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Chapter Two: Black as Night
Norrin was hesitant to follow the others back inside. After all, this man and his comrades had just attacked Beast! He also didn't want to stop flying. He felt free and relaxed in the open air. It was almost as if he was meant to be this way. In his heart he could feel a longing for open spaces in which to soar forever. Something about this just feels SO right. I can't quite put my finger on it, but I feel happier flying around than I have in quite a while. Norrin hung back from the rest of the group for a while, but ultimately decided to follow them inside for fear of something else attacking from within the darkness.
When life hands you lemons, you gotta squirt lemon juice and life's eye and make it your B!TCH
Glaring at Victoria as she chided he and his companion’s deeds, the vigilante known as Frank Castle simply waited. He wanted desperately to let his pistols answer the woman’s accusations for him, as had become his MO in dealing with anyone who crossed his path. But things were getting rough out there, and shooting a potential ally would only be detrimental to his cause.

While Castle took Victoria’s verbal abuse, his companions were discussing the Watch and its members. Blade, whose heightened senses allowed him to see and hear beyond the scope of normal mortals, informed his teammates of Rogue’s presence. Not one of the Punishers trusted the Watch, and their accusatory glances let the team of heroes know it. The simple fact that one of the Watch’s group insisted on remaining invisible spoke volumes. It was as if they were trying to conceal their numbers: a wise move, but definitely not one that instilled trust in the newcomers. Spider-man’s quiet, stalking nature also set the Punishers on edge. The leather wearing sharp shooter listened to his teammate’s discussion, but did not allow his eyes to leave the wall crawler. He was familiar with the man he knew as Spider-man, and if this fellow was anything like him, he bore watching. They had not seen much of Tessa, Paige or Barry and couldn’t get a good bead on them, but experience had taught the vampire hunters to judge people upon the company they kept. Which meant they fell under the Punisher’s heavy scrutiny. Most intriguing of all though was the chrome plated alien standing across the room. The bald headed Asian man, dressed in robes of black, watched him closely. The man known as Wong couldn’t help but feel that the Surfer seemed out of place in this group. But as was his way, he said nothing on the subject. He simply kept an eye on him as he directed his attention back to the center of the room and listened as Castle readied his most likely caustic reply to Victoria’s jabs.

Doing his best to keep his composure, Frank responded, “So basically, you’re the cavalry? I’m a proud man, but I sure as hell ain’t stupid. If you’ve been sent to help, then you are welcome to try. But don’t go thinking that just because the vampires are running roughshod over New York that we haven’t been doing our job. The simple fact that you would jump to that conclusion already has you on my bad side, missy. And the fact that big, green and nasty here bares an unnerving resemblance to one of the most vicious vamps this side of Westchester doesn’t exactly sit well with me either. So you’ll forgive me if I take a moment to double check.” His train of thought broke as he closed his eyes, obviously concentrating on some unseen objective. But it did not remain unseen for long, because as he concentrated, the amulet that hung at his waist came to life. The Eye of Agamotto opened, bathing the Watch in an all-revealing light. They stood frozen in the light for mere moments, but it was long enough for Frank Castle to see what he wished to see. The Eye exposed to him the Watch’s true nature. It told him that they could be trusted, and that was good enough for him. He turned to face his comrades and nodded as he said, “They’re telling the truth.” As soon as the words were spoken, the tension in the room seemed to dissipate considerably. The fact remained that everyone was standing amongst virtual strangers, but the extreme distrust seemed to vanish from the Punishers as Frank revealed what the Eye had seen.

Turning back to the Watch, with his team gathered behind him, Castle explained, “I’ve seen too much weird $#@! over the past couple of years to find anything you said surprising. But I had to be sure it was true. Now that I know it is, we can get this show on the road. The short version is this: vampires have taken over New York. They targeted the super powers first. Once that was done, they started to feed on the citizens, with nothing to stand in their way. And now we do what we can to get through the days, and fight like hell to get through the nights. There aren’t many of us left, but we do what we can to try to end this living nightmare. So if you’re here to help, then I’d suggest grabbing up as many stakes as you can, because the hunt is on.”
Paige blue eyes had fallen on each of Frank Castle’s men as she stood in the corner of the room, trying to size them up and stay out of their line of sight. After all she didn’t want to be the next person they chose to make their new target. Though it appeared maybe the group of gun toting men had finally realized that the members of The Watch meant them no harm and were in fact willing to help them out with their cause. During the whole exchange one of the men had kept Paige’s interest the most, it was the young man who couldn’t have been much older then her and she was intrigued and wondered how it was he’d come to be apart of this vampire hunting team. In her reality it had been almost uncommon for teenagers to join superhero teams, Gen-X having been the first team that had been fully made up of teenagers.

“Ah don’t need a stake.” Paige’s reply was short and to the point, this being the first thing the young blond had said since her encounter with Rogue earlier. It seemed as if that might be the only thing Paige would say for awhile, having fallen back into her silence, many of the team had probably come to figure out that this was how Paige dealt with her emotions. Having done close to the same thing back on the train in their last mission, though back during that mission she’d had Pete. He was gone now and a little piece of her wished he’d ended up with them. He’d been so much like a big brother and best friend to her that she really just longed to be able to sit down and have him tell her she was being silly. Then make some comment along the lines of ‘Booze and cigarettes could make her right as rain’ then Paige would be able to give him a belittling look and inform him that smoking will in fact be the death of him.

Just thinking about the man she’d lovingly called ‘Spy-boy’ for most of their time together brought tears to Paige’s bright blue eyes, which caused the blond southerner to tilt her head to one side created a current of long blond hair covering her face to hide the tears from view of the others. She wasn’t going to show weakness now, nor admit that Pete and made her feel more secure and safe in and ever changing environment. Curse him, here ah am thinkin’ ah’m strong and independent and now ah’m bawlin’ my eyes out for a man ah couldn’t stand half the time, and the other half of the time ah didn’t want to be away from. Curse him for bein’ so much like mah big brother. Paige balled up her fists and pressed them against her closed eyes, rubbing furiously at them as she tried to keep her silent sobs from becoming louder and more apparent to the rest of the team. She was a wreck and wasn’t willing to admit it, but without Pete Wisdom or Jono to be her shoulder to lean on it become increasingly harder for Paige to stay strong and focus at the task at hand.

With a deep sigh Paige gave up and let the tears come, pushing her hair out of her face she set a strong glare on her usually soft and almost child like features, determined to look as tough a she could while crying like a small child. It was times like this that her teammates were reminded that she was after all just barely an adult though try as she might to convince herself and others that she was tougher and much more mature beyond her years.
Norrin hovered on his board just to the side of the rest of his companions. He turned his attention to the leader of the Punishers and asked him a question that he didn't really want the answer to, but thought it needed to be asked anyway. "Just how many of the creatures are we going to have to eliminate, or don't you know?" He noticed the Asian man looking at him quizically and asked him, "Is there something troubling you? If my appearance bothers you, then I can turn this device on. It will alter my looks to something that might be more appealing to you. Or is it something else?"
When life hands you lemons, you gotta squirt lemon juice and life's eye and make it your B!TCH
"Who needs stakes? I'm packin' enough heat that I've incinerated adamantum to ash in seconds." Victoria gave Castle the exact same look he had been giving her moments before.
"Of course, whether or not I can get it to listen to me at this point is a whole other story." A smirk curled the corners of her lips as the thought ran through her mind.
And the fact that Castle had mentioned that Hank was a vampire in this reality hadn't fallen on deaf ears. This was her second time in meeting the same person in a different reality, if they ran across him, it would be Hank's first. Part of her worried about it. Her anger seemed to melt away as concern flooded her. What if it came down to it, could Hank do it? Could she? Staring at a mirror image of yourself and willing it to die? For that matter, could any of them?
Victoria had been broadcasting the thought unknowingly. She looked up at Tessa for a moment then back to Hank.
"So right then, the Vampire populice of New York vs Us? Sounds like pretty unfair odds if you ask me. Let's hope someone doesn't warn them we're coming."
Hank stood silently for a moment, pondering 'Toria's thought. He knew from the book he had found in the Timebroker's office that there were version of Hank McCoy that had ended up following the path to darkness. At the time he had seriously hoped that they were in the minority, now it seemed to him that his silent prayers were to go unanswered. He held 'Toria a little closer. "We will do what we always do. What's right." he thought as he looked down into her eyes. He held her gaze for a few minutes before looking back towards Castle. "Perhaps you would like to tell us about the vampires here. In my own reality we have a rich folklore surrounding Nosferatu. We have already seen that they really dislike being poked with wooden sticks and obviously prefer to hunt out of the sunlight. Do any of the other 'traditional' methods also hold true? Do crosses, silver, garlic or holy water have any effect? Can they cross moving water while hunting?" Hank looked around at the rest of the Watch. "Anyone think of anything else?"
"Can they only come into your residence if invited?" Norrin asked his question hoping nobody would laugh at him. He had seen an example of this on an episode of Buffy that he had seen on the TV in a storefront window and hoped it were true.
When life hands you lemons, you gotta squirt lemon juice and life's eye and make it your B!TCH
Tessa looked at Victoria, “Hank’s correct, we’ll do what we always do.” She told her teammate, her attention was quickly brought to the requests of both Beast and Norrin, what the vampires were capable of.
“Actually, could I get a detailed description of what they can and can’t do, including known reactions and possible reactions, or have you not been keeping track?” Her tone was cold and serious, and her gaze was methodical as she looked the Punisher’s over, “If you haven’t that would be a shame, means I’ll have an arduous job ahead of me in working out tactical planning.” One eyebrow quirked up briefly as she focused her eyes on Castle, she then continued her requests.
“Also, city maps and any schematics you can scrounge up would be helpful.” She gave an enigmatic smile, determined to keep this group on their toes as far as pinning her down. She wouldn’t feel comfortable with them knowing more about her than she did about them, no, her card’s wouldn’t be shown until she had working files of each Punisher.
Peter had remained unmoving throughout the entire discussion. Keeping silent allowed him to listen and learn without distraction, but it also gave him a chance to study the Punishers. His gaze had been moving from each one, looking them over carefully. He couldn't say that he really liked the company that the Watch now kept, and the uneasing looks they continued to give them only furthered that feeling. But as long as they were here to help, he would set such suspicions aside.
The spider's attention was brought back to Tessa as she spoke her request. He was also interested in seeing the city's blueprints. He had memorized his own city, knowing virtually every building, corridor, crack, and brick by heart, and he was eager to do the same with this city. Such knowledge had proven helpful to him in the past.
"I'd also like to take a look at any blueprints of the city you can spare. Also, the Vampire that we just encountered a short time ago mentioned something about 'The Master.' Any intel on him you'd like to share?"
If the city was as overtaken as it sounded, than their best bet may be to take out the leader, causing the other vampires to fall like dominos.
Realizing that his boss could be more than a bit brash, and that Paige looked as though she was about to loose it, the Punisher’s youngest member made his way over to the emotionally distraught girl. Reaching his hand out to her in an honest to goodness display of friendship, the man spoke in a gentle tone that came as a bit of a surprise considering his rough exterior, “Please don’t do that. I can’t stand to see a pretty girl cry: it just breaks my heart. My name’s Vance. What’s yours?”

Eyeballing the silver alien, Castle attempted to answer the Watch’s questions, “We have no idea how many are out there. More are created every night, and it has become impossible to keep track.” Before continuing, Castle allowed Wong to answer the Surfer’s other query. Having been caught staring, Wong blinked a few times to break the eye contact, and then apologized to Norrin, “No sir, there is nothing troubling me. I did not mean to stare: it is just that the energy around you seems to be extraordinarily strong. I have not seen such a thing in this world since the days of Master Strange and his Defenders. Please, do not be bothered by the curiosities of an old man.”

Annoyed at the interruption, the leader of the Punishers continued, “That’s where we are lucky McCoy, these vampires are plenty vulnerable to most of the classics.” Signaling to the bow slung over his shoulder, Castle said, “Wooden stakes are a personal favorite of mine, although silver and holy water work wonders as well. Any sort of religious trinket will do the trick as well, as long as you believe in the symbol.” Reaching into one of his hip pockets, he produced a handful of garlic cloves and tossed them onto a nearby table. “Those don’t exactly hurt the nasties, but they seem to afford you a wide berth. And trust me, when you have a pack of hungry demons coming at your throat, you sometimes need those extra few seconds to reload that second clip. And of coarse, there is no substitute for good old-fashioned sunlight. If you can keep the bastards distracted long enough, you can sometimes manage to keep them up past their bedtime.” As the members of the Watch continued to fire questions at him, Castle rolled his eyes. The Punishers didn’t have time to help these newbies play catch up, but since reinforcements didn’t exactly fall out of the sky every night, Castle decided to let it go on a bit longer.

Looking at the whirlwind of destruction that littered the floor around him, Castle listened as Norrin asked his question. With a frown he answered, “Yeah, that’s right. Vampires cannot enter a place unless they are invited. That’s what helps to keep the poor schmucks of this city safe. Although it’s also the thing that helped to take down the super types so fast. Once a few of them were turned, it was pretty easy for the hell spawn to infiltrate their former friend’s homes. That’s what happened here. That’s what happened all over the city.” The vigilante reached up and rubbed his eyes as the questions kept on coming. He was glad to have the help, but his patience was reaching its breaking point. He didn’t like talking. He didn’t like answering questions. He liked fighting. He liked killing vampires. It was the only thing that actually brought any light into the inescapable shadow that had enveloped his life. Just as he thought the grilling was over, Tessa spoke up. It was the last straw. He just couldn’t take it any longer. Especially the barrage of analytical inquiries that the Watch’s resident information junky threw at him.

Unable to cope with any more questions, Frank grumbled in an obviously irritated way. Looking at the leather jacket wearing Punisher, the lead vampire hunter barked, “Finish this for me, Dan? I’ll be up top.” With his commander gone up to the roof, likely scouting for vampires, the man identified as Dan attempted to answer the Watch’s questions, “Lets see... Vampires are able to control some animals, they have some shape shifting abilities, they have a hypnotic stare that can control all but the most powerful of beings, they are very fast and super strong. As for the master, he is the biggest problem of all. He lords over all the other vampires and controls their every move. Last week we finally tracked him to Westchester. He goes by the name of...” But his sentence was abruptly cut off by a very loud wail from upstairs. It was a horrible sound that sent chills down each of the team’s backs. It was coming from the room where the Watch had destroyed the Red Death. The Punishers known as Blade and Wong, realizing what was happening upstairs, wasted no time jumping to action. Blade pulled a long silver sword from the sheath on his back and Wong produced an ancient looking book from the pouch on his. As they ran, Wong could be heard saying, “I can’t believe they left it up there without reciting the incantation. The Montesi Formula must be used before it can fully reform.”

With a slight smirk on his face, Dan continued, “Oh, and did I mention vampires’ have incredible regenerative abilities?”
There was a definative eye roll that Victoria couldn't help herself from doing as she listened to everything.
"Look, where I'm from, these things aren't real. There in movies, on tv, in books. There's a whole bunch of fools who think they are vampires roaming the streets of New Orleans. So explain to me how the HELL we were supposed to know you have to recite some incantation none of us have ever heard of over these things? I may be a mind reader but COME ON!"
Throwing her hands in the air with a growl of disgust, Victoria muttered something about regenerative powers and turned towards the staircase.
"Regenerative powers my ass, these things just don't know when to stay dead!"

And there it was again...the anger, the irritation, the sheer irony of it all. The very thing that seemed to abate mere moments ago was flowing through her veins again with a vengenance.
"The next thing you're going to tell me..." she turned back towards the group..."Is that the "Master" in all this is my Father. Please do! Give me yet another reason to wonder what in the hell I've agreed to here."
With a swish of white hair, she was out the door walking down the hall.
Hank sighed quietly to himself as he crouched down on his haunches, gleaning what he could from the little information with which they were being provided.. "I don't know. Dropped smack bang in the middle of what so far would make for a third rate horror movie, and the natives are tetchy because we want to get straight what we are fighting before we go blindly heading out into the dark?" he thought angrily, although his outward demeanour showed no signs of change. When he had spoken earlier of his own realities experience of Nosferatu he had left out one tiny detail. They weren't strictly restricted to works of fiction despite what the general public were allowed to believe but given their present company's less than welcoming demeanour he had felt it wise not to mention that one of his friends was for all intents and purposes one of the creatures they were now here to destroy.


"And you are sure he's going to be out here tonight?" Hank peered into the darkness below. The wind which blew across their lofty perch caused ruffled his exposed fur silently, but brought no unfamiliar scents to him, only the fresh smell of wet leaves and grass from the park below mingling with the other smells of the city. The sounds of the restless city beyond drifted up towards their perch, the constant thrum of engines punctuated by the occasional stacatto insistance of an emergency siren, sounding almost surreal with no visual reference point to go with them. This was one of the things Hank had always loved about New York - day or night there was always something going on - although the people on the streets had been less inclined to dawdle of late. He ran his tongue over his lips, almost tasting the flavour of the city around them. There was an almost imperceptible scuffing sound up behind him as his companion for the evening adjusted his footing on the rough stone wall. "It follows the pattern Dr McCoy. The last attack was almost exactly seventy hours ago. Another three nights before that." Spiderman looked down at the crouched form below him as he spoke, trusting his spider-sense to alert them to any danger. He was still amazed that a being a large as this 'Beast' could move on and hang onto walls almost as easily as he could himself. "This has been going on almost a month now. If it wasn't so serious I could almost thank whoever is doing this. Jamieson over at the Bugle hasn't had a bad word to say about me in a few weeks. I was surprised, he would usually try and blame this sort of thing on me. I tell you the guy is obsessed."

Hank chuckled despite himself. The X-Men had never been media darlings themselves, but even they didn't justify the kind of negative attention the Bugle seemed to reserve for Spiderman. He arched his neck to look upwards as Spiderman continued, his voice tickling some memory in the recesses of Hank's mind. "Anyway, I did some investigating after the first couple of attacks. Assaults following the same pattern have also occured in Denver, Chicago and Detroit, stopping in one city as they began in another. Whoever is doing this has been working his way across the country. And now he is here in my city. I can't let these attacks go on Dr McCoy." Hank nodded. "That's why I'm here. The package you had sent to me certainly bear with your hypothesis. The wounds in the photographs are consistent with bite marks produced by enlarged incisors and canines. The blood sample contained some sort of natural anti-coagulent similar to that found in Desmodus Rotundus, dare I say it - the 'vampire bat'." Hank rolled his shoulders a little as he spoke, working out some of the kinks his prolongued hang from the wall were creating. "The bat is on average two to three inches long and weigh about an ounce. They only need a couple of tablespoons of blood a day. Scale that up and it certainly fits the modus operandi of these assaults. We could be looking at some sort of mutant here, although I have yet to encounter one who has to go to these levels to survive." Despite all the evidence they were building up Hank was still not ready to say out loud that they were possibly dealing with an honest to goodness vampire. Spiderman however voiced what they were both thinking. "Some sort of vampire then? Like in the movies, with a cape and a fear of crosses and sunlight?" Hank looked up at him once more, his golden eyes shining beneath his furrowed brow. "We can only hope it will be that simple." he said

The two men were silent for several moments each lost in their own thoughts as they waited for something to happen."I'm just glad that Aunt May is in Queens!" thought Spiderman, glad that so far the majority of the attacks had occured in or near parks in Manhattan and the Bronx. That had made their plan a relatively simple one. Given the spread of the crime scenes they assumed their prey was not wholly unintelligent. With that assumption in place they decided to avoid parks where assaults had occured most recently, instead concentrating on areas which still attracted people and hence potential targets. If they didn't pick the right one, they would have to wait another three days for a second chance. Unless of course the attaker moved on to yet another city.

Their silence was broken by a piercing scream from somewhere on the other side of the park. "Damn. I hate it when I'm right. I'll take the high way..." Spiderman grimaced beneath his mask, his voice trailing off as he pushed himself off the wall. A silken strand leapt upwards from his outstretched arm and he was away swinging gracefully from building to building. "Kid's got some moves." thought Hank as he leapt skywards, his powerful legs pushing him up and away towards the roof of next building. Landing easily he immediately bounced backwards in the direction he had come flipping over into the darkness of the alleyway below. Somewhere off to his right he knew there should be a fire escape. Now all he had to do was catch it before me became a large green hairy smear on the concrete below. The air rushed past him as he dropped, outstretched fingers searching for a handhold. There was a sudden screech of tortured metal almost as piercing as the scream from the park as his 300 pound plus frame hooked onto the rusted framework of the steps. Twisting his body around, Hank threw himself at the opposite building, bouncing off it onto the trash strewn ground below. "Well, that was naughty!" he said to himself as he raced over the street and into the park beyond.


Hank was shaken from his reverie by the unholy wailing from upstairs. "What now?" he thought, but he was already moving towards the door. "Paige. Do you think you can manage a change? I think you would look mighty swell in silver. If so they can probably use you upstairs." Hank didn't pause as he spoke. He trusted his young team mate to do what was needed. She had proven herself able to come up with the goods in tight situations before, why should now be any different. As he barrelled past Wong he cast a curious eye at him. "Montesi Formula? I think that's what they put in the 'new taste' Coke wasn't it?" he asked as he ran.
Paige looked down at the extended hand, her hard glare still in place as her blue eyes went from his hand up to his face and back again, could she trust this man? Was he doing this out of sympathy for her or to just get her to shut the hell up? Questions swam around in Paige’s mind as she tried to make the best decision as to how she should react to Vance. Shifting her weight a bit, the blond teenager finally came to a conclusion that Vance was indeed doing this out of kindness for her. Taking hold of his hand while a few tears still streamed down her cheeks, Paige tried her best to get rid of the harsh glare and replace it with a smile a weak smile but albeit still a smile. “Ah’m Paige, or Husk whatever yuh want t’ call me.” She unknowing moved closer to the Punishers youngest member, feeling as if maybe she’d found someone in this crazy group that could replace the void that had taken up residence in her heart since having parted ways with Pete Wisdom, whom she’d thought of as her protector the entire time she’d been with the Nomads. “Breaks yuh’re heart huh? Well this pretty girl will try her best to keep her broken heart from breaking others.” Paige added not wanting to bring anyone else down in to her misery.

Her attention was pulled away from Vance when Hank moved past her and asked her to husk into her silver form and head upstairs to help. Paige jumped at the chance to be back in the throng of action use the fighting to forget about the emotional turmoil she was going through at the moment, shifting her blue eyed gaze towards her new found friend and Paige thought it best if she warned him about how disturbing her husking could be. “Yuh’re about t’ find out why they call me Husk, yuh may want t’ look away if it gets to disgusting for yuh.” Paige warned as she began to pull away the outer layer of skin to reveal a silver form underneath, hard and shiny and bulletproof for the most part. Even husked anyone could still see the misery and sorrow in Paige’s eyes, though she was still trying her best to hide her pain from most of her teammates who seemed to have been completely unfazed by her crying earlier, which wasn’t odd considering most of them were also going through emotion pain at the moment.

“Ah think our respective teams might be in need of our help.” Paige said, glancing at Vance before heading out the door in the direction Hank had gone.
Barry had completely zoned out like usual, just standing around, listening to the older folks talk. Eventually he spoke up when he heard the scream, slightly confused and deorientated. "Wow, they come back? Cool." he said, till he looked around the room "I mean... uhhh, that sucks?" the words were accompanied with a sheepish grin. "Does that only work when they're dusted? Performing this little thing on a grander scale might be a little more effective if it works at anytime." he said as he ran after the others.
Tessa was not nearly satisfied with the answers she had received but she didn’t think she would be getting any more in depth of an explanation from these men, Castle hadn’t appreciated her questions that much she could tell and she didn’t want to press the subject and become some form of enemy to these people.
“Can I borrow a gun?” She asked in general, one of the few members of the Watch that aside from light natural combat ability had no supernatural way to protect herself from the vampires, even her quick-mind wasn’t much of an asset in a fight against these creatures she had surmised, “Most of you men seem as if you can spare at least one.” She commented as she began to move towards the door, Tessa could handle a gun, she’d been able to fire one with almost perfect precision since her admittance into the Hellfire Club as a youth.

“Unless of course you have unfavorable opinions of women using firearms, then I suppose I’ll be forced to use the more direct approach and find myself a piece of timber to use in my own defense.” She had recorded all the facts that Dan had explained to them and had canvassed all the vampire mythos she knew to see if there was anything else she might need to take into account, so far she had found none. As she reached the door she turned and leaned against the wall beside the doorframe, waiting for a response.
Silence had once again overcome the webslinger as he listened to Frank's replies, though it was becoming apparent that he wasn't too fond of answering questions. Dan had to take over as Frank went to the roof.
"Just like at home."
Peter's attention then went to Dan who had taken over for Frank. His focus on the man deepened as he was about to reveal the identity of 'The Master'. But before he could he was interrupted by a hellish scream. It was unlike anything Peter had ever heard, finding that the closest thing he could link it to were the screams from his past room mates at Weapon X. In a fraction of a second, the Spider was off the wall and moving in the direction of the scream, ricocheting of the walls like a pinball to increase his speed. As he did so he moved his right hand down to his belt, unbuckling a small pouch and taking out the rosary that was held inside, wrapping it tightly around his right hand. It was his father’s rosary, the only possession he had left of his deceased parents. He gave the black beads a soft kiss through the mask and then began to pray quietly.
“Our Father, who art in heaven, hallowed be thy name…”
The thought of the Red Death being reanimated sent a cold shiver down Norrin's spine the likes of which he had never felt before. Even though he was petrified by the blood curdling screams coming from up above them, he recalled something that the Punisher had told them. He said that the creatures were weak when it comes to silver. I'M MADE OF SILVER!!! I shouldn't have much of anything to worry about. As long as I can keep my teammates safe, I might be able to be quite an asset in this mission after all. With renewed confidence, he followed Spider-Man up the stairs. He did not ride his board indoors because of the confined space but allowed it to follow him as it had been doing previously. He allowed a smile to cross his face as he went to check out what was happening in the other room. He wanted to see what this MONTESI FORMULA was all about. He might have an idea as to how to complete this mission more easily, but he had to confirm his suspicions.
When life hands you lemons, you gotta squirt lemon juice and life's eye and make it your B!TCH
Watching the team’s reaction as Victoria voiced her opinions on the matter, Dan replied, “That’s the problem with these guys. ALL they know how to do is stay dead. And they have a tendency to make a lot of other people that way in the process. So don’t be too hard on the guys if they take this seriously. We have no choice.” But his words fell on deaf ears, for before he knew it, she was out the door in a huff. Turning back to the rest of the Watch, Dan questioned, “Is she always like that? Or did I accidentally drop a house on her sister and not realize it?”

Racing to meet adversity head on, Beast and Spider-man jumped into action. In fact they were so eager, they actually got to the small room before Wong and Blade did. And what they saw was not pretty. The half formed body of the Red Death writhed about the floor, unnaturally trying to reform itself into the vampire that had moments ago been a pile of ash. With Beast’s gamma powered strength and Spider-man’s indomitable faith to rely on, the two members of the Watch took up defensive positions, waiting for Wong and Blade to arrive.

Back in the library, Barry decided to join the party and get inquisitive. The question he asked was a tricky one, but Dan did his best to answer, “The Montesi Formula is an ancient spell that is designed to eradicate vampires. Dr. Strange was working to decipher it in its entirety before he was killed, but unfortunately he never finished it. Although the portions that he did interpret do the job. When read properly it works better than any weapon. It’s like instant sunburn for any vamp who hears it.”

Across the room, Vance did not want to ignore the pain he saw in Paige’s eyes, but he knew that this wasn’t the time to linger on it either. Besides, helping her to get her mind off her troubles would probably work better anyway. He grinned as he watched the girl tear the outer layers of her skin off, revealing the silver form beneath. With a wink in Dan’s direction, the young Punisher admitted with a smile, “I’ve seen worse. Now come on, lets go watch the show.” Grabbing her wrist he pulled Paige toward the staircase, but hesitated just long enough to flip a pistol in Tessa’s direction, “Make sure I get that back!” And like that, Vance and Husk were off up the stairs. The next thing Paige knew, she and Vance were standing outside the small room that had only an hour before served as a battleground with the undead. They were shortly joined by Norrin, and realizing that the others had the situation under control, the three watched as Beast, Spider-man and Blade kept the regenerated vampire at bay, giving Wong time to recite the formula, “Holo erasma rabis katerama lucem dei paradoxis satannicus belgrem!” As the last word was spoken, the vampire, who had only moments before been nothing but a pile of ashes, was reduced to dust once more as the Red Death was set ablaze by the spell, assured to never arise again.

Standing at the base of the stairs with Tessa, the still invisible Rogue, Victoria and Barry not far away, Dan yelled up to Vance and asked, “Did they get him?” The young Punisher wasted no time in replying, “Yup, Wong strikes another blow for the good guys.” But their somewhat jovial interaction was cut short by the reappearance of Castle from the upper levels of the building. With a stern, unamused look on his face, he barked, “Ok, we’ve wasted enough time dispatching one vampire. It’s time to move.” Knowing when to swallow his pride, the vigilante looked over the Watch and said, “Your numbers would be a welcome addition to the fight.”
Rogue decided that if she were to be of any help to the team at all, she had better be able to be seen. She slowly began to materialize after learning that the Red Death had been slain again. She looked forward to joining the ranks of the hunters. It was a chance to see some action and after having gained some confidence and fire in her belly, she had the power to help. Showing her first few signs of minor ego, Rogue cocked her head to the side and looked at Castle. "Where do we start?"
"It needs to be heared, and you mean to tell me you never even tried like a humongous speaker or something. Broadcast the thing over the city, or with a little patch-up the world? This world got sattelites, right?" He asked, genuinly curious. "Seems to me it's a pretty simple trick."
As Dan spoke about dropping houses on Victoria's sister, her voice rang into the room.
"I heard that!" but she didn't have time to elaborate as things began to happen around them. Standing next to Barry as he voiced his thoughts, Victoria smiled at him.
"Actually, that's a pretty brilliant idea. But they'll give you some reason it won't work. Trust me, they always do." she looked up at Tessa and let her anger subside again.
"It's a long story...I'll explain it to you later Tess. I'm just...I don't know. Just feel like something is bottled up in me about to explode. I think I've been a pushover for far too long." the thought pattern paused as a dumbstruck look crossed Victoria's pale face.
"Egads! I'm turning into Kyle! Why didn't you tell me sooner! Angst ridden is one thing, angry is one thing, but Jesus woman!" there was hint of the playfulness that Victoria was well known for masked deep within the message.
"Umm..Barry...about earlier. Look kid, I'm really sorry.'s been a rough trip and I just don't want to see anyone else get lost along the way. I've lost too many people this far." she smiled slightly and as Castle spoke about their numbers, she only nodded. More than a little worried that their numbers would dwindle, like they always did....and someone else would fall along the wayside.
Tessa stashed the pistol for now, giving ‘Toria a half-smile her dark blue eyes seeming to twinkle behind her specs, “Would you have let me live if I told you that I was beginning to see similarities between Kyle and yourself?” She questioned the other woman mentally, “I knew it was only a matter of time before you came to the same conclusion I had come to.” She let her usual expression fall back into place, “No rush to explain, ‘Toria, but I appreciate you telling me I’ll get filled in on what has been going on with you.” Tessa finished, then looked at Barry.
“That actually is a fairly brilliant idea, but with only portions of the text translated it may not be powerful enough to wipe out an entire city of vampires. Now, I could attempt to translate the rest, but I hardly think the Punishers trust me enough to give me the original text to work with.” She brushed her dark hair away from her face, looking at Castle as he came back into their presence. Tessa bit back her question, knowing that this man didn’t like the quizzical type, and she most certainly fell under that category.
“I’m sure we all appreciate the inclusion in your group.” Tessa commented, “But I must warn you, you may regret including me. I tend to ask a lot of questions, something you don’t seem particularly fond of.” The shadow of a smirk crossed her lips before she glanced at Victoria.
“Care to make a wager on how long he’ll last before I make him snap completely with my constant need for information?” She joked mentally, hoping that her friend would find the same amusement in the thought, “Not that I’m going to purposely irritate this poor man…” Tessa trailed off.
"What if we had someone like Victoria send out the message telepathically to all the vamps on the island? Do you think you've got enough juice to do that Victoria?" Norrin wasn't entirely sure what his teammate was capable of, but it sounded like a good idea to him at the time. "We could try Barry's idea and I'm sure that would wipe out a major portion of them. Then we could do my idea and it wouldn't be as hard to sort through all the minds."
Norrin spouted out his idea not even sure if repeating the formula telepathically would work. It might have no effect on them if not spoken orally. "We could split into two different teams. One team could have Tessa, half of the Watch, and half of the Punishers. They could handle the technical side of things with the satellites and all that jazz, while Victoria and the other half of both teams take care of the mental and mystical part of the task. Does anyone else think the combination of the two ideas would work, or am I just waisting time coming up with half-cocked ideas?"
When life hands you lemons, you gotta squirt lemon juice and life's eye and make it your B!TCH
Peter kept his guard up, not wanting to give the beast a chance to avenge its death and painful regeneration on any of his teammates. He remained firm, continuing to pray silently. But in the end it was nothing, and one of the Punishers had the thing back among the dead in seconds. Peter's stance loosened as he slowly removed his father's rosary from his hand. He gave it one final look before placing it back in his belt.
His eyes fell on Frank Castle as he entered the room, informing them it was time to go and that they were welcome to join. Not that they wouldn't help out even if he said no.
Peter had made about a step towards the roof before Barry spoke up. His suggestion earned him a somewhat surprised look from the spider. And Victoria was right, it was a good idea, one that he did not think Barry was capable of having. Perhaps he had underestimated the young speedster. But all the same, Victoria was probably also right about his idea not working. It was never that easy. Never. And as much as he wished it was, reasons for its failure were already forming in his mind.
"Vampires may have already taken out such radios or satilites to prevent such a thing. Or, due to the spells incomplete nature, it probably won't be able to have such a broad effect. Certainly something like that will prevent Barry's plan from working."
Peter continued towards the roof, waiting to hear what the others had to say on the situation before exiting the building's interior.
Glancing in Rogue’s direction as she became visible once more, Blade gave the young girl the slightest of nods, and whispered to her, “Glad to see you decided to join the party. As for where we start, that’s up to the big man,” indicating the skull wearing Castle. “But my money is on Westchester. We’ve been making our way there for the past couple of nights. But things like this,” the large man said, pointing to the pile of ash that was moments ago Red Death, ”keep getting in our way.”

“Who said we didn’t try it?” Castle barked in response to Barry’s insinuation as he moved towards the exit. “We broadcast that damned spell over the entire state and it worked like a charm. We estimate that we knocked out three dozen vampires in one fell swoop that night. But the plan had problems. First of all, thirty-six vampires didn’t even scratch the surface. Two, they were replaced with fresh kills within hours. And third, vampires aren’t exactly stupid. It’s not like they are glued to the idiot box just waiting to be charbroiled. So yes, we’ve tried it. Now, can we get out of here? There’s an ass load of vampires out there just begging for me to exact some punishment.” Stopping his boss’ bravado laden rallying cry, Vance put his two sense into the discussion, “I don’t know if your telepathic idea would work or not, Chrome Dome. We haven’t had the opportunity to test anything like that. If the lady would like to try to wrap her mind around the spell, I’m sure a couple of us could stay behind to help her. But if it was me, I wouldn’t want to go traipsing around a vampire’s mind. Of coarse, it’s Victoria’s call.” Looking at Victoria with a cynical frown, Castle agreed. “Sure, if she wants to try to mind fry the monsters, that’s fine with me. But don’t come crying to me when you start bleeding from the eyes, lady.”

Across the room with a skeptical eye, Wong looked at Tessa and questioned if she was serious. He wondered to himself if she could really translate the Darkhold? Deciding to be bold, the small Asian man spoke up, “Actually, if you hold within you the slightest chance of translating the rest of the text, you would most certainly be allowed to view the pages.” With this, yet another interruption to his progress, Frank Castle, out of pure frustration, punched a good sized hole into the nearest plaster wall. Realizing that his companion was not going to suffer any more delays, Wong became silent once more, not wanting to raise the ire of the hot headed Punisher. He resigned himself to discussing the topic with Tessa at a later time when they could speak privately. Taking back the reigns of the group firmly in his domineering hand, Castle added sarcastically as he walked towards the front doors, “Besides, unless you are familiar with ancient Atlantean, I doubt you will get very far with that book.”

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