- Issue #25: Summer Session
- Issue #26: Ace Agenda
- Issue #27: Beyond Good And Medieval
- Issue #28: The Beach Episode
- Issue #29: Little Girl Lost
- Issue #30: Strange Times At Dayspring College
- Issue #31: It Came From a Warped Star
- Issue #32: Ahead/Behind
- Descendants Special #3: A Brilliant Twilight
- Issue #33: The Liedecker Institute: Freshman Class
- Issue #34: Back to School
- Issue #35: Demonology
- Issue #36: Let’s Go
- Descendants Annual #3
One of Occult’s teleportation portals expanded into existence on the floor of Freeland House’s downstairs commons, bathing everything in pink light. From it emerged Occult and Alloy, standing back to back with Augustus, blindfolded by a strip of metal, between them.
Alloy didn’t move until the light had faded and the portal had closed. “You know, I still think we should have you blindfolded too.” He pointed out, turning to face her.
“What am I supposed to learn just seeing the inside of your house?” she asks.
“Could be anything.” Alloy shrugged, “I don’t know, I just don’t like handing out our secret ID and it’s not like you’re planning on giving yours away either.”
“Fair point.” Said Occult. It was a jab to her conscience that he didn’t even know he was making. She hated not telling him, but it would just become way too complicated. She glanced around. “Where are they, anyway? You did call them, right?”
“Sorry,” Tammy said, rushing down the stairs in the Spark costume she’d worn back when Warrick and the Descendants first found her using her powers to unwittingly try joining a villainous organization. “They’re arguing with Ephemeral. He wants to come, but they say he needs to rest.”
“What the hell are you wearing?” Alloy demanded, sounding more like his father than he wanted to admit.
“Costume.” Tammy shrugged.
“You’re not supposed to—grr—where did you get it here?!”
“You mean to tell me—oh, jeez, Mom and Dad are going to kill us both.”
“Allooooooy!” Tammy/Spark whined, “My secret identity!”
“You did just lecture me on that.” Occult supplied, “Not that it’s not obvious that you two are related.”
“Okay, we’re ready.” Facsimile came down the stairs past Spark. Zero wasn’t far behind her. “The patient has been properly threatened with forced sedation and is resting spitefully. What’s the deal with William Tell?” She gestured toward the blindfolded Augustus. “Where’s the book?”
“That’s what we need to talk about.” Occult said.
“Wait, I don’t want T… Spark involved in this. Spark, go keep Ephemeral company.” Alloy ordered.
“But you guys need me on this!” Spark protested. “You needed me before.”
She’s got a point there.” Zero said, swanning down the stairs.
“You haven’t heard what I’ve heard.” Alloy points out, “You wouldn’t want her involved either.”
“For now there’s no involvement.” Occult said, taking a seat in Ian’s armchair. “I need to explain what’s going on here and frankly; it’s a little hard for even me to understand.”
“This should be fun.” Said Facsimile, coming down with Spark. They took one couch along with Zero while Alloy helped the blindfolded Augustus sit on the other. “What’d you learn, Black Magic Woman?”
Occult snorted despite herself at the joke. “It’s mostly about the Books. You all know about the Book of Reason and the one the ghosts were after, the Book of Passions. As it turns out, they’re a set of four, actually called ‘The 4’; Reason, Passions, Tranquility and Madness.”
“Oh god, please don’t say we have to find the Madness one.” Alloy muttered, “That has ‘Lovecraftian Horror’ written all over it.”
“No, not yet at least.” Occult assured him. “But the thing is, these aren’t normal books, they’re… how do I even explain this; they’re the… source code for magic, like the basic AI. Each one has the base rules and instructions one how to use it, and between them, the theory is that they actually generate many magical principles in the world.”
“Okay, that sounds weird.” Spark interjected. “Where did you get that?”
Occult produced the Digi-Book of Reason from her sleeve. “The Book… told me. Well, not actually ‘told me’, but it chimed, and I looked, and there were pages on the screen I never saw before. The Books are sort of sentient, I’m guessing. From what I read, they influence people to get to the people they want to own them, and to translate them into new media. They went from Stories, to Songs, to Books, and now Reason is a Digi-book.”
“What about the original upstairs?” Facsimile glanced at the ceiling.
“What happens when you copy paste a computer program?” Occult shrugged. “You get two. I told you it was hard to explain. There may be dozens of each of these Books floating around now, and now that Morganna’s let magic back in, who knows what else.”
“Okay…” Facsimile drew out the sound, “So where’s this guy’s Book?”
“I think it best if you hear that from him.” Alloy says, nudging Augustus.
“Uh…” Augustus started inauspiciously, “See… This guy with yellow rocks in his skin stole it from me.”
There was a puzzled silence in the room until Zero spoke for everyone. “Come again?”
“His name… he told me to call him Warpstar.” Augustus said, “He told me he’d show me how to use the Book and magic and get everything I wanted—“
“How dumb are you?” Spark looked absolutely disgusted with him. “That’s what all bad guys say! That’s what the Devil says! Have you never watched a movie?”
“I didn’t have a choice, okay?” Augustus snapped back, “The Book was making me all woogie. Anyway, we were walking back into Mayfield when he started talking about his powers; how he can like steal the powers of things or something. And we get to this jewelry thing and he does… whatever it was to me. Afterward, he took the Book and punched me out.”
“He probably took on whatever qualities that made the Book of Passions seek him out in the first place.” Occult clarified. “Neither I, nor the Book of Reason knows who the hell this guy is, but he’s a magical Big Bad with a crazy powerful Book. We need to find him and get it back.”
“How do we find him?” Spark asked, excited, “Are we going to canvas the city? Find his favorite places to go? Oh, I know! If he’s stolen part of this guy, maybe he’ll be thinking like him!”
Occult unsnapped the pendant around her neck. “Actually, I’ve got an easier way.”
Though its roots and economy were deeply entwined in the robotics and electronic goods industries, Mayfield had a thriving local art and theater scene. So much so that the previous year, the parks services commission broke ground on a second outdoor amphitheatre in Wagner Park.
Still under construction, the facility was currently composed of just the bare steps leading into a pit and a concrete blockhouse with naked fixtures. A panel fence had been thrown up to keep visitors out, but it had never stopped Augustus when he’d needed a quiet place to read or draw.
Nor did it stop Warpstar, now possessed of several of Augustus’s quirks, from going there as well. He sat on the top row of stairs, pouring over the secret contents the Book of Passions laid bare to him. But his concentration didn’t distract him from noticing the flash of rose light as Occult emerged behind him.
“What a surprise.” He gently closed his ill gotten Book. “Reason hunts down Passions. I never would have—“ He was on his feet with animal quickness, charging Occult with a stone encrusted palm ready to strike.
“That’s not the surprise.” Occult didn’t move as he came at her.
A blur of metal suddenly blocked Warpstar’s path and his palm clanged against armor. Alloy caught Warpstar’s wrist in a gauntleted hand.
“That’s the surprise. I teleported the Descendants to the other side of the site before coming for you, Warped Star.”
Warpstar sneered at Alloy. “Descendants. The psionic vigilantes that my ghosts fought? Ha, I’ve never tried this on one of your kind before.” He grin exuded malevolence.
“Combine to the power of a Warped Star!” The stone in his palm glowed and seemed to sink into the armor around Alloy’s chest. Ribbons of energy flowed from Alloy and into another of the stones embedded in Warpstar’s chest.
Isp and Osp would have none of it. With a sound of metal shearing, they whipped out at their host’s attacker. A white glow filled Warpstar’s eyes and the tentacles recoiled, detouring into the ground at his feet with twin cracking sounds.
“Power over metal.” He breathed. Shifting the Book to his other hand, he gestured, causing the metal struts buried in the concrete to buckle, throwing Alloy back and away from him. “Interesting.” Glancing sideways, he stomped his right foot, causing those same struts to rise, lifting a slab of concrete into the path of five glittering ice daggers thrown by Zero. “Very interesting.”
Hey! You can’t do that to him!” Spark pointed her paper clip studded fingers and sent ten arcs of electricity cracking toward her brother’s assailant.
Leaping like a wildcat, Warpstar dodged the attack, but met with the heavy end of Occult’s staff. “Twenty Ton Crush.” The spellcaster intoned. The staff plowed into the large stone in Warpstar’s midsection and threw him back against the blockhouse that would eventually hold restrooms and a concession stand.
“Nice.” Warpstar complemented. “But you forget, that I’ve been reading the Book of Passions.” He extended his hands before him as if holding an invisible basketball. “Frigid mote of blue ice born in the northern wind, everlasting cold of the ages. Cut to the bone of my enemies and shatter them in my sight. Pristine heart of the glacier. Ice Bomb!” And orb of blue light appeared in his outstretched hands and disgorged a wave of bluish mist.
It didn’t reach Occult, striking another wall of ice and freezing into a thick frost. Warpstar didn’t have time try another spell before a golden hand grabbed his arm and he was thrown hard against the wall.
“Sorry, Warp, but we’ve got our own Ice Bombshell.” Facsimile slammed him into the wall again for good measure. “Hey, Z, what do you feel about a name change?”
Despite the beating, Warpstar wasn’t done yet. He lifted a glowing palm up. “Combine to the power—“
“Not this time.” A chunk of debris caromed off his temple with stinging agony. Alloy summoned a sword out of the broken concrete as Isp tossed another rock to Osp.
Warpstar put a hand to his temple and looked in astonishment at the blood welling up there.
“Hurt, didn’t it?” Facsimile asked.
Warpstar looked up to see her fist streaking toward his face. “Chaotic Reversal.” He spat out just before impact. The forces meant for Warpstar’s face instead rebounded into Facsimile’s arm with the sound of many bones breaking.
Facsimile hissed in pain and lashed out with a kick to his ribs. “Son of a bitch, that hurt.” She followed with a left cross from her uninjured hand. The second the bones reknit, she swung with the right again.
This time Warpstar caught the punch with a glowing palm. “Combine to the power of a Warped Star!”
Watching the ribbons of energy rush into the third stone, but unable to break the mystic grasp, Facsimile cursed herself for making such a mistake. At the same time, she resolved to make up for it.
For his part, Warpstar smiled manically. “Amazing!” he exclaimed, letting one of his arms stretch and wrap Facsimile. “Now this is a power!” Almost casually, he used his rubber band-like arm to dash Facsimile against the same wall she’d slammed him into.
There was a moment of tense silence as Warpstar faced off against the other four prelates.
“Boys, get him!” Alloy ordered suddenly. “He can’t control metal anymore!” Ever obedient in battle, Isp and Osp speared out to avenge Facsimile.
“That is where you would be wrong.” Warpstar gestured and sent Isp and Osp off course and into Facsimile’s side as she tried to get up. The golden prelate screamed as the orihalcite spears cracked her ribs. “And your friend pays the ultimate price for you being wrong.”
“Oh, I wouldn’t say ultimate.” Zero pointed out.
Warpstar looked genuinely surprised to see Facsimile getting up, her wounds closing like water flowing.
“And so what? You’ve got our powers. Big deal, we know how to deal with our powers.” Facsimile reached into her own midsection and produced a leather bound book: The Book of Passions. “But I got your book when you grabbed me.”
Rage played over Warpstar’s features. “You… you!” he seethed before quickly collecting himself. “It seems I got some of your anger issues.” He said, clinging to calmness. “No matter. Because I don’t just have your powers.” His left arm extended into an iron spear. His left became a golden pick. “I combined them to my power.”
The ground shook as spears formed from the struts below exploded up around him and waved like the tentacles of some deep sea spawn.
“Congratulations, heroes. You’ve made me impervious to all harm and given me command of 90% of the elements on the planet. And for an encore, you and the witch at going to give me the keys to infinite magic power as well.”