Issue #22: The Breaking Storm

This entry is part 11 of 15 in the series The Descendants Vol 2: Magic and Machines

A Magitech Crisis Part 2

The air was suddenly filled with flying chunks of concrete and twisted metal. If falling wasn’t disorienting enough, the debris field and fingers of black fog spinning off the main cloud made it even worse.

Chaos fought past the delirium and accessed his power. The mystically driven winds of the Morganna’s summoned storm were sheered by a zephyr of his own making that caught his cape and slowed his fall. Someone whirled past trailing a Doppler scream. On instinct alone, he shot sideways and intercepted them before gravity could.

He suddenly found himself with his arms around Vorpal, her masked face ending up a bit too close to his for comfort.

“My hero.” She started out in a deadpan, but couldn’t help but make a panicked sound as Chaos let both of them drop to avoid a huge fist of flying rubble.

He ignored her and plunged away from the swirling cloud as it began to discharge green lightning into the air around him. Passing though the haze of black fog, he saw Alloy, Hope in tow, crashing through the windows of a lower floor. “Thank god.” He murmured.

“Behind you!” Vorpal shouted.

Chaos turned and saw a jagged piece of metal as long as his arm hurtling toward his chest like a javelin. It was too late to drop, so he stopped focusing on the pillar of air that held them up entirely and threw up a wall of wind to protect him. A fraction of a second later, he cursed aerodynamics as the impaling object surged through the barrier unimpeded.

A ray entirely null of all sense of color impacted it and sent it spinning sideways, out of its collision course. Chaos looked up to see a similar void arcing toward him through the cloud that was rapidly spreading beyond the confines of the business park.

The roiling particulate cloud of black heat resolved into Darkness with Occult clinging to her back like a koala clinging to its mother. “Chaos!” Darkness exclaimed coming to join him in his steady descent to the ground. “Are you okay? Where are Alloy and Hope?” She finally registered the strange woman who was, as it happened, locked in a particularly intimate embrace with her beau. “Who is this?”

“They’re fine, I saw…” Chaos noted the tone and quickly shuffled Vorpal into one arm, pressed to his side with her legs dangling. The mercenary woman cursed, causing a sharp pain to sting him in the shoulder where her right hand gripped. He grunted in pain and almost lost his concentration.

“I’m Vorpal.” she said, “And I don’t care what it looks like, I’m going to keep a firm grip so I don’t fall; one way or another.”

“What’s she doing here?” Ian winced as the pain in his shoulder receded and inclined his head to Occult.

“She’s a target.” Darkness said as the quartet touched down.

“Of what?” Chaos asked.

An inhuman screech sounded from on high and Edenkai fell through the clouds, hate and determination in her eyes.

“That.” Darkness said.

“Two demons.” Chaos said flatly, calling up winds preparation to attack the advancing demoness. “Oh, joy.”

“There is four demons.” Habsi said, detaching itself from its hiding place amid Occult’s robes.

“What the hell is that?” Chaos asked, watching as the other two motes also appeared. “Those. Okay, now there’s three.”

“We are motes.” Naife declared once again as if that sufficiently explained the presence of sapient points of light, which it would have on its home plane. Instead, it only earned Occult another pointed glare from Chaos.

“Search me.” Occult shrugged, “But they tried to lead me away from the demon, but to Morganna.”

Darkness saw an odd look flash across Chaos’s face. “But, but,” she interjected, “they also told us what Morganna’s plan is; she’s going to try to strip psionics of their powers.”

Not far from them, Edenkai touched down, a less than graceful landing thanks to several close calls with various detritus in the air. She cracked her neck, bared her teeth and began reciting in a rough, unnatural language.

“Those little glow worms have some explaining to do once we deal with miss bald, grey and terrifying.” Chaos said, letting the wind lift him into the air.

***

“Strike!” Another spike of force lifted a demonic primate from its feet and sent it tumbling across the asphalt into its brethren.

“It’s the Ape Knight!” Zero exclaimed as she, Facsimile and Codex rushed up to back up the simian templar. “Just like Chaos told us about!”

“Why does magic always involve monkeys?” Facsimile asked, shifting her fingers into talons and leaping forward into the fray?”

“I cannot hazard to guess as to the origin of these creatures.” Lucian kicked away a baboon monster that managed to get inside the reach of his lance, “And I am not a monkey. Before my transformation, I was an ape of the genus Pongo, better known as orangutan. I would prefer that one that doesn’t know me does not insult me.”

Facsimile locked claws with one of the baboons and dispatched it with a brutal head butt. “Sensitive are we?”

“But we do know you.” Zero explained. With a wave of her hand, a sheet of ice congealed from the humid summer night and spread out beneath the feet of a number of the monsters, causing them to slide and trip across its length. “We’re the Descendants. We work with Chaos and Darkness.”

“I know who you are.” Lucian stated, and pulled on his mount’s reigns. “Embarr!” heeding its name, the now even more heavily armored rhino that served as Lucian’s mount tossed its head and in doing so impaled a leaping monstrosity. It worried the struggling creature briefly before throwing it hard into the side of a parked panel truck. Task complete, the Ape Knight continued his explanation, “I have seen your heroics on the television broadcast. But that doesn’t excuse the gold one’s rudeness.”

Facsimile scoffed and used a judo throw to send one of the beasts flying like a hairy beach ball. “Well pardon some more of this gold gal’s rudeness, pal, but where were you watching television?”

“Is that really important?” Zero asked. She stomped on the edge of her ice sheet, causing it and a good portion of the street below to shatter into a sea of shifting plates and sharp edges that took even more of the oncoming simians off their feet.

“Yes, it is.” Facsimile sniffed, getting airborne. “Seriously, I get that with protomorphs out there, getting a job isn’t that hard, but do you really see this guy flipping burgers? And where in Mayfield can someone hide a freaking mutant rhino?”

“Zero’s right.” Codex said, fiddling with the settings on her shrieker device. “This isn’t the time for this conversation, Fax. Darkness just called. Morganna’s already started her spell.” She purposefully neglected to mention what the spell was for.

“I said cease!” a frantic and harried voice shouted down the street. The baboons paid no heed, but the four heroes looked up to see the source.

Rehenimaru in her true form was around seven feet tall, with a chitinous, blue exoskeleton that followed disturbingly close to the structure of a human female body save for the dagger sharp, fingers, segmented tail ending in a stiletto point and high, flared crest above her brow that would not have been out of place in a lineup that included triceratops and torosaurus. The human touches of her white, long sleeved shirt and black leggings served only to image all the more strange.

Those sleeves bulged and flapped like sails as a bounding leap carried the demoness directly behind the line of monstrous baboons. “Whatever hunger you have can wait, we must—“ A thick paw clipped her in the head and nearly sent her sprawling. A look of shock came over her face.

“Wait, who are you?” Zero asked as the female demon snarled wordlessly at the creature she had created.

“This isn’t possible.” Rehenimaru said, dodging another claw swipe. “By my blood you are bound and by my blood, I command! Stand down!” Her efforts were rewarded by the near loss of an arm from snapping fangs.

“They don’t seem to be listening to you.” Facsimile said, lifting one of the creatures with much exertion and hurling it into two others. “Which begs the question: who the hell are you?”

Rehenimaru looked at her as if she was from another planet, which was effectively the case. “You! It is true…” She watched the prelate extrude a horn to gore an incoming beast. She barely had the wits about her to leap clear of the baboon monster that tried to barrel into her. “The children of Mankind have blood magic of their own.”

“Ya know, I don’t really care.” Facsimile decided aloud. “You’re the one that sicced these things on us.” With that, she threw herself upon the demoness, claws bared.

Rehenimaru caught the slashing strikes on her forearms and threw the girl back. “No I didn’t. I don’t have time to waste with your kind. My mission is the raise for Lord Colos an army to tip his hand against the Mankind called Morganna; the Heir of Hyrilius. But I don’t know why they refuse to obey me.” She punctuated her statement by puffing out her cheeks and blowing a stream of flame into an approaching monster, setting it ablaze.

“I’m officially at the point where I don’t care.” Facsimile admitted, gathering herself up to jump at the demoness again. As she did though, a strong hand caught her by the scruff of the neck and hauled her onto Embarr’s expansive back.

“Wait!” said Lucian. With his free hand, he brained another baboon monster. “If she seeks to vanquish my creator, we should hear her out. After all, the enemy of my enemy is also my friend.

“He’s right, Facsimile.” Codex said, completing her adjustments on the shrieker. “Morganna is our top priority.”

“Why?” Facsimile kicked a creature away as it came too close to Embarr’s flank. “Because we’ve got history with her? I think we should deal with one threat at a time.”

“I never said we wouldn’t.” Codex said, leveling the shrieker at a pair of monsters. “But we need to get to Morganna and fast. Otherwise, we won’t have powers to fight her with.” Her hand squeezed the trigger button.

***

There was an explosion of noise that scientifically speaking, the pistol in Liedecker’s hand should not have been capable of making and Colos was lifted bodily and thrown to the carpeted floor. A black scorch mark in the shape of a starburst radiated from the center of his chest.

Liedecker looked from the fuming demon lord, to the pistol and back. “Like it?” he asked, “That was low power, for when you don’t want to do collateral damage. I rather like my office remaining in one piece, you understand, don’t you, Colos?”

With a roar, Colos flung himself the length of the office, bringing up a clawed hand to cut out his foe’s insolent throat. Liedecker didn’t flinch.

Two more claps of compacted thunder rolled out into the room and Colos felt the immense pressure on his chest, felt his ribs strain against it and one such bone lose that battle. Then he was flung away from the arms dealer and into a pedestal holding a set of samurai swords.

“I’ve still got three more shots, Mr. Colos.” Liedecker said, coming around his desk. “Care to name your price?”

“Your hide!” Colos pulled one of the katana free from it’s sheathe and charged. Liedecker fired twice more, but this time the lord of Sai’n’shree saw it coming then crouched low, letting the eldritch-infused bullets rip massive holes in the wall behind him. Victory gleamed in the demon’s eyes as he swung to behead.

The pistol dipped as Liedecker used it to sweep aside his overcoat, revealing a scabbard hanging from his belt. His free hand found the hilt and drew the blade out smoothly. The sword was like none any culture that used swords would conceive of. It was about two and a half feet long; double edged and perfectly straight with a squared tip that was shorn off diagonally. A gold corded tassel with obsidian bangles was tied to the guardless, copper hilt.

Ancient folded steel had no hope against carbon nanotube reinforced titanium backed by enchantment. The ancestral blade of some family that had long since forgotten their former place in feudal hierarchy broke on contact. A stray splinter of metal cut a line across the side of Liedecker’s nose.

Colos’s other claw, the one that hadn’t been wielding a weapon had little better luck as it managed to cut a shallow set of lines across Liedecker’s belly before the crime lord dropped his sword low to parry the slash.

“You can’t win, Mankind.” Colos said, pressing the attack and forcing Liedecker on the defensive. “Your magical weapon could not pierce my flesh and nothing your forbearers have created can possibly do any better. You are alone and overwhelmed and there are no more surprises that will delay me from killing you and finding a way to open your barrier myself.”

“You think too much of yourself, boy.” mocked Liedecker even as he lost ground. “Or too little of me, I’m not rightly clear on that yet. But I do know a lot of my enemies underestimate me. They think that just ‘cause I’m the big boss means I can’t fight on my own.” He delivered a slash to Colos’s face to mirror the cut he’d gotten on his nose. “But let me tell you something, Scratch, I worked for this. I kicked and fought and stepped over bodies for this. And I’ve always won.”

He stepped back to find his back against the window. “Every fight, every argument, every trade dispute—I come out on top!” He only grunted slightly as Colos knocked the sword aside and lifted him by a shoulder against the window.

“Tell me how to open the barrier and you can walk away from this.” Colos said. He doubted he would get an answer as he still felt nothing but supreme self confidence and righteous anger in the man who was now at his mercy.

“You know why I win?” Liedecker asked, ignoring the demand. “Because I gave up on fear a long damn time ago. Because standing there and pissing yourself ain’t going to get a damn thing done. The only way you can win is to take risks.” His sword arm was being held down, but his other arm was completely free. Colos didn’t fear getting shot except for the minor inconvenience of having to stand up again. But this time Liedecker didn’t plan to shoot the demon.

The roar was all but drowned out by shattering glass and howling wind as Liedecker put the sixth bullet through the window at his back. As he started to fall, he dropped the gun and grabbed the claw clamped to his shoulder.

Gravity and leverage were happy to oblige as both man and monster fell out into space.

Series Navigation<< Issue #21: Come the Black CloudsA MagiTech Crisis: Epilogue >>

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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