All was quiet on the outskirts of town. The park was deserted, and the elementary school as well. Inside their houses, occupants stole fleeting moments of peace, or burned the midnight oil on a work day that never ended. Children slept in preparation for another school day.
It had been this way forever, and would likely never change; or so thought the residents who trusted the safety of their neighborhood. There was no reason at all to expect an unliving horde descending from the mountains. Experience told them that monsters weren’t real, and if they only shut their eyes the nightmares would leave.
This time, however, they were wrong.
A sliver of fog caught the moonlight as it weaved to the middle of the road. It moved as swift as the wind before turning to the ground. Fixed in place, the wisps spiraled and drew together, until out of the vortex two figures dropped. One was Lindsay, wide eyed in shock; the other Spike, flapping and bouncing.
“If you ask me, it’s better than flying!” the little bat squeaked.
Lindsay clasped at her limbs to make sure they were in the right place. As accustomed as she was to the idea of magic, the reality of being pulled apart and reconstituted in another place made her wild. This, she feared, was only the first time.
“Can all vampires do that?” she gasped.
Spike fluttered about her. “No. Only me. Well, maybe a few others. Each vampire has a special power of their own. I wonder what yours will be!”
The young woman stopped. Powers? The fact surprised her, but made sense. Legend told that the Great Vampire King commanded whole armies with a thought. Lindsay could only imagine what she would do with such an ability.
She had little time to ruminate as the first shapes appeared from the forest. The freaklings advanced, kicking needles, leaves and twigs with their low, dragging steps. One group emerged from the shadows, followed by another. Soon their shuffling was so loud that it ground in her ears like sandpaper.
Lindsay stepped back, fists in front of her, trembling. How could she hold that many? She was just one person; young, barely a woman. But in her veins ran the blood of the Great Vampire King. If she trusted in that, then maybe…
“What do I do?” she asked.
Spike perched on a nearby fence. “Just throw yourself in there, miss! You fight, and let instinct take over!”
The first of the freaklings moved under the streetlights. Its face was twisted through the bandages. The amber glow revealed their rot, and a sickness that defied convention. If the freaklings were in any way a people they had long forgotten what it meant. What the living had, they could not possess.
Lindsay winced. “Are you sure?”
“It’s never failed us before,” Spike said. What she did not mention was that it had never been attempted before with one so inexperienced.
The young woman closed her eyes and searched for the remnants of her ancestor. Both she and the Great Vampire King shared many traits; determination, dedication, and a wicked sense of humor. But where was his thirst for battle?
Inch by inch, the freaklings drew further into the open. Less than a block remained before they came upon people’s homes, whereby they would tear down doors, shatter windows and inflict despair upon the innocent.
Lindsay turned back to the town. There in the second level windows were eyes trying to make sense of it all. Some were children. Alone they didn’t stand a chance. What kind of monster would ever wish them harm?
It was there that Lindsay found the Great Vampire King – in their disgust for the callous and wicked. The feeling coursed like wildfire, and propelled her into action. Fear and doubt evaporated into smoke, giving way to the supernatural force flying through her feet.
She roared from a depth she had never known before. “These people are under my protection!”
A kick like a battering ram collided with the first unfortunate monster to stand in her path, and sent it hurtling back. When it landed, it was as a malformed shell of what it was, holding to existence before collapsing to dust. It would be the first of many to meet such a fate.
Spike cheered from the fence and flapped her wings in time to a silent song. “Yes, Miss Linsday! Wonderful job! Hit them where it hurts the most!”
At that moment Lindsay was awake, perhaps more than she’d ever been in her life. To think that kind of power was resting in her family for generations. Each of her extremities hungered for action. Fortunately, there was no shortage of freaklings to sate them.
The vampires tore down the road with inhuman speed. In spite of their exhaustion and the shredded lace of their cuffs, they had a mission – to defeat evil whenever it reared its head. However it was a mission edging toward failure every step the freaklings stole toward Crescent Valley.
Dread set in their bones. Things were much simpler under the guidance of their Master. Now in this new century, they were alone; a solitary force against the darkness. Though it mattered not. Both Cassius and Luther would fight to their last. Such was their vow forged with the Great Vampire King.
Lights from the town shone through the tree line as they closed on the wall of monsters. With wild abandon they threw themselves into the fray, tearing like animals. Their reason was worn to a nub, until all that remained was the feral instinct of their kind.
“For the Master!” Luther declared.
Freaklings flew like leaves in the wind, blown away by the power of their fists. A lonely pair they might have been, but the vampires remained formidable in their own right. Once enemies the world over knew to fear them. The foes of the new world would need a reminder.
Cassius snarled and puffed his chest. “For the Great Vampire… King?”
Snapping to his senses Cassius caught sight of a young woman in a red vest, not dressed as a cavalier, but in a meek garb likely meant for a servant. His immediate urge was to protect her as he would any other civilian, to chastise her and demand she flee for safety. Instead he stopped in his tracks, halted by an unseen force, and watched as she punted a freakling by the jaw into dust.
Such power from so slender a form! How was such a thing possible?
“Master Cassius! Master Luther!”
Both vampires turned to the nearby fence where their ally was perched. Spike waved at them with a purple wing stretched between her elongated fingers.
With no time for conversation, Luther landed heavy punches on the freaklings. His temper seethed more with more openness than it did on his compatriot.
“Spike! What in Heaven’s name is going on here?”
The young woman sailed over the head of a nearby freakling, snagged it by the neck and pulled it off balance. With a sharp blow to the chest it fell out of her grasp and dissolved into a pile of dust on the road. Lindsay grinned with prid.
“You guys talking about me?” she said.
Cassius eased toward the perimeter, snatching glances at the young woman whenever he had opportunity. She was young, though not so much as to be a child; both he and Luther were barely of age when the Master turned them. What she clearly lacked in fighting experience she made up for in fervor. The fact would serve her well should she remain an ally.
“To whom do we have the pleasure?” he asked between blows.
The young woman vaulted into a scissor kick, twisting one monster from his feet and into another, before hitting the ground and sliding into a sweep. She laughed like a caged animal set free, and appeared surprised by her own deftness for battle.
“Who, me?” she beamed. “I’m nobody. The scion of the Great Vampire King, but you can call me Lindsay.”
Could it be true? Both vampires stopped in their tracks, but only so long as to dodge strikes from their attackers. Their Master was gone – a fact they would grapple with for a long time to come – but to find the one who inherited his legacy and so soon was no less than a miracle!
Together they pulled back from the throng. The number of freaklings was whittled to a reasonable number, but still possessed strength enough to rain chaos without the three person barrier to keep them at bay.
“You’re her,” Luther gasped. “You’re really her!”
“That’s what she said,” Cassius said.
Lindsay turned to absorb the pair. Both were young and handsome, despite their tattered garb and dishevelled hair, but were still distinct from one another. The black haired vampire with the blue coat had a sensible demeanor, and was well kempt in spite of his situation. His face was set in a cold stare, the opposite of his straw haired companion in the yellow coat, whose fury twitched around every corner. One was a blunt tool, the other a fine instrument. Together they were a force of nature.
“My name is Luther,” he said.
“Cassius,” said the first. “Wherever you lead, Master, we will follow.”
Lindsay blinked. “Wait a second. ‘Master’?”
Luther nodded. It was a simple statement of fact.
A million thoughts danced through the young woman’s head. This scion business grew more complicated by the second, and now she had minions. Followers? Acolytes? The official name could wait until later.
She shrugged. “Okay. How about we start by whoopin’ some monster butt?”
The vampires nodded and grinned. For the first time in centuries, Fang Force stood united. Though before they charged another strange happening gave them pause. Both Cassius and Luther marveled at the objects glowing from their breast pockets. Lindsay removed her cruciphone and held its warmth in her palm. It radiated with an eerie red light – Cassius’s shone blue, and Luther’s yellow.
She studied the device, wary of doing so while the freaklings lingered. “Someone want to tell me what this means?”
From her post, Spike bounced and clapped her dimunitive hands. “Don’t you see, Miss Lindsay? You’ve summoned the secret power of your ancestors! You’re connected to the Fang Force!”
The young woman balked. “…Fang Force?”
Luther grinned like a wicked child. Even Cassius relaxed enough for a smirk to curl his lips.
“Just do what we do,” he said.
Both flipped open their crucifones and pressed the numbers; six-six-six. The two called in unison, “Soul Awaken!”
“Blue Fang!” roared Cassius.
“Yellow Fang!” bellowed Luther.
Then, in a descending hurricane, the pair were wrapped in thick mists; blue and yellow, respectively. From the howling winds came a screech, and once it settled both Cassius and Luther were transformed.
Where once stood gentlemen from a bygone era appeared twin figures in black tights with bright gloves, boots, vests and helmets. In Cassius’s place was a man in blue and the golden sigil of the wolf etched over his heart. His helmet bore pointed ears above the visor. The man in yellow had a similar mark on his chest featuring a beetle, and pincers decorating his helmet.
Lindsay gasped. “This… this is Fang Force?”
The yellow figure eased back to face her. His grin radiated through the mask. “Why don’t you try? The power is yours as well.”
“Trust your instincts,” the figure in blue said with Cassius’s voice. “Let your heritage guide you.”
Lindsay stared at her crucifone, this unlikely device bursting with power. It fed into her, as though an extension of her hand. Coursing through her veins, something unseen reached into the far corners of her being. There it found her essence – something unquestionably ‘Lindsay’ – and called for it to wake. Flipping the contraption open, Lindsay dialled the numbers; six-six-six.
The same elemental power descended on her, trapping Lindsay within the eye of a cyclone in shades of scarlet. It threatened to tear her to pieces, but Lindsay remained still. The eye drew tighter, and from the corners of her consciousness she knew to spur it on.
She uttered the words, prompting her transformation. “Red Fang!”
Violent wind curled around her limbs, but did her no harm. Quickly they settled into an identical black suit over her body, complete with red boots, gloves, vest and helmet. The golden sigil over her heart bore the form of a vampire bat, as did the points of her helmet. Unlike the others, however, she’d been imbued with a red collared cape in blood red. It hung over one shoulder as if to signify her position.
The winds settled, and Lindsay gawked at the costume. It was as warm as it was light, and beckoned her to move. The spirit of the Great Vampire King stirred inside her, girding the young woman for battle.
“This is so weird,” she said, “but so cool!” Lindsay threw her arms into the air and danced on the spot, for a moment forgetting that there were monsters before her.
Luther laid a hand on her shoulder. “Master?”
“Yeah. Okay. Right,” she said. “Kicking monster butt. Shall we?”
Cassius snarled under his helmet. “I’ve waited centuries for this!”
Red, Yellow and Blue dove into the remaining freaklings, and with a furious swipe of their claws sent them scattering. Transformed they were stronger, lighter, faster; more than even a relentless battalion could handle. No matter their number, Fang Force was more than equal to their collective might.
The little bat cheered from her perch, rocking back and forth with delight. “You can do it, Fang Force! Show ‘em what you’ve got!”
In no time at all, the remaining freaklings stood rounded between the three warriors. No matter where they looked there was a bright, shining warrior staring them down with clawed gloves bared. The three Fangs – Blue, Yellow, and their Red ‘Master’ – drew nearer, causing for the monsters to huddle.
Under her mask, Lindsay grinned a wicked grin. “Let’s finish this.”
Their movements were automatic. Fang Force shared a single mind as they primed to strike. As one they moved, veering clockwise, with long slashes at waist level, and tore the monsters apart in a coordinated triangle of destruction. Claws shredded through bandages, and when they were done left another hill of dust across the road.
At last it was over. Lindsay stood and collected herself. It was only when her nerves settled that reality set. She turned to her Blue and Yellow counterparts – to Cassius and Luther, whom she’d only just met – and wondered how they could be so calm. Even Spike, despite her excitement, seemed to regard the situation as normal.
It was at that moment that shimmering red burst from the shoulders of the other vampires, forming into half capes hanging from the right sides of Blue and Yellow Fang. They were identical to their leader.
“W-what’s going on?”
Both took to one knee on the asphalt and bowed their heads. “We wear your color as a sign of our loyalty,” Blue Fang explained.
“Just as we did for the Great Vampire King,” Yellow Fang continued.
Lindsay forced a nervous laugh. How did she become Master to a clan of vampires? She’d done nothing to earn her place, yet still they offered reverence. Perhaps in time she would become accustomed to the role, but for the moment…
To be continued…