Issue #24: Love Like Mad

This entry is part 14 of 15 in the series The Descendants Vol 2: Magic and Machines

Part 3

The tires on Ian’s wine colored sedan screamed as he cut in and out of traffic along Dayspring Avenue, away from the college. Impatiently, he drummed the console of the vehicle’s built in communication’s hub as the ring rang.

“Come on, Laurel, come on…” he snarled at the phone.

“Mr. Smythe?” Juniper asked from the passenger seat. She had a death grip on the grab handle above the door. “If we don’t know where we’re going, do we need to drive like this?”

She didn’t get an answer as Laurel answered at that moment. “Hey, Ian, what’s up?” She chirped.

“Trouble.” Ian intoned. “Some guy kidnapped Alexis.”

“What?!”

“He attacked her and Juniper and Warrick when they got back to the museum. He used some kind of magic to freeze her in place, then teleported with her. Is there any chance you can track her?”

“I don’t have you chipped, if that’s what you’re asking.” Laurel said, her intellect already gearing up for battle. “Can you tell me something about this baddie? Maybe I can narrow down the search.”

“His name was Madigan.” Juniper shouted so the driver focused microphone could pick her voice up.

“Right.” Ian agreed. “Madrigal Madigan. He works at the museum.”

“That helps a lot.” Laurel said. “Dayspring has an open directory of their teaching staff and most of the museum’s senior staff is made up of professors.” She found the correct database and entered the name. “Got him. Madrigal Adam Madigan, head of the restoration department. Current residence is 3610 Wexler Avenue, Apartment 819. I’ll send the address to your car’s navigation now.”

“Perfect.” Ian said, increasing speed.

“If we’re going to be using our powers, won’t we need our costumes?” Juniper asked.

“No time.” Ian said.

“No, she’s right, Ian.” Laurel said. “You especially are far more effective with your costume than without and be honest; do you think Alexis would want to be the cause of our cover being blown?”

“But he’s got her right now!” Ian argued. “I’m not going to waste valuable time getting dressed up for this fight.”

“Ian, we don’t even know that he took Alexis back to his place.” Laurel admonished. “I care for Alexis too, but I care enough to know that we need to deal with this intelligently. Alexis isn’t a shrinking violet; if Madigan can kidnap her, he can more than stand up to us in a straight fight. We have to approach this delicately.”

“You’re my friend and I love you like a sister L, but I’m a walking hurricane and this guy has Alexis. I don’t have a delicate setting right now.”

Something about the exchange roused Warrick, who had been thinking over what had happened while sitting in the back seat. “Mr. Smythe, didn’t you tell us once that… unless we learn the right way to deal with a situation, we’ve only got two settings; ‘gentle breeze’ or ‘hyper-death’?”

“Yeah?” Came the terse reply.

“Well, you said hyper-death wasn’t the choice a hero would make. And Ms. Brant has never been wrong before…”

“You’ve said that plenty of times too.” Laurel added. “Though I’ll be honest and admit I have been wrong. Hyper-cognition isn’t omni-cognition. But I can tell you that I have spares of everyone’s costumes in my car. You don’t have to go all the way home; I can get them to you—I’m still in the city too.”

Ian chewed his lip and watched the city flash by him as he navigated through traffic. He knew what he’d said. He knew what he’d meant. But Alexis being kidnapped by a magic user with powers he didn’t understand wasn’t part of that package.

Well old man, a voice in the back of his mind piped up, it just became part of the package. Not only that, but plenty of other unforeseen, terrifying things in the future as well.

His hands gripped the wheel and his inner monologue continued.

Whining and begging for it to stop wouldn’t make it stop. Nor would rushing in blind and stupid. He’d fail that way. And let people down. Let the woman he loved down.

After what seemed like ten minutes, he spoke. “Laurel, can you find me the nearest alley wide enough to drive through?”

“I can.” Laurel said, already pulling up the relevant screens. “But why?”

“Three of the Descendants don’t need costumes.” Ian noted. He opened the sun roof, allowing the wind to rush in. “I want you to alert Cyn and Kareem and have them head for Madigan’s place. Have Melissa try and get to where Juniper and I will be meeting you to get our costumes.”

“What about me?” Warrick asked.

“What about the alley?” Juniper nearly echoed him.

Ian noted the alley Laurel had found was coming up. “Warrick…” He pointed to the sunroof.

With a thought, Isp and Osp were summoned. “Yes sir.” Warrick said, knowing instinctively what to do.

The car turned sharply into the alley; control servos in the wheel wells buzzing loudly as they prevented fishtailing. Warrick sent a mental ready signal to Isp, who snapped out of the sunroof and grappled an overhang, pulling Warrick from the speeding car.

The moment the car was gone, Warrick called his armor. A manhole cover, several sets of security bars and a handy spool of copper wire became the trademark armor of Alloy.

Still in the car, Juniper turned around in her seat to watch. “Wow…” she mused. “So what do we do now, Mr. Smythe?”

Ian practically threw the car into traffic on the next street. “Now we hope the Mad-Mad Madigan is home when the Descendants knock down his door.”

***

“Welcome to my home!” Madigan said proudly as he and Alexis emerged from a pillar of amber flame.

They had appeared in an opulent gallery with marble floors, a fountain and assorted statuary. A great arch encircled a conspicuously out of place, ordinary door, replete with a series of chains and deadbolts.

Even more strange, a sliding glass door and window stood in the middle of said gallery. Despite this, the door opened out onto a balcony that offered a view of the Mayfield skyline. The whole thing was an unsettling perversion of geometry and physics.

“I apologize for leaving you in my office,” Madigan continued. “I had to pop out and make sure my place was presentable.” He laughed inhumanly at his own joke. “I’m sure you’ll be comfortable here. In fact, I can do anything and everything to make you comfortable.”

A wave of his hand caused a plush lounge to sprout fully formed from the floor. A table, looking very much like a pedestal, sprouted beside it like a mushroom and was suddenly topped with a bowl of fruit.

“I assure you my dear, that every moment with me will be a moment spent in the…” his eyes strayed disconcertingly, “In the bosom of luxury. Come, sit.” He gestured to the lounge a handful of times before realizing that due to his machinations, Alexis couldn’t do as asked, though he was sure she would if she could.

“Oh.” He realized. “So very sorry.” He gestured and she disappeared and reappeared, dressed in a toga reminiscent of one an actress in a Roman themed high school play would wear, and in a reclining position on the lounge. “There. Better?”

There was no reply. Again, it took Madigan a moment to realize what was wrong. “Oh.” He said again. “Well, I suppose I can let you talk.” Amber fire danced over Alexis’s head.

The only change was that her expression, one of frozen rage, became a darker, more brooding fury, the kind a caged panther gives to the peccary in the next cage. It was a look that said, ‘I will get out of here and when I do, we’ll do lunch.’

It was lost entirely on Madigan. “Well, how do you like it? Isn’t this a billion times better than what that Smythe fellow can offer?”

“Not a billionth better.” Alexis said in a low hiss. “He wouldn’t freeze me, or kidnap me, or attack innocent people.”

“I haven’t attacked a single innocent person.” Madigan said haughtily. “Not physically at least.”

“What about Professor Demetrius!?”

“Oh, come now, he’s not innocent—he’s insulted me many times.”

“That makes him guilty?”

Madigan grinned and span the scepter in his fingers. “I’ve got the scepter. I’ve got the power. Of course, that also means I make all the rules.”

“And I guess I’m not innocent either?” Alexis pressed. “You attacked me and froze me like this.”

“To be fair, my love, you attacked me first.” He looked defensive for a split second, and then his mood brightened. “But don’t worry; now that our first fight is out of the way, there will be clear sailing for the honeymoon. Speaking of which, which should I conquer to mark the occasion; Hawaii or Jamaica?”

“Are you just not paying attention, Madigan?!” Alexis shouted, “We aren’t getting married! I don’t love you. I have a boyfriend and he isn’t you!”

“Can you call me Madrigal?” Madigan asked, “It’s more familiar, you know?”

Alexis fumed. She wanted to call up some black heat and put him on his back and out of her misery. But thanks to whatever spell he’d worked, the nerved that let her do so were seized up. “Listen!” She roared, “I. Have. A Boyfriend. And… and I love him.”

That got Madigan’s attention. His eyes flared with an amber glow, which completely subsumed the natural blue of his eyes. “Smythe!” He growled, his voice full of distain. “You always bring him up. Even after all we’ve shared? All we’ve meant to each other?”

“You’ve known me for less than three hours!”

“Three of the most beautiful hours of our lives!” Madigan almost bawled. “And still you wont’ give him up!” He stamped his foot. “Fine! If it will convince you to give up on him, I’ll bring him right here. And he and I will duel to the death for your heart!”

He held out a hand and gave a mighty flourish.

Nothing happened.

Madigan blinked. “That’s never happened before.” He waved again and made a chair appear. He sat down heavily.

Alexis shot him a wicked look as soon as the horror of imagining Ian summoned and slaughtered had passed. “What’s wrong, ‘Madrigal’? Did you just find a limit?”

“I think I did.” Madigan admitted. He pointed and a stone statue of Ian appeared in a flash of amber. “See? It’s still working. I want a statue of him, it shows up. I want to smash it,“ He pointed and a pulse of amber reduced it to rubble. “And my will be done, right? But if I want him here…“ He waved.

Nothing happened.

“Nothing. It seems I can’t summon actual people and things, only make them.” He looked dejected. He looked suddenly ecstatic. “Wait, I know! I’ll make a challenge appear in the sky above the city! That will bring him here!”

He rushed to the sliding door and stepped out onto the balcony. With a grand, sweeping gesture, he pointed to the sky. “Hear my decree, people of Mayfield!” He crowed, “Ian Smythe must meet me, Madrigal Madigan and duel him to the death over the hand of…” He blinked at the sky. Nothing had been written across the blue expanse in mile high, flaming letters as he’d expected.

Dejected, he turned and started back into the room. “Hmm… maybe I should take some time to learn about my newfound divinity before I try to crush the puny and insolent governments of mankind under my glorious heel, my love.” He sighed.

“I’d also invest in a speech writer and a therapist.” Alexis groused. “You’re deluded. You don’t even understand what that thing is and does and you’re playing with it like a toy. I think it’s cracked your mind… or cracked it worse. You weren’t this animated earlier.”

“I wasn’t a fledgling god earlier.” Madigan countered. He walked into the room and crossed it slowly, like a child coming inside from playing. “But at this moment, my love, I need to stay on task – that is, drawing Ian Smythe to my doorstep so I can grind him under my heel like a government.”

A retort was forming on Alexis’s lips when a knock came at the door.

Madigan’s eyes strayed to the scepter. A wide grin crossed his features. “I knew it wouldn’t fail!” he exclaimed.

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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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