From Thundarr.com, Thundarr the Barbarian – How to Catch a Vampire is the first of two fan-fiction stories by Sheila Shillingburg.
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THUNDARR THE BARBARIAN: HOW TO CATCH A VAMPIRE
By: Sheila Shillingburg
ENTERING LAS VEGAS
Horse’s hooves pounded the ground, and a trio of riders crested the hill. The lights of the desert oasis were beginning to come on, creating a twinkling labyrinth. The blond leader of the trio looked over it all. The beast-like creature woth him growled a question.
“People of the past enjoyed a sport called gambling,” the raven haired woman with them began in explanation. “They created this town for their habits, and called it Las Vegas.”
Their leader, Thundarr, made a move as if to turn away from the twinkling valley. “Maybe we should find a calnmer oasis,” he suggested. But, his horse whinnied in protest.
“It’s getting late, Thundarr,” Princess Ariel said. “And, we’re going to need a place to camp for the night.”
In the animalistic tongue of his people, Ookla pointed out that this was the first oasis they had come to after days of riding. Their stores of food and water needed replenishing. Thundarr agreed that his freinds were right, and turned back to the futuristic Las Vegas.
The future had not been kind to Las Vegas, as it had not been kind to the rest of the earth. A comet had passed too close to the earth, shattering the moon; and tearing away some of the earth’s protective atmosphere. The comet had lkong gone off into space, but left Earth in ruins.
After a thousand years, people rebuilt their lives from the ruins. But, the new world that emerged was one rather primitive, by our standards. A brutal world of slaves, super-science, and sorcery.
Thundarr himself had once been the slave of an evil wizard, named Sabian. Sabian’s step-daughter, Ariel, had helped the young barbarian to free himself. Joining forces with Ookla, the three set about righting the wrongs of the future, and challenging the absolute rule of tyrants, like Sabian.
The streets of the futuristic Las Vegas were teaming with people, just as they had been in centuries earlie. Thundarr, Ariel, and Ookla soon found themselves caught up in the throng that was headed for a central plaza. The plaza was fenced in by tumbled down masonry, all that was left of the once-grand Caesar’s Palace Hotel and Casino.
In its glorious past, Caesar’s Palace had played host to many legendary concerts, and sporting events. An earthquake had destroyed the casino, and people were using the fallen brick to fence in the central courtyard. The three friends were drawn inside with the mob.
“What’s going on?” Thundarr inquired of a by-stander.
“We caught intruders to our town,” the man answered. “This one spoke so passionately about a monster, we want to see if this creature appears. We will have our fun with him.”
At the stage, Dr. Bruce Banner was in chains, hands and feet, to prevent escape. “Please! We came in peace!” He pleaded as the villagers pelted him with rotten vegetables, stones, or whatever else was handy. Although Banner was a relative stranger,Thundarr knew what these people were doing was wrong. His blue eyes smoldered with anger.
“He wants his friend!” Shouted a by-stander.
“Yes! Bring out the other one!” Agreed another.
Thundarr could hardly believe his eyes when he was who was next to be shoved onto the stage, also in chains. None other than his friend from the past, Tarl Barlot!
On a mission to restore a lost treasury of books to a tribe of orphans, Thundarr and his crew had been captured by Sabian. Sabian then tried to make an example of his escaped slave by marooning him in the past, with no chances of returning to the future.
The plot back-fired when Thundarr became acquainted with Tarl and his then-fiancee, Andy Simmons. Andy helped Thundarr on his quest, while Tarl gave him lodging at his apartment until the quest was completed. Oddly, Thundarr had felt a kinship with the young police officer.
Now, his host was in chains, and being submitted to the villagers for abuse. “ARIEL, OOLKA, RIDE!” Thundarr rallied his troops.
The crowd gasped in surprise when a white stallion burst through their ranks, followed by a brown mare and a lizard-like creature. Thundarr loosed the sun sword’s flaming blade, and used it to free Tarl. Tarl drew his own sword, from a hidden scabbard, and used it to help fight off the tormentors.
Thundarr swirled to help Banner, but his chains had already been shattered. In Banner’s place stood a snarling, green-skinned giant. At the sight of the newcomer, the villagers’ bravado took a nose-dive. Screaming with fright, they ran for the nearest exits. Hulk roared, and heaved a fallen girder over their heads, as a warning.
Thundarr released the sun sword, and returned it to the holder on his wrist. Tarl sheathed his own sword.
“Thank you, Thundarr. How did you know we were here?”
“We didn’t.” Ariel explained how they had come to this oasis, seeking only shelter for the night, and happened upon the mob. Thundarr turned to Hulk.
“Who is your friend? You certainly scared those cowards.”
“Everywhere Hulk go, people run away,” the giant croaked, sounding rather sad. “Trisha and Vampira friends.”
“Andy and I are your friends too, Big Guy,” Tarl assured him.
“Hulk? Is that your name?” Ariel asked, gently.
The giant tapped a misshappen finger on his massive chest, in introduction. “Hulk,” he croaked in greeting.
“I am called Thundarr, my friend. My companions are Princess Ariel and Ookla the Mok. How is it you have come to visit our world?”
“Take Andy and Vampira,” Hulk tried to explain.
“What is this, Tarl? Your beloved is here too?” Thundarr made certain he had heard right.
“She and Vampira were kidnapped by a vampire named Draagon,” Tarl explained. “Hulk and I were taken for trying to help them, and ejected from the castle. We came here looking for help rescuing them.”
“Well, you’ve found it,” Ariel answered.
“And, this vampire will feel my fury,” Thundarr added.
Ookla looked arouund, puzzled, and growled a question. “Yes, what has happened to the little man who was here?” Thundarr was also curious.
“What little man?” Hulk wanted to know.
“No one, Hulk,” Tarl answred, hastily. In an aside to Thundarr, Tarl promised to explain later. Knowing full well Hulk’s hatred of Banner, and vice versa, the young cop wanted to avoid a potentially explosive explanation.
Ariel suggested that they make camp for the night. This was as good a place as any. Thundarr turned to his friend from the past.
“I have little to give you in turn for the hospitality you’ve shown me, my friend. But, you are welcome to join us. We will begin your quest in the morning.”
Tarl’s eyes were brown fire. The flames had been kindled in Tarl when he was a young warrior, but had lain dormant since knowing his beloved Andy. But, the thought of her rescue from the clutches of an evil vampire made those flames flair.
“I shall not be able to rest until my beloved, and her friend, are freed!” Tarl declared.
His statement proved to be prophetic. During the night, Thundarr heard his guest’s restless tossing and turning.
Sleeping on the ground was nothing new for Tarl. As a boy, growing up on his father’s farm, he had often slept on the dirt floor of the cottage. As a young warrior, marching toward some inevitable battle, he had made camp on the ground. Then, again, as a slave, he had been forced to sleep, bound, on the floor of his cruel mistress’ grass hut.
Since coming to America, however, Tarl had grown accustomed to the air conditioned comfort of his apartment. His body had forgotten sleeping under the stars, and knew the softness of his bed, back in Buffalo, New York, where he and his bride, Andy, would snuggle and share warmth on cold nights. With a weary sigh, Tarl settled down on the unyielding ground, to sleep.
Hulk turned back into Banner as he rested. Banner didn’t need to adjust himself to the cold earth. Now a homeless man, sleeping on the ground was good rest to the former scientist. His only comfort, sometimes, was Vampira’s cape. Curling into a ball, to conserve body heat, Banner was soon sleeping soundly.
Thundarr the Barbarian
Miles away, Vampira and her human friend, Andy Barlot, were being held prisoner in the dungeon of a castle that belonged to King Draagon.
King Draagon had been the king of vampires, but the world had thought he as dead and buried. But, vampires do not stay dead. In the earthquake that had followed in the comet’s destructive wake, the grave was jarred open. Draagon now prowled the nights once more.
In his day, Draagon was considered a real ladies’ man, by vampire standards. But, he had never settled down with a vampiress of his own. He locved his freedom as much as he loved women–vampires or otherwise! He regretted that decision, because he was now running out of women to romance.
“It’s sad,” he mentioned to Glomus, his apprentice. “In all my years, I have never found a vampiress worthy of being considered as my queen.”
“Indeed, sire. A grand shame,” agreed Glomus. Glomus was a human boy who was learning the tricks of wizardry from Draagon.
“That is where you are wrong, O King,” answered a different voice.
“Who are you!? Show yourself!” Draagon ordered.
A man with blue skin, and wearing a blue space suit appeared. He carried a staff in one hand. The staff was topped by a ball of amber. “I am called Apocalypse, Mighty Draagon. I know of a vampiress who would suit your noble tastes.”
Apocalypse waved a hand over the amber. Vampira appeared in the glowing ball of sap. The blond, mutant vampiress was smiling, and happy. Interested, Draagon ordered Apocalypse to tell more about her.
“Her name is Vampira. She was once a human girl, but desired to become a mutant, after falling in love with an X-Man called Wolverine. Her wish was granted, and she became the form you see now before you. She has vowed to use her powers for good, thus ensuring her acceptance into the X-Men.”
“And, who are these X-Men who defy me?” Draagon wanted to know.
“Human sympathizers,” Apocalypse briefly explained.
“They will protect their own,” Glomus pointed out. Apocalypse chuckled. “Not so, my boy. Charles Xavier is a fool! Vampira was chosen to guide a wayward mutant called the Incredible Hulk.
Since Vampira was once human, she gained the X-Men a human ally, in the person of her best friend. Often Hulk and Vampira find safe haven with the woman, but not safe enough. Humans are no match for my horsemen.”
“Can your horsemen fetch my bride?”
“They are ready at my command.”
“Go, then,” Draagon commanded. “Do what you want with the others, but I want the women brought before me alive and unharmed!”
Apocalypse had been a pharoah of anciebt Egypt. The superstitions of the day drove people to believe that mutants were descendents of the gods. The superstitions soon gave away to the fear and hatred of ensuing centuries. Apocalypse was determined to rule the world once more, first by destroying the X-Men who strove for a peaceful co-existence with their human neighbors.
Vampira was Apocalypse’ prime target. Being she was once human, her best friend was still human. It was that connection to the human world Apocalypse wanted to destroy most of all.
Hulk and Vampira arrived in Las Vegas, only to be met by Hulk-busters. Hulk-busters had been desigend for the same prupose as Sentinnels, to capture mutants. Only, these robots were piloted by soldiers, and more focused on Hulk.
While the giant mutant fled, Vampira’s palms made short work of the soldiers who piloted the robots. Following the lead of her bat allies, Vampira caught up with Hulk after he had turned into Banner. According to the squeaking spies, Andy and Tarl were in town for a second honeymoon. Vampira suggested that they ask her friend for shelter, she wouldn’t mind.
Andy invited her mutant friends to spend the night on the floor of her hotel room. That was when the horsemen attacked. Fire, War, Death, and Pestilence swooped down on the apartment. Tarl seized up his sword, to try and help Vampira and Banner. They were soon captured, and brought before King Draagon. Death’s power prevented Banner from turning into Hulk, and ruining everything.
“Well done, all of you,” Draagon congratulated the horsemen.
“What do you want from us?!” Tarl demanded.
“It is not you I want, dear boy. It is your women I desire.” Draagon smiled to Andy and Vampira. “From among you I shall choose my bride.”
“I’m a married woman!” Andy snapped in defiance.
“Then, you shall serve as maid to your mistress.” Draagon descended the steps from his throne, and gently caressed Vampira’s cheek. She pulled back. “It is you who shall be my queen.”
“Not interested, thanks.”
“Turn those two out,” Draagon ordered, indicating to Tarl and Banner.
“TARL, NO!” Andy screamed, trying to struggle free of Fire and Pestilence.
Vampira stomped on Death’s foot, and shoved an elbow into War’s face in a futile attempt to fight back. It was useless to summon her bat allies. Their sharp teeth could work wonders on rope or cable, but were next to useless on iron and steel. Draagon then ordered the two to be locked in his dungeon until they complied with is demands.
The bat-girl rose to her feet, and paced the dungeon cell. Her cape swirled black and red.
“Maybe they’ll get lucky and find Thundarr,” Andy tried to keep hope alive.
“I hope they’ll remember how to get back here,” Vampira pointed out, as Draagon paid them a visit.
“So, you are the vampire who doesn’t bite,” he began in introduction.
“How do you know about me?”
“Apocalypse has told me all. He also said that the reason for your rejection of me is that you are not an “evil vampire.” Those are words from your own mouth.”
“So, what’s it to you?”
“Perhaps, that is why you don’t want to marry me.”
“Me? Marry you? Please! I’d sooner kiss Mick Jagger!” Vampira couldn’t help shuddering at her declaration.
“Soon, my sharp-tongued one, you will learn to appreciate me!” Draagon hissed. He turned on his heels, and stalked out of the dungeon. The visit was over as quickly as it had begun.
Draagon’s arrival gave Vampira an idea. She squeaked to the bats of the dungeon. They flew to her. Hanging upside-down from the rafters, they listened to the chattered language, and the encoded instructions. Finally, chattering in response, the lead bat rleased his claws from the ceiling. Soon, a squadron of brown fur, and leathery wings was leaving the dungeon.
“What did you tell them?” Asked Andy, who could not understand the bats’ language.
“I just told them to show Tarl the way back,” Vampira answered. She returned to the straw where her human friend was sitting. The mutant vampiress flopped down with a disgusted sigh. “Andy, what did you do when Prince Cernus kept forcing you to marry him?”
“My situation was a lot different, Vampira,” Andy began to recount her own adventure in Tarl’s home dimension of Gromus.
Prince Cernus, the spoiled, hot-tempered son of the land’s dictator, noticed Andy, and proposed marriage to her. She rejected his advances, because it was Tarl she loved. In anger, Cernus ordered the arrest of Andy and her friends, and the murder of Caprius.
Caprius had been the scribe for the land’s rightful king, Thorax, but imprisoned by Cernus’ father. Andy stood up to that injustice, and freed him. The old man loved Andy as a daughter, and refused to force her to marry Cernus. Cernus ordered the old scribe to be killed. He then threatened the lived
of Andy’s other friends if she did not comply with his demands. To spare her friends, and true love, Andy consented to be Cernus’ reluctant bride. She was saved when Tarl fed his former friend to a crocodile.
“Well, that wouldn’t work for me. The rest of the X-Men are back in New York,” Vampira commented.
Thundarr’s crew broke camp, and set out to free Andy and Vampira. Tarl and Banner joined them. The villagers provided what information they could on King Draagon. But none, no matter how brave, would give directions back to the castle.
Ariel stopped her horse at a watering hole. “We may have to wait until after sundown,” she said. “If Vampira still communicates with bats, she’ll send them to guide us.”
Tarl dismounted, knowing the sorceress was right. “I only hope we’re not to late to save my wife.”
Thundarr looked surprised. “Your wife?” He echoed. Tarl smiled, shyly, and blushed. “Andy and I are now married.”
“Why, it seems like just yesterday the two of your were engaged!” Thundarr marveled at how swiftly time had flown. “Do not fear, my friend. Your beloved will be restored to you. You have my word,” the barbarian promised.
Banner’s scientific mind was already working on a solution to the problem. Something he remembered seeing, or not seeing at the castle was the key to the women’s freedom.
Thundarr the Barbarian
King Draagon entered his throne room feeling frustrated. All his life, he had considered himself to be a real vampire-Cassinova, irresistible to any woman who crossed his path. Now, here were two women who threatened to shatter his delusions.
Andy still loved her husband, though deprived of him, and Vampira had rejected him! If not mistaken, Draagon could have sworn she called him ugly!
“How can I get through to her!?” He demanded of Glomus and Apocalypse. “I, King Draagon, the most desirable of all the vampires, rejected by the only vampiress worthy of being considered as my queen!”
“It’s not you, sire,” Glomus tried to appease his master. For once, however, Draagon was in no mood to be patronized.
“OF COURSE IT’S NOT ME!” He thundered.
“Perhaps, sire, the reason she finds you repulsive is because she is not a real vampire,” Apocalypse suggested.
“What are you getting at?”
“Bite her. Turn her into one of your females.”
Draagon thought for a minute. Apocalypse was on to something. In order for a vampire to create another, a human had to be bitten. But, that had not been the case with Vampira, she had received her powers in genetic transfer from a bat. Perhaps in biting her, Draagon could make the rebellious bat-girl more accepting of him and his proposal.
“She will not be taken so easily,” Glomus predicted. “Shall I prepare the Holding Cell, my lord?”
“Yes, and be quick about it!” Draagon ordered. “Horsemen! Bring my bride, she will soon learn to love me!”
The Holding Cell was a specialized dungeon cell where Draagon brought prisoners he intended to bite. Woe to any man who refused to let his female kinfolk be taken as concubines for the vampire king! And, likewise, alas for any woman who refused Draagon’s advances! The victims were brought here and chained. Then, when the mood moved him, Draagon would kill the prisoners by biting them, and drinking their blood; thus removing the threat to his ego.
That was the situation in which Vampira soon found herself. It had taken all four horsemen to drag the brave mutant to the Holding Cell, and chain her. She was trying to struggle free when Draagon and Apocalypse arrived.
“Where is the other one!?” Apocalypse demanded, thinking his horsemen would have brought Andy as well.
“Leave that one, Apocalypse,” Draagon spoke up. “With her, I will test my bride’s obedience.”
“LET GO OF ME!” Vampira screamed.
“Tsk, my dear! That is no way to talk to your future husband!” Draagon scolded, as he moved into position to bite Vampira. He dodged when she kicked at him. He tried again, from a different angle, only to be met by the defensive foot. Apocalypse’s power held those feet down, and Draagon moved in once more.
Vampira closed her eyes. In desperation, she sent a psychic s.o.s. to her bat allies.
Out in the camp, the bats were beginning to mill. That was the signal for the posse to mount up and ride. Several bats knocked into Thundarr and Tarl, several more tugged at Banner and Ookla, urging them to hurry. Ariel caught on to the hint, and mounted her mare.
“Thank you, Vampira,” she quipped.
“RIDE!” Thundarr sounded his rallying cry.
Suddenly, two, female figures blocked their path. “Going somewhere?” Asked a familiar voice.
Thundarr seized the sun sword. “Who are you?” He demanded. “Show yourselves!”
“You mean you don’t know us just by our voices?” Inquired the second. There were horrified gasps all around when the faces of their attackers were revealed. Andy and Vampira!
Vampira’s eyes were now a shockingly, evil red, as opposed to the soft, gentle blue they had been. Andy’s eyes were also blood-shot, and her skin was blue, just like her friend’s. There were sharp fangs in her mouth, and black, bat wings on her back. Vampira, acting under Draagon’s mind-control, had bitten Andy–something she had vowed never to do!
“Now what?” Banner muttered. “We can’t hurt our friends.”
“Suggestion, you could just hold still. I hate fast food,” Vampira quipped.
Just then, the bats who had been serving as guide for the posse swooped down and began attacking Andy and Vampira! Even Vampira’s stern squeaking couldn’t call off the attack.
“What’s wrong with you?!” She scolded.
“They know you’re not evil,” Tarl theorzied. He started forward to hold his mutated wife. “Andy, my beloved.”
She recoiled with a hiss. “Who are you? I serve my king, Draagon!”
“They don’t remember us,” Ariel stopped Tarl.
Thundarr released the sun sword’s flame. The vampiresses shrank back with a painful shriek as the sword’s glow touched them. They fled into the night.
“AFTER THEM!” Thundarr shouted.
The raiders thundered after the fleeing pair. Vampira was about to attack a village when Andy noticed their followers.
“Let’s go, Vampira. They’ve followed us. Those fools followed us this far, but we won’t lead them to Draagon.”
The two vanished before anyone knew which way to go. Thundarr stopped his horse to catch his breath, and think. “How did Draagon get through to her?” He muttered through clenched teeth.
“It would appear that he bit them,” Banner theorized. “According to legend, a vampire needed to bite a human before another vampire could be created.”
“Vampira’s only a mutant,” Tarl continued. “He may have bit her, then used some kind of mind control to get her to bite Andy.”
In his own language, Ookla asked if there was anyway to reverse the spell, “or destroy a vampire,” Thundarr added.
“None were very pretty,” answered Ariel, who also knew the legend of the vampire. “One way was to drive a sharpened stake through their hearts; another way was to burn them with fire. Still aniother was beheading.”
“Maybe the cleanest way was exposure to sunlight, which turned them to dust,” Banner concluded.
“But, Vampira reverts back to her human form in direct sunlight,” Thundarr pointed out. “The change is permanent now,” Tarl corrected his friend. “But, maybe, it could reverse the spell.”
Vampira and Andy returned to King Draagon after a less-than-successful night’s raid. Draagon, however, seemed rather pleased.
“All is well, my lovely. You obeyed by voice, which is all I asked. Now, then, return to your crypt, and sleep. The sun will soon rise.”
“Yes, my lord,” the mind-numbed Vampira droned. She turned to her waiting, stone crypt. Vampira climbed
in, and pulled the lid shut behind her. Draagon then turned to Andy.
“That man seemed to know you. He wanted to hold you, but you ran away.”
“Only the King of Vampires may hold me,” the new vampiress explained. Draagon chuckled.
“Innocence, only. About the neck of the one called Tarl is a crystal and gold amulet. It is exquisite, and I desire it for my wedding present.”
“Use his familiarity with you to seduce him,” Apocalypse instructed. “Then, once he is close enough, you may bite him as well.”
With the coming of day, the bats went to roost, so Thundarr’s crew made camp for the day. Noontime found Tarl seated on the banks of the river, under a willow tree. He studied his Luck Stone, remembering his relationship with Andy, how they had met, and how they had come to be man and wife.
“What’s on your mind?” Asked a friendly voice at his shoulder. Tarl looked up as Banner approached, placing a friendly hand on the young man’s shoulder.
“I was just thinking,” Tarl answered, as Banner sat next to him under the tree. “My life is a lot like this Luck Stone.”
The Luck Stone had been given to Tarl by his father, when he was a young warrior. When Tarl was captured and enslaved by the Reed People, he had managed to hide the stone in his ear. One of the unwritten rules of slavery was that a slave was forbidden to own anything that rivalled their owners’ possessions. To do so was a crime punishable by death. When Andy came to the swamp, Tarl entrusted the gem to her care. Once she restored his freedom, Andy gave the Luck Stone back to Tarl.
The stone had been broken by Queen Sura. Tarl had oncer served as her bodyguard when she was a princess. She was jealous to learn that Tarl loved Andy, and not her. Despite Tarl’s warnings to stay in Los Angeles, Andy came to ransom him from Sura. In the process Andy managed to find Queen Sura’s own beloved, and enslaved prince named Alexi.
Andy owned a silken mantle that could render the wearer invisible. She offered it to Tarl, in place of the broken Luck Stone, so that he could have a reminder of his homeland. Her generosity, and love for Tarl combined to magically repair the Luck Stone.
“When I got this stone, it was merely a crystal on a golden wire,” Tarl continued. “Now, it has been repaired with gold, and less easy to break. Like this stone, I was broken, when I was a slave, but Andy’s love healed me. The stone’s not the same as it was when I first got it, nor am I the same man I was before meeting my beloved. She has made me a better stronger man, I will not break as easily.”
Thundarr approached from the forest as Tarl was telling his story. The barbarian smiled to himself. Thundarr had seen how in love Andy and Tarl were when he had first met them, and was pleased to see that their love hadn’t changed. Thundarr admitted to himself that Tarl was lucky to have won Andy’s hand. A love like hers was rare.
“I heard your story, my friend,” Thundarr greeted as he approached. He joined the two men in the shade. “How is it the X-Men were not able to keep Vampira from being taken by this vampire king?”
“I may be a part of the problem,” Banner answered. “The creature you saw the other night was me.”
Thundarr looked surprised. “You are, then, a powerful wizard?”
“A powerful fool is more like it,” Banner admitted. “Years ago, I was involved with an experiment on gamma radiation. A young boy happened on the test site. I ordered the testing halted until I went to save him. Little did I know, a jealous coward let the bomb be detonated. I was able to save the boy, but not myself.
As a result, I live with Hulk inside of me. I had been at the X-Mansion for help in controlling the brute. But, even that failed. Professor Xavier chose Vampira to serve as my guide while I’m on the road.”
“My Andy’s cousin is a friend of his,” Tarl picked up the tale. “She said he saved her life, and is trying to convince the world that he’s not evil. Through Andy and Trisha, I too am counted among his friends.”
“I think Hulk knows who his friends are,” Thundarr theorized. “He didn’t attack us at the ancient plaza.”
“Speaking of not evil,” Banner changed the subject. “Tarl, you said that Andy’s love fixed the Luck Stone.”
“Maybe, the Luck Stone’s magic is strong enough to break Draagon’s spell on Andy,” Banner’s scientific mind had come up with the idea after hearing Tarl’s story.
“It’s worth a shot,” Tarl agreed with the former scientist’s theory. “I love Andy as much as she loves me.”
“But, how can you be certain she will attack here again,” Thundarr pointed out the obvious.
“There are two ghosts only my Andy can see,” Tarl answered. “Flemigus and Caprius. I never tried to contact them myself, but if they can appear to my beloved, then there’s hope.”
Back at the castle, the new vampiress lay in her stone cold crypt, awaiting nightfall. As Andy slept, her ghostly visitors appeared in her dreams.
Flemigus was Caprius’ brother, and the first person with whom Andy had contact after crashing in Tarl’s home dimension. She saved Flemigus from robbers, and he gave her the magic mantle as a reward.
Flemigus also brought about the chance encounter between Andy and Tarl by directing the girl to the Reed People’s Swamp, where Tarl was enslaved, for help in getting her time machine off the bottom of the lake.
When Andy was a teenager, the pair would often appear to her, only she could see or hear them. But, since her marriage to Tarl, the visits weren’t as frequent.
“I don’t want to be evil!” Andy’s dream-self called to the ghosts. Help me, please!
“Your beloved has the power to heal you, my child,” Caprius assured her.
“You must get his Luck Stone,” Flemigus added.
I will, Andy promised them.
Thundarr the Barbarian
HOW TO CATCH A VAMPIRE
The sun was setting below the horizon, and the bats began to mill. Thundarr’s crew broke camp, preparing to follow their unusual guides.
Tarl was about to saddle his horse, when he became aware of someone watching him. He turned to see a female figure silhouetted against the woods.
“Andy!” He called, hoping it was her.
The mutant vampiress stepped into the moonlight. Uncertain, but not about to let her vulnerability show. “Tarl, my love.” She greeted him.
Joy exploded on the young cop’s face. “My beloved! You remember!” He started forward to hold her. Ookla growled a warning.
“No, he knows what he’s doing,” Thundarr assured the Mok.
Tarl approached his wife. She did not flee, as she had the other night. “Your lips are begging for my kiss, darling.”
“And, my arms have ached to hold you,” Tarl admitted.
“Come, then, heart’s desire.”
Tarl took Andy into his arms, but could feel her hands searching his back pockets for the Luck Stone. “Is this what you seek?” He removed the Luck Stone from an un-searched, side pocket. “Take it as as sign of my love.” With that, he lowered the amulet around Andy’s neck.
“What is this?!” She pulled back in alarm. Something was up if he was letting such a valuable stone go without so much as a fight.
Tarl seized his wife’s hand before she could flee. “I won’t let you go,” he informed her. “The Luck Stone’s power will heal you, my beloved.”
Andy stopped trying to struggle free when she saw Caprius appear. Tears brimmed in the red-rimmed eyes. “Caprius,” she whispered.
“Don’t try to fight it, Child,” the ghost gently assured her.
Tarl drew Andy itno his arms once more. “Hold onto me, my beloved. I won’t let you go.”
Andy obeyed, and held tightly to her husband as a strange warmth began to course through her. The wings vanished from her back, the suction cups on her palms closed permanently, and the fangs dis
appeared from her mouth. Her skin returned to a more human shade. There wasn’t as much pain reversing the spell as there had been initiating it. Slowly, she disengaged her arms from Tarl, and looked up at him with loving wonder. “Tarl. Thank you,” she murmured.
Gently, he carressed her face. “You’re back to normal, my love. Thank you, Dr. Banner.”
“I don’t think that’s going to work with Vampira,” Ariel quipped.
“Maybe sunlight will reverse the spell,” Banner decided.
“Draagon did say something about being married before sun-up,” Andy provided. “I know the way to the castle. Follow me.”
Back at the castle, King Draagon had chosen the spot for his nuptial ceremony. The site was a statuary garden. Moonlight shone whitely off the plaster statues, and cast weird shadows on the ground. Hardly a romantic spot by even Vampira’s standards, but one Draagon would frequent.
The moon and stars were beginning to move, but Andy had still not returned to her master. Draagon turned at last to Glomus, and Apocalypse, who were with him in the garden.
“Did I not know she still loved that man?! I will destroy the both of them when they return!” Draagon declared. “Horsemen! Bring my bride, we must marry now, before the sun rises!”
Andy led the raiders to the main door of the castle, and found it unguarded. The horsemen were busy in the statuary.
Banner paused, letting the memory of being captured by Apocalypse’s horsemen fill him with anger. Slowly, he began to turn into Hulk. Ookla and Thundarr watched in the wide-eyed amazement both were capable of producing.
“Demon dogs!” Thundarr muttered. “I didn’t understand before, but I do now. This is powerful magic!”
“Vampira trapped in ugly place!” Hulk roared.
“And, I know how you can hurt Draagon,” Andy informed him.
“Draagon would recover from that,” Andy answered. “But, I mean a hurt so he’ll never hurt anyone again. Hulk, you and Ariel make the throne room look like a piece of Swiss cheese.”
“Swiss cheese?” Thundarr was unfamiliar with the expression, and the food item it represented.
“Yeah, full of holes.” Andy explained, briefly. “Come on, the garden’s this way.”
Out in the statuary, Death informed Draagon that Vampira was ready. At his signal, Fire and Pestilence opened the gate. Vampira stood framed in the gateway, wearing the vampire’s wedding costume.
The slinky, black gown had leg-like projections that were held in place by black lace that looked like cobwebs. A red, hour-glass design adorned the bodice. Vampira’s golden hair had been pulled up, and hidden under the black veil. Draagon grinned in approval as she came closer.
“Well done, my dear. Little did you realize, you would one day be the Queen of Vampires!”
“My lord, you must hurry before the sun rises,” Glomus reminded his master.
“Yes, sire. You must hurry,” Apocalypse urged. Draagon lifted Vampira’s gloved hand to his lips.
Just then, the inside door flew open with a slam, kicked in by Thundarr. “Sorry I’m late! It’s hard to find a descent wedding present any more!” Andy called.
“Stop them! They must not interrupt this!” Apocalypse ordered.
“Remember, we have to make this last until morning,” Tarl reminded Thundarr and Ookla. They fought Glomus and the Horsemen. Andy managed to get close to Vampira.
“I see some new magic is at work,” Draagon observed. “Vampria, give your friend another lesson!”
Vampira grinned, wickedly, and started at her friend. Andy caught her hands as she lunged. “Vampira! Snap out of it!” She shouted. “You’re not evil, you’re an X-Man! Remember Wolverine!”
“I am the Queen of Vampires!” Vampira snapped. “And, you will be punished for your disobedience!”
Up in the throne room, Ariel’s magic, and Hulk’s fists created windows in the walls, where none had been before. Hulk’s powerful fists smashed the crypts, Draagon’s only other means of escaping the sunlight. Ariel paused to look out of one of the new windows. There was a faint glow in the eastern sky. The sun was coming!
“Come on, Big Guy. We’ve got to help the others,” Ariel motioned Hulk to join her.
Down the the statuary, Draagon also noticed the sky rapidly growing brighter. He cowered with a shriek. “NO! SUNLIGHT! WE MUST FLEE!”
Hiding his face in his cape, King Draagon ran for the castle. Vampira stopped grappling with Andy, and followed at a fast sprint. Suddenly, a wall blocked her way.
“LET ME IN!” The bat-girl screamed, pounding on the wall with her small fists. “PLEASE, KING DRAAGON! THE SUN’S ALMOST UP!” Her fists caught.
“Vampira! Hulk help!” It was Hulk who blocked her way.
“The sun won’t hurt you, Vampira,” Ariel assured her. “You have to look at it.”
“Yes, Vampira. Look at the sun,” Thundarr urged.
Apocalypse frowned. “I don’t know how you humans knew to break the spell. But, the next time it won’t be so easy,” he threatened, before ordering his horsemen into a retreat.
Vampira did as told. She blinked and shook her head as the golden sunlight touched her eyes. Upon opening her eyes, they were blue once more.
“Whoa, what happened?” She was surprised to see herself in a statuary garden, in the vampires’ wedding costume.
“What do you remember?” Ariel inquired.
“I remember Draagon had me chained in his dungeon then,” the mutant vampiress paused to think, then frowned. “He made me bite Andy!” She started to the castle. “I’m taking him down!” Vampira declared, angry over what she had been forced to do.
“Hulk hurt Draagon,” the giant promised.
“But, he just ran inside,” the bat-girl pointed out.
“He may have gone inside, but he’s not safe,” Thundarr promised. “Hulk and I gave him a room with a view,” Ariel explained about the windows.
Draagon ran into his castle. After a momentary struggle with the bats, who were coming in to roost, Draagon dashed, headlong, to the throne room. Upon lowering his heavy cape, the vampire king emitted a horrified gasp.
There were windows in the walls! The crypts, his only other protection from being turned to dust, were themselves smashed to dust.
“NO!” Draagon emitted a painful scream as he began to burst into flame. The rapidly ascending sun showed the vampire no mercy, bathing him in the full rays of light. “Nooo!” Draagon’s voice trailed off as he turned into dust.
Thundarr the Barbarian
Glomus stood watching, helplessly. His motuh agape in silent horror. All his life, he had followed Draagon, learning from him, and serving him faithfully. Now, his bread and butter was blowing away as particles of dust on the morning breeze. Where would he go now? What would he do now that his master was gone?
“You’re a smart guy, Glomus,” Vampira ssured him. “You can do whatever you want to do.”
“Without resorting to evil,” Thundarr added.
“Hey, guys! Check it out!” Andy’s voice echoed across the yard.
Upon following the sound, it was discovered that Andy had her hand over the heart of a stone woman. Nothing seemed out of place, except the look on Andy’s face.
“What is it, Andy?” Thundarr urged.
“You’ve got to see this for yoruself,” she motioned them to follow her example. One by one, Thundarr, Tarl, Ariel, Ookla, Vampira, and Banner put their hands on the statue’s heart. There, faint and far beneath the stone came the tiny thump of a heartbeat! A pulse! The statues were alive!
“Demon dogs!” Thundarr exclaimed, horrified. “This is Draagon’s work!”
Vampira had begun a mind probe, the way Jean Grey and Professor Xavier had taught her.
“She says she and her people were turned to stone by Draagon,” the mutant vampiress informed them. “The village and castle belong to them. Draagon stol
e this place and turned them to stone.”
“I’ll try and reverse the spell,” Ariel said.
It was no use. As long as Ariel’s magic showered a statue, the stone began to crack. But, the moment she turned away, the victim was stone once more. Ariel lowered her hands.
“This isn’t working.”
“Let me help,” Glomus offered, stepping forward. “When I was learning from Draagon, I was taught to reverse his spells. Focus your power on one victim, Ariel.”
Joining forces with Glomus, Ariel focused her powers on the stone woman Andy had found. From her, the magic spread among her people. The stone turned to plaster, which cracked and fell away, to reveal the people underneath. Limbs that had been long frozen in time were now smooth and pliable.
The stone king stretched his newly freed limbs, and stepped from his pedastle with a deep breath.
“It feels good to breath the morning air again. To what do we owe this blessing?”
“Draagon has been defeated,” Thundarr informed him. “You, and your people are free.”
“You were chosen to be Draagon’s bride, but defeated him,” a stone woman noticed Vampira in the vampire’s wedding regalia.
“My friends and I were brought here from the past,” Vampira briefly explained.
“And, to the past you shall return,” Glomus added. “Come, I want to show you something.”
When the time travellers had been brought from the past, Apocalypse had brought Andy’s time machine, as well, with hopes of destroying the craft.
“Now, Tarl, my debt to you is paid,” Thundarr said in farewell. Tarl shook the barbarian’s huge hand.
“Thank you, friend Thundarr. You’ve helped me rescue my beloved.”
Thundarr clapped a friendly hand on the young man’s shoulder. “Love her, my friend. I know very little about this thing called love, but what I do know is this. You are very lucky. No one has thought about me the way your Andy thinks of you.”
Ariel turned to Thundarr, her eyes flashed like sparks on coal. “Oh, they haven’t, have they?”
He looked surprised. “You, Ariel?”
“Pucker up,” She ordered, seizing Thundarr, and planting a kiss on his lips. The kiss was met by a whoop and cheer from Andy and Vampira.
Back at their apartment in Buffalo, New York, Andy asked Tarl how he had know to use the Luck Stone to break Draagon’s spell over her.
“I told Dr. Banner the story of how your love repaired the stone,” Tarl explained. “It was he who suggested using the power of love magic to heal you, my beloved.”
Night settled over Thundarr’s camp. Ariel and Ookla were sleeping under their blankets, but Thundarr was still awake. Sleep was not on his mind, Andy and Tarl were.
They had returned to their own time, Banner and Vampira had headed out on the road, once more. Tarl’s dwarfed brother, Mip, would be at the apartment waiting his brother and sister-in-law’s arrival.
Now that Tarl had told him the story of the Luck Stone, Thundarr had begun to notice things he had never paid much attention to before now. How the birds, high on their lofty perches, had found the right mates with whom to nestle. It made sense to him why a wild gander, mate of a goose Thundarr had killed while on a hunting trip, had followed his hunting party around for days. Honking sadly.
Thundarr glanced at Ariel, sleeping under her blanket. He blushed, remembering her kiss, and the approval Andy and Vampira had shown for that kiss. Of course she cared about him, why else would she have helped him to free himself? But, did she feel the same way for Thundarr as Andy felt for Tarl? Thundarr found that question rather confusing.
Thundarr picked up his blanket, and wrapped it around himself as he lay down on the ground. He gazed at the distant stars for a moment. Be well, my friends, Thundarr’s wishes for well-being carried themselves on dreams to the past.