Disclaimer: I do not own "Swamp Thing." "Swamp Thing" belongs to DC Comics and the animated series specifically belongs to DIC Entertainment. No profit is being made from this story.
Author's Note: This story is set before my earlier story "Swamp Thing: Endgame."
The swamp at night was filled with the sounds of wildlife, of animals moving through the undergrowth, insects buzzing through the air and birds calling to each other. The area around the Arcane plantation however was almost silent. The animals knew better than to venture too close to the ominous structure.
The quiet was broken by the sound of a motorised door opening as a distinctive red vehicle, the Bayou Blaster, emerged from the swamp. Aboard were Arcane's three henchmen, Weed Killer, Dr. Deemo and Skinman. There was also one unusual piece of cargo, a coffin made of gleaming black wood with gold hinges and handles.
The Bayou Blaster drove through the hidden door which closed behind it. It came to a halt and the Un-men got off, Weed Killer and Skinman carrying the coffin.
"Wonder what Dr Arcane wants with this thing" Weed Killer mused.
"Have no fear. Our master's plan will soon be clear" Deemo replied.
Arcane was waiting in his underground laboratory. The grey stone walls were lined with advanced scientific equipment and machinery that looked out of place in the sinister, dungeon-like chamber.
"It's about time you returned" he said brusquely.
"Sorry Dr. Arcane" Skinman replied nervously. "There was a storm and we had to…"
"Silence! I'm not interested in your excuses!" He pointed to a wooden table that had been cleared. "Put it there."
They obeyed, placing the coffin upon the table.
Skinman opened the coffin lid and they all peered inside. It was filled with rich black soil on top of which lay a skeleton clad in the tattered remains of a black evening suit. At first glance the skeleton appeared human but a closer look showed that the canine teeth were unusually long and pointed, much like those of Arcane himself. A sharpened wooden stake protruded from the ribcage.
The evil scientist grinned. "Excellent!"
"What is it?" Weed Killer asked.
"These are the remains of Count Dracula" Arcane explained. "By analysing them I can find a way to duplicate his immortality for myself. At last I will have my eternal life!"
He turned away and strode over to the Transducer. "Come, I must calibrate the Transducer for a complete bio-chemical scan."
Deemo and Weed Killer walked over. Skin Man started to follow but then stopped and looked back at the skeleton, feeling somehow drawn to it. A sudden compulsion seized him and without thinking he pulled the stake from the ribs. Immediately the skeleton dissolved into a cloud of mist which flowed in front of Arcane and his henchmen, startling them. Before they could react it coalesced into a humanoid figure.
Before them stood a tall man with handsome aristocratic features and black hair cut into a neat widow's peak. His skin was translucently pale and his eyes were a deep blood-red. The tattered evening suit his skeleton had been wearing was now fully restored. A black cape lined with red silk hung from his shoulders. He smiled, revealing the gleaming points of his fangs.
"Greetings" he said in a deep Romanian accent. "I would like to thank you for reviving me."
"Skinman you fool! You've reawakened him!" Arcane raged.
"Calm yourself" said Dracula casually. "Please allow me to help you to relax." As he spoke he looked Arcane right in the face, his red eyes glowing. The evil scientist's body went limp, his cane dropping to the floor and his own eyes glazing over. Dracula turned his mesmerising gaze to the Un-men and they too fell under his power.
"Now then" he said. "We have much to discuss."
He listened intently as the enthralled Arcane answered all of his questions. One subject in particular was of great interest.
"You say this Swamp Thing creature is half man half plant? And this formula of his can grant immortality?"
"Yes master" Arcane replied, his voice a dull monotone.
"Fascinating" said Dracula. "This Swamp Thing may be of great use to me. With his help I may at last be freed of my only weakness. The cursed light of day. I must learn more. Wait here until I return, my minions."
He swept his cloak around himself and transformed into a bat. Flapping his leathery wings he flew out into the night.
Wearing a simple pink nightgown, Abby Arcane made her way back up the staircase to her room, a glass of water in her hand. She stopped as a sudden sense of something amiss came over her. Glancing out of the window she saw a large black bat flying away from the plantation.
"Strange, I've never seen any bats that size around here before" she mused. "It's probably nothing but I'll mention it to Alec tomorrow just in case. You never know what my stepfather could be up to."
With that in mind she returned to her room and was soon sleeping soundly.
Before long the Count had found what he sought. A huge man made of what appeared to be green moss with a covering of roots over his body was talking with a Native American man.
Dracula perched upside down on a nearby tree and listened to their conversation. He soon learned that the man's name was Tomahawk and Swamp Thing had been helping him search for traps left by poachers. After a while Tomahawk said his goodbyes and climbed onto an odd-looking vehicle. As he drove away he was unaware of the bat that was following him.
"Uh, what a night" Tomahawk mused with a yawn. "I'll be glad to get home and get some sleep."
Just then a man in a black suit and cape stepped out from behind a nearby tree. Startled into full alertness Tomahawk instantly braked and brought the Bog Rover to a halt.
"Are you okay?" he asked as he jumped down from his seat.
"I am fine" the man replied. He smiled unpleasantly, the moonlight glinting off the points of his fangs. Before Tomahawk could react the man's glowing red eyes met his own and his mind went blank.
"You will return to your home and remember nothing of this" said Dracula. "Tomorrow at noon you will come to the Arcane plantation. Come alone."
"Yes master" said Tomahawk dully.
Satisfied, Dracula transformed into a bat again and flew back to the plantation while Tomahawk got back aboard the Bog Rover and drove off.
Soon I will be the supreme ruler of both the night and the day! Dracula thought eagerly.
The next day Abby was in the plantation gardens. In stark contrast to the sinister, creepy house, the gardens were a wonderful sight, teeming with bright green trees and colourful flowers. She smiled as she sniffed a fragrant pink rose.
She remembered the strange bat she had seen last night and wanted to tell Swamp Thing about it just in case it was something important. Still, she couldn't help taking a moment to admire the beauty of the gardens before she left.
"Okay, I'd better get going" she said to herself. "If I get too caught up in admiring the flowers I'll be here all day."
Abby started to walk off but stopped as she heard a familiar engine. Puzzled, she peered through a bush as Tomahawk drove up on the Bog Rover and came to a halt outside the plantation.
What's going on? Tomahawk would never be so careless to get this close to my stepfather's estate she thought.
As he got down from his vehicle she noticed that his eyes were glazed and his movements were stiff and mechanical. Like an automaton he walked up to the front door and went inside.
"Something really strange is going on. I'd better check this out."
She went back inside and quickly entered one of the many secret passageways that riddled the house. Within just a few moments she was peering into the hidden lab through a grate. What she saw baffled her.
Arcane, his henchmen and Tomahawk were all standing completely still in front of a black wooden coffin on a table. Their faces were blank and their eyes vacant. Abby had to cover her mouth to stifle a gasp as the coffin opened and an aristocratic figure in a suit and cape sat up inside it.
"Ah Tomahawk, I'm glad you could join us" he said, a hint of amusement in his cultured tone.
"Yes master" Tomahawk replied emotionlessly.
"They're in some kind of trance" Abby whispered.
"Tonight, when the sun sets, you will lead us to Swamp Thing. With the element of surprise we will be able to capture him and bring him here. Once his secrets are unlocked, I, Dracula, will at last be able to walk in the light of day!"
"I've got to tell Alec" said Abby.
She hurriedly went back through the secret passageway. Once outside she climbed into the Bog Rover and drove it through the swamp following a route she knew well.
In his hidden tree-lab deep in the swamp, Alec Holland, AKA Swamp Thing was peering through a microscope at a sample of his cells. He was tasting his latest attempt at creating a cure for his condition.
"No reaction" he said with a sigh. "Still, at least I know how well the growth formula works if it's this hard to counter-act it."
As he was clearing up his equipment he heard a vehicle drive up outside. Not just any vehicle either, this was one he had made himself.
"Tomahawk's late today. I wonder what kept him."
But as he stepped outside onto one of the tree-lab's platforms he saw that it wasn't Tomahawk.
"Abby?" He was pleased to see her of course, but a little confused that she was driving the Bog Rover.
"Alec, we've got trouble" she said as she parked the vehicle and climbed off.
Swamp Thing listened as Abby told him what she had seen. When she had finished he nodded.
"Tomahawk must be under some form of mind-control. Abby, I need you to get me inside the Arcane plantation."
"Alec, it's too dangerous" she protested.
"It's the only way I can rescue him" he replied.
She sighed. "All right."
Abby returned to the Arcane plantation and went right to the kitchen. She turned a tap and water began flowing from it. A few seconds later the water was replaced by a stream of thick, green algae. Abby watched in fascination as the mass of algae oozed up out of the sink and onto the kitchen floor where it coalesced into Swamp Thing.
"Thanks Abby" he said. "You'd better lay low until I deal with Dracula."
"You shouldn't go in there alone Alec. It's six against one" she pointed out.
"I have to risk it" he said as he headed for the lab.
He paused when he arrived at the entrance to the underground lab, a sturdy wooden door. While he knew he could easily knock it down he decided that a more subtle approach was needed.
With that in mind he transformed into algae again, slid under the door and then re-formed himself on the other side. The scene before him was much the same as Abby had described, with Arcane, his henchmen and Tomahawk all standing with blank faces in front of what could only be Dracula's coffin. He hurried over to Tomahawk and shook his shoulder.
"Come on, snap out of it. We have to get out of here."
His friend did not react. Just then the coffin opened and Dracula sat up with a look of fury on his face.
"Who disturbs my slumber?" His anger was quickly replaced by surprise and then by a pleased smile as he got to his feet. "Swamp Thing I presume?"
"That's right" he replied warily.
"You are here earlier than I expected but no matter. Work with me Swamp Thing and together we can rule this world!"
"No deal Dracula. My goal is to help this world, not to conquer it."
"Then you leave me no choice. Minions, attack!"
Tomahawk immediately turned on his friend and began to grapple with him. Reluctantly Swamp Thing sprouted vines that wrapped around Tomahawk, pinning his arms and legs. He dropped to the floor and struggled futilely although his face remained expressionless.
"Sorry old friend" said Swamp Thing. A second later he ducked just in time as Weed Killer raised his spray gun and fired a jet of toxic chemicals. The jet flew over his head and splashed against a wall. Instantly there was a sharp hissing sound as the chemicals ate into the stone.
Swamp Thing responded by transforming his fingers into vines and entangling Weed Killer with them. As he fell Deemo and Skinman both charged Swamp Thing but he easily threw them aside and extended his arm towards Dracula. Cloves of garlic sprouted from it.
"If I remember my vampire lore correctly this ought to give you some problems" he said.
"Arrgh, that foul herb!" the Count cried as he recoiled with a look of disgust.
Swamp Thing smiled. Unfortunately while he was preoccupied, Arcane rushed him and jabbed his cane into his chest. Red energy crackled over his body from the skull-head.
"AARGH!" Swamp Thing cried as he was zapped by the energy. His concentration was broken and his arm receded, the garlic cloves shrinking away and disappearing. With effort he managed to seize Arcane and hurl him across the lab. He crashed heavily into the transducer.
"I too can transform" said Dracula. He dissolved into a cloud of mist which flew forwards in a sudden gust and then re-formed, landing a blow to Swamp Thing's chest that sent him flying into the Bayou Blaster's garage. He slammed hard into the door and fell to the floor. Before he could get to his feet Dracula was standing in front of him.
"Enough of this nonsense" said the Count, his eyes glowing. Swamp Thing tried to turn away but he wasn't quick enough. His huge form slumped as Dracula's mesmerising power took effect.
"Now you will obey my every command."
"Yes master" he replied dully.
Dracula laughed triumphantly. "At last, the world will be mine!"
Despite Swamp Thing's warnings to lay low, Abby had followed him into the secret lab. She hid behind a bank of machinery and observed his battle with Dracula's thralls. At first it seemed like he was winning but then he was knocked into the Bayou Blaster's garage. She ran over to a corner and watched in horror as he fell under Dracula's power.
"I've got to help Alec" she whispered. "But how?"
Then an idea came to her. While Dracula was gloating, she warily crept past him and pressed the switch on the wall.
"What?" Dracula exclaimed as the garage door began to open. Before he could react it had opened fully, allowing sunlight to stream in. The effect was instantaneous. Dracula froze in place, his body turning chalk white. A second later he crumbled into dust.
Swamp Thing groaned and shook his head. "What happened?"
"Alec!" Abby hurried over and crouched next to him. "Are you okay?"
"I'm fine" he replied as he got up. "Thanks Abby."
She smiled. Just then they heard a series of low groans coming from the lab.
"They're coming to" said Swamp Thing. "You'd better go before their heads clear."
"Okay" Abby replied. She hurried out through the garage door and circled back to the house while Swamp Thing extended his arm and dragged Tomahawk over to him. His friend was looking around in confusion.
"What's going on? How did I…?"
"No time to explain, let's get out of here" said Swamp Thing as he ripped apart the vines holding his friend.
Arcane was also coming out of his trance. He shook his head to clear it and looked up as he heard an engine starting. Dashing into the garage he arrived just in time to look outside and see Swamp Thing and Tomahawk speeding away on the Bog Rover.
"Swamp Thing was here? In my lab! Wait, what happened here? The last thing I remember was…"
His face twisted in fury as he spun around and stormed back into the lab.
Later that afternoon Swamp Thing, Abby and Tomahawk were gathered in the tree-lab. All of them were laughing as she described what had happened.
"I don't think we'll have to worry about my stepfather for awhile" said Abby. "He's still trying to figure out just what happened and where Dracula's remains are."
"It's a pity we didn't find them first" said Tomahawk. "Maybe they could have helped us find a way to cure you Swamp Thing."
He shook his head. "No. There are some things that shouldn't be tampered with. I don't think anything good could have come from a creature like Dracula."
"I guess you're right" Tomahawk agreed.
"Anyway, are either of you hungry?" asked Swamp Thing. "I've been testing how my growth powers work. I thought I'd make garlic soup."
"Ah!" Tomahawk exclaimed as he recoiled.
"What's wrong? Is it something leftover from Dracula?" asked Abby.
"Uh, no I just hate garlic" he said sheepishly.
They all laughed happily.