Issue #37 – Of a Feather

This entry is part 1 of 15 in the series The Descendants Vol 4: Confluence

Part 3

The vault door to the observation room hissed open to reveal Dr. Linus, flanked by two security guards armed with high yield plasma lances. “I’m afraid that your visit is being cut short.” The scientist said, not wasting the time to step into the room. “The laboratory building is being evacuated. Come with us, please.”

“What about her?” Tink glanced at Elizabeth. “They’re after her.”

“A security detail is in route to take Miss von Stoker to the panic room.” He assured, “We will be taking the two of you across to the parking facility and away from the campus.”

“I’ll be fine. We do a drill about it every week.” Elizabeth made as if to shoo them. “I-it was nice seeing the both of you.”

“You too, Liz.” Some sort of shock made the room tremble as Warrick started to stand and had to lean on the wall to keep his feet.

Tink looked up at the ceiling as if it were about to cave in. “Stay safe.” She and Warrick followed Dr. Linus and the security detail out into the corridor.

“What’s going on?” Tink asks as another shock hit, causing the lights in the ceiling to flicker.

“Entrance team is reporting that Intruder 3 has enhanced strength and is breaking through the floors to get to the containment levels.” One of the guards reported.

“Intruder 3?” Warrick was unable to keep his mind from instantly switching over to hero mode. “How many are there?”

“They’ve counted four.” The man led them up a hallway they had passed on the way in. “The other three are engaging the Descendants at the gate. They’re all protomorphs.”

“Protomorphs.” Warrick repeated. “They think Liz is here against her will and they’re trying to break her out!” The group reached an ever heavier set of metal doors and stopped while one of the guards went through the security scan.

Another shock made everything jump. The intruder was getting closer.

“But she doesn’t want to be rescued, she’s here voluntarily.” Tink countered his line of thought.

“Miss von Stoker, perhaps, but the same can’t be said for the Freaque.” Dr. Linus’s voice was bitter and suspicious.

“What do you mean?” Tink demanded. The door hummed to life and opened, revealing a reinforced, dimly lit tunnel.

Dr. Linus shook his head, remembering himself. “I shouldn’t have said that; patient doctor privilege. Now hurry, it doesn’t sound like we have much time.” He didn’t miss a beat in following the guards into the tunnel. The security door started to close behind them.

“Better do what he says.” Warrick ushered his girlfriend ahead of him and into the escape tunnel. In his metal sense, the super structure of that entire portion of the lab complex was starting to degrade from shocks far beyond the seismic activity they were meant to resist. The building would survive, but the floors weren’t so resilient.

The corridor shook from another blow. It was the last straw for the lights, which flickered in went out. In that confused moment of darkness, Warrick felt the welds anchoring the ceiling of the tunnel in place start to go. Out of habit, he gestured to strengthen them with his power and in the process let go of Tink’s hand.

A moment later, the backup generator kicked in and the emergency lights bathed the hall in red. The change in their circuits were too much for the door controls and angry, orange sparks burst from them as the doors lurched inward a foot or so.

“Warrick!” Tink turned in panic upon hearing the doors and missing her beau’s hand. Her worst fear; that the doors had closed on him, were proven false, but the reality wasn’t much better. The doors had locked into place about six inches apart, leaving a space too small for Warrick, trapped on the other side, to get through.

Whirling on the three men on her side, Tink gave them a panicked look. “Warrick’s stuck on the other side. We need to get the door open.”

The guard that had opened the door obliged, rushing over to try the control panel. It was dead. “It must have been the part that fried.” He noted. “But we should be able to force it as long as it’s not fully closed. Come on, Han.” He and his partner each took a side of the doors and started hauling on them to little effect.

In the meantime, Tink took her own look at the panel. “Hold on, Warrick, maybe I can get it working again.” Her multitool came out of it’s leather case in her purse and seconds later she had the cover of the high end security system off.

As the guards continued to exert themselves at the doors, she took off her glasses and squinted at the damaged circuitry in the dim light. “It looks like there’s no power going to the controls anymore. Maybe I can juice it with my little stunner long enough to move the doors one more time.”

The tunnel shook again with force that caused one of the guards to lose his footing.

“Whatever. Just hurry. We clearly don’t have any time left.” Dr. Linus snapped.

“Hey.” Warrick said from his side of the door. It was taking a lot of concentration to keep the welds in place and talking was straining him. “If anyone can do it, Tink can.”

“But can she do it in less than a minute?” Dr. Linus looked longingly down the tunnel.

“Got it.” Tink had the knife blade from her multitool across the gap caused by the short and her keychain taser rigged against it. “Trying it now.” She squeezed the trigger of her taser and for a moment, the control panel lit up.

Then another cascade of sparks exploded from the housing around the door and the panel died again.

“Damn it!” Tink stared at the burned out circuit in consternation. The problem hadn’t been just in the panel. “Okay… Warrick, hold on – if we can crack open the molding around the doors, maybe…”

Another heavy blow made several of the welds come free of Warrick’s control, making themselves known with an audible groan from the tunnel ceiling. Further up the corridor, the ceiling finally gave and fell in with a rush of plaster dust and wiring.

“Tink, never mind, you have to get out of there.” He put everything he had into trying to reassert the broken welds.

“What? No! I can get these doors open. It’s not rocket science.” Tink argued, already surveying the doors.

“We don’t have time!” Dr. Linus shouted, already striking off down the corridor.

Tink gave Warrick a pained look through the gap in the door.

“He’s right.” He reached through the space for her hand and she put it in his. “I’ll find another way out. But you can’t stay here. Go with Linus and the guards.”

“Warrick…” she said in a small voice.

“I promise I’ll get out of this.” He tried to assure her even as his head started pounding with the effort to keep the ceiling up. “Worse case scenario – the room we came out of is designed to contain explosions.”

Tink brightened as an idea hit her. “The Descendants are up there – I’ll tell them you’re down here – they’ll help!” She gave him another squeeze of the hand. “Just stay safe until they get to you.” With one last, longing look, she turned and ran up the corridor.

The moment her multitool was outside the range of his metal sense, Warrick let go of the ceiling, allowing it the sag and collapse into the tunnel beyond the door.

“Right. Find another way out.” He said to himself. There was another blow and the sound of a much larger section of ceiling coming down in the vicinity of the room Elizabeth had been in. Warrick glanced that the twisted beams and the security doors that separated him from them. “After Alloy does his hero thing.” He amended, calling on his armor.


Facsimile was quickly losing sight of everything that was going on around her. The pain that screamed up and down her limbs and circled her core was overwhelming not only her senses, but her ability to think of anything but the excruciating pain she was in.

Geiger looked on with sympathy. He didn’t like his power, but Facsimile was, knowingly or not, helping ConquesTech hold a fellow freak against her will. In his mind, that made her fair game and as long as he kept his power at non-lethal levels, he felt he was morally in the clear.

Not everyone agreed, as evidenced by the hilt of an ice dagger glancing off his chitin armored brow.

Turning, he saw the other Descendant, the white and green cloaked Zero standing on the hood of the now abandoned humvee. She had three more frozen daggers at the ready in one hand. “Stop it!” Her tone was more of a panicked girl than a demanding prelate. “O-or it won’t be hilt first next time.”

“Sorry, but I can’t do that.” Geiger shook his head. “And I can’t let you stop me.” He crossed his left hand over the one focusing his power on Facsimile and prepared to give her the same treatment.

An edge of ice cracked the smooth, black carapace on the back of that hand, having pierced the palm first. Orange blood spattered from it and showered his face and the wall behind him, boiling fiercely in the air.

At Geiger’s surprised and pained howl, Anura brought down the guard she was fighting with a leg sweep and leapt to his side. “Geiger! Are you alright?” She saw Zero ready another dagger and knocked it from her hand with a snap of her tongue. “Leave him alone!”

“Why didn’t he leave me alone, Froggy?” Facsimile caught Anura with a blindside tackle that knocked them both through the door of the guard house. Before she could take advantage of her surprise attack, she was grabbed from behind and lifted back outside.

“Because we’re the good guys here, Goldilocks.” Kali put Facsimile in a four armed bear hug. “You’re helping the bad guys.”

“Indeed.” Geiger pulled the rapidly melting dagger out of his hand, which was already starting to close up. “So why don’t we join forces to save Freaque?”


Kronos’s feet hit the ground with a cacophonous crunch of concrete and plaster being turned to powder. The dust of the five floors he’d demolished to get to this point turned his blue skin a sick brownish-white.

Crouching to get his head under the remnants of the ceiling, he peered through the dust fall. Red LEDs glared back. Plasma lances. Three spat their superheated payload at him, igniting the dust in the air. They did little more than send a tingle up the giant’s spine.

“You all don’t want to do this.” Kronos assured them, letting the beams continue to drum his chest and shoulders. With one massive hand, he waved away the burning dust. “Nothing you’ve got can keep put me down and keep me there. Just tell me where Freaque is and this can all be over.”

Movement through the dusty haze caught his eye. Three more guards were moving away from him off to his right. One had another guard, this one unconscious, draped over his shoulder. The other two were carrying the inert form of Elizabeth von Stoker between them. It seemed that his means of arrival had laid them low.

“Oh no.” Still ignoring the plasma lances being fired at him, he started toward that group. “Is she alive?”

“No thanks to you, freak.” The shoulder carrying his friend shot back. Without the leverage to use his plasma lance, he drew his sidearm and ripped off a trio of shots at Kronos.

The dust covered giant frowned. “With the exception of she who named herself ‘Freaque’, my friends and I consider it bad form to call protomorphs ‘freaks’. You wouldn’t appreciate me going around making…” He squinted at the man’s name tag, “French jokes, now would you, Mr. DeWolfe?”

He didn’t wait for an answer, instead reaching out and grabbing Elizabeth from the men carrying her. “Now, if you’ll excuse me, my friends are waiting for me.”

“We’re not going to let you take her.” The senior member of the guards hefted his own plasma lance as well as that of his unconscious comrade. With uncanny marksmanship, he fired both, focusing both streams on the same spot on the giant’s back.

The level of heat felt like a bee sting, but it was more than enough for someone unused to feeling any pain. Hissing with pain, Kronos turned and slapped the weapons away. “I’ve tried to be civil in this, but you’ve now officially tried my patience!” He roared.

“It you think they’re bad,” Something hit him in the back and bounced off. Alloy caromed off the wall beside him, kept on his feet only by the swift action of Isp and Osp. “Then you’ll hate me?” It came out more confused than anything.

Kronos glared at him, then looked up through the hole he had smashed down from the lobby floor. “I’m sorry, but I don’t have time to find out – especially not with you showing up.” He put all his considerable strength into a nearly vertical leap up to the lobby.

“You better make time then.” Isp and Osp carried Alloy after him almost as swiftly. “Because you may be hard to hurt, but that doesn’t mean hard to stop.”

For his part, Kronos ignored him, pounding toward the gaping hole he’d punched into the front of the building. The only thing that gave him pause was Elizabeth starting to come around in his arms.

“Don’t worry.” He told her. “You’ll be fine as soon as we get back to the Outliers.”

“I see.” Her voice was hollow and when she opened her eyes, they were glazed over by a crimson membrane. Bones reshaped and slid around under her skin as the bone spurs Elizabeth von Stoker had once undergone experimental treatments to rid herself of erupted from her forearms. “But the problem is; unless you let me got this instant, you will not be fine.” The Freaque snarled at her would be rescuer.

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About Vaal

Landon Porter is the author of The Descendants and Rune Breaker. Follow him on Twitter @ParadoxOmni or sign up for his newsletter. You can also purchase his books from all major platforms from the bookstore
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