Descendants: LA #21 – Wolverine Publicity (Part 3)

This entry is part 9 of 13 in the series Descendants: LA Volume 2
It took almost half an hour of questions and answers before the west coast Descendants managed to completely lay out the entirety of their situation (with omissions for secret identity reasons) for their east coast counterparts. When they were done, there was a moment of quiet as everyone let things sink in.
Only a moment.
“So you guys got yourselves sunk in deep.” said Facsimile with a low whistle. “This sounds like crap even we haven’t run into. This Zales guy is a literal inter-dimensional conqueror?”
“Potentially.” said Josh, his arms cross tightly over his chest. “I have no doubts that he hopes to become one. And from what I know about your nation’s relationship with corporations, he might be well on his way depending on his position within D3I.”
The golden heroine kicked at the grass at her feet. “If he’s that much of a badass, and the company pretty much owns you guys, why not step back and let us take him down for you? I mean we are here, after all.”
“And we can have the others here with a single call.” Alloy added. He was sitting on the ground, leaning against a tree. His armor was easy to move around in thanks to his powers, but it wasn’t the most comfortable thing in the world to stand around in.
Icthiani glared at him from beneath her hood. “Zales is not an opponent you attack directly. We suspect that he is gifted with the mesmer; the ability to impress his will on a mind, altering memories and outlooks. If you and yours were to assail him, it would only make things worse.”
“We don’t even really know where to find him.” Lydia added. She had created a bench out of telekinetic energy and was sitting on it with Felix. “The only thing we know for sure about him is that he’s on Earth and working with D3I on gating people and weird animals from Faerie.”
Upon hearing their rebuttal, Ephemeral shifted on his feet and stroked his chin briefly. “If you cannot attack hm directly, how is I that you intend to defeat him and foil the plans of your employers?”
Without even noticing it, Ray had adopted a similar pose. “We’ve discussed that and the best plan we have right now all comes down to what Zephyrus has taught up about daoine—at least the High Soder—noble culture works.
“They rarely go to open war, but they engage in constant undermining, sabotage and assassination attempts. Obviously that last one is off the table, but since D3I pretty much does ‘own’ us, we’re in the perfect position to the first two. And that’s where you come in.”
“Yeah, “ Felix stood up from the telekinetic bench. “We need you guys to teach us to… well superhero for real.”
Ray palmed his forehead. “I really wish you had put that differently.” He turned to Ephemeral, “The crux of the matter is that if we want to undermine Zales, the first thing we need to do is build and identity for ourselves outside of the context of D3I.
“As it stands now, the public knows us basically as ‘D3I Presents: Descendants Los Angeles. We get all our info from them, we respond to calls from our handler, and all of our public appearances are arranged through them. We want to go off the leash without looking like we’re rebelling—which means acting heroic independently from D3I interference.”
Facsimile cocked her head to the side. “You get ‘calls’ from a handler to go out and save the day? Machine guy is right; you need serious superheroing lessons.”
“Actually,” Said Ray, “I was thinking more along the lines of—“
“Do you patrol?” she cut him off.
He cleared his throat. “Not as such, but that’s…”
“Exactly the kind of stuff we wanted to ask you about.” Lydia said happily, hopping up from her seat. “Things like how you decide where to patrol and what route you take; if you’ve got informants; or how you decide to get involved, seeing as you can’t stop every crime.”
From his place by the tree, Alloy looked up at her with interest. “Informants? Like snitches? Man,t hat would make figuring out how our gangs work a lot easier. All we’ve got right now is whatever intel the Sneak Thief sneaks to Fax.”
“We are so not talking about that asshole around the pretender Descendants.” Facsimile retorted, then made a face. “Is there any way we can convince you guys to change your name? It really, really irks me. Also, I’m seeing two magical people, a spark jockey—“
Felix gave her a dirty look. “Hey! Cyborg, maybe interfacer if you’ve got to, but never spark jockey. I don’t call you a psionic or anything.”
She blinked at him over this. “As psionic a bad word now?”
“Kind of bad.” confirmed Lydia. “At least you won’t hear it thrown about in polite company here in LA. We’re very up on that kind of thing.”
Still, Facsimile couldn’t let it go. “It’s a stupid word—I mean none of my powers are mind powers at all—but it’s not like a slur or something like he just made it out to be. ‘Descendants’ itself’s only been around for like a coupe of years. I should know, I was right there when it was coined and then again at the press conference.”
“I’m not so certain that it is a slur, but a great deal of people online have been treating it as such.” Ephemeral added.
Nodding, Felix returned to his original point, “And either way, spark jockey totally is. It’s what people in Congress use when they say they want to ban it. They say they only want to ban illegal mods, but I’ve read those laws: the prosthetics they allow all suck for day-to-day life because some people think making them better is against God or something.”
As the conversation continued, Icthiani glided over to Ray’s side. “These people are not superior to us. They are, at best just as easily distracted. I doubt they can help us.”
Facsimile’s ears perked and she broke off the discussion entirely to point accusingly at Icthiani. “Can so, red chick! You guys want a lesson? Then let’s do this old school.”
Apropos of nothing, she shifted a mortarboard atop her head, along with horn-rimmed glasses perched on her nose and a pointer in her hand. “Lesson the first! Search and rescue!” She pointed with vehemence to Felix. “You’re the tech guy, I’m guessing, so do you have a police scanner app on there somewhere?”
“Of course.” said Felix, taking out his palmtop. “I use it to monitor the emergency response at our fights and make sure we keep whatever’s causing trouble away from where civilians are being evaced or treated.”
Alloy stood up and strolled over. “You’re going to want to have that one most of the time if you want to do what we do. The whole fighting supervillains thing only happens once every couple of weeks most of what we do is helping out at accident scenes, fires and stuff like that.”
“Really?” Lydia asked, “I follow you guys pretty closely, TM does too and I don’t think I’ve heard that mentioned more than once or twice.”
The armored hero shrugged, “That’s not the kind of thrilling heroics that sells comics or gets internet hits. But it’s the right thing to do and if you guys really want to be heroes, that’s how I think you should be thinking… if that makes sense.”
Keeping her cloak close around her, Icthiani huffed. “An oversimplified view of altruism. In the Green World, that would get you killed.”
Faster than her rightfully should have been able to move with all his hardware, Felix was at Icthiani’s side, slowly pulling her behind him by the shoulder. The glare she shot him made it clear that she did not appreciate the gesture, but he didn’t notice.
“Sorry about Lady D.” he chuckled. “It’s a culture thing. Nobody trusts anyone else over there.”
“Some of us adjust faster than others.” Josh said, toying with the hem of his own cloak. “Though military training helps.”
Felix nodded. “Anyway, this whole Descendants: LA thing started with me, Rebound and ‘Boarder hoping we could be… you know, real superheroes because, well, we had the powers and everything. If just happens that we had an in with D3I and they said they’d hook us up. All we had to do was to help Z and Lady D get settled.”
Though she was scowling at him from before, Icthiani’s expression grew colder and harder at that, not that he was in a position to see.
“So yeah,” Felix says, sounding as self-conscious as he felt. “When we say we’re ready to start doing the hero thing for real instead of the Hollywood version, we mean it.” To make it clear, he switched on the scanner app.”
Under his visor, Alloy smiled. “Now you’re talking like a Descendant.”
Los Angeles was a big city. Bigger even than Mayfield.
So they didn’t have to wait long before the scanner picked up a suitable emergency that might benefit from super-powered assistance.
There was a multilevel fire in an apartment tower in East LA, cause unknown. Three fire companies were responding, but a failure in the building’s own fire safety system meant that what should have been a routine blaze was spreading unchecked. Additionally, part of the affected floors was losing structural integrity, making evacuation much more difficult.
When they arrived, the fire companies had their operations in full swing with maglev pumper units and rescue sleds already crawling steadily up the sides of the fifty-story tower. They were being coordinated by a group of spotters and technicians on the ground, overseen by a fire captain.
“Why are we landing here?” Icthiani demanded as Lydia lowered a telekinetic platform with herself, Alloy, Josh and Ephemeral toward the field station the coordination was being undertaken from. She was following Facsimile, who was gliding down for a landing there. Somewhere below, Felix and Ray were threading their way through emergency vehicles on Waltzing Matilda and Felix’s armor variant bike, Lizzie B respectively.
Lydia shrugged. “Facsimile said it was important to make sure the first responders call the shots and know where’ following their lead. It makes sense, seeing as they’re the ones trained for this.”
Facsimile waited for them to land, but not for Felix and Ray to arrive before approaching the fire captain. “Cap! Hey there!”
The captain, dressed in the bright yellow and white fire-resistant uniform, but not the protective helmet and mask that went with it, turned with an annoyed look that melted when he saw who was trying to get his attention. Then it turned to deep concern. “I… uh, yes. Can I help you? We’ve got a nasty fire up there, a lot of people trapped—is this some kind of attack? Are my people at risk?”
She shook her head. Firefighters, cops, and the few marines she’d had contact with were all well aware of the risks inherent in their duties. It made them even more wary of the added dangers that absolutely required the intervention of superhuman ability.
“No sir.” She said in a much more polite manner than she’d used with the other heroes. “We just thought you might want some help on this one.”
The fire captain looked at her and she could tell he wanted to ask why the hell she was on the wrong side of the country. But he was too professional to waste time for something like that while lives were at stake. Instead, he motioned her and the others over to where the technicians were coordinating the rescue efforts.
“Depends on what you can do.” He said. “We’re trying to pull as many people out as we can and keep the fire contained. Problem is, the building’s own fire containment systems are going haywire.”
As the two teams gathered around, he directed their attention to several screens showing a wireframe of the building with colored icons representing fire suppression devices, fire doors, and various sensors. “The containment doors are meant to seal if the oxygen and heat sensors ping positive that it is both impossible for a person to survive and if the motion detector returns that no one is moving in the area. Something’s gone wrong, however and the motion sensors refuse to let the doors seal even though it’s impossible to survive there now. The fire suppression systems also seem to fail as soon as they come online.
“First priority is getting everyone on the effected floors out. Second is to manually override the doors from any of the fire panels on the floor.”
“You can’t do it remotely?” Felix asked, having arrived during the explanation with Ray.
The captain shook his head. “This tower is an older building. Looks like the owner how themselves grandfathered in so they didn’t have to pay to upgrade up to code.”
“Typical.” Ray muttered. “Alright, captain. Can you give us your frequency so your ground crew can direct us?”
“Of course.” said the captain and did just that.
Ray nodded. “Thank you.” Then he looked to the other heroes. “Alright, everyone: who here is fire proof?”
Facsimile responded by simply shifting red scales all over her body. Alloy raised his hand, and after a nudge from Josh, so did Icthiani.
“Good. I think you three should go after the fire panels and start closing doors. Ephemeral, I’m guessing you have some kind of mental powers, right.”
“I do.” Ephemeral confirmed. “And I suspect—without actually touching your mind, that you would like me to scan for people in the building that sensors might not pick up?”
Another nod from Ray. “Exactly. Meanwhile, Me, Boarder, Z and TM will help get people out.”
Almost everyone agreed, but Josh raised his hand. “Actually, I think I might best be used helping those trying to contain the fires. My swordsmanship is based around control of the air and there are some advanced techniques that remove air from an area, starving the fire of oxygen.”
Ray smiled. “Always a new trick up your sleeve. If everyone’s okay with their assignments: Descendants, lets go!”
The windows on the thirty-fifth floor had already broken out by the time Icthiani flew through them and into some unfortunate person’s former living room. The door, leading into the hall, had warped from the heat and finally fallen out of its frame, allowing the flames to creep in along the carpet and drywall until the entire room was a conflagration.
She was indifferent to the heat, standing in the center of what looked like a heat shimmer, but on closer inspection caused the flames to shy away from her as she passed. Her eyes glowed a dull red as she surveyed the area.
Behind her, Facsimile swept into the room and landed on the floor in front of the window. She quickly absorbed her wings to reduce the number of things that might be caught on debris and looked around was well. Crouching low to keep her head under the smoke, she looked at the daoine woman. “Um… don’t you need a rebreather or something? You could suffocate in here.”
“I could not.” Icthiani said. “And I doubt you could.”
Alloy’s tentacles slithered in and anchored around the window before raising Alloy up and into the room. His armor held a pinkish sheen from the composite of bismuth he’d fashioned it into to resist the heat, and when he spoke, his voice was heavily altered by his own rebreather.
“Fax can pretty much survive anything. You don’t have to worry about a fire getting her.”
“I wasn’t.” Icthiani said flatly and walked across the room and out into the hall.
There was less fire there, as the flames had quickly consumed the carpet and the oxygen there before moving on. Once fresh air wafted in from the apartments, there was nothing left to burn out there. But the heat was still intense and unsurvivable to someone without adaptable anatomy, blood magic, or a specialized suit of armor.
Facsimile made a face behind Icthiani’s back , but bounded out after her. A quick look around confirmed that the fire doors: heavy composite doors spaced ever thirty feet down the hall and mean to seal off and starve the fire of oxygen, were all open.
Open, except for one at the far end of the hall near the elevators—which was halfway open and bent so that it couldn’t lower more. The elevator doors had also been pounded open—and partially melted.
“You guys see what I see?” Facsimile asked, moving forward cautiously.
Alloy was right behind her. “You mean like how the elevator was bashed open from the inside?” He asked. “Yeah. I see that.”
They reached the elevators, situated at an L intersection with the hall that ran down the west side of the building. Upon turning the corner, they found one of the fire panels. There was a heavy chunk of rock pounded through the thin metal door and into the sensitive electronics behind it.
“Shit.” Alloy said and instantly went to his comm. “Attention anyone that can hear my voice: this is Alloy of the Descendants. I am on the thirty-fifth floor. We have found evidence of tampering by someone with superhuman abilities who is likely still on this floor. I am recommending all personnel not directly involved in evacuation clear the area immediately!”
“Not someone…” Icthiani said, rising into the air and turning back up the hall they’d come down. “Something. Behind us!”
At the other end of the hall, something emerged from one of the apartments and thought it might have been a protomorph of the most extreme kind, ‘something’ seemed an apt description.
It was large enough that it had to duck through the door and come through sideways to fit. Flames and heat shimmers made up the bulk of its form, but it centered on a core of what looked like shimmering, red diamonds the size of a softball. Dark, scorched stone made up arms too big for its frame with balled-up fists, a chest plate that framed its core, and a head shaped like an ancient warrior’s helm. From within that helm glowed a pair of eyes that looked like white-hot flames and probably were.
Alloy reached toward the now-useless fire panel and shaped the metal within into a sledgehammer. “Looks like LA really rolled out the red carpet for us, ladies.”
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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