Issue #13: Another Kind of Homecoming

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

Part 5

“It was very nice meeting you, Ms. Keyes.” Mrs. Kaine was saying. She shrugged on her coat before continuing. “And thank you so much for taking care of Warrick all this time.”

“It’s been a pleasure, Mrs. Kaine.” Alexis was unprepared when the shorter woman locked her in a full on hug.

“You’re good people. Feeding and clothing someone else’s children. Fighting for them.” Warrick’s mother’s eyes were growing watery. “It was a miracle that people like you came along for these kids here. You’re my son’s guardian angel.”

“Mom’s waxing religious.” Warrick observed. His mother, a repeatedly lapsed Catholic, rarely spoke of miracles in reference to anything that wasn’t accompanied by at least two to three angels or at least a shower of sparks.

“The cab should be here.” Mr. Kaine said as his wife repeated her thanks to Ian and wrapped him in an equally huge hug. He had already said his thanks to the Freeland House heads, albeit with less hugging and more hearty nods and hand shakes.

“Are you sure you don’t want to take the limousine?” Mr. Brant asked.

“We don’t want to rush the Utts with their son.” Warrick’s father replied. “No, a cab will be just fine.”

Mr. Brant nodded. “Unless you and your family have other plans, I’ve got Christopher DeWalt on staff and ready to prepare Thanksgiving dinner for your family and the Utts back at the Dornez.”

“That would be wonderful, thank you.” Mrs. Kaine smiled. “Thank you all so very much again for everything you’ve done.” She motioned for her children that it was time to go.

Warrick shouldered his hastily packed bag for the weekend and opened the door just in time to pull the knob right out of Cyn’s hand. “Oh, sorry, Cyn.” He said as the white haired girl jumped back, almost running into Laurel.

“It’s alright.” Cyn shrugged, and then her eyes fixed on the bag on his shoulder. “Y-you’re going? Now?” her gazed dropped to the floor as she frowned. “Of course you’re going now, there’s no reason to hang around. I really just wish you would have at least said goodbye, you know? If I were leaving, I’d call you!”

“Hey, whoa!” Warrick threw his hands up defensively. “Why do I need to say goodbye?”

Cyn shot daggers at him. “What’s wrong with you, Kaine? You’re pulling up camp and leaving and you don’t even think it’s even necessary to say goodbye to who I THOUGHT was your best friend?”

“Pulling up…” The gears turned in the young man’s head. He wasn’t dumb by any stretch, but catching subtext was something he was just bad at. Then again, Cyn was no good at concealing subtext, so it evened out. “Oooooh! You thought – Cyn, you think I’m going for good?”

“You’re not?”

He shook the small bag. “I’m not exactly packing a flatbed.” He grinned wryly, but the seriousness on Cyn’s face made the grin fade quickly. “But no. I’m spending the weekend in the city with my family. I’ll be back like on Monday. Hell, you could visit; the Dornez is on our usual patrol path after all.”

Cyn blinked dumbly for a few seconds. “Oh.” She managed. “Then all the outrage and pissyness just now? Yeah, that didn’t just happen.” She smiled and gave a nervous little chuckle. “You’re really staying? What about Kareem?”

“The bad guys are still out there, Cyn.” Warrick said, his turn to be serious. “We need to be ready for them and we need to stick together. Like family.” He put an arm around his little sister for emphasis. “I figure Kareem’s parents will agree.”

“We understand that.” Mr. Kaine offered. “I imagine that’s why my great grandfather added the ‘e’ and changed the ‘c’ to a ‘k’” He seemed deeply amused at his own joke.

“And understanding that, we’d be more than happy to have you join us for Thanksgiving.” Mrs. Kaine offered. “All of you.”

The offer was far too sincere to turn down.

***

Atalaya Utt stroked the hair on her son’s unconscious head and looked over to the corner in which her husband had situated himself. He sat with his legs folded beneath him, hands resting on his knees. His eyes were closed and a serene look was on his face.

“I do wish I was able to see what you are both seeing…” Mrs. Utt. commented. She watched her son and husband’s astral forms on the monitor on the wall. Without Laurel in the room, she was speaking Farsi. It would have been rude to speak in a language her host could not understand.

“I am sorry, mother, but I have never attempted to project a person without empathic ability and I do not want to make a mistake with you.” Kareem apologized in his mother’s native tongue.

“I understand your concern, my son, but for the moment, I feel less than helpful.”

“Nonsense, Atalaya.” Mr. Utt said in English, he refused to speak his native language since leaving his motherland for America. There was bad blood he rarely spoke of. “Our son would not be nearly as adept at navigating the Astral without your studies, which is a blessing considering his present condition.”

“My studies feel less than helpful at the moment as well.” Mrs. Utt pouted. “I never predicted the things Kareem is saying he’s sensed.”

“Perhaps once you see it, you will understand more.” Kareem offered.

“Yes, though I wish I could locate the source of the astral storms as well.” his mother replied. “You said that Ms. Brant’s devices never pinpointed it?”

“No, but in all honesty, it worries me less than this. When you see it, you will have to agree. We are nearing it now. I will try to send the signal to you.”

For a moment, the view panned past Kareem and Raimi where they stood on the flickering expanse of the Astral that overlapped the west end of Mayfield. The dark shadow of a bridge loomed above them, occasionally gaining a detail or two as the ebb and flow of the plane altered its astral form.

Then the view drifted down, past the undulating miasma that symbolized the water. There, the rose colored hue of the plane was interrupted by a spark of colorful light no further around than Mrs. Utt’s thumb.

“The emotion coming from it…” Mr. Utt gasped, “it is like nothing I have felt before… degrees of thought I never thought possible… this has to be…” He left the rest unspoken as his wife knew exactly what he referred to.

“Are you certain?” she asked, “Even if their theories are sound, I still have my doubts that the Astral can be torn.”

“I have felt the material plane breeched firsthand.” Kareem offered. “It is possible and I cannot deny that the emotions here are alien.”

“And you say that Ms. Brant is working to study it already?” Mrs. Utt asked.

“Yes, she is doing her best to find a solution. She believes that the breech was caused by the Morganna person I spoke of.”

“We should contact Dr. Tang.” Mr. Utt said. “He is the one that theorized it.”

“He’ll get his people involved.” His wife grimaced disapprovingly. “I think this is better left in Laurel Brant’s hands for now. Tang and his group will learn about it soon enough if that is what you fear it is.” She shook her head sadly. “Now I understand why you feel you can do better here instead of returning to California with us, my son.”

End Issue #13

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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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