Issue #19: All Girls Want Bad Boys

This entry is part 7 of 15 in the series The Descendants Vol 2: Magic and Machines

Part 4

“Unfortunate?” Tink asked, half turning to direct her question at Alloy. The blade descended.

There was a blur of white hair as Cyn slammed into Tink, causing both to fall sideways under the striking blade. The two women rolled for several yards until they came to a stop against a portable generator.

Tink was the first one up, having landed on top of Cyn. “H-he just attacked us!” She gaped.

“That’s what I was trying to tell you.” Cyn groaned. “I mean look at the armor? Does that look like ‘knight in shining’ type armor to you?” She got to her feet as the armored prelate drew back the blade and readied for a charge.

“Get to the crane!” Juniper said in a surprisingly polite tone to Kay and Juniper as she darted forward. Bending one knee to drop herself low, she lashed out with other leg and kicked Alloy in the back of the knee.

True, he was heavily armored and that armor was made even more impenetrable by his powers. But it also meant that Alloy was wearing incredibly heavy metal armor that tended to keep moving once it got going. Like she had done more than once in sparring practice, Juniper planted the kick perfectly, causing Alloy’s knee to buckle. He came down face first with a clang. The wooden plank floor complained loudly at the sudden impact.

Wasting no time, Lisa and Kay made a break for the crane. They didn’t get far before they were caught in the glares of numerous headlights. A great bulk rose before them.

It was vaguely human in shape, lacking a head and with wide, round feet to keep itself upright. During normal working hours, it would be occupied by a construction worker sitting in the central cavity of the eight foot tall, yellow painted frame. Now, the heavy construction frame was unmanned and seemingly operating on its own. The grasping pinchers on its left arm snapped open and closed menacingly as it ponderously stomped toward them.

Tink took several deep breaths as she and Cyn ducked behind the generator. “We can’t let Juniper go up against a prelate.” She said in a whisper, which was all she could manage, “I don’t care what martial arts she knows.”

“We could probably outrun him.” Cyn said, peeking over the generator and noting that Isp and Osp weren’t out. “But him and that construction frame? We’ve got to figure something else out.”

Tink nodded. She’d followed all the news stories about the Descendants. Alloy’s metal control meant that the entire construction site was a deathtrap while he was presumably under Vorran’s control. Could her taser even tickle him through all that armor?

Probably not. The best she’d end up doing by running current through his armor would be… She looked at the generator and the generous coil of insulated wire turned over the spool attached to it. “I know this sounds nuts, Cyn, but you need to distract him.”

“Say what?” Cyn raised an eyebrow. She could if she could become Facsimile. Hell, she could probably beat him, armor be damned, but keeping up the illusion of normalcy wouldn’t last long if her friends saw her take a blade through the chest. Wryly, she considered that she could easily become someone else in the event that Cyn ‘died’.

“I need some time.” Tink said, pulling out her multitool and opening one of the knife blades. “Please, this’ll work, I just need time.”

Cyn nodded and vaulted over the generator.

***

Lisa stepped in front of Kay, placing herself between her friend and the machine. Faintly, she heard the elevator come to life on its own behind her and start its trip back to ground level. How was this thing standing on its own? She’s seen construction frames before and none of them worked by remote. Unbidden, her magical senses became active and confirmed that its wasn’t magic that made the thing run on its own.

“I don’t have much choice…” she said quietly and with a bit of sadness. Her hands went to the small of her back where one of the glowing spheres that controlled the glammer that made her into occult was hidden.

“I’ve got a choice though.” Kay replied, ducking her head She ran past Lisa, toward the rogue device.

The snapping pincher missed her, unable to reach down far enough to reach its diminutive attacker. In a whirlwind of light blue hair, Kay was inside the thing’s reach and had a foot on the bottom step supplied to allow an operator to enter the armor’s cabin.

Unable to reach her, the machine began to rock violently, trying to dislodge her, but she held on with bulldog tenacity. Kicking up, she found herself in the cabin, amid gently glowing controls that surrounded the pilot’s harness. With a wicked grin, she found the ignition dial and snapped it to the off position.

The head lights died first, then the frame sank to it’s knees, totally shut down.

Kay maintained her wicked grin as she looked to a completely dumbstruck Lisa. “Nameless robot mooks are the sidekick’s job.” She declared.

***

The metal blade protruding from Alloy’s wrist melted back into his armor so he could use that arm to help lever himself off the floor. It took a lot of concentration to manipulate the armor’s joints to allow him to force himself back to standing with his powers as his own muscles weren’t strong enough to get the job done.

Juniper was standing there, maintaining a loose fighting stance as if she was seriously going to try and take him on hand to hand. He sneered under his helmet. It was going to be almost too easy to… what? Why was he doing this again? The brain was beginning to notice the cracks and correct.

Anymore thoughts were cut short by the giant gong that had suddenly rang out all around his head. In his metal sense, he felt the minor stress of impact on the back of his head and turned to investigate.

Cyn stood by the elevator, hefting a heavy-duty riveter, which she used immediately to fire another bolt that pinged off his armored temple, making another cacophony of terrible noise. That’s why he was going to kill him, the subliminal suggestions left by Vorran reasserted themselves, these girls pissed him off.

“That’s enough!” his voice was a hoarse and feral snarl. The floor around Cyn exploded as a piece of animated rebar lash upward and looped her neck, jerking her painfully into the air. She hung there, choking; the riveter fell from her hands.

“Let. Her.” Tink stood from behind the generator, the sweat from combined terror and exertion matting her hair to her forehead. “Go!” She threw the switch that engaged the hydrogen fuel cell inside the generator.

There was a loud hum and Alloy’s metal sense was vaguely aware of the sharp sense of electricity coursing through metal. He normally only sensed it in high voltage lines; now it was coursing through—his gaze finally found a pair of wires coiled around a vertical steel girder.

Too late, he remembered the physics project he, Tink, JC and Juniper had done in February: electromagnetism. By the time he realized it; he was already flying headlong into the girder. Then everything went black for a while.

Tink blinked as she watched Alloy slam into the girder and slump unconscious. “I just beat a prelate.” She said quietly. “I just beat one of the city’s biggest badasses by jury-rigging! Holy hell, I feel like the most powerful woman in the universe! I could totally fight crime now!”

“Still in mid-peril here, copper-top.” Cyn choked.

“You most certainly are.” The elevator rose to reveal Vorran who was flanked by JC, Adel and the dreadlock headed man from earlier. He regarded Alloy with an air of disappointment. “I’m impressed that you managed that, but as luck would have it—that being my good luck and your bad luck—he’s not the only psionic I managed to ensnare.”

With a grand gesture, he directed their attention to the crane, where lights came on, revealing the broad shouldered black man they’d seen in the dojo earlier. “Allow me to introduce Martin Hill, technopath.”

The ignition dial twisted in Kay’s hand and the machine came to life, standing with the would be sidekick inside.

“And as for you ladies.” He said to Juniper and Tink, completely ignoring Cyn. “I’ll make you a deal – if you beat these guys before they kill you; you can join my organization instead of them.” His brainwashed minions stepped forward, ready to kill on command.

Behind them, Alloy growled, groggily. His head was ringing and embarrassment at his situation flamed up into hatred. “They’re still going to have to deal with me first!” he roared. Blue sparks danced over his armor, causing black, ashy material to fall from it like snow. Steel armor smoothed and became nearly white. With a clang, he dropped off the girder that had been pinning him.

A similar phenomenon danced over the girder itself, which then melted and flowed into the form of an impossibly long sword in his hand. “Thanks for the physics lesson, Red.” He said to Tink. “Let me replay you with some chemistry: silver is diamagnetic.”

Tink rolled to the side as the generator was bisected by the silver sword. The sundered hydrogen cell flared a brilliant white as it died, giving her time to run.

“I really don’t like this.” Juniper said, avoiding a clumsy punch from Adel. Her training made it almost impossible for any of the untrained mental zombies to touch her, but there were so many and she didn’t dare hit them back.

“Neither do I” Lisa said, backing away from the rampaging machine that still had Kay in the pilot’s harness. “But think of it this way; if they kill you and then wake up, how do you think that’ll make them feel? It’d make them nuts, right?” She ducked to avoid a jabbing pincher, but assumed Juniper had nodded, “So you’ve got to protect them from that, right?”

Juniper flowed under another swing, this time from JC. Lisa was right. She had to do this. She had to live. Equally as important to her; she wouldn’t let Vorran force her friends to do something they’d regret. Pivoting, she caught JC’s arm and threw him over her shoulder. He landed in a heap.

“That was easy.” She commented innocently as she swept the man with dreadlocks off his feet.

Lisa dodged a kick from Adel and was forced to throw herself on the ground to avoid a simultaneous swipe from the construction frame. “Um, Jun? Could you get Adel off me, please?”

Juniper blinked. “Oh…” She only hesitated a second before putting him in an arm lock. “Sorry.”

Don’t worry about it—“ Lisa cut off as she saw the machine lift its foot to stomp her.

Kay watched in horror as the frame prepared to crush her friend while she was riding inside. What kind of sidekick was she to just sit back and let that happen to her best friend and hero? Desperately, she grabbed to motivator controls and put her full weight into pulling back.

Servos screamed as the hulking device snapped its raised leg back and took a shuttering step backward. Kay looked at the controls in wide eyed surprise. She looked up to the crane to see that Martin was just as surprised.

“Ha!” she exclaimed. “You just move the parts, you don’t override the controls!” She shoved an arm into one of the pincher control cuffs and used the mechanism to gently lift JC off the ground before he could sneak up on Juniper. “Advantage: Greycloud.”

“Hold still!” Alloy roared, swinging his sword after Tink. The redhead stayed just ahead of the blade as it slashed through the elevator and the surrounding wall, causing its floor to fall back down the shaft to the ground below.

She threw herself to ground and rolled under the tail end of the blow, causing her to land at Vorran’s feet. The mentalist put a foot on the small of her back to hold her in place. “Finish it.” He ordered Alloy.

With no one paying attention to her, Cyn increased her strength and bent the rebar from around her neck, dropping lightly to the ground. “Is that the only way you can actually hit someone?” She called out to Alloy. It was a long shot, but she figured it was a good bet. Alloy turned at her and glared daggers from under his helmet.

“I mean you’re just so slow.” Cyn continued. “I’m talking snail going uphill slow. Molasses in winter slow. That guy in my third period Sociology class slow.” She punctuated it but sticking out her tongue.

Alloy’s pride, pushed to the surface by Vorran to better control him, wouldn’t let that go unanswered. “Maybe I am.” He said gruffly, “But I know who is fast enough to catch you.” Isp and Osp suddenly unfurled into being from under the silver armor, their orihalcite lengths contrasting darkly with the bright silver. “Kill her.” Alloy ordered.

Isp looked at Osp. Osp looked at Isp. Then both turned in upon themselves and wrapped Alloy, pinning his arms to his sides and then effectively chaining him to the floor with their bodies.

Alloy raged uselessly against his allies. “What do you mean I’m not myself? He screamed, trying futilely to break free.

“Schoolyard taunts;” Cyn managed to laugh despite the dire situation, “Is there anything they can’t do?”

Vorran’s mouth worked uselessly, trying to find words for the bizarre turn of events. What had just happened? He had superior numbers. He had home field advantage by forcing the girls into the construction site where both Alloy and Martin Hill were more effective.

He set his jaw. Obviously he’d depended too much on the natural inclinations of his targets when it came to fighting. They were too delicate, too unwilling to get hurt. The answer was to take that away – to make them believe so much in the case of killing those girls that they would fight zealously, even suicidal. A pulse of his power connected him to all of his controlled pawns.

At his feet, Tink felt his weight shift away from her. He was doing something else. Possibly something worse. He’d made her think her boyfriend was a pervert and a jerk. He’d made her friends attack her. Moments ago, he’d even had a prelate try to behead her. More than anyone else, she hated Vorran and now he was about to do something she was sure was even more vile.

Her hand went to her purse. It was a miracle she’d kept it with her while trying to avoid being skewered, but there it was. Inside, lay the half finished device. It was a rush job, a hack job, really, but it was all she had at the moment.

Briefly, she wondered if she could get her taser out of that tangle of wires and give Vorran a good shock. But there wasn’t time. Besides, she thought; in all the sci-fi movies Warrick insisted on watching with her, breaking a mentalist’s concentration had big consequences for the mentalist.

At the very least, maybe she’d do some permanent retinal damage.

Holding the device aloft, she hit the flash button. Electricity from the combined batteries of her taser, and Kay’s camera and scanner was instantly shunted and focused into the fragile filament of the flash bulb. The filament didn’t have a chance as it was burned to nothing by the energy released – neither did the glass or the plastic lens cover for that matter. The mirror from Tink’s compact made sure all the light was moving in one direction: into Vorran’s face.

The result was the kind of light and agony one would expect from looking at the sun—if it were and inch from your face. For Eduardo Vorran, everything faded to white. His attempts at suggestion were cut off by a mental scream. The brain saw flaws. The brain repaired the damage.

Clutching his poor, useless eyes, Vorran staggered away from Tink—and stepped right into the open shaft of the elevator. Not knowing whether to scream because of the pain in his eyes, or the sudden disappearance of the floor, Vorran just screamed. The scream fell away, followed by the rather unusual sound of metal squealing against metal.

And uneasy silence followed, only to be shattered by JC’s terrified shout. “Oh, shit! How di—oh my god, someone get me down!” He struggled futilely in the pincher of the construction frame before Kay finally put him down.

Tink looked at the elevator shaft for a second. She had just killed a man, hadn’t she? Yes, she’d hated him, especially for what he’d done to Warrick but… Another thought intruded, possibly to keep her from freaking out. “Where’s Warrick?” She asked. A couple of others were missing too, presumably, they had stayed behind with the cars, but they weren’t he primary concern.

Nearby, Alloy almost said ‘right here’ but he suddenly realized he was in his armor… for reasons he couldn’t explain. The tentacles silently filled him in on the basics, graciously omitting the part where he’d ordered them to kill Cyn or the whole business with trying to behead Tink.

“Uh, the lanky Italian kid?” He asked, trying to put on his best hero voice. “The… Vorran? – er, Vorran guy locked him up at the dojo. Apparently, his mind was too strong for the mind control. I’ll go free him.” He didn’t know what was worse; lying to his girlfriend, or doing it badly. Luckily, she was too preoccupied to think differently.

Juniper blushed slightly at Adel, who had needed a bit of a sit down after coming to, especially in the face of her short explanation of what had gone on. He hadn’t said any more than ‘whoa’ and she wondered what he’d say if she told him what he’d said and done under Vorran’s control.

Instead, she sat down beside him and put her hand in his, smiling sweetly at him.

Slowly, after what looked like a mental filing of paperwork, he smiled back.

As Kay launched into a tale of heroism and ninjustu skills, the pair just sat and smiled. Some girls, Juniper thought to herself, really do just like the quiet boys.

Meanwhile, Cyn had taken the safety ladder to the ground, with Tink right behind her. They were looking for Vorran’s body. It wasn’t there. Instead, they found four long furrows gouged into the support beams that ran almost three vertical stories. The faint heat emanating from them told of incredible friction.

“Something saved him?” Tink asked. As she examined the claw marks, she was conflicted about whether to be happy that she wasn’t a killer, or to be terrified that Vorran had something with huge, steel gouging claws on his side.

Cyn frowned at them and kept her face blank. “Looks like.” She said out loud. Inwardly, she glared. Claws that could cut through steel that easily weren’t a normal, every day occurrence, nor was someone badass enough to catch a man on the fly and use those claws to slow their decent on a whim. But she’d met someone like that.

She suddenly felt great need to call Laurel. Because Shine was back in play.

End Issue #19

Series Navigation<< Issue #18: A Tale of Two ChurchesIssue #20: The Irrepressible Spark >>

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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