Sitting at the side of Queen Lacuna, Lord Nihilex hadn’t looked away from her sleeping form since his children left. Had he expected too much of them? Perhaps, but what other choice did he have? He couldn’t allow Fantom to live after what he’d done, bringing the scion in without killing her. He thought his children could manage, but cursed himself at Fearus sobbed like a whimpering human.
Hours passed with his thoughts lingering between that of the children and the queen. Eventually something that would normally never be allowed happened; a freakling opened the door to the chamber. It was met with destruction so fast that it may not have noticed before falling into dust.
“You may enter, Wiseman,” Nihilex growled, “but keep quiet. Should you disturb her rest you will meet the same fate as the messenger.”
With rags hanging from his body, Wiseman entered the room, and prostrated himself, daring not to look at the Lord Nihilex or the Queen.
“We are ready, Lord Nihilex. The freaklings have found the most direct path and have cleared everything, save for this room’s contents. We await your orders.”
“Fearus and Vultera?” Lord Nihilex questioned.
“They have been made to work alongside the freaklings, as you ordered. I have kept an eye on them to ensure they are doing the work of a common freakling, my Lord.”
“Good.” Lord Nihilex said as he stroked the queens cheek. “I can’t have them injured until after the move. And what of Fantom?”
“He has made himself scarce these few days,” Wiseman answered. “He took half of a battalion of freaklings and said he would train them on a tactic to use against the Fang Force. He said that his time with two of them gave him some new insights into the way they think.
“So be it,” Lord Nihilex stated bluntly. He stood from the Queens side for the first time since he ordered the movement of their operations. “If he succeeds I will send Fearus and Vultera to bring him home. If he fails he can find his own way.”
“Of course, Lord Nihilex,” Wiseman said, still prostrated.
“Well,” Lord Nihilex softly bellowed, “Go and finish your work. I alone will move this room, so get out of my sight before I end you like I did that freakling.”
“Come on, guys! Pick up the pace,” Lindsay said as she carried a couple of boxes from the delivery truck. “We have to get all of this inside!”
A couple of days had passed and, after a lot of convincing Mr Nowak that Drake and Vincent – who he took to calling Vince – would make good help and this was their first task; taking deliveries and restocking the gift shop.
“I would, but why bother holding back?” Vincent said, limiting himself to just one box. “We could easily haul everything inside if you-”
“I know,” Lindsay said, “but the dolly broke because SOMEONE wouldn’t listen about weight limits and then missed the stairs.”
“Sorry, M… Miss Lindsay,” Cassius muttered. He looked at the truck driver, who was speaking to Mr Nowak, before walking past Vincent.
“Lindsay says we have to work by normal human standards, so we have to hold back,” he reminded him. “Just enjoy the easy job. After what happened a few days ago, I know I can use it.”
Luther and Drake passed them on the way back to the truck.
“Well just be glad we held back. If not for Lindsay you wouldn’t have been able to come to work with us,” Drake said, poking at Cass’s shoulder.
Although the first day was rough – as well as the second and third as far as Lindsay was concerned – it seemed like everyone was getting along. She couldn’t help but imagine what they were like with the Great Vampire King.
During their light-hearted argument she imagined them in the sort of clothing that she first saw Cass and Luthor wearing. Her image of the vampire king had changed. What was once an overbearing and powerful figure had a hint of fatherly love hidden behind his eyes; the picture of him holding her from behind overtook her thoughts. She could almost feel him behind her, and heard what she imagined her sounded like speaking to her.
“The progeny. The first born.”
He sounded a lot like Mr Nowak.
“Why isn’t anyone moving the stock?”
Her attention snapped back to what she was doing, her arms filled with three smaller sized boxes as Mr Nowack came closer.
“You’re almost done! Why are you slowing down? I thought having double the boys would make the work go faster. Or should I tell the missus that she doesn’t need to find you a boyfriend anymore?”
“Sorry, Mr. Nowak,” Lindsay said, adjusting the boxes a bit, “I got a bit overtaken thinking about the Great Vampire King and imagined how they would look dressed as his butlers.”
She couldn’t place it, but she heard one of her friends muttering something about how he would look best in that sort of outfit.
“We’ll be done in a moment.”
It was about a half an hour before they managed to get all the boxes into the gift shop. Eventually they returned to the belfry. As Lindsay took her first step to ascend, she suddenly found herself face to fa… well face to everything with Spike.
“Perfect timing,” the bat exclaimed. She somehow kept in the air without wavering in altitude. “It’s freaklings – not too many of them, but we need to take care of them before they do anything.”
Smiling, Lindsay looked at everyone, “Alright, guys. Let’s get freaky on those freaklings!”
As nobody said anything, Lindsay rolled one shoulder and looked to the side, “Maybe that sounded better in my head. Either way let’s go.”
Fantom sat, just out of sight from a band of wandering freaklings. It took a painful amount of time to teach the freaklings something as simple as moving together.
Three by three, the freaklings appeared, just long enough to cause panic. They destroyed whatever they came across, just enough to be noticed, before allowing another group took their place.
Hit and run; a tactic easy enough for anyone to understand. Cause a little pain and run before you can be stopped – something that Fantom grasped before he was old enough to remember, though the mental deficiencies of the freaklings was greater than anticipated. Luckily it gave him time to prepare without his half-siblings, Wiseman, or Nihilex from looking too closely at what he was doing.
What happened next would decide if he would be destroyed or, he thought to himself, if he would be able to destroy that which he has hoped to be rid of for so long.
“I don’t like it,” Luther said as he looked around, “Only three freaklings? I could take them with one arm tied behind my back.”
“You kind of are,” Lindsay said. She held back the temptation to poke at his arm.
“She’s got you there,” Vincent said with a skip in his step, “I’m not complaining though. After walking into his home I expected Nihilex to launch a full offensive in town. We can’t exactly use our familiars without risking destroying lives of the people who live here.”
“True,” Drake uttered as he peered around, “But if this is it, then even Spike wouldn’t have been able to notice it this early. Barely anything was even damaged and it’s just that people ran away. Maybe she got paranoid after being locked away for so long?”
“I wouldn’t count on it,” Cassius said. “Unlike you two, she barely noticed the time change.”
The group looked around, only finding the occasional freakling cluster, barely putting up a fight. Each time they finished breaking what they could, occupying the heroes whenever they showed up.
“I don’t like this,” Drake spat. “This isn’t like them at all. If this is some game, I’d rather it come right out and do something.”
The roads on each side of the Fang Force started to crack and open as freaklings climbed from the sewers. They blocked every path of escape, surrounding Fang Force with fresh opposition.
“Alright, everyone. With me!” Lindsay called out as she, and everyone else, took out their crucifones and dialed 6-6-6 into the dial pad.
The obscuring smoke rose around them, compressing their clothing under their outfits. Each wore a helmet of their familiar, and a red cape of friendship draped over their left shoulder. The sigil of the bat, wolf, and beetle were finally accompanied by the spider and the mountain lion.
“Alright! I think we should start in a circle so we can see…”
Where once were a hoard of freaklings erupting from the roads were wisps of ash on all sides.
“They’re gone! Who-”
“That,” said a voice, drawing all their eyes up to a building’s roof, “would be me.”
Staring down, nursing something in his hand that the others couldn’t see, sat Fantom. His legs dangled over the edge as one might let their legs hang into the pool to feel the water between their toes.
“And now I’d like to talk with the Scion, or would you prefer Red Fang – or perhaps Lindsay?”
Fantom clutched the secret item in hand – an item, unbeknownst to Fang Force, was crucial in the defeat of the Vampire King. He just needed a few little details to activate it. First was the current Scion – first born of the first born, going all the way back to the Great Vampire King.
“I can see that you doubt my intentions,” Fantom said, jumping from the roof. He landed gracefully on the opposite side of the road. “I just wish to talk.”
Everyone, except for Drake, stood in a defensive position around Linsday.
Drake spat. “Why do you come like this now? If you wanted to talk you could have waited at home!”
“Many reasons,” Fantom mused, tracing a finger around the object. “Chief among them that I hadn’t finished my project. Would you like to see?”
Cassius sniffed the air. “What is it?”
Holding out his hand, Fantom revealed his new possession.
“That’s right,” Fantom said. “I took Lindsay for many reasons, but didn’t have time to look at her crucifone, thanks to Lord Nihilex’s interference. I had planned to do so once you passed out from exhaustion. You are too fresh as the scion to have the Great Vampire King’s endurance. I was able to get a couple drops of blood like I needed though.”
“If you did anything to her…”
“Manners, my boy. Dear me, is your group always like this?” Fantom huffed. “Either way I was able to steal a few glances and get the general feel of two crucifones thanks to Vincent and Drake. With that, I was able to do what I needed while Lord Nihilex was moving home.”
He sighed and considered the object. “I must thank you for that. Cassius and Luther showed up to save the scion, then Vincent and Drake arrive of their own accord? Thanks to that, every member of Fang Force knew where to go to attack if they chose to. If they weren’t so distracted I could never have finished this.”
“You spent a lot of time on something that doesn’t matter,” Drake said.
“Only someone only those deemed worthy by the Great Vampire King can use it. To anyone else it’s a bauble.”
Tracing his fingers over the buttons on his crucifone, Fantom smiled. “That’s not entirely true. See, the scion has never offered such devotion to her ancestor – or perhaps she did. I don’t know her well yet.” Fantom smiled at Lindsay. “It’s why I worked so hard to get you to leave. I wasn’t sure if I would finish this in time.”
“You can just stop with the double talk and surrender.”
“That’s true. Or I could do something else. Like this.”
Fantom pressed number six on his crucifone. A smile like that of a toad spread across the unmasked side of his face.
“Soul Awaken,” he said. “White Fang.”
A cloud formed around Fantom. Where once stood a monster something else emerged. He bore armor, pristine and white, against black tights with shining golden trim. Where the cape that the rest had there was none. Instead he wore a choker holding a lock on the front that radiated darkness. The helmet was the partially open mouth of a toad, its tongue wrapping around the lower half.
“Just as the scion needn’t be loyal to the Vampire King, I don’t either. Humans talk about how even in the darkest times a little light must shine. I think there is something about how you can still find darkness in the brightest of days.”
Fang Force converged around him. White Fang raised his arms.
“Attack if you must, but aren’t you curious how I can do this when I hold no loyalty to the Vampire King like you have?”
“Talk,” Cassius growled, “while you still have teeth.”
“Thank you.” Fantom put his arms back down. “It’s really quite simple. It is the first born of the Vampire king who becomes his scion; then the scions first born up until our dear Lindsay. The blood of his other descendents would be too weak to do much of anything. That is why you can’t have hundreds of your Fang Force sprouting up like weeds.”
“What are you saying?” Drake demanded
“Allow me to properly introduce myself.” White Fang cleared his throat and bowed. “I am Fantom, second child of the Vampire King. Surely you didn’t think he saved his affections for humanity alone.”
To be continued…
Happy April’s Fools!
Fang Force resumes its regular continuity this Saturday. Don’t miss it!