A hair falling onto carpet made more noise than Nightfang as he landed at the bottom of the stairs, the door to the basement in front of him. He shook his head. Though he was worried about his friends in the fight, he had another job: reconnoiter the lab and disrupt whatever Brian had cooking up down there. When he had asked why, Scott was adamant that the magician had something planned in reserve.
“He likes to hold onto his biggest trump card until it’s too late for you to do anything about it, then blast you away with overkill. I can’t tell you how many times I’ve lost in Street Fighter ‘cause he had a charged-up super meter and I didn’t. He didn’t even need to, he just likes doing it.” Scott had said sourly. The hero opened the door slowly, quietly, and peeked through. His eyes widened.
The room had changed once again. Gone were the books, tables, and every other accoutrement of Brian’s lab. The room had been remade into a repository for a gigantic tank, filled with opaque green fluid, strange blue squares giving off enough light to see. The tank stretched down into the ground, even Nightfang’s eyes couldn’t discern a bottom in the darkness below. The only thing on the tank was a circular metal walkway, a path leading to it, and a control panel in front of it, monitoring the tank’s status. The liquid was still and glowing softly. He shivered as he realized it was the same fluid that the mutated vampires had in their systems. Or similar, at least. He made his way forward.
“Nice costume. Your mom make it for you?” a despondent voice called from above. Nightfang jerked his head to see a familiar teenager release his grip on the wall and drop down, blocking his exit.
“Will.” he said softly. He narrowed his eyes.
“That’s the name, don’t wear it out.” Will replied. “So. You’ve come.”
“What happened to you? You look like crap.” Nightfang said, crouching lower.
“What about you? Running around in that ridiculous getup, you’re nothing more than a clown.” He smiled a sickly, cruel grin. “I heard what you did to your mother from Master. How does it feel to make yourself an orphan?”
“Shut. Up.” Nightfang seethed. Will grinned wider.
“Aww, poor baby. Did I touch a nerve? Surprised you have any left, after everything. Your dad never wanted you, your mom tried to kill you, you killed her. Not a very nice family. No wonder you don’t have any friends.”
“I said shut up!” Nightfang ripped his mask off his face and threw it away. “You’ll pay for that, Will!” he shouted and charged.
“As if you could make me!” Will leapt over the handrail, grabbing the bar with one hand and swinging into a kick to the back of Nightfang’s head. He stumbled into the door, but turned around red-faced. “Ha! The Master entrusted me to guard this place, until he was ready! I’ve thrown everything else away! There’s nothing left, Kevin!”
“What’s in the flask, Will.” Nightfang said, shifting his feet. Will smirked.
“The Master’s business, not yours.”
“Raaaaahhhh!” Nightfang charged and swung with his fists, trying to hit him. Will dodged every blow with ease, leaving the hero panting. When he kicked, Will jumped; when he punched, Will ducked. Nightfang had a sudden pity for Spider-man villains.
“See? You’re useless.” Nightfang flinched. “I was physically better than you before we became vampires, now that the playing field’s equal we know who’s the real man around here. And I’m not even transformed yet!” Nightfang sank to his knees, the picture of despair. He shook his head.
“Why? Why are you doing all this?” he asked, face clouded by sorrow.
“Because I will not be left behind.” Will hissed, eyes glowing red. “I choose to be the one to leave your ass behind. I’m better than that, and I can prove it.” Nightfang trembled, biting his lip.
“I…I have one last question, before you attack.”
“Go ahead. This’ll be the final one.” Will sneered.
“If you’re better than me, why didn’t you notice my partner?” Nightfang grinned.
“Indeed, you sound like nothing more than a temperamental child, screaming because you didn’t get your way.” Will turned to see Leo reading the control panel, frowning.
“You…I saw die. Where did you come from? Why are you rainbows?” he said dumbly.
“Yes, I did die. But you must know by now that that isn’t the end.” Leo possessed the mask again, the mask that Will realized was thrown on purpose, and it floated back to Nightfang. “We must hurry and warn the others, that thing’s creation is complete. The tank is merely a holding chamber now, we can’t affect it.”
“We can’t do anything here?”
“It’s too big, we need more firepower.” Leo warned.
“Got it.” Nightfang donned his mask. Will gaped at the now calm and collected superhero.
“You…were never angry at all. You just pretended.” Nightfang gave him a sharp glance.
“Oh, I’m angry all right. I’d rip the heads off of all of you if I could. But a superhero has more important things to do than be concerned with petty things like revenge. Or jealousy.” With that parting shot, Nightfang kicked open the door and raced up the stairs. “What did you learn?” he asked.
“Not a lot, it was half in some strange language I couldn’t recognize.” Leo said. Nightfang felt a sense of unease emanate from his mask. “But whatever it was, it’s huge.”
Will, now well and truly alone, reeling from his former friend’s words, sank to his knees and wailed in despair.
“Yeee-hawww!” Scott mimed taking a hat off as the dog zombie reared up, slamming its paws onto a group of vampires bunched up together. It snarled and growled, the very image of the guardian of the underworld with the flamethrower’s smoke pouring from each of its heads. “Come get some, who wants some!”
“Will you please focus!” Amber admonished, kicking off a vampire that tried to climb up a leg. “We’re getting nowhere here!”
“I know.” Scott said, looking to the sky. No matter how much they attacked, it was just too hard to kill these things outright; the same couldn’t be said for their forces. He winced as a vampire smashed all four arms into a ghoul, breaking ribs and internal organs. The ghoul screamed and attacked relentlessly anyway, becoming easy prey for the mutant. “We’re just spinning our wheels.” he growled. Where was Brian?
“Scott!” Nightfang’s cape swept fully open as he launched himself through the second-story food court window, pursued by three vamps out for blood. He landed and rolled, speeding his way punching and kicking through the crowd, and then he was on Cerberus. “We’ve got trouble, Leo says-”
The entire battlefield fell silent.
Every head turned up as one, to the grinning magician standing in the sky, illuminated clear as day. When he saw Scott, he grinned wider.
“Well, well, well.” he said, punctuating each with a clap. “You’re back. Welcome. You know, I must say I’m impressed. You got away clean under my nose. But your mistake was coming back.”
“I’m here to end this, before it gets worse.” Scott said.
“And you’ve managed to find an army of ghouls, too. Well done, very well done.” Brian continued, ignoring him. “You’ve brought the ghouls, the vampires, and the humans-” he nodded at a bloodied Cross, who flinched “-against me. Bravo. You’re quite clever, making that dog thing too, I like it. It even has a flamethrower! That’s awesome!”
“Yeah…?” Scott said, not sure where this was going. Brian gave a little chuckle.
“But you see, no matter how much you fight, you’re still not as smart as I am. After all, I’ve seen your work, and I’ve made my own…improvements, shall we say, to your design.” He snapped his fingers, his shadow giggling to itself.
The mall shuddered as walls folded and collapsed, the tank emerging from the ground. The lime-green fluid pulsed and shined, starting to boil. Harvaste sent his blood-form creations to prevent it from opening, but the glass and steel was too thick to penetrate. There was a boom, and an eye ten feet across peered out of the depths. The glass shattered, and the air was rent with a horrible screech as an enormous monstrosity stepped out.
Scott gaped in disbelief. His Zombie Titan Mk. 1 was an amalgamation of different zombies, fused into one. This…thing was a charnel mockery of that now he knew why there weren’t as many vampires as they expected in the battle.
“SCREEEEEEEEE!” the creature cried, its oversized fangs shredding its own mouth, forged form the fangs of nearly six hundred vampires, their flesh twisted and joined into a human…ish shape that dominated the parking lot, over 300 feet tall. Its pink skin ripping and bleeding with every step, every labored breath it took, bones, tendons and joints forced in unnatural locations so it simply wouldn’t fall apart standing there. Clawed hands tore at its stringy, balding head in constant pain. Amber was terrified to see faces, arms, other body parts sticking out randomly on its imperfectly fused body, all howling in pain. They were still conscious.
“Behold, the greatest weapon ever! I call him Sanguis-Triturans! You can’t defeat him, or me, Scott!”
“Jesus Christ, what the hell is wrong with you!?” the necromancer cried.
“You’re just jealous I did a better job than you did. Or at least bigger!” Brian gloated, Riepaimva laughing in his ear. “Attack!”
A massive fist swung down, and the ghouls and vampires scattered, Cross peeling out in her car, letting out a stream of curses.
“What the hell! Can you believe this, Ebble? This is my life now! $%#* that kid, @$#% that other kid, in fact *&%$ every teenager with goddamn magic powers!” Ebble peered up form cowering low in his seat, his hands on his head.
“LOOK OUT!” Cross swerved to avoid a chunk of its flesh falling from its arm. “See what I mean? That thing can barely support its own weight! If I was that kid’s mom I’d tan his hide and lock him up, but noooo…” Ebble whimpered quietly as she sped up.
“What do we do!? What do we do!?” Amber shrieked, hanging onto Scott like a plush toy. The last time there was a giant monster, it was on their side. She was quite put out at the reversal. He wheezed at her crushing hug.
“His depravity knows no bounds.” Leo said from the mask.
“Right, but we can stop him! Right?” Nightfang asked frantically. Scott grinned.
“Buckle up and see!” Urging the beast faster, Cerberus dodged and weaved the monster’s clumsy, flailing strikes. A hand smashed into the ground, collapsing a ghoul tunnel.
“FULL RETREAT!” Genevieve ordered, having the ghouls dig a new tunnel in record time.
“M-Master Brian! P-Please don’t-aaaaiiiiieeee!” A giant foot came down, the wounded vampire desperately pleading for his life smashed into paste.
“Ha ha ha ha ha! Attack them! C’mon, everybody! Don’t hold back, kill Scott with everything you have! Your lives are mine to spend as I wish, right? So rip him to pieces!” Brain said, laughing madly in the air.
“Oh no.” The remaining vampires began screeching wildly and swarming at Cerberus, cutting into its legs and scaling its hide. Scott turned to Amber grimly. “We can’t be stopped now.” he said. She gulped, but nodded. “Nightfang, take over, try to keep ‘em off Cerberus. I’ve gotta settle things with Brian.”
“Okay, but-” Scott turned away from the hero.
“It’s only for a bit.” he said gently, pushing back a strand of hair from her face.
“I-I know. J-Just…you’ll come back for me, right?” she pleaded.
“You still trust me, even after all I’ve done, even though I’m a villain?” he asked. She nodded. “Then I won’t let you down. You won’t lose yourself, I won’t let it happen. Just let your instincts guide you.” She spun around, and he placed a hand on her back, muttering strange, obscene syllables. “Hkes.” Scot intoned, draining her of her body’s necrotic energy. Nightfang watched as Amber shuddered. Her skin seemed thinner and wan now, the veins easily visible. Her frame trembled as she seemed to shrink, but that wasn’t it; she was becoming thinner. Her face became gaunt and shallow, cheekbones standing out starkly. She opened her eyes, and her normal blues were dull and lifeless, like an eternal abyss. Her stomach growled.
“So…hungry.” she whispered.
“It’s a code Galactus. Go forth!” Scott gave her a small push, and she let out an inhuman shriek her vocal chords shouldn’t have been able to produce, chilling to the bone all who heard it.
“Code Galactus?” Nightfang said incredulously, realizing immediately.
“LET ME EAT!” Amber launched herself down, rocketing into a vampire. With a howl, she ripped off his arm and started savagely beating him with it. When another vampire tried to stop her, she turned and sank her teeth into his throat. Nightfang watched wide-eyed as the normally friendly and cheerful girl closed her jaws and swallowed. He turned away, stomach protesting as she…feasted. He stared at Scott in shock.
“Yeah, this’s why I always kept her fed and made sure she had backup meals.” he said, wincing. “Ghouls can be really nasty, and I didn’t want her to turn that appetite on us. She’s not happy about it either, but we both knew that pulling out her vicious, ghoulish instincts could be helpful for this fight. Ironically, by keeping her filled with necrotic energy, I’ve only compounded the problem. She’s much, much stronger than a normal ghoul because she hasn’t been starved all this time.” They ducked a spray of limbs as she moved faster than a bullet. “And the corresponding power means a corresponding hunger. Ghouls are ravenous.”
“I’ve…noticed.” Nightfang said faintly. He remembered his mission and started kicking the now terrified vampires off of Cerberus. “Look out!” The dog lurched as it avoided the monster’s fist smashing the ground. They passed Amber again, chewing on something best left unrecognized, and with very few vampires still left on the battlefield.
“Guess we pick her up.” Scott said, steeling himself.
“Do we have to?” the superhero whimpered. Scott had Cerberus swipe her with a paw, the superghoul flying through the air and landing on its neck, right in front of him.
“H-Hi!” Scott squeaked.
“Scooott…hungry…you look…tasty.” she moaned.
“Hey, how ‘boutthateverything’ssekhfine right? Right?” he said quickly, holding her shoulder and filling her with necrotic energy once more. She fell to her knees, panting and sweating, the remaining vampires unwilling to get close, and the ghouls cheering like no tomorrow.
“Ugh, my head…w-what happened? It’s all a blur…” Amber said. The guys turned to the battlefield, now significantly more blood-soaked.
“Best we leave it at that.” Scott said tactfully.
“Oh my…I don’t feel very good.” she groaned, and burped.
“I suppose you wouldn’t.” Leo said from the mask. They would all need so much therapy when this was all over.
“Hah! And you ask what’s wrong with me? I’m not the only monster-maker here, Scott! Brian said, landing on Sanguis-Triturans’s head. “The difference is, I’m better at it!” Sanguis-Triturans raised its arms to crush them. Scott saw the best chance he could get.
“Hold on, here goes nothing!” He released Larry, Moe, and Curly form his backpack and spun Cerberus, charging towards the monster. Sanguis-Triturans’s arms came down, and Scott narrowly dodged them. “Jump!” The three-headed dog leapt and land, continuing its sprint up the gigantic arm. “Birds! Attack!” As they swooped at Brian, he sighed and waved his hand. All three burst into pieces, their bodies disintegrating into dust.
“That can’t be all, Scott.” Brian said disdainfully a, watching Sanguis-Triturans try to slap the dog like a mosquito. He lazily shot lightning at the trio, smirking in amusement as Scott frantically steered the dog around to evade, his passengers barely hanging on. He chuckled. While inventive, all of Scott’s efforts would be all for naught. After all, they were headed for his trap.
“Brian! Take this!” Cerberus leapt up to the head, spewing flame. Brian yawned as he was incinerated. Riepaimva’s essence made him immortal and invulnerable. He merely stood there as his flesh was blackened, and stomped his foot.
Sanguis-Triturans groaned as the hidden bone spikes shot through its skin, impaling Cerberus in midair. All three heads struggled wildly, the fire shooting harmlessly in the air until the propane ran out, smoke puffing form the mouths. Scott grimaced at Brian, his body and immaculate suit reforming before their eyes. “Guys, get him!”
The superhero vampire and the ghoul sprang forth, fists raised. Brian shook his head at their stupidity.
“Face justice!” Nightfang cried, kicking Brian’s head so hard it came off.
“Rraaaaaahhhhhh!” Amber screamed, throwing both her hands into his torso, making holes.
“You know, Einstein defined insanity as doing the same thing over and over and expecting different results.” His head sneered, divebombing their heads before it reattached, the holes forming in. “You’re pathetic! So dumb and desperate you’re going to do the exact same thing you’ve been doing to try and stop me-” A hand clasped down on his head.
“No. They were the distraction. Let’s see how magic fares against that body.” Scott said, then incanted. “Sekh.”
“AAAAAAUUUUUUGGGHHHHHHseriously, you thought that magic would work?” Brian grinned, faking them out. Scott grunted and redoubled his efforts; he could feel the necrotic energy flowing into him, why wouldn’t he go down?
“Please.” Brian removed his hand, Scott whimpering in a grip that felt like steel. “I’m joined with Riepaimva, I’m his avatar. I can’t be killed.”
“C-Cerberus!” Scott shouted, imploring the zombie to move. The dogs howled and belched out more smoke, but only wiggled down further onto the spikes.
“Let’s go, Amber!” Nightfang said.
“Right!” They charged, but Brian waved a hand and they were encased in a blue bubble, floating off the ground and impervious to escape attempts. They banged their fists futilely on the translucent wall.
“Ho-hum, far too easy. But that’s the thing, isn’t it Scott?” He pulled the necromancer up to his face, reveling in the pain flashing across his face. “When the playing field’s equal, when I have magic too, we can finally see who the better man really is.” he hissed.
“T-T-Tarantulas!” Scott choked out. The spiderlike abomination jumped from his bag and wrapped itself around Brian’s face, biting with every mouth it had. Brian calmly ripped it off and tossed it down to the ground, his face already healing.
“Dude. I don’t even feel pain anymore. Seriously, this’s getting weak.” He twisted Scott’s arm sharply, making him gasp and driving him to his knees.
“W-Why!? Wh-What do you want f-from me? H-Haven’t you already done enough? Why!? Why are you doing this! W-What do you want!” Scott pleaded, nearly in tears. His friends were trapped, his zombies pinned down, his magic was useless. He was completely at Brian’s mercy.
“I want you to admit I’m better than you. I want you to admit you’re trash, compared to me. Then I want you to scream and beg for your life before I kill you.” Brian crowed, ecstatic. This was it! Finally, Scott was done for! It was his time to shine now! Scott’s eyes widened in fear.
“Do it, and I’ll let the others go. I don’t really care about them, anything they do is meaningless anyway. C’mon, Scott. It’s the only thing I want from you. I thought you were the big hero, come to save the day.” Brian said, eyes bright and shining cruelly in triumph. At last! After so long, Scott had nowhere to run, nowhere to hide! He would finally be free of this accursed teen’s shadow forever! “C’mon, hero.”
The necromancer grinned and chuckled, still on his knees.
“What? What’s so funny?” Brian demanded.
“You, you delusional idiot.” Brian tightened his grip in rage, and while Scott winced, he couldn’t stop laughing. “That’s it, get angry! Lose focus! Ignore the fact that you’re outnumbered!” Brian blinked, and glanced around. There was no one on the head but his captives and himself.
“What the hell are you talking about? You can’t bluff your way out of this!”
“But I’m not bluffing. Haven’t you realized yet? Charging in, boldly cutting down evil, sacrificing myself for the good of others…that’s what a hero would do. I can’t do that. If you pulled your head outta your ass, you’d see that. I’m a necromancer. I’m the biggest, baddest necromancer there ever was. You’ve read enough stories. The necromancer is the villain!” Eyes glowing with a ghoulish grin, Scott got up and decked Brian across the face, knocking him back.
“You asshole! You’re just trying to delay my inevitable victory!” Brian said, wiping the blood form his mouth. It would be more satisfying to rip him to pieces with his bare hands anyway. Scott stared at him, hard.
“The only thing I’ve ever done to you was try to be nice to you. But just because I’m better at stuff doesn’t mean I’m trying to keep you down, numbnuts. You’re the crazy one who’s got some persecution complex going on, and I’m having none of that.”
“You liar!” But that won’t matter when you’re dead!” Brian’s arms, fingers, torso, the rest of his body erupted into thin, razor-tipped tentacles, ready to shred Scott to bloody chunks. The necromancer sneered and leaned back.
“That’s you’re trump card spell? How passé. You forget the role of a real wizard: sit back and let your minions do the work for you. You lose, loser.”
“Enough! Die!” Brian drew his arm back, the deadly whips poised to erase him. He threw them at Scott… and they flopped down, lifeless. “W-What?”
“See, I told you. A real villain brings an army to a fistfight.”
“What are you talking about? There’s no one here!” Brian screamed, foaming at the mouth while his body collapsed. Scott crossed his arms and smirked.
“Y’know, I got to thinking. There’s no actual way to beat you in a magical duel. You know more spells, more kinds of spells, and you’re backed by Riepaimva, who’s using you as an avatar. So I decided to put a little spin on what I did to the last guy who decided to come into my town and I couldn’t beat him. It’s really easy to circumvent the issue when you cheat!” he snickered. Brian sneered.
“Impossible, I know how you beat Hastazemus, but I don’t need food or water. You couldn’t have poisoned me!” he cried as the tentacles melted into a steaming pile of goo. He shakily got to his feet with a wet splortch.
“And I didn’t.” Scott nodded. “But you see, Al-Hazared was a person of an ancient era. Back then, even with magical knowledge, they didn’t know everything. Even if the gods knew, they didn’t care. But it’s the twenty-first century, and I’m a twenty-first century necromancer. It’s time to get with the times and evolve. Want a hint? That’s not smoke.”
Brian’s eyes went wide as he stared at the still-impaled Cerberus, black smoke continuing to blow out form all three heads, much more than what should have burned normally. He trembled, and the bubble holding Amber and Nightfang flickered and disappeared.
“W-What is that? What’s happening?” he said, cold fear creeping from his gut.
“That, dear boy, is my army. Far too small for the human eye to see. Y’know, I’ve reanimated both humans and animals. But this experiment is my crowning achievement. Get some bananas and mash ‘em up for cultivation, add a few dark rituals, and boom! Zombified bacteria. We’ve been breathing them in since the battle began. The birds and Tarantulas were all carriers. And they want what every zombie wants.” Scott grinned, his eyes gleaming a toxic emerald green. “Your brains!”
Brian paled and his hands flew to his head, scratching and shaking furiously to get them out. He laughed as he realized he could just use a spell to cleanse the millions of microscopic undead from his body. But when he concentrated, he found the familiar symbols normally stored in his mind…weren’t. He frowned, but it felt like all his knowledge was slipping away, his memories of it being erased by the second. He screamed and thrashed, to no avail while the necromancer laughed. Scott could feel them, the microscopic zombies eating away at every magical memory center, from the hippocampus to the cortex. He grinned.
“NO! GOD, PLEASE NO!” Brian howled, clutching his temples as if to keep the information inside.
“Your god can’t help you now. Riepaimva’s using you as an avatar, connected and anchored by the magic knowledge in your brain. My zombified bacteria are attacking said brain right now, physically devouring at the neurons that retain mysticism. Microsurgery at its finest.” Scott explained, huffing and polishing his nails on his hoodie.
“N-No! Riepaimva! Rie-!” Suddenly, the name that was always so close to him slipped away, forgotten, forever on the tip of his tongue but never to be known again. “R…Rutabaga-? Ruination? W-What was it!?” His shadow writhed and danced in pain, flowing off the ground, teeth exposed in a grimace. There was a bright light shining off beyond the horizon, and the shadow dug its fingers into the vampire creature’s skull, making grooves in the skin as it was dragged away, the follicles finally tearing as it was stretched to its breaking point and inexorably drawn into the light. With a boom, the dimensional rift closed, Brian staring in horror, hand outstretched to his patron.
“N-No…he…but I…Aaghghuughhh!” His face contorted as white light erupted form him, engulfed in seer torment as the light seeped form his pores, spiraling into the starry sky. When it was over, Brian was left gasping on his knees. Chubby, short, dumpy Brian, before he knew the secrets of the Libris Arcana Malefactorum.
“Wow. He-he looks normal again.” Amber said, marveling at the transformation.
“Of course. I eliminated the magic from his mind, and that’s how he changed. Therefore, he changed back when no longer possessing it.” Scott said. Nightfang easily picked him up with one hand, and Brian found himself face to face with eyes burning redder than the furnaces of Hell.
“If I hit you now, I bet you wouldn’t come back form it!” the vampire snarled, cocking his superpowered fist back.
“No! Wait, I-no, I can’t-that’s not-” In his blubbering, the former sorcerer remembered a trump card still in play. “Y-You won’t k-kill me, I still have my vampires! The l-loss of my magic won’t affect their complete loyalty! Vampires, Sanguis-Triturans, attack!”
“Do you really think that’s wise, trying to throw your ample weight around in your unstable position?” Scott said, and pointed his thumb down below. Brian looked down. All the vampires had stopped fighting, staring up at them wide-eyed. When they saw Brian, cries of rage erupted form the battlefield.
“Moron. I’ve been seeding the zombie bacteria since the battle began. The microbes that attached to the vampires ate away at your control centers in their brains too. They’re not under your influence anymore. And they know exactly what you’ve done to them, made them do.”
Brian looked down at them again, and went white as a sheet.
There was a rumbling underneath their feet as the vampires composing Sanguis-Triturans shook, every single one filled with nothing but white-hot homicidal fury.
“And that’s our cue to go!” Scott declared, the spikes retracted, freeing Cerberus and the group rapidly piled on.
“W-Wait!” You can’t leave me here like this!” Brian shrieked, scrambling to his feet. They all turned to him, stone-faced.
“Actually, yes. Yes we can.” Amber said coldly, her ghoulish instincts telling her to rip him apart with her bare hands and teeth, and very tempted to give into them.
“By all rights, I should remove your head-again-for what you’ve done.” Nightfang growled, baring his teeth. “You’d be in jail for the rest of your life, or dead. I wouldn’t even want your blood, it’s too tainted and foul. However, I believe justice is best served by some others you’ve wronged. I’ll be satisfied with that.”
“SCAAAAAAAAA!” Sanguis-Triturans screeched.
“No! This-this wasn’t supposed to happen! He said that all I had to do was follow his lead, and I’d be the supreme world leader! I-I can’t fail now! I’m better than you, I finally had my chance! I’m better than you all, I just need one more chance to prove it! I’m better! I’m better than you, SCOOOOOTT!” he shouted, flinging his arms out.
“KAAAANEEDAAAAAA!” Scott yelled back, smiling. “But seriously, you’re the one who threw your lot in with a coven for magical power, you’re the one who partnered with an evil deity to take over the world, you proved to be a rotten, cowardly, backstabbing sonofabitch who had to crib off other people’s plans and ideas because you couldn’t come up with anything yourself. You wanna know how I beat you? Because no matter how you remake yourself, no matter how much power you have, I’m. Still. Smarter. Than. You.” He kicked Cerberus with his leg, and the zombie began running down the giant’s body, leaving Brian gaping at their wake.
“B-But I thought good guys had to save everybody!” he shouted desperately at them.
“Villain for life!” Scott called back, flipping him off.
“SKROOOAAAAAAA!” Brian finally saw the enormous hand, the vampires composing it all glaring at him, descend like the wrath of God.
“No NO NOOOOOOOOOO-!” His fearful cry was cut off as the hand met the head, smashing hard enough to crush what passed for its own skull and brain. The creature stumbled back, squashing the remains of the mall under its feet, throwing Cerberus off.
“YAAAAAAHHHHHHH!” Scott managed to keep the zombie underneath them, so their fall was cushioned as they skidded across asphalt, leaving a trial of fur and gore. They came to a stop when Harvaste flew down and caught the three-headed dog with his bare hands, his feet digging into the dirt to stop it.
“H-H-Hi, L-Lord Harvaste.” Amber said shakily, scared out of her wits thanks to their fall and crushing the other two in her grip.
“Indeed. Velcome back, mademoiselle Amber. I see dat you vere successvul.” He said, eyebrow raised.
“Let go-need air.” Scott coughed, and she loosened up. “Jeez, you’d think with all the high-altitude drops we’ve had lately, you’d have gotten used to them by now.” She turned her head and gave him a Look. A Look that said really? You can get over a phobia just like that. Really. The fact that this and other incidents could reinforce it by now never crossed your mind. You’re supposed to be smart, use that big brain of yours to learn some sensitivity, dumbass. And you are a dumbass, because you said all that within arm’s reach of a super-strong ghoul.
“Really?” she said aloud, tone clear.
“No ma’am.” he said, cowed. There was a horrendous noise, which hands clasped hurriedly over ears did nothing to ameliorate. Sanguis-Triturans was shrieking, all the vampires composing it a chorus of pain. Its skull was caved in, and the creature was at its end. It was falling to the ground.
“Everyone in the tunnels!” Genevieve bellowed, and human, ghoul, and vampire alike all dove deep into the holes in the parking lot.
After what seemed like an eternity, when the fierce winds and tremors of its falling had stopped, Ebble poked his head out of the tunnel.
“Errnmaghu…is safe now.”
“I’m tired and I’m cold and I’m hungry and I just wanna go home.” Amber said, summing up how everyone felt at the moment.
“Well, just about. It’s over now.” Leo said, umpossessing the mask. He floated out and gave a low whistle at the destruction. “Looks bad. It’s a real good thing Mr. Kruger went out of business. Otherwise, well…”
“Got that right.” Nightfang muttered, climbing up. The mall was flattened, and the surrounding area was brown from the concrete and dust. “But at least everything’s finally done.”
“Woo hoo! Victory! Is! Mine!” Scott proclaimed proudly, pumping his fist in the air. “Oh yeah! Check it! Daemons form hell: vanquished! Coven: erased! Brian: a pancake! Scott one, evil elder god zero! Boom!” He started shaking and dancing, Amber palming her forehead at his ‘moves’.
“No one likes a sore winner, Scott.” She called out.
“Those who don’t can SUCK IT!” he said, thrusting his hips. “I am the biggest! The smartest! The baddest necromancer of all-” A globule of blood bounced up and burst on his mouth, covering it.
“Qviet please, I am trying to conshentrate.” Harvaste said, turning back to the sigils he was dabbing on the vampiric giant. He muttered in a low voice as Scott peeled the blood mask from his face.
“Oh, it’s still alive. Sorry.” he said quietly, observing how the vampire inscribed the sigils. They all watched as the giant was soon covered in inscriptions, a circle of its own blood surrounding it. Eventually, Harvaste straightened up.
“It ist done.” He looked at the poor creature, the remains of his countrymen, and those who had the misfortune of being abducted and transformed against their will. “Unvortunately, I do not believe you vould last da night.” he said, casting a glance at the lightening sky. “Und I do not understand how to undo dis. I am thinking all your collectif power ist being used to merely hold you all together. Und dere ist no vay I vould allow any ov you to continue in pain like dis.” He closed his eyes, and breathed in long and deeply. “So, dough it pains me greatly, I vill now release you. You vill not suvver any more, mine children. Askabos etmetious noumhm. Zazavabb koulmatfh holm. Askabos etmetious noumhm. Zazavabb koulmatfh holm. Askabos etmetious noumhm. Zazavabb koulmatfh holm.”
The giant abomination shuddered, then every vampire sighed as the flesh started to melt away, blood bubbling up and consuming the body, forming a knee-high lake of ichor seeping into the earth. The ghouls hurriedly started digging pockets to pool it off for their consumption.
“Ew, ew, ew, ew.” Amber said, hopping back and forth, but her boots were soaked. “Gross.”
“Ah, quit bellyaching, at least your hard work wasn’t destroyed in like two minutes.” Scott said, surveying the damage to Cerberus and shaking his head, sighing. The damage was too extensive; the drop left most of its lower body and chest a smear, not even good for spare parts. Even if he reformed the mass of canines, it would only be a quarter of its current size, at best. He spied a familiar ghoul.
“Hey Thun! You think you could do me a favor?”
“Hmm?” Thun turned, holding a deceased ghoul in his arms and absently taking a bite. Amber’s eyes were saucers.
“Isn’t…isn’t that one of your tribe?” she squeaked.
“Mm-hmm.” he affirmed, chewing.
“Ghouls are cannibals.” Scott said as if it were the most obvious thing in the world.
“How else rest of gh-thnkol get energy to make more ghoul?” Thun said.
“I-I think I need to lie down.” Amber said, feeling queasy.
“You do that. Thun, could you get the ghouls to bury Cerberus underground? You can’t eat the intact parts, but anything too mushed is fair game. Deal?”
“Oh c’hackvousd! Frabjous day!” Thun said, pulling a couple others to help him.
“Excellent. Sheeeemp!” Scott called to the sky. A crow descended from the air, carrying a very important bag. “Good bird, good zombie.” he cooed, petting its head. “Now go and circle the town until I need you again.” He threw it in the air, and the undead avian cawed and resumed flying.
“What’s in the bag?” Nightfang asked. Scott grinned and grabbed a handful of gems from the bag, pulsing with soft light.
“Everybody within a twenty-mile radius. I whipped up a special zombie to keep these safe, I figured keeping these out of everyone’s hands would be a good idea. Aerial and mobile, you know? Zombies can’t get tired or hungry.” The vampire shivered at seeing the stones. He could feel the energy the souls were emitting. “Don’t worry. It’s only been…gonna say ‘bout twelve hours. Still, that’s…not good. So without further ado…” He could feel the souls within the stones. Each one was twisting and swirling with confusion and torment, entrapped in a place that was not theirs. Necromancers had died to obtain even a fraction of the souls that he held in his hand right now. A less scrupulous person could use all that enormous energy to conquer the world, if he so desired. He grinned. What fun would be conquering the world on easy mode like that?
He threw the jewels into the air, and with a stray thought they froze, supporting themselves. “All right, listen up!” he commanded. Every eye turned to him, the air beginning to shake with the sheer potential energy building up. “Here’s how this’s gonna happen! Everyone’s gonna go back to their bodies, and everything’s gonna be fine! The mall’s destruction was the result of a freak earthquake, a shifting on an unknown faultline. The mayor was never kidnapped, it was just an online rumor spread by a couple of kids or trolls or something, I don’t know! The school had an accident, that’s all! The reports of any and all superheroes and villains were greatly exaggerated, it was a prank or a hoax or something. There is no proof of the supernatural, it doesn’t exist, got it? That would be silly. Oh, Mr. and Mrs. Harris, you can totally just ignore what I said. So I say it, so it shall be! Now, I command you! Be free!”
He clapped his hands, and the jewels shattered. The world was filled with a multicolored multitude of souls, whizzing and flying back into their bodies, dancing and whirling free of every care until they returned to their homes. The group below watched as finally, everyone was free, and the ordeal was over.