Issue #5 Legends of Chaos and Darkness

This entry is part 6 of 15 in the series The Descendants Vol 1: Welcome to Freeland House

Part 5

Traditionally, the ‘courtesy room’ was used as a place for family to be alone to discuss medical situations in private. A bit of fast talk from Laurel had relaxed the rules a bit and allowed everyone affected by the comparatively non-serious incident at the Ortega home to use it.

Kay, JC and Juniper sat at one end of the room, quiet, confused, and visibly shaken by what had happened with Lisa. Alexis and Ian sat at the other end, nearest the door, sitting close and talking softly.

“I was always worried about the threats we knew were out there.” Alexis clenched her fists. “I was so focused on keeping everything normal for them – to let them have normal lives, that I didn’t see it coming.” She leaned on Ian who put an arm around her.

“There’s not a lot you could have done, Alexis. We’ve met Lisa. She seemed like a good kid; may still be a good kid under all the crazy that’s going on.” He rubbed her back as she shuttered with a long, unhappy sigh. “It’s not like we could keep the kids from having friends – and Warrick’s not even that hurt. You heard the doc, its superficial burns. Once we get home, I’m sure Melissa…” He remembered they weren’t alone in the room, “Knows some first aid that’ll help.”

Alexis nodded. “I know all that, Ian, but I still feel like we should have done something…”

“We can.” No one in the room had heard Laurel enter, but she suddenly made her presence known, standing in the doorway with her usual air of confidence and compassion. She gave her friends a smile before directing her attention to the youngsters.

“Warrick’s awake now.” She said, “Doctor Munroe wants to keep him overnight for observation, but I think he’ll feel much better after he sees his friends.” The three smiled at her and got up to go.

“I knew he’d be okay.” Kay said, putting on a strong front. “He’s a good guy; good guys always pull through.”

“I won’t argue with that.” Juniper said, “After all, he saved your life.”

“What about Zack?” JC asked.

“Still asleep, I’m afraid – the doctors still don’t know why. His mother’s with him now though.”

JC nodded gravely and exited with the girls.

Laurel closed the door behind them and sat down across from Alexis and Ian. For a few moments, she just surveyed them with a warm smile.

“Doctor Monroe said he just had minor electrical burns.” Alexis said, worriedly. “Why does she want to keep him overnight now?”

“Because someone filled her head with all sorts of unrelated statistics about loss of consciousness and possible brain damage.” Laurel admitted. “I figured that giving him a night of being waited on hand and foot by nurses would keep him occupied so he wouldn’t go looking for this Morganna person before I get a chance to investigate.”

“You mean Lisa.” Ian said, “Morganna’s just something she made up. I guess she thinks she’s a twisted version of a prelate or something now that she’s got powers.”

“I’m not so sure of that.” Laurel said, running a hand through her hair.

“What do you mean? Not sure of what?” Alexis asked. Knowing Laurel, she knew better than to ignore the genius level psionic’s hunches.

“All of it.” Laurel said. “You both heard what Cyn said; this Morganna person was extremely out of character for Lisa even before she went spare. And I’m not even sure we’re dealing with a psionic either, to be truthful.”

“What else could she be but a psionic?” Alexis asked, “She’s clearly got powers.”

“Oh, she definitely has powers.” Laurel nodded, “more powers than any psionic I’ve ever heard of.” She counted on her fingers. “She can either change her shape or possess people; she emits energy blasts; she can transform one object into another; she’s super strong; and she has some ability that lets her survive a ten story fall. That’s a tall order for anyone. Even Cyn only really has one power; she’s just really creative with it.”

“Couldn’t this person also be really creative?” Ian pointed out, “Maybe she’s a top tier psionic like we used to hear rumors about – probability manipulators, temporal adepts – that kind of thing.”

“I can’t rule that out either.” Laurel admitted. “but we can’t rule out that she may be something else entirely. Either way, as unstable as she is – especially if this really is Lisa thinking she’s someone else, she’s dangerous and it falls to us to stop her. We’re the only ones who can.”

Alexis shook her head, “No, we’re not prelates – we can’t risk drawing attention to us and the kids.”

“If we don’t, the kids will.” Ian said with certainty in his voice. “Plus, we’ve already done it a couple times before.”

“That was different.” Alexis said slowly, “The kids were in trouble…”

“So were the Kin.” Ian pointed out.

“So was Juniper.” Laurel added, “And now so is Lisa. If she goes nuts with her powers in public, you better believe the Academy will send their thugs to Mayfield and how long do you think it’ll take them to discover our kids once they do?”

Frowning, Alexis lowered her head. “You’ve made your point. We can’t let this girl stay out there alone and out of control. How do we start?”

***

Warrick used the bed’s controls to manipulate it into a sitting position as the rest of his friends entered. “Hey guys.” He said as if nothing had happened.

“Glad you’re alright, man.” JC nodded to him. “I don’t even know what to say. I didn’t see it coming.”

“No worries,” Warrick shook his head. “None of us did. I’m just glad no one was hurt.” He touched his bandaged arm and winced, “…much.”

“I’m sorry about all of that, Kaine.” Kay said, moving over beside the bed, “This is sort of my fault. She freaked out because of me.”

“What’s that mean?” Cyn asked from across the bed. “She was pretty much freaking out at everything back there.”

“No,” Kay shook her head, “It was me.” She heaved a long sigh. “Okay, none of this leaves this room, understand?” The others nodded and she continued, “Somehow, she could tell—I mean, she knew I was…” Another sigh.

“Now you’re talking like she was.” Cyn said to lighten the mood. No one laughed.

“I’m a psionic.” Kay finally said. None looked more surprised than Warrick and Cyn. “That’s what she freaked out over.”

“Wait… what?” Warrick tilted his head as if that would help him see Kay’s psionic nature more clearly.

“How did we not know this?!” Cyn exclaimed. There was more meaning in what she said than Kay knew.

“Really? That’s awesome!” JC said, oblivious.

Juniper took note of the surprised response and cocked her head inquisitively, “How come you didn’t tell your friends?” she asked, “It’s not like there’s much widespread hate for u—psionics these days.”

“That’s not the point.” Kay said, looking around at her friends. “Look, if they found out, my parents would send me off to the Academy and I’d end up training for a boring desk job or something for the rest of my life and I’m not exactly thrilled about that.”

Juniper shivered at the mention of the Academy and touched her scars under her sleeve.

“Exactly.” Kay said, assuming the shiver was in response to the prospect of taking a desk job.

“So… what do you do?” JC asked, unknowingly provoking Cyn to roll her eyes.

Kay smiled sheepishly. “You know how I play keyboards, right?” She asked. He nodded, “Ever notice that you’ve never seen me put batteries in?” He blinked and she snickered. “I can pretty much copy any sound I’ve heard. Voices, music, background noise – check it out, JC, remember that concert you me and Lisa went to in January?” She started moving her mouth, but she wasn’t speaking. Instead, the strains of Burning Down the Garden by Our Ladies of Armageddon emerged, with complete vocals and instrumentals. Listening carefully, the others could also hear slight crowd noise.

“Sweet!” Warrick said, “You’re a human recorder.”

“Human mixing board, actually.” She smiled at him. To prove it, she produced a few strains of violin accompanied by piano.

The group talked for about twenty minutes before Alexis, looking a bit pale even for her, arrived to tell JC and Kay that their parents had arrived to take them home. That left Warrick, Cyn and Juniper alone in the room.

“So Kay’s like us.” Juniper sighed, “But we can’t tell her. What a situation.”

“It’s worse than that.” Cyn said, “Lisa or Morganna or whoever is squicked by psionics and can detect them. I mean she went off on Kay and her powers are totally non-offensive. That means she’s not just after us but every psionic in the city!”

***

In his hospital bed, Zack looked comfortable; almost as if he was simply dozing. But nothing the paramedics or doctors had tried could wake him up. His mother, Antonia sat by his bedside, holding his hand and speaking a quiet prayer in between quiet sobs.

“Will he be alright?”

Antonia looked up to see her older sister, Tatiana standing by the now open window. “Tay?” She asked hoarsely. “When did you get in?”

“Just now.” Tatiana said, crossing the room with a fluid grace. “I was on my way out of town and decided to stop by to say goodbye to my niece and nephew – but the place was swarming with cops.” She put a hand on her nephew’s forehead. “Is he going to be alright, Toni?”

The younger sister shrugged. “They don’t even know what’s wrong with him. He’s just… asleep.”

“How’s Lisa? Was she hurt too?” Antonia shuddered in response, causing Tatiana to lean closer to her. “Oh my god, what happened?”

“She…” Antonia sobbed, “We talked about this before… with daddy’s empathy and your… powers… We knew that the twins might have powers too, but I thought they were too old now. And I didn’t expect anything like this—“

“Toni, tell me, please. They’re my niece and nephew, I need to know.”

“Lisa is the one that did this.” Antonia was weeping openly now. “She attacked her friends. They said she wasn’t herself. She was talking about magic and calling herself ‘Morganna’ and… and… they found Zack like this afterward.” She let her sister hug her as she broke down completely.

Morganna. Tatiana’s mind raced. She had given Lisa Unknown’s Portrait of Morganna le Fay only three days ago. And suddenly she was acting strangely—just as she had when she had been on the phone with Liedecker. A hiss of mixed anger and fear escaped her lips. Something bad was happening and she was the cause.

Pushing her sister gently back, Tatiana looked her in the eye. “Where is Lisa now?” she implored.

“We couldn’t find her.” Antonia sobbed. “The kids said she jumped out the window, but she didn’t hit the ground. Oh god, my baby…” She shook uncontrollably as Tatiana stood up. “What are you doing, Tay?” she sniffed, watching her sister move to the door.

“I don’t have time to explain, Toni.” Tatiana said softly. “But I’m going to stop whatever’s going on. I don’t care who or what is behind this, going after me is one thing. But not my family.” And with that, she was gone.

***

The sun was setting, causing strange shadows to stretch their fingers over the G.M. Logan Zoo. Morganna brushed past patrons on their way toward the gates on her way back to the hiding place she had spied earlier.

When she had teleported using the ring (thankfully, it was pure silver), she only had two choices of where to arrive; her body’s home, or the zoo. The limitation on minor teleportation spells like that was that they required casual familiarity; something she hadn’t had enough time to establish with many locations as of yet. Had it been in range of the spell, she supposed she could have returned to the mosque vault in Persia—Iraq she mentally corrected herself.

So she had returned to the zoo and spent her time familiarizing herself with the creatures it contained and scavenging possible reagents from trashcans and the gift shop. Shoplifting, as her new memory recalled it, was very easy when one simply pushed items into the Astral Plain and collected them later at one’s leisure.

Mostly, she had thought about the creatures called psionics. As far as she could tell, they were humans; or at least born from humans. Each had a few extraordinary abilities that were akin to vulgar magic, but with more control behind it. They needed no foci, no words of power or patterns of sound; in fact, they didn’t seem to require much conditioning or training to keep rudimentary control.

From a magical standpoint, they were an anomaly; the variety of unskilled hedge wizards, combined with the power of a fey and in many cases, the skill of an archmage. And yet, at least one was able to do something mages could not; he could call forth life.

Constructs, homunculi, and even conjured beasts weren’t really alive; they were mystic simulacra made from inanimate matter and given a programmed semblance of life. Anything intimated about binding spirits and such were lies plain and simple. And yet Morganna had felt those metal bonds living and thinking. It warranted more study.

The trouble was that the psionics seemed resistant to all but the most minor mind control. She had tried to turn them against each other when she had fought them, but nothing had happened – it was as if the lines of force she rode to command minds were muted or even absent in them. She would only be able to control them if one allowed her to.

She slipped into the ape house, aware of the dozens of eyes watching her. Instinct told the orangutans and gorillas and chimpanzees that she wasn’t a normal human. They could feel her power and they were afraid. Sneering at them, she made her way to the recessed cabinet in one wall where a trashcan was situated and casually forced the can into the Astral to make room for herself.

Hunkering down, she considered her position. Psionics were powerful and even if they were no match for her individually, she was still only one person. She would need allies in this world if she was going to play the part of mythic Prometheus, bringing the flame of magic back to the poor, stupid masses. But no one believed in magic any longer. They would not understand the gift of it unless forced or bargained into it.

She needed an ally who already understood and would aid her unquestioningly. As the lights in the ape house went down, an idea suddenly clicked in her head. Stifling a rueful laugh, she waited patiently for the staff to leave and her plan to commence.

End Issue #5

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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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