Issue #34: Back to School

This entry is part 11 of 14 in the series The Descendants Vol 3: A Bright, Bright Summer

Part 2

“So, how’s your day been so far?” Tink parked her lunch tray next to Warrick’s on one of the round, cement tables in the small courtyard only seniors were allowed to have their lunch in.

She was glad and a bit surprised that her normally nature-averse boyfriend had opted to eat there. Not that she particularly wanted to eat outside, but because entering the courtyard had been strictly verboten for the past three years.

“Pretty good.” Warrick smiled lazily at her. “All the classes I don’t really care for are out of the way; English, Calc, 20th century History…. Also, even though I got Coach Bevilacqua again for gym, he was out sick. How about you?”

Tink gave him a non-specific shrug. “Not bad, not good. I don’t think I’m going to get along with my Trigonometry teacher at all, and I don’t know what I was thinking, taking Medieval Lit. Class. I know it’s the only college level English class, but just looking at the reading list tells me it’s going to be boring.” She rolled her pizza up lengthwise and took a bite out of it.

“Cheer up.” Said Warrick, “One more class and then we’ve got our AP Chemistry class together, and Theater, and then home.”

“Well, I for one think that senior year is going to be damn sweet.” Cyn said, appearing out of nowhere to set down her tray, laden with four slices of pizza, two helpings of green beans, three pieces of cornbread, and two cartons of milk on the table across from the couple. “Either of you ever have a class with Mrs. Crane?”

They shook their heads.

“I’ve got her for creative writing.” Cyn explained, opening one of the milk cartons all the way up and dipping a piece of cornbread in it. “Our first assignment? Write whatever you want as long as it’s ten pages double spaced so she can see our ‘style’. And that’s it. For the whole rest of the week! I can get an A in this class like cake.” She jammed the soaked cornbread into her mouth and took very little time to chew. “And you know what the first unit in gym is this year for my class? Volleyball!”

Tink grinned at her exuberance. “Sounds like everything’s coming up ‘Cyn’ this year.”

“Hell yes! Especially once I edit together Lily’s hissy-fit from this morning and send it to everyone on the school’s email system.” Cyn grinned, already dipping another piece of cornbread. “The whole conserve girl thing is going down.”

“They aren’t doing the conserve thing this year.” Tink pointed out.

“Well it’ll die in spirit.” Cyn shrugged. “You know, the only suck thing about this year is that none of the others are on our lunch period. She flicked her eyes to the window that looked out on the courtyard from the cafeteria. She caught the flash of red hair she was expecting. “Except ‘Lissa.”

Melissa had come back from her visit home in much better spirits and with a better outlook toward training, but she hadn’t made any effort to act any closer to her housemates. That didn’t change at school either; she was eating lunch with Terry’s friends instead of Cyn, Warrick and Tink.

“I can’t stand those guys.” Cyn remarked sourly on the company Melissa had for lunch.

“They’re not so bad.” Warrick said, “Terry’s a pretty okay guy, and Scott’s in my History class and he… um…” He petered out, not really knowing anything about them, but feeling the need to defend anyone potentially in the path of Cyn’s jealousy.

“No, no, she’s right to hate them.” Tink said.

Warrick gave her a scandalized look. “Huh? But they’re nerds, like us. Like kinsmen.”

“No, they’re nerds like Angry Ben on PrelateWatch.” Tink corrected. She didn’t need to explain it further.

Angry Ben was an old timer on the PrelateWatch website who had a reputation for two things: First, he hardly ever posted in the main area where people actually talked about prelates, theories about prelates, and other prelate related news, instead he spent most of his time in the off topic forum where people talked about games, movies and other things that interested them. Second, he hated games, movies and other things that interested any of the other members of the forums what he loved was pointing that fact out.

And while Terry managed to at least have something positive to say about movies from before he was born, his friends; Scott, Calvin and Hugh had nothing positive to say about anything ever. Given half a chance, they would expound upon why for hours. This allowed them to get on pretty well with Melissa.

“Okay, I see your point.” Warrick said. “Still, they’re her friends. We’ve got to be nice to them.”

“If you’re going to make me.” Cyn wrinkled her nose. “But I’m not going to go over there to try and make nice.”

“When did I even say anything about that?!”

“You may not have said it, but you were thinking it.” Cyn sniffed.

“So have either of you seen Kareem today?” Tink swiftly changed the subject. “I was wondering how he’s doing; new school and all.”

“I saw him in the hall after gym. Looked like he was doing just fine, if you catch my drift.” She gave a lecherous wink to make sure they did. “He was walking around with this girl I’ve never seen before… I think she’s a psionic.”

Warrick’s eyebrows shot up. “You saw her using powers?”

“No, but she’s gray and her eyes are all glowy.” Cyn shrugged.

“And you think she’s a psionic.” Asked Tink.

Cyn snorted. “You never know. I mean you’ve got interfacers, body modders, and God knows what else. As crazy as things have been in the world lately, I wouldn’t be surprised if she’s a vampire.”

“In the middle of the day?” Tink queried.

“Do you know any real vampires? Maybe that’s how it works.” Cyn countered. “She could be a blood sucking, day walking uber-vampire from beyond the grave!” She waggled her fingers spookily. As swiftly as she’d started her tirade, she sat back with an impish grin. “But, you know, she could still be pretty cool to hang out with. And if you ask me, Kareem totally deserves to hook up after all the crap he’s been through.”

Both of her lunch mates took a moment to recover from Cyn’s customary mood shifting without a clutch.

“We should give her and chance, but not call her a vampire.” Tink said, “It’s pretty crappy just to act weird at her because of how she looks. And evidently Kareem can see something in her.”

Cyn almost choked on her slice of pizza.

“Speaking of psionics people treated like crap,” Said Warrick, “I talked to Liz’s brother in Calculus. She’s apparently feeling well enough to have visitors. I was thinking of going to see her this weekend.”

“Are you nuts?!” Tink stared at him like she knew the answer already. “After she started that rumor about you? And let’s not forget how Lily says she attacked her and the Descendants.”

“So, do we’re believing Lily now?” Cyn asked. “Because she hated Liz more than anyone.”

“And the real attacker was that anti-psionics guy’s assistant, right?” Warrick asked. Before Tink could reply, he added, “And the rumor she started was true as far as she knew. She didn’t know Alloy asked me to help out at that concert.”

Faced with those two points, Tink relented. “Okay, I guess maybe I’m being too hard on her, but Warrick, I was worried about you.”

Warrick smiled at her. “And I appreciate that. But I really think what Liz needs right now is a friend.”

Tink nodded, “I understand, I guess. But she had her chance, alright? I’m going to go with you to make sure she knows it.”

“And I’ll go to watch!” Cyn chimed in.

***

Chaos fell into a steady glide over the city, his mind ticking away at the problem at hand.

The criminal he cold cocked had been identified from employee records as a maintenance man who had been let go for ‘improperly utilizing public equipment’ with his girlfriend a month earlier. Chaos wondered exactly what the meant, but made a mental note to wear gloves next time he took the subway.

The man had also been cited numerous times for drinking and sleeping on the job and ignoring safety precautions. That didn’t exactly gel with someone capable of building such a complex, if crude battle-suit.

Even with a degree in engineering and on the job experience with magnetics, Chaos couldn’t begin to understand how the device, now on its way to the evidence locker, worked. But the formerly career maintenance man without even a high school diploma insisted that he was the one who built it.

In fact, he seemed deathly afraid of the mere suggestion that he wasn’t.

It all added up to a big boss involved somewhere. Possibly one with more suited up thugs where this one came from. It wasn’t a pretty prospect, even if all the suits just produced lesser knockoffs of Alloy’s power, which really was no threat at all for the Descendants as a team. Multiple suits could mean multiple baddies or baddies commuting to places without any prelates to deal with it. Even police departments with anti-psionic countermeasures depended on metal powered armor and weapons.

He needed to find out who had really built that thing and for that, he needed the suit looked at and not by police techs because they wouldn’t hand over the information to him.

The answer, of course was obvious, but not readily available. The clock on his heads up display said it was one o’clock; about time for Laurel to be teaching her first Earth Science class. A ray of hope entered his mind: Alexis would be on her lunch break.

A quick shifting of winds and he make a perfect landing on the roof of an office building. It only took a second to bring up his phone book application and select the name ‘Agatha’ from the list. One could never be too careful who might get a hold of his visor.

“Hello?” The ring on Alexis’s phone was different for the com in his visor than his other phones. She made certain not to identify herself over it before she knew it was secure.

“Happy first day, hon.” Chaos said in a singsong voice.

“Why thank you, but I really hope you’re calling on this line for a better reason than that.” Alexis chortled.

“Depends.” Chaos said, “You busy?”

“In the car headed for Burger Builders.” She said, “No one can hear you.”

“Good. Have you heard the news at all, sweetheart?”

“I haven’t even had time to think” She sighed, “Some of these kids… they’re a lot more rambunctious here than at the Academy. It seems that goes double for the ones that actually went to the Academy. What’s up?”

“I had a little dance with some schmoe in a high end, but very crude power suit “Chaos explained. “It doesn’t look like he’s the one that built it, no matter what he says. I was hoping you could pass the message on to Laurel? I’d like to see if there’s a way we can track this bad boy down from the parts he used.”

“Laurel’s in class right now, but I’ll see what I can do. In the meantime, I have a suggestion.”

“I am wide open to suggestions.” Chaos looked down on the city below him.

“The way I see it—and granted, I’m not a genius like Laurel—is that if you really can figure out who the maker is from the parts; the maker knows this. And he’ll want to get his suit back in a hurry.”

It all clicked into place for Chaos. “Of course! And with those suits capable of tearing up metal, he wouldn’t hesitate to go for it the direct route.” He took to the air instantly. “I’ve got to catch up to the police car that took that guy downtown. You’re a genius!”

Alexis laughed, “Always happy to help, sweetie, but you would have come up with it sooner or later. You’re the one that reads all those heist and espionage books after all.”

“Yeah, but this way, I may just get there in time.” With hurricane force, he tore through the sky even as he started a GPS search on his heads up display for the police car. “Got it! Call you once I work this out. Thanks honey, bye!”

He hung up after she’d said her own goodbye. He was coming up on the police car and it wouldn’t do to be on the phone with his girlfriend when he encountered more minions.

Dropping down from his cruising altitude, he had just enough time to see events unfold. A water tower perched on the roof of an apartment complex; began to tilt as its struts warped under the influence of some power. Then it tore open, sending a torrent of water cascading down onto the street the police car had just turned onto!

Series Navigation<< Issue #33: The Liedecker Institute: Freshman ClassIssue #35: Demonology >>

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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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One Comment

  1. I don’t like the idea of such a nice guy under Liedecker’s influence… Eek.

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