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TCE VS. THE UNIVERSE

ISSUE 8

Maxim Luso vs. Van Helsing

Written by Christopher Ikpoh

Illustrations by Jeff West

           “We don’t have to be adversaries,” an imposing man declared.

            The moonlight peered through the trees with fury. Yet, the dense woods were dark. Held within them was the mystical voice of generations passed; an unshakeable destiny of a species long thought to be tales told to correct the behavior of mischievous children who ventured off without their parents’ permission. Yet, certain individuals knew differently. Abraham Van Helsing was one of them. He knew the horrifying reality which evaded the world for thousands of years. Monsters were real, including werewolves.

            Across from the monster hunter was the greatest entity he had ever encountered. The individual had muscles that seemed to be fighting to be released from underneath the clothes covering them. His hair was dark, and his demeanor was ultra-aggressive. He was not the typical werewolf, and Van Helsing became more familiar with this realization with each passing second.            The air between them weighed heavily on the monster hunter’s lungs, as each breath became more shallow and harder to perform. He had not felt this feeling since he was a child. Van Helsing was reacquainted with fear in the presence of Maxim Luso.

            The werewolf, conversely, was inhaling deeply and heavily. His entire being was prepared for battle from the moment Van Helsing had appeared. Maxim was the greatest of his kind to ever exist. Even his human form put some werewolves’ physiques to shame. It was certainly apparent to Van Helsing he had never encountered any as the one before him. Maxim’s breathing even sounded as if it were one guttural noise away from becoming an audible onslaught of sonic rage. Yet, with as beastly as the werewolf’s nature was, it was all to familiar to the monster hunter. Thus, Van Helsing continued to plead with Maxim.

            “I, more than anyone, understand that which afflicts you.”

            Standing ready to engage at any moment, Maxim’s entire body was bound tightly begging to be allowed to explode into action. He replied, “Because you were one of us.”

            “Yes,” Van Helsing agreed.

            “Then, you more than anyone should know why I must obtain it.” Maxim was referring to psytanium. It was the rare psionic substance that many throughout the multiverse sought.

            “You think it will help, but it won’t. There is no controlling the curse.”

            “Curse?” Maxim replied emphatically. “What we are is because of no curse. We are gods amongst all in existence.”

            Van Helsing took a step closer as the rhetoric between the two drew both in deeply. However, doing so triggered the aggression of the werewolf, causing Maxim to step forward, as well. As his foot pounded into the ground beneath them, a loud thud rang through the still night sky accompanied by the bellowing, guttural growl of the wolf within. Therefore, the monster hunter put this hand up to signal he meant no harm. “Max, if your kind were gods, would you need the psytanium to control the animal inside?”

            Maxim scoffed at Van Helsing. “The evolution of my people was inevitable. The psytanium is not needed to control us, but to enhance us; to allow our greater nature to grow exponentially by helping us become more in-tune with the duality of our spirit.”

            “The attacks on humans have become more and more frequent. The savagery of the attacks is growing, as well. You would never allow your people to be so sloppy, so uninhibited. It puts your kind at great risk. They have lost control, and I suspect you will, too.”

           Maxim knew deep inside Van Helsing was right. The werewolves were changing. An unbridled anger and hunger for flesh was consuming some of them, and their leader did not know why. He could not control his fellow werewolves, either. As the greatest of them and the alpha of alphas, it normally required only Maxim’s stern, commanding voice to reach the minds and hearts of his people. In the instances some would stray from the clan and commit atrocities or break their ancient code, Maxim’s swift and absolute punishment reminded everyone the ways of their ancestors must be adhered to. Thus, rogue feeding and killing of humans to satiate a bloodlust was strictly forbidden. Yet, werewolves were increasingly disregarding Maxim’s rule and any threat of punishment. The night called to their nature relentlessly. The wolf inside of them was becoming untamable.

            Maxim was convinced psytanium was the solution to their problem. By harnessing its psionic properties, he believed his kind could reach the wolf inside of them and quell the fire that was fueling their maleficent transformation. No creature was more adept at tapping into their true essence and nature than werewolves. This fact gave Maxim all the confidence he needed that psytanium was the key. The werewolf also knew Van Helsing’s perspective, though. He knew the monster hunter believed the only solution was to have the ones who committed the murders killed. Therefore, Maxim responded, “I will not allow you to hunt a single werewolf. We have defended ourselves against the vampire clans of my home world, Friki. We will resist you and your holy crusaders, as well.”

            “This has nothing to do with the Church or God.” Van Helsing referred to the Catholic Church of Earth, which had tasked itself with ridding their planet of all monsters and threats both foreign to their world and domestic. “It has to do with the hundreds of humans your kind has slaughtered. What is right is right, and you know justice must be obtained. The werewolves that are out of control must be put down.”

            Maxim glared at Van Helsing with ruthless aggression. The words spoken by the monster hunter stoked a raging fire inside of his wolf spirit. “It is you that must be put down,” he retorted.

            Abraham Van Helsing sighed deeply. He did not want to fight the werewolf. Not because the monster before him was terrifying, but because as much as he hunted them, he truly had a special affinity for werewolves having been one himself before being freed from the wolf inside him by his very close companion, Anna Valerious. Van Helsing was empathetic to their existence, for he lived it. However, he could not stand by as rogue werewolves slaughtered innocent people.

            The monster hunter used his hands to remove the long coat from his sides in preparation for battle. “I do not want this.”

            Maxim snapped in reply, “I can hear your heart pounding in fear. I know you don’t.”

            “I do not want this, because I do not wish to kill the one werewolf who can help me make this right.”

            The two adversaries stared at each other for another moment before Maxim commenced his rapid transformation into his massive, black werewolf form. Van Helsing grabbed his automatic crossbow and took aim, seeking to take advantage of the moment of transformation in instead of watching his enemy go through the metamorphosis. Maxim was too experienced a warrior to fall to the monster hunter’s tactics, though. Not only was the time it took for the werewolf to transform mere seconds, but as a result of his absolute mastery of the skill, he also maintained full control of his body. This allowed Maxim to maneuver out of the way of the arrows speeding toward him, even in the midst of the transformation. Alas, the fate of the world’s most legendary monster hunter and the universe’s greatest werewolf was at hand!

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