- Descendants: LA #25 – Merchandise Driven Part 1
- Descendants: LA #26 – Merchandise Driven Part 2
- Descendants: LA #27 – Merchandise Driven Part 3
- Descendants: LA #28 – Troubled Production Part 1
- Descendants: LA #29 – Troubled Production Part 2
- Descendants: LA #30 – Troubled Production Part 3
- Descendants: LA #31 – Troubled Production Part 4
- Descendants: LA #32 – Troubled Production Part 5
- Descendants: LA #33 – The Sixth Ranger Part 1
- Descendants: LA #34 – The Sixth Ranger Part 2
- Descendants: LA #35 – The Sixth Ranger Part 3
- Descendants: LA #37 – The Sixth Ranger Part 5
“This will never work.” Icthiani glared up at Felix as she sat in the seat he usually used for suiting up in his Teen Machine armor, doing a poor job not to squirm. The squirming was perfectly justified, as Felix was in the middle of clumsily applying Lydia’s foundation makeup to her face and hands. “I am fairly certain this is not even the purpose of this substance. Is it not supposed to match one’s skin coloration?”
Felix fussed at a spot on her forehead he’d missed. “Yeah, but it’d be kind of against the whole idea if we put red makeup on you. We’re trying to cover up the red so people won’t know you’re you.”
“Will it not be clear that I am merely covering my skin with this paste? It will not look remotely like any human flesh tone.” She wasn’t even all that concerned about the logic, only about making him stop slathering the clammy concoction on her.
To this, Felix shrugged. “It’ll just look like you’re trying to cover up your skin looking different. But there’s plenty of descendants in the city, or other people with skin conditions and stuff—so they won’t automatically be like ‘hey that chick is totally Lady D of the Descendants!’
He straightened up and primped his close-cut hair with a goofy grin. “Besides, when you’re with this handsome guy? Sorry to say most eyes are gonna be on me.” After a beat, he squeaked and quickly added, “Not that you’re not hot and stuff. I was just…”
“Please stop speaking on this topic.”
“Oh thank god. Um, I mean, hold still and close your eyes. I’m almost done.”
Icthiani renewed her glare. “Close my eyes? Why would I do that?”
“I’ve gotta do your eyelids or there’s no point,” said Felix, dabbing more foundation onto the makeup sponge he’d been using.
“I will not allow you to touch my eyes. And on my world, closing one’s eyes on another for an extended time is a monumental act of trust—or better explained, an almost suicidal act.” Icthiani’s hands made fists over the arms of the chair.
“Aw, even me, ‘Ani?” Felix whined. “But you know I’m not gonna do anything right? It’s just a little swipe of the sponge and we’ll be done.”
Unconsciously, she leaned away from him. She searched his face and found nothing but sincerity and a tiny bit of hurt. Something in her wanted to take the risk—knew it wasn’t a risk for her to close her eyes on any of the others, especially Felix—but she couldn’t do it. “I… no.”
Felix’s smile flickered, but then his quicksilver mind grabbed onto another idea. “Okay. How about this: you close one eye at a time and you keep your hand on my wrist the whole time so you can totally break it if I put too much pressure on your eye.”
Staring at him didn’t seem to convey exactly how stupid a suggestion that was, so Icthiani settled on saying, “Your wrist is significantly stronger than bone. I doubt I can do significant damage to it.”
“That’s your only quibble with breaking my wrist?”
“Yes,” she said flatly.
Felix laughed and some tension left her shoulders seeing as she hadn’t failed at the type of verbal jousting she’d watch Felix and the others engage in. “But seriously, we need to do your eyelids. Do you want to do it?”
She thought about it and the image of her sangrelogos taking advantage of the situation somehow to put her eye out appeared before her mind’s eye. “I… will close my eye for you.”
Surprise cut Felix’s laugh off and he gaped at her for a moment. “Really?”
“You are the one who asked.”
“Yeah, but I thought I’d have to argue with you more. Do you really trust me that much?”
Before she could try and formulate a diplomatic lie, her mouth was saying, “No.” Felix started to frown, but she cut him off. “But that is how I was raised. You… and Raymond and Lydia ans my brother have given me many reasons to give you my trust. You will forgive me if doing so discomfits me.”
Felix cocked his head to the side, regarding her curiously. “Jeez, ‘Ani, I don’t wanna make you uncomfortable.”
“It will be the only way this gets done. Are you willing to apply that paste or not?”
Not one to miss out on a rare opportunity, Felix nodded so rapidly he almost made himself dizzy. “Yeah, let’s get this done. Y’know, whenever you’re ready.”
With one last wary look, Icthiani leaned her head back and closed her eyes. Felix hesitated at the tension that was clear on her face. “You have very little time,” she reminded him. Thus spurred, he began lightly dabbing the foundation on.
“You know, the cool thing is, since you always have your hood up on missions anyway, you can let your hair down when we head out—literally.”
“Why would I want to do that?” Icthiani asked through gritted teeth. Sparks of red energy crackled around her tightly-balled fists.
Felix didn’t notice, he was too busy focusing on what he was doing. “I dunno, just thought you might. You always have it stuff in a hood, or pinned up, so I thought just once you’d let it down. There. Done.” He stood back to admire his handiwork. “You can open your eyes now.”
Her eyes snapped open the moment permission was given. “Having long hair free is an invitation to having it tangled or grabbed by a predator or enemy.”
“Then why not just cut it?”
“Females do not cut their hair.”
Felix went over to one of his dressers, and started rummaging in it. “You’re gonna roll your eyes if I ask ‘why’ aren’t you?”
“I would,” she agreed, “Most female humans keep long hair too. Do you question that?”
“Some dude have long hair too. And some women have short hair—some of them are even bald, especially after Rhe-Rae went bald for Diary of Girl Seven. Seriously though: as paranoid as Faerie seems to make people, and as dangerous as you just made long hair sounds, why make women wear long hair? Were they trying to get you killed?”
Icthiani huffed. “Is it all humans that don’t understand this, or only you? For us, a female’s hair is a symbol of her health and ability to bear children.” Then she scowled. “Of course, that means nothing when the only daoine we are aware of are my brother and Zales. Perhaps I may as well cut it.”
That set off a long, awkward silence in the room, which broke only when Felix found what he was after. “Um, here you go. Check out how you look.” With that, he handed her the mirror.
The job of applying the foundation was blotchy and uneven with a few blobs standing out to give her skin a lumpy appearance. It looked like she’d skinned something, tanned it poorly, and was now wearing it on her face like a macabre mask. It also did nothing to hide the red of her eyes and lips. Some of her night terrors looked like that.
It occurred to her that she’d been staring far too long, so she said the only positive things she could about it. “You covered up my skin completely.”
“So I did good?”
“You accomplished the goal you intended. I think I will still wear my hair under a hood, however.” She started to get up and Felix quickly moved to remove the dentist’s bib he’d put over her to keep from getting the makeup all over her.
“That’s fair. So meet me in the elevator in five minutes?”
She nodded and made her way out.
They actually left fifteen minutes later and it wasn’t Icthiani’s fault. While she’d quickly put her hair up in a bun and covered it with a kerchief and her eyes with sunglasses before throwing on sweat pants and a top with three-quarter length sleeves to cover where the make-up on her hands didn’t, it took Felix that long to completely change his outfit and arms.
He had a set of civilian-strength prosthetics with a polymer covering that simulated flesh in as opposed to the exposed plastic-and-ceramic arms he used around the apartments. She’d noticed that he was using a set of prosthetic legs to get around at home more often as opposed to his wheelchair as well. It piqued her curiosity, but not enough to comment.
She also didn’t comment on his outfit: a black tank top with short-sleeved flannel button-down worn over it. Neither did anything to hid the connection points where his prosthetics joined his flesh, so Icthiani had no idea what the point of putting on the more lifelike prosthetics was. Like her, he also wore sweats, but his were baggier and had pockets.
“Aw, you’re still hiding your hair?” he asked by way of greeting.
“I see no point in displaying my hair for humans I have no interest in.”
Felix rolled his eyes. “None of them is going to know what that’s supposed to mean. Besides, the awful makeup job I did will keep the guys off you for sure.”
They left the Fayth talent agency by a side door that led into a narrow alley that existed more as a place for rainwater to drain than anything else. It put them out on a lightly traveled side street and Felix led the way toward the toy store.
Despite herself, Icthiani stayed close to him. Streets were the worst part of living in the Blue World for her. So many people in such proximity—so close that any of them could stick a knife into one of them without being seen. And the ‘cars’…. even though they seemed to be confined to the black stone pathways, they reminded her of huge insects, the likes of which she’d seen devour the unwary. It was made worse by the fact that people voluntarily climbed inside them—and that they were so quiet. Too quiet.
She knew they weren’t dangerous beyond mistakes made by their operators. She knew the people around her mostly didn’t care who she was and had no incentive to stab her. No, she stayed close to Felix because every time an odd noise caught her attention, it was all she could do to keep herself from summoning up her sangrelogos to defend herself.
If her nerves got the best of her, she knew Felix would stop her before she did something everyone would regret.
As they walked, she stole a glance at him.
The truth is, she did trust him. Almost.
She wanted to trust him. That was a more accurate way of saying it. Trust was something rare among the daoine and given that she was so thoroughly marked for death that her own parents were morally obligated to turn her over to face the executioner’s ax, whatever trust Icthiani had before had fled her.
Felix though… she couldn’t imagine the kind of betrayals or abandonment she could when it came to everyone else in her life but her brother. Plus, he was interesting. Arguably, he’d had a worse childhood than her with parts of his body destroyed by some small, evil man, and yet he hadn’t let it dim that light in his eyes, the humor he brought everywhere with him. If she had the penchant, she knew he would talk with her about anything she wanted to.
Except one thing. She winced at the memory of that day when Felix had been so horribly wounded and… and… She would be lying if she said her sangrelogos was wrong about her thinking of him in an intimate way. The sangrelogos was the reason that could never act on it.
She thought of Felix the same way Icthiani did. And if there was any lesson taught to any candidate attempting to bind a sangrelogos, it was that the desires of the bound demon had to be denied with great force. If they were ever sated, they would be one more step toward taking over.
“Are you cold or something?” Felix’s voice shocked her out of her thoughts. “You’re shivering.”
“Too many people,” she replied quickly, “I don’t trust them and this ‘secret identity’ concept you all go on about would prevent me from defending myself if danger presents itself.”
Felix chuckled and sparks crackled behind Icthiani’s sunglasses as she contemplated hitting him. “’Ani, no one’s expecting you to sit there and take it if someone attacks us or something. I mean, yeah: secret ID’s are important, and if you can defend yourself without showing off your powers, you should, but we don’t exact you to get yourself hurt or die because of it.”
She folded her arms. “And how am I meant to defend myself without my magic?”
“Aren’t like all you daoine folks taught to fight all the things on your world trying to kill you?”
“I can fight with an athame, but I didn’t bring mine because we were supposed to dress ‘normally’,” she said with an accusatory glare.
Felix glanced at her, caught the glare, then looked away. “You aren’t trained in hand-to-hand?”
“Ah….heh…” Felix rubbed the back of his head. “Okay, you got me. I never really saw the point, since even the civvie arms are Olympic strength and tough enough to stop a knife or a club. If someone’s got a gun, things might get hairy, but yeah… Maybe you can ask Ray; he’s pretty badass hand-to-hand, and Lyds is into that taichi stuff lately.”
Icthiani was quiet a moment before looking back at him and saying, “You should train as well. If you insist on going out into this…” she gestured expansively, nearly hitting a woman walking her chihuahua past them, “this without proper armaments, you should at least know how to fight.”
He shrugged. “Okay, maybe we could get Ray to train both of us. That’d be kinda cool, I guess.”
She didn’t reply to that, instead taking a moment to look at their surroundings. They’d gone in a different direction than she usually did on the rare occasion that she left the apartment and now they were somewhere completely unfamiliar to her.
“You’ve been here before?”
“Hmm? Oh, yeah. There’s an awesome food truck a couple blocks up from the toy store. They do these cheese-steaks where you can put anything from their menu on ’em. So you can get like a cheese-steak with chicken fingers, fries, and onion rings if you want. Josh came with us once and got them to split open one of their jumbo dogs instead of giving him a bun—maybe you’d like to go after we’re done at the toy store.”
Green world food was one thing she was a fan of. Humans had ways of cooking the daoine hadn’t invented yet and it unlocked a range of flavors that was simply amazing. Even the vegetables—which had little to no nutritional value for a daoine—could be made to taste good.
“I am not averse to that… as long as we buy the food and take it home. I’ve been out here, exposed, for too long as it is.”
“Deal,” Felix said with a huge grin, “but first… check it out: we’re here!”
Icthiani followed the direction he was pointing and found a sign with a huge, pink platypus lying on its back, using all four feet and its tail to juggle wooden blocks that spelled out ‘Playful Platypus Toys and Hobbies.” Her jaw set when her gaze drifted downward to discover that the shop was being overrun… by orcs.”
To Be Continued…