Uncertainty permeated the streets of Oldtown Junction. Friends, family and loved ones stood transformed from flesh into stone. Were they really gone, or was there still some trace of humanity tucked away beneath? With strange things always happening around them it was difficult to say.
Volunteers wrapped the statues in padding and loaded them onto trucks. Bystanders watched from the barricade, crying when someone they knew was carried away. It was like losing them all over again.
“It’s not safe for them here,” the officials told them. They weren’t game to dash their hopes, no matter how unlikely a restoration seemed.
On an already dark day, Qimos returned to wreak more havoc. He was not alone, and led a horde of freaklings through the populace. The creatures spread in a devastating circle, prompting screams from the humans as they ran.
For a being born in the land of nightmares, there was no sweeter melody.
“Flee if you must, but it will do you no good,” Qimos mused. “When the floodgates open, and the Abyssal Realm swarms your Earth, your lives will be ours to toy with!”
None stopped to listen, but it mattered little.
An ill wind stirred, giving the shambling mass pause. From the ether appeared four men; a hard-faced figure in a navy blazer, a muscle-bound athlete in yellow flannel, a demure gentleman with a pink shirt buttoned high, and a scowling punk in a green leather jacket.
“That’s enough, Qimos. You’ve caused enough damage,” Luther spat.
The heroes pulled the crucifones from their pockets.
“I have to applaud you,” the monster said. “Showing your faces without the Red Fang. It’s either brave or foolish. I tend toward the latter.”
“Enough taunts,” Cassius said. He flipped open his device in time with the others, and dialled the numbers, six-six-six.
“Blue Fang!” Cassius barked.
“Yellow Fang!” Luther snapped.
“Pink Fang!” Vincent hissed.
“Green Fang!” Drake snarled.
Viscous clouds circled around them, and hadn’t finished their work before the quartet charged. Gone were the conspicuous men that taunted Qimos, replaced by costumed heroes, each bearing a bright red cape the color of their leader’s costume. Even without her, they fought in her honor.
They split under the rain of needles, diving for cover, behind trash cans and benches. The freaklings circled to ferret them out from their hiding places.
“Fan out. He can’t take us all,” Blue Fang ordered.
Yellow Fang darted from behind a tree. “I’ll draw his attention!”
The monster turned, ignoring the Yellow Fang and setting his sights to his teammate in green.
Spying his attack, Green Fang struck at Qimos, but dodged when set upon with a sharp spray. It was only by cat-like reflexes that the hero was able to throw a freakling in their path. The needles froze the creature and turned it to dust.
Qimos advanced. A wall of freaklings rose to his back. “I’ll take you one at a time,” he said. “Without your leader you’re left shouting orders at nobody! You’re disorganized! Weak!”
Point s landed in the ground, just short of Green Fang’s feet. He sprinted and danced around them, even throwing himself into cartwheels just to get away.
“Guys! A little help?”
“Ask and ye shall receive,” said Pink Fang.
The vampire appeared overhead and came down on Qimos’ shoulders. The monster flailed.
“Get it off! Get it off!”
“You know that spiders eat mosquitoes,” Pink Fang teased.
He held for all his strength to the creature’s chin, pulling his proboscis away from any meaningful target. Qimos grabbed with the pathetic sticks that passed for arms, but it was no use; the hero was too strong.
Freaklings, on the other hand, put up more than a fair fight. They piled until dozens of arms yanked the vampire to the pavement. The two on each limb pulled Pink Fang in every direction.
Qimos leaned closer. “On behalf of mosquitoes everywhere, this is revenge!”
But before his attack landed, Blue Fang pounced and savaged his legs. Qimos fell, and fought the vampire’s blows with all his strength. He freed himself, but found Fang Force back on their feet, as powerful as they’d ever been.
A hot, sickly taste gurgled from the depths of his sac. They made sport of him. How dare they!
The last of the freaklings fizzled into dust. Qimos pushed away, scraping against the pavement. “This is impossible,” he rasped. “Without your leader, you’re nothing!”
Blue Fang stood over the creature. “No matter where she is, we carry Red Fang in our hearts,” he said.
Green Fang marched to his side. “Now that we know her, we’ll always know her.”
“Her example is immortal in us,” Pink Fang said, casting another shadow over the monster.
“And though we four are as different as four vampires can be, the bonds she forged cannot be broken,” Yellow Fang said.
Four guardians, their purpose united, towered above their foe. No matter what blows Qimos landed before, he was as good as defeated. The wise choice would have been to surrender.
Then again, unliving beings rarely made the wise choice.
Even on his back, Qimos was far from helpless. With rage palpitating in his throat, he spat another swath of needles to erupt from his proboscis. At close distance they were certain to land; if he were to fall at least one other would go with him.
Yellow Fang bellowed. “Get behind me!”
It was over in an instant. Fang Force moved swiftly, taking refuge behind their companion. Oh, how sweet it was to see a most hated enemy frozen in realisation. Qimos would drink his life force, Yellow Fang would be destined for oblivion.
“You really think you could beat me?” he cackled. “I am Qimos, the drinker of life! And I… I-”
What the monster saw next defied expectation. Yellow Fang was frozen, but not by fear. The needles dropped from his chest impotently to the ground. For whatever reason, the hero was unaffected.
Yellow Fang exhaled. “It’s over,” he said.
The remaining members of Fang Force kept a sensible distance behind him.
Qimos roared. “No!” Another wave erupted from his facial organ.
The vampire stopped, tensed, and repeated the process anew. Needles collided, then dropped to the pavement. More flew at him, and the hero flexed, hardening his flesh. It was as simple as shrugging off the rain.
“How?” the monster demanded. “How is this possible?”
“I’ll admit I was taking a chance,” Yellow Fang explained. “My familiar gives me the proportionate strength of a beetle, and when I flex my skin becomes hard like a shell.”
Qimos stammered. “Y-you tricked me!”
“You tricked yourself,” Yellow Fang said, “by thinking this was a foregone conclusion!”
He snatched the monster’s nose in a steely fist. The proboscis snapped between his fingers. Qimos squealed at the highest pitch, before Yellow Fang ripped it clean from his face! Without a trump card, he was as good as defeated.
Fang Force cornered Qimos, blocking his escape at every turn. They bore him down and flashed their claws.
“This is for Lindsay.”
Sharpened digits tore at the monster in clockwise formation. They turned as Qimos fell to the ground, refusing to dignify the dark unlife force seeping into the wind.
Their job was done; Red Fang, and with her the people of Oldtown Junction, had been avenged. Yet the statues remained inanimate.
Fang Force stirred.
“This isn’t over,” Pink Fang said.
Furious purple and sickly green swirled around Qimos’ remains, and lifted him from the ground. The powers of darkness, direct from the Abyssal Realm, poured into the defeated vessel. The display was no less terrible by familiarity.
Qimos swelled with the contents of the Abyssal Realm, swelling his form to monstrous proportions.
“Summon the familiars,” Blue Fang said.
Green Fang tensed. “But how’ll be form Fang Empress without Lindsay and Red Bat?”
Qimos grew until he stood neck to neck with the highest building. Pitiful humanity was no challenge to a being of his stature, and despite their fortitude thus far, neither were four vampires without a master to bring them together.
To be continued…