How did we wind up here?
“Barricade that door!”
The butler and pilot slid the heaviest objects they could to barricade the door in a desperate ploy, praying that it would hold. They both knew how truly hopeless the situation was, but they were not ready to give in to the despair that threatened to consume them.
My lord, please forgive my cursed soul for the sin that I will be forced to commit.
“This is my fault,” the pilot fumed after doing what he could to brace the entrance.
“Sir Blackhawk,” said the butler, brushing off his suit coat. “That is utter nonsense. The plane was crashing. The only reason we are still alive is because of your skill as a pilot.”
“Alfred is correct, Blackhawk,” said Gabriel Van Helsing, peeking out the window. He could see the fiery remains of the plane that the three of them had been in. The escape was not quite successful. As the sun set on the horizon, Van Helsing saw the fog begin to form around the area. He knew what that meant.
“Is there any way to communicate with the outside world?” asked Alfred.
To the outside observer, Alfred Pennyworth appeared to be an English butler, but his facade hid more than that. Skills that he kept hidden from the world for unknown reasons.
“There is none, Alfred,” said Van Helsing. “This may have to be where we make our last stand.”
“I don’t mean to be the wet blanket here, Van Helsing, but you do know where we are, right?” asked Blackhawk. “This may not be the most ideal location for a final stand.”
The Alamo. An iconic site. A story that all three men remembered.
“The irony has not escaped me,” said Van Helsing, “but we do not have any other choice.”
The fog thickened with each passing second, surrounding the San Antonio landmark, a location known for the brave but doomed.
“This is not the Mexican Army surrounding us,” said Alfred.
Few know that better than I.
Gabriel Van Helsing was a lonely man. A man who was rarely in the company of allies. His internal distress was constant, a hatred of what he had to become in order to continue to battle the monsters of the world. His prayers, he believed, would fall upon deaf ears, but he continued to make them. Pray for his soul. Pray for his fate. Pray for the strength to do what was needed. He choked down the contempt with each desperate prayer, no longer backed with faith. Then….
“What did you say?” Van Helsing said, turning to his companions.
“What? We didn’t say anything,” responded Blackhawk.
Neither of them had said what he had heard. Van Helsing glanced around the Alamo. Shaking his head, he peered out the window. The fog was so thick that you could hardly see anything… the remaining light from the retreating sun nearly blotted from view. Van Helsing’s blood ran cold.
“Be ready,” said Van Helsing. “It’s almost time.”
Fog. Thick. Nearly immobilizing the city of San Antonio.
That was the purpose.
It was not immobilizing the figure strolling through the fog, the blue flames burning from his skull. You could not tell, but he was Daemonite. His current Acurian body was considerably different from the lizard-like body that was common among his race. He never went back. This form was powerful.
Power was what he wanted. Power is what he desired. That was what he was after. There were three men inside the building before him that would lead him to that power. Staring through the fog to the flames that were consuming the plane that had crashed near the legendary building. He did not know the legend of the Alamo, but, if he had, he may have appreciated the irony.
“Lord Helspont,” said a random Daemonite, looking at the man standing hidden in the fog a few feet behind Helspont. He knew the hatred Helspont had for these humans. Yet it was not the human that was causing the concern from the Daemonite. “Why have you recruited these blood suckers just to control the human? The Daemonites can control the human better than the vampi– “
Lord Helspont snatched the Daemonite before he could finish his statement, his powerful grasp clamping around the Daemonite’s throat. He picked him off the ground.
“You dare question me?” Helspont said, the bolt of enhanced energy traveling through his hand and into the body of the Daemonite. The creature twitched in Helspont’s grasp as the energy fried him from inside. The ashes tumbled to the ground and Helspont calmly brushed them off his hand.
“That was cold.”
Helspont did not turn to the voice. Through the fog flew the vampire. Baron Blood landed beside him,
“Not saying that I didn’t like it,” Baron Blood said, his fangs punctuating his smile. “I can confirm that the vessels are inside the building. Everything is ready.”
“Good,” said Helspont.
“Remember… Lord… you promised me Van Helsing once you are finished with him.”
Peeking out the window once again, Van Helsing felt his chest filling with dread. The fog was as thick as he had ever seen it, but the devilish red eyes still pierced through the haze, chilling him to the bone. The sheer number of eyes made him mentally step back. Though his memory was anything but perfect, he had never seen so many of the bloodsuckers in the same location at once.
Reloading his crossbow and double checking his remaining weaponry, he turned to Alfred and said, “Pennyworth, here. You may want to take this.” He tossed the butler two carved wooden stakes.
“Will this do me any good against Helspont?” he asked, already knowing the answer.
“Listen, I am not sure any of us will survive until Helspont comes in here,” said Van Helsing.
“I love your confidence, sir,” said Alfred.
“Just being realistic,” said Van Helsing. “There is a swarm coming.”
“Then we need to take out as many as we can,” said Blackhawk, checking through his own guns. “I’m not going down without a fight.”
“You’ve come around,” said Van Helsing. “Good.” Blackhawk had been blaming himself for the failure of the plane crash, a crash that, if avoided, could have led them to escape. There was no time for looking back right now.
“How about you, Alfred? Have you ever faced off with vampires?”
“Vampires?” he said, with a smile and a fleeting memory to his ‘master’. “No, but I must say that this is a tad ironic.”
“What does that mean?” Blackhawk said.
“Nevermind,” said Alfred. REMEMBER. Turning quickly, Alfred looked around the room “What was that?”
“What was what?” asked Blackhawk. Van Helsing had already turned away from this conversation, and Alfred shook his head.
Meanwhile, in the fog outside the Alamo, Helspont waited for the vampires to be in the proper place. By suggestion, he had enlisted Brother Blood as much for his horde as for any of his other skills. He was willing to put up with the vampire to accomplish this goal. A green skinned man walked up behind Helspont, gently placing his hand on the Daemonite’s shoulder.
“It is just a matter of time, Prince Artis, before you have what you need to finally take your rightful place.”
Querl Dox smirked as his blonde hair dropped across his face. He knew what he was after and he had the genius to get it done. It had been too long since he left Colu and even longer since he found himself back from the future. He had adapted to life in the 21st century, but his grasp on the reality of his situation had never been completely balanced.
“Thank you, Querl,” said Helspont. “Your council has been of vital importance to me. Your suggestion of Blood was inspired.”
The smirk extended into a full blown smile across the green-skinned face of Brainiac 5.
“Yes, it was,” Querl Dox aka Brainiac 5 was never modest. He knew how brilliant he was, though he may not have been able to see how far he had fallen. He was once a hero. Now, he was anything but. In his other hand, Querl held a chain which trailed back into the fog.
“He is secure?” asked Helspont.
“Of course,” Brainiac 5 said, dragging the weight at the end of the chain to the feet of Helsport. The man was bound by the chain around both arms and legs.
Alec Swan, bound and gagged, looked through his swollen eyes at the four-color villains standing over him. He rolled his eyes back into his head.
“How come I always get mixed up with these goons?” he thought. “I don’t know why I can’t just find myself an easy case…something natural or down to earth. Maybe a cheating husband where all I have to worry about is getting some pictures and what to bring along to eat during the stakeout. Nope. I get vampires and super villains.”
Before Alec Swan, a private investigator with the unfortunate name Firearm, could react to the voice, Brainiac 5 pulled on the chain once more, refocusing Swan on his current problem. The head vampire had arrived back at the pow-wow and Swan was hoping to discover something to help him out of this situation.
“I don’t like the way that thing is looking at me,” thought Swan. “Like it’s feeding time at the farm.”
Baron Blood, gazing down at Firearm, said, “Would it be easier if I just controlled his mind like I did the other?”
“You would not be able to control his mind,” said Helspont, “because he is a vessel.”
Helspont quickly glanced over his shoulder and Querl Dox nodded his support.
“But I have him controlled,” said Baron Blood, gesturing into the fog. Another man walked over, his eyes totally blank and emotionless. “Jim Corrigan.”
Swan saw the zombie-like man standing motionless beside the vampire as Baron Blood took a single claw and carefully scratched Corrigan across the cheek. The man did not move. He did not react.
“Just do what Lord Helspont says, Baron,” said Brainiac 5.
“Of course,” he replied. A slight drop of blood from the mind controlled man’s face dangled on the vampire’s claw and he licked it clean. Swan grimaced and he heard that non-corporeal word once again.
The siege was on.
Van Helsing cried out to his companions inside the walls of the Alamo that the mad rush was coming as the thought of history repeating itself in a monstrous rendition crossed his mind. Red-eyed vampires and lizard-like aliens rushed from the fog, launching themselves into the walls with such force that the building shook.
Barricading themselves into a section of the Alamo, Van Helsing, Alfred Pennyworth and Blackhawk prepared for the worst, determined that they would not go down without a fight. The spirits of William B. Travis, Davy Crockett and Jim Bowie were strong inside the room, but that did not build a sense of confidence or serenity.
As vampires crashed through windows, Van Helsing was trying to minimize the available entrances to the room, targeting his fire into the very spot. Every vampire that fell to the side seemed to be replaced by three more. Even in the years he had fought the monsters galore, he had never seen such a swarm. REMEMBER
Alfred Pennyworth had never been considered a third wheel in a fight by anyone who truly knew him. His appearance did not reveal his skill, which was why he was always a valuable cog in the fight against crime in Gotham City. He was both literally and figuratively miles from those fights now. REMEMBER
Blackhawk preferred the freedom of the skies. The rush of flight and the feeling inside of power at maneuvering through the air, the wind in his face. He was feeling desperately claustrophobic as the space was filling with creatures unlike those he had dealt with ever before. Every bullet he fired made him more precarious about the intensifying situation surrounding him. REMEMBER.
Three men. Unlike in many ways. Yet three heroes. Men who would not give up. They may not have known why this was happening or how they found themselves in this unwinnable circumstance, but they fought on.
Too much. Too many. The swarm of monsters continued to prostrate them.
Before succumbing to the crushing mass, Van Helsing did wonder why none of these vampires were biting him, despite the cuts and the blood upon his body.
Then it was over.
“Wake up, Van Helsing,” the German accented voice said, “time is short.”
Van Helsing rolled his head and, no matter how hard he wished, he could not place his hand on his now throbbing face for comfort. The reason was that he was securely bound in place by some form of rope. Alfred and Blackhawk were both in and out of consciousness and tied to stakes that had been driven into the floor of the Alamo. Chunks of the walls had been torn asunder, scattered around the area.
A second slap echoed through the Alamo.
“I’m awake,” Van Helsing said, angered by the insult. A large man with blue fiery flame from his head stood beside a green skinned man who had another man chained in a hump behind him. These were people he had never seen before. REMEMBER. What was going on?
“Good to see that you have survived for the moment. You are a vital piece of the puzzle,” said Helspont, moving forward.
“Who in the hell are you?” Van Helsing said. Alfred and Blackhawk were beginning to come around more fully and were taking in the desperate situation that they found themselves. They were not dead, though, which was a plus. They were also pleased that they were not waking up as vampires, a consideration that they had made as they were succumbing to the horde of blood suckers. REMEMBER
Helspont smiled. Any other time such bravado, in particular coming from a human, would have led to him striking the man down, but he knew that Gabriel Van Helsing was necessary and he would commute his sentence for the moment.
“I am Lord Helspont,” he said, “and the four of you have something that I require.”
“I’ve never seen you before in my life, Lord,” said Van Helsing. “And I only met those two when we were escaping from…” REMEMBER
“Yes?” smiled Helspont.
“Hugo Strange,” said Alfred.
Van Helsing had tracked Baron Blood across the country. The monstrous vampire had come on his radar recently and his mission required him to terminate the creature.
He had no idea what he was getting into.
He was also unaware that his arrival was not actually a surprise.
This was a castle, or at least, may as well have been one. You did not find many of these in the States, yet here it was. It was not the first castle he had sneaked into, but it was the first one he had entered with an airplane at the top. He did not understand what he was seeing.
As he peered into the room, he saw a man working over equipment, deep in thought. He had no clue who he was and only later would he hear that this was Hugo Strange. Baron Blood was there too, lurking in the shadows. A few other vampires were in the place, seemingly under Blood’s control.
He also saw the man who must have been the pilot of that aforementioned airplane, and a man dressed as a butler, bound and tied besides the mad scientist.
“Alfred,” he said, “it will be just a short time until I have the power to finally rid the world of the Bat.”
Bat? Is he trying to kill Baron Blood? Van Helsing thought. That does not make sense.
“Baron, have you gotten the fourth man?”
“Of course I have, Hugo,” replied Blood. With a glance, an unconscious man who had been chained up was brought into the room.
Firearm? Van Helsing said. He recognized him. They had briefly teamed up on one of his cases. He was a private investigator. Alec Swan. Van Helsing knew him to be a good man. Four men? %$^%$
“The machine is ready. Seize the day!” Strange said, slamming the button. A massive jolt of energy leapt from the machine, snatching Van Helsing from outside the window. The energy engulfed him and the pilot,the butler and Firearm. The four of them were pulled into a quadrangle at the outskirts of the energy, held in place. Strange was laughing as the energy reached out once again, this time for something… outside.
In the middle of the energy, a white skinned man appeared, a green cloak hanging from his frame.
“The Spectre?” the butler said and Van Helsing barely thought about why the butler would know this ghost.
Before anything else could be said, the Spectre was torn into four pieces, one piece projected at each of the four men, barreling into their chests. The pain was excruciating. It burned unlike anything that Van Helsing could remember. After an endless few seconds, the energy dispersed and the four men dropped to the ground. A fifth man fell to the floor as well, from the place where the ghost had floated.
“What happened?” muttered Van Helsing, not able to remember anything from the last few seconds. It was as someone had pulled a cover over his memory.
“Success!” screamed Strange.
But success was short-lived. The word barely escaped the mouth of the scientist before Baron Blood was on him. The fangs sunk deeply in as he ripped his throat out. Baron Blood buried his teeth into the soft flesh of the scientist as the warm, life giving plasma drained from his form. Strange’s shocked screams were muffled from the monster and he slowly sunk to the floor.
“Karma’s a bitch,” Van Helsing thought, looking at the others. “Get up,”
Helping the others to their feet, Van Helsing turned to the pilot.
“Was that your plane I saw?” he said. “Can you get us out of here?”
“Yes,” he said.
The four rushed toward the exit of the room, however, Firearm was snatched by the other vampires before he could escape. The other three could not stop as they were being pursued by a horde of vampires who seemed to come out of nowhere. Van Helsing hated leaving him behind, but they would not survive a fight right now. They were too weak. If only they could get to that plane.
“You three attempted your futile escape just before I arrived. I must say, I did not expect three heroes such as yourselves to just run off while you left Swan and Corrigan behind,” said Helspont.
“Who’s Corrigan?” Van Helsing said, growing irritated at being confused by what was happening.
“He was the Spectre,” said Alfred, once again showing off the knowledge that a normal butler would not have. “He’s right over there.”
“Correct, Alfred Pennyworth,” said Helspont. “He needs to be here as the anchor. You see, you are the vessels that I required. The power of the Spectre is beyond mine and I want it. I could not have taken it on my own, but by splitting into fours, I can control the power…making the transfer easier.”
“Are you insane?” asked Blackhawk.
“Of course not. Hugo Strange would have never been able to create the necessary equipment without Querl Dox…” started Helspont.
“Brainiac 5, you mean” said Alfred.
“My aren’t we Mr. Know-it-all,” said Brainiac 5.
“Yes, so as soon as Strange was able to accrue the four of you, he became quite expendable.”
Baron Blood smiled.
Slapping on some gauntlets handed to him by Brainiac 5, Helspont said, “And in a few minutes, the four of you will be expendable as well.”
As the energy flew, pulling free from each of the men, their screams cut through the Texas air. This mighty power, one that they had not even remembered they had, was being ripped from their bodies and heading toward the awaiting frame of Lord Helspont.
“This is intolerable,” Alfred said.
“Why do I get stuck with cases like this?” said Firearm, his chains slipping from his body.
“We only have one chance,” said Van Helsing. “When this energy ends, we have to rush him. Hopefully, he will be unsteady and we can get those gloves off him.”
“You need another plan,” said Blackhawk. “Look.”
The Spectre power was heading into Lord Helspont, but his face told the story. There was something wrong.
“What is going on?” Helspont said, turning,”Querl?”
Facing Brainiac 5, Lord Helspont saw the bright white teeth shining through the green skin. He knew his mistake immediately. Trust.
The power was going straight through Helspont and forming around Brainiac 5.
“Yes!” the former Legionnaire said , the power beyond his calculations pulsing through his muscles. “It is mine!”
With a thrust gesture, Lord Helspont felt the remaining energy inside his chest explode outward, tearing him in two. The lifeless lump of pieces that was Lord Helspont dropped to the ground at the feet of the cackling Brainiac 5.
“Now!” screamed Van Helsing as the four men leapt at Brainiac 5, a long green cloak manifesting itself around him, his skin quickly changing to a pale shade. Brainiac 5 shrugged and the four men flew from his body.
“Baron,” said Brainiac 5, turning his attention to the vampire. “Your assistance was so important. Thank you.”
A bolt of energy flew from Brainiac 5 and went cutting through Baron Blood and the other vampires in the room, turning them to dust. The eyes of Brainiac 5 bulged in madness as he turned on everyone that had helped him. He did not care. He had the power.
“I am the Spectre!” he shouted, maniacally.
Without warning, he doubled over, grasping his gut. The scream was filled with anguish. “No!” he said, as if he were fighting from within.
“What is going on?” asked Firearm.
As he asked, the group spotted Jim Corrigan behind Brainiac 5, his eyes clouded over, trying to pull the power of the Spectre home.
“Help me,” yelled Corrigan, and the four men lunged back at the new Spectre, grabbing hold of what they could. They had no idea what they could do in the presence of such power, but they were determined to do anything they could.
With the hands of the four on Brainiac 5, and a seemingly strengthening Jim Corrigan holding on tightly, the energy coursed back through the “vessels” and headed back from where it came.
“You should have killed me when you had a chance,” said Corrigan, whispering in his ear.
The green cape withered away and began to reform around his last full host. His skin turned white as Brainiac 5’s skin returned to the green. A final blast of green energy sent everyone flying.
Van Helsing looked up and the Spectre levitated slightly off the ground, Brainiac 5 laying on the ground before him. He reached down and grabbed Brainiac 5 by the throat, pulling him up to his face. They could not hear what Spectre said to him, but, after a second, he turned toward the last remaining men. A simple nod of the head was all the Spectre did and… he and Brainiac 5 were gone.
Van Helsing, Alfred, Alec Swan and Blackhawk looked around the Alamo, which was barely standing.
“What now?” said Blackhawk.
There was a long pause. Finally…
“I guess all we can do is remember…” said Van Helsing.