Where There is Darkness
By: Highlander II
Category: Alternate Universe, Fantasy
Archive: Please ask.
Spoilers: Van Helsing
Rating: NC-17: (skip) Non-consensual sexual encounters, mind control, bondage, spanking/caning, character death.
Summary: What happens if Van Helsing doesn't defeat the Dracula beast and is taken prisoner instead? Carl and Anna have to locate Van Helsing and rescue him from Dracula's clutches before The Knights of the Holy Order learns what is going on and sends another army of operatives after the rogue monster hunter. In the meantime, Van Helsing has to survive his incarceration without losing his mind.
Disclaimer: I own nothing but the words on this page; the characters belong to Stephen Sommers and Universal pictures.
Notes: Written for scifibigbang 2010.
Art by: sanadafaye
Feedback: Highlander II
Carl placed the piece of the tapestry into its corner, then recited the Latin incantation. He caught the annoyed sneer from Mesoraco, presumably because he'd been sitting on the answer to how the door opened this whole time. There was no time for arguing the point. Van Helsing was in trouble and Carl was going to make sure he got out of it alive.
The operatives flanked Carl and Anna as they approached the icy fortress of Dracula's castle. The plan, on the surface, was simple - get in, get Van Helsing, get out and get home. Taking out Dracula was a secondary objective. Carl's only concern was Van Helsing.
''Where do we find him?" Mesoraco asked as he stared up at the massive doors barring their progress.
Carl shook his head. "I don't know. One of the towers, I'd expect." With a sigh, Carl asked the more immediate question: "How do we get through this door?"
"How'd you get in last time?" Mesoraco asked, voice gruff.
Anna snorted. "We had some help."
Mesoraco waved some men forward. "Get the door open. We need to get inside, find Van Helsing."
Carl and Anna shared a look as they waited for Mesoraco's men to get the door open. They knew the doors were heavy, but that they could be opened since they had gone through them during their rush to escape the last time. Neither could recall how they'd gotten back to Castle Valerious, but they did remember these doors.
Apparently the strength of ten determined operatives of the Knights of the Holy Order was enough to force its doors open with a few feet of space for them to enter. Though, not enough to keep Anna and Carl from following. They had their own investment in this mission.
Carl heard Mesoraco order one of his men to keep a close watch on he and Anna. Unimpressed, Anna and Carl accepted their chaperone and continued into the castle.
"Any idea where he might be being held?" Anna whispered to Carl.
He shook his head. "No idea. But we'd better find him before they do."
Anna tacitly agreed and stayed close to Carl as they walked. When they passed an alcove she pushed Carl toward it then slipped back into the shadows when their 'escort' wasn't paying attention. The alcove was, in actuality, a corridor. They walked seeking a sign of - anything. Light, movement, life, shadows - any sign that this wasn't a dead end.
"Any idea where he might be?" Anna asked as they continued down a long corridor.
Carl shook his head. "I don't know but we have to find him."
"I would usually say we should stay together for this, but we might do better if we split up," she suggested.
Carl agreed it was probably better to stay together, but also agreed they needed to find Van Helsing quickly. "I think we should split up, for the sake of covering more ground." He stopped at a crossway in the corridor. "Meet back at he lab. Even if we don't find him, that's the most likely place everyone will end up."
Anna nodded. "Good luck, Carl," she said, then tuned down the corridor on the left.
"You as well," he said and took the corridor to the right.
A tall winding staircase came into view at the end of the corridor. He stared up into the center. That is a lot of stairs. Slowly, he began to climb higher and higher into the tower.
Periodically he would check his progress and take a moment to peer down the corridors in search of signs of Van Helsing. He also had to stop several times to rest his legs and his lungs. He never had been able to figure out the need for having such ostentatious buildings when to get around them, there was need of so damned many stairs.
Nearly at the top of the staircase, he heard a roar, a shout of frustration and pain. He only chose to investigate because the sound was more human than animal.
The figure he spotted as he rounded the corner was small, but appeared to be a man chained to a wall. Dear God, what had Dracula done to him? Carl quickened his pace, rushing to help Van Helsing.
"Carl? What are you doing here?" Van Helsing rasped, not sure he wasn't imagining his friend standing in the hallway.
"I'd call it a rescue, but I'm not cut out for anything quite that brave," he responded.
Van Helsing sighed at Carl's self-deprecation. "Fine. Don't be brave, but can you unlock the chains before your courage runs out?"
"Probably, but I need to administer something first." Carl wielded the antidote syringe in front of him like a high-damage weapon.
"What is that?" Van Helsing asked with great concern – for his own safety.
Carl sighed heavily. "The antidote for your werewolf curse." He did not have time to explain it all right now. People were in danger of dying and he wasn't sure how long this antidote would retain its potency.
"Does it work?"
"We're about to find out." Before Van Helsing could make further objections, Carl injected the syringe and pressed the plunger to send the antidote into his bloodstream.
"Dammit!" Van Helsing howled body jerking against the restraints.
"I'm sorry, Gabriel. I had no choice. Oh, and you might get a bit of an energy jolt."
"What?" Van Helsing growled, then, "Get me out of these chains. Now!"
It took longer than both of them would have liked, but Carl unlocked the manacles and helped Van Helsing slump to the ground. With his arm around his friend's waist, he noticed how malnourished the man truly was. His ribs were barely covered by skin, much less muscle. It nearly made him weep.
Carl sifted through the bag at his feet and withdrew a pouch of dried meat. "Here." He handed the pouch to Van Helsing. "Eat this. You'll need the strength." He retrieved a flagon of water as well and presented it to his fallen friend. "Drink slowly." He glanced up and down the corridor. "And we should probably get out of here soon. Before Dracula returns or the others from The Order find us."
"The Order?" Van Helsing grumbled between chews.
"Don't start. It wasn't my idea. Come on. Let's get out of here now. Worry about The Order later." Carl hauled Van Helsing to his feet, let him stretch his sore muscles a bit and get used to standing, then lead him down the corridor.
Van Helsing stumbled on the stairs. He leaned heavily against the walls several times on the way down, his muscles not yet accustomed to movement after so many hours in one position. He wanted clothing to ward off the chill, but had no idea where to find any, so relented himself to the idea of prowling the icy fortress of Dracula's castle naked. He hadn't been permitted to wander the castle during his incarceration, meaning locating anything would be difficult at best. The only time he hadn't been chained up was when he had been in the cells he had occupied. And any time Dracula had him in bed and had not tied him down first. Then during his one, failed, escape attempt. Not nearly often enough to explore the castle.
He leaned heavily against the stairwell wall again. 'Resisted Carl's urging to keep moving. He needed to rest.
"Gabriel, we can't stop for long. We need to get out of here."
That specific wording, that exact inflection, set off a chain reaction, starting with a brief scene of himself and Aleksandr running from someone, needing to escape. Suddenly memories of a past life flooded into his consciousness. They weighed heavily on him as they all rushed in at the same time. He remembered Aleksandr as a friend, a lover, from the time before he became the monster, the demon. The vampire.
It pained him to remember so much without knowing why it had been forgotten. Why would he... The Order. That was when The Order had taken his memories. What he could not recall was whether that was by his own choice or as a punishment for some grave wrong he had done.
"Van Helsing, we have to keep moving," Carl urged again and tried to lift him away from the wall.
"Give me a minute," he said, a hand on Carl's shoulder.
Carl gave him a concerned look. "Are you all right? Do you need more food?"
He could actually use more food – and liniment, but Carl was right, they needed to move. He shook the memories off as best he could and propped himself upright off the wall. A nod to Carl, "Let's go. He'll discover I'm missing and come searching for me." He started down the stairs again, moving a little easier as his strength began to return. Carl close behind him. "He'll find us. Me. It won't take him long. He's efficient and thorough." He stopped at he bottom of a set of stairs. "He's connected to me."
Carl rested a hand on Van lading's hip. "I know, Gabriel. But we really need to get going again."
He nodded and started down the stairs one more time. The reality of what had to happen next struck him like a boot to the chest. Facing Dracula had not been easy the first time - before he was made into a vampire - there was no way this time would be any easier. At least the first time he had been at full strength.
"I don't know if I can do this, Carl," he stated. Again, he leaned against a wall and took deep breaths as his head spun with the information.
"Do what?" the friar asked.
"Fight." He shook his head. "I'm nowhere near full strength and I don't have the wolf anymore. I'm getting stronger from whatever you did, but I don't know if it's enough." He didn't want to still carry the werewolf curse, but it had been an asset during the previous fight. Despite unfortunate cloud movements.
Carl grabbed Van Helsing's shoulders and shook him enough to hold his attention. "You can do this. You have the will. I know you-"
"Move!" he barked and gave Carl a push to the left. Moments before an angry Dwergi worker charged through the door with a long pike. Van Helsing batted the pike away, forcing it to lodge in the wall. His muscles ached from the movement, but the pain was tolerable compared to being skewered.
"Look out!" Carl cried as a second and third Dwergi worker made similar attacks. He kicked one while Van Helsing struggled with the other two.
In need of a weapon, Van Helsing snatched the pike from the nearest Dwergi, flipped it across the back of his hand, then thrust it between the eyes of the Dwergi attacking his knees. The creature screamed an unholy sound as it stumbled and toppled down the next flight of stairs.
It's companion, angrier now, redoubled it's attack on Van Helsing. The one trying to thump on Carl, abandoned his post and moved to tag-team with it's comrade. Van Helsing disposed of the two as quickly as his tired body would allow. The marks on his back had reopened when he had been slammed against the wall and they hurt again – stinging pain that made him want to scream. He pushed the pain to the back of his mind. He had work to do.
He gave Carl a nod, then peered around the doorway, investigating for additional attackers. A signal to Carl that the corridor was clear, then they stepped out of the stairwell.
"Do you know where you're going?" Carl asked.
"Lab's down here," he grunted.
"How do you know?"
Van Helsing tipped his nose over his shoulder. "I can smell it."
Carl blinked and tried not to stumble his steps. "Smell?"
Van Helsing shrugged and shook his head. He did not have time to explain at the moment. There was a demon to face and then he wanted to go home. He was four months behind on his sleep.
They rounded a corner. Van Helsing stopped and pressed a hand against Carl's chest, pressed him back against the wall. ''Wait here," he whispered and stepped into the shadows cast by the towering equipment. They had reached the lab, but so had someone else. He couldn't take the chance that it was Dracula without keeping Carl out of harm's way.
He edged back to the doorway. "Carl, I need you to do something for me."
"The last time you said that I had to set a vampire on fire," Carl responded, trying not to stammer.
Van Helsing didn't react at all to that statement. "There's a woman. In a cavern in the west tower, near where you found me." He blinked and looked at Carl. "Find her. If you can. She needs help."
Carl nodded. He knew that look. "I, I'll do what I can."
He didn't wait to see Carl leave. He knew he would. Something moved in the shadows to grab his attention. He crouched and crept slowly along the wall. Keeping his back as close to the wall as possible without scraping it against the stone, he monitored the lab for whatever, or whomever was there.
He heard a gasp, then his name from a feminine voice. "My God, you're naked!" She lifted a hand to cover her eyes. "Why are you naked?"
"Later," he hissed. "Now get out of here, Anna."
"No," she objected. "I will stay and fight. You need my help."
His temper was growing shorter. "Fine. I don't have time to argue. Just stay out of the way." A moment later he shifted into the werewolf form in a motion of almost graceful transformation. It only slowed him down for a moment. Either Carl's cure hadn't actually worked or it didn't 'cure' so much as 'change'.
He no longer felt Anna's presence nearby, so assumed she had taken his advice and made her way out of the lab to somewhere safer. For the time being, he didn't have time to focus on that. Dracula was soon to find him and he needed to be ready.
He felt a familiar power and strength rushing through his body. The difference, this time, was that he was in complete control - at least as far as he could tell. More than anything, it was different from being the wolf under Dracula's control.
As Mesoraco passed the window, he thought he had seen something. He stepped back to look again. He was almost certain he had seen Van Helsing transform into a werewolf as Carl was turning to walk away.
"What has that infernal friar done now?" he growled to himself. He already had more than enough to do on this mission. Adding Carl committing treasonous acts was not part of the plan. But he would do what he must.
He had been searching for Van Helsing in order to bring him in, but had to divert his attentions to Carl first. He knew where Van Helsing was right now, he could find the man again later if necessary.
He slapped a hand against the rough, icy stone, then stalked down the path. Corridor after corridor, down stairs and around corners, he searched for Carl. He would search all night if he needed to, but he would find that friar and get some answers.
"I see you've found your way out of my manacles. Though, it is a shame that you did. We were just starting to have fun." Dracula's raspy accented voice echoed around the lab.
Van Helsing roared in response. He considered throwing thoughts at Dracula, but decided against it. Too afraid Dracula would gain an advantage through them. Instead he gave another hearty roar.
Dracula laughed that raspy chuckle of his. "My my, Gabriel. It's not as good as the first time, but it should do just as well." Dracula strode toward the center of the lab. "So tell me, Gabriel, are we going to fight or do you plan to lurk in the shadows?"
That was all the taunting he needed. Though, he never had any intention of remaining in the shadows. He leapt from the edge of the room, landed on Dracula and pinned him to the floor. His muzzle less than an inch from the vampire's face, he breathed hot canine breath on him.
"You want to play with me, Gabriel?" Dracula asked. He curled a hand around one of Van Helsing's forelegs, then launched the wolf toward the ceiling and, lightning fast, transformed into his own beast form. "Can you fly?" he asked as the wolf started his descent from twenty feet in the air.
On the way back toward the laboratory floor, Van Helsing reached out his claws grappling for purchase on a machine or pseudo-outcropping from the walls. His two front claws grabbed hold, but didn't have enough grip to keep his weight up. He slipped and tumbled to the floor, landed hard on the cold stone and machinery.
The Dracula beast swooped down to catch the wolf by his scruff and toss him across the lab again. This time, Van Helsing was prepared. He turned himself in the air and caught the ledge ten feet up on the side of the lab.
"Do you remember what I told you, Gabriel?" Dracula asked as he landed on another ledge, his beast wings folding away behind him as he melted back to his more human form. "I said we were partners. Brothers in Arms." He paced along the ledge. "We were, you know. Brothers in every way but blood." He took a deep, unneeded breath, purely for effect. "It pains me, Gabriel, that you don't remember us. How intimate we were."
The wolf melted away, leaving Van Helsing standing on the ledge opposite Dracula. "Why would I remember that?"
Dracula roared in pain and frustration, arms flailed out to his sides, hands curled into fists. "Why do you keep blocking your past? Blocking me?"
"I'm not blocking anything. I don't remember knowing you before we met at Castle Frankenstein." Van Helsing was stalling, needing to catch his breath, give his body a rest. He gained strength and power as the wolf, but neither came without penalty. All he could hope for was a quick refractory period.
"You need to remember, Gabriel. We were happy for some time, before it all went wrong!" Dracula bellowed across the lab.
Van Helsing breathed deeply, "I don't know what it is you think I should remember. And right now, it doesn't matter. My memories and past have no bearing on the situation at hand." He had regained some vague memories, but he couldn't give Dracula that satisfaction. Not yet. Not before he was sure the others were safe.
"Then you leave me no choice, Gabriel," Dracula snarled and leapt into the air. His bat-like wings stretched behind him as he changed form again, coasting across the lab. Van Helsing wasted no time meeting the beast in the air. He landed on Dracula's back, like a man trying to ride a bronco.
It caught Dracula off-guard. Van Helsing knew the vampire would be expecting him to change form. Leaping onto the beast's back was his best advantage.
The beast bucked around, trying to dislodge Van Helsing. He kept hold, arm locked around the Dracula beast's neck, even through being slammed repeatedly, against the hard, jagged walls of the lab. He felt fresh blood trickling down his back as the wounds there opened again.
Mesoraco pressed Carl against the wall, the friar's shoulders butted against the stone. "What did you do to him?" the operative snarled, his face close to Carl's.
Angry at being questioned based on pure ignorance of the gravity of the current situation, Carl snapped, "I saved his life!" More than anything, he hated being treated like he didn't know what he was doing. He frequently was aware of exactly what he was doing. He couldn't always predict the outcome, but he rarely was clueless about his motives or endeavors. The fact that some blockhead 'monster hunter' was questioning his expertise only served to anger him more.
"Saved his life?" Mesoraco snarled. "You've turned him into a werewolf, you fool!"
Standing firm, fully aware of his surroundings and what his developed 'antidote' had actually done, he replied. "No, he was already a werewolf. I gave him control." That hadn't been the original intended effect, but it was better than the alternatives.
Carl nodded. "He can change at will."
Mesoraco shook his head in confusion. "Like a shape-shifter."
"Well I suppose that's an apt descriptor, yes."
"And how do you know he won't turn on The Order and go rogue?"
Carl tilted his head. "How do we know you won't?"
Mesoraco snarled and released his hold on Carl's shoulders. "Enough. We need to find him and get him back to Rome." He turned on his heel, then back over his shoulder to ask Carl, "Any idea where they might be?"
"In the castle?" Carl replied uninterested in offering additional aid in finding his friend so these yes-men could take him back as a prisoner.
Snarling his unhappiness, Mesoraco stalked back to growl in Carl's face. "Impede my search and you will join Van Helsing in a cell upon return."
Carl gave no reaction to the threat at all. He would not show weakness. Not in front of these men. Not if his strength could help Van Helsing somehow. That was what mattered – Van Helsing.
End Part VIII