Descendants Special #3: A Brilliant Twilight

This entry is part 9 of 14 in the series The Descendants Vol 3: A Bright, Bright Summer

It was the kind of day one just couldn’t buy even given the efforts of modern science. The full sun brought out the color of the grass and leaves and wildflowers all around Lake Standish.

The lush colors of nature weren’t the ones on Warrick and JC’s minds however as they leaned on the stone railing around the poolside patio, looking down at the lakeside. What teenage boy could even consider the flora when there were bathing suits in view?

Cyn had broken out the vast collection of water guns she’d gradually collected over the summer and she along with Kay, she was battling Tink and Lisa for ownership of a ‘flag’; really a wide brimmed, medieval style hat stolen from Warrick’s room.

The already impressive selection of water guns, as it turned out, were actually part of an even more sizable water arsenal, including remote plastic ‘mines’ that popped water balloons to spray everyone in the area and a shoulder mounted toy that amounted to the aqueous version of a flamethrower. One team was significantly more drenched than the other.

“We… are the luckiest guys ever.” Said JC with the reverence of a pious man.

“Very much so.” Warrick agreed.

“As much as good old fashioned pervy-ness does my heart good, I’ve been waiting for you guys to bring the cooler with the stuff to grill out for the past ten minutes.” Ian said from the grill. He was in his trunks with an apron that said, “Hilarious Novelty Apron” across the front in plain, block letters.

Turning red with embarrassment, Warrick started to make some excuse or apology but thought better of it and nodded. “Okay, Mr. Smythe.” He slapped JC on his shoulder to get his attention.

“Huh?”

“Come on, we’ve got to bring the cooler out.”

“No need. I have it.” Kareem came out of the house, lugging the cooler out on his own.

“Whoa, whoa, whoa.” Warrick hurried to grab the cooler, having a much harder time of it than Kareem. “You can’t strain yourself. Doctor’s orders.”

“But I feel fine.” Kareem protested even as he relinquished his hold on the cooler. “Better than fine as you would say.”

“No, I mean orders as in Ms. Brant told me I better not let you strain yourself while a ‘healthy young man’ like me can handle things. She’s worried about—“ He suddenly remembered JC’s presence and the need to maintain Kareem’s cover story. “Your asthma-bronchitis… thing.”

Lung infection. Kareem fed him the correct line mentally.

“Lung infection. Right” Warrick ammended. “Which is why you moved to Freeland House in the first place, on the account of the fresh air and top notch doctors in the area.”

If JC thought it odd that Warrick spat out verbatim the explanation he’d given Kareem’s presence earlier, he didn’t show it, instead helping his friend bring the cooler over beside the grill. “So Kareem, what do you think of Mayfield so far?”

“Truthfully, I do not know a great deal about it yet. I’ve spent most of the past few days getting settled in my room. I look forward to seeing it in person though.”

Not a single word of that was a lie. Ian smirked and hid it behind the pretense of taking a sip of beer. When Warrick and JC finally dropped the cooler beside him, he flipped it open and took out a plastic container of chunked peppers, onions, beef and chicken and another of cherry tomatoes and set them on the grill’s sideboard.

“Hmm.” JC said. He honestly had no idea what else to say to the newcomer.

Ian picked up a kebab skewer from the sideboard and glowered at it with mock intensity. “Listen to me boys,” He tried to make his voice deep and gravelly, to comedic effect. “Because today you’re going to learn the art of barbecue. The way of cooking like a man: with fire and sharp sticks.”

“Oh lord, he’s in caveman mode again.” Laurel sighed. She and Alexis exited the house holding grocery bags. She wore an island print tube top and a matching sarong over a bikini bottom. Her hair, for once, was done up in a tall ponytail.

“But he’s using the action hero voice.” Alexis laughed. “Ian, are you going to run the food off a cliff or make it explode?” She was dressed in a dark green one piece with a cut out over her navel.

Ian shook his head and answered, still in his action hero persona. “Laugh all you want ladies. But you know who isn’t laughing?” He took a cube of beef out of its container and slid it onto the skewer. “Bossy here. That’s what she gets for working with the O’Leary gang against Chicago.”

“Ooookay.” Warrick said, “I think it’s time to go see if Tink and Lisa need some back-up against Genghis Cyn. Guys?”

Kareem shook his head. “I think I will help Ms. Brant and Ms. Keyes set out the food.”

“Suit yourself.” JC was already off at a jog.

“You okay?” Warrick was starting to move off himself, but lingered for his friend’s benefit.

“Yes, thank you.” Kareem waved dismissively.

“Is about Melissa not being here?”

“Of course not.” Kareem was still managing to wave off the idea without being rude. “I am very happy for her finally being able to spent time with her family.”

“You can still miss her even if you’re cool with why she’s gone.” Warrick pointed out. “I mean, I miss having my sister around, but I know she had to go home to pack and get ready for school.”

“She is my friend. I would miss her regardless.” Said Kareem. “I would miss anyone here if they were gone. I even miss Juniper, even though I know that she will be here any minute with Adel.”

Warrick almost asked what he thought of Melissa’s boyfriend, Terry, but decided that would be bad form. “Speaking of Adel; is he as boring in Astral form as he is in person?”

Kareem chuckled. “Surprisingly, his Astral body is tinted so as to hint at deep passions and a rich inner life. I can only wonder at what causes him to keep such thoughts from reaching the surface.”

“Maybe they can’t pass through a beige medium.” Warrick snarked.

“Gah!” JC’s voice reached them from down the hill. “The backup needs back-up! The back-up needs back-up!”

“I better go help before Cyn puts a hose down his pants or something.” Warrick couldn’t help but grin.

Kareem only nodded and turned to help with the food. He appreciated Warrick’s concern and also his conscientiousness in not asking after Terry. He just wished that that would learn not to think things so loudly in the presence of a mind reader.

***

Tink couldn’t stop laughing even as she stood, soaking, next to the others piling her paper plate with food. “I can’t believe how much fun that was.”

“You’ve never had water wars?” Warrick asked. “Back home, they were the snowball fights of summer.”

“Since Cyn has so many water guns, we need to play Assassin some time.” Lisa said, adding a kebab to her plate.

“If we do; no modifying the guns,” Cyn was steeped in more water than anyone else, a small puddle forming whenever she stood still. She stuck her tongue out at Tink.

“It was self defense!” Tink laughed, “You had a fireman’s dream strapped to your back!”

“I’m actually kind of impressed that you could make that little pistol fire its entire tank in one shot.” Kay said. The yellow stripes in her hair had washed out, leaving only her dark, natural hair color. She’d compensated by putting on the pilfered hat they’d used as a flag.

“I never even thought of a water hand cannon, I’ll give you that much.” Cyn said.

“Is Assassin the game where you’re playing a spy, hunting the other players down, defeating them, and then going after their target until everyone has been assassinated and only the most savvy and cunning remains as the winner?” Juniper asked from the picnic table, having already gotten her food. Beside her, the ever quiet Adel was meticulously cutting apart his steak.

Everyone shared a glance in silence before Lisa nodded.

“Oh good, I’m really good at that, let’s play.” Juniper smiled innocently.

“The steaks are great, Mr. Smythe. JC said quickly.

“Thanks. It’s amazing what a little fire can do.” Ian smiled from his seat beside Alexis. He looked over at her and cleared his throat.

“You’re a golden culinary god, Ian.” She said with a sarcastic air and kissed him. “Especially since you’re using my father’s marinade. You know, the one I gave to you.”

“If I can see far, it is because I had stood on the shoulders of giants.” He replied.

“In my opinion, it is all very good.” Kareem offered. He had surprised everyone by helping himself to almost as much food as Cyn. None of the other Descendants or Lisa could blame him though; he’d spent a year as an astral ghost, completely unable to experience mortal sensation. Drywall probably would have been delicious.

“Who made the potato salad?” Tink asked, taking any empty chair once she’d gotten everything she wanted.

“My credit card.” Laurel held up her wine glass in mock triumph.

“That explains why it tastes like the kind my mom serves.” Tink joked before eating a spoonful..

“Then you’ll find that the rolls and deviled eggs also taste like home cooking.” Laurel assured her. Everyone laughed at that.

Laughter and conversation buzzed through the summer evening as everyone shared stories, told jokes, and generally enjoyed each other’s company.

***

Elsewhere in Mayfield, someone else was not taking advantage of the beautiful day happening outside. Instead, she was taking advantage of the creature comforts provided by the Dornez Hotel.

Annette St John sat cross-legged on the sofa in the sitting room of her suite, a container of takeout Chinese food at her side, a horror movie on the giant sized screen in front of her. A veritable tower of delivery boxes from various stores all over town took up most of the floor space, many of them not even opened.

“I see you’ve put good use to the free time you’ve had here.” Someone said. The voice was dripping with sarcasm, and was deliberately said at the height of a suspenseful moment of the movie. Annette shrieked and span, a globe of purple colored force forming around her fist as she prepared to unleash her power on her assailant.

Seeing who it really was sobered her fear addled mind quickly. If Vorpal wanted to attack her, her powers would do her no good.

The older woman was in her full uniform, complete with the red tinted magitech goggles. She was brushing aside a Thai carryout carton to pick a book up from the chaotic scene that covered the table behind the sofa.

“How did you get in here?” Annette demanded, even though she already knew.

Vorpal shrugged. “It’s only eight stories up and the balcony doors aren’t locked in any serious way. Did you not read any of this? You were aware that it is a book and not a coaster, correct?” Annette didn’t reply, she only voiced her defiance by keeping her eyes firmly locked on Vorpal’s.

The mercenary sighed. “This was the deal, Annette. You learn to control your powers; I get you out of Voice’s school and into America.”

“And you enrolled me in that psionics school here.” Annette snapped, “That wasn’t part of the deal.” After a beat, she added, “And I’m Ineffable.”

“No, you really aren’t. And you wouldn’t need the school if you would read the goddamn book and do the exercises.” She threw the book down onto the sofa. Its title and byline; Harnessing Psionic Powers by Patricia Masters were clearly visible.

“I’m already powerful enough.” Annette switched to her native French, “I don’t want to waste time with another group of stupid children with powers.”

“You are a stupid child with powers. That’s why you’re dumb enough to think that raw strength equals power.” Vorpal sighted a vase set on an end table about six feet from her and made a gesture with both hands. Though she didn’t see anything, Annette certainly heard the hissing, scraping noise that preceded the vase wobbling where it stood.

Another gesture with both hands and the vase suddenly segmented into a dozen neatly cut pieces. “See? Some of my relatives are much more powerful than me, but they lack control and that’s why I’m better. Imagine what you could do if you cared to do something more than push things around.”

End Descendants Special #3

Series Navigation<< Issue #32: Ahead/BehindIssue #33: The Liedecker Institute: Freshman Class >>

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

Bookmark the permalink.

Comments are closed

  • Descendants Serial is a participant in the Amazon Services LLC Associates Program, an affiliate advertising program designed to provide a means for sites to earn advertising fees by advertising and linking to amazon.com.