Issue #13: Another Kind of Homecoming

This entry is part 1 of 15 in the series The Descendants Vol 2: Magic and Machines

Part 4

“I’m Sean McAllister.” Sean declared in response to Agent Richards’s query. He put his cake aside and stood up. “What the hell is all this? Child Services? There’s not a person in this suite under eighteen.”

“I’m here about your daughter, Cynthia.” The agent brushed past Sean’s wife and into the room.

“She’s gotta be over eighteen too and that means she’s not my problem either. In fact, I haven’t seen her in probably two years.” Sean sniffed. His sons were both fully turned around now, watching with identical looks of confusion.

“She… does write.” Cheryl offered.

“Be quiet, Cheryl.” Sean barked. “This is between him and me.”

“She does?” Richards half yelped, obviously surprised. Cheryl only nodded, one eye firmly kept on her husband. The agent didn’t take long to recover from being blindsided. “What does she say?” He followed her gaze back to Sean and let out a small growl. “He can’t do anything to you while I’m here.”

“She doesn’t say anything.” Sean spat, coming around the chair he’d previously occupied. “And if she did, it wouldn’t be any business of Child Services seeing as the little freak is legal now.” He motioned toward the door.

“There’s no statute of limitations on child abuse in this state, Mr. McAllister.” Richards said with a flat, dangerous quality to his voice.

“Then lucky we don’t live in this state.” Sean sneered. “And besides, that wasn’t a child. I don’t know what she,” he jerked his thumb toward Cheryl, who recoiled as if struck, “did while she was pregnant, but she birthed a freak. Right from birth, she was a damn albino – white hair, pasty skin and these horrible purple eyes. If it were up to me, we’ve have given her away, but the one time my wife argues about anything…” he made a half snarl under his breath to finish the sentence.

“That doesn’t excuse what you did.” Richards said levelly.

“Stupid girl didn’t know her place.” Sean shrugged as if that explained everything. “All the time, she keeps talking about her little friends at school. Lying of course; nobody’s going to be friends with something that looked like her.”

“And you told her that.” The agent’s eyes narrowed to slits. “Every time she ever mentioned her friends, you told her they weren’t her friends until she started to believe it.”

“Hey,” Lee shouted out in defense of his father. “even if she wasn’t lying, eventually the kids would smarten up and ditch her later. He was doing her a favor.”

“You shut you mouth!” Richards barked. “I’ve heard more than enough about how her own brothers treated her, but I’m afraid there’s no law for that at that age.”

“It was truth, pure and simple.” Sean raised a hand to silence his boys before they joined the fray. “And discipline around the time she turned twelve. About the time she started having women’s issues, it was the same time she started getting smart mouthed. If your girl ever talked back to you, you’d give her a slap in the mouth once or twice too.” He smirked darkly. “And maybe a couple times just when she was thinking about doing it. Put the fear of God into her.”

“Heaven forbid I choose a method that doesn’t make me look like a psychotic ape.” Richards said.

“You’re lucky you have a badge, pal, or I’d give you a taste of the back of the hand too. You’re sounding a bit like her.”

“Lucky I have the badge then, you slack-jawed Neanderthal.” Richards replied with a completely straight face.

From the other room, where she had retreated to wait out the confrontation with her daughter-in-law, Cheryl’s mental wheels turned. Agent Richards had never produced a badge…

Sean’s eyes practically smoldered at the verbal jab coming from a man who could put him in prison until he was senile should he throw a punch. “Anyway,” he started through grinding teeth. “It wasn’t long after the first couple of times she really got on my nerves that I realized she didn’t bruise anymore. Didn’t take long after that to learn she was one of those psionics.”

“She was twice the freak we thought she was.” Robert guffawed.

“Psionic powers are inherited.” Richards glared at the man. “If your sister has the genes, so do you and there’s a good chance that at least one of your spawn will have powers too.” That shut him up.

“What? So it’s my fault she’s a freak?” Sean’s eyes grew wild. “Hell, it’s probably Cheryl’s fault.” He gave a derisive laugh. “I guess being an albino’s genetic too?”

“Actually yes.” The agent said, feeling a slight twinge of horror at the ignorance just uttered.

Sean blew a crude raspberry. “Yeah, sure. Hey, we tried to make the best of it – tried to get her to cover up the albino part – but the spiteful little bitch kept her hair white just to piss me off. She didn’t even care if I hit her after that. It never seemed to do anything to her.”

“We did find out that giving her a shock will make her spaz out though.” Robert chuckled. “Not that dad had time to run back and forth over the carpet whenever she needed to shut her mouth.”

“I’ve heard enough.” Richards’s voice had granite in it. “You all are monsters. You,” he indicated Sean. “you’re a fat, disgusting tick on society’s ass. Even while you brag to a goddamn federal agent about how you destroyed your daughter’s life, you’re cramming cake in your filthy gob that you wouldn’t have if not for her. You don’t even have any remorse! You just think its fine and dandy because you felt like it at the time!”

He pointed a finger at the boys. “And everything I said about this slobbering pig goes for you two. You’re literally photocopies of a big, hairy ass and you couldn’t be happier. I only hope god has mercy on any woman you meet and grants the sense to her that he didn’t to her,” he indicated Cheryl, “And they plant a knee between your legs instead of letting you father more little punching bags for grandpa.”

Finally, his eyes landed on Cheryl herself. “And I’m serious. Why the hell do you take this crap? Sure, he’s never laid a finger on you because he’s never felt the need to. You do whatever he says and luckily there was poor little Cyn for him to take his anger out on. Grow a damn spine! No jury in the world would convict you for manually insuring he can’t breed again!”

“I’ve had enough outta you!” Sean roared. “I don’t give a shit if I go to jail; this’ll be satisfying.” He drew back his fist and struck out at the agent’s nose.

“Really?” Richards easily sidestepped the sloppy punch, passing it easily over his shoulder. Fingers like steely talons clutched the offending appendage, using it to pull Sean into a Richards’ own punch.

Sean let out a gasp as the agent’s fist drove all the air out of his lungs. Richards stepped past him and drove a double axe handle blow into his kidney, driving him to the floor. “You don’t get to hit me.” Richards said and added silently ‘never again’.

The room was silent save for Sean’s pained groans as the rest of clan McAllister tried to process what had just happened. Richards crouched down over Sean in a way that in retrospect, his wife realized a normal human probably could not have achieved.

“Cyn doesn’t want to see you. She never wanted to see you, but some people thought you may have been a better person than we both know you are. Maybe she’ll live happily ever after once today is over and maybe everything will fall apart – but she’ll always be glad she’s doing it without you being part of it.” He said to Sean, but made sure Cheryl could hear. With that, he straightened, adjusting his sunglasses. “Ma’am.” He said to Cheryl. “I’ll give you all a choice. Make up something but be out of Mayfield by tomorrow noon and I won’t haul him in. If I were you though, I’d leave him for the feds.”

With that, he strode out of the room.


Cyn was pushing Ian’s suit back into the duffel bag when the elevator door opened, revealing Laurel. She couldn’t help but gasp as she forced the zipper closed on the bag.

“I figured you’d make your way here.” Laurel said, keeping her voice even.

“Hooray for being a genius.” Cyn slurred, stepping out past the older woman. A slim hand caught her arm and she didn’t bother trying to break free. Training sessions already left her with ample examples of Laurel’s fighting skill.

“Cyn…” Laurel started, “I heard. Most of it anyway. I came back down stairs when the punching started.”

“You didn’t try and stop me?” Cyn quizzed. “I could have popped claws and then…” she didn’t finish.

“You could have, but you wouldn’t have.” Laurel said. “You’re better than him and your brothers. You know when to stop and a couple good kidney shots are the least of what he deserved after all the things he said about you.”

“That doesn’t sound like something I’d expect you to say.”

“I wouldn’t have, normally.” Laurel admitted, leading Cyn through the lobby of the Dornez. “But today, I realized how precious family really is.” she held up a finger to Cyn’s prepared response, “And I realized what a sin betraying that is. I’m sorry for calling them, Cyn. I didn’t know how bad it really was.”

“I never told you. I never told anyone all that.” She fixed her gaze on Laurel. “You won’t tell anyone else will you?”

“Of course not, Cyn.” Laurel said “Everything that happened up there is between you and me and Ian’s suit. Daddy was going to end their stay here for their refusal to see you anyway. As they exited to lobby onto the marble steps, Laurel put an arm around the Cyn. “Let’s get home. I’ll make up some excuse for you if you just want some time alone.”

“Are you kidding?” Cyn asked, “I’ve had nothing but time alone and I may have a lot more coming up. Alone is the last thing I want to be right now.”

Laurel smiled and patted the girl’s shoulder. “That can be arranged too.”


Mrs. Kaine wasn’t one to disbelieve anything out of hand. Being the mother of a child who could turn an iron crowbar into a festive knickknack at thirty paces and being a native of New York City, which had an abnormally high concentration of psionics, products of advanced science and just plain bizarre phenomena had taught her that bizarre didn’t always equate to fictitious.

But her son’s description of a nine hundred year old witch that had possessed one of his new friends to run amok at a zoo before being defeated in a climactic battle on a bridge was pushing even her healthy suspension of disbelief. She could accept the psionic villains sent by the Academy, and the cybernetic dogs. The foe in powered armor was down right mundane as she saw one or two daily on her way to work at her ad agency. But magic was something that required more proof.

That Warrick was able to produce newspaper clippings was a shock even though she was confident that her son was normally honest.

“Cool…” Tammy breathed, reading over the article about the fight on the West Truman Bridge. The whole family had retired to one of Freeland House’s unused rooms after determining that it was too cold to walk down to the lake. “So who’s Void-storm? Have you met her?” A mischievous glint came to her eye. “Do you like her? The emphasis was blatantly heavy on the ‘like’..

“Huh? No. No!” Warrick’s denial became more vehement as his sister’s implication became clearer. “That’s Ms. Keyes. And it’s Darkness.”

“Why do they call her Void-storm here then?” Tammy asked, completely forgetting she was supposed to be teasing her brother.

“Because the papers like to make up names.”

“You’d think they’d wait for the prelates themselves to come out with a name.” Mr. Kaine observed.

“They have to come up with something to use in the meantime.” Mrs. Kaine replied.

“To be fair,” Warrick said, “She wasn’t really a prelate then. She didn’t like the idea of us doing the Life Savers, Inc thing either.”

“What changed her mind?” his mother asked.

“The Ladies of Ragnarok concert.” He recounted. “She’d forbid us from doing our prelate thing, but some tech-head named Maven – she’s in a mental hospital now – she attacked the band and we couldn’t just sit back and do nothing…”

Mr. Kaine put a hand on his son’s shoulder. “I’m proud that you did the right thing, son. I know we were hard on you for the whole Damascus situation, Warrick, but it was more the fact that you didn’t tell us first. And the Whitecoat was right; you should have learned more about your powers before trying something like that.”

Warrick beamed and nodded. “Yes sir. And we have been getting training here. That’s part of how we were able to fend off the Redeemers. And next time; I figure it won’t be so rough.”

“Next time?” his father asked.

The Kaines’ eldest child set his jaw and nodded slowly. “I can’t even start to tell you how happy I am to see you again and honestly, I wish things could go back to normal and I could just come home and everything will be alright.” He took a deep breath before continuing. “But if I go now, guys, it’s not going to be all right. The Academy and those Tome guys are still after me and if I go home now… I’m afraid of how far they’ll go to get me.”

When no one in his family spoke up, he continued. “And they need everyone they can get here. The Redeemers were just the opening act. I can’t abandon them now. Partly because Tome wants me for whatever evil crap they’ve got planned. They’ll do anything they need to get them closer to getting me and the others back. I’ve got to help beat them and end this once and for all.”

He looked hopefully at his parents, suddenly aware that he was out of breath.

“That was so shiny!” Tammy grinned. “That was like something right out of Taskforce: Earth! We need to find the Whitecoat and tell him or something. Maybe you can be his sidekick!”

That broke up the tension in the room and everyone was forced to chuckle at her assertion.

“I’m not surprised to hear you say that, honey.” Mrs. Kaine smiled. “Your father and I talked it over while we were waiting for you. You still need training with your power… especially the new… thing you can do; and the Academy isn’t an option any more. So we decided that if you really wanted to stay, we weren’t going to stop you.”

“Really?” Warrick blinked. “I didn’t think you’d really say it was okay. I know what I have to do – what I want to do… but I don’t want to lose touch with you guys again.”

“We’ll figure something out. Both you and Mr. Smythe speak in glowing terms at Mrs. Brant’s genius.” Mr. Kaine said, “And we’re not about to let you go either, son. Look, the details can wait; the head of Brant Industries has given us a full weekend with all expenses paid and a posh hotel room with fully staff privileges – I think we should all enjoy this as a family.”

Tammy clasped her hands together with a huge grin on her face. She had her big brother back and, slightly more important in her thirteen year old mind, a weekend of getting exactly what she wanted all the time. “That’s something we can all agree to!” she shouted gleefully.

Series NavigationIssue #14: Standing With Titans >>

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
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