Issue #22: The Breaking Storm

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

Part 2

The cloud of flying glass caught the light from inside, and gave the struggling pair of freefalling bodies a surreal quality as they wrestled to ensure that one would break the fall of the other. Three floors after their trip began, Liedecker won.

Twisting viciously in Colos’s grasp, the secret master of Mayfield’s criminal underworld set his sword against the chest of the demon and braced it with his shoulder as they crashed down onto the wide balcony the served as an outdoor executive dining room for his many holdings, both legal and not.

A steel chair did interesting things to Colos’s back before buckling under the pressure. The demon lord screamed painfully ad Liedecker’s full weight drove the sword through his thick hide and pinioned him to the tiled floor.

Biting off his own pained moan, Liedecker managed to roll away from the demon, out of range of his deadly claws. Fire raced up his arm from his shoulder and he knew it was dislocated if not worse. Getting into a crouched position, he regarded the demon carefully. “It’s been a whole load of fun, Colos, but about now, I think we really ought to talk payment. Or you can tell me what that back biting bitch that sent you here wants with my product.”

He wouldn’t admit it, but it took a great deal of Colos’s remaining the strength just to respond. “No one sent me, Mankind.” He said, “I want that magic for myself, to combat the inevitable betrayal I am soon to suffer at the hands of Morganna, Heir of Hyrilius.”

The name clicked in Liedecker’s mind. He remembered Scuff Singer saying that that was the alias Nightshade had gone by when she had kidnapped him. “Morganna, you say?” he asked, vengeance in his voice. “She a woman about my height, dark skin, dark hair? Talks like she don’t remember half the things in her head?”

“Yes, the Heir of Hyrilius.” Colos answered, “What of her?”

Liedecker laughed, despite the pain and increasing aches in his body. “That’s the bitch you want put down? Farnsworth? Listen, Ol’ Scratch, it looks like we’re working toward just about the same goal here. See, she used to work for me, then she cheated me and did quite a bit of damage to some of my men. The ones she killed got off lucky.”

Colos raised his head, wincing as the sword moved in his body. He could feel anger rising in Liedecker. He hated Morganna as much as Colos did. “You once commanded her? She was your underling?”

“She didn’t have all this magical bullshit then.” Liedecker confirmed. He shuffled on his knees to move closer to the pinned demon. “But if you’re in the mood to kill her, I think the price I’ve got on her head’ll more than pay for a couple pieces of hardware. But just why the hell are you so pissed at her anyway? What kind of double cross can she pull that you plan to kill her before you even know she’s done it?”

Colos raised one claw and pointed to the upward. Fingers of darkness were slowly blocking out the night sky. Liedecker followed the sweeping spiral arm back to a building in the distance. If the fact a small hurricane was developing directly above ConquesTech wasn’t enough to prove the supernatural was involved, it was lit infrequently from within by green lightning.

“What in the devil is that?” Liedecker asked. To Colos’s shock, the man still wasn’t frightened, only surprised and curious and insulted that the natural order of things wasn’t being followed.

“That is a storm from my world.” Colos said, “She is calling it from across the gulf between our worlds. For what, I cannot tell, but I do know that it is a sign that her betrayal has begun.

Liedecker grasped the hilt of the sword with his good and with some difficulty, drew it forth from the monster’s body. He noted the bluish ichor that trailed form the wound but refused to stick to the sword. “Then let’s see if we can’t find something that’ll make sure she’s not a problem for either of us.”

***

Another of the transmogrified baboons fell to all fours, screeching and slamming its head violently into the ground as if that would stop the painful noise rebounding around the space between its ears.

Despite the effectiveness of Codex’s weapon, however, if was only effective in a narrow band and so the monsters kept coming. Some even did so while smoldering thanks to Rehenimaru’s deadly fire breath.

Zero caught an overhand blow on a shield of ice and used the leverage to push her attacker back into the midst of its screaming brethren. “If you made them,” she said in a voice that was all too polite given the situation, “why can’t you just turn them back into normal baboons?”

“I’ve been trying.” Rehenimaru lashed out with her claws at two creatures before spitting more fire to put a temporary curtain of flame between herself and them. “But something is wrong with the spell the controls the Devil Seeds themselves.”

“That spell wouldn’t happen to have anything to do with the Astral Plane, would it?” Codex asked, keeping the shrieker trained on a small group of monsters.

“Yes.” Rehenimaru slashed at another beast. “It’s a puppetry spell with strings connected through the Astral.”

“I know what the problem is then.” said Codex, “Our local astral as been severely disrupted by whatever Morganna did about an hour ago.”

“An hour ago, the Heir bridged the way from Faerie and delivered us here.”

“She brought you here?!” Facsimile dropped low and struck the monster currently engaging her hard in the knee. There was a horrible pop and the thing collapsed. The golden prelate took the opportunity to look to her allies. “You all heard that, right? Morganna brought them here. And she expects us to believe anything she says?”

With a snap of her wings, Facsimile propelled herself into the back of one of the possessed primates near Rehenimaru and sunk her claws into it, bringing it down. Thusly, she found herself directly next to the demoness. “So why are you really here, Ren… whatever? To turn everyone against us like that one a few months ago? To enslave humanity? To awaken a dark god from his eons long slumber and inevitably be the only one he kills?”

With a snarl, Rehenimaru rounded on her. Placing a hand on the girl’s shoulder, she knocked her on her back and bent so her face was close to hers. “We came to hunt.” She said with dire emphasis.

Just as quickly, the demoness felt a hand press against her temple. “I don’t want to do this.” Zero said firmly, but with great care, “But if you hurt her, I’ll freeze your brain.” Deliberately, the demoness eased back and shot a gout of flame to press back a fresh rush from the beasts.

“Don’t, Z.” Facsimile said, getting back to her feet. “She’s probably stealing someone’s body, just like the Mauler. You can’t kill that poor sap to save me. They’re probably the lucky one though; the only person this hell-bitch doesn’t want to eat.”

“We don’t consume flesh, ignorant Mankind.” Rehenimaru said petulantly. “We sup on emotive energy. Right now, for example? Her loyalty and love for you are an exquisite bouquet.”

Facsimile didn’t know exactly what to be surprised by first. First and foremost, she had never considered that she’d engendered any kind of loyalty from anyone, much less love. Second, she kind of hoped the demon meant platonic love, or the battle would become very awkward. And third, while she considered the angle of demons praying on emotion, she never expected a demon to get off on positive emotions.

Still, she was talking to a demon and no matter whose side it was on, a demon was a defacto bad guy and that precluded having any respect or curiosity about them. “And the body stealing part?” she asked acidly even as she put suddenly oversized fist into an advancing, furry face.

“We don’t have physical bodies and couldn’t bring our daemon hosts, except for Lord Colos.” Rehenimaru explained. She lunged into on of the beasts and drove her claws into its throat, causing blood to fountain out and the creature to fall back. “So yes, I’ve taken a human host. She was most disgusted to have just done that, but most hopeful that the Heir of Hyrilius will be stopped.”

The collapsed fallen beast heaved once, violently, and then seemed to dissolve until a very ordinary baboon was left in its place; very much alive and uninjured and very much terrified out of its wits. It fled into the night by the shortest route.

“You communicate with those you take?” Codex asked, astonished.

“It’s antagonistic at first.” Rehenimaru explained, “But we have to sympathize with them to advance in power, to use Ro Kalum, Blood Magic.”

“That doesn’t make it less nasty and weird.” Facsimile noted, leaping over the flashing stinger of one of the demons to land next to a fire hydrant. Making her claws diamond hard, she plunged them hard into the metal surface of the hydrant and ripped it open. A torrent of water cannoned into several of the creatures and most of the others. “Zero!” She shouted, “Buy us some time!”

Zero nodded and focused on the water in the air and around the monsters. Water became solid, trapping the majority of the beasts in blocks of ice.

Nodding in satisfaction, Facsimile flew back to her comrades. “Now can we get out of here? Go help the others at ConquesTech against Morganna and her, “she pointed a still clawed finger at Rehenimaru, “people, maybe?”

Codex looked to Zero. “How long will that hold them if you’re not here?”

“Ten, twenty minutes?” Zero guessed, “I really don’t know how strong they are.”

“If we get the astral plane reasserted and help defeat Morganna do you promise to turn those creatures back to normal?” Codex asked of Rehenimaru.

“Wait, what about the whole evil plan to hunt humans and stuff?”

“Priorities, Facsimile.” Codex said gently. “if we don’t stop Morganna first, we won’t have any powers to deal with anything Rehenimaru and the others have planned.” She gave the demoness a sidelong glance, “And I imagine that this goes both ways.”

Rehenimaru nodded, an odd effect given her crest. “The Heir of Hyrilius is prophesized to betray Sai’n’shree in its moment of glory. Finding the path back to the realm of Mankind is our greatest glory as human hosts would make us more powerful than ever before.” She softened under the displeased gazes of the assembled humans and humanoid ape. “But it isn’t worth being destroyed.”

“Then we make haste for the place where my Creator awaits.” Lucian said, “But once she falls, demon, you will release your host. One way or another.”

“I’m starting to like the big orange guy.” Facsimile smirked at the demoness.

***

“Throw whatever weapon you want at me, Mankind.” Edenkai said, muscling her way forward through the hurricane force wind Chaos was sending toward her. “But that body will be my new host and I will add the magic of Mankind to my arsenal.”

“If anyone has any better plans on stopping her, I’m all ears.” Chaos said, already putting full power into pushing the demoness back.

“I can’t keep my black heat beams coherent in your wind.” Darkness admitted. “Maybe if you pulse it on and off, I can get a shot on her?”

“No good.” Chaos said, “it doesn’t work that way, I need to work my way up to full power. Try just pouring the heat on, maybe it’ll slow her down at least.”

Occult made her staff appear in her hands. “Maybe I can help.” She said, stepping up beside Chaos. The butt of the staff struck the earth. “Crystalline Reign!”

White quartz suddenly grew like kudzu all across the asphalt, forming an advancing and expanding arc of crystal before the young mage. It reached Edenkai and grew up around her. That tactic hadn’t worked against the Mauler, but he had been all muscle. Edenkai was built differently and had to actively avoid the growing spars rather than bull her way though. She was forced to leap backward, placing herself at the mercy of Chaos’s wind, which threw her a dozen yards, smashing into a piece of ruined masonry that had formerly been part of Building Seven’s roof.

“Nice shot, kid.” Vorpal commended. “I’ve never seen a psionic do anything like that before, but nice all the same.”

“That’s because I’m not psionic.” Occult admitted, “I’m a spellcaster, a witch.”

“Is true!” Renst backed her up. “Is why our Mankind is wanting her.”

“Morganna wants her too?” Darkness asked, “What is going on here?”

“I don’t know.” Alloy said, swinging down from one of the windows. “But she’s not the only one.”

“Alloy, where’s Hope?” Chaos and Vorpal asked in tandem. They shared a disdainful glare immediately after.

“Inside.” Alloy said, letting the tentacles set him down. “There’s people hurt.” He looked up to the top of the building. “Morganna has Lisa up there under a spell or something.”

“She what?!” Occult burst, realizing a bit late that she protested too much. “Er… I mean I just got her to safety, how could Morganna have her?”

“I don’t know, but I saw her too.” Chaos supported.

“That can’t be!” Occult protested.

“This is Morganna, it can, believe me.” Chaos chided, “I saw her turn a monkey into a man… sort of. How are you involved with Lisa Ortega anyway?”

“We live in the same neighborhood.” Occult didn’t quite lie. “And I’m a community oriented prelate. So I’m going up there and checking this out myself.”

There was a sound as if a crocodile was having digestive problems and a heap of rubble moved. The red ridged spine of Aberak smashed through the last of the debris covering him and he rose stiffly.

“Another damn demon.” Chaos swore. But Aberak only took notice of them in a lazy, reptilian sort of way before swinging his head up toward the clouds and their strange lightning.

“Curse that woe begotten witch.” He snarled. After a moment of scanning visually and sniffing, he found the heap of stunned beast flesh that was Edenkai and pulled her bodily to her feet, still ignoring the humans. “This entire obsession about choosing a female host… Look what you’ve wrought, Fellspawn!” he spat at her dazed visage. “That is mana from our home! A ritual she could not have carried out if you hadn’t abandoned your post!”

“Mana from their home?” Occult asked, looking up at the swirling cloud cover.

“And you couldn’t handle a single Mankind and a golem alone?” Edenkai asked acidly.

“I was attacked!” Aberak defended.

“And what could defeat the ‘mighty’ Aberak of the Blood Riven Moon?” was the smug response. The answer came in a trio of feather shaped blades that suddenly punched through Aberak and bloomed upon her breast.

“That would be Samael, the Angel of Death.” Though battered and dusty, the hired gun bedecked in magitech still managed to look the part of avenging angel as he took to the sky and rearmed his blade launchers. “Vorpal. I didn’t think I’d see you here.”

“I was sent by our superior to make sure you didn’t overstep your bounds and ‘creatively interpret your orders. Good thing too, I don’t think the boss would tolerate you pissing off the local heroes by puncturing one of them.”

“Oh, I heard my orders loud and clear, little girl.” Samael laughed, a deep, throaty laugh, “’Don’t leave a soul alive’ and well, my dear, you’re currently both here and alive.”

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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