Issue #30: Strange Times At Dayspring College

This entry is part 6 of 14 in the series The Descendants Vol 3: A Bright, Bright Summer

Part 2

“And remember,” Warrick said from the furthest back seat of Cyn’s humvee, “when we’re around Tink, no powers and no hero stuff. Even at Freeland House.”

Tammy pouted and sunk low in her seat. “You keep telling me that, but I still don’t get why. I mean, if I had a boyfriend, I’d totally tell him.”

“Oh, no you wouldn’t.” Warrick countered. “Tammy, it’s a secret identity for a reason. It’s okay if you’re just a regular psionic, but when you’re a prelate, you’ve got enemies who’ll hurt the people you care about if they get the chance.”

“Don’t we already sort of have that?” Tammy shrugged. “The Academy?”

“Extra enemies, Tammy.” Warrick struggled. “Plus, think about how she’d react…” he briefly recalled his dream from before their trip to the beach and shivered. “What if she doesn’t want the kind of life that comes with being a hero’s girlfriend? Remember Dora Dean, Heliophage’s wife from Taskforce: Earth? How she was always being kidnapped or mind controlled?”

“Is that what’s going to happen to Tink?” Tammy asked, eyes wide.

“What?” Warrick blinked. “No! I mean not as long as no one knows Warrick Kaine is Alloy.”

“Or Damascus.” Cyn chimed in from the driver’s seat.

“Right, or Damascus.” Warrick nodded. “As long as I’ve got the secret ID, she’s safe.”

“But Dora kept getting kidnapped even before she knew Donald Dean was Heliophage.” Tammy pointed out.

Warrick patted her on the head, “That’s what we call bad writing.”

“You said mind controlled.” Juniper was in the front passenger seat. “Weren’t you the one who…”

Pressing his temples with two fingers, Warrick groaned. “Don’t remind me. Tink still counts defeating Alloy was her crowning moment of glory.”

Tammy giggled. “She defeated you?”

“I was in a suit of metal armor.” Warrick defended, “Of course a big magnet’s a problem. But I got out of it, didn’t I? Besides, that’s one more reason she shouldn’t know I’m Alloy.”

“I don’t know,” Juniper stared at the passing scenery. “Maybe you should tell her. If she really does have a problem with who you are or what you do, wouldn’t it be better to know now?”

Warrick scoffed. “No. I got dumped and turned down for being me enough me before the Academy. I’m not going to risk the one time a girl likes Warrick on the chance she might not like Alloy.”

Cyn glanced across at Juniper’s aimless staring. “So. Would you?”

“Would I what?” Juniper asked innocently.

“Tell Adel. It’s real easy to preach to Warrick, but would you do the same thing?”

For a moment, the brunette gave her only a cornered stare. “Well… I mean if I was sure I really liked Adel that way and wanted to you know… spend my life—“

“You don’t?” Cyn pressed for her own amusement.

“I don’t know.” Juniper mewled. “I like him, but I don’t know if I like him like him or if he’s just really cute.”

“Sure can’t be the personality.” Cyn muttered.

“You don’t talk to him like I do.” Juniper countered softly. “He’s… he’s nice. Even if he is quiet.”

“I know I’d tell my boyfriend.” Tammy behind them.

“You mean if you had one.” Warrick said.

“I could have a boyfriend.” Tammy sniffed.

“Dad would have something to say about that.”

“Fine, I don’t. But if I had one, I wouldn’t lie like some brothers I could mention.”

Warrick winced at that. “It’s not lying, it’s just—“

“Give him some slack.” Cyn came to his defense. “It’s like with Jun, right? Maybe if he was sure she was the one.. But maybe he’s not. So why go and tell her if it could kill things before they start?”

“But Warrick really likes Tina.” Juniper said, turning around to look at him. “Right?”

Squirming in his seat, Warrick avoided her gaze. “Well… she’s great. She’s fun to be with and smart and pretty. She actually thinks the things I say are funny or interesting instead of weird.” He evaded Cyn’s eyes in the rearview and found himself looking at the back of the seat in front of him. “I like her. A lot. A whole lot. I just don’t want to screw things up with the hero thing.”

Juniper was about the reply, but Cyn beat her to it. “You know where you guys fail?”

“I fail?” Tammy asked incredulously.

“You’re fishing in the wrong waters.” Cyn continued. “Normal people, even normal psionics are never going to get us. Our whole deal. We need to find some nice superhero guys and girls.”

“Aren’t you guys like the only prelates your age?” Tammy shot a hole in the concept.

“Then we start new chapters!” Cyn announced dramatically. “Descendants West! Descendants: Canada! Descendants In Space!”

That got a laugh that lasted the rest of the way to the scrapyard. Cyn pulled into the dirt lot and everyone got out with Warrick leading the way.

Tammy glanced around the mounds of junked machinery and screwed up her face. “Question.”

“Shoot.” Warrick said, on guard for another prying.

“Why are we meeting your girlfriend in a junkyard?”

“It’s a scrapyard.” Warrick insisted, “And it’s owned by a guy that served under her dad back during the war. He lets her use whatever she wants to build stuff. Like her car for example.”

“She built a car?” Tammy blinked.

“Not exactly. She’s tricking out an old police flier.”

“Or at least trying.” The group rounded a tower made of crushed cars to find Tink frowning down into the engine compartment of a partially gutted cruiser. She wore a complex set of goggles with a dozen lenses hinged off to either side in place of her glasses. “It’s taking forever right now.” She gave them all a distracted wave.

“What gives?” Cyn stopped at a makeshift table upon which scattering of parts and scraps of paper had been arrayed. “Warrick said you had this thing street legal weeks ago.”

“Street legal isn’t sky legal.” Tink’s voice echoed under the hood. “And getting there with nothing but spare parts is a challenge to say the least.”

“You’re going to have a flying car?” Tammy’s eye lit up as she practically ran to peek at the engine. “That’s so cool!”

Startled for a second by the unfamiliar voice, Tink looked up. “Oh hi! You must be Warrick’s little sister, Tammy.”

Tammy nodded and seized hold of Tink’s engine grease stained hand to shake it. “I’m Talia. But my dad’s name is Tommy, so everyone calls me Tammy.”

“And I’m Christina, but I played the wrong part in Peter Pan a few years back, so everyone calls me Tink.”

“Not because you tinker with things?”

Tink shook her head and adjusted her goggles so as to actually see the other girl instead of a magnification of her nose. “No, that’s just why I keep letting people call me that.”

“Cool.” Tammy observed. “So you’re my brother’s girlfriend.”

“Unless something’s changed in the last day.” Tink gave Warrick a wry grin.

“So do you guys do it?”

The grin froze solid on Tink’s face. “Uh… I… what do you mean by that?” She tried to recover from the ambush.

“You know. It.” Tammy refused to let the issue drop. “You’re boyfriend and girlfriend, right?” She rounded on Warrick. “You, know, like Rory and Captain Jacoby on Sea Seekers, Or Renee and Kevin on Malady Place or Renee and Nick on Malady Place, or Renee and Tony…”

“Boy,” Juniper commented, “When you put it that way, Renee really gets around…”

“Eh,” Cyn shrugged. “Four guys in two years isn’t anything bad. Plus, she’s been with Tony for like five seasons now. Also, Nick wasn’t her fault, Alex Sagan only had a two year contract and the writers wasted one playing the ‘will they or won’t they’ dance.”

“Not answering my question.” Tammy turned back to Tink.

“And we’re not.” Warrick ruffled his sister’s hair. “Sorry, Tink.” Tammy scowled and wandered off to see at what Cyn was doing.

“It’s fine.” Tink shrugged. “She’s your sister, she’s curious about stuff. We don’t have to tell her anything though.”

There was an awkward beat. “So…” Warrick recovered, “What’s the problem with the engine?”

“Well, it’s not the engine, it’s the flight control. Know what a Gibson Unit is?”

Warrick nodded, but his eyes betrayed his ignorance. “Not at all.”

Tink nodded understandingly. “Hey, Cyn? On that table, there’s bunch of boxes with plug holes on the end. Can you bring a couple over?”

Cyn looked down to see about a dozen boxes, each about twice the size of her fist. “You work too, half-pint.” She smirked, passing a few to Tammy to carry as well.

When they got there, Tink lightened Tammy’s load by one and held it up for Warrick to see. “They’re a safety circuit back-up that shuts off the hover mechanism in a crash so the first responders don’t have to deal with floating wrecks. There’s a tungsten filament in there that gets fried if there’s a collision. Needless to say, most junked cars don’t have a working one, but some do and there’s only two ways to test them.”

She pointed to an identical device at the heart of an open casing just behind the engine. “Take twenty minutes opening up the casing panel, replacing the old GU with a new one and closing it down properly again, then see if it works…”

“That’s a needlessly long time.” Cyn said.

“That’s why mechanics use a tester.”

“So get a tester.” Cyn countered.

“They cost three thousand dollars.”

“That’s a good reason not to have one.” Juniper interjected.

“Three thousand dollars for a thing that only tests this one little bugger?” Cyn gaped.

“That’s why I’m stuck at method number one.” Tink shrugged.

Warrick glanced at the G Units Cyn and his sister carried. His metal sense told him all of them were history. A quick sweep of those still on the table meant they too would prove useless and waste Tink’s time too.

Tink sighed. “But I better wash my hands if we’re going to get dinner before I have to get to class. She waved causally at the device already in the engine. “I’ll test that one tomorrow.”

“Geez, what a waste.” Cyn said, surreptitiously elbowing Warrick in the side as Tink walked around the car to where she had some cleaning agent stashed. “And you have no way of knowing which ones work or not. Why, none of them at all could work… or the very next one you try could work. What a roll of the dice.”

Warrick mouthed ‘I know’ at her before concentrating on the GU already in place. Of course, Cyn would decide that this was entirely her idea and Tink would have no idea that he’d done it. Such was the thankless life of the hero: thankless except for getting to ride around in a cool flying car. It took very little urging to coax the frayed pieces of tungsten together and strengthen them with his power. He gave Cyn the thumbs up.

Every observant, Tammy saw the exchange and exclaimed happily.

“What was that?” Tink asked. “Did I miss something?”

“Uh, nothing.” Cyn said, giving Tink a warning, but amused look. “Tammy saw a lizard. She really likes lizards.”

Series Navigation<< Issue #29: Little Girl LostIssue #31: It Came From a Warped Star >>

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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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