Issue #37 – Of a Feather

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

Part 4

“We’re not here to kill anybody.” Kali tightened her coils around Facsimile. “So I’m just gonna give you a nice sleep.”

“This would be kind of threatening.” Facsimile admitted just before shifting herself into a golden boa and dropping out of the crushing grip. “If you weren’t fighting me.” She resumed her default Facsimile form sans wings, feeding the matter normally used for flight muscles and wings to muscle mass in her arms and legs.

As the snake tailed woman tried to bring her fists into the game, she grabbed her tail and heaved. Shrieking at this sudden turn of fate, Kali found herself cracked like a whip, her back slamming into Geiger’s shoulder and stunning both of them.

“So much for us teaming up.” Anura squatted down low enough that her knee caps were above her head. “Guess you prelates are just another part of the establishment, happily screwing over your own kind.” She leapt, easily topping ten feet before launching her steel tipped tongue at Facsimile.

The golden heroine easily dodged the first two shots with the prehensile appendage before Anura snapped her head to the side on the rebound of the third, causing the solid tip of the protective covering over her tongue to connect with her skull on the return trip.

Her opponent temporarily reeling, Anura bounded sideways past her and sprang into a handstand, rearing her legs back to deliver a double kick that sent Facsimile into the same wall Zero had caused Kali to slide into before.

“Some hero.” She said thickly before snapping her tongue out for a shot to the face.

Zero was there to tackle her friend out of the line of fire. And as she did, she reached out and caught Anura’s tongue! “Stop it!” she ordered desperately.

“Led gob ob mai tog.” Anura flexed the powerful muscles that reeled her tongue in, only succeeding in causing Zero to stumble forward a few steps. Realizing she wouldn’t get anywhere that way, she instead worked her teeth over the clasp that kept the prophylactic-like device secured to her tongue and reeled in without it, leaving Zero holding an empty sheathe.

In the meantime, Facsimile finally regained her senses. “I’ve fought a lot of creeps in my time, but hitting people with your nasty tongue? That’s without a doubt the most disgusting shit I’ve seen anyone do.”

“Why do you think I’ve got the sheath?” Anura unclipped another such device from her vest. This one had a sharp spike on the end. “I don’t want to taste the world.”

“And don’t you dare insult her, goldy.” Kali had righted herself as well as Geiger and slithered over to back Anura up.

“Right. You’re just as overt as any of us, Facsimile.” Geiger kept his station near the guard house, ready to use his power if the two heroines moved. “The only thing keeping you from being locked up in a place like this or thrown aside as ugly and useless is time.”

“Let’s not get into talking ugly with a shapeshifter, bug boy.” Facsimile said. Anura growled at her for that comment.

“None of this is important.” Zero said with urgency. “You’re making a mistake; Elizabeth isn’t here to be tested on. She asked to be put here, because she’s—“

Her explanation was cut off by a bellow of pain.

Kali reared up on her tail and turned her entire body in the direction of the noise. “Lee?” She said in a frightened tone.

“Lee?” Facsimile asked.

Geiger broke into a run toward the lab complex. “Kronos.”

***

Freaque’s dangerous tone wasn’t lost on Kronos, but he chalked it up to her ill treatment in captivity. Thus, he continued to make his way out onto the plaza instead of heeding her request to release her. “I know it’s been hard.” He tried to explain, “But the Outliers and I are here to take you away from this. We’re your friends.”

“You’ve been warned.” Freaque squirmed in his grip. He wasn’t holding her particularly tightly, but with his prodigious strength, it was more than enough. This only served to vex her more. With an animal snarl She lashed out with her foot, seeking to score his belly with her taloned foot.

“Stop struggling, we’re only trying to help.” Kronos said, ignoring the ineffective attack.

Freaque’s eyes whirled beneath their red membranes. She shifted in his grip again, dislocating and popping her shoulder back in to extricate an arm. Before her fingers had been tipped only by long fingernails; now they each held a tough, black, claw. A purr like an agitated cat escaped her throat before she drove her arm, claws first, into the giant’s chest.

Bullets only stung Kronos painfully. Freaque’s claws came to finer points than bullets and with her strength, struck with more force as well. Three of them managed to puncture and draw unusually bright, red blood.

For the second time that day, the large, blue man felt pain he wasn’t accustomed to and it made him scream out loud.

Slipping his grasp, Freaque landed in a crouch. Before a second had passed, she reached up and grabbed the wrist of the hand that previously held her. Her tail snapped out to wrap his right knee. With her clawed feet gripping the ground, she pushed on the wrist and pulled with her tail, using Kronos’s own girth against him.

The oversized man hit the ground hard enough to make the ground shake.

“No one.” Freaque loomed over him, cracking her claws, “Forces me to go anywhere. Next one’s in your throat.”

Before she could even start to act, her arms were pinned to her sides by bands of steel. “Can’t let you do that, Liz.” Alloy said, letting Isp and Osp lift her away from the downed Kronos.

The Freaque grinned. She remembered this from last time. All it took was a full body flex and she bent the armored hero’s tentacles off her and took to the air to keep out of their range again. “Things will be different this time, Alloy. I’m not going to give you time to calm us down and put ‘Liz’ back in charge.”

“You are Liz.” Alloy replied. “Just a little off your meds right now, but still Liz.”

“You don’t get it, do you?” the Freaque demanded.

“I get that you aren’t even worth us trying to help you, bitch!” Kali coiled and hurled herself into the air to deliver simultaneous right hooks to the woman that had hurt Kronos. Her other two arms put Freaque in a bear hug so that she took the brunt of it when the two hit the ground.

It didn’t even slow Freaque who delivered a vicious head butt to Kali to get her off her. Back winging to get height, she dropped straight at the snake tailed woman, her clawed feet seeking the heart.

They would have found it if Anura’s tongue didn’t wrap her legs. The froglike woman used her arms as a fulcrum, lashing her tongue and the enraged teen on the end of it sideways, into the side of an abandoned security golf cart.

“Alloy?” Facsimile asked, upon arriving on the scene. “If you’re here, where’s—“

“Safe.” Alloy interrupted her. “Important thing to know is that Liz has gone Freaque again.”

“And these yahoos think they were saving her from the guys trying to help her.” Facsimile supplied.

“Where the hell did you get that from?” Alloy demanded.

Kronos regained his feet with a dissatisfied groan. “Clearly the intelligence we were given was flawed on many levels.” He covered his wounds with his hand. Invulnerability didn’t come with any form of accelerated healing.

“Clearly.” Kronos was quick to react, batting the thrown golf cart aside in the same motion he used to turn and face the Freaque. The Outliers and the founding members of Lifesavers, Inc faced off against the one both groups had ostensibly arrived to save.

“Somebody help us!” All heads turned at the scream, but Alloy knew her voice best of all. Tink was running flat out across the open ground, dodging past the recovering guards who tried to stop her for her own protection.

Freaque, even in her current state, recognized her too, but not in the same way Elizabeth did. This was the girl that had taken what Elizabeth wanted. Not that Elizabeth would act on her jealousy. She’d only bite it back, using passive aggressiveness instead of real action.

It wasn’t even about the guy. Freaque barely recalled his name despite Elizabeth having just talked to him. No, it was about the fact that Elizabeth never got what she wanted. And if Freaque had anything to do with it, those days were over.

Giving a low, rumbling growl, she threw herself into the air, beating her wings to get herself higher into the air.

Alloy had seen Freaque like this before and rushed over to Kronos. “Big man! Throw me at her.”

“What?”

“No time, just do it. Please.” Alloy would have got on his knees if it would have helped. Facsimile was already on the wing, but she couldn’t catch up to Freaque with a head start.

Kronos didn’t have to be told twice and grabbed Alloy around the waist, holding him like a football. “I have to warn you, I wasn’t much of a jock in high school.” He apologized in advance before hurling the armored prelate.

***

Tink saw Freaque coming and knew instantly that she wasn’t herself. Her thoughts snapped briefly back to earlier in the year; a night attack in the junkyard. Her attacker had looked slightly different then, but she remembered enough.

Part of her screamed for her to run. There was a chance that she could get back in range for the guards to shoot the Freaque down… No, no there wasn’t. And even if there was, her adrenaline howled even louder that she still needed to get word to the Descendants to find Warrick.

Somewhere between the two lay a center of calm. She could never quite describe it, but even in situations like this one, or when she was fending off her brainwashed peers at a construction site, part of her stayed calm enough to see the scenario clearly and run the numbers. It was how she kept her head well enough to build the electromagnet to slow Alloy down.

Unconsciously, she got her stunner out. Freaque was still screaming toward her, those horrible claws held at head height. Just as automatically, Tink threw herself down before those claws, tucking into a roll. Only her hand, holding the stunner came up.

Freaque let out an unholy scream, more from missing than from the jolt of electricity. It was enough, however to make her forget to pull up. The ground slammed into her and she rolled and skidded along the ground.

She was up in an instant though, prowling on all fours toward the downed Tink. Her progress was cut short by an iron meteorite.

Refinement of his armoring process and all around better education in how armor worked had drastically cut down on how much Alloy’s armored form weighed, but given the speed at which he hit the ground between Freaque and Tink made it matter very little.

Truly, if he weren’t protected by psionic powers forcing the metal to dramatically redistribute the force of his landing, Alloy likely would not have survived his dynamic entry. As it stood, he was only a little dizzy from the wobbly spiral Kronos’s tossing him had imparted to his flight.

“I can’t let you do that.” He said. Isp and Osp drew themselves up in defensive positions to either side of him. “Now calm down and get back to yourself. You know you don’t want to do this, Liz.”

“I don’t think she’s hearing you.” Geiger arrived shortly before Facsimile landed at his back.

“He’s the one not hearing me.” Freaque got back on her feet, but remained gathered to pounce. “Maybe this will make it clear—“She made her eyes flare a malevolent red and hardened plates slid into place over her nose as they had when she faced off against Chaos. “Liz isn’t home right now.”

“Girl’s off her nut.” Anura said, moving closer to Geiger.

“Yeah, and that’s why she was here. We got lied to.” His scowl was made all the more evident by his unique physiology. “Now it’s my job to put her back.” Eyes locked on Freaque’s he stepped forward.

The Freaque roared and leapt for him even as he directed his power at her. Her body suddenly felt uncomfortably warm, but not bad enough to slow her down. As she came, she batted Isp and Osp aside as well as Anura’s tongue.

As Geiger concentrated more, the pain intensified. It was something Freaque wasn’t in control of. Anger and desire were Freaque’s fuel. Everything else was Elizabeth von Stoker. She felt her control slipping. But she wouldn’t let herself be stopped.

One last spring and a short glide with her wings. Her limbs were suddenly heavy with forming frost, but the cold never touched her. Facsimile and Kronos and Kali had moved too late to intercept. Her claws extended and raked out.

There was heat. But not the warmth of spilled blood; this was a heat like the heart of a flame. Past the sensation of cracked eggshell, there was a new one of plunging her hands into a furnace.

With this, the pain was too much. The Freaque lost her hold.

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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.

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