Descendants: LA #20 – Wolverine Publicity (Part 2)

This entry is part 8 of 13 in the series Descendants: LA Volume 2
For long moments, all the east coast Descendants could do was stare up at the empty space where the gateway had been. The roaring wind had ceased, leaving them in relative silence atop to roof.
It was Ephemeral who regained his ability to speak first. “That wasn’t merely a portal to the Astral. I’ve seen that before—that is the world that the Mauler came from.”
“The Mayfield Mauler?” Felix asked, “Reverend Stiles’s assistant guy? He was from Faerie?”
“Faerie.” Ephemeral parroted, “Yes, I’ve heard that name for it in the course of our studies of both the Book of Reason and the Book of Passions. That creature came from there as well?” His gaze strayed back to where the gate had been moments earlier. “And you have a means of sending it back at will?”
Icthiani landed nearby with a thump, her expression grave. “Not at will. There are limitations to the spell: the vortex will only activate in the presence of a creature who has been on this world for three days or less. Beyond that time limit, their essence no longer calls to the Green World.”
Facsimile made a show of stretching as she approached her. “A spell, huh? So you’re not a descendant, huh? You’re a spellcaster.”
The daoine girl drew her cloak up around herself and looked at her, suspicious. “I am.”
Josh quirked an eyebrow. “You don’t seem surprised by that.”
Facsimile waved him off. “Should I be? We’ve got Occult after all, and we fight Morganna something like once every six months, plus Warpstar and Ape Knight… seriously magic is just a thing for us now.” She grinned at Icthiani, “So don’t worry about us thinking you’re weird or something, okay?” Icthiani only narrowed her eyes at her.
Sensing that Facsimile wanted to prod at the surly heroine, Alloy quickly stepped up. “So. Was that bird monster the thing you wanted our help with?”
“I wish.” Ray said, rubbing the back of his neck through his costume. “No, that’s just a normal workday for us. Thanks for the assist though. And for coming at all. We didn’t know when or if you’d show up.”
“No problem.” said Alloy. “We’re no strangers to team-ups nowadays and we’re always willing to lend a hand. So who’s the big bad you needed the extra firepower to straighten out?”
“Extra firepower?” Icthiani said, incredulous. She stepped directly into Alloy’s personal space, staring him down through the slits in his visor. “I will grant that having knowledge of magic is more than I can say for most people in your world, but the very idea that brute strength—firepower—proves that you are ignorant of the nature of Faerie.”
“’Our world’?” Facsimile asked.
“Lady D.” Ray said firmly.
“Hey!” Facsimile started, but Ephemeral threw out a hand to hold her back.
He then stepped into the narrow space between Alloy and Icthiani, locking eyes with the daoine. “I mean no offense, but you are wrong.” ‘Ani started to argue, but he talked right over her, “I will allow that your knowledge is superior to ours when it comes to the world of Faerie, but we are not entirely ignorant. We have faced the demons of your world.”
The tension between them increased in silence as Icthiani glared up at him and he looked back at her with a stern, unmoving expression.
“So she really did just call this ‘our’ world then?” Facsimile asked.
The west coast Descendants, minus ‘Ani, looked at each other.
Josh pinched the bridge of his nose. “Rebound?”
“Well we have to give them some explanation now.” said Ray. “Go ahead.”
“Right.” Josh said with a sigh before gently taking his sister by the arm and drawing her away from Ephemeral and their staring contest. “Please forgive my sister; she’s still adjusting to being here and using her magic has a negative impact on her mood.”
Alloy cocked his head, looking from the sibling to Facsimile. “When you say ‘here’…”
“I mean ‘here’ as in Earth, or as we call it, the Blue World.”
“Dude.” Alloy breathed.
Josh nodded in sympathy. “Imagine that feeling from the point of view of finding oneself transported here. My sister and I hail from this ‘other world’ we’ve been talking about: Faerie, or the Green World.”
“So you’re aliens.” said Facsimile. “So the crossovers are an invasion?”
Lydia snorted. “I asked the same thing. But no, it’s not. Most of them are completely random and most of what crosses over are animals and plants.” She made a face, “Faerie just had really hardcore plants and animals. Their gophers can burrow through concrete and we’ve seen flowers that ate people’s tires.”
“Excuse me;” said Ephemeral, “But did you say that ‘most’ are random?”
“Dude, we are really bad at this keeping secrets thing.” groaned Felix.
Facsimile glared at him for that. “Okay. I was kind of impressed with the giant bird getting sucked into oblivion and I was going to forgive you for stealing our name because of it. But I am not okay with this cloak and dagger crap. Especially bad cloak and dagger crap. I want to know exactly why you called us here right now, or we’re walking.”
Wincing from the sting of being called out by an idol Felix looked to the others. No one seemed like they’d stop him, so he went ahead. “I know. Sorry for trying to hide stuff from you, but it’s a secret identity thing—can you imagine what the public would say if they found out Lady D and Zephyrus aren’t human? That the weird ‘monsters’ they see on the news aren’t escaped mutants, but monsters from another world? Things would get nuts and half of them wouldn’t trust us anymore.”
Josh nodded, still keeping his hand firmly on Icthiani’s arm. “We would appreciate your discretion on this matter.”
“I’m not hearing an explanation for why the crossovers aren’t all random.” said Facsimile.
“Fax, do you have to do this every time we meet new heroes?” Alloy asked.
She folded her arms and lifted her chin. “I wouldn’t have to is people would just be straight with us for once!”
Alloy managed to give her a deadpan stare without his eyes being visible. “You do remember that we’re superheroes, right? Secrets are lesson one. I don’t blame them for not wanting to blab everything they know to us—we’re strangers. Worse than strangers, we’re well known: we could tell the world about whatever it is.”
“And in the process, put a lot of people in danger by tipping off our enemies.” Ray confirmed.
“They don’t know that we’re on to them yet.” Lydia added.
Ephemeral stroked his chin thoughtfully. “We can accept that. But if your fight with those enemies isn’t the reason you called us, what is? We did travel a long way to respond.”
“Actually,” said Ray, “It’s not accurate to say this isn’t related to our problem there. We…” He looked around to the surrounding buildings, then further out to see news helicopters in route. “Maybe we should take this somewhere more private.”
Alloy followed his gaze and nodded in agreement. “Good idea. You have some kind of secret HQ for us to hide out at?”
“Uh…” Ray stammered. The only place they had that fit the bill was the apartment, but that was also where they lived. The original Descendants might have been among the best known prelates in the nation, but that didn’t mean that they could be trusted that far. He wondered if they had a ‘secret HQ’.
“Got you covered.” Felix said, coming to his friend’s rescue. We don’t have a base we can invite folks back to, but this being LA, there are plenty of places where we can meet with a pretty decent expectation of privacy.”
Facsimile arched a brow at him; not an eyebrow because her golden form was hairless, but a brow nonetheless. “I’m pretty sure that’s not true at all. LA is where all the celebrities are and that means the paparazzi are seeped into every nook and cranny. We might as well just go hang out at Mann’s Chinese Theater for all the not-privacy we’re going to get here.”
Inside his helmet, Felix grinned. “You’re forgetting one thing: because of all the paparazzi, celebrity homes are built to make taking pictures of them as difficult as possible. And when those celebrities aren’t home, no one pays any attention to those places at all.” He started doing a search on his palmtop.
“I know we’re green at this prelate thing an all;” said Lydia, “But I think trespassing isn’t going to impress these guys.”
Alloy chuckled. “Actually, we meet up or change on random peoples’ rooftops all the time back home. Just because we’re crime fighters doesn’t mean we don’t break a few harmless laws now or then out of necessity.”
“Although he complained about it all the time back in the day.” Facsimile teased.
“It’s just one of the lessons you’ve gotta learn to be a good superhero.” he shrugged.
Ray managed to stifle a sigh of relief. These were definitely the people they needed to talk to.
“Got it!” Felix reported. “Javier Huertas is on shooting a movie in Turkey right now and he was just seen in Istanbul with his girlfriend. There should be no one at his house right now and this back yard with its ten-foot security fence and screen of trees will definitely do the trick. Lady D, feel up for teleporting us there?”
‘Ani fixed her glare on Facsimile. “Does everyone have to come along?”
Giving her a long-suffering look, Josh folded his arms. “You know how important this is. Not only that, but I know how much you want revenge on the parties involved. So please try and reign your anger in and allow us to proceed.”
She growled in the back of her throat, but didn’t argue. Instead she drew out one of her obsidian daggers.
“What’s she going to do with that?” Facsimile asked, on edge.
“Her blood fuels many of her spells.” Josh explained, “Don’t be alarmed: she’s doing no permanent damage to herself.”
Facsimile’s eyes widened. “Wait, so she’s going to cut herself to cast a spell?”
“That is why it’s called blood magic.” Icthiani said flatly. Staring Facsimile directly in the eye, she held open her right palm and drove the tip of the dagger into the center of it. Facsimile recoiled form the sight. Still staring her down, Icthiani pricked her middle, index and ring fingers, then folded them down into her bleeding palm.
Lydia came over and patted Facsimile on the arm. “Don’t worry: Z’s telling the truth about no permanent damage. She heals quick and doesn’t scar.” Her eyes remained firmly averted from the spectacle, however. “It never gets easier to see her do that to herself though.”
Ignoring their conversation, Icthiani extended her free hand to rest on Felix’s helmeted head. “Visualize the location we are traveling to.” she instructed with less ire in her voice than the east coast Descendants had heard since they met her.
Felix closed his eyes and tried to recreate the image pulled from his palmtop in his mind. “Okay. Teleporter to maximum, Lady D.”
“There are no increments.” Icthiani corrected him. “Either the spell succeeds, or it fails.”
“I know,I was just…” Felix realized that his little joke was lost on her, but his mouth still kept going after the fact, “…referencing… never mind.”
With only a grunt of acknowledgment, she raised her bloody hand into the air and spoke a work in a language that sounded like discordant music. The blood transmuted into crimson light, which was reflected in a halo of red that began to form around the group.
“Are we really sure we’re okay with Sally Self-harm casing spells at us?” Facsimile asked.
“Not funny.” said Felix and Ray at the same time.
“You seriously don’t want to say stuff like that around them.” Lydia advised.
Facsimile blinked, but her attention was fixed on the halo, which was now arcing with red sparks. “Sorry. But still: is this safe?”
Across from her, Ephemeral offered her a reassuring smile. “They mean us no harm.” he promised.
Whether she believed that or not, Facsimile didn’t get a chance either way. Red lightning suddenly exploded from Icthiani’s bleeding hand and struck the halo, causing it to flare to brilliant life and rapidly contract. The world disappeared into red light.
It returned with a noise like thunder and the stench of burnt grass as red lightning earthed itself in a perfect circle around where they stood.
“Dude…” Felix said, followed by a low whistle. They were on a perfectly manicured, wooded lawn, some two-hundred yards from the back of a sprawling, split level house. “So much for Javi never knowing we were here. How come this doesn’t happen when you teleport yourself?”
Icthiani pulled her cloak up around herself. “It does. This is the same effect you’ve seen stun people when I arrive near them. It’s just magnified by the number of people I had to move.”
“Definitely not the teleportation we’re used to.” said Alloy.
Facsimile leaned over to check on Icthiani’s hand. The wounds had already been reduced to shiny, pink scars. That worry lifted from her mind, she turned to Ray. “Okay, so we’re somewhere secluded now: mind cluing us in?”
In response, Ray started to walk, heading toward the house. “Yeah. It’s a bit… involved, so let’s start at the beginning. I guess you know that our team is heavily sponsored by D3I.”
“We’ve heard.” said Ephemeral, falling into step with him as their team members followed behind.
“Does the corporate sponsored super team concern you?” Ray asked.
Ephemeral nodded. “We would be lying if we said no. Part of the reason we came was to check up on you for just that.”
“I wish we had that kind of wherewithal when this first began.” said Ray.
“We were totally taken in by how awesome it would be to be superheroes.” Felix admitted, “They paid for everything we asked: materials for tech, the services of designers for costumes, State-of-the-art, cutting edge everything. Our toaster is probably more advanced than half the tech NASA runs these days thanks to it.”
Sensing where this was going, Facsimile butted in. “Let me guess: turns out a company trying to turn a profit and please the stockholders isn’t the best group to trust fielding a team of super-folk. Eventually, they treat you like any other employee and kick you until money comes out. So: how’d they screw you?”
Ray and Felix stopped to stare at her. She wasn’t wrong; in fact the problem was that she was spot on.
“Lies.” Josh offered. “Their purpose for us wasn’t as altruistic as we were led to believe.”
“Well we didn’t believe we were anything more than PR to start with.” said Lydia.
Ephemeral gave them all a worried look. He stopped walking and looked to Ray. “And what purpose did they secretly have in store for you?”
“That’s something we’d rather not let everyone in on.” said Ray. “We don’t know the full extent of it, and until we do, it’s better to play it close to the vest.”
Alloy fidgeted in his armor. “I’m not sure I’m down with that. Look, we’re happy to help; it’s just that it’s kind of hard helping someone sight unseen.”
“Especially when you still haven’t explained why the hell you wanted us here.” added Facsimile, crossing her arms obstinately. “This isn’t good for the whole ‘trust’ thing.”
Felix looked around at his friends. He didn’t like the position they were in at all, and he certainly didn’t like lying to the original Descendants because he idolized them in some ways. “Guys…”
Icthiani growled in annoyance. “They already know what my brother and I are; they know ‘enough’ of Faerie. I see no point in this continued clouding of the issue. If they can be of use, we should allow them.”
“Didn’t think you’d have my back on this.” Felix said, impressed. She gave him a blank look in response.
“I’ve got to agree.” Lydia said. “If we call the Descendants, it’s kind of dumb just to ask from some pointer without cluing them into what’s going on here.”
Facsimile wore practically the same expression as ‘Ani. “Will someone explain something? Seriously I’m in favor of just leaving right now if you don’t.”
“Fine.” Ray snapped. “I was trying to figure out a way to put this, but let’s just get it out there: D3I is responsible for at least some of the Faerie crossovers. And Descendants: LA exists to clean up after them when fey creatures escape into the city.”
Stunned, Facsimile goggled at him. “Okay. So I didn’t expect that one.”
To Be Continued…
Series Navigation<< Descendants: LA #19 – Wolverine Publicity (Part 1)Descendants: LA #21 – Wolverine Publicity (Part 3) >>

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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