Descendants: LA #22 – Wolverine Publicity (Part 4)

This entry is part 10 of 13 in the series Descendants: LA Volume 2
Icthiani looked sidelong at Alloy. “You cannot simply pound this creature into submission.”
He shifted the hammer in his hands, but didn’t move out of his defensive stance. “You know what it is then?”
“I cannot tell the exact type, but it is an elemental locus; related to demons, but with lesser powers and intellects. They are little more than animals even if they are thinking things. Where a demon possesses flesh and draws power from blood, an elemental locus possesses inanimate objects and has little magic on their own.”
“So they’re easy to beat.” said Cyn hopefully.
The locus turned its helmet-like head toward them, suddenly alerted to their presence. One huge hand rose up, a whirl of flame forming in the palm. The whirl soon became a tiny tornado that suddenly rushed down the hallway toward them.
“No.” said Icthiani, flying sideways out of the doorway.
The two east coast Descendants followed her lead just as the spinning flames rushed past. It struck the elevator doors with a whuff of heat that washed over them all.
“Any weaknesses?” Alloy asked. He’d dodged left while the two women had gone right, putting the open doorway and the locus’s line of fire between them.”
“That would be entirely dependent on the type of elemental locus we’re facing.” said Icthiani. “It depends on the elements they are attuned to, their level of sapience, and the relative strength of their powers.”
“So can we need to get you a better look so you can identify it?”
The daoine noble shook her head. “What I’ve just told you constitutes the extent of my studies of this type of creature. My brother knows more than I—it was part of his training to learn how to identify and eliminate threats to our father’s lands.”
Alloy didn’t waste time switching to the comms. “Zephyrus?”
“I’m here.”
On the floor above, Josh was working his way down a burning hall. As he went, he whipped his sword ahead of him like a fan blade: the Flying Raven School technique Asphyxia Shield. The form was normally used to suffocate enemies that came into the narrow, two-foot vacuum it created ahead of him, but did just was well at snuffing flames.
Felix and Ray were following him, using directions from Ephemeral as well as Felix’s heat censors to deduce which apartments still harbored trapped people and which were already hopelessly engulfed. When they found the former, they broke down the door and brought the people inside to the window at the end of the hall where Lydia waited to ferry them safely to the ground.
“We’ve got another Faerie monster here that Lady D says you might be able help us with.” said Alloy.
“I am a bit preoccupied with the evacuation.”
Alloy said, “Don’t worry, we just need your expertise. We’re looking for weaknesses and things to avoid here.”
“I can try,” said Josh, “But you’ll have to describe it for me.”
“Sure. Just a sec.” Back on the floor below, Alloy peeked around the corner of the door. The locus was lumbering slowly, perhaps cautiously toward them. When it saw him put his head out, it sent another whirlwind of flame toward him.
Withdrawing again before the blast reach him, Alloy spoke into the comm again. “Okay, it’s like a big gorilla made of fire and rock with this… old school helmet for a head. Lady D says it’s a kind of elemental locus?”
In the hall above, Josh’s expression soured. “A Vhaath’s furnace. Those aren’t natural; demons make them to serve as guardians for sensitive locations. This is very bad—left without guidance and commands, they smash or burn anything they can find relentlessly, favoring living, intelligent targets.”
“Great.” Cyn said, joining the conversation.
“Snuffing the flame…” Josh started.
“Perfect!” Alloy said, sidestepping back into the doorway. Before the creature could react, however, he directed his power up into the ceiling where the tanks of fire suppressant were stored. The creature may have disabled the mechanisms, but the tanks remained.
Alloy used is power to tear them open and used the jagged metal to punch holes in the ceiling panels for good measure. Twin blasts of suppressant foam burst out to cover the locus. Steam and smoke belched up from its body, obscuring it from sight.
“Got ya.” said Alloy.
“No. You did not.” replied Josh.
“Say what?” Alloy hefted his sledgehammer and peered into the steam, smoke and foam. A shadow was looming up through the cloud.
“A Vhaath’s furnace,” Josh explained, “is an elemental of both fire and stone. Snuffing the fire will stun it, but as long as there’s ambient heat and its core remains intact, it won’t destroy it.”
The locus lumbered out of the cloud, wisps of steam still rising from it. No longer aflame, it was now composed of a heat-haze that reached the floor, extending between two stone fists, the chest plate, helm, and the core where the diamonds were now smoldering like banked coals.
Facsimile peeked around the corner. “That… doesn’t look stunned.”
“Out of the way.” Icthiani pulled Facsimile back from the door and took her place before moving past Alloy into the hallway itself.
“Hey wait.” Alloy reached to grab her shoulder only to have his hand knocked away.
Icthiani spared him a red-eyed glare over her shoulder. “Do not touch me.” Thereafter, she ignored him and faced the locus. Drawing out one of her obsidian daggers, she cut a quick, precise line up one forearm and snapped the dagger around in front of her, sending the resultant blood from the cut out into the air in front of her.
She spoke in the tongue of magic, sending power into the gem-like droplets, causing them to burn with an inner flame. That flame quickly kindled into a beam of crimson light; one stabbing out from each droplet to rake the hallway and the locus standing in it.
For its part, the Vhaath’s furnace brought its arms up to cover its core and head. The beams cut into them, biting several inches into the rock and leaving runnels of lava oozing out of the injuries.
But the attack only lasted a few seconds, and when it was over, the locus spread its arms in a mocking gesture. Then a blue flame ignited around its core. Like an infernal pilot light, it touched off a conflagration that once more spread to encompass the monster’s body.
It abandoned caution now, charging them with a flaming stone fist cocked and ready to demolish whoever was in its way.
Heedless of Icthiani’s rebuke earlier, Alloy sent one of his tentacles to wrap her waist and pull her behind him.
If he’d waited a split second more, he would have been too late. The locus threw a mighty hay-maker, swinging so wide that it punched through the wall and started tearing through plaster, aluminum struts, and wiring as it came. But before it could collide with Alloy, it struck something else, which caused the building to shudder with the force of the impact.
“What the hell was that?” Ray shouted into the comms.
“Steel support beam.” Alloy said, marveling at the damage to the beam his was picking up in his metal sense. “Holy shit, this thing is strong.” He took a step back, anticipating a followup punch, but he didn’t have to; the locus was looking in the direction of the damaged beam with a keenness that showed even in eyes of flame.
Alloy followed it gaze. There wasn’t anything for it to look at; there was too much debris in the way for it to actually see the support. Unless…
“Hey Zephyrus? What other powers does this thing have? Like… does it have X-ray vision?”
“I’m… not sure I know what that is.”
“X-ray!” Facsimile said, “Um… see-through. Can it see through things.”
The locus raised another fist, but it wasn’t aimed at the humans or daoine in the room, but the wall. It was slow going, but an idea did seem to be forming in its head.
“Not as such. But any elemental locus with stones as one of their elements have a special affinity with anything of the stone element.”
“Nerdiness to the rescue again.” muttered Alloy. “Elements, you mean ‘earth, air, fire, water’, right?”
“Earth, air, fire, water, stone, void.” corrected Icthiani just as the locus punched the support again, setting the building rocking again. Panicked chatter flooded in on the first responders’ channel.
“No more of that.” Alloy sent the tentacles forward, their leads shaped into X’s. They slammed the monster in the chest with brutal force. Not being anchored to the floor by anything more substantial than magical force, the locus was thrown back ten feet to plow through the track of one of the fire doors.
“Okay, time bought.” Alloy said, turning to Icthiani. “What’s the difference between earth and stone, because I have a bad feeling right now.”
The daoine woman looked at him with annoyance clear on her face—which wasn’t much change from her usual expression, Alloy noticed. “Earth is the living soil and what grows within it. Stone is the solid mineral within.”
“Mineral like ores.” Alloy translated. “That’s a big problem—this thing has a metal sense like me and it just learned that hitting support beams effects an entire building.”
“Why don’t we just send it back home?” Facsimile asked.
Again, Icthiani gave them an annoyed look. “Yes, because setting off powerful ordnance in this building will in no way contribute to the fire and structural damage, causing all of us to be crushed beneath the one of the unnecessarily large buildings Mankinds seem to love so dearly.” She hunched he shoulders. “In any event, Teen Machine is not here, so the portal cannot be formed.”
Alloy glared at her from under his visor. “Okay then. But we have a plan of attack now: get Scorchie here out of the building, then send him home.”
“It is a demon.” Icthiani said, eying the locus savagely as it righted itself. “We should simply destroy it.”
“Yeah…” Alloy said, mimicking her earlier tone. “Free tip on the heroics: if it’s clearly intelligent—and learning basic demolitions in one minute counts—than you can’t go around murdering it.”
“Dude, we have already had this discussion.” Teen Machine said on the comms. “She’ll go along though—but it’s probably good not to give her the opportunity.” There was a pause before he said, “But on the other hand, you can’t just chuck that thing out of the building. The place is ringed with firefighters and evacuees.”
The locus pulled its arm free of the wall it had gone through and slowly swept its head from side to side before finding another target in a room off to its right. Turning its back on the heroes, it pounded down the wall separated the apartment containing the room from the hall.
“Then we need another solution.” Alloy bolted forward after the monster. “And hurrying would be nice.”
“Hold on.” A voice that was new to the three east coast Descendants cut in. “I think I have an idea—if you field guys want to hear it.”
Facsimile and Alloy shared a confused look. “Who is this?”
“I’m the team voice-with-an-internet-connection.” Ramona replied dryly. “Right now, I’m checking the LAFD’s drone footage and there’s a building two blocks from you with a very large swimming pool.”
Alloy’s tentacles whipped at the locus’s arms, sending up showers of sparks, but doing little to divert its attention as it strove for a support to destroy. “I thought you said dousing it wouldn’t work.”
“Zephyrus said it would stun t though.” Ramona pointed out, “Maybe being dunked will keep it locked up long enough to gate it back the Faerie. That, and there aren’t any support beams on top of buildings, so its new trick won’t help it there.”
“Worth a shot.” Rebound said. “Lady D, can you teleport it?”
“After transporting so many earlier today?” Icthiani asked, “It is likely that I would fall short, drop it into the middle of the street.” A demonic grin crossed her face, “Or leave it scattered in bits and motes across the intervening space.”
Facsimile recoiled at her expression. “Okay, I’d rather take my chances with the burning thing than creepy chick. I can go fireproof, maybe I can fly it out.”
“I sincerely doubt that even you could achieve the strength and wingspan to lift a creature of solid stone.” Ephemeral said from the ground.”
“Sure, if you’ve got wings to worry about.” Lydia cut into the conversation. “This looks like a job for TK. How many people on this floor still need a ride down?”
There was a pause as Ephemeral mentally surveyed the building. “There are five people on the next hall. They are frightened, but not in any direct danger at the moment as the fire has not reached their apartments. If we directed them there, the firefighters could easily and safely reach them in time.”
“Then let’s do that then.” said Lydia. “After all, they’re only safe now as long as this thing doesn’t drop a building on them, right?” Floating outside the building, she dispelled the window cleaning rig construct she’d been using to lower people to the ground and flew down to the floor below. “Which room?”
Inside, the locus burst through another wall and into a bedroom where it headed straight for the far corner of the room.
“Southeast corner!” Alloy shouted. He poured his power into the steel beam as the locus swung another titanic punch into it. Plaster flew, the corner of the building shook—but the beam held with only a row of dents to mark the passage of the stone knuckles.
Alloy’s tentacles snapped out as it raised its other fist and wrapped it, Issuing noises like sheet metal in a wood chipper, they hauled mightily to forestall the next blow.
This earned the locus’s attention. First the head turned one hundred and eighty degrees to focus on Alloy, then the arms did the same, whipping the tentacles about despite their prodigious strength. A dull roar came from its core just before it raised its free hand, a whirlwind of flames beginning to form there.
Just before it released, Facsimile barged into the room and leapt at the arm. There was a flash of sparks as a pair of claw marks were gouged into the stone. The attack didn’t do much damage, but it did knock the creature’s aim off, sending the burst of flame washing across the bed, which caught fire.
Facsimile leapt away from a powerful backhand to land next to Alloy. “To good news: it’s slow and I just proved that it can be hurt. The bad: it can’t be hurt, you know, a lot.”
Apparently eager to avenge its injuries, the locus trundled forward, only to be slammed sideways and through the bedroom window by the burning bed, which was rimed in a green, telekinetic glow. Alloy, Facsimile and a late arriving Icthiani reached the gaping hole where the window was to find that same glow now containing a sandwich made up of the bed, the window (with its surrounding wall) and the Vhaath’s furnace.
Lydia floated above the temporarily trapped creature, and though straining to keep it contained, she managed to smile at them. “Sorry it took so long—I didn’t have a compass to figure out which corner was southeast.”
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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One Comment

  1. hitting support beams effects an entire building
    When you have an effect on something, you affect it. “To effect” is a different verb. It means something more like “accomplish”.

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