Issue #69 – Crashers

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

Part 6
Tammy heard Warrick’s proscribed course of action and it made her smirk. Then she looked up to see a man holding a gun on her best friend and she had to force her breathing to normalize.
It hadn’t been that long ago that she’d wanted to be a prelate because her brother had. And then Warrick actually became one and she tried to follow in his footsteps as the Irrepressible Spark. That had been a near disaster that necessitated not only her brother and his friends coming to the rescue, but also his mentor and one of her own idols, The Whitecoat.
In the time since then, however, she’d helped protect a hapless volunteer librarian from astral monsters, saved her classmates from a dryad, and faced down people just like the ones there on front of her on the size of a frozen mountain to keep them from kidnapping Maya.
Just wanting to be a hero wasn’t a thing to her anymore. Now she understood. Otherwise, she wouldn’t have even thought of doing what she was about to: do everything in her power to convince the murderous bastard aiming at Maya that he wanted to shoot her instead.
Maybe Prissy over there wasn’t too far off the mark.” she said, glancing over to see the indignity on Lily’s face over that remark. “You’re bad at this. Robbing a bunch of people who basically have no money on them? That’s five years, max. If you take the TV’s, the computers, and raid the refreshments table, I guess you could work your way up to ten to fifteen.”
The leader of the invaders didn’t take his eyes off Maya, but he spoke to Tammy. “You better learn your place and shut your mouth, little girl.”
She continued as if he’d said nothing. “But you kill a teenaged girl with almost thirty witnesses? Can you say ‘needle’? Jeez, look at Mai over there. Once her picture gets out, even the people trying to get the death penalty outlawed would start hunting for a vein.”
He did his best to ignore her, but she saw him steal a glance and hesitate before deciding to remain silent.
And what? Because she’s a descendant? Hate to tell you this, but the public loves us. Yeah, the Braddock Island thing and Greenview Ridge were really bad, but most people are smart enough to know that one or two people doing terrible things doesn’t make the group terrible. Hell, me and my brother volunteered for the relief thingie at Greenview Rid—”
Shut. Up!” The gun swung around and Tammy had to lean back to keep the barrel from hitting her chest. Its owner pulled up his goggles to show her a pair of bright, blue eyes that nonetheless were flat and cold. “I never—never–want to hear one of you telling me anything about Braddock Island. Two of my old buddies from the service died int hat breakout. All because nobody had the courage to admit that you? You’re not people. You’re weapons; castoffs from the World War that came back to bite us. And just like the A-bomb, you need to be decommissioned.”
Tammy couldn’t help but swallow hard. She was cutting it pretty close now. Then she forced herself to smile. “Hey Soot?” The man pointing the gun at her looked confused, but over his shoulder, she saw a flicker of flame poke over the edge of Maya’s caldron. “This guy’s leg hair is delicious.”
What?” the man asked, confused.
Soot scrambled up to the lip of the caldron. He was little more than a flame with stubby pseudopods approximating legs, two more that were longer and more like flippers for arms, and a central core of brighter flame that resembled a cartoonish rendition of an eye.
Waggling his little arms, the fireling hopped off the caldron to the table, then from the table to the floor, where he wasted no time running up the would-be executioner’s pant leg.
The leader of the assault tried valiantly to split his attention between keeping his weapon trained on Tammy and dealing with the fireling who was burning his way up his leg. No amount of training could prepare someone for that sort of thing, so he ended up stomping, shaking and flailing his leg frantically within a few seconds. The moment his rifle wasn’t pointed at anyone, Tammy brought her torch to bear, letting loose a fat, purple spark that arced into him with enough power to send him sprawling on the floor.
In a moment of inspiration (and probably just so she wasn’t left out), Kura grabbed the edge of the refreshments table and flipped it over on top of the stunned man, pining him under an avalanche of platters and the table itself.
And just like that, the party turned into a frey.
Callie didn’t know whether to be scared or embarrassed. Here she was, supposedly a member of the rightly-vaunted Descendants, with her friends and danger, and she was being kept from action by a single man with a gun.
Logically, she understood why. Despite having powers, she wasn’t exactly durable. The suit Lily ordered for her was supposedly bulletproof, but she wasn’t wearing it because she’d decided that going to a Halloween party as herself defeated the whole purpose. It seemed that in that instance, Lily had been right.
And then Lily had been wrong. Very, stupidly wrong.
What possessed her to announce who she was to a bunch of gunmen? Did she not understand that Callie’s powers were useless without a running start? Given that running start, she could have taken care of things, and she was planning to when her friend opened her mouth.
So there she was, lying prone on the floor with a man who fear of her powers was giving him the nervous energy of a chihuahua on meth. Every time she breathed a little too deeply, he would scream for her to hold still, usually peppering epitaphs in for flavor.
From where she was lying, she had a good view of what was going down as the girl she only really knew as Warrick’s sister and her friend orchestrated a neat take-down of the gang of robbers. But she also saw that the man with the strange fork-ended weapon was taking aim at them.
A cage of blue electrical arcs danced between the points of the fork as the device powered up.
Out of the corner of her eye, Callie saw Warrick pull something off his belt. It looked like the secret agent grappling hook device she’d seen him display to Lily earlier. While Lily didn’t seem to think much of it, Callie thought it was pretty cool, if not something she would bust out when high-tech weapons were coming into play.
Warrick, however, appeared to think differently, as he aimed and fired the grapnel directly at the forked gun.
What she expected would be a cool but ineffective action works exactly the way Callie had seen it work in countless spy and prelate based cartoons. The grapnel flew arrow-straight, dragging a strange, gold-tinted metallic line. When it reached the gun, it defied all laws of physics by taking a sharp turn in order to wrap around it instead of simply overshooting.
The line looped twice before the grapnel latched on and held fast. Callie made a mental note to ask Tink (it had to have been Tink to have designed something like that) if she could have one for her heroics. If she read the other woman right, she would be delighted to supply a real life (if for the moment, useless) superhero with gear.
Confirming that the line was secure with a quick tug, Warrick then whipped his arm back and around. Again, it made Callie wonder if cartoon physics weren’t a real thing. Despite being a short, wiry guy matching strength against an obviously trained enemy and a thirty pound weapon, Warrick managed to send the gun flying out of the man’s hands.
It hit the floor spitting sparks as its former wielder looked around dazed and confused. He drew a sidearm and took a few steps back, unsure of where the greatest threat came from.
Callie was wondering that herself and forced herself to ignore the screaming demands of her captor to look around for where the fourth robber, the woman, had gone. She found her coming cautiously out of the short hallway leading from the downstairs commons to Freeland House’s largely unused formal dining room, downstairs rooms, and looker rooms for the pool. More importantly, it looked like Juniper was hiding at the corner ready to ambush her.
If there was anything Callie was sure of in the world, it was that sweet, naive Juniper might be brave, but she would probably lose in a fight with a marshmallow. Nothing good could come of letting her try her hand at that ambush.
That sobering thought brought her attention back to the gun aimed at her head and the paranoiac holding it. A sudden movement would cause him to fire. The question was: could she make that moment sudden enough that he would miss from six inches away.
Math was never her strong suit, but she doubted it.
On the other hand, she was one of The Descendants now and that meant she was a hero. And heroes didn’t play the odds when someone like Juniper Taylor was about to ‘brave’ her way into a messy death. She took a deep breath.
I said don’t move, bitch!” the man shouted at her, even more on edge because of what he’d seen.
Callie was also more than a little tired of being called a bitch. She wondered idly if she would have time to take him down and save Juniper.
She didn’t get the chance.
God, just shut up already.” That was Lily. Callie wanted to smack her friend for her seemingly lemming-like devotion to getting herself killed.
But when the gunman started to turn, probably to scream ‘shut up, bitch’ or something equally fresh and creative, and his gun wasn’t pointed at Callie for a split second, he suddenly spasmed and went down, putting a bullet harmlessly into the hardwood floor.
He collapsed where he stood, revealing Lily standing there. Her clutch purse was in one hand and in the other… a tube of lipstick? No, as Callie looked closer, she saw that the ‘lipstick’ was plastic with a pair of prongs sticking out of it. Suddenly, Callie remembered months ago when Lily had been showing off the ridiculous ‘lipstick taser’ she bought.
And you said it was silly.” Lily said with a proud smile. “Well I’m a wealthy young woman in a big city, and I need security.”
Callie didn’t take time to reply. The female robber was almost out of the hall. Pushing off with her arms, she got into a track runner’s crouch and took off. In five steps, she hit her stride and the world changed for her, everything tinting blue and slowing down.
She ran past the orc jet pilot and guy with a toy ambulance, skirted around someone in a mouse costume, and then had to run through Juniper before she reached her target. As she passed the robber, she reached out and grabbed one of the straps of the woman’s harness.
There was a moment of tension, and then suddenly the robber was pulled into Callie’s timeline (at least that’s how she thought of it.) The woman screamed in surprise, but was along for the ride as Callie ran them back down the hall and through the back wall of Freeland House.
From there, they bounded across the patio, down the stairs, and all the way down the hill to the end of the dock. Callie didn’t stop, but at the end of the dock, she made a sharp U-turn and let go of the women she was dragging along, releasing her back into the normal timeline with a good amount of momentum. By Callie’s reckoning, she would skip twice on Lake Standish before making a big splash.
On the way back, she spotted a flashlight beam somewhere upstairs.
Her eyes narrowed. Now she knew why the ‘robbery’ had been so badly carried out.
Kareem watched as the sole remaining member of the first squad fired several belated shots after Callie.
Everything had happened so fast that he hadn’t been able to react. He found himself deeply impressed by Tammy and Callie’s actions.
Also by Melissa’s because in the chaos that started with Tammy’s taunting, it looked like only Kareem had noticed her sneaking over to where Ollie lay and working her power on him.
Now, before the last man could take stock of the situation, Kareem focused on him. In his mind’s eyes, the man’s own mind appeared, a galactic cloud of thoughts, memories and emotion. From the roiling surface, he picked up the panic and shock at just how fast his squad had been pared down.
A little deeper, and he found the fading remnants of eagerness to fight descendants and attached to that, a deep rooted mistrust in anyone with more power, and envy over the same. There were memories of stories told by others of bounty hunts after other descendants, wrapped up in the desire, now fading, to do the same.
Kareem pushed past all that to the border between surface thought and deeper though, to the place where the actual working processes happened. There, he imposed his will and reshaped those processes just as he would the astral matter. As he smoothed away all remnants of bravado and aggression, he turned panic into acceptance of failure.
It was easy to sculpt an addled mind, and Kareem took total advantage, placing in the man’s mind that the only way he would escape unharmed would be to surrender.
Slowly, the gunman shivered, looking around at the party-goers with fearful eyes. Slowly and very carefully, he lowered himself to the ground, placing the gun down beside him. That done, he laced his fingers behind his head and closed his eyes.
That done, Kareem looked to Warrick and nodded.
Well then. Sorry about this, everyone.” Warrick looked around at his guests, sounding genuinely embarrassed for something like that to have encroached on his party. He removed his handcuffs and thought a combination of complex hand motions and metal-bending power that Kareem didn’t follow, made it look like they expanded into handcuffs. “Good thing I picked this costume…”
He was cuffing the surrendering man when Callie burst back into the room and paused upon seeing the scene before her. “Oh. You’ve got this then.” She said awkwardly. “Um… there’s more upstairs so…”
Her eyes searched the room until coming to rest on the fireplace and hearth. Zipping over to it, she selected the fireplace poker and coal shovel. “I’ll be right back.” With that,s he disappeared in a blur up the stairs. Moments later, there was the sound of panic, gunfire, and finally unconscious bodies dropping.
She really is very good. If a bit under-confident. Kareem noted mentally to the others. Is everyone alright? Cynthia?
I thought you guys had forgotten me.” said Cyn, now in her golden Facsimile form.
I’m sorry. We had a… very hectic time just now. Kareem replied.
It’s cool.” Cyn shrugged, leaning back.
So you’re okay then? Warrick asked. You don’t need back-up?
Cyn reclined all the way, resting her back on the windshield of one of the attacker’s vans and took a bite of a chicken strip from a Meals Ready to Eat packet she’d ‘confiscated’ from one of their backpack.
The side of the van had been torn out in a long strip, which was wrapped around one struggling man. A woman was hanging by her bootstraps in a nearby tree. Another woman and two men, all unconscious, were stacked like cord-wood next to a hydrant. And two more men, the two who had used the most colorful slurs against her powers, femininity, and several that didn’t even make sense, were stripped naked and bound by the rags of their clothes to the roof rack of the van like deer after a hunting trip.
Cyn smiled. “Nope. I’m good. Do you think we can start the party back up after the cops get statements?”
To Be Continued in the Pages of Descendants Giant-sized #2
Series Navigation<< Issue #68 – One WeekDescendants Giant-sized #2 – After-Party >>

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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