and the fact that it shared a wall with the laundry room.
They had been stunned when Felix, being Ray’s best friend (With Ray being Raymond Fayth II and thus the son of their landlord) had gotten first dibs and jumped on it. Apparently having the larger room made up for everything else for him because he never complained.
While he disappeared into his room, Ray flopped down on one half of the sectional couch, which was actually in two parts with a wide space between them, and started to undo the clasps on his boots. Lydia glided into the attached kitchen/dining room, which was separated not only by a counter and the transition between tile and plush, red carpet, but by a step down into the living area, and began foraging in the fridge.
Josh remained standing. “I feel the need to apologize again for Icthiani.” He said to the room in general.
“Do you want me to talk to her?” Ray asked.
“No. She would only be rude to you. Again. But if we could have that discussion about changing codenames sooner rather than later?”
“Just don’t let Felix change away from Teen Machine.” Lydia said, coming out of the fridge with a bottled milkshake and a block of cheese. “I like the rhyming. We can’t lose the rhyming.”
Ray smirked at her, then looked back to Josh. “That won’t be a problem. I’ve been trying to respect how she feels though; calling her Lady D instead of Demon?”
“She still knows D is for demon.” Lydia pointed out unhelpfully.
“I know what you were trying to do.” Josh said mildly. “And so does Icthiani, even if she refuses to believe it. But anyhow, I will change and then go and find her.” He started toward the hallway leading to the wing where the other rooms were, but Lydia called out to him.
“Hold on. Don’t forget to ask her what she wants to do for dinner. It’s her turn to pick.”
“It’s likely, she’ll only delegate to me again.”
“Okay, so what do you want to do?”
“Let Felix pick. It’s the least Icthiani can do for him.”
A month after moving in and Icthiani’s room still looked largely unlived in with hardly any attempts made to personalize it in any fashion. The only really personal items were her uniform and the clothing she arrived in the Blue World with, both neatly hung in the closet.
There had been a desk, a dresser with a large vanity mirror, and a low bookcase when she arrived and those remained. A handful of books she’d bought over from Faerie populated the shelf, plus a dictionary and a few encyclopedia volumes she had demanded in place of the slim tablet computer that had been offered to her. They only gathered dust though, she couldn’t read English and only realized it after making a scene about the books. She kept them because she wasn’t about to admit that.
He brother was having a rather easier time, working to learn English rather than depend constantly on a translation spell. He’d even accepted a computer and used it and some help from the others to begin to learn reading and writing in English as well. He’d explained it to her was being prudent, considering this was to be their home, barring some sort of divine act.
Icthiani was picking up bits and pieces just from immersion and being a quick study, but her progress with language, as with culture, was glacial compared to his. She just never seemed to engage or make any effort to even start.
After the battle, she had teleported directly to her room and sat down on her bed with her only concessions to Blue World convenience: a bound notebook and a gel pen. She was forced to admit that they were superior in every way to the most luxurious alternatives back in Faerie.
As she did whenever she wasn’t researching spells from the books that came with her, training, or forced to interact with her flatmates, she wrote. And no one was allowed to know what. Not that it was an issue. The humans on the team were all at least a bit scared of her and even if they weren’t, none of them could read the tight, spidery script of High Soder in any event.
She had a solid hour of writing or close to it before someone knocked on her door. Likely Lydia, come to ask what kind of food they should order. She vaguely remembered that it was supposed to be her turn deciding. She ignored it and hoped the other girl would go away.
It didn’t work. The knock came again.
“Sister. I would speak with you.” Josh’s voice said in High Soder.
She sighed and closed the notebook was had been filling. “Enter.”
He opened the door only enough to slip in and closed it quietly behind him. No longer in his uniform, he was wearing a light blue polo shirt and khakis as he found jeans, especially in the popular style, restricted him more than he was comfortable with.
Icthiani frowned to see him dressed that way, but to her, the clothing issue was a necessary evil; they had arrived with only the clothes on their backs and whatever they had been carrying, so new clothes were unavoidable.
All the same, as she wanted no part of shopping, the task of clothing her had fallen to Lydia. Tasked with a directive of only ‘make sure Icthiani isn’t running around naked’, the girl had returned with a wide variety of fashions, styles and colors so Icthiani could pick out what she liked the best, so her wardrobe ranged from tank tops to turtlenecks to long dresses. She gravitated to hooded sweatshirts and track pants, which was what she was wearing at the moment.
Josh didn’t say anything at first. He just leaned back against the door and slowly slid down it into a sitting position.
She took note of this. He wasn’t there to collect her for dinner or ask simple questions.
“Do you know,” Josh began, his voice even, “The most important tenet in the Flying Raven School is? What it means to be a Knight of the Zephyr?” Icthiani stayed quiet. She knew her brother well enough to know both the answer and the fact that she wasn’t supposed to answer.
“’Protect the innocent from harm’.” He said with the exact timing she imagined in her head.
“Isn’t that what we just finished doing? Protecting innocents from a rogue iegorum?” He looked him in the eye. The whites of hers was red, surrounding an iris of vivid green.
“Yes, but then you went and erased that virtue by harming another.” Josh’s voice was still as even and calm as ever, but his gaze was full of disappointment.
“What?” She put her book aside and swung her legs off the bed. It had kitty sheets on it, once again because Lydia did her shopping. “I did not. There weren’t even any innocents in the area.”
Icthiani rolled her eyes. “Him.” She said petulantly. “I didn’t harm him.”
“You cut off his hand.”
“His hand isn’t flesh and blood. It didn’t hurt.” She shot back.
Josh shook his head and laid his head back against the door, letting his eyes nearly close. “Harm isn’t always about hurts and pain. Felix works very hard on his devices and you destroyed one without a second thought. Then you shouted at him as if he had done something wrong.”
Crossing her arms, Icthiani thought on this a bit. “The rage of the blood…” She started.
“Can be suppressed. Redirected.” interrupted Josh. “But you don’t. And so you take it out on my friends? If you made the effort, they would be your friends as well.” He let that sink in as he got to his feet. Then he sighed heavily. “Sister… may I ask why you do this?”
“What do you mean by ‘this’?” She asked quickly.
“What we did today. I know I have my reasons; this world’s ‘prelates’ and ‘superheroes’ aren’t far different than the Knight of the Zephyr were in the days before war became so constant. They protect the innocent, defend the realm, and do it all at great personal risk. But you never cared for romanticism and Ray has made it very clear that he won’t make you leave if you choose not to join us.”
She avoided his gaze. “I have my reasons. And I would never live in a place without contributing.”
“If you feel indebted to our host, you might want to reconsider how you treat his best friend.” Josh knew exactly how to argue with his sister and he put just the right amount of emphasis in his statement to trigger a reaction.
Sparks of red lightening moved across her skin and in her crimson-tinged black hair as the rage—sangerlogos in the High Soder tongue—threatened to break free from inside her. She clenched her hands into fists and planted them firmly in the pits of her arms as her body visible shuddered with it, but she kept control, just barely.
“Why does it always come back to him?” She demanded, her tone identical to how it was back in the battle.
“Because more than any of them, all he wants is your friendship.” Her brother replied. “And for that, you seem to heap the most scorn of any upon him.”
She looked away again. “None of them want my friendship.” Her voice was a controlled burn.
“If that were true, you would be naked, atop a bare mattress with nothing to write on or with, sister.” Josh said with calm conviction. “Lydia might be asked to shop for you because she is the only other female here, but she wouldn’t be asked that if Ray didn’t care for your comfort. And she wouldn’t try her best to find clothes that you like if she didn’t care what you thought. Did you know that she bought you those kitten sheets because she thinks that you need ‘cheering up’? As far as I can tell, that means that she wishes to increase you happiness.”
In avoiding looking Josh in the eye, Icthiani had, in fact, been studying the print depicting fuzzy white and tabby-gray kittens drinking milk from a dish, getting tangled in yarn, leaping after butterflies, and frolicking in general. She couldn’t tell if Josh had noticed, or if he’d only gotten lucky with the timing of that observation.
Still, she wasn’t going to admit anything. That would imply she had done something wrong. Which she did not. “And what had Felix supposedly done for me then?” Even she recognized this was an incredibly selfish question, but it had just cannoned out of her mouth and now that it was out there, she would stand by it.
Her brother regarded her silently for several long seconds, keeping his face emotionless in the way taught to him at the Flying Raven School. Finally, his hands made an expansive gesture. “Nothing in this apartment has exposed iron or steel.” He said. “In fact, you’d be hard pressed to find any kind of fully exposed metal. Felix knows about our… allergy and before we even agreed to stay here, he covered over or applied a sealant to anything he suspected might hurt either one of us.”
Iron caused severe and painful blistering in most of Faerie’s sentient races, making modern Earth, especially in the United States almost as much of a carnival of hazards to daoine as Faerie was to humans. Icthiani didn’t even notice, but having a home that wasn’t similarly filled with threats of chemical burns was a luxury.
“Plus,” Josh continued, “As much as you refuse to acknowledge it, if it wasn’t for Felix, you would be back in Faerie right now. Unless you’ve suddenly formulated a solution to what awaits us back there, I would say he saved your life unawares.”
Icthiani set her jaw. As much as she didn’t care or at least projected that she didn’t care what the others thought, she wondered what would come of them finding out the reason why they didn’t simply return home, or worse, if they knew exactly how she came by her magic, and why the color of her skin and eyes proved that she was not the master they thought she was.
Turning to leave, Josh left her with something to think on. “There’s more of course. He works harder than any of them to try and include you. It was his insistence to keep observing your turn to pick dinner, even though you never accept. Like Ray and Lydia, Felix is always giving, sister. And I’ve seen you give nothing back.”
He opened the door. “Ray wants to speak with you about changing your codename. But if you insist on taking without giving, I’m starting to believe that ‘Lady Demon’ is apt.”
And then he was gone, closing the door behind him.
Her sangerlogos began to build, sending sparks crackling through her hair and over her fingertips. She stared at the kittens on her sheets, imagining them as real and playing before her eyes as she waited for it to subside.
By the time Josh returned to the living room, the others were decidedly far removed from the images the public saw.