- Issue #49 – George
- Issue #50 – Operation: All In
- Issue #51 – Amore Detestabilis
- Issue #52 – Scenes From a Changing World
- Issue #53 – The House on Dawson Bay
- Issue #54 – Shadow of the Kurounagi
- Issue #55 – Beer Money
- Issue #56 – Family Matters
- Issue #57 – Waylaid
- Descendants Special #5 – Women in Free-fall
- Issue #58 – Alert UMW: Mages
- Issue #59 – Return of the Magi
- Issue #60 – Rust Buckets
- Descendants Annual #5
The wall of sand and sound knocked Warrick off his feet. He landed hard on his shoulders and tried to roll with it. He got back up into a combat crouch with Isp and Osp up to defend against the invisible enemy and whoever was sending those blasts.
He had no warning when the length of ceramic chain cracked against the back of his head, sending him down and reeling. The twins reacted quickly, snapping around to deal with the new threat. Unfortunately, that left an opening for the invisible attacker to hit Warrick with a taser dart, its disrupting current knocking him out.
Footprints appeared in the sand and his head was turned to the side to expose his neck. There was a hiss and a depression briefly appeared on his neck before he fell into a deeper sleep.
Isp retaliated with a sweeping blow that caught whoever it was and knocked him a good six feet. His invisibility faded, first into a shimmering outline and then exposed him entirely, just for a moment before coming back into effect. The Tome Enforcer known as White Shadow lay in the sand, clutching his arm.
“God damn it!” He growled.
Another man, dressed in a midnight blue body suit with a heavy looking, even darker cloak stepped through the settling self-made sandstorm. He had dull gold colored bracers on his arms with odd looking fluting over the wrist and an even stranger sword in hand. It’s blade was too thick to cut much of anything and was split down the center width-wise, giving it the appearance that it was composed of two curved blades arranged back to back. It was made of the same material as his bracers.
His eyes were fixed on the tentacles, which now bristled with spikes as they fended off chain strikes directed by the Enforce Manriki. “They should have stopped moving the second he went out.”
“Don’t even pretend to be surprised, Ossia.” Groused White Shadow, getting to his feet. The only visible evidence of the action was a brief scuffling in the sand. “Seems that every generation, the powers get weirder and weirder.”
Manriki blocked with five lengths of chain as the twins, now recognizing him, concentrated their thrusts and swipes on him. “Will you just get on with it?”
“Sorry, Manriki. I mistook you for a man that could fight his own battles. Ossia, call control, tell them we’ve got the situation under control… and send the Inugami to finish off the witnesses.”
Ossia nodded and spoke into his comm as crunching footprints approached Warrick. Impressions formed in the sand as White Shadow knelt beside the young man. There was a click and a hiss before a thick, white mist rolled out over Isp about a foot from where it attached to Warrick.
A thin frost formed and as the tentacle tried to flex, it shattered instead, growing stiff and dropping, inanimate to the ground. Osp wheeled to avenge its ‘brother’, but White Shadow was faster. Another puff of mist, another shattering crack, and the tentacles were no more than metal sculpture.
White Shadows straightened and the others could hear him brushing sand off his coat. “Take them to the van.” He ordered. “Control can send the inugami back to the boat when they’re done. We’re off to the relay station.”
Tink looked back at the shadowy figures on the beach and felt her stomach turn. Kay, Cyn, Warrick; they all looked so… still. “Lisa, you have to–” She started, but cut herself off as she turned around. Lisa was looking over her shoulder at the scene too.
“I will.” She said. “But I have to make sure you’re all safe first.”
They reached the steps to the back porch and took them two at a time. The eerie howl of the inugami spurred them on. The monsters were still on the hunt. By the time they reached the sliding doors, they could make two of the creatures out, streaking through the shadows right for them.
Lisa got the key in the lock and threw the door open, pushing Tink and JC through ahead of her. When she was in, she slammed and locked the door behind and herded them toward the stairs.
“We’ll gate back to Freeland House, I’ll get Ms. Brant, Ms. Keyes and MR. Smythe, and teleport them back here to save the others.
They hadn’t gotten up two stairs before the sliding door exploded into flying shards of glass. One of the inugami came down in the middle of it, ignoring the lacerations it took from its entrance. The second stalked in behind it and they both caught sight of their prey, letting out simultaneous snarls.
All three friends rushed up the stairs. In the narrows space, they could stay ahead of the larger inugami as the monsters gave chase.
In the press though, Tink tripped on the top landing.
Lisa noticed she wasn’t beside her too late and turned to find that the redhead had only managed to turn and see the lead inugami just as it lunged. There wasn’t time to call up a shield, but Lisa tried anyway.
The spell wasn’t even half formed, though, when, in a panic, Tink kicked at the oncoming brute. She connected solidly just under its chin with crunching impact.
The creature yelped as it’s head snapped back, the sound cutting off abruptly just as it went tumbling down the stairs. The other was forced to leap backward to avoid being hit by the body as it hit the landing below, eyes dim, neck broken.
Even the other inugami seemed shocked by that turn of events. Tink stared down at the fallen beast, wide-eyed until Lisa caught her up by the shoulder and dragged her to her feet.
“What was that?” She muttered.
“I have no idea, but we’ll figure it out once we’re away form here.” Lisa said brusquely. JC was quickly at her side to help Tink across to the bedroom she and Warrick were sharing. They got inside with no time to spare, as evidenced by the sounds of clawed feet coming up the stairs.
Lisa took reached down and pulled her belt buckle off. The glamor cast on it washed off like silver mist to reveal its true form; a red painted, stylized ‘D’ hammered out of iron. Outside, they heard the inugami reach the top landing and start a low, threatening growl.
Warrick and Laurel had worked together on the emergency plan for a week before the group left to come to the beach house. In direct violation of his renter’s agreement, Warrick had transformed his room into a panic room in the then unlikely event of an attack by one of their enemies.
The hollow, particle board door and frame had been impregnated with a skeleton of titanium and the insulation in the walls had been threaded with the same. A small selection of useful metals was hidden under the bed, as was an emergency supply of energy bars for Cyn and a back-up component pouch for Lisa.
The room wasn’t invincible, but it was designed to buy time for anyone that reached it to use the most important item there: the full length mirror hanging on the closet door.
Almost immediately, the strength of the door was tested as the inugami slammed into it, splintering the cheap wood and bending the titanium underneath.
Lisa touched the ‘D’, really one of the key artifacts designed by her to activate the travel mirror, to the reflective surface. There was a brief, low whine and the reflection of Lisa and the bedroom fell away, replaced by the dark confines of the boathouse at Freeland House.
Another there was another bang as the inugami hit the door again. The metal in the door frame groaned and strained.
“Go through.” Lisa instructed the others.
“Like hell, I’m not leaving you alone with that thing.” JC protested.
Lisa gave him a hard look. “I love you, but there’s not a lot you can do against it.” She produced a wooden chip, also hidden under her belt. It was carefully painted with runes and had grooves filed into it to make it easy to break. “Now go. I’ll be right behind you.”
“That’s what Warrick said.” Tink said in a small voice. Still, she grabbed JC’s arm and pulled him through the mirror gate to Mayfield.
“I know.” Lisa gave her a sympathetic look. “And he’ll be fine.”
With that, she turned to the door and snapped the chip. The runes leapt off the surface and enlarged. This one set them in a slowly rotating ring over her right hand. She had dozens of chips like that now; instant runes; the means of drawing a magic circle in a hurry.
The circles were aides in casting; either allowing those who didn’t have the natural command of their inner energies to cast magic at all, or allowing people like Lisa to pull off more complex magics with fewer reagents or less time. This one was the latter; a speed-caster as Kay nicknamed them.
“O Holy western wind, which blows across the blazing sand,” Normally, she would have needed to be calm and able to enunciate, but the circle made it so only the words being said at all was enough. “Give your breath to me and let it fill my hand.” A spark of orange light awakened in her hand. The door finally broke under a third assault by the inugami. The beast stepped into the room, teeth bared, jaws slavering. “I cast thee forth to strike down those who stand against me. Sacred Flame of the Sun! Fireball!”
The inugami pounced. Lisa threw.
Burning brightly, the fireball scorched its way into the monster’s mouth, leaving behind a tail of foul smelling smoke as it continued down its gullet.
Lisa leapt backward through the mirror, her eyes fixed on the suddenly agonized face of the inugami as she passed through the bent space between one point and the next. Momentum kept the creature coming, but the key artifacts were designed with a fail-safe: it didn’t take any effort to close the way between mirrors. Once the bearer of the artifact passed through, both gates reverted to their natural state.
Where once was the snarling, burning face of a monstrous dog appeared a reflection of the trio in the boathouse.
Lisa tripped as her feet landed and would have hit the ground if JC hadn’t caught her.
“God.” Tink murmured, cautiously approaching the mirror and touched its cool surface. Any other time, she would have been marveling at how there was no evidence left that the simple piece of furniture had once been a shortcut in space. Now that was the furthest thing from her mind.
Patting JC’s hand as a thank you to her boyfriend for catching her, she walked up to Tink and put her arm around her. “I know. God, I know. But we’ll save them. I promise.”
Tink shivered as she remembered Warrick laid out on the sand. It made her recall seeing him in the same position on the street, back in New York, his armor brutally dented in over his ribs to the point that it was clear that they had been crushed.
Luckily, Melissa had been there then to heal him. But she wouldn’t be this time. She was on the other side of the country…
Lisa pulled her gently away form the mirror. “Come on.” She said quietly. “We’ve got to go tell the others what happened so I can get them back there to help.”
Moving only because she was being moved, Tink walked with them, out into the warm summer night. And up the hill to the house proper. It was overcast in Mayfield, with only a few stars bright enough to still shine.
On the way up, she looked down at her hands, flexing them. They didn’t feel any different than they always had. She dragged a foot in the grass. That felt the same too. She knew all about how adrenaline could allow a person to do amazing things, but that didn’t feel like it could account for the force required break a large animal’s neck with a kick.
Maybe it was the tumble down the steps that did that? Was her luck that good? It seemed more likely than the other ready explanation.
Or it would have if there hadn’t been other moments that she’d briefly puzzled over and discarded. Her scientists mind started to reevaluate them: every time she ignored how much lighter something felt, each time she felt a scratch or cut and looked down to find no injury, each time she surprised herself with her reflexes…
It was a common myth that descendants manifested in puberty. Pretty much ever comic, television show and movie she’d seen that involved them portrayed it as something that happened the instant a descendant turned twelve or thirteen. But that wasn’t true. There were accounts she’d read about of sixty year-olds manifesting for the first time.
Could she be…?
They reached the patio and skirted around the pool to the doors. The former bed and breakfast was dark inside.
“What if Tome came here too?” JC whispered nervously as Lisa opened the doors with her spare key.
“There’d be some sign of it.” said Lisa. The door in from the patio connected to a small foyer between the two changing rooms. Back when it was a functional bed and breakfast, the Freeland House often played host to parties around the pool. The changing rooms were an artifact of that; mostly unused because its current residents had permanent rooms. More recently, Laurel had moved her raw materials and less used equipment into the old women’s locker room to make way for Alexis and Ian’s visiting families.
“And they wouldn’t have turned off the lights.” Tink added as they exited the foyer and crossed the hallway where the older residents had their rooms to enter the downstairs commons. As dark as it was, the house was just as silent. Even the little cleaning robot was resting quietly in its dock under one of the couches.
Lisa cursed. She’d really been hoping the others would be right there. Every minute they waited for them was a minute her friends remained in Tome’s hands. They’d told her the things the rogue former government outfit did. She knew about the kids they’d trepanned, had seen Juniper’s scars.
“I’m calling Ms. Brant.” she said, taking out her palmtop. The light from the screen seemed unnatural in the darkened common room.
Tink took a deep breath. She’d been thinking along the same lines as Lisa was. “I need to go up to the workshop and get something.”
“Maybe we shouldn’t separate.” JC pointed out to both of them. “Maybe Tome hasn’t been here, but they could come here and I don’t know about you, but I don’t want those super dogs catching me alone.
Lisa nodded, slipping the earpiece from her palmtop into her ear. “I agree. We’ll both go with you, Tink. What are you after?”
“Um…” Tink rubbed her upper arm nervously. It was going to touch off another long conversation, especially after what had gone on with JC weeks ago. “You’ll see.” She finished lamely. Underneath it all, she was now wondering if it was even necessary anymore, but she still didn’t understand what happened on the steps at the beach house and frankly, she wasn’t going to leave any resource untapped.
After turning on the lights in the both commons, they quickly made their way upstairs and down the hall to Laurel’s workshop.
Said workshop was an ever-evolving place. What projects littered the tables in the center of the room changed on the daily, and the equipment lining the walls changed an improved subtly but constantly as the certified genius modified and improved the commercial equipment with new and homemade components. Some items had gone through so many replacements and upgrades that only their shells remained of the original product. Some weren’t even that lucky.
It was also the only room that never truly shut down. Various machinery hummed, on standby to doing routine work, especially what used to be Laurel’s ‘Vimes’ internet crawling server, which was now VIMES (Vital Information Mining and Exchange System), which never stopped combing the internet for Tome activity and keeping Laurel up to date via her palmtop.
Tink automatically went to one of Laurel’s storage lockers and hauled out a large, black case. While Lisa, since they were already in the workshop, decided to use the master com relay instead of her palmtop.
Sliding into the chair, she offered her hand to the biometrics scanner. After a pause to process, the holographic central display come online, displaying the relevant icons that Laurel or, increasingly, Tink used to monitor and direct the others in the field. Lisa chose the locators icon, which called up a window displaying regional maps of where the others were.
Warrick and Cyn’s were still transmitting by some miracle and were in transit somewhere in Dawson Bay. Melissa’s, unsurprisingly, was in Angel’s Camp, CA. Lisa wasn’t sure if she would be back. Juniper’s was just outside of Phoenix, AZ; again predictably. Kareem is in Mayfield at least, though across town with his parents.
But Laurel’s locator had her in Newport News, probably on ROCIC business. Ian and Alexis were similarly miles away in Washington, DC, probably on a date. What were the chances that any of them could find a suitable mirror in the next few minutes?
Minutes was the maximum amount of time she was willing to wait. There was no way she was going to leave her friends in those hands any longer than that.
She turned away from the computer and was about to start directing the others what to do when the sight of what Tink was doing shocked the words right out of her mouth.