Issue #20: The Irrepressible Spark

This entry is part 8 of 15 in the series The Descendants Vol 2: Magic and Machines

Part 3

With the stove that had previously provided them a hiding place on a trajectory to smash into the wall behind them, the three heroes could now see the other people in the room. The center area had been cleared away to make room for a hand full of folding chairs and a card table that held a holographic projector.

Three other people were in the room. Legion of One stood next to the table, coolly sizing up the situation. His costume, if it could be called such, still consisted of a bare chest, loose pants, a bandolier of throwing knifes and a sword on his back, but he had added armored boots to his ensemble, presumably from his earlier encounter with Facsimile.

Seated directly across from him was a thin, wiry man in sweats and a plain, white polo shirt. His head was covered from crown to nose by a bizarre helmet integrating a pair of smoked goggles into a complex and almost certainly homemade system of gears and bearings. He looked to the third person, who was seated between Spark and himself as if asking her for instruction.

That third person was a black woman dressed in a camouflage tube top and matching skirt. Her only ornamentation was a pair of dark, wrap around sunglasses and a bracelet of some dull metal that covered half her left arm. A large purse sat on the floor beside her.

“Well, that changes plenty, doesn’t it?” she said with menace in her voice. “Stampede, Spark, Fellgaze; there’s been a change of plans. This is the audition now—whoever brings down a prelate makes the cut.” She sneered as she lifted her purse and dipped a hand into it.

“Too easy.” Stampede said, throwing a punch at the Whitecoat’s head.

It was met with an open palm that was surprisingly resistant. “So you’re the big dumb thing of the week, huh?” Whitecoat chuckled as his boots held him in place while his strength stopped the punch. “If that’s all you’ve got, I’m going to have to rate you even lower than Tank and Ox.”

“This is just the start of it, cowboy.” Stampede stomped a foot into the floor as if to push off. A shockwave rippled out from it, cracking the concrete and propelling him forward with renewed power. There was a cracking sound and the floor the white garbed prelate was anchored to crumbled, allowing Stampede to bowl him over.

With just enough wherewithal to roll with the punch, Whitecoat came up in a crouch. “That was new.” He said, “Not, you know, good, but new.”

“Then maybe you’d like a rematch instead.” Whitecoat saw a blur to his left just before Legion completed his teleport and landed a hammer kick to his back, sending him sprawling. Legion had little time to gloat before being blind sided by Osp and thrown into the side of an aged refrigerator.

“He said good, not tricky.” Alloy said. The twisted metal remnants of a stove, a food synthesizer and a drawer-full of rust utensils solidified into fearsome and bulky armor.

“Wait, what’s going on?!” Spark asked the woman who was slipping a set of wicked looking claws onto her fingers. “Why are we attacking them? I thought we were supposed to be good guys!”

“Now, whatever gave you that idea, silly girl?” the woman hissed, depressing a panel on her bracelet. The change started around the bracelet as mocha skin was rapidly covered in white scales.

“Because you offered me an audition.” Spark continued to protest, rising from her seat. “I’m the Irrepressible Spark! I’m a prelate!”

“You don’t say?” The man called Fellgaze asked, turning toward her. His right hand moved to a control panel on the back of his left. “In that case, getting into Aces High is going to be easier than getting into your average street gang.”

“Yeah.” A dark shape interposed itself between the villains and Spark. “Just hold still while I jump you in.” Facsimile displayed her hooked claws with a feral grin.

“And just who are you?” Now in her true form, Shine slid her orihalcite claws together, making them rasp harshly.

“Don’t recognize me?” Facsimile asked. She shifted to her normal Facsimile form, sans wings. “Don’t feel bad, old lady; I didn’t recognize you either earlier.”

“Two for one is fine with me.” Fellgaze said, touching his controls. The gears operated shutters that lifted the lenses of his goggles. But before this could have any effect, Shine knocked him aside, causing him to fall over his chair and land with a clatter.

“This bitch is mine.” Shine snarled.

“Wouldn’t have it any other way, crone.” Facsimile taunted.

Across the room, Stampede stomped the ground to propel himself toward Alloy as the armored prelate started to move toward Spark. “That armor’s not going to help you, boy!” He roared as he barreled forward on his shockwave.

“Think so?” Alloy asked. At the last minute, Isp and Osp grabbed the pipes above and lifted him clear, allowing Stampede to run headlong into a jumble of old boiler parts. With a wave of his hand, Alloy caused the now badly dented metal to entangle the huge man. “Good thing I didn’t need it, eh?”

Twisting in his metal prison, Stampede got a leg free and began kicking, sending shockwaves through the metallic bonds and tearing them apart. “This ain’t over!” With a roar, he launched himself at Alloy and tackled him into a wall. A cloud of debris covered the point of impact.

“But this is.” Legion said, appearing behind the Whitecoat to deliver a flying kick. Whitecoat was faster though and ducked the blow, striking out with his elbow as Legion sailed over. But the moment he saw that he’d missed, Legion had already teleported away.

“We’ve already fought on your terms.” Whitecoat breathed, leaping back up into the tangle of pipes. “Now let’s fight on mine. Come on, you pompous horse’s ass, let’s see how well you’re ‘port-fu works with all these pipes in the way.”

Legion appeared below the mess of pipes and swung himself up into them, landing in a ready crouch. “I’ll give you credit, you’re not stupid.” He said to his opponent. “But even without the freedom to use my abilities, my skill is more than a match for you.”

“That’d be great if we were fighting purely on skill, smiley.” Whitecoat mocked, weaving between the pipes to Legion’s right. “But I aim to go right for the weakness of all your ‘honored combat’ stuff.”

Legion laughed mockingly. “Right. And what weaknesses could an untrained, uneducated simpleton like you possibly exploit?”

“It’s all in my aim.” Whitecoat said, getting a grip on an overhead pipe.

“And what aim is that?” Legion spat, inching forward, looking for an open space to teleport to.

“Well…” With a jerking motion, he tore the pipe free, letting a gush of water loose directly into Legion’s face. While the man sputtered in surprise, he grabbed another pipe and used it as leverage to launch himself into a spinning kick that slammed Legion against another group of pipes and sent him crashing to the floor. “I aim to cheat.” Whitecoat snickered from under his bandana.

Back on the floor, claws and insults flew in a veritable tornado of gold and white. Shine ducked under a swipe from Facsimile to carve an underhanded slash across her exposed stomach. “Remember what I said back in Mayfield?” Shine asked, “About you and I could just go at this forever?”

“Yeah.” Facsimile said, instantly healing the wound while lashing out violently with attacks of her own, most of which Shine simply dodged. “But I figured we’d have to break around midday so you could watch you stories and have some tea, grandma.”

“Droll.” Shine said flatly, whipping her tail around to try and catch Facsimile’s legs. The prelate jumped over the appendage and came down with a dangerously fast right hook. “But really, it turns out that isn’t true. See, the way I can go back to looking human? That’s because of your blood.”

“Huh?” Facsimile was thrown off for a critical second in which Shine completed a second tail sweep and sent her crashing to the floor, taking one of the chairs with her.

Grinning like mad, Shine tried to stomp her prone foe, but wasn’t fast enough as the golden prelate rolled away. “Oh yeah, it’s wonderful stuff. We’re still thinking up a brand name though. I’m leaning toward Bitch Blood, personally.”

“You bitch!” Facsimile launched herself into a flurry of wild punches and slashes with claws; all of which Shine calmly dodged.

Still dodging with relative ease, Shine started laughing. “Yes, come on, burn through that energy! See, I’ve been using this shit for a few months now and I’ve noticed it goes through the metabolism like lightning. I bet you eat like a horse, don’t you? And I bet you’re getting real hungry about now.”

Sidestepping one more punch, Shine struck out and grabbed Facsimile around the neck, using the momentum to slam the girl on her back. An evil light filled her eyes. “I’m not morbid or anything, but I wonder what that shit would do to me straight from the source…”

“Hey you!”

Shine looked up to see Spark standing only a yard from her, looking defiant as she held her hands out stretched. For some reason, there were paperclips taped to her palms…

“Back off!” Spark shouted for all she was worth. Blue sparks gathered around the paperclips, which rapidly degraded and blackened as twin bolts of lightning arced from her palms.

It took all of Shine’s psionic reflexes and trained dexterity to dodge the blast. Flattening herself would have put her in range of Facsimile’s attack, so she leapt instead, twisting like a cat above the roiling electricity.

She did not, however, have time to avoid the black tabi that planted themselves in her chest and drove her back to the ground.

Vorpal rolled away from Shine the moment they landed and came up crouched and ready for a fight. “You disgust me.” She said in a low tone. “Even thinking of exploiting another of our kind like that. Sometimes, I guess, appearances can be accurate: you’re a monster.”

Fuming, Shine kipped up and squared off against her new opponent. “Yeah, a beautiful monster. And who are you supposed to be?”

“You’re the crazy chick from Stile’s rally!” Facsimile groaned, regaining her feet.

“And you’re the gargoyle that made me lose me seat.” Vorpal said in an almost friendly tone.

“Is she a good guy or a bad guy?” Spark asked, “I’m starting to get confused.”

Across the room, concrete blocks shifted as Isp and Osp hauled Alloy out of the pile of rubble caused by his collision with Stampede. They gave their friend a once over before setting him down on the ground to stand on his own.

“Good job boys.” Alloy said to them. He looked back at the rubble pile. “That was really stupid of him. Come on, we’ve got to–. The pile exploded as a shockwave tore through the blocks, vaporizing them. Stampede rolled onto his feet and sneered past a thick layer of dust that covered his face.

“Oh, for god’s sake.” Alloy groaned as Stampede lurched out of the crater. His sigh formed a little cloud in the suddenly cold air.

“You’re going to be seeing him up close and personal in a second.” The oversized villain promised. He raised a foot to stomp—and promptly slipped and fell on his ass.

“Thank you, Zero.” Alloy laughed. With a gesture, he drew on all the metal around Stampede and had it fully encase the man save for his face, totally immobilizing him.

“Sorry I’m late.” Zero said, standing in the doorway. Her identity was hidden only by her half mask. She was still wearing he breezy summer dress she’d been wearing while undercover. “I had a hard time opening the grate and… well, I had to break it. Is that okay?”

“Eh, they’re all bad guys.” Alloy shrugged.

“Oh my god, isn’t that your sister?” Zero pointed.

“Yeah and I’m going to… hey, where’d the ninja come from?”

Shine was backed up against the table, glaring at the three female vigilantes that had her cornered.

“Three against one, sunshine.” Facsimile mocked. “Give up and I’ll see if they won’t send you to a nice prison in Florida.” She took a menacing step forward.

“We can’t go easy on her.” Spark said, petulantly. “She lied to me and almost made me join a villain team. That’s like fraud or something isn’t it? It’s at least false advertising.”

“She stole my blood.” Facsimile said, “That’s at least a little bit worse, don’t you think.”

“No, that’s just really gross and creepy.”

“It doesn’t matter.” Vorpal interrupted. “all of this was based around exploiting people like us – like her even—she’s a monster beyond what the United States’ law covers.”

“So is there like a world court we can take her to?” Spark asked.

“Yes.” Vorpal said, a metallic spike suddenly appearing in her hand. “This one.”

“Whoa, wait a minute!” Facsimile objected. “She’s evil and a bitch and all but I’m not going to kill her. Rough her up a little maybe, but not kill her!”

“We can’t do that!” Spark almost wailed.

“Then may I offer you ladies an alternative?” a male voice said behind them. All three turned instinctively to see the nearly forgotten Fellgaze. He hit the switch on his hand. The shutter opened. “The alternative being; ‘you lose’?”

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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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