Issue #24: Love Like Mad

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

Part 5

No sooner were the words out of Madigan’s mouth than Alloy stepped up between the madman and his intended victim. Facsimile hovered over his shoulder, displaying tiny, but definitely sharp claws.

“I don’t really care what you think you are.” Alloy said as Isp and Osp shaped themselves into bludgeons, “You’re going to have to go through me if you want to ‘sacrifice’ anyone, pal.”

“If you’re a god,” Facsimile added, “I’m freaking Tinkerbelle. And let me tell you, it’ll take a lot more than saying ‘I don’t believe in fairies’ to put me down.”

An ugly sneer came to Madigan’s lips. “That can be arranged if you don’t step aside.” He turned a special, delving gaze on Alloy. “We’ll still have our duel, Smythe. I just have to deal with this ruffian who’s insulted my divinity one too many times to be ignored.”

Without warning, Isp and Osp swung together with Madigan’s head the intended meeting place for their duel strikes.

Crazed amber eyes flashed and Madigan bent over backward in such a way that would make a professional gymnast weep blood. The tentacles clashed together with a horrible din. Before they could reorient themselves, Madigan dropped his sword and grasped Osp. Amber flame wreathed his arm as he effortlessly hauled on the tentacle, using him to lift Alloy and whip him around above his head a few times before throwing him into the far wall. The armored prelate smashed through the wall and into the apartment beyond.

The villain smirked satisfactorily for a split second before suddenly crying out in pain. In the melee, Facsimile had taken advantage of her current size and skimmed around Madigan before setting claws on his leg, trying to scratch her way to his Achilles tendon.

With a snarl of rage, Madigan grabbed her by a wing and flung her away. She sailed past the lounge only to be caught in a birdcage that spontaneously grew upon a pedestal in her path.

A gesture form Madigan caused the cage door to slam shut. His face was a mask of unbridled rage. “So many interruptions!” He pointed a shaking finger at the restrained Chaos. “I’ll kill you first. Not as a sacrifice, but as a dowry tribute for my blushing bride.” A new sword appeared in his hand and he stalked toward his foe.

Alexis couldn’t wait any longer. She sent one last instruction to Kareem to relay and threw herself into a standing position, praying Madigan wouldn’t question why she was free of his spell. “Wait!” she cried out, putting a restraining hand on his arm.

Amber flared in Madigan’s eyes as he looked toward her. “One moment, my love, this won’t take long.” He explained.

Alexis thought fast. “But—but, uh… if his sacrifice is my dowry, shouldn’t I be the one to kill him?”

“Huh?” Chaos started to protest but was silenced by a glare from her.

“Really, my love?” Madigan asked, almost giddy. “You want to end this infidel’s life for my honor?”

Rubbing up against his side like a cat, Alexis summoned her most seductive smile. “Of course, Mad-Mad. Anything for you. He insulted you and that can’t be allowed to stand, can it? I mean he doesn’t even deserve the honor of being killed by you.”

“I like the way you think, my love.” Madigan agreed. He offered her the sword.

“Oh, I have my own method I prefer.” Alexis cooed, taking Madigan’s hand and leading him to the other side of Chaos. Madigan directed the chains to turn him to face them. “You’ve seen it, dearest.” Alexis continued, running a finger along the madman’s jawbone. “At the museum. I can call up a cloud of gaseous particles that produce incredible heat on contact. My black heat.”

“Oh, I remember.” Madigan said.

“Good.” Alexis said. “You’ve seen it break stone. Now get ready to see what it can do to a human being. First, we need to take proper position.” Forcibly, she put his hand, the one holding the scepter, around her waist, resting it on her hip. Then she settled into a shooter’s stance, stomping her feet on the marble as she did.

Madigan did the same. He was so entranced in what was going on that his ears didn’t register the sound of frost crunching under his heels.

Black heat began to form around Alexis’s out stretched arm. “Good bye, Chaos.” Alexis said coldly. “My gaseous black heat is lethal when a dense mass of it impacts flesh.” Her eyes locked with his, even with the visor in the way.

She let fly with a bolt of black heat as thick as her wrist. It struck Chaos and enveloped him in a cloud of darkness.

“Glorious!” Madigan exclaimed. “Worthy of my goddess!”

“You think so?” Alexis asked. Before he could reply, she turned the blast on the floor, which shattered like thin ice beneath them. As gravity took over, Alexis let the black heat expand over her and grabbed Madigan’s wrist, the one she’d let rest on her hip.

There was a sickening pop and said wrist dislocated, the scepter flying free of numb fingers. Madigan let out an unearthly wail as he crashed through the floor to land in the middle of the apartment below between Zero, Codex and the rather bewildered elderly woman who lived below him.

Codex and Zero ignored the falling villain for the moment and focused on the flying scepter. The air became positively frigid and Codex took careful aim with her grapnel launcher. The launcher’s pinion flew true and smashed into cold-brittle marble, shattering it into shards.

Instantaneously, flames of crimson streaked over the faux Greco antechamber Madigan had created, restoring it to the modest, if richly furnished state it had held prior to Madigan’s reality warping reconstruction.

A frantic gust sent the cloud of black heat rolling away from Chaos. “Did we win?” he asked, seeing Darkness hovering above him. She responded by flying down to hug him.

“Madigan’s out of it.” Codex called from below. “And I mean really out of it. He looks catatonic. That’s on top of the wrist and what looks to be a broken ankle. I’m going to call the paramedics… and the Superhuman Intervention Unit just in case.”

“Sorry about your coffee table, Mrs. Vogel. “Zero said to the elderly woman who was busy observing the gaggle of prelates and the giant hole in her ceiling. “We’ll fix everything of course.”

Codex nodded as she dialed her phone. “Of course, ma’am. We can either make arrangements for you ourselves or we have a Payments Direct account where you can just send us the bill.”

Facsimile stretched her now-proper sized arms and cracked her neck. “You okay, Alloy?” she asked as Isp and Osp set their friend back on his feet.

“Just more dents in the armor.” Alloy replied, walking over to her. “Good to see you’re out of Thumbelina mode.” Beneath his helmet, he grinned. “by the way, Gal Incognito?”

“What? He fell for it, didn’t he?”

“Because he was crazy.” Alloy chuckled, but he trailed off. His eyes caught a flash of amber. Looking closer, he saw the round capstone from Mad-Mad’s scepter rolling toward the open balcony door. “Shit!” he exclaimed, quickly taking control of the balcony railing and using it to scoop up and surround the errant jewel.

Chaos and Darkness looked up to see what was happening.

“Son of a bitch, that thing tried to get away.” Chaos muttered disbelievingly.

What in the world is that thing?” Darkness wondered aloud. “Ephemeral said that it was controlling Madigan. Infesting him.” She kept a safe distance from it as Alloy wrapped more and more metal around it and began transmuting the wrought iron into sterner stuff.

“Sounds like some new magic woogie.” Chaos said disdainfully. “Any info on it, Codex?” He shouted down the hole in the floor.

“I’ll have to consult the Book of Reason when we get home.” Codex admitted, “But I don’t think so.”

“Damn.” Chaos replied.

“Talk about a challenging first day on the job.” Alloy said, eying the now fully encased magical item suspiciously.

***

The street in front of Madigan’s building was cordoned off to allow the Superhuman Intervention Unit transport to land. The Descendants, including Darkness, now in her proper uniform, stood on hand to watch and give the SI Unit marines their accounts of the events. Both attracted no small number of gawkers and amateur paparazzi.

The reinforced titanium cylinder with a lead core that imprisoned the amber sphere was gingerly lowered into a hazardous waste canister by a marine in a loader frame. “This kind of feels like one of those video games.” Alloy commented offhandedly to Facsimile. “You know, where you get a flashback scene of the Ancients sealing the terrible evil thing that took out Atlantis away ‘forever’. Except in the present, the thing’s out and taking over the planet.”

“Maybe that’s how Mad-Mad got it.” Facsimile offered.

“Well that’s not going to happen this time.” The marine in the loader frame said, overhearing the conversation. He was in his late twenties with a ginger crew cut. “ROCIC has all the proper facilities for unstable SI paraphernalia.”

“SI paraphernalia?” Facsimile echoed.

“Crap people use to give themselves super powers.” He replied.

“Ah.” Facsimile nodded.

“So what about the… not unstable ones?” Alloy asked.

“Sorry, that’s classified.” The marine shrugged.

Across from them, Chaos and Darkness watched as a raven haired woman and a dark skinned man wearing the insignia of a Lieutenant Colonel loading a gurney holding a moaning Madrigal Madigan into the transport. It had been decided to take him immediately into custody in case he retained any residual abilities.

“How much…” Darkness asked absently as she looked on, “How much of that do you think is my fault?”

Chaos put and arm around her shoulder. “Ephemeral said the thing pretty much had a lot of control over him; tore him up pretty bad on the Astral side coming loose too. I honestly wouldn’t put money on any of it being your fault any further than the thing used his lechery to take a better hold.” He gave her a small squeeze. “I mean, I know I say you drive me crazy, but that’s more of a metaphor.”

“I know that much.” Darkness noted, not really responding to his affectionate advance. “But was it possible to have safely separated it from him? Was I too quick to break the scepter?”

“Hon, he was trying to sacrifice me to himself. I think the time for negotiation was over. Besides, Ephemeral says it’ll be slow going, but he’ll heal.” Seemingly getting nowhere in comforting her, he removed his arm from her shoulder. “Anyway, I have to admit, tonight is the prime reason why you’re the leader of this group. I was ready to just kick ass and while she would have come up with a winning strategy, L would have taken a while getting to it.”

“You really think it was a good plan? It was pretty spur of the moment. And, might I add, I wouldn’t have been able to enact it if someone wasn’t set on bringing the cavalry to kick ass.”

“No, it was a good plan.” Chaos nodded absently. “Though, I’ve got to ask; why didn’t you have Ephemeral tell me about it? I mean if I hadn’t gotten your hint and dropped density on your black heat… well, I’d be cooked.”

Darkness hugged him, causing a ripple of flashes from various cameras and other recording devices among the crowd. “Sweetie, if you hadn’t gotten those hints… well you would have been pretty much too dumb to live.”

“Ow, my pride.” Chaos said, lightly as he returned the hug. “But seriously, you wouldn’t have really let the bolt hit me, right? You do have that much control over it, right?”

“That’s what we call faith.” Darkness laughed. “Faith… and knowing that you have a ballistic cloth costume.”

Meanwhile, Codex had just finished exchanging information with a blonde female member of the SI marines when the Lieutenant Colonel approached. “The General sends his regards, Codex.” He said, giving her a nod. “Lt. Col. Randal Barnes; called Rand in the SIU.”

Codex shook his hand. “Pleased to meet you. So this is the Central East Intervention team then? Unit Ten?”

Rand nodded. “For the past three months and the next three. We rotate every six.”

“Ever seen anything like this?” Codex asked, gesturing at the canister being loaded into the transport.

“Not as such, no.” Rand admitted. “We’ve mostly hit on tame things like overgrown wildlife and spark jockeys running out of control in towns without prelate coverage. This is out first… what did you call it?”

“’Reality Warper’ was the term Facsimile and Alloy used.” Codex informed him.

“Yeah,” Rand shrugged. “Anyway, I’m sure the General will know more than myself. This reminds me…” He removed a flat format disk from his breast pocket. “General’s orders – I was to deliver this directly to you.”

“What is it?” Codex asked reflexively.

“Outside of my clearance.” Rand admitted.

Inside the transport, Madigan groaned. “I know.” He rasped, the cavernous interior of the cargo doors making the sound audible to folks on the street. “I know who she is.” He moaned. The black haired marine hit the ramp button to close the bay doors, but it was too late. “Facsimile!” Madigan crowed as the doors closed, “Is Gal Incognito!” The doors clanged closed and sealed as he drifted back into catatonia.

End Issue #24

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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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