- Issue #61 – Higher Education
- Issue #62 – Poor Relations
- Issue #63 – Storm Cage
- Issue #64 – Stormfall
- Issue #65: Fond Farewell
- Issue #66 – City by the Lake
- Issue #67 – Emet
- Descendants Special #6 – Things to Come
- Issue #68 – One Week
- Issue #69 – Crashers
- Descendants Giant-sized #2 – After-Party
- Issue #70: Gold and Glory
- Issue #71: Yellow
- CynQuest: Yellow Fallout
- Issue #72: Turmoil Returns
- Descendants Annual #6
Issue #69 – Crashers
One minute, the music had been pumping, the guests all having a good time. The next, a horrendous, explosive noise over-topped that same music and a section of the front door, specifically the lock and surrounding door and frame, exploded.
Ollie had been standing there, making idle chitchat with Malcolm, who had become his idle chitchat partner at events like those. He took the brunt of the damage as the heavy lock crashed into his thigh while both he and Malcolm were sprayed with lacerating splinters. He toppled over, his injured leg giving out under him while Malcolm seemed too much in shock from the pain to even scream.
Moments later, the stricken door was kicked open.
First through was a woman holding a shotgun. The barrel was still throwing off wisps of smoke from the breaching round, making it even more intimidating to the guests. She was dressed in a military surplus camo shirt and matching BDUs with combat boots. A plastic filtration mask covered the lower half of her face and the entirety of her lower jaw, and a black cowl covered her hair. With the addition of the goggles over her eyes, only a few scant inches of her skin was exposed. In addition, she was also wearing a ballistics vests with pockets with a number of gadgets inside causing it to bulge as well as a bandolier of shotgun shells, color coded presumably by function.
Directly behind her came a man in similar dress bearing an assault rifle, a custom job, all composite and ceramic with no metal in it. While two other men, also dressed and armed for a shooting war secured the door and made sure the defense system wasn’t pointing toward the house, he strode into the middle of the room with purpose, weapon tracking from person to person.
“No one move, no one do anything stupid and we’ll all get out of here alive.” He said authoritatively. A look toward Ollie and Malcolm, who had sat down heavily, seemingly oblivious to the spots of blood forming on his costume across his back to him there was no point in promising that no one would get hurt.
Kareem stepped forward, if only a little, arms raised to chest height to prove he wasn’t going to resist—yet. Someone needed to get the attention off the other guests. Ideally, he might also get them away Ollie and Malcolm so Melissa could see to them.
“What is it that you want?” he asked, knowing full well what they truly wanted.
The leader of the group ignored him and looked around the party. “Who lives here?” He demanded.
Some of the party guests looked at one another. The only person at the party who technically still lived at Freeland House was Cyn. Only she seemed to be suddenly missing.
Brushing off the fact that he’d been ignored, Kareem raised his chin. “I do. Now please; for the sake of my guests, what do you want?”
“Clear.” One of the other men relayed to the leader. “Pods are still firing out there though; someone’s still free. Should we leave the door open?”
“Watch it as long as you can.” The leader replied. He then pointed to the woman. “You. Check the kitchen, make sure no one’s in there. And all of you here,” He swept the gun to encompass the room. “Palmtops, tablets, phones and anything else that gets a signal; I want a pile right here in front of me. Anyone that tries anything gets a bullet, get me?”
The other man who had brought up the rear, this one having on a bulky backpack as well as the standard gear, extracted a long, black wand-like device from his vest along with a palmtop of his own. “And we’re going to be monitoring for signals.”
Connectivity devices were slowly passed toward the center of the room by people too terrified to move.
The leader nodded, then said. “Good. Now all your valuable: watches, rings, cash cards. Everything. Pass it up here.”
Kareem watched it all and did his best not to let his expression change as he made mental contact with the others.
They are attempting to make this look like a robbery. What do you make of it?
Warrick made a show of undoing his cufflinks before passing them forward. They want to keep this on the down low. Whoever hired them to go after the computer must have a public face they don’t want to get uglied up by a hostage situation. Probably not Tome then.
Definitely not Tome. Juniper agreed, passing in her costume earrings. See how he’s treating Kareem? I don’t think he likes Middle Eastern people much.
I did notice, confirmed Kareem, his mind is also full of thoughts of descendants. He is both full of hatred toward us and worried about what he would do if he came across someone with actually formidable powers.
Oh! Tink’s mental shout made them flinch and was followed by a quieter, Sorry. It’s just that I read Laurel’s file on these guys only a week or so ago. The Interstate Psionic Bounty Agency. They’re a poorly veiled arm of the Deliverance Front for Clarity. DFC’s MO? They’ve been profit mongering off prejudice since the Muslim scares in the oughts.
And what’s more? Laurel had a cat-and-mouse spike war with some really talented hacker protecting the network of one of their subsidiaries. Whoever their hacker is might have narrowed things down enough to figure out that the hack attack came from here.
In their shared mental link, Melissa heaved a small mental sigh. That’s just like L. She doesn’t like to be arrogant, but sometimes she forgets being the smartest doesn’t mean she’s the best at what she’s doing. After a moment of silence, she said, Can one of you create a distraction so I can check on the two guys that got hurt?
Just then, Lily raised a hand. “Um, excuse me?”
Right. Melissa, who had more experience communicating through the mental link managed to convey an eye-roll. Never mind.
The leader of the supposed thieves looked up from the lackluster pile of good they’d collected and spoke gruffly. “What? This better be important girl, or I’d shut up if I were you.”
Lily shrugged as if he were just another in a parade of armed sociopaths she dealt with on a daily basis. “All I’m saying is that this is a bad plan. I mean, who wear their nice stuff to a Halloween party? It’s all about dress-up. Even I’m wearing costume crap and normally? It would make me break out in hives.”
“This,” The leader pointed his rifle at her, “Is not important.”
“No it so is!” Lily insisted, stamping her foot. “What I’m saying here is that you’re not going to make enough money to but a new gun rack like that. Listen: I’m amazingly rich: how ’bout a cut you a check, you guys leave and we can get back to the party?”
Kareem watched at the leader looked from him, back to Lily, trying to decide which one was more worthy of his contempt, seeing as those were the only two willing to negotiate. Finally, the rifle was pointed squarely at him.
“You. We know this was a hotel; where’s the safe?”
That… was a good question, now that Kareem thought of it. As far as they knew, there was no safe, which made no sense given its history as a destination for newlyweds. Nevertheless, he shook his head. “It has not been a bed and breakfast for many years. The safe was removed before our time.”
Lily jumped in instantly upon seeing the gun trained on Kareem. “See? Bad plan. I’m offering you–” And now the weapon was trained on her again.
“I said shut up, bitch.” the man growled.
“Kitchen is clear.” the woman sent to check said, returning through the doorway.
“Do the back rooms next.” the leader growled, moving menacingly toward Lily.
For her part, Lily only smiled the kind of smile most of the people in the room recognized as the one that appeared right before she did something really horrible to some poor classmate.
“Please.” she said, “I was trying to do you a favor. I was trying to be nice.”
Drawing herself up to her full height, she stuck up her nose in her most classic ‘Queen Bee’ pose. “Because whether you know it or not, my way? That was the high road. You, Mr. ‘Doesn’t-Know-How-to-Talk-to-Ladies’ just elected the way of pain.”
She planted her hands firmly on her hips and thrust out her chest, just daring him to shoot her. “Do you know whose house this is? Laurel Brant. Don’t know the name? Well let me tell you: she is on the board of Descendants Rights Worldwide and a teacher at the school for descendant kids. If there’s a woman in Mayfield that’s got a hard line to The Descendants besides Mary Northbrooke, it’s her, okay?”
“I don’t see her here.” the man said, still rolling forward, now looking intent on shutting her up.
“Oh, that’s just the start of how stupid you are!” Lily said, “Because you hit the one Halloween party where one of the Descendants is actually in attendance.”
Is she really saying this? Juniper asked.
She is Lily. Kareem replied, sounding haggard even mentally, Of course she is.
Lily continued by sidestepping and holding her hands out to Callie as if inviting her to take a turn at open mic night. “Maybe you recognize her from the news, or her award-deserving spots for Juan Manuel Reyes’s fine beers?”
Stunned at what her friend just did, Callie could only stare blankly for a moment. “Lily? What are you doing?”
The man with the backpack leaned forward. “I do recognize her. That’s Vamanos.”
“She’s one of them?” the other man asked.
“Whether she is or not, she’s getting on the floor right now.” the leader said, shifting his aim to Callie.
But Lily wasn’t done yet. “You think it’s just her? Well think again, jerk. Even though Callie her could kick you all to the curb in one second flat, she’s not alone.” She pointed at where Tammy, Kura and Maya were still camping the refreshment table.
“Those three go to the descendants school. And I totally saw the little red-haired one on TV when those guys in mecha attacked the city, and she might not look like much, but she turned into this fireball. So you guys are all toast. Literal toast.” She smirked victoriously. “And I used that word right this time.”
And people think I’m a little slow sometimes. Juniper said dryly. She started to edge around the back of the room toward where the lone female member of the attackers had disappeared. Her ice dagger was still concealed beneath her tray.
I’m pretty sure none of us actually believe that anymore. Warrick assured, unclasping his belt buckle/faux grapnel launcher.
The leader made a hand motion and the man without the backpack came forward with his own rifle, keeping it trained on Callie. “Get her down and secured. We’ll take those three.” He looked Maya in the eye, “And if I see flame, I’m opening up, full auto.”
Maya made a noise like ‘eep’ and tried to hide behind Kura. Her agitation only grew when the one with the backpack took it off and extracted from is a rifle-like device with two fold-out prongs and a stock with a digital readout.
Tammy shot Kareem a pleading look and he added her to the mental conversation.
This is not good. She said, Maya can’t control it when she’s scared—and she’s really scared now because these guys? They’ve got weapons like the guys that came after us over Spring Break! If they freak her out too much, this whole place could go up!
Up in Laurel’s workshop, Tink and Lisa had gotten that message as well, but they also got another message; this one appearing on the security screens in front of them.
“Break in up the hall.” Tink interpreted the flashing animations superimposed over a wire-frame of the building. “Jun’s old room. The real operation is starting. Should I make the call?”
They are monitoring wireless traffic. Kareem warned, The moment you attempt a call, they will likely jam it and become aware that you are in the workshop.
“Yeah, I can see the signal jammer working on the monitor frequencies.” she said, “But we have something they don’t know about: astral transceivers in every room of the house. Say the word and it looks like there are calls coming from every room.”
Lisa nodded, “And that would give Occult an excuse to show up, as Lily so eloquently pointed out just now.”
No. Juniper said quickly. If they hate descendants and are scared of them, they’ll shoot everyone trying to hit you. We can’t deal with them as The Descendants. For now, I think it’s smartest to try and distract them so Melissa can heal Malcolm and Ollie, and we can maybe calm Tammy’s friend down.
Look, Warrick said, These guys just pointed a gun at my sister and might have tried to kidnap her and her friends. I’m not gonna stand by for that. We need a plan with some action.
Kareem projected his understanding in the mental link. He knew how much Warrick cared about his sister and he also knew that pragmatically, they really couldn’t just stand by and do nothing. We are open to any ideas you have, Warrick.
There was a pause that made Kareem almost smile. He knew that Warrick had been expecting resistance and/or someone trying to talk him down.
Um.. oh. I got it. Here’s what we do. Tammy, it starts with you…
Down on the street, the third squad heard the sounds of fire and the loud thump of the door being breached, but no one called for reinforcement from the other squads, so they held tight, partially concealed in the trees lining the street and the darkness from their cutting of the power.
At the moment, their mission boiled down to a waiting game. The might be called up, the other squads might return victorious, or the authorities might show up and it was down to them to disappear and leave no trace of the op.
As most of them were military enthusiasts and/or wash-outs from the actual military, it chaffed more than a bit that they would be left out of the action, especially when they heard the defensive emplacements attacking.
On the other hand, they weren’t the ones getting shot at and potentially facing being killed by a psionic or going to jail, so there was some consolation there.
It wouldn’t have been if they were more knowledgeable of the situation.
None of the defenses at the top of the hill were designed to do more than incapacitate and none of the psionics at the house who were able to act openly were very adept at bringing violence.
The same could not be said for the golden tiger currently padding down the wooded hill from Freeland House. Cyn did know how to put a serious hurt on people and at the moment, she was in a very bad mood from both the party being interrupted and the party being interrupted before she could eat her fill of pizza bagels.
Lucky for her, there was a whole squad of bad men and women for her to take her frustration out on.
Plus, she could smell that some of them had brought MRE’s with them.
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