Issue #43 – Love You Madly

This entry is part 8 of 15 in the series The Descendants Vol 4: Confluence

Part 4

Ian barely had time to stow the ring in his pocket again before Alexis returned. There was deep concern in her eyes. “What’s wrong?” He queried.

She didn’t answer right away. Still looking somehow haunted, she moved her chair over by his side and sat down, leaning close as if to whisper sweet nothing in his ear. “We have to go.” Her voice was tight.

He closed his hand on her arm and continued the charade of getting intimate. “What’s wrong? Is Laurel alright?”

Alexis nodded and swallowed. “She got a call from the General. There’s a storehouse; a place where they lock up all the implements the ROCIC deems too dangerous to use or study.”

His mouth formed a firm line as his mind filled in the most likely blanks. “They kept them all in one place so someone could bust in and take everything, right? Now they want us to help with the clean up.”

The tension in her arm made him aware that he was wrong even as he said it. This wasn’t something that simply upset her; it was something that actually frightened her. Silently, he admonished himself for his logical leap.

“No.” Alexis confirmed what he’d already deduced. “Only one thing got out. And Ian, I mean it left on its own after it hit the staff with some sort of bliss bomb.” She caught his gaze with her own to let him know how serious it was. “It was the sphere Madigan used against us.”

Ian would have reeled from the shock and incredulity if he hadn’t been lost n her eyes. “You mean that thing with the eye?”

She nodded. “Remember how Warrick swore it tried to escape? It looks like he was right. And if it really is some kind of intelligence—”

“It might try and come back to Madigan. Shit, Alexis, we’ve got to get you out of here.”

“That’s what I was saying.” They got to their feet. “But not for me. For you.”

“For me?” He took out his wallet to leave a tip for the lack of meal. “It’s you he’ll be looking for.”

“He’s looking for me because he wants me for a bride. But he hates you, Ian. Last time, he tried to kill you because he thought you were stealing me from him. You’re the one we need to hide.”

Something occurred to Ian at the moment. “Wait.” He took her hand to stop her from walking away from the table.

“Is something the matter, sir?” The formerly absentee waiter had arrived and was looking on disapprovingly.

“No, not at all. We’ve just heard some disturbing news. One moment. Please.” Fully aware of the waiter still watching them, he turned back to Alexis. “Sweetie, you can’t go back to your apartment, that’s the first place your ex will look. Since we’re here now, we should sit down and figure out what to do. We don’t even know if he’s gotten out of jail yet.”

For a moment, Alexis didn’t follow. Then understanding dawned in her eyes. “You’re right.” She didn’t know how she could have missed that; Madigan had only met her once, only heard her name once. Even if the orb returned to him, even if he decided to find her again, he would look for her at home.

There was a chance he’d go to the school as well, but never mind the security and defense system, the student body, by virtue of sheer numbers and variety, would present a formidable foe for even someone of his capability.

Freeland House, however was another case at the moment. While it was the home of the Descendants, it possessed an untested defense system and the evening would find the remaining residents distracted by teenage hormones and powerless civilians. They needed to be warned at the very least.

“You’re right.” She repeated again with more surety. “But I should really let my roommates know about him; just in case.”

Ian nodded and took his seat again. “Alright. We can talk this over when you get back.” He glanced over to see that the waiter was still standing there. “W-we’ll start with the salmon mousse canapés and a bottle of the house wine.”

Apparently satisfied with this, the waiter moved off, leaving Ian to his thoughts. Madrigal Madigan wasn’t the most frightening opponent they’d faced, but he was the one with the most vast range of powers. And the real danger was his obsession.

With other villains, fighting them was a means to an end. They had a goal and took steps to achieve it even if that meant an altercation with the Descendants. They may have been willing to kill in the process, but Madigan specifically wanted to murder the hypotenuse of the love triangle he perceived between himself, Alexis and Ian.

As much as Ian wanted to be collected and brave in front of Alexis, he knew she was right: Mad-Mad Madigan had powers they didn’t fully understand—and he wanted Ian dead.

“I must admit, he did bring her to a very nice place.” Ian blinked dumbly at the table cloth. Now he thought he was hearing Madigan. Was it possible that he really was that afraid of the arrogant toad just because he wielded a dangerous bit of magic? But why did he imagine him saying that? He didn’t remember him saying anything like that in their last encounter.

He almost convinced himself that he was hearing things. Then he turned to look.

Mad-Mad Madigan really was standing in the arch between the outer lobby and the dinging room, dressed in a sharp, black suit and amber shades. In his right hand was clutched a cane topped with the baleful amber orb that gave him his power.

There was a woman beside him, vaguely familiar and ensconced in a red velvet cloak with white trim. She wore an anticipatory smile that said everything he needed to know about her; Madigan wouldn’t be acting alone.

“Pardon me, monsieur,” The maitre d’ stopped Madigan before he could walk past into the dining room. He was on the late end of middle age, tall and thin with a long, pointed nose that made him look like a caricature and glasses that looked to small to be of any use. “But may I have your reservation?”

Ian tensed, prepared to launch a gale to protect the man in case of a violent outburst from Madigan, but none came. Madigan only smiled in a chilling way.

“We’ve none, my good man.” He said. “But there’s no need, we’re only here to see someone for a moment and nothing more. You don’t need to seat us.”

This satisfied the maitre d’. “Very well, if you can tell me the name of your party, I will have a message bought to them and he will meet you in the lobby.”

There was a beat as a Madigan gave him a dull-eyed stare. “I… You know, I don’t recall his name.”

“Then I cannot help you.” Replied the maitre d’. Outside, someone honked their horn, then someone else until there was a chorus of honking.

Madigan attempted a light-hearted chuckle, but it came out stilted and without warmth. “I wasn’t asking for your help. I’m perfectly capable of finding him myself.”

The maitre d’ shook his head, setting the few hairs he had left on his head to bobbing. “I’m sorry sir, but it’s against our policy to allow anyone into the dining room without a reservation or an invitation.”

This time, Madigan managed a passably good natured belly laugh that was wholly inappropriate for the situation and turned to his female companion. “You see? I’m more in control this time. Before, I would have frozen him in place, perhaps turned him into a tasteful lawn ornament—a gnome from the looks of him. But I’ve improved. We’ve come to an understanding.”

This seemed to confuse the woman as much as it did everyone else that heard it. The commotion outside approached rush hour level of calamity.

The maitre d’ proved himself a credit to his station, though not his intelligence by standing his ground. “Once again sir, I’m sorry, but you will have to l—” A gesture from Madigan caused his voice to abruptly cut off, leaving him desperately trying to squeak out words.

“Hush, man.” Madigan said. “Your betters are talking. Ah, that’s better. Now, Maven, if you would, take your cue, my dear.”

A self satisfied smirk replaced the smile and Maven threw back her cloak to reveal gleaming powered armor. Nimbly, she opened a panel on her right arm and began keying in commands. Outside the sound of many tiny turbines suddenly revving up to full overpowered the frustrated honking and shouts on the street. At the same time, a segmented cowling unfolded from the armor’s neck to protect her head and a visor extended over her eyes, bringing her heads-up display online.

Ian started to stand, but before he could, the widows in the lobby exploded, allowing in two dozen basketball sized flying robots. They fanned out, covering both the lobby and the dining room with top mounted precision plasma lances.

“While we’re at it…” Maven remarked to Madigan, “I think I’ll raise some funds for my next project.”

***

Alexis went directly to the alcove and dialed Laurel again.

“It’s me.” She said the second she heard someone pick up on the other line. Laurel was out as Codex for the night and it was just a good habit not to say her name over her phone when she was in that guise.

“Hey.” Codex replied. “Are you on the way back home?”

“No, and I was calling to tell you not to go there either.” Alexis said as quickly as she could while still making herself understood. “In fact, I’m going to call the others after this and tell them to get everyone out too.”

“What? Why?”

“Because it’s the first place Mad-Mad will go. We realized that right after I got back to the table. It’s best if we avoid him until we form a plan to deal with him.”

“Getting everyone back together as quickly as possible with the defense grid to back us up was part of my plan.” Said Codex. “No good?”

“If it was anyone else, L, I’d totally agree with you, but not Mad-Mad. He’s not a normal criminal. I’m not even sure if he can be classified as a criminal, he’s just insane. And he wants to kill…” She remembered to omit names, “My boyfriend. We might have to just come at him with everyone, but I’d rather that not be the first resort.”

“Makes sense.” Codex agreed. “Is something going on there? I hear horns in the background. Sounds ugly.”

“I don’t know. I didn’t even notice until you pointed it out.” She leaned over to peek out into the dining room and found herself looking directly at the object of her concern; Madrigal Madigan. With celerity that would have embarrassed her if she’d been thinking about it, she ducked back into the alcove. “Oh god, L, It’s him.”

“Him?”

Him. Mad-Mad. He’s here at the restaurant. He must have some way of tracking me. My god, all these people!”

There was a moment of frustrated silence on the other line, followed by tires screeching. “I’m on my way and I’m calling Facsimile too.” Codex reported. “Just keep hidden for now. Maybe if he doesn’t see you, he won’t be set off.”

“But my… Ian’s still out there.”

Codex was fitfully quiet for another long while. “Let’s hope Madrigal doesn’t remember his face for the moment. Keep an eye on him, but don’t show yourself unless you absolutely have to. We don’t know what he might do if his obsession is in his sights.”

“But…”

“Don’t worry, he’ll be okay, I swear. Now use your invisibility and get to a side door. I’m bringing the copy of your costume I keep in the back.”

Out beyond the dining room, there came a clatter and a crash. The windows had been blown in.

Alexis risked another peek to find a woman in powered armor standing by Mad-Mad’s side and hovering robots streaking into the room.

“What’s happening?” Codex asked of her silence and the din in the background.

Fighting the urge to let loose with her black heat, Alexis forced herself to instead channel it into a cloud around her that absorbed and redirected the light around her. She faded from view, but at the same time, the world darkened to inky blackness in her own view.

Effectively blinded, she was forced to listen to the panic that rolled over the dining room in waves of gasps and frenzied murmuring.

“Codex?” She said. “He’s not alone.”

***

Another strip of snakelike skin sloughed off in Facsimile’s hand and was promptly cast aside into the nearest dumpster.

She was tired and she was hungry; shedding her skin ended up costing her two pounds of mass. But at least she was no longer soaked in pepper spray and that was all she cared about at the moment.

Shivering from the drying of her new skin, she leaned against the wall and brooded for a bit. The thief had escaped. Not only that, but he’d mocked her for it too. And she didn’t know any more about him now than she did when she’d started.

Next time, she silently promised herself. No fancy tricks, no banter, she’d just drop him and cart him off to jail where he belonged.

But that was for the next time. Right now, she needed to find a hot dog or a falafel vendor that was a big fan and was gracious enough to give her free food. The thought of that gave her the will to push off the wall and start for the mouth of the alley.

That’s when her phone rang.

Series Navigation<< Issue #42 – Metal XIssue #44 – It’s Official! >>

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

Bookmark the permalink.

Comments are closed

  • Descendants Serial is a participant in the Amazon Services LLC Associates Program, an affiliate advertising program designed to provide a means for sites to earn advertising fees by advertising and linking to amazon.com.