Issue #14: Standing With Titans

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

A light snow fell over New York City as another long, cold December night wore on. The main thoroughfares were decked in garish Christmas regalia of red and green with images of Santa Claus frolicking with elves or snowmen or the occasional penguin. Once in a while, a car would pass by, adding its headlamps to the swirl of colored lights.

By eleven, the area was all but abandoned. Everyone, it seemed was either safe at home or hitting the bars and clubs elsewhere in Brooklyn or in neighboring Manhattan. Not a creature was stirring, as a certain traditional poem would say. Except tonight, a trio of mice was stirring outside the back entrance of Westchester Jewelers.

“Robbin’ jewelry stores,” one said. He was of medium build dressed in boots and jeans with a heavy jacket with a ski mask pulled down over his face. He had a slight accent, partially covered by an affected Brooklyn accent. “My uncle said I’d only have to do this for a few months before moving up. Yeah, right, it’s been a year now.”

“Would you shut up, Lin?” hissed one of his partners who was in the process of working a decryption device to disable the biometric locks on the door. Even crouched as he was, he was only slightly shorter than the first speaker. He was well muscled and dressed in sweats and a light jacket that was buttoned up. He wore oversized, mirrored goggles on his face to obscure his features.

“Just because you don’t have ambitions, doesn’t mean I have to lack them too.” Lin sniffed.

“Heh,” the third chuckled. He was stocky and muscular wearing jeans and a heavy woolen vest. He wore goggles like the second man, but no one could forget his broad, square jaw jutting beneath it. “This is a step up from earlier this morning.”

“Shut. Up.” The lock cracker growled.

“What did you have to do this morning?” the first, Lin, asked. He did so more irritate the man working the locks than out of actually caring with the lantern jawed muscle had to say.

“Babysitting.” The stocky man spat the word. “Boss had us grab two kids out of a hotel – said they was psionics. I believe him too, because you wouldn’t believe what was chasin’ us—“

“For the love of all that is holy, you morons, shut the hell up!” The lock cracker snarled, whirling to face the two. “I’m already nervous enough as it is without you two baiting attention. This ain’t Manhattan, this ain’t the Bronx. This is Brooklyn and when you’re in Brooklyn, you’ve got to watch out for –“ He noticed lantern jaw staring up at something.

“Don’t say it, we all know my name.”

The would be robbers turned and looked up about three stories. A man crouched on the ledge of a window across from the jewelry store. An immaculate white coat, made of some slick looking material billowed out around him, obscuring exactly how he was balancing on the three inch ledge so perfectly. A white Stetson with a light grey band was pulled down over his eyes and a pure white bandanna was tied over his nose and mouth, making him look very much like the hero of many an old western.

The legendary Whitecoat chuckled at the panicked look that played over the thieves’ faces. “I was just in the neighborhood; you know looking for a nice Christmas gift for my girlfriend. She’s Jewish, but I figure it’s the thought that counts. Anyway, I saw you guys had exactly the same idea, so I figured we’d compare notes. Sound like a good idea?”

The big jawed thug and the one called Lin drew pistols; high caliber, low recoil models that had just recently shown up on the street.

“Guess you didn’t believe that.” The Whitecoat shrugged. “What self respecting guy waits until the last minute right?” Silenced gunshots answered him. He responded by lowering is head and letting the hot lead impact him, sending his coat billowing about even more.

After the first few shots, the prelate called the Whitecoat had had enough. Without a word, he leapt from the ledge and landed in a graceful three point stance in front of Lin. His hand flashed out and a white plastic gauntlet seized his firearm and threw it down the alley.

“How many times do you guys have to learn this? You shoot and shoot and it doesn’t work. Maybe, just maybe, I’m bulletproof, you goober.” The other gauntlet came up into a clean uppercut that put Lin on his back.

The man who had been trying to break the lock seemed to take the hint, attacking the prelate with his fists instead of bullets. It did him no good as a gauntleted fist drove into his breadbasket, moments before its twin found his jaw. The goon staggered back into the wall and slumped.

That was all the square jawed thug needed to see to get the idea to run. He bolted down the alley, feet sliding in the thin layer of snow that managed to stick.

“Why do the people I want to hear from most always take off?” the Whitecoat asked, reaching into one of his jacket’s pockets. “Is it the breath?” He withdrew something from the pocket and hurled it after the fleeing thug. There was a popping sound and the man went down, his legs entangled by a thin wire. “Luckily, I’ve got my boyish charm to make them stick around.” The prelate smirked.

Without so much as a running start, the defender of Brooklyn leapt the twenty feet that separated him from his quarry. He landed in a crouch over the prone man and flipped him over on his back. With a swift motion, he whipped the goggles off.

“Heya, Ox! Long time, no see. I wish you’d have kept it that way.” The Whitecoat said with an implied eye roll. “See, I was just going to sit back, wait for you to finish your story, then trip the alarm. In the spirit of the season, no asses had to be kicked. But then you just had to start shooting. But I’m still feeing jolly, Ox. Tell me the rest of your little story – including where to find your little charges, and you get to be conscious when the cops arrive, sound good?”

***

“I don’t know what it says about us that our hotel rooms are less nice than our own rooms.” Cyn complained, looking out the window. “I mean the view here! We’re sitting here looking at surprise, surprise, another hotel.” She was looking out the window of the room she would be sharing with Melissa and Laurel.

“I said you didn’t have to come.” Laurel said diplomatically.

“You said I had to come.” Melissa sulked from where she sat on her bed.

“I’m sorry Melissa, but from Noah’s call I have reason to believe someone may be hurt. I needed you here.” Laurel’s voice was even, but there was no mistaking her concern.

“I didn’t mean it like that.” Cyn said, turning from the window. “I’m actually looking forward to meeting these ‘Kin’ guys.” She looked over at Melissa. “And if you think you’re being inconvenienced; Warrick’s taking time out from having Christmas with his family to help out.”

“I really wish you hadn’t called him about this.” Laurel said, “The Kaines went through a lot of trouble renting a suite in Manhattan to spend Christmas with him without alerting Tome to it.”

“It’s not going to take that long” Cyn said with confidence. “We track down Noah, find out what happened, maybe kick the crap out of some baddies. All in a day’s work for the Descendants.” She smiled broadly and struck a heroic pose. She fell out of it when a thought hit her. “Hey, this is the first mission we’ve had as the Descendants. We really should have the full team…”

“This isn’t a prelate mission, Cyn.” Laurel chuckled. “We’re helping out some friends, that’s all. Besides, we need Alexis back home to keep and eye on Pratt’s people installing the defense system.”

“Juniper should at least be here.” Cyn pouted. “I can’t believe she of all people bowed out because it was too cold.”

“If it was something drastic, I’m sure she would have come.” Laurel said.

“Ian’s going to be pissy.” Melissa commented, not really listening to the current thrust of the conversation. “He and Alexis probably haven’t been out of each others’ sight more than an hour since the Redeemers.”

“I know,” Cyn snorted. “They’re disgusting. I liked it better when they were ignoring each other.”

“Ah, kids…” Laurel shook her head with a laugh. “You’re not far from the age where what those two have will start to be more and more appealing, you know.”

“We’re not twelve.” Melissa interjected. “We’re a bit beyond ‘boys are yucky’, but there’s a difference between ‘dating’ and ‘cavity inducing’.”

Cyn nodded, “Also, I just don’t see it. I mean I don’t know, I see how a woman could be into Ian, I guess, but Alexis is such a shrew sometimes.” Her hair darkened and her facial structure shifted until it looked as if Alexis’s head was on Cyn’s body.

“Oh, you’re going out again? Remember, for a five billionth time, don’t let anyone see you use your powers in public outside of your prelate ID’s.” Cyn said with Alexis’s voice. “Because clearly you’re too stupid to realize how much trouble that would cause.”

Laurel laughed in spite of herself. “Give her a break. She’s very protective of all of you, that’s all. And really, she has been getting better. Last training session, I don’t think she yelled at any of you at all.”

“Because she knows that we lose if we don’t do what she says then.” Cyn stuck out Alexis’s tongue. As an after thought, she made the tongue forked. “Training sessions are always more fun when Ian chooses them anyway. She shifted her head to resemble Ian’s. “And today, boy and girls, we’ll be playing full powered tag.” She snorted.

There was a click at the door and Ian entered, bundled in a thick, padded coat. Warrick followed behind him. “Look what followed me home, maw.” Ian said with his best backwater hick impression, “Can we keep –gah!” he caught sight of his head atop Cyn’s body.

“That is so very disturbing.” Warrick commented.

Cyn guffawed and shifted back to her normal form. “I am so hungry right now, but that was so worth it.” She headed over to pillage the mini bar.

Laurel shook her head as Cyn started grazing. “So, Warrick, how are things in the Kaine part of the world? Sorry you got called away.”

“Great.” Warrick shrugged. “Except Tammy is convinced that she’s got metal powers now. She’s been carrying around this piece of rebar and waving it around, trying to get them to activate.” He grinned, “She may be older, but she’s definitely still my little sister.” He tried to put on a more serious face; “So what’s up? Cyn and Mr. Smythe said that it’s about those kids from Florida?”

“Yeah,” Laurel said, “They came to New York because some of them wanted to see the Christmas Tree lighting, but it looks like they ran into some trouble. Noah called me and sounded pretty panicked, but he wasn’t able to tell me much before getting cut off.”

“Cut off?” Warrick asked.

“You should hear for yourself.” The genius pulled out her tablet computer. With a few taps of the screen, she brought up a media player with the recording of Noah’s call.

The recording started with the sound of labored breathing and footfalls. “—nect, damn it!” a young, male voice hissed. “Finally.” He sounded like he was talking through pain and completely out of breath. “I… it’s Incubus. We’re in Ne—“a horn blared, drowning out the next few words. “Someone… Blank and Tesser – OUT OF MY WAY!” The sound of people exclaiming with indignant surprise could be heard clearly.

The voice returned momentarily. “We came to watch the tree being lit, but these three guys—“ More horns honked. There was some cursing heard under their noise. “—found one of them. Oh god, I need to find them. I can’t—“ He groaned in pain. “I can feel him. He’s scared.” The voice grew deeper and became a growl. “Son of a bitch, he can’t take them.” The phone sounded like it was further from his mouth than before.

A pair of gunshots rang out, followed by a screeching roar. There was a sound that might have been the phone clattering to the ground and then the call was cut off.

The group, most of whom had already heard the recorded call, all remained silent for a moment as Laurel closed out the media program.

“The NYPD’s meta-enforcement division picked Noah and Rain up in Brooklyn. Noah had transformed into his incubus form involuntarily and caused a huge traffic snarl. They had to tranquilize him to bring him in. Rain refuses to talk to the officers.” Laurel explained.

“What about the other two?” Warrick asked, “Blank and Tesser?”

Laurel shrugged. “No sign of them. From what I could gather from his call, they may have been kidnapped.”

“Tome?” the young man asked a flash of anger on his face.

“We don’t know.” Laurel said, “But we intend to find out. First thing’s first though; we need to bail Noah out of jail and find out exactly what happened from him.” She opened a new program on her tablet. “I’ll do all the overhead work from here. Noah’s being held at the MED holding facility. They’re familiar with prelates here so you shouldn’t have any trouble.”

At the mention of other prelates, Warrick’s eyes lit up, but he said nothing.

Cyn said it for him. “The prelates around here know the land better; maybe we should contact them and see if they know anything about this? I mean incu-boy’s rampage must have gotten someone’s attention.”

“I would if I could.” Laurel said. “New York’s prelate community is… elusive. Most of them go weeks or even months without reported activity, making it hard to figure out where to best start looking.”

“The Whitecoat and Infinity are in the papers all the time.” Warrick chimed in. “And I know all of the Whitecoat’s patrol routes. In fact, he sticks to Brooklyn all the time anyway – maybe he saw something.”

“What about Infinity?” Melissa asked. “He’s the guy that flies and punches through walls. I’ve feel better if we got him on our side than someone even you admit is a street leveler.”

Warrick shrugged. “Infinity’s okay and all, but the Whitecoat’s always in the thick of things. Infinity only fights when it’s a city level threat like Bartlet St. Troy’s mobile bombs, or that Ravager mutant that broke out of Estrella Labs.”

“Calm down, Warrick.” Ian said, leaning against the wall. “Before we start calling in favors from New York’s heroic population, why don’t we see exactly what Noah has to say? He may know exactly where to go and he’s no slouch in a fight himself. No point in inviting more people to the party than we need to, especially when the Kin’s secrets are involved.”

“Ian makes a good point. We need to remember that the Kin are trying to travel in secret. We don’t want to broadcast their situation to the world, especially if it turns out Tome isn’t involved and is still in the dark about them.” Laurel was already working on something on her computer. “Hmmm…” she stopped.

“What?” Ian asked coming over.

Laurel frowned at her screen. “Someone just petitioned the mayor for an order of release for Noah. Someone at least a little clout – the name on the order is sealed from the public record.”

Ian grimaced over her shoulder. “Six fifty-three? That was only about fifteen minutes ago – we can still beat them to the MED if we move fast.”

Series Navigation<< Issue #13: Another Kind of HomecomingIssue #15: Never Simple >>

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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One Comment

  1. Rebecca Thompson

    The Kin are back, and we get to meet a new prelate? Awesome.

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