Issue #11: We Will Be Villians

This entry is part 13 of 15 in the series The Descendants Vol 1: Welcome to Freeland House

Part 3

Any student of primary education and most office workers can attest to the fact, that despite science’s findings on the subject of time dilation with regard to days of the week, Friday is the slowest day of the week. Mondays are an annoyance, but relatively quick. Tuesdays and Wednesdays move at a regular pace, because no matter what happens, there is another day of work on the horizon. Thursdays move swiftly, thanks to the anticipation of the coming last day of the week. Fridays, however come to a screeching halt, by virtue of the fact that Friday is dedicated to waiting for Friday to end.

This sentiment, if not the actual words were pretty much what were running through Warrick’s mind as he sat in Mrs. Breeden’s Chemistry class. It wasn’t that the subject matter was boring—it was, after all, the only subject he was one hundred percent certain he’d be able to apply in real life. But Katie Breeden was the most boring teacher he had ever had. Her droning voice threatened to lull him to sleep as she went about explaining ionic and covalent bonds.

In an effort to stave off the siren’s song of slumber, Warrick occupied himself with testing the elements in the locked supply cabinet with his metal sense. It had recently occurred to him that his metal sense was most akin to a sense of taste and each metal had its own ‘taste’. Sodium had a certain tang, iron and its alloys had a plain, but not unenjoyable sensation, mercury was cooling and smooth, and aluminum was slightly bitter.

He was in the middle of learning that he never wanted to encounter potassium sans the other matter that made up a banana when the bell rang. He glanced up at the clock. There were still ten minutes left in class.

“Attention, students.” The voice of the assistant principal came over the intercom. “Please report to the gymnasium in a calm and orderly fashion. Due to an incident involving what appear to be rogue psionics in the area, the mayor has declared a state of emergency in the ten block radius cordon between Sweetbriar Street and Third Avenue. While we are in the affected area, there have been no direct threats made to the school. Please proceed quickly to the gymnasium while we await further instructions.”

The other students looked at each other in confusion. A faint mumble ran through them.

“Did you hear that, Kaine?” Kay asked, leaning over to him. She was the only member of their group that had the class with him.

“Yeah.” Warrick said, “crazy.” He glanced out the window, which looked directly across the street at a storefront. If he listened carefully, he could hear car horns blaring. Something bad was happening and he needed to find some way to get to it.

“Okay, class.” Mrs. Breeden said, “You heard assistant principal Fairbanks, get your things together.” The students began filing out into the already crowded hallway. Warrick saw the crowding as a chance to make his escape, but Kay stuck close by him.

“Do you really think it’s psionics?” she asked, “what powers do you think they have? It’d be so cool if we could get there and watch… provided we don’t get squashed or burned or something first.”

“It could be anything.” Warrick said pensively, looking around for any excuse possible. Then he saw his out—the one place even Kay wouldn’t follow him—the boy’s bathroom. “Uh, look, Kay, I’ll meet you and the guys in the gym, I’ve got to take care of… you know…” He nodded in the direction of the bathroom.

“Man, your bladder’s got crappy timing.” Kay shook her head. “They’ll probably have a TV set up with news coverage of whatever’s going on and you’ll probably miss all the action on the account of being in a stall.”

“I doubt I’ll miss anything.” Warrick said, with all surety as he ducked into the bathroom.

***

Twenty minutes earlier

A large panel van, boldly displaying the grinning sun logo of Brilliant Frozen Foods pulled into a space outside a modest storefront on Regent Street. Its driver wore a navy blue hooded sweatshirt pulled far over their head. It passed casual inspection, but someone paying more attention would notice that the driver was also wearing oversized goggles with nearly black lenses, giving her a bug-eyed appearance, not to mention her shockingly pale skin.

“If we’re villains, shouldn’t we be near the diamond exchange, or a bank, or one of the robotics firms around here?” Launch spoke up. He shared the very back of the van with War-torn and his powered armor. “I ask only because we’re the lamest villains ever if we’re going to knock over…” He glanced out the window. “Mac’s Hardware.”

“City of Mayfield Police response to financially sensitive zones is thirty percent faster than to general commercial zones.” Shine responded. “Also, going after banks or commodities exchanges will bring a Federal response, which is the opposite of what we want.”

“We want a prelate response.” War-torn said, flexing his fists inside the armor. As he was already preternaturally tough, his power suit consisted only of the strength enhancing frame.

“Which is why we’re four blocks from the local high school. If the so called ‘heroes’ are slow to react, a couple of shots in that direction will bring them running.” Shine declared.

“Let’s just get this over with.” Wolf said, disgustedly. “This isn’t what I signed up for; pretending to be a terrorist, taking orders for a man whose only directions on an important op like this are ‘create a disturbance to draw the rogues out’… This doesn’t smell right.”

“All I know is that somewhere in this city, there’s a group of people that think they can take the law into their own hands.” War-torn rumbled, “And I plan to show them the error of their ways.”

“Don’t you ever shut up about that?” Manriki’s voice was low and almost inaudible.

“None of you have any understanding of the important of obedience—“War-torn began.

“Are you even aware of how funny it sounds for a man from the British Isles to be lecturing a van full of Americans on civil obedience less than two years from the Tercentennial?” Shine turned around in her seat to look at War-torn.

“Oh god!” Launch groaned. “Okay, we are NOT going to get into a civics discussion here. We’ve got a job to do and for once it’s a fun job. There is absolutely no reason for us to get into War-torn’s issues with prelates, or Shine thinking she’s smarter than everyone. We are here to get the attention of Life Savers, Inc, got it?”

The group all glared at Launch. He glared right back at them.

“And I suppose you know exactly how you intend to do it?” Wolf sniffed. “Because Wright certainly didn’t.”

“Simple. Watch and learn, dumplings.” Launch smirked as he pulled his purple and green cowl over his head and engaged his wrist mounted cannons. With that, he threw the van’s door open and stepped directly into traffic.

An oncoming sedan screeched to a halt. “What the hell’s your problem!?” the driver shouted, leaning on his horn.

Under his mask, Launch smirked as he leveled one of his weapons and blew out the car’s front tire. The other performed a similar operation on a utility truck approaching in the other lane. The big vehicle went into a spin and slammed into two parked cars on the other side of the street.

Not giving any of those around him time react, Launch switched on the voice amplifier attached to the collar of his costume. He cleared his throat and was pleased to hear the sound echoing off the walls of the buildings around him. Grinning now, he strode into the other lane of traffic, mentally measuring out a safe distance from the van.

When he reached a point he was confident in, he stopped and gave a flourishing bow to the cars backed up behind the wreck he’d just caused. The smarter civilians were running. The dumber ones were blowing their horns and shouting epitaphs at him. “Ladies and Gentleman of Mayfield!” he began.

He looked around as if no one had reacted. He could see that they were, but he had already planned what he’d do since getting this assignment. “Ahem!” He cleared his throat, then called up his power. His psionic ability allowed him to fly on an invisible wave of sonic force, but to actually get into the air, he had to launch himself in the air on a pulse of the same. Hence his name.

The side effect of this pulse was suddenly apparent. A wave of raw, intangible force erupted from him, lashing out in a twenty foot radius. Store windows exploded, pavement cracked – and the sedan Launch had just disabled was upended, coming to crash into the hood of the car behind it.

For his part, Launch soared three stories into the air, coming to a hovering stop to view the destruction he’d wrought. Without missing a beat, he fired his cannons into the sidewalk, pulverizing the cement around fleeing feet.

“Now that I have your attention,” He snickered. “We are the Redeemers and we just love your city. In fact, all it needs is…” He blasted out a few more windows. “a little bit of remodeling. However, we’re very civic minded people.” Laughing at his own joke, he continued, “So all you have to do to stop this from happening to your own neighborhood or place of work is to walk—no, flee on down to City Central and urge your councilmen to vote ‘no’ on our Mayfield demolition plan by sending us the minor, minor sum of ten million dollars. Each. There’s five of us.”

Wolf watched the spectacle, wide eyed. “He’s given this a lot of thought.”

“He’s pretty much got the right idea too.” Shine admitted, opening her door. As she stepped out, she shucked the sweatshirt, letting the early morning light touch her skin. “Redeemers, let’s get to work.”

***

The Present

Regent street and its intersections with King’s Way Rd and St. Croix Ave were in shambles. Cars were overturned, windows broken out, street vendors’ carts torn to shreds by orihalcite claws. Launch had strafed three blocks in either direction with his cannons while Shine, War-torn and Manriki split their time between doling out property damage and driving off police responding to the disturbance.

Mayfield was behind the times in law enforcement; there was nothing in their arsenal that could combat a number of psionics working in tandem. War-torn just took the bullets they sent his way, while Shine dodged them with inhuman reflexes.

Wolf, for his part hung back in the van, reading over some files that had been passed on to him from higher up on his palmtop. Life Savers, Inc apparently had a heavy hitter on their side that Wright either didn’t know about, or hadn’t bothered to inform them about.

Grimacing, Wolf put in a call to Wright. “Sir, how long will it take for our inugami to arrive once we’ve called for them?”

“The transport is still in the air.” Wright assured him. “The cloaks are holding just fine; MPD and the FAA haven’t made a sound about it.”

Wolf considered asking Wright about the targets, but realized it would be a waste of time. Closing the laptop, he stepped out of the van. “Any sign of the targets, Launch?” he asked via his com.

“Not a hero in sight!” Launch shouted back via his voice amplifier. “Maybe I should fly over and open up on the teen set at the high school to get their attention.”

“Lets not.” A voice shouted. The Redeemers looked to see the figures of Life Savers, Inc standing on the roof of one of the embattled buildings. Facsimile, in her usual, gold skinned and winged form was the one speaking. “Trust us, you have our undivided attention.”

“Just like you’ll have the guards’ undivided attention when we put you in jail.” Alloy added.

“Big talk, prelate.” War-torn sneered. “Take a look; you’re out numbered five to three.”

Isp and Osp turned their non-heads to look at Alloy, then back at the marauding villains. They thought something sour at him. “I know it’s five on five,” Alloy whispered to them, “Doesn’t mean they need to know.”

“Can we move past the exchanging petty insults phase of this?” Facsimile asked. “Just let me know which one of you is supposed to be my thematic opposite, the flier or the white chica?” Earlier that morning, she wouldn’t have thought the old cliché would ever happen in real life, but the man with the chains seemed to be made to fight Alloy.

“I can agree with a woman that wants to get down to the fight.” Manriki said, unhooking his orihalcite chain. With a mighty swing, he launched it at the roof top. It writhed like a snake under his power and the spiked tip of it lanced neatly into the brick there. Grunting, he began climbing.

“Dude, seriously do your homework.” Alloy said, focusing his power on the chain. “You can’t expect to try this with a metal—“ He blinked behind his visor. “It’s the same freaky metal we got off those dog monsters…”

Shine clawed her way up the wall faster than Manriki could climb his chain, coming to perch on a corner of the roof in a catlike crouch. “Orihalcite.” She named the metal as she flexed her claws. “Purportedly the most indestructible metal on earth.”

“You had something to do with those monsters?” Zero finally broke her silence.

“The inugami? Just a test run to see how good you were.” Shine said as Manriki gained the roof.

“We’re the final exam.” He said, making his extracting his main weapon from the building. “Emphasis on the final.” He whirled he chain and threw it in Zero’s direction at the same time Shine leapt at Alloy.

The young heroes reacted to the sudden attack with celerity Shine hadn’t planned for. Alloy stepped out of her way, allowing Facsimile to meet the alabaster skinned villainess’s charge.

“Sorry,” The golden warrior grinned, letting Shine waste time raking her with her claws. “You don’t get to choose your partner for this dance.” She grabbed Shine in a bear hug and lunged off the roof with her.

Meanwhile, Manriki found his chain fouled by the sudden interference of a metallic tentacle that smacked it off course. “Zero, get to the street and help Fax with those baddies. I’ll take care of this guy.” Alloy said to his companion as the other tentacle moved to trip the chain wielding enemy.

Zero nodded and ran for the fire escape on the other side of the building.

Alloy watched her go, and then turned back to Manriki who was surprisingly holding his own against Isp and Osp. “Now who’s out numbered” he asked.

“You.” Launch’s voice boomed as he began to fire on the armored hero.

Wolf watched the one called Zero disappear from view. She’d have to come down on the other side of the building—alone. The others had their quarry well in hand. He’d had to deal with her. He touched the inhibitor on his chest, pressing the raised knob inward and slowly turning it. “Decreasing inhibitor level to Sixty-five percent.” He announced.

Pain wracked him as the transformation began. His blood boiled as his ribs expanded, distorting his skin as it darkened and sprouted a short pelt. His skull deformed as well, his jaws jutting outward into a muzzle as his teeth became sharp. At this level, he was still quite human, albeit with the senses and endurance of a wolf.

Growling his approval of his partial transformation, he stalked off in search of his prey.

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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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