Descendants: LA #23 – Wolverine Publicity (Part 5)

This entry is part 11 of 13 in the series Descendants: LA Volume 2
Trapped in the grip of Lydia’s telekinetic power and crushed between the burning bed and the section of wall, the locus thrashed. Stress points across the surface of the telekinetic net flared a brighter green as it tried to break out by mean force. Lydia winced under the assault and dipped a little in the air.
“I’m not going to be able to hold this very long.” She said, voice strained by mental effort. “Where to?”
There’s a pool two blocks from here.” said Alloy.
“Great, which way?”
The armored hero didn’t have an answer to that, but Ramona cut in on comms with one. “South. From where you are, fly straight backward and you’ll be able to see the pool from the air. It’s part of someone’s penthouse digs.”
“Are there people there?” Ray asked.
“I can’t tell you that just going by satellite.”
The locus assailed its prison again. A crack sounded in the room as the bed’s wooden frame snapped, sharp edges digging into the telekinetic field and causing Lydia to grunt. “I’ve got to go now or else, I won’t make it!” She pulled out of the demolished bedroom, pulling the balled of flickering green encasing the dangerous fey beast with her.
Facsimile ran to the hole torn in the wall. “I’ll fly ahead of her and get anyone n the penthouse out.” She announced.
The comms squawked and Felix came on. “Lady D, do you think you’ve got enough left to teleport both of us over there?”
From the far corner of the room, Icthiani enfolded herself deeper into her cloak. “I haven’t had time to regenerate. I will barely be able to open the astral plane and enact the spell to pull the creature back into Faerie.”
On the comm, Felix made an unhappy noise. “That won’t be much use if you don’t have an explosive to detonate on the event horizon. Do you guys think you can hold it off: just you, Facsimile and the Boarder until I can hoof it two blocks and ride the elevator up?”
Icthiani looked uncertain. “We will have to.”
“Not necessarily.” said Alloy. “Hey Teen Machine, you get motion sick?”
There was a second of silence on the comm and then, “Dude. Are you suggesting what I think you’re suggesting? Because that is so awesome!”
Paul Reagan was getting some work done on his tablet computer while sitting at the kitchen counter of his penthouse apartment.
The best part of being a publicist in the digital age, he thought, was just how much of his job could be done in his jockey shorts. The worst was that some of the work, like what he was doing now, came about largely because so many of his clients were privileged idiots.
Today’s privileged idiot in question was John Li Chen, the famous designer and owner of the Li Chen clothing boutique empire. Over the weekend there had been an incident when Michelle Tremaine, star of the Lethal Action movies, had been on stage to speak at a charitable event and her Li Chen dress ripped.
It had nothing to do with the quality of the dress; it have caught on the podium she was standing at. However, it seemed that no one told Li Chen, who had taken to social media to blame the action star’s ‘mannish forearms’ and ‘general fatness’ for the wardrobe malfunction. The hell-storm hadn’t abated since and Li Chen made it worse by posting pictures of Tremaine’s face pasted onto male bodybuilder’s bodies.
Paul had cut off Li Chen’s access to the internet and was in full spin mode, using the designer’s screen name to apologize, blaming stress over the roll-out of his new collection on top of a change in medication. He was in the middle of a flurry of emails with a doctor who would (for a price) confirm that last part when there came a tapping on his patio door.
This was unusual, because his patio was forty-five stories above the street with no walk-up access.
When he looked up, he almost choked on his coffee. Standing at the glass doors was none other than the golden, winged super-heroine, Facsimile. She waved frantically at him when she saw him notice her.
Paul could only stare slack-jawed at this. He’d heard about her and her team on television, but he’d never seen her in real life. It was more than a little intimidating. Plus, he wondered why a prelate would want to talk to him. Some tiny, greedy part of him hoped she needed a publicist. A paranoid one reminded him that destruction followed prelates wherever they went. It was like how amateur sleuths in murder mysteries were always stumbling onto deaths.
Evidently, he was taking too long, because Facsimile finally stopped waving, made an annoyed face, then put her hand to the door right where the lock was positioned. Tumblers clicked and suddenly she was pulling the door open.
“No time to talk, it’s very important that you leave right now and pull ed evacuation alarm on your way out.” She declared, barging in.
“I…what?” asked Paul with the silver tongue that made him famous in his profession.
“Short version?” the golden woman asked, “The combined forces of the East (meaning best) and West coast Descendants teams need to use your pool to dunk an evil monster of fire and stone from beyond the bounds of this reality… and it might punch down your building.”
Paul stared at her as she grabbed him about the shoulders and tried to turn him around; to get him moving toward the door and toward safety. “What?!” He asked again, almost fumbling his tablet. He turned around to look at her, and over her shoulder he saw what looked like a green-glowing meteor the size of an SUV crash down into his swimming pool.
Water went everywhere as if the world’s fattest man had just landed an epic belly flop. Steam followed as the pool water started to boil.
Lydia landed near the sliding door and immediately sank to a knee, supported by one hand and breathing heavily. “That was the worse thing I’ve ever tried to carry.” She wheezed. Then she noticed that the steam was stinging her eyes mildly. “Oh crap! Does boiling pool water release chlorine? Did I just gas myself?”
Back at the original building, Alloy fielded that question. “It’s not in high enough concentrations to hurt you in pool water. Also, it doesn’t gas out that much as the water evaporates. Otherwise, a hot summer day would turn the neighborhood pool into a killing field.”
“How did you know that so fast?” Ramona asked.
Alloy shrugged, “Chem Major.”
In front of him, metal creaked. Felix had been lashed to him, back-to chest like a parachuting student, by crash webbing made of steel cable. He was also right at the edge of an open window looking out at the steep drop to the street below.
“Um… I’m starting to have second thoughts here…”
“If it’s the position, I can’t help that.” Alloy said lightly. “You’re too bulky for a fireman’s carry and if you held on to my back, you’d break it. No offense, but you’re heavy as hell, man.”
“Yeah, the whole ‘walking arsenal’ bit will do that. But I was kind of more worried about falling to my death.”
Alloy made a non-committal noise. “I used to too. But then I learned to trust the boys.” One of his tentacles snaked past Felix to brace against the outer wall of the building. It started to flex as if it were building tension. “Think of it like a roller coaster: scary at first, but then you realize you’re safe and then it’s a lot of fun.”
“When’s the part I realize it’s safe?” asked Felix, who couldn’t take his eyes off the asphalt to very far down below him. “Wait: and who ate the boys?”
He didn’t get an answer. The tentacle finished building tension and suddenly snapped forward, lifting Alloy and his passenger out of the window and throwing them like a boulder from a trebuchet across the street toward the other building. At first, Felix was too shocked to scream, then he realized that they were not going to reach the other building; that they were, in fact, starting to arc toward the street.
Just as fear was starting to bubble up in his throat, the second tentacle whipped out from Alloy’s other side. Its tip was a broad, flexible fluke lined with dozens of razor teeth that punched into the side of the building where it hit. Those teeth caught in the masonry, dug foot-long gouges in it, then held fast.
The tentacle went taut and suddenly, their fall became a swing that picked up speed as it went. Now Felix did hear himself screaming.
They started to follow an arc back upward and the anchoring tentacle disengaged, allowing momentum to sent them hurtling forward. Before they started falling this time, the first tentacle was already slamming itself home into another section of the building, ready to swing them onward.
By the third time the cycle repeated itself, Felix was laughing like a madman. “Dude! This is the best thing ever!
They reached the end of the block and this time, instead of allowing them to swing gently, the tentacles threw them as the first one had done, sending them flying high above the packed city streets. The building with the pool was in sight, if only for the pillar of steam rising from it, but at their current speed, landing directly on it could kill them. Instead, Alloy’s tentacles grabbed the side of the building and swung them off center form it, then up and around to land on the patio.
Half the water was already gone from the pool by the time they landed and the locus was moving with fits and starts as it managed to reignite its central fires again and again only to have the water douse it.
“Maybe if we dump it in the ocean, it’d stay down.” Felix remarked as Alloy released the harness.
“No.” Felix kept himself from flinching when Icthiani seemed to materialize out of the shadow of the nearby pool shed right next to him. Her focus was on the struggling monster and never left it. “This creature must be removed from this world.”
From her cloak, she extracted a white, ceramic tile streaked with her blood. “Are you ready?”
In response, Felix flexed his right arm, which split open to reveal his grenade launcher. He took a shell twice as big around as a shotgun shell out of a compartment at his waist and loaded it through the muzzle. An electronic beep and a green LED on the side of the weapon indicated that it was now armed. “Ready to rock.”
“Hold on to something!” Lydia called, retreating into the penthouse.
Alloy spiked himself down with the tentacles and looked toward the pool. The locus had caught into the side of the poll and hauled itself up enough that its core was clear of the water, if only by inches. “You two had better hurry; it’s climbing out!”
“It’s time has already come.” Icthiani said with a cruel smile. She rose into the air in a ring of red lightning. Spell-words dripped form her lips and into the tile and the air around it. Before the locus’s core flame could reignite from the net swell of water to hit it, she presented the tile to the sky and snapped it.
The astral portal rent the air, bathing the patio in rose light. It hadn’t been stable for more than a second before Felix had the calculations set and he fired his grenade into the tear in the dimensional fabric. Right at the event horizon, it detonated, transforming the astral gate into the chaotic, sucking vortex between Earth and Faerie.
An incredible gale kicked up, pulling sheets of pool water up into it, along with a deck chair and petals off the flowers arranged in neat planters next to the door. The locus dug its stone fingers into the poolside tile as the pull began to take it.
“It’s trying to hold on!” Alloy shouted over the roar.
Felix shook his head at whatever the other hero planned on doing. “No worries! As long as there’s a valid target for the spell and none have gone through, the pull will get stronger and stronger until they can’t hold on anymore!”
The pull was indeed getting stronger: the diving board was wagging in the wind, straining its bolts. Meanwhile the flowers were getting shredded, sending whole flowers, leaves and dirt from their beds into the rift. Still, the locus held firm.
Icthiani’s flight spell started to fail against the vortex as well and she started to float toward it by inches. Felix reached up and grabbed her ankle before she could leave his reach. She shot him an angry look, which softened slightly before she dropped out of the sky and allowed him to hold her back by the upper arm.
Unable to draw the locus in, the vortex redoubled its efforts. Now the flowers were coming up by their roots and rocketing off to the other world. Another deck chair gave up the ghost and followed them while the diving board bent unnaturally. There was a snap and the tin doors on the pool shed broke around the bolt keeping them locked. They flew open to slam noisily and repeatedly against the sides of the shed as the wind buffeted them.
Now even Felix was starting to slide along the ground despite his bulk. He crouched, switching his grip on Icthiani to hold her tightly with an arm around her waist, then shifted his left fingers into pitons which he spiked into the ground.
The locus, far heavier than Felix, needed only to hold the side of the pool to remain stationary. Water was now spiraling up around it in a reverse rainstorm.
“We’re on our way!” Ray reported on the comms. “It might take time to get up to you.”
Still the wind increased. The glass door and windows of the penthouse facing the pool shattered. The glass flew out in a glittering cloud, looking like a school of tiny, beautiful fish as it was caught up in the twisting funnel beneath the Faerie gate. After a few revolutions, it too was pulled into the other world in a column of winking stars, colored green from the gate’s light.
Then, somewhere deep within the gate, there came a grinding rumble, then bright green flashes. The edges of the gate began to distort and flare orange and yellow, like they were burning. The entire thing shook in the air, shuttering like a dying thing before collapsing in on itself and winking out.
“What the hell?” Felix asked, seeming to be demanding answers form the universe. “Things can’t just resist an astral gate like that!” Realizing that he didn’t actually know that for certain, he looked to Icthiani. “Can they?”
The moment his attention was on her, the daoine threw his arm off of her. But she had no time to say something reproachful about that. The answer to his question was too important for that; too dire. “They cannot. Any creature from Faerie that has not acclimated to the Blue World will be drawn into the vortex. The spell will not end until at least one such being has passed through.”
Patio tiles cracked and groaned as the locus pulled itself onto them. Ponderously, it righted its body and oriented its core toward the trio that attacked it. The flames within reignited and this time, there was no water to put it out. Eldritch flame expanded outward to connect torso, arms and head and the thing seemed to crack its neck, ready to continue the battle.
“Then… how do you explain why that guy’s still here?” Felix asked, simultaneously sending a command back to the team’s underground garage, summoning Sally B, the only one of his bikes with flight capability.
Icthiani’s eyes narrowed. “Because this creature is no longer a valid target for the spell: it has acclimated to the Blue World.”
To Be Continued…
Series Navigation<< Descendants: LA #22 – Wolverine Publicity (Part 4)Descendants: LA #24 – Wolverine Publicity (Part 6) >>

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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