Issue #8: Objectivity

This entry is part 9 of 15 in the series The Descendants Vol 1: Welcome to Freeland House

Part 4

“Let’s see…” Ian said, staring at his reflection in the coffee. “Where to begin? Well, Prometheus was there because there’s stuff going on with the Enforcers that even he’s not comfortable with. They’re promoting new, untested recruits—all with discipline issues. Some of those, codenamed Shine, Manriki and Launch have been suspended in the past for excessive force.”

“Sounds like they’re setting up their own skull cracking team.” Laurel said. “I’ll see if I can get more info on them.”

Ian nodded. “If the guy that burned down my house and beat the shit out of me says they’re using excessive force, ‘skull cracking’ wouldn’t be the words I’d use. These guys sound like more of a scorched earth kind of outfit.”

“Anything else out of the Academy?” Laurel asked, steering Ian away from the sensitive subject of his defeat at the hands of Prometheus.

“They fired their lead psychologist and agent liaison; Patricia Masters. She works for the General now. According to her, she’d been cut out of the loop since about a month before Alexis found the memo.” He took a sip of coffee.

“Masters…” Laurel pondered aloud. “I know that name; she’s published a few books on psionic psychology. She’s a pioneer in power control techniques – especially weaning people off the crutch of gestures and mantras.”

“Well now she’s Pratt’s lead advisor when it comes to dealing with descendants.” Ian said.

“Descendants?”

“Us. The way Pratt put it, ‘psionic’ doesn’t properly address the variety of powers out there. Descendant at least describes our common origin.” Ian set the coffee aside and clasped his hands. “As it turns out, the World War II conspiracy theory you hated so much is true.”

Laurel blinked. “Seriously? I can’t imagine they had the techniques available at the time…”

“Well start imagining.” Ian said, managing a smile. “I was right, you were wrong. For the first time in the history of our friendship, I win.” He let that sink in as Laurel stifled a giggle. “What’s more, Project Tome started out as the government operation to figure out what data was still usable back in the day. They went underground and only resurfaced after descendants started showing up. Looks like having their work done for them by nature wasn’t enough for them.”

“And Tome, in part, controls the Academy.” Laurel said, “The perfect place to nab the new talent as it comes of age.”

“Exactly.” Ian said, “And from what Masters told me about the Academy’s records, that memo Alexis found was way off, but not in the way you might think.”

“So they’re not tinkering with twenty percent of the psionics that apply?” Laurel asked, using the obsolete term.

“No, Masters saw the real memo. It lists twenty percent as the total number of descendants who have manifested their powers.” He stopped there to allow Laurel to take that train of thought to its logical conclusion.

She took a sip of coffee and thought a moment. “Okay, according to the urban legend—which you now say is real history – it took four to five generations for the first psionics to start manifesting overt powers. That instantly means that it’s a genetic trait now, and that some people are carriers like the entirety of the first through third generations.”

She stood up and started pacing the room. “So it stands to reason that there are still carriers in our generation and the next—both Warrick and Cynthia have siblings that have yet to manifest a power, though Warrick’s sister is too young to rule a manifestation out yet. It also means…” She paused mid sentence and chuckled. “Now I see why both sides were trying to bring Patricia Masters aboard.”

“Huh?” Ian queried.

“Gestures and mantras.” Laurel said, returning to her seat. “Remember Jason Nesbit from school?”

“Yeah, I had a few classes with him. He was the one with that shockwave power, right?”

Laurel nodded. “But only when he clapped his hands over his head.” Ian stared blankly, not understanding the point she was making. “Think about it, Ian; clapping your hands over your head isn’t exactly something you do everyday, but it was the gesture he subconsciously connected to his power. What if someone had a more complicated gesture – or one they almost never do – or a mantra they never use? They’d have their powers, but they’d never know it because they can’t activate them.”

Ian smiled, finally understanding. “And Masters is the expert in teaching people not to need either of those things – so in theory, if you find someone who is a descendant, but doesn’t know how to activate their powers – however that’s done—Masters could teach them how to use it without their crutch.”

“Bingo.” Laurel said, “Though, come to think of it, that doesn’t sound like much of an advantage aside from only having to find bloodlines instead of waiting for manifestation… we’re missing something.”

“We’re not the only ones.” Ian said, “General Pratt didn’t even know about bio-mapping –but the word has come up on his radar. Apparently, we’re not the only ones who’ve taken kids out of the Academy’s little correspondence program.”

“Really?” Laurel asked, “why haven’t we heard about it?”

“Why hasn’t anyone heard about us?” Ian countered. “the general told me they know of at least two other break-ins at Academy facilities; both were a year ago and both not only featured an empty stasis cell, but stacks of erased hard drives with only filenames still accessible. ‘Bio-map Initiative’ was one of those filenames.”

“Does Pratt know who did the breaking in, or where the two kids are?”

Ian shook his head. “No dice, but he suspects a British private school called the Brunswick Boarding School for the Gifted has a hand in it.”

“Gifted… they’re not exactly covert.” Laurel noted.

“No need.” Ian said, “England’s got about a dozen private schools for descendants with government scholarships to the most… heh, talented. However, Brunswick is on Pratt’s radar because it’s run by a former MI-6 agent, Hugo Lansdale. He’s got a clean, upstanding record, but let’s face it, a secret agent running a super-school? It sounds fishy.”

Laurel nodded. “That it does. I’ll tell you what; I’ll put in some time doing some more digging into everything you told me about. You hit the hay—you look drained.”

“That’s an understatement.” Ian said. “combining cloak and dagger politics with emotional trauma isn’t the way to end what started out as an innocent day of shopping together.”

“I know, Ian. But I’ve got faith in you that you and Alexis will work things out and come out stronger for it. You’re dumb about relationship stuff, but so is she – it’s a wonder the two of you survived high school even with my help.”

“Well, I’d appreciate your help right now…” Ian said, standing.

“Sorry, but I’m in the doghouse too, kid.” Laurel gave him a warm smile. “Just think things over for a while. You’re a good guy, you’ll think of something.”

“Not feeling the good guy angle right now.” He shrugged.

“And that’s how I know you are.” Laurel said.

***

Cyn had excellent night vision. Unless others were in the room, she rarely turned on the lights in her room. Instead, she just adjusted her pupils and retinas until night became day. Anything less than total darkness was no hindrance to her and the many little LED’s on her various electronic equipment ensured her room was never in total darkness.

So she sat in what to anyone else was pitch black and rifled through the shoebox she stored all the newspaper articles pertaining to Life Savers, Inc. She was fairly sure she had a copy of every article the Scribe had ever printed about them; from the first instance in which they had saved the ConquesTech CEO, to the mundane ‘news in short’ entries about their aiding in searches and preventing accidents.

She found one dated four days prior, discussing ‘Void-storm’s’ possible connection to the prelate group. Grimacing, she lengthened her nails into claws and shredded the article with a bestial snarl. The woman behind Void-storm wasn’t a member of the team that saved Mayfield’s citizens time and again; she was the one trying to destroy them. If Alexis had her way that would be the last time the Scribe even mentioned them.

Stewing in her own anger, she barely heard the tapping at her window over the patter of the rain outside. Suspicious as to what could be tapping against her second story window, which as no where near any trees, she padded over to the closed and curtained window. Drawing a breath, she threw both curtain and window open at once, prepared for any threat that might come at her.

Warrick recoiled from the swiftness of the move, almost shaking Isp and Osp from where they’d anchored to the roof. The two tentacles were holding him upside down by his waist outside the window. A steady trickle of rain water ran off his hair.

A smirk replaced Cyn’s scowl. “What are you doing out there?” She asked, leaning on the wall as she held back laughter.

“The boys figured you’d like some company after… you know, what happened tonight. Uh, if you don’t, I can just go back to my room…”

“I guess I could use some company.” Cyn said. She stretched her claw-hand over to the light switch and flicked it on. “Come on in.”

The tentacles turned Warrick right side up and deposited him in the room before detaching from the roof and joining him. Osp closed the window and drew the curtains closed again.

“So… why were they holding you upside down?” Cyn inquired. She sat on the edge of her bed and gestured for Warrick to sit on the couch across from it.

“You know, I really have no idea.” Warrick shrugged. “Sometimes they do stuff and don’t explain it.”

“I guess they’ll have a lot fewer chances now the Herr Keyes has put her boot down on our community service project.” Cyn rolled her eyes.

“Come on Cyn…” Warrick started.

“Don’t be so hard on her? I will as soon as she’s not so hard on us.” Cyn ranted. “She says it’s to protect us from the Academy, but you know what? As bad as they were, the Academy never forced us to hide our powers. No other psionic in the world has to do that but us because Alexis is scared. Where’s the justice in that?” She flopped backward on the bed, finally pulling in her hyper-extended arm. “You know, she said before, she’s not our mom – so I’m wondering why we’re even paying lip service to what she’s telling us”

“You can’t be serious, Cyn.” Warrick said. “I may not like her decision, but she is the reason we’re not in those stasis cells right now. I say we should at least give her that much respect.” He was wary about directing Cyn’s anger toward himself, but it was a point that had to be made.

“Yeah, I’m thankful for her getting us out. But Ian and Laurel helped her get this out. They traveled cross-country with her and believed her even though she was a wanted rogue by the Academy’s standards. And she gets pissed at them for not agreeing with her about us using our powers? That’s just stupid!” She grabbed a handful of the newspaper clippings and threw them in the air. “And now these? These mean nothing! We did all we could, we helped all those people and the next time they need us, what’s going to happen? No one comes and helps them? They die?!” She was trembling now.

“Cyn…” Warrick stood almost as much as he was being pushed to his feet by the tentacles. “Look, don’t say I don’t understand, because this is the second time this has happened to me. I know how you feel.” He cleared a spot of thrown articles and sat down beside her.

Grinding her teeth against letting Alexis’s decree get to her, she looked over at him. “What do you mean, this is the second time?”

“Remember when I told you I tried being a prelate back in New York? Fighting the gangs and such? Well, that was a couple years ago – my name was Damascus – like the steel? Anyway, my idol, a prelate they call the Whitecoat found me out after a particularly big run in I had with them. Apparently, by getting the jump on those guys, I’d screwed up the Whitecoat’s investigation into the Hip Sing Tong – so he was pretty upset. So he took me home and told my parents what’d been going on. My parents are pretty cool with things, but no one likes hearing their kid is out getting shot on a nightly basis, no matter how well armored he is.”

“So they stopped you from being Damascus.” Cyn supplied. “How… how can you even forgive them for that? I mean, taking away something that’s so… that gives your life so much meaning…”

Warrick shrugged. “I knew that they really were doing what they thought was best for me. I wasn’t happy about it, but there wasn’t a lot I could do to convince them of how important it was. I mean, getting beat up by a prelate doesn’t really take a guy off the street.”

“You’re lucky your parents really did have your best interests.” Cyn said offhandedly.

“Ms. Keyes has our best interests at heart too.” Warrick pointed out. “She just doesn’t understand.”

“Well then I’ll find a way to make her understand.” Cyn said. “This is too important for me to just let go with a smile and say ‘oh, well she had my best interests are heart, so it’s okay if she screwed up my life’.”

“You know I’ll do whatever I can to help.” Warrick offered.

“For now, just get back to your room. It won’t help our case if she catches you circumventing grounding.” She gave him a smile, “No matter how sweet it was of you to do that.”

***

“Who watches the watchers?” Edward was saying on the security feed from Deep Eleven.

Brother Wright sat back in his padded chair and backed the file up to that line again.

“Who watches the watchers?” Edward said again.

“Who, indeed, Mr. Tyler.” Wright chuckled. “It’s really interesting how ‘good cops’ like you always ask that question and yet have no idea where it comes from or what the response was.” He paused the playback and grinned at it in satisfaction. “Quis custodiet ipsos custodes? Well, Plato responded to Juvenal ‘They will guard themselves against themselves. We must tell the guardians a noble lie. The noble lie will inform them that they are better than those they serve and it is, therefore, their responsibility to guard and protect those lesser than themselves. We will instill in them a distaste for power or privilege, they will rule because they believe it right, not because they desire it.’”

“And what does all this philosophizing have to do with Prometheus’s place in your grand, over arching plan?” behind him, Simon Talbot, director of the Academy and architect of the current incarnation of Project Tome was also watching the security feed. “You are, after all, the one that said the ‘old guard’ wouldn’t be that useful in reacquiring our errant resources.”

Wright turned his chair to face Talbot, a dark complexioned man with neatly trimmed hair and a matching Van Dyck beard. He was dressed in an obviously expensive three piece suit plus black, leather gloves. “The noble lie is the key here, Mr. Talbot. Prometheus is a detective at heart – one of the old breed that use contacts and legwork instead of search engines and databases. Your missing resources are being protected by Laurel Brant, the third most intelligent human on the planet – she’ll cover all of our traditional methods of detection.”

“But by piquing Prometheus’s interest with the shroud of secrecy we’ve lain over this case…” Talbot picked up on Wright’s line of thought, “we need only follow the leads he digs up for us. I knew there was a reason I’ve let you have so much free reign, Wright.”

“Thank you, Mr. Talbot.” Wright smiled. “Does this mean my team has been approved?”

“Yes.” Talbot nodded, “It isn’t as if they were ever going to make official Rank One status anyway, so it’s no loss to the Enforcers.”

“Good, good.” Wright smiled. “Oh, if I can ask for one more concession?”

“Name it.” Talbot said.

“I’d like to have access to a few of the inugami. For testing purposes.”

“Granted.” Talbot smiled wickedly.

End Issue #8

Series Navigation<< Issue #7: Legacy of OneIssue #9 Ladies of Ragnarok >>

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

Bookmark the permalink.
  • Descendants Serial is a participant in the Amazon Services LLC Associates Program, an affiliate advertising program designed to provide a means for sites to earn advertising fees by advertising and linking to amazon.com.