The waning crescent moon shone high in the sky as the stars twinkled in the cold air, shining bright. Scott looked up at them, trying to discern any patterns that might favor either side, but the stars had no love for anything under the sky this night. He sighed at their neutrality.
“Something wrong?” Amber asked, strapping her seatbelt on. She was concerned, as there wasn’t an actual seat, the belt was merely hammered into the hide.
“Nah, it’s nothing. Just trying to see what luck we might have tonight.”
“I thought you weren’t superstitious?” she teased, poking him in the side. He was imminently regretful he couldn’t make another set of bone armor.
“I’m not. However, the stars actually do have mystical significance, and the planetary radiation can affect what goes down on the surface here. They can foretell what is to come.” he said, rubbing his side.
“And?” Amber probed. Scott shrugged.
“Nothing, as far as I can see. I don’t think I made any mistakes in calculating…the stars are silent. It’s almost like, I don’t know, they’re waiting on the outcome too.” He squinted at the heavens, trying to see if the end of days was today, his breath streaming into the night. Amber stared at the new hole in the roof, mildly peeved.
“Y’know, Dad was pissed that the roof had to be repaired, and now we had to make another hole in it when the contractors were almost done.” she said, watching a piece of plaster crumble. Scott snickered. “Stop laughing. It’s not funny.”
“It’s a little funny. You’re smiling.” Her grin grew wider.
“Okay, it’s a little funny. But, ah, let’s try not to destroy anything else, okay?”
“I make no promises.” he said, pulling his hood up to ward against the November chill. His eyes shone green in the shadow. Alright, listen up!” he bellowed, clapping his hands to get everyone’s attention. The crowd looked up at him, and a thrill of nervousness ran through him.
‘Good thing I’ve never been afraid of public speaking.’ he thought.
“Right, sound off! Detective, you ready?”
“As I’ll ever be.” Cross said, standing outside of her car and pumping a shotgun.
“Right! Harvaste, you ready?”
“Lord Harvaste to you, boy.” the vampire sneered, readying himself in black combat fatigues. He had a bandolier full of vials of blood at the ready.
“Right! Genevieve, you and the ghoul squad ready?” A loud cheer erupted from the entire tribe, formerly lazing about. But now the fight was almost on, and they were hopping, clapping, laughing, looking about ready to explode. Genevieve blanched.
“Why am I in charge of these guys?”
“Sounds good to me!” Scott ignored her.
“Nightfang, are you ready?”
From the top of the roof, a black streak descended. It bounced off of the beast, somersaulted over Scott and Amber’s heads, and landed fluidly on the ground, a midnight silk cape pooling around him. Nightfang’s red eyes were burning coals in a pitch-black cowl. He threw his cape back, exposing the only slash of color, the white fang on his chest to contrast the black jumpsuit and dark grey boots and gloves. The necromancer mentally cursed, his entrance would never be so cool.
“I am ready. This new costume is spectacular, I give my thanks.” Nightfang said, stretching. It was loads better than the ramshackle costume he’d been able to put together before. “It moves so well with me, and it looks professionally made. How’d you get it on such short notice?”
“Zombies can work fast when you want them to, and you can supervise. Plus they don’t care if they stick their fingers with needles!” Scott said cheerfully. Nightfang felt his skin crawl.
“That’s just fantastic.” he muttered.
“And my bodyghoul?” Scott asked Amber, hugging low to the zombie, fingers in a deathgrip around the fur. He supposed he couldn’t blame her; they were over twelve feet from the ground on the beast’s shoulders.
“That wasn’t a clever pun. And yes, I’m ready.”
“Even if we have to pull a code…” he asked quietly, and she cut him off with a nod.
“Yeah. J-Just…just take care of me, okay? And…let’s try not to have that happen.”
“Yeah. Don’t worry, I promise. That’s our last-resort trump card. I don’t pull those out of the deck unless I have to.” She gave him a nervous smile, and he tried to give, what he hoped at least, a reassuring smile back. “’Kay!” he roared. “Everyone know their objectives?” The crowd of ghouls and assorted allies shouted their affirmation. “Great! Necronomicon, check!” He felt the weight in his bag. “Animal zombies, check!” The birds cawed and Tarantulas hissed form his backpack. “Seatbelts, check! Necromancer, check! Zombie Titan Mk. 2, check! Let’s go! Cerberus!”
The colossal beast rose to its feet, lifeless eyes gleaming in the moonlight. All three heads snarled and roared, a titanic challenge to any who threatened its master. It started to lumber forward, directed by Scott, steering with a pair of motorcycle handlebars welded to its back. The army began to move out, tunneling into the earth.
“Alright! Ha ha! C’mon c’mon c’mon! It’s time, vampires! It’s time, Brian! Let’s go! Ask me what it’s time for.” he tossed back to Amber. She sighed and rolled her eyes.
“What is it time for.” she deadpanned.
“Glad you asked!” Scott said, eyes glittering emerald. He pointed his finger forward. “It’s time for a raid!”
“So what’re you gonna do when Master rules the world?” Randolph asked Carter. The vampire driving paused for a moment, considering.
“Hmm. Dunno, probably feast on the blood of the innocent until the end of time.” he shrugged. Randolph snickered.
“And that’s why you’re a dumbass. Listen genius, how’re you gonna feast if there’s nobody left? If we gorge ourselves, we’ll go hungry eventually, and I’m not looking forward to an eternity of starvation.” Carter turned to him irritably.
“I never said I was gonna eat until there was nothing left, that’s something your lardass would do.”
“So what would you do?”
“I dunno, like put ‘em in pens or something. Y’know, like a farmer.” He rolled through a stop sign. There wasn’t any other traffic to worry about, after all. All he had to do was follow the truck ahead of him to Nahumville, and the bloodletting would start. “Think about it. Free-range, organic, non GMO blood, right from the tap whenever I want it. Sounds good, right?” Carter said.
“So your plan is to make humans cattle.” Randolph said dubiously.
“Yeah, I guess. Why? What’s wrong with my idea?”
“Nothing, ‘cept its stupid.”
“You’re both stupid!” a voice came through the vent in the back.
“Shut up!” the other two said in unison, Randolph thumping the cab hard enough to dent it.
“Jeez, can’t even have a simple conversation.” Carter said as they turned, nearly at the ramp to the highway. “Anyway, what’re you gonna do?”
“Definitely not play Farmer Brown, that’s for damn sure.” Randolph said, gazing out the window. The mirror caught his eye. “Huh?” He rubbed his eyes. Behind the truck and gaining speed, bounded a giant three-headed dog, a police car in pursuit. “What the…what is that?” Carter looked in the mirror, and his eyes became saucers.
“Call the boss, call the boss right now, call the boss!” As the dog reached them, he could make out a hooded figure laughing his head off, a girl behind him crouched low with her eyes squeezed shut.
“Cerberus, attack!” Scott commanded, and one of its heads slammed into the truck, tilting and denting it, Carter furiously turning the wheel to keep control. Slobber rained on the window.
“What is going on here!?” Randolph wailed. The dog slammed into the truck again, nearly flipping it over.
“It’s the necromancer!” Carter screamed, shouting into a radio. The door of the cab opened, and vampires started pouring out, crawling on the truck.
“Yes! The necromancer is here! Fear me!” Scott howled, grinning and laughing like a maniac as Cerberus bit down on the cab, its hyper-compact jaws ripping the steel frame like nothing. The remaining two growled at the window, and Carter whimpered.
“Here they come!” Amber shouted, the transformed vampires leaping onto the giant dog.
“Let ‘em! That’s why she’s here!”
Tires screeched as Cross accelerated, speeding up to reach the zombie. She leaned out the window to take aim with her shotgun in one hand.
“Steady…steady…” she muttered, and fired. The recoil nearly tore the gun out of her grip, and she was forced to swerve violently to keep control of the car. “God damnit!” she cursed. The shot had gone wild from her aim, but luckily hit another mid-jump. “Can’t get lucky all the time.” she growled, then turned to her passenger. “Take the wheel!” The ghoul looked at her incredulously.
“Ebble no know human g’cannen! Ebble no drive!”
“Learn!” Cross snapped and leaned half her body out the window, forcing Ebble to take the wheel. Now more steady, she started picking them off, until the gun clicked empty.
“Reload!” she said, coming in and tossing the gun to the ghoul. He fumbled with it.
“E-Ebble forget what do!”
“Just like I showed you earlier-damnit!” There were more crawling up the zombie. She whipped out her Glock and took potshots at the vampires.
“What’s she doing, that caliber won’t knock ‘em off us.” Scott frowned. “Amber, can you…?” She stared at him, then sighed.
“No…fine, it’s fine. Sure, it’s fine.” she said, unbuckling and crawling back. “Oh no, perfectly fine. All I have to do is kick mutant vampires off the top of a speeding dog!” She marveled at her sentence. “When did my life become so strange?”
“Die, bitch!” a vampire hissed at her, crawling forward and waving her mouth like a cobra.
“What did you call me!?” Amber, pissed off, grabbed her mouth and yanked, sending her tumbling to the ground. “I am a proper young woman, skank! Uh-oh.” She blanched as three more advanced, their four arms providing much more purchase on the zombie’s hide. There was a boom, and a vampire jerked as his head was hit by a shotgun shell and he fell off. Cross gave Amber a thumbs-up, and she saw the car was being driven by a desperate, frightened ghoul. She blinked. “Why is my life so weird?”
“The first truck’s pulling ahead!” Scott yelled into his cellphone. “You’re on!”
The drivers of the truck in the lead, Charlie and Dexter, felt they had no choice but to pull ahead and let the others fend for themselves. They had a mission to complete, after all. Suddenly, a dark shape dropped down onto the window, splattering blood everywhere. Charlie screamed and tried to wipe it away, but the blood was too thick and sticky. Dexter watched in shock as a large bat flew past the passenger window to kamikaze onto the windshield, its entire form exploding into red goop.
Harvaste, crimson wings constructed of enspelled blood and stronger than iron, swept down and ripped the passenger door off. He tossed the wide-eyed vampire out of his seat and crawled in beside the driver.
“Move.” he said simply. Charlie screamed for help, and the back of the cab burst, vampires clawing through the metal at him. Harvaste removed a glass bottle from his bandolier. “H’gthna Atavaashjk.”
He tossed it at the back, and the glass exploded, a net of blood sticking to the sides, sturdy enough to prevent entry for now. Charlie desperately tried to bite him, but the elder vampire sneered, grabbing his lips and severing them with a knife.
“Humph.” He kicked Charlie out the door, and glanced at the blood pooling on the seat. “Lonathseanna-gna, boltinatghth f’wrstingtchth. Lonathseanna-gna, boltinatghth f’wrstingtchth. Lonathseanna-gna, boltinatghth f’wrstingtchth. Lonathseanna-gna, boltinatghth f’wrstingtchth!”
The blood, reacting slower to his magic than usual, bubbled and coalesced, creating a gremlin-like creature with beady eyes. “Turn und drive back to da abandoned mall two miles down da street.” he commanded, then took wing from the seat. The gremlin skittered in malicious glee and took the wheel, to the horror of the vampires in the back. “Genevieve?” Harvaste signaled on his radio. “Da truck hast been owercome, headed to da mall. Prepare to spring da trap.”
Back on the dog, Amber caught a leaping vampire in midair and heaved, throwing it back onto the truck. It screeched and crawled back in.
“How much longer do we have to do this?” she said, panting. Even with undead strength, this was hard and tiring. Scott grinned at the text he’d received.
“Almost done. Harvaste got the truck under control. Cerberus! Force the truck off the exit!” The three-headed beast gave a booming bark and rammed its shoulder into the truck, forcing Carter to follow the gremlin-driven vehicle. Scott looked in the sky worriedly. Where was Brian? He had to notice something by now. Scott was super glad he prepared for this.
The trucks made the short round trip in record time, screeching onto the asphalt at top speed. The gremlin chittered madly, accelerating at the south wall. The vampires screamed and abandoned the hold as the gremlin laughed, slamming head-on into the concrete and exploding. Cerberus rolled the second truck over, sending it tumbling across the parking lot. The zombie trotted to a stop.
“Woo!” Scott exclaimed, arms in the air, Amber holding on for her unlife. “Yeah! How! Ya! Like! That! That was awesome!”
The vampires, all fully transformed, ripped open the truck and picked themselves up from the ground, staring at him angrily. They were, after all, super-durable. “Uh-oh.”
“Cerberus!” The vampires surged forward, and the zombie swung its heads around. “Take aim!” The middle head opened its mouth, and the beast crouched low. Scott grinned and pulled the lever.
A jet of flame spewed from the head’s jaws, setting the first wave on fire. The others gibbered and broke ranks as the middle head swept the area, the other two heads pouring out thick black smoke. Scott laughed like a maniac.
“Ha ha ha! Yes! Burn! Show them the flames of Hell! Burn them all! Ha ha ha ha ha!”
“Why do boys turn into pyromaniacs the second you give them something flammable?” Amber lamented as the zombie swung wildly. “Enough!” Scott flipped it back and the fire ceased. The vampires screeched and twitched, but extremely wary of the beast’s triple smoking jaws, covered in drool and fangs.
“Get ‘em!” he cried gleefully, and the parking lot cracked, the ghouls surging out of the ground to attack the vampires.
The battle was a dizzying, chaotic mess. Though some vampires had been scorched, few of them had perished and they still outnumbered the ghouls three to one, the mutants lost in the chase running up to join in. Cross’s car peeled out, slamming into bodies as she fired out the window, the car steered by a terrified Ebble.
“Ughnotchu, me glathn-agch, way out of comfort zone!” he shouted.
“Shut up and run them down!” Cross snapped, pumping lead into the crowd. It couldn’t put them down, but the shells were enough to put the vampires off-balance, and she turned away as the ghouls tore into her stunned targets.
“Squads 2 through 6 go underground, take their backs! 7 through 10, advance the front line! We’re collapsing on the right flank, squad 11-eek! Help!” Genevieve slashed her blade at the vampires that made it to her position directing. The knife sliced an eye, and the half-blinded vampire growled.
“You’ll pay for that!” He lunged, but three ghouls tackled him, and she managed to cut his throat in the confusion. The ghouls dragged the gurgling vampire underground. “Hmph.”
“I always knew you had steel in you.” She stiffened up, and turned around to see a mutated vampire. The face was beyond recognition, but the voice…
“Gregor?” The battle fell away for her, and he chuckled.
“It seems you don’t need my help anymore. A pity that you’ve found your steel, thought. It means I must eliminate you.” He crouched, preparing to spring.
“G-Gregor…please, no…” she muttered wide-eyed, backing away in horror. This was the worst thing she could imagine.
“Do not be consherned vis vhat hast happened in da past. You are here, you are a wampire, spill his blood!” her radio suddenly crackled. He sprang, and Genevieve rolled to the side.
‘L-Lord Harvaste is right. Whatever happened between Gregor and I…we can’t go back. At least, not right now.’ She took a deep breath, watching him turn and snarl. ‘Besides, this…thing isn’t Gregor. If Kevin could do what he had to, so will I. I decided to come to come here to find him on my own, I will see this through. Besides, we have more at stake here than a personal grudge.’ She whistled loudly, and squad 11 piled on top of him from all directions.
“Still relying on others to do your dirty work, Jenny!?” he spat. He would have gone on, but her boot met the side of his head with the maximum amount of force she could generate.
“Alright boys, we got a job to do, that right flank isn’t going to reinforce itself.” The ghouls cheered enthusiastically, and with a final lingering glance at Gregor, she rejoined the fray.
“Dat ist mine girl.” Harvaste muttered, watching form overhead. He howled as the blood in the flasks took shape, wolves and snakes and bats, all crimson and fury, descending upon his former clan and their recruits while he lashed out with a whip made form his own blood.