- 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 #72: Turmoil Returns
Mayfield’s Chamber of Commerce never ran out of new ideas to drive tourism, attract businesses, or just plain squeeze a few more dollars out of any given person who might possibly set foot in their town. And as they only had two more months left in 2076, America’s Tricentennial and the best excuse for gratuitous festivals, salutes and city holidays, they were growing increasingly esoteric in their attempts.
Somewhere between the First Annual Mayfield Chicken Show (their attempt at a ‘wackier’ version dog show), a charity baseball tournament between the local high school teams for the honor of playing a friendly exposition against the Mayfield Colossi and a late October Fall Farmer’s Festival and Miss Harvest Pageant, someone proposed that Mayfield have its own fashion week.
It might have actually been an odder choice than the chickens. Plenty of people participated in urban farming, but Mayfield was a city founded on and dominated by the tech and engineering industry with a rather anemic fashion scene. Even the most attention-hungry major designers turned up their noses at the invitation.
Undaunted, the Chamber of Commerce just shifted focus to calling the whole thing an ‘indie’ event and even paid to bus in indies from the rest of the state, plus DC.
And so it came to be that Richmond based designer Bruce Lovegrove was exhibiting his debut collection in the south hall of Merrimont Hall in downtown Mayfield before a modest collection of press, fashion bloggers and several industry insiders who thought that even the hastily thrown together fashion week might bring out some promising talent.
Lovegrove was a bit more savvy than most and was taking advantage of the locale. His winter collection was designed around bringing fur back in a big way, thanks in no part to laboratory grown pelts from Mayfield-based biotech firms eager to try new markets. A huge banner over the catwalk proclaimed the theme of the collection: ‘All Glitz, No Guilt’.
Things were going well, with online buzz starting to build already about Lovegrove’s creative use of a former luxury material that could theoretically now be mass produced. Instead of coats, capes, muffs and hats, he was offering blouses, skirts, full gowns and even trousers in soft, attractive fur, some of which had been so rare as to almost never being made into clothing on any kind of scale before.
Ian Smythe, known to the people of Mayfield better as his alter ego, Chaos, wasn’t even tangentially aware that any of this was going on. He read the paper on his tablet every morning, but only skimmed the style section. Even then, words like ‘fashion’ didn’t hold a lot of meaning to him. He wore what he thought looked good and never considered there was an actual industry and an art behind it.
Besides, he was so used to the Chamber of Commerce’s spate of events in the past year, that if they didn’t instantly draw his interest like the Fifth Annual Powered Armor Show and Sale or the International Robotics Expo, he just passed them right on by unless someone else brought it to his attention.
Bruce Lovegrove’s show was brought to his attention rather abruptly when he and the criminal he’d been in the process of apprehending crashed though one of Merrimont Hall’s high windows and he found himself skidding on his shoulders up the catwalk amid a cloud of broken glass with five hundred pounds of armored psychopath straddling him.
A model, wearing a button up chinchilla blouse with detached sleeves and a knee length skirt of fox tails dove out of their way and into a crowd of photographers to avoid the pair while another, a man in an ermine track suit with red panda gloves, boots and belt, turned and ran back toward the stage, the combatants seemingly chasing him as they bled off momentum.
“You should have sticked to stopping real criminals instead of messing with me getting back a my boss for all the shit he put me through!” The armored figure’s shouting was muffled by the welder’s mask that covered the front of the suit’s helmet.
“Sticked?” Chaos asked, then inwardly winced. There was no way he would have questioned that if he wasn’t engaged to a teacher.
“Shut up!” The reply came out overly loud and shrill. This made Chaos smirk at him. Obviously the bantering technique the younger members of the team really did work because the guy sounded like it was getting to him. It couldn’t help anyone’s confidence when the guy you’ve got pinned down, seemingly at your mercy is still smarting off at you.
The smirk faded as the safety guard slid back from the housing of the attachment mounted behind the suit’s right wrist, revealing a saw. It wasn’t just a regular circular saw either; it was the kind with steel teeth impregnated with industrial diamonds, meant to cut metal. An actuator extended the saw out beyond the suit’s gauntlet and the thing started to rev up to full speed.
Kicking to try and get out from under his attacker, Chaos threw up one hand to grab the saw-bearing arm. It may have been well over two years since he designed one, but he still followed industry news and specifications on suits of powered armor. He was facing either a Model IV or Model V DuraBuild Beam-Walker construction suit. It wasn’t built for war; in fact, it was really only designed to let the user handle heavy equipment like the saw safely. As such, it had a lot of power for lifting, but not a lot for applying downward force.
With just his own strength, he was able to brace his shoulder against the catwalk and slow the saw’s descent. The saw weighted a good sixty pounds however, not counting the strength of the man in the suit, so it wasn’t a permanent arrangement. While he worked to find another way out, Chaos tried his banter again.
“You know, I would have stayed out of it if your boss hadn’t fired you for stealing this suit to break into places. That, and how you chased him to the top of an unfinished building. Those are two things that put you on superhero radar, genius.”
“I said shut up!” The man bore down, grinding Chaos’s shoulder into the wood planking beneath him.
Above, Ian found his salvation: the banner. He couldn’t read what it said, but at the moment, he didn’t care. A gust of wind ripped the banner from its moorings and drove it straight into the saw. While the teeth cut the plastic easily, the material was also forced into the groove between the saw and its housing where it quickly wrapped around the axle, causing the blade to grind to a halt.
Dumbstruck by what just happened, the armored man paused to look at his obstructed saw. When he did, Chaos was ready, raising up just enough to bring his weight up off his cape and to fill the hidden flaps in its lining with more wind.
The cape billowed like a sail and pulled him from under the former construction worker, all the way back to the stage where he summoned a pillar of air to push him up to a vertical position. He landed on his feet in a boxer’s stance, cape swirling around him.
For the first time, he got a good look at where they’d landed. He was on a stage at the top of a catwalk, facing his opponent. Around them were a mix of photographers, bloggers and models all gawking at the pair of unwelcome invaders.
Typical that no one ever seemed all that keen on running in these circumstances, Chaos thought. Out of the corner of his eye, he spotted a knot of models in various fur outfits watching him through the curtain at stage right—as if the curtain would protect them if things went really bad.
He’d just have to make sure it didn’t go really bad then.
Hands still up on a boxer’s pose, he advanced on the man who was trying to pull the banner out of the saw blade. “You don’t need that to take me, do you?” He urged. “Come on, Bruno, if you think you’re hard enough. Let’s fight like we’re men.”
Not the legendary trash talk of Mohammed Ali, but it did the trick. The armored thug bellowed like a Brahma bull and swung at Chaos with the arm bearing the jammed saw.
It could have been a fatal blow, but that was the other thing Chaos knew about Beam-Walkers and construction powered armors in particular: they were slow. There was no need for a construction worker to be sprinting while eighty feet up an unfinished tower or swinging a sixty pound saw like an ax, so that wasn’t taken into account for the designs.
Chaos bobbed under the blow and rotated his right thumb inside his own gauntlet before squeezing the hand into a fist. He was going to get to try out his newest set of gauntlets and Laurel’s latest innovation in heroic asskickery. After running into more and more enemies that were armored or super tough, Laurel had given the latest generation of Chaos Gauntlets something to let Chaos be just a little more effective in hand-to-hand against them.
A panel on the back of his hand popped up and slid forward, fitting over his knuckles into a narrow ridge of carbon steel. It wasn’t sharpened, but it did taper to a narrow striking surface. It also aligned with a support brace that ran the length of his arm, allowing the chock of the punch to be more distributed. Laurel called them Ax Knuckles.
For their maiden deployment, Chaos swung a right hook into the armpit of the armored man’s extended limb. The ax knuckle did its job, focusing the power of the blow into a smaller area so that instead of glancing off, the punch punched in the plastic shell there, jamming it up into the joint and actuator. The extended arm was locked in place.
“Wha?” sputtered the armored man, trying to back away. “How’d you do that?!”
“I think maybe you don’t recognize me.” said Chaos, following his retreat to make sure he didn’t try to flee or take a hostage. “I’m sure you’ve seen me on TV at some point: blasting apart clay giant or teaming up against the guy who took an anti-shit weapon to the face without a scratch?”
He stopped following long enough to expel some water out of the reservoir in his gauntlet and form it into a Chaos Nova, the light blazing in the center of the liquid globe. “Or maybe you remember me as the guy that tosses around these things. If you don’t want to see how that suit feels melted on, I suggest you power down. Now,”
The disgruntled construction worker’s welding mask reflected the tiny point of light inside the Chaos Nova. The general public had been left to speculate as to just what the hell those globes were and why the water itself seemed to burn when they went off. The popular theory online was that they were tiny nuclear explosions, regardless of how little sense that made.
Whatever they were, the man in the powered armor didn’t want to find out in person. He moved the hand controls and the chest of the armor hinged open and the helmet folded back. He was red-faced from his earlier outbursts and exertion, but the threat of being incinerated after having his main weapon disabled had killed all his defiance and bluster.
Chaos slowly reduced the pressure inside the air bubble at the heart of the nova, letting the heat boil the water away until his hand was empty. “You made the right choice.” He informed his latest capture as he moved to pull the now exposed unbuttoning latches still holding the man in.
Around him, camera flashes started going off and a few people actually applauded. It would have been surreal If it weren’t life in Mayfield. Machine City was starting to become Super City even if no one was keen on giving up the nickname just yet.
The police had arrived by the time the man, now identified as Harold Imus, was out mostly out of the suit. The damaged arm would have to be cut off him down at the station, but without power, it hung off him as dead weight.
Chaos hung around to give his report, and as he was about to take his leave, a man ran up to him. He was a big man, taller than Chaos, and with a slight paunch that was mitigated by his dark red, fitted suit and black silk shirt. His face was nearly was red is Imus’s but looked like that was his natural state. His auburn hair had dyed silver streaks in it and his mustache was waxed into an exaggerated curve that made Chaos decide that this was a man who owned a pipe and monocle.
Before the hero could say anything the man had grabbed his gauntleted hand with both hands and was shaking it with great vigor. “You sir are magnificent!” He boomed, “Not only did you save my show from that psychotic, but your dynamic entrance and the battle are going to make me the talk of the event! I can never repay you enough, but…” He let go of Chaos’s hand and produced a card from his breast pocket. “I simply must design something for you. Just send your measurements to me.”
Not wanting to be rude, Chaos took the card and slipped it into a compartment on his belt. “Thank you, I’m not sure if it would be seemly to take any kind of payment for the heroics, but I’ll think about it.” He didn’t mention how landing in the hall was an accident. He’d been trying to keep himself and Imus from dying after the later tackled him off a high beam.
“Please do.” smiled the man whom the card identified as Bruce Lovegrove. “And again, thank you so much.”
“All in a day’s work.” Ian said with a grin. He never got tired of trotting out that old chestnut. Calling up a pillar of air, he filled his cape and took off, flying out the window he crashed through earlier.
He didn’t get ten blocks before a tone in his ear told him that he was receiving a call. The accompanying icon bearing a familiar face that flashed up on his visor’s HUD showed that said call was coming from the dedicated secure phone he’d given his brother.
“Issac?” He asked after accepting the call. His brother was a busy man and didn’t call all that often, unlike their father, so he had a sick feeling about this one.
That feeling was banished by Issac’s greeting. “Engineer, superhero and now fashion model. You’re a real Renaissance man, aren’t you little brother?”
Chaos groaned. “That was less than ten minutes ago; how could you possibly know that happened?”
Issac laughed. “It never occurred to you that I can just set up an alert in my Quintessence account to tell me when new news comes out of Mayfield about the Descendants? I figured I hear if you got your ass kicked quicker from the media than from you after all.”
“Are you seriously taking time out from all that important, high level lawyering you do to razz me about crash landing at a fashion show?”
“Pretty much, yes.” said Issac. He gave Chaos enough time to fume before adding, “I was going to call later this week, but this opportunity was too good to pass up.”
“Is dad okay?” Chaos asked flatly, already knowing the answer but just wanting to display his displeasure at the mockery.
This only made Issac sound more amused. “Totally fine. He had a doctor’s appointment two weeks ago and everything checked out. All he can talk about is coming over to your place for Thanksgiving. That’s the real reason I called.”
“You want to know what dish to bring?”
“Funny.” said Issac, who didn’t make toast for himself if he could help it. “No, I settled a big case earlier than I expected. The partners are all pretty pleased—I’m smoking a Cuban cigar Mackere gave me from his personal stash right now by the way—”
“Congratulations.” Chaos meant it, but he also said it to cut off more boasting.
“Thanks. So anyway, I’ve got no clients slated until after the break, so I figured I might come to Mayfield a week early. You know, take in a hockey game, catch up with you, Alex and L… bring down the hammer of justice on some lowlifes.”
Chaos pause din his flight. “Excuse me? Say that last part again? I thought this life wasn’t your style.”
Issac coughed deliberately. “It’s not. Like I said, I don’t have the free time to go out every day and do your do. But every once in a while it sounds like a good way to relax, unwind and blow off some steam. Going to the dojo and sparring just isn’t the same after smacking down those two lizard people.”
“Issac, I’m not sure you really got what that report was about. The guy nearly chainsawed my head open.”
“And you wound up kicking his ass. Look, bro: I know the risks. I’m just being flippant about it because, well let’s face it, if I wasn’t you’d wonder who the hell this was calling you. Besides, I’ve gotten into online DIY videos and I’ve made a few modifications to my ‘Turmoil’ costume. Kind of want to show it off.”
A faint sneer entered Chaos’s voice. “Do I hear the sound of competition?”
“Do I hear an invitation?”
“Bring it on, big brother.”
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