Descendants L.A. Annual #1 – Gala Event (Part 2)

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

“Who is this?”

“Is she a member of the team?”

“How long has she been part of Descendants: LA?”

“What are her powers?”

“What’s it like to be on the team?”

For every question the gathered press asked, they made up two ‘facts’ to answer them. And without Icthiani to bother anymore, all of them had descended upon Josh and Ramona. Josh met them with a wide smile.

“Actually, this is… Glass. She’s been with us the entire time, only in a support role.” He patted her on the arm to let her know it was alright. “Whenever we need information on an enemy, any special tracking, or something like that, Glass is the one that provides it. She’s completely indispensable. We’re just glad that she can get some of the limelight that we’ve enjoyed and she richly deserves.”

That piqued everyone’s interests and pressed in on them with new questions about what events in recent missions the team had undertaken should be credited to ‘Glass’ and repeated questions about the nature of her powers and her thoughts on being part of the team.

Ramona took a deep breath. Not having a costume to base her outfit on, but just as in need of a way to hide her identity, she’d been left to the tender mercies of Lydia’s fashion sense. The team’s amateur fashionista had provided her with a simple, elegant gown in ice blue and white with a feathered masquerade mask. She’d washed the dye off her hair, leaving it with its semi-natural translucent white coloring. No one could mistake Glass for Ramona Getty.

Public speaking wasn’t something she normally had a problem with, but she’d never had to do it and make up a lie along the way. “I’m sorry. I really didn’t expect to be answering questions tonight. It’s a charity ball after all, and I’d really rather this be about the people of Greenview Ridge and not about me, if that’s okay. I promise I’ll stay afterward and take a few questions then.”

Temporarily cowed and reminded of why they were really there, the clot of questioners started to break up, chattering with one another about this turn of events and wondering if anyone else had known there was another member of Descendants: LA.

As they left, Ray moved past them, issuing greetings and answering quick, sheepish questions. Coming up beside Josh, he spoke out of the side of his mouth. “Zephyrus, what was that?”

Josh shrugged, but didn’t lose his smile. “I had to explain her being with us somehow. And I remember you telling us something about making her feel like part of the group? This is part of what we do.”

“It’s okay, Rebound.” said Ramona, using his codename as easily as his first name. “He’s right. What were we going to do, say I was a charity case you took in?”

Ray put his hands under his armpits. “It’s not like that. You aren’t a charity case. Anyway, are you sure you’re alright with this? Especially that name?”

“Glass?” She looked at the other party-goers and affected a small shrug. “I could do worse. Besides, it’s what I am. What I’m becoming at least.”

Crossing behind Josh, Ray put a hand on her shoulder. “I promise you that we’d.”

“Not tonight.” She cut him off, brushing his hand away. “We’re here, it’s a big, fancy party… I’d like to enjoy it, okay? I was hoping that maybe this could help me take my mind off things and I was kind of working until you started prodding.”

“I didn’t mean to.” said Ray. “I just didn’t want you to be pushed into anything.”

Josh thumped Ray on the back. “I wasn’t pushing. Just because I said that she’s part of the team doesn’t mean she has to join.” he inclined his head to Ramona. “Though the offer is open.”

Ramona shook her head. “One thing at a time. Can we stop talking about this now?”

“Of course.” sad Josh. “I think I’ll go find Teen Machine or Green Boarder. Excuse me.”

And then Ray was left alone with Ramona. Thankful that she couldn’t see the nervousness of his expression, he gestured toward the rest of the party. “Shall we? I think you put the press in its place hard enough that we’ll have a good hour before they start filtering over to us again. Nicely done, by the way.”

“And people say English is a useless major.” Ramona half laughed. “But it’s not all grammar and dead poets, you know.”

“Really?” They started to stroll away from the door.

“Don’t play dumb. Maybe Psychology helps understand how people operate, but I know how to use words to press the right buttons. All the science in the world is just a series of building blocks if you don’t know how to apply them. You might want to take a few of my core classes next semester, Mr. Poly Sci.”

“I’m starting to think you’re right.” He admitted, “I can explain things all I want, but people seem to take away what they want instead of what I mean most of the time. And that’s a problem when I’m talking to reporters or D3I’s PR folks…”

Raymond Fayth Sr. stepped in front of them with a genial smile on his face. “Rebound. So nice to meet you again.” He might have been an agent, but he was an excellent actor when it came to treating Rebound as a client instead of a son.

“Case in point.” Ray muttered, making Ramona snerk.

“What was that?”

“Nothing, sir. It’s nice to see you again too.”

The elder Fayth turned his attention to Ramona, taking one of her hands and giving a small bow. “And this must be the lovely Glass. Enchante. I wasn’t even aware there was a sixth member of D:LA.”

“Well, you know, she—“ Ray started, but Ramona interrupted.

“It’s an honor to finally meet you, Mr. Fayth. I’m really just a support role; not really that active a part of the team. No one’s going to want to buy an action figure of the voice at the other end of a comm link.”

Fayth Sr smiled and relinquished her hand. “You would be surprised. The press seemed to take a liking to you as soon as you arrived, and even now, the fans are getting word of the sixth member. There will be questions, speculation… fan fiction.”

“Excuse me?” Ramona asked, taken aback.

“Welcome to the world, Glass.” Fayth took a drink from the tray of a passing waiter and raised it. “Like it or not, someone just pulled you into it. If only you had consulted someone about how to handle this, you would have been informed.”

He smiled and took a sip. “But Pandora’s box is open now. You’re officially famous.”

Ramona shook her head. “I’m not anyone important.”

“Maybe you weren’t when you woke up this morning,” Said Fayth, “But you are now. It isn’t about who you really are, or what you really do.” He gave Ray a meaningful look, “It’s about perceptions and desires. You might just be a voice on the comm link, but the press? The fans? They want you to be more than that. And either you give them something, or they’ll make it up.”

His expression grew softer again. “Not to worry though, I’m here to help and I just happen to have the card of D3I’s head of public relations.”

He produced the card via an old magic trick he often used with new potential clients and pressed it into her hand. “Now if you excuse me, I see Mayor Wong’s free. I need to bend her ear on something.” Not waiting for an answer, he slipped off, leaving Ramona staring at the card.

“Don’t mind him.” Ray watched him go. “He’s bitter about me going behind his back with you; this is his way of getting me back. You know, making things uncomfortable.”

“Controlling. Yeah, my cousin’s dad is like that. Annoying as hell. Was he always like that?”

Ray snorted. “Not always. But around the time Fe… Teen Machine had his accident and came to live with us, he got really protective with both of us. Suddenly, we needed a schedule and a bodyguard to go hang out at the beach and that spilled over to stuff like trying to pick our electives for us in high school and college.”

He sighed. “I know how it started, but it’s gone too far now, you know? I’m my own man and this was supposed to be my team, not his.”

Ramona looped her arm in his and patted his captured hand.

“Um…”

“He’s right though.” said Ramona, not looking at him. “Everything we do is under scrutiny. People will make up what they’d like about us given half a chance.”

“I didn’t think of that when I invited you.”

“Not to worry. I may have my problems, but I’m not the shrinking violet your dad thinks I am. Plus, Teen Machine was also right: it doesn’t matter what we do socially; it can’t actually hurt what you guys do for the city. So why not cause a little PR stir? To get back at your dad for getting back at you?”

“How are we going to do that?”

She started pulling him toward the dance floor. “Simple. I recognize those three over there from when they were asking questions. They wanted to know about the team’s dynamics? Let’s give them something to make stuff up about by dancing real slow in front of them.”

***

Los Angeles Mayor Vivian Wong was joined by Bill Hect, Chief Operations Officer of 3DI by the time Fayth Sr. reached them. “Is this going to be a problem, Raymond?” She asked, pretending to smile and sip her wine. Fifty and attractive in a cold way, she wore a white gown with a high neck and wore her hair down, a rare occurrence that hadn’t gone unnoticed by the photographers.

“We wanted them to intervene and keep Getty from contemplating suicide once she enters the second phase of her progression, not pull her into this.” added Hect. “And without consulting with us!”

“Your voice, William.” Mayor Wong chided with a glance to make sure no one else heard.

Hect, who looked like a sweaty, animate sausage stuffed into a suit, scratched the top of his balding pate. “Fine. But we should have been kept in the loop Raymond. The team is a huge investment in more ways than one.”

Fayth the elder put on his best agent smile. “You two can relax. This is just young people chafing against authority. So the news has a new mystery person, so the tabloids make up a few lies: nothing has changed. Tomorrow, the sun will rise, traffic will snarl and Descendants: LA will once be ready and waiting to step into the gap the city council left you, Vivian in emergency services funding, or clean up after your company’s messes, Bill.”

He folded his arms and glanced over at the dance floor where Ray and Ramona were. “And all the while, they’ll be looking particularly toyetic for the merch and exciting for the tourism spots. Everyone’s happy and everyone’s rich. Who cares if my son wants to assert himself? We gave him the team after all, you have to expect that.”

“We gave him the team for a reason.” said Hect. “And we need to make sure its in out best interests at all times, not just dealing with the crossovers: someone’s been arranging attacks and robberies against our holdings—holdings most people don’t even know are ours.”

Mayor Wong scowled. “I need a word with you about these crossovers. They’re becoming more frequent, William.”

Hect shrugged. “It’s go something to do with how many times they fire up the Bore. Don’t worry, I’ve been assured they’re getting it stabilized and we’ll come back down in the next month.”

“It had better.” said the mayor. “The property damage is mounting and I’ve had good cops injured. Fix it, or you can say goodbye to the help you’ve been getting from the city. I swore an oath and I will not put this city in danger.”

Fayth held up a hand. “Vivian, no one will be in danger. Not with Descendants: LA on the case.”

“So you say.” blustered Hect. “And I’ll trust you on that, but what about Getty? We went to great trouble and expense setting up observation on her. Now she’s in this secret hideaway of yours where your techno-genius ward will discover any monitoring equipment.”

“Just like everything else, Bill: I’ll take care of it. You realize, of course, that you bought me in for more than just the fact that the boys were perfect candidates for superheroes? I’m one of the most connected people in Hollywood and my reputation is clear: when a client wants something to happen, I make it so.”

***

“Seeing someone? How can he be seeing someone? I’ve never heard anything online about him seeing anyone.” Lydia was fuming over her encounter with Tyrone Calloway. “If he wasn’t interested, he should have at least been man enough to say so.”

“Maybe he’s just been really good at keeping it quiet.” offered Felix.

Lydia sighed. “He probably doesn’t see a future with a girl in a mask.” a rueful smile came to her face. “Though if he could see any future, he wouldn’t have taken that role and Wingnuts.”

Felix laughed and gave her a quick comforting hug. “If it makes you feel any better, I got some dis appointment of my own tonight.”

“Oh? What happened?”

He shrugged. “I don’t know. I guess people grow up. Or maybe that whole thing about people ‘going Hollywood’ is true and I never realized. I went up to Sam… I mean Aretha and she’s totally not the same girl I used to hang out with. Every other word out of her mouth was badmouthing her costars, or making fun of what people were wearing—she made fun of what I was wearing!”

“I think you look cool.” said Lydia.

“I know, right? Hello? Superhero, lady.” He heaved a sigh. “So not the same Sam that played videogames and made up stupid songs with me in my mom’s trailer. I don’t know, I was just thinking…”

It was Lydia’s turn to hug him. “You don’t have a lot left from back then do you?”

He shook his head. “No, not really. Just Ray and his dad at this point.” He forced a smile. “But now I’ve got you, and the others and most of the time, that’s way more than enough. It’s just a bad day is all.”

Across the way, he spotted Josh, chatting with a small group, all A-list celebrities, most women. “And where I might not have it going on, check out Zephyrus.”

Lydia laughed. “Wow, he’s fitting in better her than any of the rest of us. It’s like he was born in the wrong world.”

“Oh! I almost forgot Ani!” said Felix. “Come on, I promised to get back to her after I talked with Sam.”

They started back toward the tables and Lydia couldn’t help but to muse, “You know, I was sure she’d end up not coming. I’m glad she did, but I know she isn’t that big on leaving the apartment and mingling with other people.”

“You don’t have to worry about her mingling, believe me.” said Felix, “But hey, maybe all of our trying to include her in stuff is starting to pay off.”

***

At the table, Icthiani held a glass of punch to her forehead, hoping the cool would do something to overcome the flush of warmth flowing through her. No one had expected this to happen. There had been no instruction about it, because everyone knew that the immediate response for the Sanguine Hall was execution.

She hadn’t understood why. Now she was afraid that she was about to find out.

End Descendants: LA Annual #1

Series Navigation<< Descendants L.A. #12 – Gala Event (Part 1)

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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