- Issue #73 – Give Thanks
- Issue #74 – Bit Part Bad Guys
- Issue #75 – Kaiju for Christmas
- Issue #76 – Silicon Soul, Adamantine Will
- Issue #77 – Date Night
- Issue #78 – Delved Too Deep (Une Mascarade Brisée Part 1)
- Issue #79 – Tome of Secrets (Une Mascarade Brisée Part 2)
- Descendants Special #7 – The Curtain Rises
- Issue #80 – Bitter Work
- Issue #81 – Kin, Speed and Ducks
- Issue #82 – What To Do With Your Downtime
- Issue #83 – Avalon Rises
- Issue #84 – Darkness Falling
- Descendants Annual #7 – First Frost
Tome of Secrets (Part 4)
“Really?” Facsimile asked, watching the loping charge of the five gigantic inugami. “”Tome thought the solution to use kicking the crap out of their dog-things by making them bigger targets?” She flexed her fists and extended two of her orihalcite claws. “I’m going to cut all that armor off of them.”
Alloy, with the help of Isp and Osp positioned himself between the inugami and the young dragon. “We don’t know what kind of powers this batch has though. Maybe it’s being huge, but maybe they have more than one, like…”
The lead beast lowered its head and a pair of bladed forks swung out from either side of the armor around its neck. The round device on its back let out a loud hum, which accompanied a series of sparks crackling along the forks.
“…Some kind of electrical thing. Fax, down!”
His warning was unnecessary. There was nothing remotely targeted about the tongues of man-made lightning that issued forth from the forks, seeking ground. The inugami evidently intended to loose its attack on the juvenile, but there was something a good deal more conductive in the intervening space: Alloy.
Both bolts struck him, sending arcs dancing along the joints of his armor and from him to the twins.
“Alloy!” Facsimile shouted.
He held up a hand. “Whoa. Don’t get near me, Fax; I’m probably still charged.”
“Yup, Faraday cage.”
“His armor conducts the electricity around him instead of letting it pass through him and burn hm on the inside.” Zero said almost absently over the comm. She flew past them and extended her hands, sending a blast of psychokinetic energy into the leader, who shrugged it off with its sheer size. She blinked at just how little of an effect she’d had on the monster. “Okay, that didn’t work…”
She tried again, this time holding her hands out and concentrating. The temperature in the quarry plummeted and frost started to build up on the lead inugami’s armor—which then begin to melt just as quickly.
The inugami was starting to split up now, two breaking off to circle left while another pair went to the right. A wolf pack dividing up to close off all escape routes.
“Looks like cutting the armor off of them might be a good idea after all.” said Facsimile. “Alloy, a little distraction?”
“The boys have it covered,” he confirmed, mentally giving Isp and Osp the all-clear to try the plan they were conveying to him. If they were human, they would have grinned giddily.
Isp whipped down in front of Alloy, sharpening several feet of its length. Being made of orihalcite itself, it was easily able to slice through the asphalt of the tarmac and the stone below, cutting out a six-foot wide chunk. Working together, it and Osp braced themselves against the ground and hefted the chunk easily out of the earth before launching it at one of the inugami trying to come at the baby from the left.
Trained to use brute strength and toughness to win the day, the beast braced itself to take the hit, but the massive projectile wasn’t directed at the inugami and it’s armored body, but at the instrumentation on its back, which was merely constructed from reinforced ceramic, not orihalcite.
The stone broke apart against it, but did its job, cracking open the back-mounted device in a shower of sparks. Some managed to find gaps in the armor and singe the fur, panicking the monster.
Into the ensuing chaos dropped Facsimile, all three of her orihalcite claws extending from one fist now as she slashed at whatever section of the confused and pained inugami’s armor that looked vulnerable, starting with the mounted ‘forks’ that directed its electrical weapon.
Its partner took notice of this and managed to tear itself away from the scent of prey all over the baby dragon to try and support its packmate. Its own lightning capacitors charged from Deep Ten’s remote generator and the forked guidance rails swung up and around either side of its head.
Facsimile noticed and let herself drop from the sky, collapsing into a literal puddle on the ground just before the charge unleash. Like before, there was no real control of the attack, only an erratic bolt seeking ground. As before, there was something far more conductive nearby for the bolt to arc to than Facsimile.
By design, the Project Fenris armor formed a Faraday cage like Alloy’s. Unlike Alloy’s the poor beast in the path of that blast had its armor compromised by some of the only weapons that could do so. Electricity arced around the sundered orihalcite until it found a faster route to ground by going into flesh.
The inugami’s scream as it went down, muscles spasming, was naturally inhuman, but not very dog-like either. Its partner paused, seeming to know it had done wrong, but not understanding what. That kept it from noticing the golden puddle on the ground nearby slithering to a safe distance before taking flight.
Meanwhile, there were three more monsters menacing the baby and only one Alloy between them and her.
Isp and Osp were cutting and throwing pieces or rocks as fast as they could, but the inugami had learned form the first attack and were dodging now, unwilling to take hits to their equipment. All the while, they did whatever they could to get at the baby, mounting and coordinating false charges, hoping to draw Alloy and the twins off.
Impatience finally took its toll on one of the pair on the right and it went for it: launching into a flat-out run toward the baby. It’s attack was drawn up short as two explosions tore up the ground in front of it, courtesy of Chaos Novas.
Chaos readied a third and used the blast to warn the beast off. “Codex, please tell me you have some of those screamer grenades on board.”
“We are dealing with Tome after all.” she replied. “Hold them off for a few minutes so I can wire one into the external speakers.”
While she set about doing just that, Renaissance, and Vamanos were standing aboard one of Occult’s shield platforms loaded down with aluminum bricks, en route to the tarmac. The former pulled a magazine with pink stripes on the bottom and slotted it into her gauntlet. “I think I have just the thing to at least slow them down.”
“Pink?” asked Occult. “I don’t think I’ve seen you use pink.”
“They’re new.” said Renaissance, “you wouldn’t believe what they are if I told you.”
Occult looked across the quarry at the battle and then at Armigal, almost free of the astral pool. “Try me.”
“Modified birthing agent.” Renaissance said with mock casualness. “For cattle.”
Vamanos broke the daze she was in, trying to psyche herself up for the fight. “Wait. What?”
The platform reached the edge of the portal and Renaissance jumped off. “It’s one of the most slippery things in the world—and it coats everything if you aren’t careful.” To illustrate, she leveled her arm and fired off a volley of fat, pink capsules into the ground in front of the lead inugami just as it began another mock charge..
The monster’s huge left front paw came down in a glistening pink puddle and skidded right out from under it, sending the inugami crashing to the tarmac with more of the pink ooze coating its underbelly. It tried to rise on the slathered paw, but it only slipped again, smearing more of the stuff into its fur.
With attentions focused in other directions, the second inugami on the right side gathered itself up and leapt at the baby. It very nearly made it, but a mammoth vise made of teeth clamped down on it’s armored sides. Armigal had lunged fully out of the portal and caught it on the fly.
Vile, unnatural thing. She bellowed into the heads of all present. Your stench shall never touch my off spring.
Try as she might, however, her teeth only squealed against the inugami’s armor. It twisted in her jaws, the guidance forks for its electrical weapon locking into place around its head. A stream of electricity poured into the great dragon’s throat.
With a roar that filled the quarry, Armigal whipped her head around and hurled the inugami away. It slammed into the quarry wall and tumbled to the ground, injured, but still alive. The great dragon growled and filled the heads of those around her with curses in every language she knew.
Neither her violence of her tirade warned her baby off though. The little dragon fought its way out of its fugue and bent its neck to find her mother, bleating all the while.
Another inugami, the uninjured one on from the left side bolted in, but both a series of Chaos Nova explosions and a shield from Occult appeared to block its path. Nearly the full force of the Descendants was now in play against the giant brutes.
The damage thus far dealt to the inugami, however, was not enough to keep them down. The one that had been electrocuted managed to steady itself and rise while the one Armigal smashed into the quarry wall was stirring, its injuries slowly healing. Even the leader gut its orihalcite-shod claws dug into the rock and forced itself to its feet.
Armigal, hearing her offspring’s calls, positioned herself so that the young dragon was between her four legs, her tail and largest set of wings down to protect her on three sides while anything that threatened her form the front would have to deal with Armigal’s teeth.
Across the quarry, Talbot smirked and touched an icon on his control box. The forgotten remnants of the maintenance robots—specifically the ones that sprayed the young dragon with kill scent, exploded, their reservoirs of chemical scent erupting out of them like a cloud.
Everything at the center of the tarmac was drenched in the stuff: Armigal, the baby, and Alloy.
“Oh…” Alloy muttered on the comms. “Shit.”
The renewed concentration of the scent bolstered the inugami, who all snarled, ready to attack.
“Hold out just one more minute.” Codex said. She was fiddling with the pitch correction on the speaker system, trying to make sure the screamer grenade’s tone would come through with clarity. “Vamanos, Talbot has to be the one triggering all this. Stop whatever he’s got planned next.”
“Got it.” said Vamanos, who had been wondering what she was supposed to do against the giant dogs in the first place. She struck off toward Talbot, dodging the abandoned crates in her way. “Hey, something banging on that big metal container…”
Armigal inhaled sharply. Open it.
“No time.” Vamanos passed Talbot by, snatching the control box with one hand while giving him a hard shove with the other. At the speed she was going, she not only knocked him over, but left him rolling on the ground with a hand-shaped bruise forming on his chest. “Got it!”
“That’s not all you’ve got.” Talbot said, from where he’d come to rest. He pressed a button on the edge of his watch, setting off a small canister tapped to the back of the control box, which started spraying kill scent everywhere.
The inugami Armigal threw against the quarry wall caught the scent and started for her. Thought slowed by its mending wounds, it still had its electrical attack. A second one took notice of the far less defended target and stalked toward her as well.
Open the container. Ordered Armigal, snapping at one of the beast that got too close. When it didn’t back off far enough, she swept open her smallest set of wings and snapped them closed again, sending a fist of wind to smash it back dozens of feet.
“I got it.” said Alloy. “It’s metal, plus I’m covered in that crap too—maybe I can draw on off.” Before anyone could argue or agree, Osp struck out to anchor in the ground, then flexed to throw Alloy toward the other end of the quarry. Halfway there, Isp followed suit, snapping down to catch the ground and fling Alloy even further and faster than the inugami.
His guess had been right and the sight and smell of a second target that wasn’t in close proximity to Armigal spurred the less injured beast to attack Alloy the moment he landed. He ignored the electrical blast, letting his armor direct the current away from his body.
Instead, he focused on the box. It was more like a miniature shipping container, really, thought made of thicker metal and with heavily reinforced hinges and locks. As if in reply to the din of him landing nearby, something pounded the inside, causing the metal to buckle slightly.
“I so don’t want to do this.” he said. Isp alerted him that the inugami was rushing him though, and it looked like he had no choice—even if he survived the attack, Armigal wouldn’t be too happy with him ignoring her. And so he focused on the hinges, liquifying them with a thought.
Whatever was inside must have figured out what was going on, because another mighty blow sent the lid of the box flying high into the air to crash down several yards away. Alloy backed up, not even thinking about how he was actually moving toward the inugami.
Out from the box rose a humanoid whose musclebound form topped out at easily nine feet tall. It had a broad face with a prominent lower jaw and a wide, stubby nose. Orange-red hair hung in thick greasy locks from its head and followed its jawline all the way down into set of mutton chops that hung down to its bare chest. The only clothing it wore was a loin cloth of thick, woven leaves and vines and boots that seemed to have been made by folding huge leaves into shape.
It blinked in the light. But its yellowed eyes with stormy gray irises took in the sight before it in an instant: an armored creature on two legs, a huge predatory quadruped in golden armor—and a dragon in the middle distance. The sights and sounds of a battle joined were all around. It brought its huge, thick-nailed hands together and cracked its knuckles.
What was that word he’d learned in its months of incarceration, listening to his captors and their language? Ah yes: “Finally.”
Alloy took another step back. The thing’s voice wasn’t as rough as he’d expected, deep and somewhat melodious. “You speak English?”
The ogre grinned with a mouth full of peg-like teeth. “Some. I fight better.”
Just then, the inugami skidded to a halt, unsure of the new creature that smelled of things its Earth-born brain didn’t understand. It stopped at a safe distance and prepared another electrical volley.
Isp warned Alloy of it coming and the screaming sense of danger it sent to the back of his head snapped him out of his shock. He turned on his heel, grabbing onto the metal in the box with his powers as he did. It liquified and flowed away from the ogre, rising up into a mesh dome that closed over him and the ogre just as the gout of lightning was unleashed.
Energy crackled harmlessly across the surface of the hastily created Faraday cage, leaving both hero and ogre unharmed. Left with no other options, the inugami lunged for them with teeth and claws.
The ogre saw it coming and let out a low chuckle. One meaty hand came down and pulled Alloy behind him. The other grabbed hold of the cage and easily uprooted it from where Alloy anchored it to the ground.
Snarling, the inugami leapt in for the kill..
And was met by an uppercut so powerful that the ogre was able to redirect the mass of a creature five times his size. The inugami hit the stone floor of the quarry with a resounding thud, but when it started to rise, the ogre was already there, having picked up the lid of its former prison along the way.
The din of metal on metal filled the air as the ogre rained down blows until the lid was too deformed from colliding with the inugami’s champron to be of any more use as a bludgeon. And armored as it was, the vicious beating proved enough to knock the inugami unconscious.
“Got it.” Codex’s voice came on over the comes. Seconds later, the remaining inugami howled in agony as the sonic attack washed over them. Armigal growled and the baby whined, but it was clear that the inugami were getting the worst of it—and that the tide of the battle had turned.