Issue #7: Legacy of One

This entry is part 8 of 15 in the series The Descendants Vol 1: Welcome to Freeland House

Part 2

The sun tinted the cloudless sky a brilliant orange as if began to dip behind the mountains far to the west, silhouetting the buildings in the western skyline perfectly. Warrick’s digital camera beeped repeatedly as he took rapid-fire pictures of the scene.

He was dressed in his black, face masked Alloy disguise to allay suspicion as to how he had managed to reach the top of the building he was using as a platform for his photography. The tentacles were out and rummaging around in Warrick’s satchel, occasionally, handing him things when asked.

A particularly impressive view of the Westinghall Building; it’s gently rounded facades reflecting the sunset; presented itself and Warrick took a few shots of that as well. “Isp, hand me my wireless transmitter, please? I want to send these to my email account so there’s no chance of accidentally erasing them.”

For some time, he had been privately referring to the tentacles by name. It just seemed appropriate that they had names. He had dubbed them Isp and Osp after minor characters from one of his favorite classic comic series; the one that tended to be on the right was Isp, the one on the left, Osp. They responded favorably to their new monikers, reacting more quickly when addressed by them.

Isp produced the requested gadget from Warrick’s bag and deposited it in an outstretched palm.

“Thanks.” Warrick said, plugging the transmitter into the camera and using the thumb pad to start the transfer of the pictures.

Somewhere down the block and far below, the usual buzz of activity was suddenly replaced by screams and shouts of confusion. Moments later, rapid gunfire spilt the air.

“Holy crap!” Warrick rushed to the edge of the roof and looked down. He was too high up and too far away to see what was going on other than the snarled traffic that was a side effect, but the gunfire continued. Biting his lip, Warrick made his decision. He mentally warned the tentacles of what he was going to do seconds before taking a running leap off the building.

For a second that seemed like minutes, he was sailing out into empty space, the wind rippling the fabric of his shirt. Then the tentacles sprang into action with celerity beyond what any normal human could match. Isp formed a slim harpoon and buried itself into the concrete at the edge of the roof. At the same time, Osp coiled and lashed forward, exerting forward momentum that propelled Warrick toward the sound of the gunfire. They alternated, one anchoring and one whipping forward, carrying Warrick forward in a gentle swinging motion.

Soaring over the gridlocked traffic, Warrick finally saw the cause of all the commotion; a winged woman he’d never seen before was dodging bullets and making sharp gestures in a seeming counter attack. Her opponent was the same man in powered armor as the one that had assaulted he and Cyn months before.

Eyes narrowing, he reached out with his power and converted several streetlights and window grates into snaking streamers of liquid metal in his wake. They whipped up around him like leaves on an invisible wind, falling into patterns formed from his mind. By the time he reached The battle, he was ensconced in armor of dark, weathered metal.

“It’s about time you showed your ugly mug around here again!” Warrick crowed as the tentacles swung him feet first into the powered armor’s back. The strike was too fast and unexpected for the armor’s flight system to correct in time and the Sky Tyrant was sent careening into a wall. “I see you’re still getting off on harassing women.” Warrick finished as the tentacles sat him down in the middle of the street. All around him, cars had been abandoned by drivers desperate to escape the battle.

“You!” Morganna and Sky Tyrant shouted as one.

Scuff switched from the rubber bullet ordinance Liedecker had ordered him to use in combat with Lady Nightshade to the Tesla Arc. “Stay out of this, tin can. My boss just wants a word with the lady.”

“Yeah, I bet.” Warrick said flatly. He wondered where the woman recognized him from. “What kind of guy would I be if I didn’t help the lady shake off some unwanted creeps? Smacking down handsy bad guys is up there with opening doors and pulling out chairs in these modern times we live in.”

“You’ve go no idea who you’re screwing with. “Sky Tyrant extended the plasma lance from his right arm. “Now back off!” He leveled the weapon, aiming for Warrick’s center.

Meanwhile, Morganna hovered, clumsily retrieving the object she had stolen from the DeFilippis Center from her bag. “Yes… I knew one would come. This new power – it… it will show them the strength of magic.” She drew out a heavy book, large enough that even her spell enhanced muscles had trouble balancing it in one hand, and began flipping through pages.

Finding the passage she was searching for, she laughed loudly. “Now… psionic… face true power!” She began reading in a twisting, fluid language, a haze of green light rising from the page she recited from. She didn’t finish.

“Shut up!” A bolt of blue lightning flickered through the air and into her. She screamed, arching her back in pain and dropping the book. The feathers crackled with electricity and dissolved into nothingness, causing Morganna to drop from the air. “Crazy bitch.” Scuff snarled through the Sky Tyrant’s speakers. “You’re more trouble than you’re worth.”

Warrick blinked. That halting, disjointed manner of speaking was unmistakable – Morganna. He watched her twitch on the ground a few times before turning his attention to the Sky Tyrant. “What are you doing messing around with that fruitcake?”

“Business.” Scuff replied dryly, his plasma torch still trained on Warrick. “Now that she’s down, I’ve got some time to kill before it’s time to drag her to the boss. Let’s talk old times.”

“You don’t have as much time as you think.” Warrick said. Before Scuff could react to the comment, invisible knives of force raked Sky Tyrant’s arm, this time actually scoring the lacquered paneling.

“Meddling machine!” Morganna screamed, leaning heavily against a car. “The psionic… is mine, Sky Tyrant!”

The sudden and surprising violence of the attack made Scuff forget he was supposed to take Farnsworth alive and raked her position with the plasma lance, tearing through two cars, but missing the darting sorceress completely.

Warrick grit his teeth. “I really hate to do this… but she’s more dangerous than you ever hoped to be.” He finally said. He bought his powers to bear on one of the cars the Sky Tyrant’s plasma lance had just totaled. Paint, plastic and glass collapsed as the metals beneath them deformed and jutted forward, reaching for Morganna like searching fingers.

Her hands suddenly sheathed in white flame, Morganna batted the first few aside before reaching into her bag. The remainder of the former car caught her before she could use whatever she grabbed. It flowed over her, encasing her legs and oozing up them to her torso.

“Pfft, she doesn’t look so dangerous to me.” Scuff said, switching back to rubber ordinance.

Moments before he fired, Morganna was surrounded by a rosy pink glow and disappeared. The bullets battered the encasing metal, and broke a few windows, but nothing more. Moments later, the same pinkish light flared into being directly behind Sky Tyrant and Morganna emerged from the Astral Plane, wings in place once more. Her left hand glowed white as she pressed it palm first into the small of the suit’s back.

All the warning lights on the head’s up display went off at once and Scuff found himself temporarily blind. Roaring wordlessly, he span, clubbing Morganna away with the still hot nozzle of his plasma lance.

Back winging, Morganna dodged as Warrick extruded more metal from a nearby mailbox to try to snare her. “Soon… in good time… psionic. The Book, it will–” She was cut off as she nearly took another shot from the Tesla Arc. “The machine first . I… want it and it’s master.”

She grinned at Scuff, who had regained his bearings and made a come hither gesture. “Follow.” She said, before winging upward and away. The Sky Tyrant’s flight systems screamed as it took off to intercept.

The tentacles coiled, preparing to swing Warrick after the pair, but Warrick mentally stopped them. “If she wants that book, it’s dangerous.” He reasoned aloud, hurrying over to where Morganna has dropped it. It looked even heavier than it did in Morganna’s hands and he had to grip it with both hands to heft it. “We can’t leave this thing just lying around.”

He glanced after Morganna and the Sky Tyrant, but both had turned a corner somewhere. “We’ll catch up to them after I get this somewhere safe; wherever that is.” The tentacles didn’t miss a beat in carrying him aloft again, toward the roof where he’d left his bag. “Ms. Brant will know what to do.” Warrick reasoned as he frowned at the strange symbols on the book’s leather cover.

***

Alexis continued swimming laps as the automatic lights came up to replace the lost daylight. Laurel sat nearby at the patio table, ostensibly to time Alexis’s laps, but her attention was almost entirely on her latest acquisition. It was currently in two pieces; a silver and black affair that fit over her left ear with an eyepiece that extended over the corresponding eye; and a pad of buttons about four inches wide, six inches long and about half an inch thick and made to fold in half.

“New toy?” Ian asked, emerging from the house. He had a can of cola in one hand and a glass filled with ice in the other.

Laurel nodded, “the Yamauchi Integrated Portable – it won’t be available stateside for a month and a half.” Her thumbs worked over the keypad as she spoke. “My friend Takashi sent it to me along with the Sentinel: Guardian of Order beta.

“Takashi… have I met him?” Ian asked, taking a seat across from her. He cracked open the can and carefully poured it down the side of the glass to avoid having it foam over.

“Yeah, he came to visit back in Seattle – about the time you were dating Leanne. Remember, he treated us all to that horrible Forever Sacred movie?”

“Oh!” Ian smirked at a sudden observation “Wow, that movie was so bad, I can remember someone because of their sarcastic remarks during it.”

Laurel nodded. “So, what’s up?”

Ian blinked. “Nothing. It’s a little too quiet inside, so I decided to come out here to talk.” He shrugged, but Laurel noticed his eyes dart momentarily toward Alexis. She didn’t give any indication that she’d seen it though.

“Quiet is good.” Laurel said, “Quiet indicates an absence of explosions, painful injuries or passive aggressive cat fights. Speaking of which, how do you think the kids’ first day at school went?”

“I wonder…” Ian replied, “I mean, we never had a real high school experience ourselves, with the Academy and all and neither have they. I honestly don’t know how high school is supposed to be aside from television.”

“Well—“Laurel started, but her phone began to play Symphony to Athena by the Blind Fighters.

“Hello?” She answered it, placing it next to the ear that wasn’t covered by the game’s headpiece. “Really?” She said in a flat, reserved tone. “Well I’ll get up to my workshop and I’ll take a look at it.” She said before hanging up.

“Sorry, Ian, that was Warrick.” She said in a hushed tone so Alexis wouldn’t hear. “He ran into something he needs me to take a look at while he was out doing his hero thing.”

Ian raised an eyebrow. “How did—“

“Super genius, Ian.” She said tapping the side of her head. Removing the game’s headset, she folded it into the closed handset. “Do me a favor, please?” Ian nodded, dumbly, still a bit shocked Laurel both knew about Life Savers, Inc and about his knowledge of them. “Tell Alexis she’s shaved two seconds off her normal time.”

***

Scuff was flying almost blind. Whatever Lady Nightshade had done to him, it had not only severed his connection to Liedecker but it had severely damaged his navigation and night vision modules. It was only for the fact that his quarry was being careful not to lose him that he was able to follow.

He didn’t really care if she was leading him into a trap; he had a full clip of rubber bullets left, his Tesla Arc was charged, and the armor’s hull integrity seemed to be holding steady. He checked it again – the damage sensors were malfunctioning, they said hull integrity had increased from eighty percent nominal to eighty three percent. Bug aside, the Sky Tyrant had never felt so maneuverable. Scuff put it up to his determination to teach Nightshade some manners.

The aforementioned woman back winged and spiraled down toward a burned out factory in the industrial section. One skylight had previously been shattered; granting access to what at one time had been the office floor of the factory. The Sky Tyrant glided gently inside after the retreating woman.

The moment the powered armor suit touched down inside, several hundred candles ignited with an audible ‘whuff’. They lit a space that looked like the scene from a century old vampire movie.

The walls were covered with alien writing; scrawled in seemingly whatever medium had presented itself at the time. The few desks that had survived were covered with glasses and jars containing assorted bits of flotsam and jetsam, some of which bubbled or smoked eerily. Cages held small animals of various shapes captive with only improvised dishes of water of sustenance. Blackened chains, presumably scavenged from the factory below hung from the ceiling in macabre imitation of intestines. In one corner, a makeshift forge had been built from a cement caster filled with coal.

There was no sign of the winged woman. Scuff turned the armor in a slow circle, Tesla Arc at the ready.

“You feel it… don’t you?” Morganna’s voice came from somewhere in the darkness. Scuff launched a bolt of electricity in that direction. He only managed to burn a few flowering plants that had been placed in the corner.

“Your machine… it listens now.” The voice was behind him now and he sent a burst of gunfire into a desk’s worth of glass implements.

“My… my gift for helping to show him. He is… powerful. He… will understand. This… this body knows he will.”

“What the hell is going on here?!” Scuff demanded. He tried to switch on his floodlights only to find that they weren’t working.

“You… you gain power from it. You…worry. About losing that power.” Morganna’s voice came from everywhere at once now. “I will make you one with that power.”

Light flared underneath the Sky Tyrant, a dark, blood color that threw sinister shadows around the room. Error messages exploded in Scuff’s head and he screamed. The Sky Tyrant’s flight systems failed and he came down on his knees in the center of a five pointed star drawn in light on the floor.

“Tell him!” Morganna’s voice boomed. She hadn’t been from inside the room at all, Scuff realized. She was in his head.

His body felt as if it was melting, on fire. Roaring in pain, he fired the Arc and his machine gun wildly about the room, hoping to catch his tormenter before losing consciousness. Steam rose from the weapons as they overheated and locked, leaving Scuff’s own screams as the only sounds in the room.

As he wavered and collapsed within the pentacle, he heard shrill, gleeful laughter.

TELL HIM.

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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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