Issue #85 – The Ballad of Bad Lass

This entry is part 1 of 12 in the series The Descendants Vol 8: The Weaver's Web

Ballad of Bad Lass (Part 1)

Bobbi Helmsworth looked around the transport’s hold as she got up and stretch her legs.

It was supposed to be a milk run: transferring a single stasis cell and attendant doctor from the Project Tome facility outside of Huston to Deep Eight, which was currently off the coast of Massachusetts. They were in a stealth transport and flying sub-sonic with almost no chance of detection beyond actually crashing into something.

But something was making her itchy about the whole thing. Part of it was the fact that four other security personnel with high-level clearance were in the hold with her on a mission that would normally rate two mid-level grunts at best.

That could have been overlooked as heightened precautions given the rising number of prelates and the increased heat the ROCIC was putting on the organization. Hell, she would even chalk the directive for the operatives to carry only energy weapons—masers, PSM emitters, electro-static nets and the like—up to the same.

What she couldn’t write off was the doctor’s squirrely behavior. Usually, when she escorted techies and other brains, they would take the chance to get some sleep or catch up on paperwork and do their best to pretend the security detail wasn’t even there.

Not Doctor Hale. He’d taken up residence in one of the crash chairs built into the wall of the transport across from the cell and refused to take his eyes off it for a moment. It didn’t look like he was being protective of a discovery to Bobbi’s eyes either. The man was sweating and fidgeting as if someone told him a box full of live cobras would be dumped on him at some point during the flight.

And he’d been at it for over two hours of a flight that had to go slow for the sake of stealth.

Bobbi wasn’t new to the organization. She’d seen her share of accidents, especially with the crossover creatures and the rare containment breakdown that let one of the descendants wake up or an unmodified inugami escape into a facility proper. The brains were like canaries in coal mines: if they started acting unusual, you either find out why or better yet, move your ass.

As moving her ass would mean leaping out of a flying transport, Bobbi took the other tack and decided to find out why the doctor was so scared.

Looking at the kid in the cell didn’t help. Like a lot of the kids they moved around, she was… average with no signs of what powers she had. Thick, black hair down to her shoulders, skin that wasn’t pale, but certainly wasn’t tan either… maybe about fifteen or sixteen. It looked like she worked out more than the average girl, given the muscle definition in her arms the hospital gown she wore showed, but nothing unusual.

Bobbi went right to the source for information.

“Alright, Doc.” she said, coming to stand next to him, facing the cell. “Spill. What is it about this one that’s got you about to puke in your suit?”

Dr. Hale started to deny it, but Bobbi made a chopping motion with her hand. “If things go bad, intel will help us minimize damage better. And everyone here has top level security clearance, so that isn’t an issue.” This time Dr. Hale bit his lip and focused on the cell before him.

“What you’re looking at, Mrs. Helmsworth, is a subject we’ve designated A03-0001.” He couldn’t see Bobbi’s eyes widening under her visor, so he added, “Do you know what that means? A03. She’s the only one we have at that level. We wouldn’t risk moving her at all if it wasn’t for the fact that even unconscious, nothing we have on site can get through her defenses. That’s why we’re taking the risk: the higher-ups want her bio-mapped.”

Bobbi regarded the girl in the cell. The A-level research groups were the most fundamentally powerful psionics the Project had identified with the lower number designations denoting greater versatility or applicability. As far as she knew, Tome didn’t actually have and A01’s or 02’s. Rumor had it that A01 was reserved for reality warpers—assuming they existed.

That meant that the girl in the box was something major. More major than every identified prelate and rogue psionic., whose designations only went up to A09.

She walked toward the cell, watching carefully for any signs of what made the girl inside so special. “So what’s her power?”

“Kinetic energy redirection.” said Dr. Hale.

“That’s special?”

Doctor Hale gave her an incredulous look that she saw in the reflection in the cell’s glass front. “Of course it is. Especially since she has no known limit besides…”

Bobbi didn’t hear whatever he said, because at that moment, the girl’s eyes opened and instantly glared at her. Red sparks seemed to crackle and stream around those eyes, distracting the security operative for the fraction of a second before the girl’s hands came up and hit the cell door.

The last thing she heard before impact was a series of deafening snaps of the bolts securing the door as well as the hinges broke.



Tamara Daye wasn’t sure if that thought came before or after she opened her eyes to find someone in a face-concealing mask staring at her from the other side of what felt like a glass coffin. She certainly agreed with the sentiment, especially after seeing that the masked figure was had a nasty-looking gun in a holster at their hip and also realizing that the jeans and t-shirt she’d been wearing had been replaced by something very thin and drafty.

It was the rage at the second one that drove her more than any fear of danger. Someone—some low life creep—had undressed her while she was unconscious and stuffed her in some box.

The correct answer to that was violence. And Tamara knew how to deliver on that in spades.

Something was making her feel woozy, but she shrugged it off long enough to raise her palms and slam them into the box’s see-through front. Her power pulsed out, telling her that wherever she was, she didn’t have the whole of the Earth to push against. There was more than enough mass to channel all force into the door though, and everything holding it in place broke with enough force left over to smash it into the masked figure, knocking them down and out of action with the door on top of them.

There was a commotion to her right, and she saw four more armored freaks scrambling to raise various weapons. More violence was needed.

Giving them a glare, Tamara stepped out of the cell (it looked like one of those things she’d seen used in hospitals), got her toe up under the fallen door, then kicked it up into her hands. A swarm of red sparks followed its path upward, the visual signature of her power.

Seizing the door in both hands, Tamara raised it as if it were an unwieldy baseball bat. “You’ve all got less than a second to explain just what the hell is going on here, or everyone but me is going to the hospital!” One of them raised their gun.

That was more than enough for Tamara. “No you don’t!” She bellowed, hurling the door at the lot of them. One threw himself to the ground, and another dodged sideways as the door plowed into their fellows, slamming them hard against the rear cargo doors.

The one on the ground tried to pick his maser back up, but Tamara was already there, stomping on the weapons and annihilating it in a blast of red sparks. She then kicked him in the side, sending him straight up into the metal panels of the ceiling. Before he even hit the ground, Tamara turned to the last masked figure. From how the uniform fit them, Tamara guessed it was a woman, but she didn’t particularly care who it was that had kidnapped and undressed her: an ass-kicking was incoming one way or the other.

A backhand blow knocked the electrostatic net out of the woman’s hands with such force that it exploded against the far wall. This was followed by a punch that, even though Tamara pulled it, folded the woman up like a paper fan, sending her to the floor gasping with a few broken ribs.

Breathing hard, more from annoyance than exertion, Tamara took another look around the room she’d found herself in. The cargo doors and her earlier failure to sense the earth, suggested she was on a plane or something. There was also a man in a bad suit trying to make himself look tiny and invisible in a seat built into the wall.

She stalked toward him and took hold of his lapels. Red sparks cascaded down her arms as she lifted him bodily out of the seat. “Explain.” She ordered. “Now.”

The man’s eyes widened with fear and he began shivering in her hands. “I-I… please don’t kill me! I only do what I’m paid to do!”

Tamara slammed him against the wall hard enough to make his teeth rattle. “And what are you being paid to do to me? Did you take my clothes?!”

“No!” He all but shrieked, cowering into his suit. “T-that was years ago, when you were first brought to the facility! I had nothing to do with it!”

If he thought that would quell the girl’s ire, he was wrong. “Years ag… years ago!? How many years ago! What’s the date!”

“A-April t-third. 2077.” He stammered.

Tamara’s eyes seemed to grow twice their size. The last thing she remembered was going to bed in her dorm sometime in January… of 2075. “What.” She made sure to loom over him, making it clear that she could hurt him worse than the goons with the guns.

“You’ve been in stasis.” the man have given up stammering for a low wail. “The project collected you form your dorm room and planned to study you to figure out how your powers work on a bio-mechanical level. Only you’re too strong when connected to solid ground. So we… we were flying you to a ship.”

A low growl started deep in the back of Tamara’s throat. It was somehow even worse than being undressed by strangers: she’d been experimented on—was on the way to more experiments. But at least one thing was confirmed: she was on a plane.

Gathering both of his lapels in one hand, she used her free hand to punch a hole in the wall, tearing a space open in the plating wide enough to see out of. What she saw was the top of a wing and an engine. They were very clearly in flight.

Anyone else would have felt trapped.

Tamara on the other hand, tossed the whimpering man off to the side and took hold of either side of the broken plating she’d punched open. Red sparks flared and she began peeling the plating open to widen the hole. It didn’t stand up long against her power. Soon a rend had been torn open large enough for her to crawl through.

She started to do just that before looking down at herself. The light and airy thing she’d been put in was, in fact, a hospital gown. With no idea where she was, there was no way she was going to get very far looking like an escapee from a hospital—mental or otherwise.

Turning back to the cargo hold, she found the person she hit with the door upon waking up. The woman (she could tell now that she was paying attention) was out cold. Making sure no one else was in a position to mess with her, Tamara went over to the fallen woman and patted her down until she found a palmtop and a small leatherette case with a reloadable cash card in it in the name of Bobbi Helmsworth. If it was like most cash cards, it wouldn’t work without the palmtop nearby, so Tamara took both of them.

Striding back to the door, she looked over at the terrified little man. “Let them know that if they try and come after me, I’ll do much, much worse to them.”

With that, she kicked the place where the wing joined the fuselage, knocking it askew and causing the entire craft to begin shuddering and shaking. Then she crawled through the hole and leapt to freedom.


“And one more big, cleansing breath and we should now all be perfectly calm.” A man in a leotard that managed to be entirely too tight even for a leotard, sat in a lotus position in front of a class full of students doing the same. His pronounced everything in a drawn out, spacey way as he did as he instructed. “That should be it for today. Tomorrow, we’ll do a few more advanced techniques and, if we have time, we’ll go over some line reads and critiques. Thanks for coming out on a weekend for this special extra-long session.”

At the back of the class, Cyn marveled at how Warrick had been right: the acting class she enrolled in turned out to be ninety percent yoga and ten percent acting. Of course, not having to obey silly things like tendons and bones, she wasn’t having anywhere near as hard a time as Warrick’s complaints suggested he did.

But the whole point of taking an acting class was so she could learn to act better while shapeshifting. She was already proficient in inhuman contortions. Professor Lowery (they were supposed to call him Dave) probably couldn’t turn himself into a near-liquid and pour through a ventilation system.

As the other students got up and headed off to get water or go get changed, Cyn headed for her gym bag sitting in the corner, and pulled out a few of protein bars, cramming two into her mouth and digesting them before taking a bite out of the last one.

She was getting ready to take out another handful when her palmtop started playing the ringtone she reserved for Laurel. Forgoing stuffing her face, she picked up the call instead. “Hey, mom.”

“Hey Cyn, art class over yet?”

Cyn doubted the Laurel of all people hadn’t figured out that she was taking acting classes on the sly, but she appreciated that Laurel kept up the charade that she didn’t. “Yeah, what’s up?”

“Something just came up on my news scans—then I got a call from the ROCIC.”

Glancing around, Cyn made sure no one was listening. “A fight?”

“Not if we can help it. Looks like a Tome transport vessel crashed in Minneapolis. Someone escaped. Are you up for a little mother/daughter road trip?”

“Just the two of us? Kicking ass and making Tome look like assholes?” Cyn grinned.

Laurel chuckled. “Well, I hope we’ll be able to deal with this without fighting—and once I explain the details, you’ll understand too. But yeah, this looked like a situation that only needs the two of us.”

“Sweet! I know I’m up for it. Meet you at ‘the office in ten?”

“I’ll be waiting with our ride.” said Laurel.

“On my way!” Cyn ended her call, and headed out, her bag over her shoulder.


Sirens after she used her powers weren’t all that unusual a reaction in Tamara’s experience. In fact, she’d expected the police to show up around the huge crater that marked where she landed, but the sheer number of emergency vehicles she could hear made her realize that the plane she’d jumped out of probably hadn’t stayed airborne for long.

Which, she decided, would serve them right. She hoped no one on the ground got hurt, but as far as she cared, the people who kidnapped and experimented on could all go to hell. She only regretted not punching the location of where she’d been held out of them.

Revenge and even worrying about the consequences of crashing the plane (if that was even what the commotion was about) could wait though. She needed to figure out just where the hell she was. And before that, she needed cloths. Pants especially.

A rumbling from her stomach reminded her of another need she had to attend to. After all, she apparently hadn’t eaten in two years.

Series NavigationIssue #86 – Those Not Forgotten >>

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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. Have we met Bobbi Helmsworth or Doctor Hale before? I can’t remember. If they didn’t manage to parachute out it probably doesn’t matter though. I assume Tamara Daye is new, I think I’d remember her.


    flying sub-sonic
    flying subsonic

    channel all force
    channel all the force

    figure was had a
    figure had a

    collected you form
    collected you from

    Soon a rend
    Soon a rent

    a few of protein bars
    a few protein bars
    a few of the protein bars

    she needed cloths.
    she needed clothes.

    • They’re new. Don’t expect them back beyond maybe seeing them in the hospital. I actually have no idea why I named them.

      Tamara is, of course, new too. Part of a new batch of LI characters.

  2. Typos & stuff:

    We can got for certification
    go for

    can mode kinetic energy
    move kinetic

    grab a tracker trailer
    tractor trailer

    ‘solid object in her case
    ‘solid object’ (close quote)

    Or if the same truck her her,
    hit her,

    so that wrecks around
    it wrecks

    punting free weights until they presumably left Earth’s atmosphere.”
    Just saying, suddenly giving something enough KE to leave the atmosphere would do so much damage to the immediate area that people would be hard put to realize that she’d punted a free weight. It’d be like firing the biggest gun ever, the bang could level nearby buildings.

    ‘God’s Mysterious Designs of Love.
    This needs a closing quote or to remove the initial one – the song titles later lack quotes, so probably remove it.

    Ho’s this:
    How’s this:

    Ho is it that
    How is

    • About the punting free weights thing… You’ve been reading the story up until now and THIS is what breaks your suspension of disbelief? Not the dragons or the extradimensional god-entities or the living people made of stone, but this?

    • To be fair, the ‘presumably’ left the atmosphere. They didn’t really. She’s a teenaged girl and hyperbole is her bread an butter despite her being actually hyperbolic in power.

      Plus, we’ve seen others ignore atmospheric friction, like Callie.

      Also, does it matter for the punctuation/formatting that they’re band names, not song titles?

      • People don’t usually put band names in quotes now that I’ve seen. It’s probably still correct to do so but it hasn’t been SOP for at least a couple of decades.

        & yeah, there’s possible explanations like that. It just triggered my inner space geek.

        • By all means, geek out. Like I’ve toyed with powers that DO cause acceleration explosions, so it’s not a bad thing to point out at all.

  3. I only came to think of this afterwards… Is ‘Darkcore’ here a band name, or does it refer to the genre?

  4. Typos

    instead of form out of the small of her back,
    ‘form’ might be ‘forming it’ or ‘pulling it’

    Maybe we can so
    can do

    What did she have to lose anyway.
    If that’s Tamara reasoning rather than trying to stop reasoning, end the sentence with a question mark.

  5. It’s funny that this guy is called Brain Child, Codex’s nickname from Voice. Any connection? Also, what it him introducing those thoughts into Tamara’s brain?

  6. So I’m just gonna go ahead and ask the big question: What IS the situation with Elvis in the DU? Memphis -77, Reykjavik -98, or still alive? Or something else?

    • I’m tempeted to do a full AU treatment of it. Elvis was found in time and recovered in the hospital, becoming THE symbol for the war on drugs… until he relapsed and OD’d in 1985.

  7. Typo time

    back and fact

    got to pot

    Caesar Salad
    salad (no capital S)

    lumping back and forth

    was the snap
    to snap

    butas awful
    but as

    ease,s he
    ease, she

  8. & just wondering how Tamara got on top of Lewis/Abs. so quickly? Sheer coincidence or did she know something?

  9. Two cases of RDTA that are probably supposed to be RDFA:s.

  10. “…two Tome agents and a mechanical wench…”

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