Issue #2 The Kin

This entry is part 3 of 15 in the series The Descendants Vol 1: Welcome to Freeland House

Part 3

The building that would have been named the Centre of Psionic Study was situated at the bottom of a granite cliff one half mile from the city limits of Quinn Bluffs, at the end of a freshly paved access road.

The mudslide that had buried over half of the facility and its parking lot also buried the access road up to two hundred yards from where the security gate once stood, forcing Alexis and Ian to travel up to the mud entombed structure on foot.

“Nice place here.” Ian quipped, slogging through ankle deep mud and looking up at the five story former science center. “Wall to wall mud, all mud furnishings – and look at the view of all that mud!”

Alexis smirked, adjusting the travel bag over her shoulder. “Well, with no front door, they don’t have to worry about solicitors, at least.” In fact, even the relatively new residence of Freeland House had had to put up with a few evangelists in its few weeks of existence.

“Speaking of which, how exactly are we getting in?” The pair had reached the northern side of the building; the only part not covered in mud. “I didn’t think to bring a bulldozer.”

“Hmm…” Alexis gave the windows and wall a cursory glance. A window on the third floor was smashed out. “Looks like someone already made a way in… or out.”

“Our kid?” Ian asked, staring up at the broken window.

“Don’t know, but that doesn’t mean there’s not more in stasis in there. We should see if there’s anyone to save here before we try to find anyone who escaped.”

“Still doesn’t say how we’re getting inside.” Ian noted.

Alexis smiled at her friend. “You’re forgetting something, Ian. I can fly.” Not giving Ian time to protest, she grabbed his arm. Focusing her power, she drew in light, converting it to heat and directing it toward the ground. The side effect was that she was enshrouded in a clinging, black miasma that made her look like a sinister ghost.

With Ian in tow, she flew gently up to the window.

***

Down on the second floor, the tiny band of young psionics was making little headway in freeing the portable generator. When the mudslide had occurred, the floor had shifted, dumping the desks, file cabinets and other office furniture through the wall into the workshop area adjacent to it. This, combined with the machinery in the workshop had conspired to obscure and hold fast the wagon sized generator.

Heaving as one, Noah and Kevin pushed another desk off the pile of debris. Tesser and Rain dutifully began rooting through the drawers, looking for anything that may be of use to them and stuffing it in their backpacks. Early in the searching, Rain had found a digital music player and discovered it was still in working order. She was currently bobbing her head to the beat of Waiting for One by the Cutthroat Bandits.

“This is going to take forever.” Kevin whined as he helped Noah pull mangled power tools out of the hole vacated by the desk.

“Think of all the creature comforts that this generator can give us, Kevin; heat, light, television, movies! Did you know that two remakes of Phantom of the Opera have come out since I was put on ice and I haven’t seen any of them?” Noah was getting the slightly predatory look that indicated that his ‘change’ was coming closer. Kevin decided to quit complaining.

Tesser hadn’t noticed, she was busy looking around the destroyed former workshop. “I really don’t like being here again…” She moaned. “It’s like walking into a bad dream again.”

“We’ll never have to come back here again after this, Tesser, I promise.” Noah said gently, the predatory look fading a bit. “We’ll go to Miami and live close to the beach or some –“He stopped short in his promises, looking around bewildered. Part of his abilities was that he could sense the emotions of others when they were nearby. At that moment, he felt very shocked and disgusted and he knew that feeling wasn’t from any of his new family.

“Tesser.” He whispered. “Someone’s nearby. Can you check it out?”

***

Someone had used an impressive amount of violence while taking their leave from the third floor. The place was supposed to be unused when it was destroyed by the mudslide, so no rescue crews had been deployed and thus, the path of destruction had been preserved. Doors had been knocked off their hinges, cameras ripped off the ceiling. A single bullet hole nicked the wall near a much battered steel security door.

The door had been closed after the escape, but the beating it had endured had made sealing and locking it impossible.

Pausing at the door, Ian gave it a casual examination with the beam of his flashlight. “High security, someone needed a card, a code and a thumb print to get in here.” He said with a low whistle. “This is the right place.”

Alexis nodded, pulling the door open. It protested with a loud creak, revealing a black void beyond. Before advancing, she played her light over the nether side of the door. “Claw marks. I think I know why we have reports of demons coming out of Quinn Bluffs.”

“I pity the poor jackass that has to tangle with that kid.” Ian said. “Strong enough to break open an eight inch steel door with claws to match.”

His friend didn’t respond; her eyes focused on what her flashlight beam had landed on. “Ian…”

“Hmm?” He turned to see the flashlight beam had scattered over many metallic surfaces which hung from the ceiling by a hydraulic lift. “What the hell were they doing here?”

The machine sprouted a forest of mechanical limbs beneath the lift. Drills, scalpels, recording devices and other, less readily identifiable implements tipped these arms. The assembly was popularly known as a remote surgical rig; conceptualized a few years before as a method by which the world’s best surgeons could operate on any patient in the world without having to leave their native offices. Despite a media whirlwind surrounding it, the expense of such a machine led to its commercial demise before it even reached the human test phase of usage.

Except this rig was poised over five transparent stasis chambers, with telltale stains on some of the implements heavily implied that someone was using it on humans only a few months before. One of the stasis cells was smashed, a spray of plastic shards evident on the floor. The others, save one, had been wrenched open.

Stepping lightly, and holding back more than a little nausea, Alexis examined the surgical rig. “A lot of these arms are bent.” She said. “Our kid?”

Ian looked at the identifying plates on the stasis cells; C38-1402 CODENAME: Rain, C38-1411 CODENAME: Blank, C38-1421 CODENAME: Thunderhead, C38-1400 CODENAME Tesser, C38-1380 CODENAME: Incubus. “Not kid.” He said. “Kids. Ones who were at the Academy long enough to get codenames for government work.”

“C38… that sounds like a batch number or something. Our kids all had numbers on their plates starting with A14.” Alexis frowned. As she spoke, she gingerly detached the rig’s sound recorder. As she did, something in the center of the cluster, attached to an arm that hadn’t been extended caught her eye.

“They sound like serial numbers. Batch thirty eight from series C; Batch fourteen from series A? If they have at least series A, B and C and each one goes to at least thirty-eight, with at least, what? Four hundred kids each?” Ian tried doing the math in his head to no avail. “I don’t even want to think of that.”

Alexis wasn’t listening. Instead, she was removing the silver and glass globe from its control arm. “Bio-map encoder?” She read the brand name printed around the top of the device. “What’s a bio-map?”

“I’ve got no idea, by maybe Laurel can figure it out. Take it with. Find anything else?”

“Voice recorder. Maybe it can give us a hint about what happened here – or a description of the kids so we’re not searching blind.” Alexis fumbled with the dented machine a second before a woman’s voice emerged from it.

“Sunday, January 28, 2074, 8:54am. Installation code Deep Twenty-One; Babel Tower. Operative Doctor Melody Cartwright, lead researcher at Babel Tower.” The recorded voice began. “Today begins preliminary testing of the Bio-mapping procedure. We’ve chosen low level Psionics – C38’s for the first run – as we don’t expect them to survive. Luckily, Project Tome’s connections inside the Academy give us plenty of fodder to choose from. The first subject is C38-4121, codename—“The player screeched as it skipped over corrupted data.

“Gah!” Ian grunted, covering his ears. “Skip ahead, see if there’s anything else.”

Alexis did, setting her jaw against the anger she felt toward the recorded woman. The recording resumed, “—locks deactivated. Engaging hard neural inhibitors to keep C38-1402 from waking as we begin the trepanning an—“A low roar partially obscured the rest of what she was saying.

“More corruption?” Ian asked, looking a bit sick.

“I don’t think we have time to listen to anymore, Ian. We need to find those kids and find them NOW. Didn’t you hear that? They were going to trepan one of them.”

“Too late, Enforcer.” A purring voice came from the entrance. “The kids just found you.” Arrayed at the door were Noah, Kevin and Tesser with Rain bringing up the rear. Noah’s eyes glowed a very dim, almost imperceptible green.

“Enforcers? Oh hell no.” Ian said. “Look, we’re here to help you all. Uh, weren’t there five of you?”

“Just like you helped us at the Academy? No thanks.” Noah seemed to expand, the glow of his eyes becoming more apparent and his skin darkening. “And yeah, there were five of us – but you sons of bitches killed one of us before we could save him!” The transformation accelerated. Noah grew half a foot taller and his skin sprouted a short pelt of tan fur. His feet twisted and grew, becoming arched with claws tipping the toes. His hands similarly became claws. A pair of dark, curved horns grew to crown his head and his eyes became huge pools of fallow green with no white or pupil. Finally, a hump formed on his back, only to explode into a pair of leathery wings.

Guess we know where the reports of a demon came from, Ian thought. “Now hold on, kid. You’ve got to believe us, we’re the good guys here.”

“He’s right.” Alexis offered, “We’ve already saved some kids – just like you – from the Academy. We’re just trying to do the same for you.”

“I don’t believe you.” Noah snarled. “Tesser, help me deal with them. Blank, keep Rain safe.”

“But Noah, what if…” Tesser started to say, but thought better of it. Noah had never led them wrong before. Instead, she kicked in her powers and began a circuit of the room to build up speed.

“You’re making a huge mistake, Noah.” Ian said, calling the transformed psionic by the name Tesser had called him. He found himself wondering what he could do to stop the young man, but not injure him.

“You’re the one that made the mistake. You and your whole organization – trying to use us like that. Experimenting on us like animals.” Noah began centering his powers on Ian. In his Incubus form, he could far better control his secondary ability to influence human emotions. Right now, he wanted the Enforcer to feel sorrow before Noah killed him. But as he did, it occurred to him that he was suddenly feeling cold amusement.

There was a sound like a firecracker and Kevin flew forward, propelled as if from a cannon. Rain gasped in shock.

“No, little boy.” Gina Sheldon said. Her fist was still extended into the space Kevin had previously occupied. She still had her rain slicker on, but had now donned some type of light tactical armor underneath it. Josiah Colt stood behind her, dressed in an overcoat, smoking a cigarette. “Your mistake was thinking your little ‘family’ of punks could hide from fully trained Enforcers forever.”

“Really, if those two were really Enforcers, you’d all be dead or captured by now.” Josiah added.

“And Control was not exactly specific as to which we had to do.” She glared down at Rain who hadn’t move during the entire episode. “You specifically, I’m going to kill.” She hissed. “Just to stop the goddamn rain.”

Noah whirled and leapt at the real enforcers. “You won’t touch a hair on her!”

Gauging the young man’s trajectory, Gina wound up a punch. “Heh. We haven’t met, kid…” She landed a massive upper cut on Noah seconds before his claws reached her. The air around her arm rippled as her psionic power shifted his kinetic energy back into him. “The name’s Impact!” With an audible crack, Noah was sent across the room to smash against one of the stasis cells. “Get it?” she sneered at him.

“Noah!” Tesser screamed, seeing her crush handled so roughly. With a wordless war cry, she dashed toward the woman calling herself Impact, who merely drew back her fist. But Tesser had reach twenty-two miles per hour in her trek around the room and Gina’s punch contacted nothing.

Running through Gina, Tesser dropped her speed and grabbed Gina’s hair as she became solid again. The result was Gina landing painfully on her back, her neck and head throbbing.

“Nice trick, girl.” Josiah said with a bored tone. “But you’re solid now.” He reached over and tapped the speedster as she passed, causing her to stop in her tracks. Josiah’s codename was Avatar because he could control the physical actions of others like other people could control their avatar in video games. Now, with a tap, he had taken control of Tesser.

Noah staggered to his feet, teeth grinding. He glared in Ian’s direction. “Well, if you really are here to help us, do something. We’re the only family each other has. We’re kin.” His green eyes whirled with emotion.

Ian nodded, and then nodded to Alexis. “Don’t worry Noah, we’ve got kin too. And we’ve taken on Enforcers before.”

“That one almost killed you.” Alexis pointed out.

“He didn’t need to hear that.” Ian noted.

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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. I’m interested in the fact that two of the members of that group, Noah and Rain, both have names connected not just with water, but also with flooding. Coincidence? Quite possibly.

    Also, Ian’s my favorite character, ’cause he’s so cool. Just saying.

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