Issue #3: Gather

This entry is part 4 of 15 in the series The Descendants Vol 1: Welcome to Freeland House

Part 3

The last, roaring strains of Tear into It were met with roaring applause as Darkcore prepared to launch into their next song.

“I told you this would be worth the hundred bucks, Kaine!” Kay Greycloud, a short, plump girl of Cheyenne ancestry shouted to Warrick over the din. The two were part of a knot of five teens standing out on the lawn of the Woodlowe National Parks for the Performing Arts main pavilion. Kay had dyed her hair brilliant silver for the occasion.

“They’re great,” Warrick shouted back, “But I still say Our Ladies of Armageddon are the best band on Earth! “

“Apples and oranges, Kaine.” Kay said. “OLA is old school thrash metal – I mean turn of the century!”

“Doesn’t make what the man said less true!” Jonathan Slate, better known to his friends as JC said, joining the debate. “Burning Down the Garden is like the top – the pena—“He fumbled on his words.

“Pinnacle.” Warrick supplied.

“Yeah, pinnacle of quality.” He gestured at the stage. “Darkcore’s got the best guitar and drums this side of Persistent Knives, but Randal Borsinski is no Finch Lewis when it comes to lyrics, so OLA’s the hands down winner.”

“You just like OLA because it’s an all girl band.” Lisa Ortega rolled her eyes at her on again, off again boyfriend. She gestured to her brother Zack, who looked very uncomfortable with the crowd. “He doesn’t even like music and he’s got an OLA poster.”

“Hey, his crush on Robin Saunders has nothing to do with my appreciating good lyrics.” JC said defensively.

“Robin?” Warrick said, making a face. “Dude, if you’re going to have the hots for any of them, at least pick Garuda.”

You know, I like OLA and all,” Kay said, “But I never got the ‘we all have bird names’ thing.”

“Glad to see I didn’t miss any meaningful conversation.” Cyn said, emerging from the crowd just as the opening drums for Explode began to play. She immediately directed her attention toward Warrick. “Can I talk to your for a second?”

“But… but… Explode…” Warrick whined only half heartedly.

“Come on.” Cyn said, grabbing his arm. To the others, she gave an apologetic look “Sorry guys. See you at the Dungeon Monday night? They’re showing Twentieth Century action movies ‘til 3am.” Taking only enough time to see Kay nod, Cyn hustled Warrick off through the crowd.

“Wow.” Kay said to Lisa. “She couldn’t even wait ‘til the end of the concert to get him alone.”

Lisa smirked. “I can’t blame her. With all the nervous eating she does around him, she’d probably be broke from buying peanuts before the concert was over.”


“So… why are we leaving a half hour early?” Warrick asked as the two walked out of the main gates toward the taxi Cyn had hailed.

“Melissa called me while I was at the concession stand.” Cyn explained. “She sounded freaked out. She said she’d heard shooting, then…” she shivered as she hugged herself. “the line went dead. I think I heard someone shout right before.”

Warrick frowned. “Any chance she’s just faking to get out of going to that Gather thing?”

“I doubt it. It isn’t like she couldn’t just take a cab home by herself, you know?”

“So you think that someone’s attacked the convention center?” Warrick asked, holding the cab door open for Cyn.

“No idea. Let’s just get there and check it out.”


“Steel, copper and lead all in a neat little package.” Warrick stood against the concrete wall of the ConquesTech Convention Center adjacent to the annex. “I’d say we’re positive for guns—at least fifteen of them and that’s just what’s in range of my metal sense. That ballroom’s a big place.”

“Oh, man,” Cyn fretted. She was already in the shape of the gold skinned Facsimile. “Melissa wouldn’t even be in there if it wasn’t for me. I hope she’s okay.”

“She’ll be okay, Cyn.” Warrick said, coming to place a hand on her shoulder. “And this is definitely not your fault. The guys whose fault it is are about to get a righteous ass kicking from Life Savers, Inc.”

Cyn smiled at him. “Hey, remember the rules. In this form, I’m Facsimile.”

“Sure thing, Fax.” Warrick said, summoning the tentacles. Sorry you missed the concert, boys, he thought to them. “Okay, let’s get to the roof and come in through the air ducts.”

“You know that in real life, air ducts are seldom big enough to crawl through, right?” Cyn asks.

“And you know that I can just widen them with my powers.” Warrick pointed out.

Not to be outdone, Cyn jerked her thumb towards the wall. “And with those powers, you could just rip the rebar out of this wall and go in this way.”

Warrick frowned. “That’s not nearly as cool.”

“It is if you use that rebar to armor up at the same time you tear the hole in the wall.”

Grinning, Warrick turned to the wall. “Let’s tear into it then.” He pointed, a wholly extraneous action, and the wall came apart in a cloud of rapidly disintegrated concrete and plaster as a steel beam, many pieces of rebar and a good length of electrical wiring suddenly rushed outward to encase Warrick. The metal flowed over him like water, solidifying into full plate that reminded Cyn of the crusades. Even covered in plaster dust, it gleamed.

There was a moment of stunned silence as the Lobos attempted to sort out what had just happened. One minute, they were completely in control of the situation. The next, the wall had spontaneously erupted into a cloud of choking, white dust.

The thug closest to the breach was the first to react to the armored figure that had suddenly appeared before him. He raised his automatic and pulled the trigger, only to have a burst of fire and smoke burst from the chamber and ignite his sleeve.

Screaming, he dropped the weapon, his mind barely registering the warped condition of the barrel. “Shoot that thing!” He shouted, trying to beat out the flames licking up his arm.

“Thing?” Warrick remarked as a trio of gang members opened fire on him. “Now that just hurts.” The tentacles whipped out at his assailants, their tips suddenly forming into sharp swords that easily sliced their weapons in half. On their return stroke, they pummeled the attackers with the flats of their blades, knocking them back. “It doesn’t hurt as much as that, granted…” Warrick grinned beneath his visor.

Cyn flew in behind him, winging up toward the ceiling.

“It’s the prelates!” Jay shouted “kill ‘em!”

“Easier said than done.” Cyn allowed one of the gangsters to send a burst of automatic fire into her chest. She gave him a sadistic grin as she grabbed him by the shirt and hurled him into one of his friends.

From his place on the floor, Brother watched as the Prelates of Mayfield – Life Savers, Inc—made short work of his lackeys. True, he had expected a SWAT team to make short work of the Lobos, but he couldn’t believe the speed with which thirty gang members became twelve gang members and eighteen unconscious or disarmed men.

Their power was overwhelming. Brother knew about psionics, but those he had met and integrated into his networking scam were next to useless; able to read books with a touch, or float a few inches off the ground. The Academy snapped up all of the useful ones long before Brother could notice them.

This would have to change.

Warrick sent a wave of his power in the direction of two more gang members, reducing their guns, as well as any stray bits of metal they wore, to liquid slag in moments. Without weapons, the thugs suddenly lost their will to fight and like the rest of their brethren before them, tried to run.

“Not so fast, boys.” Cyn leapt upon them and bore them to the ground. “You have an appointment with the Mayfield PD.” She thumped their heads together and let them drop. “Huh. You’re kind of cute.” She said absentmindedly to one. “That’s NOT going to be good for you in jail.”

Jay looked around in disbelief. His boys had been utterly decimated in only a short few minutes. The plan was falling apart. He wouldn’t even get the jewelry; much less the ten million Brother had promised Lester Mendel would pay for the hostages. He was out of options. All that was left now was to try and make his own escape.

Picking up a piece of broken table, he dashed over to Brother. “Sorry, Boss, but I need to get outta here.” He whispered as he lifted his employer up by his collar.

“Listen up, prelates!” He shouted. “Back off my boys, or Mr. Humanitarian ain’t throwing no more parties.” He menaced Brother with the stake.

Warrick stopped where he was, tentacles still hovering ominously over a fallen gangster. Cyn back-winged, hovering near the ceiling.

Across the room, Melissa chewed her lip. She had just saved Brother’s life by keeping her problems to herself. Now it looked like that was for nothing. She wanted to do something about all this – to stop the thug before he hurt the man who had tried to help her. But he was too far away and she didn’t have any way to hurt him. Tears started to form in her eyes.

“Now that I got your attention,” Jay addressed Warrick and Cyn. “Me and this dude are going to walk out of here and you aren’t going to do shit, you understand?”

“Perfectly.” Cyn growled, still hovering.

Warrick glared at Jay through his visor. He knew that the tentacles were fast enough to take Jay down, but he didn’t know if they could do so without the hostage being hurt. The tentacles themselves mentally chattered their confidence, but he wasn’t so sure.

“What about you, tin can?” Jay demanded angrily.

Warrick gritted his teeth and nodded.

“Good.” Jay sneered. “Come on.” He said, ushering Brother toward the hole in the wall. As he did so, he stepped over the warped gun the first Lobo had wielded. Warrick saw his opportunity. The gun melted and flowed over Jay’s shoes, causing him to stumble.

At the same moment, the tentacles lashed out, their tips expanded into heavy weights. But Jay’s stumble made them miscalculate and both missed, pummeling the wall instead.

Jay fell with Brother and rolled on top of him. Rage boiled up in him. They dared to call his bluff? No one made him look like a bitch. He raised the stake to plunge into Brother’s throat. “That’s it, you just killed this…” He suddenly sighed. His rage melted away. All of his tensions, all of his anxiety and anger were gone; replaced by a sublime happiness—for exactly the two seconds it took for the tentacles to right themselves and knock him unconscious.

An eerie silence filled the annex as Brother rolled the limp form of Jay off him. “How’d you do that? He asked the duo that called themselves Life Saver’s Inc.

“We… didn’t” Cyn said, speechless for the first time.

Warrick was the first to break out of the confusion. “Is everyone okay? We can call the hospital before we call the cops.” Across the room, he saw Melissa staring at the scene, seemingly in another world. No one claimed injury, so he nodded to Cyn. “On that note, Facsimile, I think it’s time we left.”

As the heroes left, Melissa sank back against an overturned table and heaved a sigh of relief.

“They were amazing.” A woman nearby her said. She had a notebook out and was writing furiously.

“Yeah, they were.” Melissa said with a nod. “What are you writing?” She asked after a few moments.

“Notes for my story.” The brown haired woman said. “That wasn’t just amazing, that was front page of the Scribe amazing.” Mary Northbrooke smiled wistfully. “And I’ve got the exclusive story!”

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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. You can also purchase his books from all major platforms from the bookstore
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