Descendants: LA #19 – Wolverine Publicity (Part 1)

This entry is part 7 of 13 in the series Descendants: LA Volume 2
“Did you know that for the past five years, LA’s been number three in the nation in spending on public transportation spending?” Asked Felix over the comms.
“I’m not sure how that’s relevant,” said Josh, who was riding on Lydia’s telekinetic surfboard along with Ray. “Or why you looked up that statistic.”
“Just pointing out how stupid it is that traffic is still this bad!” Felix groused. He was on foot and running hard down a street between tightly packed cars. He had one of the mechanical sidesaddle packs that normally graced the sides of his motorcycles on his back. “I can’t believe I had to abandon Matilda like that! Couldn’t even reach a commuter rail to ride on.”
Ray chuckled into his comm. “What? You don’t have rocket skates built into your legs?”
“Not helping.” Felix hurdled a car parked in the intersection ahead of him and came down hard enough to make his teeth rattle. “Plus, I looked into that: rocket skates are inherently unstable.”
“I knew you would have had them if you could make them work.” Lydia chimed in.
A subtle growl intruded on the channel. “Can we please limit the chatter? We need to focus on locating the thayruche. From the glimpse I had of it, I suspect that it is ready to lay. Thayruche eggs do not need tending and have the same sight-bending nature as its parent. If it lays before we get to it, as many as five thayruches may be hunting in the city by next year.” said Icthiani.
Felix groaned. “Well I’m blind now. My echolocation rig is on Matilda. We’re down to you and Zephyrus to find it. That, or our mission control tracking 911 traffic. Speaking of which, anything?”
Back in the apartment, Ramona sat at Felix’s computer and scanned over the three monitors in front of her. “No monster attacks yet, but…there’ve been reports at the corner of Busey and Westwood Palisade about… a traffic light melting?”
“Can thrushes do that?” Lydia asked.
“Thrushes are small birds that impale small animals and insects on thorns to attract mates.” said Icthiani, “This is a thayruche, and no, they cannot melt metal.”
“Really? Those cute little birds?” said Felix.
“I would really like to know what possessed you to pick up that little bit of Blue World knowledge when you ignore everything else.” added Josh.
Ray, however, was checking a map on his palmtop. “The corner’s not far from our position. Boarder, bear right and maybe we’ll get lucky.”
At Lydia’s direction, the green, glowing surfboard swooped off at an angle toward the specified corner. It came into view a few moments later, and sure enough, traffic was snarled even further. The beam and support the lights had been hanging from seemed to have run like wax and been strewn across the street. Pieces of it looked to have been torn off and tossed aside.
“Any idea what could have done that?” Ray asked Josh.
“None. Worked metal is an incredible rarity in Faerie, so there isn’t a great deal of magic that deals with it.”
Ramona cut in over the comms. “More 911 calls about strange stuff happening. Plus a report of a… medieval knight flying over Calvert Way?”
“Calvert Way.” Ray repeated. “We’re on it.”
“Hold up.” Felix came to a halt on a street corner and was instantly mobbed by tourists trying to get his picture. For once, he ignored them to focus on the task at hand. “Did you just say a knight? Flying? Plus metal melting? Guys, I don’t think this one’s from Faerie, more like from out of town.”
“Say what?” asked Ray. But at that moment, The gutter of a nearby building ripped itself out of its anchorage to snake out across a street some twenty stories above the ground. Something caused it to jerk violently and something like a cross between a jaguar’s roar and a redtail hawk’s scream could be heard. A nearby billboard crumpled like it had been hit by something the size of a family sedan, only to be torn to shreds by invisible claws.
“Hold on TM, I think we’ve found the thayruche.” Ray said.
The gutter coiled in to itself and struck out at whatever was fighting free of the dent in the billboard. Another roar-scream sounded and the end of the gutter was struck off as if by a sharp blade.
“Rebound, look!” Lydia pointed to the building opposite the one where the billboard was finally collapsing. Atop it stood a figure in medieval armor. Two writhing tendrils of gold-ish metal extended from their upper arms, and they seemed to be directing the gutter with sharp gestures.
“Is that who I think it is?” asked Ray.
Several blocks away, Felix checked his position on the map and took off in the right direction with only a wave to the tourists photographing him. “If it is, this is so unfair.”
“Who do ‘we’ think this is?” Ramona asked, trying to find a security feed to watch the action through.
“Check the social network feeds.” said Felix said. “If it’s him, they’ll have ID’d him already.”
“Thank you for not being cryptic.” Ramona muttered, but did as he suggested. The answer was instantaneous. “Alloy? As in Alloy of the Descendants?”
As Ray and the others watched, a massive condor flew over the collapsing billboard and circled over a place where the shreds of billboard were being shredded.
Alloy acknowledged this by transforming the gutter into a metal net and casting it over that space. It settled over something large and mobile, which roared even more piercingly as the metal made contact. There were more roars as the net was quickly and easily shredded.
“We’ve got to help out before it gets away.” said Ray. “Boarder, set us down.”
“You got it.” said Lydia. “And in the meantime…” She held out her hand to the concrete lip around the edge of the roof and a green field of energy encased a section. When she clenched her fist, the telekinetic force constricted, crushing the concrete to rubble and powder. She then hurled said rubble at the last known location of the thayruche with a snap of her wrist.
Chunks of concrete bounced off the invisible beast, but the dust settled on it, partially revealing the creature.
It’s head was that of a bird of prey, sporting a heavy, sharp beak with four keen, black eyes above it. It’s expansive wings were tucked in close to the body as it twisted and clawed at the net that attempted to reshape and repair itself around it. To accomplish that, it had four scaly, legs; the front significantly longer than the rear; ending in talons that shrugged off the dust and remained invisible.
Wherever the thayruche clawed or kicked, the metal net, or the concrete and tar roof were gouged as if struck by a powerful force.
“It’s visible.” reported Ray. “Think we can close on it and knock it out, Zephyrus?”
“No!” Icthiani said firmly into her comm before her brother could speak. “Do not get close to it. In addition to the power to bend sight, a thayruche’s chief defense are its claws, which redirect and focus force. They make their nests by burrowing in rock and can ambush and kill golleckuras by cracking their shells open with those claws.”
“She’s right.” said Josh. “We have to keep our distance and attack it form range. I’m sorry, Rebound, but it looks like you’ll just have to sit this one out.”
Ray stood up on the descending surfboard. “I think you guys are forgetting that this thing isn’t the only one whose power is to redirect force.” And giving a nod to Josh and Lydia, he leapt the final thirty feet down to the rooftop, aiming to land directly on top of the monster.
The condor must have had the same idea, as it suddenly transformed, shifting into a horror in black chitin with a bulbous head, rows of teeth, a long, barbed tail, and hooked claws.
Both struck at the same time, the shapeshifting monster digging two claws into the thayruche’s shoulders, while Ray landed with brutal force with both heels in its back.
Resilient fey creature that it was, however, the thayruche responded by rearing up and throwing itself on its back in an attempt to crush its tormentors. Ray saw it coming, but the shapeshifter, who he was now sure would be Facsimile, didn’t. She chose to hold on even as the monster’s full weight hammered her into the roof with enough force to cause chitin plates to crack and her grip to break.
Executing a roll of its own, the thayruche flared its wings to throw off the last of the metal net before pouncing on Facsimile with its two front claws. It tore into her abdomen with frightening ease, the chitin sundered under the onslaught.
Ray shouted in alarm as the black bug-thing shifted into the form of a woman made of gold. His shout was cut off when he noticed that Facsimile was smiling and looking down at where the claws had pierced her. Despite his better judgment, he followed her gaze.
In place of a mess of gore and organs, Facsimile’s body had been torn open to reveal… that she seemed to be made of liquid gold all the way through. And that liquid gold was sealing up around the thayruche’s claws, binding to them with a tar-like consistency.
Unable to understand why the creature it had just ‘killed’ was smiling, the thayruche didn’t notice something wrong until it tried to step back and found itself mired in molten gold flesh. It let out an ear-splitting screech and tried harder to work itself loose.
When that didn’t work, it started beating it’s wings, only to be interrupted by a charging right cross from Ray. The thayruche’s beak clacked from the impact, but it recovered quick enough to snap back at its attacker, catching the fabric of his sleeve.
“If you back away from it, I can use a sword technique.” Josh shouted.
“Wish I could, but it’s got a pretty firm hold.” reported Ray as he struggled not to be thrown around by the monster.
Facsimile’s voice bubbled up from the sticky mass she’d melted into in order to keep the thayruche in place. “Like hell I am. Do you have any idea how much of a pain it was to track it in the first place? Besides, Alloy’s bringing Ephemeral up to put it out of commission. I’ve just got to hold it for another second.”
Over the comms, Felix let out a yelps of surprise, followed by Icthiani saying, “I have Teen Machine. Teleporting to you now.”
Ray punched the monstrous bird in the face, finally forcing it to let go of him. “Well someone do something and fast! The dust is shaking off and we won’t be able to see it for long.”
“No worries, everyone. The cavalry has arrived!” came a hollow sounding shout, seconds before Alloy was hurled up and over the side of the roof by one of his metal tentacles. The other tentacle was bearing a man in a form-fitting, red shirt, loose, golds pants, and a golden domino mask: Ephemeral.
The thayruche hear the arrival of new enemies and rounded on them best it could with a roar-scream. Ephemeral only stared it down, an unseen attack passing through the space between them that made the beast snap its beak shut and shake its head violently.
“This isn’t an engineered creature.” Ephemeral warned, “Its mind is alien. I can’t apply any nuance, only brute force.”
“Brute force is good.” said Alloy. “This thing is crazy tough.”
A sphere of red lightning expanded into being above the pair, resolving into a ring of the same. Suspended at its center was Icthiani. She listed to one side, making an obvious effort as she held Felix aloft by the collar of his armor like one would hold a kitten. Lines of red writing were clearly visible circling her arm as her sangrelogos was employed to lend her strength for the task. Once she was certain they were in the right place, however, she dropped him the remaining six feet to the ground.
Felix landed heavily, in a three-point stance; one fist digging a divot into the roof. Without bothering to admonish the daoine noble for the drop, he straightened up. He noticed who he was standing next to instantly.
“Dude! It really is you. Both of you! Um, welcome to LA and everything, but… why are you guys here?”
Alloy shrugged. “We got your call. We’ve been meaning to visit for a while now. We do share a name and all.”
“They stole it, you mean!” Facsimile shouted from beneath the thayruche, which was starting to shiver all over from Ephemeral’s attack.
“I just want to say we had nothing to do with that!” Lydia shouted. “It was all the suits wanting us to be marketable and stuff. I wanted to be The Posse.”
Ray leapt back from the thayruche as it spasmed with increasing violence. Parts of it were visible without the dust now, its feathers covered in swirls and eddies of shifting color while arcs of green energy crackled over it. “Whoa. What’s are you doing to this thing?”
“Not a great deal.” said Ephemeral. “It doesn’t have the mind of an Earth creature, so most techniques I know won’t translate correctly. But since it can become invisible, I suspected that it would be highly chroma-sensitive. To that end, I am scrambling its ability to perceive colors. Attempting to compensate is taxing it’s body to exhaustion.”
“Nicely done.” said Ray. “But right now, everyone needs to back off it.”
“What? Why?!” demanded Facsimile.
Above them, Icthiani broke the little ceramic tile that was key to one of her rituals and a tear formed in a sky, a shimmering hole in reality, beyond which lay a field of rose light.
Ephemeral looked up in surprise. “An astral gate. You’re able to create them? I thought we were the only ones who know how.”
“Oh, you haven’t seen nothin’ yet.” Felix grinned inside his helmet. “Rebound, are we set?”
“Give us a minute.” replied Ray. “Everyone brace! Facsimile, you have to let go!”
“Because we’re sending that thing back home!”
“Say what now?” asked Alloy.
Beside him, Felix reconfigured his left arm. The hand flipped down at the write to reveal a barrel, which extended forward. At the same time, the forearm to the elbow split into three pieces that extended backward to stabilize the shot and vent the kickback from the grenade inside. “You’re about to see, dude.”
Facsimile growled. “Fine. But I hope you know what you’re doing.” She released the thayruche and resumed her golden form, sans wings.
Panicked from the mental attack that it couldn’t understand, the thayruche didn’t even bother attacking her. Instead, it beat its wings frantically in a bid to escape.
“Oh no you don’t.” said Felix, his grenade launcher arm burning through the calculations that would set the projectile off just as it crossed the event horizon of the astral gate. The moment the computations were complete, he fired.
The grenade detonated at the correct point and the astral gate rippled before collapsing into the green vortex that Felix and Lydia had started referring to as the Go Home Gate. The wind roared as the gate began to drag on the thayruche.
Shrieking, the monster beat it’s wings all the harder, but it wasn’t strong enough to overcome the pull of its home-world, especially not after the attacks it had suffered. It only took a few moments before it’s strength gave out and it was pulled through the space between worlds.
The gate closed with a low thunderclap, leaving the rooftop oddly silent.
Lydia was the first to recover, waving to the Descendants from Mayfield cheerfully. “So yeah. That’s how we do things in La-La Land.”
To Be Continued…
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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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  1. I’m no expert in biology, but isn’t it shrikes that do the impaling, not thrushes?

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