- 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)
The Knight, The Witch, and the Gadgeteer (Part 1)
One problem the team had come up against when establishing the LSI Headquarters was a lack of lab and workshop space. Four of their team built their own equipment and equipment for others and other heroes who signed up to share in the resources of Lifesavers, Inc like Improv or the Whitecoat had a similar issue of finding private and quality facilities and material.
A year into raising the HQ, and Laurel was still working out of her own workshop in Freeland House’s bridal suite while slowly buy surely converting otherwise useless blocks of offices, break rooms and other rooms that were valuable to a government agency but useless to a superhero organization into lab space: forensic, chemical, engineering and arcane.
Which was why Warrick and Lisa still shared the Freeland House boathouse for their forging and enchanting needs.
It was just past ten in the morning on a Friday in early June when Kay and Lisa entered the boathouse and immediately had to hit the deck in order to avoid an iron mesh net that flew past the door, wrapping and tangling Lenny, an old crash test dummy that Tink had dug out of some scrapheap for them to practice their various devices on.
“Sorry!” Warrick called from the other end of the room.
Kay made a face as she got to her feet. Today her hair was its natural black, but she’d put it into two buns on the side of her head and decorated them with a pair of hair clips with the Descendants D-logo. “Who were you expecting to come through the door?” A sly look crossed her face. “Were you and Tink planning on doing something kinky? Because we could do our work somewhere else.”
“I wish, Tink were here,” Warrick said without thinking. It hit him what he’d said a moment later and he turned red. “Not for anything kinky. It’s just that I… am not an engineer and the launcher for my new net sucks beyond suck.”
Lisa regarded Lenny for a moment. At first it looked like the net had done a good job in tangling its target. Then she realized that if Lenny had been a human, his arm would have been dislocated at the very least.
“Yeah,” Warrick said when he noticed her noticing the problem. “Less-lethal weaponry isn’t all that useful if it’s ‘actually very lethal’.”
“And this is for…” Kay asked, rolling her wrist in an effort to get him to explain.
Warrick moved past them and used his metal control to effortlessly undo the tangles and remove the net from Lenny. “We actually know nothing about faeries, right? Or whoever Maeve is going to use as her soldiers? I figured that they might not go down to the same things that knock a human out. Thus, an iron net,” he gestured to his main workbench where other pieces were lying, half-built, “a blowgun to spray iron powder, magnesium flare flash-bangs, and if all else fails, an instant fire break made of lithium suspended in tightly wound barbed wire. Pretty much anything will stop for fire and barbed wire.”
Looking over the collection of devices, Lisa realized that all of them had been assembled in the past week since they came back from LA—the same week Warrick and everyone else going to Dayspring College had finals. She raised her eyebrows at him. “Did you do all this while you were supposed to be studying for finals?”
He shrugged. “I studied during the day between tests, come out here to work at night—mostly slept in my old room up the hill.”
By now even Kay was picking up on what was wrong and pulled up a stool, plopping down right in front of Warrick. “What’s with the sudden work ethic? Didn’t you just get paid a shit-ton for that custom armor?”
“Yeah, but then… well things changed.” Warrick folded the net back up and leaned against the wall, fiddling with the netball. “Look… did Ms. Brant tell you about what I talked to her about right after we got back?”
Both young women shook their heads.
“Well… I sort of proposed a mission. Hermes mentioned that Hyrilius guy and the last time we heard that name was dealing with Morganna. So is Hyrilius is the guy who bloodied Maeve’s nose before, people who might know what he knows are going to be target number one for Maeve in her people once they start to move. I wanted to find Morganna and find out everything she and her people know about Hyrilius before Maeve gets to them and either send them further into hiding or… you know…” He drew his finger across his throat so there wasn’t any doubt.
Lisa pursed her lips. As much as she did not want to encounter Morganna again before figuring out how to get her aunt’s body back from the crazed sorceress, the plan made sense when even the Books weren’t giving up much if any information on Maeve “Why haven’t we heard about this?”
Putting the netball down on the table next to him, Warrick shook his head. “Ms. Brant scrubbed the mission. She said Morganna is the kind of threat where we’ll need the full team to go after her and since Emerald College doesn’t have its finals until next week and the Liedecker Institute isn’t going to let out on the administrative side until the end of the month, we’d have to wait.”
“And yet you’re not waiting.” It wasn’t a guess, so Lisa didn’t make it sound like one.
“Nope. But I did change the plan,” Warrick admitted. “Me and Tink went through the security cam footage from when the Knights that work for her were holed up in a hotel. Facial recognition saw what our eyes didn’t and we now know the guy? He’s Wayne Micheal—The Blockade. You know, the pro-wrestler?”
Kay goggled. “Seriously? How does that happen? Dude is rich, famous and doesn’t exactly need magic to kick ass. How did he get roped into working for Wacky McEllipses?”
Again, Warrick shrugged. “No idea, but that’s what we’re hoping to figure out. As it happens, he’s throwing a house party at his Winter home in Massachusetts this weekend. We’re going to sneak in and see if we can scrounge up an information on Morganna’s whereabouts.”
At this, Kay looked skeptical. “I don’t know… superheroes breaking and entering? That doesn’t sound right…”
Warrick smirked a little. “Tink said the same thing. That’s what Alloy and Renaissance aren’t breaking in; Damascus and Byzantine are.”
“You guys are nerds beyond measure.” Kay gave him a flat stare.
Lisa, on the other hand, was shaking her head. “I can’t let you two do this.”
Warrick blinked. “Huh? Lis… I get Ms. Brant or Ms. Keyes telling me what to do, but—and I hate to talk like this—I’m not going to give this up because they said ‘no’ and I’m not going to let you argue me out of this either. People could die. A lot of people could die. I’m not going to sit on my thumbs and let that happen. At the very least, Morganna has a ton of magic swag we might be able to use—including a book we don’t have, I’m pretty sure.”
“That’s not what I meant.” Lisa cut in while Warrick was taking a breath to go on. “You and Tink… you’re not magical. Morganna is. If there’s something one of her Knights is keeping hidden, it won’t be on a computer or in a mechanical vault, it will be obscured by illusions or guarded by a magical construct. When I say I can’t let you do this, I mean I can’t let you do this alone. I’m coming with you.”
Unable to help himself, Warrick smiled at his friend’s conviction. All the same, he couldn’t just accept her making a sacrifice for his plan. “Don’t you have a ton of stuff to do this weekend?”
Kay nodded. “We’ve got a press junket for Snackrifice, a photo shoot of What’s Up Mayfield, I’ve still got finals even though I’m not even sure if I’m going to come back to school next year since I’ve already made it, and Lisa, you’ve got a date with JC.”
“Speaking of which,” Lisa frowned to herself, “JC told me you tow were moving out of your dorm today. How are you here?”
This time Warrick’s smile was a Cheshire grin. “Kay already said: I just got paid a shit-ton of money for that custom armor. We hired moving guys. JC just volunteered to hang around and direct them.” As he spoke, he gestured to the specifications and sketches for the armor still tacked up over the workbench.
Though she’d been in the boathouse working many times while Warrick was using his powers to fabricate the design, she’d always been too busy to take a closer look beyond the basics: it was one of those impractical fantasy armors for a woman with an obvious ‘breast’ plate and chain mesh in places where no one would put it when they were otherwise wearing plate just to show off their midriff, legs and arms. It wasn’t the first or the most outrageous design Warrick had gotten as a special order.
This time, her eye caught something familiar. Looking even closer, she found even more symbols she recognized in the intricate filigree the client asked for. She had to take out the Digi-Book or Reason, but after a few minutes, she gasped. “Warrick? Whoever ordered this? They had you cover it in anti-magic sigils!”
Ten thousand American dollars should be sufficient, yes? Gabraed say on a bus stop bench next to a cash card, tail swishing, eyes fixed on Dana. She had just arrived after three hours of assuring her parents and her handlers from Witness Protection that she would be safe and above all anonymous at science camp.
It wasn’t a policy of Witness Protection to allow their charges to go on unescorted vacations, but Gabraed assured her that the Errolking had made arrangements.
One Week Ago…
The US Marshal Service had set Dana’s family up in a house at the end of a street next to another where the team assigned to protect them would be stationed. The major benefit for both was that they had private back yards backed by the woods.
The drawback, as it turned out, was that they had private back yards back by the woods, because unbeknownst to the marshals, they were up against things that made the dark foreboding woods so dangerous in the first place.
Gabraed sat at the foot of a tree that hadn’t been there, just inside the treeline, a day ago. While he was unable to speak the tongues of Mankinds aloud, he had no such trouble speaking the tongues of fey and faerie kind to the Imelopiean Daru, whose proud boughs now sported four bulging sacks not unlike the wrapped victims a spider might have in its web, alongside four man-sized purple fruits.
“Now remember the Errolking’s orders: you are not to digest them, only make them dream.”
The Daru replied in a voice of creaking bark and gentle wind. “I hear and obey the King of Goblins. But how shall I feed? Growing four fruits at once makes me weak.”
Gabraed licked his lips languidly. “You have nothing to worry about. The beasts of the Blue World have no fear of plants. Soon you will be treated to the delicacy that the Mankinds call rakkuuns—or something to that effect. They are delicious.”
“Very well,” groaned the Daru, and the fruits started to split open, revealing three men and four women in US Marshal uniforms. They dropped from their pods and looked to Gabraed askance.
“Come,” ordered the graymalkin, “there is much to teach you before you can put on the proper act.”
Dana had a dufflebag full of armor on one shoulder and a backpack full of clothes and travel necessities on her back. She looked from Gabraed to the cash card, to the dufflebag which she knew contained armor that was custom made for her and frowned.
“Okay… so given what I’ve read about European fairy stuff and what you’ve told me about how things roll in your world, do I want to know how an eight pound cat that’s not even like an adorable or grumpy cat on the internet keeps coming up with insane amounts of money?”
Gabraed flicked his tail carelessly. I have been told to suggest that you look at this as a ‘fairy godmother’ situation.
The Previous Day…
A middle-aged man in a nice business suit strode out of his bank with a freshly loaded anonymous cash card. His banker had been dutiful in informing him that such cards were uninsured and virtually untraceable—pretty much the worst thing to keep one’s money in. He even offered several other options, but in the end, the anonymous card was the right choice, so he stuck to his guns.
There was a rental limo waiting out front for him and when he got in, there was a leggy blonde waiting inside.
Also her cat.
A big, ugly bastard that looked like a Russian Blue made it with a bobcat while shooting steroids and being hit with an ugly stick.
Not that he paid the cat much attention. His eyes were all for Bianca.
“Sorry for the delay, baby, but my banker is such a worrier,” he drawled, sliding onto the reach bench seat next to her. His hand moved almost without his will, offering her the card.
Bianca took the card with a smile and set it on the seat next to the damn cat. Vaguely, he noticed that the ugly feline was sitting on top of the paper edition of Affluence magazine—the same one where he was featured as Theodore Coleman: the Money Wizard of the Northeast. “That’s so sweet of you, helping my sick aunt’s roommate like this. I think a hero like you needs a kiss.” She leaned forward and the man—Theo as he liked to be called—was more than happy to do the same.
He never noticed that the never made contact because the pink mist that issued from Bianca’s mouth gave him an experience that was better than sex even though it lasted all of five seconds before he passed out.
Bianca smirked, then squirmed a little in her seat. “I could get used to Mankinds. This body is so sensitive and expressive; like a daoine without the will fighting back at every turn.”
“You can’t keep it.” Gabraed growled, more than a little miffed that the succubus could speak the tounges of Mankind so easily. “This wasn’t a release, this was a task given you by the Errolking. Now get out of there.”
The succubus sighed. “This really should be a slow process, otherwise there could be some… damage.”
“Will it kill the host?”
“It might make her colorblind, able to taste music, or forever unable to smell in a certain range.”
Gabraed made an annoyed sound. “Mankinds barely have a sense of smell as it is. Get out.”
Bianca made a face at him, but then drew in a deep breath, opened her mouth, then breathed out a billowing cloud of pink and black smoke that swirled into the vague shape of a female daoine’s head with flapping bat wings instead of ears. The body she’d inhabited convulsed and passed out on the bench seat next to Theo.
“What should we do with them now?” she asked.
“I will empty some alcohol bottles around them and in a few hours, this will all be a mutual mistake in both their mind’s.”
“You are truly one of the most heartless creatures in the Green, Gabraed.”
“The Errolking chose me for a reason.”
“Uh… huh,” said Dana, picking up the cash card. “Just promise you didn’t kill anyone.”
That was the only limitation the Errolking placed on my actions in my efforts to make you ready, yes.
“Remind me to stop asking you questions, kitty.”