School Days: Rise Of The Master!
This story is a continuation of sorts of my story “School Days: The Rise Of The Wolfpack”, which itself was a spin-off of my story “Avenging Shadows”. Long story short: Barnabas Collins and Quentin Collins (of Dark Shadows fame) are currently the headmasters of a private school, The Stoddard Institute, which is a refuge and place of learning for several very special students, all of whom have super-powers. It’s also affiliated with the X-Men and Xaiver’s School For Gifted Youngsters.
Barnabas and Quentin are joined in this venture by the Avenger known as Mantis, Willie Loomis, Dr. Julia Hoffman, the former New Mutant and X-Man Dani Moonstar and the witch (from the Fantastic Four) named Agatha Harkness, and their students Bradley, Akiko, Streak, Vapor, Daniel, Link, Mickey and Jacques. It helps if you’re familiar with Marvel Comics or have read my first two stories that I mentioned above (they’re both here on the site).
Anyhow, The Master is a creation of the “Buffy The Vampire Slayer” people. Barnabas, Quentin, Willie, Julia and Elizabeth are the property of Dan Curtis Productions. Dani, Mickey, Link, Akiko, Mantis and Agatha belong to Marvel Comics. And Streak, Vapor, Daniel, Jacques and Bradley belong to me.
Go check out the following stories if you’d like. It might make things less confusing, but it’s not necessary.
School Days: The Rise Of The Wolfpack
Thank you. Enjoy the story. Comments and thoughts are welcome and appreciated. Have a great day!
The Stoddard Institute – Collinsport, Maine
“It was so nice of you to come by and help us with the students, Elizabeth”, Barnabas Collins remarked to his cousin, the Matriach of the Collins family, Elizabeth Stoddard Collins as he walked her to her car.
“It’s my pleasure, Barnabas”, Elizabeth smiled. “I spent far too many years living as a recluse in that old house. And now, with yourself and Quentin helping to run this school, I just wanted to help and do my part.”
“And you’ve been a great help with the students” Barnabas remarked. “The children really do seem to enjoy your classes in business management.”
“They are a fine group of young people”, Elizabeth remarked. “Despite their odd abilities and powers, which admittingly did take a little getting used to, I have really grown to like and enjoy them a great deal.”
“That’s what most people seem to have trouble seeing”, Barnabas said grimly. “Despite having mutant abilities or other powers, the bottom line is that they are still just normal teenagers and young people where it matters most. Most people can’t get past the powers.”
“Well, I think they’re wonderful youngsters”, Elizabeth smiled. “And I think that you and Quentin are both wonderful for doing this, being their teachers and helping them adapt to this crazy and sometimes cruel world.”
“Thank you for saying that”, Barnabas smiled. “It was not an easy decision for either of us, but after so many years of taking and being on the wrong side of things, I feel it’s the right decision and a positive step in my goal of redemption.”
“Hogwash”, Elizabeth said. “You’ve redeemed yourself many times over for your past. You’re a good man, Barnabas Collins.”
“Not everyone would agree with that assessment”, Barnabas sighed. “I did a lot of evil and bad things in my lifetime.”
“And you’ve done quite a bit of good as well… and still do”, Elizabeth smiled. “And don’t let anyone tell you any different. And now, let me go so I can get back to Collinwood before nightfall.”
“Are you sure you wouldn’t rather stay the night?”, Barnabas asked. “Or have Agatha or Starr use their powers to teleport you home?”
“I’ll be fine. I have to stop in the village and pick up a few things anyhow”, Elizabeth smiled. “Don’t forget that you and Julia are coming to dinner this weekend.”
“I won’t forget”, Barnabas smiled as he gave his cousin a kiss on her cheek. “Call the school when you get home to let us know that you arrived safely.”
“I will”, Elizabeth smiled as she climbed into her car. And with a small wave, Elizabeth Stoddard Collins started up the engine of her station wagon and drove off down the long winding driveway of the Stoddard Institute as Barnabas Collins watched her leave.
Glancing at his watch, Barnabas turned and walked back inside the school.
“And now, I believe I have a danger room session scheduled with several of the students”, he thought to himself as he entered the building.
Elizabeth Stoddard Collins smiled to herself as she drove down the narrow road leading to Collinwood. It was such a wonderful thing that Barnabas and Quentin were doing with the Stoddard Institute, trying to help those children. And Barnabas seemed so much happier now. Thanks to a serum, he was now able to survive the rays of the sun and no longer had the necessity of drinking blood.
Elizabeth felt an involuntary shudder go through her body. She had known for years that Barnabas suffered under the curse of the vampire, even long before he admitted it. And though the thought scared her, Barnabas was family and she had been determined, from the very beginning, to be there for him. And Quentin as well. Their curses were not their fault and Elizabeth knew in her heart that she should embrace and help them rather than condemn as so many others felt compelled to do.
And now, the two “black sheep” of the Collins family were running a private school for children who had been gifted with abilities and powers. They were giving back and helping those “misfits of society” so that perhaps, they wouldn’t have to go through the same pain and banishment that both Barnabas and Quentin had suffered. Barnabas had mentioned redemption in their earlier conversation.
“If that’s what he wants to call it”, Elizabeth smiled to herself as she pulled into driveway in front of the regal estate known as Collinwood, “then so be it. I just know it’s a good and wonderful thing.”
Elizabeth parked her car and walked around to the passenger side to get her bags from the car. Dusk had just started to fall and the great house looked dark and grim in the shadows.
“It’s already dark” Elizabeth thought as she locked her car doors and picked up her bags. “I shouldn’t have spent so much time talking to the clerk at the store.”
Elizabeth walked, key in hand, up to the back door of the old house, leading into the kitchen. As she reached to put her key in the door and unlock it, it pushed open, already unlocked and unlatched.
“Something is wrong”, Elizabeth thought to herself as she peered into the doorway into her kitchen. “Mrs. Johnson, are you there?”, she cried out.
Elizabeth sat her bags down on the counter and slowly and quietly began to walk into her house.
“Mrs. Johnson? Is anyone here?”, she asked once more, a little more loudly.
Then pushing open the swinging door leading into the dining room, Elizabeth saw the body. Her housekeeper, Mrs. Johnson, laying face down on the floor of the dining room.
Elizabeth quickly moved over to the body and knelt down to check on her housekeeper. She was not breathing and Elizabeth couldn’t detect a heartbeat. And Elizabeth noticed, on the neck of her housekeeper, were two tiny red marks.
Her face growing pale, Elizabeth quickly stood up and moved away from the body, looking around the room. She knew she had to get out of there immediately and get some help. Elizabeth moved quickly towards the doorway, preparing to exit the same way she came in. As she approached the door in the kitchen, leading back to the garage, a figure dropped down in front of her.
He was a young boy, probably in his late teens. He was tall and lanky and had a mohawk hairstyle. Elizabeth recognized him immediately as the teenage son of a neighbor, who had died in some sort of hunting accident a few weeks earlier.
“James?”, she said tentatively.
The young man hissed at her, revealing large fangs in his mouth and a crazed expression as his faced changed from the moderately handsome youth Elizabeth recognized into a hideous, bumpy faced demon.
As he moved towards her, Elizabeth quickly reached into her pocket and pulled out a cross that had been given to her by her mother so many years ago. At the sight of the cross, the young fledgling vampire hissed and shreiked, throwing his arms up to cover his eyes and turned, running out the door. Elizabeth moved quickly and slammed the door shut, locking it and putting the dead-bolt into place. She quickly moved to the phone and hit the first number on her speed dial.
“Hello, this is Elizabeth Stoddard Collins. I need to speak to either Barnabas or Quentin immediately. It’s an emergency!”
A short time later, Barnabas Collins, along with cousin Quentin Collins, Dr. Julia Hoffman, the former Avenger known as Mantis and two of their students, Bradley Black, also known as Black Wolf and Mantis’s son Jacques, also known as Starr, who had used his powers of teleportation to bring the entire group to Collinwood, arrived and surveyed the situation.
Mantis and Bradley went to search the area around the house to make sure that the attacker was not still around. Dr. Hoffman went to examine the body while Barnabas and Quentin consoled Elizabeth Stoddard Collins.
“I am so glad you were not harmed, Elizabeth”, Barnabas said. “But we need to know exactly what happened. What did you see?”
Elizabeth took a deep breath and described the events, as they happened, to her cousins.
“So what do you think?”, Quentin turned and asked Barnabas.
“I’m not sure”, Barnabas said grimly. “You say that you recognized the young man, Elizabeth?”
“Yes, it was James… James Jennings. He used to come here to Collinwood during the summers. I hired him to do repairs and labor. But it can’t be James.”
“Why not?”, Quentin asked.
“He died a few weeks ago. Some kind of hunting accident.”, Elizabeth said.
Quentin and Barnabas looked at each other.
“Well, whoever or whatever that was”, Julia Hoffman said as she walked over to join the other three. “He certainly did some damage.”
“Mrs. Johnson? Is she…”, Elizabeth asked, rising from her seat.
“I’m sorry Elizabeth, but she’s dead”, Julia said sadly, placing her hand on the older woman’s shoulder.
“Oh no…”, Elizabeth said, tears forming in her eyes. “I knew it when I saw her, but I had hoped…”
Elizabeth started crying as Quentin wrapped his arms around her, embracing her.
“We have another problem, Barnabas”, Julia said. “We have to call Sheriff English and report this.”
“I know”, Barnabas said grimly.
“And we all know exactly who they will be blaming”, Quentin added.
“No, they can’t…”, Elizabeth said. “I saw the… thing that did that to poor Mrs. Johnson. I will tell them…”
“Regardless of what you say, Elizabeth, they will just assume you’re trying to protect Barnabas”, Julia said. “You know how the authorities are around here.”
“It can’t be helped”, Barnabas said grimly. “Go call the Sheriff’s office, Julia.”
“Actually, I don’t think that we’ll have any problems with the locals”, Quentin smiled.
“Why do you say that, Quentin?”, Elizabeth asked.
“Something my dear cousin seems to have forgotten”, Quentin smiled. “Mantis is an Avenger. And both Barnabas and I have reserve Avenger status. So if they get too annoying, we can always just call New York and have it stopped.”
“If we need to do that, we will”, Barnabas agreed. “But at the moment, I’m more concerned about this young fledgling vampire running around. We have to find him and destroy him before anyone else is murdered.”
“I agree”, Quentin said. “So how do you want to do this?”
“We’ll attempt to track him down and find out who sired him”, Barnabas said. “We need to find out if there are any other vampires in the area.”
“And I would suggest that we station someone here at Collinwood, just in case he comes back”, Quentin said.
“I’ll have Willie come over here and stay”, Barnabas said. “If that’s fine with you, Elizabeth?”
“That’s fine”, she replied.
“No offense to Willie, but I’d prefer someone who’s a bit more capable in a fight”, Quentin said. “I’ll call Dani at the school.”
Julia spoke up, looking at Elizabeth. “I think you’d best lie down for a little while”, she told the older woman. “Maybe in the study, until the Sheriff gets here.”
“That might be a good idea”, Elizabeth agreed.
“Come on and I’ll help you”, Julia told her as she touched her on the arm and helped the family Matriach into the other room
After watching Julia escort Elizabeth from the room, Barnabas started to speak once more.
“And… Willie. I just realized. If the lad, James fled from here, he’s liable to head over to the old house. Willie needs to be checked on and protected.”
“Already done”, Julia said as she walked back into the room. “Elizabeth is laying down in the other room. When Mantis and Bradley went to search outside, I asked them to go by the old house and check on Willie as well. By the way, we just got a call from town. The Sheriff is on his way. He’ll be here within the hour and told me to warn everyone not to corrupt the crime scene.”
“Excellent”, Barnabas said. “Thank you, Julia.”
“So what have we decided?”, Julia asked.
“I’m going to have Dani come and stay here at Collinwood with Elizabeth”, Barnabas said. “I’ll have Willie here as well, just in case our young vampire comes back.”
“I think you should stay here too, Julia”, Quentin said.
“No, my place is at the school”, Julia reminded them. “Especially if both of you will be out searching for this killer and Dani will be here too. Dolly, Agatha and I can handle things at the school.”
“Speaking of which, do you think we should use any of the students in this?”, Quentin asked. “Some of them are quite powerful and could be extremely useful.”
“I’d rather not”, Barnabas said. “For all their power, they’re still just children.”
“I agree”, Julia said. “Even though I think they might not.”
“Speaking of the children, has anyone seen Jacques? He teleported us here and I haven’t seen him since?”, Quentin asked.
“I’m here”, Jacques said as he stepped into the room. “I had stepped into the library where it is quieter and was attempting to do a telepathic probe of the area, to see if I could track down the killer.”
“Any luck?”, Julia asked.
“Nothing”, Jacques said glumly. “I guess he’s shielded or something.”
“Most vampires have an immunity to telepathic scans and attacks”, Barnabas said. “But it was a good idea to try.”
“I heard what you said about the other students and how you’re not going to use us in this”, Jacques said. “You’re not serious, are you?”
“Very serious”, Barnabas said. “I’ll not allow you children to be placed in danger.”
“Look at us, Barnabas”, Jacques said. “We’re hardly children. And Mrs. Collins is very well liked by everyone at the school. By threatening her, they threaten all of us. We have the powers and we protect our own.”
“That’s what I’m trying to do… protect you”, Barnabas said. “And most of the students are not ready for something like this. It’s too dangerous!”
“You said most, but not all”, Jacques rebutted. “I’ve fought by your side. You know the training that I’ve had. Heck, I even went on some missions with the Avengers, including a trip to hell to rescue Dr. Hoffman. So don’t try to tell me it’s too dangerous.”
“I’m not going to argue with you Jacques”, Barnabas said curtly. “While I will agree that you are an extremely capable young man, this is a situation that is best left up to Quentin and myself. We’re used to dealing with the supernatural. And you are not.”
“Well, what about Bradley? Are you going to leave him out too because he’s not used to dealing with the supernatural? Oh wait. He’s a freakin’ werewolf, who’s main purpose of even existing is to protect the world from vampires.”
“He’s got a point there”, Quentin quipped, earning him a very nasty look of disdain from Barnabas.
“Go back to the school and help Dolly and the others secure the facilities”, Barnabas said sharply to Jacques.
“Fine”, Jacques said. “Yes sir, Mister Barnabas Collins, sir! But just remember, you can’t protect us forever.”
And with a big flash of light, Jacques, also known as Starr, activated his teleportation abilities and vanished, headed back to the Stoddard Institute.
“And what was that, Quentin?”, Barnabas scowled, turning to his smirking cousin. “He’s got a point there? Big help you were.”
“I agree with Jacques”, Quentin answered. “While some of the students are not ready for this kind of thing, Jacques and Daniel are. So is Akiko.”
“But they are just children”, Barnabas said. “And I will not allow them to be placed in danger.”
“They’re in danger from the day they were born”, Quentin said. “And they can’t be protected forever.”
“But tracking and hunting a murderous creature”, Barnabas said. “They should not be involved in this.”
“Like it or not, when that vampire came to Collinwood and threatened Elizabeth… when it killed Mrs. Johnson… they became involved. Jacques said it very well in that we’re all part of the school. We’re a pack. A family. And we we take care of our own.”
“That does not mean that they should be out hunting vampires”, Barnabas said.
“Maybe not, but I don’t think we can stop them”, Quentin replied.
And then, breaking out into a grin, Quentin added, “and he’s right about Bradley. I can’t wait to see you try to tell him.”
At that moment, Bradley Black, aka Black Wolf and the former Avenger known as Mantis came walking in.
“Tell Bradley what?”, Bradley said as he approached the two men.
“Any sign of our murderer?”, Barnabas asked Mantis, purposely ignoring the young man.
“This one spotted signs of someone or something having hurried through the woods going towards the cementary”, Mantis said.
“And I got a good whiff of the bloodsucker”, Bradley said. “I tracked it as far as down by the beach and then the scent of the salt from the ocean drowned it out. But I know what he smells like and I shouldn’t have any problem picking the scent back up.”
“So are you going to tell him or what?”, Quentin asked, looking at Barnabas.
Barnabas glared at Quentin before turning to Bradley.
“Your part in this is done”, Barnabas told the young werewolf. “I want you to go back to the school and help keep it secure while Quentin, Mantis and I go after the vampire who threatened Elizabeth and murdered Mrs. Johnson.”
“Are you crazy?”, Bradley asked quickly. “I’m a werewolf who was born and bred to kill the bloodsuckers… um.. present company excluded, of course. I have to be a part of this. It’s crazy to not be.”
“I will not argue about it”, Barnabas said sharply. “After we speak to the Sheriff, you will accompany Dr. Hoffman back to the school and help secure it, while Mantis, Quentin and I pursue our foe.”
“But I’ve got his scent and can find him a lot easier than any of you”, Bradley said, making it clear that the argument was not over.
“I hate to interrupt, but Sheriff English is here”, Julia said as she approached the group.
“I’ll go speak with him”, Quentin said. “Why don’t you and Mantis take Bradley and go see if you can pick up his scent again. Call me on my cell as soon as you’ve got something and I’ll come meet you.”
“The Sheriff is already talking to Elizabeth”, Julia said. “So we’ll have to wait.”
“I’ve already made it clear that I do not want Bradley or any of the students involved in this”, Barnabas said.
“Well, he’s right that he knows the scent and he’s already involved. Bradley can lead the two of you to our vampire and then he promises to stay back and let you and Mantis take care of the dirty work, right Brad?”, Quentin said, giving the young werewolf a quick wink.
“Right”, Bradley said. “I’ll just help lead you to the bloodsucker and then you and Mantis get to do all the dirty work while I’ll stay out of the way and just watch.”
“I don’t like it and don’t think I didn’t catch that wink”, Barnabas said. “But it makes sense and is our best option. You will only help us track the murderer. Nothing more.”
“This one thinks it’s an ideal solution”, Mantis said. “With the two of us there as well, the danger to Bradley will be minimal and we could really use his wolf senses.”
“Everyone is against me”, Barnabas sighed. “By the way, where is Willie? I understand that the two of you were to bring him here from the old house?”
“He’s gone upstairs to prepare rooms for Dani and himself for their stay here to help protect Mrs. Collins”, Mantis answered.
“Has Dani gotten here yet?”, Quentin asked.
“She’s here”, Julia said. “She’s sitting in with the Sheriff as he talks to Elizabeth.”
“Fine”, Barnabas said. “Now let’s head out”, he said to Mantis and Bradley.
“I suggest that you head out through the hidden room in the basement so you don’t have to deal with the Sheriff’s deputies”, Quentin said.
“Excellent suggestion”, Barnabas said.
“Why are we sneaking out?”, Mantis asked.
“Because there are a lot of idiots on the local police force who, if they see Barnabas, will jump to conclusions first and ask questions later. It’s better to avoid any possible confrontations”, Julia answered.
With a nod of understanding, Mantis quickly fell in behind Barnabas and Bradley as they headed out to pursue their foe. Meanwhile, Quentin and Julia walked towards the
other room to speak to Sheriff English and to check on Elizabeth.
The next morning, just before sunrise, Barnabas, Mantis and Bradley returned to Collinwood. Their search had been less than successful.
“So it was a bust”, Quentin asked as he sipped a cup of coffee.
“Unfortunately, yes”, Barnabas said. “Our young vampire lived in this area his entire life and obviously knows the safest places to hide.”
“Even our young cub couldn’t track his scent”, Mantis smiled, rubbing Bradley on his head, causing Bradley to give a big scowl.
“We’ll try again tonight”, Barnabas said. “So how did it go here?”
“As well as can be expected”, Quentin said. “Julia gave Elizabeth a mild sedative to help her sleep and has gone back to the school. She’ll be back later to check on Elizabeth. And Willie spent most of the night cleaning up the kitchen after the Sheriff’s deputies did their work. He went upstairs to lay down just a few minutes ago.”
“How did things go with the Sheriff?”, Barnabas asked.
“He’s an idiot”, Quentin replied. “His first response, despite speaking to Elizabeth, was to accuse you.”
“As we assumed he would”, Barnabas said with a small smile.
“And then he threatened to lock both Julia and I up when we told him that you were at the school with us when Mrs. Johnson was murdered.”
“I’m sure that was an experience”, Barnabas replied.
“Elizabeth started getting upset and was ready to throw the Sheriff out of the house”, Quentin continued.
“From the site of a murder”, Mantis asked. “Is that even legal?”
“From what we’ve seen of Mrs. Collins”, Bradley laughed, “I don’t think it would matter. She’s a tough lady!”
“I don’t think it would matter much either”, Barnabas agreed. “Elizabeth is not one to be trifled with and she does not suffer fools lightly.”
“Finally, Dani stepped in and whipped out her SHIELD credentials”, Quentin said. “She’s taken over the investigation from the Sheriff.”
“She did what?”, Barnabas asked.
“She decided that Sheriff English was an incompetent idiot and took over the investigation”, Quentin laughed.
“She can do that?”, Mantis asked.
“I guess when you have Nick Fury on your speed dial, you can”, Quentin replied.
“So what do we do next?”, Bradley asked.
“You will go back to the school and get some rest”, Barnabas told Bradley.
“You’ll need to be retiring soon as well”, Quentin noted, looking out the window at the sun that was just beginning to rise in the east.
“I can handle the sunlight”, Barnabas replied.
“Maybe”, Quentin said, “but it’s supposed to be extremely hot and sunny today. Why risk it?”
“There won’t be much we can do during the daylight anyhow”, Mantis said. “Myself and Quentin can continue our search and you can join us at dusk.”
“I don’t like it, but you’re probably right”, Barnabas agreed.
“Do you need to go back to the old house or the school or anything?”, Bradley asked.
“No”, Barnabas replied. “I can safely retire to one of the rooms upstairs.”
And with that, Barnabas bid his associates a good day and went upstairs to lay down.
“I thought that the serum that Mr. Collins takes protected him from sunlight?”, Bradley asked after Barnabas had left the room.
“It does to a point”, Quentin explained. While he’s quite capable of surviving overcast or cloudy days, days where it’s bright and extremely sunny will still weaken him considerably, kind of like a person with a bad case of the flu.”
“The flu?”, Bradley asked.
“Weakened with roughly half his normal strength, disorientated and not himself”, Quentin explained. “So it’s better for him to avoid the direct sunlight if possible.”
“I guess”, Bradley agreed.
“And now, I guess it’s time to get back to the school. Do you want Mantis to drive you?”, Quentin asked the young werewolf.
“No”, Bradley replied. “I can call the school and have Starr or Miss Harkness teleport over here to get me. I’ll go call them.”
As Bradley walked into the other room to use the phone, Mantis and Quentin watched him exit. Then Mantis turned to Quentin.
“This one is confused about something”, Mantis remarked. “This vampire we’re after apparently changed forms when it was preparing to attack Elizabeth. But I’ve encountered vampires before and though they do possess some shape shifting abilities, like changing into a wolf or bat, I was not aware that their physical appearance changed.”
“That’s because there is more than one kind of vampire”, Quentin responded.
“More than one kind?”, Mantis asked.
“Yes”, Quentin answered. “Barnabas can explain it better than I can, but I’ll try to explain it to you how he did to me.”
“I’m just curious”, Mantis said.
“It’s actually something you should know if we’re going to be fighting and and chasing vampires”, Quentin said. “I’m not sure of the how and why’s but there are essentially four different types of vampires. One is descended from the Dracula lineage. Even though his vampirism is primarily the result of a curse, Barnabas fits into this area. These vampires can shape-shift into bats and have enhanced strength, powers of hypnotism and minor telepathic abilities. Some of the oldest of this line, like Dracula, can change into a wolf or even a mist like substance. They require blood to survive and can only be killed by sunlight, decapitation or a stake to the heart. Silver bullets work too. One thing that’s different about this particular branch of vampire is that they must have a pinch of their native soil with them when they sleep during the day.
“That’s the kind this one is most familiar with”, Mantis said. “I’ve had the misfortune to encounter Dracula before. What are the other kinds of vampire?”
“Then we have the more common bottom feeder type vampires, which is what our friend, James, seems to be. They’re not real vampires, but actually demons inhabiting human corpses. They retain the memories and characteristics of their host and drink human blood. They have an enhanced brow and yellow eyes when they shift to their true form, but tend to remain in a human form when not fighting or feeding in order to better blend in with humanity. They have no heartbeat and cold skin and generally tend to be idiots. Albeit dangerous idiots. They can’t enter a residence without being invited in. They have no reflections, but can be photographed and filmed. The only way to kill these creatures is sunlight, decapitation or a wooden stake.”
“And this is the type of vampire we’re after”, Mantis asked.
“Yes”, Quentin said. “Although they’re extremely rare in this part of the country. They usually tend to be found in areas closer to a Hellmouth.”
“What is a Hellmouth?”, Mantis asked.
“It’s literally a doorway to hell”, a voice answered from the doorway.
Mantis and Quentin turned to see Dani Moonstar standing there.
“Sorry to interrupt your conversation”, Dani said. “I just got back from town. That Sheriff is an idiot.”
“I could have told you that”, Quentin smiled. “Oh wait… I did!”
Dani cast an evil glare at Quentin before turning to Mantis.
“So you’re talking about the different kinds of vampires?”, she asked.
“Yes”, Mantis answered. “This one was curious about the differences between this vampire we’re after and other vampires she’s encountered in the past.”
“You know about vampires, Dani?”, Quentin asked.
Dani threw Quentin another nasty look.
“Do you really think I’d come work in a school ran by a vampire and a werewolf without doing research on the topic?”, she asked. “SHIELD has an extensive library of vampire history and activities.”
“I’d like to have a look at that library someday”, Quentin remarked.
“I’ll see what I can do”, Dani smiled.
“So you said that there were four types of vampires, Quentin”, Mantis said. “What are the other two types?”
“The other two types are rather rare and we’re not very likely to encounter them”, Quentin said. “One is a group run by some Italian powers that be called the Volutari or something like that.”
“These are the kind that Bradley had referred to so often”, Dani noted.
“Exactly”, Quentin replied. “They’re capable of moving at super-speed, have super strength and most have mental powers of some type as well, although the nature of their powers varies from vampire to vampire.”
“They drink either human blood or animal and most are quite benevolent, prefering to live among humans rather than act as renegades and murder them. They’re are fully capable of existing in the sunlight, which rather than destroy them will merely cause them to glow, like crystal”, Dani added.
“They are extremely powerful and dangerous”, Quentin noted.
“But they generally tend to police themselves and the danger factor to most humans is minimal. Based on SHIELD estimates, they only number about 200 to 300 in number, and the number one rule in their world is to keep their existence unknown to the general public. Their leaders, the Voltari, are pretty anal and run a tight ship, keeping their people under control.”
“And the final type?”, Mantis asked.
“We don’t have many details on these”, Quentin said. “Barnabas says that they’re considered myths and legends among the dark world and even the other vampires and assorted demons are skeptical of their existance.”
“Are you talking about Lestat and his bunch?”, Dani asked.
“You know of them?”, Quentin asked.
“I’ve even heard of them”, Mantis said. “There was a series of books. But they’re just fictional characters, aren’t they?”
“Not according to Barnabas”, Quentin replied. “There are only about twenty or so of them left, due to a house-cleaning job by their Queen a few years ago. They’re extremely powerful and grow even more so as they get older. But with the exception of Lestat, they tend to avoid contact with humans for the most part and even he seems to have vanished over the past few years.”
“The SHIELD file on Lestat and his associates is huge”, Dani noted. “Most of it is based on information provided by the Talamasca, which was a brain-trust type group devoted entirely to dealing with the supernatural.”
“You said ‘was’ a group”, Quentin noted. “Are they still around?”
“Nope”, Dani said. “They were swallowed up by a group called the Watchers Council a few years ago, which is decidedly more pro-active against demons and vampires and fights them on a regular basis all around the world.”
“Is that the group affiliated with the Slayer?”, Quentin asked.
“You know about the Slayer?”, Dani asked.
“I encountered one once several years ago when I was in South America. A young girl who’s mission was to slay vampires and demons and protect the world from evil”, Quentin said. “Haven’t seen one since, but I’ve heard stories that they’re still around and kicking demon butt!”
“They are”, Dani admitted. “Saw some files at SHIELD noting several cases that were referred to the Watcher’s Council to handle. They’re connected with most major governments, but they are a hush hush group and work under the radar.”
“I wonder if there is anything about them in the Avenger’s files?”, Mantis queried.
“There may be”, Dani said, “but from what I’ve read, they tend to avoid the flashy super-types, prefering to lay low and work behind the scenes, so even if there is, there wouldn’t be much.”
“I may check next time I go to New York”, Mantis smiled.
“Well, as fascinating as all of this is”, Quentin said. “We still need to find our rogue vampire who killed Mrs. Johnson and threatened Elizabeth.”
“We don’t have to worry about the Sheriff or his deputies getting in our way”, Dani said. “Nick Fury himself called and ran some interference for us and I’m in charge of the investigation now. All I have to do is give the Sheriff and SHIELD a report when we finish and let them know what we discover and find out.”
“It pays to have friends”, Quentin quipped.
“So what shall we do next?”, Mantis asked. “Shall we go out hunting for our killer?”
“It probably won’t do much good during the day”, Dani noted.
“No”, Quentin agreed. “James is in a death-like trance somewhere and probably well hidden.”
“Well, I can go talk to James’ family and friends and see if I can find out more about him”, Dani said. “If we can get a good idea of his personality and the places he liked to hang out at, we might be able to figure out where he’s hiding during the day.”
“I need to head back to the school”, Quentin said. “Mantis, can you stay here and keep an eye on Elizabeth and Willie?”
“This one will do that”, Mantis said. “This one also has a few ideas of her own to follow up on in tracking down our killer, but I can do that from here.”
“Great”, Quentin said. “Do you need a ride, Dani?”
“I brought my own car”, Dani said.
“Are you ready to face the students at the school?”, Mantis asked Quentin.
“What do you mean?”, Quentin asked.
“You know that by now, Jacques and Bradley have told everyone about what’s going on here and the students are going to be anxious to help out.”
“Maybe so, but Barnabas is right in that we don’t need to involve the kids in this”, Quentin said.
“Well, when I was one of the New Mutants at Xaiver’s school, I know it used to frustrate us a great deal when the X-Men would attempt to protect us. And usually, we’d end up getting involved anyhow.”
“So you think the students might disobey and help us anyhow, whether we want it or not?”, Quentin asked.
“Maybe”, Dani replied. “But maybe not. I’m just saying that it would have been better for all of us back at Xaivers if the senior team, the X-Men, had just showed a little more faith in us and not tried to protect us so often.”
“This one is not fond of the idea of placing the children in danger either”, Mantis noted. “But Dani has a point and they are quite capable and powerful young people. Perhaps if we allow them to help in a limited capacity?”
“I’m not crazy about it either, but what you’re saying makes sense. I remember how annoyed I used to get when something would happen and everyone would try to keep me out of it for my own good. I always ended up right in the middle anyhow”, Quentin noted.
“Consider it a field trip”, Dani smiled.
Quentin gave Dani a smirky scowl before answering, “I’ll think about it.”
By the time he had gotten back to the school, Quentin had made a decision. As he parked his car in the garage at the school, he was met by his associate, Dr. Julia Hoffman.
“So how are things going at Collinwood?”, Julia asked Quentin as she walked with him into the house.
“Fair”, Quentin said. “Elizabeth was still resting when I left. Mantis is keeping an eye on everyone.”
“I’ll go over there this afternoon and check on her”, Julia noted. “Any progress on finding that vampire that murdered Mrs. Johnson?”
“Not yet”, Quentin admitted. “Dani is checking out some things and Mantis mentioned some ideas about how to track him, but nothing of any major significance yet. How are things here at the school?”
“Dolly and Agatha have taken over in the classes and everything seems to be quiet, for now. But I think Bradley and Jacques have been stirring the pot by telling everyone about what happened over at Collinwood. I’ve noticed a lot of whispering and anxiety among the students.”
“I figured as much”, Quentin sighed. “Any signs of rebellion from the kids yet?”
“What do you mean?”, Julia asked.
“Dani seems to suspect that the kids will be trying to do something on their own and probably go after the vampire if we’re not careful.”
“Why does she suspect that?”, Julia asked.
“Because it’s what she would have done when she was a student”, Quentin said. “And truthfully, it’s what I would do too. Everyone here is quite fond of Elizabeth and when this vampire threatened her, it stirred everyone up.”
“So what should we do about it?”, Julia asked.
“As much as I hate the thought, I think we should include the students in helping to hunt down this vampire.”
“I don’t like that idea”, Julia admitted.
“Nor do I”, Quentin agreed. “But we’ve been training them to use their powers and they’re all quite capable. And I’d much rather have them helping us with adult supervision rather than going off on their own. And I’m scared they might do that if we don’t include them.”
“You’re probably right”, Julia agreed. “Why don’t we run some training drills in the Danger Room with vampires to see how they react and decide then. We can do that this afternoon.”
“Whatever we do, we have to be honest with the kids”, Quentin said. “Running those drills is probably a good idea. I could use some practice myself.”
“I’ll speak with Agatha and see if she can help”, Julia said. “But if we’re going to involve the kids, I think that everyone should be as prepared as possible.”
“I’ll go set up the drills now”, Quentin said. “And after classes end, I’ll gather the students and fill them in on everything.”
“That would be wise”, Julia agreed. “If we coordinate and work together as a team, the risks should be minimal for everyone.”
“I hope so”, Quentin said. “If anyone needs me, I’ll be setting up those drills.”
“I’ve got a few things to do myself before I head to Collinwood. I’ll inform Barnabas, Mantis and Dani of our plans when I get there and we can coordinate from there tonight.”
“Fine”, Quentin said. “I’ll talk at you later.”
Meanwhile, in an abandoned old house on the outskirts of Collinsport…
The young fledgling vampire, James, was woken by a violent jerk.
“What?”, he muttered, opening his eyes and quickly reverting to his vampire face.
“What have you done, you fool!”, a voice rang out.
James looked and standing there before him were several of his fellow vampires.
“What? What do you mean?”, James asked, turning to his friend, Lawrence, who was the defacto leader of the small group of vampires?
“You went to Collinwood, didn’t you?”, the older vampire asked. “Didn’t you?”
“Well, yeah”, James admitted. “I was hungry and I figured that old woman at the house would be tasty. Didn’t get to find out. Got the maid though.”
“You stupid idiot”, Lawrence screamed, slapping a heavy hand across James’ face. “Collinwood is off limits! You fool!”
“Why? Why is Collinwood off limits?”, James asked, rubbing his face where he had just been struck.
“Collinwood is under the protection of the Collins family… you remember, don’t you? Barnabas Collins? Quentin Collins?”
“Oh yeah”, James said. “I remember meeting them when I was young and still human. Even did some work for Barnabas Collins. What about them?”
“Are you that stupid?”, Lawrence screamed at the feldgling vampire. “We’re supposed to avoid them. Barnabas is a vampire. Quentin is a werewolf. They are extremely dangerous and powerful and kill our kind.”
“So what?”, James said. “There are a dozen of us. Why do we fear this Barnabas Collins? He’s just another vampire. We could destroy him and take over Collinsport.”
“”Maybe we could and maybe we couldn’t”, Lawrence sighed in frustration. “Others have tried. We were told not to attract his attention. And now, you idiot, you go after one of his family members.. and you didn’t kill her!”
“She pulled out a cross and I panicked”, James admitted. “I’ll go back and kill her tonight. No big deal!”
“Yes, it is a big deal”, Lawrence screamed at him. “Barnabas Collins is at Collinwood. He and his associates are looking for you. And now, because of your stupidity, we’re all in danger.”
“He’s just one vampire”, James said. “Why are you so scared of him?”
“Because he’s not just a vampire”, Lawrence said quietly. “He’s Barnabas Collins. Even The Master fears him.”
“The Master? He doesn’t fear anyone… except the Slayer maybe?”, James said.
“All I know is that The Master told us to stay away from Collinwood and don’t attract the attention of Barnabas Collins. And you had to freakin’ go to Collinwood itself and kill one of their people.”
“It’s just the maid”, James said.
“You moron”, Lawrence sighed. “We need to leave this area immediately. It’s not safe for anyone in our family now. Just be glad The Master doesn’t know.”
“The Master doesn’t know what?”, a voice echoed through the house.
Lawrence and James turned. And there stood a slightly withered old man with a bald head and a vicious, evil look covering his face. It was The Master.
“Now what do you have to tell me?”, The Master scowled as he glared at his two minion vampires.
At the Stoddard Institute in the Danger Room…
“So what you’re going to do is take out the vampire”, Quentin told his students as they surrounded him.
“All of us against one vampire?”, Daniel Robinson, aka Piper said. “It hardly seems fair.”
“It wouldn’t be”, Quentin said. “So you’re going to do it one at a time.”
“Ouch”, Link said.
“Exactly”, Quentin said. “Since I’ve got the most experience with vampires, I’ll go first, followed by Bradley, since he’s also had encounters with vampires.”
“My pack back home has killed a lot of those nasty blood su… vampires”, Bradley bragged.
“So how many have you killed”, Akiko asked with a smirk.
“Well, none yet”, Bradley admitted. “But part of being part of the Pack back home is I’ve got the memories from the kills everyone else has experienced.”
“Not quite the same as being there, but close enough”, Mikey Silk remarked.
“Shut up, Poltergeist”, Bradley sneered.
“We’ll each do a solo session first”, Quentin said. “And then we’ll run sessions in groups of three.”
“Are we all going to do this”, Alicia Gentry, aka Vapor asked.
“With your powers to change your form into water, you should not have much to worry about”, Quentin remarked.
“I can’t wait to use my speed against those creeps”, Jo Ann Steen, aka Streak, spoke up.
“Most vampires can also move at superhuman speeds”, Quentin noted to the young mutant. “Although they tend to move in short bursts of speed rather than being able to sustain it like you do.”
“So I should have the advantage?”, Jo Ann replied.
“In speed”, Quentin said. “But they have the edge in strength, endurance, invunerability, and downright viciousness, not to mention fighting skills.”
“Ouch”, Jo Ann said.
“But that’s why we’re running these drills”, Quentin told his students. “So we will know what to expect and be able to use our knowledge and skills to counter their abilities and take them down. I don’t want any of you going into this unprepared and getting hurt. I’m still reluctant to have you kids help us find the vampire that threatened Elizabeth, but since I know I can’t make you stay here at the school and do nothing, I want everyone as prepared as possible.”
A voice came down from the control booth above…
“Are you ready, Quentin?”, she asked.
“I guess”, Quentin replied.
“So all of you students come up here to the control booth to watch. And Quentin, go to the far end of the room. Let’s get started.”
“So you decided to go to Collinwood and feast on the family maid”, The Master asked the young vampire, James.
“Yes”, James said, his head down in respect.
“And you allowed him to do so, despite knowing that I did not want Barnabas Collins to be aware of your presence in this area”, the Master said to Lawrence.
“I didn’t know untit it was too late”, Lawrence tried to protest, but The Master quicky shushed him up.
“Be quiet”, The Master scowled. “Come here, Lawrence”, he commanded.
Lawrence walked slowly over and stood in front of The Master. The Master looked at him and smiled and then gave a nod.
“NO! NO!”, Lawrence screamed as The Master quickly drew a long knife and using his super speed and strength, took a swipe and in one sweep, took Lawrence’s head clean off his body. Lawrence’s body quickly exploded in a cloud of dust.
“And as for you… James was it?”, The Master sneered.
James just held his head down as The Master approached him. The Master took James’ head in his hands and lifted his head to look him in the eyes.
“So you know the Collins family and you’ve been inside Collinwood?”, The Master asked the trembling young vampire.
“Yes sir”, James said. “I’ve lived in this area my whole life. I used to do work at Collinwood. That’s why Mrs. Johnson invited me in last night.”
“Are you scared of Barnabas Collins?”, The Master asked James.
“No sir”, James replied.
“Neither am I”, The Master smiled. “And with your help, my young friend… we shall destroy Barnabas Collins and make Collinsport a virtual hell on earth!”
“Sir?”, James asked.
“We’re going to have some fun, my child”, The Master laughed. “And that Judas vampire, Barnabas Collins and anyone who allies themselves with him will soon be dead!”
Later that evening, at dusk, in the living room at Collinwood, Quentin and the students from the school have gathered and have gotten together with Barnabas, Dani Moonstar and Mantis to discuss their strategy.
“So where are Miss Harkness and Daniel?”, Bradley asked. “The kid didn’t weasal out on us, did he?”
“Agatha is at the school working on something that I asked her to do”, Quentin noted. “Daniel is helping her out.”
“Well, his powers of talking to the birds and squirrels wouldn’t be much help against a vampire anyhow”, Bradley joked.
“He talks to squirrels?”, Dani asked?
“Every morning”, Bradley laughed. “He’s got a regular little squirrel army that convenes every morning on the east lawn waiting for him. It’s crazy!”
“Excuse me”, Barnabas cleared his throat to get everyones attention.
“So what we shall do now is coordinate our efforts to find this rogue vampire before anyone else is harmed or worse”, Barnabas said. “But before we do that, I want to know if there have been any new developments to report?”
“Well, I talked to our young vampire’s family and a couple of friends”, Dani spoke up. “I got a list of places that he liked to go and spend time at. A few abandoned houses, some caves and what not. I would suggest that at least some of us focus our search in these places and see if there is any sign of recent activity or habitation.”
“That’s a good idea”, Barnabas agreed.
“This one also had some ideas to follow upon”, Mantis added. “I tried to use my abilities to speak to the plants to do a search, but to no avail. So Jacques and I combined our powers and did an empathic scan of the area and we found some areas devoid of emotions not so far away.”
“They were kind of lke empathic black holes”, Jacques noted. “Definitely weird.”
“That’ll be another area we need to check out”, Quentin remarked.
“Willie, Bradley and I did a quick search of the grounds here at Collinwood to make sure no one was lurking about”, Akiko noted.
“That was a good idea”, Jacques remarked.
“So what are the plans for tonight”, Akiko asked.
“We are going to coordinate our efforts and split up in groups searching different areas. If James is still in the area… and I think he is, we should be able to find him”, Barnabas replied. “And I want to make it known that I am still not happy about involving you students in this effort. If Quentin and Dani hadn’t suggested it and worked those drills with each of you in the Danger Room earlier today, I would never allow it.”
“That blood sucker went after Mrs. Stoddard”, Bradley spoke up. “We have to get him!”
“Where is Mrs. Stoddard anyhow?”, Jo Ann Steen, aka Streak, asked.
“She’s upstairs in her room laying down”, Quentin said. “Dr. Hoffman is with her and will be remaining here with her and Willie tonight.”
“Don’t you think we should have someone stationed here at the house with Dr. Hoffman and Willie to protect Mrs. Stoddard, just in case that dude comes back”, Mickey Silk spoke up. “I was just thinking that he might decide to take another crack at her.”
“The kid has a point”, Quentin said to Barnabas. “Especially since he’s apparently already been invited in. He can come and go as he pleases now if he chooses too.”
“You’re right”, Barnabas agreed. “And I want Mickey and LInk to stay here and help Willie protect the house and Elizabeth.”
“What? I didn’t mean… “, Mickey started to complain, but looks from Quentin and Barnabas quickly quieted the lad.
“I picked the two of you for a reason”, Barnabas said. “And this is not a task to be taken lightly.”
“Why us?”, Link asked, also clearly dejected at being stuck on guard duty at Collinwood.
“Because protecting Elizabeth… and Julia is very important to me. And I know that Mickey, with the powers of the Poltergeist, should be sufficently able to repel any attack on this house, especially when combined with your powers, Link”
“That makes sense”, Link agreed.
“But let’s get one thing clear”, Quentin told the two young men. “If there is an intruder here at Collinwood, you are NOT to engage them. Your priority is to protect Elizabeth, Julia and Willie and contact us, as soon as possible. Is that clear?”
“Yes sir”, Poltergeist agreed.
“As for the rest of us, we’ll split up into two groups.
And so two groups were formed. The first was Quentin, Mantis, Jacques and Streak. The second was Dani, Bradley, Akiko and Vapor. Barnabas would search on his own .
“We’ll patrol the old part of the village, down near the industrial section”, Quentin said. “There are a lot of old abandoned warehouses down that way, especially near the docks, that would make great places for our vampire to hide.”
“Our group will check out all of James old haunts and hang-outs”, Dani remarked.
“And I’ll stay on patrol for the rest of the town and the old cementaries”, Barnabas replied. “But remember, if you find our vampire, avoid confrontation if possible. If there’s one vampire of his kind, there is usually more. And he can lead us to any others.”
Dani reached into a bag and pulled out a handful of small items.
“These are SHIELD issued ear-wigs”, she explained as she handed them out to everyone. “So we can keep in contact with each other and back each other up quickly.”
“Everyone be very careful”, Barnabas warned. “And students, make sure you listen to Quentin, Mantis and Dani. They are in charge.”
“Everyone do a weapons check and make sure you have the wooden stakes and crosses we gave you”, Quentin said.
Everyone checked and nodded as they made sure they were properly armed and ready for anything.
“If everyone is ready, let’s go”, Dani said.
And with those words, the teachers and students of the Stoddard Institute departed to search for their missing vampire foe.
Several hours passed without incident and Dani and her group, consisting of Bradley, aka “Black Wolf”, Akiko, code-named “The Rose” and Alicia, aka “Vapor” had searched and crossed off the majority of hang-outs and places on Dani’s list. Taking a short break, they stopped by an old, fenced in cementary.
“So far, it’s been a bust”, Dani sighed.
“I wonder if any of the others have had any luck?”, Vapor asked.
“They have to had more excitement than we have”, Bradley scowled unhappily.
“I’m glad we haven’t found any trouble”, Vapor said.
“What is it, Akiko?”, Dani asked, noticing that the young Japanese girl was staring out into the cementary.
“I think I see some movement”, Akiko said. “Over at the far end of the cementary.”
Quickly, everyone was alert and primed as Dani took control.
“Everyone, be ready for anything”, she said. “Bradley, shift to your wolf form and see if you can move over closer to that area that Akiko has pointed out and give us an idea of what’s going on.”
With a smirk and a nod, Bradley quickly began to morph and change from his usual form of a strapping, muscular, handsome young Indian to that of a large, gray furred wolf. Moving silently and quickly, Bradley set off to circle around the cementary and vanished from sight.
“What should the rest of us do”, Vapor asked.
“While Bradley circles around, we will move slowly and steadily towards that area from the front. Everyone be alert and stay quiet”, Dani said.
Silently, the three women moved through the cementary and approached the site where Akiko had spotted movement. And there, standing over a partially opened grave, they spotted two tall young men and a slightly frumpy woman.
“Excuse me”, Dani spoke loudly, startling the three figures. “Is there a reason you’re standing out here in the dark?”
The three figures turned around and glared at Dani, Akiko and Alicia.
“Just waiting for dinner”, the frumpy woman smiled. “And here you are!”
“Ummm… I thought we were just hunting one vampire”, Alicia said.
“Oh crap!”, Dani muttered.
Quentin and his group, consisting of Jacques, Mantis and Streak continued their search of the business district.
“I still don’t see why I can’t just run ahead and check these places out”, Streak complained as they exited a large, abandoned warehouse that had checked clean of vampires or any signs of recent occupation.
“What would you do if you found a vampire?”, Quentin asked. “Or even worse, a group of them?”
“Turn around and get the hell out of dodge”, Streak said honestly, causing Jacques to supress a snorting chuckle.
“We’re better off searching as a group”, Quentin reminded the impatient young girl.
“This one knows that you are bored, young one”, Mantis remarked. “But it’s not wise to face the unknown alone. We should stay together.”
“I’m sensing something up ahead”, Jacques broke in. “I can’t identify if for sure, but it’s like an emotional void… a black hole.”
“Like we sensed earlier”, Mantis asked.
“Exactly”, Jacques answered.
“Where’s it coming from?”, Quentin asked.
“That building up there on the left”, Jacques noted.
“Do you sense anything Mantis?”, Quentin asked.
“No, but my son’s powers are far stronger than this ones”, Mantis answered.
“Everyone be ready for anything”, Quentin said as he approached a door to the building Jacques had pointed out. “Because we’re going in.”
With Quentin leading the way, the group quickly made their way into the building. Moments later, they came to a large room that showed signs of occupation.
“Bingo”, Quentin said. “We’ve discovered their nest.”
“Yeah, but where are the vampires?”, Streak asked as she looked around the vast room.
“Right here, chicky-poo”, a voice echoed out.
Quentin and the others spun around quickly. Standing there, blocking the doorway were eight young thugs.
“Vampires?”, Jacques asked.
“Yep”, Quentin said grimly. “Vampires!”
Barnabas Collins moved quickly through the night as he searched through Collinsport and the surrouding lands. Already, he had discovered several hidden caves and crypts that had shown signs of recent occupation. Rendering these chambers useless to further occupation through the use of Holy Water that he had sprinkled liberally throughout the area, he now flew, in his bat form towards Collinwood. Something was not right. Barnabas had a crawling feeling in his guts that there was far more to all if this than just one vampire coming home and it greatly disturned him. And not for the first time, he was regretting getting the students from the Institute involved.
“They’re extremely capable and powerful youngsters”, he told himself, “but Quentin and I should have handled this ourselves. It’s still far too dangerous for them.”
With a heavy sigh, Barnabas continued his flight through the night sky for a few moments when he spotted something on the ground.
“That looks like one of the Sheriff’s cars?”, he thought as he flew down towards the object he had spotted. “But there is no reason for any deputies to be out here.”
Barnabas flew down, still in the form of a large bat and circled around the car. It was indeed one of the Sheriff’s cars parked, but there were no deputies around. The car was empty. Barnabas landed and assumed his human form as he looked around the car, trying to figure out why it was parked here alone. And then the scent hit him… of human blood.
Quickly, Barnabas used his keen vampiric senses to follow the blood scent just a short ways where he found, in a small, hastily covered ditch, two bodies, stripped down and naked, and dead, drained of their blood. Barnabas recognized the two bodies as deputies from the Sheriff’s office. Barnabas quickly surveyed the scene and then, making a note of the area, changed back into his bat form and took off into the air. He had to get to Collinwood and quickly.
Meanwhile back at Collinwood, Willie Loomis and Mickey Silk, aka Poltergeist, played chess while Dr. Julia Hoffman, Elizabeth Collins Stoddard and the young mutant, Lorne Lincoln, aka Link sat on the couch engaged in conversation.
“So what are your plans after you finish school, Link?”, Elizabeth Collins Stoddard asked the young oriental lad.
“I really don’t know, ma’am”, Link replied. “I’d like to head back to Los Angeles and maybe see if I can make a difference there, helping people.”
“If I never see L.A. again, it’ll be too soon”, Mickey remarked from his seat while waiting for Willie to make his move.
“Mickey had some bad experiences there”, Link explained. “We both did. But I still would like to go back sometime.”
“Then you’re own your own”, Mickey shot back once more. “I’m not going back.”
“Well, I’ve only been to Los Angeles once”, Elizabeth remarked. “And that was so long ago. But I found it to be a fascinating place.”
“I’ve been there a few times myself”, Julia added. “And I’m with Mickey on this one. If I never go back, it’ll be too soon.”
“You didn’t like it?”, Elizabeth asked.
“Not at all”, Julia said. “The smog and the traffic were both terrible. And those people are crazy. No offense to either of you, of course”, she said to Mickey and Link.
“None taken”, Link said with a smile. “It does take some getting used to, but I grew up there. Mickey is from Boston, so he had a harder time adapting.”
“You’re from Boston, Mickey?”, Julia asked. “I didn’t know that.”
“I was born in Boston, but we moved to California when I was five… my parents and I. And I lived in San Francisco until I turned thirteen and these powers… this poltergeist, started showing up.”
“Where are your parents now?”, Elizabeth asked. “If you don’t mind my asking.”
“I really don’t know ma’am”, Mickey said. “I went back a few years ago to find them and they were gone. No forwarding address either.”
“They just left you?”, Julia asked.
“Well, from what we were able to find out”, Link stepped in, taking over the conversation when he realized that Mickey was beginning to be upset. “they probably thought that Mickey was dead. He was abducted, as was I and several others, by a group called the Secret Empire, who wanted to use our powers in their plans.”
“Oh my, that’s horrible”, Elizabeth said, her hands rising to her mouth to cover her expression of shock.
“It turned out okay, thanks to Spider Woman, Tigra and a few other heroes who found and rescued us”, Link finished.
“And now you’re here with us”, Julia said in an attempt to change the subject after noticing that Mickey was starting to get upset.
“Yeah, I guess”, Mickey remarked. “Sure would be nice to know if my parents were alive or dead though.”
“That probably wouldn’t be hard to find out”, Elizabeth smiled at the young man. “I could easily hire an investigator to find out.”
“Or we could just have Mantis or Barnabas use the Avengers resources… or have Dani use her SHIELD contacts to find out”, Julia noted.
“Do you think they could?”, Mickey asked.
“It can’t hurt to ask”, Julia replied.
“Excuse me, but Miss Harkness is on the phone”, Willie interupted.
“Thank you, Willie”, Julia said. “I’ll go speak to Agatha.”
As Julia left the room to go to the phone, the sounds of wolves howling in the distance could be heard outside.
“What’s that?”, Mickey asked nervously.
“Just dogs”, Willie said quickly.
“Maybe we should go take a look”, Link suggested.
“No”, Willie said quickly. “We all stay here together. It’s too dangerous out there.”
Then a knock came at the door.
“What was that?”, Mickey asked nervouslly.
“A knock at the door”, Elixabeth answered.
“But who can it be?”, Mickey asked.
“Should I answer, Elizabeth?”, Willie asked.
“Vampires don’t knock, do they?”, Link asked.
“It’s the Sheriff’s office”, a voice came out from outside the door. “The Sheriff sent us here to help protect you folks!”
Relaxing, Mickey went to answer the door. “I’ll get it!”
“Mickey… no!”, Willie shouted as Mickey slung open the door and there stood two Sheriff’s deputies.
“Hey there young fellow”, the older of the two uniform clad officers remarked. “The Sheriff sent us here. Can we come in?”
“Yeah, sure… come on in”, Mickey said as Julia walked back into the room.
“What was that noise I heard. Was someone at the door?”, Julia asked as she walked back into the room, stopping at the sight of the two uniformed officers.
“Hey look Julia, the Sheriff sent a couple of deputies to help protect us”, Mickey said with a smile.
“I see that”, Julia sighed.
“Yes ma’am”, one of the deputies spoke. “The Ma… the Sheriff was really worried about you people up here all alone and told us to come here and keep an eye on everyone. He’ll be coming up here himself in just a little while.”
“I see”, Julia said grimly as she looked at the two men.
“Isn’t that wonderful?”, Elizabeth smiled. “The Sheriff is such a thoughtful man sometimes, when he’s not being infuriating, that is.”
“I’m surprised the Sheriff didn’t call ahead and let us know you were coming”, Julia questioned.
“He’s just busy”, one of the deputies answered hastily. “He probably just forgot!”
“Most likely”, Julia agreed as she glanced at Elizabeth, Willie and her two students. “Well, while we wait for Sheriff Jackson, I’ll go into the kitchen and make some fresh coffee?”
“None for me, thanks”, one of the deputies smiled. “I don’t drink coffee. It makes me too jittery!”
“Do you need a hand, Dr. Hoffman”, Link asked quietly as he eyed the two officers.
“I think I might”, Julia said.
“Don’t be too long”, one of the deputies smiled at Julia and Link.
:While you go get coffee”, the other deputy smiled, “We’ll sit here and wait for the Sheriff and get to know these fine people!”
“We won’t be long”, Julia smiled grimly.
Julia and Link went into the kitchen.
“Are you thinking what I’m thinking”, Link quickly asked Julia as they stepped into the kitchen area.
“I am”, Julia said. “Did you see their response when I called the Sheriff by the wrong name? They didn’t bat an eye.”
“So what do we do?”, Link asked.
“We don’t want to provoke them or start a battle”, Julia said. “Not while Elizabeth and Willie are in the area and could get easily hurt.”
“Mickey and I could probably take them”, Link said.
“Let’s don’t find out. I’ll make coffee and try to keep them distracted and occupied. You need to sneak out of here and find Barnabas, Quentin or Dani.”
“Can’t we contact them with our cell phones or the ear-whig devices that Dani left?”, Link asked.
“No”, Julia sighed. “Dani didn’t have enough of those ear devices to leave any here. And I didn’t want to alarm anyone, but the phone went dead when I was speaking to Agatha a few moments ago… just about the same time those officers knocked.”
“Coincidence?”, Link asked.
“I doubt it”, Julia said.
“So I’ll sneak out and try to find the others”, Link asked.
“And I’ll cover for you”, Julia said. “Say I sent you to the celler to find something.”
Suddenly, one of the Deputies came walking into the room.
“You’re taking a long time and we were getting lonely”, he snarled. “So let’s all head back into the living room where we can all be nice and safe and comfy… NOW!”
“We were just coming along now”, Julia said, casting a look to Link to just play along for now, their plans for him going to find how now not possible.
Link caught the look and, with a sigh, picked up the tray holding the pot of coffee and the cups.
“Let’s go back to the living room”, he said quietly.
Back at the Stoddard Institute…
Agatha hung up the phone and turned to Daniel and the housekeeper, Dolly Donahue.
“That is certainly most disturbing”, she said with a frown.
“What’s happening?”, Daniel asked.
“I was talking to Julia and the phone line went dead”, Agatha said.
“Well, this is rural country”, Dolly mentioned. “And phone lines being down is quite common.”
“Not for me”, Agatha said. “I detected an aura of mystical energy just before the line died. Something is happening.”
“So what should we do? Contact Barnabas or Quentin and have them check out Collinwood?”, Daniel asked.
“I need to stay here and finish the project that I’ve been assigned”, Agatha sighed. “And I’ll need your aid, Dolly for I fear that speed will be of the essence.”
Dolly Donahue just nodded as Agatha turned to Daniel.
“You need to get to Collinwood to determine the situation and act as necessary”, she said to the young man.
“No”, Dolly said. “He’s just a child!”
“He’s a child of the gods”, Agatha said. “He was raised and lived among the very land of Olympus itself and the blood of Diana, goddess of the moon, runs through his veins. He is extremely capable and I have the strongest faith in him.”
“I don’t like it”, Dolly said bluntly.
“Nor do I”, Agatha said. “But I can not leave right now and must finish this spell I’m working on. And we must learn what is happening at Collinwood. Daniel is our best option.”
“Can’t you just cast a scrying spell or something”, Dolly asked.
“Normally, I could and would”, Agatha explained. “But this task is taxing even my powers and I can’t even spare the magic for a basic teleportation spell, much less a scrying spell or telepathic communication.”
“I hate to interupt, but how am I getting to Collinwood? It’s a twenty-five minute drive and I don’t even have a drivers license yet”, Daniel asked.
“And speed is of the essence”, Agatha smiled.
“I’ll drive you”, Dolly said.
“No”, Agatha said. “As I said earlier, I’ll need your help here, Dolly.”
Dolly just frowned.
“But your ride is here, Daniel. Look out to the yard”, Agatha said.
Daniel went to the window and looked outside and there, in the front yard of the Institute, was a winged stallion.
“That is Dani Moonstar’s horse, Brightwind”, Agatha spoke. “That is the stallion she rides as a member of the Asgardian Valkyrie. Go speak to Brightwind. He will recognize the Olympian blood in you and take you where you need to go.”
“He is beautiful”, Daniel said. “But I know the legends and once a winged stallion has accepted one person as it’s rider, no other may ride in their place. Especially if it’s one of the Valkyrie’s horses. Brightwind will never allow it.”
“He will”, Agatha said soothingly. “Just use your ability to speak the language of animals and explain it to him. He will understand.”
“If you say so”, Daniel sighed.
“Now go to Brightwind and go to Collinwood. Be cautious and brave and aid our fellows. I shall follow as soon as I can”, Agatha said.
“Okay”, Daniel said and with that, he went out to the large winged stallion, who walked right up to him as he stepped outside. Daniel stroked the large animal’s mane as he spoke to him in the language of horses and gods. With a snort and a nod, the large stallion beckoned Daniel to climb aboard and take his place on the animals back. And then, with a loud neigh and spreading of the wings, the large winged stallion rose quickly into the air and headed off into the night sky, carrying Daniel to the stately estate known as Collinwood.
The blonde vampire exploded in a cloud of dust as Dani Moonstar pierced it with an arrow.
“I think that’s all of them”, Dani said quietly
“I took care of this one” Bradley smiled as he morphed back into human form.
“As did Vapor and I with this one”, Akiko said as she gave her friend a high five.
“So that’s three of them”, Vapor said.
“Yeah, but none of them are the one we’re looking for”, Dani said.
“And this was way too easy”, Bradley snarled. “It doesn’t feel right.”
“Look out”, Akiko yelled to Dani as she cut loose and let fly with several throwing stars from the pouch she wore on her side.
Dani moved quickly and the throwing stars nailed a young male vampire who had jumped from the bushes to attack Dani. He fell to the ground and screamed in agony and pain as smoke rose from his body and the sizzling sounds of skin burning echoed through the night.
“Throwing stars dipped in holy water”, Akiko explained.
“So it looks as if we have a prisoner”, Dani said. “Now we can figure out what is going on.”
“Go to hell, squaw!”, the vampire sneered at Dani.
“Been there and done that”, Dani smiled grimly. “Now, do you want to tell us what’s going on?”
“I’m not saying anything, bitch”, the vampire spit out once more.
“I think you will”, Bradley said as he looked at the vampire laying there on the ground. “Or else you’ll be dinner.”
And Bradley smiled at the vampire as he morphed into his other form, that of a large, giant wolf.
“Bradley, stand back”, Dani said. “Vapor and Akiko… you too! I’ll deal with our young vampire.”
The three students stood back as Dani approached the vampire.
“So what are you going to do, Squaw? Make me a blanket? Smoke the peace pipe?”, the vampire laughed.
“I could”, Dani smiled. “But instead, I’m going to take this wooden arrow and plunge it into your hand. And then take another arrow and stake it through your other hand. And then…”
“Torture me”, the vampire laughed. “You’re supposed to be heroes. You’re supposed to be better than that.”
“Oh, I’m no hero”, Dani smiled. “I’m a person who’s sick of being screwed with and tired of waiting for answers.”
The smile on the vampire’s face quickly vanished.
“Okay, I’ll tell you. Doesn’t matter since you’re going to die soon. All of you!”, he laughed.
“Talk”, Dani said. “Now!”
“Yeah, we were sent here to detain you… hopefully kill all of you”, the vampire said. “While our Master takes care of that traitorous vampire, Barnabas Collins and wipes out his entire line.”
“Who sent you?”, Dani asked.
“The Master”, the vampire laughed.
“Who’s the Master?”, Bradley asked, snarling at the vampire.
“The Master”, the vampire repeated.
“Screw it”, Dani said and quickly plunged a wooden stake into the laughing vampire, who quickly exploded into a cloud of dust.
“We need to contact Quentin and his group and get to Collinwood… NOW!”, Dani said to her group.
“Already on it”, Vapor said, waving her cell phone at the others. “I’m calling Jacques now.”
“Bradley, shift to wolf form and get to Collinwood as fast as you can”, Dani said. “The rest of us will follow as quickly as we can.”
“On it”, Bradley said as he morphed into his wolf form once more.
And with a quick howl to his friends, the large wolf quickly vanished into the night.
Quentin, Mantis, Jacques and Streak were standing around, comparing notes after disposing of their vampire attackers.
“Well, that was fun”, Quentin smirked. “But did anyone else notice what I did?”
“None of these vampires were our friend, James”, Jacques noted.
“So now what, boss?”, Streak asked Quentin.
“I’m not sure”, Quentin said. “I guess we continue to patrol and see what we can find. Maybe Dani or Barnabas have had more luck.”
Jacques reached into his pocket and pulled out his cell phone, which was buzzing, as the others continued to talk.
“Quentin, I just got a call from Vapor. Her group just took down some vampires over at the big cementary”, Jacques said.
“Is everyone okay”, Quentin asked.
“Everyone is fine, but they managed to catch and interrogate one of the boogers before he poofed away and it seems that this is all a part of something bigger. Major threats against Barnabas and the entire Collins line by someone called The Master”, Jacques relayed.
“The Master?”, Mantis asked. “Why does that sound familiar?”
“I don’t know”, Quentin said, “but I think we need to get to Collinwood and quick.”
“Dani has already sent Bradley on ahead and her group will meet us there”, Jacques said. “Want me to teleport us there?”
“Yes”, Quentin said. “But to the old house. And have Dani and her group meet us there.”
“What about Link and Mickey and Dr. Hoffman”, Streak asked.
“And Elizabeth and Willie”, Jacques added.
“I don’t want to rush the house and place them in any greater danger than they might already be”, Quentin said. “It’s better we’re coordinated before we act.”
“Dani says that they’ll meet us at the old house”, Jacques said.
“Fine”, Quentin said. “Jacques, teleport us there please.”
“Yes sir”, Jacques said. “Everyone grabs hands.”
And with a big flash of light and a loud popping noise, the four vanished from sight.
Daniel held his breath as he rode the flying stallion through the air. As they approached Collinwood, he signaled to the great beast and brought the winged horse to a landing near the Collins family crypt.
“Wow, that was a rush”, Daniel thought to himself as he climbed off the horse. “Now how do I find out what’s going on at the big house without attracting any attention?”
Daniel looked around for a few moments and spotted a large nest at the top of a nearby tree. And he smiled.
Back at Collinwood, the two Sheriff Deputies had continued to keep Julia, Elizabeth, Willie, Link and Mickey together in the living room.
“How much longer must we wait for the Sheriff to get here?”, Elizabeth asked one of the deputies.
“The Master will be here very soon”, the deputy sneered.
“The Master?”, Elizabeth asked.
“They’re not Sheriff deputies, Elizabeth”, Julia said bluntly. “They’re vampires!”
“What?”, Elizabeth said. “You don’t mean…”
“Surprise”, one of the deputies smiled, his face changing into that of a high browed, hideous creature.
Mickey quickly stood up, but Link stopped him.
“Not now”, Link said. “They have the advantage. Stand down, Mickey!”
“Listen to your friend”, one of the vampire deputies smiled as he grabbed Willie by the neck. “Unless you want this human piece of meat dead!”
“So what do you want?”, Julia asked as she signaled Mickey and Link to sit down.
“Want?”, the vampire sneered as he shoved Willie into a seat. “We don’t want anything. But the Master… that’s another story!”
“Master?”, Link asked. “Who’s that?”
“He’s exactly what we said he is… The Master”, the vampire explained. “He wants to meet the famous Collins family. Especially Barnabas Collins.”
“What does your Master want with Cousin Barnabas?”, Elizabeth asked.
“Why don’t you ask him?”, the deputy smiled as there came a knock at the door.
“Go let them in”, he said to Willie. “And no tricks or everyone in here dies!”
Willie looked up at Julia for some idea of what to do.
“Go ahead Willie”, Julia said.
With a nod, Willie walked to the door and opened it slowly. There stood an ancient, decrepit old man and a large group of young vampires.
“Hello young man”, the Master spoke. “May we come in?”
Williw gave a panicked look back towards Julia and Elizabeth who just nodded.
“Sure, come on in”, Willie said as the Master and his minions, including the fledgling vampire known as James strolled past him and quickly filled the living room.
“Search the house”, the Master quickly barked out orders to his vampires. “Make sure that there is no one else here.”
And then The Master turned and looked towards Julia and Elizabeth.
“So you are the Matriach of the Collins family”, he smiled at Elizabeth. “And you are the lover?”, he said to Julia.
The Master walked around the house for a few moments and turned quickly.
“So where is the legendary Barnabas Collins?”
Suddenly, there was a slight scratching at the window that caught the vampire’s attention. He turned and gazed towards the windows.
“Squirrels”, he smiled. “How sweet. Though I’ve never known them to come up on a windowsill like that. Must be something in the weather.” Turning back towards Julia and Elizabeth. “Now let’s talk about Barnabas.”
Daniel sat in the woods by the Collins family crypt. The huge winged stallion, Brightwind, had taken back off into the night sky, but Daniel suspected that he hadn’t gone very far. A stick snapped behind Daniel and he quickly spun around to see Barnabas Collins standing there.
“Mr. Collins, I’m glad to see you”, Daniel said to the grim man.
“What are you doing here, Daniel?”, Barnabas asked. “Why are you not helping Agatha?”
“Agatha sent me here”, Daniel replied. “She’s almost finished with the spell you have her working on. There’s something going on at Collinwood and Agatha told me to find out what it is and get in touch with you or Quentin.”
“At Collinwood? That’s what I feared”, Barnabas said. “Have you found out anything?”
“Not yet, but I’m fixing too”, Daniel smiled.
And with that, two small squirrels came rushing up and climbed into Daniel’s arms. Barnabas stood there, transfixed in amazement, as Daniel chirped back and forth with the two squirrels in what appeared to be a very detailed conversation.
“Vampires are inside Collinwood”, Daniel told Barnabas. “There are probably fifteen of them, including two dressed like Sheriff Deputies. And there’s some old, bald headed man who seems to be in charge.”
“The Master”,. Barnabas said under his breath.
“So far, everyone is okay. The Master is keeping everyone in the living room and it seems like they’re waiting for someone. My guess it that it’s you”, Daniel said.
“Most likely”, Barnabas replied. “Well, if the Master wants me, we shouldn’t keep him waiting long.”
“So what do we do?”, Daniel asked.
“I noticed a flash of light at the old house when I flew here. I was going to investigate, but I saw you here and came here instead”, Barnabas answered. “But I believe that Quentin, Dani and the others are at the old house now. We’ll regroup with them and then go pay the Master and his minions a visit.”
“What about Agatha at the Institute?”, Daniel asked.
“We’ll have Jacques contact her telepathically and be prepared”, Barnabas said.
“Be prepared for what?”, Daniel asked.
“For what she has to do”, Barnabas said.
“What about our friend hiding over there in the bushes?”, Daniel asked.
“What about him?”, Barnabas said.
“Should we let him know the gig is up?”, Daniel asked.
“I suppose we should”, Barnabas answered.
And then, looking over towards the woods, Barnabas said loudly, “Come on out, Bradley.”
And the young werewolf, Bradley Black, stepped out of the brush.
“How did you know I was there?”, he asked.
“Vampire senses”, Barnabas replied.
“Your eyes glowed in the moonlight”, Daniel added.
“Damn!”, Bradley sighed.
“Work on it”, Barnabas smiled grimly. “Now let’s go to the old house and meet the others.”
In the living room of Collinwood, things were getting tense as the large group of vampires and The Master made themselves at home. Julia, Elizabeth Collins Stoddard, Willie Loomis and the two students from the Institute, Link and Mickey, sat quietly on the couch and watched.
“I’m sure that Mickey and I could take them long enough for the three of you to escape”, Link whispered to Julia.
“There are too many and all that would happen is the two of you would be killed”, Julia whispered back.
“We’ll be okay. Barnabas will be here soon”, Willie whispered.
“I surely hope so”, The Master cackled, indicating that he had heard every whisper. “But if he doesn’t show up soon, I may just have to slaughter each of you and have my children tear this grand old house to the ground instead. I am not a patient soul.”
“What do you know about souls, you fiend?”, Elizabeth spat out at the evil old vampire.
“Do you want to die, Mrs. Stoddard”, The Master sneered.
“No, but I assume that you do”, a voice echoed out and there, in the foyer, stood Barnabas Collins.
“Awwww… the infamous Barnabas Collins”, The Master smiled. “And how, pray tell, did you get into this house and this close without my minions noticing?”
“I know ways into this house that no one else does”, Barnabas said grimly. “And now, you will take your vampire lackies and leave immediately or else.”
“Or else what, Barnabas”, The Master laughed. “There are twenty-three of my minions here. If you attempt anything, your friends die immediately. But I’m feeling generous tonight, so if you surrender immediately, I’ll allow your friends to live a few hours longer before I kill them.”
“I have no plans to surrender”, Barnabas replied. “Again, I demand that you let my friends leave here and then we will settle this between us.”
“No”, The Master said.
The Master looked around at the large vampire group waiting for his orders and smiled.
“Kill them all”, he said quietly.
The vampires moved as one towards the couch where Link, Mickey, Willie, Julia and Elizabeth were sitting. Link responded immediately by unleashing a telekenetic burst of energy that swept across the room and drove the vampires back. A burst of light and a loud popping noise suddenly appeared as Jacques teleported into the room. Wrapping his arms around Julia, Elizabeth and Willie, he muttered, “Time to go”, and with another loud popping noise, they were gone.
Link and Mickey bombarded the vampires with their telekenetic abilities. A window shattered as a large wolf and a man-sized wolf creature leaped into the fray and began to rip apart every vampire that they could get close too. The Master stepped back against the far wall and watched the carnage as Barnabas Collins used his vampiric strength to literally rip the head off a younger vampire, causing him to explode into a pile of dust.
The vampire minions, watching their fellows being slaughtered, quickly chose flight over valor and headed for the exits, attempting to escape the wrath of the vampire, Barnabas, the two werewolves and the two telekenetics. But as they exited the windows and doors, they were quickly met by arrows and stakes and a waiting Dani Moonstar, along with Mantis, Streak and Vapor. The few that managed to escape this ambush found themselves bombarded and attacked by birds and bats and owls sweeping down from the night sky under the command of the boy Daniel, also known as Piper. While distracted and fighting off the fowl and animal attacks, the vampires found themselves easy prey for Akiko and her holy-water dipped throwing stars and samauri sword. The young feldgling vampire, James, who had started all of this, found himself pierced by a wooden spear held by the young mutant, Vapor.
In just a matter of moments, it was all over and all the vampires were destroyed. All but The Master. He stepped out of the stately house and swatted Mantis away as she tried to pierce his heart with a wooden stake. Quentin and Bradley attempted to attack him, but he quickly repulsed their attacks and sent them flying through the air towards the trees. Only quick intervention by Link, quickly forming a telekenetic bubble, saved the two werewolves from serious harm.
“Back up and regroup”, Dani shouted at her students as they lined up to surround the elderly demon.
“No!”, Barnabas said. “This fight is mine!”
Barnabas signaled the others to step back and circled around The Master. The Master smiled the most sinister of smiles and with a speed that even Streak would be hard pressed to match, lunged at Barnabas Collins. Barnabas was ready and barely managed to dodge the attack, responding with a hard judo-thrust to the throat of The Master, who just shrugged it off and landed a vicious slap that sent Barnabas flying through the air.
The Master moved quickly to press his attack, but Barnabas was already up on his feet and ready and scored with a powerful blow of his own that sent The Master sliding across the yard. Barnabas moved with blinding speed, but was caught by The Master with a resounding blow that stunned the vampire and left him senseless. The Master moved quickly and wrapped his arms about the head and neck of Barnabas Collins.
“And now… it ends!”, he laughed, preparing to literally snap Barnabas’s head off.
And a loud popping noise and a blast of light filled the air as Jacques teleported once more into the scene. And with him was the witch, Agatha Harkness.
“More fools to die after I finish with this whelp”, The Master sneered.
“There will be no death here, save yours”, Agatha smiled grimly.
“And who are you, old woman?”, The Master sneered.
Agatha made a gesture with her hand and immediately the sky began to darken. With The Master momentarily confused, Link used his TK powers to jerk Barnabas Collins away from him and out of The Master’s grasp. Streak ran at her quickest speed and grabbed Barnabas, moving him to safety. As The Master moved to grab Streak and Barnabas, a large figure flew down from out of the sky as the winged stallion, Brightwind, swooped down and attacked The Master with a strong kick of his hind quarters. The Master went sprawling back on to the ground as Streak and Barnabas made their escape.
With a loud snort, Brightwind landed and strolled up to his mistress, Dani, nuzzling her hands.
“I’m glad to see you too”, she told the horse. “But let’s take care of business too.”
“Winged horses? Freaks? Amazing”, the Master sighed. “But still, it looks like I’m going to have to kill you all”
“Is it ready Agatha?”, Barnabas moaned at the elderly witch.
“Whatever it is, let ‘er rip”, Bradley shouted. “Cause it looks like pug-ugly is getting mad!”
“We need to hold The Master immobile” Agatha shouted.
“I’ll encase him in a TK bubble”, Link shouted.
“And this one shall help as well”, Mantis said.
And using her control over vegitation and plant life, Mantis concentrated and vines and weeds quickly rose up and wrapped themselves firmly around the raging Master, who was, at this point, livid with anger.
As the powers of Mantis and Link momentarily held The Master in one spot, Agatha Harkness began to chant in a language not heard of in thousands of years and make gestures. The sky grew darker still and thunder echoed throughout the night. A bolt of green eldritch energy flew forth from the old woman’s hands and plunged itself directly into the chest of the being known as The Master. He screamed in a combination of agony and anger.
Agatha continued to chant and The Master continued to scream. His eyes were blazing red as he spit and cursed in anger and fury. And then, a light green flash of light surrounded the Master and he bellowed in anger.
“Now Dani… fire one of your arrows”, Barnabas shouted to Dani, who was standing by, arrow notched in bow, wating for the word.
Dani let the arrow fly and it pierced long and deep, straight into the heart of The Master, who quickly exploded into a cloud of dust. And where this evil vampire had once stood, only a skeleton remained.
“It’s over”, Barnabas sighed.
“Not yet”, Agatha said as she stepped forward once more. “These bones must be kept seperate and destroyed or else the Master will return one day.”
“I’ll take care of that”, Quentin said as he walked up. “Hey Link, use your TK powers to gather up the bones, but keep them seperate. We’re going to the stables where I have a sledge hammer. Let’s go crush these things.”
Quentin and Link walked off, followed closely by Bradley, Mickey, Vapor, Streak and Daniel.
“So Julia and the others are safe at the Institute as we planned”, Barnabas asked Jacques as he walked up.
“Yes”, Jacques replied. “I teleported them to the school from the living room and teleported Agatha with me when I came back.”
“Good work”, Barnabas smiled.
“Are you okay, Barnabas?”, Agatha asked as she glanced at the grim vampire.
“I feel as if I’ve been in a fight”, Barnabas admitted. “But I’ll be fine. What was that spell you used? That wasn’t the Montessi spell we had spoke of.”
“No”, Agatha smiled. “The Montessi spell would have affected you as well since it destroys all vampires in the vicinity. I used a variation of the spell, which was even harder, to remove The Master’s access to his powers, albeit temporarily, so Dani’s arrow would take effect. It was not easy and I am exhausted.”
“Thank you, Agatha”, Barnabas smiled.
“Well, that was exciting”, Dani smiled as she walked up. “But now comes the fun part. Paperwork.”
“Paperwork?”, Barnabas asked.
“Yeah”, Dani frowned. “I have to write all of this up in a way that SHIELD and the local Sheriff’s Department can be happy and consider the case closed.”
“I almost forgot”, Barnabas said grimly. “There were two bodies of Sheriff’s Deputies that I discovered earlier.”
“Well, show me where they are and I’ll call in the clean-up crew from SHIELD”, Dani sighed.
“Take along some holy water and stakes”, Agatha reminded. “Since they were killed by vampires, they may be changed themselves.”
“Good idea”, Dani said. “Let’s take the car, Barnabas. I’m too exhausted to ride Brightwind.”
“Very well”, Barnabas said. “We’ll see you back at the school before dawn.”
As Barnabas and Dani left, Mantis and Jacques came up to Agatha.
“So we’re fixing to head back to the school, I guess”, Jacques remarked.
“This one and her son shall go get Quentin and the others and teleport back. Are you coming with us?”, Mantis asked.
“No… go ahead”, Agatha smiled. “I shall be along directly. I want to see if I can do something about this mess.”
The three looked at Collinwood. The stately old manor showed the signs of the fight. The yard was destroyed, windows were broken and furniture was wrecked. The once proud house had suffered quite a bit of damage.
“This one had not even thought about that”, Mantis sighed. “Elizabeth will be crushed when she see’s her home in such a state.”
“Then we shall endure to make sure that she doesn’t see it”, Agatha smiled.
“How… “, Jacques started to ask, but stopped and smiled as he saw the look on Agatha’s face.
“This will essentially tap me out for a while, but a treasure such as Collinwood is well worth the effort”, she smiled. “Now stand back.”
As Jacques and Mantis stepped back, Agatha Harnkess concentrated and using all of the magic powers and energy at her command, made a series of gestures and movements. And Collinwood was restored. As it once was, so it was again.
“Wow!”, Jacques said.
And Mantis, Jacques, and Agatha stood there, just enjoying the splendor that is Collinwood for several moments.
“And now, let’s go get the others and head back to the school”, Agatha smiled. “It’s been a long night.”
THE END (?)