- 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
It was almost hypnotic, watching Cyn eat. Even after years and hearing the science behind the girl’s incredible metabolism, it was mind-bending in a way. The huge stack of pancakes kept getting smaller without any sign of where all that cooked batter and syrup actually went once it disappeared into her ever-chewing mouth.
She wasn’t even paying attention to what she was shoveling in her mouth. While one hand speared pancakes, the other was tapping at her tablet, completing a worksheet for her Biology class at community college that she’d had all week to do, but wasn’t technically due for another two hours.
Ian force himself to look away and rejoin the conversation Alexis and Laurel were carrying on in his absence.
“…moving in all the furniture that doesn’t need automation all this week.” Laurel was saying, “The gym is going to be the last thing done—I mean I haven’t even finished designing some of the equipment.”
It took him a second to catch up. Sometime after he noticed Cyn’s eating habits, things had moved on from talking about the school and how one of the new students, a kid by the name of Zane, was having a hard time of things due to having too little acceptance of the limitations his powers placed on him.
His didn’t know the kid, but from what the girls said about him, he wondered how it was even possible to not see the limitations on telekinesis that only applied to cloth. Laurel would tell him he shouldn’t judge and she would be right, but all he could think was how great those powers would be for pranks and almost nothing else.
Now they were talking about the new Life Savers Incorporated HQ, something that had become the center of a lot of talk around the breakfast table those days. There were a number of prelates signed on to take advantage of the greater resources, and even a few new benefactors brought in thanks to those charter members or the Descendants’ own increasing fame. Among them were Dexter Deeds, the special effects and hologram guru, and Li Bao Kong, whose industrial holdings produced a good fourteen percent of all the machine-grade ceramic material in the world and apparent fan of the New York prelate scene.
“Why don’t you ask the guys at that super-gym for help?” Cyn asked, her mouth only mostly full. It hadn’t been a week since what had to have been a traumatic encounter with what they now knew as a ‘Yellow World entity’, and all signs of it had left her no matter how closely Ian watched her for the signs. Then again, given her father, maybe the tribulations visited by a horror from beyond the bounds of reality didn’t stack up.
Alexis looked up from her cream of wheat, “Super-gym?”
“I think she’s talking about the Brüt Force Gym.” Ian volunteered. He didn’t miss the small smile Cyn flashed him. Since the day after her experience with the Yellow World creature, when she found him for a game of pool, it seemed that her attitude toward him had become more positive, though he didn’t know why.
“I’ve never heard of them.” Alexis admitted.
Cyn looked at her in the same wide eyed mix of horror and wonder she reserved for empty bags of potato chips. “You’ve never seen their cheese ass commercials?” She stood up so fast that her chair almost tipped over and shifted her physique from her slim default to that of a world class bodybuilder.
With a mighty and exaggerated flex, she showed off the new body. “Are you really strong, but want to be stronga?” She asked in a horrifically bad Austrian accent. “Den we want—“ She clapped and pointed at Alexis, “you to join de Force. De Brüt Force Gym dat is. We have all de equipment dat can keep up with de most mighty of muscles.”
Explanation done, the girl deflated back down to her normal form and helped herself to the plate of bacon and fried eggs on the table. Ian and Alexis had cooked as usual and the lion’s share of the food was expressly to feed their bottomless Cyn.
“Kind of glad I didn’t.” Alexis said with a bemused smile. “They might be worth checking out.”
Laurel sipped her coffee before waving her teaspoon like an empress’s scepter. “Check out being the operative words. This gym might be just a new iteration of the Academy for all we know. I’ll set my systems to dig into the owners before we leave for work. But if they check out, that’s a very good idea, Cyn; no sense wasting time and resources if someone else has done the work for us.”
Alexis nodded her agreement. “As long as they don’t flex at us while making their sales pitch.
Cyn beamed at the praise.
“And, in the meantime,” Ian added, “Me and Issac might take a walk or a fly on over there this evening. Sometimes eyes-on can still pick up things hacking can’t.”
“I really wish I could be there when you pick him up.” said Alexis, “But there’s really no one else Maya trusts to run her power creativity sessions besides Laurel.”
Laurel nodded, and got up to take her plate and empty mug to the dishwasher. “And I have a lunch meeting with Li Bao Kong; he wants to donate office space in New York for the Descendants Rights Worldwide chapter there.”
“You checked that guy out, right?” Ian asked.
She laughed, “Who do you think you’re talking to, Ian? Paranoia is my business these days. Kong checks out. He’s had some… unpleasantness with the mayor of NYC: name-calling back and forth in the press, his own attempt to run and unseat her… all culminating in him throwing a drink in her face at an FDNY charity event—but there’s nothing shady on him that I or Vimes could find.”
“Just checking.” Ian grinned.
Alexis took her own bowl and cup to the sink as well before returning to the table to give Ian a kiss. “I’ve got to go get ready for work. You and Issac try not to get hurt trying to prove your manliness to one another, okay?”
“Please.” Ian said, reaching up to pull her back down for a second kiss, “Like I’ve got something I need to prove.”
“I said I’ve got it.” Ian insisted four hours later as he shouldered the door open. His arms strained under the weight of the old fashioned steamer trunk that carried all his brother’s things.
“It’s my trunk and I don’t want you to break any of my things.” Issac glared at him, reaching past Ian to hold the door open for him. “I turn around to pay the clerk and all of a sudden you’re trying to pull a strongman act.”
Ian staggered out onto the sidewalk in front of the shipping office. The place was located right beside a commuter pod station on the main artery of pod rails coming into the city from the airport, but the station never looked so far away as now. Not that he was going to admit it. “Hey, you’re my guest. Though I have to question why you packed a heavy-ass chest instead of a few more manageable suitcases.”
“Give me that.” Issac stepped around Ian and grabbed the handles, yanking the trunk out of his hands. Now it was him staggering under the weight. “This is the smart, economical way to travel—do you have any idea how much checked baggage costs on a plane? Or how many different, interesting places your luggage can get to if you’ve got enough suitcases to pack for two weeks—not to mention certain more—ha–exotic outfits?”
Ian rolled his eyes and looked over at the commuter station. “How about you take one end and I take the other?”
“Deal.” said Issac and didn’t fight as Ian took the other side.
“How the hell did you get this from your place to ship it in the first place?” Ian took the lead as that started toward the pod station.
Issac shrugged, almost dumping them both over as the trunk’s weight shifted. “Called to have it picked up. But at home, I can just float it on an air cushion.”
“And how much damage does all that wind do to the house?” grunted Ian.
A smile of superiority came to the elder Smythe boy’s face. “None at all. How many times do I have to tell you, little brother? Maybe you can pull hurricane force winds, but I’ve got control and that’s what really matters when it comes to pulling off the really useful stuff.”
When Ian didn’t say anything, he pressed. “Oh come on, doesn’t Alexis teach control? Why haven’t you gotten her to help you?”
They got through the doors of the pod station and stepped onto the faux marble tile of the lobby. There were vending machines with snacks and drinks along with printable phones and fair cards on the wall adjacent to the door and a huge, free-standing kiosk in the center showing the various pod routes. Benches encircled large, round stands of fake plants. It was still a bit before the lunch rush, so there were plenty of pods standing ready in their alcoves in the far wall and only a few people on the benches, waiting for arrivals.
“Which hotel are you staying in again?” Ian asked, leading them toward the kiosk.
“The Elan Towers.” said Issac, “And you are not getting out of answering my question.”
Ian set his end of the trunk down suddenly, but with enough care not to damage anything, it still had the desired result of Issac having to go to a knee to save his end. The metal grommets on the trunk’s corners clicked on the floor and echoed in the sparsely furnished lobby.
He held up a finger at the sound and now the superiority was writ large on his face. “Oh, I’m not. But maybe the big, echoy room isn’t the best place to have this conversation?”
Issac made a face at him, but nodded. “Speaking of Alexis…”
“No date set yet.” Ian said, turning to examine the glowing map on the kiosk. “Probably next summer. That way she’ll start the school year as ‘Mrs. Smythe’.” He couldn’t stop his voice from cracking slightly at saying that.”
Moving to stand beside him, Issac studied the map as well, finally spotting Haley Street and tracing it up to the Elan Towers with a finger. “You know, Dad bet me a case of beer that she wouldn’t take your name.”
Ian checked the stop number and cross-referenced it with the map key before nodding toward an alcove. “Why wouldn’t she?”
“Mom almost didn’t take Dad’s name.” Issac took up his end of the trunk again, waiting patiently until Ian to do the same to lift it.
“Get out of here.”
“You never heard this story?” Issac asked. They carried the trunk between them to the waiting pod, no longer trying to make a show of carrying it higher. When Ian shook his head, he continued, “Well ‘Trenton’, her maiden name, belonged to a World War II flying ace, a highly decorated war hero for the British who the RAF still tell stories about. Mom was the last living descendant…er… blood descendant… who still bore his name when she and Dad got engaged. Once she changed her name, no more Trentons.”
They reached the alcove and set the trunk down. Ian paid before keying in their destination and as the current pod was too small for their needs, ordered a four-seater to hold the trunk. While they waited for the new pod to arrive, Ian leaned against the alcove’s wall. He chewed his lip, not certain if he wanted to know what caused the tragic end of the Trenton line. Finally, he asked, “What made her change her mind?”
Issac laughed fondly. “Gamma the great manipulator. She was sick a few months before the wedding—you remember how she used to get?” He didn’t even with for Ian to reply; both of them had been played like well-tuned instruments by their father’s mother from the time they were old enough to feel compassion for a ‘sick old woman’ who ‘just’ wanted every unpleasant chore possible done around her house, no matter how wildly unnecessary. One spring, she made them build her a gazebo.
The fond laugh was picked up by Ian. “Trumping a war hero. She must have considered that one her crown jewel.”
With a faint rumble, the pod arrived and the doors opened. The brothers each took an end of the trunk and shoved it into the back seat.
Task done, Issac sat down heavily into one of the plush seats in the front. “Let’s make a pack, you know, for the gazebo, and the new back deck: whoever has or adopts a kid first: their middle name is ‘Trenton’.”
“Agreed.” said Ian, pulling the pod’s door closed. A tone sounded as the vehicle’s computers ensured that everyone was seated and the door was sealed. There followed a slight vibration as the pod backed out of its alcove and onto the rail.
Once they were underway, Issac gave Ian a nudge with his elbow. “So.”
“So we’re not in the big hall anymore. There’s no echoes and no one to eavesdrop. Let’s hear why you haven’t asked for Alex’s help with your powers?”
Ian groaned. Even if he knew things were coming back to that topic, it didn’t mean he had to like it. “A lot of reasons. First being that I’ve been busy. Everyone else patrols at night, but I’m out here during the day, usually six days a week. Why do you think I haven’t been looking into a job out here?”
“Be…cause you realize how accomplished Mayfield’s tech scene is and don’t want to embarrass yourself?” Issac teased, earning a light smack upside the head for his trouble. “Fine. What’re your other reasons?”
Shrugging, Ian relaxed into his seat. “For one, you know how annoyed you get with all your neighbors coming over to try and get free legal advise out of you?” Those stories were a regular feature in the brothers’ conversations. Access to a lawyer seemed to make a good half of the people in Issac’s building extra litigious.
“Yeah.” said Issac, “Oh. I get it. You figure Alex works with kids all day, trying to teach them better control, so the last thing she wants to do when she gets time of is to do her just again only for free this time. Fair enough, though I’ll point out that; one, she loves teaching, and two, she also loves you. Seems to me that she’d be more than happy to help you use your powers better. All in all, you better have another, less stupid reason.”
With a sigh, Ian dropped his head back against the seat, staring at the ceiling. “I don’t know, Issac, I sometimes wonder if it’s worth it. Not the water shaping thing, but the little things like floating the trunk.”
Issac glanced out the window to watch the city whipping by. They were on the outermost track, so he had an unobstructed view of people and cars down on the street. “Are you kidding? The little stuff is all about quality of life. I never have to ask for help to move furniture, if I leave the remote on the other side of the room, I don’t have to lift a finger– and since I can make drinks rise right up to my lips, I’ve saved a fortune on straws.”
“Drinking out of the glass like a grown man would do that too.” Ian smirked, “Or stealing them from fast food places like everyone else.”
A deep laugh came From Issac as he continued to people watch. “My superhero brother advising me to steal. Nice.” He leaned over to get a better look at a really nice car. His fee from that last case had been substantial; he wondered if it might be time to trade in his old sedan. “But seriously, I’m not getting how that’s a reason. If course it’s worth it.”
Ian clasped his hands in front of him. “It’s worth it to you, because you can do all those things completely in the open. If it’s raining out, I bet you use a wind screen to keep from getting wet, and if you spill something on you, you just increase its density and peel it off.”
“Of course.” Issac replied with maximum smugness.
“That’s the thing.” said Ian, “I can’t. When I go out, I have to be a plain old, powerless guy; let the rain hit me, let the stains soak in. I love being Chaos, but I hate that I have to keep it secret.”
Issac turned away from the window. “Why do you keep it secret anyway? I mean, it’s not exactly a close secret: I know, dad knows, hell, those kids of yours told some of their friends. Oh, and Tome sure as hell knows because you didn’t have the costume and alias when Prometheus came after you. And even then, your alias is the same codename you had at the Academy. Why not go public—it might even make you some money. Keeping it secret just sounds like high school bullshit.”
Ian laughed an ironic laugh, “Man, sometimes I dream of the days when Tome was our only scary monster. Those were nice days. Believe me, we don’t want Morganna, or the Warpstar knowing where we live. Hell, even this mob guy we’ve been chasing on the side, Vorran, he could easily send a bomb or just goons with guns after us when we’re not at the house. Secret identities keep us alive. The bullshit part is keeping your family out of it.”
“Glad to know you still think it was a good idea, little brother.” Issac said, “And for what it’s worth? I’m also glad to know that you’re one of the ones protecting use from the freaks and monsters.”
The brothers offered respectful nods to each other and the rest of the ride turned to lighter subjects, like other horrible jobs they’d been coerced into doing for Gamma Smythe.
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