- 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
With no time to do anything else, Abscondro held out a hand. “Stop right there!” He ordered. Much to his shock, she did as he said and the security beam scanned right past her.
“Oh my god, it really is you.” The garishly dressed young woman said in an oddly reverent tone.
“What?” Abscondro wrinkled his brow under his mask, “Who the hell are you? Some prelate wannabe trying to make a name by bringing me in?” He laughed bitterly, “It won’t be that easy.”
“N-no! Of course not!” The girl sounded shocked at the accusation. “Just the opposite, I swear. I’ve been following your career since the Fridley Museum. I-I think you’re amazing, I just wanted to meet you.”
That was a new one for Abscondro. He expected to run into costumed eccentrics at some point in his career, but while he was fully prepared to encounter other criminals and vigilantes, he never dreamed he’d meet a costumed groupie. Especially not a groupie devoted to him. It wasn’t exactly the kind of fame and recognition he was after.
“There is no way you’re serious.” He stepped back against the display case and phased his hand through. No reason to make the whole night a bust just because it hit a rough patch, he reasoned.
“No, I so am!” the woman said earnestly. “I even made my own costume just for this!” She pointed to her chest, “See? I’m Vamanos; I’m kind of your official record keeper over on PrelateWatch. Every job you’ve pulled, I’ve got the full catalog of what was stolen and what your calling-card said.”
“Sounds like you need a hobby, Vamanos.” Abscondro lifted the necklace from its place in the display case and slipped it into his belt pouch.
“But I do. You!” Vamanos exclaimed. Reflecting on this, she bit her knuckle, “Oh… that sounded kind of creepy. But I’m not. I really just wanted to meet you and see you in action.”
Now convinced that no prelate would play themselves as that ditzy, Abscondro turned back to the case and helped himself to an opulent string of pearls. “You’ve met me. This is me in action. You can leave now.”
Still not moving form her place, Vamanos leaned forward to see what he was doing. “But that’s just the theft part. I want to see the daring escape!”
“I don’t do daring escapes. I like to take my time.” Abscondro said, pulling a tray of earrings through the glass. “How did you know where to find me anyway?”
“It’s your MO.” Vamanos shrugged. “You hit a couple of small places in town to get the police and the media’s attention, and then go after the high security places. I’m guessing because they’re a bigger challenge. And DeSars advertises how much of a challenge they would be, so this was the most likely place you’d be.”
Abscondro paused with the tray half inside his pouch. The fact was that Vamanos was right, at least about his pattern, though not his reasons. Challenge was not part of the equation; the fact that the targets were high security just went hand in hand with their high profile nature.
“What makes you think I want a challenge?” He asked, dumping the jewelry into the pouch, “I can walk through walls, why do you think I’d even bother looking for a challenge?”
“You aren’t looking for a challenge?” Vamanos asked in a small voice.
Something in her tone swung his head around and sent a chill up his spine. “No.” He said firmly.
“Oh.” That tone was even stronger in her voice now.
Abscondro’s eyes narrowed behind the mask. “What did you do, Vamos?”
“V-vamanos.” She tried to correct him.
“What. Did. You. Do,” Abscondro replaced the tray and gave one last, longing look at the other lovely gems that would go unfilched.
“I may have hit the silent alarm on the way in.” Vamanos gnawed on her knuckle like a small child awaiting punishment.
As much as Abscondro would have dearly loved to punish her, his fight or flight response had already made the decision the second it heard ‘silent alarm’. Taking time only to make certain that his pouch was closed, he took to his heels, heading for the rear of the shop and calling on his power to phase through the wall.
“Wait, I can help!” Vamanos shouted and struck off after him.
Outside, Facsimile stuck to the shadows in the black, clawed form she hadn’t made use of since she and Alloy had rescued his sister, the Irrepressible Spark from the super villain meeting she’s unwittingly joined.
It wasn’t the most comfortable form she’d come up with, but it was the perfect blend of stealthy and dangerous she felt was called for when going up against a psionic cat burglar.
The others were covering the rest of the building after the patrolling Descendants had come to the DeSar’s building on an educated guess by Codex, which was confirmed by the silent alarm going off before Ephemeral could do the same by sensing the presence of minds in the building. She mused that they would stick out like sore thumbs to the eyes of a man who made a living on not being seen.
Still, she hoped it all start moving quickly. She enjoyed patrolling, loved saving people from accidents and burning buildings, and lived for a good, old fashioned fight, but the waiting killed her.
As it so happened, there was very little waiting involved. Abscondro emerged from the back wall of the building not five yards from her, regaining his solidity the moment he was completely out of the wall.
“Got him.” Facsimile said into her com even as she detached from the shadows.
“No you don’t!” A yellow and red blur blew past Abscondro from around the corner and slammed into her. The force was like being hit by a car and sent Facsimile tumbling along the pavement in the wide alley between DeSars and the other buildings on its block.
Before she could recover, the blur streaked into her again, this time lifting her off her feet and slamming her into a streetlight. When the stars cleared, she finally saw her assailant standing in the alley.
“Vamanos?” Facsimile read the bubble letters across the other woman’s chest. “They’re two different people?”
“Just stay away from him.” Vamanos ordered, sounding unsure of herself. “Whatever you are…”
Letting loose with a low groan and thanking her lucky stars she hadn’t hit any live wires on her trip into the light pole, Facsimile extricated herself from her position and took the more familiar golden form the people of Mayfield knew and loved as Facsimile. “’What I am is you local superhero. And that guy is a local crook. So if you think you’re helping, you’re not.”
“I know who he is.” Vamanos replied, “And that why I can’t let you get to him.”
As all this was happening, Abscondro was making his way down the alley, around to the other entrance. Unfortunately for him, he was cut off by Codex, Ephemeral and Hope. This night was swiftly going south for him. He turned back, deciding to run through the wall on the other side.
Facsimile laughed. “Looks like both you and your boyfriend are going to jail now, speed freak.”
Glancing back at Abscondro, Vamanos made a quick calculation before turning back to Facsimile. “I don’t think so. Mr. Abscondro… Let’s go!”
If the proclamation took Abscondro by surprise, it had nothing on the sudden shock he received when Vamanos caught him by the arm and suddenly accelerated him to match her. All he could do was let out a shout of protest as Vamanos caught the wall opposite him with her heel and ran up it.
Codex and the others met Facsimile in the alley. “He didn’t sound happy with that.” Hope noted.
“Could it be that our cat burglar has been kidnapped?” Ephemeral asked.
“We’ll have to sort it out as we go.” Codex was already heading back up the alley to where her SUV was parked. “Facsimile, see if you can track them from the air. Everyone else, we’ll follow in the car.”
“Already on it.” Facsimile threw herself into the air. Something was bothering her about her run-in with Vamanos. “I know that voice from somewhere… I know that hair from somewhere…” Once above the roof level, she clicked on her com. “Hey, Codex, do we know any speedsters?”
“The only one I can think of off the top of my head is Tesser of the Kin, but she’s not even on this side of the country.” Codex came back. “I’ll run a search on the old Academy records.”
From above, the city largely fell into neat grid, interrupted by the occasional area where a city planner or architect had tried something cute. Facsimile sharpened her vision for long distance sighting, but came up with nothing.
“That’s not where I know her from though.” She pondered, “Maybe the class list from the Liedecker Institute? One of those kids?” That didn’t sound right either. “Maybe one of their family members?” She amended.
There was a pause as Codex loaded the necessary information. “No one that could be described as a ‘speedster’. At least none whose powers are known.”
That was a fair point, Facsimile considered. Not everyone with psionic powers attended the Academy. In fact not everyone born with psionic powers even knew that they had them.
If they never experienced the emotion or used the muscle action that caused a power to manifest, they would not only fail to see their power in action, but they wouldn’t show up on the theta wave scanners some organizations used.
Top it off with the fact that some psionic abilities manifested in such ways as a heightened immune system or accelerated male pattern baldness, and one could see a psionic every day of their life and never know it.
Having come to this conclusion sparked something in Facsimile’s mind. Just because she recognized Vamanos didn’t mean she knew her in the context of her powers. She could have recently acquired them, hid them in her day to day life, or any of a dozen other things. With the possibility of her powers being magical and things became even more abstract.
But she had recognized the voice and the hair. But from where?
Facsimile could see that blond hair being flipped. She could hear the tone in the ‘whatever you are’ applied to other insults. She forced herself to focus on that even as she continued to search the rooftops from the skies. There was little chance of finding them that way, Vamanos could move with a serious quickness and could have been a mile or more away in that time.
She stopped and decided to focus on that voice.
When she and the others had taken up secret identities, they had consciously made sure to disguise their voices as well as their faces on what they considered then the off chance of having to be in their heroic identities while near people that knew them personally.
As it turned out, they spent a lot of time in their Descendants guise around people that knew them while, so it had been a good decision. This never occurred to Vamanos. Facsimile replayed that voice in her mind.
‘Whatever you are’. The tone it carried as one Facsimile naturally identified with Lily Goldenmeyer, but the hair and complexion were definitely not Lily’s…
The answer hit her in a flash of chorused, mocking laughter and the identical outfits Lily’s cadre of friends had worn throughout junior year. That annoying, cutesy voice from the past, the same one that came from Vamanos’s mouth said, ‘Whatever you’re trying to do with your hair? It’s not working, Snow White’.
Facsimile’s eyes narrowed. Too bad, she was one of the least annoying of Lily’s posse.
“Codex?” She called into the com. “I’ve got a name to follow up on. Can you get me the address and a flight path to Callie Krieger?”
The next thing Abscondro knew, his momentum was lost and he came to a sudden stop in the form of toppling onto a bed, scattering a small flock of stuffed ducks in the process.
“Sorry.” Vamanos apologized, reaching down to help him up, “But I had to get you away from the Descendants somehow.” When she had him up in a sitting position, she had a sudden revelation. “Oh my god, I have Abscondro in my room!”
Abscondro bit back an angry retort to this. Sure, he could have gotten away on his own, but Vamanos had not only gotten him away from his pursuers but, assuming that sensation of experiencing a blue shift was any indicator, she had gotten him quite far away from them. Instead, he silently got his bearings.
The room was small and cramped with the bed dominating most of the space. A computer, the cheap ‘net gateway type one could get in any retail outlet, sat atop a trunk serving double duty as a desk at the foot of the bed. A bookcase, filled with airport romance and science fiction took up the wall next to the window sporting a scenic view (from seventy or so stories up) of a nondescript street. The rest of the walls were virtually wallpapered with posters including, most prominently, a homemade, laminated depiction of the symbol he wore on his chest and put on his calling cards.
“Your room.” Abscondro deadpanned.
Vamanos sat at the foot of the bed and started typing furiously on her computer. “Yep. It’s not much, but it’s cozy.” She lowered her voice, “But we have to keep quiet or my family will think I have a boy in here.”
Technically, Abscondro thought, she has a man in here. What he said however was, “Why am I in your room? Why come here when you’re on the run from prelates?”
“Don’t worry.” Vamanos giggled, “I could have got us anywhere in the city before getting tired, but I thought this was a once in a lifetime opportunity.”
Abscondro cast a nervous glance down at the bed and the toppled herd of stuffed ducks. He didn’t like where this was going. Feeling he was going to regret asking, he did so anyway. “Opportunity for what?”
Vamanos held up a finger to tell him to wait, clicking icon after icon as she went through what seemed to be endless layers of security she put on a single file on her system. “For this.” She finally declared, moving aside so Abscondro could see.
It was a wireframe mock-up of the Westinghall Building.
“Okay.” Abscondro said, unmoved.
“That’s right; you’re from out of town.” Vamanos recalled. “See, the Westinghall Building has a museum on the third floor. There’s a guy here named Liedecker who’s basically stocked the place with stuff he or his own people found or bought. All so the people of Mayfield can go see them.”
“I’m not interested in going sightseeing.” Abscondro replied.
“Right.” Vamanos nodded, unperturbed, “But I’m sure you’ll be interested in this; one of the things on display? The Bahia Emerald, one of the biggest emeralds in the world. It’s worth half a billion and kept under guard so heavy no one has even tried to steal it.”
Abscondro stared at the screen for a full minute of silence. As much as he hated to admit it, Vamanos was right and he was interested.