Issue #87 – Descendants… In Space

This entry is part 3 of 12 in the series The Descendants Vol 8: The Weaver's Web

Descendants… In Space (Part 2)

The sky was starting to lighten while the van was waved through the private entrance outside Norfolk International Aerospaceport and into the reserved parking area. A burgundy sedan was waiting for them, and as soon as they parked, and started to pile out of the van, a man got out of the driver’s side.

He was like a small mountain made of muscle wrapped in a very nice cream-colored suit that contrasted nicely with his dark skin. Dark brown hair with highlights of auburn was arranged into braids that spilled over his shoulders down to mid-ribs. Even at night, he was wearing shades—the kind that doubled as mobile computer screens.

“Ms. Brant, I presume.” he said, his voice somehow smooth and raspy and low all at once, creating an effect that was pleasing to the ear but seemed like it shouldn’t be. Stepping forward, he offered his hand, and when she returned the gesture, he lifted it to brush his lips across the back of it, just barely tickling her with his finely manicured beard. “A pleasure to meet you at last. Silas Beauchamp, Miss Strong’s personal pilot.”

Laurel gave him a smile of measured warmth and a nod. “Pleased to meet you as well, Mr. Beauchamp. And these are…” She started to gesture to the others as they climbed out of the van.

“Oh, they need no introduction.”said Beauchamp with a broad smile. “Members of the legendary Descendants.” He went to the women first, taking the hand of each in turn and brushing his lips to their hands of gloves in the same fashion he had with Laurel’s. “The versatile Facsimile. The enigmatic Occult. The incredibly skilled Codex. And the angelic Hope. Enchanted, my dears.”

After the female members of the team finished returning his greeting, he turned to Ephemeral, grasping his hand in a firm shake. “Ephemeral: the man shourded in mystery on the team. It is a treat to be able to see you in person.” He then went to Chaos, who had been standing at the rear of the group. “And Chaos. You sir, are my daughter’s favorite.”

He paused, regarding the other man. Under the lights of the lot, the others could see now what he was looking at. “My, another change of costume sir?” Indeed, Chaos was wearing a chunkier set of gauntlets than he’d been using the past few months as well as a thicker cowl with a cloth that covered his mouth and nose.

“Upgrades.” Chaos said in a terrifically hoarse voice, then cleared his throat. “Sorry, I strained my voice.” He added, miming grabing his own throat.

“Think nothing of it, sir.” Beauchamp said with a jovial air, then turned and gestured with both hands toward a side gate leading to one of the private hangars. “Now, we have a very long trip ahead, so if you will all make yourselves comfortable in the plane, we can take off. I hope no one has special dietary restrictions, as we only have the meals Ms. Strong kept on hand to eat along the way. I assure you though, the food, beverages and snacks are of the highest quality.”

He struck off toward the door, just expecting the others to follow them. Ephemeral, Chaos, Hope, Occult, and Tink took up the plastic bins Laurel had brought along and did so. Facsimile, however, caught Laurel by the arm as her adoptive mother was shouldering a duffel bag and pulling a long, plastic case from under the van’s front bench seat, and made sure they brought up the rear. Without saying a word, she widened her eyes and inclined her head toward Chaos.

For her part, Laurel shook her head and looked apologetic.

Undeterred, Facsimile nodded in the direction of Tink, who was watching Chaos’s back. With just facial expressions, she implied, she’s going to figure it out. Then she pointed explicitly ad Kareem, and he sure as hell will.

Laurel replied by pointing toward Beauchamp and making an indecisive gesture. She was keeping the real person in the Chaos costume a secret for a reason just like she put Tink in a Codex costume for and she couldn’t trust the Beauchamp was really trustworthy.

Unable to voice her complaints aloud, Facsimile fell silent and grabbed the last couple of bins, doubling her strength to do so.

By the time they got to the hangar, Beauchamp had already entered his security code for entry, revealing that the private hangar was the home of a single engine airplane painted dark red with pink stripes, bearing the painted image of a wolf wearing old timey aviator goggles and a scarf.

Beyond it, much larger, was a sleek, white space plane, its profile looking somewhat like the worlds most aerodynamic frog complete with cartoonish overbite. An automated mechanic was in the process of clamping on a fresh booster pack to the vehicle’s rear.

Happily listing off the features of the plane with the certainty of someone who kept the flight manual on their bookshelf, Beauchamp produced a palmtop and used it to call over an automated set of boarding stairs to grant them access to the boarding door.

As expected of a private space plane, Rebecca Strong’s was designed with luxury and comfort in mind. There was a forward compartment adjacent to the cockpit fitted with rows of acceleration chairs for use when the craft was boosting out of the atmosphere.

Past that, there was a carpeted room with comfortable couches and tables. There was a bar with special shelves to keep the alcohol firmly in place during boosts and re-entry, as well as a small kitchenette with a refrigerator and pantry. Every chair and table had a holographic projector built in.

The cargo hold, where they stowed the bins, was accessed via a hatch concealed in the floor of the room with the acceleration seats and featured its own locking bins and reinforced cargo webbing to keep items in place.

Despite its opulence, everything was built with a serious eye toward keeping items from flying around during boosts or zero gravity while also keeping guests comfortable. Beauchamp made sure to personally make sure everything was secured and his passengers were in their acceleration seats before heading for the cockpit.

By the time they were taxiing out of the hangar, Facsimile couldn’t hold it anymore. “Guys, we’re going into space. Space-space. Like we’re leaving Earth. I know I say this a lot, but I freaking love being a superhero! How many people our age get to do this? How many people at all get to do this!?”

“I think its still a little early to lose my mind just yet.” Occult said, clearly nervous. “We’re still on the ground right now.”

“Yes, but we still know where we’re going.” Ephemeral said, looking at the gradually accelerating landscape of the runway outside. “I agree with Facsimile: it is a bit overwhelming even after all of the other things we’ve been through.”

Hope, sitting in the acceleration chair next to Ephemeral, closed her eyes and breathed. “You all are aware that we’re going into space because someone’s hijacked a space station and the place might go haywire and kill us all, right?”

“How many things have we dealt with in the past month could we use the words ‘kill us all’ describing?” Facsimile asked, rolling her eyes, “And now how many would you say would ‘kill us all…’ in space?”

Awkward silence reigned in the cabin as the plane left the ground. Finally, Ephemeral spoke up, “We have survived everything else we’ve been involved with. And indeed, it’s highly likely that the people who have taken over the station have just as little desire to die as we have—otherwise, they have destroyed it already.”

“That’s a really good point.” Facsimile agreed, craning (and stretching) her neck to look smugly at Hope. “See?”

Hope growled her annoyance. “Whatever. I’ll admit that I never thought I’d be going into space. I wanted to be a librarian when I grew up—fewer people to talk to and lots of reasons not to talk at all.”

“Is that what you still want to do?” Tink asked. The plane started to move faster as it climbed, and the acceleration started to push them all into the heavy padding of their chairs.

With a heavy sigh, Hope looked to the ceiling of the cabin as if for a way out of the question. At length, she groaned again. “I have no idea what I want to be anymore. I think I’m really just wasting everyone’s time and money on my classes right now.”

Facsimile made a rude noise. “Now’s the time to be deciding. If we all grew up to be what we wanted to be when we grew up, I’d have to find a college that offered Miss America classes.”

“Miss America? Seriously?” Occult asked over Chaos coughing loudly.

“What?” asked Facsimile. “I didn’t wan to be president after learning in class that the one before last shot himself in the Lincoln bedroom over blowing up Brazil or whatever. And when I was a kid, I thought Miss America was like an actual office with power and money and stuff, not the whole spokesmodel thing.”

She gave them all an annoyed look. “Well what did you guys want to be?”

“Rock star.” Occult said automatically even though everyone knew as much already. “But as a back-up, I’ve been taking accounting classes. Best case scenario, I do my own money management, worst case, I have something I can do if we don’t make it.”

“I actually did consider politics. Not president perhaps,” said Ephemeral, “but my sights may have been set on Congress. Given my gifts, however, studying the astral plane seems to be the more responsible choice.”

Tink, still wearing her Codex helmet, looked over at him. “Really? I sort of thought you decided to go into that because you were genuinely interested.”

Ephemeral shrugged. “I am interested in a practical, exploratory manner, not empirical study. But until we discover someone else with similar abilities to mine, there is no one else who can study the plane as intimately as I. Even with the ability to enter the astral by other means, there are the creatures that live there to worry over. We know nothing about them, and I am the only person who can escape with a thought.”

“Still…” Facsimile said.

“Maybe Occult can find a spell for that.” Hope offered hesitantly.

Ephemeral shook his head. “No offense to Occult, but I suspect a lengthy, uphill battle before scientists will accept the use of spells.”

“I’m not so sure about that,” said Tink, “I’ve been paying attention to her spells, and they do work on repeatable principles even if they seem to be illogical on the surface. A spell performed in the same way yields the same result, so it’s something science can definitely study, I’d say.”

“See?” Facsimile said happily. “Sciene can learn magic, then use that to learn… astral… stuff. And then you can run for Congress—I know I’d vote for you over, um, whoever our Congress guy is.”

“Patrick Shaw.” Ephemeral supplied.

“Yeah, him. He sucks compared to you.” She grinned. “So…” her attention tracked back to Laurel. “We probably all know what ‘Codex’ wanted to do, but what about you, Ms. Brant? Being a teacher, being on the DRW board, and of course being our unofficial public liason… but what did you want to do when you were young” She remembered that just over five years separated her from her new mother in age, “…er?”

Laurel laughed softly despite the concerns and plans running through her head. “It’s a bit embarassing, all things considered.”

“That might be why I asked.” Facsimile smiled cheekily.

Before Laurel could reply, a tone announced the intercom had come on. Beauchamp’s voice announced, “Attention passengers, this is your pilot speaking. We are no cruising at optimal speed for atmospheric boost. Please secure any objects within the cabin, swallow any food or drink, and clear away anything that may press against your windpipe such as necklaces. “Boost acceleration lasts between forty seconds and sixty five seconds after which you are invited to enjoy the lounge. Approximate time to the Indus River: seventeen hours, forty-two minutes.”

He cleared his throat. “Boost will begin in mark three…two… one—ignition.”

The roar and the vibration hit them all despite the considerable design that had gone into keeping it at a minimum for the passengers. The G forces crushed them all into their seats and all their gear pressed itself back up against them hard enough to bruise.

Everyone braced an groaned against the seats as the windows flashed with plasma where atmospheric friction contacted the standing field generator around the plane, then faded, revealing a vast field of stars, more than any terrestrial eye had ever seen.

Laurel stared out into the bejeweled black with unrestrained awe. “This.” she said with a dreamy voice. “Exactly this. I wouldn’t change where I am and how I got here for anything in the world.”


“Sir, a message was just relayed from out people in the WSA: a space plane just got high level clearance to break atmosphere with a heading that could include this station. The plane is registered to the sys admin of the station.” The hireling this time was a woman who was busy helping reconfigure the drone launch bays.

The boss on the other line laughed. “Of course. I calculated that she would contact her old friend—that’s why the virus didn’t infect her personal systems. You see, our Ms. Strong was not-entirely friends with Laurel Brant—who has several prominent connections to the Descendants.”

The woman stopped working entirely. “Sir? Does that mean that…”

“It’s all according to plan, Dunn. The inspiration of all these so-called ‘heroes’ who spit in the face of the natural order of things, need to be made an example of. Have Hooks and Taelani go down to the emergency rescue dock with their squads; that’s where they’ll try and dock.”

“What are their orders? I doubt shooting them with the low-yield hollow points we brought is going to hurt them.”

On the other end, the boss laughed again. “We’re not gong to engage them: I just need their corpses. Tell them to wait until the docking is complete… then seal the module and blow the oxygen seals.”

Series Navigation<< Issue #86 – Those Not ForgottenIssue #88 – Tome of Battle >>

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. Seven minutes seems like a lot of lag, even considering it’s for round trip. The radio message delay between Earth and Moon is about 1.3 seconds. Maybe you were thinking of Mars?

    • You might be right. I’m trying to decide if I can no-prize it away by saing it has to be relayed by special exchanges or something due to the station. Not sure if I can salvage it because I mention it a couple of times.

      • A plaintext message can go all the way around the world fast enough that ordinary relays can’t be the issue. Bouncing between satellites might add another second or two but no more. Paranoid security and/or an email/messaging system on the verge of collapse might delay a message 5 minutes.

        ‘Rebbelle’ – someone’s nostalgic for the Confederacy.

  2. Typos & all

    pop up for fiver
    pop up for five

    The Indus River was in stationary orbit above the moon
    Stationary relative to what? Is it at one of the Lagrange points – L4 & L5 are stable places to park a space station, in the moons’ orbit but 60 degrees ahead of the moon and 60 degrees behind the moon respectively.

    board b accident.
    board by accident.

    to establish She arranged
    to establish. She arranged

    operates on the cold calculation
    operates on cold calculation
    (or) operates by cold calculation

    • It’s at L5 because the asteroid Apophis is parked at L4 just like the RL asteroid cpature plans call for.

      Also, I finally realized why I made the 7 minute mistake: that’s for a point on the asteroid belt, IIRC (Circe?). Sciencing is hard.

      • Probably not. Anything in the asteroid belt is going to have a one-way delay of over 8 minutes, and of course it’d vary due to difference in orbits around the sun.

        • Then I have no idea where I got that number from.

          • The minimum distance Earth-Venus is 2.5 light minutes, so a 5 or 7 minute round trip signal could make sense there. There are some asteroids which get that close to Earth, they’re only mostly out beyond Mars.

          • I’m still guessing Mars since that’s the usual idea for where to go next in space and the minimum delay there is about 3 minutes so 7 for round trip would mean good, but not quite optimal range.

          • Need to figure out how to fix that…

  3. Aw yeah, space! This is going to be awesome, I’m sure.
    For “operates on the cold calculation” (nice reference, by the way) maybe “operates by/on the cold equations”?

  4. Glad to see the cameras.

    I look forward to them causing more problems than the group expects.

  5. >she couldn’t trust the Beauchamp was really >trustworthy.

    You said ‘the Beauchamp’ here, which is good. But you forgot to put in the word ‘the’ elsewhere. The Beauchamp is like the Fonz or the Batman or the Situation. As an aside, have those four ever been in the same sentence before?

    >the painted image of a wolf wearing old timey aviator goggles and a scarf.

    I would watch this cartoon.

    >the worlds most aerodynamic frog complete with cartoonish overbite.

    Especially if this was a major character.

  6. Given spells which have obvious, repeatable effects, scientists would be beating down the door to study magic. And a whole bunch of non-scientists … a secret identity for Occult could make sense for that alone, even in the absence of Tome.


    introduction.” said

    shourded in mystery
    shrouded in mystery

    explicitly ad Kareem
    explicitly at Kareem

    costume for and
    costume for, and

    trust the Beauchamp
    trust that Beauchamp

    they have destroyed it
    they would have destroyed it

    no cruising at
    now cruising at

    braced an groaned
    braced and groaned

  7. Oh come on! You can’t give us Captain James Hook…s and then not have them be space pirates.

    Does Cyn pay royalties for the shapes she uses, or is superheroic shapeshifting considered fair use?

    • Wow. Would you believe I did that on accident?

      Also no royalties unless she does something more than a cameo. She’s very careful about that :p

  8. A bit of beard will do nasty things to the seal of a breathing mask. Hopefully Kareem won’t be needing one.

    The enemy hypercog seemes to have made more than enough mistakes to lose already – losing control of his explosives (to Rebecca?), hauling mooks all the way from Earth (wouldn’t drones/robots have made more sense in space?), and of course going in person to the space station in the first place. He’d better have a trick or two left up his sleeve to look like a worthwhile enemy.


    flack jackets and BUDs
    flak jackets and BDUs

    cannoing him backward
    cannoning him backward

    jutting form its
    jutting from its

    those form Earth
    those from Earth

    • Using robots to do your villainy for you isn’t all that great a plan unless you can make actually smart ones that won’t screw up the moment they find something not covered by their programming. And in DU true AI isn’t something any hypercog can just make on whim.

      • That’s why Robin Atan is so special. She’s the only hypercog whose ability developed in such a way to allow her to think her way past the problem. And also someone smart enough to black box it so she can make $$$,$$$,$$$

    • Sending robots against a station adminned by a master hacker wouldn’t have been a good mood even if they were sure of what they were facing. You’ll see later why the explosives didn’t work too.

      And don’t worry, they do have a few more tricks. Including one more classic homage.

  9. People don’t think much about the Earth? Vaal, the land is a big deal in most cultures. Western urbanized populations might agree with you (though some subpopulations wouldn’t), but that’s about it.

    Kareem’s ability seems unusually high powered. Not just telepathy (has he done illusions before?) and general scouting, but the ability to see plans when no-one’s focusing on them and potentially even when the plan makers aren’t present. Is it different out here (the clarity mentioned) or could he get this much info back on Earth?


    in fainted lines
    in faint lines

    Hooks’s mind
    Hooks’ mind

    same things near to mind
    same things were near to mind

    Sentence starting If Hendricks heard
    This sentence maybe should have ‘one more time’ added somewhere in it.

    One the astral
    On the astral

    sneak past us!”
    Lose the closing quote, Portias keeps talking.

    my pry it
    me pry it

    hope er chaos
    hope her chaos

    tot he pair
    to the pair

    o-” Levell’s

    moment,s he
    moment, she

    along. Where

    Facsimile process this
    Facsimile processed this

    laughed s the
    laughed as the

    “Oh course I came
    This might be ‘”Of course I came’ or ‘”Oh, of course I came’. The original isn’t impossible but seems wrong for Laurel, who seems to speak carefully.

    not askign
    not asking

    • People care about the land, but not the planet. That’s the big difference. Plus, they’ve noticed it a much shorter time than they’ve noticed the sun.

      As for Kareem, he can’t read everyone and he can only get what they know. The ‘illusion’ was also just pulling memories of movies tot he surface without contact. He has made people freak out before (back in the issue where Leo kidnapped Kay for one, Skyhard for another), but I think this is the first time we see how. It’s also helped that they’re out in space. There’s less interference.

  10. Always interesting to drop into the Astral.
    The idea of the smaller Earth worked for me- although lots of people/peoples think/feel a lot about the land, I can accept that they aren’t really thinking about the planet as a globe-in-space so it doesn’t influence its gross size in the Astral in the same way human consideration of the moon does.

    Plus it is a really cool image.

  11. FINALLY! It took long, but at last someone made the connection between a famous superhero and people they knew in school who had the same powers and same codename. That it took a super genius and came unexpected to another is probably due to whatever phenomenon it is in DU that makes domino masks work.

    • In my defense, Alexis never did the full-body shadow bit in school, and Ian couldn’t fly until the middle of Volume 1.

  12. Somebody’s read Watchmen!

    I’m glad Warrick got to go into space. It would have been a shame if he of all people would have missed it.

  13. Hah! I knew there had to be a robot somewhere in an adventure in space!



    (to a certain
    (for a certain

    them is completely
    them are completely

    are e headed
    are we headed

    m friends fly
    my friends fly


    willb e
    will be


    snapped out the jam
    snapped out to jam

    mean force
    main force

  14. A villain market for trading gear and labour isn’t a new idea (after all once you have enough costumed villains in a setting it starts seeming like there has to be something like that in the background), and the hammy Ayn Rand villain ideology is standard issue, but I don’t think I’ve seen the two together before.
    Feels a bit odd. Usually the ones making the speeches about their evil ideology are the ones trying to take over the world or at least destroy a city or two with their giant robot chicken, and the ones looking to facilitate free entrepreneurship keep quiet and are only seen as steepled fingers and evil reflective glasses in a dark room.

    • Orb Weaver is a multi-tasker!

      I’ve wanted to do the supervillain since forever because I saw the Henchco stuff in Kim Possible and figured it could work in a much less comedic context. Then I considered what the best advertising pitch would be for the kinds of guys who become henchman-hiring classic supervillains and Ayn Rand came to mind instantly… mostly because her work IS an advertising pitch to henchman-hiring, classic supervillains. Half that speech is Frankensteined from actual political ‘discourse’.

      • Expanding on the idea of a villain support structure like Orb Weaver’s web here, I sometimes think that a classic superhero setting would need a bigger infrastructure that caters to both heroes and villains. After all everybody needs costumes, and you need a scheduling system to explain why there’s generally only one hero/team responding to a high-visibility crisis even in a city where there are many, and how a certain villain robbing a bank always brings out their usual hero and not someone else.

  15. That was lucky. The only way you’d get a sunrise at L4/5 is if the earth is eclipsing the sun, which happens 2-3 times a year in the moons’ orbit (see lunar eclipses.)

    Somewhere, some impovershed states which make some needed hard currency supporting villains are going to be quite annoyed with OW. I’ve read that the biggest US dollar counterfeiter in the world is run by the North Korean gov.

    Not a lot of typos this time.


    hadn’t figure it out
    hadn’t figured it out

    • Huh. It seems I don’t know as much about space as I thought I did.

      Also, yes. A lot of very bad people are going to be pissed.

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