Issue #26: Ace Agenda

This entry is part 2 of 14 in the series The Descendants Vol 3: A Bright, Bright Summer

[This issue begins one day prior to the end of Descendants #25]

Laughter echoed down from the foreman’s platform situated at the heart of a heretofore abandoned manufacturing plant. It wasn’t gleeful, or even maniacal. It was the boastful laugh of a man watching his machinations click perfectly into place; proud and deep.

The man laughing was of medium build dressed in a lab coat over a blue button down shirt and slacks. He didn’t look like the type to go on in such a way. His prematurely graying hair and dull brown eyes made him seem the perfect choice for the background of a medical drama.

The illusion was broken by the fact that he was standing on a platform twenty feet above an assembly line as Mayfield’s own Descendants were assailed by mechanical hazards of his own creation and laughing.

Alloy, Facsimile and Zero were trapped on a conveyer belt by locking steel mechanisms that had sprung from the floor to encase their legs. A quartet of buzz saws dropped down from a gantry above to block their forward progress. Chaos was occupied by a set of robot arms wielding welding torches that attempted to hem him in.

“Ready for the end, prelates?” Asked the man, taking time out from his laughter to taunt them. “You may have put up a good fight with lesser masterminds previously, but there’s no escaping this. I’ve planned it perfectly; luring you here with threats against City Hall ensures I can eliminate all threats to my plans before I ever begin!”

“Yeah, your plans.” Alloy watched the approaching saws. “You know you’ll never get away with it, right?” Both he and Facsimile looked back at Zero, who had been looking absently around the factory floor.

“Huh?” She asked of their attention. “Oh, that’s right! Even without us, your plan will fail!”

“Nonsense. You’re only trying to distract me.” The villain scoffed. “Without any prelates in the way, nothing can stop me and my genius inventions from breaking into Genomics Enterprises and stealing the research for their mutant projects. But I won’t use the ability to produce colossal insects to harvest mere spider-silk, or study organic armor.”

“Arachnids.” Zero said offhand.

“What?” the man asked.

“Spiders aren’t insects, they’re arachnids.”

“Stop trying to distract me!” the man roared. “As I was saying; I will use this research to create a superbeast that will possess unimaginable power and answer only to me! Then the entire world will tremble before the name of Dr. Paralus!”

“Dr. Perilous?” Facsimile asked flatly. “How long did it take you to come up with that? Twenty, thirty seconds?”

Dr. Paralus glared at her. “That’s my given name. Anton Paralus, it’s European. Not that I care what you think, because you’re about to die, my dear vigilante.”

“So…” Alloy asked. The saws were within arm’s reach of him now and closing fast. “You haven’t actually done anything yet except try and kill us.”

“I am succeeding in killing you.” Dr. Paralus asserted.

“Yeah, not so much.” Alloy put up his armored forearm as the saws reached him. Sparks flew out in a brilliant cascade as the saws wore themselves down to nothing on his super-hard armor. The contraption holding his legs made a terrible rending noise as he pulled it apart with his power.

Behind him, Facsimile easily stepped out of her own traps as Zero froze and smashed hers.

“Didn’t do the research, did you?” Facsimile asked. Emphasizing her point, Isp and Osp whipped out and cut down the gantry holding the ruined saws, sending it plummeting down onto the conveyor.

“How did you—“Dr. Paralus started to demand.

Chaos reduced the density of the air around the welding torches assailing him, swiftly snuffing them. “Pretty easy, Professor Ego.” He flew out of reach of the defanged weapons. “We needed to find out what you planned to do to City Hall before we stopped you.”

“Thanks for helping on that point by not bothering to pick up the Scribe and reading about what we can do before building your trap.” Facsimile snarked, flying up toward the platform.

“I have to admit, I honestly didn’t expect it to be this easy.” Zero agreed, turning her power on the ladder behind Dr. Paralus. It iced over and let out an ominous creak.

“So, all that remains is for you to surrender and we can get on with our lives.” Facsimile yawned, landing on the platform’s railing.

“Yeah, what time is it anyway?” Alloy asked, “We don’t want to be late, Z.”

Zero rolled up the sleeve of her costume to consult he watch. “Five twenty-two.” She replied. “We’ll be cutting it pretty close with the cleanup.”

Alloy gestured with his arm, causing the length of the ruined assembly line to rise up and smash the robotic arms to pieces. “Cleanup’s done.” He announced. “Fax, grab him and lets drop him off for the cops.”

Facsimile gave them a puzzled look. “What are you two in a hurry fo—aaaaahh!” She clawed at her face as a stream of liquid pain caught her right in the eyes courtesy of a pepper spray canister Dr. Paralus produced from his coat pocket. Shrieking obscenities, Facsimile stumbled off the railing and fell toward the factory floor.

“Preparation and distraction are the keys to final victory.” Paralus called over his shoulder as he dashed toward the far end of the platform where a set of stairs descended to an exit. “You may have won this battle, but the war will belong to Dr. Paralus!”

Isp and Osp caught Facsimile halfway to the floor and deposited her gently beside Alloy where she continued to curse and rub her eyes. “When I can see again, I’m going make you eat that mace, you bastard! First do no harm, remember? What the kind of doctor are you?”

“That’s PhD, Biology.” Paralus noted as he started down the stairs. “And a Bachelors in Robotics, though I also—“He broke off his speech with a scream as the stair beneath him shattered, dumping him ten feet to the factory floor.

“This guy is really full of himself.” Zero said, admiring her handiwork.

The good doctor quickly got to his feet and turned to run for the door, only to find Chaos standing in his way. On instinct, he brought up his can of pepper spray and fired. The liquid ran harmlessly off the prelate’s visor.

Chaos calmly brought up a gauntlet to wipe the substance away before it could reach his mouth. He grimaced only a little as it stung his face. “I don’t guess you were much of a chemistry man, doc, but here’s a reaction for you.” He held up a fist. “What happens when a golden glove is introduced to a glass jaw?”

Dr. Paralus quickly bought his hands up to guard his mouth, at which point Chaos simply punched him in the gut. The villain folded almost gracefully before falling to the ground, breathless.

Shaking his head at the prone doctor, Chaos produced a set of zip cuffs from his belt and began binding the man. “That was pretty anticlimactic.” He noted. “If you all have plans, I’ll drag Dr. Powerless out front and wait for the cops with him.”

“Thanks” Alloy said, watching Zero try to use her powers to condense water out of the air to help Facsimile wash her face.

“No problem” Chaos threw Paralus into a fireman’s carry and heading through the exit.

“Hold on, hold on.” Facsimile said, gently pushing Zero away. Her face grew dull in color, more bronze than gold and far more rigid. Gingerly, she grabbed the edges and removed it like a mask, revealing another golden Facsimile beneath.

“That’s… I don’t think I’m going to be able to eat for the rest of the day.” Zero said, making a face as Facsimile tossed the ‘mask’ aside.

“Hey, I’m not in pain anymore, that’s all I care about.” Facsimile shrugged. “So what’s this thing you two are getting ready for that couldn’t wait until after I removed the chance of being maced by a lame villain?”

“Oh, that’d be our date.” Zero said casually.

Facsimile made a sound halfway between choking and squeaking. “Your what?” She turned a scornful eye on Alloy. “Does coppertop know that you’re going behind her back?” She looked back to Zero. “Though I guess there’s no way Mr. Personality would react in any way to this.”

“Uh, what Z meant to say,” Alloy held his hands out defensively. Isp and Osp looked to one another, then hid behind Alloy’s back. “Is that we’re double dating. You know, my girlfriend, her boyfriend…”

“You can bring you boyfriend if you want.” Zero offered cheerfully, “The more the merrier.”

Facsimile fixed her with a murderous glare that she entirely failed to notice. “I don’t have a boyfriend.”

“Oh.” Zero said, “But It thought… I mean Griffin’s asked you out so many times…”

“I don’t. Have. A. Boyfriend.” Facsimile said, slowly and sternly.

“Well, you can still come if you want.” Zero said after some contemplation. “I mean I know you’ve been kind of upset that we haven’t been hanging out as often…”

“And I’m not upset.” Facsimile said. “In fact, I’m happy you guys are doing so well for yourselves.” She fluffed her wings and drew up to her full height. “I’ve got plans tonight anyway. I’m headed to the park with Lisa and Kay.”

“Oh.” Alloy said. “Well, okay then. Have fun. Tomorrow’s Saturday though, so how about we all go see Fall of the Thousand Year Empire together tomorrow?”

“Sure.” Facsimile snapped her wings out and took off. “Anyway, I’m out of here. Take care, guys.” She headed for a broken out skylight and was swiftly gone.

Zero gave Alloy a quizzical look. “Do you really think she’s okay?”

“Sure.” Alloy said, forming handholds in his armor. “She may be a trickster, but if there’s one thing Cyn can’t do is hide her feelings. Come on, I’ll swing us home so we can get ready.”

“Are you sure about that?” Zero asked, grabbing on to the handles as Isp and Osp lifted them both into the air.

“Totally. If she really was upset, we’d be the first to hear about it.” He was in no position to see Zero rolling her eyes at his cluelessness.

***

The Andes-Hoight building was, unbeknownst to its owners and operators, a godsend to prelates, or at least the one that had figured out its many conveniences. Adjacent to Wagner Park in the Flint Row neighborhood, it was one of a cluster of tall buildings, allowing anyone flying by to land atop it without fear of being seen from the ground. More importantly, its roof was a mostly unused public area, meaning that its roof access wasn’t secured. Anyone that could fly to it could change into their civvies and take the stairs down to the elevators without anyone being the wiser.

Cyn was thus far the only one to have discovered this and had gone so far as to stash a few non-perishable energy bars under one of the stone benches. A half hour after the defeat of Dr. Paralus, she found her way to the Andes-Hoight and shifted into her normal form, sprawling on the bench while savaging the aforementioned few energy bars.

“’Why don’t you bring your boyfriend, Cyn?’ ‘Are you upset Cyn?’” She mimicked Juniper’s earlier tone as she chomped. “Of course, I’m upset, sunshine! That’s freaking obvious! It used to be ‘sure, we’ll play some Death Gate, Cyn.’ ‘Hey, got any plans tonight, Cyn?’ Now it’s all, ‘We have to get to our stupid job showing people where some old guy’s bad watercolors are, Cyn.’ ‘Sorry Cyn, I’m going out with my red headed uber-nerd. No time for you.”

Her hair shifted to Tink’s shade of red. “I can be a redhead if I want to.” It shifted back to its natural white. “I just choose not to. It’s not a very good color. No way would any normal guy and especially not any sort of self respecting hero, go for a redhead. White is exotic and sexy.”

She paused in mid-bite, staring up at the sky in shock. “What the hell did I just say?” Going from laying down to sitting up in an instant, she felt her forehead for signs of a fever. “Okay, Cyn, that was just stupid. I’m letting the callus abandonment go to my head. I don’t need to be sexy to my best friend… Or Juniper.” She added quickly.

“Anyway, I just need to call my other friends and hang out. I’ll be fine once I have some basic human contact.” Frowning, she got up and went to the edge of the building. She wouldn’t admit it, but she missed Laurel being around as someone to listen to her and give her advice.

After a brief search for her call phone, she realized that she hadn’t shifted a pocket in the clothes she’d assumed after dropping her Facsimile guise. With a thought, that problem was corrected. “Hey, Kay.” She said when a familiar voice answered the phone. “Is that Lisa shouting in Spanish in the background?”

“Really? I never heard of that show. Anyway, I was wondering if you two had anything planned tonight.”

“They are? Well, good for them, I guess. What about you?”

“Cool, let’s hit the mall or something…”

***

From concealment, atop a building adjacent to the Andes-Hoight, Cyn was being watched. “Signal trace complete.” The watcher reported. “Receiving party identified as Kimeya Greycloud. Voice pattern matching confirms familiarity.”

“Excellent, Leo.” A voice from the other end of the com replied. “Access archive files for Greycloud and return to base.”

“Request clarification: I am to terminate my surveillance of this target?”

“That is correct, Leo.” The voice replied. “To accomplish our current objective, we have to let her go.”

“Order acknowledged.” Leo replied. “Returning to base.”

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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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