Issue #17: Freaque

This entry is part 5 of 15 in the series The Descendants Vol 2: Magic and Machines

Part 4

“Is this really where she lives?” Chaos asked, observing the cylindrical cluster of towers, all connected by skyways, that made up Archipelago Estates.

“I dunno.” Facsimile shrugged. “I’ve never been here. Codex gave us the address though and when is she ever wrong?”

“No wonder she’s stuck up. Look at this place; terrace gardens, automated janitorial service – is that a hedge maze on that skyway? You probably have to be loaded to be on the wait staff.”

“Well, you can’t spell Goldenmeyer without ‘gold’.” Facsimile shrugged.

“False advertising.” Chaos clucked. “Platinummeyer, maybe. Blackcredicardmeyer, probably. But not Goldenmeyer. Wonder why she’s in public school?”

“I’m sure it’s mathematically possible for me to care less, but I wouldn’t bet on it.” Facsimile replied. “I just wish he parents had sprung for removing her poison tongue. Though now that she’s a serial killer and all, I’m sure her cellmate Bertha will put her in her place.”

“We still don’t have much proof that it’s her.” Chaos said. “We may be barking up the wrong—“He was interrupted by a scream from the central parking garage. “—Or she could be attacking someone right now. Fly me over.”

“Hey, flying lessons, remember?” Facsimile glared at him.

“I need to call the others and I’m still a rookie flier. Get carrying!” Chaos ordered as another scream split the air.

***

Every person, from the mightiest king, to the lowliest writer, has one or two things that, above all others, invoke within them that elusive emotion called bliss. It can be an activity, an object, or even just a memory. The method isn’t nearly as important as the feeling it gives a person to experience it.

For Lilly Goldenmeyer it wasn’t, as many of those who knew her would suggest, lording over people. It wasn’t being popular or being rich, and it wasn’t even the rare few who were her actual true friends. Happiness, for Lilly came with night driving. Ever weekend night, after she’d cut short whatever date or other engagement she had, she would drive out into the country and enjoy the peace and utter solitude of being alone with her car on the open road.

And nothing made that experience more enjoyable than her pride and joy; a powder blue 2025 American Motors Scimitar coup. The vanity plates said ALL4ME and she had spent months before even getting her license having custom media players, seats, and all manner of other accruements installed. She’d even had it downgraded to gas/electric so she could road trip out in the country over the summer.

All of the affection she withheld from friends, family and associates, she poured into her car. So it is perfectly understandable that upon finding it scratched with deliberate and brutal intent, she screamed bloody murder.

It took a moment, in all her shock and horror, to notice that the scratches, which ran up and down the side panels, the hood, the trunk, and even the roof, spelled something out: FREAQUE.

Catching her breath, Lilly fumed at the vandal. “Who did this!?” Her shout echoed through the parking garage. “I’ll kill them.” She raged, “I won’t stop until they’re dead. How dare they! How dare they scratch my baby!?”

“Didn’t like my detailing?” A low, almost sultry voice said. Lilly’s head snapped around to see who had spoke. Elizabeth von Stoker, transformed, stepped out from behind a pillar. She was just under seven feet tall, her skin rust red. She walked in a pigeon toed manner, her arched ankles seeming more like backward bent knees. Boney spikes, dried and discolored yellow, poked out from her joints and in a double row behind each wrist. Bone plates were exposed along her cheeks and forehead, making a bizarre widow’s peak. From beneath a crown of still more bone, black hair like coils of leather hung. And from her back rose a pair of draconic wings.

This time, Lilly’s scream was pure terror.

If it bothered Elizabeth, it didn’t show. “I thought you’d like it, Lil.” She stepped forward, claws clicking on the floor. Lilly tried to step back, but wound up just putting her back to the car. “I mean, last year, you wrote it on pretty much everything I owned. My books, my flute case…” She reached the terrified Lilly to scratch another ‘F’ on the car. “You even scratched it into my locker.”

Lilly looked up at her attack and tried to shrink. Her rational brain said that she should try to talk this person down, apologize for whatever she’d done, or at least try to remember who she’d called ‘Freaque’ last year. Her reptilian brain wanted nothing more than to skitter for cover and rethink trading in regeneration for a warm blooded metabolism.

“Who are you?” She managed to squeak.

“I used to be Beth von Stoker. But you gave me a new name—and no one stopped you. Because you’re oh so intimidating. Even when you make up spellings. So I’ll keep it.” She lowered her head so she was even with Lilly. “Call me Freaque.”

***

“This wasn’t supposed to be this way.” Mendel groaned, holding his head in his hands. “I just wanted to help people, like you.” He nodded to Alloy. “You and Facsimile gave me a second chance on that elevator. I could have died and when I got to the pearly gates, there would have been no good in my book. I haven’t been an evil man, but I hadn’t done a good thing in my life. But then two people saved me and didn’t ask anything in return—took great personal risk to do it. It… it…”

“Don’t say it.” Alloy begged in a whisper.

“It inspired me.” Mendel said, unaware of Alloy’s audible groan. “I don’t have any powers, special abilities—I’m not even especially skilled; I inherited this company from my parents. But I do have this company and… I thought I could help.”

Darkness’s cell phone rang. She checked the caller ID and held up a finger. “Excuse me.” She said and headed for the other end of the office.

“You shouldn’t feel so bad, Mr. Mendel.” Zero said in a calming tone. “You didn’t know any of this was going to happen. And, well it did work for those other people, right?”

Mendel nodded. “I suppose. The others chose to be advanced to full metamorphs, able to assume a normal form or their protomorph form at will.”

“See? Those other people are very happy because of you.” Zero smiled even as Mendel ducked his head. She looked at Alloy and said the next part to him as much as to the billionaire CEO. “Sometimes, bad things happen even when you do your best. That doesn’t mean you should stop trying. You should just try to do better next time and learn from this time.”

Alloy was certain he’d heard that on TV, but he smiled under the armor anyway. She was right. He couldn’t stop because of this. But he did have a responsibility to stop the Liz before she killed again.

“We’re on the job.” Darkness said, stepping back to them. “Mr. Mendel, we’ve found her. She’s at Archipelago Estates. We’re going after her. Can you cure her if we get her back here?”

“We’re not taking her to jail?” Zero asked.

“She’s sick, not a criminal.” Darkness said. “If we can reverse this, maybe we can do it without ruining her life more than she already has.”

“We’ve devised a treatment regimen that should work.” Mendel said. “Just get her back here. I’ll have a team and her parents standing by.”

“Archipelago is all the way across town.” Alloy said, “It’ll take half an hour to get there.”

Mendel dug a set of keys out of his desk. “Here. Take my car. It’s on the roof and I doubt the police will have a problem with you piloting a flying vehicle unlicensed.”

***

“I don’t see why they were so scared of you.” Freaque said, holding Lilly against her car with one hand. “Of course, now they’ve seen something to really be afraid of—me. Even the one person that did stand up to you—stood up to you for me no less—turned out to be a coward. I’m starting to really hate cowards.”

Lilly flinched.

“Oh, don’t be such a wimp, silly gob. I’m not going to kill you. I just want to do something my old self wanted to do for years…” She pulled back her fist.

A current of wind caught Freaque’s wings like a kite on a breeze and threw her back. She crashed hard into the car in the next space. Facsimile was on her in a flash, delivering a two handed slam that knocked her up and over the car into the vacant spot on the other side.

“Guess it wasn’t Lilly after all.” The golden prelate jumped to crouch on top of the car.

“If you think a super strong punch with a spiked fist won’t kill her, you must really overestimate the kid, Mauler.” Chaos said, floating in through the open face of the garage. “Or can I call you Elizabeth von Stoker?”

“Yeah, even I don’t want to splatter—wait, who?” Facsimile asked. Caught off guard, she then caught a clawed kick to her stomach that sent her flying.

Lilly ducked as the young prelate came to land beside her. “You thought I was that thing?!” Lilly screamed at Facsimile.

“Honest mistake.” Facsimile groaned.

“Mauler?” Freaque queried, kipping up and preparing to charge Chaos.

“Yeah, that’d be you.” Chaos said. “You should read the papers more often, you’re famous. Famous for killing people, but we can’t all be spelling bee winners, huh?” He nodded toward the numerous ‘FREAQUE’’s scratched into the car.

“I haven’t killed anyone.” Freaque snarled. She started to charge, but another gale of wind hauled her forward progress. It was all she could do not to be blown away.

“Just like you weren’t about to punch Ms. Priss’s pretty little brainpan in?” Facsimile asked, shifting her own wings away before leaping at Freaque.

“Why are you insulting me!?” Lilly demanded. “I’m the victim here!”

“Sh’yeah, this time.” Facsimile said. She lashed stretched one leg out to twice its normal length and wrapped it around Freaque’s, pulling her off balance and sending both tumbling to the ground.

“I said I didn’t kill anyone!” Freaque roared. With one arm, she lifted Facsimile off her and threw her into Chaos, who rolled under his incoming teammate. “But you’re making me come really close.”

“Then we’d better end this right now.” Chaos said, still down on one knee. He spread his hands in front of him and drew them apart in a smooth, slow motion. “Say goodnight, Gracie.” The air around Freaque thinned and exploding outward as the density dropped to almost nil.

Putting a hand to her throat, the transformed student gasped. “What are you doing…” she asked weakly. Her vision started to fade, but her newly awakened powers rallied against the assault. The bone crown grew downward in segments until a ridge ran down her forehead to her nose, and then encompassed it. Suddenly, her vision sprang back to supernatural sharpness.

Eyes flashing on either side of her biological face guard, Freaque leapt for Chaos.

The air was filled with darts of black energy. Freaque drew up short, letting out an inhuman shriek as the tiny bolts wracked her with pain.

“You don’t want to go there, girl.” Darkness said, flying in from the other side of the garage. “Believe it or not we’re here to help you.”

“Help her nothing!” Lilly shrieked. “Kill that thing!”

“You are really not helping your situation.” Facsimile barked, leaping to the top of Lilly’s car. She shifted everything she had into increasing her strength in hopes of matching Freaque’s power.

“No one wants to help me.” Freaque snarled. “Ever. No one gives a damn about me and now I don’t need them to. I’m stronger, I’m more terrifying than anything people like her are capable of.” She pointed a clawed finger at Lilly.

Isp and Osp lashed out and wrapped her, pinning her arms to her sides. Alloy clanked into view. “That’s not true. And you know it.” He said. “Your family cares about you. You’ve got more friends than you realize too. Hell, Mayfield’s superheroes turned out in force to help you. We could take you out in a second, but we’re not. We’re trying to get you back to the people that care about you.”

“No.” Freaque intoned. “It isn’t true. I’m just a burden on my family. I don’t have any friends. The one person that ever even stood up for me abandoned me!” The words were daggers and she didn’t even know they were hitting their mark. “So don’t try to tell me what my life is like!” She strained and roared.

The tentacles sent tremors of surprise to Alloy as Freaque overpowered them and whipped them away from her.

Blinded by rage, Freaque pumped her wings and threw herself at her perceived tormentor. She only made it to within a yard of him before the air solidified into an icy shield which she collided with. Screaming in bloody rage, she clawed at the ice.

“I can ring her in.” Zero said, starting to do just that. “I can’t believe she sees things like that.”

“Mendel mentioned that the treatments may have further unbalanced her neurochemistry.” Darkness said. “Do it. Close her up.”

“No.” Alloy said. “Drop the shield, Z.”

“Huh?” Zero asked. “But—“

“Please.” Alloy asked, trying to keep his voice steady.

“Don’t do that, she’s just—“Facsimile started but she was too late. The wall sublimated almost instantly.

Throw me. Alloy thought to Isp and Osp. The tentacles complied, digging into the concrete floor and hurling their friend into Freaque. In a role reversal from earlier in the night, Alloy hit Freaque at the shoulders, but in his armor he was twice her mass and the pair careened twenty yards into the back of a minivan. The rear door gave way with a loud snap and a crash, bending, with the help of Alloy’s powers, into restraints around Freaque’s arms.

“Now listen to me.” Alloy said, allowing his full weight to press on his captive. “It’s Kaine, right?”

“What?” Freaque asked, still dazed from the attack.

“Warrick Kaine, the guy that abandoned you—or so you think.”

“Yeah, how—“

“Thought so.” Alloy said, trying to sound matter-of-fact. “I recognized your name. Remember your face from the Arena last year.” Freaque tried to question this, but he silenced her with an armored glove. “Listen, he didn’t abandon you. He… I made him hang back and make sure everyone got clear. He’s someone I trust to get that sort of thing done. Believe me when I say he was really torn up over having to separate from you—but I pushed him to it, understand?” He removed his hand.

It wasn’t a lie. Not really. After all, he had pushed himself to it and that was why he’d left her. It didn’t make him feel any better though. A lot of people had died because he didn’t tell her the truth before.

“It can’t be.” Freaque groaned. “No. I can’t forgive… I’ll get weak again… forget…” She shuddered. The bones in her face receded. The wings, twitching and injured from their trip into the van began to shrink. She didn’t revert entirely – she still had reddish skin and her nails, though now regular nails were still formidably long. Surprisingly, the bone spurs on her arms disappeared with the rest of her protrusions.

“O-oh my god, what did I do?” Elizabeth gasped as the van’s door melted away from her limbs. “What did I almost do?”

“It’s over.” Alloy said, giving her a hand up. “Lester Mendel is going to fix this and he’s also keeping you name out of the papers. All that’s left is—“ Something huge and dark slammed into the armored prelate’s back, sending him flying across the garage. His armor kicked up sparks as he slid to a stop.

“Whatever you were going to say would have been wrong.” A voice like a crocodile’s growl said as its owner towered over Elizabeth. “All that’s left is for me to put this pretender down and show the world that the Devil has come to Mayfield!”

Series Navigation<< Issue #16: Psalm of a SoulIssue #18: A Tale of Two Churches >>

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

Bookmark the permalink.
  • Descendants Serial is a participant in the Amazon Services LLC Associates Program, an affiliate advertising program designed to provide a means for sites to earn advertising fees by advertising and linking to amazon.com.