Issue #72: Turmoil Returns

This entry is part 15 of 16 in the series The Descendants Vol 6: Returns and Departures

(Part 5)
Chaos tried to keep the incredulity off his face at hearing his opponent’s name. Back when they were at the Academy, Laurel always made fun of his and Alexis’s choices of ‘Chaos’ and ‘Darkness’ respectively, to the point that they barely used them. That turned out to be a blessing, as no one seemed to make the connection of the hastily chosen codenames to them. Still, his ‘I want to be a bay boy’ choice of ‘Chaos’ sounded like a stroke of genius compared to a sword wielder named ‘Slicer’.
He kept on his guard as the woman started to stalk a circle around him.
The swords themselves might be a real problem. Ballistic cloth resisted and spread out the energy of impacts both from small caliber weapons fire and to a certain extent, bludgeoning weapons. What it couldn’t do much against were slashing and piercing. Like the kind of damage swords were very good at.
Where he brother came in blasting, however, Slicer seemed a bit more chatty. He seized on that.
“Your brother told me what happened to you and why. I’m sorry; for what it’s worth.”
Slicer drew one blade across the other, making a hissing, metallic sound as she watched him over the intersection of the edges with one eye visible to him. That eye wasn’t showing much in the way of sanity. “Not much. But go on, hero, beg for your worthless life.”
“I’m not begging. Just keeping my facts straight.” And stalling. Even before he and Turmoil left the gym to confront Gundown, he’d tripped the lowest level alert on his comm. Someone would be there to help soon, more if it was a slow day. In fact, as he spoke, a small text window opened on his HUD. It read simply: ‘on my way’.
Chaos tried not to let it show that he knew someone was inbound, continuing his speech. “For example: We don’t have any police powers or jurisdiction to keep anyone locked up. I know you got hurt, but bail and sentencing is out of our hands.”
Slicer gave him an unkind smile. “You want to know what you could have done? Let me show you!” The lunge fast far faster than Chaos expected and he just barely raised his hands in time to catch her scissoring dual slashes on his gauntlets. One blade was deflected while the other actually cut into the ceramic casing and punctured the water reservoir there, causing a thin trickle of water to begin leaking out.
Thrusting his arms apart, he took the opening to go for a headbutt, only to have Slicer bent back almost parallel to the floor and when he overextended trying to follow, brought a knee up into his gut. Rather than let her catch him with her swords while he recovered, Chaos called up a gust of wind to catch his cape and throw him back and away from her, landing between two racks of clothes.
It was then that he got a full view of what Slicer had done to avoid his headbutt. She really had bent back parallel to the floor: ninety degrees at the waist in a manner that shouldn’t have been possible for someone with an intact spine.
Slicer straightened back up, knowing without seeing his visor-covered eyes just how astonished he was. “When They game me my new arms, I had them add a few more improvements.” And with that, she launched herself at him again.
Pink bolts of photosynthetic mass hissed through the dispersing fog screen, striking cars, signs and buildings, but never the darting figure of Turmoil.
“I don’t even know who you are.” said Gundown, never letting up on his trigger. “So if you wanna live, you can just back out of this right now.”
Turmoil dropped down behind a panel truck to shield himself. Since Chaos hadn’t reappeared after being knocked through the thrift shop’s window, he was forced to assume his brother was too injured to continue. In that case, he needed to finish the battle with Gundown quickly.
“Did you seriously suggest I run away while you’re trying to murder a hero and putting the public in danger? What? Do you think this is a clown suit I’m wearing?” He called over the noise of hot PSM chewing away at the truck’s metal sides.
Just down the block, he saw exactly what he needed: a fire hydrant. A Chaos Nova formed in his palm. “Trademarks not withstanding, I’m well within fair use to inform you…” Football had always been his game before he decided law was his true calling, and he was still known to play pick-up games in the park back in Paradise. It came in handy to land his Nova with pinpoint accuracy against the side of the hydrant, blasting it wide open.
He rose into the air surrounded by twin columns of water twisted around him in a helix. Every one of Gundown’s shots sizzled harmlessly into steam in the undulating vertical rivers.
“…That I’m a goddamn superhero!”
Reaching into the streams, he extruded a watery bullwhip, which he cracked toward Gundown’s weapon. The impact broke open part of the case and water seeped in instantly, causing bright flashes as parts began shorting out. The light in the barrels down and their rotation slowed to a halt.
“You say superhero,” Gundown threw his broken gun aside and drew the two pistols at his hips, “I say ‘criminal enabler. You can’t stop crime by punching it and sending it to jail. There’s only one solution to crime.” That answer was implicit in the volley of PSM bolts he sent at Turmoil.
The aquatic shield was enough to stop them, but they distracted the hero from seeing luminous skeins of white outlining two cars beneath him until they were already rapidly rising to crush him between their masses.
“Whoa!” Turmoil dropped a downdraft on himself, smashing his own body downward before the cars could do so in a more fatal manner. Letting go of his control over the hydrant spray, he threw himself forward just as the now mangled cars came crashing down.
Gundown sneered with gritted teeth. “Guns are just part of the answer. See, I’m not just a protomorph: I’ve got telekinesis. Good to help me get around, better to pound some fake heroes.”
His power outlined a row of parking meters, snapping them off their posts and aiming the jagged ends at Turmoil.
Slicer dashed down the aisle between the clothing racks, her swords tearing the hanging merchandise to scraps and throwing the pieces out in front of her as a distraction.
“You know what I wonder,” said Chaos, letting wind catch his cape again and pull him back to the end of the aisle. “If you and your brother think that killing criminals for hurting you is okay, wouldn’t that mean that my loved ones would be in the right to kill you?” He grabbed both racks and pulled, tipping them over around Slicer,
Unfortunately, the woman was far more agile than he expected and neatly leapt out of the way before landing on top of the fallen racks and running along them. She went at him with bold and powerful slashes backed by the augmented strength of her artificial limbs.
“This isn’t about revenge! This is about keeping anyone else from having this happen to them! We would just kill our way up the organization—all the way up to Vorran—but we knew you’d stop us. So you’ve got to die first!”
Chaos dodged and pulled a rack of locally made post cards into her path, getting one blade caught in the baskets and hooks there to hold the cards. With a grunt, he knocked the display over, pulling the sword from Slicer’s hand in the process.
“I might buy that you were only trying to protect people if Gundown didn’t just open up on a gym that he knew had civilians in it. Did you know that if I hadn’t deflected his first shot, it might have gone through me and into the teenaged girl standing behind me? Think her uncle can afford to buy her a bunch of expensive hardware like you’ve got? Or the big toys your brother’s packing?”
“Shut up!” Slicer said with a savage light gleaming in her eyes. She feinted with her swords, but then dropped down and swept his feet from under him. Before he could rise, her sword was already falling straight at his head.
What happened next, Chaos admitted later was something that was incredibly stupid for him to have tried. But years of martial arts movies made him react without thinking.
And it saved his life.
As always when danger was headed his way, he compressed he air to slow down the blow. Then he clapped his hands together over his head. Unprotected, his hands would have been sliced open, but he was in costume and wearing his gauntlets, which had not only started out strong, but had been reinforced with a carbon lattice glazing to help distribute energy more efficiently after he broke his hand punching the invincible villain Inexorable.
So instead of suffering damaged hands and an even more damaged skull, he caught the blade between his palms, arresting the swing just an inch from his head.
A moment of confused silence fell between the two as neither could believe that worked.
Chaos broke the tension by laughing. “Of course that worked. This is how my life goes now. I’ve been kidnapped by ninjas. They gave me an apology jet.” When Slicer balked at this, he took her continued hesitation to jerk his hands to the side, flexing then snapping the katana’s blade in half. He followed it up by sinking a fist into her midsection and sending her stumbling back over the fallen postcard rack.
He threw the broken end of the sword aside and approached her cautiously. “You and your brother have no idea what you’re doing with all this, do you? What? Do you think that killing me is going to scare the rest of my team enough that they’ll just let you go on your vigilante killing spree?”
Slicer didn’t give him an answer and he moved closer. “Hell no. And do you know why? Because The Descendants exists to protect everyone. Not just the innocent, not just people we like: Everyone. And if you want to murder folks out of some misguided kind of revenge, no matter if they’re the same guys we’re out there every night trying to put in jail, we’re going to stop you.”
“Bullshit!” Slicer got her foot under the fallen postcard rack and kicked it up into him. Cards exploded into the air as he summoned wind to reduce the impact. With them as cover, she found her unbroken sword, grabbed it, and kipped up to standing.
“If your job is to ‘protect’, why didn’t you protect me?” She swung just as Chaos cleared the cards from his vision and just barely lifted the rack to intercept her blade. She didn’t give him time to go on offense, slashing at him again and again, driving him back toward the windows. “I was ‘innocent’! I never did anything to anyone, but you let that slime go and this is what happened!” One more fury-fueled stroke and she cut completely through the rack, leaving Chaos completely open.
She drew the pistol from her hip and snapped off two PSM shots at point blank range into Chaos’s chest. The ballistic cloth kept it from penetrating and spread out the impact, but the energy was enough to knock him back through the window, landing on his back on the sidewalk.
By the time he’d gotten his equilibrium back, Chaos found Slicer standing on the window sill, sword in one hand, pistol in the other. She looked to be trying to decide which weapon to finish him off with.
Turmoil dodged the first parking meter-turned-spear, trying not to wince as he heard the broken metal shaft embed itself in the twisted mass of the two cars behind him, then ducked as a second flashed by him at an angle. This one cracked off the asphalt and went pinwheeling off into the gutter.
The next two were met by escrima sticks made of water and deflected to the ground and the last by a shield formed by bringing both sticks together.
He then put his power into the puddles formed from his stunt with the hydrant water and recreated the fog bank Chaos made before.
This time Gundown didn’t stay put, but floated into the fog, hunting his foe more directly. From his back, he drew a wide barreled pulse cannon and flipped the switches to power it up. “Not this again. You caught me off guard last time, but I’m prepared for you this time.”
Fog swirled to his left and he snap-fired the pulse rifle into it. The near-invisible wave from the gun’s barrel plowed a tunnel through the fog until it revealed a parcel drop-off box, which it then smashed beyond recognition.
“Somehow I doubt that.”
Gundown whirled toward the voice, but before he could pull the trigger, something exploded in the air in front of him, slamming him with a wave of heat and concussive force that lifted him and hurled him five feet before he crashed down had on his back. Something cracked as his muscular bulk proved too much for the plastic case of one of his weapons.
“What the hell?” was all he could muster as the fog receded.
Instead of lifting or settling, however, the mists were whipped into a tight spiral that fed into a steadily glowing sphere in the upraised palm of Turmoil.
“That was a little something we call a Chaos Nova. It’s basically a bomb and I can make them at will. That’s the kind of lethality my brother and I have access to. And if you’ve hurt my brother, or continue to try and hurt my brother, well I might just take your advice and get a little proactive, got me?”
Gundown forced his face to lose the stunned expression and twisted it into a sneer. “I’ve heard everything there is to hear about the Descendants. You moralistic chumps wouldn’t dare.”
Turmoil didn’t flinch, the Chaos Nova in his palm glowing brilliantly. “You’ve heard of the Descendants? Then you might notice that you haven’t heard of me. I’m from out of town and I’m maybe not as clear on the rules as my brother and his team.” He tossed the Nova from on hand to the other, causing shadows to dance crazily about his face. “But yeah, I might not be willing to kill you. Then again, killing you isn’t the worst thing I can do with something that burns at two thousand degrees. I could just make all your skin into one big burn scar. Or I could get creative. That’s the fun of being the relative from out of town; the X-factor. The question you’ve got to ask yourself is ‘can I risk it?’.” He shifted smoothly into a throwing stance. “Well, can ya?”
It took all of his self control not to finish with ‘punk’. Crashing and voices from a nearby building already told him that Chaos was alive and fighting someone else, and he wanted to pacify Gundown as soon as possible so he could lend a hand.
Pure white light from the heart of the Nova danced in Gundown’s eyes, which never left it. But those eyes betrayed no fear and no signs of defeat. Instead, he reached for one of the pistols on his hip.
Chaos looked up at the woman, at the hate and rage in her eyes and felt his own stomach tighten. “If I had known; if I had been there, I would have saved you.” He said, “I would have saved to three people that died in that fire last week too, and that kid that’s in the hospital after that hit and run a few weeks ago? I would have saved him and dragged that driver in by his ears.”
The only indication he had that Slicer was listening was the fact that she hadn’t attacked yet, so he continued. “I would have saved those hijackers on the Storm Cage too. And deflected the bullets from every gang shooting in the city. I don’t want anyone to suffer or for anyone to die. I’m sorry. It won’t fix anything, it won’t undo the pain you’ve gone through, but I’m so sorry. Not for failing to kill the man that did this to you, but for not being there.
“Every day, I wake up and I have to come to terms with the fact that I’m not going to stop everything bad going down in this town; that I’m not going to save everyone and that someone might die because I wasn’t there. Try as I might… I’m not God. I don’t have providence over Creation, just over my choices and whether I come out here and do everything I can for those I can help.”
He levered himself up to sitting. “And right now, I want to help you, Slicer. This will go a lot better for you if you gave up now and told your brother to do the same.”
Slicer didn’t reply. Her grip had tightened on both her weapons, but neither was held at the ready anymore. Chaos slowly got to his feet. “Just put those down, call your brother and this ends. I’ll even put in a good word for you.”
She shook her head slowly, but didn’t move to attack. “You don’t understand.” She murmured. “This isn’t what has to stop—that has to stop. The pushers and the guys dealing illegals guns and the big bosses behind it. It’s not the Robby El’s of the world that need to go, it’s the bosses that pay to spring them and then demand their money back. Eduardo Vorran: that’s the man whose fault this is, and you people have done nothing to stop him.” At this, she looked him in the eye, her gaze aflame with intensity.
“We’ve been trying.” said Chaos, unable to conceal a small groan in his voice. Out of the corner of his eye, he saw a swirling fog bank up the block from them and heard the boom of a weapon being discharged. “For years. The man is hidden behind smoke and mirrors. We take down operations and any number of his soldiers and he imports more. Guys lie him, it’s not easy, but I swear to you that we and the MPD are on the case—and we won’t fail you.”
Some of the heat left Slicer’s eyes and she opened her mouth to say something. She didn’t get a chance because at that moment the fog got her attention. Not the fog so much as the motion in it as it began to rotate, drawing in around a single, brightly glowing point.
Both Chaos and Slicer watched as Turmoil was revealed from the mist and delivered his ultimatum to Gundown.
The question you’ve got to ask yourself,” Turmoil was asking, “Is ‘can I risk it?’.”
“That’s one way to defuse the situation.” Chaos muttered, wishing he hadn’t bought his brother that old movie collection for Christmas.
“Well, can ya?” Turmoil finished.
Slicer moved faster than Chaos could react and the next thing he knew, the blade of her katana was at his neck. “No he can’t!” She shouted, catching Turmoil’s attention, “And neither can you.”

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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  1. “…calling the whole thing and ‘indie’ event…”
    An indie event.

    “…taking advantage of the local.”

    “That, and how you cased him…”

    Using a welder’s mask as a, well, mask looks like something that’d work and therefore comes up in fiction now and then, but the glass on a welder’s mask is actually far too dark for it to be viable. I guess it can be excused by assuming they’ve changed the glass but it’ll probably seem odd to anyone who has tried welding.

    • Fortunately, the comments in another serial with a welding mask have given me the KNOWLEDGE!

      Apparently, with some models of welding masks, you can just flip up the dark glass so you can see through a clear layer underneath, without having to flip up the whole mask.

    • Dude’s wearing a future model that auto-darkens when you start welding.

      • Dang, I almost said that, but I wasn’t sure Joe McRandom-Construction-Worker would be using something that fancy, even in the future.

        Then again, if you’re willing to steal a whole suit of powered armor…

        • Yeah, it’s part of the armor. And the armor is the kind of thing that’s kept in a lockup on site and you have to sign it out when you use it. Think of it as a much more useful crane or bulldozer.

  2. Ian force himself

    His didn’t know

    and Li Bao Kong

    and all signs of it had left her no matter how closely Ian watched her for the signs
    signs signs signs signs signs signs signs signs signs

    their sales pitch.
    missing quotation mark

    I had seriously never noticed that his name is Issac, not Isaac. (Though if you make a search for “Isaac” on the site, you can find a couple of places where it’s mistakenly spelled like that.)

    at saying that.”
    This appears to be a superfluous quotation mark.

    waiting patiently until Ian to do the same
    either “for Ian to do the same” or “until Ian did the same”

    He didn’t even with for Ian to reply
    even wait

    Let’s make a pack

    she gets time of

    to do her just again only for free this time
    to do it again? to just do it again?

    came From Issac

    If course it’s worth it.
    Of course

    protecting use from

  3. Telekinesis that only affects cloth is limited? Poppycock! Just take that, a big cape and a long scarf and there’s no end to what you can do. And if some one still ridicules your powers you can just have your giant ragdoll minions beat them up.

    • Zane actually has a second set of powers from his mother that limit his normal life. You’ll be able to see just what next month in Liedecker Institute Vol 4!

  4. “…Westinghall Plaza in one direction and the rive in the other.”

    “Almost half and hour…”
    Half an hour or hour and a half.

    “Or flight out your window?”

    “As Chaos and Torment, the brothers flew…”
    Slipped a spoiler here. Issac’s face-heel turn didn’t happen yet so he’s still going by Turmoil.

    “…muscle groups crowed on top of those a baseline human had…”
    I’m pretty sure ‘crowed’ isn’t the correct verb here, but less so about what is. Crowded perhaps?

  5. suite wile his brother

    I’m still going from to my regular old house
    …from to?

    I hope you get over
    missing quotation mark

    put your to work

    They’d been heading out

    effected his flying

    he’d never head of

    The base body suite

    slip-on type without tied

    Nd finally

    was replaced but a ceramic

    couple of out closest

    I am suddenly reminded of the Young Justice Aqualad in the most awesome way.

  6. So with Turmoil, also the nineties return.
    I think those outfits could use some more pouches…

  7. Oh. My. Gosh. You did it. You actually did it. Pouches and muscles and big guns and tiny feet and grimaces. I am totally laughing out loud.

  8. “When Slicer balked at this, he took her continued hesitation to jerk his hands to the side, flexing then snapping the katana’s blade in half.”

    Wait, what? I’m not sure if I’m missing something here, were her swords made of some sort special material or something? Since, you know, snapping a steel sword in half like that is a feat that makes stopping it with your bare hands look casual. Not only is steel pretty damn hard to begin with but even if you apply a lot of force it’ll bend, not shatter.

    • Ack! It’s another 90’s gag. I forgot to go back and describe the metal as ‘covered in inexplicable cracks’ when I decided to put it in.

  9. Whoo! First time I can comment. Okay, I want to say, I’ve really been enjoying your serial- the world is an interesting take on the classic superhero setting, the characters are fun and compelling, all-in-all, a great read.

    That said, starting with collection 5, your work has been rife with basic grammatical, spelling, and punctuation which has reduced the overall readability and enjoyability of your work. I love what you’ve written, don’t get me wrong, but the persistant errors (averaging three a page, only counting ones I caught on a casual read-through) are selling short your obvious skill. I would strongly afvise going back and doing some editing, especially since comments are disabled on back-issues so people can’t point out errors.

    Another thing I find helps a lot is to find someone or somewhere to preview your chapters before posting for consistancy, pacing, readability, mistakes, etc. what I’ve done (and found it really helps) is me and a few other ameteur writers have a google doc where we can post upcoming chapters for review by the others before posting, and it’s improved all of our writing immensely, in my opinion. Just having someone peoofread your writing is really helpful.

    Anyway, thanks for writing, and I will be putting this on my list of things to check regularly once I’m caught up.

  10. You know, I just realized that you probably have done editing on that stuff for the e-book versions. If that’s so, disregard my previous comment.

    • Sorry it took so long to approve your post.

      Yeah, I do do edits for the books, which is why Vol 3 is so slow in coming. The main series is one such a quick schedule that I only get a chance to give them a once-over before I push them. even with a good buffer of stories, I’m always behind.

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