Issue #1: Life Savers, Inc

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

Part 3

Melissa sat on her new bed and looked out the window. From her room, she could see the entirety of the Hills and Mayfield beyond. As the shadows lengthened into twilight, the lights of the city would be coming on soon.

“Nice, ain’t it?” a voice said, far too close to her for comfort.

With a shriek, Melissa whirled around, a fist ready to strike. The blow never came as she recognized who the voice belonged to. “Warrick?! Get out of my room!”

“Hey! The door was open. It’s not like I broke in or something.” Warrick shrugged. “You’ve got to learn to relax, ‘lissa; otherwise, you’re never going to get a guy to like you.” He winked at her has he unwrapped a snack cake and took a bite.

“H-hey… who said I wanted a guy to…” Melissa started.

“You call me, Melissa? I – what the hell?!” a voice came from the door. It was Warrick… the real Warrick this time. The ever present tentacles around his arms seemed to do a double take at the second Warrick in the room.

The Warrick next to Melissa chuckled. “Gotcha both.” His form shifted and melted into the petite, white haired form of Cyn.

“Cyn!?” Melissa exclaimed. “Why would you do something like that?”

Cyn took another bite of her snack cake. “Because you need to loosen up a little. Staring out the window when you could be being social and playing a game or something with us. We bought a Game Server for a reason, you know.”

“That doesn’t explain why you had to use my body to do it.” Warrick said flatly, leaning on the doorframe. The left metallic tentacle wrapped around his arm snaked out and quietly began to explore the room.

“Felt like it.” Cyn said with an equally flat tone. “Now come on out to the common room, ‘lissa, you never talk to anyone and it is way past time that changed.” She grabbed the other girl’s arm and tried to drag her from the room.

Melissa wrenched her arm free and glared at Cyn. “Am I the only one not ignoring the whole ‘no powers’ thing Ms. Keyes laid down?”

“Poor girl.” The white haired girl smiled, “One, Alexis and Ian left around noon for Florida. And two, the work crew has gone home for the day. There’s really no good reason for us not to totally abuse our powers given this opportunity.”

“Like I care.” Melissa frowned, sitting back down on her bed. “My powers are useless anyway.”

Cyn grimaced. “Am I the only one who finds it ironic that the girl with mood enhancing powers likes nothing better than to bring down a room?”

“That wasn’t very nice.” Warrick said. “Come on, Cyn; let’s leave her alone if she wants to be left alone.” He sent one of the tentacles to grab Cyn by the arm. “Melissa, when you feel like hanging out with us, you know where we’ll be.”

Melissa managed a small smile as the tentacle responded to Cyn’s attempt to struggle free by physically lifting her out of the room. “Thanks, Warrick.”

“Don’t mention it.” The door closed behind him.

***

Cyn pouted at Warrick and rubbed the arm the tentacle had lifted her by. It didn’t hurt at all, but she rubbed it mostly for theatrics. “What was that about?” She demanded, stalking after him across the open area between rooms to his room.

“You’ve got to stop harassing her so much.” Warrick said. “You’ve heard from Laurel how she used to be. The more you try to push her, the more she’s just going to get bitchy with you.”

“That’s part of the challenge.” Cyn admitted. “Plus, she needs a friend here.”

“She’s got a friend here; Kareem.” Warrick pointed out. “They talk all the time. Well, think to each other – whatever. The point is, she doesn’t have to hang out with us if she doesn’t want to.”

“Yes, she does.” Cyn pouted harder. “Death Gate Ultimate is always best with four players and we’re lucky that Laurel games as much as she does to get us up to three. And I’m not joining a guild to pad our delve group.”

“What if I told you I could come up with an idea that’s more fun than hitting level seventy on Death Gate?” he entered his room and immediately headed for his closet

Cyn sat on his bed cross-legged and finished her snack cake. “I’d say you’re a damn liar.”

“You say that now,” Warrick grinned. “But you haven’t heard what Ian told me the other day.”

***

Smoke billowed out from the tenth floor of an office building three blocks south of the huge ConquesTech business campus, marring an otherwise picturesque mid-afternoon skyline over Mayfield. Unknown to most of the populous, the city’s two new prelates were already streaking toward the scene.

Cyn, now in her golden skinned Facsimile persona, was almost overcome with excitement. She supposed that she should be happy that the day had been uneventful save for Warrick teaching his tentacles to swing him from building to building. That meant that no one had been in any particular need for Life Savers Inc, which in turn meant no one needed their life saved.

Still, Cyn had chaffed at the lack of action now that she and Warrick had made their return to being prelates. A small part of her was actually happy for the fire, though she did genuinely hope no one was injured.

Below, Warrick lagged slightly behind her. Even the increased speed he gained by swinging was no match for the swiftness of flight. Still, he was much faster than he had been when he was simply having the tentacles hurl him from roof to roof. He had also changed his ‘uniform’; donning an all black jumpsuit with a hood and a black scarf to cover his mouth and nose.

Giving Warrick a wave, Cyn dipped a wing and headed for the fire. Many of the windows on the tenth floor had been broken out from the heat. The smoke belched out black and thick, obscuring all vision beyond.

With little conscious thought, Cyn’s skin thickened and became covered with tiny, heat resistant scales. Clear lenses grew over her eyes to protect her from the smoke and her respiratory system reconfigured to allow her to hold her breath almost four times as long as normal. Physiological alterations complete, she dove into the smoke.

Blind from the smoke, she collided with something heavy and extremely hot. Whatever it was tipped over with a clatter and a sound like gravel being poured onto a tile floor. Voices and shouts of surprise rose all around her.

Stumbling further into the room, Cyn realized that she was standing in an aisle between two rows of cubicles. At her feet lay a trashcan filled with what appeared to be hot coals. She had little time to contemplate what was going on before she heard several sets of footsteps behind her. The next thing she heard was the loud reports of automatic weapons.

***

Warrick was less than half a block away when he heard the gunfire and Cyn’s scream. Too surprised to think of anything else, he ordered the tentacles to launch him toward the nearest window, which they did with celerity.

Rocketing through the window, Warrick saw a horrific scene through the smoke; four men in gas masks, wielding automatic rifles stood over the still form of Cyn, who lay beside a still burning, but overturned brazier. He landed in a roll, aided by one of the tentacles, a few yards further up the aisle.

All eyes in the room followed his entrance and one of the assassins shouted in surprise. He didn’t have time to fire, however, as one of the tentacles lifted Warrick and deposited him in one of the cubicles.

Warrick leaned heavily on the cubicle’s desk. He couldn’t bring himself to believe what he had just seen. Though the two hadn’t known each other very long, Cyn had become his best friend in that time. The thought of her lying dead made his stomach churn and his knees become weak.

“Search that side, Lou.” One of the murderers said on the other side of the flimsy wall in front of Warrick.

Murderers, Warrick told himself. They had killed Cyn and if they had their way, they would soon kill him. He knew he couldn’t allow that. Even more, he knew that he couldn’t let Cyn’s murderers escape justice.

His eyes suddenly transformed; pupil, iris and whites suddenly replaced by dimly glowing steel hue that seemed to flow over and consume the other colors of his eyes. The metal around him began to quaver and lose its form.

Instincts, the same that told Warrick how to summon his tentacles now told him how to form the metals around him to the purpose he required. A nearby file cabinet, screws in the desk and cubicle walls, even the gun in the hands of the man on the other side of that wall all suddenly liquefied and rushed to the call of Warrick’s power, transforming into a suit of armor around his body.

“Shit, its just like the papers said!” exclaimed the man who had just lost his gun.

Warrick had heard enough. The tentacles smashed down the cubicle wall and threw the man to the floor. Two more assailants stood frozen in horror at what they saw before them. He stood there for a moment, looking positively demonic.

His state of mind had shaped his new armor into a thing of nightmares. Braided cords of aluminum simulated flayed muscle, plates of steel stood out all over in a mockery of flesh. Spiked shoulder guards sprouted from his neck and his helmet had deformed into a gaping, insectile maw, covered in spikes and ridges.

Overcome with terror, both men opened fire, their rounds bouncing harmlessly off supernaturally hard armor.

Only a bestial snarl answered them as Warrick exerted his control over their weapons. The metal barrels deformed and twisted over themselves, wrapping the thugs’ arms in bonds of iron. Both tried to turn and run, only to be swept off their feet by the tentacles. Taking their cue from Warrick, they too transformed, shifting their serpentine bulk to make their tips appear to be painful barbs.

“You bastards are going to fry for what you did to her.” Warrick said grimly.

“Only if we don’t kill you first!” came a shout from Warrick’s right. One of the thugs had doubled back and was standing beside Cyn’s body. In his hands was what looked like an overly complicated water gun, replete with tanks, flanges and hoses. “Bullets may not work, but I bet a plasma lance will.” With that, he fired a searing red beam at Warrick.

Diving aside, Warrick escaped with only a few melted shoulder spikes. Growling, he gestured toward the weapon, only to find that it contained no metal.

The assassin laughed. “You’re not so tough once someone figures out how to hurt you.” He raised the gun to fire again, but suddenly, his arms were entangled in creeping thorns, that tore at his sleeves and raked at his skin. Screaming, he dropped the lance and retreated from the vines.

“I could say the same about you.” Cyn stood up. The myriad bullet holes in her body closing up and she was reeling in her arms-turned-vines. “You caught me by surprise earlier,” She grimaced, “It took me a while to heal those. But now you’re screwed, buddy.”

“Cy—err, Facsimile?! You’re alive!” Warrick exclaimed.

“Of course I am, Alloy.” Cyn managed to give him a wolfish grin. Then she raised her vine-arms menacingly. “Though I can’t say the same for everyone here.”

The would be assassin clutched his bleeding arms and simpered. “Oh god! Oh please, don’t kill me.” He bawled.

“Huh?” Warrick blinked inside his armor. “Hey, pal, we’re the good guys here, remember? We’re not going to kill you.” He looked back at his partner, still deeply relieved that she was alive. “Isn’t that right Facsimile?”

Cyn sighed and retracted her vine-arms into normal arms. “I guess not. I mean he’s crying and everything – what kind of cold-blooded assassin cries?!”

“The kind that was merely a diversion.” There was a deep roar of engines and something heavy landed on the floor just inside the broken windows. What smoke remained in the room was blown away in the gale that the powered armor’s propulsion system kicked up.

The machine was jet black with dark blue highlights. It stood nine feet tall, with backward bent legs to support its great bulk. Its arms ended in tapered tubes rather than hands. An armored cap protected the sensor area and a pair of triangular fins rose about two feet from each shoulder. Finally, a pair of black lacquered wings emerged from the thing’s back, making it look like some sort of mechanical demon.

“Powered armor?” Cyn laughed. “Please… Get him Alloy!” She pointed as if she was siccing a dog on a burglar.

“Erm.. Its not made of metal.” Warrick said, reaching out with his metal sense.

“You’re totally right.” The armor’s pilot scoffed. “There’s no metal involved in this baby.” With that, it raised one of its tube arms. There was a whirr and a pair of cannons emerged and began firing in rapid succession.

Cyn dove aside, avoiding the attack. Warrick however, stood his ground, allowing his armor to absorb the punishment meant for him.

“I don’t care what you’re made of. If you’re here to kill us, that’s not going to stop me from taking you apart!” Warrick roared, charging the mecha. As he did, he tore the metal out of the light above him, forming a longsword in his hands as well as blacking out much of the room.

The armor pilot simply swung his left arm up and a green beam lanced out at Warrick.

Warrick deflected the beam with his sword, which melted to slag in the process. He continued on, sending the tentacles to force the gun arms aside, allowing him the plow full force into his enemy. The two armor encased combatants came together with a clang.

For a moment, Warrick was inside the defenses of his attacker, slamming his steel enclosed fists against the machine’s sides. Then there was a low hum and he was suddenly flung backward.

“Pretty nice, huh?” The pilot laughed. “This little lady has a magnetic repulsion generator. They’re normally used to repel missile fire, but it works just fine for you and those things on your arms.”

The tentacles lashed out with all their might, but the magnet kept them from approaching to within more than two yards of the black armor no matter how much force they applied.

“Heh, prelates ain’t as dangerous as I thought.” The pilot said, bringing his plasma launcher to bear.

“Oh, we definitely are.” Cyn sprang at the machine from the side, raking her nails across its mid section. Five deep rents were torn in its armored hide.

“What the hell?! A hull breech? How –“

“You don’t know anything about my powers, jackass.” Cyn said, turning back to face him. In truth, she didn’t really have such a keen grasp on how she had managed that herself, but she didn’t let that show.

The only sound from the suit’s speakers was a frustrated groan. “All I need to know is you’re not the one that’s bulletproof.” The cannon arm swung up and began firing. Cyn didn’t move. After several dozen rounds, she didn’t look any the worse for wear, though the walls behind her were shredded.

“Like I said,” She flexed her claws. The hole in her abdomen she had opened to let the bullets pass through closed up. “You don’t know a thing about my powers.”

“I’m just getting started.” The pilot said darkly. The plasma rifle in the machine’s left arm retracted, and was replaced by what appeared to be a matte black rod, capped with a glass orb and wrapped in shiny, plastic tubing.

“What’s that supposed to be,” Cyn almost laughed, preparing to launch herself at her assailant even as she spoke. “Some kind of high tech paddle ball?” She was answered by a massive arc of electricity leaping from the ball to her. Dodging did nothing, the bluish-white bolt tracing a jagged line directly into her chest.

Screaming, Cyn was thrown through two cubicles, leaving a trail of acrid white smoke in her wake. Her nerves felt like they were on fire and her powers went haywire under the electrical stimulus. She landed in a heap, her body contorting in bizarre ways and her skin rapidly shifting color even as she struggled to exert direct control over herself.

“Wow…” The pilot said, marveling at his handy work. “That was… interesting. I think the Tesla Arc weapon is a success.”

“It also used up a lot of electricity.” Warrick snarled, barely containing his rage.

“Huh?” The armor turned to face him in time for its pilot to see the tentacles whipping into its chest with incredible speed. With a crack that resonated up and down the rows of cubicles, the powered armor was lifted by the impact and hurled out the window.

“Your repulsion system had to shut off for you to use that.” Warrick remarked, grimacing beneath his face plate. He glared out the window for a second before going to tend to Cyn. Stepping over the destroyed walls, he found her just as she was resuming her Facsimile form. “You okay, Facsimile?” He asked.

She nodded. “I’m going to need to eat like a week’s worth of food to get all that energy back, but yeah.” She took his proffered hand and stood. “Who was that guy anyway?”

“I don’t know, but he’s going to be out of commission for a while. The tentacles cracked his sensors – he’ll be blind until he fixes that.”

Cyn grinned. “And to think I was creeped out by them.” She looked around at the unconscious thugs their mysterious attacker had left behind. “Well, we’ll deal with him whenever he decides to mess with us again. In the meantime, let’s call the cops to deal with these guys.”

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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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