The Descendants #103 – Hardcore Fans Chp 1

This entry is part 49 of 55 in the series Current

“Oh. My. God. I have so many questions!”

That was how Meghan Rockwell greeted Warrick when he opened the door of his and JC’s apartment. The announcement was undercut by the fact that she was in full ‘orcing’ regalia: chunky black knee-high elevated boots, a wine-colored pleather skirt with rivets in place of stitches with a matching corset and fingerless gloves—and all otherwise exposed skin covered by airy green fabric that make it so her flesh was orcish green. She’d also used make-up to make her face green while her raven hair was tied up in a high tail. A set of professional quality tusks poked out of her lips.

Without waiting for an invite, she handed a case of bottled soda to him and walked in.

“You guys… are the Descendants!?”

JC was lying on the couch in the living room while Cyn had taken a recliner and Tink was on the love seat. He was wearing a lab coat smeared in fake blood with a surgical mask hanging around his neck. “They’re the Descendants. I’m just staff. Hopefully paid staff soon.”

Warrick closed the door and followed Meghan in. “I knew you sounded too chill with all this when we were texting.”

Taking a seat next to Tink, she grinned at the whole room writ large. “I was still processing, really. I mean this is huge news. Not only that, but suddenly the whole deal where Kay went full-on Die Hard when that guy went nuts at the college.”

“I was there too, ya know?” JC pointed out.

“Yeah, but we were kind of a long for the ride. At least it felt that way to me.” She shook her head. “But yeah. Questions.”

Cyn, dressed in a normal tank-top and jeans, scoffed and shifted in her seat. Aside from Warrick—who was at least wearing wig of fly-away white hair and a matching silly mustache—she was the only one not in costume. “Can we do this on the way?”

Breezy expression dropping at the terseness of her friend’s reply, Meghan cocked her head. “Are… you okay?”

Standing by a file cabinet leaned against the wall, Warrick paused in inspecting the sodas. They were prickly pear flavored; from a shop called Rocket Pop’s that Meghan had gotten he and JC hooked on. He’d been planning on introducing Tink and Cyn, but it no longer seemed a good time.

“Um… Megs, I’ll be happy to answer everything on your mind, but not all of us are super-happy about the whole being outed as superheroes thing.”

“What happened?” Meghan asked before she could think better of it.

Cyn stood up jarringly fast. “Nothing. It’s got nothing to do with the outing anyway—it’s the fallout. Someone forgets that I’m the same badass lady I always was and a little boyfriend trouble isn’t changing that.”

“Ollie didn’t take the reveal well?” Again, Meghan couldn’t seem to help herself.

“More like I couldn’t,” Cyn muttered. “And it’s at this point I’m gonna ask everyone to kindly can it for the rest of the day. Magnaangecon awaits and it’s just the distraction I need. Full slate of game demos scheduled, gonna take a voice acting workshop, maybe get a body pillow of Master Fade from Ten Thousand Faces Fade… it’s gonna be a good time as long as no one tries to drag me down with feelings, okay?”

Raising both hands defensively, Meghan had the decency to blush at her faux pas. “Sorry, Cyn. You’ll hear nothing more from me.”

Cyn nodded to her. “Thank, but wasn’t talking to you. Can I get some peace today, Sir Feels-a-lot?” Warrick opened his mouth to argue, but she cut him off. “I know you’re just being a good friend… but can you be a bad one today?”

“I… guess?” He awkwardly put the case of soda on an end table. “Guess we should get going then. Give me a sec to get into costume.”

With that, he turned his back on the file cabinet and stepped backward into it. Iron deformed and the case flowered open, enveloping him. It twisted and changed as it was wont to do whenever he donned the guise of the armored hero, Alloy, but this time instead of immaculate battle armor, it become something both less and more impressive.

The breastplate was blackened, round and bulky like an old wood stove. The chain linking it and mismatched greaves and gauntlets was rusted and mismatched, and those other accessories were battered and dented. Finally, a bent lance formed in his hand, creaking under its own flimsy weight.

“Do the line!” Cyn shouted, seeming to cheer up.

Clearing his throat in embarrassment, Warrick nodded. After a deep breath, he struck a classical pose and began. “I shall impersonate a man. His name is Alonso Quijana, a country squire no longer young. Being retired, he has much time for books. He studies them from morn till night and often through the night and morn again, and all he reads oppresses him; fills him with indignation at man’s murderous ways toward man.”

At this, he scowled, “He ponders the problem of how to make better a world where evil brings profit and virtue none at all; where fraud and deceit are mingled with truth and sincerity. He broods and broods and broods and broods and finally his brains dry up. He lays down the melancholy burden of sanity and conceives the strangest project ever imagined….”

As he continued, his voice built in strength and certainty, both because the speech was ramping, up, but because he was starting to get into it. “To become a knight-errant, and sally forth into the world in search of adventures; to mount a crusade; to raise up the weak and those in need. No longer will he be plain Alonso Quijana, but a dauntless knight known as Don Quixote de La Mancha!”

“Now sing!” Cyn crowed.

“No!” JC bellowed. “Has karaoke with us taught you nothing, woman?”

Cyn cackled, but then became thoughtful. “Ya know, except for the ‘being crazy’ part, Don Quixote kinda suits you, War. All the truth and justice, hero of heroes stuff.”

Tink laughed a little. She was wearing a 1960’s style space suit; the form-fitting type with a bubble helmet hanging of the back of her neck like a hood. “He tried to use that reasoning with me the other week to try and get me to go as Dulcinea. I said I’d only match costumes with him this con if I got to be Sancho.”

“I’d… rather not have those kinds of feelings toward Sancho,” Warrick admitted.

Meanwhile, Cyn was giving him a thoughtful look. “You know what?”

“Hmm.”

“You shouldn’t go a Don Quixote.”

Warrick gave her a raised eyebrow. “Um… kind of late to do another costume now, Cyn.”

“Not if you do the one costume you’ve always got ready. You should go as yourself—as Alloy.”

It was impossible for Warrick to conceal the gleam of desire in his eye, but he tried anyway, rubbing the back of his head as if to say ‘aw shucks’. “That’s probably not a good idea.”

Rolling her eyes at his humility, Cyn shook her head. “Is it not a good idea? Or is it the best idea? Come on, War: you know this is what you’ve been dreaming about since you were a kid. Not just being a hero, but being the hero. Now you don’t have to hide it anymore. Face it: coppertop earned Best Girl cred for making your dream come true.”

“I…” Warrick started to object, looking to Tink, only for her to speak up ahead of him.

“I never really thought of it that way, but you know she’s right. You deserve this; to get up close and personal with the people you’ve inspired as Alloy.”

He pursed his lips, making the fake mustache bounce crazily. “Yeah, wouldn’t it be kinda jerkish doing this when you guys…”

Cyn stared him down. “Hey. You’re a hero, not a martyr. And it’s be just as assholish if we held you back.”

Rising from her seat, Tink came over to Warrick and put her hands on his shoulders. “And I’d be pretty happy to have something good come out of all this.” She gave him a coy smile. “If you got as Alloy, I’ll go as Renaissance. Y’know if only to keep the fan girls at bay.”

“Awesome. I’ll let Kay know what’s up so she’s not blindsided when we meet her,” JC said with a grin. He pulled out his palmtop and started texting. “We’re going to get total VIP treatment today.”

***

Magnaangecon had started a few years prior as a convention for local talent in the fields of webcomics, web animation, indie gaming of all kinds, and the fan arts and crafts that inevitably sprang up around it. Several sponsorships and local guys and gals making it onto the national and even international stage gave it a boost in popularity until it was big enough to take over the entire Piedmont Concierge Hotel.

It wasn’t the biggest convention of the summer by far, but it still catered to hundreds of fans, creators and dealers. And it was big enough and old enough to have developed a conscientious con staff.

Conscientious, and far braver than any volunteer floor staff had any right to be.

“It’s not that I don’t believe who you are; it’s that I do believe those are real.” A blonde twenty-something in a staff vest and a pair of neon green cat ears gestured toward Tink’s gauntlets. “Working projectile weapons of all kinds are banned: foam darts, paintballs and everything in between or above.”

“But I don’t have any projectiles. I left all the ammo in the car,” Tink pointed out. They were in line getting their week passes for the con and had been approached by the staff member who noticed that her gauntlet-mounted launchers were real.

The volunteer was unmoved by the argument, merely shaking her head. “We’re very serious about weapon safety here. Even if you didn’t bring ammunition, there might be something in the camber, so no working devices allowed period, okay.”

At this, Tink relented. “The rules are the rules, I suppose.” With that,s he removed her D-icon from her belt and activated it. There was a rush of power, a brief glow, and she was suddenly back in her vintage space-girl costume.

For a moment, the snaking line for the registration booth fell into awed silence. It didn’t last too long because the squeal of mortified horror emerged from the staffer who had been confronting Tink. She backpedaled away, looking to another staffer patrolling the line for contraband. “H-holy shit, she’s real. Like the real thing!”

JC cocked his head. “Wait. You didn’t know? You said you believed her weapons were real…”

“It’s Mayfield!” The staffer replied, still awestruck. “Cosplayers here are actual engineering students who build crazy things. She’s not the first Renaissance we’ve had to disarm today and it’s just the first day of the con!” She gave Tink pleading eyes. “I’m so sorry. You’re one of my favorite Descendants—favorite superheroes!”

“Don’t worry about it,” Tink said, waving her off. “You’re just doing your job and I’ve been to enough of these that I probably should have known better.”

The staffer wasn’t about to contradict her, especially as other things were starting to become apparent to her. Ever so slowly, her gaze shifted to the armored figure next to the freshly-revealed Renaissance. “And if you’re real…”

Warrick, on the other hand was ever the studious nerd and he kept up with their place in line while his girlfriend had a run-in with the con staff. He barely noticed the dumbstruck expression on the older man issuing con badges looking past him when his turn came up.

“Three for the week, please.”

The man snapped out of it long enough to look at him confused, since it was obvious that he was there with Tink, JC, Cyn and Meghan. “Don’t you mean four?”

It was at that point, upon hearing that they were getting treated to their first public appearance, that Isp and Osp uncoiled from their hiding places in the shade of Warrick’s pauldrons. Osp shaped its leading edge into a rough, mitten-like approximation of a human hand and waved.

***

“You know the best part?” Cyn asked, eyes on her palmtop. “The video of you trying to explain the twins is actually making the theories about them worse.” Struggling through her laughter, she read off a few. “Get this: Some guy is saying you were originally triplets and they’re your absorbed brothers. And this one says your power gave you a split personality and these two are like therapy dolls.”

“Eh, enough people get the gist,” JC said, “More than the gist, really.” He gestured to where Warrick and Tink were being stopped for autographs as they browsed a display of local fantasy art. Aside from the crowd gathered for them, a couple of others were getting Descendants posters signed by the twins as well.

Most of the convention goers were observing better etiquette by not mobbing the local celebrities while they were trying to enjoy the event. This didn’t stop them from filming with their palmtops and whispering to one another.

Meghan watched the whole thing in a kind of daze. “It feels kind of weird hanging out with celebrities.”

A blown raspberry was her reply. Cyn shook her head. “You were always hanging with celebrities. Only now you know it. You and everyone else.” Her eyes narrowed as she caught sight of one of the many booths featuring fan art of the Descendants. There was a huge silk screened wall scroll featuring anime-style renditions of herself and Juniper in in their heroic personas locked in a passionate embrace was hanging front and center.

“Makes the shipping extra awkward though.”

Rubbing the back of her head, Meghan gave a nervous chuckle. “Yeah… super awkward.”

JC looked up and beat Cyn to the punch. “You didn’t…”

“Maybe one or two stories. And a couple dozen pieces of low-quality fan art.”

Cyn’s eyes remained narrow. “Who did you ship.”

Meghan let out a nervous chuckle. “Oh, I wasn’t loyal to just one ship. Some DarkWind—which I guess is reality. The rest… um don’t tell Warrick, but Alloy was kind of the Little Black Dress for me.”

“Little Black…” JC started.

“Goes with everything,” said Cyn quickly. “That tracks. Me, him and Jun are pretty much the holy trinity of that for real life hero fic.” She nudged Meghan with an elbow. “So. Who with who?”

If not for her orc makeup, Meghan would have blushed red. “Oh, you know, Cold Steel, Black Iron… um… Ninja Steel.”

Cyn’s expression turned sour. “Ninja… That’s my mom! You shipped my best friend and my mom?!”

“You did say it would be awkward,” JC snickered. “Plus, who can blame her? Your mom’s hot.”

“Hate you.” Cyn huffed and looked back to Warrick. “Well at least he’s having a good time.”

Back with the armored hero, “Wow, I thought you’d be like way taller,” the fifth autograph seeker in a row commented, making Warrick’s expression start to match Cyn’s.

Cyn pointed further down the row. “Until he gets to that booth. Is there even a name for an Alloy/Chaos ship?”

Series Navigation<< The Descendants #104 – VIRAL Chp.5The Descendants #103 – Hardcore Fans Chp 3 >>

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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3 Comments

  1. I like this. This is fun. I hope it was more fun to write!

  2. You write dynamic, cool fight/action scenes and neat atmospheric worldbuilding/plotty scenes… but it’s this kind of bantering character interaction (with the undercurrent of observational humour about fandom and geek friendship) which I think is the main reason I keep coming back to read this website. It’s fun stuff.

    One nitpick – the second time you talk about Meghan blushing it’s lampshaded that this isn’t actually visible- possibly this should also be coverered in the earlier sentence “Raising both hands defensively, Meghan had the decency to blush at her faux pas”.

    Warrick using a metal filing cabinet as a inconspicous way to keep a large source of metal in his apartment = GENIUS.
    Also excellent- Cyn taking voice acting classes. I love her ongoing work to become the mimic her powerset deserves.

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