Shadows began to cloak the Kalamazoo Mall as the sun went down. Families, buskers, college students, and various other folks were enjoying the evening, unaware of the evil presence that hid among the rooftops, waiting for his prey to arrive.
He felt his spawn approach. He looked over, and saw three figures in the distance, along with red beams of light.
Wolf Savage powered up his rapier, and once again shot at the doppelganger, which effortlessly dodged the energy beam.
“STOP CHARGING UP SO DAMN MUCH!” Godan yelled. “JUST HIT HER SO SHE SLOWS DOWN!”
“I KNOW WHAT I’M DOING!” Wolf Savage replied.
The doppelganger flew downwards. It landed in the middle of the Kalamazoo Mall. People around her began to scream.
“Throw me at her!” Godan yelled. Wolf Savage nodded, twirled around, and threw Godan towards the street.
The doppelganger picked up a trash can and threw it at Godan. He wound up, ready to punch it. An energy beam shot past him and blew it to pieces.
“Your welcome,” Wolf Savage said, twirling his rapier around. He heard a screeching sound to his right. He turned and saw a skeletal Lord Ruthven coming at him, arms outstretched, mouth wide open.
Godan landed, and ran at the doppelganger She smiled, and turned into mist. Godan stopped, and waited for the mist to go past him. He then swung backwards, slashing her in the face as she materialized.
“You’re just as stupid as Ruthven!” Godan said, tearing into the doppelganger with his claws.
The doppelganger jumped into the air, attempting to fly away. Godan leapt onto her back. She turned back into mist before Godan could swipe at her again. She materialized a few feet away and flew down the street. Godan landed and gave chase.
Lord Ruthven dug his fangs deeper into Wolf Savages shoulder. Wolf Savage froze, terrified at what was happening. A shot of intense pain brought him back to reality. He turned his rapier upside down, and smashed the bottom of Lord Ruthven’s jaw with the handle. The vampire’s teeth dislodged, allowing Wolf Savage to kick him away.
Jesus, Wolf Savage thought, holding his shoulder. Pain shot through his entire body as his fingers touched his puncture wounds. Don’t have a panic attack, Joe. Wolf Savage then realized that Lord Ruthven was no longer in front of him. He heard a screeching above him.
“YOUR LIFE IS MINE!” Lord Ruthven yelled, speeding up.
“Not helping!” Wolf Savage yelled, holding his rapier with both hands, charging it up.
Wolf Savage tried aiming at the vampire. Lord Ruthven’s sunken face, as well as the crazed look in his eyes, made Wolf Savage shake.
“NO!” Wolf Savage yelled, stepping aside as Lord Ruthven was about to make contact with him. Lord Ruthven grabbed Wolf Savage by his chest and threw him towards on top of a nearby parking garage. Wolf Savage skid to a stop.
“Ugh, shit,” he said, the pain in his shoulder intensifying after the landing. I can’t let him do this to me, he thought.
He got onto one knee and looked up. Lord Ruthven was coming at him. His mind raced, thinking of how to fight back.
He then remembered a move he did during a previous battle. “Please work!” he said, thrusting the rapier into the concrete. He closed his eyes, and poured more power into it.
“DIE!” Lord Ruthven yelled, nearly upon him.
At that moment, Wolf Savage surrounded himself with a large energy dome. Lord Ruthven flew into it, bouncing off and smashing into a nearby car.
“As good as I’m probably gonna get,” Wolf Savage said, drawing deep breaths.
Bystanders either stood in shock, or ran away, from the doppelganger as she flew down the street. One of them, a woman with a stroller, began running away. The monster hummed, and turned towards her.
“Oh, GODDAMNIT!” Godan yelled, predicting what she intended to do, racing forward.
The woman screamed as the doppelganger stopped in front of her. She landed, smacked the woman away. took a hold of the stroller, and spun it around to face her.
“OH, FUCK NO!” Godan yelled.
The doppelganger licked her lips, and reached towards the baby. The mother, screaming, tried getting up, but fell back onto her knees.
Godan wrapped his arm around the doppelgangers neck. She immediately bit down on Godan’s arm. With a loud grunt, the Gray Wolf flung the doppelganger toward a building that had an entire wall made up of reflective glass and had a fountain in front of it, his flesh tearing away.
“OW!” he yelled, looking down at his wound. He heard the doppelganger smash into the glass. The woman took a hold of the stroller and ran away.
Godan concentrated his healing factor, and watched as his wound healed. He looked over just as the doppelganger stood up, amid the broken glass, his flesh still in her mouth.
“I’ve been told that I don’t taste taste that good,” Godan yelled as he walked towards her.
The doppelganger sucked the flesh into her mouth, chewed, and swallowed—giving Godan a toothy grin.
“Okay, I lied—I’ve actually been told the exact opposite.”
The doppelganger tried to fly away. Godan immediately leapt on her as she was about to take off. They landed on the glass, puncturing the doppelganger in various spots. Godan grabbed her by the leg, and began smashing her into the ground.
For the first time since it was spawned, the doppelganger spoke.
It screamed in pain and terror.
Stopping, Godan took a quick breath and wound back again, smashing her into the fountain. The doppelganger became still. Godan brought his foot down upon her head.
Godan heard screeching above him. He looked up and saw flashes of red light. “Shit,” he spat onto the ground. “What did he get himself into now?”
Lord Ruthven smashed against the energy field again. Wolf Savage breathed rapidly.
“You won’t last much longer,” Lord Ruthven said, slowly getting back up.
Wolf Savage looked down at the pool of blood that surrounded him. Nausea washed over.
Lord Ruthven lunged at him again. Wolf Savage closed his eyes.
What he heard wasn’t a screech, but a scream. He heard Lord Ruthven skid on the concrete, followed by him yelling ‘YOU!’
“Who?” Wolf Savage asked, opening an eye.
“ME!” Godan said, standing tall, claws covered in Lord Ruthven’s blood.
Lord Ruthven lunged at him. Godan punched the vampire, sending him past Wolf Savage and down into the parking garage entrance.
“Jeez, how many more of those things is he going to create?” Godan asked, cracking his knuckles.
“Wait, that’s not him?” Wolf Savage asked, letting his shield disperse.
Godan’s eyes widened as he looked him over. “Holy shit—he really fucked you up!”
“He slurped up a lot of my blood,” Wolf Savage said, putting his hand back over his puncture wounds.
“He sucked your blood?” Godan walked over and looked at the wound. “None of the other two didn’t suck blood…”. He looked over to the entrance just at Lord Ruthven stood up. “That IS him!”
“He’s not as handsome as you described,” Wolf Savage said, trying to stand up.
“What did you do to him?”
“What did I do?!” Wolf Savage fell back to his knees. “I’ve been trying to prevent him from killing my ass!”
“I didn’t know your beams could turn people into skeletons, though.”
“I didn’t do that!”
Lord Ruthven suddenly dashed down the ramp.
“GOT HIM!” Godan yelling, giving chase.
“Thanks for the save,” Wolf Savage mumbled. His rapier had become completely red. He gulped, and pressed the blade against the wounds, cauterizing them.
Lord Ruthven hopped, and started flying through the parking structure. His wings kept hitting against the ceiling.
“YOU’RE MINE!” Godan yelled, speeding up. He got underneath the vampire and jumped, uppercutting him in the chest. Lord Ruthven smashed against the ceiling and fell to the ground.
“What happened to you, Ruthven?” Godan asked. “Did all the monsters you sent after us drain you?”
Lord Ruthven stood up, wiping his blood from his face. “No, this is all my mothers doing.”
“Your mother did this to you?” Godan whistled. “I don’t think that’s something you should be admitting, bro.”
Lord Ruthven retracted his wings. “It doesn’t matter. I may not look like it, but I have more than enough strength to kill you.”
Godan laughed. “Oh come on, you barely put a scratch on Wolf Savage! And I beat you when you didn’t look like a shriveled corpse.”
“I’ll be back to normal soon enough,” Lord Ruthven tried to walk towards Godan. He began to shake uncontrollably. He stopped and wrapped his arms around himself, trying to calm down. “Then I’ll make you pay!”
“Your still mad about the house?” Godan grinned. “What, you can’t get your mom to buy you a new one?”
“YOU FUCKING IDIOT!” Lord Ruthven yelled, throwing a punch at Godan, who easily caught it. “You have no clue what you’re dealing with!”
“Well, you’re right about that.” Godan caught Lord Ruthven’s other fist.“What, your mom’s got beef with me or something?”
“You caused her testing area to get blown up,” Lord Ruthven struggled to free himself, “mangling her boy toy, killed her experiments—”
“None of that rings a bell, dude.” Godan tightened his grip. “Start making sense, will ya?”
Lord Ruthven, enraged, started kicking at Godan. “She’s behind the Rudkus and Melton gangs!” He kicked Godan in the leg, freeing himself. “She created all those superhumans you’ve been hunting down in Chicago this past year!”
“Is that so,” Godan said, his voice trailing off. He thought of all the superhumans he fought—and befriended—since the night he took down Upton nearly two years ago. “You’re giving me clues, but no answers. Do I look like a fucking detective to you?”
“For fuck sakes!” Lord Ruthven cringed as he felt a sharp pain go through his stomach. “ Mysta Avon, scientist and head of Mysta Industries—she’s behind ALL of this!”
“Who?” Godan thought it over, then perked up. “Oh yeah, I’ve seen her on T.V.!” He raised an eyebrow. “Wait, the really hot, Elon Musk-wannabe is your mom?”
“YES, YOU MORON!” Lord Ruthven wiped the spit from his mouth and pointed at Godan. “She knows everything about you. She watched you ever since you came to Chicago, she has your DNA on file—”
“After she found out you killed Lycaon, she sent me after you. I refused her Alkaline Radicals, so she shot me up with some shit that made me like this!”
“Whoa, whoa, chill out,” Godan put his hands up. “You’re going too fast—calm down.”
Lord Ruthven stopped talking, breathing heavily. Godan thought it all over. He then remembered his own father.
“Well?” Lord Ruthven asked.
“You know, she kinda sounds like my Dad.” Godan said. “I finally had enough of acting like a bitch and left, though.” Godan looked Lord Ruthven directly in the eye. “My question is, what’s your excuse for sticking around your abusive parent, tough guy?”
Lord Ruthven stared at him. Godan grinned, and got into a battle stance.
“YOU BASTARD!” The vampire bared his fangs, screeched, and leapt at the Gray Wolf.
Wolf Savage rested against the car, eyes closed. He readjusted himself, pain shooting through his shoulder. He heard shrieks. He opened his eyes in time to see Lord Ruthven and Godan fly past.
“You bastard,” Wolf Savage muttered. He charged up his rapier and held it up. Slowly, he aimed at Lord Ruthven.
Godan tried to rake his claws across Lord Ruthven’s face. Lord Ruthven took this chance to bite into Godan’s wrist. Seeing that he was hovering in place, Wolf Savage fired at him.
“LET GO, YOU LEECH!” Godan yelled, punching Lord Ruthven in the side of the head. He saw Wolf Savage’s energy blast heading towards them. Shit, he thought. He tore his wrist out of Lord Ruthven’s mouth and jumped off him as the energy blast hit the vampire.
“You holding up?” Wolf Savage asked Godan as he landed next to him.
“I’m fine,” Godan concentrated on healing his wrist, “but next time, blow him up when I’m NOT attached to him, got it? It’s not fun tearing your own flesh out of someones mouth!”
Wolf Savage watched at Lord Ruthven came barreling down, smoke coming off him. “I knew you’d jump off just in time.”
“BULLSHIT!” Godan yelled.
Lord Ruthven smashed through a nearby cars sun roof. The crash made Godan jump. Wolf Savage saw that his wrist was completely healed.
“You gotta show me how you do that sometime,” Wolf Savage said, twirling his rapier.
“You got a healing factor too?” Godan asked as he turned around to face the car that Lord Ruthven smashed into.
“Yeah, but it’s not even close to being as fast as yours!”
They stood still and watched the car, waiting for Lord Ruthven to reappear.
“I think you got him,” Godan said, exhaling.
A muscular arm suddenly burst through the car window and shot a fireball at them. Godan pushed Wolf Savage to the side and punched the fireball, dispersing it.
“I guessed wrong,” Godan said as began to run towards the car.
A blast of red energy passed by him, followed by another. Godan stopped and looked behind him as Wolf Savage, down on one knee, blasted the car furiously with energy blasts. Godan grinned.
“DO IT, SAVAGE!” Godan yelled, pumping his fist.
Wolf Savage yelled as he increased the volume and intensity of the blasts. The inside of the car burst into flames. Some of the blasts strayed and hit the wall alongside and behind the car.
“Wait,” Godan said. His eyes widened. “WAIT! STOP! THAT’S ENOUGH!”
Wolf Savage did not hear him. He stood up, and increased the power of his blasts.
“STOP!” Godan yelled, running towards him.
The car exploded and went through the wall, toppling towards the ground. Godan ran to the ledge and yelled “LOOK OUT BELOW!”
He watched as the car crashed onto the deserted street. He sighed in relief. Nearby law enforcement, talking to witnesses on the Kalamazoo Mall, heard the crash and began racing towards the scene.
Godan looked behind him. Wolf Savage was on his knees, with his mask pulled back and rapier on the ground in front of him
“Feel better, asshole?!” Godan yelled, walking over to him.
“I didn’t mean to do that,” Wolf Savage said.
“SPEAK UP!” Godan grabbed him by the collar and yanked him up. “YOU COULD HAVE KILLED SOMEONE DOWN THERE!”
“I’m sorry! I didn’t mean to do that! I just wanted him to stop!”
Godan noticed that Wolf Savage was crying.
“I just wanted to stop him,” he said softly.
Godan let go of his collar. Wolf Savage took hold of Godan’s arms to keep himself on his feet.
“I’m so sorry,” Wolf Savage muttered.
“It’s okay,” Godan brought Wolf Savage into his arms and hugged him, “no one was down there.”
The cops, who had created a perimeter, heard a loud roar come from inside the car. Two large arms shot out of it, and began tearing the fiery vehicle in half. They drew their guns.
“I was just so angry,” Wolf Savage said, calming down.
“I was angry over a girl when I came here,” Godan said.
Wolf Savage sniffled. “What?”
“Her name was Dia. I was sent to kill her. She brainwashed me—made me think I loved her. She was Ruthven’s lover. He’s after me because I burned down his stupid house after she died.”
Wolf Savage looked up. “For real?”
Godan raised an eyebrow. “Well, yeah.”
The cousins stared at each other.
“What?” Godan asked.
“You’ve been acting bitchy all this time due to a girl!?”
Two large horns appeared from the wreck. The cops began firing.
“FUCK YOU!” Godan yelled, letting go of Wolf Savage and backing away. “SHE FUCKING BRAINWASHED ME!”
“Sorry, my bad,” Wolf Savage, giggling, wiped his eyes. He took a deep breath. “Yeah, that is a big deal.”
Godan face palmed himself. “Jesus Christ, Joe.”
Godan and Wolf Savage heard a beastial roar, and froze in place.
“It didn’t work.” Wolf Savage said.
“It’s beginning to sound that way,” Godan replied.
Lord Ruthven emerged, transformed into his demonic self. The bullets entered into his body as he stood up. He stretched his wings, looked over at the cops and, with his arms outstretched, blasted them with his fire.
Wolf Savage picked up his rapier. “How strong can he still be,” he asked, pulling his mask back on, “after all the damage we’ve done to him?”
“That’s one thing we have in common, I guess,” Godan said, cracking his knuckles. “We just don’t give up.”
Lord Ruthven suddenly appeared, hovering above them.
“THAT’S HIM?!” Wolf Savage yelled, backing away.
“Yep,” Godan said, glaring at the vampire.
Wolf Savage composed himself, and aimed his rapier at Lord Ruthven. “How many forms does he have?!”
“This is the only other one that I know about. I took him out last time he was in this form, so—”
Lord Ruthven clenched his fists, and began yelling. His muscles bulged to epic proportions. He grew taller, as did his horns and the span of his wings.
“You defeated THAT by yourself?!” Wolf Savage yelled.
Godan backed away. “Well, I did have that cop put a bullet in his head…”
Lord Ruthven shot towards them. Godan leapt towards him as well.
“Wait!” Wolf Savage yelled.
Godan prepared to punch the vampire. Lord Ruthven shot off a fireball. Godan swatted I away. Lord Ruthven grabbed him by the torso with his other hand.
He’s even bigger up close, Godan thought as he struggled. Lord Ruthven laughed, and Godan’s entire body burst into flames.
“NO!” Wolf Savage yelled, flying towards them. Lord Ruthven charged at him. Wolf Savage halted, and tried to fly away. Lord Ruthven grabbed him by the cape and flew at such a high speed through the streets that Wolf Savage became disoriented.
“STOP!” Wolf Savage yelled.
“Not until I have some fun!” Lord Ruthven yelled.
Wolf Savage suddenly saw himself be set on fire. Lord Ruthven laughed manically, and began swinging Wolf Savage around, smashing him into the side of a building and taking off the top of a tree.
“Scream ‘Uncle!’ “, Lord Ruthven said, looking back. He flew lower, smashing Wolf Savage into a stop sign, and bolted upwards.
Godan, still fully engulfed in flames, freed his arms. “AUNT!” he screamed, slashing the vampires face. Lord Ruthven cringed, threw Godan downwards, and shot him with a fireball, sending him into the Kalamazoo River.
Wolf Savage took the opportunity to propel himself upwards. He sliced off half of Lord Ruthven’s left wing.
Lord Ruthven screamed, letting go of his cape. Wolf Savage kicked him in the face and landed on a nearby rooftop.
Wolf Savage looked up, and saw that the vampire was gone. Where did he go, he thought frantically. He looked down and saw the Kalamazoo River, which was slightly illuminated by nearby street lights. “Oh shit—Gareth!”
“You should really worry about yourself,” Lord Ruthven said, his voice echoing through the night. Wolf Savage noticed that he was being surrounded by mist. He held his rapier out, remembering what Godan told him about Lord Ruthven’s ability to turn into mist.
“That’s more like it!” Lord Ruthven said. The mist turned orange.
Instinctively, Wolf Savage leapt out of the mist, which then burst into a fireball.
“Godan never mentioned that,” Wolf Savage said, covering his face from the heat.
“I didn’t use that move on him—I haven’t used that move in a long time, in fact.” Lord Ruthven appeared behind Wolf Savage and put him in a headlock. “Thanks for giving me the chance to use it!”
In the Kalamazoo River, a hand shot out of the water and slapped the ladder embedded into the wall. Claws raked across the steel until it took hold.
“Quite a costume you have there,” Lord Ruthven said, increasing the pressure on his headlock. “It withstood my hellfire much better than your friends did.”
“Weren’t you bigger just a few seconds ago?” Wolf Savage asked, gasping for air.
“I can change my size at will—and it’s much easier to do so after I reform from mist.”
Wolf Savage swung his rapier back-and-forth, trying to cut the vampire. “Very impressive.”
“Question: why do you call yourself a ‘savage’?” Lord Ruthven asked. “You aren’t that wild.”
“The name came to me after a weekend of brainstorming,” Wolf Savage explained, feeling himself becoming light headed. “I think it sounds good.”
“Well, what do you know,” Lord Ruthven walked them over to some pipes sticking out of the roof. “I chose my name the same way you did—brainstorming.”
“Are you actually royalty?”
Wolf Savage laughed. “Then you have no right to make fun of my name, hypocrite!”
Lord Ruthven let go of Wolf Savage. He tore one of the pipes out of the roof. The pipe burst into flames. He retracted his wings and charged at Wolf Savage, swinging wildly. Wolf Savage barely
dodged each swing. Lord Ruthven then powered up his impromptu flame sword and swung down. Wolf Savage blocked it, the energy that between their weapons creating sparks.
“You will call me Lord,” the vampire said, pushing down. Wolf Savage felt, and heard, the roof underneath him crack.
He pushed Lord Ruthven back and attacked. Their weapons lit up the night with red and orange flashes. Wolf Savage thrusted at the vampire. Lord Ruthven dodged, and brought his flame sword down. It broke in half upon impact with the rapier.
“HUH?” they both said at the same time, each flabbergasted at what had just happened. They looked at each other.
“Um,” Wolf Savage regained his composure and jumped back, “sorry that didn’t work out for you.”
“Thanks, but I’ve gotten over it already.” Lord Ruthven picked up the broken pieces and set them ablaze. He threw the flame daggers towards Wolf Savage. One of them grazed his shoulder. The other hit the hilt of his rapier, forcing him to drop it.
Before Wolf Savage could recover, Lord Ruthven punched him. He caught the second fist, and fought back. Charging up his fists, Wolf Savage and Lord Ruthven traded blows.
Lord Ruthven engulfed his fist in flames. He deliberately aimed at Wolf Savage’s incoming punch. Paralyzing pain shot through Wolf Savages body the moment their fists connected. They both stood still. Lord Ruthven whistled, and pushed Wolf Savage, who fell onto his back.
“You put my hand to sleep!” Lord Ruthven said, waving it casually around.
Wolf Savage smacked his good arm around the roof until he found his rapier Lord Ruthven got on top of him as he took hold of it.
“I’ll be more gentle this time,” Lord Ruthven said as he grabbed Wolf Savage by the chin, pushing his head sideways.
Wolf Savage tried to swing his rapier. Lord Ruthven grabbed his wrist, held it tightly, and sank his fangs into Wolf Savages neck.
The shock of getting his blood sucked out of him made Wolf Savage unable to either move or scream. He gasped for air as his heart beat faster.
“So good,” Lord Ruthven mumbled as he fed.
Wolf Savage gripped his rapier. He closed his eyes and created a mental image of two wolves. He grunted, and from his rapier came a stream of energy. Lord Ruthven failed to notice this as the energy beam split apart, and formed into two large, red wolves.
“Take…” Wolf Savage gasped for air. “TAKE HIM!”
The two energy constructs leapt at Lord Ruthven, sending him tumbling off Wolf Savage. They tore into the vampire as he let out a familiar screech. Wolf Savage stood up, held out his hand, took a deep breath, and quickly clenched his fist. The two constructs exploded. Wolf Savage jumped off the roof and rolled as he landed on the ground.
“You okay, Joe?” Godan said, emerging from the shadows.
Wolf Savage smiled. “Gar!” He used his rapier to push himself upwards. “Oh my God, am I glad you’re—”
Wolf Savage saw that most of Godan’s clothes were burned off. He was covered in blisters, soot marks, and his hair was slightly tinged black.
“I’m in tremendous pain right now,” Godan said, stepping forward. He fell onto one knee. “Shit, that stings!”
“You’re doing better than I thought,” Wolf Savage replied, “meaning you’re not dead.”
The sky above them lit up. Wolf Savage grabbed him and jumped ahead. A fireball hit the ground, sending flames and debris everywhere.
“FUCKIN’ A!” Godan yelled, looking up as he struggled to his feet. “You did that?!”
Wolf Savage looked up. Lord Ruthven hovered over them, the disappearing smoke revealing that he was missing his jaw, as well as various chunks of flesh.
“I still have a few tricks I can use.” Wolf Savage replied.
Lord Ruthven let out a screech. Godan laughed loudly. “That’s hilarious!” he said, slapping his cousin on the back.
“OW!” Wolf Savage yelled, recoiling.
“My bad,” Godan said, calming down.
Lord Ruthven shot two fireballs at them. Godan grabbed Wolf Savage and jumped across the Kalamazoo River.
“OW!” Godan said as they landed.
“How much longer do you need to heal?” Wolf Savage asked, standing up.
“I’m too tired to be at one hundred percent any time soon.”
Wolf Savage held his rapier with both hands. “I’ll hold him off—attack him when you’re ready.”
Godan put his hand on his shoulder just as he was about to take off. “You’re in worse shape than I am! You rest.”
“Say’s the guy who got barbecued!” Wolf Savage said, putting his hand on Godan’s shoulder.
The pain Godan felt disappeared. He felt his body begin to warm up. He turned his head to the side and looked at Wolf Savage’s slightly glowing hand.
“Are you pumping your energy into me?” he asked.
Wolf Savage looked at him strangely. “No—why?”
Lord Ruthven screeched above them. The cousins looked up and saw the vampire charging up two fireballs.
“DO THAT!” Godan yelled.
Wolf Savage nodded, and closed his eyes. Godan watched as his body began to glow red. He concentrated his healing factor. The wounds and burns he sustained instantly healed up.
Lord Ruthven combined the fireballs into one, and threw it down at them. Godan pushed Wolf Savages hand away and jumped towards the fireball. He wound his fist back and punched it, making it dissipate.
“wHaT?” Lord Ruthven gurgled. He then realized that Godan was coming straight towards him, fist still outstretched. He veered to the side and Godan began to fly past him. The Gray Wolf used his other claw to dig into the vampires wings to stop his momentum. He tore through the wing, and fell back to the ground. Lord Ruthven thrashed around the air, howling.
Wolf Savage stared at him. “How did you do—”
“Give this a shot,” Godan said, taking the rapier from Wolf Savage. He aimed at Lord Ruthven, and tried to channel the energy Wolf Savage had put into him through it. “Come on!” Godan waved the rapier around. “Pew, pew!”
“What the hell are you doing?!” Wolf Savage yelled, snatching his rapier back.
Godan looked at Wolf Savage, who recoiled at the sudden movement. He shook his head, took back the rapier, wound up, and threw it towards Lord Ruthven. The sword pierced the vampires back.
“ARE YOU SHITTING ME?!” Wolf Savage yelled.
“You couldn’t hold it anyway!” Godan turned around. “Get on.”
“Why? Are we running away?”
“No, I have an idea.”
Wolf Savage wrapped his arms around Godan’s neck. “What could you possibly have in mind?”
“Use me as your sword,” Godan replied, looking up. Lord Ruthven was trying desperately to pull the rapier out of his body. “Pump me full of energy—”
“Okay, I may have an idea of what you’re getting at.” Wolf Savage interrupted.
“…then unleash it—he’ll blow up like that demon’s head did!”
Lord Ruthven finally got a good grip on the rapier.
“I’m not gonna blow you up in order to take him down!” Wolf Savage said.
“Your sword doesn’t blow up when you force energy into it,” Godan replied.
“You’re not an inanimate, magical object!”
Lord Ruthven began pulling the rapier out of himself.
“I’m full of your energy right now—and I feel fucking great!” Godan winked at him. “Just trust me on this!”
Lord Ruthven had finally pulled the rapier out of his body.
“Oh, and it’s the only way you’ll get your sword back.”
Wolf Savage growled. He began pouring as much energy as he could into Godan.
“AWESOME!” Godan yelled as he felt himself powering up. Some of the energy began to swirl around him as a fiery red aura. “HANG TIGHT!”
Lord Ruthven examined the rapier. His hand began to burn.
“HEY, BLOODSUCKER!” Godan yelled, rocketing toward the vampire.
Lord Ruthven twirled around, and threw the rapier at them. Godan used his left hand to swat it away. He reared his right arm back.
“DO IT!” Wolf Savage yelled, pouring his all into the Gray Wolf.
Godan drove his fist into Lord Ruthven’s chest. It instantly came out the other side. The vampire gasped.
Wolf Savage pushed his energy out through Godan’s arm like he would his rapier. Lord Ruthven’s eyes glowed red, and energy shot out of his wounds. The vampire let out one final shriek as his body expanded, and exploded.
The blast separated the cousins, sending them in different directions.
“FUCK YEAH!” Godan yelled as he was blasted towards the Kalamazoo River. He saw Wolf Savage’s rapier next to him and grabbed it before he smacked into the water.
Wolf Savage landed. “GARETH!” he yelled, hobbling towards the river. Pieces of Lord Ruthven fell around him. Wolf Savage ignored them and continued looking around.
Godan’s hand appeared. He sprung himself over the railing, and landed in front of Wolf Savage.
“Told ya it would work!” Godan said, twirling the rapier around.
Wolf Savage shook his head. “I never doubted you,” he said, smiling.
They heard a thud behind them. They looked back, and saw a large object bounce off the ground.
“Is that Ruthven?” Godan asked, handing the rapier back to Wolf Savage and running over.
The upper half of Lord Ruthven’s torso came to a stop. Smoke emitted from its wounds. The vampire had a shocked looked on his dead, eye-less face.
“He’s finally gone,” Godan said, kicking the corpse. Wolf Savage flinched at his cousin desecrating their now former foes corpse. He fell to his knees, and relaxed.
Down towards the mall, they heard sirens blaring and saw lights flashing
“We better leave,” Godan said, handing Wolf Savage back his rapier and picking up the corpse. He wound it back, and threw it into the river. “When we get back, I’ll teach you how to use your healing factor better.”
Wolf Savage smiled. “My hero.”
“No prob,” Godan bent down, “what are cousins for?”
Wolf Savage nodded, wrapped his arms around his neck, and relaxed as Godan lifted him onto his back. He closed his eyes as Godan began racing away.
Far above them, Upton watched until they were out of his sensors range, and he dove into the river.
Gareth, Joseph, and Floyd stood near the tracks at the Kalamazoo Transportation Center. Joseph repeatedly flexed his hand.
“Arm still numb?” Gareth asked.
“Kinda,” Joseph replied, pinching his arm.
“Well, just keep doing those exercises and meditations I showed you last night,” Gareth adjusted his backpack, “and you’ll be healing up like I do in no time.”
“You sure you don’t want to stick around for another day?” Joseph leaned in so he could whisper. “ I could probably teach you how to fire energy blasts.”
“Don’t you need your sword for that?” Gareth said aloud.
“WHISPER!” Joseph muttered. “And no, but it’s a lot easier to do so with the rapier.”
“I will if you let me have your sword.”
“That ain’t gonna happen.”
“Then I don’t need to learn it.” Gareth held his hand up. “These claws are all I need.”
“What you need is some income, dude,” Floyd said jokingly.
Gareth looked at them sternly. “You guys sure you don’t want me to pay you back for the clothes and train ticket? When I get back to Chicago, I can send—”
Joseph and Floyd both said “NAH”.
“Wait, Floyd, you just said—”
“Sarcasm,” Floyd laughed. “Learn it!”
“A hero with my fashion sense couldn’t let you just thrift some “new” clothes,” Joseph said. “I thought you deserved better.”
“You thought I needed to be more colorful, though.”
“Well, you do!” Joseph looked Gareth. “You’re so plain and drab!”
“What other colors would a ‘Gray Wolf’ be, though?” Floyd asked.
Joseph glared at Floyd. “You asked me that already when we were at Meijer.”
“And I’m asking you again, since you didn’t answer me then!”
The gates came down, closing off the nearby street as the train began to pull into the station.
“I’m finally going back home,” Gareth said, taking off his backpack.” Sweet home, Chicago!” He then grimaced. “I do have a lot of info to unpack though, some of which I still don’t understand…”
Floyd tapped him on the shoulder. “You okay, dude? You’re mumbling big time.”
Gareth turned to Floyd. “I’m fine.” He held up his fist. “Floyd, thanks for the hospitality. Sorry for being a dick at times.”
“Hey, it’s all right,” Floyd bumped fists with him. “I got to hang out with legit superheroes—it was worth it.”
“Stop by Chicago sometime, we’ll go get a drink or something!” Gareth then turned to Joseph. “Joe, dude, thanks for all the help.” He extended his fist.
“That’s it?” Joseph asked.
“What do you mean ‘That’s it’ ? What more do you want?
Joseph snickered. He grabbed Gareth’s wrist, and pulled him into a hug.
“It was nice meeting you, cousin,” Joseph said, squeezing hard.
“So, we’re making it official then?” Gareth replied, hugging back.
“My as well—like I said, I can’t think of any other way to explain how we’re connected. Plus, I just think it sounds cool.”
Gareth slightly pulled away. “I’m sorry for acting like a dick towards you as well.”
“Don’t worry about it,” Joseph patted his arm. “Remember what I said last night while you were teaching me how to better use my healing factor.”
Gareth remembered last night in Floyd’s apartment where, after cleaning themselves up, Gareth started teaching Joseph how to tap into his healing factor like he did. As they sat in the living room, eyes closed, each in a lotus position, Joseph broke the silence.
“Hey,” he said, opening his eyes. “I’m sorry again for bashing you about the way you’ve been dealing with being brainwashed.”
Gareth took a deep breath, never opening his eyes. “It’s cool—keep focusing.”
“If it helps, do what I do when I’m feeling down: think about your abilities, the good you do with them, and all the people you love.”
“Dude, keep focusing. I can’t stay around forever teaching you.”
Joseph laughed. “Right, right, sorry.” He closed his eyes and began focusing on his healing factor again.
Gareth opened his eyes and looked at him. Warmth spread throughout his chest. He smiled, closed his eyes again, and resumed meditating.
Amtrak officials began allowing people onto the train.
“I will,” Gareth nodded. “You should come visit me in Chicago.”
“Sure, as long as you promise to visit me in Windsor.”
“Deal. I’ve never sneaked across an international border before.”
They laughed, hugged again, and Gareth got in line. Just as he was about to get on, Gareth turned around one last time, waved at Joseph and Floyd, and entered the train.
“You know, I’ve put some of the pieces together,” Floyd said, “but he never told me exactly why he was so angry when we first met.”
“It was over a girl who did him wrong,” Joseph replied, “big time wrong!”
“Wait, really? Not the vampire, or the—”
Joseph put his arm around Floyd’s shoulders. “So, I got one more day left in town.”
“Is that so?”
“Yeah, and I haven’t been to Bell’s Brewery yet.”
“Oh, it’s pretty much down the street from here.”
“Good! Let’s go for a drink. I’ll tell you everything Gareth told me. Will they have Oberon there?”
“Maybe, but they got shit that some say is way better than Oberon!”
“Lead the way, then!”
Gareth stuffed his backpack into the storage space and sat down. He looked out the window and saw Floyd and Joseph walking away. He smiled, took out a copy of the latest edition of the Western Herald from his side pocket, and started reading it.
In the back of a cemetery in Portage, Mysta leaned against her limousine, writing in her notebook. She noted that Godan now “apparently has” the ability to absorb energy. She had just finished writing her observations of using her Anti-Radical formula on Lord Ruthven when Upton landed in front of her, holding two large bags over his shoulders.
“Hey, honey,” she said, closing her notebook. “Did you find the rest of him?”
Upton shook his head, and replied in a robotic language that only Mysta could understand. He opened up the bags, one holding Lord Ruthven’s upper torso, the other holding the body parts and chunks of flesh he was able to locate.
“Good enough—I’ll be able to recreate and resurrect him fairly easily. Be a dear and head back to Chicago and prepare the lab for me, will you?”
Upton nodded, closed and picked up the bags, and flew off.
“I’m sure he’ll be back in town soon as well,” Mysta said to herself as she got into her limo. “You’ll be all mine then, Gareth Manion.”
Mysta closed the door. The limo started up, and exited the cemetery.
A few days later, Floyd returned to his parents home in Alpena. He grabbed his suitcase from his backseat, and quickly entered the house. The family dog, Rambo, greeted him at the door.
“Hey there, boy,” Floyd said, patting the dog as he took off his shoes.
“Floyd?” Naomi said, peeking around the door frame leading into kitchen.
“Hey, Mom,” Floyd finished taking off his shoes and entered the kitchen, followed by Rambo.
“You didn’t tell us you were coming, dear,” Naomi said, hugging and kissing Floyd.
“I just decided to come last night,” Floyd hugged her back, then broke away. “I’ll tell ya all about it in a sec.”
Floyd entered the living room. Henry was relaxing in the recliner, reading The Alpena News.
Henry put down his paper. “Hey, Floyd,” he said, sitting up. “Didn’t know you were coming.”
“Split second decision.”
“How was the traffic coming up?”
“I’ll tell you all about it in a sec. There’s something I gotta look up in my room first.”
Henry nodded. Floyd walked down the hall, entered his room, and closed the door. Rambo sniffed the door and whined.
Floyd flung his suitcase to the side and bent down to the bottom shelf of his bookcase. He pulled out the Alpena High School yearbook from his senior year. He went to the directory, searching for students named Gareth. He found two. One turned out to be a member of the football team.
“Yeah, there’s no fucking way that’s him,” Floyd said, turning back to the directory, then turning to the page where it said that the second Gareth’s picture was located.
Before him, along with the other senior portraits, was Gareth Manion: a student with long, shaggy, unkempt brown hair, brown eyes, wearing a dress shirt. He had the same intense look on his face as Godan did when Floyd met him.
“Holy shit!” Floyd laughed. He pulled out his other high school yearbooks. “How could I not remember that guy?!”
Rambo circled around, then walked back to the living room. More laughter came from Floyd’s room, as well as the sound of turning pages.
Bio: Garret Schuelke is the author of the GODAN series (2018-present, Bakunin Incorporated) WHUP JAMBOREE: STORIES (2017, Elmblad Media Group), ANAMAKEE (2016, Riot Forge), and three poetry ebooks. He is also the host of The Garret Schuelke Podcast. He can be reached at his official website, garretschuelke.tumblr.com , or through Twitter @garretschuelke