- Issue #85 – The Ballad of Bad Lass
- Issue #86 – Those Not Forgotten
- Issue #87 – Descendants… In Space
- Issue #88 – Tome of Battle
- Issue #89 – All That Glitters
- Issue #90 – Just Us Sidekicks
- Issue #91 – Rock and Roll Lifestyle
- Descendants Special #8 – The Heart of Rock ‘N Roll
- Issue #92 – Homage
- Issue #93 – Day of Recovery
- Issue #94 – The Knight, The Witch and the Gadgeteer (FaerieQuest Part 1)
- Issue #95 – Into The Woods (FaerieQuest Part 2)
Ballad of Bad Lass (Part 2)
“Do you think I can start working on my pilot’s license this summer?” Cyn asked, watching Laurel street them out of the hidden hangar. She had a box of donuts on her lap and a small stack of pizza boxes on the inactive console in front of her.
Laurel smiled. Sure. We can got for certification together.”
“…Waife. Whaff?” Cyn said around a jelly doughnut. She swallowed the whole thing and briefly belched a thin wisp of black smoke before trying again. “You don’t have a license? Is it okay for you to fly this thing?”
“It might be a problem if anyone even knew this jet even existed.” Laurel admitted, “But I do know what I’m doing: I’ve read all the manuals and watched two hundred hours of cockpit videos. Knowing a lot more than you’re technically sanctioned to know or make use of is a thing with hypercogs. Just like being able to take someone’s form, but not their knowledge is a thing for shapeshifters.”
Cyn nodded. “Yeah, that’s true.” It suddenly occurred to her that this could be a segue into her taking an acting class, and she scrambled to avoid that subject. “Um… so this mission..”
If Laurel felt stymied by this, she didn’t let it show. “Right. It looks like TOME was trying to transport another Academy student in stasis and ended up crashing through a highway overpass in Minneapolis. Since TOME transports are military vehicles technically, the ROCIC got control of the scene… but it looked like the captured student broke out of stasis before causing the crash.”
“Causing the crash?” Cyn asked with a smirk. “Sounds hardcore.”
“Sounds like trouble.” corrected Laurel. “I saw pictures of the damage to the transport and a crater that ‘appeared’ around the time of the crash. Back when Alexis was filling the ROCIC and myself in on Academy students that, in hindsight, disappeared mysteriously, she described something similar.”
Cyn blinked, actually pausing on her way to grab a slice of pizza. “You actually sound worried… way more worried than I’d expect for a mission for just two people.”
With a little sigh, Laurel called up one of the console displays to show the PTAA student ID of a girl with long, unruly black hair and almost unnaturally blue eyes. “That’s because I am. You see this is Tamara Daye… and she is possibly the most powerful descendant on Earth—and without question the strongest known.”
Having rather fancied herself one of the most powerful descendants on Earth, Cyn made a face as she asked, “Seriously? So what’s her deal?”
“Energy manipulator writ large.” said Laurel. “Not in the sense that she can shoot lightning from her hands or lasers from her eyes, but she can mode kinetic energy around in solid objects.” She held up a hand to cut off the obvious question from her adopted daughter. “That doesn’t sound like much until you realize ‘solid object in her case means anything that isn’t a contiguous gas or liquid. A human body, a building—the planet itself—are all solid objects.
“Tamara can grab a tracker trailer and rearrange the energy that comes from gravity acting on it to be spread out evenly between the truck and the planet, allowing her to lift that truck. Or if the same truck her her, she can rearrange the direction of all that force back into the truck so that wrecks around her as if she was a mountainside.”
Cyn gave a low whistle. “Okay, that’s strong, I guess, but there are guys that are super-strong and invulnerable on the Colombian super-weight fighting show. And Infinity, don’t forget him. I’m still not seeing what’s so hot about her.”
“She has no known upper limit besides the ‘solid object’ issue, and the fact that she can’t spread energy out further than about one hundred feet around her. The Academy has training videos of her pancaking garbage trucks with openhanded slaps and punting free weights until they presumably left Earth’s atmosphere.”
Even Inexorable hadn’t sent anything into space, Cyn had to admit.
“So… we have to get to her before she loses control and dope-slaps a building to the ground?”
Again, her guess was stymied by Laurel shaking her head. “No, she’s always had perfect control. She intuitively dials the force she applies to exactly the amount she wants to use.” She paused for a second.
“Actually, now that I think about it, we are trying to find her before she loses control, but not of her powers; her temper. She has what could charitably called anger issues. It isn’t helped by the fact that her parents essentially signed over guardianship of her to the PTAA in order to avoid several lawsuits related to her abusing her powers. Even after she joined the Academy, she once crushed a teenaged boy’s knees because he grabbed her breasts.”
That made Cyn wince. How many descendant kids got abused or abandoned for costing their parents too much money? “I can relate.” she said before she could stop herself. Not wanting Laurel to notice her somber train of thought, she quipped, “But hey, the threat of a temper tantrum from this chick warrants a superheroic intervention? Kind of makes me want to take her on as a little sister.”
Laurel laughed lightly. “And here I thought you didn’t like meeting new people.” Her expression turned serious shortly after that. “But look Cyn… be careful. I know you’re used to taking hits and being fine, but with the way Tamara’s powers work, she might be able to do lasting damage to you. Plus, we’re here to reach out to her, not fight her. Save the fight for whichever agents Tome sends in to recapture her.”
As much as she wanted to argue, Cyn really couldn’t. Her thing was picking fights and tanking damage. She might have earned a noblewoman’s ‘C’ in physics, but it sounded like the new Tome refugee could atomize her with one punch. Regenerating from a single cell? She could probably do that. From atoms? Probably not.
“Got it. I’ll be totally the cool big sis and sell up the Institute.” she said. “After all, who better to make friends with the bad girl than our own resident bad girl?”
Something she said made Laurel make a face like she was holding in a laugh.
“Nothing. It’s just that I’m thinking maybe you two will get along. You said you were our bad girl, and at the Academy, Tamara called herself…”
“B-A-D-space-L-A-S-S. Not badass—though I am. It’s ‘Bad. Lass’ as in ‘I’m a bonnie lass, who will break her boot off in your arse.”
The voice was coming from the closed door of a changing room of a downtown Minneapolis Infernal Angels alternative clothing store. Marylee Roth, the clerk rolled her eyes and tapped it into her tablet. She saw a dozen ‘tough girls’ come in a day and by this point in her two years working at Infernal Angels, she hadn’t even batted an eye at the hospital gown this one had come in wearing.
Like anyone what worked at Infernal Angels, she was dressed to be the hit of the club: white PVC pants with green and yellow rings outlining her joints, a tank top with dozens of round mirrors sewn over its surface, spiked, green bracers with OLEDs built in displaying a proxy of gold fish in an aquarium, and a set of overwrought goggles with orange lenses and a leather strap with brass fittings pushed up so they rested on her head instead of over her eyes. It was doubtful the girl in the dressing room could put together something half as awesome.
In fact, she had a word for girls like the one she was serving at the moment: Poser. Even money said that this chick still listened to Darkcore in public, then put in some J-pop crap band that was sooo popular these days like ‘God’s Mysterious Designs of Love. Probably didn’t even know who Savaged By Dogs or Insufficiently Lethal Baby were, much less listened to them.
“Oh, and can the space be like an Eye of Ra thing or something?
Marylee smirked The Eye of Ra thing was old school. Egypt hadn’t been popular in the scene for at least two years. She was shocked she didn’t ask for a skull. Also, it sounded like Poser #235 was talking with her mouth full. Vaguely, she recalled the girl coming in with a bag in her hand. It might have been from the Burger Builders down the street. “Yeah, fine. Hey, you know you’re not supposed to eat in the changing room, right?
In the changing room, Tamara tossed another shirt aside and took a moment to take another huge bite out of her Buck-Buck Burger (a double cheese burger with a chicken breast patty between the beef patties). “Hey, I’m a paying customer, okay? Don’t you get like a commission?”
“As a clerk. At an IA franchise store?” Marylee deadpanned.
“Right. Look, I haven’t eaten in two years apparently, so I’m really damn hungry. Ho’s this: Go get something for yourself and put it on my card. Will that make you shut the hell up about my lunch?”
Marylee smirked. She kind of liked this girl. Sure, she was obviously a spoiled right kid, but whatever crazy thing she was LARPing, she was playing it to the hilt so far there wasn’t even any blade left. Plus, there was a straitjacket-slash-cocktail dress she’d had her eye on for a while. “Yeah, that’ll do.”
Half an hour later, Marylee knocked on the changing room door. “Hey, your thing is done printing.” she announced, idly waving a black box with the store’s ‘halo with horns’ logo on it.
“Nice.” came the reply. The door opened and out stepped Tamara in her new outfit. Heavy boots with visible, black-painted steel toes and heels clomped on the floor as she emerged, reaching for the box with hands adorned with black leather fingerless gloves with metal rings around the finger joints and the backs cut out. She had traded the hospital gown for a pair of fitted jeans with extra-large pockets, secured with a chunky belt made of chrome-plated iron, and a long-sleeved, dark purple top with a black t-shirt over it bearing a big, purple smilie face that looked more like it was glaring and scowling than smiling on the front.
She opened the box to reveal a thin leather choker with BAD LASS written on the front in etched silver plates. There was an ankh between the words instead of an Eye of Ra, but she didn’t care, they both looked cool. After putting on the choker, she looked back at the mirror in the dressing room. “I need to paint my nails and get some lipstick, but this is much better than that stupid paper gown. Needs one more thing though…”
Marylee openly rolled her eyes. The girl must have been from one of those little towns far away from the city if she thought that old stuff looked cool. It was all basically on clearance it was so far out of fashion. “And what’s that?” she asked, wondering if the ensemble could get any more ridiculous.
“These.” said Tamara, snatching the goggles off Marylee’s head. Ignoring the disgruntled noise the other young woman was making, she adjusted the strap and pulled them on over her eyes. “I doubt those assholes are done chasing me, and if I have to jump around and crap, I need to keep the wind outta my face.”
Marylee merely grunted. Yeah, definitely a LARPer.
“Just add that to the card—oh, and this too.” Tamara said, spotting a tube of dark purple lipstick labeled ‘Royalty of the Night’. “In fact, keep the card and use whatever’s left. I don’t care.”
There was a couple hundred dollars on each card, she’d found after checking them at the automated ordering kiosk at Burger Builders. Connected to accounts with different names with different personal information filled out. Whoever kidnapped her had given their goons emergency money. That meant they planned. That meant she wasn’t free yet. She needed to get out of town.
“Uh… thanks?” said Marylee. Tamara wasn’t paying attention, she was already on her way out.
She paused as she stepped back onto the street. This wasn’t the first time she’d stolen a cash card, so she knew the owner could easily find out where it had been used (and even if the one she’d robbed was dead, their bosses would check). Using money to get a cab or ride service would tell them both where she was and where she was headed. It would also get around if some girl was jumping around the place, leaving impact craters every time she landed. That left old-fashioned walking. A lot of walking.
“Damn it.” she muttered, striking off down the street. Her hands clinched into fists as she imagined getting her hands on whoever was behind her kidnapping. First, she would give them a love-tap on the nose that powdered the bone there. Then she’d see how long she could keep them in the air using only uppercuts. Then she’d get mean.
And god help any more stooges they might send after her. She was in a bad mood and it was getting worse not being able to hit something for fear of giving herself away.
“Jack got a hit on one of Helmsworth’s cards.” White Shadow’s voice seemed to come from nowhere, making Josiah Colt struggle not to turn and talk to ‘nothing’. He had a hands-free earpiece on so he didn’t look like a lunatic as it was. As much of one at least; everyone looked like a lunatic talking on a hands-free.
“Interesting trick, seeing as she’s in the hospital under ROCIC observation with bones broken I didn’t even know a human had. Looks like the girl’s not as smart as she thinks she is. Where is she?”
White Shadow was silent, listening to Jack’s response before relaying it. “He’s sending it to you GPS. She used it as a Burger Builders, then one of those teenaged wasteland clothing stores. Now that he knows where to look, he’ll be able to pinpoint her the second she uses it again. Abscondro is already on the way over there.”
“Why does that one get to work alone, I wonder?”
A harsh laugh made a middle-aged woman who’d been passing by look around for the source of the noise. White Shadow waited until she gave up before elaborating. “One? Well I can’t read GPS on my own, now can I? And two, who else are they going to send after this kid? The dragon? She’d make him into luggage. Impact? Well I guess it would be funny to see what happens if they punched each other. X? Please, that nerd’s got impressive powers, but it’d do diddly to this one.”
The trio (plus Jack as mission control) had been sent because they really were the only ones with a prayer. One that she couldn’t see. One that she couldn’t make physical contact with. And one whose powers she couldn’t defend against. All Colt had to do was touch her and it was over. They could load her into a stasis cell at their leisure.
“Fine. But I’d much rather Abscondro be the one to babysit you.”
“I’m hurt.” mocked White Shadow. “Oh come off it. Why did you even become an Enforcer if you didn’t expect to work as part of a team? They never send anyone out alone unless they were someone like Prometheus, but look how that turned out? Beginning of the end.”
Colt growled. “Explain something to me, Shadow? Ho is it that someone whose power is invisibility can’t seem to ever be quiet?”
I think I’ve picked up all three of Tome’s players. They’re tracking her. Should I… put them off her scent?
No, that won’t be necessary. We don’t know if they have any defenses or detection methods you might come into contact with. Besides, let them find her first, maybe even let them shake her up. That will only make her more vulnerable.
I shuffled through her memories before I gave her that wake-up call, Teach. This girl hasn’t been vulnerable since she was five. And yeah, I know you meant emotionally—so do I. She doesn’t get sad or broken, she gets pissed off.
Actually Brain Child, I wasn’t talking about emotions at all. I’ve seen her record. When she gets angry, lawsuits and time in juvenile hall start getting bandied about. And maybe she doesn’t care about juvvie, but Minnesota is a Braylocke state—if only just. They means real prison and in her case, being doped out of her mind from now until they figure out a way to restrain altering the fundamentals of physics with barely a thought. Unless someone intervenes on her behalf, of course.
Nicely done, Teach. Do you want me to bump up that rage of hers?
Ha. Believe me, that will be entirely unnecessary. Tamara Daye doesn’t have a hair-trigger temper, it’s constantly on auto-fire.