Issue #15: Never Simple

This entry is part 3 of 15 in the series The Descendants Vol 2: Magic and Machines

Part 4

Both guns fired, their large caliber fragmenting rounds right on target. Facsimile only smirked and opened up a pair of holes in her body, allowing the projectiles to pass right through her – and into the mechanical arms of the man holding her. There were sparks and then the gold skinned heroine rolled free of her assailant.

Belle cursed and swung her chair around so the guns found Zero’s unprotected back. Both weapons jammed simultaneously.

“What?” Belle stared down at her malfunctioning artillery. “These weapons can’t jam! What happened?”

“Common mistake, really.” Alloy admitted as he fended off the blows of the scorpion tailed cyborg. “The guns were non-metallic, yeah. But the bullets were lead and lead is a metal.” He directed Isp to grab the scorpion-man’s tail and hurl him into the super-strong little woman before she could get to her feet.

“Why does everyone assume your powers only work on magnetic metals?” Facsimile asked smugly.

“Hey, it makes it easier on me.” He shrugged.

That got the attention of all the cyborgs. The ones still caught on Zero’s trap stopped struggling to stand altogether.

“He can affect the metal even if he can’t see it.” The little woman with the big power gave voice to the concerns of the cyborgs as she pushed herself from beneath the now unconscious form of the man with the scorpion tail.

Facsimile and Zero took the opportunity provided by the cyborgs’ hesitation to regroup with Alloy.

The man who had grabbed Facsimile moved over to Belle. “Does it matter?” he asked. “Does it really matter? It has to be done, right, Belle? We’ll have to fight them time and time again anyway once we get our criminal empire in place, isn’t that right?”

“I’m still really confused about why you want that.” Zero offered.

“Because they’re crazy, Z.” Facsimile looked around at the cyborgs Zero had subdued getting to their feet. “They have this neat new hobby they’re so excited about that they’ll pay an arm and a literal leg for and they’re not happy with starting conventions and clubs like normal geeks.”

“We aren’t geeks.” The petite, but strong woman sniffed.

“Trust me, you’re geeks.” Facsimile shrugged.

“Not, you know that that’s a bad thing. The geek part, not the ‘trying to start your own mob here in Mayfield’ part.” Alloy added, “I mean when we’re geeks like you guys… when we’re not… defeating guys like you guys.”

“Also, we don’t mutilate ourselves.” Facsimile added.

“I’m a geek?” Zero asked.

“No, honey, you’re not.” Facsimile responded. “Playing Deathgate alone is not enough. And the little paper crafty things…”

“Origami.” Zero offered.

“Yeah, whatever.” Facsimile shrugged, “It’s not a geek hobby. I don’t know what kind of hobby it is, but it’s not geekish. But we can fix you. I mean we can rent a bunch of our favorite movies for you to watch…”

“Oh, you do origami?” the taloned woman asked, “Have you seen the new Between the Folds article on the Pretty Gold Crane website?”

“The one about adding working complex joints to existing sculptures?” Zero practically squealed. “I’ve been dying to try it out!”

“I’m CornerCut on that site. That’s all one word—“

“That’s enough!” The formerly four armed man roared. “Belle, can’t you see what they’re doing? Don’t you hear the sirens? They’re trying to stall us long enough for the police to arrive.”

“No, I actually was—“Zero started.

“Do you really think we need to stall for the police?” Facsimile interjected. “If we really cared, we could kick your sub-cultured asses in half a second. Weren’t we just talking about how Alloy here can rip your circuits out?” She thought a second and added, “You know, we really are running late now, Alloy. Can we just…”

“He won’t.” the man with the sparking arms growled. “If he was cold enough to do it, he would have done it already.”

“Dale, a moment to think.” Belle’s eyes narrowed as she did just that. The logic was there, and she could hear the sirens approaching. The battle had taken only about three minutes but the MPD’s response time was better than she had expected. But the sirens already told her that the day was lost. It would be better to surrender peacefully, without provoking Alloy to using his power in what would promise to be a painful manner. Tomorrow was another day and she did have options left to her. They all did. She said nothing.

Dale snarled. “We don’t have time for this! The cops will be here soon. They’ll be armed for bear if they’ve gotten any reports about this fight. its do or die time—just like the founding fathers.” With a battle-cry that was far from impressive, he surged toward the young heroes.

“Why does every nutbag think he’s George-bleeding-Washington?” Facsimile groused, bracing for the cybernetic rush.

Only about half of the cyborgs sprung into action. Otto moved over beside Belle as if to protect her. From the elevator side, Dale and the small, strength enhanced woman came. From the other side, four gathered the courage to attack.

Facsimile bounded out to meet Dale head to head. “This is all your fault, you know?” she unleashed a flurry of clawed swipes at his face, which he warded off with his own normal hands. “the old lady may have started this fight, but you’re the ones dragging your friends into a grand maul beat down.”

“You call this a beat down?” Dale laughed, blocking everything Facsimile threw at him. “You fight like you’ve only had a week’s work of lessons.”

“It’s been like four months!” Facsimile said indignantly, drawing more laughter from the cyborg.

“Please, I’m a second degree black belt. And the nice thing about that is that with four arms, I can attack as well as defend.”

“Too bad I tricked your boss into shooting out your gear then, huh?”

“The right, yes. But only the actuators on my left are damaged.”

Facsimile’s eyes went to the left arm. The right one caught her in the ribs with what would have been a knife hand strike if most of the fingers hadn’t recently been blasted off by a .50 caliber armor piercing round. As it was, this made it much worse for the Descendants’ resident shapeshifter, as the blast had exposed live wires.

Her wings snapped up around her, contorting and withering. Bands of color ripped up and down her body as she fell back, shrieking in pain. No one looked more surprised and horrified than Dale himself.

“Fax!” Alloy surged forward, knocking the man attacking him to the ground.

Dale saw him coming and his look of shock melted into one of victory. “Not another step, hero.” He raised his sparking appendage in preparation to strike the prone Facsimile. “I’ve got the advantage now.”

“Dale.” Belle said sharply. “Enough. I don’t know what you did, but that was going too far.”

“Nothing it too far.” Dale intoned. “If we’re going to do this, we can’t hesitate.” His prosthetic arm came down. Then It wrenched backward painfully. The exposed wires writhed of their own volition before violently expelling themselves from Dale’s artificial arm.

The nerve analog to digital interface circuit was essentially a wetware component; wire leads around which nerve tissue was grown. The removal of the wire produces the unique and horrible sensation of having the core of a nerve bundle stripped out. Dale’s smugness dissolved as he screamed in unequaled pain.

Alloy lowered the hand he had pointed at Dale. For a moment, he couldn’t find words. He hadn’t expected such a reaction. “If you’re not going to listen to her, then you’ll listen to me. You’ve got too far.” The sirens outside were now close enough that everyone could hear them. He turned to Facsimile, kneeling beside her. “Are you okay?”

“That hurt like hell.” The golden prelate groaned. “But I’m okay.” She peered over at Dale, who was still writhing in agony, clutching his side where the limb had been implanted. “What did you do to him?”

“He was going to give you another shock.” Alloy said, a bit unsteadily. “So I stopped it the best way I could… I ripped the wires out.” He looked at Belle who was watching Dale’s plight impassively. “Is he going to be alright?”

“You stripped nerves.” Belle replied. “It is probably intensely painful, but the connections of the interface are such that he won’t suffer any permanent damage.”

“Right then.” Facsimile said, standing up with Alloy’s help. “None of the rest of you move or you get it too, understand?” Her words were unnecessary as seeing what happened to Dale had already taken the fight out of the remaining cyborgs.

“Everybody freeze!” Police in riot gear swarmed into the broken front windows, taking up tactical positions.

“I already told them that.” Facsimile folded her arms.

“It’s Life Savers, Inc.” one of the responding officers said. “They’ve already got the situation in hand.”

“Aren’t they the Descendants now?” another asked.

“If I may interrupt, officer.” Belle said, “My people and I wish to turn ourselves in for breaking and entry and attempted grand theft.”

“Wait, what?” Alloy blinked beneath his helm.

“I agree.” The super-strong woman said, “Wait, what?”

“Things will go better for us if we cooperate.” Belle reasoned, “The media will be more sympathetic to us than if we were turned over by their beloved vigilantes.”

“I guess that’s alright.” Zero shrugged as the police began cuffing and disabling the devices of the various cyborgs. She looked at her counterparts. “Can we go now?”

***

“What a night.” Cyn said, as the SUV pulled into school parking lot. “Who knew that Mayfield had a cybernetic subculture?”

“Or that they were going criminal with it.” Warrick added, trying to straighten his suit.

“At least they’re all going to jail.” Juniper offered, turning into a parking space. “I mean, maybe they’ll be rehabilitated. Think of what people that can do things like that are capable of if they weren’t… well, evil.”

“Okay, no more talk about villainy.” Cyn piped up. “It’s time to party. Actually for me, it’s mostly time to gloat over Lilly and make a bunch of other girls I hate jealous.”

“Jonas knows this right?” Warrick asked, “Because you said he asked you and that, to me, sounds like he likes you. And that wouldn’t be right.”

“For the last time: yes, he knows.” Cyn said, climbing out of the car and stretching in an exaggerated fashion. “And him asking me does not mean he likes me that way. You asked Tink out, right? Does that mean you like her?”

“I could.” Warrick said indignantly. “She’s cute; she’s really into science, and likes making gizmos.”

“And she’s totally not interested.” Cyn said.

“Not totally.”

“She agreed to go to the dance with you to shut you up.” Cyn said.

“She could have said no and told me to shut up.” Warrick countered.

“Why are you guys fighting?” Juniper asked, coming from around the car.

“We’re not fighting; I’m just giving Warrick a hard time.” Cyn shrugged.

“That wasn’t fighting?” Warrick asked.

“If it was fighting, you’d be on your back right about now.” Cyn said, throwing an arm over his shoulders. “I’m just tweaking you. Plus, I still think you should have held out for a girl that actually wanted to go with you. There’s bound to be plenty of girls like that at school.”

“I need names.”

“Well, I don’t have names, but they’re there.” Cyn assured him. She gave him a sidelong glance when she spotted the bag from the florists in his hand. “So what did you get her anyway? Seeing as you blew off our advice for the flower guy’s”

“A lilac corsage.” The group walked toward the school.

Cyn rolled her eyes at them. “For god’s sake, he gave you lilacs? That’s going to clash with anything she wears unless it’s—“

“A purple blouse and skirt?” Juniper asked, looking ahead.

Cyn followed her gaze to confirm that Tina was, indeed standing by the doors wearing that very outfit. Immediately, she shot a glare at Warrick. “I’d say you were a lucky son of a bitch, but your mom baked me seven dozen cookies for Christmas and I can’t bring myself to insult a woman that does such wonderful things with cinnamon.”

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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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