- 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
Despite the expansion of human civilization into places that were once pristine and untamed, nature finds a way to adapt and survive. Many former woodland creatures have learned to subsist in urban environments nearly as well as they did in the wilderness.
As such, cities play home to a variety of squirrels, raccoons, foxes, coyotes, and many species of birds. Even the occasional large creature, such as a wild cat or bear manages to live for years undetected in the press of the city. Mayfield, however, was the only American city that had to deal with baboons.
On the same night Rehenimaru took up residence in Darleen Summers’ body, she also absconded with an entire troop of baboons from the G M Logan Zoo and infused them with demonic power in behalf of her then lord and master, Colos. The intent was to give Colos an army while he reasserted his demonic power in the new body he’d taken.
The whole thing had come apart when Colos’s tentative ally, Morganna, betrayed the demons and attempted a spell that would kill the demons of Sai’n’shree in order to strip Morganna’s earthly enemies of their psionic powers.
When the spell failed, the resultant magical shockwave greatly diminished Rehenimaru’s spell over the baboons, leaving them once more mortal, but still tougher than their kin. Over the weeks that followed, most of the troop was recaptured and returned to the zoo, or killed by animal control or law enforcement.
But Rehenimaru had managed to find and gain the loyalty of three with plentiful and generous feedings of stolen meat. Sated, they were content to lair n the alley not far from Darleen’s home and wait until she needed them.
She had need of them now.
A daoine bounty hunter stood before her with a Wellspring-forged sword drawn. A long black coat that flared at the bottom was seemingly bound to his body by a dozen or so leather straps fastened by dull, black buckles. The buttons across the chest were orange and glowed slightly, seeming more like eyes than anything else. Loops of leather encircled his arms without actually touching them save for where they attached under the arms. Gloves and boots were also black leather, with points and spikes of dull metal sticking up at odd angles.
The hat was the worst part; wide brimmed and pointed at the top, it bore what looked like a flattened, devilish face that leered at her as if it didn’t know whether to eat her or ravish her.
In an instant, Rehenimaru was in control of the body and she used that opportunity to smile. The baboons had already moved to close off the other end of the alley and by the time the bounty hunter heard them snarling, they were already leaping at him.
The sudden impact of one of them landing on his shoulders nearly unbalanced Aenix as he turned to face his attackers. Though the demonic energies they once possessed had ebbed, they were still baboons; several times stronger than a man and armed with sharp teeth and brutal claws. Another closed its teeth on Aenix’s leather sleeved arm.
“Gah!” Ecksion shrieked as the teeth dug into him. He responded by flowing off Aenix’s arm to fling the offending beast by its teeth, slamming it against the alley wall. He formed that same pseudopod into a fleshy fist to knock the creature on Aenix’s shoulders away.
Free of the added weight, Aenix whirled and caught the third baboon in the ribs with his sword. Undeterred by the gash in its side, the creature surged forward and raked at his chest with its claws.
Aenix batted it back with the flat of his sword. “Cute. But now I’m going to kill your pets in front of you before I drag you back to Faerie.”
Rehenimaru snarled wordlessly and leapt forward, aiming a kick at Aenix’s back. Her foot was in turn caught in a vice of clamping teeth. Ecksion hissed out a laugh before swinging her down hard on her back.
“Did he say that we had to bring her back alive?”
“Unfortunately, yes.” Aenix was trying his best to keep the baboons back with his sword, but the beasts were fearless and only an actual blow turned them back. “But he didn’t say how much of her we had to bring back.”
“Excellent!” Ecksion opened the toothsome maw on Aenix’s back further and belched a stream of withering ooze at Rehenimaru’s legs. The composite human and demoness didn’t even try to dodge. “Try kicking us with those, bitch!” Ecksion cackled.
Seconds later, an ooze covered foot was planted in his face and Rehenimaru kipped up. “You don’t have much experience with Sai’n’shree blood magic, do you, flow beast?” She snarled, unleashing a series of punches into Ecksion’s face. “It doesn’t matter what my body looks like. We’re still resistant.”
Before Ecksion could snarl a response, one of the baboons broke through Aenix’s defenses and tore one of the eye buttons free. “You filth!” Ecksion shrieked shifting his attention to the fore and extending a spear of blackness into the baboon’s chest and out its back. “You unforgivable filth! My eye!”
Aenix took advantage of Ecksion’s rage at the animals to turn his own focus on Rehenimaru, setting her on guard with a series of harrying sweeps with the sword. “Not that I’m not grateful.” He remarked to his ally/armor, “But you have dozens of eyes.”
“It still hurt!” Ecksion wailed. To accent this statement, he swung the still writhing, speared baboon like a hammer, crushing a second one to the ground under its weight. Another set of jaws formed out of the loop over Aenix’s left shoulder and clamped around the throat of the third beast.
Aenix spared a glance over his shoulder at the howls of pain and outrage. “See that?” He asked, “Your fuzzy friends are dying. Ecks is very sensitive about loosing parts. He’ll probably rip them apart.”
Rehenimaru ducked low to dodge a sword thrust, and knocked the sword aside before grabbing Aenix’s sword arm with inhuman strength. “Hope you’re just as sensitive about loosing parts then.” She twisted his wrist in hopes of disarming him.
“Are you mocking me!?” Ecksion roared, bringing the speared baboon around to strike Rehenimaru directly in the chest, knocking her down. He bore down, seeking to drive the spear into her through the struggling ape.
“Remember only to maim her.” Aenix instructed, tossing the sword into his good hand and putting the tip of it to Rehenimaru’s throat. “She’s wanted in Auckshuld.”
At the mention of Auckshuld, rage played in Rehenimaru’s features. They also played in those of the baboon. With a blood curdling shriek, the ape caught the spear in its claws and rent it apart with the tip still buried in its body.
Simultaneously, the other two seemingly dead beasts leapt upon Aenix’s back, bearing him to the ground. Roars erupted from their mouths as they set fangs against Ecksion’s flesh. The wellspring wrought sword slid along the ground, free of Aenix’s grasp.
Screaming curses in a language not even pronounceable by a human tongue, Ecksion unfolded from Aenix into a pair of heavy, leather wings, dashing the baboons against opposite walls with enough force to crack the brick.
Aenix rose to a knee, wiping blood from his lips from where he’d bitten the inside of his cheek. Before he had any time to get his bearings, Rehenimaru kicked him in the face, span and kicked him again, hard enough to put him on his back.
“Who and what the hell are you?” It wasn’t Rehenimaru, it was Darleen, putting her demonic strength to good use as she grabbed him by the shirt and lifted him before slamming him against the wall, crushing Ecksion brutally against the wall in the process.
“No more threats.” Darleen demanded. “It’s five against two and we have more advantages than numbers.” The baboons, wounds already knitting, formed up behind her, snarling and ready to tear into the daoine.
“Is that what you think?” Aenix laughed in her face. “You have no idea, little Mankind.”
Darleen pounded her fist into his gut with enough force to have done serious internal injury in a human. “You think so? Talk.”
“Ah, what’s the harm?” Aenix shrugged, trying to unpin Ecksion, but finding it impossible. “The demon lord of Mountain Realm Auckshuld heard that Sai’n’shree found a way into the Blue World again. Your girl there? The one in your head, making you strong? He knows she’s here, thinks she knows how to cross the way. There’s a big, big price for bringing her in so he can get over here and pick up some tasty mortal shells himself.”
“You’re not getting her.” Darleen and Rehenimaru spoke as one for entirely different reasons.
“That’s where you’re wrong. Not surprising, seeing as how you can’t even count.”
“You said there were two of us. Uur!”
“Who?” Darleen started to ask when a red point of light was suddenly directly in front of her left pupil. Reflexively, she swatted at it with her free hand, easing up only a tiny bit on her grip around Aenix’s neck.
The bounty hunter took the chance, using the death grip and the wall as leverage to bring both legs up for a powerful kick to Darleen’s midsection. It didn’t break her grip, but she stumbled back just enough to free Ecksion, who formed two great fists that punched her through her baboon vanguard and into the opposite wall.
With the nimbleness of his kind, Aenix leapt over the baboons and raced to reach his sword.
“That didn’t help you the first time, why do you think it’ll help you now?” Rehenimaru snarled, getting to her feet. She was back in control now, her white hot anger drowning out the protests of pain from the body she shared with Darleen.
Aenix got a toe under the blade of the weapon and flipped it easily into his hand. With a fluid motion, he hurled it blade first into the demoness, sinking it to the hilt in her chest and nailing her to the alley wall.
“Because I hadn’t done that before.” Aenix snickered, breathing heavily.
The demonicly possessed woman slumped against the wall, her head lolling back.
“Weren’t we supposed to take her alive?” Ecksion asked.
“Not to worry, Ecks, she’s just in shock from the pain.” Aenix gestured to the baboons, which had also keeled over, and were writhing in agony. “Looks like we lucked out too. She soul bound those beasts of hers.”
“What do we do now?” Ecksion asked.
Before Aenix could answer, something tugged at his senses. Daoine were very sensitive to the movements of the ether and the Astral, and Aenix had trained for years to develop that sense.
“Now, Ecks?” He dropped into an unarmed fighting stance and faced the mouth of the alley, “Now we kill witches.”