Issue #14: Standing With Titans

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

Part 4

Steel beams twisted, tearing a hole in the warehouse’s roof big enough to admit Alloy and Facsimile. Spooked out of their confident position behind the Legion of One, the guards opened fire. The spray of lead only managed to raise a hail of sparks from Alloy’s armor as Isp and Osp swung him down to the top of a stack of crates.

Facsimile took a more direct route to the ground, freefalling and landing with a liquid grace that mocked the fact that a normal human’s bones would shatter from a drop from such a height. She grabbed one of the guards by the collar and swung him sideways into the man beside him.

Alloy reached out with his power and twisted the nearest weapons into useless slag.

Legion didn’t bat an eye at the incursion going on behind him. “You have no idea how tired I am of that reference.” He said to Chaos. “My name references the Roman legions, not the demon of Gadarene.”

“Yeah, but it’s a joke I just couldn’t resist.” Chaos said, getting to his feet. Legion blurred, stretched and appeared beside him, an elbow aimed at the prelate’s ribs. But Whitecoat was ready for him.

Gathering his feet beneath him, he put all of his enhanced strength into a flying tackle. They went down in a heap. “The office in back!” he shouted. “That’s where they’ll be keeping the kids!”

Facsimile backhanded another guard nodded and bolted for the office. She didn’t get far before Legion appeared and locked his arms under her shoulders. “We’ll be having none of that, lady.” He snapped, leaning back hard and pulling both of them into a backward fall. As they toppled, he ‘ported and appearing in front of her, drop kicked her in the chest, sending her sprawling on the concrete.

The Whitecoat snarled in frustration, upon realizing he was grappling thin air. “Damn it!” He turned on his heel and found himself standing beside Chaos. “He can ‘port out of grapples. We’ll have to find some other way to pin him down.”

“I’ll pile some air up on him, see if that—“Chaos was cut off as Legion appeared before them and planted a fist into each of their guts. At least he tried when it came to the Whitecoat. His fist hit the trench coat and felt like it had slammed into steel. His surprise was such that he didn’t manage to escape a gauntleted fist to the face.

Drops of blood flew as he blurred and disappeared, reappearing on the other side of the warehouse. Wiping blood from his busted lip he glared. “First blood, Whitecoat. Suits me just fine if we’re going to play it like that.”

“Really?” A crate swung down from above, threatening to squash Legion against the stack he was standing near. He was gone before it hit him, reappearing in the space the crate had passed through.

He glared at Alloy. “Nice try.” With that, he was beside the armored prelate, hand going for his sword. All thoughts of catching Alloy off guard fled from his mind as Osp snapped out, slamming him across the midsection and launching him from the top of the crates before Alloy even turned to face him.

Facsimile was in the air to intercept him. “One cheap shot deserves another.” She said coldly, winding up a punch to hit him in midair.

“I agree.” Facsimile was taken off guard as Legion dropped from above, planting a foot and all of his weight into her collar bone. There was a sickening crack and the golden prelate crashed to the ground. Legion ‘ported beside her, pointing. “Shoot her!” he commanded the guards that were still up.

As they took aim, a gush of wind rushed away from them, forming miniature vortexes around each firearm. Instead of the roar of weapons fire, there came a series of muffled clicks. “Today, in chem class, children, we learn that gunpowder doesn’t ignite without oxygen to burn in.” Chaos gestured and the vortexes took the men off their feet.

Legion unsheathed his sword with an oath. “If you want something done…”

“You won’t get a chance.” Whitecoat jumped toward the teleporter, fists raised. “Alloy, hit him with a crate!”

“He’ll just ‘port and avoid it. I can just slag the sword!” Alloy was saying even as Isp and Osp complied on his behalf.

“The hell he will.” Whitecoat bellowed. He watched Legion disappear just ahead of the looming container. Two fists, backed by the force of an increasingly irritated man with superhuman strength came up and impacted the wooden crate in twin uppercuts. It came apart in a burst of splinters.

Legion roared hissed in pain as he reappeared. The overhand strike he had prepared to bring down on the Whitecoat twisted to protect his eyes. For the brief moment he was blinded, the Whitecoat lunged for him. He was too slow, grasping only air. Legion was back in an instant, swinging his sword low to attack the Whitecoat’s knee. It buckled and sent the prelate to the ground.

“Four so called prelates and here I am making you look like clowns.” The Legion of One laughed. “It’ll be better when you’re dead. You won’t be able to feel the shame I’m bringing to your names for generations to—“He this time it was a literal scream rather than a roar. Facsimile had extruded a twelve inch spike of bone from her arm and punched it through his boot, the foot inside and down into the concrete.

She rose up, shifting stronger muscles with which to pummel him more efficiently.

Biting off a string of curses in what Chaos realized was Greek, Legion ducked under Facsimile’s first punch, drove his sword into her shoulder and used it as leverage to push her away. She stumbled back, tripping on a chunk of broken wood and took the sword with her as she fell. The immediate threat over, Legion knelt and pulled the spike out of his foot.

He didn’t have time for anything else. Alloy’s feet both connected with his back, bowling him over. The armored prelate let the tentacles set him down between Facsimile and Whitecoat. Legion ‘ported away.

“Are you guys alright?” Alloy asked, warily looking around for the counterattack.

Facsimile grunted as she pulled the sword out of her shoulder and threw it to the side. “Peachy. But I’ll feel better if I get my claws in that guy.”

The Whitecoat was already up in a crouch. “Did you see that? He ducked her.”

“Yeah, the bastard’s fast.” Facsimile groused.

“No, I mean he didn’t teleport out of the way. He stood and fought like a normal person while you had him pinioned to the ground.”

Alloy snapped his fingers, which was admittedly impressive for someone wearing full armor. “He can’t take it with him – the spike connected him to the building and he can’t very well try to move the whole building. Even trying, he would run the risk of ripping his foot off.”

“Where did you pick that up?” Chaos came over, glancing about for Legion.

“Prelates of New York number 12, Infinity vs. the Cargo Clan. It was all about teleporters.”

“I should have known.” Whitecoat groaned.

“I may have learned it from there, but I’ve done my own research.” Alloy said indignantly. “And it’s a fact, teleporters have unique mass and distance limits, but they all have problems separating parts of a whole when teleporting.”

“Insightful, prelate.” The Legion of One’s voice echoed off the high ceiling. “I’ll have to invest in a few comic books once I’m done with you all.” He was on them like lightning, first kicking Facsimile into Alloy, then catching Chaos and the Whitecoat in their respective chins with a split kick.

He was gone in the next instant, but his location was made obvious by the sharp impact coming from the other side of the closest stack of crates. The whole stack shifted and toppled toward the prelates. Facsimile, Alloy and the Whitecoat turtled, knowing they could take the blows. Chaos threw up his hands and the wind in the warehouse revved to hurricane force, stacking up in solid layers before the crates, pushing them back in the other direction to collapse harmlessly.

“Is he nuts?” Facsimile asked, pointing to the unconscious and cowering guards that would have been crushed by the attack. “He was about to off his own guys!”

“Those aren’t ‘my guys’. I’m an independent contractor.” Legion pointed out. He was standing on top of another stack of crates. “The only thing I’ve gotten from the Tongs, besides a paycheck is the knowledge of a half dozen Chinese slurs of ‘white man’. Really, if the prelates made a lucrative offer like crime does, I’d gladly ply my trade on street hoods and powered fools in pajamas.”

Whitecoat stepped in front of the others. “Do you hear this guy?” he laughed. “’a lucrative offer like crime does…’” he said in an exaggeratedly snobbish accent. “Have you even heard yourself, Shirtless Joe? Between this and all the fun factoids about where the swarm of demons that Jesus jammed in some pigs came from, you put yourself out there as some kind of high culture, hoity-toity type – or as I guess you’d say,” he adopted the snooty accent again, “’haute-monde’.”

He folded his arms over his chest. “But the fact is that you run around shirtless in New York in December, so how smart can you be? You know what I think, Conan the Librarian? I think you’re just some mouth-breathing simian from Jersey trying to break into the big time here in the City. And I think you thought that having a gimmick—say, Indian-brave-slash-mercenary—would help you move up the ranks. Well, I’m sorry, chuckles, but Zhang’s not the boss to help you rise above. He’s more of a ‘feed from the bottom’ kinda guy.”

Legion was no longer standing on the crates by the time he finished. Calmly, and smoothly, he brought up an arm to ward off the roundhouse kick aimed for his head and grabbed it with his free hand, engaging the electrostatic adhesion device that normally anchored him to walls he was traversing.

“Typical.” He smirked. He chuckled as he watched realization dawn on Legion. “Yup, you’re adhered to me and I’m likewise adhered to the floor. Come on, try to ‘port, I’ve always wanted something to hang on my trophy wall – your leg would be a nice start.”

“Awesome!” Alloy declared. “You psyched him out into attacking you so you could trap him. So classic!”

The Whitecoat shrugged and looked at Chaos. “And that is why I make fun of people.”

“And you never learn to shut up.” Legion threw his bracing foot upward, catching his captor in the chin. His hand s hit the floor behind him and he did an inverted pushup to bring himself forward. A dagger left his bandoleer and found its way alongside where the bandanna covered the Whitecoat’s neck. “Release me.” He snarled.

“Sure.” The Whitecoat shrugged. With both hands he threw Legion’s captured leg upward, flipping the villain through the air.

Isp and Osp were on him before he could think to teleport. They cracked down across his ribs and drove him to the floor with a satisfying thud. He didn’t rise after that.

“Nice one.” The Whitecoat nodded to Alloy.

“It wasn’t me, it was them.” Alloy pointed up to the tentacles, which were miming congratulating themselves.

“Uh… yeah.” Whitecoat nodded. “Okay, I’ll get the Tong guards all nice and cozy for the police, you guys go grab the kids. I want to be here when Mr. Demon wakes up to ask some pointed, threatening questions about why all of this has… been… oh, god damn it.” He was staring at the place Legion had fallen – where he should have been.”

***

Sirens filled the afternoon air over the warehouse district as several police units, including a pair of flying cruisers, converged on Tai Yang Zhang’s warehouse. They took little to no notice of a green SUV parked beside a black cargo van at the other end of the Canterbury Docks.

The van, rented by Codex to help ferry everyone around, sat with its doors open. The Kin; Rain, Incubus, Blank and Tesser, sat with their legs outside as they worried excitedly over one another. The Descendants and the Whitecoat had retreated to the other side of the SUV to give them their time together.

“You mean to tell me that you just let these kids run around unsupervised?” the Whitecoat asked, “That doesn’t sound very responsible.”

“You have to understand,” Codex was leaning against her SUV. “When we first found them, we couldn’t return them to their parents because Tome would get a hold of them again. And after that fact, we found out that only one of them… whose identity we can confirm… has family that would accept them back anyway and he’s of legal age now anyway.”

“So our hands are tied.” Chaos added. “Of course we watch out for them, give them any help they ask for…”

“And occasionally dispatch a prelate team on their behalf.” Whitecoat finished. “Damn, when I was their age, my friends wouldn’t even fight normal bullies for me. But c’est la vie, I guess. Tell them I wish them luck.”

“You’re headed out already, sir?” Alloy asked.

“Yeah, kid, I am.” The Whitecoat nodded. “There’s still daylight to burn and Legion’s still out there. Not to mention that we’re still not entirely sure why Zhang wanted to kidnap them. If it’s not this Tome place, then someone might just be targeting young psionics. I know of a couple of group homes dedicated to kids that got kicked by their parents for being psionics,” This drew a small growl from Facsimile’s throat, “I’m going to snoop around there and see if there are any more disappearances.”

“Sounds like a plan.” Codex replied. “Would you mind letting us know what you turn up? We’re uniquely interested in anything that might be connected to Tome.”

“Sure thing, bookworm.” Whitecoat gave a small bow. “I’ve got your card. I really should get my own cards, you know, after I manage to get as off-the-grid as you apparently are.”

“I could arrange that.” Codex said.

“Nah, I’m a smart guy, I can build my own gadgets. Thanks anyway though.” With that, he leapt to a roof and was gone.

“This was the most awesome day ever.” Alloy murmured, watching his hero and reluctant mentor disappear.

“Since I’m the one that called you in on this,” Facsimile asked with a mischievous grin, “Does this count as my Christmas gift to you?”

***

“I’m terribly sorry, sir.” Tai Yang Zhang stammered in Cantonese as he stood before his superior in a darkened, seedy motel room. It was the kind of place the big bosses of the Tongs used as temporary offices when they took ‘field trips’ among their rank and file.

Zhang was a slight man in his mid-fifties with balding black hair and a nose that had obviously been broken several times and had never healed correctly once. He wore his best suit, which by comparison to his superior’s suit, looked like a burlap sack with chicken feed still ground into the nooks.

“I thought that the Legion of One would be able to take whoever followed. I never suspected that many would come to retrieve a group of worthless runaways.”

“They aren’t worthless.” His boss said in smooth English. If there was an accent, it was decidedly not Chinese. “In fact, to me they’re worth a great deal. And the fact that they just happened to appear in New York was a stroke of luck I fear I won’t have again.

Zhang shivered. “Please, sir, give me another chance…”

“You’ll have one, Tai Yang. Because your connections were useful to me even before my former… friends… arrived. In fact, I have a job for you immediately.”

“Yes?” Zhang asked, sweating profusely.

“Go to your public bosses, the Tongs. Tell them what happened to your warehouse – how many prelates were involved. Tell them that it is time to modernize the way you have. They need psionics of their own to fight fire with fire and it doesn’t matter if they’re Chinese or not.”

End Issue #14

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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