Issue #24: Love Like Mad

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

Part 4

Taking time to ensure that the scepter was well in hand and to give Alexis a satisfied smile, Madigan seized the doorknob. “I’ve been expecting—“ He threw the door open and his face fell. “You aren’t Ian Smythe.”

The person on the other side of the door was a slight, pale woman in a conservative dress-suit and a bowler hat. The odd welcome didn’t seem to faze her at all. “No sir, no I am not—“ Her hands stabbed out and grabbed Madigan’s free hand and shook it hardily. “My name’s Galina, but you can call me, Gal, Mr. Madigan; Gal Incognito. May I come in? Of course I can,” She invited herself in before Madigan could say a word. Without missing a beat, she continued. “And that’s because you are very, very lucky to see me.”

For the first time, she noticed the room and let out a low whistle to cover her astonishment. “My, my, my, Mr. Madigan, these are lovely digs you have here.”

Still deeply confused and all together broadsided by the intrusion, Madigan nodded very slowly. “Er, yes, it’s Athenian…” His trained eye trailed around the room and something deep inside took in the myriad glaring anachronisms, crossed styles and simple shoddiness. That something shuddered in disgust. “…I think.”

Alexis was just as bewildered by the turn of events as Madigan until she felt a familiar presence nearby.

Do not worry, Ms. Keyes, Kareem’s mental voice came to her; Cyn will keep him distracted while I discern what kind of mystic effect you are under.

No, Kareem, Alexis warned, he’s as crazy as he is dangerous. Trying to fight him full on won’t help things. Tell Cyn to get out of here and I’ll try to outsmart him.

While I have no doubt that you can, Ms. Keyes, I’m afraid Mr. Smythe wouldn’t accept us doing anything less than our level best to try and save you.

On the Astral Plane, Kareem perceived a series of amber glowing nettles thrust at random through Alexis’s astral form. It would be time consuming and difficult to remove the. He proceeded cautiously.

Meanwhile, Cyn, as Gal Incognito, was flitting all over the room, examining the various Greco-something pieces Madigan had furnished his home with. “This is really beautiful.” She stated, picking up a bust of Athena. “though I think it’d go better over the door there.” Her attention finally fell on the door to the balcony, which was a good fifteen feet from the apparent wall of the room. “Wow, now that’s really something.” She said with genuine awe.

“You think so?” Madigan puzzled. “I was thinking of actually putting it back against the wall after I made the room larger – it’s a very uncomfortable feeling, walking behind it.”

“No, it’s perfect just the way it is.” Cyn assured him. “Totally… non-Euclidean. Can we actually go out there?”

“I don’t see why not…” Madigan hesitated. “B-but we can’t be too long, I’m to marry my beloved and then conquer the planet, you see…”

“Really?” Cyn asked, taking time to smirk at Alexis. “Well, I promise not the keep you.” A bemused grin came over her face. “Congratulations, by the way, you’re the first person I’ve ever met who honestly wanted to take over the world.”

Leading her to the door, Madigan’s old arrogance returned. “Well, obviously; no one in history has held the power I have. The legends say that Alexander carried the Aegis, but the closest he came was conquering Asia minor. My scepter makes the Aegis look like a child’s rattle.”

He threw her a sly grin. “You’re very fortunate, you know? You’ll be the first to gaze with me upon my dominion.” He threw the doors open and strode out to do just that. Only to gaze upon a length of dark metal shaped crudely like a mallet speeding toward his face.

There was a sound like—well like a sledgehammer hitting a deranged man in the face—and Cyn had to step to the side as Madigan sailed past her. She glared at the balcony railing as Alloy was lifted onto it by Isp.

“What happened to ‘dangle him over the edge so he wouldn’t dare use his powers on us?”

“He shouldn’t have talked crap about the Aegis. Osp loves the Classics.” Alloy shrugged. “Besides, a hit like that had to knock the guy out.” He walked past her into the room, Osp trailing behind to give the tentacle version of an indignant nod to Cyn as he did.

“Whoa, speaking of Classics, I thought this guy was a historian.” Alloy added, looking around.

“I think he’s forgotten all that.” Alexis said from the lounge. “Whatever powers he has, they’ve rotted his brain.”

“You words hurt, beloved.” Madigan said petulantly. All eyes snapped to where he’d landed. Tiny tongues of amber flame burned here and there on his person, particularly over the freshly forming black eye Osp had given him. Where the flames burned, his pain ebbed and his wounds healed.

Unsteadily, like a puppet being pulled up by the strings, he rose to his feet. “But you won’t have to keep up your front of aggression once I’ve dealt with my rival.” He pointed a determined and accusing finger at Alloy. “Pretending to be the white knight riding to the maiden’s rescue won’t help you, Smythe.”

“Me? Heh. No.” Alloy glanced at Osp. “See? This is why you can’t go hitting normal guys like that. One too many times with his brain rattling around in his head and now he thinks he’s Don Quixote.” The tentacle slumped by way of apology.

“I don’t have time for games, Smythe. I have to go and find a priest to marry us over your corpse. So why don’t I end this quick and “He held up a palm. “Destroy you!”

Nothing happened.

The room was deathly silent for a while as everyone held their breath waiting for something to happen.

Madigan creased his brow and snarled. “Right!” With another gesture, a stone block materialized above Alloy in a swirl of yellow flame. The tentacles caught it, albeit unsteadily and held it safely above their host.

More amber energy coursed over the block, transmuting it to lead. Suddenly, the tentacles buckled, letting the weight land on Alloy’s shoulders. The armored prelate went down on his knee where his armor locked, leaving him effectively pinned.

Cyn gaped for a second before turning to Madigan. She didn’t make a sound as the guise of Gal Incognito was replaced by the golden splendor of Facsimile. Diamond tipped claws reached out as she leapt for Madigan.

An iron shield appeared on Madigan’s arm and with strength that couldn’t have been entirely his, he repelled her, sending her skidding on her back to Alloy’s feet.

“Can’t you just shape that thing off of you?” She chastised her partner.

“I’ve been trying.” Alloy groaned. A silver-white glow emanated from his helmet. “I can’t do anything to it though. Probably because it’s magic.”

“You should have stayed out of the way, Ms. Incognito.” Madigan stalked toward the pair. “I would have given you a place in the wedding party; I was thinking Empress of Italy, if my love doesn’t want it. I seem to remember Incognito being an Italian name.” He twirled the scepter in his hands. “Not that it matters now.”

Facsimile rolled onto her shoulders and kipped up into a fighting stance. “It really doesn’t. You’re not even going to rule this apartment once you go to jail.” She shifted away her wings and redistributed the mass to increase her reflexes and agility, making her form more lean and lithe.

“A shapeshifter, eh?” Madigan said mockingly. “Well I’ve got a new shape for you.“ Amber fire awoke around her and when it died down there was a six inch tall, plush doll version of the golden prelate.

“Fax!” Alloy gasped. His surprise and anger was echoed by Isp and Osp, who extended their tips into blades.

Madigan looked mockingly impressed at the display and used his power to create a sword of his own out of the shield. “You want a real duel, Smythe? I’ll be glad to give you one.”

The tentacles moved, but not in Madigan’s direction. They lashed upward, slicing the lead black into thirds, the two end pieces of which came crashing down to shatter the floor on either side of Alloy. They then handily removed the remaining third, allowing Alloy to stand.

“You son of a bitch.” Alloy intoned, clenching a fist. The white light in his eyes intensified. His breath fogged and his armor steamed in the cool room. “First the professor. Then Ms. Keyes. Now Facsimile.” His voice was cold and angry, without a hint of his normal Brooklyn accent. “Someone has to put you down.” The room shook as the beams and struts that still anchored it to the building in the real world vibrated sympathetically with his powers.

“Someone certainly does.” A voice said from the balcony. The air moved, blowing the dust thrown up by the shorn lead block onto Madigan’s face. The crazed rogue cursed and created a cape to cover his eyes and nose with. Chaos flew into the room on the wings of a zephyr. “But that someone’s going to be me.”

The light in Alloy’s helmet dimmed. The room ceased its seizure. “But he just killed—“

“How many times do I have to tell you?” A tiny voice demanded. Facsimile—all six inches of her—flew into his line of sight. “Immortal, remember?”

“I—But—Wha?” was all Alloy could say.

I am almost done, Ms. Keyes. Kareem said. There was only one amber nettle left to remove and that one didn’t pose and threat of permanent damage to her person.

Please hurry. Alexis urged. We’ve been lucky so far, with Madigan wasting time on trying to use powers he doesn’t have. But pretty soon, no matter how crazy he’s become, he’ll get serious.

“Remarkable recovery, Ms. Incognito.” Madigan mocked as he leveled his sword. “And an impressive effort, whoever you are. I’ll be kind and give you a warning: back off now and I’ll let you be my serfs. My fight is with Ian Smythe right now.” He indicated Alloy.

Chaos looked at Alloy. “Ian Smythe?”

“He thinks I’m Ian Smythe.” Alloy shook his head.

“Don’t try and fool me, you coward!” Madigan threw himself toward Alloy, sword raised.

“He’s not trying to fool you Mad-Mad.” Chaos interposed himself between them and delivered a right cross to the villain’s face, turning him around just enough to receive an uppercut form the left. Madigan tumbled backward, landing on the lounge, his head resting on Alexis’s calves.

I am not sure he is at fault for all this. Kareem took note of Madigan’s astral body. He is… infested with the astral form of… I cannot begin to explain what the object on his hand looks like on this side, but it has bonded itself closely to his essence. As long as he holds it—

Then we’ll have to make him stop holding it. Alexis concluded.

Madigan drew himself up into a sitting position on the lounge beside Alexis. “You were right about this much, my love; I need time to discover the uses of my power.” He stroked one of her leg’s lovingly, “Not that I need my full power against the likes of them.

It was all Alexis could do not to kick him and reveal that she was free of his control. Instead, she relayed instructions to Kareem to relay to Zero and Codex. Outwardly, she greeted him with a winning smile. “Oh yes, you’re so mighty.” She said through clenched teeth.

From beneath his visor, Chaos glared at Madigan’s brazen antics. “That’s enough, Mad-Mad. How about I just knock you out by thinning the air around your head?”

A flicker of amber flame surrounded Madigan’s head. “You can try. But maybe I’ll just turn this entire room into a vacuum and kill you that way.”

“That would kill you too.” Mini-Facsimile pointed out.

“The scepter will protect me.” Madigan stated indignantly.

“Like it destroyed Alloy?” the pint sized prelate asked. “Or the stone block crushed him?”

“Or like it wrote your challenge in the sky?” Alexis chimed in. “Or summoned Ian? Besides, that would kind of kill me too.”

“You’re pretty bad at what you do.” Alloy rubbed it in. “I mean in comics, reality warpers are top tier villains. It takes an arc or longer to take one down.”

Madigan ground his teeth. “Stop! I still have a supreme power that dwarfs that held by mortal man! I still transmute—“He waved a hand and one of the fallen slabs of metal took on a golden sheen, “base metals into gold! I control the universe at my whim!”

“And yet, I’m going to knock you on your ass without even using my powers for anything more than flying up here.” Chaos noted, balling up a fist to do just that. “I don’t care what powers you have, if you use them for evil—which, incidentally includes attacking old men, vandalizing museums and kidnapping—you get an ass-kicking. That’s how it works. Some call it justice, some call it karma. In this case I’m going to call it gratifying.”

Amber flashed in Madigan’s eyes again.

“You still don’t understand do you?” the villain asked.

“I understand completely.” Chaos said. “You’ve got this power overwhelming you think makes you a small god and you think that makes you right, no? Stop me when I get one wrong.”

“You will understand.” Madigan rose from the lounge. “That I am a god!” Chains made of amber light erupted from the air and looped around Chaos, binding him in place and forcing him to the ground.

Grinning wickedly, Mad-Mad unconsciously ran a thumb over the scepter’s glowing eye. “And god demands a sacrifice.”

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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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