When Feareus and Vultera returned to their underground home it was not with their heads held high, nor was it with the expectation that they would walk away in good health. They marched like prisoners to the gallows to the steps of their father’s throne, where Lord Nihilex sat spread legged, chin resting in his palm, tapping an impatient finger.
The two bowed until their noses kissed bedrock, and trembled. Punishment was coming, they knew it. Brother and sister shrunk as much as they could, as to invite the pain would end the ordeal sooner.
Lord Nihilex hummed. “You had victory in the palm of your hand,” he said. “All you had to do was still your tongues long enough for Fang Force to eat itself, and now look!”
To one side stood his mage, a skeleton shrouded in rags, combing his hands over a crystal ball. Through it projected the image of Fang Force in technicolor, tearing through the shadow conquerors unliving army like so many toy soldiers.
“B-but Father,” Vultera begged. “The things they said… so disrespectful!”
“You should have let them!” he bellowed. “Swallowing their bluster was the price of victory! Crushing them was always part of the plan, but it would have been much simpler if it were only the two of them! Now? Now they’re five! And they’ve got the Great Vampire King’s ultimate weapon!”
What a rare thing for Lord Nihilex to admit the need for sacrifice; of ego, or anything. But even a force of nature such as himself never faced setbacks the likes of which those vampires presented. The thought wound his jaw tight.
He stopped at the sound of sniffling. Who in his presence would dare to sniffle like that? Lord Nihilex reeled upon learning that the one to do so was his own son, Feareus.
“Are you crying?” he demanded.
The behemoth lifted his head enough so that he could wipe his nose. “P-p-please, Father! I… I-I don’t like it when you yell at me!”
Vultera strokes his scales. “Please, little brother. Don’t cry. You’ll make me cry too!”
What a pathetic sight. The heirs to the greatest unliving houses known to the underworld, weeping on the floor like babies. What shame! What utter disgrace! That the progeny of powers such as theirs would grovel in such a way defied belief!
The shadow conqueror descended the stairs and bypassed his children. “I will deal with you two later,” he snarled. “Wiseman!”
“Yes, my Lord,” the mage said, already anticipating the command.
He ran his cracked leather fingers over the smooth glass and undulated from the back of his throat. An ominous swell filled the room, casting it in sickly orange, before funneling into the orb. The glow filled the ball, and the figures inside shifted uneasily. To conclude the ritual Wiseman spoke the ancient words:
“Yb eth sowpre fo kersands, akme ym tebas a nitta, nad trodest rou niemese!”
Darkness fell across the chamber, deeper than before, until the crystal ball blinked. In it appeared a form of destruction forgotten to the ages.
The five guardians stumbled back, unsure of the sight transpiring on the lawn of the park. Flying from their feet the freaklings flew, seemingly against their will, into a single, unified mass. Bandages formed around pulsating flesh, soon giving shape to legs, a torso, then arms and a head.
It stood as tall as a skyscraper, and shook the ground with every step. A face assembled under the monster’s crown, and bore a toothy, lipless grin at the heroes. With one bite it could end them, individually or as a whole. Lifting its leg high the monster dropped its foot, and in doing so shattered the park lawn.
The fangs lept over the tidal wave of earth and regrouped on the other side. Red Fang stumbled, but was quickly pulled to her feet by her companions. “What on earth is that thing?”
Green Fang stared up as far back as his neck could stretch. “It’s a… a freakling made of other freaklings!”
“Like a ‘Super-Freak’?” she asked.
Blue Fang huffed. “It’s as good a name as any.”
This was the scale Lindsay failed to grasp, and was powerless to stop. She had to do something, but what? Hers was the power of the Great Vampire King, meaning she more than anyone was suited to the task. If only that task wasn’t so… big.
Pink Fang snagged her shoulder, pulling her out of her thoughts. Even through their masks she was aware of a smile more assured than it deserved to be.
“Lindsay,” he said. “Would you like to meet your familiar?”
Realization flashed before her eyes. There was still a way to win the fight! Why hadn’t she thought of this before?
Of all the places her adventures could take her, never once did Lindsay imagine landing in the cockpit of a giant robot. She gripped the handles, and felt a surge connecting to the Red Bat. The familiar was, without question, more than a machine; it was a part of her, and guided her over the controls by instinct.
The mighty bat flapped its wings in defiance of gravity, and with every beat left a weightless feeling inside Lindsay’s chest. It was a freedom most would never possess, and it was there are her fingertips.
“This is the coolest thing I’ve ever done in my life!” she cackled.
“And we’re all very impressed,” Pink Fang replied over the comm system.
Other members of Fang Force had taken to their familiars; Cassius in the Blue Wolf, Luther in the Yellow Beetle, Vincent in the Pink Spider, and Drake in the Green Mountain Lion. None of them, however, shared the sky, or could perform the same remarkable feats.
The Red Bat turned into a corkscrew, taking Lindsay on a veritable roller coaster ride. She screamed with euphoria. “This is my first time! Can you tell?”
Blue Fang’s voice undulated from the system. “We need to focus. That… ‘Super-Freak’ is terrorising the city.”
Lindsay nodded. “Right! So what’s the plan?”
“Just follow our lead,” Green Fang said.
“You’ll know what to do,” Yellow Fang added.
She watched on the monitor as the four titanic machines moved into position. The Super-Freak shuffled between the buildings, and searched the sky. Lindsay peered out the window to see that it was following her; that was its first mistake.
The monster stumbled through an intersection, and wailed when fangs and pincers plunged into his ankles. On the ground, Pink Spider and Yellow Beetle held his feet, adding their incredible weight to the monsters steps. Their mechanical legs planted into the asphalt, but were not enough to keep the Super-Freak in place.
With an inhuman groan the creature leaned down to swat them away, making it a prime target for the next attack. Charging from opposing sides of the cross section the Blue Wolf and the Green Mountain Lion bounded toward the Super-Freak, and with shining silver teeth caught each of its arms in their jowls.
There would be no escape. With hands and feet bound the end was inevitable.
“It’s your turn, Lindsay,” Pink Fang said.
She didn’t need to be told twice. Images in her mind ran through her fingertips, fed straight into the Red Bat. Lindsay and her familiar were one, moving in for the final blow.
They arced along the horizon, and twisted into the Super-Freak’s trajectory. Linday wrenched the controls, and the united Red Fang-Red Bat turned to the side and rolled with wings outstretched. They hardened like the blade of an ax, and the team cheered when flames erupted!
Lindsay roared at the top of her lungs. “Red Bat Flaming Boomerang!”
They struck as one, and with supernatural force split the Super-Freak in twain! Red Bat regained its flight pattern and soared back in time to see the monster evaporate. The other familiars held to its limbs until every piece was gone. Then, at last, victory!
Lindsay cried out with joy, and so did the others. Fang Force was whole again, and with their familiars at their side they were unstoppable.
When all had settled the familiars vanished into the ether, meaning that most things were back to normal. How they would explain the sudden forest clearing in front of the castle was what Lindsay called ‘a tomorrow problem’.
The whole crew entered the clock tower. That there were five of them seemed right somehow, and Lindsay couldn’t keep a straight face. She hoped that with everyone in one spot that Cassius and Luther wouldn’t be as melancholy.
Lindsay grinned at the wolf-boy knowingly.
“What?” he asked.
“Admit it. You’re glad it turned out this way.”
Just because it was true didn’t mean that Cassius had to be comfortable with the fact. His expression said as much, muted as it was. What feelings he had were complicated, and though they were for the most part resolved he was still processing. Not that his brothers would ever give him the space.
Vincent threw his arm around the fellow vampire. “Of course he is. Our little Cassie-kins. All together again, under the one roof.”
“Cassie-kins?” Lindsay giggled.
He frowned, more deeply and seriously than ever before. “Do not. Call me. ‘Cassie-kins’.”
The young woman collected herself. “Alright. You don’t call me ‘Master’, and I don’t call you ‘Cassie-kins’. Deal?”
Cassius studied the pair suspiciously, but he agreed with a nod.
Both Vincent and Drake stood in awe of their surroundings. The tower had never appeared so inviting before, let alone modern or polished. “You’ve much better taste than the old Master,” they each lamented, much to the chagrin of the other two vampires.
“So you’re staying then?” Lindsay asked.
“We may as well,” Vincent mused. “We’ve nowhere else to be.”
“And it’s been a long time since we’ve slept anywhere so fancy,” Drake added.
The young woman clapped her hands. “Great! Well in that case I’ll need your clothing and shoe sizes, and availability so I can pencil you into the schedule.”
Her words lingered for a moment before they registered. What was she talking about?
Lindsay leaned to them with a grin. “For your uniforms,” she explained. “So you can be all sorted before your first shift in the castle.”
Surely she didn’t say what they thought she said. Both Cassius and Luther chuckled in the corner, only containing themselves when shocked eyes rolled toward them.
“I’m nobody’s servant,” Drake said harshly.
“Not servant. Employee,” she told him. “The clock tower’s a nice place to sleep, but somebody’s got to pay rent. Even me.”
“And me,” said Cassius.
“And me,” said Luther.
Though Drake opened his mouth to speak, Vincent was quick to hush him. Perhaps it wasn’t ideal, but it was the best they could hope for; especially when there was a comfortable bed involved.
“I guess being without a Master isn’t all it’s cracked up to be,” he mused.
End of Episode 3