- 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
“Uncle Hans, someone’s here to see you!” The girl shouted over the sounds of various machines working. And given how heavy-duty some of those machines were, it seemed that she had lung capacity proportionate to her strength. Chaos and Turmoil followed behind in her wake as she led them past a counter near the door where a rather buff man in a yellow spandex shirt was waiting with a sales pitch for new visitors and to another, larger glass counter further inside, out of view of the windows where water bottles, towels, and various and sundry other workout related paraphernalia emblazoned with the Brüt Force logo were on sale.
An absolutely huge man with long, straw colored hair and a thick, dropping mustache was in the process of topping off a stock of headbands when the shout caused him to look up. He almost hit his head on the underside of the counter top when he saw who was with his niece.
Straightening up, he held out his arms wide in welcome. “Now dis is a surprise.” He said in an affected German or perhaps Austrian accent, “Welcome to de Brüt Force Gym, Chaos und…” A pregnant pause set in, that unique, unsettled kind of pause that was born from a speaker who had no idea who he was addressing and yet refused to simply admit such.
“Turmoil,” supplied the man in question, stepping forward to extend a gauntleted hand. “Chaos’s far more interesting brother from out of town. They exchanged grips, the ceramic plates in Turmoil’s gauntlets grinding slightly in Hans’s grasp.
The girl reasserted herself by hopping up to sit on the counter. “I’m Carmen by the way. I totally forgot to introduce myself.”
Hans folded his beefy arms and raised a blonde brow at her. “She has also forgotten the rules. For example: no buffing de counter with our backsides.”
Carmen turned red all the way to the tips of her ears and she slid off the counter with a mumbled ‘sorry’. Then her expression turned sour and she rounded on her uncle, trying to whisper without much success at going unheard by her guests. “Please tell me that you did not just mention my backside to Chaos!”
Unable to help himself, Turmoil leaned over and stage whispered to his brother. “This happen a lot?”
“Less than you’d think. It’s Ephemeral that gets most of the fangirls.”
While uncle and niece continued to argue over who was embarrassing who more and Hans’s accent continued to deteriorate, Turmoil nodded in a different direction. “So two in one day must be a windfall.”
“Two? What are you?” Even as he was asking Chaos caught site of the woman with Cybernetic limbs. She was still pumping iron against the resistance of those steel cables, but her eyes were locked on the brothers even now that she’d been caught staring.
“Huh.” He said. “Hey, bro? Maybe this is because I was a geek in high school… and college… and my entire adult life—but are we sure that’s lust and not undisguised hatred?”
Turmoil snorted. “She’s just pumped. People make scary faced when they’re working out.”
Chaos was saved from discussing his ‘fan’ further by Hans raising his voice. “No! You cannot call your friends. These men are guests of de gym and,” the ‘unds’ had gotten lost along the way, “I will not let your friends come gawk at them!”
“Oh, it wouldn’t be any trouble.” said Chaos, turning back to the owner and his niece. “We don’t do a lot of planned public appearances and Carmen here does seem like a big fan.” The girl beamed when he remembered her name. “That is if you don’t mind Mister…”
“You can just call me Hans.” said Hans, who Chaos imagined had a less than hyper-manly name to go with ‘Gilbert’.
“Hans.” Chaos finished. “I know teenagers aren’t exactly your target demographic here, but any publicity is good publicity, right?”
While Hans pondered this, Turmoil had been watching the woman who had been watching them out of the corner of his eye. She’d gotten a message on her phone not long after he’d noticed her, and after consulting, it, sneered in their direction before setting down the weights and making for the door.
Whatever Hans was saying to his brother seemed far away compared to the niggling itch in the back of his head that was suddenly telling him that something wasn’t right. Chaos had explained that they were visiting the gym to see whether it was a front for something bad or not on their way over. Now he was wondering if they weren’t about to get their answer.
He half-turned to put Hans and the retreating back of the woman both in the arc of his vision. There hadn’t been any communication between the two even though ‘Hans’ was apparently the owner. And the worst actor Issac had ever seen. Could a group like Tome really e so desperate as to put a clown (super-strong or not) like him in charge even as a figurehead?
The woman went out the door without any trouble and disappeared around the corner of the building.
“Sure, we can sign autographs.” Chaos was answering a question put to him by Carmen. He inclined his head o Hans, “We’ll even sign some memorabilia for you to sell or raffle here, Hans… that is if you’d be open to carrying some Descendants Rights Worldwide merchandise. It only seems right considering a big part of your clientele are descendants…”
“And so are we!” Carmen volunteered happily, “It missed dad, but both man and uncle Gil—er–Hans are totally descendants like you! So is Mr. Dubois and Ms. Crandall.”
Hans turned slightly red at the girl’s slip with his name, covering it by clarifying, “De co-owners. We met on a bodybuilding forum und,” ‘und’ seemed to have made a triumphant return to his vocabulary, “we were all very frustrated dat der were no gyms dat could keep up wit our superhuman mightiness.” He flexed his biceps, each the size of a full watermelon, to illustrate. De Brüt Force Super-Gym is as much for use und our families as it is to make money.”
“But why Mayfield?” Ian asked, “I imagine there are more descendants in LA or New York than here.”
“Only by a small amount.” countered Hans. “You have changed tings. Descendants come here because you are here und Mayfield loves you. Dat makes Mayfield love other descendants too. It is a better place to live.”
Chaos tilted his head, intrigued. Living his private life without people knowing he was a descendant, he was out of touch with what it was like to live as one anymore. It hadn’t been hard back in Washington State, but that was because people were either mildly interested in what he could do, or didn’t care. Descendants and their power had largely become old hat to a lot of people thanks to an initial battery of reality television and news articles all about them. “I hadn’t thought of it like that…”
Neither had Turmoil, who hadn’t even bothered to tell his law partners about his powers before they just happened to see him use them to clean up a spill during a lunch meeting.
“Besides,” Hans continued with a small, fond smile, “Dere are far more interfacers in Mayfield.”
The bell over the door rang. It never ceased to amaze Turmoil how, in an age of sensors and wireless relays, how many places of business still used the old ‘bell over the door’ customer alert system. He glanced back to see what new impressive example of science or genetics might be coming in.
Except it wasn’t a new customer; he’d seen the guy through the window when they first arrived. Only now he looked to be armed to wage a small war.
Over his hugely muscled frame, he wore a vest that, despite its dimensions, failed to close over his chest. It was covered with pockets and had clips hanging from it that held what appeared to be no less than three grenades. Over that, he’s slung a bandolier stocked with shells too large even for a conventional shotgun. A belt covered with thick leather pouches encircled his waist, fastening in front with a steel buckle stamped with an omega symbol. Yet more pouches were strapped to trunk-like arms that looked so crowded with musculature that the shouldn’t have been able to bend. He’d also tied his messy, brown hair back with a headband featuring another omega symbol.
Hanging from more clips on the belt were two massive pistols, and judging from how their chambers glowed, they were no conventional lead throwers. The hilts of two katana peeked up from over one broad shoulder while the barrels of at least two long rifles peeked over the other.
And in his hands was an absolutely gargantuan weapon that was meant to be mounted to a vehicle. It didn’t have a chamber at all, but twin pods that fed into a central cylinder via tubes with the cylinder connecting to a trio of rotary barrels. A more conventional single barrel was slung underneath it. Whatever alloy the casing for the weapon was, it had a rosy undertones to its silver surface.
Chaos, noticing his brother’s reaction, turned as well. “What the hell?” He blinked. “Is that gun pink?”
“This isn’t a laughing matter.” The heavily armed intruder declared, moving closer. Moving… but not walking. His legs, which looked too atrophied to support him, didn’t move and his feet, which were so small that they would have been out of place on Carmen, didn’t quite touch the ground. He was floating.
As if to preclude any more laughing, he brought the gun up and fired at Chaos from the under-slung barrel.
The air compressed ahead of the slug at Chaos’s command, but the sheer mass plowing forward meant that it wasn’t enough to stop it. Knowing that Hans and Carmen were right behind him, Chaos supplemented his usual ballistic shield of air with a powerful updraft that curved the round’s trajectory up. Even so, he had to lean back to avoid being grazed in the head.
The shot blew a fist sized hole in the plaster behind the counter.
“Down!” Chaos shouted, voice echoing in throughout the gym. In the same instance, he hurled a hurricane force blast into the gunman, who shockingly, resisted.
The gunman narrowed his eyes and grit his teeth, squinting at the two heroes. “A little wind? That’s what you’re packing against Mayfield’s criminal slime? No wonder you’re such failures.” He fired the under-slung gun again, but this time Chaos was ready for him, deflecting the bullet into the ceiling.
“So who’s this guy?” Turmoil asked.
“Him? He’s new.” said Chaos. He called up another gust of wind, only this time he manipulated it into a whirlwind that slammed into the gunman. Turmoil joined in, conjuring a counter-spinning mini-tornado to attack from the other side.
But even as everything in the gym that wasn’t bolted down was blown about, and the wind tore at his vest and many pouches, the stranger remained stationary. Eerie white light spilled from his constantly slitted eyelids as he guffawed at their attack. “Yeah. I’m new. Your replacement, actually. The name’s Gundown and I’m going to actually clean Mayfield up instead of being a moralistic glory hog.”
“So… you think you’re a good guy?” Turmoil asked, cutting off what was clearly a pointless attack. “Did I miss something before you just tried to shoot us or something?”
The man called Gundown gritted his teeth. “Yeah ya did. Like how eight months ago, these ‘heroes’ turned a dealer named Robby El in to the cops.”
“That’s kind of the point.” Chaos said, letting his cape fall down around him. Beneath it, he was filling his palms with water from the reservoirs in his gauntlets and forming a pair of Chaos Novas.”
“And is it the point that Robby El made bail that same night? Or that he decided to carjack my sister two days later?”
“I’m sorry for what happened.” said Chaos, hesitating with the two explosives he was creating. “But I don’t control the justice system: We can just get them off the street and to the MPD.”
Gundown’s nostrils flared. “That’s the damn problem! They just come right back on the street! My sister was dragged three blocks. She lost both arms! You can’t just let criminals off; you’ve gotta deal with them…” He activated something on the gun and the three rotary barrels began to whirl around, glowing softly pink, “…like this.”
His trigger finger wasn’t quick enough. Spurred on by the fact that Hans and Carmen were still behind him and likely to be caught in any rapid fire shooting, Chaos didn’t hesitate in launching the two Chaos Novas at Gundown. The twin globes exploded into hellfire just in front of the big man, causing him the scream and raised his gun’s bulk up to shield herself.
“T. Now!” Chaos shouted, once more sending out a powerful blast of wind at his distracted foe. With Turmoil’s added power, the blast of air that hit Gundown this time was a visible pulse in the air. And distracted as he was, Gundown couldn’t defend against it and was cannon-balled backward through the glass doors and out onto the street.
“Nicely done.” Turmoil said.
“You’re telling me!” That was Carmen, who was crawling out from behind the counter with her uncle (who had lost his mustache in the wind). “That was amazing!”
“It’s not over yet.” Chaos informed them. “You two,” He nodded to the civilians, “Call the cops and get all the staff and customers out the back.” And you,” He gave his brother a grim look. “Let’s take this guy down and show him how real heroes fight.”
Gundown growled as he lifted himself up from between the two parked cars he’d landed between across the street from the gym. He saw that traffic had, of course, come to a standstill upon seeing a giant with a gun go flying across the street.
The people of Mayfield now mostly knew what to do when they saw something unusual and violent by now. There were even public service announcements about it: they were to exit their vehicles and retreat to a safe distance until someone; be it the Descendants or the MPD gave the all-clear.
Of course, knowing what to do and actually following said directives were two different things. A woman on a motor scooter threaded through the stopped traffic and zipped right past Gundown, eyes on her palmtop rather than the unfolding battle, and more than a few people retreated only as far as the sidewalks and that was just so they could get a better angle for their internet videos.
“Yeah, get a good picture.” Gundown muttered, sliding the pump action of his gun and checking to make sure the rotary barrels were still in working order. Satisfied, he raised the weapon, aiming for the shattered glass doors, waiting for the so-called heroes to emerge.
They did not. Instead, a dense fog bank rolled out at him, obscuring the entire entrance. Something moved through it, swirling the mists to the left. Gundown fired, the rotary barrels each spitting out a glowing green pulse of crackling energy. The shots sizzled through the fog, illuminating it green, but only hitting the big, fake arms surrounding the doors.
Another swirl to the right and he fired again, missing once more.
“So let’s recap,” said a voice directly in front of him. “You’re avenging your sister being the victim of random violence… with random violence.” Turmoil burst out of the fog, slightly to Gundown’s left; just far enough offset that the big man couldn’t turn his gun in time before a ceramic gauntleted fist connected with his chin, snapping his head back.
“Somehow, I don’t think you thought this whole ‘proactive, murderous prelate’ thing through there, chief.” Chaos came in from the right; all the way to the right where Gundown couldn’t turn easily, seeking to land the same kind of punch as his brother. Unfortunately for him, Gundown saw this one coming.
White lines of light flashed into being, creeping along every edge that made up his gauntlet until it was completely outlined. This was followed by a mighty force the shoved his arm back, spinning him completely around. A ham-sized fist, backed by super-strength hit him between the shoulder blades and sent him flying.
A panicked burst of wind gave him enough lift to clear the top of a car instead of crashing into the side, but he couldn’t stop himself from smashing through the window of a thrift shop.
Groaning, Chaos got to his feet. “Ugh. What the hell was that?”
Boots crunched over broken glass, the sound accompanied by an unfriendly feminine chuckle and the scrap of metal on metal. “My brother is telekinetic. He just doesn’t use it much, since he needs it to get around thanks to his protomorphism.”
Chaos looked up to find the woman who’d been watching him in the gym standing there. She’d changed into a cutoff black tank top with a metal plate over the heart with a Greek ‘alpha’ etched on it.
Her bare midriff exposed a metal brace that extended two curved tines that looked like exposed ribs across her waspish waist. Ian recognized it as a very old style spinal brace dating from around 2060 or so. It was a device that let victims of traumatic spinal damage walk. Much less obvious and intrusive means existed now, but they were popular for their style among interfacers.
Like Gundown, she wore a belt covered with pouches if indeterminate purpose, this one slung low on her hips to go with the expensive athletic pants she wore, the kind with the expansion ribbing in them . These too were black with silver stripes. Her boots were heavy steel toed affairs, the better to kick someone’s skull in with.
Unlike her brother, she wasn’t loaded down with weapons, though she was by no means unarmed. There was an extendable steel baton on one hip, a 9mm handgun on the other, and she was holding a pair of katana, which she crossed in front of her when she saw she had Chaos’s attention.
“He gets a little carried away. The deal was, I get first blood for what you let happen to me.” She slipped into an easy combat stance. “Allow me to show you why they call me Slicer.”
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