Issue #69 – Crashers

This entry is part 10 of 16 in the series The Descendants Vol 6: Returns and Departures

Part 4
Tink settled into Laurel’s chair in front of the computers and started switching things over to monitoring and controlling Freeland House’s security systems.
Unused to communicating telepathically, she spoke out loud in reply to Kareem’s telepathic announcement. “Give me thirty seconds to interface with security, Kareem.”
Behind her, Lisa closed the door to the workshop and locked it against any curious or amorous party-goers. “I told everyone that we were going up her to set up a special birthday surprise for Warrick.” She announced, coming to stand behind the chair.
Tink leaned back to look at her. “When you said ‘special’… did you say ‘special’ or ‘special’?” She waggled her silver-flecked eyebrows in an exaggeratedly suggestive manner for the second.
Lisa pursed her lips and thought back, suddenly flustered. “It… might have been taken as…”
Oh my god.” Tink groaned. “Seriously?”
Trying to salvage the situation, Lisa cringed. “Well… you two were going to…”
Yeah, but I didn’t want to announce it to the whole party!”
A mischievous grin tugged at Lisa’s lips, the product of having been best friends with Kay for so long. “Are you going to keep the body paint on?”
Tink’s gaze snapped swiftly back to the monitors. “Oh look, I have admin control of the security system now. No time to… oh my…” The screen showing a topographical map of the motion sensor grid started populating with red dots. She sat up straight hands flying to the keyboard. “Heads up guys, I’ve got sixteen contacts on motion sensors.”
She checked another screen. “And the passive scrubbers are starting to report gunpowder. Not explosives, but these are definitely not trick-or-treaters.”
Do we know what they want?” Asked Juniper, still in the kitchen with Kareem’s comatose body.
I will endeavor to check. Kareem said. After a few moments, he had something. Miss Brant hacked their employer’s computer. Somehow, they were able to trace the intrusion back here to Freeland House.
Tink chewed her lip. “Someone was able to trace one of Miss Brant’s worms back to its source? That is major league techno-wizardry. These guys much be elite to say the least.”
Please tell us there’s good news.” Lisa hurried back to the workshop door and opened the security panel next to it. Keying in 911 engaged a second set of magnetic locks on the door. The same code caused the windows in the room, such as they were, to seal as well.
Like the boathouse doors, the doors and windows in the workshop were more than they seemed. They would have to be if a group of attackers was going to be gunning for the room she and Tink were standing in.
There is one bit of positive news. Kareem said, observing the minds of a few more of the attackers. They know Miss Brant as an activist for descendants rights and a teacher at the Liedecker Institute. They are completely unaware that were are the Descendants… or that any of us have powers at all.
We can use that.” Juniper said. “We just have to keep our powers really subtle.”
Not usually an option for me.” Lisa pointed out. “And Tink doesn’t have her rig at all.”
Then you two should stay inside the workshop and direct the defenses from there. Kareem suggested.
Tink nodded even though he couldn’t sense that, and picked up a touchscreen controller from the desk in front of her. “I’m bringing the non-lethal defenses online now. Just tell me what needs to be done.”
Watching the motion sensor data, Lisa pointed. “It looked like only one group is moving now. The six around back at circling around toward the patio while the ones in front are holding still.”
And now we can keep an eye on them.” Tink reached over to the keyboard and typed a few words before hitting enter. The top row of monitors switched to showing night-vision surveillance footage from the patio and the hill leading down to the boathouse. The approaching squad was barely visible as they crept up the stone steps to the back of Freeland House.
A flicker of worry entered her eyes. “What about the others, Kareem? I know they can’t talk on comms while they’re at the party, or outside like Cyn, but how are they doing?”
Restless. Kareem said. It is not every day that we find ourselves unable to reach to a danger almost instantly.
Is Warrick upset about his birthday?” She asked more quietly.
I try not to read minds without permission, but I believe that you and I both know that is no one is seriously harmed, defeating people like this would be counted as a bonus birthday present to Warrick.
She smiled at that. Of course he would.
Okay.” She said after a moment. “I see grapnels. The group out back is going to try to come in on the second floor—maybe to avoid the party?”
That sounds about right.” Said Juniper, the innocent lilt to her voice fading. “If they’re really after the computer, they’re not really here for a fight. They may be prepared for it, but they aren’t looking for one.”
After a moment’s thought, she said. “I bet the ones out front are back-up in case things go wrong.”
Meaning they would be the most dangerous. Kareem surmised. For now, we shall let the first team in so as not to give the back-up group reason to attack. Since they don’t have explosives, it will take them a long time to even come near to entering the workshop.
Tink follows his meaning and smirked cruelly. “And in the meantime, we’ll be taking their back-up off the table?”
Cuccinelli remained in his crouch behind one of the many planters near the entrance to Freeland House. Normal people would have been cramping up by then, including many of his squaddies, but not him. He watched with contempt as many of them started shifting to relieve aching muscles.
Amateurs, he thought. It wasn’t enough to be part of the cause, one had to be dedicated to it to actually make a difference. And that meant actually training daily. Most of the others weren’t really military; they weren’t even cops. They were mostly weekend warriors that went out to a gym a couple days a week and called themselves fit for duty.
At least that’s how he saw them. All of them had somehow passed the fitness screening and training course, but he had his doubts. Not that it mattered. They wouldn’t be seeing any real action on this op, just some stupid teenagers having a party, maybe one or two psionics of middle strength, and if they botched the job very, very badly, the local PD.
Nothing he couldn’t handle.
Something whirred up on the roof of the house; one of those old mini-satellite dishes from the days before data-beam broadcasts were popular. He was old enough to remember his parents having one. But he had never seen one moving before…
That thought had just settled into his head when the first of his squad-mates cursed in pain and flinched back from his position.
Another nearby did the same, then another and another, slapping at their arms and chests at something that wasn’t there.
What are you doing?” Cuccinelli hissed across to them.
One of them, still scurrying back in a partial crabwalk, looked at him in confusion. “It’s like my skin just caught fire. I don’t know how else to describe it.”
Cuccinelli grunted and turned his eyes back to the dish atop the house. That was another difference between him and most of the volunteers; they didn’t have any real military knowledge, even for something so old. Now he recognized the dish for what it really was: An Active Denial System.
Heat beam!” He said, no longer trying to be quiet. The enemy knew they were there. “Spread out and try to get out of the arc of fire!.”
Even as the squad started moving, so did some of the planters. Two long, low ones rose up three inches to reveal black strip speakers that started blasting out a high pitched, undulating noise that instantly fostered throbbing headaches in every one of the squaddies. At the same time, their comms squealed with feedback and hidden transceivers zeroes in on their comm frequency and spammed interference.
The largest, circular planter,t he one that stood in the middle of the path leading up to the front door rose up next. A trio of multi-barreled guns began to spin up and track in on the squad.
Shit!” Cuccinelli cried, loosing all composure. He raised his rifle and fired burst after burst at the ADS dish until the housing cracked and the people in the line of fire stropped panicking—at least from the pain. “The house!” He ordered. “Head for the house! They won’t shoot toward their guests!”
The buns beneath the feeder started chattering, letting fly with rounds composed of high density polyurethane foam that splattered wherever they hit, expanding and hardening. Two squaddies went down immediately, arms, legs and torsos encased in foam.
The remaining eight scattered, ducking and dodging behind anything that didn’t move and reveal a weapon like they were part of the Allied invasion of Normandy Beach.
Cuccinelli watched as a paving stone popped open to allow a launcher of some sort to unfold and fire a set of bolas. The weapon wrapped around Usef’s ankles in mid-stride, sending him crashing to the ground where he was quickly pinned by several rounds from the foam-firing gattling guns.
He would have smirked at his misfortune if he didn’t see, seconds later, a stone bench tilt back and catch two others in an adhesive covered net. Ten had become five in the blink of an eye and Cuccinelli had no intention of becoming a casualty.
Running low along a hedgerow, he avoided the sights of the gattling guns, but had to hurdle a set of bolas aimed at his own ankles. At last, he reached the door, just in time to see that he wasn’t the only one. Two others had reached the door too and a third was running full tilt through a hail of foam rounds as well.
One of those at the door (Cuccinelli was shocked to see that it was a woman that made it past all that because he didn’t think they had the grit for it) had a shotgun and was loading a door-breaching round…
Does anyone else hear that weird chirpy noise?” JC asked, cocking his head to the side.
It’s nothing, man.” said Warrick, giving him a look that indicated that the opposite was the case. At the same time, he was amused that JC could hear the screamers from inside the house. “Seriously nothing.”
JC got the hint. “Ah. Guess the lame music you’ve got playing is getting to me.”
There was a muffled shout from outside, barely audible through the music, but Warrick heard it all the same because he’d been listening for something like it. It was taking too long, he realized. Tink was a computer whiz, bur she was still limited by how fast she could actually press buttons and the attackers were getting time to react instead of being taking out in a single volley from the non-lethals.
Someone would get through to the door and then…
Who put gunfire into that track?” Kim wondered aloud, somewhere nearby.
Excuse me, just a minute.” He said, getting up from where he’d been talking to JC on the couch. He hurried over to where Tammy, Kura and Maya were perusing the refreshment table. Catching Tammy’s eye, he let her know with a look that bad things were going down. And at the same time, he palmed a few forks and melted them in the palm of his hand.
How’re you three enjoying the party? You better not be drinking.”
You know we are almost eighteen.” Kura countered, defiant.
And when you get rid of that almost, I will buy you a beer and a pack of emjays myself, all three of you.” Warrick said, rolling his eyes. While they laughed at that, he sidled over to where Tammy and Maya had put down their props so they could hold their plates and cups.
Tammy played along. “Can I get that in writing? Maybe with a notary?”
If you can tell me what a notary actually does, squirt.” Putting his hand casually atop Tammy’s liberty torch, he wrapped the slagged forks around the handle. A casual glance at that and Maya’s caldron made him do a double-take—was that real fire inside the caldron? And had it waved at him?
Even though Tammy had told him about Maya’s peculiar ability to bring fire to life and her persistent ‘fireling’, Soot, it was still odd to see in person. Probably as odd as it felt to other people when they met Isp and Osp.
Forcing himself to ignore the little creature, Warrick turned his attention back to Tammy, flicking his gaze meaningfully toward the door. “Hey, don’t forget your torch, okay?”
She nodded, managing to keep the worry out of her face. And the surprise; she hadn’t expected him to take what she said earlier about being the only one who could use their powers openly to heart.
I won’t.” She said, making an effort to sound annoyed, as if he were just nagging her like any other older brother.
With one last nod, Warrick headed off, trying to find the best place to be when things went down.
Four are coming together at the door. Cyn, in the shape of a large mastiff informed Kareem as she peered at the group of attackers through a low hedge. I can probably get two before they get inside.
No, came Kareem’s reply. Four is manageable. However, I’ve read their minds and there is a third group somewhere at the bottom of the hill. We cannot afford to have them reporting back or coming to back these up. If you would; find them and take them out.
Cyn growled a little in her throat. She didn’t like abandoning her friends and her home like that. But he was right, and she was the only one available to go after the other squad. Fine. On my way.
Still growling, she loped off toward the stairs.
Back in the kitchen, Juniper let loose a startled little squeak when Kareem suddenly sprung back to wakefulness with an involuntary gasp.
Eyelids still fluttering, he turned and inclined his head to her. “Sorry for startling you. I don’t usually return to myself that violently.”
That’s okay. I was just… taken by surprise.” She said hastily. “Um… we should go back out there before they come through the door.”
Agreed.” he said, standing. But before he took more than two steps, he found a tray of cold cuts thrust into his hands.
At his askance look, she shrugged, “It explains why we were back her for so long.”
Then she conjured an ice dagger out of the air and slid it under the tray and into his hand. “And also it hides your hands.”
Why would I need a dagger?” Kareem asked. He was already planning to subtly undermine the ills of their assailants.
Juniper looked completely serious. “Because if they’re really anti-descendant, they’ll have theta-scanners and maybe psi-blockers too. You can’t be too careful.”
Seeing as he couldn’t argue with that, she conjured a second ice daggers and hid it under a tray of her own.
They had just got through the door when the lock on the front door was blown out.

About Vaal

Landon Porter is the author of The Descendants and Rune Breaker. Follow him on Twitter @ParadoxOmni or sign up for his newsletter. You can also purchase his books from all major platforms from the bookstore
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  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

    pining him under

    the party turned into a frey

    with her friends and danger
    in danger

    with a man who fear of her

    but ineffective action works exactly

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

    Hehe. Go Cyn!

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