- 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)
Homage (Part 4)
It was just after classes let out from Seraph Copse High School when Juniper Taylor entered the main room of Lexi’s Juice Bar and Youth Center. Wearing her favorite red blouse and knee-length denim skirt and carrying her red gym back over one shoulder,s he made her way over to where some of her friends were already waiting for her.
Ray Fayth and Josh Shee were standing one one of the exercise mats on the youth center side of the building, next to the brass railing that separated it from the elevated Juice Bar seating area, both holding shinai and wearing traditional kendo face masks alongside their normal workout clothes; Ray’s in blue, Josh’s in black.
As Juniper approached, Josh led off with a series of rapid-fire attacks that Ray barely blocked, forcing him back. Ray, however, didn’t stay off guard for long, finding an opening through which to send his reply. It was clear that he was the novice, however, as Josh countered and easily disarmed him.
“Whew,” Ray sighed, pulling off his face mask, “I never expected this to be such a workout, man. How long have you been at this again?” He offered his hand.
Josh removed his own face protector and shook Ray’s hand, nodding them off to the side. “Since I could hols a shinai, I’ve been training for competition. Believe me when I say you have nothing to be ashamed of in your performance.”
“I’ll say.” Juniper said, leaning over the rail to talk to them. You’re both looking good out there.”
“You should try it sometime, Miss Kung Fu Master.” Ray said with a grin.
Not too far away, the proprietor of the establishment put the last of Warrick Kaine and Callie Kreiger’s order onto a pair of trays. Alexis ‘Lexi’ Keyes gave the two teens a fond smile. “All set guys, your group’s usual. Anything else?”
“Thank, Lexi, that’s it.” said Warrick, picking up a tray. He was wearing a white hoodie and jeans.
Callie, wearing a yellow jacket over a black t-shirt and yellow capris, grabbed the other. “Yeah, thanks. The though of getting a couple of your burgers at the end of the day helps me get through seventh period French.”
“Glad I could t’aider.” For a second, Callie just stared at Lexi. “It’s French for ‘help you’.”
“Oh. Well um… merci?”
Trays in hand, the two friends made their way over to the table Juniper had secured while talking with Ray and Josh. “Hey guys,” Warrick greeted them, setting his load down, “What’s up?”
“Not much,” said Juniper, “the guys were just trying to get me into kendo.
Warrick took a seat, scratching his chin as he mused. “Swords are awesome, but when it comes to fighting, I’m more of a fan of aikido—you know, using the other guy’s strength against you?”
“You guys any your martial arts.” Callie sat down and picked up a burger. She took a big bite and savored it before speaking further, “Though I guess that explains why I’m the one who keeps getting her butt kicked by even Feather Fiends.”
The others paused, glancing about to make sure no one else heard that. When it was clear they hadn’t, Juniper said, “Well, it might be a good idea for you to practice fighting, you still do great work out there.”
“Yeah, who else would have thought of mixing up The Defiance Engine’s punch cards?” asked Ray. As he spoke, he followed the railing around to the short set of stairs up to the level where the table was.
Josh followed him up. “Or pulled it together enough to save the rest of us when Gastrolux swallowed us?”
Callie blushed. “Still, I think it’s time I learned something.”
“You could practice with me and Jessica,” Juniper offered, nodding in the direction of a mousy, brown-haired girl dressed in a goldenrod ankle-length dress with a black belt and jacket who had just come in and headed toward where Lexi was. “She asked me to show her some moves—saves on self defense classes.”
Before Callie could reply, a tone came from Juniper watch, six notes that put an end to all conversation and eating at the table. All of them exchanged glances before performing another quick look around to make sure no one was looking.
As usual, no one was, so Juniper raise the watch to her face and depressed a concealed button answer it. “We’re here Anansi.”
Miles away, within a building constructed in a style not native to the surrounding area, the holographic image of an African man’s head floated inside a tube filled with swirling, blue plasma. Before him, standing in a ring of consoles, stood a Native American teen-aged girl with her arms crossed and a sour look on her face.
“You aren’t really playing along with this, are you?” asked the girl, also known as coyote.
“This is Hermes’s story, not mine.” said the floating head of Anansi, “I don’t remember him being so much malicious as obnoxious, so why not play along until he goes too far and we have to step in?”
Coyote rolled her eyes and Anansi cleared his throat before answering Juniper’s hale. “Super Sentinels, King Hermes has sent a new monster to Seraph Copse. The Pawn Scum monster is especially dangerous because it has the ability to remove items from its body and use them to create weaker monsters. It is currently attacking the waterfront with a squad of Feathered Fiends.”
“It’s like he attacks every week.” Callie groused.
Juniper shot her a grin before replying with. “We’re on it Anansi.”
“Excellent. Any may your superpowers sustain you.”
With more than a few forlorn looks at their soon to be abandoned food, the quintet got to their feet and started the now-familiar journey toward the Juice Bar’s side doors where hardly anyone went.
A few minutes after they were gone, Jessica arrived at the table with a tray only to find the group missing. “Huh.” She wasn’t confused so much as disappointed. With a glance toward the side door, she heaved a sigh and set her tray down, making her way instead toward the bathroom.
The area outside the Juice Bar’s side door was a bit of open green space between the Juice Bar and the blank wall of the surf shop next door. In all their time ducking out that way, they had never run into anyone else out there, making it the perfect place for them to make use of.
“Everyone ready?” Juniper asked. As often happened, they’d fallen into a loose, triangular formation with her at the head. A chorus of affirmative grunts and nods followed, so she shifted her stance, centering herself while reaching for the transformation energizer concealed on the back of her belt. “It’s time to transform!”
In a flurry of swift motions, she removed the energizer from its clip and brought in up in front of her, gauntleting it in her right palm while her left manipulated the controls to expose the core.
The energizer was a flat, silver ovoid. In her case there was a trio of red gems set into its face, forming a triangle around the seam that ran up the center. When she activated it, the seam split open, revealing a glimmering golden sphere, the transmetamorphic node, her personal conduit to the transmetamorphic field, source of the Sentinels’ powers.
Behind her, she heard the sound of the others following suit and felt the surge in the T-field as they activated their own nodes. Then they sounded off, calling upon their armor and weapons from there they were stored in the T-field.
“Indricothere!” Warrick led them off. As the T-field’s energy surged around them, the image of a gigantic, gray skinned behemoth with a beak-like mouth, tiny ears and long neck formed behind him. While the beast roared, a flare of white power surrounded him, transforming into what appeared to be form-fitting spandex with black diamonds spanning the chest, along with white boots and gloves, topped by a white motorcycle-style helmet styled to resemble the Indricothere’s head.
“Ornithocheirus!” cried Callie. Behind her, the phantom of a great winged reptile with a colorful crest at the end of its beak extended its wings. A burst of yellow energy surrounded her, placing her in a suit similar to Warrick’s but yellow instead of white and with a representation of the Ornithocheirus’s head instead of the Indricothere’s.
“Brontotherium!” Ray added his voice to the group’s. A woolly rhinoceros’s form appeared behind him as a font of blue power erupted around him. His suit was blue with the horned visage of the Brontotherium molded into the helmet.
“Andrewsarchus!” Josh continued the role call with the projection of a spotted, wolf-like creature roaring behind him. A wave of black energy enveloped him and became a black suit with its visor ringed by the cruel teeth of an Andrewsarchus.
It came down to Juniper to finish it off. “Terror Bird!”
She sensed more than saw the feather-crested, flightless predator behind her as a nimbus of red from the T-field surrounded her, transforming into a red suit with a helmet designed to mimic the beak and feathers of a terror bird.
Before the T-field energies even dissipated, a white teleportation beam came down to encompass them, whisking the newly transformed Sentinels to the waterfront.
A series of small explosions tore another fish monger’s stand apart, sending a shower of fish an ice spattering across the civilians fleeing before the creatures wreaking havoc at the waterfront fish market.
At the center of it all was the Pawn Scum monster, an eight-foot tall mishmash of random items. Its chest was the body of an ATV, it’s right arm was an amalgam of various tools, ending in a vise with a chainsaw strapped atop it. It’s right arm was a mass of handguns, ending with a trio of shotguns. For legs, it had pillars of tightly packed watches and jewelry. There was a guitar slung over its back, and it was draped in armor made from DVD and CD cases. In place of a head, it had an old cathode ray tube television, its screen showing static that happened to look like a face.
Surrounding it was humanoid creatures with black-feathered heads and arms with thick, hooked beaks. They wore breastplates with a bird symbol over the heart and cawed incessantly as they charged through the market, overturning stalls and chasing anyone who tried to run.
Pawn Scum laughed boisterously and leveled his gun arm, launching orange bursts from the barrels, setting off another series of explosives. “Fish, fish, fish! I’m sick of fish! Don’t any of you have some vegetables? Maybe a steak?” it demanded in a grating, high-pitched voice.
“The farmer’s market’s only on weekends, Pawn Scum!” Juniper shouted from the other end of an aisle. She and the rest of the Sentinels had just appeared there, and as she spoke, they struck threatening poses. “But you’re about to get your just deserts!”
“Super Sentinels?!” Pawn Scum shrieked. “Just the thing to ruin my little walk on the beach! No worries though: Feathered Fiends attack!”
The cawing monsters all charged, hurling themselves into range to engage the Sentinels in melee. What they lacked in skill, they made up for in numbers: there was a dozen of them and only five Sentinels.
Numbers weren’t enough. While the Fiends weren’t instantly steamrolled, they quickly found themselves forced to gang up on the Sentinels in twos, threes and even fours. Juniper in particular blazed through them, sending one to the ground with a haymaker before dropping low to sweep the legs out from under another one.
Before more Fiends could come at her, she vaulted off the body of the downed monster and bolted toward Pawn Scum.
“Why do we even use those guys every week if they just get their butts kicked?” Pawn Scum despaired, watching her approach. Then he reached into his arm and pulled out a six-shooter. “Luckily, I’ve always got new friends.”
He threw the weapon to the ground between Juniper and himself. It exploded into smoke, replaced by a squat humanoid in combat fatigues and a cowboy hat. It held an over-sized gun in each fist and its torso and head combined were the metallic form of a revolver with a huge, red mustache hanging under the barrel.
“Gun Nut,” the monster introduced itself with a painfully stereotypical drawl. “Here ta’ blow you away, little Missy.” A series of orange blasts flew from his guns, exploding across Juniper’s body and sending her crashing to the ground.
Pawn Scum cackled. “Ha-ha! You’re not the only one who knows how to fight as a team, Red Sentinel! With a few more of my buddies to help out, Seraph Copse and the Super Sentinels are finished!