Issue #1: Life Savers, Inc

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

Part 4

Cyn unwrapped her fourth Burger Builders Double Thick burger and took a bite. Warrick had been nice enough to treat her, despite her prodigious appetite and the fact that she had plenty of money to pay for it herself. Across the picnic table (situated in Wagner Park) from her, her unlikely benefactor was still contemplating his own order of fries.

Usually, he’d be prattling on endlessly about comics, or the TV show Malady Place, or any one of his seemingly countless hobbies. In the two hours since they had blundered into that ambush in the high rise building, he’d been practically mute.

Cyn frowned, watching Warrick stir a puddle of ketchup with a fry for the fiftieth time. “Hey,” she started, putting on her most demure smile, “I know you’re a little squicked out – what with getting shot at and all, but it’s over now, okay? We… we don’t have to be Life Savers, Inc anymore, okay?” It really bothered her to give up the whole prelate idea so soon – especially with that guy in the powered armor still on the loose – but if Warrick wasn’t up for it anymore…

“It’s not that, Cyn.” Warrick said, finally eating the drowned fry. “I’ve… kind of been shot at before.”

It took a great deal of self control for Cyn to swallow her mouthful of food before exclaiming. “WHAT?! What do you mean you’ve been shot at before? That doesn’t even make any sense! “

Warrick glanced around the picnic area and was relieved that there were no witnesses to Cyn’s outburst. “Hey, calm down, Cyn. I can explain if you give me a minute.” The only indication he received to continue was a confused glare from the white haired girl.

“Let’s just say that this isn’t my first time doing the prelate thing…” Warrick said. He held up a hand to silence the second torrent of questions. “Back home in New York – especially near my old school – gangs are pretty bad. The drugs, the guns… people get hooked and/or killed in the crossfire all the time.”

“So… you decided to do something about it.” Cyn said at almost a whisper. She never would have guessed, though in retrospect, someone with his powers and obsession with the prelate phenomena would have a hard time not using their powers for what they felt was a good cause.

Warrick nodded. “Well, I’ve got a little sister to think of. She’s going to be starting high school in a year and I’d be a pretty shitty big brother if I just let her get caught up in all of that. Plus, I didn’t get much of a choice.” He trailed off at the last part.

“’Didn’t get a choice’? Of course, you had a choice. I mean ignoring the fact that you thought it was the right thing to do, you still –“ Cyn was cut off by a shake of his head.

“My powers went active while I was dodging out of the way of a drive-by. Just on reflex, I ripped out the whole front of a car full of Franklin Street Diamondbacks to form my armor – stranded them right in the middle of 69 Reavers territory – and both sides saw I’d done it. Naturally, they turned on me with everything they had. Lucky for me, I’m bulletproof when I’m armored up.”

Cyn realized that her mouth was hanging open and closed it.

“I got away, but the Reavers and Diamondbacks called a truce so they could hunt me down. All they knew was that some psionic kid had screwed with them, so every kid in the neighborhood was fair game to shake down. I figured it was the least I could do to stop that, so I started patrolling the neighborhood in my armor; stopping them whenever they attacked someone so they’d know they were after the wrong person. By that time, I’d figured out how to summon the tentacles, so I managed to convince them that I was innocent to. After that ended, I just kept going. I hoped Id eventually land all of them in jail. I may have until my parents found out and sent me to the Academy to learn how to use my powers ‘constructively’.”

Cyn nodded. That line about learning to use one’s powers constructively was on every billboard and information bulletin put out by the Academy. She couldn’t fault the Kaine family for sending their son to school instead of letting him try his luck against street gangs.

“I don’t get it.” She finally said. “If you’ve fought with gang members so many times – gotten shot so many times – what’s bugging you about what happened today?”

The look Warrick gave her simultaneously made her feel stupid for not understanding something so apparently obvious and taken aback by the concern in her friend’s eyes. “Cyn… you died! I mean I thought you died. It certainly looked like you died.” He fought back the memory of seeing Cyn crumpled on the floor of the high rise.

It was suddenly very obvious. Cyn wanted to kick herself for not figuring it out without asking. Maybe, she rationalized, she was so used to being who and what she was that this sort of thing simply didn’t occur to her anymore.

“Oh, that.” She said before stopping herself. She immediately bit her tongue. “Erm… hey, Warrick? Since you told me your whole thing with being a Prelate and all, I’ll let you in on a little secret about me too, okay?” Warrick only nodded, still trying and failing to affect a stoic expression. “I’ll take that as a yes.”

Her expression changed to that of a mischievous child telling a secret. “Well, my secret is much cooler than yours, of course.” She teased him just to prod him out of his funk a bit. “I mean, really, how hard is it to pummel a few street hoods? Regular cops do it all the time – especially in New York, where they’ve got whole powered armor divisions and stuff.”

Exactly as she had planned, Warrick’s look of worry and concern had turned to irritation. “Okay, Cyn, I get it; I suck.” He said flatly. He was still on the verge of slipping back into his fugue.

“Well… you see…” Cyn milked the moment for all it was worth. Theatrics was one of the things she loved most of all. “I can’t die.”

There followed a moment of confused silence that caused Cyn’s childish smile to grow three sizes. She looked like the cat that swallowed the canary which had in turn swallowed a second, smaller canary.

“Wait… what?” Warrick finally managed.

“Just like I said.” Cyn smiled, leaning back to resume her meal.

“That doesn’t make any sense. You’re a shape shifter. I’ve seen you shift shapes. You can’t be invulnerable to, can you?”

“A perfect shapeshifter.” Cyn corrected. “I’m not some dime a dozen ‘I can look like anyone’ or ‘look, my arms are really long now’ shapeshifter – I’ve got control of every cell of my body”

“Still not following.” Warrick said.

Cyn sighed “Think of it this way; getting shot or stabbed, or gouged, or smashed – or whatever – kills you because it damages organs and stuff. But that really wouldn’t matter to someone who can either make a new organ, or simply reshape the damaged organ so that it’s not damaged anymore, right?”

Warrick nodded, finally satisfied.

“Besides, it usually doesn’t even come to that. Did you notice that when that guy in the powered armor shot at me, it didn’t do anything? That’s because I had time to open holes in my body and move my organs out of the way of the bullets. I’m like… indestructible as long as I’m conscious.”

“That’s pretty sweet.” Warrick said, back to normal finally. “You’re right; it is cooler than being bulletproof.”

Cyn couldn’t help but laugh. “Don’t sell yourself short. You looked freakin’ awesome in that armor. Plus your attack tentacles really did a job on that powered armor guy.”

The two smiled at each other and ate in silence for a few moments.

“Speaking of which,” Cyn said after polishing off her fifth burger, “That guy got away. He’ll be back eventually. I’m thinking that Life Savers, Inc should definitely be there to take him off the street for good next time.”

Warrick nodded. “At the very least, we owe him for that ambush. Plus, we’ve still got a week before Ian and Alexis come back – I think it’d be wrong not to use them to do the right thing instead of the smart thing.”

***

The place looked like an indoor junkyard. Piles of parts from decommissioned military devices mingled with broken televisions and refrigerators in the dank, poorly ventilated cellar of a bar called Truetti’s. The battered Sky Tyrant powered armor stood in the center of it all; its access panels opened and wires pulled out to connect to a diagnostic computer held by an impish little Irish man wearing a lead apron and goggles.

“They put up one hell of a fight.” The technician said, skimming through the diagnostics for the Sky Tyrant. “The sensor array’s been cracked… that takes at least 50,000 pounds per square inch – what the hell’d they hit you with, Scuff, a train?”

“Some kind of ribbon – like a metal snake or something.” Scuff was sitting on a crate, hunched over. His shirt was off and his midsection wrapped in gauze. “The guy’s a goddamn demon and the chick is something like I never seen before.”

“Which one of them burned out the auxiliary weapons generator?” The technician asked.

“The chick. I hit her with the Tesla weapon and she went crazy. I didn’t even realize that she blew the generator until those snakes hit me.”

“And the…” the technician cleared his throat incredulously. “Claw marks?”

“That was her too. Two inches of ceramic-carbon armor – that shit can stop a gauss shot at thirty meters – and she tore through it like wrapping paper. Even nicked me.” Scuff gently prodded his tender midsection.

“You aren’t even counting the electronics she shredded in the process. The abdominal joints and servos are gone; I don’t even know how you took so much stress on the arms. We’re going to have to rebuild half the super structure.”

Scuff shook his head. “Not just rebuild. Improve. Mr. Liedecker wants it better than before. He said you’d better learn from what they did to me.”

“What they did to it, Scuff.” The technician said, “Your little scratch doesn’t count.”

“Just fix the Sky Tyrant, okay?!” Scuff snapped. He stood up and reached for his shirt, which was hanging on what had once been a missile rack.

“Be patient, Scuff, the name “Gear” Callahan isn’t at the top of Mr. Liedecker’s rolodex because I’m a good dancer, ya know?” The technician was already typing in notes alongside the diagnostic. “When I’m done, Sky Tyrant will live up to its name.”

“I’d better.” Scuff snarled, heading for the stairs.

“Funny.” Gear mused to himself “I thought he called the armor Sky Tyrant.”

End Issue #1

Series Navigation<< Issue #0 From There to HereIssue #2 The Kin >>

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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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