Descendants: LA Annual #2 – Copacetic

This entry is part 13 of 13 in the series Descendants: LA Volume 2
By the time the fire at the apartment building was out and clean-up arranged for the penthouse battleground, the sun was scrapping the horizon and the heroes of both coasts were tired. It was Felix that suggested the y retire somewhere to talk over the events of the past day.
What the visiting Descendants and most of his teammates besides Lydia didn’t expect was for that place to be a Chinese restaurant called ‘Panda Time!’.
“TM, are you certain this is a good idea?” asked Josh. “It doesn’t seem wise, use sitting down and eating in costume. I’ve watched many of your programs involving heroes of various stripes and such actions never end well.”
“Don’t worry about it, Z, that’s all fiction. Heroes get attacked like that because it adds drama. This is real life—plus, we already had maximum drama with the locust thing.”
“Locus.” Icthiani replied blandly, “And if you expect me to put myself on display and each in full view of the people of this world…”
Lydia stepped in, “Oh, don’t worry about it, Lady D. TM and I come by here every once in a while. They have a private room—and they’re big fans of the whole superhero set. We’ll probably even eat for free.” She turned to the group at large, flying backward ahead of them, “So are we in?”
There was a sigh over the comms. “Can someone at least bring me back some lo mein?”
“Got ya covered, Glass.” Lydia replied happily. “So, anyone else object?”
Ephemeral looked from one of his friends to the other. “We do have quite a bit to talk about…”
“And I definitely need food badly.” added Facsimile, rubbing her stomach. “I didn’t get a lot of action, but I also didn’t have anything to eat since the airport.” She regarded the local Descendants, “And, yeah; we should really talk especially about the chances of something like Rocky Balrog-a back there coming back.”
Alloy nodded his agreement. “We’re in.”
“Score!” Felix exclaimed, raising a fist in triumph. “Hey, any chance we can get a group picture? I’ve got a camera drone I never get to use…”
Two photo ops (The staff of ‘Panda Time!’ wanted their pictures taken with the heroes as well), neither of which Icthiani participated in, and the two teams found themselves in the back room with a free dinner. Both Felix and Ray excused themselves to the restroom to switch from helmets to their luchador-style ‘formal’ masks.
“Hey, you okay, dude?” asked Felix as he adjusted the mask over his face. “You’re even more quiet than ‘Ani. Heck, I expected you to shoot this idea down when I suggested it.” A leer came to his face and he playfully elbowed his friend in the ribs. “Is it because a certain sixth member of our team couldn’t be here?”
Ray glanced over at him. Only the mask hid how his face darkened at the teasing. He didn’t bother lying; Felix knew him too well for that. “Maybe a little. But mostly I’ve been thinking. We can guess almost with almost one hundred percent certainty who was behind that monster today.”
“Zales.” Felix said gravely.
“Right. But why today? Why not any other day but the one where the Descendants were here?”
Felix glared. “Oh come on, man! You can’t still be suspicious of them, can you? They’re heroes! And they’ve been around longer than Zales would have been.” Ray shifted uncomfortably. Pursuing that possibility was only going to cause friction between the two of them, but it was a very real danger since Zales had the mesmer. His silence was all Felix needed to hear. “You do! Dude, seriously?”
Crossing his arms, Ray leaned on the sink. “All I’m saying is that we need to be careful. This guy has mind control and a whole bunch of Faerie creatures he can put into play to boot. It would just take one mistake on our part for him to decide to end us before we have any defense.”
Bristling, Felix didn’t back down. “I’m not dumb, Ray. I know what kind of danger we’re in. ‘Ani is scared and she’s the scariest thing we’ve ever met and that includes the Loki from today, so Zales has got to be serious bad news.” Ray started to talk, but he cut him off, “But. But, we can’t just turn down every bit of help we might be able to find because we’re scared. That’s not any smarter than not being cautious at all. We need to trust some people, or else… we’re screwed, dude.”
They stood there in silence for a minute or two; Ray watching Felix as Felix gave him a pleading look.
He ran a hand over his masked pate and shrugged. “You have a point. And we’ve already let them in on the fact that we’re trying to break away from D3I.” He made one last adjustment to the nose holes in his mask and gestured for Felix to leave first. “You’re the big fan though, so you should take the lead.”
Felix grinned. “You won’t ever regret this, man.” With that, he dashed (as well as someone could dash while wearing bulky powered armor) out the door, leaving Ray to follow them.
They emerged from the rest room to find their teammates and guests sitting at one of the long tables in the private room. Heaping plates and bowls of food had been placed in the center for them and everyone was in the process of helping themselves.
Felix immediately zeroed in on Alloy, who he could only identify by the metal tentacles hanging from his arms, as the normally armored prelate was now dressed in an all-black, long sleeves black ensemble complete with a Zorro-style mask consisting of a black scarf tied over his head and top half of his face with eye holes to see through.
“Dude! You changed out here in the open? What about your secret ID?”
Lydia looked up from where she’d been talking to Facsimile about something and grinned. “You really missed something, TM! They have these belt buckle things that let them summon or unsummon their costumes at will!”
“We do have a little magic on our side.” Alloy said with a grin. His tentacles were methodically dissecting a piece of shrimp toast on his plate, though he was paying them no mind.
This made Felix grin like a madman. “Hey, Lady D…”
“No.” Icthiani replied instantly. She was sitting at the far end of the table, as far from the others as she could, peeling the tempura off some pieces of pork with her long fingers. “The magic used for that is the magic of this world: circles and patterns. I cannot copy such a spell.”
The cybernetic prelate’s shoulders slumped, but Josh was quick to butt in. “However, I am sure that if she tried, she could duplicate the effect.”
Felix’s momentary melancholy vanished immediately and he went over to take the seat next to Icthiani. “That would be nine kinds of awesome!” She growled low and her throat, but didn’t shy away. He was not, however, set on pestering her about his own quick change magical gadget just yet though. Instead, he waited for Ray to take a seat between Alloy and Ephemeral before speaking up.
“So… I bet even the new folks can guess where today’s monster of the week came from.”
Ephemeral set his bowl of crab and chicken soup aside. “I believe we can. You suspect this enemy you spoke to us of; the one in control of D3I?”
“Zales.” Icthiani said darkly. “He is the only one we know of with the knowledge required to contain and control a Vhaath’s furnace. This was not a random occurrence: if one appeared on its own, we would have heard about fires and destruction for days, perhaps weeks before now. They possess no will of their own to curb their violence.”
Ray nodded. “The question is why he let it out now, when you guys were here.”
“Unleash a semi-unkillable murder beast when we’re around?” asked Facsimile, “Maybe he got scared that there were heroes not on his payroll in town and thought he might be able to kill us?”
Alloy waved a piece of shrimp trapped in his chopsticks, “Or maybe this is how he’s chosen to announce himself. You just said that this is a critter who obviously couldn’t have been working on its own. Maybe he knew that and sent it on purpose.”
“But what you are truly worried about,” said Ephemeral, “Is that this was orchestrated in order to encourage use to ‘team up’ as it were. If we are already under his control, it would be to his advantage.” The table went silent at this. Most of them had been thinking it but didn’t want to say it.
“Look…” Felix started.
“I was thinking that.” Ray cut hm off. “And it would also be smart to bring the point up yourself.”
Ephemeral nodded. “That is understandable.”
“But…” Ray continued, “The more I think about it, the more that point doesn’t make sense. By the time the locus showed up, we had already teamed up and were talking. On top of that, that plan requires Zales to know about use knowing about him—or at least suspecting. And if that’s the case, why not come to us, knock on the door and mind-blast us all into good little servants? Plus, you’re a mentalist yourself. If you can’t shake off this mesmer thing, who could?”
He was well aware of Felix grinning at him.
“What I’m trying to say is… we’d like your help still. Not direct, obviously, but anything you can tell us would be much appreciated. And we probably have tech and star power to barter with; starting with maybe a PSA for Descendants Rights Worldwide?”
Ephemeral smiled respectfully at him. “That can be arranged. And I was going to offer my own services as well: I have been training my friends in mental defense to guard against the seemingly inevitable mind control. Hopefully it might help you against the mesmer.”
“We would greatly appreciate that.” said Josh.
Facsimile laughed loudly and raised her glass of lemonade. “You know what? I think you guys are well on your way to earning the name ‘Descendants’.”
Far from the lights and traffic of a Los Angeles just starting to awaken its night life, two ice blue eyes watched the last rays of the sun glittering in the surf as it pounded the rocky shore far below from the expansive windows of a mansion built at the top of the cliff overlooking said shore.
That view probably sealed the deal when the current owner of the place, Gordon G Grey, the well known director bought it. But ever since he met an odd young man with ice blue eyes that flickered with gold in a restaurant a little over a year ago, he hadn’t set foot in it. In fact, he didn’t recall owning one and was currently in the market for a cliff-side estate outside the city.
In the following months, all trace of Grey’s modern brushed metal and red velor decorating tastes had been erased. Replacing them were fine, antique wood, black leather and taxidermied animals of all kinds.
The new occupant (for he was certainly not the ‘owner’) of the house was fascinated with beasts and birds and even insects and fishes, displaying examples of nature’s diversity in every corner of every room.
Flora, however, was verboten. He’d had the gardens dug up, the trees cut down and burned, and slate tiles put down over every inch of the grass. The only plants allowed in his presence were either dead and carved into furnishings or experiments confined to labs far away from his abode.
With one last look at the sea, he lowered his gaze back to the tablet computer in his hands. A year and a half ago, he would have boggled at the idea of the thing and ordered it removed from his presence. Now he couldn’t imagine trying to navigate life without it.
The thing literally put the world in his hands. Any place, any time, any knowledge that others might share freely, he could see and hear and (thanks to a state of the art piezoelectric interface) even touch it. Now, it was showing him something most interesting.
He’d learned about prelates soon after his arrival and studied them. They were an easy way to win hearts and minds and distract the populace. But they were also a threat he needed to keep track of. The Descendants of Mayfield had always been on his radar, but it had taken him by surprise when they appeared on his doorstep, fighting alongside his personal force of prelates.
It might have been over playing his hand, but having been around scientists for so long, he had let his curiosity get the best of him and attempted an experiment.
His subjects had not disappointed. Their abilities were just as varied and spectacular as he’d been led to believe. Back in the Green World, there were legend of the awesome magic wielded by the wizards of Mankind. Now it seemed that the Blue World had a new, fantastic magic: Science. Genetics.
“We’re not entirely sure what went wrong.” a voice droned in his earpiece. He’d almost forgotten he’d been talking to the man, having become so engrossed in watching the fight and the precious data scrolling down the side. “We subjected the creature to worse damage in our tests and it always regenerated.”
Brushing strands of long, platinum hair out of his eyes, the man in the mansion clucked like a mother scolding her child. “Before the final attack, you record an electromagnetic ‘event’, did you not, Dr. Menville?”
“Uh…” There was a pause, “Yes. We did. I suspect it was one of the surges that Alloy was putting out, but the signature is different.”
Turning from the view, the man with the frozen eyes walked back into the living room, taking one hand off the tablet to fondly run it over the bristly hairs running down the back of one of two wild boars stationed on either side of the window. “That EM event marked an attack from the astral plane, doctor. You may destroy a Vhaath’s furnace’s body all you like and it will reform eventually. Annihilate its spirit and you end it for all time like any demon.”
He picked up a wine glass from the coffee table where he left it and took a sip. What passed for alcohol in the Blue World did not suit his palate, but he had found something that pleased him. The ‘wine coolers’ were refreshingly infused with bubbles that cracked against his tongue and nose, and they came in a vast array of flavors that he had only just begun to delve. His current favorite and the one he was drinking at the moment, was called Cranberry Mirage.
He rolled the beverage around on his tongue before swallowing. “I was unaware that humans were capable of effecting the astral even with these ‘descendant’ abilities. Are there others?”
“I’m… sure there are. It is a genetic condition.” replied Menville. “But that isn’t really my area of expertise.”
“Then find me someone for whom it is.” He gestured with his glass as if the doctor could see him. “And in the meantime, I want to be linked to the best repository of information there is concerning what Mankinds know of the astral. This was a surprise and I never enjoy being caught on my blind side.”
He smiled a cruel, sharp-toothed smile as he heard Menville sputtering at the new orders. While he needed in person, unimpeded eye contact to initiate the mesmer, the modifications he’d made to the good doctor’s mind made him certain that his Lord Zales controlled his personal, financial and physical future. That was the kind of fear that didn’t foster arguments against unreasonable demands.
“Y-yes sir. Of course sir. I’ll have that sent to you right away and begin a search for an expert on descendant genetics.”
“Excellent, doctor.” said Zales, “Now: give me a status report on my other pet project: Chimera.”
End Descendants: LA Volume 2
Series Navigation<< 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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  1. I am WAY too amused by Fancy McElfnoble savoring coolers. I was actually laughing out loud.

  2. “…suggested the y retire…”

    “…seem wise, use sitting down and…”

    “…an all-black, long sleeves black ensemble…”
    Too much black here.

    “… requires Zales to know about use knowing…”

    “…metal and red velor decorating…”

    “…there were legend of the awesome…”

    “Before the final attack, you record an electromagnetic ‘event’…”

    “…humans were capable of effecting the astral…”

    Also, I feel the phrase ‘as well as someone could dash while wearing bulky powered armor’ is problematic as it’s seemingly used to imply a level of difficulty in dashing, but many flavours of powered armour one sees in media come with large amounts of thrust that makes it perhaps the ideal sort of attire in which to dash about.

  3. Projects named “Chimera” are never good.
    They always involve putting together things on the concept that “Thing 1” (ex. Pizza) is good and “Thing 2” (ex. Ice Cream) is good – putting them together as a monster will be better despite the fact that anybody with a minimal amount of common sense could see its a bad idea (ex. Soggy rampaging pizza monster). And then the mind-control/shock collar fails on the thing and you’ve got an instant rampage.

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