Issue #48 – Inexorable

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

Part 5

The others of the group that had rushed to see to him when he’d fallen retreated in a chorus of screams and other shocked noises.

“Daddy!” Edie screamed, but wouldn’t dare leave the spot she’d been told to stand on. “Please put Daddy down!”

Hearing his daughter in distress, Fredrick tried to lash out with a kick to Inexorable’s crotch which did nothing.

The nigh invincible man ignored his struggles. “Cute kid.”

“I bet she’s a lot cuter when she’s back having a fun day with her daddy.”

Inexorable did a double take. He was one hundred percent certain that when he’d looked just a second ago, there wasn’t a girl. And he was also sure he hadn’t been looking away long enough for someone to come as close to him was she was standing.

But sure enough, there she was, a blonde a year or so shy of twenty, dressed in a yellow, long-sleeved turtleneck that bared her midriff and a green wool skirt that stopped at the knee. Obviously not the hero type, he thought. And yet, she’d managed to sneak that close to him.

“Maybe she will.” He said, refusing to be unnerved by something like that. “After daddy cooperates.”

“Let him go.” Callie gave him a hard look, or at least what she hoped resembled one.

Inexorable laughed derisively. “Or wh…” Before he could finish his taunt, Callie leaned forward and blurred out of sight. There was no time to think about that because faster than synapse action, something grabbed him and the world became a blur all it’s own.

Callie had been practicing after her debacle with Abscondro and had come up with at least one very neat trick. Instead of ‘dropping off’ people or objects (i.e. safely decelerating them instantly while she kept moving), she had learned how to let go of something she’d been carrying at full speed even if she herself stopped.

When applied to Inexorable with only a two step lead, she managed to drag him forward into a two-hundred mile an hour throw that was so sudden and so forceful that it left Fredrick with a bruised jaw and friction burns on top of them.

Moving at almost three times highway speed, Inexorable tumbled head over heels over six blocks until slamming sidelong into a Lion’s Roar energy drink truck. A torrent of orange-red liquid poured out of the ragged hole his body tore through the side like the blood of some prehistoric beast.

Another hole appeared as he punched his way out, seething. But his rage was replaced with confusion when he found a giant of a man waiting for him right outside the truck, tapping the head of a snapped off public solar charging station into his palm.

As he stood there, medicinal smelling energy drink soaking him from head to toe, trying to make sense of that, there was a blur of motion. Beside the giant, there was a sudden vision of unconventional loveliness with smooth, shimmering skin and blue hair.

Things were getting very strange. “Haven’t I seen you before?” He asked.

She blinked, then cast about and pointed at the very truck he’d had the misfortune of smashing through. There she was, enjoying a can of Lion’s Roar, or would have been if not for the giant hole through the can.

“Holy… what the hell’s going on here?”

Another blur of motion and the blonde was back, standing on the other side of the giant. “We’re helping protect the town. Think of us as a citizen’s brigade.”

“I’m not actually a citizen, but okay…” said Sonja Remington, but Callie was gone again, returning momentarily with a teenaged boy with mussed hair the color of an algae choked pond, massive under bite and offensively bad teeth.

“That’s the guy?” the boy asked. “He doesn’t look so big.”

“But you do look like the bottom of the barrel.” Inexorable smirked. “Back off now, or I’m going to bust all of you up just to spare you the embarrassment. Please, what could any of you do anyway?”

“This!” Callie appeared briefly beside Sonja and then they both shot forward. Sonja struck out with her fist and hit him with force multiplied by the burst of speed. Unbreakable connected with unbreakable and the momentum was on her side. Inexorable stumbled backward under the blow and fell back against the truck.

“How…” He asked, astonished.

“I’m pressure-proof.” Sonja provided by way of a not entirely helpful explanation.

“We’ll see about that.” He swung his fists at her from either side, intending to catch her between the two blows. Callie grabbed her and pulled her back to the group, causing his fists to connect with a sound reminiscent of a gunshot.

“Mr. Freemont?” He heard her ask and a second later, the construction worker, Leo Freemont was bringing the solar charger down on his head with all his strength. The machine exploded into useless junk against his skull. Freemont looked surprised at how little damage it dealt.

“Mark, go!” Callie’s voice again and now the boy was standing beside Freemont.

Mark Troy was a young man with one talent in the entire world, the one he’d been born with and discovered when he was eleven. It made him unpopular with pretty much everyone and that suited him just fine, as he didn’t like people much anyway.

But when a pretty girl had come up to him and offered him a chance to use his talent without spending a few nights in jail, it was like winning the lottery to him. So Mark was absolutely glad to use his talent when she asked.

Inhaling deeply, he threw his head back and let the special sack beneath the skin under his bulging jaw inflate. Then he belched, long and hard. Rust colored vapor issued forth in a concentrated cloud that washed over Inexorable, delivering a cloying, choking funk not just to his nostrils, but to his lungs.

He was immediately wracked by coughing as Callie grabbed both of them away from the gently expanding cloud of stench. “That’s it.” He wheezed, barely able to force himself to breathe, “I’m definitely going to kill you now!”

***

“911 and internet chatter says he’s on the Seven hundred block of Nicole Farmer Avenue, the mall. He’s fighting with some local descendants.” Codex reported. “The pilot says he can get us there in seven minutes.”

“I can get you there in three teleporting through the Astral.” Occult reported.

“Alloy, Facsimile, go with her.” Darkness ordered. “But Chaos, I think you better come with us. Hope is here and she can see to your arm.”

“Got it.” Chaos replied and looked to Occult. “Can you really interrupt the spell that’s empowering this guy?”

Occult nodded. “I’ve found a spell in the digi-Book of Reason, but the thing is, I need physical contact through the entire incantation.”

“How long is that?”

“Two, maybe three minutes.”

“Can we manage that?” Chaos asked his fellow Descendants.

“I can.” Zero’s voice came over the com.

“Z!” Facsimile said happily. “Where are you? Your blue glowiness would be really useful about now.”

“I think I have a way to stop him, at least for long enough to cast the spell.” Zero said without heed to Facsimile’s question. “The only thing is, I have to ask Chaos something: can you really control any fluid?” He replied in the affirmative. “Good.” She said happily. “Then we need to put this stuff up his nose.”

***

The advantage provided by Mark’s noxious breath bought for Callie’s little group of irregulars lasted less than a minute, just long enough for Inexorable to cough the worst of it out of his lungs and pull the neck of his shirt up over his mouth and nose.

The makeshift gas mask dramatically cut down on his banter, but the focus gained from not thinking up barbs seemed to greatly increase his efficiency. When Freemont came at him with a bumper torn from a nearby truck, he caught it instead of letting it be broken against him and used it to shatter the man’s kneecap before trying and failing to swing it into Callie.

Callie countered by trying to bring Sonja in for another high speed punch, he grabbed her arm, forcing Callie to change direction suddenly to avoid running into her. He twisted her arm painfully behind her back and pulled her against his chest to shield him against the next assault.

“So what inspired the rich and famous to try and put up a fight against me?” He asked through his shirt. “Rich, famous and steam-hot. Man, if I didn’t need to do this thing to keep my powers…”

Sonja drove the back of her head back into his nose. It didn’t do much, but she did manage to catch and pull down the shirt from his nose. “The fast girl? Really persuasive.” She said, “Plus, you made me miss some really great bands.” Then she took a breath and held it.

Callie dropped Mark off just then, but before he could spew another blast of foul air, Inexorable shoved Sonja into him, bowling both over. He moved to follow up on that, but a circle of rose light suddenly filled the ground in the intervening space. Occult, Alloy and Facsimile rose out of it.

Before they had even surfaced from the Astral, Isp and Osp shaped their ends into weights, whipped twin circles in the air and used that momentum to box Inexorable’s ears with enough force to break concrete.

“Hi.” Alloy said casually as the tentacles followed up by striking the villain in the chest, propelling him into the side of a parked commuter pod.

“Thanks for slowing him down.” Facsimile said offhandedly. Then she noticed the group she was addressing. “You?” She arched an eyebrow toward Callie. “How do you know the Salad Max girl?”

“I haven’t done Salad Max ads in like two years.” Sonja protested, “Not since I found out that they use vat-grown meat.”

“Grown, clone or boan… born, it’s all tasty.” Facsimile shrugged.

Alloy dodged the pod Inexorable threw at him and looked over to her. “Fax, a little focus?”

“Sorry!” She waved and shifted into a primordial looking shape with black, bone-plated skin, six arms and four malevolent red eyes. “Let’s see how he likes me now.” She said through an acid dripping grin.

Above, the carrier drifted into view with Chaos and Darkness standing on the cargo ramp. Chaos flexed his newly healed hand while chewing a stick of jerky to take the edge off the hunger resulting from Hope’s type of healing.

“So we’re clear on the idea I had?” Codex called over the wind buffeting through the cargo hold. She was using the pulse cannon as a wind break while she worked calculations on the tablet computer.

Chaos nodded his approval of the plan. “It’s sound from a practical point of view; turns the Chaos Nova into a pipe bomb… assuming the pipe itself is made of plastique and napalm. Plus, it adds range and accuracy.”

“My range and accuracy.” Darkness patted him on the arm. “We probably only have one shot and even with Occult’s help, we’ll want the biggest boom we can get.”

“So it all comes down to Zero’s idea working.” Hope was sharing the windbreak of the pulse cannon with Codex. “Which… didn’t the prison guard already use mace?”

“This stuff is far worse than mace.” Darkness pointed out. “Plus, he might not have inhaled it deeply enough like he did the smoke. We’re going to make sure he inhales this all the way down.”

A marine approached the pair at the loading dock and passed something to Chaos. “The item you requested from my kit, sir.” It was obvious that she was part of the ROCIC, they addressed prelates as if they were officers.

“Thanks. I’ll get it back to you.” He hefted the item, a standard issue canteen filled with a liter of cool, filtered water. “Now we just wait for Zero to get here.”

***

“I can come back later and take a picture or record an endorsement or something if you get in trouble.” Zero said over her shoulder as she headed for the door.

“Oh, that’s not necessary at all.” Replied the clerk. “I’m just happy to give aid when the city needs it. And very glad to have met you.”

She didn’t reply, pulling up her hood to hide the blush. Or course Malcolm would have to be working when she went into Devil’s Own Chili for the means to stop Inexorable. She should have expected it, seeing as it was dating him that gave her the idea.

The second she was outside, she blasted skyward in a flare of blue psychokinetic energy. In flight, she looked down at the bottle in her hand. It was made of black glass and small enough to fit in the palm of her hand. The label depicted four riders on horses riding out of a mushroom cloud. It read ‘Apocalypse Sauce. 100% pure capsaicin from Naga Jolokia extracts. Not for human consumption. For novelty purposes only.’ There was information on contacting Poison Control and much discussion of flushing contacted area with water on the back.

***

Inexorable slammed Facsimile in the chest, hurling her aside in time for him to block a hammer blow from Osp with his forearm. He grabbed at the tentacle, but it melted out of his grasp. Then Chaos and Darkness landed some distance away.

“Come on!” He demanded, pointing at Darkness. “You haven’t had your shot yet and I’m getting tired of more of the same.”

“Not from us.” Darkness said. “Not yet.” She pointed off to his left. He glanced in that direction in time to see a wave of blue light centered around something small and black hurtling toward him. As he’d done before the Heavenly Arrow spell, he braced himself and let it come. It hit him like a fist, shattering the bottle and releasing a clear, ooze across his forehead.

Chaos focused on the capsaicin and it moved in rivulets down Inexorable’s face and into his nose and mouth.

At first, it didn’t have an effect, but suddenly, the villain gasped grabbing at his throat. Fury and agony dueled on his face as he staggered and dropped to one knee, trying to breathe, trying to cough, trying to will himself to vomit—anything to clear his irritated airways.

With a force of will, he forced himself up and barged up to a hydrant, ripping the top off. Water only made the fire in his throat and sinuses burn all the brighter. He screamed hoarsely before dropping to his hands and knees, gagging.

Occult took the initiative to run up beside him and throw a handful of sand from her pack over him before putting her hand on his back. “Forever flowing river that moves the world, strength of all spells and the eternal source…”

Spitting up viscus, white liquid, Inexorable tried to shake her off in the process of drawing much needed breath. His throat and lungs still burned, but at least the world wasn’t growing dim anymore. But Occult refused to let go.

“That which erodes reality itself, and yet lays it as silt in new bounty. Destruction and creation, possibility itself…”

“Get…” Inexorable crawled from her, still trying to breath and struggling with every word. Something in him, or in his powers told hm that this was dangerous. Given a few moments of calm to hyperventilate and vomit, he’d be able to purge the poison in his lungs, but if she succeeded, it wouldn’t matter. As painful as it was, as difficult as it was, he needed to escape her. “Away.” With great focus, he reached back and grabbed her arm.

She grabbed his arm in turn and raised her voice. “I call upon possibility to dam itself. To protect this man from its flow…”

He shook her, but it was so hard to breathe that he couldn’t do more than whip her around like a doll. Her grasp remained firm.

“To preserve against Creation, Destruction, and the spectrum between them! Noble Screen!” A grid of green lines extended from her hands to cover his body. Her weight was suddenly more evident against his strength and she used that fact to push herself away from him. “Now! Quick!” She screams, as she could see the spell already starting to fail.

Chaos already had the orb of water ready, a glowing pinprick in its center. “I think we should call this one the Black Chaos Nova.” He told Darkness before dropping to one knee in front of her; facing away with the orb held over his head.

“I like the sound of that.” She replied with a smile. A squall of black heat erupted from her hands, forming a beam as wide as her waist. It engulfed the Chaos Nova and propelled it down the street and into Inexorable.

The black heat compressed the exploding Nova, containing it just a few moments before it exploded with concussive force. The water from the hydrant flashed into steam, the asphalt ran like wax. And in the center, Inexorable passed out.

Everyone involved collectively held their breath, half expecting Inexorable to leap back to his feet and resume her threats. Instead, and to their shock, a glowing circle of rose light appeared around him, two slender arms reached out to encircle his waist, and he sank into the Astral Plane.

End Issue #48

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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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