Issue #48 – Inexorable

This entry is part 14 of 15 in the series The Descendants Vol 4: Confluence

Part 2

“Can you believe this?” A tall, but portly man stared out of the window of his hotel’s restaurant at the parade staging area below. “They’ve got floats. They’re seriously going to have a parade. And block parties. And I think we’re getting the key to the city, or a certificate or something.”

Across from him, a woman with short, blonde hair was meticulously arranging sausage, eggs and hashbrowns atop a pancake and rolling them into a burrito. She was almost as tall as he was and thanks to their respective postures, looked the taller of the two.

“I’m not seeing a problem. Hooray for us!”

“The problem is that they’re throwing a citywide party over a comic book.” He shook his head.

“A comic book you’re writing.” She grinned and took a bite of her breakfast burrito. “And I’m penciling. This is a very good thing. You did this same thing before the Taskforce: Earth movie.”

Sterling Jackson, award winning creator of Taskforce: Earth tore his eyes away from what was going on below. “You’re right, I guess. It just seems wrong though; There’s real people saving lives in this city every day and they get nothing. I write stories with their names in them and suddenly it’s a party.”

“Or, it could be that they’re celebrating their heroes getting national recognition, even if it is in a comic book. Plus, it’s the tricentennial and every city in the country is just itching for any excuse to throw a party and make bank.”

The blonde, Lauren Clay-Moore (Only her last name due to union rules and a love of puns), did the award-winning penciling for Taskforce: Earth and would be doing the same plus making her debut with digital color for Prelates of Mayfield.

Before T:E, they had been the lower rung of Sanctum Comics’ stable of talent. As such, they filled out anthologies with side stories about characters not popular enough to carry a book, or so popular that a back-up story about them, even by ‘nobody’ writers and artists could move product. They’d even collaborated on two other stories.

Then came the big break; a pet idea of one of the franchise editors that none of the ‘quality’ wanted to touch. No one quite remembered (or if they did, wouldn’t admit) what the original idea was, but Sterling turned it into a throwback tale of weird science and larger-than-life heroes out to protect an imperiled Earth from constant alien invasion.

Backed up by Lauren’s expansive, detailed backgrounds and expressive characters, it became Taskforce: Earth, the top selling comic for three years running and a movie that stayed at number 2 for four weeks after two at number 1.

“And they have every right to be proud of what their heroes are doing.” Travis Morton, one of Sanctum’s PR men swaggered up to the table. He was dressed smartly in a chocolate colored suit. His mustache was the center of attention, though: he called it a ‘Chaplin’, but that wasn’t the name that came to mind first. He smiled in a preening fashion and pointed at both of them with finger-guns. “Just like you two deserve to be proud of your work.”

“Have you read it?” Lauren asked dryly. The answer was already clear, she just wanted to see how he handled it.

“No,” He said without a pang of self consciousness. “I’m not the target audience. But them?” He gestured out the window toward the parade being assembled, “They’re going to love you just like they loved your last work.”

Sterling and Lauren shared a look. It was obvious that Morton couldn’t even remember the name of Taskforce: Earth even though he’d been the one sent to collect them from their respective hotels for the movie premier.

Before either of them could think to comment, he’d moved on to the schedule. “So. You two will be on the lead float of course, the big ‘SC’ deal. And wait. Stop. You’re going to love this: we’ve got some college students dressed up as Sanctum Universe characters and they’re going to be handing out print copies of this year’s Sanctum Solicits Sampler.”

“That’s a lot of dead trees…” Sterling commented quietly.

“100% recycled from pulp paper and plastic composites.” Morton waved it off. “Now the route was given by the Chamber of Commerce; we’re going to be passing through where they’re doing the block party, all the way to Wagner Park. There’s some concert going on and they’re going to have you two, the mayor, Marv Will, and Booth there.”

“Marv Will?” Sterling’s eyes lit up, all previous reservations evaporated by the name of his writing hero. The man had created all of the classic Sanctum Universe characters: Mr. One Hundred, The Fist of Odin, and the entire cast of Heroic Resolve.

Lauren, had a different reaction. “Booth? As In Fredrick Roland Booth?” As in the founder and owner of Sanctum Entertainment. As in their boss. “He couldn’t be assed to show up at the premier of our movie, but he shows up now?”

Morton shrugged. “As it turns out, he’s a big proponent of the big cause the Descendants are pushing with this; psionics rights or something.”

“Descendants Rights Worldwide.” Lauren corrected.

“Sure. So he’s not here for you, he’s here for them. Anywho, we need to get you two dressed and downstairs: the action starts in one hour.”

***

“You know,” Tink started, about an hour later. She and Warrick were walking with arms intertwined, taking in the block party along the parade route, not far from the Dungeon. Every few minutes, her beau would get up on his top-toes, trying to spy the approaching floats. “I think it’s really cute how you’re a fan of the guy that’s going to be writing you.”

Warrick smiled sheepishly at this, fighting the urge to look again. “Can’t help it. I’ve been a fan since before I even was me. The me he’s writing I mean, not the me I… uh, you know what I mean. Even before it turned into such a huge hit, Taskforce really inspired me.

“I always wanted to be hero, but I didn’t really have the confidence to go out and do it until I read King Blade’s origin; how he protected his colony on Mars even before discovering the rechtschaffene klinge and becoming King Blade?”

He gave Tink’s hand a loving squeeze. “I might not even be here if not for that.”

“If they’re responsible for that, then I’m considering becoming their biggest fan.” Tink kissed him on the cheek and leaned into him with a contented smile. Somewhere up the street, they heard Snackrifice starting up their first set.

They walked like that for a bit, threading past both those there to watch the parade and the folks getting a head start on the block party. Already, there were vendors staked out, not only the usual purveyors of food and drink, but others selling commemorative T-shirts, hats, mugs and other ‘official’ geegaws approved by the Chamber of Commerce.

Less than official merchandise was being sold too. At one point, they passed a van pulled up on the sidewalk with an awning stretched out above the open side door. A bearded man with gray hair tied back in a pony tail was selling handmade parasols, plus a variety of pro descendants (and Descendants) bumper stickers, buttons, and magnets, some still somewhat warm from his home printer.

But the hawker that really got their attention also had the least elaborate set-up. She was a dark-skinned girl, a bit older than them with exotic, but hard-to-place features, and had staked out a spot on a blanket marked off with traffic cones as her own. Her wares were ranged around her on the blanket, where she sat cross-legged, calling out to anyone she caught glancing.

“Get your girlfriend a souvenir that’s going to last, man.” She shouted to Warrick, holding up a belt buckle done up on wrought iron with a red painted, stylized ‘D’ on it. In his metal sense, Warrick could sense the work that had gone into cold forging it.

“D” Tink asked, disengaging herself from Warrick to take a look. “What’s that mean?”

The girl grinned and gestured at the rest of her goods. There were two more D buckles, plus another that featured the same ‘D’, but joined by other letters in a different font. “For Descendants, girl. Maybe you’re from out of town, but they’re going straight stratosphere with this: National Heroes. If they aren’t already. Now, you can blow thirty on a shirt that everybody’s going to have, or fifty on something that’s completely unique.”

Sensing the tiniest bit of hesitation, she picked up another of her items: a carefully sculpted bust of Zero complete with the half-mask juniper wore when in that guise. “If you don’t like buckles, I’ve got other things: paperweight like this; palmtop cases…” She picked up a leather carrying case which was, again, emblazoned with the unique ‘D’ symbol.

“What um…” Warrick interrupted. “What made you go with this design? Is that what Sanctum’s doing?”

The girl shook her head. “No, but that’s what they’re missing, see? I mean the city’s got their logo for Descendants Appreciation Day, and so do the Descendants Rights Worldwide people, but the actual prelates? They’ve got nothing. I’ve been calling everybody trying to fix that, but you can’t get a meeting with them. Like at all.”

“Ah.” Tink said and Warrick could almost hear clockwork ticking in her head. “You know what? I changed my mind: I think I’ll buy the belt buckle. By the way, do you have a website you sell this stuff from? I’ve got a friend in New York that would go crazy if she missed out.”

While Tink was taking down the appropriate information (the young entrepreneur’s name was Analiza Purcell), someone bumped into Warrick almost hard enough to take him off his feet.

He glared at the man’s back. Some sort of tough guy by the look of him, decked out in a white and purple muscle shirt with big, thick bracelets that looked more like medieval restraints than jewelry. The kind of guy that picked on him before he got his powers. The kind that probably still would pick on him if the jocks at his new school weren’t mostly decent guys.

The harried nerd that still resided in his hind-brain was still trying to make the case to confront the guy when a change in the crowd chatter caused him to look down the street.

The parade was coming.

***

Jay hardly even registered when he accidentally knocked into the kid, but after noticing his reaction, he realized that it was a much more solid hit than he’d felt.

It had to be the powers. They made him tougher and dulled feelings like pain or impact. He wished he had time to get to know them and test their limits. He certainly didn’t relish something making them turn off once the heroes started going all out against him.

And he almost couldn’t believe that… whatever she was didn’t feel the need to at least explain some it to him. Was she expecting him to just run out and walk on air without direction? If that was the case, it should have been someone else who made the deal with her.

No, it was him though. Jay Willis. Inexorable. And if this whole thing was going to kill him, he’d at least got out making sure the Descendants regretted putting him away. At least it would be a better death than what he felt would be an inevitable shivving by O’Neil.

An excited murmur came over the crowd noise, just noticeable beneath the song being played further down by some local band. Moments later, a peppy marching song started up at the top of the route, causing the local band to stop on cue.

The parade was coming.

In the lead was a marching band from one of the local high schools. Despite having been called upon to play for four previous parades already for the year, they sounded as good as he expected a marching band to sound.

To the sides, women in black and white costumes and matching hair-concealing cowls were doing a tumbling routine, occasionally running off to the side to taunt the crowd. Jay surmised that it was part of some promotion involving the comic company that was dominating the ‘official’ portions of the festivities.

He let them go past. What he was really waiting for was coming up behind them.

***

The lead float was made up to look like the observation decks of the starship Regal Vagabond, a central setting from Taskforce: Earth.

On the lower deck, actors portraying the main characters, from King Blade with his mystic sword to the hulking alien brute Garmath-aan, waved to the crowd and tossed shipping tubes containing the sampler comics. Up top, the two slightly stunned looking creators of those characters, soon to be faux-biographers of the city’s heroes, waved nervously and commented to one another out of the corner of their mouths.

“Okay, maybe you were right about this being big.” Lauren said. “People are looking at us.”

“I know.” Sterling tried to avoid nodding. “It’s not like the movie premier. Everyone wanted to see the stars. Now it’s just us.”

“And that guy.” Lauren’s hand dropped as her mind finally processed what she was seeing. “Wait. There’s a guy in the way! He just stepped in front of the float, we’re gonna hit him! How do we stop?”

Indeed, Jay had just slipped past a crowd barrier and strode out into the middle of the street.

“Sir, I’m going to have to ask you…” A policeman grabbed his arm and quickly trialed off into a pained howl as Jay gave the offending appendage what to him was just a light squeeze. For the cop, it was a sprain, rapidly approaching a compound fracture.

Something deflected off his bicep. Jay glanced down to see the barbs of an old style taser which had just failed completely at penetrating his skin. He snorted at the surprised cop holding the weapon. It was no effort at all for him to grab the first man’s belt and hurl him bodily into the second. They went flying back at least ten feet.

Then the float was bearing down on him like a steel painted glacier. Here went nothing. With his strength, one kick should demolish the thing and then the heroes would come looking for the man raining on their parade.

Raising one foot, he lasted out with all his might. It punched right through the foam nose of the thing and sank in until he was thigh deep in the moving float with both feet on the pavement. Too much strength on his part, not enough on the float’s.

With only a few grunts of effort, he started bringing his fists down around the spot where his leg had sunk in, careful not to drive them all the way in. The foam started to come apart in chunks.

By now the crowd had seen what Jay had done to the cops and was doing to the float. As crowds do, they mostly screamed uselessly and stared.

Warrick bit his lip and turned to Tink

There was a kiss waiting for him when he did. “Time to go to work.” She said with a lopsided grin and pressed the new belt buckle into his palm. “Go get ’em.”

***

“Stop right now, or I’ll shoot!” The policewoman’s voice was loud and confident, as if she hadn’t seen what had happened to the previous two officers to confront Jay. Unlike the others though, she was forgoing the less-lethal ordinance.

She was armed with a top of the line force projection pistol, a weapon whose idea of stopping power was based on the theory that broken bones stopped plenty of people fairly quickly. Unbeknownst to her, she was way out of her pay grade.

Jay ignored her. He had a bigger puzzle to mull through. As it turned out, his strength wasn’t that big of a help against the lightweight, yielding foam. His closed fists were either just punching holes in it, or compacting the stuff, not shattering it as he’d hoped.

The problem solved itself when he tried a chop and was rewarded with a deep, jagged fissure lancing down the center of the float’s body, more than a quarter of the way down the bottom ‘deck’.

The costumed actors wisely abandoned ship at this, leaping to the street and fleeing. Sterling and Lauren weren’t in a position to do that: getting up onto the top deck had involved a scissor lift as there were no ladders up to it.

Something jabbed Jay. It felt like someone had come up behind and poked their fingers into his rib cage. It dawned on him that he’d just been shot in the back by the force projection pistol and that mild discomfort was all it amounted to thanks to the coin and bracers.

At first, he stifled a laugh, but then he felt the sensation again and decided there was no reason to bother. He laughed loudly and with gusto while punching one arm into the foam to grasp the chicken wire and ceramic tubing that formed the float’s skeleton.

“You’re going to need something bigger to take me down, kid.” He mocked. With a wrenching motion, he tore the frame beneath the float apart and ripped a section larger than he was away. In the process, he also freed his leg. Whirling on the cop, he brandished the chunk of float overhead. “Like this, for instance.”

The chicken wire squealed against the foam, suddenly bending and torquing around it with a seeming will of its own. Before Jay could do anything about it, the wire slashed the foam into bits, letting them rain down on both the villain and the peace officer.

Jay dropped the mess of wire and ceramic chips and turned slowly toward the top of the float. Alloy had just landed there, swinging in with the aid of his tentacles. The red ‘D’ belt buckle had been incorporated into the armor over his heart. “That was quick.”

“Not many people know this, but I love a parade.” Alloy shot back. “Now how about we just call this off right now. We can go see if we can find that funnel cake guy I saw earlier. How about that? Hot, crispy-sweet funnel cakes? My treat.”

— ♦ – Even as Alloy spoke, the remnants of the chicken wire melted and pooled on the ground before lashing up and encircling Jay’s arms, pinning them to his sides.

Under his breath, he addressed Lauren and Sterling. “Just keep calm folks and the boys are going to get you out of here. Don’t worry, we’re all big fans; we won’t let anything happen.”

“B-boys?” Sterling started to ask, only for Isp to grab him by the collar and lift him over the side of the float. Laurel wasn’t far behind with Osp wrapped around her waist.

Jay flexed, breaking the wire bonds with ease. “Sorry, I already went by the vendors. Got me a some deep-fried cola and a couple of snowcones. Now I’m ready to play the games.”

Alloy stood up straight atop the float with Isp and Osp coiling around him on guard. In his metal sense, he took stock of what was available to him: street signs, lampposts, a few manhole covers, and the now exposed pick-up truck the float had been built upon. He noted grimly that the bracers and coin his enemy wore weren’t responding in the exact same way metal under a spell evaded his powers.

While he did that, he got a good look at the new villain as well. “Hey, haven’t I seen you before?”

“Yeah. You sent me to jail!” Pushing off with superhuman strength, Jay easily hurtled the float from a standstill. He came down swinging a brutal overhand blow for Alloy’s head.

Isp intercepted him and wrapped his legs. Whipping around, it flipped him in midair and slammed him hard, back first, into the rear of the float. The impact was too much for the already broken foam facade and it crumbled apart, causing Alloy to have to leap to safety and Jay to smash into the bed of the truck.

Before the debris had settled, however, he was getting to his feet. Osp whipped around his arm and tugged. It was trying to pull him out of the truck, but he braced his foot against the side of the pickup’s wheel well.

“Oh no. I’ve already taken that ride. Now it’s your turn!” Teeth clenched, he whipped the tentacle around, taking Alloy off his feet and then swinging him up in the air. Jay laughed in surprise at how easy the maneuver was as he pivoted on his heels like a hammer thrower.

He span the armored prelate around twice before forcing Isp off his arm, hurling Alloy into the side of the nearest building. The hapless hero bounced off in a hail of pulverized brick and landed, stunned and dizzy on the sidewalk.

Still laughing, Jay hopped out of the truck bed and rolled his shoulders to limber up for his next attack. “And you’re the brick of the team. At this rate, I’ll be done by lunch. He reached casually over to the truck door and grabbed the tailgate, intending to hurl the vehicle at Alloy.

It broke off in his hands, leaving him staring quizzically at the twisted piece of metal. Of course, he realized, the tailgate wouldn’t be designed to hold the weight of the whole thing.

Alloy was starting to rise and shake off the rattled feeling of being bounced around inside his power-hardened armor.

Jay smirked at him and grabbed a more sturdy handhold: the bumper. This time, he was able to lift the truck off the ground as it gave a protesting groan.

“You think he’s the brick?” Something gold flickered just inside his peripheral vision. Facsimile. “Maybe you haven’t seen enough of me in action!” The golden, winged woman plowed into him with her shoulder down and at a considerable speed.

She only succeeded in making him stumble a few feet and almost drop the truck. She also dislocated that shoulder, dropping to the ground with a surprised look on her face.

Jay rearranged his grip on the truck and put a boot down on her chest. “And you weren’t paying attention to the fight so far.” He pointed out. With that, he swung the truck around and let fly toward Alloy.

But Facsimile’s distraction had given him time to clear the cobwebs. The truck’s metal frame oozed and ran, glopping down to the ground and miring the non-metal components in it’s newly gum-like consistency. The whole misshapen wad never got close to him.

Alloy stepped up onto what had once been the dashboard, gesturing dramatically. The metallic ooze rippled and formed waves in vague echoes of said gestures. “The thing about guys like you is that you’re always underestimating us.”

The metal from the former truck flowed upward into a sea of semi-liquid spears around him, which tilted, ever so slowly, in Jay’s direction.

The attack came from Facsimile instead. Her arms became thorny vines that surged suddenly up his legs and torso. But try as they might, not a single thorn could lacerate his magically tough skin. All it managed to do was to get him to look down and stomp her chest.

Which was exactly what it was meant to do. With mercurial speed, the spears became waving tendrils that shot out to wrap his arms, his chest; anything they could reach. And where they did, their mass was poured into the point of contact, ballooning into thick casts that quickly began to cover him from head to toe in up to three inches of steel.

Facsimile disengaged from him and rolled away to avoid the metal onslaught as it expended to cover his legs. By the time she rolled to her feet, both her shoulder and the various bones and organs damaged by being stomped had repaired themselves. She grinned when she got a look at Alloy’s handiwork. The metal had flowed into a perfect cast around everything but Jay’s head, making him into a statue of himself.

“Look on the bright side, Strong Bad Guy Number 273, you look awesome this way.” She snarked.

Jay didn’t look worried at all. “Now that’s not right at all. You got a codename? I’ve got one too. No secret ID though, I’ll give you that much. Not that it matters. You probably don’t even remember which guy named Jay Willis you put in the stir when.”

Facsimile laughed out loud. The noise covered the sound of metal flexing. “Like hell. I totally remember. Brother Wright’s big party. The last one before he disappeared.” She leaned in to get a better look at him. “Ha! It is you, the Lobos guy.”

“Um… Fax…” Alloy could feel something wrong in the metal prison he was maintaining around the villain and was pressing his powers into strengthening it.

“Ah. So you do remember.” Jay laughed in a good-natured way. “Well, I go by a different name now that I’ve got powers.”

“Is that a fact?” Cyn asked.

“Yeah.” He flexed again and this time, in spite of Alloy’s power behind it, the metal encasing his arms shattered. “Now they call me…” Following this up, he threw back his arms and expanded his chest, breaking his back and chest free as well. “Inexorable.” Both fists came down to pound at his hips while he flexed his knees, freeing himself completely. “Because you can’t stop me.”

***

In a given disaster situation, once the inclination to stare in shock just in case one’s life isn’t in danger wore off, most people flee at least until whatever is causing the danger is out of sight.

But there are the rare, happy few who take it upon themselves to grab their camera, or even just their own eyes and instead flee only to the point where they have a better vantage point to watch the action from.

In the case of Inexorable’s attack, the unspoken ‘safe distance’ just happened to be two blocks away in front of The Dungeon. Here, a phalanx of gawkers formed a line across the intersection tighter than anything a team of riot police could ever hope to achieve.

They stood there with phones and palmtops, anything with a video camera in it, and spouted their own brand of commentary and speculation to anyone who happened upon it on PrelateWatch, SuperTimes, or more generically, the Data Globe video upload network.

From the small bandstand set up off to the side of the entrance to The Dungeon, the members of Snackrifice had a better vantage point that most. Most of them also had better reasons to flinch when the villainous man in white and purple hurled Alloy into the wall.

“I should go.” Lisa and Juniper said at almost the same time. They stared at one another for a beat.

“Oh. Well Warrick, and Cyn and Tink were supposed to be somewhere around there.” Juniper said hesitantly. “I should call and see if they’re okay. Um… I left my phone on my bike.” She surreptitiously pulled her shirt down to hide the phone and palmtop on her belt.

Lisa made her excuse over Juniper’s. “JC was going up the street to get us donuts during the break.” She lied; her boyfriend was headed in the opposite direction for that task.

Another awkward pause as Adel looked at both blankly, and Kay, with her Descendants Appreciation Day edition gold, green and red hair (to match the city’s logo for the event) tried to keep a knowing smile off her face.

“I’ll be back as soon as possible!” They chorused again and hopped off the bandstand, headed in different directions.

***

It took longer for the news to reach Wagner Park, where the mayor was scheduled to give a speech and Fredrick R. Booth would be presenting two checks; one to Jessica Beahme of Descendants Rights Worldwide (formerly Psionics Rights Worldwide as of two months prior), and one to Vincent Liedecker for the Liedecker Institute.

Booth was also personally bankrolling the free Ladies of Armageddon/S.B. And the Fountain of Soul concert that would follow.

Alexis was to be on stage with Liedecker to say a few words on the behalf of the school. She wasn’t the one that was getting a case of nerves.

“You’ve got your speech, right?” Ian was in the same suit he always wore for special occasions, but had conceded in buying a new tie for the event. They were backstage of the amphitheater playing host to the ceremonies, in one of the cramped dressing rooms instead of the more comfortable green room for privacy.

Alexis smiled at her fiance. “Right here on my palmtop. Stop worrying; we’ve been to three separate rehearsals for this; I think we’ll be fine.”

He hemmed and hawed uncomfortably.

“How can you possibly be riled up over a speech you’re not even giving after spending the morning trying to track down someone who punched his way out of prison?” She whispered teasingly.

“Well I’m bothered by him too.” Ian pointed out. “But this is a huge day for you: you pretty much masterminded the whole deal with DRW and Booth and the Ladies of Armageddon. I just want to see it go over perfect for you.”

She wanted to kiss him, but couldn’t risk smearing her makeup. Instead she gave his hand a squeeze. “And it will. And the ROCIC will track Willis down. Anyway, he was spotted in Lake of the Woods. That’s headed away from Mayfield.”

Just then, the palmtop buzzed. They shared a look.

“I will bet you anything that it’s Laurel with a lead on Willis, or some kind of Tome badness.” Ian groaned.

Alexis flipped open the little computer and read the text message. “This is why I don’t gamble with you.” She sighed. “Pessimism always beats the house.”

Ian licked his lips, “Okay. I’ll go. Whatever it is, me and the others’ll take care of it. You stay here and give your speech—I this thing won’t get anywhere near this park.”

‘It’s Willis.” She said.

“Yeah, well I’m Chaos.” He took her hand and kissed it before opening the dressing room door and rushing out.

***

Originally, Kareem was supposed to be picking Desiree up so they could go down to see Snackrifice and later Ladies of Armageddon and SB and the Fountain of Soul perform in town. A simple, ordinary date.

But when he arrived, Desiree explained that her father had left unexpectedly early on business. And seeing as how a) Snackrifice wouldn’t be playing again until after the parade, and b) they had the apartment to themselves, she suggested they watch the parade on TV together until it was time to head down to the concerts.

Not a lot of attention was being paid to the parade anymore. Kareem felt his hands sliding down her back, over the soft fabric of her shirt while he inhaled deeply from her scent. It was like citrus and cherries. At the same time, her lips were on his neck and occasionally she would nip ever so lightly with her sharp teeth.

The feelings she was bringing to the surface were heady and overwhelming. He felt delirious. This was the exact opposite of the sensations he’d felt while stranded on the Astral plane without the stew of hormones and chemical reactions in his body. There were volumes he could use to describe it, and yet, for the moment, he just wanted to fall into it.

“…seems that nothing Alloy or Facsimile throw at this rogue can even slow him down…” That was coming from the speakers, said by one of the parade commentators. “One can only hope that the other Descendants arrive soon before any more damage is done, or anyone else is harmed.”

Kareem’s eyes flew open and searched for the screen. Actually finding it required him to lean away from Desiree’s tender attentions.

“What?” She asked, breathless. Her golden eyes seemed to smolder.

Kareem became aware of his own breathing. It hadn’t slowed upon hearing the news. “The parade. Something’s happened… an attack.”

It took a moment of thought for her to tear her eyes away from him to see footage of Inexorable shrugging off Facsimile’s no doubt diamond sharp claws with ease and batting the heroine away with a casual backhand.

“Oh my God…” She said in a small voice.

“I have to go.” Kareem said, automatically. There was not a hint of uncertainty in his voice. “Some of the others were meeting us there… they would have been right in the middle of this when it started.” He left her go and started to stand.

“You can’t just run into the middle of that!” Desiree rose with him. Citrus and cherries filled his nose and she threw her arms around him. It made his knees weak.

“I have to.” He shook his head and pushed her gently away. “They would do the same for me. Stay here and keep yourself safe.” He leaned forward and kissed her on the forehead.

Not satisfied with that, she shifted around and met his lips with her own, deepening the kiss as she did. When they finally parted, Kareem thought that her eyes might really be glowing. The back of her hand stroked his cheek.

“You’re a good person, Kareem. Be careful.”

“I will.” He promised and hurried from the apartment.

She closed the door behind him and rested her cheek on the cool particle board, a frown etched on her gray features. “Too good…”

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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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