Issue #1: Life Savers, Inc

This entry is part 2 of 15 in the series The Descendants Vol 1: Welcome to Freeland House

Cyn sighed and glared at Warrick as he sat across from her, drinking a soda and reading a comic book. They were sitting at an outdoor table outside a Burger Builders restaurant in Mayfield. They had taken a cab into the city around noon to spend the hot May afternoon exploring.

“What?” Warrick asked, finally noticing the glare over his Prelates of New York comic. He was wearing cargo shorts, a black T-shirt advertising the dates of the band Ladies of Armageddon’s One World Ripping tour, and a flat, wide brimmed hat.

“You need to get rid of that stupid hat.” Cyn took a bite out of the last of her four Triple Thick cheeseburgers. “It’s embarrassing.”

Warrick closed his comic, frowning. “No way! I just bought this! Besides, I need the shade; its pretty damn hot out.”

“Well roll your sleeves up more or something. Anything’s better than wearing that stupid thing. The white haired girl grimaced. “I don’t even know how you can see with the brim over your eyes like that.”

“I can see fine.” The Warrick sniffed. “And you know I can’t roll my sleeves up.” He didn’t have to say why; Cyn was well aware that Warrick’s metallic tentacles were coiled in concealment beneath the t-shirt’s sleeves. “Also, you don’t see me complain about the stuff you buy.”

“All I bought was a couple pairs of earrings and some flat format discs of some good movies.” Cyn pointed out.

“A ‘couple’ of pairs;” Warrick snorted, “You bought six pairs!”

Cyn crossed her arms and sniffed. “Like you’re one to talk; you bought nothing but FF discs and comic books. Why do you bother reading about fictional people with powers when you know actual people with powers?”

“You’re thinking of Taskforce: Earth. Prelates takes real life prelates from New York City and uses them in comic adventures.”

“It’s still mostly fake.” Cyn pointed out. “There’s no way that those guys are doing something exciting enough to write a comic book about every month. I bet that most days; they end up just doing jobs that real cops could do anyway.”

“Probably;” Warrick said, “but still, it’s really cool that there’s guys out there like…” He noticed some passersby within earshot. “You know – anyway, they use their powers to do good and I think that’s pretty damn cool.”

“It would be nice to use my powers for something more than reaching high shelves and freaking Melissa out.” Cyn nodded, popping the last morsel of her meal into her mouth. “Come on; let’s check out Wagner Park. I wonder if they have skate ramps.”

Warrick stowed his comic in his bag while Cyn was throwing her trash away. “You skateboard?”

“If they have ramps, I’ll try.” She grinned.

“You’ll try anything once, won’t you?” Warrick adjusted his hat as the pair struck off toward the park.

“It’s the only way to live, Warrick. What’s the point of doing anything if you don’t take risks?”

“Surviving?”

“Smart ass.”

The two chatted back and forth in general for the next few blocks before Cyn spotted a crowd gathering in the shadow of a skyscraper. “Hey, what’s going on over there?”

Warrick shrugged. “I don’t know, are they protesting something? I don’t even know what building that is.” They headed toward the forming throng of people.

“Oh my god…” Cyn followed the gazes and pointing fingers in the crowd up to the fifteenth story.

The skyscraper sported a pair of external glass elevators which scaled the heights on magnetic rails. One of those elevators had come wrenched free of one of its magnetic tracks and swung violently sideways, held in place only by the force of magnetism from the rails and a few bolts. An intermittent shower of sparks indicated that it was only a matter of time before the electricity failed and the magnet with it.

Two men and a woman in business suits were pressed against the glass wall of the elevator, which had suddenly become a floor.

“Someone’s got to do something.” Warrick said.

“The fire department has to be on their way.” Cyn murmured, watching the wayward structure sway slightly as another burst of sparks came from the device.

Warrick’s metal sense told him that the remaining bolts connecting the elevator to its coupling would sheer before the magnetic rail did. There were only a few minutes before the stress in them was too great. “They won’t make it in time.” He said. “We’ve got to do something.”

“Huh? Wait a minute Warrick, with the Academy looking for us, we can’t –“Cyn protested as Warrick grabbed her arm and led her into a nearby alley.

“Look;” the New Yorker said, stepping behind a dumpster and removing his shirt. “Those people don’t have a chance if we wait for the fire department. There are only two people here that can save them in time and that’s us.” He tied the shirt around his head so that only his eyes were visible.

“Are you even listening to yourself? This is prelate type stuff.” Cyn said. “Being a prelate is the exact opposite of lying low and hiding from the Academy.”

“Which is why I’m hiding my face. There’s plenty of metal controllers, so one showing up in Mayfield isn’t going to surprise them.”

“Hmm…” Cyn pondered. “You do have a point. We can’t let them die; plus being a prelate would be pretty exciting. But what am I going to do for a disguise? I’m not taking off my shirt.”

“Cyn… you’re a shapeshifter.”

“Point.” The white haired girl said. “Go ahead then. I’ll be right behind you – I just need to think of something useful to turn into.”

Warrick nodded, allowing the tentacles to stretch out to their full length. “Don’t take too long, those bolts are almost done for.” With that, he instructed to tentacles to start climbing the adjacent wall, carrying him behind them.

Gaining the top of the building connecting to the alleyway, Warrick focused his metal sense on the elevator across the street. The bolts were at their breaking point. Warrick grit his teeth, took a running start and leapt toward the building with the elevator; telling the tentacles to do whatever they could to help.

Striking out for purchase, the tentacles formed their leading edges into rigid harpoons. Both struck home just below the elevator access on the seventeenth floor and pulled Warrick to them.

Holding on to the lip of the access panel, Warrick willed the metal there to soften, granting him a better handhold. Then to took his first look down. The height was dizzying, and he had to force himself to focus on the elevator instead of the gawking crowd below.

The doors to the elevator itself were still closed, sealing the elevator patrons from rescue. Worse, one of the bolts snapped at just that instant. The others groaned under the new stress as the people inside screamed.

Trusting the tentacles to keep him in place, Warrick ordered them to lower him down toward the elevator. At the same time, he forced his powers onto the doors, melting them open and using the excess metal to strengthen the creaking bolts.

“Who are you?” one of the men in the elevator exclaimed, suddenly confronted by a bizarre looking man with a cloth covered head.

“I’m here to save you.” Warrick held out a hand. “Grab on, there’s not much time!”

Realizing his predicament, the man did so, his weight painfully straining Warrick’s underdeveloped arms.

Grunting with exertion, Warrick started to tell the tentacles to haul him up, but the sudden shift in weight caused the wires holding the magnet in place to spark again, and the structure began to sway violently. The bolts positively screamed, even given the reinforcement Warrick had provided.

“Shit!” Warrick exclaimed out loud. He wondered where Cyn was. She would be a big help at this point.

Fighting through the pain in his left arm, he looked up to the elevator access door and directed a single, violent pulse of his power at it. The metal screeched as Warrick peeled it open, providing a hole into the building.

“I’m really, really sorry about this, mister.” He mentally told the tentacle on his left arm to grab his passenger, “but there’s not a lot of time.”

The unlucky man didn’t have time to ask what Warrick was sorry about before the tentacle circled his waist and lifted him none too gently to the safety of the seventeenth floor. By now, the other two patrons now saw what was going on and were panicking even more than before.

Feeling the last of the bolts reach their breaking point, Warrick immediately told the tentacle to grab another. It did as directed and pulled the screaming woman to safety as the elevator gave way. Both Warrick and the remaining victim screamed as the elevator car began its freefall in a shower of sparks.

Thinking fast, Warrick focused his power on the access door on the floor below, unraveling it and forming it into a scoop in hopes to catch the errant elevator. It worked for a moment, but the glass wall shattered in the process, throwing the still screaming patron into empty space.

Something golden flashed on the edge of Warrick’s vision.

“Gotcha.” Cyn shouted as she caught hold of the man’s leg, ending his freefall. Her current form bore enormous, golden wings, which held her similarly golden body aloft. Her body itself was streamlined for faster flight and her head was covered in some sort of gold colored cowl, which gave the impression that she was bald.

The man she had caught, however, didn’t seem to take any notice to such attention to detail; preferring instead to continue screaming.

Shifting her grip so as not to drop him, Cyn deposited him on the roof of the building Warrick had jumped from. Alas, even being firmly on stable ground didn’t convince the man to cease pleading for his life.

“Hey!” Cyn finally shouted. “Look around you; you’re safe now. You’re not going to die anymore.”

Her tone finally made the man aware of his changed fortunes. He looked around the roof and slowly came to realize that he was staring up at what appeared to be a golden angel. “Who are you?” He murmured.

“Would you believe the local neighborhood watch?” Cyn smirked.

“You’re one of those psionics, aren’t you?” He said, starting to edge away. “I saw a special on TV about ones that don’t work with the government and –“

“We prefer ‘prelate’, actually.” Cyn said. “And you can call me… hmm, what’s a good name?” She pounded a fist into her open palm. “Facsimile! That’s perfect. You can tell everyone that you were saved by the great and powerful Facsimile.”

She was so wrapped up in her delusions of granduer that she didn’t hear the light ‘thud’ behind her. “Saved him all by yourself, eh, Facsimile?” a familiar voice said.

She turned to see Warrick, rubbing his sore arm. “Oh, how could I forget, my sidekick –“

“Partner.” Warrick gave her a withering look.

“Junior partner –“Cyn teased.

“Full partner.” Warrick said, poking her in the side. The tentacles warped themselves lazily around his arms, apparently tired from their activity.

“Yeah, my full partner, The Alloy.” Cyn grinned.

The terror was slowly draining from the rescued man. “I never heard of a team of… you kind of people before.”

Warrick and Cyn glanced at each other. “Erm that would be because we’re the first.” Cyn said. “We’re…”

Warrick grinned and stepped in front of Cyn. “We’re Life Savers, Inc.” He said proudly.

***

The headline in the morning edition of the Mayfield Scribe read ‘Prelates in Mayfield?’ with the subheading of ‘Billionaire and associates rescued with the help of supernatural powers’. The accompanying article featured an interview with technology mogul Lester Mendel, CEO of ConquesTech, a major east coast corporate empire and one of the three people saved the previous day.

The news was the talk of the city by now and speculation as to the identities of Alloy and Facsimile abounded. Mayfield was excited by the news of its new prelates.

That is to say, most of Mayfield was excited. High above the city streets, in a penthouse office, one man was very, very upset.

One reader of one particular copy of the Scribe lowered the newspaper from his eyes, nervously aware of the shaking in his hands as he did. His gaze was instantly met by the steely blue gaze of his employer. “Well?” the other man demanded.

The room itself had been built to intimidate; from its tall book shelves, to the two suits of medieval armor that flanked the door, to the various implements of war, ranging from flails and swords, to an elephant gun and a purportedly operational LAW rocket launcher, which graced the walls and pedestals. But even the whole of the room was not as intimidating as the man that called the place his office.

Vincent Liedecker’s public face was of an independently wealthy sportsman and philanthropist, the heir to his father John’s industrial fortune. But the man currently holding the newspaper, a man known only as Brill, knew that Liedecker was the most powerful man in the entire Mayfield underworld. An arms dealer of national renown, Liedecker was the kind of man that was likely to spill blood if he didn’t get the answer he wanted.

“This looks pretty bad, Mr. Liedecker.” Brill said nervously.

Liedecker casually picked up the kukri blade he used as a letter opener and idly drew his thumb along the edge. “Of course it looks bad, Brill, you baboon of a man.” He spoke in a soft southern drawl that belied how dangerous he was. “But do you know just how bad it is?”

“They’re going to cause trouble.” Brill said, choosing his words carefully, “it’ll be like having a second police force in town.”

“Police, we can handle, Brill.” Liedecker said, turning the knife over in his hand. “Police need warrants and planning. We can plant spies among them; learn of upcoming raids ahead of time.” He stood up and began pacing the room, weapon still in hand.

“In a pinch, Brill, they and judges can be bribed. With prelates, things are far, less certain. They can come from nowhere and just destroy a whole shipment as soon as not. Do you have any idea what these crackpots like Infinity or The Shade are doing to New York and Los Angeles?”

Brill shook his head in the negative.

Liedecker’s knuckles turned white from his grip on the kukri. “They are having an impact!” Liedecker snarled, launching the weapon across the room where it stuck, quivering, in the spine of Dante’s Inferno. “A hell of an impact, Brill. The Staveletti family’s folded completely, Alfonse Krieger is in jail, and Charles Prince’s entire operation in Chicago is in ruins – all because of these prelates – these vigilantes.”

“Well, uh…” Brill, a naturally nervous and dense man, had already tried to find something to say and failed. “What are we going do about them, boss?”

The arms dealer stalked over to where his knife had landed and retrieved it. “First, we keep our involvement in this as low as possible. Contract out to someone through the usual channels; we need some out-of-towners.”

He returned to his desk and began going through his rolodex. “We’ll have someone put these poor little piss-ants down before they get a chance to take root.”

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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.

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