Issue #69 – Crashers

This entry is part 10 of 16 in the series The Descendants Vol 6: Returns and Departures
The sun was still hovering above the Blue Ridge Mountains to the west when Warrick made his way down the path to the boathouse. It was a slightly less comfortable stroll than usual, thanks to his Halloween costume.
 
After a talk with Kareem, he’d decided to follow his friend’s lead and follow a ‘come as you aren’t’ theme. Instead of aiming for a polar opposite of his personality like Kareem was planning, Warrick went with what he wished he could be like, and that was suave, debonaire and above all; cool. And no one hit all those targets like a certain British Secret Agent.
 
He’d gone all out and had a tailored tux made with his website money, along with a toy Walther PPK. For spy gadgets, he’d enlisted help from Laurel as well as Isp and Osp. The twins were on strict orders to be on their best behavior and stick to the script; an arrangement they readily agreed to for the chance to finally be out during a party.
 
The only thing he hadn’t thought through was just how uncomfortable wearing a tailored suit would be with spy gear concealed underneath. The lock-picking kit concealed in his right cuff poked his arm whenever he bent it too far. The miniature battery pack that powered most of where wasn’t simulated by the twins’ shapeshifting dug into the small of his back.
 
Never had he thanked his lucky star so profusely that he developed powers instead of having to make due as a gadgeteer hero, because even just carrying around fake, flashy stuff to impress his friends was murder.
 
Reaching the boathouse, he reached up and touched his thumb to the top left corner of the door frame, sliding it along a hidden biometrics scanner. Once he head the faint click from the lock, he took out the key and unlocked the door.
 
Anyone without the necessary biometric clearance, but with the key (or lock picks) would have found that the rickety looking door’s lock was ‘rusted shut’. And anyone trying to break in with brute force would find that both door and frame were steel. The ‘rust’ on the deadbolt concealed the fact that it was actually tungsten wrapped around a core of titanium steel.
 
Even with the layers of security, it didn’t look like the lock was protecting much inside. There was a fishing boat and the appropriate accoutrements neatly packed away around the small space. One wall was given over to a workbench that was home to a small forge, metal working tools, a huge, laminated poster of the periodic table, and two recycling bins full of soda cans.
 
A full length mirror hung on one wall, the space around it conspicuously clear. Warrick went straight to it and took a moment to ensure his hair was in its proper place instead of the usual mess he left it in and to smooth down his tux.
 
When he was satisfied, he took a single rose out of one inner pocket, and his palmtop out of the other. He took a breath, then dialed.
 
Tink picked up on the first ring. “Hey!” came the excited answer. “You ready?”
 
“Right here.” He said, unable to keep the smile off his face. “And in costume, but the way.”
 
“I can’t wait to see what you finally picked.” she said, then in a more playful tone. “And I can’t wait for you to see what I picked too. I hope you like it.”
 
Warrick’s imagination cycled through a few fantasy possibilities: a gold bikini, a soot-stained mechanic’s jumpsuit with goggles and over-sized wrench, the classic femme fatale catsuit… “Oh, I’m sure I’ll like whatever you choose.” He said, shaking off the imagine spot, “After all, it’s always you underneath.”
 
Tink laughed. “I can tell you miss me; you get poetic.”
 
He couldn’t deny that or the wistful grin that played on his lips. “I always miss you, kid.”
 
“Well you won’t have to for long. Just let me make sure the door’s locked and I’ll be on my way. See you in a bit.”
 
“See you in a bit.” Warrick returned.
 
A minute later, the surface of the mirror stopped reflecting and instead became a window, showing a modest single person dorm room on the other side of the Atlantic Ocean.
 
In contrast to the dorm room Warrick and JC shared, or the room Warrick had spent two years in at Freeland House, Tink’s was organized above all else. She didn’t have the toys and wall scrolls her beau put everywhere: instead she had a tall chest of small drawers for storing parts, small prototypes on display on top of most surfaces, and MC Escher prints.
 
Warrick had seen the room before, even visited once, and even if he hadn’t he wouldn’t have taken any notice. Standing there, framed in the mirror, was Christina ‘Tink’ Carlyle. Her costume proclaimed at a glance that she was also going for the ‘come as you aren’t’ idea, because Warrick never expected her to wear a dress like that.
 
It was a full length, black cocktail dress, slit to the thigh on either side and featured a plunging neckline. One sheer sleeve covered her right arm all the way down to a length of material that stretched over the back of her wrist, attached to a ring around her middle finger while the other shoulder was left completely bare. She wore knee high boots with short, chunky heels to complement it.
 
Her hair was gelled into short spikes and frosted with something to add a metallic sheen to her natural red. But the major component of the costume was also the most obvious: she was painted silver from head to toe; ever inch of skin made visible by her dress.
 
“Urk.” was the best Warrick could manage as she stepped forward into the boathouse. Once she was through, the resumed its usual reflective properties, now showing her back, which was left bare by the dress.
 
Tink grinned at his speechlessness and let go of the ‘D for Descendants’ pendant hanging around her neck. The glamour cast on it caused it to transform into a silver Celtic cross once its job of opening the mirror gate was done. Aside from that, she was also carrying a small overnight bag.
 
“So.” She said, fidgeting under her boyfriend’s stunned gaze. “What do you think? I wanted to try and get a little creative this year.”
 
“Wow.” he said dumbly. The most testosterone soaked parts of his mind were still regaling the rest of him with the ‘potential’ there would be if Tink actually was made of metal. “I mean you look amazing. I kind of feel lazy with mine now.”
 
Under her four hours worth of make-up, Tink blushed. “No, you look really handsome like that. You should dress up more.” She reached over and tussled his hair a bit before slicking it back down. “Though I do like the messy hair better.”
 
She leaned down and, as they’d been waiting to do since the moment she came through, they kissed.
 
“Believe me.” Warrick said, arms still around her, “You’re in no danger of seeing this hair as a permanent thing. It’s way too much work.” His eyes traveled up. “But if I can say; I really like yours.”
 
Tink kissed him again. “I think encore presentations are in order then.” She slid her hand along his torso, up to his shoulder, then down his arm until their fingers were laced together. Another blush heated her face. “And if you really like the body paint, that might come back too?”
 
Now Warrick was blushing too. “That…” He cleared his throat. “I’d like that.”
 
They spent another few minutes holding one another and kissing until they both remembered that there was a party they were meant to be getting to.
 
The walk back up the hill to the house was filled with the kind of unnecessary catching up people did when they talked almost every day: Tink’s skinned knuckles from an accident she had in class were completely healed now, and Warrick was trying out for Dayspring’s production of Bully!: The Teddy Roosevelt Story.
 
Coming in from the back patio, they found the downstairs commons all set up for the party with the requisite cobwebs, orange and black streamers, and rubber bats on strings, but also ankle-deep fog swirling along the floor and a rented, stuffed alligator guarding the refreshment table.
 
Juniper and her boyfriend Malcolm were just bringing the punch bowl in when they entered.
 
“Oh hi!” Juniper greeted with all her usual pep and whimsy. This was directly at odds with her black and dark purple ‘Wicked Queen’ costume that came complete with black, tattered cloak, high, sweeping crown, and a make-up job that made her look slightly undead.
 
She left Malcolm to start filling cups so she could go hug Tink ‘hello’. Warrick noted that Malcolm had been roped into matching Juniper’s costume by donning an all-enveloping, blood red cape, iron (really plastic) armor, and a circlet on his brow made to look like battered iron with thorny spikes reaching toward the sky. It didn’t help his case, however, that he retained his thick, round glasses.
 
While Tink and Juniper caught up, Warrick went to help Malcolm with the punch. “Hey, Malcolm. What’s up?”
 
The other young man gave a slight laugh. “Not a great deal; mostly keeping up with my studies, really. And yourself?”
 
“About the same.” Warrick said, nodding the way men did when they really didn’t have much to talk about. He actually liked Malcolm; if they had anything in common, he’d have been easy to talk to. “So I heard you and Jun went to that thing in Culpeper with the classic movies. That sounds cool.”
 
Malcolm returned the nod in kind and continued to fill punch cups. “It was. I’m not really a fan of horror movies, but the old Universal films are really interesting. I’m thinking of looking some more up online.”
 
Hoping the perhaps they did have something more to talk about, Warrick grinned. “Dude, if you’re in the market, Parboil Electronic Megastore has a great deal on them for Halloween: the Monster Mash-up. Twelve classic Universal monster movies, plus twelve Hammer Horrors with fifty-three dollars in a flat format collection. I was it just the other day when I was adding The Complete Errol Flynn to my wish list.”
 
“I’ll have to look into that.” agreed Malcolm.
 
Before the conversation could go any further, the door from outside opened, admitting not only an unseasonably warm autumn breeze, but a trio of teenaged girls, two of whom were making enough noise to make it sound like there were ten of them.
 
“And now the party can officially begin!” Tammy Kaine, Warrick’s sister announced at the top of her lungs. She was dressed as the Statue of Liberty—at first glance. At second glance, one could see fake stitches on her arms, shoulder and cheek; the green armband around her left forearm and choker around her neck that sprouted a series of tubes that connected to the small of her back and ran up to her torch, or the neck bolts just below her ears. And when she opened her mouth, metal false fronts designed to look like they were razor sharp were visible.
 
“This is so cool!” Exclaimed Kura Akagi, charging in right beside her. “This is like going to our first college party!” She was dressed in feathers: a feathered unitard, feather boa, headdress, and a long coat that was also made of feathers. Whenever she moved,t he feathers changed colors. It was a stunning costume—or would have been if she didn’t have a big, rubber beak strapped to her nose.
 
Lastly came Maya Blumberg, no doubt dragged along against her will by the other two if Warrick knew anything about his sister. The red-haired teen wore a black dress with a spiderweb design that was slightly too big for her and a tall, point witch’s hat that was crooked at the top. Someone one had put green make-up on her, but it did nothing to make her look intimidating, just the opposite in face. She also held a small plastic caldron by a chain. Inside something glowed and flickered orange.
 
Upon seeing Warrick, Tammy grinned and waved. “Hey, Mr. Birthday! Thanks for inviting us. Is this going to be a great party or what?”
 
Warrick smiled and waved back, but privately he made a note to make sure those three didn’t drink anything but soda. Knowing Tammy and Kura, keeping that rule in place might be a full time job. But if that was the worst thing that happened, it really would be a great party.
 
***
In motel on the outskirt of Mayfield, eight people found themselves packed into a single room, dressed in army surplus jackets, BDUs, and tac vests. Some sat cross-legged on the beds, others on the floor, and still others simply leaned on the wall as their leader, Rhonda McDonnell used the a digital projector to outline their objectives.
 
McDonnell didn’t look like a someone who would be seen leading a group dressed to go into battle. Take away her gear and she looked like a soccer mom: early forties, short brown hair not that far removed from a visit to the stylist, and a face that bore the faint care lines of someone who kept a hectic schedule.
 
Her schedule, however, had fewer PTA and Homeowner’s association meetings and more trips to the shooting range and anti-psionic rallies. She wasn’t a stranger to the cause either: her father had protested the Academy in the first place, and back before the psionic threat even existed, her great grandfather and his friends patrolled the New Mexico border for immigrants.
 
She often thought that great-grandpa had it easy. Immigrants and terrorists she knew could be identified by sight. Psionics could look like real Americans right up until they used their powers. No border was going to keep them out either: they just happened; popping up out of nowhere even in the most decent and god-fearing families.
 
“The home office managed to trace a hacking attempt on their personnel servers a few days ago.” she explained to the assembled. “It led them here:” She used her palmtop to throw up a photo shot from Lake Standish of the rear of Freeland House. “13777 Morning Glory Avenue. It’s the home of at least two noted psionic sympathizers: Laurel Brant, a member the Descendants Rights Worldwide board as well as a teacher at the Liedecker Institute and Alexis Keyes, also a teacher at the Institute.
 
“Brant’s family is incredibly wealthy, so the house is going to have top of the line security, possibly a panic room or even on-site security. We’ll have to deal with any and all of that as it comes. Our aim tonight is to find the computer that hacked the home office and figure out what information Brant actually got when she hacked us and who, if anyone, she might have disseminated it to.”
 
One of the volunteers raised his hand. His name was Usef Kahlid, and that alone made McDonnell distrust him. In her grandfather’s day, he wouldn’t have gotten a foot in the door at their organization, but psionics were an even bigger threat than his kind. She merely nodded to acknowledge his question.
 
“Both Descendants Rights Worldwide and The Liedecker Institute have dealings with the Descendants. Is there a chance that they might become involved tonight?”
 
There was a nervous murmur among the others that made McDonnell want to slap them all. Yes, the Descendants were strong and tough, but they were exactly the kind of enemy they should have been champing at the bit to fight and defeat. Proving the superiority of real Americans—real humans was what they were all about.
 
Sadly,” She put as much emphasis as possible on the word, “We probably won’t get to tangle with them. If we do our jobs right, no one in that house is going to get a chance to call for help, prelate or otherwise.” She smirked openly at Khalid.
 
“But just in case they or some other genetic accidents do happen to show up, you’ll find that we’re kitted up to take them: ceramic arms only, bear mace, electro-static nets, fast acting tranqs and all your specialty weapons. The home office wants any psionics we run into alive, understood?”
 
There was some grumbling at this and she didn’t blame them. While she understood the need to keep some of the genetic scum around to test new weapons and containment systems for the government contracts on, she didn’t see the point in keeping the strong one alive. What if they escaped?
 
“I know, I know.” She said, “But let’s put it this way: I’ll be understanding if some accidents happen. And let’s not forget a lot can happen to a person and they’ll still be ‘alive’.”
 
That got some grunts and murmurs of approval from the others. Like her, they all volunteered to be out in the field where the knuckles met the flesh. Proving their superiority over some high and might psionics was almost as good as removing one permanently from the gene pool.
 
“We all on the same page now?” She asked.
 
“Yes Ma’am.” they all intoned in reply.
 
She smiled a hard, thin-lipped smile. “Good. Then let’s suit up, roll out and score one for homo sapiens.

About Vaal

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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4 Comments

  1. “Cynthia; since you can move about…
    Woah! It’s used so infrequently, I’d almost forgotten Cyn’s full name. I kinda had to stop one moment to think about who he was talking about. 😛

  2. There’s probably a missing close italics-tag somewhere, as the latter about half of the page is in cursive.

  3. just like the ones there on front of her on the size of a frozen mountain
    in front … on the side

    take the TV’s
    TVs fun fact: I read somewhere you shouldn’t use apostrophes for plural

    died int hat breakout
    in that

    the edge of Maya’s caldron
    the lip of the caldron
    cauldron

    pining him under
    pinning

    the party turned into a frey
    fray

    with her friends and danger
    in danger

    with a man who fear of her
    whose

    but ineffective action works exactly
    worked

    his handcuffs and thought a
    through … he turns his handcuffs into handcuffs?

    Hehe. Go Cyn!

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